A Jackson Parish paper mill will continue to play a vital role in the local economy. WestRock will perform a 200-million-dollar expansion, saving about 400 jobs at the mill and another 37-hundred indirect jobs. State Economic Development Secretary Don Pearson says a big win for north Louisiana.
"To really understand the impact you got to look outside the fence line at four or five seven Parishes, maybe more, that Feed Louisiana timber into that mill", Pearson said.
The mill’s annual payroll is some 28-million-dollars. To help with their payroll and other operating costs, Pearson says WestRock will receive tax breaks.
"The state will rebate a portion of the income tax that we collect from the mill will lower their tax assessment for five years", Pearson said.
Hodge Representative Jack McFarlin says if the facility closed down, it would be catastrophic to the community since the mill also provides needed utilities.
"Those living in that community would have to have the assistance of the state to financially overcome the loss of electricity and wastewater treatment", McFarlin said.
The mill produces 800-thousand tons container board paper each year.
LSU political communication professor Mike Henderson finds that voter turnout for statewide elections has been on a decline for the last 30 years. In 1983, 54-percent of the eligible voters voted for governor and in 2015 the voter turnout was down to 33-percent. Last weekend’s special election saw only a 13-percent turnout. Henderson says the voting public seems to be burned out on state politics.
"We've had a lot of competitive statewide elections the last few years, so maybe there's less campaigning going on", Henderson said. "But what's also going on is this is a long term decline in Louisiana participation."
Henderson hopes more information on the issues and the candidates could help increase voter participation, but it could also backfire.
"So even if we sort of got it out there all the time, are people going to pay attention to it? Even if trying to push this stuff more, it would help but probably not help a lot", Henderson said.
Is it possible that having statewide elections on Saturday hurts voter turnout? Henderson says there are two trains of thought.
"Maybe fewer people are working and therefore they have more time to go and participate in the election. The other thing you sometimes hear in Louisiana is that Saturdays elections in the fall could run up against the football game. But there's no real evidence that it pushes things down much."
The Iberville Parish Council has made it illegal to burn a flag. Council Chairman Matt Jewell says the move is in response to an Ohio incident when a flag was burned causing consternation among war veterans there. Though there has not been any incidents in Iberville Parish, he and others want to make sure it doesn't offend Veteran’s there…
"I promised them at the last Veteran's Day Memorial celebration that I would pass something in Iberville Parish to discourage that", Jewell said.
The ACLU says Iberville Parish can’t stipulate any laws to prevent First Amendment rights. Louisiana ACLLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman says the council made a mistake.
"What they've done is pass a law they know is unenforceable, that is illegal", Esman said. "And that sets a really bad example for the public. What that tells the public is that the elected officials don't care what the law of the land is".
Jewell brushes off any comment made the ACLU as the organization's usual rhetoric.
"The ACLU is doing their job. That's what they do. They flag these things and comment on it. If they're not commenting, they're not doing their job. We are going to enforce it."
Iberville Parish leaders reason they passed the law since their community is very patriotic. Burning flags will result in a one-thousand-dollar fine and possibly six months in jail. Esman says the passage of the law is just the opposite.
"The laws of this county protect people's rights to do the things they just banned. So in fact an act of patriotism would be to uphold the laws of the land and not violate them by passing unenforceable or unconstitutional laws", Esman said.
The law is expected to go into effect in 30 days.
According to the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index, Louisiana ranks 42nd on tax competitiveness. Senior Policy Analyst Jared Walczak says the reason for this low rating is because the Bayou State has one of the nation’s most complex tax structures. He says Louisiana has a number of taxes that most states have foregone.
“An ideal tax code raises the necessary revenue without unduly picking winners and losers. It doesn’t put a thumb on the scale to guide economic decision making.”
Wyoming ranked number one in the nation when it comes to tax competitiveness and New Jersey came in 50th. Walczak says Louisiana’s complex tax code makes it difficult for new companies to conduct business.
“You file in every location, you pay on different things. What you might pay a sales tax on in one parish, you won’t pay it in another. That’s needlessly complex, it’s hard to comply with, it makes it harder to do business with in Louisiana.”
