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News for Wednesday 061913
By Dave Graichen
The LSU baseball team’s record-setting season came to an abrupt end when North Carolina eliminated the Tigers from the College World Series with a 4-2 victory Tuesday afternoon in TD Ameritrade Park. The Tigers finished the season 57-11.
Gov. Bobby Jindal created a stir Tuesday by encouraging Republicans “to stop the bedwetting.” Jindal penned a pep talk in Politico to point out the GOP has 30 governors and took control of the U.S. House in 2010. One snippet reads: “Let’s stop defeating ourselves, get on offense, and go kick the other guys around. If you’ve followed the news over the past month, they are certainly asking for it. The governor then launched into what “the left” wants, listing pornography, abortion, lax moral standards, the elimination of super-sized soda drinks and a government that offers jobs to everyone.
Jefferson Parish authorities say a 5-year-old girl is dead after her 13-year-old half-brother inflicted fatal injuries to her, while imitating moves he saw while watching professional wrestling. Jefferson Parish Sheriff's office spokesperson, Col John
Fortunato says during the questioning, the 13-year-old seemed to enjoy talking about the wrestling moves that lead to his half-sisters death. He's been charged with second degree murder.
Some residents in Washington Parish got a rude awakening yesterday morning as a result of a natural gas line explosion. The blast occurred at around 5:30 near the community of Enon. Several state agencies responded and Kevin Davis, director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says they are trying to determine what caused the explosion. Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal told reporters at the scene that it looks like a bomb went off. Davis says at point, the flames shooting up from the ruptured pipe were seen miles away.
During Governor Jindal's state-tour stop yesterday in Shreveport, he officially signed a pair of bills benefiting Hunters for the Hungry. Bossier City Representative Jeff Thompson says one of the bills will allow non-profit organizations to serve wild game. Earlier this year nearly 1600 pounds of venison meat were tossed out at a homeless shelter in Shreveport-Bossier by order of state health officials who said hunter-taken game was not allowed to be served. The other bill that is now law provides a checkoff box on hunting license forms that would help fund the Hunters for the Hungry.
A new law signed Tuesday night by Gov. Bobby Jindal will require the annual reporting of who is getting the college scholarships awarded by people who serve on Louisiana’s higher education management boards. The Board Scholarship Reporting Act affects scholarships that members of the LSU and Southern Board of Supervisors grant.
This sounds like a scene from the TV series “Bates Motel”. Vernon Parish authorities recently received information that led to the discovery of a large field of marijuana plants in a western area of Vernon Parish. The Vernon Parish law enforcement, working with State Police, the Wildlife and Fisheries Agency, the FBI and the Louisiana National Guard, destroyed approximately 6,815 marijuana plants growing on more than two acres of land .The plants ranged in size from seedlings to three feet in height
A judge on Tuesday struck down several exceptions to Louisiana’s ban on juveniles possessing handguns, including a little-known provision allowing youngsters to carry handguns as long as they have written permission from a parent. Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson of East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court upheld the remaining language in the ban, which forbids handgun possession among youths under the age of 17.
An environmental group claims that dozens of people in Ascension Parish are complaining of physical and mental health effects as of a result of last week's chemical plant explosion in Geismar. Louisiana Bucket Brigade director Anne Rolfes says they surveyed 67 people and most of the people reported some sort of symptom. However,
Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson Rodney Mallett says their air quality readings throughout Ascension Parish came back fine. Rolfes says her organization does not agree with the reports from the Department of Environmental Quality, who claim there were no reports of harmful effects after the explosion at the Williams Olefins plant..
The recent party switch by Opelousas state Senator Elbert Guillory is making national headlines. Newly minted Republican Senator Guillory tells his story to the Washington Post; the story is available online. Guillory is currently the only black republican in the State Legislature.
The attorney for Livingston Parish School board President Malcolm Sibley who was arrested on a hit and run charge Sunday says his client is remorseful. Sibley was involved in an accident in which a 21-year-old man from Mississippi was killed. Police say it appears the man was standing in the middle of the road at the time of the accident. However, police say leaving the scene and failure to report the accident was a felony offense.
An area of low oxygen to form this summer off the coast of Louisiana could grow to the size of New Jersey if forecasts released Tuesday hold true. That area of low oxygen, also known as the “dead zone,” could be one of the largest scientists have seen since annual monitoring began in 1985.
The Alexandria Police is requesting assistance in locating a missing person.
37 year old Deesha Austin was last seen June 9 wearing a gray and pink dress. Her family reported that she left the residence to go to the store and never returned. Anyone with information as to her whereabouts should contact the Alexandria Police Department.
News for Tuesday 061813
By Dave Graichen
It's win or go home for LSU Tigers this afternoon as they face North Carolina in an elimination game in the College World Series. Coach Paul Mainieri will start sophomore Cody Glenn on the mound. It will be Glenn's first appearance since May 22nd. Mainieri admits he is concerned about the long layoff, but believes Glenn can get the job done...You can hear that game this afternoon beginning with the pre-game at 1:30. On 970 KSYL.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has launched a statewide tour that will take him to all 64 parishes. His first stop, in Alexandria yesterday at Central Louisiana Technical Community College, where he signed legislation to provide funding for projects at community and technical colleges across the state. The governor says the tour will include events that will highlight new economic development announcements, education achievements, transportation projects, coastal restoration projects, and legislation passed in the recent legislative session. Kyle Plotkin, Jindal’s communications director, said individual stops will be added as events come up.
Governor Jindal signs legislation that provides state funding for construction projects at community and technical colleges across Louisiana. L-C-T-C-S President Joe May says the money will go towards building new workshops and training areas for students in key industries like nursing, welding, construction and information technology. The bill provides 251-million dollars for 29 projects at Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges. May says 34-million dollars of that money is local, private matching funds.
The Louisiana National Guard's highest-ranking enlisted man is under investigation for allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Colonel Mike Kazmierzak says the allegations are against Sgt. Major Tommy Caillier, who after a preliminary investigation, was been removed from his post, while a criminal investigation is conducted. Caillier is accused of sexually harassing and possibly sexually assaulting a fellow Guard soldier.
State Police say a 15-year-old in Evangeline Parish died over the weekend just hours after he was ejected from an ATV he was driving. State police say Matthew Neal of Basile was operating a 4-wheeler that did not have functioning lights when he was hit from behind by a pickup. Both Neal and a 16-year-old passenger, were ejected. The passenger survived, Neal passed died from his injuries. The crash remains under investigation.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's office says a 3-year-old boy drowned in a swimming pool Saturday during a party at his grandparent’s home just outside of Carencro Saturday night. They say deputies responded to the home to find the child un-responsive and he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The case is being ruled an accident.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office says a 37-year-old man drowned after he and his one-year-old baby fell into the Sabine River. Spokeswoman Kim Myers says witnesses jumped into the river and rescued the child, but could not save James Mason of DeQuincy.
Congratulations to Rapides Parish judge Harry Randow, who, along with 6 others, will be inducted July 12 into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame. The induction events begin with a reception for the honorees and the public at the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum at the gates to the prison. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will follow to reveal the exhibit cases that illustrate the lives and accomplishments of the inductees.
Randow has been judge of the 9th Judicial District in Rapides Parish for 16 years
A man who is a suspect in the 2008 case of a woman who was raped and murdered in Lake Charles is now on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. 25-year-old Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara is wanted for allegedly breaking into the home of a 26-year-old woman, raping her then killing her all in front of her 4 year old son on February 19, 2008. The FBI is offering up to a $100,000 reward for information leading to Guevara's arrest.
Police in Monroe are still seeking a man they say opened fire at a Father's Day barbecue; killing one man and wounding two others. Police say an argument led to 29-year-old Eldrick Carter shooting the victims. An arrest warrant for Carter is out, and police ask anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts to call Monroe Police
The University of Louisiana System rolls out its new online degree program; aimed at adults who wish to go back and finish their college degree. U.L. System President Sandra Woodley says their online B.A. in Organizational Leadership program is a great way to go back - at one's own pace - and complete a degree program.
Livingston Parish School Board President Malcolm Sibley is facing a charge of hit-and-run after he allegedly struck a pedestrian that died from his injuries on Saturday morning in St. Helena Parish. State Police Trooper Melissa Matey says Sibley was taken into police custody a few hours after the hit-and-run occurred.
News for Monday 061713
By Dave Graichen
LSU suffers a frustrating loss in its long awaited return to the College World Series as the Tigers allow two unearned runs in a 2-to-1 defeat to UCLA. LSU spoiled a good outing by starting pitcher Aaron Nola by committing two critical errors. Coach Paul Mainieri says that was the difference in the game The loss sends LSU to the loser's bracket where they'll play North Carolina at two o' clock on Tuesday.
A new report ranks Louisiana 2nd-lowest state in the U.S. for its number of college graduates. The report done by the Lumina Foundation shows only 27.9% of Louisiana adults between 25 & 64 have a college degree. West Virginia has a slightly lower rate to place 50th among states. In case you are wondering, Massachusetts ranked #1 with 50.8% having college degrees.
Controversy erupted Friday afternoon on whether all public school teachers will get pay raises or if those rated as “ineffective” in Louisiana’s new evaluations will be excluded.
State Superintendent of Education John White, in a late afternoon press conference, said the Legislature clearly intended for the increases to apply to teachers generally.
White said while it is up to local school districts to make the final call, he plans to make clear to them next week that lawmakers intended for all teachers to get the increase.
Governor Jindal signs a pair of pro-life bills into law. One of the measures would prohibit a so-called "telemedicine" abortion. That's when a doctor uses Skype or another video service to watch the administration of a drug that can be used in abortion. The author of the bill Gene Mills says he hasn't heard of telemedicine abortions occurring in Louisiana and it's not recommended by health professionals. The other pro-life bill signed by the governor increases the penalties for coerced abortions. That’s when a parent or legal guardian encourages a minor child to have an abortion. The author of that bill, Denham Springs Representative Valerie Hodges, says a coerced abortion will fall under the legal definition of child abuse. The legislation also allows the Department of Children and Family Services to provide protection for the pregnant teen.
A second person has died as a result of Thursday's chemical plant explosion in Ascension Parish. State Police identify the victim as 47-year-old Scott Thrower of St. Amant. 29-year-old Zachary Green of Hammond also died in the blast. Green was
hired in October by Williams Companies, which owns the plant. Plant manager Larry Bayer says the blaze ignited at a propylene fractionator and propylene and propane were involved in the explosion.
Unhappy about an 11th-hour funding addition for Bayou Country Superfest, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne wants the governor to remove the money from the state spending plan.
Two state senators declined Thursday and Friday to discuss the additional $200,000 draw on the lieutenant governor’s tourism funds. The amendment crept into the $25 billion state operating budget late in the legislative session. Assuming the governor allows the appropriations to stand, The state operating budget also calls for Dardenne to spend $300,616 on the Independence Bowl, $948,112 on the Essence Festival, $250,000 on the Louisiana Special Olympics and $56,000 on a Creole plantation house. All of which will be out of the control of the Lt. Governor.
