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COUNCIL CONTINUES INSURANCE DEBATE

A health care provider company who told Lafourche Parish officials they could save the parish costs in providing health care to the parish jail, has backed out of a council approved contract, saying that because of the political climate, they felt unwelcomed here.

Parish Risk Manger Brent Abadie said Friday, Quality Correctional Health of Birmingham, Ala, has backed out of a contract the council approved last Tuesday, to provide health care at the parish jail.

"After winning the contract on June 25, officials with the company said they had been trying to get an appointment with the warden of the jail, and the sheriff; however they were never able to do," Abadie said. "In short, they said that because of a political climate, they would not be able to perform the services they were contracting for. They said it would not be a good idea."

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said last week, he was never consulted on a new health care provider for the parish jail.

"I never expressed any dissatisfaction with the current provider, who we have been using for the past 11 years," Webre said.

The sheriff said the cost of providing health care, food, clothing, and transportation, belongs to the parish council. He said the sheriff's office is charged with the functional operations of the jail, deputies, and the staff who work inside of the jail.

"If the parish council chooses to seek bids and replace the current provider, with another provider, that is strictly their prerogative," Webre said. "However, the current vendor informed me that the council had gone out for bids, and they were never notified to continue

with the contract. Also, I believe they were willing to offer an extension for the rest of the year."

Correct Health of Atlanta, Ga., currently holds the contract, which costs the parish just over an annual $1 million.

However, the council earlier this month rejected a bid for health care services from Quality Correctional Health, at the administration's recommendation, because some councilmen at the time felt that Correct Health of Atlanta was not properly informed.

But on Tuesday, the Council approved the contract for Quality Correctional Health, in a 6-2 vote, with Councilmen Jerry Jones and Daniel Lorraine voting no, and Councilman Craig Jaccuzzo being absent.

Councilwoman Luci Sposito and Councilman Michael Gros said that while they had a problem with better communication between the administration and the sheriff's office, they would vote for the contract because they did not want Quality Correctional Health to sue the parish, because they felt the proper bid law process was followed.

Other councilmen who voted for the company, felt the same, and were also afraid of the parish being sued.

However, Dr. Johnny E. "Rusy" Bates, the chief executive officer of Quality Correctional Health, appeared before the council on last Tuesday, and told them he would not sue if his company was not approved for the new contract.

Councilman Daniel Lorraine, who voted against Quality Correctional, has contented since earlier this month, he had a problem with the fact that Webre was not consulted with the contract, "and it is he who operates the jail."

"Since he has been working with Correct Health of Atlanta for the past 11 years, wouldn't you say that he has had no problem with their services?" Lorraine asked.

Councilman Jerry Jones, who also voted against switching health care vendors, said the parish administration should not sign any contracts which extend into 2020. He said those tasks should be left for the new parish administration.

Abadie said the parish council will have to work on an extension with Correct Health, to continue services.


LOCALS CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE DAY IN HOUMA

People gathered to celebrate independence this past Saturday over fireworks and music.

The Terrebonne Patriots Inc. held its 11th annual Independence Day celebration at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center. The event was complete with live bands, food venders, Army Recruiters with virtual reality machines, a wreath ceremony, and, of course, a live fireworks show.

"It's a reminder," said Sgt. First Class Samuel Acevedo, an Army recruiter on site. "It gets you back into the days where we were triumphant over a tyrant."

In 1776 the United States, then only 13 colonies, legally separated from Great Britain on July the second. America typically celebrates this on the 4th of July, when Congress finally approved the Declaration of Independence.

The Terrebonne Patriots Inc. formed 11 years ago tasked with taking charge of the Independence Day celebration as a way of honoring veterans. Danny Picou, the president of the organization, said since then the celebration has only grown.

From its humble origins as a parade, the Tererbonne Patriots eventually moved the event to the civic center grounds to escape the heat. The overhang stretching out from the front entrance provided shade for live bands such as Tet Dur and The Cane Breakers to perform for a dancing audience. According to Picou, last year the event had 3-to-5,000 in attendence, and this year he expected about the same amount.

Enjoying the music nearby was Harris Guidry of Chauvin. Guidry is a veteran who served in the 58th Aviation Division of the Army during the Vietnam War. Most of the people

he served with were from other states which makes it difficult to spend time with them. He enjoyed this event because he was able to be with other local veterans - and of course the swamp pop music.

"Most of the people I served with were all from out of state," he said. "I've gone to a few of them every once in a while to keep in contact, but it's far apart. We don't get to see each other anymore."

With the more stationary venue, other local venders and organizations were able to set up.

