Ascension Parish

Residents and parish officials are lobbying the Army Corps of Engineers to include Ascension and St. James parishes in a massive hurricane protection project.

The Advocate reports the Army Corps met this past week with local interests as part of a public-comment process associated with the hurricane and storm damage risk reduction study.

A draft report on the project was released in August.

The Ascension Parish Animal Control Center could be closed if parish officials determine they can't continue to swallow $177,000 in deficit costs each year.

The Advocate reports that the parish operates the control center with a six-person staff on call 24 hours a day to pick up aggressive and injured animals. The shelter also accepts animals brought in by residents of Ascension and St. James parishes.

The Ascension Parish Council's Strategic Planning Committee is considering whether to continue funding the shelter.

Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain says he'd never heard of an inmate breaking out of jail just to seek a transfer to another prison, but that's what a New Orleans offender serving time for armed robbery attempted early Friday.

Cain tells The Advocate he received a call around 12:40 a.m. at his residence about a prison break at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel.

Ascension Parish government officials say a proposed Mississippi River diversion project in St. James Parish may be a way to blunt the kind of high storm surge seen after Hurricane Isaac.

The Advocate reports parish officials would like the diversion project planned near Romeville to be reversible as part of a broader flood protection plan in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.

Under that concept, water would flow not only from the Mississippi into the Maurepas Swamp, but also from the swamp into the river in times of high water in the lake basin.

A land owner in Ascension Parish worries that a local sales tax dispute could force a Fortune 500 company to abandon its development plans in Gonzales.

Nolan "Sonny" Lamendola has an agreement to sell 18 acres to Emerson Process Management.

Emerson has been in Ascension Parish for 40 years and plans to build a $10 million expansion to consolidate six of its operations or subsidiaries, including two elsewhere in the parish.

Hurricane Isaac cleanup has begun in Ascension Parish.

Parish officials say contractor DRC begins storm debris pickup Monday, beginning with vegetative debris only on the first collection pass through the parish.

An area encompassing all of unincorporated Ascension, the city of Donaldsonville and the town of Sorrento has been broken up into five zones to organize debris removal following Hurricane Isaac.

Official say crews will work from the edges of those zones toward the center of the parish.

Ascension Parish has been chosen as the site for an Avalon Rare Metals Inc. plant that will refine elements used in televisions and hybrid vehicles, if the company decides to build the $300 million facility.

The Louisiana Department of Economic Development announced Monday that Avalon chose the Geismar site for its possible refinery, with a final decision planned for 2013.

If built, LED says the plan would create 175 new jobs.

Organizers of an Ascension Parish balloon festival have moved the event date a second time in two weeks, citing conflicts with local events and a major hot air ballooning competition in Albuquerque, N.M.

Organizers tell The Advocate the Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Championship Festival at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center near Gonzales is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 21-22.