News for Friday 061413
By Dave Graichen
A 29-year-old man from Hammond died in yesterday's chemical plant explosion in Ascension Parish. Zachary Green was one of 600 workers at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar, when a huge fireball went up into the sky at around 8:30 yesterday morning. The department of health and hospitals says another 77 individuals were
taken to local hospitals and three remain in intensive care. Now that all of the workers have been accounted for, officials will try to determine what ignited the blaze. State Police Col. Mike Edmonson says several experts are assisting in the investigation.
Word is from Michael Jenkins the new owner of the Hotel Bentley, the refurbished downtown landmark show be open in December. Jenkins tol the “Town Talk” earlier this week that “He could have probably opened 3-4 months earlier, but he wanted to go ahead and do the job right the first time. Jenkins saying, It’s going to take longer, but that he thinks it will pay off in the long run.” Under Jenkins’ plans, the original portion of the Bentley will remain a hotel with nearly 100 rooms. The seven-floor tower portion, which was added in the 1930s, is being gutted and converted to condominiums. The entire interview is in today’s “Town Talk”.
Speaking of the Town Talk, The company that owns our local newspaper, Gannett, has purchased Belo Broadcasting, the owner of WWL TV in new Orleans and other TV stations across the country. The cost, $1.5 Billion and the assumption of $715 Million in debt.
A new poll shows Louisiana voters support passage of a bipartisan immigration bill currently moving through the U.S. Senate. Sponsored by the Alliance For Citizenship, the poll was conducted by Burland & Associates. Pollster James Burland says 70% of those polled say they support the immigration reform bill, co-authored by the "Gang of Eight"; four House and four Senate members from both parties. The bill could come up for a U.S. Senate vote soon. Senator Mary Landrieu leans toward a "yes" vote, but Senator David Vitter opposes the bill, because it doesn't prioritize securing the boarder. The bill would however authorize and pay for national guard troops to patrol the border.
Dad should do alright this Sunday, Father's Day, as the National Retail Federation projects spending for Dad should be higher this year. Baton Rouge retail analyst Jim Rutledge says the average person will spend just under $120 this year--up from $117 last year. Total spending for Father's Day nationwide is expected to top $13-billion.
Four months after requesting a speedy trial, an attorney for one of two Baton Rouge men accused in the 2007 slaying of two LSU graduate students from India asked a judge Thursday to scrub the scheduled June 24 trial date and set a later one.
State District Judge Chip Moore scheduled a new trial date of Sept. 23 for both men.
The attorney who represents one of accused, told the judge he needs time to investigate forensic evidence that prosecutors recently turned over to the defense.
The judge warned both sides Thursday that the Sept. 23 trial date will not be altered.
A 7-mile stretch of the southbound lanes along the main Plaquemines Parish evacuation route will be closed for most of hurricane season. The LA Hwy 23 project hopes to raise that part of the road to prevent future flooding.
State Police inspectors have given Bossier City's new Margaritaville casino the all-clear to open its doors the the public. The casino hopes to have that soft opening this Saturday. A Grand Opening is planned for July 3rd, with a live performance by Jimmy Buffett.
Senator Mary Landrieu's son was arrested in New Orleans for driving the wrong way in the French Quarter, hit & run, and an open alcoholic beverage in the car. 21-year-old Connor Snellings reportedly hit a pedestrian, who wasn't badly hurt. In a written statement, Senator Landrieu says she and her husband are "extremely
disappointed" in their son's "irresponsible actions".
Ouachita Parish deputies arrested Philadelphia Eagles all-pro offensive tackle Jason Peters for alleged drag racing early Wednesday morning. Sheriff's spokesman Major Mike Moore says Peters fled when officers tried to pull him over--reaching speeds of up to 100 miles an hour. He says Peters eventually pulled over and was booked on two charges. Moore says Peters posted bail and was released. Peters was busted by Shreveport cops back in March of 2011, for a loud music violation and resisting an officer.
News for Thursday 061313
By Dave Graichen
Real personal income grew 2.1 percent in Louisiana in 2011, slightly behind the national average of 2.7 percent. According to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, real personal income in Louisiana was $167.2 billion in 2011, compared with $163.7 billion in 2010. The U.S. total rose from almost $11.1 trillion to nearly $11.4 trillion.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is under pressure from the faith community to veto legislation that would set up a legal framework in Louisiana for surrogate births. Among the 433 bills that made it to the governor’s desk in the recent legislative session, the Louisiana Family Forum and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops targeted just one: Senate Bill 162. (The groups want the governor to stop the legislation from becoming state law. Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills say “It threatens the integrity of the traditional family. On the opposite end of the spectrum is state Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, who filed SB162 after he and his wife, Katherine, turned to surrogates in Nevada and California to carry their biological children. They used surrogates because of medical problems, and they did not want to grapple with legal complications that could arise in Louisiana.) Jindal must make a decision within the next few weeks. He can sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.
Kenner Police say they responded to a report of a vehicle driving recklessly on I-10 early yesterday morning and discovered a 10-year-old behind the wheel. Sgt. Brian McGregor says the child's grandmother, 54-year-old Brenda Byrd, her friend, 48-year-old Shelia Joiner and the child's brother were passengers in the SUV. He says the adults informed the officer they needed the child to drive because they were both too drunk to do so. McGregor says both Byrd and Joiner were arrested.
The latest approach to addressing the homeless population in Baton Rouge is to offer them a bus ticket out of the city. The Metro Council approved the mayor’s mid-year budget allocation Wednesday, which among many other funds, included $5,000 for one-way bus tickets for homeless people. Initially, the homeless relocation program was referred to in budget documents as “Clean Sweep,” but it was subsequently renamed “HOPE,” which stands for Homeless Outreach Prevention Efforts.
An Army veteran on Wednesday pleaded guilty in federal court to second-degree murder in the 2010 slaying of a soldier at Fort Polk. 28 year old Marcus Carey also pleaded guilty to attempted murder in an attack on a second soldier at the base. The judge set sentencing for Sept. 19.
According to a new study by the American Automobile Association, using voice commands to text while driving is MORE distracting than talking on your cell phone. Triple-A spokesman Don Redman says the study found that speech to text systems require greater concentration than talking on the phone. He says reaction times are slower and brain function is compromised.
The L-S-U baseball team leaves this morning for Omaha, the site of the College World Series. The Tigers play their first round game against U-C-L-A on Sunday night. Head Coach Paul Mainieri says the team has been scrimmaging to keep from getting rusty, but the eight-day break between games has helped the Tigers get back to full-strength. The LSU Tigers have won 57 games this season and Mainieri says if they play like they did since February, they'll have the opportunity to stay alive a long time during the 12-day tournament.
The LHSAA releases its football championship schedule and for the first time ever there will be nine title games, instead of five, because the association voted to separate public schools from private schools for the postseason. The prep classic will begin Thursday December 12th and last until Saturday 14th in the Mercedes Benz Suuperdome.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's office has charged two women in the death of a 23-month-old boy. The Two are charged with first degree murder. Authorities say the child was taken to the hospital June 6th, while in the care of the couple, with life-threatening injuries and died Saturday as the result of blunt force trauma to the head.
State Police say a motorcyclist was killed in Concordia Parish Tuesday. They say 33-year-old David Welch of Vidalia lost control of his bike, ran off the road and overturned several times. He was not wearing his helmet and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The AARP Louisiana says thousands of commuters will be impacted and the regional economy could suffer because of the decision to end the L-A Swift bus service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The AARP's Jason Tutor says they surveyed over 300 L-A Swift riders and found out 51% of the riders use the service to get to work. It's estimated over 12-thousand riders use L-A Swift every month. The service is set to end June 30th, unless the state can find another 750-thousand dollars to attract federal matching dollars, so the transportation service can continue.
State Police is asking for the public's help as they investigate the theft of an ATM from the Hammond Office of Motor Vehicles. Trooper Nick Manale says early Tuesday morning someone drove a vehicle into the front glass wall of the OMV and stole the ATM.
News for Wednesday 061213
By Dave Graichen
It appears Ft. Polk is safe for now. A Senate panel on Tuesday approved legislation rejecting the Defense Department’s request to shutter installations and facilities in the United States that are no longer needed as the military branches cut the number of troops in uniform. Last week, The House Armed Services Committee also said no to more base closings, and even took the additional step of adding a provision barring the Pentagon from even planning for another round of cuts. The House and Senate refusals effectively ensure that a final defense policy bill approved by Congress for the 2014 fiscal year won’t give the department permission to close excess bases even as lawmakers clamor for ways to cut the federal deficit.
Governor Jindal yesterday signed senate bill 116 that will allow voters in Pineville to go to the polls in October to decide whether or not they what alcohol to be sold in local restaurants. Supporters say restaurants that are interested in Pineville but currently shying away, particularly national chains who say they would come to the city if alcohol sales are allowed. It’s hoped, that, in turn, would attract more development, including hotels, that would open up economic opportunities in the city.
The Alexandria City Council adopted resolutions Tuesday confirming two people to city posts who had held the positions on an interim basis. Daniel Williams was confirmed as director of community services. Williams was confirmed by a 4-3 vote, with council members Chuck Fowler, Harry Silver, Lee Rubin and Jim Villard voting yes while Ed Larvadain, Mitzi LaSalle and Jules Green voted no. David Gill was confirmed by unanimous vote as director of public works.
Governor Jindal's coastal advisor is critical of BP's decision to end active deepwater horizon oil spill operations in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Garret Graves questions why BP would end response efforts in those states when there's an estimated one-million barrels of oil still in the Gulf of Mexico. BP says oil response efforts will continue along 84 shoreline miles in Louisiana.
One of the bills passed by the Legislature and sent to Governor Jindal's desk reforms the state's practices for collecting outstanding debts. State Treasurer John Kennedy supported the legislation. He says, currently, the state's many agencies handle their own collections – and do so poorly. House Bill 629 centralizes all debt owed the state under the Department of Revenue. Kennedy says it will more effectively collect some of the nearly $2-billion in outstanding sums owed to the state. Kennedy says the centralized collection system will be implemented with the Governor's signature and could produce millions for state coffers before the year's end.
3 death row inmates have filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana State Penitentiary for what they call appalling conditions under extreme heat in their cells. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the inmates by the Promise of Justice Initiative and deputy director Mercedes Montagnes who says the state of death row at Angola is unacceptable. Montagnes says they are not asking for "comfortable" conditions on death row---they are asking for humane conditions... in addition to the extreme heat, Montagnes says the inmates say they get dirty water and when they get ice, it often has bugs in it.
Pairings and game times have been announced for the College World Series and the LSU Baseball/UCLA game will be held Sunday night at 7pm on ESPN2 and ESPN3. The first game on Saturday will be between the Oregon State/Kansas State Super Regional winner versus Mississippi State. The second game on Saturday will be Indiana against Louisville. The first game Sunday will be the North Carolina/South Carolina Super Regional winner versus North Carolina State.
