STEM learning is becoming more popular in the education field. STEM is defined as the types of skills that students learn and acquire by studying science, technology, engineering, and math.  St. Tammany Parish Schools have gotten in on the action. New Orleans native and Presidential Award winner in Science, Mathematics and Engineering, Dr. Calvin Mackie is the leader and coordinator of a new STEM organization called STEM Northshore.

STEM Northshore is an organization that puts the fun in science, technology, engineering and math.

‘We have created a unique method of community engagement to reach people where they are and then drive them to things they might be interested in,” Dr. Mackie said.

STEM Northshore and United Way put on a fun event for Covington students. Students enjoyed hands on experiences such as knocking down blocks, blowing up rockets, making slime and battling with robots. The Mandeville Sr. High robotics team, S.S. Prometheus and the Mandeville Jr. High robotics team, Dark Matter were there with their robots. NASA was on hand with tons of videos of the mission to Mars, while LOOP gave the students a chance to use an interactive device that included floods, levees and Katrina where students could try and save  New Orleans.

“We are so excited to partner with Dr. Mackie and STEM Northshore to expose children in our parish to the world of opportunities in the STEM fields. You can see the hundreds of kids and parents who are here. Dr. Mackie gave them complete permission to touch any and everything, so it is simply amazing. We are so thankful to our sponsors Shell, Keystone Engineering, Rain CII Carbon, Sharon Green State Farm, and LOOP Offshore,” United Way CEO Michael Williamson said.

“The best paying jobs now and in the future are in the STEM fields,” Williamson said.

“If we don’t give our kids the exposure, education and skills to make something of themselves, then we only leave them with the options we see on the news everyday and that’s why these kinds of events are important,” Dr. Mackie said.


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St. Tammany Parish is a bustling area and more people are moving to its communities. The Northshore is a fabulous place to live and is conveniently located to New Orleans. Last month, the St. Tammany Parish Planning Commission approved plans for four new subdivisions.

The new home sites will total 535 new homes in St. Tammany Parish. The request for approvals were voted unanimously by all the members of the commission that were in attendance.

Lakeshore Villages was among the approved projects. Phase 4 is a 158-acre phase that sits on the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline just south of I-10 in Slidell. Phase 4 will consists of 342 lots and is a part of a 1,100-acre planned community. There was also an approval to convert 10 existing single-family lots in Phase 1B to 100 garden home lots.

River Park Crossing, Phase 2, also had final plans approved. Located west of La. 25 at M.P. Planche Road, north of Covington, the phase includes 79 lots.

The last development to be approved was the final plans for Bedico Creek, Parcel 17 in Madisonville. The six acres will include 14 lots that vary in size. Parcel 17 is located in Bedico Creek south of Interstate 12, west of La. 1085 and Madisonville.

Other projects on the horizon to be approved in the near future are The Preserve at Goodbee Lakes and Perrilloux Trace. The Preserve at Goodbee, located north of I-12, east of La. 1077 north of Goodbee, will consist of 91 lots on 75 acres. Perrilloux Trace will consists 25 lots on 10 acres and is located south of I-12 on Perrilloux Road, west of Madisonville.

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Owning a home in a waterfront community in St. Tammany Parish is a wonderful experience. Having access to a river or a lake provides a peaceful and restful environment that is also kind of freeing, especially if you are a “water person.” With the environment of a river or lake also comes the lush vegetation and wildlife, such as water fowl,1657 Ox Bow Sitting Area turtles, and frogs. There is just a different kind of feel and sound when living on or near the water.

Being near the water also allows a homeowner to be able to enjoy recreational activities, such as water sports, boating, canoeing, swimming, floating, and fishing. Many waterfront communities also carve out walking or hiking paths around the water area for residents to enjoy. Having a home with a water view is also a tremendous advantage, both while you are living there and also as a benefit of selling your home.

Homes in waterfront communities tend to come at a higher price range because the lot on which they are built are often priced higher because they are a prized commodity.  With the right care and attention, a home on the water can be an incredible real estate investment.

Homeowners of waterfront homes must be sure to look out for damage that can be done to a home because it is located on or near the water. Problems caused by moisture in the air such as mold, degradation of stone, metal or wood, bug issues, and water intrusion can take a toll on the quality building of a new home for sale. Staying on top of the maintenance of your home by painting and sealing the exterior of your home often, keeping a current termite contract, and investing in sturdy building materials to begin with can go a long way in ensuring that your home stays in good shape both for you and your family and for if or when you ever decide to sell.

Ron Lee Homes is now offering a new, custom home for sale in a waterfront community in Covington, Louisiana, in River Club. This new home is just a brief walk down the street to an extensive boat dock, boardwalk, and pavilion on river. If you haven’t yet had the chance to tour this new community or our new home for sale, Contact Us at 985-626-7619 or E-mail to schedule your private tour today!

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Trying to keep it “in house,” Pelican Park is looking to redevelop an unused baseball field called Green 5 into something else either recreation or fitness that might target adults. The budget for this redevelopment will come from the operating budget of Pelican Park, and will be an investment of $500,000 – $800,000.

