KSYL Local News Archives for 2012-01

News For Tuesday 01/31/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 013112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE WIFE OF FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS SAYS HER HUSBAND IS NOW HOME AND RESTING. TRINA SCOTT EDWARDS SAYS THE FORMER GOVERNOR WAS ADMITTED THIS WEEKEND WITH A CASE OF PNEUMONIA. TRINA SAYS WHEN THEY GOT TO THE HOSPITAL SATURDAY MORNING, EDWARDS HAD A FEVER OF 104.7 AND WAS PLACED IN THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT. BUT, DOCTORS SAID HE WAS WELL ENOUGH TO RETURN HOME YESTERDAY AFTERNOON.

A NEW STUDY SHOWS SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZE BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN SEVERELY IMPACTED IN LOUISIANA BY THE SLOWDOWN OF DRILLING PERMITS IN THE GULF. GREATER NEW ORLEANS INC PRESIDENT MICHAEL HECHT SAYS THEY SURVEYED 102 COMPANIES IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY AND 41-PERCENT SAY THEY ARE NOT MAKING A PROFIT. HECHT SAYS THEY SPOKE WITH COMPANIES THAT BUILD SHIPS, OPERATE BOATS, CATERERS AND EVEN FOLKS IN REAL ESTATE. HE SAYS 50-PERCENT OF THE SURVEYED COMPANIES HAVE LAID OFF EMPLOYEES AND 76-PERCENT HAVE LOST CASH RESERVES.

THE NATCHITOCHES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS OUT IN FULL FORCE, SEARCHING FOR THE SUSPECT IN A DOUBLE HOMICIDE WHO ESCAPED FROM THEIR OFFICES IN HANDCUFFS FRIDAY NIGHT. DEPUTIES ARE SEARCHING FOR 30-YEAR-OLD READO NARGO WHO WALKED OUT AN UNATTENDED DOOR AFTER HE HAD BEEN LEFT ALONE FOR A MOMENT. ANYONE WITH INFORMATION TO NARDO'S WHEREABOUTS TO CALL THE NATCHITOCHES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE. NARGO WAS LAST SEEN WEARING A BLACK JACKET WITH A HOOD, BLUE JEANS, BLACK BOOTS AND A BABY BLUE T-SHIRT.

OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS, ODDS ARE YOU’LL SEE SMOKE IN FORESTED AREAS OF THE KISATCHIE AS FOREST MANAGERS CONDUCT PRESCRIBED BURNS. PRESCRIBED BURNS HAVE SEVERAL POSITIVE EFFECTS ON THE FOREST. THE FIRE REDUCES DANGEROUS FOREST FUELS, PREVENTS THE SPREAD OF INSECT PESTS AND DISEASE, IMPROVES THE HABITAT FOR VARIOUS WILDLIFE SPECIES AND PROVIDES FOR A QUICK RELEASE OF MINERALS AND NUTRIENTS. HOWEVER, ALL OF THESE BURNS ARE CONTROLLED BY FORESTRY PERSONNEL. IF YOU SEE ONE THAT IS UNATTENDED, CALL 911 TO REPORT THE FIRE.

RESIDENTS FROM RANDOLPH ROAD TO FOREST HILL AND SURROUNDING AREAS ON U.S. HIGHWAY 165 ARE UNDER A WATER BOIL ADVISORY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. THE FOREST HILL WATER SYSTEM HAS EXPERIENCED PROBLEMS DUE TO A BREAK IN THE MAIN WATER LINE, LEADING TO THE BOIL ADVISORY.

THE GOVERNOR'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF SAYS POLLING OF LOUISIANANS SHOWS STRONG SUPPORT FOR BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSED EDUCATION REFORMS. TIMMY TEEPELL SAYS HIS NEW EMPLOYER, ONMESSAGE CONSULTANTS, DID A STATEWIDE SURVEY OF 800 VOTERS. HE SAYS 60% POLLED WANT "BOLD REFORMS" OF PUBLIC EDUCATION. TEEPELL SAYS 29% FAVORED FOCUSING MORE ATTENTION ON FIXING FAILING SCHOOLS. TEEPELL SAYS, OTHER POLLS SUGGEST WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS AND OTHER PROPOSALS THAT JINDAL IS PUSHING.

THE SENATE AND HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEES BEGIN A SERIES OF MEETINGS TODAY TO GET PUBLIC INPUT ON WHICH HIGHWAY PROJECTS SHOULD RECEIVE FUNDING. SENATE TRANSPORTATION CHAIRMAN ROBERT ADLEY SAYS THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, THE STATE HAS FOCUSED ON IMPROVING THE INTERSTATE SYSTEM. ADLEY SAYS THERE'S MORE FOCUS ON STATE HIGHWAYS THIS YEAR. THE "ROAD SHOW" AS ITS CALLED, BEGINS THIS MORNING IN PINEVILLE AT 10:30 AT CITY HALL. THERE'S ANOTHER HEARING THIS AFTERNOON IN BOSSIER CITY.

A STATE DISTRICT JUDGE RULED MONDAY, LOUISIANA'S LAWMAKERS WON'T BE FORCED TO REFILL THE STATE "RAINY DAY" FUND TO ITS CAP, PREVENTING A NEW BUDGET SHORTFALL THAT COULD HAVE TOPPED $150 MILLION. AT ISSUE WAS WHETHER LAWMAKERS NEEDED TO REFILL THE BUDGET STABILIZATION FUND AFTER USING IT TWO YEARS AGO. FORMER STATE LAWMAKER RON GOMEZ AND LOCAL TEA PARTY LEADER BOB REID CLAIMED LEGISLATORS VIOLATED THE STATE CONSTITUTION BY NOT REPLENISHING THE RAINY DAY FUND AFTER TAPPING IT TO HELP CLOSE A DEFICIT IN THE 2009-10 FISCAL YEAR. THE LEGISLATURE AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S ADMINISTRATION ARGUED THAT A MORE RECENT STATUTE POSTPONED ANY NEED TO PUT MONEY BACK INTO THE FUND.

A STATE JUDGE ORDERS A STOP TO EFFORTS TO SEIZE OVER $100-MILLION WON BY HOMEOWNERS WHO SUED LOUISIANA'S LAST-RESORT PROPERTY INSURER FOR ADJUSTING 2005 HURRICANE CLAIMS TOO SLOWLY. STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY TRIED TO SEIZE THE FUNDS MONDAY, BUT A GRETNA JUDGE STOPPED THEM. DONELON SAYS THE SEIZURE OF CITIZENS' ASSETS IS ON HOLD, BY JUDICIAL ORDER, WHILE CITIZENS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE EXPLORE EVERY AVENUE OF APPEAL.

AN ATTORNEY FOR A LOUISIANA MAN FIGHTING LIFETIME SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION SAYS HE IS CONSIDERING AN APPEAL TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT. THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT RULED LAST WEEK THAT JIMMY L. SMITH MUST REGISTER WITH STATE AUTHORITIES AS A SEX OFFENDER AND COMPLY WITH OTHER PROVISIONS SUCH AS HAVING "SEX OFFENDER" PRINTED IN ORANGE LETTERS ON HIS DRIVER'S LICENSE. SMITH RECEIVED TWO PRISON SENTENCES IN 1995 FOR SEX OFFENSES INVOLVING JUVENILES. AT THE TIME, SMITH WAS REQUIRED TO REGISTER FOR 10 YEARS AFTER HIS RELEASE FROM PRISON. HE WAS DISCHARGED FROM THE REQUIREMENT IN 2005. THE DISPUTE BEGAN WHEN LOUISIANA AUTHORITIES TOLD SMITH IN 2009 THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER UNDER A REVISED STATE LAW.

DEPUTIES SAY A DEQUINCY MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN THE ALLEGED RAPE AND BEATING OF A 94-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, WHO SUFFERED A HEART ATTACK AFTER THE ASSAULT.
48-YEAR-OLD GABE MCKEEL JR. WAS BOOKED SATURDAY IN THE CALCASIEU CORRECTIONAL CENTER ON CHARGES OF AGGRAVATED RAPE, AGGRAVATED BURGLARY AND SECOND-DEGREE BATTERY. POLICE SAY MCKEEL WAS ARMED WITH A KNIFE WHEN HE ENTERED THE VICTIM'S HOME AND ALLEGEDLY ATTACKED AND RAPED HER. POLICE SAY THE VICTIM IS IN STABLE CONDITION AT A LAKE CHARLES HOSPITAL. MCKEEL'S BOND HAS BEEN SET AT $1.6 MILLION.

SOME SEAFOOD INDUSTRY PEOPLE ARE OPPOSED TO A PLAN BY THE LOUISIANA SEAFOOD PROMOTION AND MARKETING BOARD TO BUY NAMING RIGHTS TO THE NEW ORLEANS ARENA. THE PROPOSAL WOULD USE MONEY BP GAVE THE BOARD TO HELP OFFSET THE NEGATIVE IMPRESSION OF LOUISIANA SEAFOOD AFTER THE 2010 GULF OIL SPILL. SOME SAY THAT MONEY SHOULD BE SPENT ON OUT-OF-STATE ADVERTISING AND MARKETING TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT THAT OUR SEAFOOD IS SAFE TO EAT.

ARTWORK DRAWN BY CONVICTED SERIAL KILLER DERRICK TODD LEE IS BEING SOLD ONLINE. THE WEBSITE, SERIAL KILLERS INK .NET. ANGOLA PRISON AND WARDEN BURL CAIN CALLS THE WEBSITE "SICK" AND SAYS IT IS PROFITING OFF LEE'S AND OTHER SERIAL KILLERS ART. CAIN SAYS THE PRISONER RECEIVED MONEY FROM THE FOUNDER OF THE WEBSITE, JESSIKA GEIN, BUT IT WAS NOT SOLICITED. LEE IS ON DEATH ROW AT ANGOLA STATE PRISON.

WITH A TRIAL OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL PENDING, BP PLC IS ASKING A FEDERAL JUDGE TO BLOCK TWO KEY PLAINTIFFS' EXPERTS FROM TESTIFYING ABOUT AN ALLEGED DISREGARD FOR SAFETY THROUGHOUT THE COMPANY THAT THOSE EXPERTS SAY CAUSED THE BLOWOUT OFF LOUISIANA'S COAST, LEADING TO THE NATION'S LARGEST OFFSHORE OIL SPILL. BP'S LEGAL MANEUVER TO LIMIT THE TWO CALIFORNIA EXPERTS FROM TESTIFYING ABOUT A LACK OF A SAFETY CULTURE AT BP WAS MADE PUBLIC MONDAY AFTER U.S. MAGISTRATE SALLY SHUSHAN UNSEALED 30 COURT MOTIONS TO LIMIT AND BLOCK EXPERT TESTIMONY.

NED SIMMONS, THE GREAT-GRANDSON OF TABASCO SAUCE INVENTOR E. MCILHENNY, AND LONGTIME CEO OF MCILHENNY CO. PASSED AWAY OVER THE WEEKEND. A NATIVE OF NEW ORLEANS AND TULANE GRADUATE. SIMMONS WAS 83.

A TERREBONNE PARISH MAN THAT'S BEEN MISSING SINCE LAST MONDAY, WAS FOUND DEAD YESTERDAY; ONLY A FEW HUNDRED YARDS FROM HIS HOME. 37-YEAR-OLD HERB JOHNSON JR. SUFFERED FROM MENTAL ILLNESS, AND LEFT HIS HOUSE A WEEK AGO COMPLAINING HE WAS HOT. THE CAUSE OF HIS DEATH IS NOT APPARENT. AN AUTOPSY IS SCHEDULED.

News For Monday 01/30/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 013012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FORMER GOV. EDWIN EDWARDS REMAINED HOSPITALIZED WITH PNEUMONIA SUNDAY.
AS OF LATE SUNDAY EVENING HE WAS MOVED FROM INTENSIVE CARE TO A REGULAR HOSPITAL ROOM. HIS WIFE, TRINA EDWARDS SAID EARLIER IN THE DAY, SHE EXPECTED HIM TO RETURN TO THEIR HOME IN GONZALES POSSIBLY TODAY OR TOMORROW. MS EDWARDS WENT ON TO SAY THE 84 YEAR OLD FORMER GOVERNOR IS TIRED, BUT DOING WELL OVERALL. WITH A LITTLE REST SHE SAYS, HE SHOULD BE AS GOOD AS NEW. EDWARDS WAS TAKEN BY AMBULANCE SATURDAY TO OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER IN BATON ROUGE.

FIRST-TIME CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE IN LOUISIANA FOR THE WEEK ENDING JAN. 21 DECREASED FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK'S TOTAL. THE STATE LABOR DEPARTMENT FIGURES RELEASED FRIDAY SHOW THE INITIAL CLAIMS DECREASED TO 3,343 FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK'S TOTAL OF 3,969. THE FIGURE WAS LOWER THAN IT WAS THE SAME WEEK, LAST YEAR.

THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION IS SPONSORING A MASSIVE JOB FAIR IN KINDER TODAY FOR COUSHATTA CASINO, WHICH IS LOOKING TO HIRE EMPLOYEES FOR ITS NEW HOTEL. LWC SPOKESPERSON TIFFANY DICKERSON SAYS COUSHATTA IS LOOKING TO HIRE BETWEEN 200-250 PEOPLE FOR A VARIETY OF POSITIONS. DICKERSON SAYS THE COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT'S HOTEL WILL OPEN IN JUNE, BUT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR EMPLOYEES TO START WORKING IMMEDIATELY. DICKERSON SAYS THE EVENT WILL BE HELD TODAY AT THE COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT BANQUET ROOM FROM 11AM-7PM AND IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. SHE SAYS COUSHATTA WOULD BE A GREAT PLACE TO WORK.

US SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU ANNOUNCED, LATE FRIDAY, THE ARMY IS BUYING 4,900 ACRES OF LAND SOUTH OF FORT POLK. THE MOVE COMES AS MAJOR CUTS ARE BEING ANNOUNCED IN THE NATIONAL DEFENSE BUDGET. LANDRIEU'S NEWS RELEASE SAYS THIS IS CURRENTLY THE ONLY LAND ACQUISITION THAT THE U.S. ARMY IS ACTIVELY PURSUING IN THE COUNTRY AND A MOVE THAT LANDRIEU SAYS POINTS TO CONTINUED EXPANSION OF THE BASE.

ABOUT 800 PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED AT AN EDUCATION-CENTERED MEETING TODAY IN BATON ROUGE THAT WILL INCLUDE SPEECHES BY STATE AND NATIONAL LEADERS, INCLUDING FORMER FLORIDA GOV. JEB BUSH, SCHOOLS CHOICE ADVOCATE HOWARD FULLER AND FORMER NEW YORK CITY EDUCATION CHANCELLOR JOEL KLEIN. THE "LEADERSHIP FOR CHANGE" SESSION ALSO WILL INCLUDE TALKS BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, D-LA., AND STATE EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WHITE. THE AIM OF THE SUMMIT IS TO BRING TOGETHER GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE MADE SUCCESSFUL EDUCATION REFORMS IN THEIR AREAS.

A STATE TEACHERS' UNION PROPOSES ITS OWN PROPOSALS FOR EDUCATION REFORMS, INCLUDING TEACHER TENURE AND PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS. LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS PRESIDENT JOYCE HAYNES SAYS USING STANDARDIZED STUDENT TEST SCORES AS HALF A TEACHER'S REVIEW IS IMPROPER. THE LAE FEELS STUDENT TEST SCORES SHOULD BE A SMALLER PERCENTAGE OF TEACHER REVIEWS, WITH OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED AS WELL. HAYNES SAYS LAE OPPOSES GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PROPOSED TEACHER TENURE REFORMS. SHE SAYS THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO WEED UNDER-PERFORMING TEACHERS OUT OF THE CLASSROOM. HAYNES SAYS THEY'D LIKE TO DISCUSS THE COUNTER-PROPOSAL WITH MR. JINDAL FACE-TO-FACE.

GAS PRICES HAVE BEEN STEADLY RISING DURING 2012, BUT WILL IT CONTINUE? AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS THE PRICE AT THE PUMP TRADITIONALLY GOES UP AS WE MOVE INTO SPRING AND HE SAYS THEY'RE ADVISING THEIR MEMBERS OF THE POSSIBILITY THAT GAS WILL COST FOUR-DOLLARS A GALLON IN MAY. BUT, IN ANY CASE, REDMAN SAYS THEY DON'T SEE A SCENARIO WHERE GAS PRICES WILL FALL BACK TOWARDS $2.50 A GALLON IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

A MEMBER OF LOUISIANA'S "FIRST FAMILY OF POLITICS" IS CONSIDERING RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR IN 2015, WHEN BOBBY JINDAL'S SECOND TERM ENDS. WINNFIELD STATE SENATOR GERALD LONG JOKES THAT ALL LONG'S IN PUBLIC OFFICE EVENTUALLY LOOK AT RUNNING FOR THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION. LONG IS RELATED TO FORMER GOVERNORS HUEY AND EARL LONG, FORMER CONGRESSMAN GILLIS LONG, FORMER U.S. SENATOR RUSSELL LONG AND FORMER STATE HOUSE MEMBER JIMMY LONG. HE SAYS PUBLIC SERVICE IS IN THE FAMILY BLOOD. LONG SAYS HE'LL DECIDE WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR OR SO, WHETHER TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR OR RUN AGAIN FOR SENATE DISTRICT 31 IN 2015.

FORMER STATE TROOPER JAY SANDIFER WILL BE SENTENCED MARCH 8 ON FEDERAL CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES. SANDIFER, WHO PLEADED GUILTY IN OCTOBER, HAD BEEN SCHEDULED FOR SENTENCING THIS PAST WEEK. HOWEVER, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL DELAYED THE PROCEEDING BECAUSE OF A SCHEDULING CONFLICT INVOLVING SANDIFER'S LAWYER. THE 41 YEAR OLD SANDIFER, FACES FIVE TO 20 YEARS IN PRISON AND A FINE UP TO $250,000. THE FORMER TROOPER, WHO ALSO FACES STATE CHILD-SEX CHARGES IN THREE CENTRAL LOUISIANA PARISHES, WAS WITH STATE POLICE FOR 15 YEARS. HE WAS FIRED IN JULY 2010.

THE TRIAL OF VILLE PLATTE HIGH SCHOOL HEAD FOOTBALL COACH ROY SERIE ON VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CHARGES HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR MARCH. THE 45 YEAR OLD SERIE WAS SCHEDULED FOR TRIAL THIS PAST WEEK, BUT THE CASE WAS POSTPONED BECAUSE OF COURT SCHEDULING CONFLICTS. SERIE WAS ARRESTED IN AUGUST 2010 AFTER AUTHORITIES SAID TESTS SHOWED HE HAD ILLEGAL DRUGS IN HIS SYSTEM AT THE TIME OF A MAY CAR CRASH THAT KILLED HIS WIFE AND A LAKE CHARLES WOMAN WHO WAS DRIVING THE VEHICLE HE STRUCK.

BY NOW YOU HAVE HEARD THE STORY OF A GROUP OF PEOPLE STEALING OVER 600 IRON FLOWER VASES FROM A BALL CEMETERY. NOW ANOTHER THEFT ALONG THAT SAME VEIN. FOUR PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED BY THE LIVINGSTON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE FOR STEALING STORM DRAIN GRATES. THAT AFTER A DEPUTY NOTICED THEIR LOW-RIDING MINIVAN IN DENHAM SPRINGS. AUTHORITIES SAY THE DEPUTY PULLED IT OVER AND FOUND SIX METAL STORM DRAIN GRATES, WHICH WEIGH ABOUT 250 POUNDS EACH. THE GRATES ARE VALUED AT ABOUT $300 EACH. CURRENT SCRAP VALUE IS ABOUT $28 EACH.

STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA SHOW THAT, FOR THE PAST TWO FISCAL YEARS, LOUISIANA HAS SPENT ABOUT $1.7 MILLION A YEAR ON EMERGENCY ROOM TREATMENT AND PAIN RELIEF FOR MEDICAID PATIENTS WHO HAD DENTAL PROBLEMS. THE PATIENTS GOT PAIN RELIEF ONLY, NO CURE, BECAUSE MEDICAID PAYS FOR ER VISITS FOR ADULT DENTAL EMERGENCIES BUT DOESN'T COVER DENTAL CARE FOR MOST ADULTS, OR THE COST OF AN EXTRACTION. MOST FEDERALLY REQUIRED DENTAL COVERAGE UNDER MEDICAID ENDS WHEN RECIPIENTS TURN 18. IN LOUISIANA, DENTAL CARE FOR MEDICAID ENROLLEES ENDS AT 21. A FEDERAL REPORT LAST YEAR FOUND LOUISIANA AMONG 10 STATES THAT DON'T OFFER DENTAL BENEFITS TO ADULTS UNDER MEDICAID.







News For Friday 01/27/2012


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 012712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE HIRING OUR HEROES JOB FAIL YESTERDAY OUT AT ENGLAND AIRPARK, BY ALL ACCOUNTS, WAS A MAJOR SUCCESS. THE FAIR WAS ONE OF ABOUT 100 HIRING OUR HEROES EVENTS BEING HELD ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN A U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE INITIATIVE THAT WAS CO-SPONSORED LOCALLY BY THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
NINETY-TWO EMPLOYERS PARTICIPATED THURSDAY. MORE THAN 350 JOB-SEEKERS HAD PRE-REGISTERED. BUT, MANY MORE WERE ON HAND WHEN THE DOORS OPENED YESTERDAY MORNING.

NATCHITOCHES PARISH AUTHORITIES ARE INVESTIGATING A DOUBLE HOMICIDE THAT LEFT TWO PEOPLE DEAD FROM APPARENT GUNSHOT WOUNDS IN CAMPTI. A 32 YEAR OLD MAN’S BODY AS FOUND LYING IN THE STREET EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING. LATER IN THE DAY AUTHORITIES FOUND ANOTHER BODY ON THE RAIL ROAD TRACKS, A DISTANCE AWAY FROM THE FIRST SHOOTING. AUTOPSIES WILL BE PERFORMED ON BOTH BODIES.

THE CONVICTION AND DEATH SENTENCE OF A COUSHATTA MAN WHO KILLED HIS GIRLFRIEND'S SON BY BURNING HIM ALIVE HAS BEEN UPHELD BY THE LOUISIANA STATE SUPREME COURT. TERRANCE CARTER SOUGHT AN APPEAL FROM THE STATE'S HIGH COURT BASED ON 28 ERRORS HE SAYS OCCURRED DURING HIS SEPTEMBER 2008 CAPITAL MURDER TRIAL. CARTER WAS ARRESTED IN JULY 2006 AFTER RED RIVER PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES FOUND THE BURNED BODY OF 5-YEAR-OLD CORINTHIAN HOUSTON TIED TO A CHAIR IN AN ABANDONED HOUSE NEXT DOOR TO CARTER'S MOTHER'S HOME. HOUSTON HAD BEEN DOUSED WITH GASOLINE AND SET ON FIRE. HE SUFFERED THIRD- AND FOURTH-DEGREE BURNS OVER 54 PERCENT OF HIS BODY AND LIKELY DIED WITHIN A MINUTE.

WORD IN YESTERDAY AFTERNOON OF A FORT POLK SOLDIER BEING KILLED IN AN ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING WHILE HUNTING IN THE KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST. THE INCIDENT HAPPENED LAST WEEKEND. THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE REPORTS THE SATURDAY SHOOTING LEFT 30-YEAR-OLD LOUIS ALAMO DEAD. AUTHORITIES SAY ALAMO'S BODY WAS SENT TO LAFAYETTE FOR AN AUTOPSY. WHY IT TOOK SO LONG TO REPORT THE INCIDENT IS NOT KNOWN.

A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT HAS UPHELD THE CONVICTIONS AND SENTENCING OF FORMER STATE SEN. CHARLES D. JONES. JONES WAS CONVICTED IN 2010 FOR ONE COUNT OF TAX EVASION AND TWO COUNTS OF FILING A FALSE TAX RETURN. HE WAS SENTENCED TO 27 MONTHS IN PRISON. IN HIS APPEAL, JONES CHALLENGED HIS CONVICTIONS BASED ON INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE, SPECIFICALLY FAILURE TO PROVE INTENT. THE COURT DID NOT AGREE.

THE PRESIDENT IS MAKING GOOD ON A PLEDGE ME MADE EARLIER THIS WEEK DURING THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR SAYS IT HAS SET A JUNE DATE FOR THE NEXT GULF OFFSHORE OIL AND NATURAL GAS LEASE SALE. THE SALE WILL INCLUDE ALL AVAILABLE UN-LEASED AREAS IN THE CENTRAL PLANNING AREA OFFSHORE OF LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI AND ALABAMA. THE SALE WILL TAKE PLACE IN NEW ORLEANS ON JUNE 20.

A PLAN TO REWORK LOUISIANA'S UNCOORDINATED SYSTEM OF PREKINDERGARTEN AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS IS TUCKED IN THE LIST OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION AGENDA FOR THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THE PROPOSALS WOULD GRADE PRESCHOOLS, STREAMLINE GOVERNANCE AND YANK FUNDING FOR UNDERPERFORMING PROGRAMS. SO FAR, THEY HAVE BEEN OVERLOOKED IN THE HEATED DEBATE OVER THE GOVERNOR'S OTHER EDUCATION IDEAS, INCLUDING THE CREATION OF A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM, REVAMPING TENURE LAWS AND MAKING IT EASIER TO CREATE NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SAYS DAMAGE FROM LAST YEAR'S RECORD SPRING FLOODS COULD LEAVE MANY PEOPLE ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN EVEN MORE DANGER THIS YEAR. THE CORPS SAYS IT IS ASSESSING THE DAMAGE AND WILL BEGIN NOTIFYING AFFECTED COMMUNITIES IN FEBRUARY. CONGRESS GAVE THE CORPS $802 MILLION IN DECEMBER TO FIX LEVEES UP AND DOWN THE RIVER. CORPS SPOKESMAN BOB ANDERSON, IN VICKSBURG, MISS., SAID THURSDAY THAT IDENTIFYING THE WEAKEST POINTS AND LETTING PEOPLE KNOW WHERE THEY ARE IS PART OF THAT. THE CORPS SAID IT'S ALSO LOOKING AT WAYS TO REDUCE RISKS BEFORE FULL REPAIRS CAN BE COMPLETED.