The woman accused of a Memorial Day weekend drunk driving crash that killed three people has been released from the hospital and taken into custody by St. Charles Parish deputies. Jennifer Englade face three counts of vehicular homicide, 3rd degree feticide, 2nd offense DWI and other charges. Investigators believe she was legally drunk when she veered across the center line and into the path of small sedan; killing two adults inside...one of them a pregnant woman. A passenger in Englade's vehicle was also killed.
The US Coast Guard says one person is dead and another fighting for their life after a boating accident in Pilottown Monday. Pilottown is located in the very tip of the boot of Louisiana and rescue swimmers had to be lowered to the location of the pleasure craft in trouble. The two were air-lifted to the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans and upon arrival one person was pronounced dead and the other in critical condition.
U-L Monroe has named three finalists to become the school's new athletic director. The three finalists are Georgia associate A-D Josh Brooks, U-C Riverside A-D Brian Wickstrom and Texas-Pan American athletic director Chris King. The plan is to have a new A-D in place by August 1st.
A New Iberia woman and her son are accused of burglarizing the same home twice. Morgan City Police say 47-year-old Tina Collier and her 17-year-old son Brandon allegedly hit the house on May 17th and again last Sunday. They've been booked in the parish jail.
Bossier City's newest casino resort is growing closer to opening its doors. Margaritaville spokesperson Christy Wood says State Police Gaming division officers are visiting this week, to test casino systems, gaming machines, staff training and compliance with state laws. Wood says the tropically-themed Margaritaville is very much on track for
it's Grand Opening celebration; coming up in early July. Jimmy Buffett is scheduled to perform at the grand opening.
News For Tuesday 061113
By Dave Graichen
A 48-year-old priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alexandria was found dead Friday in a room at a local motel. Fr. Jamie Medina-Cruz was a pastor of St. Mary's Assumption Catholic Church in Cottonport and an assistant pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marksville. Medina-Cruz was placed on administrative leave at St. Mary's on March 12 after being accused of improper conduct with a minor. He was relieved of his duties pending an investigation by the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office. No charges had been filed. The APD Reports there were no signs of a crime at the scene.
More bad economic news for Shreveport. Barksdale Air Force Base officials say they have issued almost 14-hundred furlough letters to civilians who work on the base. The furlough period starts July 8th. Officials say the cuts are expected to save Barksdale some 1.6 million dollars. The furloughs for workers will be one day per week
for 11 weeks.
The state Board of Regents releases its annual report of teacher preparation and performance, which shows public school teachers doing better than expected. Regents spokesperson Dr. Jeanne (GENE) Burns says the report shows a great many teachers are rating "effective: proficient" or "highly effective" in the new value-added teacher performance reviews. She says the findings indicate that the redesign of teacher preparation is working. Teacher preparation programs in Louisiana underwent a major redesign between 2001 and 2010. Burns says the report shows those efforts are bearing fruit
The Louisiana Civil Service Commission has cleared the way for the state to lay off nearly 4,000 employees at LSU-affiliated hospitals in Lafayette, Lake Charles, Houma and New Orleans. Commissioner Scott Hughes, who last week voted to deny the layoffs, said Monday that the state Department of Health and Hospitals had supplied sufficient information in the interim to convince him that there would be a savings, although he still has doubts as to whether the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would approve some of the planned financing. The employees to receive pink slips at the end of business June 23.
The coroner in Orleans Parish has positively ID'ed the body found inside a car in Bayou St. John as that of missing school teacher Terrilynn Monette, who went missing in the early morning hours of March 2nd, after leaving a Lakeview neighborhood bar. Divers found Monette's black Honda Accord with her still inside it Saturday. Cause of death is listed as drowning.
A big fundraiser takes place today in Washington DC to help Congressman Bill Cassidy's US Senate campaign. The National Republican Senatorial committee headquarters is the host site. The invitation lists the entire Louisiana republican congressional delegation as "special guests. Latest fundraising totals show, Senator Landrieu has a million dollars more in her campaign war chest than Cassidy
The Bossier City Margaritaville Resort Casino is in it's final stages of getting everything together before opening. State Police and other gaming officials are checking this week to see if the new casino is in compliance with Louisiana law. They say a determination will be made on Thursday. The grand opening of
Margaritaville is scheduled for the July 4th week and Jimmy Buffet with perform at the casino's theater on July 3rd.
News for Monday 061013
By Dave Graichen
The LSU baseball team is headed back to Omaha for the first time since 2009 after sweeping its Super Regional Series with Oklahoma. The Tigers reserved their spot in the College world Series with an 11-to-1 win over the Sooners. If LSU didn't get to Omaha this year, they would have been the first senior class since 1985 not to play in the College World Series. The LSU team will leave on Thursday for Omaha, where they'll play the College World Series at the new TD Ameritrade Park. The Tigers will take on UCLA in their first game next weekend.
Senator David Vitter has filed a bill to help homeowners avoid potentially drastic increases in the cost of National Flood Insurance. Right now the NFIP is scheduled to implement rate increases of up to 20% a year for four straight years. The bill seeks
to delay those premium hikes for a year, while a better solution is worked out. Just weeks ago, an amendment to that same effect by Senator Mary Landrieu was defeated in the Senate.
A family’s agonizing, months-long search for missing Jefferson Parish teacher Terrilynn Monette appeared to end Saturday when her car was pulled from a bayou with a body behind the wheel. While an autopsy still must be performed to find out if the corpse is that of the 26 year old teacher, officials who led search efforts, said the chances of the body not being her’s are slim.
State Police say an early Sunday morning two car crash in Sabine Parish has claimed the life of a man from Dilboll, Texas. They say Tommy Tilley Jr lost control of his vehicle on Highway 191 and crossed the center line hitting a truck going in the other direction. After impact, Tilly slammed into several trees. He was pronounced dead on scene. The driving of the truck received minor injuries.
State wildlife and fisheries agents say a six-year-old boy was seriously hurt during a boating accident on the Tickfaw River in Livingston Parish on Sunday night. Wildlife agents say five people were on a boat that slammed into a tree. Authorities say charges are possible against the boat operator.
State Police say a driver who was not wearing a seatbelt and possibly drunk is dead in a single vehicle crash in Claiborne Parish late Saturday night. They say 52-year-old Michael Waganer of Homer ran off La Highway 2 and struck a ditch then a tree. The unrestrained man was partially ejected and pronounced dead at a
local hospital. Alcohol use is suspected.
The Louisiana Lottery Commission says a Lotto ticket bought in New Orleans is worth $835,701, but nobody won the jackpots for Easy 5 or the Powerball. That means Wednesday's estimated Powerball jackpot rises to $70 million.
The explosives recycling company that last month had its licenses suspended in the wake of an investigation into millions of pounds of improperly stored military propellant has launched its own salvo. Explo Systems Inc. and its owners are seeking damages along with a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction to halt the action of the state police that has put them out of business for now. The owners claim their constitutional right against unreasonable seizure and taking without just compensation were violated when the state police without warning on May 20 entered the premises at Camp Minden and physically confiscated all licenses and the keys to the storage magazines.
A Caddo Parish man has been arrested for setting fire to a church, allegedly because he was angry with the pastor's teachings. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says 25-year-old William Sexton, of Oil City, intentionally set the blaze that destroyed the Vivian United Pentecostal Church, on April 23rd. He's charged with aggravated arson, because people were asleep in the facility at the time of the fire. No one was hurt in the blaze.
An east Texas actress has been arrested in connection with allegedly ricin-tainted letters that were mailed last month to President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Shannon Richardson is also known as Shannon Rogers or Shannon Guess. She reportedly called police to implicate her estranged husband in the case. The letters were postmarked from Shreveport. Richardson is accused of mailing a threatening communication to the president and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Two south Louisiana woman are under arrest for defrauding Medicaid. The woman worked as home health care providers, and allegedly filed bogus timesheets for home visits to patients who, it turned out, were in a hospital at the time. They've been charged with Medicaid fraud.
Police in Baker, in East Baton Rouge Parish, say a small aircraft crashed into a neighborhood Friday--setting three homes on fire. It's confirmed the pilot, who was the only person aboard the plane, was killed in the crash.
Narcotic officers in Terebonne, Lafourche and Assumption parishes have busted a major cocaine ring. After a months-long investigation, eight people have been taken into custody. They also seized 8 to 10 kilos of powder cocaine and over $80-thousand in cash.
News for Friday 060713
By Dave Graichen
State lawmakers have, in the closing hours of the legislative session, passed a $25.4-Billion state budget. This averts the necessity for a special budget session as was feared by many, just a day ago. The Senate approved the compromised budget bill by a 38-1 vote. The House vote was unanimous. The budget deal includes a
$69-million increase in funding for local school districts, and small raise for school teachers. The budget deal has the approval of Governor Jindal. The Governor has already singed bills that change the way future budgets may be put together.
Public school teachers will see pay raises of about $500 under a budget compromise that won final approval less than an hour before adjournment Thursday, officials said.
The salary increase would stem from a surprising boost of $69 million in state aid to public schools, which was a key part of the late-session agreement on Louisiana’s $25.4 billion operating budget. Under the plan, half of the money would be used for certificated personnel, teachers and others, and the other 50 percent would be left to the discretion of local school districts.
The State Bond Commission signed off Thursday on a refinancing of Louisiana’s tobacco settlement bonds that will take advantage of low interest rates and generate more than $60 million to plug into next year’s budget. The dollars were included in the 2013-14 budget under negotiation by lawmakers to help pay for the state’s free college tuition program called TOPS, so passage was needed to keep the $25 billion spending plan in balance. The state will save an estimated $144 million over three years.
The congressional fight to avoid potentially skyrocketing flood insurance rate increases in Louisiana and elsewhere made its first tangible gains Thursday. The U.S. House approved legislation that would delay the rate hikes on “grandfathered” properties by a year. Nearly 500,000 people in Louisiana participate in the NFIP. The program has been in financial distress with a loss of more than $20 billion, largely due to payments made after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
To celebrate National Get Outdoors Day, the U.S. Forest Service will waive most recreation use fees such as day-use areas that include picnic sites, swimming and boating sites in Kisatchie National Forest on Saturday. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says this weekend is a free for all fishing weekend for Louisiana citizens and visitors. Spokesman Bo Boehringer says that means you can recreationally fish in fresh or salt water without a fishing license. -- June 8th and 9th.
He says they use this weekend as a recruitment tool in hopes to inspire Louisiana's youth to make fishing a lifelong hobby
A 29-year-old Kenner man has been arrested in the kidnapping and rape of a 7-year-old girl in Metairie. Deputies say the girl was kidnapped Wednesday afternoon by a man who entered through a broken gate at her apartment complex. Overnight, they caught up with David Carter, who will face charges of aggravated kidnapping of a child and aggravated rape.
Southwest Louisiana will be the place to win championships for high school athletes over the next two years. The LHSAA awarded Lake Charles' Burton Coliseum as the host site for the girls and boys Top 28 basketball tournament. All seven baseball state championship games will also be played in southwest Louisiana as the games will be played at Sulphur's McMurray Park.
