News for Friday 122112
By Dave Graichen
An LSU expert on the ancient Mayan culture says the world is not coming to an end today. Heather McKillop, Professor of Latin American Studies, says the hype surrounding December 21st, 2012 says more about OUR culture than it does ancient Maya. She says the fact that some are actually preparing for doomsday is testament to western culture's fascination with disasters. She says there's nothing in Mayan folklore that predict and end of the world, so there's no need to worry.
Gun shops across the state report sales are skyrocketing amid renewed calls for stiffer gun controls. A number of businesses report the AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle is their best seller. Some are out of stock and have weapons on 6-month backorder.
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson announced yesterday afternoon travelers will be able to continue using their Louisiana driver’s licenses to board airplanes. Edmonson says that’s because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security postponed the deadline for complying with the federal Real ID Act of 2005. Had Homeland Security not agreed to defer its Jan. 15 deadline, Louisiana residents would have been required to use passports as identification for traveling and entering federal facilities because the state had not brought its driver’s licenses into compliance with the federal law. Edmonson says the extension is for 6 months.
Louisiana's health department is acknowledging that planned cuts in the state's Medicaid program will eliminate hospice care for all Medicaid recipients beginning in February. Hospice care aims to make dying people more comfortable, in many cases in their own homes, in their final months of life. In announcing reductions to hospice care funding last week, officials with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration said hospice care at nursing homes would not be eliminated. But, apparently that was not true. The Times-Picayune reports that Kathleen Meyers, a spokeswoman for the state health agency, confirmed there will be no reimbursement for hospice services at all beginning Feb. 1.
A busy holiday travel weekend is getting underway in Louisiana. AAA spokesman Don Redman says about 93-million Americans - about 1 in 4 of us - will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday. Redman says about 5 & 1/2 million Americans will fly to their holiday destinations; a 4% increase from last year. He says many will be starting their road trip or heading for the airport today.
Louisiana motorists can no longer claim an alternative fuels vehicle tax credit on their flex-fuel vehicles. State Revenue Department Executive Counsel Tim Barfield says the law that created the tax
credit was not intended to cover cars and trucks that can burn either gasoline or ethanol. Barfield says the alternative fuel vehicles tax credit is still available to anyone who has bought an electric car, a hybrid or cars burning compressed natural gas or biodiesel. He says if the two fuels your vehicle can burn are stored in the same tank, you're no longer eligible.
Louisiana retail merchants are optimistic for a big finish to the holiday shopping season. Retail analyst Jim Rutledge says the shopping season surged right after Thanksgiving, but has since slowed a bit. However, he says indicators lead them to believe they'll finish strong.
LSU punter Brad Wing has been suspended for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and has likely seen his last days as an LSU Tiger according to some. The Athletic Department issued a statement confirming the suspension. Insiders say Wing failed multiple drug tests and other sources say Wing will enter the NFL draft.
GM is recalling 145-thousand Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups for a problem that can cause the hood to fly open suddenly at highway speeds. The trucks were manufactured at the now-shuttered GM plant in Shreveport. Some of the pickups may not have the required secondary hood latch that would prevent the hood from flying open.
The state agency in charge of overseeing food safety in restaurants pledged Thursday to get its operations up to national standards by the end of 2013. One of the biggest takeaways from an Office of Public Health news conference Thursday was a commitment to address a significant inspection backlog by September. The agency also promised that Louisiana restaurants which handle raw meat or other easily contaminated foods will be subject to at least four surprise inspections per year. Thursday’s announcement comes just three weeks after a legislative audit report criticized the agency for not cracking down on unsanitary restaurants.
LSU's FACES forensic lab will help Shreveport authorities identify skeletal human remains found this week under an Interstate 20 bridge. Dr. Mary Manhein's team will try to determine who the person
was and how he or she died. The Caddo Coroner says there's no outward indication of foul play.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office says it will give $2500 to the person with information that cracks the case of the November 14th murder of Mary Alvarez. The wife of a Hammond plant nursery owner was found by her husband, dying from a single gunshot to the head. Sheriff's spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto ask anyone with useful information in the case to please contact their office.
A state judge has ruled that a Denham Springs woman, who arranged Christmas light on her roof in the shape of a hand flipping the middle finger, may put the display back up. The judge ruled Denham Springs Police were wrong to suggest she could be fined if she refused to take it down after neighbors complained. No word from the woman if she will put it back up or not. Word is, the reason she set up the display was because she was upset with some of her neighbors.
A 25-year-old Metairie woman is under arrest; accused of teaching a 16-year-old how to be a prostitute on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Emilie Cook, also known as Bunny, is charged with trafficking children for sexual purpose. She allegedly set up engagements for herself and the girl for $500 each...with an undercover cop.
A Leesville man gets a five-year federal prison sentence for possessing child pornography. 36-year-old Emerson Austin was arrested back in 2009, after officers found the sexually explicit
materials in his home. After his sentence is complete, Austin will have to serve 10 years supervised release.
News for Thursday 122012
By Dave Graichen
A 25-year-old Deridder man allegedly stabbed his nephew to death. The Beauregard Parish Sheriff's office arrested John Hatfield in the murder of 4-year-old Tanner Bailey. Sheriff Ricky Moses says the stabbing occurred at the child's grandparents’ home. Hatfield facing a 1st degree murder charge.
Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested a Tioga High School teacher Wednesday for an alleged relationship with a student at the school. 27 year old Michelle Cooksey of Pineville was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on two counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Her bond was set at $10,000. The investigation is ongoing.
Lee Rubin and Jules R. Green were sworn in as new Alexandria City Council members Tuesday, followed by the election of Chuck Fowler as council president and Mitzi LaSalle as vice president for 2013. Former District 3 Councilman Jerry W. Jones Jr. and at-large Councilman Roosevelt Johnson were recognized for their service and presented plaques. Mayor Jacques Roy congratulated the new council members and said he looked forward to working with them.
Good news for holiday travelers. The price of gasoline is continuing to fall, just in time for Christmas visits. At last report, the nationwide average price of a gallon of regular was $3.22 and the average price across Louisiana was $3.05, although you can find a lot of gas stations selling their product for less than three dollars a gallon. Increased supplies and lower demand are being cited as the reason for falling gas prices.
Total personal income in Louisiana grew at the same rate as the United States average during the third quarter, according to a report released Wednesday. Total personal income in the state was $182.4 billion during the third quarter, an increase of 0.5 percent from the second quarter. That matches the 0.5 percent growth nationwide in total personal income, which is the income earned by individuals from all sources.
An internal audit by the state Alcohol and Tobacco Control has found agents using state issued cell phones for their personal use while they were on state time. ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says the audit--which only covered the month of October--showed some agents using thousands of minutes. He says this type of abuse will not be tolerated. He says the agents in question could be suspended or even terminated.
President Barack Obama has asked his administration to propose gun control laws, but a legislator in Shreveport has her own ideas about action that can be taken in Louisiana. Representative Barbara Norton says she'd like to see a law on the books that would require gun owners to keep their guns secure at all times. Norton says the proposed legislation would also include language that states if a gun owner has not properly secured their gun, they could face civil liabilities if it was stolen and involved in a crime.
Where to Retire magazine lists Ruston as one of the top retirement destinations in the country. The publication says Ruston is an undiscovered haven for retirement.
A new report says Louisiana scored a six out of ten on key indicators of public health preparedness. The bayou state is one of 35 states that scored a six or lower. Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compiled the report. Louisiana received negative marks for not having a nurse license compact with other states, failing to increase public health funding and not vaccinating enough toddlers against whooping cough.
100 chimpanzees will be retiring from their "work" at a University of Louisiana biomedical research center in New Iberia, and moving next year to Chimp Haven -- a sanctuary in Keithville which will offer the primates are more natural environment in which to live. Michael Budkie is Director of Stop Animal Exploitation now says this is great news. Budkie says these animals have made important contributions to improve health, but the need for chimp research is reduced because of new technologies.