FORECLOSURES MADE UP FOR 12 PERCENT OF ALL LOUISIANA HOMES SOLD IN THE THIRD QUARTER OF 2011. FORECLOSURE LISTING FIRM REALTYTRAC INC. SAID THURSDAY THAT THE AVERAGE SALE PRICE FOR THE 507 FORECLOSED HOMES IN THE STATE WAS JUST OVER $113,000 — A 39 PERCENT DISCOUNT ON HOMES NOT IN FORECLOSURE. FORECLOSURE SALES INCLUDE HOMES PURCHASED AFTER THEY RECEIVED A NOTICE OF DEFAULT OR WERE REPOSSESSED BY LENDERS. REALTYTRAC SAID THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA FORECLOSURE SALES WAS DOWN SLIGHTLY FROM BOTH THE SECOND QUARTER OF 2011 AND A YEAR AGO

A MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING A ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND TAKING THE VICTIM'S CAR ON A FAMILY VACATION TO WALT DISNEY WORLD WAS FOUND DEAD EARLY THURSDAY IN A PRISON CELL WITH A SHEET WRAPPED AROUND HIS NECK. 33 YEAR OLD JEREMY MANIERI WAS CHARGED WITH SHOOTING THE REV. ED EVERETT OF HAMMOND LAST SUMMER AT A BEACH HOUSE IN WAVELAND, MISSISSIPPI WHEN THE PRIEST WAS VACATIONING. RANKIN COUNTY CORONER JIMMY ROBERTS SAID AN AUTOPSY IS BEING PERFORMED, HOWEVER, OFFICIALS BELIEVE MANIERE’S DEATH WAS A SUICIDE.

FOUR CHILDREN ARE IN STATE CUSTODY AND THEIR PARENTS BEHIND BARS AFTER ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES FOUND THE CHILDREN LIVING IN "DEPLORABLE CONDITION." THE CHILDREN — AGES 7, 5, 4 AND 3 — WERE REMOVED FROM THEIR HOME IN LAPLACE ON WEDNESDAY. DEPUTIES, WHO WERE CALLED TO THE HOME BY A CHILD SERVICES WORKER, SAY THE FAMILY SLEPT IN ONE BEDROOM OF THE TWO-BEDROOM HOME. DEPUTIES REPORTED CLOTHING "CLUTTERED WITH OTHER ITEMS SCATTERED AMONG FILTH THROUGHOUT THE HOME." THE POLICE SAY THE PARENTS REPORTED THE OLDER CHILDREN HAD NEVER ATTENDED SCHOOL. AUTHORITIES ARRESTED THE PARENTS ON CHARGES OF IMPROPER SUPERVISION OF A MINOR BY A PARENT AND CRUELTY TO JUVENILES. BOND FOR EACH WAS SET AT $20,000.

FBI AGENTS HAVE OFFERED THEIR HELP IN IDENTIFYING AND FINDING THE MAN SUSPECTED IN KILLING A NEW ORLEANS MAN WHO WAS TRYING TO STOP A CARJACKING. POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF 44-YEAR-OLD HARRY "MIKE" AINSWORTH, WHO WAS GUNNED DOWN WEDNESDAY MORNING AS HIS TWO YOUNG SONS LOOKED ON. AINSWORTH WAS WAITING WITH HIS KIDS FOR THEIR SCHOOL BUS WHEN HE SAW A CARJACKING IN PROGRESS. HE RAN TO THE CAR AND JUMPED ON ITS HOOD TO STOP THE GUNMAN FROM DRIVING OFF. THE SUSPECT SHOT AT AINSWORTH, STRIKING HIM IN THE CHEST. AINSWORTH RAN A FEW FEET FROM THE CAR, COLLAPSED IN SOMEONE'S FRONT YARD AND DIED ON THE SCENE. THE GUNMAN RAN AWAY.

LAWYERS FOR AN ALABAMA MAN ACCUSED OF COMMITTING SEXUAL BATTERY ON AN UNCONSCIOUS LSU FAN AFTER THE BCS CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL GAME SAY IT'S MIND-BOGGLING THAT POLICE AND PROSECUTORS WOULD GIVE SUBSTANTIAL ENERGY AND ATTENTION TO THE MATTER. ATTORNEYS FOR THE ALABAMA MAN CHARGED IN THE CASE SAID YESTERDAY IN A PRESS CONFERENCE THAT CHARGING 32 YEAR OLD BRIAN DOWNING WITH SEXUAL BATTERY "DEMEANS THE REAL AND SERIOUS TRAUMA OF ACTUAL VICTIMS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE. THEY ALSO SAID, THE IDEA THAT THEIR CLIENT COULD BE CHARGED AND FACE UP TO 10 YEARS IN JAIL IF CONVICTED IS "ALSO A LITTLE TROUBLING." SINCE THEY BELIEVE THE PENALTY DOESN’T FIT THE CRIME.

TALK SHOW HOST ELLEN DEGENERES AND "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE RANDY JACKSON ARE HOSTING A STAR-STUDDED GALA IN NEW ORLEANS TO BENEFIT BRAD PITT'S MAKE IT RIGHT HOME REBUILDING EFFORT. PITT WILL ATTEND THE $1,000-PER-PERSON GALA ON MARCH 10 CALLED "A NIGHT TO MAKE IT RIGHT," WHICH WILL INCLUDE PERFORMANCES BY SINGERS SHERYL CROW, RIHANNA, SEAL AND DR. JOHN. PITT LAUNCHED MAKE IT RIGHT IN 2007 TO HELP LOWER 9TH WARD RESIDENTS WHO LOST THEIR HOMES DURING HURRICANE KATRINA IN 2005. ALL THE MONEY RAISED WILL GO TOWARDS THOSE CONTINUING EFFORTS.

THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE HUMANE SOCIETY WILDLIFE LAND TRUST ARE OFFERING $2,500 FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF WHOEVER SHOT AND CRIPPLED A BALD EAGLE IN UNION PARISH. THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES SAYS AGENTS FOUND THE BIRD AFTER A DRIVER REPORTED A WOUNDED BALD EAGLE WALKING BESIDE LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 15 NORTH OF FARMERVILLE. THE EAGLE WILL NEVER FLY AGAIN. WILDLIFE VETERINARIANS AT THE LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY VETERINARY SCHOOL HAD TO AMPUTATE THE TIP OF ITS RIGHT WING. IT WILL BE PLACED IN A ZOO OR A WILDLIFE SANCTUARY AFTER RECOVERY.

THE JOHN FOLSE CULINARY INSTITUTE AT NICHOLLS STATE UNIVERSITY IS PREPARING FOR A SHOT AT A NATIONAL TITLE AFTER A TOP STUDENT WON A REGIONAL COMPETITION FOR THE FIFTH YEAR IN A ROW. PAUL TERREBONNE, A SENIOR CULINARY MAJOR FROM LAROSE, WON TOP HONORS THIS WEEK IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS. TERREBONNE'S WINNING DISH INCLUDED PAN ROASTED RED SNAPPER WITH CORN MAQUE CHOUX PUREE; JAZZMEN RICE PREPARED WITH ABITA BEER; AND A CONFETTI OF PICKLED VEGETABLES. TERREBONNE WILL TAKE HIS WINNING RECIPES TO NAPA VALLEY, CALIF. AS HE COMPETES AGAINST NINE ADDITIONAL REGIONAL WINNERS FROM THE U.S. AND CANADA.


News For Thursday 01/26/2012


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 012612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

35 YEAR OLD KIMBERLY DEVILLE, 19 YEAR OLD BILLY JOHNSON, AND 55 YEAR OLD DEBORAH PRICE, ALL FROM PINEVILLE, HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH STEALING OVER 600 FLOWER VASES FROM A CEMETERY IN BALL. EACH WERE CHARGED THIS WEEK WITH 612 COUNTS OF THEFT FROM A RELIGIOUS BUILDING, CEMETERY OR GRAVEYARD AND CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY IN CONNECTION WITH THE THEFT. DEVILLE HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY ARRESTED ON OTHER CHARGES IN THE CASE BEFORE BEING ARRESTED AGAIN ON THE HUNDREDS OF NEW CHARGES. BOND HAS BEEN SET AT OVER $300K FOR EACH OF THE THREE.

FROM THE, JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT THEY WERE ALL PLAYING NICE DEPARTMENT.. ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY AND CITY COUNCILMAN ROOSEVELT JOHNSON ARE HEADED BACK TO COURT. A HEARING HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR THE MORNING OF FEBRUARY THE 6TH IN 9TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT. THE CASE DATES BACK TO AUGUST 2007, WHEN MAYOR ROY FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST FIVE MEMBERS OF THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL, AFTER THEY VOTED TO OVERRIDE HIS VETO OF AN ORDINANCE THAT WOULD HAVE ALLOWED THE COUNCIL TO HIRE ITS OWN ATTORNEYS. JOHNSON IS THE ONLY ONE OF THOSE FIVE MEMBERS STILL ON THE COUNCIL.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAYS CENTRAL LOUISIANA RECEIVED OVER AN INCH OF RAIN YESTERDAY, AS A STORM FRONT MOVED IT’S WAY ACROSS THE STATE. THERE WERE REPORTS OF STRONG WINDS AND VERY HEAVY RAIN, EVEN A REPORT OF A TORNADO BEING SITED IN THE FT. POLK AREA. THE GOOD NEWS IS, OTHER THAN A FEW INCONVENIENCES, THERE WERE NO REPORTS OF ANY SERIOUS INJURIES. WITH THE FRONT THROUGH, THE WEATHER SERVICE SAYS WE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO A NICE WEEKEND.

WELL-GROOMED DOGS WILL COMPETE IN THE MARDI GRAS CLUSTER ALL-BREED DOG SHOWS TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT THE RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM IN ALEXANDRIA.
THE BATON ROUGE KENNEL CLUB'S MARDI GRAS CLUSTER AKC DOG SHOW IS SET FOR TODAY AND FRIDAY, BEGINNING AT 8:30 A.M. EACH DAY. THE ALEXANDRIA KENNEL CLUB'S MARDI GRAS CLUSTER AKC DOG SHOW IS SET FOR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, BEGINNING AT 8 A.M. EACH DAY. MORE THAN 160 BREEDS OF DOGS WILL BE COMPETING, INCLUDING SIX NEW BREEDS RECENTLY RECOGNIZED BY THE AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB. HERE’S THE BEST PART, ADMISSION IS FREE.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL PROPOSED WEDNESDAY A PACKAGE OF PENSION CHANGES THAT WOULD SHRINK RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR THOUSANDS OF CURRENT STATE WORKERS, BOOST THEIR COSTS AND PUSH BACK THE AGE FOR COLLECTING BENEFITS. NEW STATE EMPLOYEES HIRED AFTER THE CHANGES WOULDN'T RECEIVE THE PROMISE OF A SET MONTHLY RETIREMENT PAYMENT, AND INSTEAD WOULD GET A CHEAPER, 401(K)-TYPE OF ACCOUNT WHERE RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTIONS ARE INVESTED AND A RETIREE GETS A LUMP SUM PAYMENT WHEN LEAVING WORK. JINDAL SAID THE STATE MUST REIN IN THE COSTS OF ITS RETIREMENT PROGRAMS, WHICH ARE $18.5 BILLION SHORT OF THE MONEY THEY NEED TO BE FULLY FUNDED AND ARE EATING MORE AND MORE INTO STATE FINANCES.

YESTERDAY, A DAY AFTER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH, PETROLEUM INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES CALLED WEDNESDAY FOR A MORE-AGGRESSIVE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT POLICY, SAYING THE UNITED STATES COULD TAKE CARE OF MORE OF ITS PETROLEUM NEEDS WHILE CUTTING DEPENDENCE ON UNSTABLE FOREIGN OIL SUPPLIES. DURING THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE LOUISIANA MID-CONTINENT OIL AND GAS ASSOCIATION, INDUSTRY OFFICIALS SAID THE FORMULA SHOULD INCLUDE SHALE OIL PRODUCTION, OFFSHORE DRILLING IN MORE AREAS AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE THAT WOULD BRING OIL FROM CANADA TO TEXAS.

A NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER FILES LEGISLATION TO MAKE FAILING TO REPORT KNOWN INCIDENTS OF SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE A FELONY. STATE SENATOR J.P. MORRELL SAYS CURRENT LOUISIANA LAW STATES THAT WILLINGLY & KNOWINGLY FAILING TO REPORT SUCH CONDUCT IS A MISDEMEANOR, CARRYING A MINIMAL PENALTY. MORRELL'S BILL WOULD UPGRADE THE OFFENSE; MAKING FAILURE TO REPORT SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD TO LAW ENFORCEMENT A FELONY, WITH FINES UP TO $10-THOUSAND AND UP TO 5 YEARS IN PRISON. HE SAYS HIS BILL WILL HELP ASSURE PEOPLE DO THE RIGHT THING, WHEN THEY'RE AWARE OF SEX CRIMES AGAINST KIDS.

THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT HAS PUBLICLY CENSURED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE ROBERT BURGESS FOR VIOLATING THE JUDICIAL CONDUCT CODE AND ORDERED HIM TO PAY $1,738 IN COSTS. BURGESS, ONE OF TWO JUDGES SERVING THE 42ND JUDICIAL DISTRICT IN DESOTO PARISH, WAS CITED FOR INTERVENING ON BEHALF OF HIS NIECE IN HER 2008 ATTEMPT TO OBTAIN A PROTECTIVE ORDER AGAINST HER ESTRANGED HUSBAND. THE COURT SAYS BURGESS' CONTACT WITH THE JUDGE WHO SIGNED THE PROTECTIVE ORDER CREATED "AN OBVIOUS APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY." IT ALSO NOTED THAT BURGESS HAD STIPULATED FAULT AND EXPRESSED REMORSE FOR HIS ACTIONS.

A GOOD SAMARITAN LOOSES HIS LIFE. NEW ORLEANS POLICE SAY A MAN TRYING TO STOP A CARJACKING WAS SHOT AND KILLED. THE GUNMAN FLED AFTER THE SHOOTING AND TWO SCHOOLS IN THE AREA WERE PLACED ON LOCKDOWN WEDNESDAY MORNING.
POLICE SAY A 44-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS SHOT SEVERAL TIMES. HIS IDENTITY HAS NOT BEEN MADE PUBLIC.

A 57-YEAR-OLD EUNICE MAN, ARRESTED IN NOVEMBER FOR IMPERSONATING A POLICE OFFICER, IS BACK IN JAIL AGAIN AND FACING THE SAME CHARGE. EUNICE POLICE CHIEF RONALD DIES SAYS MICHAEL ROLAND WASHINGTON JR., WHO IS BEING HELD WITHOUT BAIL, HAS BEEN BOOKED WITH THEFT, FALSE IMPERSONATION OF A PEACE OFFICER AND THREE COUNTS OF THREATENING A PUBLIC OFFICIAL. DIES SAYS WASHINGTON WAS ARRESTED ON A CHARGE OF SHOPLIFTING AT A LOCAL STORE. HE SAYS WASHINGTON IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS A ST. LANDRY PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE DEPUTY SEVERAL TIMES AT THE SCENE AND THREATENED TO HAVE THE OFFICERS' JOBS. DIES SAYS WASHINGTON WAS EMPLOYED BY THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE BRIEFLY IN 2005.

A FORMER BP EMPLOYEE HAS FILED A WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT AGAINST THE COMPANY, CLAIMING HE WAS FIRED FOR AIRING CONCERNS ABOUT THE CLEANUP OF MISSISSIPPI'S SHORELINE AFTER THE GULF OIL SPILL. IN A FEDERAL SUIT FILED LAST FRIDAY IN NEW ORLEANS, AUGUST WALTER CLAIMS ONE OF HIS BP BOSSES MANIPULATED DATA ON SHORELINE CLEANUP AND DIDN'T GIVE THE COAST GUARD "THE TRUE STATUS" OF WHAT SUBSTANCES NEEDED TO BE CLEANED. WALTER, A COVINGTON, LA., RESIDENT WHO HELPED DEVELOP BP'S CLEANUP PLANS IN MISSISSIPPI AFTER THE 2010 SPILL BEGAN, CLAIMS IN THE SUIT THAT HE WAS FIRED LAST MONTH IN RETALIATION FOR COMPLAINING THAT BP WASN'T FOLLOWING ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS AND WAS "PICKING AND CHOOSING WHAT OIL TO PICK UP."

NARCOTICS AGENTS HAVE ARRESTED TWO MISSISSIPPI MEN AFTER LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES AGENTS ALLEGEDLY FOUND THEM WITH THE MATERIALS FOR A METHAMPHETAMINE LAB IN A VEHICLE IN THE RUSSELL SAGE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA.
THE TWO MEN, BOTH OF VICKSBURG, MISS., WERE BOOKED MONDAY INTO OUACHITA CORRECTIONAL CENTER ON CHARGES OF CREATION AND OPERATION OF A CLANDESTINE LAB. ACCORDING TO ARREST AFFIDAVITS, WILDLIFE AGENTS CONTACTED NARCOTICS AGENTS AFTER THEY FOUND THE PAIR ON A ROADWAY IN RUSSELL SAGE. AGENTS SAID THE MEN TOLD THEM THEY DROVE TO MONROE FROM VICKSBURG TO BUY PSEUDOEPHEDRINE TO MANUFACTURE METHAMPHETAMINE.

A NEW ORLEANS AREA LAWMAKER WANTS THE PEOPLE TO VOTE ON WHETHER ELECTED AND PUBLIC OFFICIALS WHO ARE CONVICTED ON CORRUPTION CHARGES SHOULD HAVE THEIR PUBLICLY FUNDED RETIREMENT BENEFITS TAKEN AWAY. METAIRIE REP. TONY LIGI HAS OFFERED THIS PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT IN THE PAST WITH NO LUCK. LIGI SAYS NEW MEMBERS ON THE HOUSE AND SENATE RETIREMENT COMMITTEES SHOULD GIVE HIS LEGISLATION A BETTER CHANCE OF PASSING AND GOING TO THE PUBLIC FOR A VOTE. HE SAYS HIS LEGISLATION FAILED TO PASS IN THE PAST, BECAUSE OPPONENTS WOULD RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT THE FINANCIAL IMPACT IT WOULD HAVE ON THE FAMILIES OF CONVICTED POLITICIANS AND STATE WORKERS.




News For Wednesday 01/25/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 012512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL BALANCED ITS BUDGETS YESTERDAY, TAKING MONEY LEFT OVER FROM THE PREVIOUS FISCAL YEAR AS WELL AS INCREASED SALES TAX REVENUES AND PUTTING THEM TOWARD OVERTIME FOR EMPLOYEES, CONTRACT LABOR AND AGING INFRASTRUCTURE. AMONG THE ITEMS ADDED TO THE BUDGET WERE OVERTIME FOR THE POLICE, FIRE AND PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENTS; THE ADDITION OF CONTRACT PUBLIC WORKS LABOR; THE PURCHASE OF POLICE CARS; AND ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR THE CITY'S LEGAL DEPARTMENT. THE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS RECEIVED $232,000 IN EXTRA OVERTIME TO BE AWARDED OVER THE REMAINING MONTHS OF THE FISCAL YEAR, WHICH ENDS APRIL 30.

FOUL PLAY IS NOT SUSPECTED IN THE DEATH OF A MAN WHOSE BODY WAS FOUND TUESDAY MORNING AT THE ALEXANDRIA TEEN ACTIVITY CENTER CASSON ST IN THE CITY. THE MAN'S IDENTITY WAS NOT RELEASED PENDING NOTIFICATION OF NEXT OF KIN, BUT WE ARE TOLD HE WAS A 62-YEAR-OLD MAN FROM ALEXANDRIA. OFFICIALS BELIEVE THE MAN DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES, BUT THEY ARE AWAITING AUTOPSY REPORTS AND CLINICAL TESTING.

LOUISIANA ADDED 47,400 NON-FARM JOBS IN 2011 AS THE STATE POSTED A 2.5 PERCENT GROWTH RATE DURING A YEAR WHEN THE NATIONAL ECONOMY CONTINUED A SLOW RECOVERY FROM THE GREAT RECESSION. THE STATE'S SEASONALLY ADJUSTED JOBLESS RATE FELL TO 6.8 PERCENT IN DECEMBER FROM 6.9 PERCENT IN NOVEMBER AND 7.7 PERCENT IN DECEMBER 2010. HERE IN ALEXANDRIA FROM NOVEMBER TO DECEMBER WE SAW 400 NEW JOBS. THE COUNT WAS 1,400 FROM DECEMBER OF 2010.

STATE AGRICULTURE & FORESTRY COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS HE'S CONSIDERING RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR IN 2015. STRAIN IS GETTING AN EARLY START ON WHAT WILL PROBABLY BE A CROWDED FIELD SEEKING TO REPLACE TWO- TERM GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL. DR. STRAIN SAYS A NUMBER OF PEOPLE HAVE TOLD HIM THEY THINK HE SHOULD RUN. STRAIN SAYS HE’S NOT READY TO FIRMLY COMMIT TO RUNNING FOR THE GOVERNOR'S
MANSION, BUT ADMITS - YES - HE WOULD LIKE TO BE GOVERNOR SOMEDAY. HE SAYS HE LOVES HIS CURRENT JOB, AND LOVES SERVING THE PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA.

LOUISIANA HAS BEEN GIVEN AN OVERALL GRADE OF C-MINUS BY A NATIONAL ORGANIZATION IN ITS LATEST RANKING OF U.S. TEACHER QUALITY. THE REPORT, BEING RELEASED WEDNESDAY BY THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON TEACHER QUALITY, ALSO TAKES AIM AT TENURE AND SENIORITY PRACTICES ALREADY UNDER FIRE BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. IT DOES CITE SOME STRENGTHS, AMONG THEM EFFORTS TO EXPAND THE POOL OF AVAILABLE TEACHERS BY OPENING THE PROFESSION TO EXPERTS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS. THE REPORT SAID THE STATE DOES TOO LITTLE TO KEEP EFFECTIVE TEACHES AND GET RID OF INEFFECTIVE ONES.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HAS ANNOUNCED THAT ALEXANDRIA IS AGAIN ON THEIR TOP 100 "BEST ADVENTURE TOWNS" IN THE COUNTRY LIST. IT IS THE SECOND TIME IN JUST OVER TWO YEARS ALEXANDRIA MADE THE LIST. THE MAGAZINE ALSO SINGLED OUT TUNK'S CYPRESS INN ON KINCAID LAKE AS A GOOD PLACE TO EAT IN ALEXANDRIA AND THE FAIRMOUNT PLANTATION BED & BREAKFAST IN COLFAX AS A GOOD PLACE TO STAY. THE ONLY OTHER CITY IN THE STATE TO MAKE THE LIST.. A NO BRAINER HERE.. NEW ORLEANS..


POLICE SAY TWO PEOPLE IN A VEHICLE DIED AFTER IT COLLIDED WITH AN AMTRAK TRAIN IN KENNER. AMTRAK SPOKESMAN MARC MAGLIARI (MAG-LEE-AIR E) SAID NOBODY ON THE NEW ORLEANS-BOUND TRAIN WAS INJURED IN THE TUESDAY AFTERNOON ACCIDENT. A SPOKESMAN FOR THE KENNER POLICE DEPARTMENT SAID BOTH OCCUPANTS OF THE VEHICLE DIED UPON IMPACT. MAGLIARI SAID THE TRAIN HAD DEPARTED CHICAGO ON MONDAY NIGHT AND WAS CARRYING ROUGHLY 59 PASSENGERS AT THE TIME OF THE COLLISION.

THE LOUISIANA SEAFOOD PROMOTION AND MARKETING BOARD MIGHT USE SOME OF THE $30 MILLION IT GOT FROM BP PLC TO BUY NAMING RIGHTS FOR THE NEW ORLEANS ARENA, WHERE THE NBA'S HORNETS PLAY. EWELL SMITH, THE BOARD'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAID TUESDAY THAT HE AND OTHER BOARD OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH JACK SPERLING, WHO WAS APPOINTED BY NBA COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN TO OVERSEE THE HORNETS WHEN THE LEAGUE BOUGHT THE CLUB IN LATE 2010. THE NAME CHANGE TO THE LOUISIANA SEAFOOD ARENA WOULD BE ONLY A SMALL PART OF A CAMPAIGN TO BOLSTER GULF OF MEXICO SEAFOOD IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2010 OIL SPILL. SMITH SAID HE WOULD ALSO LIKE VENDORS' BOOTHS FOR LOUISIANA SEAFOOD IN OTHER NBA ARENAS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A SINGLE VEHICLE CRASH THAT KILLED A 42-YEAR-OLD WOMAN. THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED AROUND 6 P.M. MONDAY ON LA HIGHWAY 3180 JUST WEST OF VIDALIA. TROOPERS SAY CAROLYN WILLIAMS OF VIDALIA WAS EASTBOUND WHEN HER CAR RAN OFF THE ROAD AND OVERTURNED. WILLIAMS WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT AND WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE. SHE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

AN 11-YEAR-OLD SHADY GROVE ELEMENTARY STUDENT HAS BEEN ARRESTED AFTER THREATENING TO STAB ANOTHER STUDENT AT SCHOOL. OUACHITA PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES WERE CALLED TO THE SCHOOL MONDAY AFTER A 12-YEAR-OLD FEMALE STUDENT REPORTED THE THREATS. POLICE SAID THE MALE STUDENT DID NOT PRODUCE THE WEAPON WHEN HE MADE THE THREAT, BUT INVESTIGATING DEPUTIES DISCOVERED A POCKET KNIFE IN HIS BACKPACK. THE STUDENT WAS BEING HELD AT GREEN OAKS DETENTION CENTER.