The House bill aimed at protecting the privacy of Louisiana's concealed weapon permit holders has won final legislative passage. The bill imposes fines of up to $10-thousand on anyone who releases or publishes the confidential information about who has or has applied for a CWP. He says Governor Jindal supported the legislation
and is expected to give it his signature.
Governor Jindal has officially named Timothy Barfield the Secretary of Revenue. Barfield has pretty much run the department ever since the departure of Cynthia Bridges last year. Barfield will be compensated at around $250-thousand a year; twice what Bridges was paid. Barfield officially takes the title July 1st. He's also served
as executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission during The Governor’s 1st term.
LSU will face one of the top pitchers in the country in Game 1 of their super regional series with Oklahoma. Tigers right-hander Aaron Nola will oppose Sooner righty Jonathan Gray. Game 1 of the best of 3 Super Regional Series starts on tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday if necessary at 5:30p.
News for Thursday 060613
By Dave Graichen
This is it, the last day of the 2013 Legislative Session, And it appears the Louisiana House and state Senate officials have reached a preliminary agreement on the state budget that begins on July 1st. Word is, the deal was struck shortly after the chambers adjourned for the night. A final deal will not be completed until the various caucuses and factions have an opportunity to tell their members.
We have our first named storm of the 2013 hurricane season. Tropical Storm Andrea is located in the east-central Gulf. It's forecast track should take it northeast into Florida. We could be seeing some related rain from Andrea though.
Gov. Bobby Jindal will allow Louisiana’s public colleges to raise new fees on their students, charges that will produce an estimated $18 million annually for campuses. The Legislative Fiscal Office said the building fee would generate $4.7 million for the LSU System each year, $7.2 million for the University of Louisiana System, $700,000 for the Southern University System and $4.9 million for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
The Louisiana Senate on Wednesday refused to take up House-passed legislation that would reduce the penalties for simple possession of marijuana. A two-thirds vote was required in order to bring House Bill 103 up for debate as the 2013 session winds down. The Senate voted 22-10 to allow the measure to be heard but it was four votes short of the super majority.
The Louisiana House made a failed stab Wednesday at reviving a proposal to eliminate the mandatory retirement age for judges. Senate Bill 5 is a constitutional amendment that needs the approval of two thirds of the Legislature to go before voters. In the House, the bill needs 70 votes. The amendment would ensure that judges no longer are required to retire when they turn age 70. The House vote was 59-29 in favor of the bill, not enough for passage.
Members of the LSU and Southern University system governing boards will have to disclose which students receive scholarships from them, if Gov. Bobby Jindal agrees to a bill that received final passage Wednesday. Senate Bill 31 requires the boards to post the list of its scholarship recipients annually on their websites and to provide a list to the Louisiana Legislature. The list will have to include the name of each recipient, the board member who gave the scholarship and the annual dollar value of the award. Refusal to submit the information would suspend board members’ ability to give scholarships. The bill passed both house unanimously.
A bid to let Louisiana driver’s licenses comply with federal law requiring each state to create a national identification card for air travel, including domestic flights, has stalled in the state Senate. Officials with the state motor vehicles department have said that if the state doesn’t comply with the federal Real ID law, residents will need passports to fly starting in October.
The Lafayette Police Department is asking for the public's help in locating a suspect involved in a shooting in the city early Wednesday morning. They say two suspects in masks forcefully entered a home around 2:50am and once inside exchanged gunfire with the resident. One suspect was killed by the home owner and the other fled in a getaway car and remains at large. The homeowner was later arrested on drug charges. The motive for the shooting remains under investigation.
The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is launching a program that will collect oyster shells from New Orleans area restaurants and use them to improve public oyster seed areas along the coast. It’s believed the oysters can serve as a foundation for reefs. A one-million dollar donation from Shell Oil Company makes this program possible.
The Assumption Parish sinkhole has grown again. This time nearly 500 feet of berm set up to help keep possible contaminants from leaking into other waterways, have now sunk. It's been almost a year since the now 15-acre sinkhole caused the evacuation of nearby residents in Bayou Corne.
LSU shortstop Alex Bregman was named Wednesday as the National
Freshman Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball magazine. Bregman
has been invited to join Team USA this summer for its 33-game
international tour, which includes a trip to Japan.
The LHSAA Executive Committee is set to vote today on the biggest issue on their agenda, the split football championships. LHSAA President Todd Guice of Ouachita High says the debate has been over whether the playoffs for the private schools should have two divisions or up to five. The LHSAA president says the advantage of having five playoff divisions for select schools, is that schools of similar size will be play each other in the postseason.
News for Wednesday 060513
By Dave Graichen
Details are still sketchy, but a Pineville police officer was seriously injured Tuesday when a car collided with the officer’s motorcycle on Highway 28 East. Officer Michael Daenen was struck by a vehicle turning onto Medical Park Boulevard. He is listed in stable condition. With several broken bones.
The Rapides Parish School Board approved a hire for executive assistant superintendent, a position created in the district reorganization plan proposed by Superintendent Nason Authement. The plan, which included several position eliminations and additions, was approved on May 21, two weeks before Authement’s first board meeting.
In a break with tradition, six Louisiana House members — instead of the usual — three would work with the state Senate to hammer out a compromise on the state budget.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, made the motion shortly after the House got underway Tuesday, signaling possible movement toward a resolution on the $25 billion state spending plan. If the House and the Senate cannot reach an agreement by 6 p.m. Thursday, when the session ends, legislators would have to return to the State Capitol for a special session.
The House approved bill by NOLA Representative Austin Badon that would loosen penalties on pot possession sentences passed in a Senate Committee 4-2 yesterday. It heads to the Senate Floor today for possible final legislative passage.
Judges and parish sheriffs have won legislative backing for their pay raises. With a 29-7 vote, the Senate gave final passage Tuesday to a bill outlining five years of pay raises for judges. Sheriffs can get the salary hikes, because a law allows them to get the same raises as district court judges. The bill now goes to Gov. Bobby
Jindal, who has said he'll sign it into law.
Family, friends and well-wishers lined US 190 near Hammond yesterday, as the body of slain National Guard Specialist Chris Drake was driven by. Drake's remains were taken from a Hammond airport to a funeral home in Denham Springs. He was killed in Afghanistan by a rocket propelled grenade attack.
A low pressure disturbance in the southern Gulf of Mexico has potential to become the year's first tropical storm. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the system COULD become Tropical Storm Andrea. Keim says the system is mostly swirling over the area of the Yucatan Peninsula, and is poorly organized at this time...but that could change. Even if the system upgrades into the season's named storm, forecasters say it'll likely move to the northeast and the Florida panhandle.
Tuesday the legislature passed a law that would require state agencies to pay women the same amount of money as a male co-worker in the same position. Louisiana Pay Equity Advocacy Director Camille Moran says they are thrilled this has made it all the way to the Governor's Desk. Moran says there are a lot of state employees who are currently not receiving the same pay for doing the same work and she hopes
Governor Jindal will sign this bill into law.
Two far-reaching House-approved bills that sought to prohibit federal oversight of gun laws in Louisiana have stalled in the state Senate and apparently won’t become law this session. Promoted as states’ rights measures against what backers called an increasingly intrusive federal government, the proposals were easily approved in the Louisiana House despite concerns that they were unconstitutional. But senators have shelved the measures through procedural moves, creating hurdles that appear unable to be met by session’s end Thursday.
A former accountant at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals faces over 100 years in prison after she allegedly swindled over one-million dollars from the state's Medicaid program and used the stolen cash to gamble. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announced the arrest of 46-year-old Deborah Loper of Baton Rouge.
Acadia Parish deputies say they've identified the body found last week by a boy riding his 4-wheeler. The remains are those of 31-year-old Thomas Mendoza, a citizen of Honduras. An autopsy determined Mendoza died of multiple stab wounds to his upper body. A Crowley man has been arrested in connection with the murder.
College students will be paying extra fees this fall, including one for campus building maintenance, if Gov. Bobby Jindal goes along with legislation that won final legislative approval on Tuesday. The Louisiana House voted 71-16 to Senate changes, then shipped the legislation to Jindal’s desk. House Bill 671, sponsored by state Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, would allow up to a $48 per semester fee for repairs and renovations to buildings on public college campuses. The schools face a $1.7 billion backlog of projects for which state funding has been lagging.
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden said Tuesday that he’s 80 percent sure he will run for Louisiana lieutenant governor in 2015. Holden, a Democrat, was sworn into his third term as East Baton Rouge mayor president in January. The term ends the last day of 2016, but he would leave the mayor’s office a year early if elected lieutenant governor.
Home-based cookie and cake preparation businesses would no longer fall under the state sanitary code under a bill that won final legislative approval Tuesday. The Louisiana House and Senate agreed to a conference committee report settling differences between the two chambers. Today, the sanitary code exemption applies to preparation of jellies, preserves, jams, honey and honeycomb products made in the home for sale. Gross annual sales cannot exceed $5,000. The new bill would add cookies and cakes to that list and raise gross annual sales to $20,000
A Terrytown woman is arrested for stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from her employer. 38-year-old Kristen Carroll worked at Greco's restaurant, and reportedly skimmed the money from bank deposits to support her gambling habit. The alleged theft took place between 2011 and 2012.
New specialty “I’m Cajun” and “I’m Creole” vehicle license plates are just around the corner. Legislation that would create the prestige plates won final legislative passage Tuesday on a 92-0 vote. That sent the measure to the governor’s desk.
Police in Shreveport say a man is in serious condition in a hospital after being stabbed by his wife several times while he was sleeping. Sgt Bill Goodin says 54-year-old Curtis Johnson was found in his home with nearly a dozen stab wounds. He says detectives identified 33-year-old Tracy Johnson as the prime suspect in the stabbing. Goodin says Johnson is in serious condition, but is expected to survive.
The times are set for the NCAA Super Regionals this weekend and LSU is set to face Oklahoma at The Box, 6pm Friday. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN. Saturday's game is also at 6. LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri announces Aaron Nola will be the starting pitcher in Game 1 of the Super Regional series against Oklahoma. Mainieri says Nola will most likely match up against the Sooners' ace Jonathan Gray on Friday night
News for Tuesday 060413
By Dave Graichen
Cleco has once again sent crews Monday to assist in Oklahoma City after Friday's storm that damaged Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company's system. According to a release, the work during the first trip to the city of Moore was so extensive they worked on basics like replacing poles. This storm did not create that type of damage,
but 33 Cleco line mechanics will be working to restore the area's power to assist in recovery efforts.
The Rapides Parish Police Jury’s Finance Committee approved the sale of the Martin Luther King Jr. library branch building to Pill Box pharmacy owner Joe Williams Monday. The jury is expected to finalize the $78,000 sale at its regular meeting next Monday.
Williams said once the sale is final, “we’ll start rehabbing the building immediately.” He expects renovations to take a month or two to complete.
