New Orleans company buys Cenla’s Noles-Frye Realty

Noles-Frye Realty, the largest residential and commercial real estate broker in central Louisiana, has been sold to Latter & Blum, Inc/Realtors.  The sale was announced today by Rod Noles, President and Owner of Noles-Frye.

“This is an exciting day for me, for all the employees of Noles-Frye, and for our customers” said Noles. “We have long been the largest real estate broker in this area.  Now we are part of the Latter & Blum family, the largest real estate organization in Louisiana. That means expanded reach for our agents, a greatly expanded scope of services for our customers, and more exposure for Alexandria and the central Louisiana marketplace on the regional and national real estate scene.”

Noles described the move as a strong vote of confidence in the future of Louisiana real estate in general and Central Louisiana in particular by Latter & Blum CEO Robert W. Merrick.

“At a time when there are so many negative stories about real estate, it is gratifying that Mr. Merrick, a renowned real estate investor, sees Noles-Frye and Central Louisiana as smart investments.  I and many others have been touting this area’s potential for years, and it is great to see that others in Louisiana see the same opportunities in Cenla that our citizens do.”

Merrick joined Noles in announcing the sale to Noles-Frye agents and staff, and agreed with Noles’  assessment of the economic future for the region.

“This acquisition was attractive to us for multiple reasons,” said Merrick.  “First, we knew of Rod’s excellent reputation and unparalleled knowledge of the area.  Second, the employees and agents of Noles-Frye have built a great reputation for quality service in this area. Third, we see Central Louisiana as a real hub for commerce in Louisiana moving forward.  And if we want to participate in the region’s growth, the best way to do that is to make Noles-Frye part of the Latter & Blum family.”

Merrick addressed concerns that the area might lose jobs or the iconic Noles-Frye name as part of the purchase.

“Our acquisition strategy has always been to purchase healthy, well-run companies and let the people who have made them successful continue to do what they do best,” said Merrick.

“In 1995, we purchased C.J. Brown Real Estate in Baton Rouge,” Merrick said, referring to the company’s purchase of the second-oldest real estate firm in Louisiana.  “Fifteen years later, C.J. Brown is still the pre-eminent name in Baton Rouge real estate, and the same two managers who ran the residential operations then are still in place.  We have actually moved corporate jobs to the Baton Rouge area rather than cutting support staff there.

“We see the integration of Noles-Frye into Latter & Blum moving forward in a very similar manner, with no jobs eliminated and the Noles-Frye name and its reputation for quality service staying in place.”

Merrick indicated it was possible the existing Noles-Frye commercial operations could be rebranded under a new name in the future, but the residential brokerage will continue as Noles-Frye.  Residential Sales Manager Helen Budd Strickland, an Alexandria native who recently returned to the area, will continue in her present position.

Rod Noles will remain with the company as Senior Commercial Sales Associate.  Noles will retain ownership of Noles-Frye Property Management, which was not part of the sales transaction. Also not included were various properties and partnerships in which Noles has an interest.

Founded by Rod Noles in 1976, Noles-Frye has over 40 real estate agents and 14 support staff employees. The company is the market leader in both residential and commercial sales in Cenla, with over 30% of the market.  The company completed over $45,000,000 in transactions in 2009.

Latter & Blum, Inc./Realtors, the Gulf South’s largest and oldest real estate company, was established in 1916. Latter & Blum operates real estate offices in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Latter & Blum has over 800 residential agents.  The company’s Commercial division, NAI/Latter & Blum, includes over 50 agents in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  The company completed over 9,000 transactions in 2008 with a value in excess of $1.5 billion.

The company can be found on the World Wide Web at www.latter-blum.com (residential services) and www.latterblum.com (commercial brokerage).

Alexandria woman accused of stealing clothes, hitting security with pliers

Ebony Johnson, 23, 203 Woodward St., Alexandria, was arrested Monday night on charges relating to stolen clothes and fighting with security at Burlington Coat Factory in Alexandria Mall, according tothe Alexandria Police Department.

According to the police report, the security guard told officers through the store’s surveillance camera, he saw Johnson allegedly taking two extra large Roca Wear red shirts, hiding them and leaving the store without paying for the items. The items were valued at $20.

When security approached Johnson, she allegedly began fighting with the security guard and hit him in the right side of his head and body with a pair of needle nose pliers, which were in her purse. The guard and mall security walked Johnson back inside the store and called the police.

When police arrived, they observed a small cut on the right temple area of the guard’s head.

Johnson was booked on charges of  shoplifting and aggravated battery.

Kwanzaa celebration in Alexandria, LA

Photo by Bill Sumrall

Click here for more photos

About 100 people attended the Kwanzaa celebration held Tuesday, Dec. 29, at St. Juliana Catholic Church’s Activity Center, 900 Daspit, Alexandria.