The index reports Louisiana ranks 50th for the state’s sales tax structure. Walczak says Louisiana could benefit greatly if it simplified its tax code.
“The sales tax could be on a unified base across the state. There could be simplifications and consolidations of collections. I know these are difficult things but they are worth doing.”
A tiger who became a roadside attraction in Grosse Tate was euthanized. Tony the Tiger had lived at an Iberville Parish Tiger Truck Stop since 2001. Due to health issues, he was put to sleep on Monday. Attorney Jennifer Treadway says despite what protesters say, Tony died peacefully and was very loved by his caretakers.
"Every one of his caretakers was there to pat him and hug him and I was watching grown men weeping", Treadway said.
There have been ongoing legal battles between Tony’s owner Michael Sandlin and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Sandlin’s attorney Jennifer Treadway says Sandlin plans to get another tiger which he has the proper permit to do so.
"He has a zoo license from the USDA, Federal government under the Animal Welfare Act just as LSU does.", Treadway said.
Senior Staff Attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund Tony Eliseuson claims Tony lived in deplorable conditions.
"Having a majestic animal like Tony living in a truck stop environment where he's being exposed to diesel fumes every day and being in a small cage ultimately led to his demise", Eliseuson said.
Eliseuson says they stand ready to prevent another tiger from living at that truck stop.
"Louisiana in its wisdom passed the Louisiana Big Cat ban in 2006. That should prevent Mr. Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop from ever getting another tiger." Eliseuson said.
Open enrollment for the Medicare program is now until December 7th for 2018 plans.
State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says this is the only time of the year when senior citizens can shop around for their plans and compare prices.
He says it’s important to find a plan that goes along with your current doctors.
“You must always be mindful of the need to have your important healthcare providers, your doctors, in your network, so that you are eligible to get coverage through the Medicare system.”
Donelon says there are different plans with different pricing structures available during this period, so there is a good chance for savings.
“By moving from one plan to another, a plan may have lowered their premiums or you may not have been aware of a cheaper available option when you signed up last year.”
Staff with the Senior Health Insurance Information Program are available to talk with Louisiana residents. Donelon says call L-D-I to reach someone who can help with the shopping process at 1 (800) 259-5300. He says there are assistance programs to help some individuals pay for healthcare premiums.
“They are means tested so you would have to meet the eligibility based on your income. We can help you determine if you are eligible.”
Two years from now, Louisiana voters will likely be gearing up for a gubernatorial runoff election. GOP Chairman Roger Villere says they plan to go after current Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards in a big away. He says Edwards does not share many of the conservative beliefs of Louisiana voters.
“I think he’s moderate to liberal on a number of other issues. His brand of politics is more moderate than I like. Even if he was a Republican, I’d be pushing to get a more conservative Republican in there.”
Villere says one big name that has been mentioned a lot for the 2019 election is U.S. Senator John Kennedy. He says Kennedy is an extremely formidable candidate for the position.
“He has the ability to raise the money. He has high name recognition having just run for the U.S. Senate. Also, I believe he served for 17 years as the state treasurer.”
Villere says many other potentially strong Republican politicians have voiced interest in running for Governor.
“Taylor Barras, Senator Appel, Conrad Appel said he was looking at it. Garret Graves said he was looking at it. [Ralph] Abraham said he was looking at it.”
An 18-month-old is dead following a gruesome murder. New Orleans Police says the father, 45-year-old
Mark Hambrick told police “God made him do it.”
Police Chief Michael Harrison says Hambrick called himself into police several
hours after he killed the child.
"The call came from the resident who actually lives at that location, who told us over the phone that he had stabbed and suffocated his 18-month-old child", Harrison said.
Hambrick gave a detailed description to police of himself and the child and told them he would be found on his porch when police came on the property. Harrison says the father remained strangely calm while they arrested him…
"Because he told us he would be waiting, certainly that speaks to his mental state that we can reasonably suspect that is not normal," Harrison said.
Harrison says the exact motive is still unknown, however police say they are seeking any information about Hambrick that can help them with the investigation.
