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The 20th ranked LSU Tigers will get a chance to spend the final week of 2016 in sunny Florida where they'll play 13th ranked Louisville in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on December 31st. 
 
It will be an early start on New Year's eve day as the game will kickoff at 11 AM eastern, 10 AM central time.


The Bayou Bengals bring a 7-4 record to Orlando, while the Cardinals are 9-3. It will be an interesting match-up between the Tigers defense, which gave up the fourth-fewest points in the country against a Louisville offense that's led by a potential Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Lamar Jackson. 
 
Jackson set an ACC record with touchdowns in a season as he threw 30 passing TDs and scored 21 times rushing the football.
 
It will be the first ever meeting between Louisville and LSU on the football field. It will also be Coach Ed Orgeron's first game as the full-time head coach for the Tigers.  
 
The Tigers will make their fourth appearance in the Citrus Bowl. The last time they played in Orlando was in 2010 against Penn State in a game that was marred by poor field conditions, because of a heavy downpour.  

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The Saints appear to be heading towards another losing season as New Orleans played poorly in a 28-13 loss to the Detroit Lions. The Black and Gold committed 10 penalties and Quarterback Drew Brees threw three interceptions. Detroit jumped out to a 10-0 lead, which did not please Coach Sean Payton.


"Obviously we looked sluggish, it looked like we were coming off a short week," Payton said.
 
The loss drops New Orleans record to 5-7.The Black and Gold are heading towards their fourth losing season in the last five. 
 
"We've been up and down, last week, came out and played well, this week, it was poor, poor start," Payton said.
 
Payton also denied a report the Saints are interested in trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks during the offseason. 
 
"It's a false report, it's an agent picking up the phone, there's nothing to the report."
 
New Orleans will visit Tampa Bay next Sunday.  
 
 
 

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A recent poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research finds Governor John Bel Edwards’ approval rating is at 63%. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says that’s a big improvement over the governor’s approval rating earlier this year.

“John Bel Edwards remains popular in a red state. He’s done better since the sessions over. His popularity picked up after those three or four brutal sessions we had,” Pinsonat said.

A poll from Morning Consult found Edwards’ approval rating was only 45% in the spring, while a UNO poll showed 56% of respondents approved of his job performance in October. Pinsonat says Edwards’ response to all the floods, tornadoes, and other issues the state has seen this year may have helped boost his numbers.

“His numbers have been able to go up mainly because the good marks he got during the various disasters Louisiana has had to deal with over the last 6 or 7 or 8 months,” Pinsonat said.

The poll also found that the state is split on the direction Louisiana is heading. Pinsonat says 41% of respondents believe the state is heading in the right direction, while 40% say it’s the wrong direction. He says that’s understandable given all the issues Louisiana is facing.

“With the budget cuts, cost of higher education is increasing, the economy is still stuck in the mud, so there are a lot of things out there that are making people say they’re not real happy about the direction of the state,” Pinsonat said.

The poll shows 42% of voters think conditions will improve, while 19% say it will get worse.

 
 
 
 
 

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The Louisiana Department of Health reminds the public that December is the start of peak flu season. Dr. Frank Welch with LDH says flu activity has been low so far this year, as only 2 out of every 100 doctor visits in Louisiana have been flu related. He says there are things people can do to avoid getting sick.

“Wash your hands, cover your cough, and really if you are sick, please stay home from school and work until you’re better so that you don’t spread it to other people,” Welch said.

Welch says we’re at a higher risk of catching the flu during the holiday season. He says many people think that’s because the weather is cold, but it’s really because people spend time in close quarters at holiday parties and avoiding the cold.

“It’s actually the fact that when we get cold weather or inclement weather, everyone stays inside and closes the doors and windows. So we’re just simply closer to each other in those situations,” Welch said.

Welch advises people to clean frequently used surfaces like door knobs when they have people in their homes. He says it’s not too late to get a flu shot, but the shot takes two weeks to take effect. He says even though for most people the flu is a mild inconvenience, it’s important for everyone to get their shot because for some people, the flu can be life threatening.

“Just remember, you have to get the flu from someone else. So even though you wouldn’t get seriously ill with the flu, some people might, and they have to get it from people like you and I,” Welch said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser has extended the France-Louisiana Cooperation Accords for four more years. Nungesser says it’s a program that brings French teachers to teach the French history, culture, and language in Louisiana schools.

