WBRZ https://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ On Your Side On Your Side en-us Copyright 2023, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Sun, 2 Apr 2023 HH:04:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ https://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 Utility overcharge corrected, more lighting provided in bill fix https://www.wbrz.com/news/utility-overcharge-corrected-more-lighting-provided-in-bill-fix/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/utility-overcharge-corrected-more-lighting-provided-in-bill-fix/ On Your Side Wed, 29 Mar 2023 2:00:05 PM Brittany Weiss Utility overcharge corrected, more lighting provided in bill fix

BATON ROUGE - A business owner is in a much better position after reaching out to 2 On Your Side for help with her Entergy bill. Dorothy Holdon asked for help after she couldn't find a resolution on her own.

"Within a couple of days they were out installing lights," she said.

Holdon is proud to have three new security lights surrounding her business on Plank Road in Baton Rouge. She's also happy to have a large credit on her account.

"It makes a big difference, the place is well lit and customers can come in without being afraid."

For the past two years, Holdon has been receiving a charge on her Entergy bill for a security light that was not operational. The pole it had been hung on was taken out by a car in 2021. After calling Entergy several times and not receiving the help she asked for, she contacted 2 On Your Side. Soon after, she says she took a call from Entergy and changes started to happen.

"Even before the story aired I got a call from Entergy," she said.

Entergy recently rolled out a new street light outage reporting system. The system can be accessed through the Entergy app on or online here. Customers should click "report an outage now" and then select "a security light or street light is out" from the prompts. The system can be accessed through an account or as a guest so people can flag locations where security lights or street lights are out.

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After threatening to sue homeowner for ignoring letter, parish now admits it never sent it https://www.wbrz.com/news/after-threatening-to-sue-homeowner-for-ignoring-letter-parish-now-admits-it-never-sent-it/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/after-threatening-to-sue-homeowner-for-ignoring-letter-parish-now-admits-it-never-sent-it/ On Your Side Tue, 28 Mar 2023 4:38:07 PM Brittany Weiss After threatening to sue homeowner for ignoring letter, parish now admits it never sent it

PRAIRIEVILLE - There's more to the story about a fence in Ascension Parish. A parish official told 2 On Your Side on Thursday that a certified letter had been sent to the property owners with an official offer from the parish to move the fence to the servitude line.

Turns out, that letter never existed.

Earlier this month Nick Ehrhard and his wife were facing a lawsuit from Ascension Parish over their fence. The item appeared on the March 16 council agenda before it was removed by councilwoman Terri Casso.

The fence was built in January, and Ehrhard got a permit. Soon after that permit was issued, the parish said it was missing a signature and that it was not valid. Even though the fence aligns with all of the others, a fairly new ordinance says that fences are prohibited within a drainage servitude.

Realizing the error with the permit issued, Parish Attorney Jean-Paul Robert called Ehrhard with a compromise to move the fence at the parish's expense. Ehrhard had questions about the verbal offer and emailed them to the parish at the end of February. Since, Ehrhard says the questions have not been answered and phone calls have not been returned.

"The next thing we know our name is on a docket to be potentially sued by the government," he said.

The parish told 2 On Your Side last week it sent Ehrhard a certified letter with an official offer to move the fence. Monday, the parish admitted the certified letter never existed. The parish said the next step is to file a lawsuit since they never received a response to a letter, which did not exist.

"I'm perplexed why the parish finds it a good idea to have a lawsuit against one of their parish teachers and a social worker for a fence," Ehrhard said.

The parish was questioned about why it decided to move forward with a lawsuit without answering Ehrhard's questions. The inquiry was not addressed at the time this story aired.

The item regarding the lawsuit could reappear on the April council agenda.

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Prairieville resident could face parish lawsuit over fence position https://www.wbrz.com/news/prairieville-resident-could-face-parish-lawsuit-over-fence-position/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/prairieville-resident-could-face-parish-lawsuit-over-fence-position/ On Your Side Fri, 24 Mar 2023 3:32:53 PM Brittany Weiss Prairieville resident could face parish lawsuit over fence position

PRAIRIEVILLE - A civil matter has escalated to a potential lawsuit involving the Ascension Parish government and a Prairieville resident.

It's all over a fence, and the owner of the fence, Nick Ehrhard, says he only wants to be treated fairly. Instead, he says he feels isolated.

"I'm feeling kind of isolated by, really, our parish," Ehrhard said.

Earlier this year, Ehrhard built a fence at the back of his property.

"We decided to build a fence early January due to some issues we were having with a neighbor," he said.

They got a permit, and the fence went up. But soon after that, the parish said the permit isn't valid because it's missing a signature.

"It's confusing to me because they handed us a physical permit, basically said it's good to go," Ehrhard said.

Now, the parish wants the fence to be moved to comply with a new ordinance that says fences are prohibited within a drainage servitude. All the other fences that are "grandfathered" in can stay where they are.

The parish admitted to the permit error but maintains that the contractor should have known better. 

"They basically said, 'Oops, this is our mistake,'" Erhard said.

Parish attorney Jean-Paul Robert offered a compromise and says the parish will pay to move the fence to the servitude line, but only Ehrhard's. When asked if he'd accept the offer, Ehrhard tells 2 On Your Side that he wouldn't because it feels like his family is being singled out.

The parish said it sent a certified letter to Ehrhard with the offer requesting confirmation or denial, but he says he never received that document. The parish was asked for a copy of the certified letter on Thursday but said they couldn't supply the document until Monday.

Since the parish never received a response regarding its proposal, the next step is to file a lawsuit. It appeared as an agenda item on the March 16 Ascension Parish Council agenda before it was removed by council member Terri Casso. It could be put back on the agenda next month.

