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Creole license plates out today

Michelle Southern reporting.
Starting today a brand new license plate will be available to Louisiana drivers boasting, "I'm Creole, and Proud." Lafayette Representative Vincent Pierre says he lead the effort to make this happen because he wanted to give more exposure to the Creole culture. He says one of the plate's features is a black pot.

"That represents the great food the Creoles in this community always have for folks that come visit," said Pierre.

Pierre says the Creole plate also features an accordion to represent Zydeco music. He says there's also a scrub board on the specialty item.

"And just recently Sunset was voted the scrub board capitol of the world," said Pierre.

Pierre says the design also includes a fleur de lis to tie it all together in representing Louisiana. He says you can get it as soon as the DMVs open today for $30 plus fees. 

Pierre says the funds that are generated from the Creole plate will go to the French Immersion Program.

"To help improve french here in our state," says Pierre. "The children and the community is really excited about this."


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Saints finally get in the win column

The Saints finally picked up their first win of the season as New Orleans defeated Minnesota 20-9.
"It wasn't perfect, but I thought we played hard," Saints head coach Sean Payton said.  

The Saints jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, but didn't score again until the 4th quarter. A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty against Minnesota kept alive a Saints drive that led to seven more points in the final quarter.
After losing late leads in the last two games, Payton says it was good to finish this contest on top. 
"It was a game where we were able to get them off the field and then it was game where we were able to possess the ball for however many minutes and then take a knee, so that was a positive."
Quarterback Drew Brees through for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Brandin Cooks had eight catches for 74 yards, while Khiry Robinson had 69 yards on 18 carries.
The Saints held Minnesota to 59 yards rushing. The Vikings were without star running back Adrian Peterson, who is away from the team, because he's child abuse charges.
Up next for the Saints, the Dallas Cowboys. The two teams will meet at Jerry World next Sunday night. Dallas is 2-and-1.  
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LSU and Louisiana Tech upset at home

For the first time since 1991, Mississippi State came into Baton Rouge and left town with a victory. The Bulldogs rolled up 570 yards of total offense in a 34-29 victory over the Tigers.

Mississippi State did much of its damage on the ground as they rushed for 302 yards. Two Louisiana natives did most of the damages against a Tigers defense that was gashed.
Former Haughton star Dak Prescott had a Heisman like performance, as he threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Prescott also rushed for a 105 yards, including an impressive 56-yard touchdown run.
Former Franklinton star Josh Robinson rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
LSU rushed for only 89 yards. Quarterback Anthony Jennings struggled as he was 13-of-26 for 157 yards. Jennings was sacked three times, the last hit knocked him out of the game.
Brandon Harris led LSU on three scoring drives in the 4th quarter, throwing two touchdown passes to Malachi Dupre. Coach Les Miles said after the game that Harris showed them a lot and left open the possibility he could start against New Mexico State.
In Ruston, Northwestern State scored 20 4th quarter points to come from behind to beat Louisiana Tech 30-27. Chris Moore kicked two field goals, including a 47-yarder to win it on the final play of the game.
The Bulldogs turned it over five times. Tech quarterback Cody Sokol was intercepted three times.
It was Northwestern's first win over an FBS opponent since 2005 and it's the Demons first win over the Bulldogs since 1979.  
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Record number of candidates dropping out

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is advising voters to study up on their November fourth ballot, because they've had a record number of candidates who have withdrawn from their respective races since qualifying. Schedler says 110 candidates have dropped out of their race and the printed ballot may not reflect the change in the number of candidates.

"So we urge voters to look at the ballot that's posted at the precinct.  And there will be a list of withdrawn candidates."
Many of names of withdrawn candidates will remain on the ballot because it is required by law that these ballots are made 45 days from the election.  Votes for withdrawn candidates will not be counted.  Schedler says local election commissioners are supposed to inform voters at polling stations of withdrawn candidates on the ballot.
"I just want to be straight up with everyone, when you have over 13,000 commissioners across the state, certainly human error, there could be incidents where a long line or someone inadvertently forgets to say that."
Even a US Senate candidate has withdrawn from the race and that is Raymond Brown.  Schedler says, with that, there will be withdrawn candidates on the ballot in every single parish.  Schedler says you can always go to GeauxVote-dot-com to keep yourself updated.
"It'll pull up a live ballot specific to you and that will be current to, literally, the day of the election of who has withdrawn.  So, when all else fails, use that."
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State agencies waste airline tickets

The Louisiana Inspector General has issued a set of recommendations for state agencies to stop wasting airline tickets.  Stephen Street's office found that between 2011 and 2013, over half a million dollars in non-refundable airline tickets were purchased by state entities, but never used. 