USA Today reports LSU head football coach Les Miles is very popular on Twitter. In fact, the Old War School coach is the most followed college football coach with over 87-thousand followers. The second most popular is Brian Kelly at Notre Dame with almost six thousand followers. Nick Saban at
Alabama is third.
For the second straight year, L-S-U is ranked number four in Forbes' magazine list of most valuable college football teams. According to Forbes' report, L-S-U is worth 102-million-dollars, a six percent increase from last year's list. The Tigers are the highest ranked S-E-C school and only trail national powerhouses Texas, Michigan and Notre Dame. Also listed in the Forbes' report is a list of college football's most powerful coaches and L-S-U's Les Miles is ranked number nine.
The Hornets attempt to change their nickname continues to move forward. The NBA has reportedly filed for trademark of the nickname Pelicans. But other nicknames the league is seeking a trademark for, include Rougaroo, Mosquitoes, Swamp Dogs and Bullsharks.
News for Wednesday 121912
By Dave Graichen
A state district judge has upheld most of Governor Jindal's education reform law targeting teachers, but has ruled against part of the law that addresses the authority of school boards. Baton Rouge Rep. Steve Carter sponsored the so-called Talent Act. He says Judge Michael Caldwell ruled in favor of the most important parts of the new law. The judge upheld parts of the law relating to teacher tenure and pay based on performance, instead of seniority. He struck down parts addressing powers of school boards and superintendents.
The Pineville PD believes 55 year old Carolyn Farr stole more than $25,000 from an elderly woman she was caring for. The investigation began back in October after a complaint was filed with police. As a result of their investigation, Farr was charged with unauthorized use of an access card over $500, forgery and exploitation of the infirmed.
A special meeting of the Alexandria City Council will be held at 3 p.m. today in City Council chambers at city hall to swear in two newly-elected council members, Lee Rubin, at-large representative, and Jules Green, District 3 representative. Also on the agenda is recognition of outgoing council members Roosevelt L. Johnson and Jerry W. Jones Jr. The new council will then elect a president and vice president to serve in 2013. A reception with light refreshments will follow.
The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's office arrests an 18-year-old Belle Chasse High School student for threatening to shoot up the school and kill a teacher. Sheriff's office spokesperson Eric Becnel says Leonard Jourdan was arrested Monday and admitted to making the threats. The man was charged with terrorizing
Two elementary school principals in Ponchatoula received threatening letters. Police chief Bry
Layrisson says the two letters were handwritten and due to the nature of the text could be from the same person. The chief says the letters are vague but do refer to the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Layrisson says the Ponchatoula P-D is working with the Louisiana State Police crime lab, checking handwriting samples and D-N-A as well...
It's one of the most popular reality shows being talked about in Louisiana, but A&E's Duck Dynasty is making major waves throughout the country. The reality series profiles the regular 'ole "redneck" Robertson family, who became millionaires after creating a new efficient duck call. Robertson's wife, Miss Kay, says she's always been madly in love with her husband, but life is much better with him now that they're rich. New episodes for the show begin airing next year.
It all started with two suspected shoplifters and it ended with 2 people dead. State police report a high-speed police chase results in two fatalities. State Police Trooper Jared Sandifer says Gonzales Police pursued two suspected shoplifters from an outlet mall in Ascension Parish on Tuesday. Sandifer says the chase continued into Iberville Parish where the driver began driving recklessly, eventually crashing the vehicle. The two suspects were killed in the wreck.
Remote operated vehicles, seeking a possible oil leak from the shuttered BP Macondo well, have found nothing. After four days of searching, no evidence was found to link a surface sheen in the area to the well. State Coastal Affairs director Garrett Graves says the ROV mission results are unsatisfactory to him. The sheen could possibly be the result of natural seeps from the sea floor. Graves says relief well drilling could have somehow caused a seep as well. He says the state will keep pressure on the Coast Guard and BP to continue their search for the leak.
A 4-year-old boy has been stabbed to death and a 25-year-old DeRidder man, believed to be the child's uncle, has been arrested. Beaureard Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Joe Toler said authorities received a call around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon about a child being stabbed in the chest at a residence west of DeRidder. John W. Hatfield III, who was at the scene, was taken into custody without incident. Authorities are not saying what if any charges will be filed against the man.
News for Tuesday 121812
By Dave Graichen
As most of us still come to grips with the school shooting tragedy in Connecticut last Friday, many parents are wondering what is any plans are in place here in Central Louisiana to prevent such incident. In Rapides parish, school officials report plans are and have been in place for some time throughout the district, including an armed RPSO officer at each school. Other plans, though in place, are not publically discussed. Interim Superintendent Gerald Woodard said parents have called the Central Office, as well as individual schools, with questions about student safety. Woodard and others in the district are reminding parents and the community that the schools are prepared.
A Pineville man arrested earlier this month, has been arrested again on more charges related to inappropriate relationships with juveniles. 21 year old Adam Mock was charged with two counts of felony contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile and one count of felony indecent behavior with a juvenile. The Rapides Parish sheriff’s office says detectives interviewed a second juvenile who had sex with Mock twice at Mock's residence, causing him to be arrested again.
A District Court Judge in Baton Rouge says he'll make his ruling sometime today on whether or not Governor Bobby Jindal's new teacher tenure laws are in violation of the state constitution. Judge
Michael Caldwell heard the case Monday and told lawyers he wasn't ready to make a decision yet.
The Jena Choctaw Pines Casino in Grant Parish will hold two job fairs this week, in anticipation of their opening after the first of the year. The sessions will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Dry Prong Community Center; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Alexandria Fulton Hotel in downtown Alexandria. The casino expected to employ about 300 people.
Between now and New Year's Day law enforcement are intensifying patrols to get drunk drivers off the road. Louisiana is participating in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, which features
increased sobriety checkpoints. State Police Col. Mike Edmonson says Alcohol was a factor in 41-percent of Louisiana fatal crashes last year.
Six people were killed in fatal crashes investigated by State Police since last Friday afternoon. LSP spokesperson Jared Sandifer says the number of people killed in auto wrecks investigated by state
troopers is up to 21 for the month of December. He says speed has been a factor in many of these fatal wrecks. Many of the fatal wrecks this month have also involved victims who weren't wearing their seatbelt.
A 15-year old West Monroe High School student has been arrested in connection with some threats he reportedly made against other students at the school. Police say the student made the threats
over the week-end and he was arrested a short time later and taken into custody. According to investigators, the teen-ager had made no plans to carry out the threats and was apparently upset about something that happened at school.
Two Eunice women are under arrest for allegedly leaving an infant inside their car for an hour and a half while they gambled. The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office says they were apprehended after a
concerned citizen saw the baby in the car alone at a truck stop casino. Each woman was booked with cruelty to a juvenile.
After 56 years in business, Ville Platte landmark Floyd's Record shop will close its' doors for good on Christmas Eve. In its earlier years, Floyd's could actually press you a record, and boasted clients like Elvis Presley. After its closing, Floyd's will continue to sell music via the Internet, but its physical store will be a thing of the past.
East Baton Rouge authorities do not expect to recover the 48 pounds of cocaine stolen from the Clerk of Court's evidence room. Two Clerk of Court employees and three others were arrested late last week in
connection with the stolen cocaine. Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White says where it went after it left the government building is anyone's guess.
Those pinching pennies for last minute Christmas gifts are happy about the gas prices these days. According to the American Automobile Association, the statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $3.06 cents which is down 16 cents from a month ago.
Police in Sulphur bust a man they caught red-handed vandalizing a local church. Officers believe 35-year-old Wayne Duplechin was on drugs when they confronted him. He resisted arrest and had to be
tasered. Duplechin is accused of using a sledgehammer to smash religious statues at two churches and possibly more. He's charged with burglary, criminal damage to property and a hate crime--for
A Church Point man is jailed for allegedly stealing a huge sum of cash and a $25-thousand ring from a woman's home, after she hired him to do yard work. 26-year-old Toby Fontenot reportedly took the
ring and $40-thousand in cash when he went inside to use the bathroom. Police say he also hit an officer, when they were arresting him.