"I can tell you that I'm vehemently opposed to the parish government suing one of its residents over something that is a civil matter," Casso said.

In response to a potential lawsuit, Ehrhard says it doesn't make any sense and is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"I'm perplexed as to why the parish wants to spend time and money, especially after the parish has already given us a permit and the fence has already been established, to basically single us out," Ehrhard said.

He thinks it's a shame it's come to this, and all because of a fence.

The parish says it understands the confusion about the permit and has added an extra step to application permits to avoid the same confusion in the future.

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Metro Council member loses property dispute case, ordered to pay $57K in damages https://www.wbrz.com/news/metro-council-member-loses-property-dispute-case-ordered-to-pay-57k-in-damages/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/metro-council-member-loses-property-dispute-case-ordered-to-pay-57k-in-damages/ On Your Side Thu, 23 Mar 2023 2:27:32 PM Brittany Weiss Metro Council member loses property dispute case, ordered to pay $57K in damages

BATON ROUGE - After failing to show up for court twice, an East Baton Rouge Metro councilman has been ordered to pay restitution and remove property in violation of parish code.

A judge has ordered Councilman Cleve Dunn to pay his neighbor, Eugene Michelli, $57,000 in damages. The property in violation of parish code includes a driveway, a fence and a pool house kitchen. The fence has been awarded to Michelli since it was built on his property.

"We're excited; I'm just trying to get this burden off my back. We just hope that he'll settle," Michelli said.

The dispute dates back to October 2020, when Dunn started remodeling the home that is outside of his district. The property is near Millerville Road and S. Flannery Road in Sherwood Manor Subdivision, district eight. Michelli says the property improvements became the source of his stress that bled his pocketbook dry.

"You didn't help nobody here because you're not a councilman here you're a councilman on the other side of town, are you helping them?" said Michelli

Michelli said Dunn's property improvements washed away his land, pushing dirt onto the sidewalk and into the street. He also says it caused his home to flood during the May 2021 storm. Michelli installed sump-pumps to prevent it from happening again.

In September 2021, Dunn told 2 On Your Side that he's not responsible for his neighbor's flooding concerns. The city-parish government took issue with the property improvements, failing him on multiple inspections. The inspections noted violations with the fence, a pool house that's built too close to the servitude, and a driveway that's too wide. The work was not permitted. Dunn applied for a permit but has been unable to provide the correct material to the parish.

In November 2022, Michelli told 2 On Your Side that it cost him the sale of his home.

Michelli says he attempted to reason with his neighbor but communication stopped. Michelli sued Dunn in December 2021 over the issues. The case was continued several times, two judges recused themselves, then the third judge retired before it ended up in the hands of Judge Beau Higginbotham. Dunn didn't show up to a hearing on March 14, then missed his contempt of court hearing on March 23. The judge awarded the case to Michelli.

Judge Higginbotham didn't provide a deadline for Dunn to respond.

Brittany Weiss called Dunn Thursday and he suggested contacting his lawyer, Representative Edmond Jordan. Jordan did not respond to phone calls or a text message requesting comment. Jordan filed new paperwork within the courts on March 27.

Dunn was seen walking from his car to the house on Monday. He did not speak to WBRZ.

The City-Parish said from the get-go that it works with property owners in good faith to address code violations. Michelli is wondering how much longer that "good faith" will continue.

"We just want to the city to do something," he said.

On Monday the parish said it will meet with the conflict council in the near future to discuss the outcome of the recent civil trial involving Councilman Dunn and Donna & Eugene Michelli. Regarding the ongoing permitting issue, the City-Parish has set an April 19 deadline to provide the remaining information. The city says if a final judgement orders Dunn to tear down his property, that could change things.

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Business owner repeatedly charged for security light that doesn't exist https://www.wbrz.com/news/business-owner-repeatedly-charged-for-security-light-that-doesn-t-exist/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/business-owner-repeatedly-charged-for-security-light-that-doesn-t-exist/ On Your Side Tue, 14 Mar 2023 2:42:20 PM Brittany Weiss Business owner repeatedly charged for security light that doesn't exist

BATON ROUGE - A business owner says she has been paying for a security light that she hasn't had since October 2021.

Dorothy Holden says she's tired of waiting on Entergy to adjust her bill.

"They keep saying they're going to do something and nobody does anything," Holden said.

In a nutshell, that's why she contacted 2 On Your Side. Holden has been paying the bill all along fearing her power would be turned off if she didn't. After making several phone calls to the utility company, the security light charge continues to show up on her bill each month. The charges range from approximately $36 to $47 per month.

Holden says she had her security light for years before a car knocked down the pole it was hanging on. Entergy removed the pole, but not the extra fee.

Every time she enters her business, EZ Pak N Serve on Plank Road in Baton Rouge, she's reminded about what happened. Part of the pole is still lying across the street and the rest is attached to the wires out of the building. There's a hole in the ground where the pole once stood.

"It looks very ridiculous."

After adding up the charges, Entergy owes her over $1,000 for the light she doesn't have. At this point, she'll take a credit for the charges. What Holden really wants is for Entergy to restore the pole and rehang her security light.

She has some lighting around her building, but says more is better.

"I think that it's safer if you have light around the place, it's much safer and customers feel safe at night coming in if the light is there."

Entergy says it's looking into Holden's charges and what's next for the pole.

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Brusly mailboxes moved again, now farther from street https://www.wbrz.com/news/brusly-mailboxes-moved-again-now-farther-from-street/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/brusly-mailboxes-moved-again-now-farther-from-street/ On Your Side Mon, 13 Mar 2023 2:17:03 PM Brittany Weiss Brusly mailboxes moved again, now farther from street

BRUSLY - Mailboxes that some say were installed too close to the road have been moved farther away from the street. One woman called 2 On Your Side after she hit a mailbox and it turns out she's not the only one who complained.

