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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Josh Clark,
a local author, has been nominated as a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle award in the category of autobiography. Clark's Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone is a gripping, first-hand account of what life was like living in the city immediately following the storm. Clark is using a portion of the royalties from his book to support Katrina Arts Relief and Emergency Support, a fund for New Orleans writers.

The Violent Offenders Unit,
the new corps of prosecutors in the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office, received an "Excellence in Law Enforcement" award recently from the New Orleans Crime Coalition. The unit is an expert team of assistant DA's that was formed in January 2007 to handle the most violent criminal cases. By the end of 2007, the unit had achieved a 93 percent conviction rate with 26 guilty verdicts after trials and 28 guilty pleas.

Douglas Bourgeois,
an acclaimed painter and St. Amant, La., native, has been awarded $25,000 from the Joan Mitchell Foundation's Painters & Sculptors Grant Program. Bourgeois' career has spanned more than 30 years, and he is nationally renowned for his stunning craftsmanship combined with an ability to illuminate his vision through obsessive attention to detail in his paintings, drawings and sculpture.

James Lee Witt Associates,
a Washington-based emergency management firm which has received more than $40 million from Louisiana to assist local governments since Hurricane Katrina, submitted $38,700 in questionable costs for travel, duplicate charges and expenses unrelated to its contract from April to August 2007, according to a state audit. The audit's total of questionable costs is down from $140,000 in such costs reported in the previous audit.

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