Comments were solicited from the public, and recommendations included an indoor Olympic-size swimming pool, complete with diving.  However, the estimated cost of that type of project could be upwards of $25 million, and thatPelican Park Redevelopment would not work within the park’s budget.

Green 5 is a 4-acre area which used to be used for baseball, but with over 30 athletc fields, it now stands “idle.”  It is situated around the center of the complex, and the lights that used to light the field no longer meet the safety requirements, and the cost of bringing them up to standard would be too expensive.  Also, baseball programs for older kids are no longer offered at Pelican Park.

A study to determine the best use of the 4-acre plot was awarded to Neel-Schaffer, Inc., an engineering, planning and construction management firm, at the cost of $20,540. Ideas of what might replace the field included pickleball outdoor courts, bocce, horseshoes or shuffleboard, outdoor fitness area with exercise equipment, a shaded picnic area, or a walking track.

A board of directors meeting held February 28th took the recommendations of Neel-Schaffer, Inc., and decided to use the space for an exercise / activity area with walking trail, outdoor fitness equipment, a 3/4 acre pond and six pickleball courts.

“Other elements of the project include areas for bocce, horseshoes, shuffleboard and a small section where poles will be erected for ‘hammocking.’ The plan also involves razing one maintenance barn near the ball field and converting a second barn into a pavilion,” park director Kathy Foley said.

“We’re moving forward with it,” Foley said. “We think it will offer something for people who might otherwise not use the park.”

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The facility will be situated on 17 acres in Covington, which was once home to Danielle Inn, an orphanage.  This facility has been designed and structured to be a haven for homeless veterans who are located in St. Tammany Parish.  Out of the 200,000 homeless veterans in Louisiana, 20,000 live in St. Tammany Parish.  The name of the new organization is Camp N.O.R.A. (No One Rides Alone).  The founders of the organization and facility is a group named The Ride of the Brotherhood which was originally established to locate and bring back the remains ofCamp N.O.R.A. American soldiers in Vietnam.  This group is a non-profit consisting of veterans who are trying to help others who may be going through what these members have already overcome.

Camp N.O.R.A., upon completion, will be able to house 16 to 17 veterans at a time.  However, when it opens, 4 veterans have been vetted and are ready to enter the program of Camp N.O.R.A. which has a three-phase recovery program.  The first phase is to sign up the veteran with the Veterans Affairs system, so that they can get all of their medical and physical needs taken care of and get used to be being on a regular schedule.  The second phase will be interviews to find out what the veteran would like to do for a living, whether it be get an education, take courses to specialize in a specific vocation, or to simply get a job.  Resources will then be offered to the veteran to help him or her achieve their goals.  The third phase is to help the veteran transition from the program to real life, find a place to live, figure out how to make money, and then buy necessities needed to survive on their own.

Camp N.O.R.A. in Covington, in St. Tammany Parish needs assistance with getting the grounds ready, getting the building ready, and donations.  Once the facility is open, they will need volunteers to help maintenance the place and keep it going.  Donations needed include men’s clothing, single beds, chest of drawers, and night stands.  Service needs include roofing work and long term sponsors. Future plans include installing a garden and bringing in livestock to make the grounds more self-sustaining.

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An award based on the following four characteristics: academic achievement, leadership skills, character and workZoe Dieringer - Student of the Year with the school and community is what was given to Zoe Dieringer, a 5th grader at Lancaster Elementary, Louis Cohn, an 8th grader at Boyet Junior High, and Grace Dragna, a senior at Mandeville High School. There were the finalists for Student of the Year competition in St. Tammany Parish, and they will go on to compete in a regional competition.  The regional competition finalists will be announced next month and include students from seven regions across the State of Louisiana.

Student of the Year awards are chosen specifically from grades 5 (elementary school), 8 (middle school), and 12 (high school).  Students are chosen from both public and non-Louis Cohn - Student of the Yearpublic schools.  After the regional competition determination has been made, the finalists from that event will go on to be selected as the Student of the Year for the State of Louisiana.  Portfolios by the students, writing samples, and interviews are submitted at the regional level to help in the judging of students.

The chosen students from St. Tammany Parish had numerous accomplishments.  Zoe Dieringer has a 4.0 grade point average, tutors other students, served on the Student Council, is a member of the band, playing the flute, and is  amember of the Nutritional Advisory Club, the Hammond Ballet Youth Ensemble.  She hopes to become a professional dancer and has been invited to attend the American Ballet Theatre Your Dancer Summer Workshop in New York City.

Louis Cohn’s accomplishments include starting left tackle on teh Boyet Junior High football team, a 4.0 grade pointGrace Dragna - Student of the Year average, a member and award recipient of the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and was named Boyet’s outstanding Student in American History, Life Sciences and Reading.

Grace Dragna maintains a 4.56 grade point average and volunteers for and leads numerous organizations including the Mandeville Youth and Government Club, Political Thinkers Club, the Mandeville High Student Council, Feeding the Needy (Covington Rotary Club), So Others Might Eat Soup Kitchen in Washington, D.C., Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, the Samaritan Center, the Louisiana Youth Legislature, and the 2018 United States Senate Youth Program.  She is also a National Merit Semifinalist.

