Baker Sales Inc. , a wholesale steel pipe and fence supply distributor, has opened a new office and warehouse in Slidell. President Robert A. Baker says the 20,000-square-foot facility will allow the company to increase its products and services. “The devastation brought on by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav brought many hardships to our company and employees,” Baker says. “However, the recovery and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast area has provided an opportunity for us to grow and expand our business.”
Massey Services, a pest management and lawn-care company with locations in Baton Rouge, was named “Employer of the Year” by the National Corporate Hispanic Achievers for its diverse workforce and involvement in the minority community.
Middleberg Riddle & Gianna is expanding its presence in Baton Rouge. The firm’s health law and insurance regulatory practices group will expand from its New Orleans office to the capital city as part of the changes. Managing director A.J. Hebert III says the firm will hire additional lawyers for the office, which will help the healthcare industry navigate the legal landscape.
Woman’s Hospital was named by Modern Healthcare magazine as one of the 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare. It is the only hospital in Louisiana to receive the honor. The rankings were a competitive process involving 5,000 hospitals eligible to apply.
Ashley Furniture HomeStore Northshore unveiled its 40,000-square-foot showroom just off I-12 at the Robert exit, about five miles east of Hammond. The store is owned and operated by the Baton Rouge-based Olinde’s Hardware & Supply, which operates eight furniture stores along the 10/12 corridor. Store manager is Chuck Vagnier of Mandeville. Sales manager is Deborah Lascari.
SHELL is expanding its workforce development facility in Tangipahoa Parish. The company is adding 55,000 square feet to the Training and Conference Center in Robert. For 21 years, the company has offered industry-wide training in exploration and production operations for onshore and offshore oil and gas operations workers.
Heart-attack victims in Southwest Louisiana now can get life-saving angioplasty much quicker. Acadian Ambulance, Southwest Medical Center and Dauterive Hospital are using wireless cards to transmit electrocardiograms directly to hospital emergency rooms, cutting the time it takes to begin treatment. Southwest Medical Center cardiologist Dr. Raghotham Patlola says with the technology, inflating the angioplasty balloon that opens the blocked artery once the patient arrives at the hospital now takes 70 minutes. Without it, restoring blood flow to the heart takes an average of 90 minutes.
Farmers Merchant Bank & Trust is expanding its lending and retail banking operations into the greater Lafayette area. The firm has build branches on Ambassador Caffery Parkway in Lafayette and on Rees Street in Breaux Bridge. It’s also renovating the Main Street branch in Breaux Bridge.
CITGO has admitted violating the Clean Water Act and will pay a $13 million fine – the largest ever of its kind. The company pleaded guilty this fall in U.S. District Court for negligently failing to maintain stormwater tanks and adequate stormwater storage at its petroleum refinery in Sulphur. As a result, nearly 53,000 barrels of oil was discharged into Indian Marais and Calcasieu rivers after a heavy rainstorm in 2006. The illegal discharge limited commercial transportation on the waterways for 10 days.
IFG Port Holdings will spend up to $50 million to build an export grain terminal at the Lake Charles Port. The facility will handle a substantial amount of agricultural products, most of which will arrive by rail. It will consist of grain silos, conveyer systems and a ship loader capable of loading up to 2,000 tons per hour. Once completed, it is expected to create up to 25 new jobs. It is also expected to increase U.S. agricultural exports through Southwest Louisiana. IFG is a global investment firm headquartered in New York. It specializes in developing, funding and operating infrastructure projects focused on agribusiness and ports. Grain Bulk Handlers Limited, an IFG Fund company, operates the largest import grain terminal in Africa, with a storage capacity of more than 6 million bushels. The Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District is the 11th largest port district in the United States and is located on the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Southwest Louisiana.
The Family & Youth Counseling Agency received a $25,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation for its workforce readiness program. The program emphasizes career pathways and leadership development initiatives for low-income, at-risk youth in Southwest Louisiana. Says AT&T Louisiana President William Oliver: “Investing in a well-educated workforce may be the single most important thing AT&T can do to help America remain the leader in a digital, global economy.”
The Massage Therapy Centre of Denham Springs has opened a satellite clinic in New Roads. The new clinic will be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the first Saturday of each month. The first Massage Therapy Centre opened in 2004 and has experienced continual growth.
Waste Management will continue providing waste disposal services at the Woodside Landfill. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality renewed the facility’s solid waste and air permits.
Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects was among 80 top design firms in the five-state south central region named in a recent issue of South Central Construction magazine, published by McGraw Hill. The firm ranked No. 22. STBA was the only Louisiana design firm – and one of just three regional firms – whose architectural projects were featured in the issue. The firm’s work on the Jefferson Parish General Government Building in Gretna was pictured on the cover of the issue.
FARA, a nationwide insurance provider headquartered in Mandeville, has expanded its operations into the Midwest. In December, the firm opened an office in Omaha, adding 13 new employees. FARA recently was awarded a claims administration contract for the state of Nebraska, including all state agencies and the three major universities within the state. “We are extremely pleased to announce this expansion,” says M. Todd Richard, president and CEO of FARA. “Thanks to the state of Nebraska and its nearly 30,000 state employees, FARA is able to accomplish a geographic growth goal.”
St. Tammany Parish Hospital is recognized by Press Ganey as a 2008 Success Story Award winner for employee satisfaction. The hospital is just one of six organizations nationwide—and the only Louisiana hospital—to earn the distinction. Press Ganey works with nearly 40% of U.S. hospitals to measure and improve their quality of care.
St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce was named 2008 Louisiana Large Chamber of the Year by the Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. The organization was recognized for building a coalition to address health care workforce shortages, partnering with the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce and Northshore Business Council, and efforts to meet the needs of the arts community.
South Central Construction magazine has given a Best of 2008 Award to DonahueFavret Contractors Inc. of Mandeville. The award was for the firm’s work on the Louisiana Army National Guard Bogalusa Readiness Center project, which is now eligible to compete in McGraw-Hill Construction’s National Best of 2008 competition. The Bogalusa Readiness Center was the winner of the Public Building Project category. The new 45,795-square-foot center, home to 114 soldiers of the 205th Engineer Battalion, replaces the armory that had been in Bogalusa since 1916.
The Tammany Trace has been selected for inclusion in the National Rail-Trail Network. The group is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), which recognizes rail-trails across the country for excellence in scenic value, trail amenities and management and maintenance of the facility. As part of this group, the Tammany Trace will receive signs designating it as part of the network, and be listed on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Network’s website at www.railstotrails.org.
An annual performance report issued by the federal government indicates the River Parishes Workforce Investment Act Program Business and Career Solutions Centers have met or exceeded goals during the last fiscal year. WIA centers offer services for workers and job seekers, including resume writing assistance, training opportunities and labor market information. Average earnings for adult participants were $13,000 quarterly—above the goal of $11,800. More than 70% of those who entered the program found employment.
Items for Dispatches and other news releases should be sent to the Editor, 10/12 Magazine, P.O. Box 1949, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3448, faxed to  933-3448 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Publication of news releases is at the editor’s discretion. News releases should be pertinent to the 17 parishes along the Interstate 10/Interstate 12 corridor.