KSYL Local News


News for Friday 052215

By Dave Graichen

 

A four hour man hunt has led to the arrest of a man accused of shooting a Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agent last night.  The agent was shot in the back Thursday evening near the Wham Brake boat launch.32 year old Sgt. Scott Bullitt is reportedly in  in serious condition.

30 year old Luke Hust, from Monroe. It’s believed The officer was one of two who pulled over Hust under suspicion of DUI. It was when Sgt Bullitt was walking back to his vehicle that he was shot in the back.

 

Some of the worst flooding along the Red River in nearly two decades has closed all riverside recreation areas, including Fort Buhlow Recreation Area. It has also shut down all public boat launches on the river, closed two of the five locks and dams and has led to more restrictions on barge traffic. The Red River is at one of its highest levels in years, and flood warnings have been issued for the Red River at Alexandria, as well as the Calcasieu River near Glenmora.

 

Due to the threat of rain, The Little Walter Music Festival will take place indoors on Saturday. The festival will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Music begins at 11 a.m. and will continue until 11 p.m. The event had been scheduled for the Alexandria Levee Park Amphitheatre.

 

On a 65-37 vote, the state House approved a 24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year, sending the spending plan to the senate. As it stands now, the budget reduces funding for LSU’s medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport and the state’s public-private hospital partnerships are also underfunded.  House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin says some state agencies will also face cuts The Senate Finance Committee will take up the budget next week.

 

With all of the travel miles Governor Bobby Jindal is logging, state lawmakers in the House voted to have the governor’s office to pay for the State Police Security detail in his out-of-town travel, instead of State Police having to foot the bill. For next year’s budget, Jindal would be on the hook for the money, and have to make cuts within his own office.

 

A bill that would phase out most of the movement of state dollars from a fund for roads and bridges to State Police won approval Thursday in the Louisiana Senate Transportation Committee. The measure, House Bill 208, earlier won House approval 92-5. It next faces action in the Senate Finance Committee because of its impact on the state budget.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal’s religious freedom executive order is receiving strong criticism from democrats. The leader of the state democratic party, New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson, says she can’t believe Jindal would issue the order, when businesses and the tourism industry expressed concern the measure could alienate visitors or keep conventions away. Jindal’s controversial order prevents the executive branch of state government from taking adverse action against a person or a business for their belief in traditional marriage. The governor says it re-affirms our first amendment rights. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed his own executive order in response. The mayor says his executive order lets the nation know New Orleans is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity.

 

The former teacher of the year in Plaquemine who was arrested for allegedly having sex with three of his students, apparently fathered a child with one of the victim’s when she was 15-years-old.  30 year-old Keavin Keith was arrested Monday on 30 counts of prohibited sex with a student.

 

State Police say a fire yesterday at their data center has left Office of Motor Vehicles offices across the state unable process any transactions. Major Doug Cain says an electrical panel fire has disabled all automated systems at the Department of Public Safety, including OMV locations statewide. He says he hopeful they will be up and running sometime today.

 

An Acadia Parish woman has been arrested on charges in connection with the death of her newborn. The baby girl went into cardiac arrest after she was born at home, then died at the hospital. The toxicology report showed high levels of methamphetamine. The woman  faces second-degree murder charges.

 

In Houma cops are searching for a woman they believe spread thumbtacks all over the bed of her ex-boyfriend, then poured boiling water on top of him while he was sleeping. They say 36-year-old Lynette Joseph is wanted for questioning in the crime of aggravated 2nd degree battery. According to a news release, the victim suffered severe burns to his torso, right arm and face and had to be shipped to the burn center in Baton Rouge.

 

The Metropolitan Crime Commission has asked the state Attorney General’s office to investigate the sentence of the Destrehan High School teacher who had sex with one of her students. Shelley Dufresene admitted to the act in exchange for no jail time and not having to register as a sex offender. The MCC wants the AG’s office to look into whether St. Charles Parish DA Joel Chaisson committed any criminal violations with regards to the plea.

 

 

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News for Thursday 052115

By Dave Graichen

 

A Senate bill that will likely result in future TOPS students having to pay a portion of their tuition clears the House Education Committee. Under Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue’s legislation, the TOPS award will match 2016-17 tuition levels but the award will not automatically go up when tuition rises. Donahue says TOPS is unsustainable in its current form and this baseline will ensure its survival. The measure will now be debated on the House floor.

 

Legislation by Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater that would allow state colleges to raise fees for students passes the state House. Broadwater says a percentage of the revenues generated from additional fees would be set aside for needs based assistance.

 

A Senate committee has approved New Orleans Senator JP Morrell’s bill that would change a second-offense marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. It also allows a first-time offender to have their record expunged if they are not convicted for another marijuana violation within two years. He says there’s still significant penalties for 3 or more convictions. The bill heads to the full Senate.

 

The United Health Foundation ranks Louisiana 50th in the nation for Senior Health. That’s last according to the Annual America’s Health Rankings 2015 Senior Report. Katherine Palmier (palm-yay) is the Chief Medical Officer for the East Region of United Health Care. She says  while Louisiana is ranked as the least healthy state for older adults, Mississippi is Number 49 this year then Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Palmier says in Louisiana there is a high percentage of nursing home residents that are not receiving proper care. She also says a lot of Louisiana seniors struggle with food insecurity which means they wonder if they are going to have enough money to pay for their next meal.

 

New Orleans has been invited to bid to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls. The Big Easy last hosted the Super Bowl in 2013. Jay Cicero, President of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation says Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, and Los Angeles have also received invitations to bid on hosting the big game from the NFL. New Orleans lost out on hosting the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis and their new stadium last year. Cicero says with new stadiums proposed for Atlanta and Los Angeles, the competition will be stiff.

 

It will likely take a year before the Louisiana Black Bear is taken off the threatened species list, but federal officials are now recommending that delisting. After public input, they could open the door for regulated hunting of the black bear, but State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says that’s not happening anytime soon.

 

After about 3 hours of debate, the Lafayette City-Parish Council has rejected a smoking ban in bars. Supporters of the proposed ban–backed by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living–expressed health concerns for employees and musicians in clubs. Some opponents argued that decision should be left to club and bar owners. The vote was 5-4.

 

A recent study by NOAA shows a strong connection between the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill and a high number of dolphin deaths. Dr. Kathleen Colegrove is the study’s lead veterinary pathologist, and she says half of the mammals in Barateria Bay-which was heavily damaged–had the rare adrenal lesions.

 

A Loreauxville (Lora ville) teen-ager lost his life after he was playing in rain water and accidently fell into a drainage pipe in New Iberia. Rescuers pulled the body of 15 year-old John Michael Steine from the pipe. He was dead at the scene.

 

The American Automobile Association expects more Americans to travel this Memorial Day weekend than they have in the last 10 years. Spokesman Don Redman says they predict a 5-percent increase from last year in people who will travel for the holiday weekend. He says over 37 milion Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home for the holiday. Redman says if you plan to travel by car this weekend, you can expect to share the road with a lot of people. It’s expected that about 33-million people will be traveling by car. Most drivers can expect to pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in five years.

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News for Wednesday 052015

By Dave Graichen

 

An ordinance introduced Tuesday in Alexandria would block expansion of bingo halls and other charitable gaming sites in the city. A moratorium on bingo expansion in Alexandria has been in place for about eight years, but the City Council has lifted the moratorium at least twice. It is expected to come up for a vote in two weeks.

 

After a lengthy debate over Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson’s religious freedom bill, the House Civil Law Committee overwhelmingly voted to return the bill to the calendar, essentially killing it for the session. Johnson told the panel that his legislation is designed to protect business owners who have deep religious beliefs concerning traditional marriage.

Opposition to the legislation came from the business community and the head of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Stephen Perry called the bill radioactive. Lawmakers though could have stayed home for the day, After the vote, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order that will do the same thing as the bill. It’s expected lawsuits will follow. Jindal did just what he often criticizes President Barack Obama for doing. When Obama issued his executive order on immigration, for example, Jindal had this to say: “If the President wants to make the case that the law should be changed, he should go make the case to Congress and our people.”

 

A pro-Governor Bobby Jindal advocacy group has released a television ad in Iowa supporting his candidacy for president. The American Future Project says the ad will run on cable television in Iowa and online for one week. This ad, that positions Jindal as the conservative Republican’s leading voice in the battle over religious freedom, comes on the heels of the governor forming an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency.

 

A House bill that would allow elementary school students to be taught gun safety is headed to the Senate. The legislation is by Baton Rouge Representative Blake Miguez who says firearm accident prevention and safety would be something kids should learn at a young age . The measure passed on a 93-3 vote. In a somewhat ironic twist, A bid to require that sex education be taught to public school students in grades seven to 12 in New Orleans was crushed Tuesday in the Louisiana House. The vote was 33-59, which is 20 votes short of the minimum needed for final approval.

 

The LSU baseball team begins play this afternoon at 4:30 in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Coach Paul Mainieri says this week will get them ready for the NCAA Tournament.

LSU has won the last two SEC Tournaments and with Mainieri as the head coach, the Tigers won the SEC Tourney from 2008 through 2011. The coach says they go into this tournament  with very little pressure on them, since they know they’ll be a part of the NCAA Tournament.

 

House lawmakers balked at a proposal that would have let public colleges set their own tuition rates. House Bill 66 would have ended the need for legislative approval for tuition hikes. To stop the increases from hitting the state budget, the bill would have kept the TOPS free college tuition program from covering the additional costs. Only 45 lawmakers in the 105-member House bothered to cast a vote. It needed 53 votes to pass.

 

The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office has booked a 30-year-old teacher on 37 counts of inappropriate behavior with students. They say Keavin Keith’s charges include 30 counts of sex between student and teacher. Keith was named teacher of the year in 2013.

 

Legislation is headed to the Louisiana House floor that impose a new one-cent sales tax, with the monies from that revenue going toward the funding of 15 major transportation projects. If the bill makes it to the legislature, it is expected to be vetoed by Governor Bobby Jindal.

 

US Representative Steve Scalise of Metairie, the third highest ranking member in the US House, has endorsed US Senator David Vitter in his bid to become the next governor of Louisiana. This is the fifth endorsement the Senator has received from GOP members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. Vitter was previously endorsed by Senator Bill Cassidy and Representatives Ralph Abraham, Charles Boustany, and John Fleming.

 

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will make an important announcement at the Governor’s Mansion regarding the Louisiana black bear. It is expected that the black bear will be officially removed from the threatened species list. Secretary Robert Barham says the black bear was put on the threatened list nearly 25 years ago.

 

According to a recent survey by the LSU Public Policy Research lab, voters in Louisiana are still not tuned in to the upcoming Governor’s race. The numbers show only 25% of people here are following news about the election. All four candidates have favorable ratings.

 

 

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News for Tuesday 051915

By Dave Graichen

 

Public schools in Natchitoches Parish are closed today because of heavy rains in the parish on Monday that closed several roads and Cane River Lake. A state of emergency was declared in Natchitoches Parish by Parish President Rick Nowlin because of the flooding.

 

Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton will hold a press conference Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Best Western Inn & Suites On MacArthur Drive in Alexandria, to announce that he is running for reelection this fall. Two other candidates already have declared their intentions to run, Robert Dukes and William “Billy“ Burns Jr.