The state Department of Insurance announces new online tools to help you compare rates as you shop for auto and homeowners coverage. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says you can find the comparison guides online, at "ldi.la.gov"; look for the area labeled "Consumers". Donelon says the new comparison guide tool, will help you shop rates by variables like age, location, coverage level, home value. For auto insurance, you can compare based on driving history, age, year and model of car and more. Donelon says the new website feature is modeled after a national program.
News for Monday 121712
By Dave Graichen
Another major part of Governor Jindal's education reform package faces a court challenge today. Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan says ACT 1, which changes teacher tenure rules, is illegal because it has many separate and distinct purposes. Monagahn says thestate's constitution says a law must have one single intent. Act I prohibits districts from using seniority as the primary factor in teacher layoff decisions and compensation would be tied to student achievement.
State Police is asking for the public's help in tracking down the driver of a car they believe struck and killed a five year old autistic child over the weekend in West Baton Rouge Parish. Authorities say for unknown reasons, the child wandered away from a church Christmas party Saturday night onto a highway in Port Allen. An investigation revealed that the child traveled on foot approximately two miles from the location of the Christmas Party and was found just before 1am Sunday in the grass beyond the westbound shoulder of Hwy 190. The child had been struck and killed. Police say, so far they have little to go on.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's office announced Friday that an arrest has been made in the murder of Dorothy Rosier whose remains were recently found after nearly three years. Lt. Tommy Carline says 61-year-old Paul Jackson of Alexandria was arrested Thursday night. Jackson is charged with 2nd degree murder and obstruction of justice. Carnline says the investigation is still ongoing and no further information as to cause of death or motive is available at this time. Rosier and Jackson were family friends.
The Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Children and Family Services receive the largest cuts in a midyear budget cutting plan released by the Jindal administration. A total of 165-million dollars in cuts will occur as result of lower than expected revenues.
Louisiana elects not to create its own insurance exchange that's part of the new federal health care law. It means the federal government will control the marketplace where uninsured Louisiana residents can choose a health plan. The exchanges will work much the same way some people use certain internet sites to purchase airplane tickets. There will be a website with a list various health plans. Friday was the deadline for states to accept the Obama administration's invitation to run their own health insurance market. Open enrollment plans for the exchange plans start next October.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, says birth control should be sold over the counter in part because his party has “been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue.” In an online article published by The Wall Street Journal, the governor is quoted as saying adults 18 and older should be allowed to buy contraceptives over the counter and that people who have religious or other objections to birth control should not be “forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others.”
The after-effects of Hurricane Isaac are still being felt in the citrus groves of Plaquemines Parish. LSU AgCenter county agent Alan Vaughn says growers expect to be able to harvest only 10 percent of navels and only 20 percent of satsumas this year.
A federal judge has refused to let a Monroe doctor withdraw her guilty plea to a charge stemming from a plot to smuggle and illegally sell human growth hormones. Dr. Linda Bunch’s attorney said he plans to appeal Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote. Bunch claims her former attorneys pressured her into pleading guilty in December 2011 and failed to investigate evidence in her favor. Prosecutors argued she failed to give a valid reason for withdrawing her plea. Bunch, who is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 24, is one of three people charged in the case. An indictment accused them of conspiring to import and distribute HGH from China that wasn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Saints finally put it all together on Sunday and recorded an impressive 41 to 0 victory over division rival Tampa Bay. Quarterback Drew Brees led the way with 307 yards passing and four touchdowns.
News for Friday 121412
By Dave Graichen
An investigation by the Alexandria-Pineville Narcotic Task Force netted 14 arrests of people who either sold or bought synthetic marijuana or drug paraphernalia from a store in the 3100 block of Masonic Drive in Alexandria. Two store clerks and 12 customers were arrested, and more than $500,000 worth of guns, assets and cash were seized.
A memorial service was held yesterday for Ricky Isaac, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's office deputy who died in a single-vehicle crash last weekend. Sheriff Victor Jones says Isaac, who is a former Northwestern football player, is survived by his pregnant wife who is a former Lady Demon. He said they'd been married less than two years. Issac was killed during a rainstorm when his car hydroplaned and left the road then crashed into some trees.
Law enforcement officials say a school bus crashed Wednesday evening in Alexandria and several young children were sent to the hospital. They say a pickup truck ran a stop sign at the intersection of I-49 and Rapides State Road and collided with the bus. All children were taken to local hospitals for precautionary reason and no injuries were reported. The driver of the truck has been cited for failure to yield.
The state could lose $140-million or more in tobacco settlement money, which would affect the free college tuition program known as TOPS. First Assistant Attorney General Trey Phillips says tobacco companies contend that Louisiana hasn't met its part of the deal by failing to regulate off-brand cigarette companies. An arbitration panel will hear Big Tobacco's complaints and render a decision. Proceeds from the tobacco settlement fund a big portion of the TOPS scholarships.
For a fifth straight year, the state will need to cut the budget during the middle of the fiscal year. It's the result of the Revenue Estimating Conference, who lowered income projections for this fiscal year by 129-million dollars. The Jindal administration is expected to unveil a budget cutting plan at today’s joint budget committee meeting. Public colleges and health care will take a brunt of the cuts. Manfred Dix, the chief economist for the governor's office, says next fiscal year's budget picture is also bleak, with an income drop of about 200-million dollars .
Gas prices are on a steady decline. The American Automobile Association says the price of gas has fallen 13-cents over the last month to a statewide average of $3.12 for a gallon of regular. AAA Fuel analyst Don Redman says it's not a surprise to see gas prices fall during the holidays. And he says we should continue to see this drop for the rest of the year.
BP has sent a Remote Operated Vehicle down to the shut-in Macondo well in the Gulf , to determine if any oil is still leaking from it. State Coastal Affairs Director Garrett Graves says another sheen of oil was spotted in November--near the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and subsequent oil spill. Graves says oil collected at the surface matches the characteristics of the light, sweet crude that gushed from BP's well for months after the rig disaster. He says the state asked the Coast Guard to make BP explore that area, to determine where the latest reported sheen is coming from.
Governor Jindal and local leaders announce a $100-million industrial investment in Bastrop, in Morehouse Parish. West Monroe Rep. Mike Walsworth says Drax Biomass International plans to eventually employ 45 or more in a wood-processing plant. The plant will use northeast Louisiana timber to make wood pellets or chips that will be shipped overseas to use as a renewable energy source. Walsworth says with the deal in place, construction should start soon. Walworth says the plant could be up and running by late in 2013 or very early in 2014.
State Police is handling the investigation into a fatal shooting of an armed robbery suspect by a federal deputy. Troop E spokesperson Scott Moreau says the shooting occurred yesterday in Marskville when members of the U-S Marshal's Violent Offender Task Force attempted to serve an arrest warrant on 51-year-old Larane Pierce. Moreau says an investigation into whether the shooting is justified is ongoing.
A Carencro strip club raided last week by federal agents for drug and prostitution offenses has now lost its liquor license for at least a month - possibly more. State Alcohol & Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert issued the order yesterday. On December 5th, agents raided Desperado's Nightclub. Owner James Panos and several employee were arrested on several charges.
Lafayette Parish Sheriff's deputies say a Carencro man tried to kill his own father with a samurai sword. Sheriff's Captain Kip Judice says 32-year-old Albert Prejean attacked his dad during an argument. He says not only did the 63-year-old victim sustain series defensive wounds, Prejean managed to slice his own thigh in the sword scuffle. Judice says once Prejean is released from the hospital, he'll be charged with attempted second-degree murder.
The firing of a Shreveport TV weather reporter is getting national attention. Rhonda Lee was fired for violating a station social media policy, for replying to a viewer's Facebook critique of her short-cropped hair. Lee says she was unaware of any such policy. Some national media outlets are speculating her termination could have been racially motivated. Lee is African-American.
News For Thursday 121312
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana College is still in hot water with SACS. Association officials announced yesterday the College will remain "on warning for a second straight year. Pamela Cravey, the SACS coordinator of communications and external affairs provided The Town Talk an email saying LC remained on warning because of shortcomings in several areas, Institutional effectiveness, in the area of educational programs, administrative support services, academic and student support services, general education competencies and faculty competence. The designation means LC remains an accredited institution but has been denied a reaffirmation of that accreditation.