A day after the story aired, John Berthelot says a crew came out and moved all the mailboxes.

"After you came out it took them one day to put them all on this side of the sidewalk," he said.

The boxes are now between the sidewalk and homes along East St. Francis Street. Berthelot isn't sure what sparked the change.

"Somebody changed their mind, I don't know what happened," he said.

Last week, those mailboxes were installed on a narrow strip of land between the sidewalk and the street. In some places, that piece of land is only about eight inches wide. The mailboxes were placed parallel to the street. They were so close to the road that drivers were hitting the boxes.

It's something Lynette Rivet had never seen before. She hit one of those boxes with her passenger side mirror and damaged her brand new car.

"We were just driving, passing a vehicle on the road and BAM!" she said.

Others in the neighborhood chimed in on Facebook saying they had similar experiences; their boxes had been hit too. Berthelot seems to think the new mailbox location is better than how it was before.

"As long as they put my mail in it," he said.

That had been the concern all along. Initially Berthelot said the postal carrier told him that she wouldn't deliver his mail if the box is on the side of the sidewalk closest to the house. They've made an adjustment.

"She drives along the sidewalk," he said.

Berthelot is getting his mail and the boxes are far out of the way to passing cars.

As far as Rivet, she has filed a claim with the United States Postal Service.

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Dry cleaner leaves customers high and dry, looking for their clothes after abrupt closure https://www.wbrz.com/news/dry-cleaner-leaves-customers-high-and-dry-looking-for-their-clothes-after-abrupt-closure/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/dry-cleaner-leaves-customers-high-and-dry-looking-for-their-clothes-after-abrupt-closure/ On Your Side Fri, 10 Mar 2023 7:29:20 PM Brittany Weiss Dry cleaner leaves customers high and dry, looking for their clothes after abrupt closure

BATON ROUGE - A dry cleaner on Gus Young Avenue closed abruptly last month, and customers are looking for answers about what happened to their clothes.

Customer Kim Wellington says clothes are still inside the business, so she called 2 On Your Side to try and get her items back.

It's safe to say Wellington was left in a tough spot. She dropped off some of her clothes at Jaguar Cleaners last month, and she hasn't seen them since.

"No warning at all," Wellington said.

She says she's been calling the owner four to five times a day and coming by to see if it's back open, but to no avail.

"I've been coming every day. Every day, every day" she said. "I've been calling, calling, calling, leaving voicemails, and no one returns my calls."

The number associated with the business has been disconnected, and the number on her receipt also doesn't work.

Wellington isn't the only one who's popped by Jaguar Cleaners looking for their clothes.

"They said the same thing I was saying. People were coming every day looking for their clothes, looking for their clothes," she said.

She says she doesn't think it's right that the cleaners took her business and then abruptly closed.

"You don't do things like that," Wellington said.

Now, she's wondering if she'll ever see her jeans again.

"My five pairs of jeans are in there!" she said.

So far, 2 On Your Side has been unable to reach the owner for comment.

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Amid reports of rampant fighting at EBR schools, teacher tells WBRZ they're scared to teach https://www.wbrz.com/news/amid-reports-of-rampant-fighting-at-ebr-schools-teacher-tells-wbrz-they-re-scared-to-teach/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/amid-reports-of-rampant-fighting-at-ebr-schools-teacher-tells-wbrz-they-re-scared-to-teach/ On Your Side Thu, 9 Mar 2023 1:51:32 PM Brittany Weiss Amid reports of rampant fighting at EBR schools, teacher tells WBRZ they're scared to teach

BATON ROUGE - An East Baton Rouge Parish School System teacher fears that teachers and students haven't been given the resources they need to succeed and it's resulting in unrest.

It's the violence, the disrespect, and the lack of support from leadership that worries this teacher who does not want to be identified. They told 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss that they feel scared when they go to work.

"I feel like I can't protect myself nor my kids that I teach. It's sitting in the car not wanting to get out, like walking the Green Mile."

Fights like the one that happened on Wednesday at EBR Readiness Alternative School are not isolated to one location. Law enforcement said as many as 200 students and parents were involved in the massive fight ending with at least 10 arrests.

Other than that, the teacher said at their school they see three to four altercations a day, while some schools have more and others less. The violence is captured on cell phones and posted to social media, sometimes on district-issued Chromebooks. What's really concerning to this person is the lack of security on and around campus. They report unlocked doors allowing anyone to enter and leave campus and security officers that aren't there for the full school day, sometimes just a few hours a day.

"Security officers are very limited. They're not at most schools five days a week. I don't care what they tell you," they said.

One of the most jarring incidents this person has witnessed recently was a teacher getting trampled as students ran into her classroom to film a fight.

"They're threatening teachers, punching teachers, calling teachers racist names," the teacher said.

Some educators say at-home learning during the pandemic likely escalated these situations and there are several students that resort to fighting as opposed to working things out. The stress is so much, educators are leaving at a rapid rate. So far this school year, almost 500 teachers and other employees have either resigned or have been fired. At one school, at least 22 teachers have left so far this school year.

As a result, schools are merging classes and teachers are teaching during their planning period.

The teacher who sat down with 2 On Your Side says it boils down to leadership and that things might change if leadership did. Superintendent Sito Narcisse spoke about looking at policies after Wednesday's large fight. This teacher fears those policies won't fix the issues, like students who are struggling to make up for time lost during virtual learning.

"First of all, the leadership needs to accept that there's a problem, get into the schools and go in there and assist the schools... show their faces there," they said.

Until there's an effort the educator says changes won't happen, but they'll keep teaching because they care about the students they teach.