THE ACADIA PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE HAS SIGNED ON TO NIXLE, A COMPANY THAT SENDS NEIGHBORHOOD-LEVEL PUBLIC SAFETY AND COMMUNITY EVENT NOTIFICATIONS BY WEB, EMAIL AND CELLPHONE. MAXINE TRAHAN, A SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS THE FREE SERVICE ALLOWS AUTHORITIES TO SEND ALERTS ON ANYTHING FROM ROAD CLOSURES TO UPCOMING PUBLIC EVENTS. TRAHAN SAID THE SERVICE PROVIDES "INSTANT" INFORMATION SINCE VIRTUALLY EVERYONE CARRIES THEIR CELLPHONES WITH THEM AT ALL TIMES.

A SHREVEPORT HOMEOWNER - ARMED WITH A GUN - SURPRISED A BURGLAR WHO WAS RANSACKING HIS HOME. MR. PHIL WILSON SAYS HE CAME FACE-TO-FACE WITH THE SUSPECT, WHO TRIED TO JUMP IN HIS TRUCK AND FLEE. WILSON SHOT OUT THE TRUCK'S REAR TIRE, THEN A FRONT TIRE. THE MAN FLED ON FOOT, BUT WAS CAUGHT A SHORT TIME LATER AND TAKEN TO JAIL. 23-YEAR-OLD MATTHEW MOSES IS CHARGED WITH BURGLARY AND DAMAGE TO PROPERTY.

FANS OF THE MAN CALLED THE BOSS ARE HAPPY TO KNOW THAT THE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL HAS ADDED BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E-STREET BAND TO THE LINEUP FOR SUNDAY, APRIL 29TH.

MOONBOT MOVIE STUDIOS OF SHREVEPORT HAS HAD THEIR FIRST EVER ANIMATED PROJECT NOMINATED FOR AN OSCAR. BRANDON OLDENBURG, CO-DIRECTOR OF HE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE, SAYS HE AND AWARD WINNING AUTHOR WILLIAM JOYCE OF SHREVEPORT HAVE BEEN COLLABORATING ON PROJECTS FOR YEARS. THE MOVIE HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM.




News For Tuesday 01/24/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 012412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TONIGHT, THE PRESIDENT TAKES TO THE AIRWAVES FOR THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. YOU CAN HEAR THAT SPEECH BEGINNING AT 8 THIS EVENING ON 970 KSYL. YESTERDAY, IT WAS THE STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS IN ALEXANDRIA. ACCORDING TO MAYOR JACQUES ROY, THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IS THRIVING. ROY SAID HIS ADMINISTRATION ACCOMPLISHED MANY OF ITS GOALS OVER THE PAST YEAR AND HAS SEVERAL AMBITIOUS NEW GOALS PLANNED FOR 2012.ROY TOUTED HIS ADMINISTRATION'S CONSERVATIVE OPERATIONAL SPENDING. SOMETHING THE MAYOR CREDITS FOR THE CITY’S ABILITY TO ADD $5 MILLION TO THE CITY’S SURPLUS DURING THE PAST FISCAL YEAR, BRINGING THE OVERALL SURPLUS TO NEARLY $17 MILLION.

THE $895 MILLION SHORTFALL PROJECTED FOR THE UPCOMING STATE BUDGET YEAR SHOULDN'T COME AS A TOTAL SURPRISE TO LAWMAKERS OR GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION. AT LEAST 40 PERCENT OF THE GAP IS TIED TO THE USE OF ONE-TIME MONEY THAT PROPPED UP PARTS OF THE CURRENT BUDGET AND THAT IS EXPECTED TO FALL AWAY IN THE NEW FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1, MOST OF IT USED IN THE STATE'S MEDICAID PROGRAM. ANOTHER SLICE OF NEXT YEAR'S SHORTFALL IS CAUSED BY TUITION INCREASES APPROVED BY LAWMAKERS AND SOUGHT BY JINDAL, THAT WHILE HELPING PLUG SOME HIGHER EDUCATION HOLES, WILL ALSO INCREASE THE COST OF THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM.

ALLSTATE CORP. IS ASKING TO RAISE RATES FOR 144,000 LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS WHO GET THEIR INSURANCE COVERAGE FROM TWO ALLSTATE COMPANIES. ACCORDING TO THE STATE INSURANCE DEPARTMENT, ALLSTATE WANTS AN AVERAGE 11.3 PERCENT INCREASE FOR 71,000 HOMEOWNERS COVERED BY ALLSTATE INSURANCE CO. THE COMPANY IS PROPOSING AN AVERAGE 5.9 PERCENT HIKE FOR 73,000 HOMEOWNERS COVERED BY ALLSTATE INDEMNITY CO. TOGETHER, THE REQUESTS TOTAL JUST UNDER $17 MILLION IN HIGHER RATES. IF LOUISIANA INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON AGREES, HIGHER RATES WOULD GO INTO EFFECT WITH NEW AND RENEWED POLICIES ON MARCH 1.
ALLSTATE IS THE STATE'S SECOND-LARGEST INSURER OF HOMES.

LOUISIANA TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY IS REMINDING TAXPAYERS TO CHECK TO SEE IF THE IRS OWES THEM OLD FEDERAL INCOME TAX REFUNDS. KENNEDY SAID MONDAY THAT MORE THAN $1.3 MILLION IS OWED TO 1,362 LOUISIANA TAXPAYERS WHOSE FEDERAL INCOME TAX REFUND CHECKS WERE UNDELIVERABLE BECAUSE OF AN OLD ADDRESS OR OTHER REASON.

THE STATE SAYS 126 PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED IN LOUISIANA IN DECEMBER FOR PAST-DUE CHILD SUPPORT BILLS TOTALING $1.1 MILLION. THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN & FAMILY SERVICES SAID THE ARRESTS YIELDED ABOUT $33,000 IN BACK PAYMENTS — AND $41,000 IN OTHER CASES THAT WERE CLOSED. AT THE TIME OF ARREST, STATE OFFICIALS TRY TO COLLECT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AND THE PARENTS ARE GIVEN A COURT DATE TO ESTABLISH A NEW PAYMENT PLAN. THE FAMILY SERVICES AGENCY SAYS IT COLLECTED MORE THAN $385 MILLION IN CHILD SUPPORT LAST YEAR. THE AGENCY ESTIMATES NEARLY $1.2 BILLION IS OWED BY LOUISIANA'S NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS.

A LEADER OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN LOUISIANA BELIEVES THE GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION PROCESS WILL BE STILL UNDECIDED WHEN THE STATE HOLDS ITS MARCH 24TH PRIMARY. LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN ROGER VILLERE SAYS RIGHT NOW THE FOCUS OF THE CANDIDATES IS ON FLORIDA, THE NEXT PRIMARY STATE. HE SAYS, HOWEVER, HERE IN LOUISIANA THE ELECTION IS UP FOR GRABS.

OFFICIALS WITH THE LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY ANNOUNCE A STATEWIDE TOUR TO REVAMP THE PARTY HERE. SPOKESPERSON JAMES HALLINAN SAYS IT'S NO SECRET THAT THE GOP HAS TAKEN CONTROL OF STATE GOVERNMENT ON MANY LEVELS. HE SAYS THE GETTING BACK TO BASICS TOUR WILL VISIT 35 LOUISIANA CITIES OVER 10 DAYS. HE SAYS THE TOUR IS INTENDED TO REBUILD THEIR STATEWIDE BASE AND GRASSROOTS NETWORK.

THE NATION'S LEADING NATURAL GAS DRILLER SAYS IT WILL CUT BACK ON DRILLING IN LOUISIANA'S HAYNESVILLE AND BARNETT SHALES, DUE TO DROPPING PRICES FOR GAS. LOUISIANA OIL & GAS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT DON BRIGGS SAYS THERE WERE, AT ONE POINT, OVER 150 NATURAL GAS DRILLING RIGS IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, BUT NOW THERE ARE ABOUT HALF THAT. CHESAPEAKE ENERGY PLANS TO REDUCE ACTIVE DRY GAS DRILLING DOWN TO ABOUT 24 RIGS WITHIN A FEW MONTHS. THERE ARE CURRENTLY 47 IN OPERATION AND THERE WERE 75 IN 2011. BRIGGS SAYS CHESAPEAKE IS ACTING IN THE INTERESTS OF COST-EFFICIENCY AND RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT.

MILD WINTER TEMPERATURES AND PERIODS OF LIGHT TO MEDIUM RAIN HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO HIGHER THAN NORMAL MOSQUITO ACTIVITY FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR. HERF JONES, A MEMBER OF THE LOUISIANA MOSQUITO CONTROL ASSOCIATION SAYS LIGHT TO MODERATE RAINS HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO PLENTY OF BREEDING SITES. HE REMINDS US WE CAN LIMIT OUR EXPOSURE TO MOSQUITOES AND THE POSSIBILITY OF EXPOSURE TO WEST NILE VIRUS BY TAKING NORMAL PRECAUTIONS.

NOW THAT FOOTBALL SEASON IS BEHIND US, THE STATE CAN FOCUS ON THE NEXT MAJOR SPORTING EVENT, WHICH IS THE FINAL FOUR. COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S MARQUEE EVENT WILL BE HELD MARCH 31ST AND APRIL 2ND IN NEW ORLEANS. LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE SAYS THEY PROJECT THE FINAL FOUR TO GENERATE AT LEAST 134-MILLION DOLLARS IN REVENUE FOR THE LOCAL AND STATE ECONOMY.

RICE FARMERS IN LOUISIANA ANNOUNCED TODAY THEY'VE AGREED TO CONTINUE PAYING A NICKEL FOR EVERY 100 POUNDS OF RICE FOR RESEARCH, AND 3 CENTS PER HUNDRED POUNDS FOR PROMOTION. 85 PERCENT VOTED IN FAVOR OF THE RESEARCH REFERENDUM AND 72 PERCENT THE PROMOTION REFERENDUM. THE PAYMENTS WILL BE MADE OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS WHEN THE FARMERS WILL VOTE AGAIN.

THE NEW ORLEANS KREWE OF ZEUS ANNOUNCES LSU PLAYERS JARRETT LEE AND T-BOB HEBERT WILL BE GRAND MARSHAL'S OF THE PARADE THIS YEAR. KREWE LEADERS SAY THE TWO WERE CHOSEN BECAUSE OF THEIR ROLL IN THE SUCCESS OF THE 2011 LSU FOOTBALL SEASON. THE PARADE ROLLS MONDAY FEBRUARY 20TH.

A LEGISLATIVE AUDIT SAYS GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY HAS FAILED TO ADDRESS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN MISSING OR STOLEN PROPERTY FOR SEVEN YEARS IN A ROW. THE REVIEW, RELEASED MONDAY SAYS FOR THE LAST BUDGET YEAR RUNNING THROUGH JUNE 30, GRAMBLING COULDN'T ACCOUNT FOR $1.6 MILLION IN ITEMS LIKE COMPUTERS AND FURNITURE. THAT'S NEARLY 7 PERCENT OF THE UNIVERSITY'S $24 MILLION MOVABLE PROPERTY INVENTORY. ON TOP OF THAT, THE SCHOOL HAS HAD TO USE PUBLIC FUNDS TO REPLACE MISSING ITEMS.

LOUISIANA'S LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR SAYS THE STATE'S RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT, WHICH TAKES OVER FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN LOUISIANA, NEEDS TO IMPROVE LONGSTANDING FINANCIAL CONTROL PROBLEMS TO SAFEGUARD AGAINST OVERPAYMENT OF EMPLOYEES AND THE LOSS OF EQUIPMENT. THE AUDIT SAID RSD CONTROLS HAVE BEEN IMPROVING BUT IT WAS THE FIFTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR THAT MOVEABLE EQUIPMENT WAS NOT SUFFICIENTLY PROTECTED AGAINST LOSS AND THAT OVERPAYMENTS WERE MADE TO SOME EMPLOYEES.

POLICE IN CROWLEY ARE SEEKING A SUSPECT FOR THE ALLEGED RAPE OF A MINOR. WILLIAM LANGLEY JR. IS A FUGITIVE AND COULD BE HIDING OUT IN THE VINTON AREA OR IN ORANGE, TEXAS. ANYONE WITH USEFUL INFORMATION IS ASKED TO CALL 337-251-6921. THERE IS A REWARD.

TWO YOUNG MEN WERE FOUND DEAD INSIDE OF A BOGALUSA HOME MONDAY AFTERNOON AFTER A FAMILY MEMBER SAID CALLS TO THE HOME WENT UNANSWERED. BOGALUSA POLICE CHIEF JOE CULPEPPER SAYS THE VICTIMS WERE 21 AND 23 YEARS OLD AND BOTH MEN WERE SHOT. IT IS BELIEVED THE SHOOTINGS WERE DRUG RELATED.

A TEACHER AT SOUTH LAFOURCHE HIGH SCHOOL HAS BEEN CITED FOR ALLEGEDLY HAVING SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH A 17-YEAR-OLD STUDENT. LAFOURCHE PARISH SHERIFF CRAIG WEBRE SAID MONDAY THAT 29-YEAR-OLD HEATHER CHIASSON WAS ISSUED A SUMMONS FRIDAY ON THE MISDEMEANOR CHARGE OF PROHIBITED SEXUAL CONDUCT BETWEEN AN EDUCATOR AND A STUDENT. WEBRE SAYS DETECTIVES QUESTIONED THE MALE STUDENT, WHO DETAILED THE ALLEGED SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH TEACHER, WHO TAUGHT HIM LAST YEAR. THE TEACHER HAS BEEN SUSPENDED PENDING THE OUTCOME OF THE INVESTIGATION.

News For Monday 01/23/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 012312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

GREENER PASTURES ARE GREETING SOME OF THE MALNOURISHED AND NEGLECTED HORSES SEIZED TWO WEEKS AGO FROM A SABINE PARISH PROPERTY OWNER.
THE SABINE HUMANE SOCIETY HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN FINDING ADDITIONAL FOSTER HOMES WHERE THE ANIMALS CAN RECEIVE INDIVIDUALIZED ATTENTION. THE SOCIETY SEIZED ABOUT 60 THOROUGHBREDS FROM CHARLES FORD'S HILLCREST FARMS NEAR MANY.
GOATS AND PIGS ALSO WERE SEIZED FROM FORD.

A 20-YEAR-OLD WOMAN FROM KENTUCKY WAS KILLED SUNDAY IN A WRECK IN VERNON PARISH. STATE POLICE SAY TROOPERS RESPONDED TO A CRASH ABOUT 4 A.M. ON U.S. HIGHWAY 171, NORTH OF ROSEPINE. POLICE SAY THE DRIVER OF THE VEHICLE LOST CONTROL AND LEFT THE ROAD AND HIT TWO TREES. THE DEAD WOMAN WAS A PASSENGER IN THE VEHICLE. TROOPERS SAY SHE WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT. THE DRIVER RECEIVED MODERATE INJURIES AND IS BEING TREATED AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

AN EVANGELINE PARISH MAN HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF SETTING FIRE OVER THE WEEKEND TO THE TRAILER HE WAS LIVING IN. STATE FIRE MARSHAL H. "BUTCH" BROWNING SAYS 38-YEAR-OLD OLEN FUESLIER, OF PINE PRAIRIE, WAS ARRESTED ON A CHARGE OF SIMPLE ARSON. HE WAS BOOKED INTO THE EVANGELINE PARISH JAIL AND IS BEING HELD IN LIEU OF $50,000 BOND. AFTER AN EXTENSIVE INVESTIGATION, AUTHORITIES SAYS FUSELIER WAS ACCUSED OF SETTING FIRE TO THE HOME. IT APPEARS HE HAD BEEN RECENTLY EVICTED BY HIS ROOMMATE.

TURN OUT WAS GOOD FRIDAY FOR A JOB FAIR AT THE RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM EXHIBITION HALL, THAT WAS HELD TO TEST THE JOB POOL IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA. AN UNDISCLOSED COMPANY IS LOOKING AT CENLA AS A POSSIBLE NEW LOCATION FOR A CALL CENTER. IT IS EXPECTED TO BE MARCH BEFORE WE KNOW WHETHER OR NOT THE COMPANY WILL MAKE THE MOVE.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION IS PROJECTING AN $895 MILLION SHORTFALL IN LOUISIANA’S BUDGET FOR THE SPENDING YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1. DEPUTY BUDGET DIRECTOR TERNISA HUTCHINSON TOLD MEMBERS OF THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON THE BUDGET THAT THE SHORTFALL IS BASED ON A NUMBER OF FUNDING PROBLEMS.
THE BIGGEST IS A $538 MILLION PROJECTED SHORTFALL IN THE MEDICAID PROGRAM. OTHER AREAS IN NEED OF A REVENUE BOOST INCLUDE A COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM AND BASIC STATE AID FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE SHORTFALL PROJECTION GAVE LEGISLATORS AN INDICATION OF THE NUMBERS GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS USING TO BUILD A PROPOSED STATE OPERATING BUDGET, WHICH WILL BE RELEASED FEB. 9.

PASSENGERS TRAVELING TO AND FROM MONROE REGIONAL AIRPORT THROUGH DALLAS-FORT WORTH SOON WILL HAVE SMOOTHER AND FASTER FLIGHTS AS AMERICAN AIRLINES REPLACES ITS TURBO PROPELLER-POWERED AIRCRAFT WITH JETS. THE NEW JETS, THOUGH FASTER, HOLD FEWER PASSENGERS. THE NEW SERVICE BEGINS THE END OF THIS MONTH.

A LEGISLATIVE BUDGET COMMITTEE APPROVES A 275-THOUSAND DOLLAR ANNUAL SALARY FOR NEW STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE. HIS CONTRACT ALSO CALLS FOR SIX-PERCENT ANNUAL PAY RAISES, IF HE RECEIVED A POSITIVE EVALUATION. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HAND PICKED WHITE AS THE STATE'S NEW PUBLIC EDUCATION LEADER. WHITE'S ANNUAL SALARY IS 80-THOUSAND DOLLARS LESS THAN WHAT FORMER STATE SUPERINTENDENT PAUL PASTOREK RECEIVED.

THE HEAD OF THE STATE'S BIGGEST TEACHERS' UNION SAYS GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PROPOSED STATEWIDE PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS PROGRAM, FOR PARENTS OF KIDS IN POOR PERFORMING PUBLIC SCHOOLS, IS A BAD DEAL. LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS PRESIDENT STEVE MONAGHAN SAYS THE ADMINISTRATION IS PEDDLING A MYTH OF SCHOOL CHOICE FOR POVERTY-RIDDEN PARENTS. MONAGHAN SAYS PARENTS WHO GET VOUCHERS MAY WELL FIND FEW PRIVATE SCHOOL CHOICES, AND MAY EVEN HAVE THEIR APPLICATIONS REJECTED. HE SAYS LFT WOULD HOPE LAWMAKERS KEEP IN MIND THAT PRIVATE SCHOOLS HAVE NO ANNUAL REVIEWS, NOR ACCOUNTABILITY TO THE STATE.

THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM IS ONCE AGAIN LOOKING FOR THE STATE'S TOP TEN LONGEST KNOWN LIVING MARRIED COUPLES. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GENE MILLS SAYS THE LONGEST-MARRIED COUPLE WILL BE HONORED AT A DESSERT RECEPTION IN THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION ON VALENTINE'S DAY. MILLS SAYS THE TOP TEN WILL BE ACKNOWLEDGED IN THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM'S MARRIAGE HALL OF FAME AND RECEIVE A PROCLAMATION FROM THE GOVERNOR. ENTRANTS MAY APPLY BEFORE FEBRUARY NINTH BY SENDING THEIR THEIR CONTACT INFO AND WEDDING DATE TO INFO@LAFAMILYFORUM.ORG

LOUISIANA HAS BEEN NAMED THE MOST PRO-LIFE STATE IN THE COUNTRY. LOUISIANA RIGHT TO LIFE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BENJAMIN CLAPPER SAYS AMERICANS UNITED FOR LIFE BASES THEIR RANKINGS ON HOW STATE LEGISLATORS PASS LAWS WHEN IT COMES TO THE PROTECTION OF THE UNBORN. HE SAYS LOUISIANA'S PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION IS CUTTING EDGE. CLAPPER CREDITS PRO-LIFE ORGANIZATIONS, LOUISIANA'S LAWMAKERS AND GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL FOR STANDING FIRM ON LEGISLATION DEALING WITH ABORTION.

LOUISIANA INVESTORS WHO LOST A BUNDLE TO AN ALLEGED PONZI SCHEME CARRIED OUT BY STANFORD INVESTMENTS, WILL BE WATCHING WHEN R. ALLEN STANFORD'S FRAUD TRIAL BEGINS TODAY. STANFORD IS ACCUSED OF MISLEADING INVESTORS WHO BOUGHT CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT FROM HIS BANK IN ANTIGUA; THEN SPENDING THEIR MONEY ON HIS OWN LAVISH LIFESTYLE.

THE STEAMY TEMPERATURES OF LAST SUMMER AND THE DRY CONDITIONS MAY HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THIS YEAR'S CRAWFISH SEASON. LOUISIANA CRAWFISH FARMERS ASSOCIATION DIRECTOR STEPHEN MINVIELLE SAYS LAST YEAR IT WAS DRY BUT THE COOLER WEATHER HELPED OUT THE HARVEST. MINVIELLE SAYS THE SEASON IS STARTING OFF SLOW BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER AND FARMERS ARE ONLY PULLING IN ABOUT 30% OF WHAT THEY NORMALLY CATCH ON AVERAGE. MINVIELLE EXPECTS THIS YEAR'S CRAWFISH CROP WILL BE SIMILAR TO LAST YEAR, STARTING SLOW THEN EXPLODING LATER IN THE SEASON. HE'S HOPING FOR LOTS OF RAIN.

REPLICAS OF TWO OF THE THREE SHIPS THAT CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS SAILED TO THE NEW WORLD WILL BE DISPLAYED NEXT MONTH IN HOUMA. THE NINA AND PINTA WILL BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FEB. 17-26 AT THE DOWNTOWN MARINA, AND WILL DEPART ON FEB. 27.
A STATEMENT FROM THE COLUMBUS FOUNDATION SAYS THE NINA WAS BUILT BY HAND AND WITHOUT POWER TOOLS. THE PINTA IS LARGER THAN THE SHIP USED BY COLUMBUS. IT WAS BUILT RECENTLY IN BRAZIL TO ACCOMPANY THE NINA. THEY TOUR TOGETHER AS A SAILING MUSEUM. AFTER TEXAS VISITS, THEY'LL BE IN LAKE CHARLES ON APRIL 27-MAY 8.

A FORMER SHREVEPORT CITY STAFFER IS IN JAIL AWAITING SENTENCING AFTER BEING CONVICTED OF RAPING AN 18-YEAR-OLD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT ON A COUCH IN THE MAYOR'S OFFICE. FORTY-FOUR-YEAR-OLD RICHARD SEATON WAS CONVICTED ON FRIDAY IN THE RAPE, WHICH OCCURRED AFTER THE DECEMBER 2010 INDEPENDENCE BOWL.
PROSECUTORS SAID SEATON USED HIS INFLUENCE AND POSITION TO COERCE THE INTOXICATED TEEN INTO ACCOMPANYING HIM TO SHREVEPORT'S GOVERNMENT PLAZA.
HE IS TO BE SENTENCED ON FEB. 1 AFTER A JUDGE FOUND HIM GUILTY OF FORCIBLE RAPE AND ABUSE OF OFFICE.


News For Friday 01/20/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 012012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THERE’S A JOB FAIR TODAY HERE IN ALEXANDRIA FOR A COMPANY THAT IS CONSIDERING A LOCATION IN THE CENLA AREA. C.L.E.D.A. VICE PRESIDENT RICK RANSON COULD NOT NAME THE COMPANY, BUT DID SAY IT'S VERY ESTABLISHED AND HAS A GOOD TRACK RECORD.
HE SAYS COMPANY OFFICIALS HAVE DECIDED THEY LIKE THE AREA. THE JOB FAIR WILL BE FROM 10AM-6PM AT THE RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM EXHIBITION HALL. INITIALLY THE COMPANY WOULD LIKE TO FILL 300 POSITIONS, BUT THAT COULD EASILY DOUBLE. STARTING SALARIES COULD RANGE FROM $10-$15 AN HOUR DEPENDING ON THE POSITION, FULL BENEFITS AND GOOD RETIREMENT PLANS. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT WWW.JOBSINALEX.COM.

THE STATE BOND COMMISSION ON THURSDAY GAVE PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO THE FUNDING PLAN FOR SUNDROP FUELS INC. TO BUILD FACILITIES AT RAPIDES STATION TO PRODUCE "GREEN GASOLINE." AND WHILE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MAJOR FACILITY THERE WILL START THIS YEAR AND FULL PRODUCTION IS EXPECTED AT THE BEGINNING OF 2015, A COMPANY OFFICIAL SAID THURSDAY THAT A SMALLER "PILOT PLANT" WILL BE BUILT FIRST AND BE UP AND RUNNING IN 2013. THE BOND COMMISSION'S PRELIMINARY APPROVAL IS FOR THE PROPOSAL TO SELL $450 MILLION WORTH OF SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL REVENUE BONDS TO FINANCE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PILOT-PROJECT PLANT AND THE FULL-PRODUCTION FACILITY ON LA. HIGHWAY 1 AT RAPIDES STATION, NORTH OF ALEXANDRIA.

THE STATE BOND COMMISSION HAS ALSO APPROVED FINANCING PLANS FOR SEVERAL CENTRAL LOUISIANA PROJECTS. THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY WILL GET $725,000 IN PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT SALES TAX BONDS FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS. THE CITY OF WINNFIELD: $2.5 MILLION IN WATER REVENUE BONDS. VERNON PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, PITKIN SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 144, WILL SEE A REFINANCING OF DEBT, THAT WILL RESULT IN A $258,000 IN SAVINGS. ALSO, VERNON PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, WARD 7, WILL REFINANCE DEBT, RESULTING IN $210,000 IN SAVINGS.