 

Eleven revenue generating bills previously approved by the House were also passed by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee. The measures raise an estimated 615-million dollars. The senate panel also agreed to increase Louisiana’s cigarette tax by 32-cents, to 68-cents for a pack of cigarettes. But New Orleans Senator JP Morrell indicated the proposed tax could go up even more as the bill moves through the legislative process. The bills head to the Senate Finance committee for more discussion.

 

Today the House Civil Law Committee will hear Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson’s controversial religious freedom bill. Johnson says HB 707 would prevent adverse treatment from the state of any person or entity on the basis of their religious views on marriage, while opponents say it legalizes discrimination. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat doesn’t think the outlook for this bill is good. The committee is also expected to hear a bill by New Orleans Representative Austin Badon that would protect someone from being fired from a job or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. Pinsonat feels this bill will be shot down as well.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has formed an exploratory committee to help him decide on whether or not to make a presidential run. He has been considering a run for several months and has stated he will make a final decision by the end of June.

 

Ruston Police say an 11-year-old boy died after being trapped in a car swept away during flash flooding yesterday.  He was apparently being driven to school by his grandmother who was able to escape the car along with another 7-year-old but the 11 year old did not make it out

 

Four arrests by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office have been made in connection of the death of a 54 year-old woman reported missing in April. Those arrested included her ex-husband who alleged planned the murder for hire scheme to kill his wife.

 

The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hears legislation today that seeks to expand offshore drilling and provides Louisiana with additional dollars from oil and gas produced in federal waters off the state’s coast. Recently elected Senator Bill Cassidy is the author of the bill that supporters say could create over 200-thousand jobs. Louisiana and three other gulf states currently receive hundreds of millions of dollars for hosting offshore energy production. But there’s a cap on how much the states can receive, Cassidy is calling for a raising of the cap with this bill. Cassidy’s bill would also allow for offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in 2017.

 

To recognize National Dog Bite Prevention Week, State Farm compiled claims data and found that Louisiana ranks 14th in the United States in a 2014 analysis of dog bite injury claims. The company says it paid out nearly $3 million dollars here for dog bite claims last year.

 

The Louisiana Senate approved Monday a measure that would allow some sheriff’s departments to automatically scan the license plates of drivers they pull over. Senate Bill 250, which supporters say will help police crackdown on uninsured motorists and car thieves, was approved on a 33-2 vote and now moves to the House for consideration.

 

There is a new coach on the reservation at Tioga.  He is Kevin Cook. Cook coached at Bunkie last year leading them to the playoffs and before that he was responsible for the turnaround of the Buckeye program. Tioga along with the Grant Cougars, will now be playing in the extremely competitive new District 2-4A, facing Neville, West Ouachita, Franklin Parish, and Bastrop. The search now begins for the Bunkie Program. Word is they will name a coach later this week.

 

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News For Monday 051815

By Dave Graichen

 

A deadly 3 car crash Friday has killed a husband and wife on I-49 near Bunkie. Their car reportedly rear-ended a wrecker truck, who had rear-ended another vehicle, which apparently had been struck by lightning. Austin and Destinee Jones of Covington were killed, while their 12 month baby in a car seat sustained minor injuries; same for the occupants in the other car. The wrecker driver was not injured.

 

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission begins a statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign today focusing on back seat passengers, pickup trucks, and low compliance areas. Their 2014 seat belt survey showed 84-percent of Louisiana motorists buckled up, the highest rate to date. Executive Director Lt. Col. John LeBlanc says this is a statewide campaign, but they will focus efforts in areas of the state where seat belt compliance is the lowest. Seat belt compliance was lowest in the here in the Alexandria area, 71-percent, followed by Monroe with a 75-percent.

 

Blue Bell announces layoffs of 1450 employees across the country following the listeria outbreaks. In Louisiana, they are planning 10 layoffs, and about 130 furloughs for disruption sites in Louisiana; including Slidell, Shreveport, Ruston, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge. Bluebell says the clean-up at the infected sites is taking longer than expected.

 

Alexandria Police arrest a man accused of throwing a baby up against the wall. Deputy Chief Cedric Green says they received a call from the baby’s mother saying 20-year-old Devontee Smith kicked in the back door of her residence and threatened her and the baby. Smith faces charges of domestic abuse battery, home invasion, simple assault, and theft of diapers and milk.

 

According to a recent statewide survey, almost two-thirds of voters (many of those-parents and graduates) are in favor of the TOPS scholarship program to remain fully funded. This, despite lawmakers efforts to put a cap on the awards. That’s a problem which leaves lawmakers with a bit of a dilemma, given the state budget crisis.

 

Hollywood South takes center stage in this summer’s blockbuster movie season, starting this weekend with opening of Pitch Perfect 2 filmed in Baton Rouge. Also scheduled is “American Ultra,” “Selfless” and “The Fantastic Four.  Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly, even with adjustments to the film tax credits being considered by the legislature to help ease the state budget deficit, he does not believe this would be a deterrent to film makers.

 

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee will discuss today the revenue generating bills that were approved by the House. The lower chamber passed 11 bills that would increase revenues by 615-million dollars. Word is the Senate leadership wants to raise even more revenue to offset a one-point-six billion dollar budget gap. The tax bills up for consideration in the Senate would reduce tax breaks businesses currently enjoy, there’s also legislation that scales back the film tax and solar tax credit programs and raises the cigarette tax to a higher amount than that already agreed upon by the House.

 

The Revenue Estimating Conference announces that $179 million has been found that can help budget issues for this fiscal year and next. They say $99.4 million would be used for this fiscal year and $79.3 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

 

The Department of Children and Family Services is recruiting Foster Families, especially those who can take larger sibling groups or children with special needs. DCFS Policy Advisor Kaaren Hebert says this month, more than 4300 children will be served by Louisiana’s foster care system and just 2,000 certified foster homes are available. She says that’s a huge deficit for their agency.

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New for Friday 051515

By Dave Graichen

 

State lawmakers Thursday decided residents in Rapides parish weren’t ready yet to vote for or against alcohol sales in the unincorporated area outside of Pineville. Senate Bill 112 by Sen. Rick Gallot did not get the necessary 20 votes to pass on the Senate floor. It received 16 votes for and 15 votes against, with eight senators absent. The other three senators who represent parts of Rapides Parish, Gerald Long, Bob Kostelka, and Neil Riser all voted against the bill.

 

If you haven’t gotten your state taxes done yet, this is the last day you can procrastinate. Today is the deadline for filing 2014 Louisiana individual income tax returns. The state department of revenue recommends electronic filing.

 

The bodies of a previously reported missing mother and her two children were found in a car in New Orleans East. NOPD says 25-year-old Michelle McCullum and her children, 5-year-old Caden and 3-year-old Cylie, were all found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

 

In a unanimous vote, the state House passed New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno’s bill that would ban hospitals from billing rape victims for their medical exams. The measure would permit health care providers to submit a claim to the victim’s insurance company for payment, but the victim would not be required to pay any share of the costs. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

 

The full House has approved legislation that will reduce the maximum penalty for those who are convicted multiple times for simple marijuana possession. Under the bill, a person convicted three times for having a small amount of pot, faces a maximum sentence of eight years, instead of 20 which is current law. The senate will debate the measure next.

 

One person is dead and another three injured after a pickup truck struck a school bus head-on in Beauregard Parish Thursday morning. State Police say the crash killed a passenger in the truck and injured both drivers. There were no children on the school bus at the time.

 

The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office has charged a substitute teacher on counts of producing and possessing child pornography and carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Lt. Bill Davis says 26-year-old Christopher Kerr of Bossier City used his position as a teacher to get access to children, and he used social media as well. Four girls between the ages of 13 and 16 have been identified, and there are at least 30 more that are unidentified.

 

The Louisiana House approves legislation that would prohibit gender based abortions. The bill’s author is Houma Representative Lenar Whitney. She says there have been no documented cases in Louisiana, but she cited an article from Forbes about pregnancies ending early in US Asian communities because the sex of the unborn child was a girl. The bill passed 84-2 and now heads to the Senate.

 

Former LSU Tiger Odell Beckham has been voted to be on the cover of the Maden NFL 16 video game. Beckham beat out Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski a in vote by the fans.

 

The Baton Rouge-shot “Pitch Perfect 2″ opens nationwide today and expectations that it will be as loved as the first one are high. The sequel will once again be set at the fictional Barden University but was filmed in and around LSU. Ashley Territo is a manager in the office charged with approving all film projects on campus. During filming, producers issued an open invitation casting call to fill in a concert crowd for one of the scenes and over 3000 people showed up so many Louisianians will be looking to see if they made the cut.

 

A new political action committee targets US Senator David Vitter’s attempt to become governor of Louisiana. Gumbo PAC has launched a website and released a video that takes a critical look at Vitter’s time in political office. Gumbo PAC Chairman Trey Ourso says their mission is to educate voters about Vitter’s record.  Ourso says some are concerned because Vitter has served in Congress since 1999 and is basically a “career Washington politician”.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announces that Safe Boating Week begins Saturday. In Louisiana, Safe Boating Week marks the start of the spring and summer boating season. LDWF spokesman Adam Einck says boaters can expect increased patrols and safe boating checks this weekend. Einck says these increased patrols are not designed to stop anyone from having fun, they just want to make sure everyone is safe on the water.

 

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News for Thursday 051415

By Dave Graichen

 

A deadly crash in Vernon parish last night claimed the life of a Leesville teen. State police report 15 year old Acadia Sanders lost control of the pickup she was driving and struck a tree on LA 465. Sanders, who was not wearing a seat belt was pronounced dead at the scene. An 18 year old passenger, Jon Stuckey, who was wearing a seatbelt survived the crash with moderate injuries. Troopers say the crash remains under investigation.

 

The Red River Waterway Commission announced yesterday that public boat launching ramps on the Red River are closed til further notice due to high water. These include the ramps in Rapides, Natchitoches, Grant, Avoyelles, Caddo, Bossier and Red River parishes. The commission says the boat launches will be re-opened as soon as conditions permit the public to utilize the ramps safely.

 

Supporters and opponents of Common Core have come together on legislation that puts a process in place that could lead to new public school education standards. Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann, an outspoken critic of Common Core, says the compromise legislation, which was approved by the House Education committee Wednesday, allows for more public input in developing academic standards. The plan calls for BESE to approve new education standards in March 2016, but the next governor could reject them. The Governor’s office says they don’t like the veto mechanism and also have concerns that BESE would set up a standard’s commission filled with Common Core Supporters.

 

In a narrow vote, the state Senate advances an equal pay bill to the House. According to recent Census data, Louisiana has the largest gender pay gap in the nation. The bill also lays out a course of legal action if a worker is not paid the same as another doing the same job. Opponents say this would set businesses up for hoards of litigation but New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson says this bill is about shrinking the gender pay gap, not promoting lawsuits. The bill passed the Senate on a 21-16 vote.

 

The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested a man accused of leaving his truck in the middle of the road then breaking into someone’s home and dancing naked under a water hose at another house. They say 27-year-old Tristan Yenzer of Alexandria was booked with unauthorized entry, aggravated obstruction of a roadway, theft of utilities and 2 counts of criminal trespassing.

 

Retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who gained fame in his no-nonsense approach to relief efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans, says he’s considering running for Governor. On a Baton Rouge Talk Show, Honore says if he does decide to run, he would do so under “No Party” and make an announcement before July 4th. He says he’d be in it to win it and even though it’s late in the game, raising money for a campaign would be no problem.

