News for Monday 071414
By Dave Graichen
Many wonder if the Rapides Parish Coliseum renovation project will ever get under way. The $20 million-plus project is on hold yet again while the Rapides Parish Police Jury and the city of Alexandria try to reach an agreement necessary for the project to move forward. At issue is a large portion of the Coliseum property that is co-owned by the city and the parish. The parish must secure an agreement to use that property for parking for construction to commence. To obtain building permits, Alliance Design had to show its design meets city code for number of parking spaces available in relation to the new arena’s seating capacity. To do that, clear ownership of the parking area or an agreement to use the area must be established. Both sides, the city and the parish are pointing the finger of blame at each other for the latest delay.
Louisiana is among a handful of states that showed an increase in its number of troubled bridges in recent years, but officials of the state Department of Transportation and Development decline to say where they are located. DOTD officials rejected a June 13 public records request from The Baton Rouge Advocate for a list of the 1,827 bridges, 14 percent of the total statewide, rated as “structurally deficient” under a scoring system created by the federal government. The condition of our bridges, many half a century old and older, has been criticized for years, including in a 2012 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers. That review gave the state’s bridges a rating of “D-plus.”
The state department of education reports for the third year in a row the state's high school graduation rate has increased. State Education Superintendent John White says for the class of 2013, 74-percent graduated in four years a 12-percentage point increase from 2001. White says while it's encouraging to see the graduation rate rise, they still have a long way to go.
Once again there's a poll out showing that Congressman Bill Cassidy and incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu are neck and neck in the upcoming Senate race. The survey of 750 voters has Landriu leading Cassidy 46-43 percent. Two other candidates in the race, Republicans Rob Maness and State Representative Paul Hollis, were not included in this poll.
A Thibodaux Police Department officer videotaped himself locked in his patrol car for just 10 minutes to illustrate how dangerous the heat can become inside in just a short period of time. The
Department posted the video on YouTube and a day later it had over 30,000 views. Officer David Melancon said he became miserable after just 20 seconds. There have been several stories in the news lately about parents forgetting their kids were inside the car on hot days, which could lead to death. Melancon says children and pets should never be left in hot cars, even for just a few minutes.
Governor Bobby Jindal has signed a governor's warrant to extradite the Bourbon Street shooting suspect from a Mississippi jail. 20-year-old Trung Le was arrested in Gulfport a week ago and has resisted being sent back to Louisiana. Mississippi's governor must approve the warrant. Authorities say that could take weeks or even months.
The Common Core debate rages on with no apparent solution in sight. State education superintendent John White says something needs to be done because there is still no standardized test in place for next school year. He says we're four and a half weeks away from the first day of school and they still have no direction. BESE thought it would be moving forward with the Common Core test until Governor Jindal said he would use an executive order to cancel the contract.
Parking and access at the Louisiana State Capitol is about to become a little more difficult for visitors. A $4.3 million dollar project to improve security around the building began last week. State Office of Facility Planning Director Mark Moses says this will do more than just add more security measures. It includes the installation of four security posts and vehicles will be routed further away from the building. Moses these upgrades will make the capitol a more pedestrian-friendly campus. Work is expected to be completed next March, a few weeks before the 2015 legislative session is scheduled to begin.
The Palmetto man who was accused of driving drunk when he got involved in a road rage fueled 2011 crash that claimed the lives of 5 people on I-10 in Baton Rouge, has been found guilty. On Friday a jury convicted David Leger of 5 counts of vehicular homicide. The tragic head-on collision and fire killed two women and 3 children ages 3, 7 and 11. Leger faces up to 30 years in prison on each of the 5 charges.
The SEC Media Days get underway today in Hoover, Alabama. Lyn Scarbrough of Lindy's Magazine says some big storylines will develop over the next four days. Many expect Alabama will win the SEC and play in the national title game, even with a new QB this season. LSU head coach Les Miles is scheduled to take the podium Wednesday afternoon. Scarbrough sees LSU, Auburn, and Alabama as the top teams in the SEC west. In the east, he goes with Georgia and South Carolina.
LSU Football officials have announced that Tiger Stadium is now the nation's fifth largest college football venue with a capacity of 102,321. They say the south end zone expansion will move LSU's Death Valley to the No. 2 in the SEC behind only Tennessee which has about 100 more seats