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Mailboxes moved following sidewalk project, some say they're too close to street https://www.wbrz.com/news/mailboxes-moved-following-sidewalk-project-some-say-they-re-too-close-to-street/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/mailboxes-moved-following-sidewalk-project-some-say-they-re-too-close-to-street/ On Your Side Wed, 8 Mar 2023 3:41:29 PM Brittany Weiss Mailboxes moved following sidewalk project, some say they're too close to street

BRUSLY - Some mailboxes are getting the attention of a driver in West Baton Rouge Parish after a sidewalk construction project. A woman says she hit one of them and it damaged her brand new car.

Sunday afternoon, Lynette Rivet had just wrapped up an errand and was on her way home. She was headed toward the river on East St. Francis Street in Brusly when she heard a loud bang and looked over to see her side mirror hanging off it's support.

"Oh my God, what did I hit? We were just driving, passing a vehicle on the road and bam!" Rivet said.

Her brand new car is now damaged after her side mirror hit a mailbox. Once Rivet had a chance to look around she noticed something she has never seen before. On East St. Francis Street, the mailboxes are posted between the sidewalk and the road parallel to the street on a tiny strip of land. In some areas, the strip of land is about 18 inches but in other areas it's much smaller.

"You look down the street and you see how close they are, how close they are to the road," Rivet said.

She says that while passing another car on the street it's no wonder she hit one of the mailboxes.

"They are entirely too close to the road."

The sidewalks are brand new. Brusly Mayor Scot Rhodes says the project was built with grant dollars to provide connectivity and how the mailboxes are now is not a permanent solution.

John Berthelot lives on East St. Francis Street and says it was him who initially brought up some concerns with the project. Berthelot says the mailboxes were first installed between the sidewalk and the houses. One day his mail wasn't delivered and he tracked down the mail carrier to find out why.

"She said your box isn't in the right place, I'm not going to walk across that sidewalk and I'm not going to drive across the sidewalk," Berthelot said.

That's when Berthelot says the postmaster got involved and says the contractor moved the mailboxes to where they are now. Berthelot says the mailboxes were in a better location before the sidewalk was installed. If they're placed on the inner side of the sidewalk he won't get mail. If they're placed on the outside of the sidewalk he says the boxes are too close to the road.

"I don't have any choice," he said.

Rivet says someone has some explaining to do.

"The construction guy told me to talk to the mayor, the mayor told me to talk to the post office," Rivet said.

Drivers seem to swerve out of the way to avoid the edge of the road, except when passing another car like Rivet was doing when she hit the mailbox.

"I don't think that I did anything wrong and that I'm responsible for fixing it," she said.

Rivet doesn't think she'll be the last person to hit one of those boxes.

West Baton Rouge Parish released a statement regarding the incident. The parish says, in part, that the Joliet Trail is a pedestrian pathway to allow people to travel between Alexander Park and the five-mile-long De Soto Levee Top trail in West Baton Rouge Parish and the Town of Brusly. These projects are designed and constructed under the oversight of licensed and certified engineering and construction contractors as well as with consultation of agents for the United States Postal Service.

The parish said it will not be issuing a statement related to determinations of liability for any recent incidents as our staff is not qualified to make such determinations.

Prior to this story airing, 2 On Your Side asked Mayor Rhodes, West Baton Rouge Parish, and the United States Postal Service for information about what the permanent solution is to the mailboxes. A response was not provided.

The Friday after the story aired, the USPS provided the following statement:

The Postal Service appreciates its customers and always strives to provide excellent service. One way we do this is ensuring the correct placement of mailboxes along delivery routes so they may be safely and conveniently served by our carriers without leaving their vehicles. In this specific case, the Postal Service is currently working with various stakeholders to ensure proper placement of mailboxes along East St. Francis Street in Brusly. The Postal Service appreciates its customers’ patience and understanding during this ongoing project.

In a previous 2 On Your Side story, a road project in Hammond using federal grant dollars followed federal guidelines and included the addition of "breakaway" mailboxes.

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Shameless theft video highlights bigger problem, thefts go unreported https://www.wbrz.com/news/shameless-theft-video-highlights-bigger-problem-thefts-go-unreported/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/shameless-theft-video-highlights-bigger-problem-thefts-go-unreported/ On Your Side Tue, 7 Mar 2023 1:01:23 PM Brittany Weiss Shameless theft video highlights bigger problem, thefts go unreported

BATON ROUGE - Retail theft is a problem all over the country. It's no secret, it also happens in and around Baton Rouge. What you might not know is a lot of it goes unreported.

If you look around the parking lot and the building itself at the Walgreens on South Acadian Thruway and Government Street, you'll notice no visible surveillance cameras.

Brian McGowen lives next to the Mid City Walgreens and has taken it upon himself to post surveillance cameras.

"Why do I have to have security on Walgreens? Because they don't have any," McGowen said.

What he's captured might surprise you. There are dozens of videos of people urinating behind the business' dumpster, others of people doing and selling drugs. The videos prompted Walgreens to make changes and move the dumpster to a more central location at the business.

There's more. Several weeks ago, McGowen's cameras caught a person running from the rear of the store with bags in hand. They dropped items along the way but continued running toward a white car, then went back to pick up what was lost. The driver starts to leave as the person is still closing the passenger door.

The incident turned out to be a theft.

"You're sending a signal to the public that you just don't care what's going on in your parking lot. It's bad for business," McGowen said.

An employee at the Mid City Walgreens told 2 On Your Side they reviewed the cameras and confirmed items were stolen, but the theft went unreported to police. Brittany Weiss asked about it, the police were never called. Since August 1, 2022, the Baton Rouge Police Department says there have been a dozen thefts reported at this Walgreens. Police say that's only a piece of what's going on.