The program included songs, memorials and reflections.

Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration with focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. Kwanzaa is neither political nor religious and despite some misconceptions, is not a substitute for Christmas. It is simply a time of reaffirming for African American people, their ancestors and culture.  Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits of the harvest” in the African language Kiswahili, has gained tremendous acceptance. Since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa has come to be observed by more than 18 million people worldwide, as reported by the New York Times. When establishing Kwanzaa in 1966, Dr. Karenga included an additional ‘a’ to the end of the spelling to reflect the difference between the African American (kwanzaa) and the Motherland spelling (kwanza)

Kwanzaa is based on the Nguzo Saba (seven guiding principles), one for each day of the observance, and is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

  • Umoja (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, “I am We,” or “I am because We are.”
  • Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.
  • Ujima (oo-Gee-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.
  • Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.
  • Nia. (Nee-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.
  • Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.
  • Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

From LA Times Pick (www.tike.com)

Free medicine program available statewide

ALEXANDRIA – A program that has been providing free prescriptions to eligible Central Louisiana residents since 2001 is now offered statewide.
 
The Rapides Foundation launched the Cenla Medication Access Program in 2001 to serve residents in Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes. Thirty more parishes were added in 2008 when CMAP formed a partnership with the Louisiana Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health.
 
In November, the coverage area officially became the entire state.
 
“We had always hoped we would be able to extend our services beyond our original service area,” said Program Director Wendy Roy, who has led CMAP since its inception. “It is wonderful to know that all Louisianans who qualify and need help with their medications will now be able to get services.”
 
The Foundation formed CMAP after research indicated that a significant number of Central Louisiana residents on fixed incomes did not have prescription benefits. Since then, CMAP has helped more than 22,000 people receive free prescriptions.
 
Joe Rosier, president and chief executive officer of The Rapides Foundation, said CMAP has helped to save lives, especially in these economic hard times when people are forced to make a decision between paying bills and purchasing medicine. “With CMAP, they don’t have to skip their life-saving medications. It keeps people healthier, and that means fewer hospital stays and emergency room visits.”
 
Gerrelda Davis, director of the Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health, said the bureau brought in experts from around the country to find a medication access program that would most benefit the state. “CMAP had that infrastructure and it was closely related to one of those programs that we were really looking to replicate in the state,” she said. “We thought this would be a better bang for the state’s resources.”
 
Anyone who needs help paying for their prescriptions is asked to call 1-888-443-7494 or visit www.cmaprx.org. CMAP’s staff can screen the individual over the phone to determine eligibility. If eligible, the applicant will be required to complete a form and provide proper financial documentation. CMAP then will work with the applicant and his physician to fill the applicant’s necessary prescriptions. This program, along with the medications, is offered free of charge.
 
CMAP is funded by The Rapides Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to improving the health status of Central Louisiana. CMAP’s expansion statewide is partly funded by the Department of Health and Hospitals under the Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care.

House of Java’s library location closes

The House of Java recently closed its operation located in the Westside Regional Library at 5416 Provine Place.

The coffee shop, owned and operated by Horatio Isadore, opened at the library in April 2009 when the parish’s newest library open its doors.

Isadore had operated coffee shops in downtown Alexandria and on Jackson Street. The Jackson Street location closed during the summer.

Isadore has one other location at Southern University that remains in operation.

Rapides Parish Jail bookings, Dec. 14, 2009

The Rapides Parish Jail, on Monday,  Dec. 14, booked the following on the related charges:

  • Michael Gayle Baggett, 122 Old Place Road, Trout, possession of CDS II.
  • Robert Louis Bener, Boyce, two counts of contempt of court.
  • Deraine Steven Carter, 2031 Harris St., Alexandria, aggravated battery.
  • Sherry Darnell Gentle, 3919 Skylark t., Alexandria, stalking
  • Edward Ray Harrison Jr., 6411 Milmar Blvd., Alexandria, probation violation.
  • Cathy Lynn Holloway, 2009 Jackson St., probation violation.
  • Deante Dewayne Quartez Horton,3507 Hollywood, Alexandria, disturbing the peace/fighting.
  • Kentral Doral Howard, 3437 Hollywood, Alexandria, CDS II possession to distribute.
  • Rodney Jermaine Jackson, 225 Stevens St., Pineville, contempt of court.
  • Audrey Louise James, 509 Lakeview St., Pineville, Louisiana fugitive.
  • Nicholas Forest Jenkins, 8223 Acorn Dive, Apt. 117, Alexandria, CDS II possession to distribute and possession of CDS I/MRJ Ist.
  • Peter Evans McBroom, 509 Lakeview St., Pineville, Louisiana fugitive.
  • Garry Wayne McClinton Jr., 2122 Monroe St., Alexandria, contraband parish/city jail.
  • Michael Douglas Miller, 2300 N. MacArthur Drive, Apt. 115, disturbing the peace.
  • Sherman Lee Miller Jr., 2935 Locust St., Alexandria, contempt of court.
  • Adam Moab Oneal, 146 Walker Gravel Pit Road, Dry Prong, DWI 1 vehicle.
  • Anita Louise Phillips, 3018 Dennis St., Alexandria, simple battery.
  • Michael Eugene Rollinson, 280 Old Hwy. 6 West, Natchitoches, driving under suspension/revocation and expired MVI sticker.
  • Adonys Miguel Salgado-Rincon, 815 Woodyard Drive @51, Natchitoches, two counts of unlawful use/possession from DOC.
  • Quinn Anthony Sonnier, 107 Hickory St., Pineville, three counts of possession of stolen firearm.
  • Michelle Veal, 2031 Harris St., Alexandria, aggravated battery.
  • Glen Paul Vitrano Jr., 122 Bedo St., Hessmer, theft and possession of stolen goods.
  • Jessica Lynn Vitrano, 139 Spring Bayou Road, Marksville, possession of stolen goods and thefts.
  • Patricia Lynn Vitrano, 122 Bedo St., Hessmer, theft and possession of stolen goods.

Cenla agencies receive federal dollars to help homeless

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration Wednesday, Dec. 23, announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is renewing grant funding needed to keep thousands of local homeless assistance programs operating.  HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said a total of nearly $1.4 billion will help an unprecedented 6,445 programs to continue offering critically needed housing and services to homeless persons and families.

 The grants announced are being awarded through HUD’s Continuum of Care programs.  For the first time ever, HUD is quickly providing renewal grants to local programs to prevent any interruption in federal assistance and will announce funding to new projects in early 2010.  For a local summary of the grants announced today, visit HUD’s Web site.

“As we move into the coldest time of the year, it’s critical that no program risk running out of money to keep their doors open,” said Donovan. “These grants will make certain that those programs on the front lines of helping the homeless have the resources they need to house and serve persons who might otherwise be forced to turn to the streets.”

Here’s how the money flowed to Central Louisiana agencies:

Central Louisiana Coalition to Prevent Homelessness    $58,244
Hope House of Central Louisiana                                              $129,084
Inner City Revitalzation Corp                                                   $33,333
Vernon Community Action Council, Inc                              $70,092
Volunteers of America North Louisiana                               $208,278
Volunteers of America North Louisiana                               $63,521
Volunteers of America North Louisiana                               $78,720

Total:                                                                                                   $641,272

Barbara Poppe, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, said, “Today we extend the federal partnership with communities to meet demand  for homeless assistance and support programs that successfully end homelessness. This public-private partnership has demonstrated tremendous success at ending chronic homelessness and we are now working to build partnerships to end homelessness among veterans and prevent family, youth, and child homelessness.”

HUD’s Continuum of Care Grants provide permanent and transitional housing to homeless persons. In addition, Continuum grants fund important services including job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care. Continuum of Care grants are awarded competitively to local programs to meet the needs of their homeless clients. These grants fund a wide variety of programs from street outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons and families.

HUD’s homelessness grants are reducing long-term or chronic homelessness in America.  Based on the Department’s latest homeless assessment, chronic homelessness has declined since 2005.  This decline is directly attributed to HUD’s homeless grants helping to create significantly more permanent housing for those who might otherwise be living on the streets.  However, data also indicates that family homelessness may be on the rise, particularly in suburban and rural areas.

Earlier this year, HUD allocated an additional $1.5 billion through its new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program. Made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, HPRP is intended to prevent persons from falling into homelessness or to rapidly re-house them if they do.

Highlights of HUD’s Homeless Assistance

•HUD is awarding nearly $1.4 billion to renew funding to 6,445 local programs. HUD awarded $1.2 billion to 5,825 renewal projects last year.

•More than $738 million is being awarded to 2,997 projects that provide permanent housing solutions for homeless families and individuals, including persons who are chronically homeless

•More than 3,200 local projects that serve families with children will receive over $733 million.

HUD’s housing and service programs funded through the Continuum of Care competition establish the foundation for communities to serve many of the nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families. Based on the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) released by HUD in July 2009:

•Nearly 1.6 million people use emergency or transitional housing programs over the course of a year; and

•On a given night, approximately 664,000 people are homeless. Of those:

1.More than 124,000 are chronically homeless;

1.36.5 percent are chronic substance abusers;

2.26.3 percent are severely mentally ill; and

3.About 15 percent are veterans.