"We are searching for any and all evidence that could be related to this incident. We're looking for anyone who has information about Mr. Hambrick to give us a call or call Crimestoppers at 822-1111", Harrison said.
Hambrick is in custody with charges to be filed later.
The state Department of Children and Family Services has posted an online mapping tool called Safe Haven Facility Locator in an effort to prevent newborn abandonment. Child Protective Services Program Manager Mona Michelli says a mother can visit louisianasafehaven.com to find a place where they can give up a child less than 60 days old.
“To be able to raise awareness of where the facilities are and to bring about an easy way for any mother who would want to take advantage of the Safe Haven Relinquishment Law.”
A 13-year-old Baker mother left her new born baby at her teacher’s house yesterday, according to police. Michelli says the locator website was just launched last week but they’re hopeful mothers will use it to their advantage.
“We want to prevent any death that is not necessary. It’s a safe alternative to abandonment without any legal ramifications to the mother.”
If a mother or parent is not able to locate a facility, call 911 and an emergency responder can transport the child to a facility. Michelli says there are many Safe Haven locations for a mother of a child under 60 days old to relinquish her newborn.
“To an employee of a designated Safe Haven site and a Safe Haven site includes hospitals, health units, police stations, fire stations.”
Michelli says it’s important to remember a mother faces no legal recourse if she follows the Safe Haven laws.
The first class of the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program has started training military vets to run their own business. State Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says the class helps veterans wanting to go into business, by taking online classes and boot camp training on the LSU campus.
"They execute about 30 hours of online instruction then they come to a two day boot camp on the LSU campus, where they're linked up with someone that will follow them through the process of business startup", Pierson said.
Pierson says they are seeking all veterans young and old to get involved in a business that will be successful for them. He says some areas of Louisiana are seeing tremendous growth.
"There's a lot of activity around Lake Charles. Certainly activity is picking up in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We're working very hard to see things improve in Cenla and Northwestern Louisiana", Pierson said.
Pierson says recent economic growth is making this a good time for veterans to venture out into the small business world.
"There's always great opportunities for good ideas from hard working people that can deliver a product or service.", Pierson said.
They hope to train over 100 participants in the first year with a long term goal of creating 100 new jobs through the businesses created from this program.
Louisiana is once again tops for murders in the country. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program says the states murder rate was 11.8 per 100,000 persons, with 554 homicides in 2016. New Orleans based Crime analyst Jeff Asher says this trend has gone on for some time.
"Louisiana has the highest murder rate in the country and this is the 28th consecutive year that we've met that unfortunate distinction, "Asher said.
Asher says even is you didn't county New Orleans, Louisiana would remain tops in the country. But why does the state have the highest homicide rate in America? Asher says it could be a number of factors.
"Starting with education and poverty and leading up to policing and murder clearance rates and everything in between", Asher said.
Asher says even though Louisiana has the highest homicide rate in the county, the number of murders have declined over the last two decades.
"It's worth pointing out that the murder rate is about half of where it was in the early 1990's. In 1993, it was 20.3 per 100,000 and last year it was 11.8 per 100,000", Asher said.
Asher says he hopes to see State Legislators to take the lead in helping to pass laws to help decrease the murder rate further.
Investigators are continuing to piece together the strange
case of a baby born to a 13-year-old girl in Baker. Police say the family wasn’t aware she was pregnant
and gave birth in her bedroom. Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn says the teen
decided to drop the newborn off, with the umbilical cord still attached on a
school teacher’s front porch.
"From the interview, I'm thinking they were thinking the teacher was someone who would care and make sure the baby was taken to the right place", Dunn said.
Dunn says after the baby was born, the teen got her brother to assist with dropping the child off at a neighbor's house.
"They tried to clean up the scene where the baby was born. They cleaned the baby up, wrapped the baby in a blanket, put the baby at the stoop of the teacher they knew", Dunn said.
Dunn says he’s getting the word out about this incident because Louisiana law allows mothers to legally relinquish their newborns without repercussions.
"Call the police, call EMS, call the fire department. That's our job. We're coming with a solution for you:, Dunn says.
