Louisiana news briefs
State moves to recover funds from charities
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — State officials will try to recoup more than $2.3 million from 21 community and charitable organizations found to be in violation of Louisiana’s financial reporting laws.
The move is part of a push initiated by state Treasurer John Kennedy in late July, when he identified 34 non-governmental organizations that received $4.2 million from state coffers in 2007 and 2008, but didn’t provide proper accounting for how that money was used.
Under reporting rules enacted after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, any NGO that receives money from the state general fund is required to provide quarterly reports on how it used that money.
Officials say 21 groups can be referred to the state attorney general’s office for collections.
Tammany Trace federal grant
COVINGTON (AP) — St. Tammany Parish has received provisional approval for a $92,677 federal grant to help pay for the extension of the Tammany Trace exercise trail beyond its current ending point near Slidell.
The 31-mile trail would be extended through Camp Salmen Nature Park under an approximately $420,000 contract the parish hopes to put out to bid for construction in 2014.
Ascension considers taking over balloon festival
GONZALES (AP) — Ascension Parish government may take over the Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Championship Festival at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center if a plan proposed by Parish President Tommy Martinez is accepted by the parish council next month.
Council members meeting as a subcommittee Monday discussed the future of the festival.
Since it moved to Ascension Parish in 2012, the festival has been operated by the nonprofit Ascension Festivals and Cultural Council Inc.
Earlier this month, the nonprofit’s festival chairman, Brad Walker, told the council that the three-day weekend festival in late September lost money when it was anticipated that 60,000 people would attend the 2013 event but only 35,000 people came.
Walker said the event also lost money because corporate sponsorship was down from 2012; admission of $2 per person was too low — the event was free last year — and the number of balloonists, whose lodging and expenses must be paid for, was nearly double from last year.
Walker also said there were too few volunteers to help run the festival.
The nonprofit was left with a debt of $158,369 from the festival.
State clamps down on alcohol sales
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Sixteen downtown Lafayette businesses were cited on numerous violations by the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control after a three-month investigation.
ATC commissioner Troy Hebert said nearly 60 violations, most for selling alcohol to minors, were issued to several popular nightclubs and bars.
Heber said Monday 26 establishments were investigated by undercover agents.
From The Associated Press.
The ATC had received multiple complaints about some of the businesses.
Hebert said administrative hearings will be held in Baton Rouge on the alleged violations. Businesses and servers could face penalties ranging from fines to suspension or revocation of their alcoholic beverage permits.
“The good news is that we commended 10 of the clubs and businesses who didn’t receive any violations,” he said.
Downtown Lafayette faces unique challenges in enforcing laws related to alcohol sales.
“What is somewhat unique in Lafayette is that downtown is a concentration of clubs and bars in a small area,” Hebert said. Most businesses allow patrons 18 and older to enter the business.