The hurricane forecasting team at Colorado State University says they'll stick with their prediction of 18 named storms this year. CSU researcher Dr. Phil Klotbach says the above average hurricane season is based on unusually warm waters in the tropical Atlantic. He says the probability of a major hurricane landfall along the Gulf
Coast this year is 47%.
Louisiana Tech is receiving more accolades as the university has been named in the Top 25 schools in the nation that provide its graduates with the best returns on their investments or ROI. The report was put together by an online financial news site which uses data from PayScale.com who rank Tech No. 1 in Louisiana for starting salaries of its graduates.
A House bill that would loosen criminal penalties for those convicted of marijuana possession will be considered by a Senate Committee today. The lower chamber passed the bill by New Orleans Representative Austin Badon last week. Badon says sentencing currently in place for those caught with pot makes no sense. Badon says he hopes the bill will make it out of committee today then pass the Senate Floor tomorrow.
Tangipahoa Parish deputies say early yesterday morning they found a 5-month-old baby alone in a home with two dead people. Investigators believe 26-year-old Brandon Colona shot and killed his girlfriend, 21-year-old Theresa Doby, then turned the gun on himself. The baby is OK, and in the care of a family member. Deputies say Colona's motive is unclear at
An Allen Parish judge sets bail for a couple accused of the April death of two-year-old child. Brandi Holyfield is the child's mother. she and live-in boyfriend Bobby DAvis Jr. are charged with 2nd degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. A coroner's report indicated the baby died of blunt force trauma. Bond for the pair are set at $225-thousand each.
A bill that sets up clear rules about using a surrogate mother to have a child is on its way to the Governor's desk. Norco Senator Gary Smith is the bill's sponsor. He says current state law is extremely vague in this area. The bill has cleared both House & Senate, though many don't like it. Smith says liberals object that it applies only to married couples; meaning same-sex couples would be excluded. Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills says conservative groups like his object to parts
of the bill pertaining to reimbursement of the surrogate birth mother. Mills says the LA. Family Forum feels the bill will further erode the traditional family, and he's urging the Governor to veto.
Police in Opelousas arrest a man for leaving his four kids in a locked SUV while he was in a bar shooting pool. Justin Rosette's kids were all between 1 and 11 years old. Rosette was charged with child desertion and drug possession.
The Slidell Police Department says a Mississippi woman was arrested twice in 24 hours for driving drunk. They say 26-year-old Marjorie Portier exhibited signs of intoxication when she left a party at a bar Saturday morning at 2:30 and was arrested for DUI. Police then arrested Portier leaving another bar the next night when she was
driving under the influence again. The incidents were her first and second offense.
Folks on both sides of the Mississippi River are upset to learn the state is shutting down the White Castle Ferry later this month. DOTD says it costs over million dollars a year to run and it provides no state or regional transportation; only local service. Residents are angry to hear that, as driving to the nearest bridge to cross the
river will add dozens of miles to their daily travel; not to mention the additional fuel expense. The ferry is set to close on June 28th.
News for Monday 060313
By Dave Graichen
The state Senate adopted a $25 billion state spending plan Saturday that would create one-time salary supplements for public schoolteachers and school nurses. After 31/2 hours of debate, the Senate voted 37-1 in favor of sending House Bill 1, the main budget legislation, to the House for concurrence on the changes. Lawmakers who helped craft the House version of the $25 billion budget said Sunday that they don’t support the Senate’s changes to the spending plans for next year. The document is a radical makeover of the budget the House sent the Senate in May. Differences will need to be worked out in five days. The session ends at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Governor Jindal signs legislation that's designed to make it easier for Louisiana families to adopt children who are in the state's foster care system. The law is called the Louisiana Has Faith in Families Act. Jindal says one critical component of the act is that it reduces the wait time for adoptions to be completed. State officials say there are about five-hundred children in foster care available to be placed in a permanent home.
Opelousas State Senator Elbert Guillory has left the state's Democratic Party and become a Republican; making him the only black GOP member in the state Legislature. Guillory says over the past few years, the Democrats have become what he calls "the Party of Disappointment", and remain out of touch on several issues. Guillory made his announcement as he received the Frederick Douglass Award at a national conference of black conservatives in Baton Rouge.
With the hurricane season underway, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon urges homeowners to make sure they understand their level of coverage. Donelon says read your policy so you understand the deductible you'll pay, if your home is damaged by a named storm. He says it varies depending on the insurance provider. Donelon says now is the time to get flood insurance, if you don't have it. He says it will be too late, once a storm enters the gulf.
A 13-year-old boy came across a badly decomposed male body in Acadia Parish. Sheriff's office spokesperson Maxine Trahan says the teenager was riding his four-wheeler at an oil well site near Rayne when he made the grisly discovery. The Acadia Parish Coroner's office says the body may have been there less than a week. Trahan says they are treating the case as a homicide and they sent the body to Lake Charles for an autopsy.
A bill creating increased penalties for acts of domestic violence involving burning the victim has won final passage, and is going to the Governor's desk. The bill was conceived by Ouachita and Morehouse Parish D.A. Jerry Jones, who says a case he prosecuted in 2010--in which a woman suffered 24 hours of such abuse--was his inspiration. Under current state law, a person committing such a crime could only be sentenced to 15 years in jail. Under the new law, the sentence could be up to 50 years.
Starting August 1st, it will be illegal to use a hand held device for social networking while driving. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission director John LeBlanc says using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any internet browsing can get you a fine of $175 or more. The bill amends the state's existing ban on texting while driving, to encompass using a smartphone or tablet to read or send anything from behind the wheel. LeBlanc says the law contains exceptions for checking one's GPS for directions.
The LSU baseball team heads to the the NCAA Super Regionals after they defeat UL-Lafayette 5-1 on Sunday night in Alex Box Stadium. LSU is slated to take Oklahoma this weekend at the Box.
News for Friday 053113
By Dave Graichen
Federal investigators say they are now looking into three letters, laced with the toxin ricin, that were all postmarked from Shreveport. One was sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another to his DC-based gun control group and the third was sent to President Obama. Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover says police and city
offices are cooperating fully with the FBI's investigation of the potentially deadly letters.
Tweeting while driving will now be against the law in Louisiana. Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Thursday his signature on Senate Bill 147. The bill nixes posting on Facebook and accessing other social network sites while behind the wheel.
The governor also signed House Bill 265, which creates a lifetime concealed weapons permit. The permit costs $500 and requires training and education every five years.
Governor Jindal has signed legislation giving residents the option of having the words "I'm a Cajun" emblazoned on their driver's license. Another bill still moving through the legislature would set up "I'm Cajun" specialty license plates.
Another bill headed to the Governor's desk will increase the penalties for acts of domestic violence that involve the victim being burned. Monroe Senator Bob Kostelka sponsors the legislation, which makes domestic violence with burning a felony punishable by 5 to 50 years with or without hard labor.
The state House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday that would expand technical education in all corners of the state. The 88-11 vote in favor of the community and technical college construction bill marks one of the last steps for a piece of legislation that has been roundly criticized by the state treasurer, the state Board of Regents and the people who run Louisiana’s four-year schools. The bill now heads back to the Senate for approval of technical changes made in the House. Then the measure goes to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk for signing into law.
A state Senate committee clipped the fiscal hawks’ wings Thursday on a package of bills aimed at revamping the state budget process. Amendments to the bills marked the second day in a row that the Senate Finance Committee spurned significant portions of the Louisiana House’s approach to the state spending plan. The committee refused to embed the hawks’ proposals into the state constitution, choosing instead to turn them into a pilot program that could fade away in a few years.
The Senate Education Committee has denied a compromise intended to spare Louisiana teachers from glitches in the state's evaluation program that could affect their employment status. Senators voted 4-3 against approving House Bill 160 The bill sought to delay for one year the Compass system’s determination that a teacher is incompetent so flaws in the system could be worked out.
It a great argument for wearing your seatbelt. Two Slidell police officers were injured when their patrol car hit a cement culvert and flipped during a chase. The officers were buckled up and suffered minor injuries. The person they were chasing was
It’s a case of a man’s past coming back to haunt him. State Police arrest a Lafayette man on aggravated rape charges. L-S-P says they were able gather enough information to arrest 66-year-old Joseph Thibodeaux even though the encounters occurred 40 years ago.
Legislation requiring state government to pay men and women equally who perform similar jobs is close to final legislative passage. The House Labor Committee has endorsed the Senate approved bill and it heads to the House floor for more debate. The bill will give employers the ability to pay one gender more than the other if the pay structure is based on seniority, education or experience.
A former Angola prison guard pleads guilty to covering up the beating of an inmate. Prosecutors say the guard witnessed the beating but filed a false report denying the assault happened. With his guilty plea he could face up to 25 years in prison himself. A sentencing date is yet unknown.
After her Senate floor tirade this week, declaring that anyone opposed to the Medicaid Expansion contained in Obamacare is a racist, New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson is now dodging questions. A Baton Rouge TV crew asking about the comments, was ignored by Peterson as she rushed into the Capitol. Peterson said Tuesday that opposition to the expansion "comes down to the race of the President". Peterson is also chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.
The Baton Rouge regional gets underway today with LSU taking on Jackson State at 2:00 and then UL Lafayette will battle Sam Houston State at 7:00. If the Tigers and Cajuns win, they'll face each other on Saturday night.
The Alexandria Aces cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings before 290 fans at Bringhurst Field last night.
News for Thursday 053013
By Dave Graichen
The Senate Finance Committee has approved House Bill 1, the state budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. However, as in past years, the committee restored about $350-million that was cut in the House. There is just one week left for the Senate to pass it, and for the House to concur on Senate changes.
A vote by residents to allow the sale of alcohol in restaurants in the city of Pineville is one hurdle away from reality. Senate Bill 116 passed the House of Representatives by a 87-6 vote earlier this week, after passing out the Senate on a 24-0 vote. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Hurricane season doesn't even officially start until June but Forecasters are already tracking Tropical Depression 2-E in the Pacific Ocean. Computer models show the system could enter the southwestern part of the Gulf of Mexico by the end of the week. However they doubt it will develop into anything more but if it
should they predict it will move toward South Florida rather than Louisiana.
A mother and her two toddler sons are dead after a early morning apartment fire in Lake Charles. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says it will take time to
determine the cause of the apartment blaze yesterday morning. But, preliminary indications show there were no working smoke alarms at the time of the fire.
State Police say the woman who crashed head-on into oncoming traffic in St. Charles parish Sunday - killing three people - was driving while drunk. Though they haven't released 40-year-old Jennifer Englade's blood alcohol level, they say it was above the legal limit. Englade in still being treated for her injuries in the crash. Englade has three prior DWI convictions.
The state Department of Education says student participation in Advanced Placement college prep courses was up 33% for this school year. Education Superintendent John White says over 23-thousand were enrolled this year, up from about 17-thousand the previous year. Advanced Placement courses offer students the chance to earn college credit while still in high school.
LSU Football Coach Les Miles is scheduled to raffle off a 24-story building in downtown Baton Rouge today in an effort to raise adoption awareness. Miles is one of several local celebrities and elected officials who will participate in the "Over the Edge for Adoption" challenge.