We hate to hear of another Cenla institution going out of business. But, yesterday the owners of Carol Furniture, saying the time was right, announced they were throwing in the towel after 70 years. The store will have a closing sale in the first few months of 2013.
Central Louisiana Technical Community College will have to wait for its first permanent chancellor. The Louisiana Community and Technical College Board of Supervisors announced Wednesday that it has delayed making appointments for chancellors at CLTCC and Louisiana Delta Community College in Monroe. The board says it needs more time to evaluate all candidates. No date has been set yet for a future meeting on the matter.
State Police say operations at Camp Minden in Webster Parish resumed this week and 3 million pounds of improperly stored explosives have now been moved with about 3 million more to go. Spokesperson Matt Harris says the technicians took the weekend off because the process is very strenuous. Harris says the process is being handled in a very safe and precise manner and reaching the halfway mark is a big milestone.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees didn't hold back when speaking to members of the media about the overturning of the player's suspensions stemming from Bountygate. At his weekly press conference, the Saints signal- caller had some strong words to say about N-F-L commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of the bounty investigation. On Tuesday, former N-F-L commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled that Saints players Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma should not be suspended for their roles in an alleged bounty program. Brees says players are held to a high standard and commissioner Goodell should be held to the same accord. Goodell says despite the denials by the Saints, it's clear a bounty system was in place for three seasons.
After a lengthy debate, the Public Service Commission approves a measure that will reduce the cost of a phone call made by an inmate by 25- percent. P-S-C Chairman Foster Campbell pushed to lower jailhouse phone rates, because calls made from prisons are three to 30 times higher than consumer rates in Louisiana. The Louisiana Sheriff's Association opposed lowering the cost of jailhouse calls because it will mean less money for sheriffs and it could jeopardize public safety. Campbell says the new rule passed will cut jail phone rates by 25-percent for calls made to family members, clergy and those on an approved list.
The search to find a permanent replacement for Jim Letten as US Attorney of Eastern District of Louisiana is well underway. Letten's last day in office was Tuesday as he resigned in the wake of an online posting scandal involving two of his prosecutors. U-S Senator Mary Landrieu is confident they'll find a very good replacement. Landrieu says she'll spend the next few weeks talking with community and legal leaders about potential replacements. The first assistant U-S Attorney in eastern Virginia, Dana Boente (Buh-wen-tay) is handling Letten's old job on an interim basis.
More good news coming down the pike as we get closer and closer to the Christmas holidays. Another check of gasoline prices statewide shows the average price of a gallon of regular has fallen another penny to $3.13. Which only means some stations are selling it for more and some for much less..as low as $2.97. That $3.13 per gallon price is the same as it was this time last year. Indications are the price should keep falling.
As part of the Council for a Better Louisiana's 50th anniversary, all four living former governors of Louisiana spoke at one table to discuss decades of Louisiana politics. The event included Govs. Kathleen Blanco, Mike Foster, Edwin Edwards and Buddy Roemer. Blanco said it was a privilege to all be together. Former governor Edwards says it's a good thing he wasn't allowed to run again, because
if he could....he'd win again.
Baton Rouge Police say a would-be carjacker was shot by his intended victim in the 24-hundred block of North Acadian Thruway Tuesday night. Authorities say a 40-year-old man ran out of gas and he was waiting for his friend to bring a can of gas, when two young males came up to the vehicle. Investigators say the two men showed a gun, a struggle ensued and the victim shot the suspect in the stomach. Both suspects have been arrested.
LSU still has several thousand tickets available for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve in Atlanta. Coach Les Miles expects a large contingent of purple and gold fans to cheer on The Tigers and can't see why fans wouldn't want to attend the game. LSU begins practicing today for the bowl game.
News for Wednesday 121212
By Dave Graichen
State Police say a school bus driver was killed in an accident yesterday morning in Natchitoches Parish. There were no children on the bus at the time of the wreck. Authorities say the driver, 67-year-old Alberta Conlay, had a medical condition which led to the bus leaving the roadway and colliding with several trees and a fence.
Another national report card ranks Louisiana at the bottom of their list. Louisiana is tied with Mississippi as the least healthiest state in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation. Doctor Rhonda Randall with the U-H-F says Louisiana is struggling with a high infant mortality rate, a high child poverty rate and an extremely high obesity rate. For the past twenty-three years the report has ranked Louisiana in the bottom five among the least healthiest states. Randall says the health report card should be a call to action for Louisiana residents to change their lifestyles.
The Public Service Commission will vote again today on a proposal to lower the high rates prison inmates and their families pay for jailhouse phone calls. PSC Chairman Foster Campbell says it's not the prisoners who pay the inflated costs for phone calls, it's their families. He says that's just wrong. A vote last month on the proposal by the 5-man PSC deadlocked; with two for, two against and one, Lambert Boissiere abstaining. Fellow PSC member Clyde Holloway says he intends to, again, vote "no". He says Campbell has an axe to grind.
Tuesday was Jim Letten's final day in office as the U-S Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Letten announced his resignation last week, in the wake of an online posting scandal involving two of
his top prosecutors. Political Analyst Clancy Dubos says Letten will be remembered for his efforts to fight public corruption. Letten served for nearly 12 years as the top federal prosecutor for the New Orleans area. He leaves his post as the nation's longest-serving U-S Attorney.
The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that ALL states require convicted drunk drivers to have breath analyzing ignition interlocks placed on their vehicles; including first time offenders. Highway safety advocate Jim Champagne says that's a good idea. He says just the idea of having one on your car should be a deterrent to impaired driving, if for no reason other than the cost of having one installed. Louisiana is one of 17 states where interlock devices can already be ordered on your car--even on a first DWI conviction.
Activists are calling for an independent investigation in the case of a Dec. 2 officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl. State Police say Darneisha Harris was shot by a Breaux Bridge officer after she ran into his police car. Action Now director Rev. Raymond Brown has heard that the office ran into Harris and not the other way around. He feels this case should be investigated by the federal government and not state police.
Explo Systems Inc. The explosives recycling company that caused the evacuation of a Louisiana town has come under scrutiny for explosions and its handling of dangerous materials before, and it was so far behind on its rent that the Louisiana National Guard refused to lease it more space. The October explosion wasn’t the first at the Explo facility. A series of at least 10 explosions there in 2006 caused an evacuation of Doyline, shut down Interstate 20 and forced officials to move students to schools in a nearby town.
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has vacated the suspensions of four current and former Saints players implicated in the bounty investigation. However, Tagliabue did find that three of the players, Vilma, Smith and Hargrove, did engage in conduct detrimental to the league...but stressed that the coaches were very much involved. Scott Fujita was the only player cleared of
News for Tuesday 121112
By Dave Graichen
Authorities have positively identified the remains of a Pineville woman who has been missing for nearly three years. Dorothy Rosier went missing January 11th, 2010. Hunters discovered her remains in LaSalle Parish last month and Rapides Sheriff's Office Lt. Tommy Carnline says it took over two weeks to get positive identification. Carnline says they have classified Rosier's case as a homicide, but they are not speculating on any suspects or cause of death. Rosier was 25-years-old and living with a family member when she went missing.
Good economic development news for Jena. United Plant Services plans to invest nearly $4-million to build a new full-service machine facility to provide welding, fabrication, and equipment overhaul and repair. It means an eventual 95 new jobs at high pay.
San Diego-based Sempra Energy said Monday it has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to begin building natural gas liquefaction and export facilities at the company’s existing Cameron LNG terminal in Hackberry. Sempra said the permit request is an important milestone in the company’s effort to begin exporting liquefied natural gas. According to Sempra, the southwest Louisiana project would create nearly 3,000 construction jobs and about 130 full-time jobs when the facility begins operating.