“It’s a great program that continues to grow. Now it’s over 4,500 students in 10 parishes, and we plan to expand that to many more parishes and many more students across Louisiana,” Nungesser said.

The agreement extends the mutual agreement until 2020. Nungesser says this program supports French immersion programs and the Francophone culture. He says learning French opens doors for Louisiana students.

“It gives them a wider range to look for job opportunities in music, in business, in anything they want to move forward with their life. It just opens up a whole other world to them,” Nungesser said.

Nungesser says the first French course in Louisiana was offered in 1969, and the earliest teachers that were sent by France were military personnel. He says French culture is a huge part of Louisiana heritage.

“We have a long history and a great relationship with France in culture, recreation, tourism, and the learning of the French language here in Louisiana,” Nungesser said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a news conference today to update the case of the death of former NFL player Joe McKnight during an apparent road rage incident. Multiple protests are taking place over the fact that the shooter, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, was released claiming self defense.


Normand warned against spreading rumors.

"Any story other than the story that you hear from me, the coroner, or the DA should not be believed," said Normand.

According to a release, McKnight exited his car and was shot by Gasser as he approached the shooter's passenger window. It says Gasser fired 3 rounds from a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun from the driver's seat of his car, and three hit McKnight.

Sheriff Normand responds to a report that McKnight was trying to resolve the issue with Gasser.

"We have no witness account of an apology being made by Mr. McKnight to Mr. Gasser," said Normand.

Normand said Gasser did not stand over McKnight as reports have stated and that there were 3 casings located inside the vehicle. He also says there was no video.

Normand says Gasser admitted to shooting McKnight, but has not been charged pending the outcome of the investigation.

"This investigation is not going to be moved, influenced coerced or changed in any way, by any external force," said Normand.

The investigation is now in the hands of the DA.
 
 
 

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Louisiana is in for a wet weekend as the cold front that passed us earlier in the week is turning back toward the state. State Climatologist Barry Keim says we have about three to four wet days in front of us. He says northern parishes can expect to see anywhere from five to seven inches of rain.

“Once we saturate these soils over the first day or so, the soils are already pretty saturated from some of our recent rains and as a result it probably won’t take a whole lot to get flash flooding as a problem.”

Keim says the upside to this wet weather is it will likely eliminate most of the drought we’ve seen across the state.

“If you’re in the farming business or trying to do cattle ranching, this is probably the best thing that you could ever see. So all in all, this is a good thing for the state, we could use the rain.”

Keim says severe weather threats are very minimal with this returning front. He says temperatures will remain relatively mild.

“We’re going to be socked in with a lot of cloudiness and by virtue of that I’d say to expect temperatures between says 50 to 75 degrees for the next three days. We’re not going to see a lot of movement in the temperature.”

 
 

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An arrest has been made in the case of the Bourbon Street shooting that left Demontris Toliver dead and 9 others injured. NOPD Chief Michael Harrison says 20-year-old Jordan Clay of Lafayette has been charged with 2nd degree murder. He says a multi-agency investigation led to his arrest.

“We collected and analyzed multiple angels of surveillance video in and around the area. We interviewed victims and witnesses from the scene. We expanded our reach and resources on the ground by partnering with our regional, state, and federal partners,” Harrison said.

Harrison says Clay was arrested in St. Martin parish, where he is currently being held as he awaits extradition to New Orleans. He says they are still searching for a second suspect in the incident that occurred over the Thanksgiving weekend, the same weekend as the Bayou Classic.

“Through the course of this investigation, we were able to identify the suspects as two men from the Lafayette area who were in town for the weekend festivities,” Harrison said.

Harrison says the shooting occurred at 1 am last Sunday in the 100 block of Bourbon Street. He says the investigation is ongoing as they continue their search for the other suspect and try to identify a motive.

“We believe that Clay and the remaining suspect. They had been involved in an ongoing dispute outside of New Orleans, and they met again on Bourbon St. that morning. That encounter turned violent, and a shootout followed,” Harrison said.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Edwards’ family is getting in the holiday spirit as they will spend their first Christmas in the Governor’s Mansion. The family was displaced during the August flooding but are now settling back into life in the mansion. First Lady Donna Edwards is hosting a Joyeux Noel celebration at her home this afternoon at 3 p.m. to show off the improvements she’s made.