The House has passed a bill to reduce sentences for those convicted of simple possession of marijuana. The bill is sponsored by New Orleans Rep. Austin Badon, who says the intent is to spend less taxpayer money feeding and housing prison inmates who've committed no violent crime. Badon's bill passed by a vote of 54 yeas to 38 nays. 13 House members did not vote. It goes next to a senate committee, with just one week left in the session.
Louisiana's judges and sheriffs will get a pay raise as a result of a bill that's moving closer to final legislative passage. The measure would give Supreme Court justices a five-point-five percent pay increase on July 1st. Appeal Court judges, district court judges and sheriffs will see their pay go up four-percent.
The New Orleans Saints are still silent on the DWI arrest of wide receiver Joe Morgan over the weekend. State Police say they found him on the side of a Jefferson Parish expressway early Saturday, with a flat tire and asleep behind the wheel. Troopers say his blood alcohol level was nearly three-times the legal limit.
Louisiana ranks at the bottom of another list for healthcare, this time for the growing senior population. The United Health Foundation's inaugural Senior Report ranks the Pelican State 48th. Dr. Rhonda Randall, senior advisor with the United Health Foundation, says there are several key reasons why Louisiana ranks
so low, including a high number of seniors who live in poverty, a high prevalence of seniors who smoke and of course the big “O”, obesity.
Alexandria Police say they busted the ice cream man for possessing pot. Officers say the driver of the ice cream van failed to signal a turn and was mighty nervous about being stopped. They found a small amount of weed in his possession and took him to jail.
Police in Ponchatoula, in Tangipahoa Parish, say they've made an arrest in the city's first murder in over 5 years. Authorities say robbery appears to be have been the motive.
A 12-year-old boy has been arrested for making a bomb threat earlier this month at a Lafayette middle school. The threatening message was scrawled on a restroom wall. The school was evacuated; no bomb found. The child has been released to his parents' custody and removed from the school.
A constitutional challenge to a state law that makes it a felony for non-citizens to drive without proof they are legally in the United States has attracted the attention of three national civil rights groups and four foreign governments. At issue is Louisiana’s “operating a vehicle without lawful presence” statute, which carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
People who donate money to public schools may soon be eligible for a tax break after a vote by the state House of Representatives Wednesday. House Bill 324 would authorize a tax rebate of up to 75 percent of the donation given to a public school. The law requires that the donations be used by the school for purchasing instructional materials, maintaining tutorial and in-school child care programs and for school-based health clinics. The bill passed on a 61-34 vote. It heads to the Senate next for further consideration.
A bill that would provide an income tax break for certain taxpayers making less than $50,000 per year failed by a large margin in the state House of Representatives Wednesday. House Bill 699, sponsored by state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, would provide an overtime wages tax credit up to $500. On the House floor, Wednesday, Thompson said the bill was his way of helping people who make less than $50,000 keep more of their money. The bill failed on a 26-71 vote.
The DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office is searching for three suspects in the theft of about $1 million in copper wire from a Frierson company. The thefts happened in six separate incidents from the Trinidad Drilling Co. DeSoto Parish Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information that result in the suspects’ arrests. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers or contact the Desoto Parish Sheriff's Office
News for Wednesday 052913
By Dave Graichen
The 2013 Memorial Day weekend was a deadly one. State Police investigated 6 fatal crashes resulting in 8 deaths. This is up from last year's 4 fatal crashes resulting in 4 deaths last Memorial Day weekend. They report says failure to use a seat belt contributed to most of the 8 fatalities; driving while drinking was also a factor in some of the crashes.
The Military is reporting a Louisiana solider was killed in Afghanistan. The family of Chris Drake of Tickfaw was notified on Sunday night about Drake's death. Drake was reportedly 20-years-old and graduated from Independence High School. As of Tuesday, May 28, 2013, at least 2,092 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.
A planned contract to allow a partnership between Rapides Regional Medical Center and Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital to take over Huey P. Long Medical Center has been delayed because details have yet to be worked out. One of the things apparently holding up the contract is a plan to move the hospital’s functions to the England Airpark in Alexandria, a process that began a year ago but was halted by hospital budget cuts. The LSU Board of Supervisors Tuesday did approved contracts to privatize four more of its public hospitals, in Houma, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport. The board ignored pleas from lawmakers and local residents in Monroe & Shreveport to delay action until a more complete contract — one that shows cost estimates and personnel actions — could be developed.
The state Senate deflected another attempt to make voters decide whether Louisiana should accept Medicaid Expansion money in the White House health care reform. Governor Jindal has rejected the expansion as being unsustainable once the federal money runs out. Supporters say it'll bring health coverage to over 250-thousand of
the state's working poor. An attempt was made to tack that onto a hospital debt bill by Bogalusa Senator Ben Nevers. The amendment failed by a 15-23 vote.
A national business magazine ranks Lafayette first in the country for economic strength and year-over-year growth indicators. Lafayette Economic Development Agency President Gregg Gothreaux says being ranked number one overall is a big deal for the city. Area Development Magazine, a site selection and facility planning publication, ranked 380 metro areas in 21 different economic and workforce measures over the last five years.
Two gun bills were heard on the House floor Tuesday. One received it final passage; another was sent to a conference committee to hash out differences over an amendment. John Schroder's HB 6 allows off-duty cops to carry their weapons onto school campuses. That bill now goes to Governor Jindal's desk. The other, HB 8 from Bossier City Rep. Jeff Thompson would penalize anyone who publicly releases names or personal information on the state's concealed weapon permit holders. Thompson objected to an amendment tacked on in the Senate to allow said information release IF the CCP holder commits a crime. A conference committee was assigned to try to resolve that disputed amendment.
The state House of Representatives approved final passage Tuesday of a bill that would exempt students with disabilities, and who are not pursuing a traditional high school diploma, from taking the American College Test, commonly known as the ACT. Senate Bill 127, which passed on a 101-4 vote, provides that schools accountability scores won’t be affected by students who opt out of taking the test.
LSU’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to appeal 19th Judicial District Judge Janice Clark’s ruling that the university illegally denied The Advocate and other news outlets the names and other information related to LSU’s search for a new president. LSU general counsel Shelby McKenzie told the board the university followed all applicable public records laws and would be willing to take its case to the Louisiana State Supreme Court, if necessary. The judge issued a one-paragraph ruling April 25, saying the documents requested by The Advocate and the Times-Picayune should have been surrendered by LSU.
This sounds like a joke waiting for a punch line, There are snakes in the Louisiana State Capitol and this is not a political jab. Apparently baby water snakes have been found in the basement committee rooms curled up in closets, slithering across the
carpet, and in a bathroom corner. Workers are installing weather stripping to help keep the snakes out. A wildlife official say they are water snakes and are completely harmless to humans.
State Police say a Ragley man is charged with 3rd offense DWI, hit & run and other offenses, after crashing his pickup truck into a home in Moss Bluff. Troopers say Brian K. LeBlue rear-ended a car...then left that accident scene. He later ran a stop sign and smashed into the house; stopping partially in the living room. The two persons
inside were not injured.
Police in Eunice say a man who used a glass coffee pot as a weapon to rob a local casino has been apprehended. Officers say 32-year-old John Guillory allegedly took over $800 from the register and stole an employee's smartphone before fleeing on foot. They say using the coffee pot as a weapon gave them additional grounds to arrest Guillory.
LSU's Aaron Nola has been named SEC Pitcher of the Year and shortstop Alex Bregman has received SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Nola has won ten games for the top ranked Tigers, while Bregman leads the team in hitting.
News for Tuesday 052813
By Dave Graichen
A bill that would ban publishing names or addresses of those who apply for, or have been granted, concealed weapon permits could clear its last legislative hurdle today. Bossier City Rep. Jeff Thompson says the bill was triggered by the New York Times printing CCP holders' addresses. Some of those folks were burglarized afterward; their guns stolen. The bill has already been passed in the House and the Senate. It's scheduled today on the House floor for concurrence on changes made in the Senate. After that it goes to the Governor's desk.
Legislation designed to create more details on privatization contracts effectively died Monday afternoon in a state Senate committee. The Jindal administration opposed House Bill 240, arguing it would curtail efforts to turn state government functions over to the private sector. HB240’s sponsor, state Rep. Kenny Havard, told the Senate Committee on Finance that he just wants to ensure that the deals save taxpayers money. Legislators complained that Havard’s 12-page bill was complicated.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says pickup truck drivers and passengers have the lowest level of seat-belt use at 72%. That's despite state law that requires all passengers in vehicles to wear a seat belt. Executive director, Colonel John Leblanc, notes that's especially important in pickup trucks. Over 150 un-belted people riding in pickup trucks were killed in accidents in 2011.
Though still over two years away, prospective candidates for Governor in 2015 are already fundraising. With no official announcements, both David Vitter and Jay Dardenne are scheduling events with, and for, financial backers. Senator David Vitter has appearances scheduled for political action groups who support him in state and federal races. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne is also engaged in fundraising appearances and events. Neither man has declared his plans to run for the office. Although, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has said on several talk shows he would like to do so.
State Police say a suspected impaired driver ran across the median and head-on into a another car early Sunday morning on U.S. 61 in St. Charles Parish--killing three people. The driver and two passengers in the other vehicle were pronounced dead. A toxicology test is ordered for the motorist who lost control.
A 32-year veteran of the U-S Air Force is challenging democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Rob Maness of Madisonville is a retired Air Force colonel, who has never run for political office. Maness says while serving in the Armed Forces he took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and he says Congress is not living up to
that same oath. Maness joins Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy as the two
announced republican challengers to Landrieu. The election will be held in the fall of next year.
Organizers of the Bayou Country Superfest in Tiger Stadium this weekend say they WILL be back for a 5th anniversary BCS next year. The Zac Brown Band closed the two-day show late Sunday night, to the delight of thousands of fans who crowded into Death Valley. The city of Baton Rouge says the festival brings an estimated $30-million in economic impact.
With over a week to go in the legislative session, Governor Bobby Jindal has signed a handful of bills into law that were approved by lawmakers. One of those bills makes it illegal to possess or purchase the different chemical compounds needed to make the synthetic drug known as 25-I. The bill was sponsored after a Little Rock
resident died after taking 25-I at last year's Voodoo Fest in New Orleans.
Work to raise the funds needed to build a National Hurricane Museum in Lake Charles continue to move forward. Gray Stream is chairman of the museum's board of directors. He says talks with corporations have gotten the project off to a good start towards their $70-million goal, raising about $14-million, in mostly corporate donations, for the museum. The museum will be built near the Lake Charles Civic Center, where it can be easily seen and accessed from Interstate 10.
Someone purchased a Powerball ticket in the New Orleans area that matched all six numbers from Saturday night's drawing. The jackpot was 50-million dollars, which will be split three ways as winning tickets were also sold in Florida and Delaware.
