Proud as a peacock? How about protected as a peacock, or at least as Mr. Pete?

The New Orleans City Council voted Thursday to designate part of West Carrollton as an official bird sanctuary, bringing to 15 the number of such sanctuaries in the city.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry introduced the ordinance after the Lousiana SPCA recently went to the Pigeon Town neighborhood to try — unsuccessfully — to trap an elusive peacock that took up residence there after Hurricane Katrina.

The peacock, known to some admirers as Mr. Pete or Mr. P, was alleged to be pecking at the shiny paint of cars, apparently after seeing his reflection and believing he faced a rival in the spring mating season. Neighbors suspect an irate car owner complained.

Other neighbors flocked to the bird’s defense, calling on Guidry to add the neighborhood to the roster of areas in New Orleans where wild birds may not be harassed or killed.

The new Carrollton Bird Sanctuary covers roughly the area from the Jefferson Parish line to Broadway, and from Oak Street to South Claiborne Avenue, said Tyler Gibson, legislative director for Guidry’s office. The Sewerage & Water Board plant on South Claiborne Avenue is excluded.

Mr. Pete is often seen around Dante and Cohn streets. No one knows where he came from.

The ordinance passed 6-0.

Jefferson government has a new spokesman

A four-month search for a new Jefferson Parish government public information officer ended recently when former WWL-TV news reporter and weekend anchor Antwan Harris was hired.

Parish President Mike Yenni named Harris as the successor to former spokeswoman Kriss Fairbairn Fortunato, who left the job in January, when Yenni took office.

In a statement announcing the hire, Yenni cited the 3,000-plus followers that Harris, 35, had amassed on Twitter. He also noted various awards Harris earned during a broadcast journalism career that saw him work for NBC affiliates in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Macon, Georgia, before he joined WWL three years ago.

“I know that Antwan will improve the parish’s ability to disseminate information to the public in a timely and accurate manner,” Yenni said. “I am especially pleased that he shares many of my beliefs regarding public access television and its ability to be more inviting and impactful than it is today.”

Harris said he was proud to get a chance to work alongside skilled, knowledgeable people “who are passionate about Jefferson Parish.”

Harris, who is from Flint, Michigan, received a bachelor’s degree in communications and media studies from Eastern Michigan University in 2003. His wife is from New Orleans, and he dedicates some of his free time to organizations such as Boys Town Louisiana and 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Yenni said.

Following Fortunato’s departure from Jefferson’s government, Rhonda Collins handled media requests on an interim basis.

Work on VA Medical Center will actually end

It may seem that construction of the new Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Mid-City has been going on forever, but pieces are gradually being finished.

The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System received the outpatient building at the new medical center from the construction team on May 13.

As a result, SLVHCS is on schedule to start seeing patients at its new location in December. The inpatient building and patient parking garage were turned over to it in December, and the central energy plant was turned over in January.

“These turnovers are significant events in the activation of the new Veterans Medical Center,” said Fernando Rivera, the SLVHCS medical center director. “We will be a tertiary care regional referral hospital where veterans will come from all over the Southeast to receive world-class care right here in the Crescent City.”

The new 1.6 million-square-foot Veterans Affairs Medical Center will begin phased operations in late 2016 for veterans in the 23 parishes of Southeast Louisiana. Ambulatory and day procedures will begin in 2017, followed by complex surgeries later in the year.

When the center is fully operational, veterans from the Texas-Louisiana border to the panhandle of Florida will come to SLVHCS for inpatient care.

Time to get ready for 2016 hurricane season

With the 2016 hurricane season officially starting June 1, New Orleans officials are urging residents to be prepared and to identify trusted sources of information before a hurricane comes this way.

Residents can sign up now for emergency notifications straight from the city. Go to

The NOLA Ready Emergency Alert System provides official notifications about any emergency — including closed roads, boil-water advisories and hurricanes — to a cell, work or home phone via text, email or voice message.

These include mandatory city evacuation information; weather advisories for a family’s home, business, school, child care center or other site; and the latest traffic information including accidents, closed roads, alternative routes and more.

Up-to-the-minute information and safety tips also are available during an emergency on social media: Twitter: @NOLAReady or Facebook: NOLA Ready.

Compiled by Annette Sisco, Ramon Antonio Vargas and Bruce Eggler