“We’ve been steadily painting and I’ve started a Louisiana Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation and we’re back up and going with that.

Edwards says after taking on about 7 feet of water in the basement, she hopes displaying Louisiana’s French heritage and culture during the Joyeux Noel event will raise money for the Mansion. She says they’ve revamped the backyard.

“Our satsuma trees are just bending over full of satsumas and the garden right now looks beautiful.”

Guests of the event will be treated with holiday snacks, music and a special visit from Papa Noel. Edwards says she worked closely with other former First Ladies to spruce up the Mansion.

“I worked with First Lady Alice Foster earlier in the year and we had a nice luncheon with she and a lot of the ladies in the First Foundation so they were able to guide me through this process.”

 
 

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A new poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research finds Republican John Kennedy still has a strong lead over Democrat Foster Campbell in the US Senate race. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the results are not surprising.

“We all think that John Kennedy has a big advantage being in red state Louisiana. This poll confirms that he’s got a 14 point lead. He’s leading 52% to 38%,” Pinsonat said.

Voters are split about Campbell, according to the poll of 500 likely Louisiana voters, as 46% view him favorably and 45% unfavorably. Pinsonat says it is unlikely Campbell will make a late charge as just under 10% of voters are undecided.

“There’s very few people undecided. That’s because it’s Louisiana. It’s a red state, and this is another race where it’s about party. It’s Democrats and Republicans,” Pinsonat said.

The poll finds 58% of respondents have a favorable view of Kennedy, while only 35% have unfavorable views of the State Treasurer. Pinsonat says Kennedy has been very popular statewide for the past several years, because he’s been a vocal critic of government spending.

“It’s carried over, and it’s probably going to make him, at this point in time unless something dramatic changes, he’s going to be the next United States Senator from Louisiana being a Republican,” Pinsonat said.

 
 
 
 
 

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The 2nd annual Alex Winter Fête is underway in Alexandria. The three day festival drew almost 30,000 people in its inaugural year. Director of Community Services, Daniel Williams, says this year will be bigger and better than last year.

“We introduced an ice skating rink, a couple other attractions that really focus on the snow globe. We have fireworks on two nights, tons of music, lots of food vendors,” Williams said.

Williams says they have a Polar Express train for kids, as well as their Indie Market, which features unique arts and crafts. He says there’s stilt walkers, fire breathers, face painting, and even Santa will be there. He says they’ve also beefed up their attractions from last year.

“Our fireworks show is going to be bigger and better this year. We have increased our food vendors by about 80%. We have our holiday market,” Williams said.

A firework show will take place tonight at 9:00. Williams says they’ve expanded their ice skating rink to include a kids section, in an effort to cut back on wait times to skate. He says one of the most fun events of the weekend is the Ugly Sweater 5k.

“It’s always good to see the contrast in what someone thinks is an ugly sweater. I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder. The Ugly Sweater 5k is Saturday morning. Registration will be about 7:30, and the race starts at 8,” Williams said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Early voting ends tomorrow and turnout has been lower than expected. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says we’re seeing about 22,000 voters at the polls a day during this early voting week, down 10,000 a day from the primary. He says that doesn’t mean things can’t pick up today and tomorrow.

“But I’m leaning more down to that lower end at the 35 if not even south of that, maybe somewhere between 32-35, so it is low voter turnout.”

The November 8th Presidential election had a voter turnout of 68%. Schedler says we’re seeing a more vigorous turnout on the Republican side than the Democratic side. He also says there’s been a bigger male turnout than female, which isn’t typical.

“And we’ve seen a low voter turnout on the African American side so all those things point to the south, negative but none the less we need to look cautiously optimistic.”

Schedler says we’re seeing predominately chronic voters getting out to early vote. He says one reason for the low turnout is that voters are tired after the grueling November 8th election.

“But none the less, we’ll see, we’ll keep our fingers crossed but certainly not a turnout like we anticipated in the Presidential election and certainly at least 50% less.”

For early voting the polls are open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 
 

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Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be in New Orleans tomorrow hosting a get-out-the vote rally to spotlight the U.S. Senate race. Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere says Pence will voters to head to the polls on December 10th and cast their ballot for Republican Treasurer John Kennedy.

“We are concerned that people feel like the big news, the big election is over and everything is going to just go back to normal and of course it’s an extremely important election.”