LSU Baseball will play Jackson State Friday afternoon to open up the Baton Rouge Regional. U-L Lafayette and Sam Houston State are the other two schools in the regional. The Tigers and Cajuns will play each other on Saturday night if they both win on Friday. LSU is a national four seed, even though they just won the SEC Tournament. But Coach Paul Mainieri says the important thing is that they are a top eight national seed and will have the opportunity to host a super-regional.
News for Friday 052413
By Dave Graichen
On Saturday and Sunday the state is offering a state sales tax holiday on items residents need for the upcoming hurricane season. Louisiana Department of Revenue spokesperson, Byron Henderson, says during the next two days, consumers will not have to pay the state's 4-percent sales tax on items like flashlights, batteries and generators. Henderson says the exemption applies to the first 15-hundred dollars of
the purchase price of each item. Henderson says a complete list of the items exempt from the state's sales tax on Saturday and Sunday can be found on the Department of Revenue's website.
Fewer people are expected to take trips this Memorial Day weekend. Louisiana AAA ("triple A") spokesman Don Redman says just under 35- million Americans will travel 50 or more miles for the holiday; a dip of about 1% below last year. He says highway travelers will likely not notice any difference.
The state Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced Thursday, The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year. That’s more than is in the current year’s budget of $955 million for the state to operate the charity hospitals. And substantially more than the $626 million Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed for private companies to operate the public hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nichols said the administration would submit amendments to the state Senate Finance Committee to close the funding gap, recommending using some money from hospital leases as well as other state and local revenues.
A plan to privatize operations at Huey P. Long Medical Center, which could close the Pineville hospital and move operations to England Airpark in Alexandria, will be considered Tuesday. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday that operating agreements are expected to be signed by the end of next month for private and public hospitals or foundations to take over nine hospitals currently operated through the LSU Health System. Rapides Regional Medical Center and Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital will be providing medical care at the airpark facility While the effective transfer date for the Monroe and Shreveport hospitals is Oct. 1, Huey P. Long’s transfer won’t be complete until October 2014. The hospital will continue providing care in Pineville, through most of next year until the Airpark facility is ready.
The state Attorney General's Office says a special grand jury has been selected to look at possible criminal activity in the awarding of a $200-million Medicaid contract by the Jindal Administration. The contract holder, CNSI is the former employer of former Health & Hospitals head Bruce Greenstein, who resigned when the seeming impropriety came to light. The state abruptly cancelled the CNSI contract as well.
An amendment to the federal Farm Bill to deny food stamp benefits to convicted rapists, pedophiles and murderers, has been added by Senator David Vitter. He notes in Louisiana alone, from 2010 through 2012 over a million dollars’ worth of food stamp benefits were issued to people who were in prison. This would be a lifetime ban that no state could opt out of it. While Vitter's amendment passed, the Farm Bill itself is still under debate.
The state Legislative Auditor is requesting financial documents from the Louisiana Republican and Democratic Parties, but the state GOP is questioning whether the request is politically motivated. Auditor Darryl Purpera says he asked for the financial documents after learning state law requires both parties to file yearly reports. Louisiana Republican Party executive director Jason Dore says the request came after the state republican party fought against proposed tax increases that House members were discussing. He says they already file campaign finance reports with the state ethics board and the federal elections commission. Purpera says there's no political agenda at play. The State Democratic party submitted the requested paperwork.
Louisiana's Congressional delegates are attempting to stave off big impending rate hikes for the National Flood Insurance Program. Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise says he and New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond are co-sponsoring a bill to delay those premium increases for three to five years. Scalise says the 2012 Flood Insurance Reform Act would mean rate hikes of up to 20% a year over a four-year span, in an effort to keep the program well-funded. Scalise says those proposed increases are unrealistic.
A bill allowing clerks of court to receive a 4 percent pay raise zipped through the state Senate Thursday. The Senate voted 27-7 in favor of House Bill 174, giving the proposal final legislative passage. To be eligible for the pay increase, clerks would have to complete annual certification updates and other education requirements. State Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, said the pay boosts would not cost the state anything. He said the money would come from the clerks’ budgets.
Attempts to stop AGL Resources from expanding its salt mine in Lake Peigneur (Pin-your) has been defeated in the state senate. The company has requested a permit that would allow them to use up to 5-million gallons of water every day. The bill would have called for an Environmental Impact Statement first.
Fire officials in Lafayette say nine horses are dead after the barn they were in caught on fire. They say upon arrival the smoke was already venting through the sides of the barn and the flames were too intense for firefighters to make entry and it was too late for the nine horses inside. It is believed the blaze started from a lightning strike.
It’s not nice to fool with the IRS.. 42-year old Roderick Dewitt Aguillard the Third has pleaded guilty to not filingt income tax returns over a four year period. The former Denham Springs resident reportedly earned 2.3 million dollars during that four year period. He was sentenced to eight months in federal prison.
Hurricane season begins in 10 days, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts a highly active season. NOAA expects 13 - 20 named storms, 7 - 11 hurricanes. three to six of those could be major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. The season officially begins June 1st and ends November 30th...though storms have occurred both before and after those dates in recent years.
The Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness launches a new smartphone app to let you receive emergency alerts as they happen. GOHSEP director Kevin Davis says the Alert FM app is a free download for iPhone or Android systems. The app receives special alerts sent out by GOHSEP, which could be related to disasters, weather emergencies and even Amber Alerts. It can be downloaded free at the online Apple store, or from GooglePlay.
Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill that will assist and encourage Louisiana military servicemen and women to come home to the Bayou State. House Bill 312 does that by extending the time allowed for returning military to renew any state or professional licenses they may have had before going into active service. New Orleans Rep. Nick Lorusso's bill met no opposition in the House or the Senate.
After losing to Arkansas yesterday 4 to 1. The LSU Tigers will face Alabama again today in the SEC baseball tournament. Airtime 2:30p
News for Thursday 052313
By Dave Graichen
State Police say a 76-year-old man from Pollock is dead after crashing his truck late Tuesday night. They say Coy Kirtland was northbound on Hwy 165 in Grant Parish when he left the roadway and slammed into two culverts before over turning. Kirtland was not wearing his seat-belt and was pronounced dead on scene.
The House Appropriations Committee approves a Senate-passed bill calling for $263-million in construction of community and technical college buildings. The bill is sponsored by Benton Senator Robert Adley, who says enrollment at Louisiana's 2-year schools has doubled in recent years. Adley's bill calls for selling bonds to finance the building plan. The committee passed the bill--sending it to the House floor for
what could be final passage.
Plans to wrestle tuition-setting authority away from lawmakers and put it in the hands of educators fizzled and died in the state House of Representatives this week, representing a major blow to Louisiana’s higher education community. Currently, two-thirds of the state Legislature must sign off before colleges and universities can raise tuition. It is the toughest threshold in the country to overcome. At the same time, Louisiana is near the bottom nationwide in funding colleges while keeping tuition at some of the lowest rates in the country.
Good news for Louisiana public school education as this year's LEAP and iLEAP test results show an increase of students in grades 3 through 8 performing at or above their grade level. State Superintendent of Education John White says this reduces the number of students performing below grade level by nearly 5000.
In Central Louisiana, Evangeline Parish was listed as one of the most improved districts in the state, while Vernon Parish ranked as one of the top performing districts. Overall the performance of the voucher-supported students in private schools in the state scholarship program improved by less than a percentage point.
Legislation is moving through both chambers of the state legislature that attempts to make it difficult for Planned Parenthood to build a new facility in New Orleans. Metairie Senator Danny Martiny has a resolution that was passed by the Senate, which urges the state not to provide any tax incentives for the construction of the four
million dollar building. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokesperson Julie Mickelberry says the new health center in New Orleans is not just a place where women
can receive assistance to terminate their pregnancy. She says women and men will also be able to receive reproductive health care, including breast exams and cancer screening. Planned Parenthood doesn't currently operate an abortion clinic in
A watered-down “Equal Pay for Women” measure cleared the Louisiana Senate on Wednesday. The state Senate voted 23-13 for the legislation after making it apply only to women who work for state government. Senate Bill 153 originally applied to women whether they worked in the private or public sector.
The Louisiana Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a year’s delay in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s new pension plan for future state employees. The Senate voted 35-0 for a Louisiana House-passed resolution suspending the law scheduled to go into effect July 1. The Jindal administration originally opposed the delay, but reversed course with the filing of the special resolution that can suspend a law without the governor’s approval. The administration has filed what it calls a “clean up” bill to fix flaws.
Louisiana’s judges would get steady pay raises over the next five years under legislation approved late Wednesday by the Louisiana Senate. The Senate voted 27-9 to accept the recommendation of the Judicial Compensation Commission which is embodied in Senate Bill 188. The bill now heads to the House for debate.
Consumers looking to pick up meat for this weekend's cook-out will see beef prices are higher than normal at the grocery store. LSU AgCenter livestock economist Ross Pruitt says that's because wholesale beef prices are at historically high levels. Pruitt says beef is not the only meat seeing higher prices this year, the same can be said for chicken and pork as well.
A federal court has approved a class-action lawsuit for the people effected by the Assumption Parish sink-hole. The now 15-acres sinkhole apparently caused by work performed by Texas Brine has left about 350 people forced out of their homes for nearly a year with no buyouts offered. WAFB is reporting a spokesman for the company said
they only just found out that their insurance carriers were not in support of the buyout process.
Another suspect in the fatal shooting of two St. John Parish sheriff’s deputies has pleaded guilty. Derrick Smith is the third suspect to enter a guilty plea in the
case. He agrees he is guilty of accessory after the fact to attempted first degree murder and possession of a firearm by an convicted felon. The suspected gunman
Brian Smith, Derrick's older brother and Kyle Joekel are both charged with first degree murder.
Deputies in Lafourche Parish have charged a Mexican national - in the country illegally - with 2nd degree murder for the death of his girlfriend's 20-month-old son. Sheriff Craig Webre says the baby died from being shaken. 24-year-old Emmanuel Hernandez is being held pending a million dollar bond. The investigation into the baby's death is ongoing.
A bill that would consider coercing a minor-aged girl into having an abortion a form of child abuse has moved closer to final passage. Denham Springs Rep. Valarie Hodges' bill has already passed the House and this week was approved by a Senate Judiciary Committee. She says her bill is to protect young mothers who want to carry their baby to full term. That bill now goes to the Senate floor.
LSU shut out Alabama yesterday in the SEC tournament. Today, they’ll be facing the razorbacks at 4pm.
Once again the LSU/Arkansas game will be played on its traditional Friday after Thanksgiving time slot in 2013. The Southeastern Conference and CBS made the announcement today. LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette says since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992, the Tigers and Razorbacks have played 21 times with 16 of those games coming on a Friday. He says some of the other dates announced also makes it look like the LSU/Bama game in Tuscaloosa on November 9th will be in prime-time.
News for Wednesday 052213
By Dave Graichen
Roy O. Martin announces a $20-million expansion at its Chopin (Sho-pan) plywood facility in Natchitoches Parish. The project will retain nearly 700 jobs at the plant and produce 80 new direct and indirect jobs. Company president Roy O. Martin III says
during this expansion, they'll upgrade their drying equipment and add a production line. Martin says construction will begin this summer, with the majority of hiring taking place shortly before production begins on the new timber line next year.
