Dear Editor,

I was in Baton Rouge over the weekend and read your article about the Union Tank Car dome (“A dome of our own,” October 2007)

My uncle, Robert F. Nichols, built the dome in 1957-58 under the guidance of Buckminster Fuller. His company, Nichols Construction Co. of Baton Rouge, got the contract because of my uncle’s desire to build the unique dome and to work with visionaries such as Fuller.

As a very young boy, I remember meeting the great “Bucky” Fuller when he was in Baton Rouge, both on the site and when he visited with my aunt and uncle. His vision not only inspired my uncle, but probably got me started on my path as a structural engineer.

Perhaps my fond memories drive my desire to see the structure saved, but as an engineer I feel it is just as important to keep our historical structures intact as reminders of where we’ve come from.

Thank you for article and for indulging my visit to Memory Lane.

Bill Nichols, Shreveport


Dear Editor,

In the article “Hot Lunch: Vincent’s City Club” (October 2007) you referenced “a Katrina refugee from New Orleans.” Webster defines refugee as “one who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.”

I find it derogative and condescending to reference citizens of New Orleans as refugees. They are Louisianans and Americans; what’s foreign about that? The correct term is evacuee.

Paula Hayes, Lifelong B.R. resident


Dear Editor,

I stumbled across the dome in 1999 while scouting sites for a manufacturing plant. When I first saw it I slammed on my brakes and watched as it re-emerged from the dust cloud I had created. I vividly remember this image and the thought that went through my mind: How cool is this?

I hope the recent attention to the dome generates enough energy to ensure that this important structure is preserved. I am sure that there are others like me who would like to know more about the dome.

Paul Connelly, Baton Rouge


Dear Editor,

While I sincerely applaud stories like the one about Alamo Plaza (“After dark, it gets ugly,” November 2007), I can’t help but wonder where those same kinds of stories have been concerning the public schools.

I mean, it’s only your children who must endure third-world squalor in places such as Baton Rouge’s “flagship” high school (Baton Rouge Magnet High School). And I’m sure BRMHS is far from the only example of that.

Where, for the love of God, is the shame here?

If Louisianans can’t get outraged over the everyday outrages they passively bear and actually act like they live in an actual representative democracy and hold their government accountable for something, then there really is no hope.

God help Louisiana, and God help the kids who walk the crumbling halls of my old school.

James T. Freeman III, Omaha, Neb., BRMHS Class of 1979

Editor’s note: Read our coverage of Baton Rouge High in this issue here.


Dear Editor,

One way to measure if a metropolitan area is becoming progressive is to assess the local media. This letter is to both affirm and challenge 225 in your story selection. I join those who believe journalists have a responsibility to not only cast a light on community problems, but also solutions.

To this end, I applaud Chuck Hustmyre and 225 partly for investigating the status of the Alamo Plaza Motel, but mostly for including ideas of potential renovation. I also appreciated reading about positive efforts at the Desire Street Academy in North Baton Rouge. My challenge for 225 is to do much more of the same. Local publications frequently feature the good work of community leaders, new developments and prominent community programs, but it is rare to see in-depth reports on regular folks making a difference, often in forgotten and underinvested parts of our community. I’m sure you can tell me all about Perkins Rowe development, but do you have any idea what Rev. Belinda Washington and Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church are doing for people?

If Greater Baton Rouge is to be perceived as truly progressive, then

we need to share the success stories from all parts of the city-parish.

Doug Leyda, Baton Rouge social worker


Dear Editor,

I heard Chuck Hustmyre talking on the radio (WJBO) and felt compelled to read his article and it was absolutely fascinating. It is amazing to me that the Alamo Hotel can stay in business! How this place has not been torn down I do not know. It sounds more like a roach motel.

I congratulate Chuck on staying as long as he did. Hopefully something can be done to bring back this historic hotel, or so long Alamo!

Karen Blouin, Library assistant