A ST. MARTINVILLE MAN IS UNDER ARREST FOR ALLEGEDLY SHOOTING AND KILLING HIS FIANCÉE WHO WAS 7 MONTHS PREGNANT. ST. MARTIN PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON GINNY HIGGINS SAYS OFFICERS TO RESPONDED TO A DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE CALL WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON AT THE COUPLES HOME. INSIDE THEY FOUND THE SUSPECT, 21-YEAR-OLD JOSHUA MCKEEL. THEY ALSO FOUND THE BODY OF HIS FIANCÉE, 19-YEAR-OLD HANNAH PARKER. THE TWO HAD APPARENTLY HAD A HISTORY OF DOMESTIC ISSUES. MCKEEL WAS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY AT THE SCENE WITHOUT INCIDENT
AND BOOKED WITH SECOND DEGREE MURDER AND 1ST DEGREE FETICIDE.

LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL PRAISED TEXAS GOV. RICK PERRY AFTER PERRY BOWED OUT OF THE REPUBLICAN RACE FOR PRESIDENT ON THURSDAY, CALLING PERRY A "CLOSE FRIEND AND A GREAT GOVERNOR." JINDAL ENDORSED PERRY LAST SEPTEMBER. IN A STATEMENT, JINDAL PRAISED PERRY AND THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS FOR AIDING LOUISIANA AFTER HURRICANE GUSTAV. JINDAL SAID HE SPOKE WITH PERRY YESTERDAY MORNING AND WISHED HIM AND HIS WIFE ANITA ALL THE BEST. PERRY, UPON LEAVING THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE, ENDORSED NEWT GINGRICH. NO WORD AS TO WHETHER OR NO GOVERNOR JINDAL WILL DO THE SAME.

METHANEX CORP., A MAJOR PRODUCER OF METHANOL, HAS SECURED LAND IN LOUISIANA AND WILL DECIDE LATER THIS YEAR WHETHER TO MOVE ONE OF ITS IDLE PLANTS IN CHILE TO THE STATE. METHANEX CHIEF EXECUTIVE BRUCE AITKEN SAYS THAT THE 200-ACRE SITE IN GEISMAR IS AN ATTRACTIVE BECAUSE OF AND AN ABUNDANT SUPPLY OF NATURAL GAS AT LOW PRICES AND A SKILLED WORK FORCE. HE ALSO SAID THE REGION, A MAJOR PLAYER IN THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY, IS A LARGE CONSUMER OF METHANOL. METHANEX ALSO CITED THE AVAILABILITY OF KEY ITEMS USED TO PRODUCE METHANOL, AND THE AREA'S PROXIMITY TO BARGE, RAIL AND INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS FOR ITS SITE DECISION.

LOUISIANA RECEIVES THREE "F" GRADES FROM THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION IN ITS ANNUAL STATE OF TOBACCO CONTROL REPORT. SPOKESPERSON MICHELLE BERNTH SAYS LOUISIANA RECEIVED FAILING GRADES FOR NOT SPENDING ENOUGH ON TOBACCO PREVENTION, NOT COVERING CESSATION PROGRAMS FOR STATE WORKERS AND CIGARETTE TAXES. BERNTH SAYS LOUISIANA'S ONLY PASSING GRADE CAME IN THE AREA OF SMOKE FREE AIR LAWS. SHE SAYS THE STATE RECEIVED A "B" GRADE FOR ITS CURRENT LOUISIANA SMOKE FREE AIR ACT.

FIVE INMATES WERE MISTAKENLY RELEASED FROM THE CADDO PARISH JAIL AFTER FEDERAL PROSECUTORS TOOK OVER THE DRUG CASE AGAINST THEM. THEY'RE AMONG 13 PEOPLE ARRESTED NOV. 15 AND BOOKED ON STATE DRUG CHARGES. CADDO PARISH SHERIFF STEVE PRATOR AND U.S. MARSHAL HENRY WHITEHORN SAY FIVE SHREVEPORT RESIDENTS WERE RE-ARRAIGNED LAST WEEK IN FEDERAL COURT, SO A STATE JUDGE DISMISSED THE LOUISIANA CHARGES AGAINST THEM ON WEDNESDAY. AFTER JAIL STAFF GOT THAT WORD, THEY RELEASED THE FIVE DEFENDANTS WEDNESDAY EVENING. ONE WAS FOUND THAT NIGHT AT HIS HOUSE. HE WAS LATER RETURNED TO CUSTODY. FOUR OF THE INMATES REMAIN ON THE LAMB.

DESPITE A SLOW ECONOMIC RECOVERY PINCHING CONSUMERS' WALLETS, GAMBLERS WERE JUST AS FOND OF LOUISIANA CASINOS IN 2011 AS IN 2010, AT LEAST GAUGED BY HOW MUCH MONEY THEY LEFT BEHIND. ACCORDING TO STATE FIGURES, LOUISIANA'S STATE-LICENSED CASINOS TOOK IN $2.37 BILLION LAST YEAR, VIRTUALLY FLAT FROM 2010.

THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION WILL ASK THE JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE TO APPROVE A PAY PACKAGE FOR NEW STATE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WHITE OF 275-THOUSAND DOLLARS. BESE PRESIDENT, PENNY DASTUGUE, SAYS SHE BELIEVES THE CONTRACT WILL WIN APPROVAL. WHITE WILL BE TAKING A SMALL PAY CUT TO TAKE THE SUPERINTENDENTS JOB. HIS CONTRACT WITH THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT PAID HIM 281-THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR INCLUDING AN ALLOWANCE FOR HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION. DASTUGUE SAYS THEY ARRIVED AT THE PROPOSED SALARY BY COMPARING THE SUPERINTENDENT'S SALARY TO COMPARABLE POSITIONS.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ANNOUNCES THE 5 PARISH BATON ROUGE AREA HAS FINALLY ATTAINED FEDERAL STANDARDS FOR OZONE POLLUTION. LDEQ SPOKESMAN RODNEY MALLETT (MAL-IT) SAYS B.R. HAD BEEN THE ONLY PART OF LOUISIANA NOT IN ATTAINMENT OF FEDERAL OZONE LIMITS IMPOSED OVER 13 YEARS AGO. BUT, BEFORE YOU GET GIDDY OVER THE NEWS, A NEW FEDERAL OZONE STANDARD GOES INTO EFFECT LATER THIS YEAR & THE BR AREA WILL LIKELY FALL INTO "NON-ATTAINMENT" STATUS YET AGAIN.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS RULED THAT PEOPLE PURSUING THEIR GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL CLAIMS AGAINST BP OUTSIDE OF FEDERAL COURT DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FEES TO HUNDREDS OF LAWYERS WORKING ON BEHALF OF ABOUT 120,000 CLAIMANTS FIGHTING THE OIL GIANT IN COURT. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER ISSUED THE RULING WEDNESDAY TO CLARIFY A PREVIOUS RULING HE MADE THAT LEFT EVERYONE STILL SEEKING DAMAGE PAYMENTS FROM BP — EVEN THOSE SEEKING TO SETTLE THEIR CASES OUTSIDE OF COURT — HAVING TO PAY 6 PERCENT OF THEIR CLAIMS INTO AN ESCROW FUND. THE ESCROW FUND IS BEING SET UP TO PAY LAWYERS SUING BP AND OTHER COMPANIES INVOLVED IN THE NATION'S LARGEST OFFSHORE OIL SPILL. A TRIAL IS SET TO TAKE PLACE FEB. 27 OVER THE SPILL.

A FEDERAL JUDGE IN VERMONT HAS RULED THAT THE STATE'S ONLY NUCLEAR PLANT CAN REMAIN OPEN BEYOND ITS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED SHUTDOWN DATE THIS YEAR, DESPITE EFFORTS BY STATE GOVERNMENT TO CLOSE THE 40-YEAR-OLD REACTOR. THE RULING THURSDAY IS A WIN FOR NEW ORLEANS-BASED ENTERGY CORP., WHICH HAD ARGUED DURING A THREE-DAY TRIAL IN SEPTEMBER THAT VERMONT'S EFFORTS TO CLOSE THE VERMONT YANKEE PLANT WERE PRE-EMPTED BY FEDERAL LAW. THE FEDERAL NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION GRANTED VERMONT YANKEE A 20-YEAR LICENSE EXTENSION IN MARCH. BUT STATE LAW REQUIRED VERMONT LAWMAKERS TO SUPPORT KEEPING THE PLANT OPEN AS WELL. A BILL TO GRANT LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL DIED IN THE STATE SENATE IN 2010, AND THE HOUSE HAS NEVER ACTED. THE STATE IS EXPECTED TO APPEAL.

A 72-YEAR-OLD MAN FOUND MURDERED IN HIS JESUIT BEND HOME IS THE FIRST HOMICIDE IN PLAQUEMINES PARISH SINCE 2009. SHERIFF MICHAEL LAFRANCE SAYS DEPUTIES WENT TO THE MAN'S HOME THURSDAY MORNING, WHERE THEY FOUND HIM IN A POOL OF BLOOD BY THE FRONT DOOR. DEPUTIES WERE AT THE HOME BECAUSE THEY'D RECEIVED REPORTS THAT THE VICTIM HAD NOT BEEN IN CONTACT WITH ANYONE FOR DAYS.
THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE HAS NOT RELEASED THE VICTIM'S IDENTITY, PENDING NOTIFICATION OF FAMILY MEMBERS.

A MARRERO COUPLE WAS INDICTED WITH SECOND-DEGREE MURDER IN THE DEATH OF THEIR 4-MONTH-OLD SON. A GRAND JURY RETURNED THE INDICTMENT AGAINST 24-YEAR-OLD LAMEEKA MCKINNEY AND 26-YEAR-OLD ROBERT L. SCOTT III ON THURSDAY. AUTHORITIES SAY THE CHILD DIED FROM SEVERE DEHYDRATION AND OVERALL NEGLECT, AS SHOWN BY INFECTED SORES THAT COVERED HIS BODY AND SEVERE DIAPER RASH. THE AUTOPSY ALSO REVEALED LACERATIONS ON THE BABY'S LIVER THAT ARE CONSISTENT WITH BLUNT-FORCE TRAUMA.

AN ALABAMA MAN WAS ARRESTED LATE WEDNESDAY IN CONNECTION WITH A VIDEO APPEARING TO SHOW SOMEONE IN A UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA JACKET ABUSING AN UNCONSCIOUS LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY FAN AFTER ALABAMA BEAT LSU FOR THE BCS FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP. 32 YEAR OLD BRIAN DOWNING OF SMITHS STATION, ALA., WAS BOOKED ON CHARGES OF SEXUAL BATTERY AND OBSCENITY. HE WAS VIDEOTAPED JAN. 9 "PLACING HIS GENITALS ON AN LSU FAN'S FACE. THE LSU FAN APPEARS TO BE HEAVILY INEBRIATED AND PRACTICALLY UNCONSCIOUS.

A SMALL HELICOPTER OWNED BY A HOUMA TOWBOAT COMPANY HAS CRASHED SOUTHWEST OF MORGAN CITY, REPORTEDLY KILLING TWO PEOPLE. FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION SPOKESMAN LYNN LUNSFORD SAID LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTED THAT BOTH PEOPLE ON THE ROBINSON R-44 HELICOPTER DIED IN THE CRASH, ABOUT 7:30 A.M. THURSDAY AND ABOUT 13 MILES SOUTHWEST OF MORGAN CITY.



News For Thursday 01/19/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 011912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NO WORD YET AS TO WHAT THE COMPANY IS, BUT, AN INTERNATIONAL COMPANY WHO IS CONSIDERING A LOCATION IN ALEXANDRIA IS HOLDING A JOB FAIR FRIDAY.
THE FAIR WILL BE FROM 10 A.M. TO 6 P.M. FRIDAY IN THE RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM'S EXHIBITION HALL ON COLISEUM BLVD. THE COMPANY, WHICH HOPES TO HIRE SEVERAL HUNDRED EMPLOYEES, IS EVALUATING CANDIDATES FOR THREE DIFFERENT POSITIONS, CUSTOMER SERVICE CONSULTANT, HELP DESK TECHNICAL SUPPORT AND MORTGAGE UNDERWRITER. FOR MORE INFORMATION, INCLUDING DETAILED JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS, OR TO SUBMIT A RÉSUMÉ, VISIT WWW.JOBSINALEX.COM.

STATE POLICE REPORT AN ON-DUTY CALCASIEU PARISH DEPUTY WAS KILLED YESTERDAY, IN A HEAD-ON CRASH IN SULPHUR. 41-YEAR-OLD DEPUTY RANDALL LEE BENOIT WAS NORTHBOUND ON STATE HIGHWAY 1256, WHEN A SOUTHBOUND CAR CROSSED THE CENTER LINE AND HIT HIM. HIS PATROL CAR WAS THEN REAR-ENDED BY ANOTHER NORTHBOUND VEHICLE. FOR WHATEVER REASON, BENOIT WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT, AND SUSTAINED SEVERE INJURIES IN THE CRASH. HE DIED LATER AT A NEARBY HOSPITAL. STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING AND TOXICOLOGY TESTS ARE ORDERED ON ALL DRIVERS INVOLVED.

THE GREATER ALEXANDRIA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OR GAEDA HAS HANDED OUT MORE THAN $136,000 IN GRANTS TO SEVERAL LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS. THE BIGGEST OF THOSE GRANTS WAS AWARDED TO THE PORT OF ALEXANDRIA, WHICH RECEIVED $100,000 TOWARD ITS EXPANSION EFFORTS. THE GAEDA BOARD ALSO PASSED GRANTS OF $16,600 FOR ARTISTS' WORKSHOPS AT RIVER OAKS SQUARE ARTS CENTER; $10,000 (FOR TWO YEARS) TO THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE; AND $5,000 EACH TO A NSU FRATERNITY TO SPONSOR THE 12TH ANNUAL GOLDEN EXPLOSION STEP SHOW TO BE HELD APRIL 21 AT THE RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM, AND TO THE FRIENDS OF THE ALEXANDRIA MUSEUM OF ART TO SPONSOR THE 2012 LOUISIANA DRAGON BOAT RACES TO BE HELD MAY 12 ON THE RED RIVER.

A PINEVILLE ROOFING CONTRACTOR HAS PLEADED GUILTY IN 9TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT TO TWO COUNTS OF ILLEGALLY DISPOSING WASTE BY BURNING ASBESTOS-LADEN SHINGLES AND OTHER MATERIALS IN DEVILLE. THE STATE DEQ ACCUSED 62 YEAR OLD WALTER SMITH THE OWNER OF RAPIDES ROOFING AND HOME REPAIR, OF INSTRUCTING HIS EMPLOYEES TO BURN THE DISCARDED SHINGLES AT PROPERTY HE OWNS IN DEVILLE ON TWO DIFFERENT OCCASIONS. JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER SENTENCED SMITH TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON AT HARD LABOR, WHICH WAS SUSPENDED, AND THREE YEARS PROBATION. YEAGER ALSO ORDERED SMITH TO PAY A $3,000 FINE, $2,000 TO DEQ FOR THE COST OF THE INVESTIGATION AND $1,000 TO THE DA'S OFFICE FOR THE COST OF PROSECUTION. SMITH WAS ALSO ORDERED TO PUBLISH A PUBLIC APOLOGY IN THE TOWN TALK.

ST. TAMMANY PARISH DEPUTIES SAY A PEARL RIVER WOMAN CONCEALED THE BIRTH OF HER BABY FROM HER FAMILY, THEN ABANDONED THE CHILD IN A BACKYARD, AND WENT OFF TO WORK. 35-YEAR-OLD KIMBERLY LEE'S BABY WAS FOUND BY HER TWO OLDER KIDS, WHO CALLED 911. THE INFANT IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION. LEE WILL FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES INCLUDING SECOND DEGREE CRUELTY TO A JUVENILE AND CHILD DESERTION.

A RESPECTED FORMER STATE REPRESENTATIVE FROM LAFAYETTE, ERNIE ALEXANDER, HAS PASSED AWAY, AFTER FIGHTING A LONG BATTLE WITH CANCER. ALEXANDER WAS WELL KNOWN IN THE ACADIANA AREA AND SERVED IN THE LEGISLATURE FROM 2000-2008. HE INHERITED THE HOUSE SEAT WHEN MIKE MICHOT JOINED THE SENATE. MICHOT SAYS ALEXANDER WAS A GREAT LEADER. MOST HOW KNEW HIM WOULD AGREE, A GREAT GUY AS WELL.

A GROUP OF LOUISIANA CIVIL ENGINEERS HAS PUT OUT ITS FIRST-EVER REPORT CARD GRADING THE STATE OF LOUISIANA'S ROADS, BRIDGES, LEVEES, DAMS AND OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE. THE SCORES ARE LOW. THE STATE CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS SPENT 18 MONTHS STUDYING DATA, COVERING NINE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES. LOUISIANA'S ROADS RECEIVED A "D'' AND ITS BRIDGES RECEIVED A "D+." THE HIGHEST GRADE WENT TO DAMS, MOST OF WHICH ARE PRIVATELY-OWNED AND MAINTAINED. THEY RECEIVED A "B-." KAM MOVASSAGHI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PROJECT TEAM AND A FORMER STATE TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY, SAYS THE GROUP ISN'T MAKING FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS, BUT IS ASKING THE GOVERNOR AND LAWMAKERS TO DEVISE A PLANNING PROCESS FOR HOW TO REPAIR AND MAINTAIN THE STATE'S CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE.

A DAY AFTER UNVEILING BIG PLANS FOR CHANGING PUBLIC EDUCATION IN LOUISIANA, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HIT THE ROAD TO PROMOTE THE PLAN. JINDAL VISITED STUDENTS AT A CHARTER SCHOOL IN NEW ORLEANS ON WEDNESDAY. AND HE HELD A NEWS CONFERENCE TO TOUT HIS PROPOSALS, WHICH INCLUDE A PLAN TO MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR TEACHERS TO EARN TENURE; A PLAN TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR INDEPENDENT CHARTER ORGANIZATIONS TO OPEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS; AND A PROPOSAL TO EXPAND A NEW ORLEANS PROGRAM THAT LETS LOW-INCOME FAMILIES USE STATE MONEY FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION IF THEIR CHILDREN ATTEND FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE STATE'S LARGEST TEACHER UNIONS AND OTHER CRITICS SAY THE JINDAL PLANS WILL UNDERMINE TEACHER MORALE AND TAKE NEEDED MONEY AWAY FROM PUBLIC EDUCATION

THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT, WHICH OVERSEES SCHOOLS TAKEN OVER BY THE STATE FOR POOR PERFORMANCE, HAS A NEW SUPERINTENDENT. PATRICK DOBARD'S HIRING TO LEAD THE RSD WAS APPROVED WEDNESDAY BY THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION. HE'LL GET AN ANNUAL PAY PACKAGE OF $246,600, UNDER A FOUR-YEAR CONTRACT THAT TAKES EFFECT IMMEDIATELY. DOBARD, WHO HAD BEEN A TOP RSD DEPUTY, WAS CHOSEN FOR THE JOB BY NEW STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE, WHO HAD LED THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT UNTIL LAST WEEK WHEN HE WAS APPOINTED BY BESE TO BE STATE EDUCATION CHIEF. DOBARD'S APPOINTMENT ALSO WAS BACKED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT OVERSEES 96 SCHOOLS AND MORE THAN 30,000 STUDENTS AROUND THE STATE, MOST OF THEM IN NEW ORLEANS.

NOTICES OF IMPENDING LAYOFFS HAVE GONE OUT TO EMPLOYEES OF SEVEN LSU PUBLIC HOSPITALS AS SYSTEM EXECUTIVES PREPARE TO IMPLEMENT $29 MILLION IN JINDAL ADMINISTRATION BUDGET CUTS. THE NOTICE FROM HOSPITAL SYSTEM CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER ROXANE TOWNSEND SAYS THE LAYOFFS WOULD BE EFFECTIVE MARCH 5. THE NOTICES ARE GENERAL IN NATURE AND DO NOT SPECIFIC HOW MANY JOBS AT EACH FACILITY ARE ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK. HOWEVER, LSU SYSTEM VICE PRESIDENT FRED CERISE SAID "IT'S GOING TO BE IN THE HUNDREDS ACROSS THE SYSTEM."

"RAGIN CAJUNS" IS THE LATEST REALITY T-V SHOW TAPED IN LOUISIANA TO REACH CABLE TELEVISION. THE SHOW THAT FOLLOWS SIX LOUISIANA SHRIMPERMEN DEBUTED TUESDAY NIGHT ON THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL. BUT DO THESE SHOWS GIVE LOUISIANA A BAD IMAGE? LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE DOESN'T THINK SO AND HE BELIEVES THE VIEWING AUDIENCE IS SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW NOT EVERYONE IN LOUISIANA HAS A THICK ACCENT AND WORKS IN THE BAYOU. HE SAYS REALITY SHOW PRODUCERS TARGET LOUISIANA BECAUSE OF THE INTERESTING LIFESTYLES HERE AND THE FILM PRODUCTION TAX CREDITS OFFERED BY THE BAYOU STATE.

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS WILL BE GETTING $55 MILLION IN EMERGENCY FUNDS TO PAY FOR DREDGING THE SILTING MISSISSIPPI RIVER — A SUM THAT WILL HELP THE CORPS MAINTAIN THE RIVER'S CHANNEL TO DEPTHS SHIPS NEED TO SAFELY MOVE UP AND DOWN THE WATERWAY. RACHEL RODI, A CORPS SPOKESWOMAN, SAYS THE MONEY INCREASES THE CORPS' ABILITY TO DREDGE THE RIVER AND "EASES CONCERNS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR." THE CORPS HAD ABOUT $70 MILLION THIS YEAR FOR DREDGING. WITH THE NEW FUNDS, THE CORPS WILL HAVE MORE THAN $120 MILLION, WHICH IS MORE THAN THE CORPS HAS GOTTEN IN YEARS PAST FOR DREDGING.

THE STATE WILL DISMISS CHARGES AGAINST AN ALLEN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER WHO WAS ACCUSED OF STEALING MONEY FROM COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT IF HE AGREES TO RESIGN HIS BOARD SEAT AND REPAY THE CASINO. KEITH WELCH OF OAKDALE WAS TO STAND TRIAL ON FELONY AND MISDEMEANOR THEFT CHARGES TUESDAY. HE PLEADED NOT GUILTY LAST APRIL. KURT WALL OF THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE SAID TUESDAY THAT WELCH ENTERED A PRETRIAL. UNDER THE AGREEMENT, WELCH MUST RESIGN FROM THE SCHOOL BOARD BY APRIL 1. WALL SAID WELCH MUST ALSO PAY THE STATE $2,000, WHICH WILL BE DISBURSED TO THE CASINO TO COVER ITS LOSSES. STATE POLICE SAID WELCH TOOK MONEY FROM SEVERAL MACHINES WHILE EMPLOYED AS A KIOSK DROP TEAM MANAGER.

FORMER LSU FOOTBALL STAR AND SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC DIRECTOR GREG LAFLEUR HAS BEEN ACQUITTED OF SOLICITING PROSTITUTION. LAFLEUR WAS ARRESTED LAST APRIL IN HOUSTON DURING THE FINAL FOUR WEEKEND. LAFLEUR'S ATTORNEY, JED SILVERMAN, SAYS HIS INVESTIGATION UNCOVERED THAT THE HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, TRYING TO MEET A QUOTA, OVER STEPPED THEIR BOUNDS. HE SAYS THIS WAS CLEAR TO THE SIX-MAN JURY. AFTER LAFLEUR'S ARREST, HE WAS TERMINATED BY SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR. SILVERMAN SAYS LAFLEUR'S REPUTATION HAS BEEN DESTROYED AND IT'S UNFORTUNATE SOUTHERN DID NOT PRESUME LAFLEUR'S INNOCENCE WITHOUT CONDUCTING A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION. LAFLEUR HAS FILED A WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST SOUTHERN.





News For Wednesday 01/18/2012


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 011812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA POLICE REPORT ONE OF THEIR OFFICERS SHOT AN ARMED SUSPECT YESTERDAY MORNING. STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE INCIDENT, IN WHICH OFFICERS RESPONDED TO A DISTURBANCE CALL AND FOUND 35-YEAR-OLD ERIC MOORE BRANDISHING A WEAPON. BECAUSE OF MOORE'S ACTIONS, THE OFFICER FIRED HIS WEAPON; HITTING AND WOUNDING MOORE. MOORE'S CONDITION IS SEVERE AT THIS TIME. AS IS NORMAL PROTOCOL, THE OFFICER WAS PLACED ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE DURING THE INVESTIGATION OF THE SHOOTING.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD'S EDUCATION COMMITTEE YESTERDAY PASSED A MOTION APPROVING ATTENDANCE ZONES FOR SCHOOLS THAT WILL BE IMPACTED BY WOODWORTH’S NEW CAROLINE DORMAN JUNIOR HIGH. CAROLINE DORMAN JUNIOR HIGH IS SCHEDULED TO OPEN IN THE FALL IN WOODWORTH. BRAME JUNIOR HIGH IN ALEXANDRIA WILL LOSE 60 STUDENTS TO THE NEW SCHOOL. A TOTAL OF 60 STUDENTS WILL ATTEND DORMAN WHO ARE CURRENTLY IN THE CHEROKEE ELEMENTARY AND HORSESHOE ELEMENTARY ZONES IN ALEXANDRIA. ABOUT FIVE STUDENTS WILL GO TO DORMAN FROM FOREST HILL ELEMENTARY, AND ABOUT THREE SEVENTH- AND EIGHTH-GRADERS WILL GO TO THE WOODWORTH SCHOOL FROM RAPIDES HIGH SCHOOL. THE CHANGES MUST STILL BE APPROVED BY THE FULL BOARD AT ITS NEXT MEETING.