 

A bill that would ban someone from getting an abortion based on sex selection is scheduled for debate on the House Floor today. The measure by Houma Rep. Lenar Whitney made it out of committee without objection. Louisiana Right to Life says the use of abortion as a means of sex selection is a major social problem in a number of Asian countries where male children are widely preferred over females. However, opponents of the bill say, this isn’t China and the bill is just another roadblock being put in front of women who want an abortion in the state.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal’s approval rating in Louisiana is at an all-time low according to a new survey. Bernie Pinsonat conducts the Southern Media and Opinion Research Poll. He says they found Jindal got a 31.8% positive job performance rating from likely Louisiana voters.

Pinsonat says that rating is lower that President Barack Obama.

 

A Louisiana based oil company is set to drill near the site of the BP well blowout that killed 11 workers and caused the nation’s largest offshore oil spill. LLOG (log) Exploration Offshore has been approved to drill into the Macondo reservoir. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Professor Eric Smith, says this shouldn’t cause people to be concerned.  He says the BP blowout was the cause of human error and the reservoir is safe to drill.

 

The state house approves a bill that would let some motorists get an inspection sticker every five years. Currently the brake tags are $10 a year and drivers can get either a one or two year sticker. Stonewall Rep. Richard Burford says his bill would only apply to vehicles 7 years old or less. The vote was 58-33 and the measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

 

Senior Jared Foster is expected to start at second base tonight when the number one ranked LSU baseball team visits South Carolina. Foster, who was ruled academically ineligible last week, was reinstated after an “obscure” NCAA rule was uncovered that restored his eligibility.

 

 

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News for Wednesday 051315

By Dave Graichen

 

A bill to allow for an election on alcohol sales in the unincorporated area of District B around Pineville got Senate committee approval Tuesday. The committee advanced SB 112 to the full Senate without objection.

 

The debate legislation that would remove the controversial Common Core education standards from public schools and replace it with one developed by Louisiana residents hits committee Today. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris authors the bill and he says Common Core was implemented with little public input and now parents see it’s not good for our students. But, not everyone agrees.  Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, says ditching Common Core for another education curriculum is a wrong move for the state. The bill comes up in the House Education Committee.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy says the state needs far more oversight and transparency in state government contracts in light of a recent report by the state Legislative auditor. It indicates Louisiana has nearly 15,000 contracts worth about $21 billion with no real way to keep track of many of them. Kennedy says this is unacceptable. Kennedy says many of these contracts are wasteful spending and millions could be saved with better oversight.

 

A new statewide poll shows Republican Senator David Vitter is separating himself even more as the front-runner in the governor’s race. In a survey conducted by Southern Media and Opinion Research, 38-percent of respondents said they would vote for Vitter, his closest challenger is Democrat John Bel Edwards at 25-percent. Republican Jay Dardenne finished third in the poll as he received support from 17-percent of those surveyed, while Republican Scott Angelle got five-percent.

 

The Attorney General’s office says two former St. John the Baptist Parish Water Works employees were convicted Tuesday for covering up their failure to properly collect water samples from testing sites. The Department of Health and Hospitals later found a brain eating amoeba at those sites. Both were sentenced to one year in parish prison, with that sentence suspended, and 6 months’ probation.

 

A bill by Gonzales Representative Johnny Berthelot that would double littering fines is headed to the full Senate. The House bill advanced out of the Senate Environmental committee Tuesday. Berthelot says the additional revenue would go towards law enforcement retirement.

Under the measure, first offense fines for simple lit erring would go to $150 up from $75.

 

In a stunning move, the Pelicans announced the firing of head coach Monty Williams after five seasons, which included two trips to the playoffs. Jake Madison, a writer for a blog website called Bourbon Street Shots, says the move is surprising considering Owner Tom Benson recently wrote a letter expressing support for Williams, who just guided the Pels to the postseason. But Madison says general manager Dell Demps apparently wanted to go in another direction.

 

A stand-off Tuesday morning with Shreveport Police, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s deputies and some federal agents has ended with two people dead, and another injured. A woman was shot and killed at the residence, and the second victim was taken to University Hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. Officers later discovered the unidentified shooter was found dead inside the home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

 

The Champion Square image of Tracy Porter interception to seal the deal for the Saints Super Bowl win in 2010 is coming down. The issue is not with the former Port Allen High School star; the problem is Darren Sharper running behind him. With Sharper pleading guilty to sex crimes in three states, Saints officials say they say some images need to be “freshened up.”

 

 

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News for Tuesday 051215

By Dave Graichen

 

A 24-billion dollar budget that funds higher education at the same level as this year heads to the full House for a vote next week. The House Appropriations Committee has approved next fiscal year’s spending plan and Chairman Jim Fannin says revenue generating bills approved by the House last week will prevent any cuts to public colleges and universities. The House approved 615-million dollars in additional revenue last week, by raising the state’s cigarette tax and suspending or reducing tax benefits many businesses currently enjoy.

 

Legislative leaders in the state House of Representatives say they are committed to an override veto session if Governor Jindal vetoes the revenue generating bills they have passed.

Jindal has said consistently that he will not approve any tax hike unless there is a tax reduction elsewhere.

 

The Senate has advanced a bill that would let colleges raise their own tuition without legislative approval. The vote was 33-4 Monday and the authority would only come if another proposal which seeks to control the TOPS scholarship program also advances.

 

Dozens of Acadiana’s top employers will screen potential employees Tuesday at the annual LEDA Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cajundome Convention Center. Organized by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, the LEDA Job Fair is in its 20th year. The fair is free to attend and will offer free services to those seeking jobs.

 

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Vivian teenager accused of stabbing his parents. Authorities say 17-year-old Shane Alexander is charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder. Spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says Shane went into his parents’ bedroom around 3 o’clock Monday morning wielding a knife. 61-year-old LaDonna Alexander, was stabbed once in the chest and his father, 64-year-old Jerry Alexander was stabbed in the back and arm. Both survived the attack.

 

A high speed crash in St. Tammany Parish has claimed the life of one adult and one teen.  State Trooper Dustin Dwight says they first pulled the vehicle over, then conducted an impairment test with the driver. That’s when a 21 year-old passenger jumped into the driver’s seat and took off with a teen passenger in the back seat. Troopers combed the area looking for the boys and a short time later came upon the scene of a crash. It appears the driver of the car lost control and left the road striking some trees. Both boys were pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Two LSU students have developed a smart phone app that allows people to record and upload videos of police encounters and share it with media outlets. The Police Officer Watchdog Events Reporter, or POWER, app was developed by Wilborn Nobles and Elbis Bolton. Bolton says this app can be used to spread both negative and positive interactions with police. The  app would become a hub to share those videos with newsrooms nationwide. The POWER App is currently available for download for Android devices. Bolton says they are working on an iPhone version.

 

New Orleans Representative Austin Badon believes his anti-discrimination legislation has a decent chance of passing this year. House Bill 612 would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He says it needs to be realized that, across the board, all men and women are created equal.

 

The number one ranked LSU baseball team plays its final non-conference game of the season tonight as they visit the UNO Privateers. On paper this looks like a big mismatch as the Tigers 43-and-8 overall, while the Privateers are 14-and-36.

 

 

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News for Monday 051115

By Dave Graichen

 

The deputy secretary of the state Department of Economic Development is getting a promotion to the top spot. Governor Bobby Jindal announced Friday that Steven Grissom will succeed Secretary Stephen Moret who, as of today, is the  President and CEO of the LSU Foundation.

 

Across the border in Mississippi, authorities continue to investigate the shooting deaths of two Hattiesburg police officers Saturday night during, what the officers believed to be, a routine  traffic stop. Authorities say three suspects are in custody, including two who are charged with capital murder.

 

State lawmakers have about a month left to pass a budget for next fiscal year. The House has approved a package of bills that raises 664-million dollars that will go towards mitigating budget cuts to higher education and health care. Governor Bobby Jindal says he’s okay with legislation that puts a stop to “corporate welfare.” That’s cases where businesses receive more in tax benefits than they pay in taxes. But he says some of the tax bills passed in the House, like the cigarette tax, will need to be offset with a tax break somewhere else.

 

The EPA has approved the Louisiana Military Department’s recommended incineration method of disposal of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. State Representative Gene Reynolds says this is a victory for the community who had strong objections to the original plan of the federal government to conduct an open burn to get rid of the explosives.

The method to be used will be a contained incineration burn method by the company Explosive Service International. The incinerator still needs to be built before the burn begins.

 

A bill headed to the House floor would provide free HIV tests for inmates being released from prison. Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox says before a person leaves a state jail for parole, they should be tested and if needed, treated as a way to help prevent AIDS from spreading further. Cox says Louisiana has the fourth highest number of men and women living with AIDS in the nation. Cox says that in 9 state prisons, about 3 percent of inmates are HIV positive.

 

Construction is underway to build a “lazy river” on the LSU campus in the shape of the letters L-S-U and some wonder if this is appropriate considering the potentially huge budget cuts facing the school. Student Body President, Andrew Mahtook, says the funding for this project is completely separate from any state appropriations. In 2011, students passed a resolution asking for a student recreation fee increase to expand the recreation center, which includes the building of the “lazy river.” Professor Kevin Cope, LSU Faculty Senate President, says this shows a flaw in how colleges prioritize funds.

 

New Orleans Police say an alligator is to blame for a fatal accident on I-10 Friday. Authorities say the gator was attempting to cross the interstate when it appears a van came to a complete stop after hitting the alligator. The van was then struck from behind by another vehicle. Police say the driver of that vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people were injured in the crash.

 

The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s office says a teacher is under arrest for allegedly telling one of his students to punch another one. They say 34-year-old Randy Louis of Baldwin, a teacher at the St. Mary Parish Alternative Program school, restrained a 9-year-old male student while instructing another student to strike him. Louis is charged of contributing to the delinquency of juveniles and simple battery.

 

The LSU baseball team swept the weekend series against Missouri and extended their SEC lead to a game and a half over Vanderbilt and two games over Texas A&M in the SEC West. Heading into the regular-season series finale at South Carolina next weekend, the Tigers control their own destiny, needing two wins at Carolina to lock up the SEC regular-season title ,no matter what the Commodores and Aggies do.   

 

LSU confirms senior second baseman Jared Foster is no longer going to play ball as he’s been ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. Foster is tied for the team lead with eight home runs. LSU now has the best team in the SEC after beating Missouri 8-3 last night.

 

Louisiana Tech men’s basketball coach Michael White has accepted the head coaching job at the University of Florida. “Bleed Tech Blue” Publisher Jonathan Ford believes there will be plenty of interest in the opening at Tech. In White’s four years leading the Bulldogs, he accumulated a 101-40 record.

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News for Friday 050815

By Dave Graichen  

 

Two juveniles and an adult have been indicted in connection to the case of a man found dead March 1 in the City Park area of Alexandria. Z’various Mason and Richard Ambush were arrested on March 5, both charged with first-degree murder in the death of 21year-old Kendrick  Hayes. At the time, their names were not released, Mason was 15 at the time of the shooting, while Ambush was 16. The Alexandria Police Department had requested that both be charged as adults. Also indicted in the case is Desmond  Harris. All three were indicted on a charge of second-degree murder.