The Rapides Parish School Board will use about $3.1 million to give all district employees a one-time salary increase. Any employee hired on or after Oct. 31 and employed through March 30 will receive $750 on Dec. 20. Employees must complete workshops set by the district next semester by March 30. The Board approved the increase with a 4-3 vote at a special meeting on Monday.
The Rapides Parish Police Jury adopted what Treasurer Tim Ware calls a "standstill budget" at its monthly meeting Monday. Ware said, while they don’t project any big increases, but we don't see any big decreases, either.” General Fund revenue for 2013 is projected to be very close to the budget amount in this year’s budget.
The National Weather Service has confirmed that it was a tornado that hit Baker, in East Baton Rouge Parish, yesterday morning as a cold front made it way across the state. The EF-1 twister caused major damage to a fire station and several businesses. Several nearby homes had moderate damage. No one was seriously hurt.
The man accused of driving drunk on May 30th when he crashed into a car killing seven people has pleaded guilty to all seven counts of vehicular homicide. Brett Gerald appeared in court yesterday morning for the start of his trial, but chose to plead guilty to the charges.
Deputies in Sabine Parish say the body of a 23-year-old Natchitoches Parish man was recovered from the Toledo Bend Reservoir around noon Monday. Justin Wilson of Provencel was reported missing during Sunday night's storm. Authorities say Wilson was trying to retrieve a boat that had become untied from the shore.
A St. Helena Parish man plead guilty to seven counts of vehicular homicide Monday. Brett Gerald admitted he was drunk behind the wheel when his Dodge pick-up slammed into a Mercury Grand Marquis, killing all seven people inside that vehicle. Authorities say Gerald was celebrating his 30th birthday at a Zachary restaurant prior to the deadly accident on May 30th in East Feliciana Parish. The victims were heading home from church.
The Associated Press says they've learned high ranking staffers within the Jindal administration used personal emails to discuss a media strategy for announcing Medicaid cuts. The report says the email exchanges took place over the summer and participants included Jindal's top budget adviser, health secretary Bruce Greenstein and Jindal's communications staff. The AP says, though it may not have been the intention, using private emails gives the impression the governor and his staff had something to hide.
Now the good news, the colder it gets...the less we're paying at the pump. Prices dropped two cents over night to a statewide average of $3.14 for a gallon of regular. That's 12 cents less that a month ago.
State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon reminds property insurance policyholders not to let time run out on claiming a rebate of money assessed on their 2008 homeowners insurance. He says we all have the right to ask for the rebates, but only for a four-year period. The assessments were and are made to repay debt incurred to pay all of LA Citizens Insurance's 2005 Katrina and Rita claims. Donelon says, in 2007, the Legislature agreed to refund property holders those annual assessments.. He says more than $287-million in assessment refunds from 2008 to 2012 remain unclaimed.
State health officials announce public-private partnerships to run three LSU hospitals, in New Orleans, Lafayette and Houma. Department of Health & Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein says this will help fill budget gaps at those facilities, and will preserve jobs. Greenstein says the agreement means planned layoffs at LSU hospitals this month will NOT happen. He says Legislators and LSU officials must agree to the deal before it can proceed. LSU's budget has been stripped of over $300-million after Congress chopped Louisiana's Medicaid funding.
Divers have found an SUV that drove off an I-10 off-ramp in Baton Rouge and crashed into a drainage canal with over 20 feet of water. It happened around 1:30 yesterday afternoon near the city's Mall of Louisiana. Witness say they saw a woman in an SUV miss a turn and plunge into the canal. No one saw her get out before the vehicle submerged.
State Police are investigating a crash that has tragically taken the life of a Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's deputy. They say Rick Issac Jr. was entering a slight curve on Hwy 1 when his police cruiser hydroplaned in the rain and slammed into several trees. The man who is survived by his pregnant wife, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
A Pitkin man convicted of manslaughter in the 2009 death of Kimberly Ann Stephens has received a 38-year prison sentence. Billie Jo Weldon was convicted in the slaying of Stephens, 27 of DeRidder, in September. The Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office determined that Stephens died of head trauma. Her body was found in August 2009 near U.S. Highway 171 in the Pleasant Hill community.
News For Monday 121012
By Dave Graichen
After an unseasonably warm weekend, Louisiana has colder weather on the way. State Climatologist Barry Keim says, as is often the case, the cooler temperatures will come in behind some showers. Keim says we can expect falling temperatures and scattered showers throughout the day today. Temps tomorrow morning will be in the lower 30’s when you wake up.
Jules Green and Lee Rubin were elected Saturday to the Alexandria City Council. Green beat incumbent District 3 Councilman Jerry W. Jones Jr. by 168 votes, while Lee Rubin beat incumbent Roosevelt Johnson by 13 hundred 18 votes. The new council members will take office later this month.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. won Saturday's runoff election for Louisiana's new 3rd Congressional District, with 60.9% of the vote, securing his fifth term in the House of Representatives. He defeated U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry.
Republican appeals court judge Jeff Hughes won the runoff for an open seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court representing the eight-parish Baton Rouge region. The seat is vacant because Chief Justice Catherine “Kitty” Kimball is retiring at the end of January. Hughes, a former state District Court judge from Livingston Parish, defeated one of his colleagues for the position: John Michael Guidry, a Democrat and former lawmaker from Baton Rouge. Hughes broke with the usual approach that many judges take when running for office. Instead of refusing to weigh in on hot-button topics, Hughes branded himself a conservative and touted his beliefs as being “pro-life, pro-gun and pro-traditional marriage.” Many legal analysts believe that public stand may come back to haunt some of his legal decisions in the future.
The planned expansion of the Sasol plant in Lake Charles has created an urgent need for the state to develop a well trained workforce to meet the needs of Sasol and other new industrial facilities around Louisiana. Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, says the state plans to ramp up education facilities that target the specific needs of employers. Eysink says industrial expansion across the state will translate into thousands of well-paid jobs.
No compromise has been reached between Louisiana sheriffs and members of the Public Service Commission over a proposal to reduce the costs for inmates calling home from prison. The Louisiana Sheriffs' Association last month asked the regulator to delay a vote on the issue so its members could have more input into the plan. A split commission voted 3-2 to delay the vote until Wednesday, when it will meet again. The PSC leaders have called for a 25 percent reduction in what they labeled "exorbitant" amounts charged for inmate calls.
There are two more weeks left to shop till Christmas; enough time to still do some online shopping and the Attorney General's office is urging you to be alert for scams. Sam Pleasant is the AG's Director of Public Protection. She says they've seen an uptick in charity scams of late. Pleasant there are also a growing number of websites designed to trick consumers into giving their bank account information. She says they've also been getting a lot of reports of text message scams. If you believe you are a victim of a scam you can contact the AG's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889...:
A former state worker files a "whistle-blower" lawsuit; alleging he was fired for complaining about the state wasting money on un-needed and excessive supplies for Hurricane Isaac. Plaintiff
Bruce Ellis worked for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. His attorney Jill Craft says Ellis claims his emails were intercepted and he was terminated for noting that over $2-million was spent on truck-loads of ice that were allowed to simply melt, among other wastes.
Highway deaths across Louisiana have taken a sharp drop from their high point in 2007. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says while Alcohol remains one of the leading causes of fatal crashes in our state even those numbers are improving. LeBlanc says in 2007 45-percent of fatal crashes were attributed to alcohol use, in 2011 it dropped to 41-percent. He credits stepped up enforcement of DWI laws. LeBlanc says younger drivers, especially young men, continue to be the greatest at-risk group.
A 26 year old man accused of killing a girlfriend after walking away from a work-release, was found dead in his cell Friday afternoon in Angola. Prison officials report Dustin Pleasant hanged himself with a blanket. Pleasant, who was serving an 8 year sentence for aggravated assault on a police officer, walked away from a work-release program near Lake Charles back in November. While on the lamb, Pleasant allegedly killed Brittany Grosse. After his arrest in Grosse’s death, Pleasant was sent to Angola pending court proceedings. That’s where authorities say he took his own life. The investigation continues.
