Chronologically Gifted hear released inmate

John Nicholas spoke about his 42-year incarceration at Louisiana State Penitentiary to the Broadmoor Presbyterian Chronologically Gifted and Talented on Feb. 15.

Nicholas, 73, resides in Joseph Homes, a transitional shelter for men recently released from prison. Linda Fjeldsjo, who coordinates the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge prison ministry, also spoke.

Nicholas left Angola Feb. 8. He said he had not worn a button-down dress shirt in 42 years. Nicholas said Fjeldsjo was there for every one of his hearings and was there to drive him to his apartment upon release. He also paid tribute to the warden at LSP and a classification officer, who stood by him.

“They were touched by God to help me, and, if it weren’t for God, I would not be here,” he said.

Fjeldsjo complimented Nicholas for taking care of himself “physically, mentally and spiritually.” He took advantage of schooling offered at the prison, attends two AA meetings each week and said he will never taste alcohol again. He is in the process of obtaining his Social Security and veterans benefits.

Fjeldsjo said the prison ministry provides services to chaplains, homeless formerly incarcerated, families of prisoners and supports criminal justice reform. Fjeldsjo said state inmates discharging from a correctional facility are only provided a $20 debit card to re-establish themselves into the community.

Von Raybon catered the luncheon. Emily Jane McCune and Annabelle Armstrong were co-chairwomen. Also assisting were Roger Wirth, Marion Forbes, Peggy Hammond, Barbara Long, Virginia Holloway and Pat Robertson. Clifton and Mary Murphy were guests.

St. Louis Altar Society holds luncheon

The St. Louis King of France Altar Society held an "Angels Among Us" luncheon Feb. 27 at the Parish Activity Center.

President Teenie Bajon greeted members and guests. Pete Hymel catered the meal for 55 women and four men. Calvin Bajon and Ovide LaHaye assist the society at its meetings, and two former St. Louis priests — the Rev. Juel Kandulna, now serving in Napoleonville, and the Rev. Jack Nutter, now serving in New Roads — were guests.

Herb Society holds second annual fundraiser

The Baton Rouge Unit of the Herb Society of America presented its second annual Herb Day fundraiser March 4 to support expanding the Herb Society's large public ethnic, historical Herb Garden at the Burden Center.

More than 1,000 people attended Herb Day, and well over 1,000 herb plants were sold.

Classes included "Getting Started with Herbs," "Old South Kitchen Gardens," "Saving the Monarchs!" and "Cooking with the Herb of the Year: Coriander/Cilantro." Cookbook author and society member Cynthia Nobles showed how to best use coriander and cilantro.

Musicians Seth Finch and Zahria Sims, of Baton Rouge Magnet High School, performed jazz and Great American Songbook selections.

Member Mark Fowler led the herb petting zoo and was helped by his 9-year-old daughter, Chloe

On sale were books, wreaths, herbal soaps and a new feature, the Herbal Sachet Bar, where customers could make herbal sachets to their specifications. 

Sweet Adelines donate to Food Bank

The Baton Rouge Chorus of Sweet Adelines donated $2,010 plus 238 pounds of food to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank on March 7.

The group annually donates proceeds from its annual show to a local nonprofit. Last year's show, ironically titled "Weather ... Or Not," was postponed until Feb. 11. The monetary donation was presented to Food Bank official James McGowan during a chorus rehearsal.

The chorus website is The annual Friends and Family Night will be held March 28.

FGBRCA hears parish officials

Four East Baton Rouge Parish officials spoke to the Federation of Greater Baton Rouge Civic Associations on March 9. The federation represents area homeowners associations.

Speakers were Mary Fontenot, community outreach/code enforcement specialist; Eric Romero, information services director; Warren Kron, GIS manager; and Carrie Broussard, long-range planning manager.

Fontenot spoke about the EBR Beautiful Plan. April 1 is the Great America Cleanup Day. Romero demonstrated the Open Neighborhood BR website. Information and statistics are available on police incidents, animal control, fire incidents, 311 calls, building permits and traffic incidents going back to 2012. Currently, this information is only for Baton Rouge, but by the summer the entire parish will be covered and will include the EBR Sheriff’s Office.

Kron explained the GIS Map Portal. The portal provides the public with access to more than 80 on-demand, GIS web services, ranging from a real-time traffic map to historic land development and flood-zone determination maps. Broussard spoke about long-range planning taking place in EBR. The Future BR interactive website shows proposed future land use.

The federation meets the second Thursday of each month at the Main Library auditorium on Goodwood Boulevard. The next meeting will be on April 11. Single-family homeowner associations are invited to join. Contact President Nancy Curry, (225) 925-1674 to join or attend a meeting.

Crowder Camellia Collection dedicated at Burden Center

A ribbon cutting for the Florence and Charles Crowder Camellia Collection was held Feb. 12 at the Barton Arboretum in the LSU Botanic Gardens at the Burden Center.

Camellias in the garden originated prior to 1900. The plants were from a collection of the Crowders' that were gathered as scions from various countries, as well as the United States. Four of the 102 plants were donated from the Baton Rouge Camellia Society, as well as two of its members. The garden was dedicated to the memory of Florence Crowder's parents, Ethel 'Nook' and J.L. Scivicque, of Denham Springs.

Members of the International Camellia Society's Conservation Working Group held their annual meeting in Baton Rouge, which coincided with the garden dedication and the Baton Rouge Camellia Society's 46th annual show.

Florence Crowder was in the organizing group in 2010 and serves as ICS director, ICS membership representative and American Camellia Society U.S. representative with the ICS. Goals of the working group are to locate identify and preserve camellias with emphasis on the older ones.

The group of 32 visiting members represented China, Australia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, England and the United States. The group spent its first day in Baton Rouge at the LSU Botanic Gardens and Rural Life Museum viewing the Baton Rouge Camellia Society's annual show with lunch and dinner in their honor provided by the Baton Rouge Camellia Society.

The group went to Jungle Gardens at Avery Island and the Tabasco Museum and Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville and toured the Louisiana State Capitol and gardens.

For further information regarding the international group, email For information on the Baton Rouge Camellia Society, contact Joe Holmes, For the American Camellia Society, contact Jim Campbell,

Community college scholars honored

Several area students have been selected to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System's 2017 Phi Theta Kappa Louisiana All-Academic Team.

Twenty-nine two-year college students from across the state were recognized for their academic and civic accomplishments during an awards ceremony in Baton Rouge.

Nationally, 73 percent of Phi Theta Kappa graduates transfer to four-year universities. Members of the All-Academic Team now become eligible for the All-USA Community College Academic Team, sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges.

Team members include Dwayne Hinton, Callie Icenogle, Ashlee Johnson, Baton Rouge Community College; Brynn Castagnetta, Amanda Walker, River Parishes Community College; and Ashley Hefner, Seth Jean, Nathalie Niepagen, Nicholas Patton and Thebphathay Phetphachanh, South Louisiana Community College.

Compiled by Advocate staff writer George Morris. The “Community” column runs every Tuesday and Friday in The Advocate. Items should be submitted to “Community,” Advocate eatplaylive section, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821, or emailed to Events should be submitted in a timely fashion. By submitting photos to The Advocate, you agree that they can be published in any of The Advocate’s print or digital publications.

Follow George Morris on Twitter, @GWMorris.