 

The state police report  57-year-old William Powell of Hineston died Wednesday afternoon in a wreck that shut down La. Highway 112 for several hours.  Powell, who was not wearing a seat belt, was driving a 2015 Western Star dump truck loaded with gravel. It appears he lost control of the truck causing it to leave the roadway and over turn. Powell was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash is under investigation, and routine toxicology tests are pending.

 

The state House advances a package of bills to the Senate that would raise 670-million dollars that can be used to cover a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall. The legislation heading to the senate raises the tax on cigarettes and scales back tax programs. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says more work needs to be done to solve this budget crisis. Pinsonat says what the House did on Thursday is a good start, but even with these revenue generating bills heading to the senate, there’s still a big shortfall out there. The revenue generating bills passed in the House face an uncertain future in the Senate and may get vetoed by the governor if they make it through the legislative process.

 

The House approved a measure that would limit the amount of credits issued as part of the film tax program to $200 million dollars despite objections from lawmakers who thought the cap should be lower. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris tried to amend it to $150 million dollars saying that other $50 million needs to be used elsewhere. But the amendment failed with opponents saying the $150 million dollar cap would run the industry out of town. The bill now heads to the Senate.

 

Another bill that passed on the House Floor Thursday would double Louisiana’s littering fines. Gonzales Representative Johnny Berthelot’s bill would take a $75 first offense littering fine and make it $150 with $1,000 for subsequent offenses. After the 90-2 vote the bill now heads to the Senate.

 

Two bills that seek to control the wild hog population in Louisiana pass the House Natural Resources Committee. One of the bills would authorize a lifetime hunting license to shoot the hogs. The bills head to the Full House

 

34 people were busted by state police accused of committing insurance fraud. Sgt. Nick Manale says these people are charged with faking car accidents in order to collect the insurance money. He issues the warning that they aren’t the only ones watching for these cases as insurance companies are watching too. Manale says these insurance fraud cases affect insurance rates and policies across the state

 

Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins is now a Dallas Cowboy. The Baton Rouge product signed a three-year, 1.65 million dollar guaranteed contract, after not getting drafted. NFL teams were scared to select Collins, because he was wanted for questioning about the murder of a pregnant woman. Authorities have never called Collins a suspect in the murder of the woman and her child.

 

There’s buzz in New Orleans that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are moving as their home goes on the market. Realtors show the French Quarter property is going for $6.5 million dollars.

 

It appears that the first shot has been fired in Louisiana’s governor’s race. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne issued a statement calling US Senator David Vitter an absentee Senator after he missed a budget vote in the Senate. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says this is a sign of things to come. Dardenne says instead of casting a Senate vote, Vitter was in Louisiana having a beer with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in an effort to boost his gubernatorial bid.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has reportedly set a self-imposed deadline on when he’ll make a decision about whether or not to run for president. Jindal now says he’ll make an announcement at the end of June. Previously he said he would announce after the session ends June 11th.

 

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News for Thursday 050715

By Dave Graichen

 

Here in Alexandria, the parents of twins who were killed in a fire last December have been indicted on criminal charges. Andrea Aaron, the mother of the two-year-old twins, faces two counts of second degree murder and the father has been charged with two counts of accessory after the fact.

 

Today is decision making day for House leaders as they will vote on what changes to make when it comes to tax hikes and scaling back incentives in order to balance the state’s budget. LaPolitics-dot-com Publisher, Jeremy Alford, says this entire legislative session is about the budget and filling a $1.6 billion shortfall. He says today we’ll find out which way the budget will lean. Among the issues up for debate are repealing of tax breaks for businesses and an increase in the state’s cigarette tax.

 

Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore has decided to pull his bill from further discussion that would have put recreational marijuana legalization on an upcoming ballot for voters to decide. Honore says maybe in the future, Louisiana residents should have the option to decide, but not right now.

 

In the same committee room, New Orleans Representative Austin Badon’s bill to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession passed. Jill Trahan’s son is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for simple marijuana possession. Trahan wants lawmakers to really consider the penalties imposed on marijuana possession convictions. The vote was 10-4 and now heads to the House Floor.

 

Legislation that would legalize the sale of raw milk in Louisiana did not make it out of a Senate Committee. The bill’s author, Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur, says there are many who believe purchasing raw milk is a basic human right and not something for government to be involved in. But State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says it’s far too risky to consume raw milk and he testified in opposition.

 

A bill that would prohibit sex-selection abortions in Louisiana receives the approval of the House Health and Welfare Committee. Houma Representative Lenar Whitney says, even though there have been no known incidents here in Louisiana, in several Asian countries, abortions are performed when the mother finds out she’s having a girl. The bill heads to the House floor for more discussion.

 

Two bills that seek to control the wild hog population in Louisiana pass the House Natural Resources Committee. One measure would approve year-round hunting seasons on razorbacks and the other would create a lifetime hunting license for the animal. The bills now head to the Full House.

 

The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office says a man is under arrest for allegedly beating his pregnant girlfriend so badly, the unborn child’s heart stopped beating. Captain Dawn Foret says they received a complaint that 36-year-old Tyson Cheavis of Gibson repeatedly abused his 27-year-old pregnant girlfriend. Cheavis was arrested and charged with second degree feticide and two counts of second degree battery.

 

A man who applied to be a youth baseball coach in Bossier Parish ended up making off with nearly $3000 in payments from players and sponsors. Lt. Bill Davis says 25-year-old Robert Martin III is wanted for felony theft. Detectives believe Martin may have fled the area or the state. He says it’s obvious Martin had no intention of every coaching the children.

 

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested the former school bus driver who got into a crash on March 12th for operating while intoxicated. They say John Bernard was booked into jail on $40,000 bond. No students were seriously injured in the crash. Investigators say tests showed Bernard had a blood alcohol level of .04 percent at the time of the crash.

 

TMZ is reporting that former LSU Tiger La’el Collins told police that he was in New Orleans attending a Pelicans playoff game the night his former girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant, was murdered. Sources say his GPS records on his cell phone will back up his story. Authorities spoke with Collins on Monday.

 

 

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 News for Wednesday 050615

By Dave Graichen

 

The House committee on the budget needs some decisions by Monday on ways they plan to repair the state’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall. Thursday will be decision making day when it comes to House leaders asking what changes lawmakers want to make when it comes to tax hikes and scaling back incentives.

 

The legislation by Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore that would let voters decide whether or not recreational marijuana should be legal in Louisiana gets a hearing today. LSU Public Policy Polling Research Director Mike Henderson says they’ve surveyed residents and there seems to be a decline in opposition to pot for adult use over the past couple of years.

The bill will be heard in House Criminal Justice. The survey found support for legalization of marijuana for personal use is at 45 percent, lagging opposition at 52 percent.

 

Proposed tax increases to help fund repairs for state roads and bridges has been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. One bill would increase the state sales tax by one percent; the other was amended to have a ten cent increase of the tax for a gallon and gas. The bill’s author-Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain-says it’s time. The bills now head to the floor.

 

AARP rallied on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday saying 90 percent of Louisiana voters express they want to stay home as they age. Interim State Director, Denise Bottcher, says at-home care services are necessary for seniors to live outside of a nursing home. She says their survey shows that 83-percent of respondents support funding to provide more services for seniors living at home.

 

This is the last week Stephen Moret will be the Louisiana Economic Development Secretary before he begins his job as LSU Foundation President. He says one of the most rewarding things about the last 7 years for him is how much Louisiana’s business climate ranking has improved. Site Selection has rated Louisiana’s economic development efforts No. 2 in the nation in its ranking for Top Competitive States for 2014. Moret says the ranking is a tribute to the professional, diligent efforts of the outstanding staff at LED.  Moret says no LED Secretary successor has been named yet, but he believes it will be within in the next few days.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has announced he has new book coming out in entitled “American Will: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic.” Experts say Jindal needs to show relevance; especially since he will not even announce his intent to run until after the legislative session.

 

Baton Rouge Police say the missing two year old girl, whose mother was located murdered Saturday, has been found safe. Corporal L’Jean McKneely says the child was discovered alone. He says the child’s father will likely take custody, as he is not a suspect. That investigation is on-going.

 

A Slidell mother is arrested on second-degree murder charges as Slidell Police believe she discarded her baby inside a trash compactor. Chief Randy Smith says 22 year-old Antwonetta Jones gave birth to the child in a bathtub and within 12 hours, the child died. Smith says Jones lived with her mother, but no one knew she was pregnant.

 

Dow Chemical announces they will be reducing their workforce about 3 percent in preparation to have Olin Chemical take over a significant portion of Dow’s chlorine operations. Dow employs about 300 people in local facilities, but the company did not release details of the cuts at any specific locations.

 

There will be a homecoming celebration tonight in Abbeville for a local Top 6 finalist on NBC’s “The Voice”, Koryn Hawthorne. The aspiring young singer will ride in a homecoming parade at 5pm then put on a special concert in Magdalen Square downtown. Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza says Koryn has been singing in their community since she was a child and they couldn’t be more proud of her.

 

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News for Tuesday 050515

By Dave Graichen

 

The Louisiana Supreme Court has approved an agreement to place Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell Jr. on probation for five years in an attorney disciplinary proceeding.

The action comes following an investigation by the court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel into allegations that Terrell failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee, allowing the employee to commingle and convert client funds. Upon learning of the situation Terrell personally replaced all the funds that belonged to the third parties and fully cooperated with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

 

The state police report  27-year-old Jessica Short of Pineville was killed Sunday when the SUV she was driving left interstate 49 near Carencro and struck several trees. Short was critically injured and was transported to Lafayette General, where she later died. Police say impairment is not believed to have been a factor in the crash.

 

A judge on Monday refused to reduce the bail of a former Avoyelles Parish sheriff’s deputy accused of allowing an Assumption Parish prisoner to leave a jail transport van to buy drugs and then providing false information when the prisoner didn’t return. The Judge  said 47 year old Michelle George failed to understand the risk the incident posed to the community and to prisoners and refused to reduce her bail from $250,000 to $20,000.  

 

Legislation that aims to give tuition-setting authority to Louisiana colleges and universities is heading to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs signed off on Senate Bill 155 on Monday without opposition. The bill would ask Louisiana voters to decide by constitutional amendment whether college and university systems should have control over how much students pay to go to college or if that power should remain with the state Legislature. Currently, Louisiana is one of three states that lets state lawmakers set tuition and fee prices.

 

A bill that allows for the dispensing of medicinal marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions makes it off the Senate floor. New Iberia Senator Fred Mills says under the proposed law, medical marijuana could only be prescribed by a doctor for someone clinically diagnosed with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia (kwod-ruh-plee-jee-uh) or suffering symptoms from chemotherapy cancer treatment. The vote count was 22-13 and the measure now heads to the House.

 

Two different tax increases proposed by Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain to help fund road projects will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee today. The state currently has a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge projects. HB 777 would raise the state’s gas tax dependent on the price at the pump and HB 778 would increase the state’s sales tax by one percent. Revenue from both bills would pay for road and bridge projects.

 

A bill that would use funds from unclaimed gambling winnings to pay for rape victims forensic medical exams clears House appropriations. New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno says under her measure, money from expired winning tickets from casinos and race tracks would go into the crime victims reparations fund.  Wade Duty, of the Louisiana Casino Association, says while they don’t oppose the bill on its merits, they don’t approve of the funding mechanism. He says winning money is the property of the gaming establishment until the player cashes the ticket. The bill passed without opposition and now heads to the House floor.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy says he’s endorsing David Vitter for Governor because the US Senator respects tax payer dollars and has the ability to take on Louisiana’s fiscal challenges.