"Let's just say that we know there are more," Sgt. L'Jean McKneely said.

Police admit that thefts are happening, but they are not being called in. It's something that's happening all over the country.

In San Francisco, CNN reported that theft at Walgreens stores was running rampant. A viral video showed a man on a bicycle in the store shoving items into a black plastic bag as a security officer stood by watching and others filmed the incident on their cell phones. The man rode out of the store on his bike with little incident, other than the officer attempting to grab the bag and throw the thief off course.

"Some of those businesses have policies in which they don't really call for police assistance, they let those persons leave that business with that merchandise and write it off as a loss," McKneely said.

Brittany Weiss asked Walgreens corporate about why theft is going unreported in Baton Rouge. A spokesperson didn't answer the question, but did say the company takes measures like installing anti-theft devices and using security personnel to deter theft. Baton Rouge police have an idea why they aren't receiving calls about thefts.

"They don't want that type of image on their business," McKneely said.

Inside several Baton Rouge Walgreens stores, customers might notice the amount of stock behind plexiglass. It includes detergent, fabric freshener, deodorant, body wash and several other items. Petty theft is a criminal enterprise and everyone plays a part—from the seller, to the retailer, the criminal, the consumer and the unaware online shopper.

"They turn around and sell them on the street. They may trade them for drugs. There's a combination of things that may come from them stealing those items," McKneely said.

It's not just Walgreens. People steal left and right from places, sometimes out of desperation. McKneely says that some people who steal may be reaching out for help and that's their way of reaching out. Police say hardware stores are a big target.

"Those persons feel comfortable going to businesses committing crimes and there's no recourse of action for the things that they're doing," McKneely said.

The Walgreens on Perkins Road and Staring Lane recently closed, same with the Sherwood Forest Boulevard location. Walgreens says the stores closed because of the dynamic of the local market.

But there are other theories and people will tell you.

Dr. Peter Scharf is a health criminologist at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. He says that this attitude and disregard about unreported loss is a real problem in the community.

"Don't worry about it, nobody got killed, but does that create a climate in which violent crime becomes permissible?" questions Scharf.

His studies include whether unreported theft can lead to violent crime.

"The question is, how does that link to the murders - both New Orleans and Baton Rouge have had horrendous murder problems - the question is for you, are these two epidemics or are they one?" Scharf said.

Police says it's a concern to them. They'd rather the theft be reported and the evidence captured, rather then letting the crime slide.

"They're getting the merchandise and then your employees don't feel empowered to stop those perpetrators from stealing," McKneely said. "I think it's a bad idea, I think they should be forthcoming with reporting these incidents."

Security, or lack there of might be an issue. Some stores have taken it upon themselves to hire their own. Baton Rouge police officers are posted outside stores day and night to deter theft. There used to be an officer at the Mid City Walgreens, but that's changed. When asked why, Walgreens didn't answer.

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Federal, local dollars at work clearing waterways in EBR https://www.wbrz.com/news/federal-local-dollars-at-work-clearing-waterways-in-ebr/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/federal-local-dollars-at-work-clearing-waterways-in-ebr/ On Your Side Fri, 3 Mar 2023 3:39:23 PM Brittany Weiss Federal, local dollars at work clearing waterways in EBR

BATON ROUGE - There's a lot of work happening in East Baton Rouge Parish's waterways. They haven't been cleaned out in decades, which means there's plenty to do.

There's an impressive sight to see along Bayou Fountain near Burbank Drive. Piles and piles of debris are stacked high, waiting to be hauled away. The first phase of the joint $255 million flood mitigation project between East Baton Rouge Parish and the Army Corps of Engineers is complete. Jones Creek from the Amite River to O'Neal Lane has been cleared and snagged, and work is underway on Bayou Fountain.

The project took some time to get going after it was fully funded in August 2019. Real estate had to be acquired, utilities relocated and studies completed. So far, 3.3 miles of the near 50-mile task are finished, and work on the next 4.6 miles in Bayou Fountain from Bayou Manchac to Burbank Drive is happening now.

"It was our number two priority because of the number of people that are actually impacted by this stream," said Fred Raiford, director of Transportation and Drainage in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The Army Corps reports that the clearing and snagging work along Bayou Fountain is 30% complete, and approximately 11,000 CY of debris have been removed from the channel. The project should wrap up in October. Work to clear and snag Ward Creek is next, and the equipment is on the way. The project works on the lower parts of the channels first.

"So we don't create an impact on anyone in the community or surrounding parishes," Raiford said.

Other improvements are coming to upper Jones Creek, Blackwater Bayou and Beaver Bayou, but that part of the flood mitigation project is more complex.

Last summer, about $3 million were made available to clear and snag the Comite River from the Amite River to Highway 64. The City of Central contributed $500,000. The parish says the property needed has been secured, and the equipment is ready to go.

"Within two weeks, we should have a permit," Raiford said.

There are also American Rescue Plan dollars at work. Plans include clearing and snagging the Comite River, Amite River, Ward Creek, Claycut Bayou and Bayou Manchac. The parish says it's honoring a commitment made to citizens years ago.

"We're trying to get our major channels cleared where we can at least help facilitate moving water on heavy rain events—on any rain event—to get it from out of the streets, into the roadside ditch, into the big ditch and into the outfalls," Raiford said.

The city says these waterways were last cleaned out at least 40–50 years ago.