FUNERAL SERVICES ARE BEING HELD TODAY FOR FORMER STATE SENATE PRESIDENT SAMMY NUNEZ, WHO DIED SUNDAY FROM PNEUMONIA. FORMER GOV. EDWIN EDWARDS WILL GIVE THE EULOGY AND ARCHBISHOP GREGORY AYMOND IS CONDUCTING THE FUNERAL SERVICE. NUNEZ, AN EDWARDS ALLY, CHAMPIONED COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN, CREATION OF THE SUPERDOME AND CREATION OF THE STATE REVENUE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE WHICH TELLS LAW MAKERS HOW MUCH MONEY THEY CAN SPEND EACH YEAR. HE SERVED 30 YEARS IN THE LEGISLATURE BEGINNING BACK IN 1964.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL PITCHED AN EDUCATION AGENDA TUESDAY THAT PUTS HIM SQUARELY AT ODDS WITH TEACHER UNIONS AND TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOL LEADERS, PUSHING TO CREATE A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM, TO REVAMP TENURE LAWS AND TO MAKE IT EASIER TO CREATE NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS. THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR HAS MADE OVERHAUL OF LOUISIANA'S ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION SYSTEM THE CENTERPIECE OF HIS PLANS FOR THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT BEGINS IN MARCH. JINDAL SAID THE STATE MUST RESTRUCTURE ITS EDUCATION SYSTEM TO LIFT ITSELF OUT OF POVERTY AND ATTRACT JOBS.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON MET WITH REPORTERS YESTERDAY AFTERNOON TO GIVE A RECAP OF THE 2011 SEASON, AND LOOKED AHEAD TO 2012. PAYTON CONFIRMED THAT GREG WILLIAMS HAS LEFT THE TEAM TO BE THE NEW DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR AT ST. LOUIS. HE SAYS THEY WILL LOOK TO FIND THE RIGHT FIT FOR A NEW DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR FOR THE SAINTS. QUARTERBACK DREW BREES CONTRACT IS NOW UP WITH THE SAINTS, BUT PAYTON SAYS IT'S UNLIKELY BREES WOULDN'T RE-SIGN WITH NEW ORLEANS. PAYTON SAYS THE ENTIRE TEAM DESERVES CREDIT FOR EVERYTHING THEY ACCOMPLISHED THIS SEASON. HE SAYS THEY HOPE TO IMPROVE IN ALL AREAS FOR 2012.

FORMER NEW ROADS MAYOR TOMMY NELSON HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 11 YEARS IN PRISON FOR HIS ROLE IN A BRIBERY CASE THAT RESULTED IN CHARGES AGAINST SEVERAL OTHER LOUISIANA ELECTED OFFICIALS. ON TUESDAY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE BRIAN JACKSON IN BATON ROUGE ORDERED NELSON TO REPORT TO PRISON BY FEB. 20. A JURY CONVICTED NELSON IN JUNE OF RACKETEERING, WIRE FRAUD AND OTHER CHARGES. PROSECUTORS SAID NELSON ACCEPTED MORE THAN $22,000 IN BRIBES FROM UNDERCOVER AGENTS PROMOTING A FICTITIOUS GARBAGE CAN-CLEANING BUSINESS IN EXCHANGE FOR HIS PLEDGE TO HELP THEM SECURE MUNICIPAL BUSINESS. NELSON WAS THE SECOND PUBLIC OFFICIAL CONVICTED OF CHARGES STEMMING FROM THE UNDERCOVER PROBE. JURORS CONVICTED FORMER WHITE CASTLE MAYOR MAURICE BROWN IN MARCH OF LAST YEAR

CRAIG FUGATE, THE HEAD OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, SAYS THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO STOP THINKING IT CAN HANDLE ALL ASPECTS OF A DISASTER AND MAKE SURE THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS INCLUDED IN DISASTER PLANNING AND RESPONSE.
FUGATE MADE HIS COMMENTS TUESDAY AT THE INTERNATIONAL DISASTER CONFERENCE & EXPO, A GATHERING OF DISASTER MANAGERS AND PRIVATE IN NEW ORLEANS. HE TOLD EMERGENCY PLANNERS TO ENGAGE CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN GENERAL TO SEE WHAT THE PRIVATE SECTOR CAN DO TO HELP IN THE WAKE OF A DISASTER.

THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS IS PARTNERING WITH THE MARCH OF DIMES IN EFFORTS THAT WOULD REDUCE THE STATE'S PREMATURITY RATE. GREENSTEIN SAYS WE'RE THE FIRST STATE TO HAVE ALL OF OUR HOSPITALS AGREE TO ELIMINATE THE PRACTICE OF DELIVERING BABIES BEFORE 39 WEEKS WHEN NOT MEDICALLY NECESSARY. GREENSTEIN SAYS THIS INITIATIVE IS NEEDED BECAUSE PREMATURITY INCREASES THE RISK OF INFANT MORTALITY AND CAN ALSO HAVE LONG TERM HEALTH AND BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS ON THE CHILD. HE SAYS LOUISIANA HAS A HISTORY FOR RANKING AMONG THE BOTTOM TWO OR THREE STATES IN THE COUNTRY IN PREMATURITY AND INFANT MORTALITY RATES.

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS WILL RELEASE A REPORT CARD TODAY THAT ASSIGNS GRADES TO NINE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AREAS IN LOUISIANA. ASCE SPOKESPERSON MARK LAMBERT SAYS THE REPORT'S FINDINGS ARE BASED ON STUDIES BY SCIENTISTS ON CRITICAL AREAS TO LOUISIANA SUCH AS SAFETY, MOBILITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS. LAMBERT SAYS THE REPORT IS FACT BASED, NON-BIASED AND NON-POLITICAL. HE SAYS THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY IS TO GIVE OFFICIALS THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO MAKE RESPONSIBLE DECISIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF OUR STATE.

IT SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING FROM THE TV SERIES BONES, CREWS WORKING IN AN ABANDONED EASTERN NEW ORLEANS HOTEL MADE A GRIM DISCOVERY; THE BODY OF A MAN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ELEVATOR SHAFT. THE PARISH CORONER SAYS THERE WERE NO OUTWARD SIGNS OF FOUL PLAY OR TRAUMA TO THE DECOMPOSING REMAINS. THE MAN APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN IN THE SHAFT ABOUT A WEEK. A FULL AUTOPSY HAS BEEN ORDERED.

TESTIMONY BEGAN YESTERDAY IN THE TRIAL OF THE FORMER SHREVEPORT CITY OFFICIAL ACCUSED OF RAPING A YOUNG WOMAN IN THE CITY OFFICES, AFTER THE 2010 INDEPENDENCE BOWL. WITNESSES TALKED ABOUT RICK SEATON'S BEHAVIOR AND COMMENTS MADE ABOUT THE VICTIM BEFORE HE ALLEGEDLY TOOK HER TO GOVERNMENT PLAZA, WHERE THE ALLEGED ASSAULT OCCURRED. A FORENSIC WITNESS TESTIFIED THAT DNA COLLECTED AT THE SCENE MATCHED SEATON AND THE VICTIM.

A VIDEO THAT'S GONE VIRAL ON THE INTERNET AND PURPORTS TO SHOW ALABAMA FANS ABUSING AN UNCONSCIOUS LSU FAN AFTER BEATING THE TIGERS IN THE BCS FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME HAS CAUGHT THE ATTENTION OF LOUISIANA AUTHORITIES. IT ENDS WITH A MAN IN A RED ALABAMA JACKET SIMULATING A SEX ACT ON A MAN WHO IS WEARING AN LSU-PURPLE T-SHIRT AND WHO APPARENTLY HAD PASSED OUT ON A RESTAURANT COUNTER AFTER THE JAN. 9 GAME. ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHRIS BOWMAN SAID THE VIDEO WAS SENT TO POLICE FOR INVESTIGATION. BUT NEW ORLEANS POLICE SAY THEY CANNOT INVESTIGATE UNLESS THE APPARENT VICTIM FILES A COMPLAINT. SO FAR, HE HASN’T.

News For Tuesday 01/17/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 011711
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A NEW COLD FRONT WILL PASS THROUGH LOUISIANA TODAY AND TONIGHT BRINGING SOME MUCH NEEDED RAIN AND SOME COOLER TEMPERATURES. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THERE IS A SMALL CHANCE FOR SOME SEVERE WEATHER IN ISOLATED AREAS OF THE STATE. HE SAYS MOST OF US WILL SEE UP TO AN INCH OF RAIN. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FRONT COOLER TEMPS. BUT, KEIM SAYS WE SHOULDN'T SEE ANY FREEZING CONDITION.

HUNDREDS OF AREA RESIDENTS MARCHED DOWN BOLTON AVENUE AND JACKSON STREET IN DOWNTOWN ALEXANDRIA ON MONDAY TO CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF THE REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND TO KEEP HIS DREAM ALIVE. BUT, THAT FUTURE PARADE ROUTE COULD BE CHANGING IN FUTURE YEARS. YESTERDAY MAYOR JACQUES ROY ANNOUNCED CITY OFFICIALS AND COMMUNITY ADVOCATES ARE WORKING ON AN EXPANDED KING MEMORIAL THAT COULD BE BUILT AT ALEXANDER FULTON PARK MINI PARK. IF AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS, THE MAYOR SUGGESTED, INSTEAD OF THE PARADE ENDING AT THE RIVERFRONT CENTER, IT COULD DETOUR DOWN THIRD STREET TO THE MINI-PARK, WHERE AN OUTDOOR RALLY COULD BE HELD.

HE WOULD HAVE LIKED THIS.. THE LATE FRED BADEN, WHO SERVED AS MAYOR OF PINEVILLE FOR 28 YEARS, WILL BE POSTHUMOUSLY INDUCTED INTO THE LOUISIANA POLITICAL MUSEUM'S HALL OF FAME IN WINNFIELD LATER THIS MONTH. THE INDUCTION BANQUET IS SET FOR 6 P.M. JAN. 28 IN THE WINNFIELD CIVIC CENTER. TICKETS FOR THE INDUCTION CEREMONY AND BANQUET ARE $50 EACH. RESERVATIONS SHOULD BE MADE BY JAN. 20 CALL 318-628-5928 FOR MORE INFO.

MORE PEOPLE ARE LEAVING LOUISIANA THAN ARE MOVING IN. ACCORDING TO AN ANNUAL STUDY BY UNITED VAN LINES---A RESIDENTIAL MOVING COMPANY, IT'S THE FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS LOUISIANA HAS SHOWN MORE PEOPLE GOING THAN COMING. BUT, THE NUMBERS ARE CLOSE. THE STUDY INDICATES THAT LOUISIANA HAD 2,842 SHIPMENTS IN 2011, AND OF THOSE, 1,413 WERE INBOUND WHILE 1,429 WERE OUTBOUND.

THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IS PUTTING TOGETHER A JOB FAIR TO HELP MILITARY VETERANS FIND A JOB. THE JOB FAIR WILL BE HELD JANUARY 26TH AN THE ENGLAND AIRPARK ARMY PROCESSING FACILITY IN ALEXANDRIA. PRESIDENT OF THE CEN-LA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, DEBORAH RANDOLPH, SAYS THE THEY ALREADY HAVE 75 EMPLOYERS FROM ACROSS THE STATE REGISTERED FOR THE JOB FAIR AND OVER TWO-HUNDRED JOB SEEKERS HAVE REGISTERED.. RANDOLPH SAYS MILITARY VETS CAN REGISTER ALL THE WAY UP UNTIL THE DAY OF THE FAIR, WHICH, AGAIN IS JANUARY 26TH. ALSO, EMPLOYERS CAN RECEIVE TAX CREDITS WHEN THEY HIRE A VET.

PENNY DASTUGUE THE PRESIDENT OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION. SAID MONDAY SHE IS “FAIRLY CONFIDENT” THAT KEY LAWMAKERS WILL APPROVE A $275,000 ANNUAL SALARY THIS WEEK FOR NEW STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE. THE BESE BOARD LAST WEEK VOTED OVERWHELMINGLY TO HIRE WHITE AND GIVE HIM A $275,000 PER YEAR CONTRACT, INCLUDING 6 PERCENT ANNUAL PAY INCREASES IF HE WINS FAVORABLE EVALUATIONS FROM BESE. HOWEVER, THE PAY PLAN HAS TO BE REVIEWED BY THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON THE BUDGET, WHICH PLANS TO DO SO THIS FRIDAY. FORMER STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION PAUL PASTOREK’S PAY PACKAGE, WHICH TOTALED $377,000 PER YEAR, TRIGGERED FREQUENT CONTROVERSY ON THE COMMITTEE AND AMONG OTHER LAWMAKERS.

TAX FILING SEASON IS UNDERWAY, AS THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS WILL BEGIN ACCEPTING YOUR 2011 PERSONAL INCOME TAX RETURNS TODAY. IRS SPOKESPERSON DIANE FOX SAYS THEY'RE URGING FILERS TO SAVE TIME & MONEY BY USING THEIR NEW "FREE FILE" FEATURE. FOX SAYS THE SOFTWARE IS FREE AND AVAILABLE TO QUALIFYING TAXPAYERS , FILING SINGLE OR JOINTLY. SHE SAYS IT'S VERY COMPARABLE TO COMMERCIAL TAX PROGRAMS LIKE TURBOTAX AND TAXBREAK. INFO IS AVAILABLE AT "IRS.GOV"

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE IS URGING RESIDENTS TO FILE STATE TAXES ELECTRONICALLY THIS YEAR. DEPT. OF REVENUE SPOKESMAN BYRON HENDERSON SAYS E-FILED RETURNS TAKE ABOUT 10 DAYS TO PROCESS, AS OPPOSED TO 12 WEEKS OR MORE FOR A PAPER TAX RETURN. THE BIGGEST CHANGE FOR STATE TAXES IS THE USE OF DEBIT CARDS LOADED WITH YOUR STATE TAX REFUND. HENDERSON SAYS THE STATE IS NO LONGER PRINTING & MAILING REFUND CHECKS, AND WILL INSTEAD SEND REFUND ON PRE-LOADED DEBIT CARDS. FILERS CAN GET A DIRECT DEPOSITED REFUND, BUT THEY MUST BE SURE TO REQUEST IT.

THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL PREMIERES A NEW SHOW TONIGHT CALLED "RAGIN CAJUNS" --- FEATURING THE DIFFICULT LIFE OF A LOUISIANA SHRIMPER. ACY COOPER IS ONE OF THE SIX VENICE, LA SHRIMPERS IN THE CAST. HE SAYS HE SAW THE REALITY SERIES AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THE PUBLIC HOW SAFE LOUISIANA SEAFOOD IS, AND HOW MUCH ADVERSITY THE SHRIMPERS HAVE HAD TO FACE HERE. HE SAYS THE SHOW IS NOT COMPARABLE TO SWAMP PEOPLE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WILL HOST A 5-THOUSAND DOLLARS A TICKET FUNDRAISER TONIGHT IN NEW ORLEANS TO HELP PLAQUEMINES PARISH PRESIDENT BILLY NUNGESSER RETIRE A MILLION DOLLARS IN PERSONAL DEBT LEFT OVER FROM HIS RUN FOR LT GOVERNOR. JINDAL REMAINED NEUTRAL IN LAST YEARS LT. GOVERNOR'S RACE WHICH WAS WON BY JAY DARDENNE BUT WAS QUICK TO RESPOND WHEN NUNGESSER ASKED FOR HELP. JINDAL CALLS NUNGESSER A FRIEND WHO WORKED TIRELESSLY DURING THE BP OIL SPILL TO HELP THE PEOPLE OF PLAQUEMINES PARISH.

JEFFERSON PARISH DEPUTIES ARE INVESTIGATING AN APPARENT MURDER SUICIDE. EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING A FEMALE CALLED THE 911 CENTER TO REPORT SHE HAD SHOT HER HUSBAND. WHEN OFFICERS ARRIVED AT THE METAIRIE HOME THEY FOUND A MAN DEAD IN ONE BATHROOM, AND A WOMAN DEAD IN ANOTHER--A HANDGUN BY HER SIDE. THEY'VE BEEN IDENTIFIED AT 61-YEAR-OLD ALBERT SPRINGER AND HIS WIFE, 61-YEAR-OLD PENELOPE SPRINGER. THEY BELIEVE MRS. SPRINGER KILLED HERSELF SHORTLY AFTER SHE CALLING AUTHORITIES.

HELL HATH NO FURY.. A MONROE WOMAN IS JAILED, AFTER GETTING INTO A FIGHT WITH HER BOYFRIEND THEN ALLEGEDLY SETTING HIS HOUSE ON FIRE. 26-YEAR-OLD TIFFANY BISHOP REPORTEDLY TOLD DEPUTIES SHE LIT ALL THE BURNERS ON THE STOVE AND TOSSED BLANKETS AND PILLOWS ON IT. SHE'S CHARGED WITH ARSON AND RESISTING AN OFFICER.

KELLOGG'S HAS AGREED TO USE TWO NEW LOUISIANA-PRODUCED RICE VARIETIES IN THEIR CEREALS--GREAT NEWS FOR RICE PRODUCERS. LSU AGCENTER - CROWLEY RICE RESEARCH STATION DIRECTOR STEVE LINSCOMB SAYS KELLOGG'S DECISION TO USE THESE VARIETIES SHOULD MEAN MORE LOUISIANA RICE SOLD ON THE WORLD MARKET

OFFICIALS SAY TWO MEN WERE SHOT IN THE PARKING LOT OF AN APPLEBEE'S IN ATLANTA, OVER THE SAINTS GAME. POLICE CHARGED 31-OLD DONALD AYRON WITH ASSAULT FOR SHOOTING TWO MEN. THE VICTIMS SAY AYRON, A SAINTS FAN, TOOK OFFENSE THAT OTHERS WERE ROOTING FOR THE 49ERS, AND OPENED FIRE.

AN INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED "DOCTOR SHOPPING" BY STATE POLICE DETECTIVES HAS LED TO SEVERAL ARRESTS ACROSS THE STATE. SUSPECTS IN SLIDELL, BREAUX BRIDGE, HOUMA, NEW ORLEANS, LAPLACE, ST. MARTINVILLE AND LAFAYETTE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINING MULTIPLE PRESCRIPTIONS FOR VARIOUS PAIN MEDICATIONS, BY VISITING A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT DOCTORS OFFICES.

LOUISIANA AUTHORITIES SAY MAN WAS KILLED WHEN HE WRECKED A DUNE BUGGY IN A PARKING LOT, BUT A 9-YEAR-OLD PASSENGER SURVIVED. BATON ROUGE POLICE SAY THE MAN DIED MONDAY WHEN THE BUGGY APPARENTLY SLID IN LOOSE GRAVEL AND FLIPPED.
AUTHORITIES SAY THE BOY ON THE DUNE BUGGY WAS WEARING A SEAT BELT AND SURVIVED. IT WASN'T CLEAR IF THE CHILD WAS HURT. THE UNIDENTIFIED MAN, DESCRIBED AS ABOUT 38 TO 40 YEARS OLD, WAS NOT RESTRAINED AND DIED AT THE SCENE.

AUTHORITIES SAY A 60-YEAR-OLD MAN SHOT HIS DAUGHTER'S BOYFRIEND WITH A SHOTGUN DURING A FIGHT OVER MISSING MARIJUANA. THE BOYFRIEND HAD SEVERAL PELLETS LODGED IN HIS HEART. THEY WERE REMOVED. HE IS EXPECTED TO MAKE A FULL RECOVERY.
TERREBONNE PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY DWIGHT LANDRY ACCUSED THE 26-YEAR-OLD OF TAKING THE DRUGS. AS THE VICTIM WALKED AWAY FROM LANDRY'S HOUSE, LANDRY ALLEGEDLY SHOT HIM. POLICE SAY LANDRY ADMITTED TO SHOOTING THE MAN, BUT CLAIMED IT WAS BECAUSE HE PUNCHED HIS WIFE. THE VICTIM DENIED THAT. LANDRY IS CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED SECOND-DEGREE BATTERY.




News For Monday 01/16/2012


NEWS FOR MONDAY 011612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THE CURRENT FLU SEASON HAS BEEN MILD. DR. FRANK WELCH IS THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HOSPITALS INFLUENZA EXPERT. HE SAYS THERE HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN RELATIVELY FEW REPORTED FLU CASES ACROSS THE STATE SO FAR. WELCH SAYS THE ONE PREDICTABLE THING ABOUT FLU IS THAT IT'S UNPREDICTABLE AND THE FLU SEASON IS FAR FROM OVER.

STATE OFFICES IN LOUISIANA ARE CLOSED ON MONDAY IN OBSERVANCE OF THE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY HOLIDAY. FEDERAL OFFICES, LOCAL SCHOOLS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS ALSO WILL BE CLOSED FOR THE DAY, THOUGH MANY BUSINESSES WILL BE OPEN. U.S. FINANCIAL MARKETS AND MANY BANKS ALSO WILL BE CLOSED.

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY IS AN OFF TODAY FOR MANY LOUISIANA RESIDENTS, BUT STATE OFFICIALS ARE URGING CITIZENS TO GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY IN HONOR OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF VOLUNTEER LOUISIANA, JANET PACE, SAYS A LIST OF PROJECTS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH, CAN BE FOUND AT VOLUNTEER LOUISIANA-DOT-GOV. PACE SAYS THERE ARE MANY SERVICE PROJECTS THAT ARE TAKING PLACE TODAY AND OTHERS THAT ARE YEAR ROUND.

FORMER LOUISIANA SENATE PRESIDENT SAMMY NUNEZ, A CHAMPION OF VARIOUS CAUSES AND AN ALLY OF EDWIN EDWARDS WHO SERVED IN THE LEGISLATURE FROM 1964 UNTIL HE WAS SWEPT OUT OF OFFICE IN AN ANTI-INCUMBENT WAVE THREE DECADES LATER, HAS DIED. HE WAS 81. HIS WIFE, CYNTHIA NUNEZ, SAID NUNEZ HAD PARKINSON'S DISEASE AND WAS HOSPITALIZED MORE THAN A MONTH AGO WITH PNEUMONIA. HE DIED SUNDAY OF COMPLICATIONS

STATE ELECTION OFFICIALS WANT TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR VOTERS TO REQUEST ABSENTEE BALLOTS. A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD ALLOW ELECTRONIC APPLICATIONS VIA THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S WEBSITE IS HEADED TO THE 2012 LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE FOR APPROVAL. THE IDEA IS INCLUDED IN A PROPOSED OMNIBUS BILL THAT SEEKS MORE THAN THREE DOZEN CHANGES TO THE STATE LAWS GOVERNING ELECTIONS DEALING WITH SUCH THINGS AS A NEW DATE OF A MAJOR ELECTION, DEAD VOTER ELECTION CHALLENGES, TIMING OF SPECIAL MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS AND SHORTENING OF BALLOT PROPOSITION LANGUAGE.

TWO PEOPLE DIED IN IBERVILLE PARISH EARLY SUNDAY WHEN THEIR UTILITY TERRAIN VEHICLE VEERED INTO A DITCH AND CRASHED INTO AN EMBANKMENT. THE DRIVER OF THE VEHICLE, MATTHEW VERRET SURVIVED THE CRASH, BUT IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION. THE TWO PASSENGERS, 18 YEAR OLD BROOKLYN LANDRY, AND 27 YEAR OLD BRENDAN LANDRY DIED FROM THEIR INJURIES. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED AT 3AM ON SUNDAY. TROOPERS DO NOT SUSPECT VERRET WAS IMPAIRED.

A NEW IBERIA MOTORCYCLIST DIED SATURDAY WHEN AN ALLEGED DRUNKEN DRIVER RAN A STOP SIGN AND HIT HIM. STATE POLICE ARRESTED TINA TAYLOR, 43, OF CHURCH POINT, ON A COUNT OF VEHICULAR HOMICIDE IN THE DEATH OF 35-YEAR-OLD TONY GUERRERO.


THERE HAVE BEEN STARTUP PROBLEMS IN THE FIRST PHASE OF A PRIVATIZED "BAYOU HEALTH" CARE SYSTEM FOR LOUISIANA'S POOR AND UNINSURED. ONLY ABOUT 12 PERCENT OF ELIGIBLE MEDICAID RECIPIENTS IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA HAVE ENROLLED WITH ONE OF FIVE PRIVATE HEALTH PLANS SCHEDULED TO TAKE OVER THEIR CARE IN FEBRUARY.
BEGINNING MONDAY, THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION WILL START ASSIGNING THE REMAINING QUARTER-MILLION UNSIGNED PARTICIPANTS TO ONE OF THE COMPANIES. DOCTORS, HOSPITALS AND OTHER HEALTH-CARE PROVIDERS HAVE RAISED SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NEW PROGRAM THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS HAS HELD DAILY CONFERENCE CALLS WITH THEM. CALLERS COMPLAIN OF LONG WAIT TIMES WHEN PHONING FOR INFORMATION

HEALTH OFFICIALS AND NONPROFIT GROUPS HAVE SETTLED A LAWSUIT OVER THE LONG-TERM PERSONAL CARE SERVICES PART OF LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID PROGRAM. THE ADVOCACY CENTER AND AARP FOUNDATION LITIGATION CONTENDED THAT A 32-HOUR LIMIT ON IN-HOME PERSONAL CARE WOULD FORCE SOME PEOPLE INTO NURSING HOMES. THEY SAID THAT VIOLATED THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT. IN A NEWS RELEASE, THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT SAYS PEOPLE WHO WERE GETTING MORE THAN 32 HOURS OF CARE WHEN THE CAP WAS ADOPTED IN SEPTEMBER 2010, AND NOW ARE APPROVED FOR FEWER HOURS, CAN GET SPED-UP ACCESS TO A WAIVER PROGRAM. SLOTS WILL GO TO PEOPLE WHO CAN SHOW THEY NEED MORE IN-HOME CARE TO STAY OUT OF A NURSING HOME.

