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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

The St. Bernard Project,
a grassroots, nonprofit organization that first began rebuilding homes in St. Bernard Parish in August 2006, recently completed its 100th rebuilt house. The group solicits donations of building materials, recruits volunteer labor and pounds hammer to nail to put families' homes back together. On average, the project uses $10,000 in building supplies for each house, and it takes eight to 12 weeks to completely rebuild a house that has been gutted to the studs.

Dr. Charles L. Brown,
a medical doctor and professor of public health at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, has been presented with the 2007 St. George National Award, the highest honor the American Cancer Society gives to volunteers. For a number of years, Brown has volunteered with the ACS and has been involved in the state's tobacco-control activities. He helped increase sales taxes on cigarettes and promoted Louisiana's first statewide comprehensive smoke-free indoor air law.

Brian M. Seward,
a contractor, was convicted by a New Orleans jury of two counts of unauthorized use of a moveable for depositing checks into his personal bank account for Katrina-related home repairs he never performed. Seward signed two agreements for the contracting work, then didn't make repairs — but he did take a total of $29,000 from two New Orleans couples. He faces a maximum of five years in prison for each count. Prosecutors Josie Wicks and Rebecca Wiggers successfully prosecuted the case.

Kathleen Blanco,
the former governor, gave a 25 percent pay raise to oft-criticized ICF International, the company managing the state's Road Home program for homeowners, in the final weeks of her tenure. Blanco quietly approved the increase in the contract, from $756 million to $912 million, without informing the public or notifying the Legislature. After the increase, Blanco's administration gave a Road Home budget update to a legislative committee without mentioning ICF's $156 million lagniappe.


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