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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Monique Pilie
founded Hike for KaTREEna, a nonprofit organization focused on replacing and replanting trees destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Pilie, a part-time FedEx employee, hiked the Appalachian Trail — 2,175 miles — to spotlight her cause while inviting visitors to her Web site,, to buy a tree for each mile she walked. So far, Pilie, who receives a small monthly stipend from her organization, and her volunteer group have planted more than 1,000 new trees in the New Orleans area.

Kathy Randels,
artistic director for ArtSpot Productions, a local production company that produces multi-disciplinary theatrical performances, has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Directing fellowship. The biennial fellowship will allow Randels to work with nationally recognized theater and dance master directors. Randels is the first Louisiana director to receive this fellowship.

Blaine Kern's Haunted Fun House
has been named the nation's No. 2 Halloween attraction by the Travel Channel. Kern, the lifelong Mardi Gras float designer and producer, premiered the fun house at his Mardi Gras World with proceeds from ticket sales going to the Greater New Orleans First Responders Fund. Starting in 2008, Kern and his new Krewe of Boo will host an annual New Orleans Halloween parade.

held a "press conference" concerning the California wildfires, only the "reporters" at the news briefing were actually FEMA staffers who lobbed softball questions at Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson, a deputy administrator. Media were notified only 15 minutes before the briefing, which meant that real reporters had to call a 1-800 "listen only" line. Johnson noted the positive differences between FEMA's response to the fires and its response to Katrina, but he failed to mention fake press conferences.


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