Police suspect the father is also just 13-years-old.
New Orleans is on the verge of electing its first female mayor. Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and former Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet are in the November 18 runoff. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says with history in the making, more attention will be drawn to the Mayor’s race in the runoff election.
"I think there will be a lot more attention paid to each of them and the debates will be more focused and perhaps even more sharp edged," Dubos said.
Voter turnout in Orleans Parish for the Mayoral primary was 32 percent.
Dubos says even though New Orleans has never had a female mayor, it's not a big surprise to see two women in the runoff.
"Women are 55% of the New Orleans registered voters, and about 57% and sometimes a little more of the turnout, so it's certainly logical that you would have at least one woman in the runoff and now we have two," Dubos said.
The state Treasurer’s race will also be decided next month. Dubos expects a less than 10 percent turnout statewide. He says Democrat Derrick Edwards and Republican John Schroder have their work cut out for them, when it comes to securing votes.
"Both candidates have to work very hard to get their voters out to the polls, to get their voters motivated to go out their to cast a ballot," Dubos said.
A dismal 13 percent voters, representing about 400,000, participated statewide last Saturday.
The three constitutional amendments on Saturday’s ballot passed and are now law. President of the Public Affairs Research Council Robert Travis Scott says the first amendment which establishes a property tax exemption for construction work in progress will make things more certain for tax assessors.
“Been thrown into somewhat of a legal question about how construction work in progress was going to be assessed for property taxes and with the passage of amendment number one it’s fairly clear that those things will not be taxed.”
Amendment number two expands an already existing law and will give the spouses of volunteer firefighters, EMS, and paramedics who die on duty, a full property tax exemption on their home. Scott says this will be retroactive to those who have already suffered this tragedy.
“And let’s hope that in the future, there are no new people added to this. Not for tax reasons but for the obvious reason that we do not want anyone else to have to perish on duty doing their very valuable job.”
Scott says with the passage of amendment three, the state has created a new fund within the transportation fund. He says this fund will receive any new money if the legislature decided to increase the gas tax.
“And that expenditures on those monies will be more restricted, even then in the transportation trust fund that we have now.”
Zachary police say a man accused of allegedly murdering his 11-month-old baby is in custody. 33-year-old Fabian Smith is charged in the death of Jericho Smith. Police arrived on the scene Saturday to find the baby lying in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds. Police Chief David McDavid says Smith did not own up to the incident initially.
"He had made statements to witnesses that he had messed up to call 911", McDavid said. "The kids had come in on it and seen the baby lying there also. It's just a tragic event."
McDavid says they found multiple weapons in the house and the autopsy shows the baby died of stab and gunshot wounds.
"We had also found a knife and a firearm at the scene. The baby had blunt force trauma to the back of the head also", McDavid said.
McDavid says neighbors called 9-1-1 after other children in the Smith’s house ran next door telling them what happened.
"Kids had ran next door to the neighbor. Daddy had told them to call 911. The neighbor walked over and saw the child lying in a pool of blood. The daddy told the neighbor I messed up. Call 911."
Fabian Smith was the only adult home at the time of the murder.
Three victims from last night’s Clovelly Oil Co. energy platform explosion on Lake Pontchartrain remain in critical condition and the search for one of the workers continues today. Jefferson Parish EMS Director Mike Guilliot says seven people were taken to the hospital last night.
"Two patients at East Jefferson were discharged during the night. From the trauma center, they moved two patients to the burn center in critical condition. They have on patient currently in ICU in critical condition and the other two patients at the trauma center were discharged."
Officials say it doesn’t appear there is any pollution in the water and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto says the platform is still burning off natural gas.
"We were able to board the rig, it is burning at a very low pressure. It just takes time for it to come out of the pipe."
Officials say cleaning chemicals used during a maintenance operation could be a possible cause. Lopinto is not releasing much information on the 8th worker that remains missing.
"I don't know what part of their family has been notified or not notified at this point. They know that we have a search and rescue mission. This is obviously early and their family needs some time to grieve and hopefully we'll be able to find them."