MARCUS HUNTER HAS BEEN CLEARED BY ATTORNEY BUDDY CALDWELL TO SERVE IN THE LOUISIANA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. CALDWELL ISSUED AN OPINION LAST WEEK, SAYING HIS INVESTIGATION SHOWED HUNTER MET RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS. HUNTER, A MONROE DEMOCRAT, NARROWLY WON ELECTION IN NOVEMBER. CALDWELL SAID HIS INVESTIGATORS MADE TWO UNANNOUNCED VISITS TO HUNTER'S RESIDENCE IN MONROE AND FOUND HUNTER WAS LIVING THERE. IT WAS THE SECOND TIME A CHALLENGE TO HUNTER'S RESIDENCY HAS FAILED. THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE HAD FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST HUNTER ON BEHALF OF A COMPLAINANT AFTER HUNTER QUALIFIED TO RUN FOR THE OFFICE. A STATE DISTRICT JUDGE DISMISSED THE CASE IN SEPTEMBER, SAYING THE COMPLAINANT WASN'T A REGISTERED VOTER.

A LONG ANTICIPATED PLANT THAT WILL PRODUCE DOOR PARTS IS BACK ON TRACK FOR WINN PARISH. JELD-WEN INC. ANNOUNCED FRIDAY THAT THE PLANT BETWEEN WINNFIELD AND JONESBORO WILL OPEN BY THE END OF 2012. THE $120 MILLION FACILITY WILL EMPLOY 75 PEOPLE AN ANNUAL PAYROLL EXCEEDING $2.5 MILLION. THE PROJECT IS EXPECTED TO GENERATE AN ADDITIONAL 117 INDIRECT JOBS. THE PLANS FOR THE PROJECT WERE ORIGINALLY ANNOUNCED IN 2006, BUT IT WAS PUT ON HOLD IN 2007 DUE TO ECONOMIC CONDITIONS, PARTICULARLY IN THE HOUSING MARKET.

NEW RULES ARE IN EFFECT FOR THE MULTISTATE POWERBALL GAME. LOUISIANA LOTTERY SPOKESPERSON KIM CHOPIN SAYS THE STARTING JACKPOT FOR THE POWERBALL GAME HAS DOUBLED FROM 20-MILLION TO 40-MILLION DOLLARS. ON THE DOWN SIDE, THE COST OF A TICKET HAS AS WELL, GOING FROM $1 TO $2 DOLLARS. NOBODY WON THE TOP PRIZE OVER THE WEEKEND, SO WEDNESDAY'S ESTIMATED JACKPOTS RISE TO $80 MILLION FOR THE MULTI-STATE POWERBALL DRAWING.


NEW DATA FROM BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INSURANCE COMMISSIONERS SHOWS THAT HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE PREMIUMS IN LOUISIANA REMAIN AMONG THE NATION'S HIGHEST, BUT ARE RISING MUCH MORE SLOWLY THAN THEY DID IN THE FIRST TWO YEARS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA. LOUISIANA REMAINS THE THIRD-MOST EXPENSIVE MARKET IN THE NATION FOR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE, BEHIND TEXAS AND FLORIDA.

THE ST. CHARLES PARISH'S EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER SAYS THERE WASN'T ANY CONNECTION BETWEEN AN OIL FIRE ON THE GROUNDS OF THE WATERFORD 1 AND 2 POWER PLANTS AND A POWER FAILURE THAT AFFECTED HUNDREDS OF HAHNVILLE HOMES AND BUSINESSES. NO ONE WAS HURT IN THE FIRE, WHICH WAS REPORTED ABOUT 8:30 SUNDAY MORNING. POWER WAS RESTORED TO THE AREA ABOUT AN HOUR LATER. ENTERGY SPOKESMAN CARL RHODE SAYS WATERFORD 1 AND 2 ARE POWERED BY FOSSIL FUEL, AND THE FIRE DID NOT AFFECT THE ADJACENT WATERFORD 3 NUCLEAR POWER PLANT.

WITH A LITTLE OVER TWO WEEKS TO GO, LAFAYETTE AND LOUISVILLE ARE NECK AND NECK IN SOUTHERN LIVING'S TASTIEST TOWNS IN THE SOUTH COMPETITION. SENIOR EDITOR PAULA DISBROWE SAYS VOTERS WILL DETERMINE WHICH OF THE 10 TOWNS WILL BE SELECTED AS THE TASTIEST IN THE SOUTH. SHE SAYS THE VOTING ENDS AT ON JANUARY 31ST AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN APRIL'S EDITION OF SOUTHERN LIVING. SO FAR, NEW ORLEANS IS AT A DISTANT THIRD PLACE FOLLOWED BY CHARLESTON IN FOURTH.

A LOUISIANA COMPANY THAT BILLS ITSELF AS THE WORLD'S LARGEST WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTOR OF SWIMMING POOL PRODUCTS IS BECOMING AN OLYMPIC-SIZE TARGET FOR PLAINTIFFS' LAWYERS FILING ANTITRUST LAWSUITS. IN NOVEMBER, POOL CORP. SETTLED CLAIMS BY THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION THAT THE COVINGTON-BASED COMPANY USED ITS "MONOPOLY POWER" TO ELIMINATE WOULD-BE RIVALS BY PRESSURING MANUFACTURERS NOT TO SELL THEIR PRODUCTS TO OTHER DISTRIBUTORS. THE SETTLEMENT, WHICH GOT FINAL FTC APPROVAL ON FRIDAY, HAS SPAWNED A BATCH OF LAWSUITS IN LOUISIANA, CALIFORNIA AND FLORIDA OVER ALLEGATIONS THE COMPANY'S TACTICS DROVE UP PRICES, STIFLED COMPETITION AND LIMITED CONSUMERS' CHOICES.
POOL CORP. DIDN'T PAY ANY MONEY OR ADMIT ANY WRONGDOING IN RESOLVING THE FTC'S COMPLAINT, BUT THAT HASN'T DETERRED PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEYS FROM PURSUING CLASS-ACTION CLAIMS AGAINST THE COMPANY AND TWO OF ITS SUBSIDIARIES.




News For Friday 01/13/2012


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 011312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A NEW SURVEY BY EDUCATION WEEK MAGAZINE GAVE LOUISIANA SCHOOL'S AN OVERALL GRADE OF C AT 77.2. THAT'S SLIGHTLY ABOVE THE NATIONAL AVERAGE AND RANKS THE STATE 23RD IN THE NATION. BUT LOUISIANA STILL RECEIVED AN F FOR STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN GRADES K-12. BESE BOARD PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE SAYS THE STATE IS TAKING STEPS TO RAISE STANDARDS AND IMPLEMENT PROGRAMS THEY KNOW SHOW IMPROVEMENT IN STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. SHE SAYS THE CURRENT SYSTEM HAS SHOWN SOME IMPROVEMENT BUT ITS BEEN TOO SLOW AND TOO INCONSISTENT.

A BLOODY STRETCH OF SHOOTINGS IN NEW ORLEANS GOT DEADLIER THURSDAY MORNING WHEN NINE PEOPLE WERE SHOT AND FOUR KILLED. POLICE SAY THREE SUSPECTS BURST INTO A HOME ABOUT 9 A.M. IN EASTERN NEW ORLEANS WITH GUNS BLAZING, SHOOTING FIVE PEOPLE, TWO OF WHOM WERE KILLED. THE THREE SURVIVORS WERE TRANSPORTED TO A HOSPITAL, WHERE ONE MAN LATER DIED. THE SHOOTINGS FOLLOW FOUR SEPARATE SHOOTINGS ON WEDNESDAY IN WHICH EIGHT PEOPLE WERE SHOT, INCLUDING A 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL.

STATE POLICE SAY A 59-YEAR-OLD VILLE PLATTE MAN DIED IN A HEAD-ON COLLISION WITH A TANK TRUCK. THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON ON HIGHWAY 104 WEST OF MAMOU IN EVANGELINE PARISH. TROOPERS SAY DWAIN LAFLEUR WAS EASTBOUND WHEN HIS CAR CROSSED THE CENTER LINE AND STRUCK A PROPANE TRANSPORT TRUCK DRIVEN BY 70-YEAR-OLD JERRY HEBERT, ALSO OF VILLE PLATTE. LAFLEUR WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. HEBERT SUSTAINED MINOR INJURIES IN THE CRASH AND WAS TREATED AT THE SCENE. THE CRASH REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

STATE GOVERNMENT HAS REVEALED THE $50-BILLION, 50-YEAR MASTER PLAN FOR SAVING AND RESTORING LOUISIANA'S COAST. THE PLAN FEATURES A SERIES OF LEVEES, DIVERSIONS, BARRIER ISLAND RESTORATIONS AND CREATION OF NEW MARSH. COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION DIRECTOR GARRETT GRAVES SAYS THIS PLAN DIFFERS FROM PREVIOUS PLANS, BECAUSE A NUMBER OF SO-CALLED "REAL LIFE" FACTORS WERE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT, LIKE SOIL CONSISTENCY, WATER FLOW RATES AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS ON THE AREAS AFFECTED. THE ENTIRE PLAN IS NOW ONLINE AT "COASTALMASTERPLAN.LOUISIANA.GOV".

GOVERNOR JINDAL ADDRESSES THOSE WHO OPPOSED HIS CHOICE OF JOHN WHITE TO BE THE NEW EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT. LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS PRESIDENT JOYCE HAYNES SAID THAT BESE WAS "BOUGHT AND PAID FOR" BY THE GOVERNOR, FOR SUPPORTING WHITE. MR. JINDAL SAYS HAYNES REPRESENTS TEACHERS' INTERESTS, NOT WHAT'S BEST FOR STUDENTS. JINDAL SAYS WHITE HAS THE QUALIFICATIONS, TALENT AND PROVEN SUCCESS TO HEAD THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. HE SAYS LOUISIANA EDUCATION NEEDS REFORMS, YET THERE ARE MANY WHO RESIST CHANGE AT ANY COST. WHITE WAS APPROVED BY BESE BY A 9-1 VOTE

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES HAVE FOUND THE BODY OF A MISSING BATON ROUGE WOMAN ON THE BOGUE CHITTO RIVER. AGENTS SAY 61-YEAR-OLD KATHY HOLLOWAY WAS FOUND THIS MORNING NOT FAR FROM WHERE THEY FOUND HER CAPSIZED VESSEL LAST MONTH. THE SEARCH FOR HER HUSBAND, WILLIAM, CONTINUES.

A LIVINGSTON PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTY HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND FIRED AFTER ALLEGEDLY ENGAGING IN INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH AN TEENAGE GIRL. 37-YEAR OLD JEREMY BRISTER WAS CHARGED WITH ONE COUNT OF MOLESTATION AND THREE COUNTS OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH A JUVENILE. HE'S BEING HELD IN THE LIVINGSTON PARISH DETENTION CENTER ON $125,000 BOND.

ALSO IN LIVINGSTON PARISH, AUTHORITIES SAY FIVE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR
BREAKING INTO THE PARISH DETENTION CENTER. THE FIVE CUT A FENCE AT THE JAIL AND ENTERED DRUGS, CELL PHONES AND OTHER CONTRABAND TO INMATES AT THE JAIL. ALL FIVE ARE BEING HELD ON $1 MILLION BOND AND MORE ARRESTS ARE EXPECTED.

A HOUSTON-BASED COMPANY THAT PROVIDES CORROSION PROTECTION SERVICES FOR THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY IS PLANNING TO OPEN A NEW PLANT IN SCOTT. HOUSTON PLATING AND COATINGS LLC SAYS IT WILL HIRE 120 PEOPLE OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS TO WORK AT THE NEW $9 MILLION LAFAYETTE-AREA FACILITY. THE COMPANY'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL ANNOUNCED THE PLANS THURSDAY, SAYING THE JOBS WOULD HAVE ANNUAL AVERAGE SALARIES OF $35,000 PLUS BENEFITS.


THE LSU HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER DISCOVERS THAT THE RECENTLY BANNED SO-CALLED "BATH SALTS" COULD EAT YOUR FLESH. THE STUDY WAS LED BY DR. RUSSELL RUSSO WHO SAYS THEY TREATED A 34-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WHO ADMITTED TO INJECTING THE DRUG INTO THE MUSCLE OF HER ARM. HE SAYS THE WOMAN DEVELOPED A FLESH EATING BACTERIA AND ENDED UP HAVE HER ARM, SHOULDER, AND ONE BREAST REMOVED.

FEDERAL AGENTS HAVE ARRESTED 14 PEOPLE AND SEIZED MORE THAN $200,000 WORTH OF COCAINE AND CASH AS A RESULT OF AN 18-MONTH UNDERCOVER DRUG INVESTIGATION IN SHREVEPORT.




 

News For Thursday 01/12/2012


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 011212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TWO MEN HAVE BEEN FOUND DEAD INSIDE A BURNING HOUSE IN OPELOUSAS, THE VICTIMS OF A DOUBLE SHOOTING. POLICE CHIEF PERRY GALLOW SAID THE BODIES HAD BEEN SOAKED IN ACCELERANT AND SET ABLAZE IN AN APPARENT ATTEMPT TO COVER UP THE SLAYINGS. GALLOW SAID BOTH HAD BEEN SHOT. FIREFIGHTERS DISCOVERED THE BODIES TUESDAY NIGHT WHILE FIGHTING A HOUSE FIRE. GALLOW SAID AUTOPSY RESULTS ARE PENDING. THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL IS ASSISTING IN THE INVESTIGATION.

THE SABINE PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE HAS CHARGED 46 YEAR OLD CHARLES FORD WITH CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, THAT AFTER THE LAST 13 IN WHAT WERE DOZENS OF MALNOURISHED RACEHORSES WERE SEIZED BY COURT ORDER. AUTHORITIES BELIEVE AS MANY AS 25 HORSES MAY HAVE DIED AS A RESULT OF THE NEGLECT. IN ADDITION TO THE HORSES, DOGS, GOATS AND HOGS ARE BEING SEIZED THIS WEEK. THE RESCUE EFFORT OVERWHELMED THE LOCAL HUMANE SOCIETY. BUT, DONATIONS HAVE BEEN POURING IN. SOME FROM AS FAR AWAY AS RHODE ISLAND. CHARLES FORD IS FREE ON $2,500 BOND.

THE PACE OF HOME FORECLOSURES IN LOUISIANA SLOWED A BIT IN 2011, FOLLOWING A NATIONAL TREND THAT SOON MAY BE REVERSED. THAT'S ACCORDING TO IRVINE, CALIF.-BASED REALTYTRAC, WHICH TRACKS FORECLOSURES NATIONWIDE. REALTYTRAC SAYS THAT, IN 2011, 15,521 HOMES IN LOUISIANA WERE HIT BY SOME SORT OF FORECLOSURE ACTION. THOSE RANGE FROM AN INITIAL NOTICE OF DEFAULT TO REPOSSESSION BY A LENDER. THE STATE RANKED 29TH IN THE COUNTRY AS THE FORECLOSURE ACTIONS FELL 1.5 PERCENT FROM 2010. HOWEVER, ACTIONS ROSE BY 32 PERCENT FROM 2009.
REALTYTRAC SAYS THE FORECLOSURES ARE LIKELY TO PICK UP IN 2012 AS LEGAL SNARLS WITH PAPERWORK THAT DELAYED MANY FORECLOSURES ARE WORKED OUT.

THE STATE HOUSE AND SENATE RELEASE THEIR LISTS OF WHO WILL LEAD IMPORTANT COMMITTEES IN THE NEXT LEGISLATIVE SESSION. JONESBORO DEMOCRAT JIM FANNIN WILL RETURN AS CHAIR OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, WHERE THE ANNUAL STATE BUDGET IS CRAFTED. BATON ROUGE REPUBLICAN STEVE CARTER WILL HEAD EDUCATION. LAFAYETTE INDEPENDENT JOEL ROBIDEAUX, THE MAN WHO CHALLENGED KLECKLEY FOR SPEAKER--THEN STEPPED ASIDE, HAS BEEN GIVEN WAYS & MEANS. IN THE SENATE, MANDEVILLE'S JACK DONAHUE WILL HEAD THE FINANCE COMMITTEE. METAIRIE'S CONRAD APPEL WILL CHAIR EDUCATION. BOGALUSA'S BEN NEVERS WILL MOVE TO A JUDICIARY COMMITTEE. A.G. CROWE OF SLIDELL WILL HEAD LABOR.

LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC EDUCATION BOARD OVERWHELMING AGREED WEDNESDAY TO HIRE A STATE EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT, DESPITE BLISTERING CRITICISM THAT GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAD TOO HEAVY A ROLE IN THE CHOICE OF RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT LEADER JOHN WHITE, WHO THEY SAID DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH EXPERIENCE FOR THE JOB. THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION VOTED 9-1 FOR WHITE, WHO JINDAL HAS HEAVILY PUSHED FOR THE JOB SINCE MAY. THE VOTE CAME ONLY TWO DAYS AFTER THE BOARD'S NEW TERM BEGAN, WHEN SEVERAL MEMBERS WHO HAD OPPOSED HIRING WHITE WERE REPLACED BY JINDAL SUPPORTERS.

A LOUISIANA TEACHERS UNION IS ANGERED BY THE FAST-TRACKING OF JOHN WHITE TO BE THE STATE'S NEW EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT. LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS PRESIDENT JOYCE HAYNES SAYS THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION WAIVED ITS OWN RULES TO PLEASE GOVERNOR JINDAL, WHO WANTED WHITE TO HEAD THE DEPT. OF EDUCATION. MR. JINDAL SUPPORTED BESE CANDIDATES WHO AGREE WITH HIS PLANS FOR EDUCATION REFORMS--IN SOME CASES, WITH CAMPAIGN CASH. HAYNES FEELS MANY QUALIFIED EDUCATORS AND ADMINISTRATORS WERE DISRESPECTED WHEN BESE DECLINED TO EVEN TAKE APPLICATIONS FOR THE TOP JOB.

THE NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION HAS TAPPED A NEW ORLEANS NATIVE TO OVERSEE A STATE AGENCY THAT RUNS MOST OF NEW ORLEANS' PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
PATRICK DOBARD IS A FORMER TEACHER AND STATE EDUCATION OFFICIAL. HE JOINED THE STATE'S RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT AS A DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT LAST MAY.

THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAFAYETTE IS CUTTING $3.3 MILLION FROM ITS 2011-12 BUDGET BECAUSE OF PROJECTED STATE SHORTFALLS. THE STATE, LAST MONTH, ANNOUNCED AN ADDITIONAL $50 MILLION CUT IN HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING. PRESIDENT JOSEPH SAVOIE SAYS THIS IS THE FOURTH CONSECUTIVE FISCAL YEAR THE SCHOOL HAS BEEN FORCED TO CUT ITS BUDGET. HE SAYS THE CUTS WILL FALL INTO THREE MAIN AREAS: CENTERS, ACQUISITIONS AND ATHLETICS. SAVOIE SAYS THERE ARE NO PLANS FOR CUTTING FACULTY, REDUCING CLASS OFFERINGS OR ACADEMIC SUPPORT.

A YOUTH MINISTER AT A MORGAN CITY CHURCH IS UNDER ARREST FOR INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH JUVENILES. A KENNER CITY POLICE UNDERCOVER ONLINE STING ALLEGEDLY CAUGHT 33-YEAR-OLD MITCHELL ROUSE ENGAGED IN ILLICIT CHAT WITH AN OFFICER POSING AS A TEEN. ROUSE REPORTEDLY EXPOSED HIMSELF TO HIS WEBCAM. KENNER POLICE SPOKESMAN LT. WAYNE MCINNIS SAYS ROUSE IS CHARGED WITH THREE COUNTS OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH A JUVENILE AND ONE COUNT OF COMPUTER SOLICITATION OF A JUVENILE. MCINNIS SAYS THE COMMUNICATIONS WERE TRACED BACK TO A COMPUTER IN ROUSE'S OFFICE AT THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH IN MORGAN CITY.

STATE POLICE REPORT ONE PERSON DEAD IN A CRASH ON US 84 NEAR COUSHATTA IN RED RIVER PARISH. THEY SAY AN SUV CROSSED THE CENTER LINE AND HIT A BIG RIG HEAD-ON. THE DRIVER WAS KILLED INSTANTLY; THE TRUCK DRIVER WAS NOT INJURED.

LAKE CHARLES POLICE ARREST A DOUBLE HOMICIDE SUSPECT WHO WAS DISGUISED AS A WOMAN IN THE HOPES OF ELUDING CAPTURE. DEPUTY CHIEF OF POLICE MARK KRAUSE SAYS THEY BELIEVE MARK THIBODAUX KILLED TWO WOMEN LAST WEEK. THEY CAUGHT HIM WHILE CONDUCTING A TRAFFIC STOP, AND FOUND HIM DRESSED AS A WOMAN. A DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE WAS AT THE ROOT OF THIBODAUX'S ALLEGED MURDERS.

STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY SAYS LOUISIANA NEEDS TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT FUNDING I-49 SOUTH AND TOLLS SHOULD BE AN OPTION. KENNEDY SAYS BY 2030, HIGHWAY 90 WILL NO LONGER BE A SUITABLE ROAD TO TRAVEL FROM NEW ORLEANS TO LAFAYETTE. HE SAYS THE STATE SHOULD EXAMINE UPGRADING THAT STRETCH OF ROADWAY INTO AN INTERSTATE. KENNEDY SAYS EXTENDING I-49, SO IT CONNECTS LAFAYETTE TO NEW ORLEANS WOULD COST FIVE-POINT-TWO BILLION DOLLARS. HE SAYS THE FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T HAVE THAT KIND OF MONEY, SO TOLLS ARE AN OPTION. HE SUGGESTS A VOTE TO SEE IF THERE'S PUBLIC SUPPORT.

ONLY A PETROLEUM INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVE SHOWED UP AT A PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED OIL AND GAS LEASE SALES IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. THE BUREAU OF OCEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT TOOK TESTIMONY WEDNESDAY ON ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDIES PREPARED FOR THE AUCTIONS, WHICH ARE PLANNED OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS.
IN DECEMBER, THE GOVERNMENT'S FIRST AUCTION OF GULF LEASES SINCE THE DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER IN 2010 DREW $333.7 MILLION IN WINNING BIDS. THE SALE COVERED THE WESTERN GULF OFF THE TEXAS COAST. THE NEXT SALE FOR THE CENTRAL GULF IS SET FOR JUNE, COVERING DRILLING OFF LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI AND ALABAMA. LOUISIANA MID-CONTINENT OIL & GAS ASSOCIATION HEAD CHRIS JOHN, THE ONLY SPEAKER AT THE HEARING, SAID INDUSTRY HAS IMPLEMENTED NEW POST-SPILL STANDARDS AND THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD ENCOURAGE NEW DRILLING.

CHANCELLOR MIKE MARTIN ANNOUNCED THE FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITY'S DECISION WEDNESDAY, AFTER RUNNING INTO CONFLICT WITH LSU SYSTEM LEADERS ABOUT THE PLANS. LSU HAD BEEN COLLABORATING WITH A BATON ROUGE-BASED MICROBREWERY, TIN ROOF BREWING CO., ON THE BLONDE ALE THAT WAS GOING TO BE TIED INTO A FOOD SCIENCE TRAINING PROGRAM TO TEACH STUDENTS ABOUT FERMENTATION.
INITIAL PLANS HAD THE SALES TO START DURING THE FALL FOOTBALL SEASON. BUT THE UNIVERSITY'S GOVERNING BODY SAID THE BEER PLANS WOULD VIOLATE ITS CONTRACT WITH THE COLLEGIATE LICENSING COMPANY. TIN ROOF ENDED UP RELEASING THE BEER WITHOUT AN LSU-RELATED NAME OR LOGO AND WITHOUT LSU RECEIVING ANY ROYALTIES FROM SALES OF THE ALE. MARTIN NOW HAS GIVEN UP ON THE "BANDIT BLONDE ALE" IDEA ALTOGETHER, RATHER THAN CONTINUE HAGGLING WITH LSU SYSTEM LEADERS AND LAWYERS.

NEWLY ENGAGED QUEEN OF SOUL ARETHA FRANKLIN IS HEADLINING THIS SUMMER'S ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL IN NEW ORLEANS, AND ITS OTHER TOP PERFORMERS INCLUDE MARY J. BLIGE, FANTASIA, STEPHANIE MILLS, CHARLIE WILSON AND KEYSHIA COLE.
THE EVENT, SCHEDULED FOR JULY 6-8, IS BILLED AS ONE OF THE LARGEST GATHERINGS OF BLACK ARTISTS IN THE COUNTRY. AS IN YEARS PAST, MUSICAL PERFORMANCES WILL BE HELD AT THE SUPERDOME WHILE SEMINARS WITH INFLUENTIAL SPEAKERS, ARTISTS AND AUTHORS WILL TAKE PLACE AT THE CITY'S CONVENTION CENTER.



News For Tuesday 01/10/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 011012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A SEASON TO REMEMBER ENDS WITH A GAME TO FORGET. ALABAMA IS THE NATIONAL CHAMPION IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL AFTER BLANKING THE FIGHTING TIGERS 21 TO 0, THE FIRST SHUTOUT IN BCS TITLE GAME HISTORY. LSU'S OFFENSE COULD DO NOTHING WITH JORDAN JEFFERSON AS THE QUARTERBACK. JEFFERSON WAS 11 OF 17 FOR 53 YARDS AND ONE INTERCEPTION. THE TIGERS SENIOR Q-B ALSO FUMBLED THREE TIMES, LOSING ONE OF THEM AND HE WAS SACKED FOUR TIMES. COACH LES MILES STAYED WITH JORDAN JEFFERSON AT QUARTERBACK THROUGHOUT THE GAME. HE SAYS HE DID SO WITHOUT REGRETS.

OLIVER "OLLIE" OVERTON IS THE NEW PRESIDENT OF THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY. OVERTON WAS ELECTED BY UNANIMOUS CONSENT MONDAY AT THE JURY'S FIRST FULL REGULAR MEETING OF THE YEAR. OVERTON, WHO REPRESENTS DISTRICT F, SUCCEEDS RICHARD BILLINGS. OVERTON AND BILLINGS HAVE BEEN HEAVILY INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS TO HAVE LOCAL LEVEES ON THE RED RIVER CERTIFIED.

