NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in New Orleans is moving back into the Custom House built more than a century ago on Canal Street.
The agency had to move out because of damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It didn’t flood, but roof damage let water in, and mold set in, spokeswoman Virginia Dabbs said Thursday. She said the office will be moving back in stages, and plans a dedication celebration on Aug. 23.
As the Customs office moves back in, the Audubon Insectarium — which occupies the building’s first floor — is preparing to mark its third anniversary June 11-12.
Its opening, originally planned for 2007, was delayed because the federal government didn’t let workers back into the building for a year after Katrina.
It is owned by the General Services Administration, which describes it as “one of the oldest and most important federal buildings in the southern United States and one of the major works of architecture commissioned by the federal government in the 19th century.”
Construction started in 1848, and the U.S. Customs Service moved into the first floor of the partly finished building in 1856, with the U.S. Post Office following in late 1860. A temporary roof was put on when the start of the Civil War halted construction in 1861.
The Confederacy used the building to make gun carriages; the Union Army used it as a headquarters after occupying the city in 1862, and later used it to hold captured Confederate soldiers — reportedly as many as 2,000 at a time, according to the GSA website.
Construction resumed in 1871, and the building was completed in 1881.
Rayville girl, 5, sick with E. coli infection
MONROE — A 5-year-old girl from Rayville has been hospitalized for more than two weeks, suffering from an E. coli bacterial infection.
The girl was taken to the LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport’s pediatric intensive care unit after she became sick while attending a party in Richland Parish.
The girl’s grandfather told The News-Star in Monroe that as many as 15 children were sickened following an end-of-the-year Ouachita Christian School party last month on a farm between Start and Rayville.
Dr. Shelley Jones, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Region 8 director, said the state has confirmed three cases of E. coli, but Jones said it’s unlikely an exact source of the E. coli will ever be determined.
Jones suspects the children were infected while playing in a mud pit.
Police: Investigation of April death stalled
GIBSON — Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies said an investigation into the death of a 24-year-old man found face down in a Gibson waterway more than a month ago has stalled.
Jamon Lutcher was found by a fisherman in late April in a canal off U.S. Highway 90. Officials continue to call it a “suspicious death” because of where his body was found, although no suspects have been identified, according to sheriff’s Capt. Dawn Foret.
A cause of death has not been determined. Autopsy results from the Jefferson Coroner’s Office may take up to six weeks.