The Saints are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but the odds they will reach the postseason this season are slim to none, after losing 52-27 to the New York Giants. It was New Orleans third straight
loss and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt called the defeat embarrassing. It was another rough day for Brees who threw two more interceptions. The loss drops the Saints record to 5-and-8, heading into the final three games of the regular season.
News for Friday 120712
By Dave Graichen
Four Pineville men and two 16-year-old Alexandria boys are in jail on a long list of sex crime charges, including raping two girls -- one barely a teenager, the other a few years from becoming a teen. Prosecutors say the girls were raped and enticed into prostitution with the men and boys, including at least one relative.
Voters are asked to go to the polls one more time tomorrow, to decide runoff elections left undecided in November. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says south Louisiana must choose which of two seated congressmen--Charles Boustany or Jeff Landry--will represent the state's new District Three. Even so, Schedler feels turnout for the runoff will be low. Here in Alexandria, two city council seats will be decided.
Embattled New Orleans area U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, the man who successfully prosecuted former Governor Edwin Edwards, will resign his post. Letten has been in the crosshairs since it became known that two of his top prosecutors were using fake names to post inflammatory online comments about cases they were currently prosecuting. Letten says he's served Louisiana's eastern district a long time, and it's time to move on. Letten says he will retire from public service.
State education officials are preparing their appeal, after a judge ruled last week the new private school vouchers program is unconstitutional. A week ago, state District Court Judge Tim Kelley ruled the "School Choice Act" unconstitutional, for its use of public school funds to pay private and parochial school tuitions. The suit was filed by two teachers unions and the state School Boards association. State Supt. Of Education John White says they're obstructing education progress. Judge Kelley ruled the state Constitution clearly says the funding for public education will be used only for public schools.
Highway deaths in Louisiana fell for the fourth consecutive time last year, and the decline in fatalities among drivers 18-24 ,according to state officials, is especially encouraging. A total of 676 people died in traffic crashes in 2011, a drop of 44 from 2010 and a reduction of about one-third since 2007, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. In addition, 72 people ages 18-24 died in crashes, a drop of 19 from the previous year and down from 134 who died in 2007.
The body of an Assumption Parish man has been found in an Iberville Parish Canal. The Assumption Parish Sheriff's office says Tony Rodriguez was the victim of an armed robbery Tuesday night. They say he was found by fisherman this morning shot in the chest.
A federal report endorsing exports of liquefied natural gas gives developers of the proposed multibillion-dollar facilities the “green light” to move forward, an LSU energy expert said Thursday. So far, 22 liquefaction facilities have been proposed nationwide — six of them onshore or offshore in Louisiana. Only Cheniere Energy’s $5.6 billion Sabine Pass project in Cameron Parish has been approved to export to countries that don’t have a free-trade agreement with the United States. The proposed projects could export 28.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, well over a third of current domestic production, according to the Department of Energy.
Four young children from Covington were dramatically rescued as their home went up in flames early Thursday morning. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says the mother was able to escape with two children, then through the heroic efforts of the Covington Fire Department, the two children trapped inside the home were rescued but sustained severe burns and smoke inhalation. He says the decision of two firefighters to jump into a burning home saved lives. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Many offices will be holding Christmas Parties for their employees over the next couple of weeks and there are a few steps you can take to ensure things don't get too out of hand. Rene Amar with the National Federation of Independent Business says to avoid liability issues, employers should try to limit alcohol use. Amar says offices should ensure that their employees have alternate transportation home such as a designated driver or a taxi. She says sometimes work Christmas parties can create an environment that can lead to sexual harassment claims. Amar says don't hang mistletoe at the party that may encourage inappropriate behavior. She says employees should be reminded about harassment policies before the party. And oh yes.. Merry Chriatmas
After 22 wins in three seasons at Louisiana Tech, Sonny Dykes leaves Ruston for the head coaching job at California. It was expected Dykes would leave for a more high-profile job after posting a
Hunters report fewer sightings of deer in Louisiana wilds this year, and State Wildlife & Fisheries agents say the invasion of feral pigs is partially to blame. The hogs aggressively compete with deer for foraged food, and bucks and does tend to steer clear of the voracious animals, when they're around.
For the second time in less than a week, a black bear has been found shot to death. An adult female black bear was illegally killed in Pointe Coupee Parish and found by a hunter. A few days before that, a dead black bear was found in Avoyelles Parish. Maria Davidson, with the LDWF wildlife division says a $6000 reward is being offered for any information that leads to the arrest of the person responsible for this latest bear death.
A Carencro strip club is closed, after a federal raid Wednesday. The club's owner, 54-year-old James Panos is charged with maintaining a drug-involved premises at Desperado's nightclub. Several strippers and customers were arrested on drug and prostitution charges, including a UL-Lafayette journalism professor. Agents say they found him in a private room with a dancer, engaged in sex for money.
LSU hospital employees who were expecting to get laid off next month got some good news earlier this week. The LSU Health Care Services Division put on hold most of the 15-hundred layoffs scheduled for January 21st.
A Lake Charles teen, accused of killing his aunt last year, has been ruled mentally fit to stand trial. 18-year-old Jeffrey Doise pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 2nd degree murder. He was 17 when he allegedly killed his aunt, Susan Doise, at her Lake Charles home - where he had been living. Two psychiatrists agreed Doise is competent to stand trial.
State Police will lift the voluntary evacuation order for the Webster Parish town of Doyline at noon today. For the last seven days, crews moved millions of pounds of improperly stored explosives on land leased by Explo at Camp Minden. LSP Sgt. James anderson says the threat of a chain reaction explosion has been reduced. He says they are moving the explosive product flats away from each other so that if it were to go off, it would not cause a major explosion.
News for Thursday 120612
By Dave Graichen
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education signs off on a plan that will result in letter grades placed on publicly funded pre-k and early childhood education programs. State Superintendent of Education John White says they will try it out in various districts next year, before implementing a statewide program in 2015.
Part-time employment in the state is slowly on the rise and an economist says it's because business conditions are making it difficult for workers to find full-time employment. L-S-U Economics Department Chairman, Dr. Robert Newman, says many business owners are not willing to make a long-term commitment when it comes to hiring. Newman says concerns the potential cost of implementing new health care reforms and the federal government possibly raising taxes to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" are reasons businesses are hiring part-timers instead of full-time help.
A Forest Hill man is in jail on almost a $1 million bond after Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office detectives uncovered cocaine and drugs at his residence, where surveillance spotted almost 70 vehicles visiting in a single day, according to a release. Detectives started surveillance at 163 Slick Log Road in Forest Hill after received complaints about crack cocaine sales from the address. Wasting no time, detectives obtained a search warrant and served it on Wednesday.
This is National Influenza Week, and state health officials have kicked off this year's "Fight The Flu" campaign to get as many Louisianans immunized as possible. Dr. Jimmy Guidry, with the Office of Public Health, says flu here in the South is no more severe than elsewhere, but we tend to have more cases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the flu season is off to an early start, and it could a bad one. Early surges in flu cases are reported in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Tennessee. Dr. Guidry says it's serious business, with between 1000 and 3000 Louisianans dying of flu each year.
Politico and the Wall Street Journal both report Governor Jindal met with a casino billionaire, who is interested in funding a G-O-P presidential candidate's campaign in 2016. The wealthy man's name is
Sheldon Aldelson and the meeting took place last month in Las Vegas when Jindal was in town for the Republican Governor's Association meeting. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says it appears Jindal is
a man on a mission.
The state has pledged over 135-million dollars in incentives to Sasol. That's the South African energy company who announced a 21-billion dollar investment for a complex in Westlake that will
turn natural gas into chemicals, diesel and other fuels. Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance President George Swift says Sasol's announcement this week puts southwest Louisiana on the map as place to invest and to get a quality job. The Governor's Office says Sasol will hire 12-hundred workers once the energy complex is built.
Certain members of the Louisiana House who've criticized Jindal's use of 1-time funding to pay for continuing government programs are asking AG Buddy Caldwell to weigh-in on whether or not that's
constitutional. The AG's office says they won't render an opinion on the Governor's budget tactics since they'd be required to defend the constitutionality of the budget. This also keeps them out of the debate that's divided members of the GOP.