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Homeowner has lost hundreds of dollars in replaced tires due to city's storm drain https://www.wbrz.com/news/homeowner-has-lost-hundreds-of-dollars-in-replaced-tires-due-to-city-s-storm-drain/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/homeowner-has-lost-hundreds-of-dollars-in-replaced-tires-due-to-city-s-storm-drain/ On Your Side Thu, 2 Mar 2023 3:40:00 PM Brittany Weiss Homeowner has lost hundreds of dollars in replaced tires due to city's storm drain

BATON ROUGE - A homeowner in Shenandoah says a storm drain near his driveway is causing him trouble and the city is ignoring his asks for help.

The City-Parish drain is near the left side of Ray Webb's driveway. A ramp connecting the pavement and the storm drain allows Webb to safely drive up his driveway and still allows water to drain along the curb.

The only problem is that the ramp has become dislodged, exposing a sharp corner and edge that is causing problems for Webb when he pulls in and out of his driveway.

"I've had several tires that have been damaged, rims damaged because of the sharp angles of the drain itself," he said.

It's an issue nearly every day for him, and he fears going over it the wrong way. The simple act of using his driveway has cost him hundreds of dollars after he's replaced several car tires.

Ray Webb bought his home in 1992 and says the driveway and the storm drain were both there. He says he hasn't touched it, but several years ago, a crew was on his street doing work.

"The people came out here to do some work on the road and actually dismantled it, and when they put it back together, they didn't put it back the way it was, so it started falling apart," Webb said.

Two years ago, he started calling the city asking for help to fix the storm drain ramp. Webb says someone from the city came out to take a look, but he was told it wasn't the city's responsibility to fix.

Webb doesn't understand why, since it's property of the city. The city tells 2 On Your Side that a storm drain shouldn't be within someone's driveway and that cars shouldn't be driving over storm drains. Webb would like to know who put it there in the first place.

"I don't know who put it in the middle of my driveway. It was there when I bought the house. Somebody is responsible for this," Webb said.

His neighbor across the street has a newer driveway built around the storm drain. The city says Webb's driveway wasn't permitted, and it's likely that a contractor built the driveway over a drainage servitude.

"I would like them to just fix what's there," he said.

Webb is asking the city to fix the sharp edge so that his driveway doesn't continue to cause frustration.

The city suggests he build a new driveway apron so that cars don't have to drive directly over the storm drain, but Webb isn't on board with that idea. He says he has solicited contractors for help who have told him they won't touch city property.

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Garbage costs go up this month in East Baton Rouge https://www.wbrz.com/news/garbage-costs-go-up-this-month-in-east-baton-rouge/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/garbage-costs-go-up-this-month-in-east-baton-rouge/ On Your Side Wed, 1 Mar 2023 3:49:09 PM Brittany Weiss Garbage costs go up this month in East Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE - The new City-Parish garbage, recycling, and trash contracts go into effect March 1. Starting this month, East Baton Rouge Parish customers will start seeing an increase in garbage fees on their water bills.

The new residential fees will be $35.23 per household, up from $23 a month. Republic Services twice a week garbage fee is $16.53 and once-a-week recycling is $6, while out-of-cart collection with Richards Disposal will cost $7.50 a month. According to the contracts, those fees will go up by 4% each March. The contracts are for a seven-year period with options to renew for one or more years, not exceeding three years at a time.

Initially, the parish was pitching once-a-week garbage collection to keep costs down, but ultimately the Metro Council passed a measure in December to keep the twice-a-week collection.

Richard Waller lives in Old Jefferson and is concerned the increase in cost won't mean better service. He says he experiences delays and missed pickups. Most recently, his garbage collection was missed on Monday.

"I call 311 and they know me by name," Waller said.

This last time, the garbage collection was missed in his entire neighborhood. This month, he'll start paying more money for that same service he calls 311 about.

"Nothing we can do about it except call 311," he said.

Waller is on a fixed income and says the increase will affect him a great deal.

"By the time their 10-year contract is up we're going to have to stop using water because we can't afford it," he said.

Seven years from now, the new fee could be around $43 a month give or take depending on the additional fees associated with the base price.

To hold Republic Services accountable, the parish says it keeps track of those missed collection calls to 311.

"We want to make sure that the public gets the service that they're paying for," said Transportation and Drainage Director Fred Raiford.

Raiford says there will be fines associated with non-collections if the situation isn't rectified within a certain time window. There will also be new trucks hitting the streets with cameras. Those trucks will cut down on hydraulic fluid concerns and debris that finds its way onto the streets. It's something that bothers Waller.

"There's garbage when they dump it they'll miss some of it and it'll land on the street they leave it there and they drive off."

The parish says the price increase and the two-day service collection are consistent with surrounding parishes. In June, Raiford says recycling will go from six days a week to five. There will be public meetings regarding this change so customers will know their new collection day for recycling.

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Nearly a year later, worried homeowner no closer to bayou erosion fix https://www.wbrz.com/news/nearly-a-year-later-worried-homeowner-no-closer-to-bayou-erosion-fix/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/nearly-a-year-later-worried-homeowner-no-closer-to-bayou-erosion-fix/ On Your Side Mon, 27 Feb 2023 3:28:12 PM Brittany Weiss Nearly a year later, worried homeowner no closer to bayou erosion fix

BATON ROUGE - All Krystle Woods is asking for is a resolution to the erosion problem behind her house.

"I don't want to be a casualty of their lack of maintenance," she said.

That's what she told 2 On Your Side last March when she was about two years into her situation. Now that almost another year has gone by, she fears she's no better off.

"No one has contacted me to even just let me know where we are," Woods said.

Behind her house off of Stumberg Lane in Baton Rouge is Jacks Bayou. In the last three years, she has lost several feet of her property to that bayou. It's taken her fence, trees, and peace of mind. An orange barrier fence was put up by the parish over a year ago. Woods says she's unable to enjoy her pool and her children can't use the swing set.

"I'm frustrated because I don't feel very safe, I constantly worry about the stability of my property and land back here," she said.