When asked if Kennedy was going to go after the US Senate seat if Vitter becomes Governor each said they are taking things one election at a time.

 

The House appropriations committee approves a plan that would allow the state to draw down federal money that can be used to expand Medicaid coverage. House speaker Chuck Kleckley says it would save $200 million for the state’s budget and is real money that can be put in the general fund. Since this measure is a concurrent resolution, Governor Jindal cannot veto the legislation, but it does need a two-thirds vote of both houses for passage.

 

According to a legislative auditor’s report released yesterday, Louisiana’s elderly and developmentally disabled wait longer than people in other states to get community-based services through Medicaid. As of October 2014, the auditor said 54,677 people remained on lists for the various Medicaid programs with wait times ranging from two-and-a-half to 10 years.

The auditor wrote that most applicants may never receive the home and community-based services they request.

 

Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins met with Baton Rouge police detectives Monday  as part of an investigation into the shooting death of a pregnant woman on April 24th. Collins meeting with detectives lasted about an hour and a half. Authorities insist Collins is still NOT a suspect in Brittany Mills’ homicide

 

Authorities in St. Tammany Parish are investigating a case of a deceased baby in a trash compactor at a Slidell apartment complex. The St. Tammany Parish Coroner is working with Police to determine the cause of death and the age of the baby. The investigation is ongoing.

 

Shreveport Police are investigating a fatal shooting that claimed the life of a four-year-old boy. Cpl. Marcus Hines says officers were called to a hotel room and found the boy, identified as Cameron Morris, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. Hines says the other child was 6 and they are working to determine who was responsible for watching the children.

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News for Monday 033015

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana has set another employment record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also in February, the unemployment rate decreased for the second month in a row to 6.7 percent. The private sector added over 29 thousand jobs. That’s good news for employers and job seekers.

 

12 tax referendums passed in Cenla over the weekend. Most one by a rather large margin. In  the town of Many, the only referendum to lose, a school tax, did so by only one vote.

The Many School District No. 34 referendum in Sabine Parish was for a 10-year renewal of a 7.23-mill property tax that raises about $247,700 a year for building, maintaining and operating schools in the district. In that election only 5.4% of the eligible voters cast a ballot.

 

State Police say a three-vehicle crash in St. Landry Parish killed one person and injured several others. The wreck occurred on US 190 near Interstate 49 when a vehicle attempted to cross both lanes of US 190 to gain access to the entrance ramp to I-49. A passenger in that vehicle, 55-year-old Harold Richard of Opelousas was killed. Investigators say alcohol contributed to the crash.

 

All smiles in southwest Louisiana, as Sasol has started construction on an eight-point-one billion dollar ethane cracker complex near Westlake. The project is expected to create an estimated five-thousand construction jobs and the facility should be completed in 2018.

 

A proposal to be sponsored by New Orleans Representative Walt Leger would use Gulf oil spill money for possible long-term financing for Louisiana colleges. Leger feels a trust fund should be set up for colleges from recovery money received from the 2010 disaste. The state is expected to receive billions of dollars from BP to pay for economic damage caused by the spill. Legislators have already dedicated the first $1 billion of that money. Leger’s proposal would target money above that.

 

Under what leaders are calling a “doomsday scenario,” Louisiana’s public universities and colleges would get about $123 million in state funding to split among their campuses next year,  about an 82 percent cut from their current funding level. That’s the budget the state Board of Regents has instructed college leaders to start preparing for, though officials are hoping that the funding outlook will improve dramatically during the legislative session.  To put that worst-case scenario into perspective, the state would spend about $600 per student on direct campus funding. It would spend an additional $267 million on the TOPS program.

 

5th district Congressman Ralph Abraham, who is also a physician from Richland Parish, used his medical expertise to help a man, who nearly passed out during a flight. Abraham says this is the fourth time, since he launched his Congressional campaign that he’s had to provide medical attention to a person he met in public. The young man is a former marine, who was flying back home to Texas.

 

Louisiana’s roads and bridges are beset by dwindling dollars, pressing needs and the lack of any sweeping solutions on the horizon. Even amid a $12.3 billion backlog of transportation infrastructure projects, nearly $91 million, roughly equal to 3 cents of the state’s 20-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, is set to be diverted to the State Police and other services. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, recently said “We are spending gasoline tax revenue on everything but highways”. Officials at the state Department of Transportation and Development are scrambling to avoid the loss of federal dollars because of the state’s revenue problems.

 

Three young children were rescued after a boat capsized on the Pearl River Saturday, but the operator of the boat died and search and rescue crews were still searching for the children’s mother as of late Sunday afternoon.

 

The state department of agriculture and forestry will put traps out to track the invasive asian bug called the Emerald Ash Borer. The beetle was discovered recently in Webster Parish and it kills ash trees. Commissioner Mike Strain says the traps will be placed in high risk areas along the interstate, welcome centers and the Mississippi River delta. Strain says the beetle, which is difficult to eradicate, is often transported into an area by infested firewood.

 

Sports..

 

When the polls come out later today, it’s likely the LSU Tigers will no longer be ranked number one after a wild series to the Wildcats of Kenutcky. LSU could not hold on to a three-run lead in the eighth and ended up losing to Kentucky 12-10 in 11 innings yesterday. It’s the first weekend series the Tigers have lost this year as they fall to 5-and-4 in SEC play.

 

Track star Lolo Jones headlined a five member class that was inducted into the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction Friday night. Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn and Former LSU Associate Athletic Director Herb Vincent were also  inductees.

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News for Friday 032715

By Dave Graichen

 

Demographer Elliot Stonecipher says Louisiana could be in jeopardy of losing another Congressional seat if the state doesn’t see more growth in population. Stonecipher is making that statement based on new Census figures, which shows the state’s population has only increased two-point-six percent since 2010. Louisiana saw it’s Congressional delegation shrink from seven to six members as a result of the 2010 Census. Stonecipher says the data suggests to him that Louisiana still has an out-migration problem.

 

Congratulations to a Cenla Landmark Harlow’s Donuts and Bakery in Pineville, They are celebrating their 30th anniversary today.  Harlow’s originally opened in1972. But, Roy Burr purchased the business from the original owner,  Frank Dyson,  in 1985. Today some of their great treats will be priced as they were back in “85

 

A grand jury returned a “no true bill” in the case of a Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputy shooting and killing a 14-year-old last September. The teenager had a BB gun, when the deputy came in contact with the child at an abandon house. Carlos Lazarus is the First Assistant DA in Terrebonne. He says they showed the jury pictures of the weapon the juvenile was holding and a real .45-caliber pistol and they are identical. But, the story is not over yet,  the FBI is also investigating the case.

 

A Lafayette man who called in a bomb threat that shut down UL-Lafayette last summer has pleaded guilty in federal court to the crime. Devin Haywood faces up to 10 years for that, and up to 20 years for trying to rob a bank during the police search for the bomb.

 

State Police and the FBI have arrested a man and woman and rescued a 17-year-old girl in connection with a sex trafficking case. Spokesperson Melissa Matey says the victim was being against her will and forced to perform commercial sexual acts in the French Quarter area through online ads. A 21 year old woman and 36 year old man are being charged with trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

 

The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said a woman kidnapped from East Baton Rouge was found in the wreckage of a crash which claimed the life of her captor Thursday morning. They say the woman was airlifted to the hospital after the wreck. Deputies said the woman told them she was kidnapped Wednesday night. Authorities say the investigation into the incident is in it’s early stages.

 

An 11-year-old boy has missed more than two weeks of school because his hair is too long according to Rapides Parish School Board policy. Ashton Bodiford’s hair falls past the middle of his back. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman, who is not involved in this case, says it’s time for courts to recognize that students should be able to have a greater range of appearances. Esman says courts have ruled that schools are within their rights to have appearance policies like this.

 

A student at Buckeye High School has started an online petition to replace the district school uniform policy with a casual dress code in Rapides Parish. 14 year old Eighth-grader Brandon Richardson created the "Uniform Policy Removal" petition March 18 on the Change.org website. In about a week his petition has received more than 580 signatures.

 

Well there was somebody in Louisiana who could have been a Powerball millionaire, but they missed their chance. The Match 5 winning ticket was sold in Minden for the September 27th drawing, but no one came forward to claim the prize by the Thursday deadline. Louisiana Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the $1 million will go back into winnings.

 

Shreveport’s Independence Bowl finds itself, once again, without a sponsor. Duck Commander, who was the title sponsor of last year’s game, will not return as the title sponsor this year. Last year’s game was played under a letter of intent between Duck Commander and the Independence Bowl and not a contract.

 

A man from LaPlace has developed an app to keep teenagers from texting and driving. Mike Watson says Text Guardian is tied to the GPS device on cellular devices and parents can set to a certain speed. Watson says if somebody tries to call or text a teen while Text Guardian is activated, they will get a message back right away saying that the person will get back to you when it is safe to do so. He says it’s completely free and the difference between this and some other anti-driving-and-texting apps is that Text Guardian can not be removed. Right now Text Guardian is only available on Android devices but should be on iOS soon.

 

Turkey season opens tomorrow and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries predicts a bumper crop for hunters. Wild Turkey and Resident Small Game Leader, Jimmy Stafford, says there should be some carryover this season after bad weather lead to a poor hunting last year.

 

The number one ranked LSU baseball team opens up a three-game series tonight against Kentucky, with first pitch set for seven P-M at the Box. The Wilcats are 2-and-4 in league play, but Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says they are one of the better hitting teams in the conference.

 

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News for Thursday 032615

By Dave Graichen

 

The public memorial period to pay respects to National Guardsman David Strother continues today in the Alexandria Riverfront Center from noon to 4  At 4 a memorial service will be held, followed by a graveside ceremony in Alexandria Memorial Gardens. Strother, a resident of Alexandria was killed March 10 along with 10 other soldiers in a military helicopter crash in Florida. The family requests memorials be made to the Mojo 69 Memorial Fund, giveforward.com

 

The Jindal administration’s experiment in privatizing Louisiana’s charity hospitals is running into some troubled financial waters. The House Appropriations Committee learned Wednesday that $332 million of the funding to keep the hospitals operating at a stand-still level relies on the uncertain legislative approval of some tax law changes. Committee chairman Rep. Jim Fannin said there should be no assumption that the dollars will materialize. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health agency budget proposal is already $142 million shy of the funding the private partners say is needed for operations in the fiscal year that begins July 1st. The bulk of the additional funding request is associated with the opening of the state-of-the-art $1 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans. Its opening has been delayed until Aug. 1.

 

A Lafayette jury convicted Seth Fontenot of manslaughter on Wednesday rather than the first-degree murder charge prosecutors were seeking in the shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault. Fontenot was also convicted of two counts of aggravated battery for the wounding of two teens who were with Rivault in a pickup truck the night of the shooting. It took the Jury less than two hours to reach a verdict.

 

An American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows that distraction in teen crashes is worse than previously thought. The study found that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. AAA spokesman Don Redman says the two leading causes of distraction are other passengers and cell phones. Redman says parents should sit down with their teen drivers and talk about the dangers of using their cell phones while behind the wheel. He also suggests that parents restrict the number of passengers their teen drivers are allowed to drive around.