Street says his office is mandated to find and eliminate waste and this is a classic example of waste.
"Where you have airline tickets that have a monetary value that are allowed to expire and become completely worthless to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars."
The report shows that nearly 12-hundred non-refundable airline tickets expired, but could have been used within one year to pay for another ticket.  Street says the topic was addressed in a previous report in 2010 and the results of that report were similar to this year's.
"We've reviewed it again, pointed it out again, and we are hopefully confident that there will be some steps taken to address the problem.  It's been represented to us and the response is that is happening."
Street says, in tight budget times, we have to be especially careful about this sort of waste of taxpayer money.  He says the report includes a set of recommendations for the Office of State Travel to ensure unused airline tickets are not wasted.
"It appears that they're going to be taking steps to monitor this stuff much more closely and to make certain that we just don't allow this money to evaporate."
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Louisiana continues to set records when it comes to employment

August was another record breaking month in terms of employment. The Louisiana Workforce Commission released new job numbers today and nonfarm employment grew by 30-thousand over the last 12 months and a record 1.9 million people are employed in the Pelican state.

"Sectors with the most new jobs were construction, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and education and health services," said Tom Guarisco.
August saw a record 1.6 million non-government jobs in Louisiana, as private employers added 36-thousand jobs over the year. Guarisco says the construction sector led the way by hiring 95-hundred workers. 
"Construction is a driver, when jobs are added in that sector, it leads to more growth in other sectors."
Guarisco says they anticipate setting more employment records in the coming months, because the construction sector will need to keep adding workers.
"Our forecasts say that it's going to take off considerably more in the coming years as a lot of these industrial projects come on line."  
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Louisiana obesity rate dropping, but still not great

Michelle Southern reporting.
According to a recent report, Louisiana's obesity rate is dropping for the first time in 30 years. The annual study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found The Bayou State is now ranked 6th in the nation, instead of first.

"We've been ranked number 1 or number 2 in the country, taking turns with Mississippi, for about 30 years now," says LeAnne Redman, an obesity researcher at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center. "So it's very encouraging for our researchers to see this happening."

Redman believes healthy initiatives all across the state are making it easier for people to make healthier choices. She believes that in a state where we love food at events like tailgating and Mardi Gras, the culture is somewhat changing.

"I think that's what's happening at these meet and greets is that people are trying to provide more healthy foods for everybody," said Redman.

Redman also says their research shows it all starts in the womb and that pregnancy is very important on laying down the metabolic fingerprint of that child. The study shows that Louisiana's adult obesity rate is still 33.1% and Redman says we still have a long way to go.

"So we have to spend some more time thinking about what we can do to continue this trend in future years," Redman said.
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Donaldsonville man avoids prison time in negligent homicide case

A Donaldsonville man who pleaded guilty in 1995 to negligent homicide in a crash that killed a ten-week old child has avoided prison. Stanley White received a two-year prison sentence 19 years ago, but was never given a report date. He was re-sentenced again and White's sentence this time was two years of home incarceration.