In March 2022, the parish said that the bayou bank is eroding and that while Woods' service request would be addressed, didn't supply a timeline. The parish did say that off-road drainage work is typically done when it's dry.

"What I'm hearing from other members of the community, is there are very long wait times I just don't feel like I'm a priority as a taxpaying member of this community," she said.

As she looks over that orange plastic fencing, Woods now spots exposed electrical wires and other cables. She has noticed that more of her land has fallen into the bayou.

"It was a small problem that is going to turn into a much more major issue."

As she cares for her property, Woods only wishes the city would do the same.

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Stolen tool trailer found nearly emptied following tip to 2 On Your Side https://www.wbrz.com/news/stolen-tool-trailer-found-nearly-emptied-following-tip-to-2-on-your-side/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/stolen-tool-trailer-found-nearly-emptied-following-tip-to-2-on-your-side/ On Your Side Fri, 24 Feb 2023 2:28:43 PM Brittany Weiss Stolen tool trailer found nearly emptied following tip to 2 On Your Side

BATON ROUGE - A tool trailer that was stolen from a job site Tuesday morning has been found. A viewer tip called into 2 On Your Side located the abandoned trailer on North 40th Street, not far from where it was taken.

George Schamberger says the trailer is just about emptied, aside from a few odds and ends that didn't appear to be of any use to the thief.

"It had multiples of most DeWalt tools. We're hotel builders, and we need maybe 30 screw guns at a time and all of the accessories that go with it," Schamberger said.

He values what was taken at about $50,000.

Surveillance cameras captured a black SUV pulling the trailer driving north on South Acadian Thruway around 5 a.m. Tuesday.

"They knew what they were doing. There's nothing across the street, and there's a cemetery on the side. There's no one to say, 'We saw a car come in here and drop this trailer off.' They did this being unseen," Schamberger said.

The Baton Rouge Police Department came out to verify the trailer's identity and collected what evidence they could from the scene.

"This is my livelihood. This is basically stealing my business," Schamberger said.

While he's glad to have his trailer back, Schamberger is out a good bit. He hopes he'll be able to recover some of what was lost, but unfortunately learned that the items in the trailer are not covered by his insurance policy.

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Trailer full of construction tools taken from job site, owner offering reward https://www.wbrz.com/news/trailer-full-of-construction-tools-taken-from-job-site-owner-offering-reward/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/trailer-full-of-construction-tools-taken-from-job-site-owner-offering-reward/ On Your Side Wed, 22 Feb 2023 1:21:42 PM Brittany Weiss Trailer full of construction tools taken from job site, owner offering reward

BATON ROUGE - A trailer full of tools was taken from a job site in Baton Rouge Tuesday morning. The contractor who owns the items says he can't work without them.

George Schamberger has been a general contractor for the past five decades. He says he's never experienced anything like this.

"Every now and then you lose a hand tool, that happens because we have so many people that work for us but never have we been robbed," Schamberger said.

Right now, Schamberger is renovating a home on Cole Drive in Baton Rouge. He also builds hotels in Louisiana and other surrounding states. The trailer has made it to all of those job sites without incident.

"I think these people were professionals I'm sure they've done it before," he said.

Whoever did it broke the locks off of the trailer and left them in the grass. That dark green trailer was last seen on surveillance video headed north on South Acadian Thruway pulled by a black SUV.

Schamberger values the contents inside at about $50,000. Now without tools, he's filing an insurance claim and replacing some of those items so he can get back to work.

"We can't afford to stop," he said.

Shamberger has filed a police report with the Baton Rouge Police Department. He's also offering a $1,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

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Woman shell-shocked after taking gunfire on I-12; police say it happens often https://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-shell-shocked-after-taking-gunfire-on-i-12-police-say-it-happens-often/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-shell-shocked-after-taking-gunfire-on-i-12-police-say-it-happens-often/ On Your Side Tue, 21 Feb 2023 1:40:16 PM Brittany Weiss Woman shell-shocked after taking gunfire on I-12; police say it happens often

BATON ROUGE - It's something one woman never thought would happen to her. Brandy Robertson's car was shot at while she was driving on the interstate through Baton Rouge.

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"The thoughts are, I almost didn't make it home that night to my children," she said.

It's something no parent should have to think about, but Robertson did. She didn't truly believe it until she got out of her car and saw the hole. It was shot with a .45 on the driver's side near the rear window.

Robertson says it happened on a Friday afternoon around 3:45. She was driving on I-12 headed east just past O'Neal Lane when it happened.

"There's traffic everywhere, you don't tend to think someone just shot at you," said Robertson.

Her ears started ringing. Robertson was the only one in her car at the time and checked herself to make sure nothing was wrong. She checked her mirrors and saw that it wasn't a flat tire.

"I didn't see any tires, but the car next to me sped off, and it was a light-colored sedan, and then I knew I definitely got shot at," she said.

When Robertson got back to her Denham Springs office, she saw the bullet hole. It's since been patched with silicone, but the bullet is lodged somewhere in the car frame. Seeing that hole got her mind racing.

"It could have been me, it could have been my little one in the back seat. Even if it wasn't me, what about the person next to me or the car in front or behind me?" she said.

Upset, frightened and nervous, Robertson took the weekend and then the following weekday filed a police report with BRPD. She says when she got there, she was asked why she was filing a police report if she was uninjured.

"Honestly, I felt more like a victim going to the police station and filing a report than I did when I got shot at," Robertson said.

She learned that being shot at on the interstate happens quite a lot.

"They alluded to the fact that this is something that happens in Baton Rouge often," she said.

Baton Rouge Police tells WBRZ that they have had a couple of shootings on the highways lately. Either way, it happened to Robertson.