 

A leak in one of the 97 igloos storing the 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden in Webster Parish has resulted in the recommendation of the emergency destruction of its contents. Military officials says the moisture build up creates a chemical reaction the could cause the M6 to “auto-ignite”. An evaluation team, led by the Louisiana National Guard, is still reviewing the bids that were submitted to dispose of the propellant. Their decision is expected any day.

 

A total of 46 Beau Chene (SHEN) High School Students have been suspended after an investigation into a pupil who is accused of changing grades. St. Landry school superintendent Edward Brown says the scheme began unraveling after one pupil became suspicious. He says the investigation is ongoing.

 

A legislator wants to make it a law that a designated driver be present at certain locations that sell alcohol. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says he at least wants to get a dialogue started about the importance of having someone present who hasn’t been drinking at establishments which sell alcohol. Burns is still working on the final details, but believes that it should be illegal to sell alcohol to a designated driver.  

 

Governor Bobby Jindal is keeping active for a potential run at the White House, and on the stationary bike. The Governor was spotted in a high-end gym in mid-town Manhattan Wednesday, and told reporters that he likes to start with some cardio then rotate through the weights. New York Magazine calls him Governor Bobby GYMdal.

 

A cell phone video has emerged showing a group of young men beheading a live goat. The graphic 12 second video shows one man beheading the goat with a machete sword over a child’s swimming pool, while the others cheered. The Louisiana SPCA is offering a three thousand dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this felony crime.

 

The Strawberry Festival Board and the Kiwanis Club of Ponchatoula have apologized for the controversial 2015 poster and they say they will not sell it at the event. The NAACP called for both boards to have a more diverse membership which they agreed to make an effort to do. The Kiwanis Club will continue to sell the posters (in house) until the festival begins.

 

 

Sports..

 

LSU Sophomore forward Jarell Martin announced Wednesday  that he’s leaving the Tigers to enter the N-B-A draft. The six-foot-ten forward from Baton Rouge averaged nearly 17 points and nine rebounds this past season. Martin is glad that he played a role in getting the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament, but it’s now time to move on.

 

Fellow LSU forward Jordan Mickey might also leave for the NBA, but he says as of now he’s still considering his options. And Tigers assistant coach Eric Musselman was named today as the new head coach at Nevada.

 

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News for Wednesday 032515

By Dave Graichen

 

A very touching scene yesterday as Hundreds of people, many of them holding American flags, lined the streets as a motorcade accompanying a white hearse passed carrying the body of National Guardsman David Strother. A public memorial will be held from noon to 9 p.m. today and a public funeral service will be held at 4 p.m. Tomorrow. Both will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Strother, was one of 11 soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during a training mission on March 10.

 

Now here’s something you don’t see every day.. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office says two elephants were used to keep an 18-wheeler from overturning on I-49. Deputies say a truck carrying elephants from New Orleans to Dallas got stuck in the mud, when deputies arrived on the scene Tuesday, they were surprised to find the elephants on the side of the truck that was starting to tip over. The 18-wheeler was eventually pulled out of the mud and no citations were issued, and the elephants were uninjured.

 

It has been a long time coming, a contract has finally been awarded to build a new VA clinic in Lafayette. While Republican Congressman Charles Boustany – who got the legislative authorization to build new clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles – says it’s great news for Lafayette, he says the VA is dragging its feet though when it comes to construction of the  Lake Charles clinic.

 

A Winsboro woman has been sentenced go to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Twenty-four year-old LaSasha  Allen placed her 20-month-old daughter, unrestrained, in the passenger’s seat of her vehicle. Authorities say she opened the car door while rounding a curve, allowing her daughter to fall out. Franklin Parish District Attorney Mack Lancaster says Allen showed no remorse.

 

The 2015 Louisiana Survey reveals that 83-percent of Louisianians want the state’s budget deficit to be resolved through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says of those preferring a combination, 59-percent would rather see the focus mostly on the side of spending cuts. The way the Louisiana Constitution is written, higher education and health care will take the brunt of budget cuts. Henderson says that is not what the public wants. Most surveyed said they would like to see more spent in that area. When it comes to raising revenue, Henderson says the public seems to behind a hike in the so-called “sin taxes”: alcohol, tobacco, and gaming

 

A new study conducted for the state by LSU economist Dr. Loren Scott shows the film tax credit program created nearly 13-thousand jobs, but cost Louisiana 171-million dollars last fiscal year. And Scott adds that many of the jobs produced do not benefit Louisiana. The state’s film tax credit program is expected to face changes in the upcoming legislative session.

 

The financial planning website Bankrate.com lists Louisiana as the fifth worst place to retire. Bankrate’s research analyst Chris Kahn says Louisiana scores low when it comes to its crime rate, health care services and weather. Kahn says retirees in Louisiana do not face a huge tax burden, which is good, but the state has the second highest crime rate in the nation, which does NOT make the bayou state a dream retirement spot.

 

The Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana has cut the rate of Tuberculosis cases by more than half from 2010 to 2014. DHH’s Charles DeGraw says they have also reduced the percentage of TB cases with HIV infection from 10% in 2010 to 4 percent in 2014.

 

A man who was tree-sitting in City Park in New Orleans to block the construction of an upscale golf course, has fallen out of a large Cyprus tree. It is believed the man, who is identified as Lloyd Boover, may have broken an ankle and his nose from the fall. Authorities reportedly patrolled his protest, and continuously shined a spotlight on him at night. Boover is expected to be charged with trespassing.

 

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a Bossier City man is accused of stealing from his employer and selling the items on eBay. They say 60-year-old Michael Thompson returned about $2300 worth of stolen construction items to his company but said everything else had been sold on the online auction site. He is charged with theft.

 

A former school board candidate in south Louisiana has been charged with felony sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl whom he used to coach in basketball. Lawrence McLeary with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office says the juvenile told her doctor that she was assaulted by 34-year-old Philip Ziegler of Central about a year and a half ago.

 

The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Branch is meeting this morning with the Mayor of Ponchatoula and other leaders to discuss the controversial Strawberry Festival poster. They believe the painting is racist and want the Kiwanas Club to stop selling it. In a prepared statement, Mayor Bob Zabbia says because negative feelings about the poster go against the purpose of the Strawberry Festival, which has brought the community together for decades, he would recommend that Kiwanis reevaluate their decision to sell the poster.

 

Sports..

 

U-L-M men’s basketball will host Vermont tonight at seven P-M in the semifinals of the C-B-I tournament. The Warhawks started the tournament by beating Eastern Michigan and then rallying on the road to defeat Mercer by 20.

 

ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reports that LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey is leaning towards entering the NBA draft. Mickey was a first-team ALL SEC selection this past season as he led the league in rebounding and he’s also the top shot blocker in the country.

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News for Tuesday 032415

By Dave Graichen

 

The recent ISIS online hit list that are targeting military personnel, has 25 names on a list of 100 that are current and/or past personnel from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport-Bossier. The threat was released by an ISIS hacking division, and because of that source, the Pentagon is asking the those concerned to adjust their online settings for social media accounts.

 

The State Police have arrested 33 year old  arrested Angelle Temple of Marksville, LA, after an audit of the State motor vehicle office where she worked came up short. The audit determined Temple manipulated the OMV computer system on over 30 separate occasions in the beginning of 2014.  Auditors reported customers paid the fines/fees, but Temple's cash drawer did not reflect payment for any of these transactions.  The total amount Temple defrauded the state, in Rapides Parish, totaled over $5,500.00. 

 

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but Governor Bobby Jindal says he will wait until the legislative session ends in June before announcing whether he will enter the race. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Cruz, Rick Santorum and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will all have some impact on a Jindal candidacy because of their similar politics.  He says it’s smart for Jindal to wait until after the session to start a campaign.

 

LSU President and Chancellor F King Alexander says 2,000 classes will be cancelled and every LSU employee will have to be furloughed if the legislature doesn’t restore the massive cut to higher education that’s proposed in Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget. Alexander says the proposed budget for next fiscal year will only provide LSU with 30-million dollars in state funding, a reduction of 110-million dollars from this fiscal year. He says students and alumni need to speak up loudly against this type of cut

 

It looks like the price at the pump will continue to make our wallets happy. The American Automobile Association reports a gallon of regular on average statewide is $2.22. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says even the US Department of Energy predicts the national average won’t get above $2.50 for the entire year. Redman says the falling price at the pump can, in part, be attributed to a robust supply.

 

Today, a grand jury will consider the case against a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed 14-year-old Cameron Tillman last September. The Sheriff’s Department says Deputy Preston Norman fired in self-defense after Tillman appeared to be holding a gun. The grand jury will hear evidence and testimony, possibly from Norman, himself. Relatives and others who were at the abandoned house with the boy say he was not holding a weapon.

 

Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper has made a “global” plea deal with prosecutors in 4 states where he is accused of drugging and raping women and sentencing started today. He’ll reportedly serve 9 years behind bars. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this type of plea deal means Sharper has agreed to one punishment for all charges. He says this is a good move on the part of Sharper who could get life on a conviction and it’s also smart on the victim side because rapes are hard to prove without a reasonable doubt.

 

The millionaire accused of killing a female friend in California 15 years ago will be staying put in Louisiana. Seventy-one year-old Robert Durst was in court Monday for a bond hearing on weapons charges, a week after he was discovered at a New Orleans hotel under a fake name, with a gun, passport and a large amount of cash. He had been sent to a prison’s mental health unit, as jail officials said he was a suicide risk.

 

A son is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound after cops say he was shot by his father when there was no more orange juice in their Baton Rouge home. They say 58-year-old Eldrige Dukes got into a huge fight with his son when he discovered the orange juice was gone and began to chase him around the house with a gun and firing several times eventually striking the teen in the butt. Dukes is charged with attempted manslaughter and illegal use of a dangerous weapon. The son is going to be okay.

 

A 30-year-old Baton Rouge heroin user will spend at least 6 years in prison on charges related to the death of his girlfriend from a fatal overdose. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore says Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin.

Moore says the evidence showed that Eirick purchased the heroin earlier in the day, and he and Leah Hitchinson shot each other up. He says since the Eirick supplied Hitchinson with the heroin that lead to her death, he was charged.

 

Sports..

 

The number one ranked LSU baseball team will resume its rivalry with Tulane tonight in New Orleans. The Fighting Tigers are 21-and-3 overall, while the Green Wave are 17-and-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

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News for Monday 032315

By Dave Graichen

 

State police report a two vehicle accident late Saturday night claimed the life of a 16 year old driver from Florian and injured another teen from Many. The accident occurred shortly before midnight when a pickup driven by Kelby Pilcher crossed the center line of highway 118 and struck another pickup head on. Pilcher was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene. 18 year old Michael Fair, the driver of the vehicle that was struck, was wearing a seatbelt and survived the crash with serious injuries. Routine toxicology tests are pending.  The crash remains under investigation.

 

An Opelousas man died early Sunday in a crash on La. 749 in St. Landry Parish. The state police report 38 year old Herbert Rideau was driving north near Opelousas about 1:30 a.m. when his pickup truck ran off the right side of the road and struck a parked 18-wheeler. Rideau was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology tests are pending and the crash remains under investigation.