Louisiana Democratic Party executive director Stephen Handwerk believes Pence’s appearance is just for show. He says Republicans were very quick to condemn Kennedy when he was a registered Democrat.

“I do find it ironic that all of a sudden they’re his new best hope.”

Villere says the Vice President-elect will also meet with elected officials, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Attorney General Jeff Landry to discuss the needs of Louisiana.

“And we just feel like our Vice President-elect is coming at a perfect time when we can spend a few minutes with him to visit, tell him some of our concerns and also get some enthusiasm for our election coming up.”

Handwerk says Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Foster Campbell has made a career out of fighting for Louisiana families and he wants to take it to the next level as senator. He says Campbell’s message is resonating with voters.

“John Kennedy on the other hand has nearly 100% name recognition but almost 75% of people in Louisiana voted for somebody else in the primary.”

 
 
 

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The football world is mourning the death of Joe McKnight, who was fatally shot in what authorities believe was a road rage incident in Jefferson Parish. McKnight was one of the top high school football players in the country coming out of John Curtis High School in 2006. His former high school coach, J.T. Curtis, is devastated by the slaying of the 28-year-old.


"To take a life and snuff out the future of a human being, no matter who he is, is just tragic," Curtis said.
 
McKnight played at USC and was drafted by the New York Jets and also played for the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent this past season in the Canadian Football League. Curtis says McKnight's death is a senseless tragedy.
 
"Pretty much confirmed in mind it was just an incident of hate, incident of rage and it turned violent," Curtis said.   
 
Jefferson Parish sheriff deputies received a call Thursday afternoon about a shooting in Terrytown. First responders found McKnight lying on the ground next to his car suffering from a gunshot wound. Sheriff Newell Normand has identified the shooter as 54-year-old Ronald Gasser. Curtis says McKnight will be remembered as a good person.
 
"He was a caring father and he was a guy loyal to his friend and loyal to the people he was affiliated with," Curtis said. 
 
 

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The lineup for next year’s Bayou Country Superfest over the Memorial Day weekend has just been announced, featuring super stars Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts, Thomas Rhett, and Hank Williams Jr. Producer Quint Davis says it’s all new again because it’s coming to New Orleans for the first time.

“Coming down to the Superdome in New Orleans, we really wanted to put it on super. We wanted to have the biggest stars and really a wide spectrum of all the stars in country music,” Davis said.

Davis says they’re doing it big this year with 6 acts a night, instead of 5, and three headliners each night. He says it will be interesting to see how Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert interact over the Memorial Day weekend, since the two divorced last year.

“Actually it’s the first time that Blake and Miranda have been on the same show together. So there was a little bit of intrigue and excitement about that,” Davis said.

The 3-day festival was moved to the Superdome after LSU could not host the fest in its usual venue, Tiger Stadium, due to renovations. Davis expects the festival to have a huge impact on tourism in New Orleans.

“Everybody’s looking at a big, new festival coming to New Orleans to kick off the summer on a big holiday weekend,” Davis said.

 
 
 
 

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More than 8,600 Louisiana residents are receiving care for chronic conditions under the expansion of Medicaid. That’s according to the Louisiana Department of Health, who says enrollment has surpassed 351,000 individuals. LDH Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee says many people are now getting healthcare they weren’t receiving while uninsured.

“Almost 40,000 adults have gotten a preventative visit, that means a primary care visit to the doctor. We’ve had over 3,500 women get a screening for breast cancer.”

Gee says treatment has started for nearly 600 adults newly diagnosed with diabetes and over 3,000 adults received colonoscopies and 786 patients had precancerous polyps removed. She says the Medicaid expansion should lead to better health outcomes for working citizens who were previously uninsured.

“These are people that made enough money that they couldn’t qualify before so they’re working people who could just not get access to affordable healthcare.”

Gee says they are still unclear with will happen with the expanded Medicaid program when President-elect Trump takes office. She says if the expansion were to be repealed, Louisiana would lose 4 billion dollars and thousands would be uninsured.

“It’s an easy thing to say you’re going to repeal it but when you actually take healthcare away from 20 million people and in our state 350,000 people, people who are working, people who most of whom voted for Trump, I think it’s a different reality.”

 
 

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The Cajundome will host its first event tonight since completing a $22 million renovation, as the Ragin’ Cajuns basketball team will take on Nicholls State tonight. Cajundome Director Greg Davis believes people will be impressed with the updates.

