River Views: River Parishes to celebrate Independence Day on July 3 _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ--New River Parish columnist Lori Lyons in New Orleans, La. Monday, April 20, 2015.

The River Parishes community is rallying around St. Charles Parish sheriff’s Deputy Burt Hazeltine, who was severely wounded in an ambush on April 16 while directing school traffic in Boutte. Hazeltine suffered wounds to his arm, chest and face and was rushed to University Hospital in New Orleans. He is expected to recover but may lose the vision in one eye.

Residents throughout the parish also have joined the “Lights on for Corporal Burt Hazeltine” vigil, putting blue light bulbs in their porch lights to support the deputy.

The St. Charles United Methodist Church in Destrehan is sponsoring a benefit lunch/dinner from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. Plate meals of jambalaya, salad, bread and dessert will be sold for $8, dine-in or takeout. Deliveries of 12 or more can be made within the parish. For information or to volunteer, call Mary Anne Schindler at (985) 764-8386 or (504) 710-5650, or email beronco@hotmail.com.

The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and the St. Charles Fraternal Order of Police No. 15 have established a benefit fund for Hazeltine and his family through the Louisiana FOP Foundation. To donate, visit www.giveback.org/cause/38465/Benefit-Fund-for-Corporal-Burt-Hazeltine.aspx.

The St. Charles Sheriff’s Office is raffling a fleur-de-lis painting donated by Kathy Perret, a Crime Scene Division employee. Tickets are $1 and may be purchased through the Sheriff’s Office. The drawing will be held on May 8.

The St. Charles Parish Bar Association also is accepting donations with checks made payable to St. Charles Parish Bar Association — Burt Hazeltine Fund, 13551 River Road, Luling, LA 70070.

Educator awards semifinalists

Natalie Klibert, a seventh- and eighth-grade English language arts, math and social studies teacher at John L. Ory Communication Arts Magnet School in LaPlace, is one of 18 semifinalists for statewide Teacher of the Year honors.

Hahnville High School Principal Ken Oertling is semifinalist for Principal of the Year.

“I’m feeling very lucky and very blessed to be recognized,” Klibert said. “I’m proud to be part of this district and part of the team moving this district forward.”

“I can’t think of a more deserving teacher for this honor,” said Ory Principal Christal Sylvain. “She has by far exceeded our expectations for what we expect in a teacher. It’s because of teachers like her that we will reach the district’s goal of becoming a top 10 school district in the next five years.”

The Louisiana Association of Principals partners with Dream Teachers and the Louisiana Department of Education to recognize outstanding teachers each year through the Teacher of the Year program. The 2016 Louisiana Teachers of the Year will be named July 11 during the ninth annual Cecil. J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium in Baton Rouge. Finalists will be announced next month.

School demolition Q&A

The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board will hold a community question-and-answer session concerning the planned demolition and rebuilding of Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School in LaPlace. The school is one of several that was badly damaged from storm surge in the wake of Hurricane Isaac in 2012. The school has been largely abandoned since then.

Election Day

Saturday is Election Day for St. Charles Parish residents who will vote on two property tax millage proposals. Proposition 1 calls for a 2.2-mill property tax renewal to improve and maintain the wastewater facilities in the parish. The renewal represents no new taxes for residents.

Proposition 2 calls for a 30-year, 4-mill property tax that would enable the parish to build a hurricane protection system on the West Bank and to complete the system on the east bank in Montz.

Also on the ballot is a new .70-mill, 10-year property tax dedicated to the ARC of St. Charles to help the organization continue to provide services to residents with physical and mental disabilities.

A fourth proposition seeks approval for the St. Charles Parish School Board to borrow $42 million for capital projects. Those include a $35 million performing arts center; $4 million in renovations to Lakewood Elementary School in Luling and Albert Cammon Middle School in St. Rose; and a $1.6 million upgrade to lighting at elementary schools throughout the parish.

Another $850,000 would go to safety improvements, including the installation of an electronic system to manage school visitors.

Little Red Church Fest

The 35th annual Little Red Church Food and Fun Fest, with games, rides, food and entertainment will be held May 1-3 at St. Charles Borromeo Church and School on River Road in Destrehan. Hours are from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Oldies but Goodies will perform at 6 p.m. on Friday. Mojeaux will play from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, followed by Category 6 at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Parish Avenue will play from 3:30 to 5:30 and the Topcats will close it out from 5:30 to 8:30. The annual Miss Red Church Pageant will be held on Sunday.

First edition of River Views

Many of you may already know me. I’ve been writing for more than 26 years, covering mostly high school sports in St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes. I used to like to joke that I was a “Saints” writer.

I also did a brief stint as a crime reporter, which wasn’t nearly as much fun. A longtime resident of the River Parishes, I have lived under the flare in Norco for 20 years.

We have got a lot of good things going on in the River Parishes. I welcome your input and would love to hear from you.

Lori Lyons reports on the River Parishes. Send information on news, events, accomplishments and story ideas to her at sportslyons@gmail.com.