 

Police are investigating the case of a man who walked into the New Orleans airport wielding a machete and slashing at TSA officers while spraying them with bug spray before being shot several times. The Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office say a TSA officer and traveler sustained non-life threatening injuries apparently from bullets fired at the suspect by a sheriff’s deputy. The man, 62-year-old Richard White of Kenner, died from his injuries.

 

According to state officials, Louisiana casinos brought in $224.1 million dollars last month which is 6.8 percent higher than February the year before. Casino Association Executive Director Wade Duty says while the revenues are up, this isn’t an accurate year-to-year comparison because of the mid-December opening of the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.

He says the big gains can also be attributed to lower gas prices as more out of state gamblers head in.

 

The state Department of Transportation and Development is taking part in National Work Zone Awareness Week which runs through Friday. DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett says this is about bringing attention to the fact that safety should be a top priority through road construction areas. Mallett says since 2013 in Louisiana there’s been about 580 people who have lost their lives in work zones. Mallett says drivers face fines, fees and other consequences if they’re caught speeding in a work zone or driving without their headlights on.

 

Former New Orleans Saints Safety Darren Sharper has cut a deal on charges he drugged and raped women in four states. The Orleans DA office says details of the deal have not been made public. A news release says Sharper is also pleading guilty to charges in three other states and federal charges.

 

Parks Senator Fred Mills is sponsoring legislation this session that looks at ways to change the way public school teachers are evaluated. Currently educator effectiveness is determined by students’ standardized test results. Mills says his bill seeks to make a teacher’s job performance more accurately measured.  He says this measure would take things back to the way they used to be when it comes to checking out how a teacher is doing. Mills says the proposed law would not completely remove the use of test scores as a factor in deciding teacher effectiveness.

 

A Shreveport lawmaker feels the state legislature should look at different options in trying to shrink the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit. Democratic Representative Patrick Williams it’s clear that the state needs to generate additional revenue. The House Ways and Means Committee member says a hike on cigarette and alcohol taxes is one way the state can raise funds quickly. Williams also feels that lawmakers should take a closer look at tax incentives offered by the state to shrink the budget gap. He says some of these are not paying dividends back to the state.

 

Sentencing is scheduled today for a Baton Rouge man who allegedly shot his girlfriend up with a fatal injection of heroin in 2013. 31-year-old Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and heroin distribution in the death of 31-year old Leah Hutchinson. Eirick was originally charged with second degree murder in this case, but pleaded to the lesser charge of negligent homicide in October.

 

The 2015 Poncatoula Strawberry Festival Poster is being called racist by some, and beautiful by others. The Tangipahoa NAACP says the painting, depicting faceless black children carrying a basket of strawberries, is offensive and they are calling for it to stop being sold immediately. Strawberry Festival spokesperson Shelley Matherne says the depiction is meant to build a bridge between cultures.

 

Sports..

 

LSU won it’s series with  Arkansas over the weekend with anxiety-filled 7-4 rubber match win.

The Tigers won a three-game Southeastern Conference series after losing the opening game for just the second time in five years, and they grabbed a 10th series win over the Razorbacks in the last 11 tries.

 

The “Dunkin Dogs” of Louisiana Tech will face Texas A&M tonight in the second round of the NIT.  Bulldogs Coach Michael White says his program doesn’t have many opportunities to beat a team from a major conference, so they need to take advantage of it when it comes. Tech enters the game with a 26-8 record, while the Aggies are 21-11 and beat Montana in the opening round of the NIT.

 

The Pelicans are now three games back of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after completing an 0-for-3 road trip with a 107-100 loss to the Clippers.

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News for Friday 032015

By Dave Graichen

 

The Spring Equinox occurs later today at precisely 5:45pm our time, marking the end of winter and the very beginning of Spring. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the Bayou State has been getting a lot of rain over the past few weeks and it’s setting the stage for what we can expect this spring. He says the good news is that the Climate Prediction Center says we should have normal temperatures throughout the season

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy says the Jindal Administration is considering selling the Louisiana Lottery as a way to help plug the state’s massive budget hole. The Administration is denying this. But, Kennedy says he has reports from CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs which essentially say that selling the Louisiana Lottery would provide significant general fund relief. He says these documents are irrefutable evidence that these discussions are ongoing

 

LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab says more and more Louisianians are starting to say that the state is headed in the right direction. In the results of their 2015 Louisiana survey, Director Michael Henderson also says 26-percent of citizens say the state business climate is better than it was a year ago. He says public confidence in state government to effectively deal with the most pressing issues has increased for the first time in five years.

 

State Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret tells lawmakers it’s time to reign in the state’s film tax credit program. Moret says the state’s film program has created an estimated ten-thousand jobs and brought positive attention to the state, but it only produces 20-cents in revenue for every dollar of tax credit. Moret also suggests tighter controls on who is getting the tax credits as there have been recent reports of fraud in the program. But he says the most important thing is limiting the program’s benefits so the state has a greater control of how much they are spending on it.

 

A survey by MarblePort Polling on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican David Vitter leading the field with 34-percent of the vote. Democrat John Bel Edwards is close behind with 31-percent, followed by Republicans Jay Dardenne with 14-percent and Scott Angelle with 7-percent. The automated survey polled just over 1000 Louisiana residents.

 

Spring is in the air and crawfish season is in full swing in Louisiana. Gulf Seafood Institute Chairman Harlon Pearce says they expected a substantial change in the price of the mudbugs once we got those crazy early March winter temperatures out of the way and you’ll certainly see it this weekend. Pearce says you could easily see boiled crawfish this weekend at about $3.50 a pound

 

Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the Jindal Administration’s budget for next fiscal year doesn’t fund a presidential preference primary for Louisiana in 2016. It would cost three and a half million dollars and Schedler says he’s telling lawmakers that unless they command another way, the state intends to move forward. A spokesperson from the Division of Administration says they have spoken with Schedler and they will work with his office to come up with a funding solution so that the state can have a Presidential Primary next year.

 

According to the Louisiana National Guard, they have received a total of 10 bids from companies to destroy about 75 hundred tons of M6 artillery propellant near Camp Minden. An evaluation team is being formed with a dialog committee, after some residents spoke out against the open burning method. The Guard says they may consider other methods.

 

An appeals court judge has thrown out the sentence of former Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson and ordered a re-sentencing. Thompson was convicted in 2013 on three counts of malfeasance in office. The court ruled that Thompson’s sentence of six years in prison, combined with having to pay restitution of almost $52,000, was excessive. It is unknown when the re-sentencing will take place.

 

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says an 85-year-old man is booked with vehicular homicide charges for allegedly running over his long time female companion in a driveway. They say when deputies responded to medical emergency in DeQuincy they found 56-year-old Mary Franklin laying near the driveway and she was pronounced dead at the scene. It was determined she was run over by James Abdalla Jr. He is in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on $60,000 bond.

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News for Thursday 031915

By Dave Graichen

 

LifeShare Blood Center reports Donations of O negative blood are being sought to meet a critical need. Donors of all blood types are necessary and welcome, but the immediate need is for more O negative donors. Blood donations of blood may be made at the LifeShare Donation Center on North Mall Drive in Alexandria.

 

The IRS says there are about 22,000 people in Louisiana who did not file a tax return in 2011 which amounts to potential refunds of up to $21.4 million dollars. Spokeswoman Lea (Lee) Crusberg says tax payers only have until April 15th of this year to file their 2011 return to get their refund or else the money will go into the US Treasury. Crusberg says the average potential refund in Louisiana is $693.

 

Just as some 316-thousand students are taking the Common Core tests this week, Governor Bobby Jindal announces a plan to remove Common Core from Louisiana’s public schools and replace it with a plan and test developed by Louisiana teachers and parents. Jindal says the plan will be presented to lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session next month.

 

State Superintendent John White is moving forward with plans to have Louisiana educators review and tweak the Common Core academic standards, despite Gov. Bobby Jindal’s intent to support legislation to throw them out altogether. White reviewed preliminary plans with educators, superintendents and other stakeholders Wednesday morning, just hours before Jindal’s statements. They will be discussed with superintendents from across the state on Thursday.

 

There’s a new state-wide poll that shows 56-percent of Louisiana residents support an increase in the state’s cigarette tax. That same poll also revealed Governor Bobby Jindal with a 28 percent positive rating.

 

While drivers enjoy low gas prices, the plummeting price of crude is starting to take its toll on the oil industry, with layoffs happening here in Louisiana. In the past few months, about a thousand oil industry jobs have been lost, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. State officials say they are optimistic that the losses will be temporary.

 

The drop in the price of oil was seen in a new lease sales yesterday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Regulators report only 195 bids for new oil and gas leasing were placed off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That’s the lowest amount since 1986, when there were only 129 bids offered.

 

State Police say a former detective with the Ville Platte Police Department has been arrested on multiple charges. Authorities say Nathanial Savoy, who also owns a roofing business, was allegedly spotted on surveillance video stealing roofing materials from a local business. To add insult to injury, he was reportedly in a police unit when the crime was committed.

 

New Orleans Senator JP Morrell files a bill that would allow public students in Orleans Parish to be surveyed about what type of behaviors they are involved in — including sexual behavior. He says results of such a review would help with coming up with a sex ed class that would actually be effective. Baton Rouge Representative Pat Smith introduced similar legislation last year but it failed after a massive push-back from the Louisiana Family Forum. Morrell says opponents believe that by addressing sexual education you are making kids promiscuous.

 

Lobbyists can spend more wining and dining legislators and others they seek to influence beginning later this year as the cap increases yet again, but not by much. The Louisiana Board of Ethics is scheduled Friday to start the legal process to allow $60 to be spent per occasion effective July 1. The current per event limit is $58. The amount has been steadily rising since the Legislature implemented a $50 spending cap in 2008 as part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ethics package. The new law allowed the spending cap to increase with the consumer price index, or CPI. The provision has resulted in a 20 percent increase over five years.

 

Sports..

 

Ninth-seeded LSU faces 8th seeded North Carolina State tonight in the NCAA Tournament. The oddsmakers have the Wolfpack as a two-point favorite.

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News for Wednesday 031814

By Dave Graichen

 

We missed an important birthday yesterday.. The Town Talk was founded on March 17, 1883. That made the paper a young 132 years old. To give you an example of how different life was back then, an article in the March 18th Paper described how Hoodlums damaged several women’s dresses by stretching a tarred rope across a dark street. The women returning from church damaged their dresses when they rubbed up against it.  The suggestion for punishment if caught, The boys should be tarred and feathered.  We’ve come a long way, or have we? A belated Happy Birthday to the Town Talk.

 

It didn’t take long, Rapides Parish police jurors on Tuesday gave their stamp of approval to an agreement with the city of Alexandria that could pave the way for Coliseum renovations to begin. Police jurors met in executive session for 37 minutes Tuesday morning before the unanimous vote to go along with the terms of a proposed Alexandria City Council ordinance.

The ordinance was introduced by the City Council on Monday and is expected to come up for a council vote in early April.

 

Latest employment numbers show that there were 7500 less people working in January than in December, ending a long streak of monthly employment gains. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says even though there was the typical job drop that you see in January, we’re still employing far more people this year than we were this time last year. At 7 percent the unemployment rate for January ranked as the third highest among states.

