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Missing hunter in Pearl River WMA found alive

Photo provided by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office -- Missing hunter Robert

Robert Varnado, a 42-year-old hunter missing in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area since Thursday, was found Tuesday — hungry and dehydrated but alive, according to St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain. Varnado, of Mississippi, was found by sheriff’s deputies traveling down the West Pearl River by boat. He had made his way to the river… Continue reading →

St. Tammany deputies looking for missing hunter

A Mississippi hunter last seen Thursday is the subject of a search in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. Robert Varnado, 42, was hunting with a friend when the two got separated. After the friend didn’t hear from Varnado by Saturday, he reported Varnado missing, according to a post… Continue reading →

Secret Service investigating ATM thefts along I-10 corridor

Whitney Bank Louisiana said Monday that it deactivated 7,100 debit cards over the weekend after discovering that ATMs at some of its branches had skimmers — devices that capture debit card and personal identification numbers — attached to them. The bank detected unauthorized activity at several ATMs on Saturday evening involving customers’ debit cards,… Continue reading →

Horse-drawn carriage tours could be on tap for Covington

Covington residents love to brag about their two-century-old city’s history, pointing frequently to founder John Wharton Collins’ gridded layout that included “ox lots,” small squares Collins set aside for the public parking of livestock. No livestock roam Covington’s streets today, of course, and ox-lot parking is reserved for vehicles that run on internal combustion… Continue reading →

Woman found guilty of manslaughter in 2012 St. Tammany killing

A St. Tammany Parish jury found 56-year-old Joan Faye Hartman guilty of manslaughter in the stabbing death of her son’s girlfriend and mother of her two granddaughters, reaching a verdict Friday night after just under two hours of deliberation. The prosecution was seeking a verdict of second-degree murder, a more serious offense. Sentencing will be… Continue reading →

Crime rates mostly declined in 2014 in St. Tammany Parish

St. Tammany Parish officials like to tout public safety as a boon of living on the north shore, and 2014 crime statistics released by the parish’s major law enforcement agencies show that their already quiet streets and roads were even more peaceful in 2014. Slidell, the parish’s largest city, experienced a 10-year low in crime that… Continue reading →

Covington’s Cooper to seek reelection

Mike Cooper

Incumbent Covington Mayor Mike Cooper announced Tuesday that he plans to seek a second term in the office he has held since 2011. In making his announcement, Cooper touted changes in the Covington Police Department since he took over, notably the hiring of new chief Tim Lentz. “We have positive momentum at this time in… Continue reading →

New St. Tammany DA fires three holdover staff members

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  New 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery addresses the audience during his swearing-in ceremony Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, at the St. Tammany Justice Center in Covington.

Warren Montgomery, who was sworn in last week as the district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington parishes, has handed out his first pink slips, firing three staff members who worked for his longtime predecessor, Walter Reed. Montgomery confirmed Monday that Sam Gebbia, Edsel Jones and Brent Jones have been terminated. “Their duties… Continue reading →

Road-widening project near Mandeville stirring controversy

When plans by the Archdiocese of New Orleans to build a church, cemetery and retirement complex north of Mandeville ran into protracted neighborhood opposition in 2013, St. Tammany Parish officials pointed out the area’s main throughway would be widened, addressing some of the neighborhood’s concerns. The parish accepted a $1.6 million bid for widening… Continue reading →

In effort to stem Causeway deaths, police will take to the sky

Image courtesy Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission -- A truck is pulled from Lake Pontchartrain Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. The vehicle went into the lake as a result of a crash on the Causeway Monday.

Motorists crossing the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at more than the posted speed limit may soon have to keep an eye on more than just the crossovers, where officers often lurk to catch speeders. They will have to check the skies, as well. Causeway police and Louisiana State Police are working out the details of a plan… Continue reading →

Ronnie Panks, longest-serving St. Tammany School Board member, dies at 69

James âRonnieâ Panks, Sr.