A WEEKEND COLLISION INVOLVING A 4 WHEEL ATV AND A PICKUP TRUCK HAS CLAIMED THE LIVES OF TWO CATAHOULA PARISH MEN. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED SUNDAY MORNING AS THE TWO MEN WERE RIDING ALONG OLD COLUMBIA ROAD NEAR HARRISONBURG. 42-YEAR-OLD WILLIAM R. MCKENZIE OF WISNER AND HIS PASSENGER, 36-YEAR-OLD PHILLIP B. VICTOR JR., ALSO OF WISNER, WERE EJECTED FROM THE ATV, AND BOTH WERE PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

ALEXANDRIA POLICE DETECTIVES HAVE CHARGED A SUSPECT WITH ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER STEMMING FROM A SHOOTING SUNDAY ON OVERTON STREET. 20 YEAR OLD ELIJAH JONES IS ACCUSED OF SHOOTING A 23-YEAR-OLD ALEXANDRIA MAN EARLY SUNDAY MORNING IN THE 2900 BLOCK OF OVERTON STREET. THE VICTIM WAS TRANSPORTED TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL, WHERE HE REMAINS IN CRITICAL CONDITION. THE INCIDENT REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

YESTERDAY MORNING GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL OFFICIALLY BEGAN HIS SECOND TERM IN OFFICE, MAKING IT CLEAR THAT HE'LL CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR MORE EDUCATION REFORMS IN THE FOUR YEARS AHEAD. MR. JINDAL CALLED FOR BIPARTISAN SUPPORT TO GET IT DONE. JINDAL SAYS THE MISSION TO MOVE LOUISIANA FORWARD IS FAR FROM
ACCOMPLISHED.

ALSO TAKING OATHS OF OFFICE TODAY FOR ANOTHER TERM...LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE, SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER, STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY, ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON AND AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER DR. MIKE STRAIN.

FOLLOWING THEIR OATHS OF OFFICE THIS MORNING MEMBERS OF THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE ELECTED THEIR LEADERSHIP FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. METAIRIE SENATOR DANNY MARTINY NOMINATED GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S CHOICE OF WESTWEGO SENATOR JOHN ALARIO FOR SENATE PRESIDENT; DESPITE SOME CRITICISM THAT ALARIO IS UNWORTHY OF THE POST. ALARIO DREW ONE "NAY" VOTE. THE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY ELECTED LAKE CHARLES REP. CHUCK KLECKLEY TO BE THE NEW HOUSE SPEAKER. COVINGTON REP. JOHN SCHRODER NOMINATED HIM

FOLLOWING HIS UNANIMOUS ELECTION TO SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, LAKE CHARLES REPRESENTATIVE CHUCK KLECKLEY ADDRESSED THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. IN HIS ACCEPTANCE SPEECH KLECKLEY ACKNOWLEDGED HIS PREDECESSOR, JIM TUCKER AND THANKED THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE FOR THEIR OVERWHELMING SUPPORT. KLECKLEY POINTED TO CHALLENGES FACING LOUISIANA'S YOUTH AS HIS TOP PRIORITY FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.

STATE REP. HERBERT DIXON, D-ALEXANDRIA, WAS ONE OF NINE MEMBERS OF THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS TO BE ELECTED TO A LEADERSHIP POSITION ON MONDAY.
DIXON, WHO IS ONE OF 27 MEMBERS OF THE CAUCUS, WAS ELECTED TO SERVE AS THE VICE CHAIRPERSON. BATON ROUGE REP. PATRICIA HAYNES SMITH WAS ELECTED TO A SECOND TERM AS CHAIRPERSON.


THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY ELECTIONS TODAY WILL EITHER MAKE OR BREAK FORMER LOUISIANA GOVERNOR BUDDY ROEMER'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. ROEMER EVEN MOVED THEIR LAST SUMMER TO GAIN MORE RECOGNITION WITH VOTERS. UL-LAFAYETTE POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR PEARSON CROSS SAYS THE CAMPAIGN MAY END IF GRANITE STATE VOTERS DON'T RESPOND. ROEMER IS CURRENTLY BEATING TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS, BUT THEIR COMBINED NUMBERS EQUAL LESS THAN 3-PERCENT.

OUTGOING MISSISSIPPI GOV. HALEY BARBOUR HAS PARDONED AT LEAST FOUR CONVICTED KILLERS WHO WORKED AS INMATE TRUSTIES AT THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION, INCLUDING A MAN WHO WAS DENIED PAROLE LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AGO. RELATIVES OF THREE VICTIMS TOLD THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ON MONDAY THAT STATE CORRECTIONS OFFICIALS NOTIFIED THEM OVER THE WEEKEND THAT THE CONVICTS WERE TO BE RELEASED THIS PAST SUNDAY. BARBOUR, A REPUBLICAN WHO WEIGHED A PRESIDENTIAL RUN LAST YEAR BEFORE DECIDING AGAINST IT, LEAVES OFFICE ON TODAY.

A FORMER POLICE OFFICER WHO PLEADED GUILTY TO HELPING COVER UP THE DEADLY SHOOTINGS OF UNARMED RESIDENTS ON A NEW ORLEANS BRIDGE AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA HAS STARTED SERVING A FIVE-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE. A SPOKESMAN FOR THE U.S. BUREAU OF PRISONS SAYS 31-YEAR-OLD ROBERT BARRIOS REPORTED MONDAY TO A MINIMUM-SECURITY PRISON CAMP IN BEAUMONT, TEXAS. BARRIOS IS ONE OF FIVE FORMER OFFICERS WHO PLEADED GUILTY TO PARTICIPATING IN A COVER-UP TO MAKE IT APPEAR POLICE WERE JUSTIFIED IN SHOOTING SIX PEOPLE — KILLING TWO — ON THE DANZIGER BRIDGE SEVERAL DAYS AFTER THE 2005 STORM. THE OTHER FOUR FORMER OFFICERS ALREADY STARTED SERVING PRISON TERMS.

THE U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT SAYS A LOUISIANA-BASED MATTRESS SALES COMPANY HAS AGREED TO PAY JUST OVER $40,000 IN MINIMUM AND OVERTIME BACK WAGES TO 96 CURRENT AND FORMER SALES EMPLOYEES. THE AGENCY SAID MONDAY THAT IT FOUND THAT BATON ROUGE-BASED MATTRESS DIRECT INC. VIOLATED FEDERAL OVERTIME, MINIMUM WAGE AND RECORD-KEEPING REQUIREMENTS. THE EMPLOYEES WORKED AT 21 MATTRESS DIRECT LOCATIONS IN LOUISIANA, ALABAMA, FLORIDA AND MISSISSIPPI. THE LABOR DEPARTMENT SAID PAYROLL RECORDS SHOWED THAT INSIDE SALES PERSONNEL SOMETIMES EARNED COMMISSIONS THAT DID NOT EQUAL THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE OF $7.25 PER HOUR AND DID NOT RECEIVE TIME-AND-A-HALF FOR OVERTIME.

THE 19 HOMICIDES IN SHREVEPORT LAST YEAR ARE DOWN 37 PERCENT FROM 2010 AND MARK THE FIRST YEAR SINCE 1967 THAT THE CITY HAS HAD FEWER THAN 20 KILLINGS.
AUTHORITIES SAY MANY FACTORS COULD HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE DECLINE, INCLUDING POLICE STRATEGY, THE ECONOMY, WEATHER AND THE AVAILABILITY OF GUNS. POLICE CHIEF WILLIE SHAW CITES COOPERATION AMONG LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.

LAFAYETTE POLICE SAY THEY HAD AN EASY TIME LOCATING THE SUSPECT IN A CONVENIENCE STORE ROBBERY SUNDAY NIGHT. THEY FOUND THE MAN IN A NEARBY PARKING LOT, WHERE HE'D MISTAKENLY LOCKED HIS KEYS IN HIS CAR. 28-YEAR-OLD NATHAN SONNIER, OF MAURICE, IS NOW IN CUSTODY.

FEDERAL SCIENTISTS SAY A NEW CHEMISTRY-BASED ANALYSIS OF THE 2010 OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO CLOSELY MATCHES OFFICIAL ESTIMATES RELEASED AT THE TIME OF THE SPILL. THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION SAYS A NEW STUDY FOUND THAT AN AVERAGE OF 11,130 TONS OF GAS AND OIL COMPOUNDS PER DAY WERE RELEASED FROM THE BP PLC WELL THAT FOULED THE GULF. THE OFFICIAL LEAK RATE OFFICIALS USED DURING THE SPILL WAS ABOUT 11,350 TONS OF GAS AND OIL PER DAY.
THE AGENCY SAYS THE NEW STUDY COMBINED CHEMICAL MEASUREMENTS IN THE DEEP OCEAN, IN THE OIL SLICK AND IN THE AIR.




SPORTS..

LES MILES CAME OUT A WINNER EVEN BEFORE LSU FACED ALABAMA IN MONDAY NIGHT'S BCS TITLE GAME. MILES WON THE LIBERTY MUTUAL COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR THE FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION AFTER HE LED THE TOP-RANKED TIGERS TO A PERFECT REGULAR-SEASON RECORD AND AN SEC CHAMPIONSHIP.

THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS WERE HAPPY TO FINALLY GET ANOTHER WIN. CARL LANDRY SCORED 21 POINTS, CHRIS KAMAN ADDED 20 AND THE HORNETS ENDED A SIX-GAME LOSING STREAK WITH A 94-81 WIN OVER THE DENVER NUGGETS ON MONDAY NIGHT.



News For Monday 01/09/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 010912
DAVE GRAICHEN

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WILL BE SWORN IN FOR HIS SECOND TERM IN OFFICE TODAY, AT CEREMONIES AT THE OLD STATE CAPITOL IN BATON ROUGE. THE GOVERNOR TELLS US HE'S EXTREMELY EXCITED TO HAVE WON RE-ELECTION, AND TO BE STARTING HIS NEXT FOUR YEARS. JINDAL SAYS INAUGURATION EVENTS TODAY HAVE BEEN SCALED DOWN, SO THAT ATTENDEES CAN ALSO GO TO THE BCS TITLE GAME, FEATURING LSU VS. ALABAMA.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL OFFICIALLY BEGINS HIS SECOND TERM IN OFFICE TODAY. WHAT MAY BE THE FOCUS OF HIS NEXT FOUR YEARS IN THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION? LSU POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR WAYNE PARENT SAYS FURTHER PUBLIC EDUCATION REFORM WILL BE MR. JINDAL'S TOP PRIORITY. THE GOVERNOR HASN'T REVEALED HIS LEGISLATIVE PLANS FOR EDUCATION YET, THOUGH HE HINTS AT POSSIBLE BILLS INVOLVING MORE SCHOOL CHOICES FOR PARENTS, OVERHAULING TEACHER TENURE AND ENACTING SOME KIND OF MERIT PAY FOR TEACHER EXCELLENCE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WILL HOLD A FUNDRAISER ON JANUARY 17TH TO HELP RID PLAQUEMINES PARISH PRESIDENT BILLY NUNGESSER OF $1-MILLION IN PERSONAL DEBT RACKED UP DURING HIS FAILED BID FOR LT. GOVERNOR. POLITICAL ANALYST CLANCY DUBOS SAYS MANY PEOPLE BELIEVED THAT JINDAL WAS SECRETLY HELPING NUNGESSER AS MUCH AS HE COULD DURING THE CAMPAIGN. HOWEVER, JINDAL DIDN'T PUBLICLY SUPPORT EITHER CANDIDATE IN THE RACE, WHICH WAS WON BY INCUMBENT JAY DARDENNE.

MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING FOUR PEOPLE WANTS HIS TRIAL MOVED OUT OF BATON ROUGE DUE TO NEWS COVERAGE OF THE SLAYINGS. TRUCKO STAMPLEY WANTS THE TRIAL MOVED. HE IS CHARGED WITH FOUR COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER IN THE APRIL 2007 SLAYINGS. THE CASE HAS GARNERED SIGNIFICANT ATTENTION DUE TO THE NUMBER OF VICTIMS AND OTHER OCCURRENCES. THE JUDGE WHO PRESIDED OVER THE CASE FOR FOUR YEARS DISQUALIFIED HIMSELF LAST YEAR AFTER REVEALING HE RECEIVED A DEATH THREAT FROM STAMPLEY. PROSECUTORS INTEND TO SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY. TRIAL IS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN JAN. 23.

LOUISIANA AUTHORITIES ARE INVESTIGATING A SHOOTOUT THAT INJURED TWO BYSTANDERS OUTSIDE A MALL IN BATON ROUGE. GUNFIRE ERUPTED BETWEEN TWO GROUPS OF PEOPLE SATURDAY NIGHT OUTSIDE THE MALL OF LOUISIANA. THE VICTIMS, BOTH BOYS, WERE TAKEN TO A HOSPITAL WITH INJURIES THAT WEREN'T CONSIDERED LIFE THREATENING.

NEW ORLEANS POLICE SAY A SHOOTING INCIDENT FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE CITY'S WARREN EASTON HIGH SCHOOL HAS LEFT FIVE PEOPLE - FOUR TEENS AND AN ADULT - WOUNDED. THE SHOOTER REPORTEDLY FIRED INTO A CROWD LEAVING A BASKETBALL GAME. POLICE HAVE A GOOD DESCRIPTION AND ARE SEEKING THE SUSPECT.

DREW BREES AND THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ARE POURING ON THE POINTS, RACKING UP THE WINS AND REWRITING THE RECORD BOOKS NEARLY EVERY TIME THEY PLAY. BREES LED AN UNSTOPPABLE OFFENSE BY THROWING FOR 466 YARDS AND THREE TOUCHDOWNS, AND NEW ORLEANS DOMINATED THE SECOND HALF FOR A 45-28 NFC WILD-CARD VICTORY OVER THE DETROIT LIONS ON SATURDAY NIGHT. NEW ORLEANS BROKE THE POSTSEASON MARK FOR TOTAL YARDS WITH 626, BEATING THE RECORD SET 49 YEARS AGO. THE SAINTS WILL TRAVEL TO SAN FRANCISCO FOR NEXT SATURDAY'S SECOND-ROUND GAME.

TONIGHT'S THE BIG NIGHT. IT'S LSU/ALABAMA PART TWO IN A BCS TITLE GAME THAT'S BEING CALLED THE GAME OF THE CENTURY. TIGER RAG MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTING WRITER MARTY MULE SAYS THE EXTREME HYPE SURROUNDING THIS GAME NO DOUBT STEMS FROM THE RIVALRY THAT'S BREWED BETWEEN THE TWO TEAMS OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS. MULE SAYS IF LSU WINS THIS GAME, IT'LL BE THE BIGGEST WIN IN THE PROGRAMS HISTORY.

A RACELAND MAN WILL SERVE 30 YEARS IN PRISON FOR A 2011 CRASH THAT KILLED A THIBODAUX VETERINARIAN. 51-YEAR-OLD JAMES DANTIN PLEADED GUILTY TO THE CHARGES FRIDAY. ACCORDING TO POLICE REPORTS, HE WAS SPEEDING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS, WHEN HE REAR-ENDED A TRUCK DRIVEN BY DR. KC TOUPS; PUSHING IT ACROSS THE CENTER LINE AND INTO THE PATH OF AN ONCOMING GARBAGE TRUCK. BLOOD TESTS REVEALED HE WAS ON COCAINE AT THE TIME OF THE CRASH.

TROY LANDRY, FROM THE POPULAR HISTORY CHANNEL SHOW "SWAMP PEOPLE", HAS SUED THREE COMPANIES FOR USING HIS TRADEMARK-PROTECTED PHRASES ON MERCHANDISE. LANDRY HAS TRADEMARKED PHRASES HE REPEATS ON THE SHOW, LIKE "CHOOT EM", "TREE SHAKA", "TREE BREAKA" AND MORE. LEGAL ANALYST TIM MECHE SAYS LANDRY HAS A GOOD CASE AGAINST THE MERCHANDISERS AND COULD WIN A PILE OF CASH IN THE SUIT.

NEW ORLEANS POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATHS OF A MAN AND HIS SON WHO WERE FOUND SHOT TO DEATH IN THE FOYER OF THEIR HOME. THE TWO, WHO WERE SHOT NUMEROUS TIMES, WERE KILLED EARLY SATURDAY MORNING AND WERE FOUND LYING SIDE BY SIDE. . WITNESSES TOLD POLICE THE SHOOTING MOST LIKELY HAPPENED AFTER A HEATED ARGUMENT TOOK PLACE EARLIER IN THE DAY BETWEEN THE VICTIMS AND A FEMALE NEIGHBOR. THE DISPUTE ALLEGEDLY INVOLVED ACCUSATIONS OF INFIDELITY BETWEEN MEMBERS OF BOTH HOUSEHOLDS. POLICE ARE SEARCHING FOR THE SUSPECTS.




News For Friday 01/06/2012


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 010612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IN WINFIELD AUTHORITIES HAVE ARRESTED A MAN THEY BELIEVE KILLED HIS EX-WIFE EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING. GREGORY WASHINGTON HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH SECOND-DEGREE MURDER. HE IS ACCUSED OF KILLING JACQUELYN WASHINGTON AFTER A DOMESTIC ARGUMENT GOT OUT OF CONTROL. THE VICTIM WAS FOUND SHOT AND STABBED MULTIPLE TIMES IN HER HOME.

HERE IN ALEXANDRIA, POLICE DETECTIVES ARE NOW SEARCHING FOR A SUSPECT OR SUSPECTS IN THE DEATH OF 42 YEAR OLD JACQUELINE BAZERT. BAZERT WAS FOUND IN HER 15TH ST. HOME WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. HER DEATH HAS BEEN RULED A HOMICIDE.

BUCKEYE WATER DISTRICT NO. 50 HAS ISSUED A WATER BOIL ADVISORY FOR THE HICKORY GROVE COMMUNITY, EXCLUDING GENE GUNTER ROAD. THE ADVISORY FOLLOWS A LEAK IN A MAIN WATER LINE AT THE INTERSECTION OF HICKORY GROVE ROAD AND LILLY LANE. THE ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

GAS PRICES REMAINED RELATIVELY STABLE OVER THE FALL, BUT THEY'RE ABOUT TO SHOOT UP AGAIN. AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS THE POTENTIAL FOR DISRUPTION OF OIL DISTRIBUTION IN THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE LIKELY CAUSE OF A SPIKE IN THE PRICE OF CRUDE OIL. HE ALSO SAYS THAT CONSUMER CONFIDENCE HAS BEEN RISING WHICH MEANS DEMAND HAS GONE UP. THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GASOLINE IS UP FOUR CENTS FROM YESTERDAY TO $3.20.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL CONTINUES TO MEET WITH EDUCATORS, AND STATE LAWMAKERS, AS HE FORMULATES HIS 2012 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR FURTHER EDUCATION REFORMS. MR. JINDAL SAYS HE HAS ENCOUNTERED RESISTANCE FROM SOME TO THE IDEAS HE'S PUTTING FORTH...FOR TEACHER MERIT PAY, TEACHER EVALUATIONS AND MORE SCHOOL CHOICES FOR PARENTS. HE SAYS HIS EDUCATION PLAN, WHEN HE REVEALS IT LATER THIS MONTH, WON'T ENTAIL AN OVERALL NEW SYSTEM. BUT, THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE WILL NOT TOLERATE "THOSE THAT WANT TO KEEP THE STATUS QUO”.

TODAY IS TWELFTH NIGHT; 12 DAYS AFTER DECEMBER 25TH AND THE OFFICIAL END OF THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. MARDI GRAS EXPERT ARTHUR HARDY SAYS TODAY IS ALSO THE DAY MANY LOUISIANANS KICK OFF THE CARNIVAL SEASON. HARDY SAYS THE CARNIVAL SEASON LASTS UNTIL FAT TUESDAY WHICH FALLS ON FEBRUARY 21ST THIS YEAR. HE SAYS ANOTHER CUSTOM OF 12TH NIGHT IS TO TAKE THE CHRISTMAS TREE DOWN WHICH IS A TRADITION DATING BACK TO THE 1800S AND OF COURSE ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR TRADITIONS OF 12TH NIGHT WILL BE FOR REVELERS TO ENJOY THEIR FIRST SLICE OF KING CAKE

THE OUTLOOK FOR LOUISIANA'S JOBS MARKET FOR 2012 IS GOOD, ACCORDING TO STATE OFFICIALS. LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CURT EYSINK SAYS JOBS GROWTH IN 2011 WAS GOOD, AND THE FUTURE LOOKS EVEN BETTER. EYSINK SAYS INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION JOBS SHOULD BE IN ABUNDANCE, AS NUMEROUS PROJECTS ARE UNDERWAY...OR SCHEDULED TO BEGIN SOON. EYSINK SAYS THE STATE SHOULD SEE GROWTH IN SKILLED MEDICAL & MEDICAL RESEARCH JOBS. HE SAYS THERE WILL ALSO BE OPPORTUNITIES IN FOOD SERVICE AND THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY. ALL-IN-ALL, EYSINK SAYS THE JOBS OUTLOOK IS GOOD!

THE STATE REVENUE DEPARTMENT SAYS IT WILL BEGIN ACCEPTING 2011 LOUISIANA INDIVIDUAL AND CORPORATE INCOME TAX RETURNS ON JAN. 17. THAT INCLUDES ELECTRONIC RETURNS FILED WITH COMMERCIAL TAX PREPARATION SOFTWARE AND THE AGENCY'S ELECTRONIC TAX FILING APPLICATIONS. THE REVENUE DEPARTMENT SAID THURSDAY THAT THE AVERAGE REFUND PROCESSING TIME FOR ELECTRONIC RETURNS IS 10 BUSINESS DAYS. IT TAKES 12 TO 16 WEEKS TO PROCESS PAPER RETURNS.

A WORD OF WARNING TO MOTORISTS: KEEP RIGHT ON MULTI-LANE HIGHWAYS, UNLESS YOU'RE PASSING. STATE POLICE ARE CONDUCTING LANE-ENFORCEMENT DETAILS ON INTERSTATES AND OTHER MAJOR ROADWAYS. SPOKESMAN SGT. JAMES ANDERSON SAYS IT'S APPARENT THAT TOO FEW LOUISIANA DRIVERS ARE AWARE OF THE STATE'S "KEEP RIGHT" LAW. ANDERSON SAYS STATE LAW HAS REQUIRED SLOWER MOVING TRAFFIC TO KEEP RIGHT FOR MANY YEARS, BUT STILL MOTORISTS TEND TO HOG THE "FAST LANE". TROOPERS ARE NOW HANDING OUT TICKETS TO OFFENDERS.

IBERIA PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SEIZED MORE THAN $650-THOUSAND WORTH OF SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA DURING A RAID TUESDAY AT A NEW IBERIA BUSINESS. IPSO CAPTAIN RYAN TURNER SAYS THE PRODUCT IS A BLEND OF INGESTIBLE HERBS, SPRAYED WITH SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS THAT APPROXIMATE THE EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA. TURNER SAYS THE ILLEGAL PRODUCTS WERE FOUND ON SALE AT A SHOP CALLED SINSATIONS. HE SAYS ARRESTS ARE LIKELY SOON IN THE CASE.

A CADDO-SHREVEPORT NARCOTICS AGENT WAS SHOT DURING A RAID WEDNESDAY NIGHT
LEADING TO THE ARREST OF FIVE PEOPLE. SHREVEPORT POLICE SAYS OFFICERS WERE EXECUTING A SEARCH WARRANT AT A HOTEL ROOM AFTER CONDUCTING AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CRIMINAL DISTRIBUTION OF DRUGS AT THAT LOCATION. THE GOOD NEWS IS THE OFFICER WAS WEARING A BULLET PROOF VEST AND SUFFERED ONLY MINOR INJURIES. $10,000 WAS RECOVERED FROM THE ROOM AND SIX POUND OF MARIJUANA.

TWO PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN WEST FELICIANA PARISH ACCUSED OF STEALING ABOUT 60 STREET SIGNS OVER NEW YEARS. OFFICIALS SAY 20 OF THE SIGNS WERE RECOVERED IN A PASTURE AND THE OTHERS THROWN INTO THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.

THE NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL HAS APPROVED AN AMENDMENT TO THE CITY'S CURFEW LAW. THE CHANGE WOULD BAR THOSE 16 YEARS OLD OR YOUNGER FROM THE FRENCH QUARTER AND MARIGNY (MARE-IH-NEE) AFTER 8 P.M. ON WEEKENDS. CITY OFFICIALS SAY THEY WANT TO KEEP KIDS OFF OF FRENCH QUARTER STREETS TO HELP CURB CRIME AND UNDERAGE DRINKING. LAST YEAR, POLICE SAY, THERE WERE ALMOST 800 ARRESTS OF JUVENILES IN THE QUARTER. THE CURFEW ORDINANCE WILL HAVE SEVERAL EXCEPTIONS, INCLUDING MINORS WHO ARE ACCOMPANIED BY A PARENT OR GUARDIAN, AND THOSE WHO ARE TRAVELING TO AND FROM WORK.


News For Thursday 01/05/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 010512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL HAS ORDERED THE CITY OF PINEVILLE TO PAY A $15,000 FINE STEMMING FROM THE ILLEGAL DISCHARGE OF HYDRAULIC FLUID FROM A PUMPING STATION. THE JUDGE ALSO ORDERED THE CITY TO PUBLISH AN APOLOGY IN THE TOWN TALK AND TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM TO PREVENT SIMILAR POLLUTION PROBLEMS. DURING HEAVY RAINFALL FROM HURRICANE GUSTAV IN SEPTEMBER 2008, A CITY PUMPING STATION ALLEGEDLY DISCHARGED HYDRAULIC FLUID OVER A LEVEE AND INTO A BAYOU THAT EMPTIED INTO THE RED RIVER. DEQ SAYS CITY EMPLOYEES KNEW THE PUMPS WEREN'T PROPERLY WORKING AND WERE LEAKING DIESEL FUEL AND HYDRAULIC FLUID.

