The following stories from Associated Press members in Louisiana will be sent for use in weekend editions Aug. 23-25 as part of AP's Louisiana Member Exchange program.
For use in editions of Saturday or Sunday, Aug. 23-24
RIVER PARISH TRAFFIC BACKUPS
NEW ORLEANS — Traffic has a tendency to drag along the Sunshine Bridge once the workday is over. The four-lane span over the Mississippi River between St. James and Ascension parishes is undergoing extensive repairs and has been reduced to one lane in each direction. Construction won't be complete for at least a year. Nearby, fertilizer manufacturer CF Industries is spending $2.1 billion to expand its facilities on the west side of the river. The job has required upwards of 2,000 construction workers to complete the project by 2016, only compounding the traffic problem. Road congestion isn't isolated to this single country road. In St. James Parish, traffic problems have been reported from construction at the Nucor steel plant. In Ascension Parish, the state highway that skirts the Mississippi River and numerous petrochemical plants sees regular backups. The benefits of economic development in the region are obvious. Every day, thousands of construction workers are driving into these areas, and more high-paying permanent jobs are being created. As Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez puts it, "If you want a job in manufacturing and live in this parish, you got it. There is no drought of jobs here." On the other hand, the backlash of rapid growth is also apparent in these rural communities. As the petrochemical industry continues to grow, the need to expand state roads and improve infrastructure has become critical. By Maria Clark, New Orleans CityBusiness. UPCOMING: 1100 words.
LAUREL VALLEY VILLAGE STORE
THIBODAUX — Sixty-seven-year-old Danny Foret maintains the Laurel Valley Plantation Museum and Store, cuts the grass, restores the equipment, tends to the animals and will even lead a tour or two. But don't call him its curator. "People say that, yeah," he said, laughing. "I'm just a volunteer. I do what I have to to keep the place going." Foret's smiling face greets visitors to the museum and the largest surviving 19th and 20th century sugar plantation left in the U.S. He can often be seen wearing a straw hat, riding around on a lawn mower at the property outside Thibodaux. The Houma native has been volunteering at the museum for the better part of nine years. "I mainly open the store and keep it operating," Foret said. "I cut the grass and do a little maintenance work around the place. In the summer it's mostly grass cutting. We wait for the harder chores in the winter. It's not as hard on us then." The store holds tools and farm implements used in sugarcane cultivation, plus locally made arts and crafts. The plantation has nearly 60 original structures. By Jacob Batte, The Daily Comet. UPCOMING: 670 words. Photo planned.
For use in editions of Monday, Aug. 25
CARENCRO — At 18, Sam Riehl spends his days not at a computer but in a smoke-filled shop, pounding out shapes from steel. He's the youngest member and vice president of the Louisiana Metalsmiths' Association. He sees a world where beauty and function intersect and complement each other. "I think a lot of things in our world today — they just work," Riehl says. "Nobody really takes pride or cares about anything anymore. If you look at street poles back in the 1800s or the street poles in New Orleans still, they're gorgeous. And then you look at the street poles we have now, and they're just tall metal cylinders." By Megan Wyatt, The Advertiser. UPCOMING: 538 words. Photo planned.
MALE BREAST CANCER
SHREVEPORT — "Hey, you've got an innie and an outie." With those words, Jane Jackson may have saved her husband's life 15 years ago. "We were swimming and she looked down at my chest," said Dr. Robert Jackson, 57, a Shreveport internal medicine specialist. "Inversion of the nipple is a common sign of breast cancer. So I looked down and sure enough, one of my nipples was inverted. That was new. I naturally put my hand up there. It was the first time I felt a lump that was noticeably a lump." So began more than five years of treatment for Jackson, who graduated from the medical school in Shreveport in 1982 and joined its faculty in 1986. He had a modified radical mastectomy, six months of chemotherapy and five years of hormonal treatments. "I did not have to get radiation," said Jackson. Now he just sees his primary care doctor annually. Despite advances in treatment and detection, that doesn't mean he breathes easy. "Breast cancer is known for its late recurrences, so that old story about 'if you're cancer free for five years it's OK' isn't true.'" By John Andrew Prime, The Times. UPCOMING: 1080 words. Photo planned.
— The Associated Press, New Orleans