The Rapides Parish School Board voted 7-2 Tuesday to approved a plan brought, forward by Incoming Superintendent Tony Authement, that will restructure the school district. The restructuring plan calls for the elimination of 44 central office positions. But, the creation of 36 positions, plus changes to some existing positions. Authement says the plan accomplishes three things, streamlines the district, places “intense focus” on support for schools and provides targeted professional development opportunities for all schools. The plan’s initial cost to the district’s budget is an overall increase of about $680,000. The school board gave it’s stamp of approval to the plan at a special meeting last night.
A $3.5 billion spending plan for public schools was rejected by a Senate committee Tuesday morning, which may kill the measure for the session. The proposal, Senate Concurrent Resolution 23, was sharply criticized for proposed changes in how the state would fund special education students. A move to shelve the proposal won approval in the Senate Education Committee without objection. Unless there is a sudden change, the action means that the state’s 2011-12 public school financing plan will be in effect for the 2013-14 school year. That aid package did not include any changes in special education.
A 34-member Cleco team is expected to arrive today in Oklahoma City to help Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company get their system back online. Cleco spokeswoman Robbyn Cooper says (OGE called to request help because they believe their entire electric grid was destroyed by the massive deadly tornado. Cooper says Cleco is a member of the Southeastern Electric Exchange's mutual assistance program where member utilities offer power restoration assistance after major weather events. She says) OGE serves 801,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas but at this time it is impossible to say exactly how many people are without power.
Teams of volunteers from the Red Cross in Louisiana left yesterday to help those affected by the tornado in Oklahoma. Red Cross spokeswoman Nancy Malone says their workers will help distribute food and supplies to the storm victims and first responders and are prepared to stay for at least two weeks..
Proposed gun bills met with mixed success on the Senate floor. A House bill to assure that concealed weapon permit holders' identities remain private won Senate passage. The bill was amended to allow publishing a name, if the CCP holder commits a crime with a handgun. The bill passed and goes back to the House for amendment concurrence. The Senate delayed voting on a House-passed bill that would defy any possible future federal ban on semi-automatic weapons. But,one gun bill is on its way to Governor Jindal's desk. HB 265 would allow concealed weapon permit holders the option of buying a lifetime permit, rather than renewing every five years.
Law enforcement statewide is increasing patrols and checkpoints through June second as part of the state's largest-ever concentrated effort to increase seat belt usage through the "Click It or Ticket" campaign. Colonel John LeBlanc with the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says the campaign coincides with the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. LeBlanc also reminds motorists all occupants of the vehicle must wear their seat belts. Not just the front seat passenger.
The bill that would prohibit drivers from posting to Facebook or Tweeting while behind the wheel gets final legislative passage Tuesday in the Senate. Also heading to the Governor's desk for his signature is the bill by Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton that says drivers of Elio, the three wheeled vehicle to be manufactured in
Shreveport won't have to wear helmets.
The state revokes Explo Systems license to operate in Louisiana after the company failed to properly store millions of pounds of a military propellant. Explo was renting out space at Camp Minden, a Louisiana National Guard Base in Webster Parish to dismantle military propelling charges. State Police Lt. Julie Lewis says all the improperly stored material is now in appropriate storage magazines at Camp Minden and Explo has surrendered its keys to the facility.
State Police say a 10-year-old child is dead after a car driven by her unlicensed 15-year-old sister crashed on their way to baseball practice in Tangipahoa Parish. Spokesman Nick Manale says the 15-year-old was driving the car with her three siblings: ages 9, 10 and 12. The 10-year-old died from her injuries; the driver and the other two juvenile passengers suffered minor to moderate injuries.
The LSU Tigers face Alabama this afternoon in the SEC Tournament. The Tigers took two out of three from the Crimson Tide during the regular season.
News for Tuesday 052113
By Dave Graichen
After tornadoes ripped through northwest Louisiana last week, the National Weather Service says the area could be faced with severe conditions once again today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the front that produced destructive tornadoes in Oklahoma yesterday could spawn more twisters in north Louisiana today. Keim says there is a slight chance for severe weather in the northern third of the state, and a moderate chance for severe weather in the northwestern part of the state. He says Louisianians should take these forecasts seriously and be prepared for anything.
The state Senate Finance Committee on Monday advanced two proposed constitutional amendments that opponents said would protect more areas of the budget from cuts.
The propositions, contained in House Bills 532 and 533, would provide more financial stability for hospitals, nursing homes, intermediate care facilities and pharmacists through constitutionally protected funds. The committee voted 9-1 to approve the measures. The bills now move to the state Senate floor.
A proposal for Louisiana to tap into federal healthcare overhaul funds available for expanding Medicaid has been stalled in the state senate. The Finance Committee rejected the bill yesterday with all but one Republican voting against expansion. A similar proposal is slated for house action later this week.
Homeowners who use solar power and provide electricity for utility companies are watching a vote that is expected to take place at today's Public Service Commission meeting. Those solar customers are eligible for credits on their utility bill, but P-S-C member Clyde Holloway is proposing smaller credits for those homeowners. Holloway says the proposed change would level the playing field for those utility customers who don't have solar panels. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell opposes Holloway's attempt to change the rules with the solar program. Because he says they would be breaking its promise to solar customers.
Governor Jindal has ordered a review of Texas Brine's permits to operate in Louisiana. The Governor says has lost patience with the Houston company, for dragging its feet on property buyouts for residents near the 15-acre Bayou Corne sinkhole. However, Texas Brine is blaming their insurance carrier for the holdup in buying property near the sinkhole. Damage estimates from the massive hole in the ground are estimated at some 40-million dollars. Some folks living near the sinkhole have been evacuated for over nine months
The Senate Finance Committee quickly signed off Monday on multi-year, 4 percent pay raises for Louisiana clerks of court. Under House Bill 174, the clerks could opt for 4 percent pay raises in each of four years. The money to cover the raises would have to come from self-generated funds. State Rep. Jeff Arnold of New Orleans, said the raises are optional and would be the first opportunity in seven years for a pay increase.
The bill now heads to the state Senate floor.
A bid to give judges five years of annual pay raises easily received the backing Monday of the state Senate’s budget committee, after it was changed to require money for the salary hike to come from the annual judicial budget. Judges haven’t had a raise since 2010. The proposal now goes to the full Senate for debate.
The grand opening of the Margaritaville Resort in Bossier City has been set for the July 4th week. Officials say the entire event will include fireworks, live music and more. They are hoping Jimmy Buffett will be able to make an appearance at the grand opening and they say the expectation is high.
News for Monday 052013
By Dave Graichen
The Jindal administration has proposed privatization deals with eight LSU hospitals, but lawmakers have learned there's only enough money in next year's budget to fully fund three of them. Department of Health and Hospitals Undersecretary Jerry Phillips says they are aware of the problem and they believe there may be other funding
sources out there to get these deals done.
He doesn’t officially start his new job until June 1st. but, Incoming Rapides Parish schools Superintendent Nason “Tony” Authement is planning to create four “school turnaround teams” as part of a restructuring of the school district’s central office.
The School Board will consider Authement’s restructuring plan Tuesday at a special meeting, which will begin after the regularly scheduled committee meetings that start at 5 p.m. The school turnaround will be charged with helping to improve the district’s 17 schools that were graded as a D or F by the state Department of Education.
The state Senate settles in this week to begin its work with the proposed $24-billion budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. The House passed that bill out over a week ago. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, who is a veteran of the legislature, says he's pleased with how the House handled tax incentives for the film & TV industry. Dardenne says the budget bill passed by the House makes some cuts to the departments he oversees, tourism, culture, state parks and most museums but they are cuts he feels he can work with.
Business as usual? State ethics officials pushed a limited legislative agenda this year, but even that scaled-down approach got nowhere. No bills were filed, although Louisiana Ethics Board members says they sought legislative fixes from the Legislature’s leaders and from Gov. Bobby Jindal. Some of the measures that did get filed in the 2013 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature are contrary to the recommendations the Ethics Board had established. The Ethics Board asked for help with a handful of challenges it continues to encounter in enforcement of conflict of interest, nepotism and campaign finance laws. Some of the disputes have led to lawsuits and others concern about creating some big holes that could allow ethical misconduct.
A new report on poverty shows that the number of poor people living in the Baton Rouge suburbs increased by 31.8 percent from 2000 to 2011. But, the good news in the report is that 31.8 percent figure is less than half of the average percentage change reported for the nation’s largest cities. Nationally, the number of poor people living in suburban areas in the 100 largest cities went up 63.6 percent from 2000 to 2011, from just over 10 million to nearly 16.4 million.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office announces an arrest has been made in a murder that happened in 1962. Seventy-three-year-old Felix Vail was arrested in Canyon Lake, Texas and booked into the Calcasieu Parish jail last night. Investigators believe Vail killed his wife Mary Horton Vail, who was found dead in the Calcasieu
River. Felix claimed it was a boating accident. The Mississippi native is also a suspect in the deaths of a girlfriend and another wife.
Marksville police captured an inmate from the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center who was on the run. Authorities say 21-year-old Christopher Roy escaped while on work detail. He was found early Saturday morning at a home in Marksville. Roy has been in prison since November and he was scheduled for release in 2015.
Congratulations to Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson. Who on Saturday received the Buford Pusser National Law Enforcement Award for his efforts to promote partnerships among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The award is given annually to “deserving officers who have exhibited both heroism and leadership in law enforcement.
A state lawmaker will look into whether legislation is needed to allow parents track their children with G-P-S devices while at school. Mandeville Representative Tim Burns says there's rules on the books against electronic devices in the classroom like phones, so legislation might be needed for parents to track their kids at school. Burns says he's asking the state legislature to approve a study resolution this year to get a better idea on what schools have to say about GPS devices in the classroom. He says they'll also look into the available technology and possibly propose legislation next year.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is seeking new foster families. The state currently has about two-thousand foster homes that serve four-thousand foster children. But D-C-F-S Secretary Suzy Sonnier (SAHN-yay) says they are in need of families willing to take large sibling groups or children with special needs. Sonnier says parents can learn more about becoming a foster parent by visiting the department of children and family services website. Sonnier says foster parents take in children who had to leave their family because of abuse or neglect. She says the goal is to eventually reunite those children with their birth parents, relatives or family members.
Whitney and Hancock banks, which operate some 250 full-service bank branches in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are expected to close 40-45 area branches this year in all five states in which they operate, including Louisiana. The specific branches that will be closed — and how many employees might be laid off — will not be released until later. Most of the closings will occur Aug. 30 and all closings will be completed by year’s end.
Sports….After a record-breaking regular season, the second ranked LSU baseball team can focus on the postseason. The Tigers will begin play in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama on Wednesday. LSU will play Against the winner of Tuesday's game between 10th seeded Auburn and seventh seeded Alabama. The Tigers will need to win four games this week to win the SEC Tournament. Hear Those Games On 970AM KSYL.
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