"I think to put someone like Stanley in jail after all these years after system failures would have been vengeance and not justice," White's attorney, Steven Moore.
The parents of the infant killed in the wreck, Shannon and Rachel Deville, say  justice was not served. But Moore says White is remorseful and he's been a model citizen since he made a horrible mistake.
"He tried to live his life as best as possible after that, which is what we want from people who make mistakes," Moore said. 
White is a college graduate, with a full-time job and has not been trouble with the law since the fatal crash. 
White was 19 at the time of the accident. It's unknown why he never received a date to report to prison. 
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LSU's contraflow plan to get tested with SEC home opener

The largest crowd to ever watch a football game in Tiger Stadium is expected Saturday when the Tigers face SEC West foe Mississippi State. The game is nearly sold-out in, which means 100-thousand tickets have been sold and LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette says this will put to test their contralow plan after the game.
"On Nicholson, from Skip Bertman Drive all the way to Bluebonnet is contraflow and it's been executed very well up to this point."
Contraflow is being used this year for fans that are heading south on Nicholson Drive. Bonnette says a record crowd and a potentially close game, with tens of thousands of fans leaving at the same time, will give them a better idea if it works as intended.
Bonnette says they are also encouraging fans to get to campus early. He says last week they had a bottle neck for those fans tyring to get to their seat in the east upper deck.
"We want fans to know if they are in the east upper and you are willing and capable of walking up ramps, you can utilize gates 22 through 28 on the south side." 
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Fourth anniversary of capping the BP well

Four years ago today workers were able to cap the BP well that created the largest environmental disaster in the history of North America.  Executive Director for The Coastal Protection Restoration Authority, Kyle Graham, says, four years later, most of the oil has been removed from the coastal beaches and marshes in Louisiana.

"But, yet, there is still oil out there.  And given the depth and the distance and the amount of oil, we anticipate that we'll be seeing oil on Louisiana's coast for decades."
He says it's still too early to tell what the long-term effects the oil-spill will have on the ecosystem along the state's coast. 
"There are still a lot of studies ongoing to look at individual species and to look at the populations of the various fauna and things that make up our coastal environment to determine what the total amount of that impact will be."
Graham says they have been receiving money associated with the criminal penalties as a result of the spill.  He says some of that money has been used to progress the engineering and design of barrier island and diversion projects. 
"We are hoping to, in the next six months, actually, to see some of that money spent on construction of barrier island projects here in Louisiana."
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Analyst skeptical of Fox News poll showing Landrieu losing major support

Michelle Southern reporting.
A new poll conducted by Fox News shows Republican US-Senate candidate Bill Cassidy with a substantial lead over the incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in a head-to-head match-up. The survey shows Cassidy with 51% of the vote and Landrieu with 38% in a potential runoff scenario.

ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley questions the validity of this poll.

"Is it entirely within the realm of possibility that Landrieu has lost some support? I suppose," says Stockley. "However I'm skeptical that she sits at only 38%."

The poll interviewed just over 600 likely Louisiana voters between September 14th-16th. 

Stockley says it's possible that Landrieu has lost some support, but he's skeptical that she's all the way down to just 38% support.

He says so many other polls on this race show Landrieu in the mid to upper 40s.

"Typically when you have one poll that is substantially different from the trend, or the other polls - one should treat it skeptically," said Stockley.

According to the poll numbers in the jungle primary, Landrieu has 31% support, Cassidy has 35% and Republican tea-party favorite Rob Maness has 7%. Stockley says that would mean that Maness is taking votes away from Landrieu which is highly unlikely.

"How is it possible for those voters to not support Landrieu in favor of Maness by Maness being in the race," said Stockley. "That flies in the face of what everything else is telling us about the electorate in this state."


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Pineville officer-involved shooting determined justified

The investigation into a fatal officer involved shooting in Pineville has determined that shooting to be justified.  Rapides Parish Sheriff's spokesman, Lt. Tommy Carnline, says Pineville Police Officer Vince Deville responded to a call and was confronted with the suspect,  Christopher Leblanc, brandishing a large sword.  

Carnline says witnesses said they heard the officer order the suspect to drop his weapon "repeatedly and loudly".
"The suspect then charged toward Officer Deville.  And as the officer was trying to create distance, backing up, giving verbal commands, the suspect kept coming toward him and he discharged his weapon, firing multiple rounds, hitting the suspect multiple times in the torso area."
Leblanc was pronounced dead at the scene.  Carnline says the officer responded to a tense, uncertain, rapidly evolving situation and performed in accordance with his training and the law. 
"The fact remains that the subject failed to comply with the officer's commands and he had to use deadly force on him, not only to save himself, but the other civilians in the area."
Detectives say the sword Leblanc was holding was 38-inches long with a slight curve and extremely sharp.  Carnline says Leblanc was an immediate and continuous danger to Officer Deville and the other civilians in the area.  He says the use of deadly force is not something any officer wants to do and this situation could have been avoided. 
"Whenever someone confronts an officer, and they are ordered to comply, that's what they should do.  And this officer was given no alternative."
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Louisiana men paid 33% more than women