“It’s all about the color scheme, black and different shades of gray. All the seats are black. The seats are now right up against the basketball court. LED lighting is totally focused on the basketball court,” Davis said.

Davis expects the renovated dome will help them recruit better basketball players. He says they’ll also be at an advantage competing for big name acts, adding that they are still able to host events like monster truck shows, ice hockey games, and circuses.

“The seating capacity has been increased by roughly 500 to 800, and the way the facility looks, the way it works, we think patrons are going to be very satisfied when they come here to experience live entertainment,” Davis said.

Davis says the flow of the facility has also been updated to give patrons easier access to restrooms. He adds that the overall experience in the Cajundome has been greatly enhanced.

“We’ll be cooking and grilling in those stands, so that enhances the quality of the food. All of the ground level restrooms have been renovated. The entire south lobby has been renovated,” Davis said.

 
 
 
 
 

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A bill co-authored by US Senator Bill Cassidy that seeks to reform mental healthcare has passed the US House and could receive Senate approval next week. Cassidy says this legislation is two years in the making, with the goal of making sure patients are not denied care. He says the bill should foster more mental health professionals, as well as create more outpatient treatment settings.

“We expand access to mental health resources. We clarify rules on disclosure of patient information with family caretakers. We integrate primary and behavioral healthcare,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy says someone with mental illness dies 20 years younger than someone without it because physical health problems aren’t addressed. In his bill, the same day rule allows someone to be seen by a psychiatrist and physical health doctor on the same day. He adds there’s three times more mentally ill people in prisons than hospitals.

“We have traded the hospital bed for the prison cell, the park bench, and the morgue because that’s where these folks with mental illness often end,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy says some privacy laws inhibit communication between mental health providers and in-home care givers. He says the bill also establishes a Grant program focused on intensive early intervention for children who demonstrate signs of mental illness.

“Including the 0 to 3 age. Didn’t think it was possible, but early signs of mental illness, or at least a propensity towards, can be seen even at that early age,” Cassidy said.

The bill also provides for suicide prevention and substance abuse programs.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The state announces a scholarship opportunity for Phil Theta Kappa Honor society students attending community and technical schools and who would like to transfer into either Southern University Baton Rouge or Southern University New Orleans. Governor John Bel Edwards says the Pathway Scholarship awards up to 1,500 dollars and it will give these students a chance to receive a four-year degree.

“And really help people make that transfer who otherwise might not make it,” Edwards said.

Edwards says last year nearly 1,600 LCTCS students transferred to four year institutes, and 747 of those went to either SUBR or SUNO. He says they hope to see that number in the thousands in years to come. He says this agreement is a true win-win.

“Having an educated, trained workforce is critically important for the state, but giving these opportunities to individuals is critically important to them and their families as well,” Edwards said.

Candidates for the award must also complete FASFA and maintain full-time enrollment and good academic standing once enrolled at Southern. Edwards hopes to be able to offer this opportunity to many more Louisiana students in the future.

“We are going to continue to work, not just between these two systems but across the higher education community as a whole, to make sure that more opportunities like this are available to our young people,” Edwards said.

 
 
 
 
 

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OPEC members have agreed to slow crude oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day starting next year. The announcement led to an 8% increase in oil prices as they were trading at around $50 a barrel. Director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies, David Dismukes, says it’s a nice sign for Louisiana’s oil industry, which is lagging because of low oil prices.

“For Louisiana this will be positive in terms of market prices increasing for production that we’re getting right now, but we’re not going to see any substantial drilling activity as a result of that,” Dismukes said.

This is OPEC’s first cut in 8 years, and it will reduce production by over 32 million barrels a day globally. The state’s budget also counts on high oil prices to help boost state revenues. He says the rise in oil prices as a result of OPEC’s decision will only help a little.

“This hedging that we’ve seen in mineral revenues from a state budget perspective, well hopefully that will start to unwind a little bit, not by much but at least a little bit,” Dismukes said.

Based on latest numbers from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, seven thousand jobs have been lost in the Lafayette area over the last year and much of that is the result of the downturn in the oil industry. Dismukes says this announcement from OPEC is not enough to jump start drilling in this state.

“We’re not drilling any new wells here, and we’re not going to drill any new wells even if pries get up to $60 to $80 a barrel for oil,” Dismukes said.

 
 
 
 
 

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