The longest-serving member of the St. Tammany Parish School Board, James “Ronnie” Panks, died Wednesday, School Board spokeswoman Meredith Mendez said. He was 69. Panks was appointed to the board in 1994 to fill a vacancy. He served for more than 20 years, winning re-election again in the fall when no one else qualified. He represented… Continue reading →

Peralta to stand trial May 26 in St. Tammany stalking case

Advocate photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta, seen here outside the St. Bernard Parish Courthouse, and his extranged wife agreed Friday to a permanent injunction that bars them each from contacting the other. Sharon Schaefer Peralta has accused her husband of raping her in October 2013.

St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta will stand trial May 26 for allegedly stalking his ex-wife, a judge said Wednesday. Peralta was indicted by a St. Tammany Parish grand jury in September on a single count of felony stalking of his ex-wife, Sharon Schaefer, who accused him of harassing her through email and in… Continue reading →

Warren Montgomery sworn in as DA in St. Tammany

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  New 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery, right, shakes hands with Judge Harry Lemmon, a retired Louisiana Supreme Court justice,  after Montgomery took the oath of office Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, at the St. Tammany Justice Center in Covington, ushering out the 30-year Walter Reed era. Montgomery was joined by his wife, Valarie Montgomery, second from left, and parents, Monty and Anne Montgomery.

The largest courtroom in the St. Tammany Justice Center, normally used for misdemeanor court, was packed with well-wishers and state and local officeholders Monday morning as Warren Montgomery was sworn in as district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District by retired state Supreme Court Justice Harry Lemmon. Montgomery, who takes charge of an office that was… Continue reading →

Causeway opened after fog, accident

Both spans of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway are now open, according to a tweet from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. Both spans have been closed at various times during the day due to to fog and/or a minor accident, officials said. Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter Continue reading →

A new beginning: By replacing Walter Reed, Warren Montgomery marks profound change for criminal justice system in St. Tammany, Washington parishes

Advocate file photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Warren Montgomery celebrates his election to 22nd Judicial District Attorney Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, at the Castine Center at the Clarion Hotel in Covington.

When Warren Montgomery stands in front of the imposing St. Tammany Justice Center on Monday morning for his inauguration, his hand on a Bible held by his mother, he will be the first new district attorney in 30 years to be sworn into office in the 22nd Judicial District. That fact alone is a profound change… Continue reading →

Helis addresses questions on drill plans

Helis Oil & Gas Co.’s proposed St. Tammany Parish well would tap a previously unexplored rock formation that is limited to the southern part of the parish, according to documents submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If the formation proves to be a viable source of commercial oil and gas production, it could increase… Continue reading →

It’s official: Whole Foods to open store in Mandeville

Confirming months of rumor, Stirling Properties announced Thursday that a Whole Foods Market is set to open in Mandeville near the intersection of U.S. 190 and North Causeway Boulevard. Earlier this week, an Albertsons store at that same location announced it would close by Feb. 13, costing as many as 83 employees their jobs.… Continue reading →

St. Tammany Parish opens warming shelter in Slidell

With frigid overnight temperatures in the forecast, the St. Tammany Parish Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and American Red Cross is opening a shelter in the rear gym of Community Christian Church at 1460 Lindberg Drive in Slidell. Beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Thursday, residents will be allowed to shelter in the… Continue reading →

Incoming Tammany DA hires 2 federal prosecutors

Warren Montgomery

Incoming 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery is hiring two prosecutors away from the office that has been overseeing a grand jury probe into his predecessor, longtime District Attorney Walter Reed. Collin Sims and Tony G. Sanders, both assistant U.S. attorneys and prosecutors under U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, will begin work Monday, the same day Montgomery… Continue reading →

Albertsons store in Mandeville to close; Whole Foods rumored as new tenant

With a simple, three-paragraph fax to Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere, Albertsons announced Tuesday that it will close its Mandeville store Feb. 13, perhaps paving the way for another retailer to take over the prime location near the intersection of U.S. 190 and Causeway Boulevard. The closure, which will affect 83 employees of the Mandeville store, will… Continue reading →