Michelle Southern reporting.
According to new census data, Louisiana women make about two thirds of what men in The Bayou State are paid. The figures show males here earn 33 percent more than females which is the largest pay gap in the nation. Tulane Business Professor Dr. Mark Rosa says high paying fields of study are dominated by men in Louisiana.

"The programs that are here that generally pay more, there are more males in the classroom," said Rosa.

Rosa says, from a geographical standpoint, very few women work in the high-paying oil and gas area in the south and certainly Louisiana.

"You just have the number of men out there are occupying the positions that pay better," said Rosa.

Rosa also believes women in Louisiana, even if they have a high paying degree, are more inclined to stay home and not work in favor of raising their family.


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Louisiana ranks 40th in the nation for highway conditions

The condition of Louisiana's highways rank 40th in the nation in a report released today. The Reason Foundation, which is a think tank out of Los Angeles, says Louisiana has fallen 16 spots from its 2011 highway report. Author of the study, David Hartgen, says the pavement condition of the state's rural and urban interstates contributed to the poor ranking.

"For urban interstates, 15-percent of the payment was rated poor that's almost doubled from the prior year," Hartgen said.
A spokesperson for the state department of transportation says Louisiana has spent six-point-four billion dollars since 2008 in highway improvements. But Hartgen says their ranking also takes into account highway safety and Louisiana does not fare well in that category.
"Louisiana has had a relatively high fatality rate."
Hartgen says Louisiana also gets poor marks for the percentage of deficient bridges.
"28% of the bridges are rated as deficient. That's considerably higher than the national average, which is around 21%." 
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CPSO arrests mailman for allegedly stealing marijuana from packages

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff's office says a United States Postal worker is under arrest for allegedly stealing marijuana from packages he was supposed to be delivering. CPSO spokesman Bobby Herring says they got an anonymous tip that 31-year-old Russell Leon Ellis of Shreveport was stealing the mail he thought contained pot.

"He would poke holes in the packages and smell them," said Herring.

Herring says initially Ellis was charged with possession of schedule I marijuana.

He says narcotics agents moved in on the mailman as he was removing the drugs from the postal packages.

"And when they caught him in the act he had about 476 grams of marijuana on him with a street value of just under $5000," said Herring.

They were able to obtain a search warrant for the suspect's home and there they found an additional 618 grams of suspected marijuana with a street value of $6100, 25 weapons and $15,000 in cash.

Herring says the suspect was targeting packages being sent from states that have legalized marijuana.

"And that was kinda his tip off and that's why he would punch the holes and smell it," Herring said.

The United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General also investigated this case and Ellis could face federal charges.


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LFEA plans to study economic impact of film industry in Louisiana

The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association announces a plan to commission a study on the economic impact of Louisiana's film tax credit incentive program.  The study is estimated to cost $150,000.  

LFEA President Will French hopes the results of this study will show what the program actually costs the state.
"We know what we are giving out in terms of tax credits, that can be tracked.  But we don't know what we're getting back exactly and those numbers are kind of hard to quantify."
The state commissions an analysis of the film tax credits every two years and their most recent study shows it costs the state about $4.35 for every dollars' worth of credits collected.  French says Louisiana Economic Development projects economic benefits by merely plugging in spending numbers.  He says the state's analysis doesn't take into account tourism dollars the film industry brings in, among other factors. 
"How many people are moving into the state and buying houses and sending their kids to schools and buying cars and helping to grow the local economy as a whole."
The group will launch a Kickstarter campaign later this month to help with the cost of the study.   French says their study will look at every component  that could be providing an economic benefit to the state because of the industry and try to account for what that benefit likely is. 
"I have a feeling, that if we do that, we'll see that the net cost to the state of this program is very, very low.  In fact, we may find there's a net benefit, a positive return on investment."
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LSU instructor urges parents to "room share" instead of co-sleeping

It's a question many new parents deal with, should your children sleep in your bed? Jennifer Kelley, who is a pediatrics  instructor at the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, says an estimated 45-percent of families co-sleep. Kelley says proponents say it encourages breastfeeding and babies seem to sleep better, but she says it's also dangerous.