"I guess I never realized that driving on the interstate, you know, I could get shot at," she said.

Now the thought of driving on the interstate spooks her. She has changed some of her plans and canceled meetings in certain areas to avoid driving long stretches on the interstate.

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River's changing course threatens to swallow Denham Springs neighborhood https://www.wbrz.com/news/river-s-changing-course-threatens-to-swallow-denham-springs-neighborhood/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/river-s-changing-course-threatens-to-swallow-denham-springs-neighborhood/ On Your Side Tue, 21 Feb 2023 11:09:53 AM Brittany Weiss River's changing course threatens to swallow Denham Springs neighborhood

DENHAM SPRINGS - Several homes along the Amite River are at risk of being swallowed up by the fast-moving current. It's a problem that has escalated in the last several weeks.

LaWanda Tinsley and her husband built their dream home along the Amite River in 1998. Back then, the Amite was nowhere near as wide as it is today; in fact, it was the water that drew them to the area.

A lot has changed since then.

"That's a nightmare right now," said Tinsley.

There are five homes along the river that are now at risk of falling into the water. The land is giving way and Tinsley questions her home's stability after a professional told her that her dream home could fall into the water.

"It's not 'if' my house falls into the water but 'when' my house falls into the water," she said.

Since they built the home, the couple has lost about fifty feet of property to the river. There are trees that used to be part of her back yard that have fallen or slid into the river. They have also lost a lot of dirt, landscaping, and two months ago their back deck fell.

Tinsley says she's called everyone trying to find a solution. She says that nobody wants to help. Available grants and programs so far haven't been a help. Tinsley doesn't qualify for a program that offers a buyout because their home has only flooded once. Criteria for that program says the home has to flood at least three times.

"I said, 'well, by the time it floods three times it's going to be in the river,'" said Tinsley.

The Amite's course is changing by her property. The river's path is moving, coming through the trees across from her home. It's something Tinsley says wasn't supposed to happen for another decade, but her fear is that it will push all the rushing water toward her and her neighbors.

"It's just a matter of time and time is something we do not have," she said.

Until she finds an answer to her troubles, the whole ordeal will continue to keep her up at night.

As for the cost of a possible fix, Tinsley was given an estimate of a half a million dollars.

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Investors looking to renovate homes, revitalize overlooked portion of Mid City https://www.wbrz.com/news/investors-looking-to-renovate-homes-revitalize-overlooked-portion-of-mid-city/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/investors-looking-to-renovate-homes-revitalize-overlooked-portion-of-mid-city/ On Your Side Thu, 16 Feb 2023 3:21:34 PM Brittany Weiss Investors looking to renovate homes, revitalize overlooked portion of Mid City

BATON ROUGE - Several properties in Mid City are being given a second chance. An investment group is renovating them and will rent them out once they're completed.

The properties have been vacant, but soon they'll see new life and undergo a full rehab. The Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and CEO Kathy Laborde says they will provide anything that's needed to fix up the properties and recapitalize the area that's spent years in disinvestment.

"And it's our job to maintain them as well, whether we're the property manager or somebody else is," Laborde said.

It's yet another investment for the partnership in the Baton Rouge area. The Lotus Village community opened this week. More than 100 residential homes were constructed for the needs of seniors.

"We care about people, we value people, folks, we want them to live in better quality living conditions when we can," Laborde said.

It's an investment that takes time and money. The total development cost for the "Government Corridor" project is about $8.5 million. There are 31 properties, 34 units total, on both sides of Government Street. The properties are scattered along Brice, America, Cork, Lavinia, Jura, and Delphine Streets. Laborde hopes that others will see what they're doing and take note.

"When people see things they believe it," Laborde said. "When people are entrepreneurial, they'll see what we're doing, and they'll figure out how they can make money renovating houses."

The rehab of the buildings involve exterior and interior work including new bathrooms, windows, HVAC, and appliances. It will be the seventeenth project for the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership in the Baton Rouge area.

The work is expected to start this week and should be completed within 12 months. The properties will be rented out as they become available.

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Drainage ditches dug after man floods for third time in five months https://www.wbrz.com/news/drainage-ditches-dug-after-man-floods-for-third-time-in-five-months/ https://www.wbrz.com/news/drainage-ditches-dug-after-man-floods-for-third-time-in-five-months/ On Your Side Wed, 15 Feb 2023 1:29:41 PM Brittany Weiss Drainage ditches dug after man floods for third time in five months

BATON ROUGE - Last week, 2 On Your Side met a man who has flooded three times in five months. The problem? Inadequate drainage along South Flannery Road. A week later, a crew was in the area addressing his concerns.

A crew with heavy machinery worked to dig out a ditch and fix a drainage headache that worried Edmund Greene.

"This whole entire area floods when it gets a light rain," Green said. "Doesn't even have to be a heavy storm."

Greene owns a fourplex in the area and it's flooded three times in five months. Each time he mops, removes the baseboards, flooring, appliances and cabinets. While his troubles sprung a leak in the last few months, his concerns have been around since he bought the place in 2021. That's when he first contacted the parish.

He said he had lost faith in the government to provide a service they said they'd provide in 2022. Some of that faith might be restored now, since the ditches are finally being addressed.

City-Parish Transportation and Drainage Director Fred Raiford says the goal is to get the water out of the area as quickly as possible. At the front of Greene's property, the ditch appears to be flat and non-existent. As Greene understood it they had no grading and the water just sat there, filling up his property and seeping through the front doors.

"All that's going to be addressed through the contractor that we were able to fund through the American Rescue Act fund dollars," Raiford said.

Those dollars have been hard at work in Baton Rouge. They must be spent by 2024.

The project should take a couple of weeks to complete.

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