The Street Survivors biker club, for example, was holding a raffle to raise money for the Terrebonne Patriots and The Children's Advocacy Center of Lafourche. The club was also promoting an upcoming fundraiser for an injured motorcyclist, and their efforts to gather supplies for needy families during Christmas.

The Army had brought in a bus which housed a number of virtual reality simulators. These simulated sky diving, helicopter piloting, and humvee driving. There were also displays of weapons, and equipment used by soldiers, with two mannequins fondly nicknamed "Ranger Rick," and "Scuba Steve," by the recruiters.

TJ Harris and his son Cameron Harris jumped inside the Humvee simulator and drove around for a bit. While Cameron was somewhat shy, he said it was like a video game.

"It was pretty cool," said TJ Harris. "It was a good experience for him."


ALL-IN LOCAL MAKING BIG STRIDES IN PROFESSIONAL POKER

For most, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas — at least that's how the old adage goes.

But for Thibodaux native Josh Thibodaux, he hopes that what happens in Vegas this summer will come back home to Louisiana with him and provide financial stability for both he and his family to enjoy.

Thibodaux is a professional poker player — a quickly-growing name in the sport, thanks to some of the successes he's enjoyed in recent weeks.

On June 7, Thibodaux scored a seat at the final table and finished 5th in the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em - Millionaire Maker Event, part of the 50th World Series of Poker. His prize for that event was a cool $350,758.

At press-time, Thibodaux is still in Las Vegas and is competing at various events throughout the summer in hopes of continuing to grow his profile in the sport.

"My goals for poker from the beginning was always to gain capital," Thibodaux said. "That way, I can start and invest in businesses."

For Thibodaux, the path from the bayous of Southeast Louisiana to multi-million dollar poker tournaments was paved through lots of hard work.

Thibodaux said he learned the game as a kid while spending time with family at their camp in Grand Isle during the summer. But he added quickly that he wasn't always a pro.

"I wasn't good at it at first," he said with a laugh. "It took a lot of hard work and a lot of pain to get good at it."

So we know you're all asking at home: Exactly what "hard work" does a poker player have to do, specifically, to get better at the craft?

Thibodaux said that's multi-faceted.

He said he got serious about playing when he was in college at LSU — a time when he really started to study and hone in on his craft.

As a younger adult, Thibodaux said he would go to casino poker rooms and watch other players play — without ever touching a card.

For hours and hours, he'd sit and study, picking up little observations about the successful players and those who failed.

Through those observations, Thibodaux said he learned some of the talents that one must have to make real money playing cards.

He said (without giving away too many secrets) that one of the big keys to poker are one's fingers, adding that the best players are good with their fingers and not giving tells that can tip off other players.

Thibodaux said the best players also have to have mental toughness and the ability to stay focused, poised and patient for literally hours — sometimes upwards of 10-12 hours at a time, if not more, during a high-stakes event.

"If you want to be great, you have to be skilled in math and psychology," Thibodaux said. "A lot of players today focus on the math, but don't look at psychology as much. And for me, that's where I put most of my effort. People react differently under pressure when there's thousands of dollars on the line."

"And look, I'm good at it, but I'm still not at the level I would like to be. I'm good, but I'm not as consistent as I would like to be. I can play great for a few days straight, but I may wake up one morning not completely on my game. I still get affected by the fatigue and other factors a lot more than I would like."

But Thibodaux is doing a lot right, too — including a huge summer so far in Vegas.

In May, he won a $250 No Limit Hold'em event in New Orleans — part of the WSOP Circuit. For that, he won $16,451.

That led him to Vegas and four-straight tournaments throughout June.

Thibodaux competed in the $500 No Limit Hold'em - BIG 50 (297th place; $6,054 prize), $600 No Limit Hold'em - Deepstack (331st place; $1,739 prize), $1,500 No Limit Hold'em - Millionaire Maker (5th place; $350,758 prize) and $1,020 + $80 No Limit Hold'em - Main Event (150th place; $3,573 prize).

At press-time, he was playing in another event and faring well, though final results were not available at time of publication.

Thibodaux said he doesn't have a "favorite hand", per se, but said he has a least favorite hand. Without hesitation, he pointed to the King-Eight off-suit hand he had at the Millionaire Maker event, which cost him a chance at the title — a literal chance to become a millionaire.

"I'll never forget it," he said with a laugh.

But if Thibodaux keeps going at the rate he is now, he will reach 7 figures the hard way — through consistency and continued ability to fare well in high-stakes events.

Thibodaux said he hopes to finish the summer strong, adding that he's learning a lot during his competitions throughout the summer.

His goal?

To make $1 million in earnings and to finish back in another final table like he did at the Millionaire Maker event.

"Hopefully the cards have the same plan," he said with a laugh.