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On a location which was always considered the town center of Covington, there have been 3 courthouse buildings which have stood since 1837 when the St. Tammany Parish Police Jury bought 4 lots for the purpose of “planting” the Covington courthouse.  The original courthouse was demolished in 1884, and in 1886, a new courthouse was built which stood until 1957.  Then, the courthouse that now stands at the location was completed in 1959.  This courthouse is being considered city surplus and will be auctioned to the highest bidder towards the beginning of 2019.

The current building houses the 911 center for St. Tammany Parish.  It has been rented out for this purpose for approximately 10 years. A new 911 facility is being construction north of Lacombe and will be a 16,000 square footSt. Tammany Parish Courthouse building once it is completed.

Public preference in Covington has been that the current courthouse stay in the purvue of the city and be converted to a museum or public park space, however, with the budget shortfall coming up for the next fiscal year, an auction will be necessary.  To that end, the Covington City Council appointed a nine-member panel to do a study as to the uses for the building.

The building is 31,000 square feet and it also has a plaza in the front which is home to ancient oak trees, which are part of the charm of many public places on the Northshore. It is located at the corner of Boston and New Hampshire Streets and is currently owned by the St. Tammany Parish government.

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A plan 15 years in the making came to fruition the weekend of January 20-21, 2018.  The Children’s Museum of St. Tammany opened its doors to great fanfare that weekend.  The Children’s Museum which is located near the St. Tammany Trace Trailhead at Koop Drive, will begin to have regular business hours on Tuesday, January 23rd.  The museum has exhibits which are focused on toddler-age children to elementry-age children.

The idea for the Children’s Museum originally began with the Junior League of Greater Covington in 2003.  A non-profit was formed in 2011 called The Children’s Museum of St. Tammany to begin on fundraising activities to raiseSt. Tammany Parish Children's Museum money for the new facility. Partners in the endeavor include the St. Tammany Parish government and the St. Tammany Parish school district.

In fact, the St. Tammany Parish school district held its 8th fundraising event on December 1, 2017, which was led by the students to raise money for the museum.  A check in the amount of $19,377 was then donated to the Children’s Museum by school superintendent Trey Folse during a school board meeting on January 11, 2018. A total of $160,000 has been raised using similar fundraising efforts during the last 8 years.

The facility at the Tammany Trace Trailhead at Koop Drive is only an interim location for the museum. The final facility will be built on St. Tammany Parish’ planned cultural arts district on land adjacent to the Colonial/Pinnacle property at Louisiana 21 / I-12 and the Tchefuncte River.

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A sous chef with seven years’ experience working at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans will be opening a new restaurant in Old Mandeville, just 5 blocks off of Lake Pontchartrain.  The restaurant building which used to house Vianne’s Tea House and very briefly the Ugly Duckling Cafe will take on the new name of Hambone and will server breakfast, lunch, coffee and brunch on the weekends.

The fare will include traditional southern and Louisiana food like red beans and rice.  According to the new owner and chef, Luke Hidalgo, the menu will feature southern comfort food and include specialty sandwiches and smallHambone Commmanders Palace Restaurant plate meals.

“It’s that little bit of a turn that you put into your food on the front end that makes all the difference in the world,” Hidalgo said of his approach in designing his menu. “It takes a little bit of an extra effort, but it’s worth it.”

The endeavor is being taken up by Luke Hidalgo and his wife Marci, who he met at Commander’s Palace and who also has restaurant experience. The location of the new restaurant is 544 Girod Street.  In addition to working at Commander’s Palace, Hidalgo also has experience working as executive chef at Palmetto’s Restaurant in Slidell.  The new restaurant will have approximately 145 seats – 85 inside and 60 outside.

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For the fourth consecutive year, the crime in Covington, Louisiana, is down compared to previous years.  Covington, Mandeville, and Madisonville, Louisiana, all have very low crime numbers in St. Tammany Parish.  St. Tammany Parish is considered a very safe place to live and to move to according to people who currently live in this area.

However, the good news about crime being even lower this year in Covington, is excellent news for homeowners.  This news means that their homes will continue to appreciate in value as St. Tammany Parish remains a sought afterCovington Louisiana Crime Rates place to live and move.

Major crime in Covington went down by 22% in 2017, and these decreases were in the categories of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and assault and theft.  There were increases in just 2 categories – burglary and vehicle theft.  Just one murder was recorded in Covington in both 2017 and 2016, which kept that category number the same.

“While the importance of crime statistics cannot be understated, and we are ecstatic about the fourth consecutive year of reduced numbers of crimes reported, the real success of our agency lies in the relationships we have built with our citizens in the community,” Police Chief Tim Lentz said in the release. “We are truly blessed to live and work in a community that cares.”

Community communication and outreach programs can be credited for the low crime rate in this area.  Community members have a good relationship with law enforcement which helps to keep information flowing and reduces or stops crime before it happens.  Several outreach programs have been put in place to help with the drug abuse epidemic, which seems to be a nationwide problem as well.

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