Police are searching for four robbers who barged into the Barksdale Federal Credit Union in DeRidder Tuesday afternoon, hit a clerk and left with an undetermined amount of money. The DeRidder Police Department received a 911 call around 4 p.m. The suspects, all described as being medium build between 5 feet, 9 inches to 6 feet tall, and wearing masks, hoodies and gloves, entered the credit union, in what is being described as a tactical manner, brandishing handguns. Anyone with information is asked to call authorities.
More than 400 people from 12 different states were victims of a counterfeit check ring. According to State Police all of the victims wrote checks to the LSU Hospital System. Then allegedly hospital
employee, Pamela Reams, used their financial information to make fake IDs and checks. Reams is with 377 counts of identity theft and more could be added.
The Abbeville Police Department says the death of a 3 month old girl has officially been ruled a homicide. They say the baby died from blunt force trauma to the head and had several injuries and
fractures. They aren't releasing any other information at this time but the investigation is on-going.
Louisiana lawmakers are weighing in on the situation at Camp Minden where millions of pounds of improperly stored explosives are being moved, while hundreds of Doyline residents remain under an evacuation order. The product is located on land leased by Explo. Bossier City Rep. Jeff Thompson says he hopes Explo systems is held legally accountable for the inconvenience to the families of Doyline
and to the state. Thompson says the legislature is going to make sure proper oversight and inspection laws are put in place to ensure something like this never happens again.
The work continues in Webster Parish to move millions of pounds of improperly stored explosives from a munitions recycling facility at Camp Minden. The town of Doyline remains under a voluntary
evacuation order through at least today. But State Police say most of the evacuees have returned to their homes.
Chas Roemer of Baton Rouge, serving his second term on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was elected to lead the board for the next year. Roemer, son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, was the unanimous choice for board president.
News for Wednesday 120512
By Dave Graichen
Former Alexandria Mayor Carroll E. Lanier passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Lanier was mayor from 1977 to 1982. Lanier also served as the city's commissioner of finance and utilities from 1969 to 1973 and as the executive director of the Alexandria Housing Authority from 1988 until his retirement in 2000. Visitation will be Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Hixson Brothers in Alexandria, and from 8 a.m. until services at 1 p.m. in the Hixson Brothers chapel.
The Rapides Parish School Board Approved a new time line at its meeting yesterday in its search for a new School Superintendent . Under that time line, the Board would vote to appoint a replacement for former superintendent Gary Jones at a special meeting on April 9. and we could see a new top educator in place later that month. By the way, the board still has to advertising for applicants in January and February and conduct interviews in March. On a side note, The School Board also approved entering into a new contract with MacPherson & Jacobson, a private firm hired by the Board in August to advertise for the position, accept applications and perform background checks.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission is providing assistance to workers who lost their jobs when Hostess Brands ceased operations. L-W-C Rapid Response Manager, Greg Anders, Anders says they'll go over things like how to prepare a good resume and how to conduct a proper interview. He says people who haven't had to look for a job for many years may need to be refreshed on the basics of re-entering the workforce. Anders says they'll also be answering questions about retirement and insurance. Hostess Brands employees can find out more about their re-employment sessions by visiting la-works-dot-net. Anders says they've also partnered with several companies who are looking for employees with similar skills. www.laworks.net
The voluntary evacuation in Doyline has been extended until Thursday and possibly into Friday as the movement of millions of pounds of explosive gun power continues at Camp Minden. State Police spokesperson Lt. Julie Lewis says the weather has been a factor in the delay and they are monitoring those conditions closely. School in Doyline has been cancelled through at least Thursday and the December 8th voting precincts will be moved to a church about two miles south of town.
The University of Louisiana System announces Dr. Les Guice will be the next president at Louisiana Tech. Guice will replace the retiring Dan Reneau in July 2013. Guice has been a part of the Louisiana Tech family for nearly four decades, not only as a student, but also as a faculty member and an administrator.
Louisiana's top school board backed nearly four dozen organizations Tuesday to offer courses to Louisiana's public school students through online classes and other nontraditional means, despite a judge's ruling that the program's planned financing is unconstitutional. Superintendent of Education John C. White recommended 45 course providers receive contracts to participate in the "Course Choice" program, scheduled to begin next year. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education backed the list in an 8-2 vote, with final authorization planned for today.
Most of the 1,500 state employee layoffs scheduled for Jan. 21 at LSU hospitals across south Louisiana have been put on hold. LSU officials said Tuesday they will not proceed with layoffs as negotiations continue with private partners for operations of the seven hospitals under LSU’s Health Care Services Division, including those in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette. A DHH official announced yesterday, since those discussions are ongoing and the partners have indicated a desire to maintain as many services as possible, the state will hold off the layoffs for now.
Despite concerns about adequate funding, a committee of Louisiana’s top school board Tuesday approved plans to overhaul the state’s often-criticized pre-kindergarten system. The plan was endorsed by a committee of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education without dissent. Most of the full board sat in on the meeting, which means that final approval on today is all but certain. The plan that won approval is aimed at revamping what critics call a pre-K system that features uneven quality, standards and availability. The state will establish early learning performance guidelines for those from zero to age 3 and academic standards for 3- and 4-year-olds. Pre-K centers and schools will get letter grades, and state aid will be linked to how the centers perform. Pilot projects are set for the 2013-14 school year. All the changes take effect for 2015-16.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation breaks ground on a major widening and resurfacing project in St. Landry Parish. State D-O-T-D spokesperson Jodi Conachen says the three-point-five million dollar project on La. Highway 93 is important to improve access to several heavily travelled roads. Conachen says Highway 93 is a vital link for motorists to various transportation facilities in south Louisiana. Construction could last up to two years.
Over one-in-five Louisiana young people, between ages 16 and 24, are not in school and not holding down a job. That comes from the annual "Kids Count" report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Casey's Laura Speer says the poor U.S. economy is a contributing factor. The report finds that employment among youths is at its lowest level since World War 2. In Louisiana, just 41% of people between 16 and 24 had jobs in 2011.
According to a new survey, about 1/3 of students in middle school are using their phones or tablets to do their homework. Justina Nixon- Saintil is the education director for The Verizon Foundation which commissioned the study. She says the main way students are using these devices is to do research for school projects, she also says there are thousands of free applications students can turn to in order to help them conquer things like math concepts or "virtually" dissect an animal. She says as a teacher, she sees her students using apps like this all the time. The study also found that the students who use their smart phones for learning take a greater interest in the subject.
A report from the Louisiana legislative auditor's office says the state department of transportation has failed to collect millions of dollars in toll money on Highway 1 Leeville Bridge in Lafourche Parish. The auditor's report found that the department of transportation allowed up to 300-thousand cars and trucks to use the toll bridge without paying. According to the audit the D-O-T-D failed to send 40-thousand delinquency notices to violators. The state is still trying to recover that money. DOTD officials say the problem has been corrected and collections are now above 95%.
News for Tuesday 120412
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal was in southwest Louisiana yesterday to announce the largest manufacturing investment in Louisiana history. Jindal says energy company Sasol plans to invest up to $21 billion into a project in Westlake. Jindal says this is a "game changer" for the state when it comes to creating jobs during a national recession. Jindal says the new complex will employ over 12-hundred people once
The U.S. Forest Service Monday withdrew its ban of hunting deer with dogs on the federal forest lands of Kisatchie National Park in Louisiana, which was to go into effect Thursday and last throughout eight-day dog-deer hunting season. U.S. Judge Dee Drell was expected to rule yesterday on whether or not the ban should be temporarily halted. But, after the decision was announced by the forest service, the Judge said the court case was moot.
Alexandria City Council members Chuck Fowler and Ed Larvadain III were sworn in Monday for their new terms after having run unopposed for re-election. Fowler begins his sixth term and his 21st year as the representative for District 5. Larvadain is beginning his second term as the representative for District 1.