A THROUGH INVESTIGATION HAS CLEARED TWO LAW-ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS IN THE SHOOTING OF A PINEVILLE MAN AFTER HE RAMMED A POLICE CAR WITH HIS VEHICLE DURING A CHASE IN DECEMBER. A PINEVILLE POLICE OFFICER AND A RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTY FIRED AT 19-YEAR-OLD COREY CHEEK AFTER CHEEK'S VEHICLE RAMMED A PINEVILLE POLICE CAR. CHEEK WAS WOUNDED BY THE GUNFIRE, BUT NOT CRITICALLY. BOTH OFFICERS ARE BACK ON DUTY.

INFO IS SKETCHY AT THIS TIME BUT, ALEXANDRIA POLICE OFFICERS ARE SAID BE INVESTIGATING A POSSIBLE HOMICIDE IN THE CITY. SHORTLY AFTER 4 P.M. WEDNESDAY, POLICE WENT TO A HOUSE ON 15TH STREET WHERE A WOMAN WAS FOUND DEAD.
OTHER DETAILS ABOUT THE DEATH AND THE NAME OF THE VICTIM ARE NOT AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME.

LAKE CHARLES POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF TWO WOMEN FOUND AT A RESIDENCE EARLY WEDNESDAY. AUTHORITIES SAY ONE OF THE VICTIMS WAS FOUND OUTSIDE THE HOUSE ABOUT 5:30 A.M., BUT WHEN OFFICERS ARRIVED, THEY FOUND A SECOND VICTIM INSIDE THE HOME. POLICE ARE WITHHOLDING THE NAMES OF THE VICTIMS AT THIS TIME AND ARE ALSO NOT RELEASING HOW THE WOMEN DIED.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAYS HE'S NOT GIVING UP ON RICK PERRY AS A CONTENDER FOR THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION, DESPITE PERRY'S POOR SHOWING IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES. JINDAL SAID WEDNESDAY THAT HE STILL BELIEVES IN THE TEXAS GOVERNOR'S VIABILITY AND STANDS BY HIS ENDORSEMENT. JINDAL CAMPAIGNED WITH PERRY IN THE FINAL DAYS LEADING TO THE IOWA CAUCUS VOTING. PERRY CAME IN FIFTH, WITH 10 PERCENT OF THE VOTE, BUT HE'S SAID HE'S NOT ENDING HIS CAMPAIGN.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAYS HE'LL OPPOSE ANY EFFORTS TO LIMIT GRANTS IN THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM, A RECOMMENDATION BACKED BY A HIGHER EDUCATION STUDY PANEL EARLIER THIS WEEK. THE GOVERNANCE COMMISSION SUGGESTED A RESTRUCTURING OF TOPS, TO GIVE ALL STUDENTS A FLAT GRANT AMOUNT, CAPPED AT THE SAME LEVEL FOR EVERYONE, RATHER THAN TIED TO THE COST OF TUITION AT AN INDIVIDUAL SCHOOL. JINDAL SAID WEDNESDAY THAT TOPS IS TOO SUCCESSFUL TO PUT A CAP ON THE AWARDS. GOVERNANCE COMMISSION MEMBERS SAID THAT "DECOUPLING" WOULD GIVE THE STATE MORE ABILITY TO CONTROL THE COSTS OF TOPS, AND COULD GIVE SOME STUDENTS MONEY TO COVER COSTS BEYOND TUITION, LIKE BOOKS. THE COMMISSION SAID TOPS AWARDS COULD BE ADJUSTED ANNUALLY BY THE CONSUMER PRICE INDEX OR SOME OTHER INFLATIONARY MEASURE.

THE LSU PUBLIC HOSPITAL SYSTEM IS CUTTING MORE THAN $29 MILLION IN THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR TO COPE WITH BUDGET REDUCTIONS MADE BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION. LSU SYSTEM VICE PRESIDENT FRED CERISE SAYS THAT CUTS WILL CAUSE EMPLOYEE LAYOFFS, FEWER AVAILABLE HOSPITAL BEDS AND PROGRAM ELIMINATIONS AT THE SEVEN HOSPITALS IN LSU'S HEALTH CARE SERVICES DIVISION, WHICH HAS A $780 MILLION ANNUAL BUDGET.

IS THIS SCALING BACK?? ON A BLUFF OVERLOOKING THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WILL BE FETED WITH CANNON FIRE, AN F-15 FLYOVER AND DEACON JOHN'S RENDITION OF "GOD BLESS AMERICA" WHEN HE IS SWORN IN FOR A SECOND TERM AT THE OLD STATE CAPITOL NEXT WEEK. THOUGH A JINDAL SPOKESMAN SAYS THE EVENTS HAVE BEEN SCALED BACK, THE INAUGURATION MONDAY WILL FEATURE THE POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF PREVIOUS SWEARING-IN CEREMONIES, WITH A SCHEDULE SHUFFLED TO AVOID CONFLICTS WITH FOOTBALL'S NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. ABOUT 1,000 PEOPLE RECEIVED INVITATIONS TO WATCH JINDAL PUT HIS HAND ON THE FAMILY BIBLE AND TAKE THE OATH OF OFFICE ADMINISTERED BY LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE CATHERINE "KITTY" KIMBALL. MY INVITE MUST HAVE GOTTEN LOST IN THE MAIL.

MANY LOUISIANA RESIDENTS ARE FINDING THAT THEIR PRESCRIPTIONS ARE NO LONGER COVERED IF THEY ARE GETTING FILLED AT A WALGREENS. EXPRESS SCRIPTS CONTRACTS WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES INCLUDING BLUE CROSS, AND FAILED TO REACH AN AGREEMENT WITH WALGREENS IN 2012. BUT EXPRESS SCRIPTS SPOKESMAN BRIAN HENRY SAYS A NEW PHARMACY WON'T BE HARD TO FIND, SINCE MANY ACROSS THE STATE ARE RUNNING PROMOTIONS TO LURE IN NEW CUSTOMERS. WALGREENS IS TRYING NOT TO LOSE ITS THOUSANDS OF LOUISIANA CUSTOMERS. CEO KERMIT CRAWFORD SAYS THEY'VE LAUNCHED A PLAN FOR PATIENTS WHO ARE COVERED BY EXPRESS SCRIPTS BUT STILL WANT TO USE WALGREENS. HE SAYS THE PLAN INCLUDES A SPECIAL DISCOUNT THIS MONTH ON ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FOR THE WALGREENS PRESCRIPTIONS SAVINGS CLUB.

RESEARCHERS FROM TULANE, LSU AND UNO HAVE DISCOVERED A NATURALLY-OCCURRING COMPOUND IN CHOCOLATE THAT WILL BE USED IN TOOTHPASTE AS A SAFE ALTERNATIVE TO FLUORIDE. THE TOOTHPASTE WILL BE CALLED THODENT, AND CEO ARMAN SADEGHPOUR SAYS THE FORMULA IN THEODENT IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DISCOVERY IN THE ORAL CARE INDUSTRY SINCE FLUORIDE WAS FIRST ADDED TO TOOTHPASTE IN 1914. HE SAYS NOT ONLY WILL THEODENT BE MORE EFFECTIVE THAN FLOURIDE, IS ALSO SAFER. THEODENT IS BEING SOLD IN WHOLE FOODS MARKETS AND ONLINE AT THE COMPANY'S WEBSITE, THEODENT.COM. AS YOU MAY SUSPECT, THE BREAKTHROUGH TOOTHPASTE IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN TRADITIONAL TOOTHPASTE.






News For Wednesday 01/04/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 010412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE GILLIS LONG OR JACKSON STREET BRIDGE BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE HAS REOPENED TO TRAFFIC AFTER BEING CLOSED SUNDAY AFTERNOON, FOR WHAT IS BEING DESCRIBED AS A MECHANICAL LIFT FAILURE.

A FORMER NATCHITOCHES BUSINESSMAN WHO WORKED FOR A NEW ORLEANS ART DEALER HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO MORE THAN TWO YEARS IN PRISON FOR HIS ROLE IN A PLOT TO SELL FORGED PAINTINGS HE CLAIMED TO BE THE WORK OF A RENOWNED LOUISIANA FOLK ARTIST. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL IN ALEXANDRIA ON TUESDAY SENTENCED 64-YEAR-OLD ROBERT E. LUCKY JR., OF NEW ORLEANS, TO 25 MONTHS IN PRISON AND ORDERED HIM TO PERFORM 200 HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE AND PAY NEARLY $327,000 IN RESTITUTION. LUCKY PLEADED GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF MAIL FRAUD. HE WAS CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING WITH A BATON ROUGE COUPLE TO SELL FAKE CLEMENTINE HUNTER PAINTINGS TO UNSUSPECTING ART COLLECTORS.

A SINGLE VEHICLE FATAL CRASH IS BEING INVESTIGATED BY LOUISIANA STATE POLICE IN EVANGELINE PARISH. TROOPERS SAY A TRUCK DRIVEN BY 43-YEAR-OLD MITCHELL FONTENOT OF VILLE PLATTE FAILED TO MAKE A LEFT TURN ON LA 29 AND STRUCK A DITCH BEFORE OVERTURNING SEVERAL TIMES. FONTENOT WAS RESTRAINED BUT DIED AT THE SCENE AS A RESULT OF HIS INJURIES. HIS PASSENGER, A 48-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, WAS NOT RESTRAINED AND ALSO DIED AT THE SCENE.

THE LATEST STUDY PANEL LOOKING AT HOW BEST TO GOVERN LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC COLLEGES IS RECOMMENDING AGAINST CONSOLIDATING ALL COLLEGE MANAGEMENT INTO A SINGLE BOARD. INSTEAD, THE GOVERNANCE COMMISSION SUGGESTED GIVING THE BOARD OF REGENTS MORE POWER OVER THE FOUR INDIVIDUAL UNIVERSITY SYSTEM BOARDS AND THE STATE DOLLARS ALLOCATED TO THEM. THE PROPOSALS ARE AMONG 21 SUGGESTIONS IN A FINAL REPORT ADOPTED BY THE COMMISSION TUESDAY, MOST OF WHICH WOULD NEED LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL TO BE ENACTED. THE STUDY COMMISSION SAYS THAT THERE IS NO DIRECT LINK BETWEEN THE TYPE OF COLLEGE GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE AND IMPROVED PERFORMANCE, AND THAT THE CONSOLIDATION INTO A SINGLE BOARD COULD BE COSTLY. ITS REPORT RECOMMENDS THAT LAWMAKERS CLARIFY THE POWER OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS TO ESTABLISH ITS AUTHORITY OVER THE OTHER MANAGEMENT BOARDS.

A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT WILL REVIEW A JUDGE'S DECISION TO TEMPORARILY BLOCK THE STATE OF TEXAS FROM ENFORCING A LAW REQUIRING DOCTORS TO SHOW SONOGRAMS TO PATIENTS AND DESCRIBE THE IMAGES BEFORE AN ABORTION. IN AUGUST, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE SAM SPARKS IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, RULED THAT SEVERAL PROVISIONS OF THE LAW VIOLATED THE FREE-SPEECH RIGHTS OF ABORTION-PERFORMING DOCTORS. A THREE-JUDGE PANEL OF THE 5TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR ARGUMENTS TODAY ON THE STATE'S REQUEST TO LIFT A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION ISSUED BY SPARKS. A GROUP OF MEDICAL PROVIDERS IS CHALLENGING THE LAW, WHICH ALSO REQUIRES DOCTORS TO DESCRIBE THE FETAL HEARTBEAT TO A PATIENT BEFORE PERFORMING AN ABORTION. THE STATE ARGUES ITS INTEREST IN PROTECTING "FETAL LIFE AFTER VIABILITY" TRUMPS ANY FREE-SPEECH CLAIMS. THE COURTS DECISION COULD HAVE AN EFFECT OF A SIMILAR LAW HERE IN LOUISIANA.

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY IS CONSIDERED A MOTION TO DISPLAY THE SLOGAN "IN GOD WE TRUST" IN ITS MEETING ROOM DURING COMMITTEE MEETINGS. THE ISSUE WAS BROUGHT UP BY OUT GOING JUROR JAMIE FLOYD. FLOYD ALSO MADE AN ATTEMPT LAST YEAR TO DISPLAY THE 10 COMMANDMENTS AT THE PARISH COURT HOUSE. THE JURY, IN THE END, VOTED THE IDEA DOWN. WHEN ASKED FOR AN OPINION ON THE MATTER OF THE SLOGAN, LEGAL COUNSEL TOM WELLS SAID HIS OPINION WAS THE SAME AS WHEN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ISSUE CAME UP, THAT IT COULD SUBJECT THE PARISH TO LAWSUITS.
THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAS SOME NEW BLOOD AT THE HELM. THE BOARD ELECTED NEW OFFICERS AT ITS FIRST MEETING OF THE YEAR YESTERDAY. WILTON BARRIOS WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT, TAKING OVER FOR 2011 PRESIDENT STEVE BERRY. JANET DIXON WAS ELECTED VICE PRESIDENT, SUCCEEDING STEPHEN CHAPMAN IN THAT ROLE.

THE FEDERAL PRISON IN POLLOCK REMAINED ON LOCKDOWN TUESDAY, AFTER SEVERAL INMATES WERE INJURED IN A FIGHT OVER THE WEEKEND. ONE INMATE REMAINED HOSPITALIZED TUESDAY FROM INJURIES SUFFERED IN THE FIGHT, WHICH BROKE OUT SHORTLY BEFORE NOON SATURDAY IN THE U.S. PENITENTIARY'S MAXIMUM-SECURITY AREA. ABOUT 15 PRISONERS WERE INVOLVED IN THE MELEE. WHAT CAUSED THE FIGHT IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

FORBE'S MAGAZINE HAS RATED LSU AMONG THE NATION'S BEST WHEN IT COMES TO THE BUSINESS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL. LSU SR. ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS LSU IS THE ONLY SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY RANKED IN THE TOP 10 ON BOTH FORBES' LIST OF "MOST VALUABLE TEAMS" AND "BEST TEAMS FOR MONEY." BY THE WAY, THE LSU TIGERS HEAD TO NEW ORLEANS THIS AFTERNOON TO CONTINUE PREPARATIONS FOR ALABAMA ON MONDAY NIGHT IN THE BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.

A RUM DISTILLERY IS BEING BUILT IN JEFFERSON DAVIS PARISH THAT WILL PRODUCE A LOUISIANA-MADE RUM OUT OF SUGAR CANE. THE COMPANY, LOUISIANA SPIRITS, WAS FOUNDED BY TREY LITEL WHO IS FROM THE LAKE CHARLES AREA. HE SAYS WITH LOUISIANA BEING THE FOURTH LARGEST PRODUCER OF SUGAR CANE IN THE UNITED STATES, MAKING RUM HERE SEEMED LIKE A NO BRAINER. LITEL SAYS THE DISTILLERY IS BEING BUILT IN LACASSINE JUST OFF I-10 IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA. HE SAYS THEY AREN'T RELEASING THE BRAND NAME JUST YET, BUT THEY HOPE TO HAVE THE RUM AVAILABLE MID-YEAR.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SPENT THE FINAL HOURS BEFORE THE IOWA CAUCUSES TUESDAY WITH REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER RICK PERRY IN A SERIES OF CAMPAIGN EVENTS THAT BOOST JINDAL'S NATIONAL PROFILE, EVEN IF THEY DO LITTLE FOR PERRY'S FLAGGING CANDIDACY. THE IOWA CAUCUSES WERE THE FIRST BALLOTS CAST OF THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL RACE AND WILL HELP DETERMINE WHICH REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE WILL BE THE PARTY NOMINEE TO CHALLENGE PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA. JINDAL TRAVELED TO THE STATE MONDAY AND CAMPAIGNED WITH THE GOVERNOR OF TEXAS AS PERRY MADE HIS LAST PITCH TO IOWA VOTERS.

BP IS REITERATING CLAIMS FIRST MADE LAST APRIL THAT IT IS ENTITLED TO PAYMENT FROM CONTRACTOR HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERVICES FOR EXPENSES AND LOST PROFITS RESULTING FROM THE 2010 DEEPWATER HORIZON OFFSHORE OIL WELL DISASTER.
BP'S LATEST FILING WAS MADE MONDAY IN FEDERAL COURT IN NEW ORLEANS, WHERE COMPLEX LITIGATION INVOLVING VARIOUS COMPANIES INVOLVED IN THE DISASTER IS PLAYING OUT. BP HAS ACCUSED HOUSTON-BASED HALLIBURTON OF BOTCHING THE CEMENT JOB MEANT TO SEAL THE WELL. HALLIBURTON SAYS BP IS TRYING TO SADDLE HALLIBURTON WITH FAR MORE THAN ITS SHARE OF THE LEGAL BURDEN.

SIX TEENAGERS WERE ARRESTED TUESDAY ON A VARIETY OF CHARGES STEMMING FROM WHAT LAFOURCHE PARISH AUTHORITIES DESCRIBED AS GANG-RELATED ACTIVITY THAT LED TO THE DEATH OF A 15-YEAR-OLD BOY. SHERIFF CRAIG WEBRE SAID THE TEENAGERS, ALL FROM THIBODAUX, WERE IN THE SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE AT THE TIME THE BOY WAS SHOT TO DEATH LATE MONDAY.

OFFICIALS ARE REPORTING A SHARP INCREASE IN AUTO SALES FOR 2011 AS THAT INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO REBOUND FROM A 30-YEAR-LOW IN 2009. BOB ISRAEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE STATE'S AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION SAYS ISRAEL SAYS THE PASSENGER CAR MARKET IS STRONGER THAN IT'S EVER BEEN. HE SAYS THEY SAW A 24-PERCENT INCREASE IN SALES IN 2011.

News For Tuesday 010312


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 010312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AFTER A MILD HOLIDAY SEASON, WE ARE GREETED WITH COLD TEMPERATURES TO BEGIN THE FIRST WORK WEEK OF 2012. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS MOST OF THE STATE IS REPORTING BELOW FREEZING TEMPERATURES.

HERE IN ALEXANDRIA THE CITY'S NEW, EXPANDED SMOKING BAN HAS TAKEN EFFECT. SMOKING AND THE USE OF OTHER TOBACCO PRODUCTS NO LONGER IS ALLOWED IN ANY BAR IN THE CITY. IN ADDITION, BOTH ARE BANNED FROM GAMBLING ESTABLISHMENTS SUCH AS BINGO HALLS, ALL PUBLIC WORKPLACES IN THE CITY AND WITHIN 25 FEET OF ANY PUBLIC PARK OR CITY BUILDING. ALEXANDRIA'S NEW ANTI-SMOKING LAW IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST IN THE STATE.

THE MURDER RATE JUMPED BY 14 PERCENT IN NEW ORLEANS LAST YEAR WITH 199 HOMICIDES, LEAVING RESIDENTS APPALLED AND CITY LEADERS SCRAMBLING TO REIN IN THE VIOLENCE. THE TIMES-PICAYUNE REPORTS THAT LAST YEAR'S UPTICK WILL LIKELY PLACE NEW ORLEANS FAR AHEAD OF OTHER CITIES WITH SERIOUS CRIME AND HOMICIDE PROBLEMS. NEW ORLEANS HAS BEEN STRUGGLING WITH THE HIGHEST PER-CAPITA MURDER RATE IN THE COUNTRY. THE NUMBER OF MURDERS FOR THE PREVIOUS THREE YEARS HAD STABILIZED AT AROUND 175 KILLINGS A YEAR. THE YEAR ENDED WITH THE SHOOTING DEATH OF A TODDLER WHO WAS KILLED BY A STRAY BULLET ON DEC. 18, JUST DAYS BEFORE HER SECOND BIRTHDAY.

AIDS IS NO LONGER THE DEATH SENTENCE IT WAS YEARS AGO. TODAY, PEOPLE LIVE NORMAL LIVES DUE TO THE ADVANCES IN MEDICINE. BUT, THAT MEDICINE IS VERY EXPENSIVE. IN SOME CASES SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS PER MONTH. CURRENTLY LOUISIANA HAS ONE OF THE LONGEST WAITING LISTS IN THE NATION FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO RECEIVE MEDICATION THROUGH A PROGRAM THAT HELPS PEOPLE WHO ARE HIV POSITIVE. LOUISIANA'S WAITING LIST TRAILS ONLY FLORIDA, VIRGINIA AND GEORGIA IN THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WAITING TO RECEIVE MEDICATION THROUGH THE AIDS DRUG ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. AS OF DEC. 21, LOUISIANA HAD 596 PEOPLE ON A WAITING LIST. THOSE ON THE LIST CURRENTLY RELY ON PATIENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS SET UP BY DRUG COMPANIES FOR THEIR MEDICATION. OTHERS COULD BE DOING WITHOUT ENTIRELY.

POLITICS IN LOUISIANA IS ALWAYS INTERESTING AND 2012 SHOULD BE NO DIFFERENT. THE MAJOR ELECTION IN LOUISIANA THIS YEAR WILL BE BETWEEN TWO SITTING CONGRESSMEN, CHARLES BOUSTANY AND JEFF LANDRY. THE REDUCTION IN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS IN LOUISIANA FORCES AN ELECTION THIS FALL. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S MAJOR INITIATIVE IN 2012 WILL BE EDUCATION REFORM. A NEW STATE SUPERINTENDENT WILL SOON BE IN PLACE AND THE GOVERNOR IS EXPECTED TO PUSH SEVERAL IDEAS THAT WILL LOOK TO IMPROVE ON NEW STATE RATINGS THAT GAVE NEARLY HALF OF LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOLS A GRADE OF D OR F. BALANCING THE BUDGET WILL ALSO BE A BIG TOPIC WHEN LAWMAKERS CONVENE IN MARCH FOR A REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION. FUNDING FOR
EDUCATION WILL BE A BIG PART OF THAT DISCUSSION.

2012 IS EXPECTED TO BE A GOOD YEAR FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA, BUT THE SAME CAN'T BE SAID FOR THE NEW ORLEANS AREA. LSU ECONOMIST, DR. LOREN SCOTT, SAYS THE CLOSURE OF THE AVONDALE SHIPYARDS AND A REDUCTION IN CONSTRUCTION SPENDING WILL KEEP THE STATE FROM SEEING A HUGE INCREASE IN JOBS IN 2012. SCOTT SAYS THE LAKE CHARLES AREA WILL SEE THE BIGGEST JOB GROWTH IN THE
STATE AS A RESULT OF TWO HUGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. SCOTT SAYS AN EXPANDING CHEMICAL INDUSTRY WILL HELP GROW THE BATON ROUGE MARKET. HE SAYS NORTH LOUISIANA IS A BIT OF A MIXED BAG. HE SAYS THE NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY WILL CONTINUE TO GROW, BUT A MAJOR AUTO MANUFACTURING PLANT SHUTS ITS DOORS THIS SUMMER.

LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS SHOULD NOT EXPECT A BREAK IN 2012 WHEN IT COMES TO PROPERTY INSURANCE RATES. IN FACT THE STATE'S LARGEST INSURER OF HOMES, STATE FARM, IS RAISING ITS RATES BY AN AVERAGE OF NEARLY EIGHT PERCENT THIS YEAR. INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE RATES HAVE LEVELED OFF IN RECENT YEARS, BUT WE CONTINUE TO SEE SLIGHT INCREASES, BECAUSE THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY IS BRACING FOR MORE NATURAL DISASTERS. DONELON SAYS IT'S POSSIBLE FOR POLICYHOLDERS TO SEE SAVINGS, IF THEY SHOP FOR BETTER DEALS. HE SAYS THERE ARE SEVERAL NEW COMPANIES WRITING POLICIES IN THIS STATE.

A NEW LAW IS NOW IN EFFECT FOR 2012 THAT REQUIRES LITTER EDUCATION TO BE A PART OF DRIVERS ED BEFORE YOU CAN GET YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE. THE BILL WAS SPONSORED BY ST. MARTINVILLE SENATOR FRED MILLS. HE SAYS THE IDEA IS TO TEACH YOUNG PEOPLE THE FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFECTS OF LITTERING. MILLS SAYS THE ADDITIONAL CURRICULUM WAS DEVELOPED BY KEEP LOUISIANA BEAUTIFUL AND THE COURSE WORK WAS UPGRADED BY THE STATE OFFICE OF MOTOR VEHICLES. HE SAYS YOUNG DIVERS WILL BE EDUCATED ON THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THE STATE LOSES EACH YEAR, BECAUSE OF LITTERING.

THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY SAYS LOUISIANA PRODUCES MORE GARBAGE IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER THAN ANY OTHER MONTH. DEQ SPOKESPERSON RODNEY MALLETT SAYS YOU CAN RECYCLE AND REUSE TO REDUCE TRASH WHILE TAKING CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT. HE SAYS YOU CAN START BY RECYCLING YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE. MALLETT SAYS USING RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES FOR TOYS AND OTHER GADGETS
KEEPS OLD BATTERIES OUT OF LANDFILLS. HE ALSO SAYS MOST CARDBOARD AND WRAPPING PAPER CAN BE REUSED. MALLETT SAYS RECYCLING IDEAS CAN BE FOUND ON THEIR WEBSITE AT DEQ.LOUISIANA.GOV/RECYCLING.


SPORTS..

THE SAINTS TAKE AN EIGHT-GAME WINNING STREAK INTO THE PLAYOFFS, BUT COACH SEAN PAYTON SAYS HIS TEAM UNDERSTANDS THE SEASON CAN END IN A HURRY, IF THEY DON'T PLAY WELL ON SATURDAY NIGHT AGAINST DETROIT.. NEW ORLEANS CRUSHED THE CAROLINA PANTHERS SUNDAY 45-17, AND WILL NOW TAKE ON THE DETROIT LIONS IN THE PLAYOFFS SATURDAY AT 7PM.

THE FLOCK OF OUT-OF-TOWNERS HEADED TO THE BIG EASY TO CHEER ON THEIR TEAMS THIS WEEK IS GIVING A BIG BOOST TO THE ECONOMIES OF NEW ORLEANS AND THE ENTIRE STATE. LSU PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS DR JAMES RICHARDSON SAYS THE CITY IS ALREADY SEEING BIG CROWDS FOR THE SUGARBOWL TONIGHT, AND THE BCS TITLE GAME NEXT WEEK.





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