The state Department of Health is reminding Louisianans it’s time to get your annual flu vaccination. Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Heath Dr. Parham Jaberi says the flu season has begun and doctors are starting to see a small number of cases.
“It’s very, very early in the season but it’s important to get vaccinated now so citizens can be protected as early as one to two weeks from now.”
LDH will host flu vaccination clinics until December in all parts of the state and residents can visit LDH’s website for locations and dates. Jaberi says walk-ins are welcome. He says the flu shot is free for individuals with insurance and 10 dollars for those without insurance.
“We try to serve the uninsured or under insured. Our goal is to provide these vaccinations to those who are maybe having difficulty getting them elsewhere.”
Jaberi says it’s important to get a flu shot because the virus is dangerous to young children and the elderly. He says many people think they can get the flu from the vaccine, but that’s not true.
“You don’t have live virus particles, they actually have taken pieces of genetic material and other particles so there is no live material that can cause an illness, an actual illness.”
A significant cold front moved through the Bayou State leaving us with some much needed relief. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this front has brought in much cooler and drier Canadian air and pushed out the warm Gulf of Mexico air. He says the afternoon highs will be in the 70s in northern parishes and low 80s in the coastal zone.
“70s across most of the state for highs today, that’s just incredible. By tomorrow morning, minimum temperatures in the upper 40s across northern parishes, 50s across central Louisiana and then 60s in the coastal parishes.”
Keim says this cool weather is going to stick around all week long. He says we may have broken the back of summer.
“This doesn’t mean we won’t get somewhat warm again here and there but these long sustained periods of temperatures in the 90s, that should essentially be over.”
Keim says as the temperatures in the 90s subside, we’re still going to see a warmer than usual autumn.
“The temperatures are still cooling as we move into the fall season, they’re just going to be a little bit warmer than the long term averages and again that still doesn’t mean we’re not going to get these intrusions of cooler air like we’re currently getting.”
By Jeff Palermo
The Saints nearly blew a 35-point lead, but an opportunistic Black and Gold defense preserved a 52-38 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Saints defense, which looked very bad at the beginning of the season, forced five turnovers and scored a franchise record three touchdowns in one game. Head Coach Sean Payton credits the pressure put on Detroit QB Matthew Stafford.
"We did a good job affecting the passer and our looks changed and I thought that helped us," Payton said.
An interception in the end zone by Cam Jordan on a batted pass sealed the victory. Before that big play by Jordan, the Lions scored four straight TDs. One of the scores was a punt return and another a pick six. The Saints offense failed to get a first down in eight straight possessions in the second half. Payton not happy with how his team finished.
"I'm trying to be happy today, it's hard to, when you win like that and do a bunch of things silly in the 2nd half, but hopefully we can continue to win," Payton said.
It's the Saints third straight victory and their record is now 3-2.
Quarterback Drew Brees tossed two touchdown passes, but only threw for 186 yards and he threw his first two interceptions of the season. While running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined to have 237 yards of total offense.
Baton Rouge Republican Congressman Garret Graves authored legislation seeking to protect Cajuns, saying they are an endangered, because of coastal land loss. He is pushing for them to be protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Graves believes the federal government has been mismanaging the Mississippi River system for years, endangering the Cajun’s way of life.
"These are coastal wetlands", Graves said. "This is some of the most productive habitat on the North American continent. It also happens where Cajuns primarily live."
Graves claims endangered species are given extra protections and since the Cajun culture is threatened, he wants them to be afforded the same opportunity.
"Our habitat is disappearing. And I don't understand why animals get better treatment than our actual people. So our amendment just simply designates Cajuns as endangered species so we can be afforded those same protections", Garret said.
He says no matter how his fellow congressman feel, the federal government needs to get out of the business of “land grabbing”.
"I think it's inappropriate we can continue to have this type of land loss
Following discussion on the floor and some good natured jabbing, Graves withdrew his amendment from consideration.
God Bless America & Our Home Louisiana
5:00pm - 8:00pm
Click For Kim Komando's Daily Tip!!
All Weekend Long
Political Free Zone!