"Even though it maybe to convenient to put a baby in your bed, we have to put the baby's safety first." 
A study published in Pediatrics found 74-percent of deaths in babies younger than four months occurred in a bed-sharing situation.  Kelley recommends "room sharing," which means having your baby in the same room and keeping him or her in a bassinet or crib for up to the first year of their life.
"It is more convenient for breastfeeding mothers and it's keeping the baby safe."  
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US House approves training for Syrian rebels against ISIL

The US House voted to give President Obama authority to train and arm Syrian rebels in the effort to defeat ISIL forces in the Middle East.  The authorization passed on a 273-156 vote that crossed party lines.  Republican Minden Congressman John Fleming is the only member of the Louisiana delegation to vote against the authorization.  

Fleming says he feels we are going down the wrong path in dealing with the militant group.
"The President, instead of addressing the issue straightforwardly, wants to make a mercenary force out of, what he's already characterized as, a bunch of farmers, pharmacists, and doctors."
Fleming says it would easily take two years to get any type of group trained just for the basic ability to fight.  He says while training is taking place, ISIS forces will be adapting and gearing up.  However, Republican Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany, who voted in favor of the measure, says this is a necessary first step, although it is insufficient.  He says we need a broader strategy that involves a coalition. 
"This first step will show that American resolve to friends and foes alike, as well as those who are on the sideline.  We will demonstrate that and pull this coalition together."
Boustany says this will help the President have the necessary leverage to put this coalition in place to defeat ISIL.
"But also to get to a broader political settlement in the region.  Because what's going on in Syria, beyond ISIL, is a national security threat to the United States."
Fleming feels this is a situation that US troops need to handle.  He says if it is necessary to go in there after ISIL, then we need to acknowledge the truth:  it will require boots on the ground.  Fleming says this move to train Syrian rebels will not help us build a coalition. 
"And I don't think that other nations are going to be willing to take the risk with us, and pour in their treasure and blood if we're not going to do that."
The Senate is expected to vote on the measure Thursday. 

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Brees defends the reputation of the NFL

The NFL's image is suffering because of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case and now Vikings star Adrian Peterson is facing child abuse charges. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees says unfortunately the perception is NFL players beat their wives and children but that's only a handful of cases in a league that has 17-hundred players.

"There's a lot of guys (NFL players) that are doing a lot of great things and they represent all the great things about humanity and what its like to be a leader and great member of your community."
Brees is considered one of the faces of the NFL. He says with the league is taking a lot of P-R hits, he understands the importance of demonstrating how to represent the NFL in a positive light on and off the field.
"I'm going to be the husband, father that I am, the best I can be. I do understand the platform I'm on, being in this position."
Brees says the Rice and Peterson cases provide examples for other players that there are consequences for poor decisions away from the field.
"It's caused discussion, which I think is healthy and it gets guys on the right path."
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Louisiana's prison population on the decline, but still the highest in the US

A federal report says Louisiana's prison population fell two-percent last year, but the state still has the highest incarceration rate in the US, well ahead of Mississippi who is second.
Dr. Peter Scharf, with the Justice and Public health institute at the LSU Health Sciences Center, says there's an effort to lower the prison population, but it will take time. 

"We're trying to dig out of hole that occurred way before many of us got involved," Scharf said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Louisiana's prison population in 2013 was at 39-thousand, a drop of nearly nine-hundred people from 2012. Scharf anticipates the state's incarceration rate will continue to decline, but it will take time to get it at more acceptable level.
'There's a backlog of people with very long sentences."
Scharf says the department of corrections has put programs in place to help recently released inmates stay out of jail and there's been a push in the legislature to lower sentences for certain crimes. He says the mindset on how to punish criminals is changing and that should help lower the prison population. 

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