A Baton Rouge judge refused Monday to throw out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a new pension plan for future state employees. The Retired State Employees Association of Louisiana filed suit in August, alleging that the law establishing a 401(k)-type pension plan for future state employees did not get a two-thirds vote in the 2012 legislative session, as required by Louisiana’s Constitution. The Jindal administration had asked state District Judge William Morvant to dismiss the suit, claiming the association and individual plaintiffs did not have legal standing to file the suit. Morvant disagreed at the conclusion of a hearing Monday and set a Jan. 24 trial date.
The Avoyelles Parish School Board will vote tonight on whether to submit to federal court its final report in the district's ongoing desegregation case. The district began its quest to get out from under a 45-year-old desegregation order about three years ago, and a memorandum of support would ask U.S. District Judge Dee Drell to declare it unitary -- or desegregated in six areas called Green factors. Two other Green factors, facilities and student activities, still have not been approved.
Frustration among Doyline residents grows as the town remains under an evacuation order while officials continue to move millions of pounds of explosives from Camp Minden. State Police now say the evacuation could last til late today. The removal of six million pounds of artillery propellant began Saturday on land leased by Explo systems.
State Police are investigating the case of a Breaux Bridge Police Officer shooting that left a teenager dead. Trooper Stephen Hammons says officers were responding to a disturbance Sunday night and they
arrived, 16 year old Daraneisha Harris started driving towards the police car. Hammons says one of the responding officers then exited his vehicle and fired his weapon striking Harris. He says she later died as a result of the gunshot wound and the matter remains under investigation.
A former River Oaks teacher accused of calling in bomb threats to three Ouachita Parish Schools has pleaded guilty. David Reyna entered his plea yesterday morning on the opening day of his trial. He
will be sentenced in February and faces up to 20 years in prison on one count of communicating false information of a planned bombing of school property.
A mental health hospital near Mandeville will remain open. The state announced in July it would close Southeast Louisiana Hospital, because of a reduction in Medicaid funding. But Department of Health and
Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein says they reached an agreement with a private company who will run the mental health facility in 2013. Greenstein says Florida-based, Meridian Behavioral Health Services, will assume control of the 58 inpatient beds and outpatient services at the hospitals. Meridian is expected to give hiring preferences to current Southeast employees where comparable jobs are available.
An article by the Capitol Hill website, "Roll Call" gives Mary Landrieu only a 50-50 chance of winning a 4th term in the U.S. Senate. The piece suggests Landrieu's chances are hurt by the re-election of President Obama. "Roll Call" gives her a 50% chance of winning a re-election race against
a well-financed Republican.
Baton Rouge Police arrest a Bossier City man and a New York state woman for a 28-year-old murder. South Louisiana businessman Gary Kergan vanished in 1984. His car was found then, with blood in the trunk. BRPD Lt. Don Kelly says the Cold Case squad recently took that evidence to the State Police Crime Lab. Kelly says two suspects were arrested for Kergan's death back then, but the District Attorney at that time had too little evidence to prosecute. He says those same two people have now been arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, robbery and murder.
There wasn't a whole lot of excitement from the Tiger Nation when it was announced that LSU would be headed to the Chick-Fil-A bowl. So how many fans will make the trip to Atlanta? LSU travel expert Jim Dumigan says while the bowl at the Georgia Dome isn't a bad one, it's just not what LSU fans were expecting. Dumigan says many fans that he's spoken with had already started making their travel plans to Arlington for the Cotton Bowl so it's too soon to tell how many will make the Atlanta trek now
The ULM Warhawks are headed to the AdvoCare Independence Bowl to face Ohio University for the first post-season game in ULM history. Athletic Director Bobby Staub says so far ticket sales have been
through the roof.
Louisiana Tech A-D Bruce Van De Velde denies turning down a bowl invite. Van De Velde says Tech received an invite from the Independence Bowl Saturday morning, but were not ready to make a decision, because other bowls were in play. Van De Velde says when those other bowl possibilities fell through on Sunday, Tech was left out in the cold. Van De Velde says they felt there was 90-percent chance they would receive an invitation from either the Liberty or Heart of Dallas Bowls, but it just didn't work out.
News for Monday 120312
By Dave Graichen
A Baton Rouge judge rules Governor Bobby Jindal's new statewide voucher program in unconstitutional, because it illegally diverts money for public schools to pay for students to attend private and parochial schools. Judge Tim Kelley made the ruling after hearing three days of testimony. He heard oral arguments Friday, and ruled just a few hours later. Haynes says it's clear in the state Constitution that money placed in a fund for public schools can only be used for public education. The President of the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Penny Dastugue says an appeal of the ruling is a certainty.
Amid criticism and an ongoing investigation of New Orleans area U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office, there seems little doubt that President Obama will replace him soon. "LAPolitics.com" publisher and columnist John Maginnis says Letten had enjoyed bipartisan support until recently, when two of his top assistants admitted to posting anonymous and highly opinionated online comments about cases they were actively working. Maginnis says Letten himself has performed terrifically in bringing corrupt individuals to justice, but the actions of a few within his office have tarnished his reputation
A High School teacher from Lake Charles becomes the new leader of the state's largest National Guard Unit. Col Damian Waddell, who's been a guardsman for 17 years, takes over command of the 256th Infantry Combat Team. Waddell is a teacher and a coach at Sam Houston High School in Lake Charles as his civilian job. He says his first goal is to build up the strength of the 2-5-6 which is headquartered in Lafayette.
It is now official, LSU will play Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. central time on 96.9 KZMZ. The game will also be telecast on ESPN.
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, here a good opportunity, staff from the Office of Public Health will administer flu and other vaccines from 1:30 to 3 p.m. this Wednesday at the Alexandria Museum of Art in downtown Alexandria. The office has a limited stock of flu vaccine, as well as some vaccines. Out-of-pocket expense will be a maximum $10.
Louisiana health officials report 11 new cases of West Nile virus this week, with one additional West Nile-related death. That brings the total number of West Nile cases in Louisiana this year to 382, with a death toll of 17. Four new neuroinvasive disease cases were reported this week were in Bossier, Calcasieu, St. Helena and Winn parishes. Five West Nile fever cases were in Bossier, Cameron, Concordia, East Feliciana and Orleans parishes. Two asymptomatic cases were in Grant and Pointe Coupee parishes.
A 22-year-old Lafayette Parish mother and her 21-year-old boyfriend are behind bars in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy. Sheriff's office spokesperson Captain Kip Judice says Landon Broussard was charged with 1st-degree murder for physically beating the boy, while the mother, Laura Smith, was charged with principal to first-degree murder. Judice says they found bruises on the little boy's body that were fresh and also some that were healing.
The trial of a former Ouachita Parish school teacher, accused of making bomb threats, begins today. 30-year-old David Reyna allegedly called in bomb scares at three Monroe area private schools in September. Legal analyst Tim Meche says, because Reyna confessed to the crime, his only
possible defense is to argue no ill intent. Court documents reveal that Reyna admitted to using illegal drugs and suffers emotional problems like depression, insomnia and more.
The Louisiana Department of the Treasury is publishing lists of the names of people who are entitled to unclaimed property in the public notice section of certain newspapers. If you're on one of the lists, all you have to do to claim your money is contact the state Treasury Department and get the ball rolling. The names of unclaimed property owners are available at www.LATreasury.com. A claim can be filed on the same website.
UNO has received a 1.5 million dollar grant from NASA to make improvements to the nation’s air traffic control system. Researchers at UNO will be joined by colleagues from LSU and Southern to create a new air traffic control system known as NextGen. Principal researcher Rong Li says the current system is strained to the limit and demand for air space is expected to double by 2025. NextGen will give pilots more control by getting better real-time information to them so they can make better decisions.
Owners of a failed brine storage cavern say they are doing their best to comply with a state order to quickly resolve problems created by an eight-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish. , Company spokesman Sonny Cranch said over the weekend, lawyers for Texas Brine Co. will review a $100,000 fine imposed Saturday by state Conservation Commissioner James Welsh, who said the company hasn't complied with his Nov. 12 order to speed work. Residents of 150 Bayou Corne-area homes evacuated in August, after the sinkhole formed. The still have not been allowed to return home.
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