United Way of Southwest Louisiana’s 211 phone line can provide help and resources for those who are suffering from opioid abuse. Call 211; or text the keyword OPIOID to 898-211. The person who answers will help the caller learn about nearby services for detox, treatment and support. The service is available any time of the day or night. There is an option for “live crisis intervention text support.”
United Way of SWLA maintains that in Calcasieu Parish, health care providers write 71.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons. The U.S. average is 46.7 prescriptions for every 100.
“211 can help someone take that first step of asking for help,” says United Way CEO Denise Durel. “Specialists are trained to assist them and they’re not there to judge. We hope people will … help their families move forward by finding the right resources.”
If you need information about other urgent matters, such as local resources for such things as food, disaster assistance, crisis counseling, healthcare or job training, 211 can also set you up with that.
United Way of SWLA’s opioid 211 program is being undertaken in conjunction with the La. Dept. of Health.
What Is It With Trash?
All over its downtown area, New Orleans has trash receptacles with big purples signs that read “Trash your city, trash yourself.” Sound pretty good? Well, how about this: in July, 4,000 N.O. residents called the city to complain about trash receptacles that hadn’t been picked up and were overflowing. That was a record number of complaint calls for a single month.
The purple signs also bear a slogan that reads “Imagine It Clean.” Looks like unless Metro Service Group steps up its game, the only way anyone is ever going to get a clean New Orleans is to imagine it.
Large mounds of trash have been piling up on curbs in front of homes. About 66,000 people in the city are served by the Metro Group.
Danny Monteverde, a reporter for WWL-TV, tried to work some funnies into the story, using such prose as “City Councilman Jared Brossett … said he was sending his proposed sanitation fee ordinance to the curb” and penning the headline “Councilman curbs proposal to dump trash collection fee.”
The council was set to vote on an ordinance that would suspend the city’s $24 monthly sanitation fee, at least for August, but Brossett said he didn’t have enough votes. Mayor LaToya Cantrell opposed the measure. She said, “the city has grappled with spotty trash collection in many neighborhoods in recent weeks.” Is that supposed to be a good excuse?
Metro Disposal, which works on the lake side of I-10, made the usual complaint that “it’s having trouble hiring staff.” As with all stories of this type, inquiring minds will, at some point, ask what wage the company pays its starting workers. Metro owner Jimmie Woods recently told the council that the company should have its problems worked out soon.
Big Bad Bridge Rep
The bad reputation of Calcasieu Parish’s I-10 bridge has spread all the way to the halls of CNN. On July 14, CNN’s correspondent to Louisiana, Greg Hilburn, Tweeted the following: “Another successful white knuckled crossing of the infamous Calcasieu Bridge!”
Scalise Speaker Chatter
Louisiana political writer Jeremy Alford reported that Steve Scalise, who is the GOP Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, raised $9 million dollars for Republican candidates in the second quarter alone. Although I don’t know the details, I can tell you that Alford called this a “record-breaking haul.” Of this $9 million, $4.5 million went to the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee).
In the first two quarters of 2021, Scalise raised an “eye-opening” $16 million.
Alford provided some commentary with this reportage, stating, “if that doesn’t fuel speaker chatter nothing will.”
Congratulations Are In Order
Louisiana finally finished first on a list. In July, Louisiana, was No. 1 in combined state and average local sales tax rates. Louisiana racked up a chart-topping 9.55 percent tax rate.
We didn’t have to worry about competition from Mississippi on this one. That state was way down at No. 22 with a 7.07 sales tax. And traditional rival West Virginia wasn’t even close, logging in at No. 31 with a measly 6.51 percent. (For what it’s worth, our neighbor to the north finished at No. 3 with a 9.48 percent rate.)
Ziggy And His Advisory Board
Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) has premiered a new children’s educational TV series, Ziggy’s Arts Adventure, which aims to teach young learners basic artistic and academic concepts by means of storytelling, puppets and explorations of Louisiana culture.
Special guests on the show will include such creative figures as musicians, dancers, painters and poets.
All of this is geared toward helping children in grades K-5 develop critical thinking and STEM problem solving techniques. The “Ziggy Advisory Board of Louisiana Educators and Teaching Artists” is using the teaching methods developed by Project Zero, a product of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, to help the young viewers learn all these things.
Ziggy is a 9-year-old alien who comes from a planet where art doesn’t exist because everyone communicates telepathically through “emoticles.” I don’t know what emoticles are or what they would have to do with the existence of art. But I guess if you watch the show, you can figure it out.
Ziggy’s “emoticle” does not work, so natch, he’s a fish out of water. But when NASA’s Voyager I lands on Ziggy’s planet, he hears music for the first time and discovers new ways of expressing emotion. To learn more about music, he builds his own rocket and flies to Earth, where he lands in a junkyard in Louisiana. As it happens, the people in the junkyard love music, and they join with Ziggy to form a band.
This show with a happy ending is “100 percent a Louisiana-based production, shot right here at LPB Studios in Baton Rouge,” says D. Ray Washington, LPB’s digital media director.
In addition to focusing on core concepts of math, science, English, reading and writing, Ziggy’s Arts Adventure will help develop “an appreciation of Louisiana arts and culture,” says LPB.
Series creator Clay Achee says he hopes “kids will love the show, and enjoy it so much that they are unaware of how much they’re learning.”
A new episode of Ziggy will be released every Monday. Viewers can watch it on YouTube — search for “Ziggy’s Arts Adventure” — and at lpb.org/ziggy.
Invasive Plant Threatens Spanish Moss
The parasitical plant ball moss can grow on the same trees that are hosts for Spanish moss. Ball moss will destroy the Spanish moss and eventually destroy the limb that it hung from.
Someone brought ball moss from Texas or Florida to Baton Rouge 50 years ago. It made its Baton Rouge appearance on the LSU campus.
“Now it’s colonizing everywhere,” Dr. Raj Singh, director of the LSU Plant Diagnostics Center, told WBRZ. Ball moss can thrive on magnolias, crape myrtles, live oaks and the exterior of buildings. The city of Baton Rouge has started a billboard campaign warning residents to get ball moss off their trees.
“It can prepare its own food,” said Singh. “It’s using the pseudo roots to attach to a surface.”
After the ball moss does enough damage, the limb it’s on breaks. The problem is especially bad when it rains because “when it rains [the ball moss] gets heavy. It soaks up all the water, and all the branches that were colonized by it … will break off,” said Singh.
Branches without ball moss on them have an abundant number of leaves. Once the branch is infested with ball moss, it won’t have any leaves.
Singh says he advises picking the ball moss off the tree, even though that is labor-intensive. A strong stream spray from a garden hose can help with this.
If you do remove ball moss by hand, bag it before you discard it. Ball moss is spread through the air. When you bag the stuff, you should tie the bag up tightly. You’ll also want to remove any limbs the ball moss has killed.
Another option is to spray the ball moss with a baking soda solution. The solution must be constantly shaken to maintain consistency. The suggested mixture is one half pound of baking soda per one gallon of water, or, for larger treatments, five pounds of baking soda to 10 gallons of water. The best time for spraying the solution is late winter to early spring because many trees are mostly bare then.
If the problem seems to be getting out of hand, call a professional.