 

Residents will soon have to pay more for flood insurance. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the increases are the result of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that were passed by Congress last year.  He says the premium hikes for primary residences are capped at 18-percent each year. However,  premium increases for second residences, commercial, and rental properties are capped at 25-percent per year. In addition to the rate increases, property owners will have to pay a surcharge, $25 per year for your primary residence and $250 for businesses, rentals, or secondary residences. Donelon says these changes are complicated, so you may want to get some advice.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal is looking at selling the remainder of a multi-billion dollar settlement from tobacco manufacturers to help the state’s budget problems. The Jindal administration says it could be used finance the TOP’s scholarship program for the next seven to eight years, but State Treasurer John Kennedy doesn’t like this idea. Kennedy says the Jindal administration has raided all other pots of money and this is the last one left. Despite Kennedy’s concerns, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation, voted to begin the process of selling the tobacco settlement.

 

State Police say a truck driver from Alabama died when he was run over by a trooper who was looking for him in Madison Parish. Sgt. James Anderson says they received a report early Tuesday morning that an 18-wheeler was stuck in the lane of travel on US Highway 65. Anderson says 47-year-old David Watford of Cottonwood, Alabama was walking in the middle of the road wearing blue jeans and a camouflage shirt when he was struck and killed by the trooper. The investigation continues.

 

An 81-year-old Korean War veteran died in a mobile home fire in Arnaudville Tuesday  morning. The state Fire Marshal’s office has identified the victim as Robert Kaltenbach. Investigators say the fire started near a desk right next to an overloaded power outlet.

 

A State Police investigation into criminal activity at Jackson Parish Hospital has led to the arrest of four people, three of whom were hospital employees. Sgt. James Anderson says investigators discovered cases of illegal drug distribution and payroll fraud at the hospital.

 

Calcasieu, Jackson, and Central School systems lead the state in the percentage of opt-outs during Monday’s first day of statewide PARCC testing. Jackson had an opt-out rate of 13-percent, followed by 12-percent for Calcasieu and eight-percent for Central. Central School Superintendent Michael Faulk says 153 students in the district did not participate.  Faulk believes social media has something to do with the number of opt-outs. He says they began a Facebook page to try to deal with the false information about the tests spreading on the site.

 

The Mayor of Dequincy says he’s not concerned about a fake news site once again targeting the city with an article claiming they’ve passed some ridiculous law. This time “The News Examiner” says polygamy is now legal in DeQuincy. Other articles in the past have claimed that the city was being attacked by gay zombies on bath salts and that officials had banned twerking. The Mayor says he would like to invite the man who is writing these stories to visit the Calcasieu Parish town and see what it really has to offer.

 

 

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News for Tuesday 031715

By Dave Graichen

 

The Louisiana national guard made it official yesterday releasing the names  of the four guardsmen killed March 10 when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed into Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola, Florida, during a training exercise. The Guardsmen killed are:  37 year old Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin Jr, 44 year old Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother, 40 year old Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron and 26 year old Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich. Maj. Gen. Glenn  Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard said, while announcing the names, that the Guardsmen represent the best of us and their names will forever be etched on our hearts and in our minds.

 

Today is the big day. Motorists who commute between Alexandria and Pineville and take the O.K. Allen Bridge will be redirected to begin utilizing the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge starting this morning at 10am. Deidra Druilhet with the state Department of Transportation says

only the northbound span of the new bridge has been completed  and it will be used for the two-way traffic while the O.K. Allen Bridge is torn down. Over 20,000 motorists cross the Red River over the O.K. Allen Bridge on a daily basis. The southbound span is expected to be ready by mid-2016.

 

An ordinance introduced Monday by the Alexandria City Council is intended to settle the Rapides Parish Coliseum property dispute with the Police Jury. The deal includes the Police Jury paying the city $1.1 million as part of a land swap. The agreement would give the parish control of the parking lot at the Coliseum. The parking lot has been the center of a dispute between the city and the parish. Resolution of the dispute is needed to clear the way for the $22.9 million renovation of the Coliseum to begin.

 

The APD reports a North MacArthur drive homeowner chased a burglar who had just robbed his home Saturday leading police directly to the robbers Enterprise Road home. Police arrested 38 James Robertson and booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Robertson has been  charged with simple burglary.

 

State Superintendent of Education John White says after the first day of PARCC testing, concerns that there would be widespread non-participation did not bear out. He says preliminary findings show more than 320,000 students took the test associated Common Core which is about 99% participation. White says half of the 1% of non-participants came from Calcasieu Parish. He also says Red River, Jackson and Central Community had a high number of students who didn’t test.

 

The state’s economic development secretary Stephen Moret will leave his job in May and take over as the president and CEO of the LSU foundation, which is LSU’s top fundraising organization. Moret is an LSU grad and has severed as Governor Bobby Jindal’s LED secretary since 2008.

 

A Washington Post article refers to Governor Bobby Jindal as one of the great mysteries of the early 2016 presidential campaign. They said that not long ago, Jindal was considered a fresh new face in the Republican Party, but his star has since fallen. The Post says, for the first time in Jindal’s political career, he appears to be lost. They say the governor looks like he’s trying to be every politician at once. According to The Post, Jindal is polling at around two-percent in national Republican polls.

 

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office says a toddler from Slidell is in the hospital after being run over apparently by a family member who then left the scene. They say 44-year-old Derrick Populus eventually admitted he struck the child with a vehicle in the driveway then drove off. He is booked with felony hit-and-run. The child’s condition appears to be improving.

 

Shreveport Representative Barbra Norton has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would make it illegal to supply a child 12 or under with an Uzi sub-machine gun. She says kids are not big enough to handle such a large weapon in a safe manner. Norton says she realizes that some parents want to teach their children how to shoot guns for hunting or for general safety reasons, but she sees no reason for kids to ever have a machine gun.

 

Jury selection begins today in Lafayette in the first-degree murder trial of Seth Fontenot, accused of a 2013 shooting that killed 15-year old Austin Rivault and injured two others. Fontenot claims he fired to scare the teens, who he thought were breaking into his truck, not to hurt them.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU men’s basketball team leaves today for Pittsburgh, where they’ll play North Carolina State on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers bring a 22-and-10 record to the Big Dance and needs to win six straight games to win a national championship.

 

The new Baseball America Poll is out and LSU is still on top now for the second straight week. The Tigers went 3-1 on the week losing once in a 14-inning game against ole Miss. They’re joined in the top 10 with four other SEC teams, Florida, Vandy, Texas A&M and South Carolina.

 

Louisiana Tech hosts Central Michigan tonight in the N-I-T. It’s the second straight year the Bulldogs will get to host a postseason game. But this year Tech is coming off a disappointing loss in the Conference USA tournament. Central Michigan was the regular season Mid-American Conference West Division champions this season and they boast a record of 23-and-8.

 

 

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News for Monday 031615

By Dave Graichen

 

Early Sunday afternoon,  a Texas couple were killed in Hineston, when their motorcycle struck a vehicle that turned directly into their path. The accident occurred when 62 year old Larry Callahan made a left turn off of highway 121. The driver of the motorcycle attempted to stop in time but was unable to do so. Callahan was not injured, however he was charged with improper turning.

 

Funeral services will be held today for former Rapides Parish Police Juror Stephen Bordelon who passed away Friday. Bordelon is known for his service to the city of Pineville in several capacities including the fire department and city council, as well as his tenure on the Rapides Parish Police Jury. Visitation will be at Hixson Brothers in Pineville this morning at 9 a.m. until the service at 11 a.m. Stephen Bordelon was 75

 

Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order calling for the flags at all state buildings to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the military members who lost their lives in the Black Hawk crash last week. The order is through this Friday at sunset.

 

Students in third through eighth grades will begin taking the controversial tests tied to Common Core today. This is the first time PARCC will be administered in Louisiana. State Department of Education Superintendent John White says this is about getting a basic description of what kids should be able to do at the end of each grade level. There are many people who oppose Common Core arguing that it’s too complex but White says it’s time that we stop teaching math with memorization.

 

A special enrollment period began Sunday on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace giving some, who didn’t realized they would be penalized on their taxes for not being covered, a second chance of obtaining health insurance. This special enrollment period will go through April 30.

 

The state Department of Health and Hospitals announces a new initiative aimed at reducing c-section rates among Louisiana mothers. DHH Secretary Kathy Kleibert says “Go the Full 40″ is a voluntary pledge by hospitals to end non-medically indicated induced pregnancies. Kleibert says about 50% of babies in Louisiana are born before 40 weeks gestation.

 

The bird flu has made a recent appearance in Arkansas, along with confirmations in some mid-western and northwestern states. Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says  a poultry quarantine will keep any live poultry products from entering Louisiana from an area that’s been affected. The good news is, this disease is not normally contracted by humans.

 

Proposed legislation will be presented to lawmakers that will provide funds to pay for sexual assault victim care with expired winning casino tickets. New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno says, under the proposed law, hospitals would not bill victims -and- those who come forward aren’t limited to 72 hours to report an incident in order for the services to be provided at no charge. You can expect the casinos to fight this legislation. Currently, casinos and tracks are allowed to keep expired winnings as earnings.

 

The four candidates for governor met last Friday in a forum to discuss Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. As you may suspect, all said they support it. The Louisiana gubernatorial election will take place on October 24.

 

Richard J. “Dick” Brennan Sr., a restaurateur who with his family owned and managed some of New Orleans most celebrated dining establishments, died Saturday at his home in New Orleans. Along with his siblings, he was instrumental in the transformation of Commander’s Palace into the definitive modern Creole restaurant of its generation, beginning in the 1970s. Dick Brennan Sr was 84.

 

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it is reported that nearly 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 are not getting tested as recommended. Last year alone, more than 50,000 people died of colorectal cancer in the United States.

 

Sports..

 

For the first time since 2009, the LSU Tigers are in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Bayou Bengals are a nine-seed and they’ll face North Carolina State on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Coach Johnny Jones says the goal all season long was to get an invite to the Big Dance.

 

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News For Friday 031315

By Dave Graichen

 

Eglin Air Force Base officials say the wreckage of the Army helicopter that crashed Tuesday night over the Florida Panhandle has been found. Eglin Col. Monte Cannon says the wreckage was located in about 25 feet of water. The search has gone from a search and rescue to now just a rescue mission. The Coast Guard announced Thursday afternoon nine of the 11 victims have been found, including two from Louisiana. Pineville native David Strother a chief warrant officer, is one of those who lost his life. Strother is being remembered as someone who made the "ultimate sacrifice" for his country.

 

Alexandria PD report that foul play is not suspected in the death of a man whose body was found under a bridge on North 3rd street Wednesday morning. The man's body was sent for an autopsy and other forensic testing. The man's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

 

They’ve made progress. But, there’s more work to do. S.A.C.S The Southern Association Of Colleges and Schools, visited the Louisiana College Campus on Wednesday. The good news, Louisiana College is in compliance with five of the six standards that led to it being placed on probation last year. A standard citing “external influence” remains unresolved.  SACS placed the school on probation in June, six months after the agency reaffirmed its accreditation. LC had been on warning with SACS for two years prior.

 

Lt Governor hopeful Kip Holden is finding himself involved in a scandal as a 2011 lawsuit has surfaced claiming the Baton Rouge mayor repeatedly sexually harassed a woman who was in Louisiana on business. The lawsuit does not name Holden as a defendant and it’s actually targeted at her former employer. A poll was released this week showing Holden in good position to make the run-off in the lieutenant governor’s race. Holden denies the accusations, saying both he and his wife know the truth on this one.

 

According to a report by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, Louisiana has the highest estimated percentage of unemployed youth in the country. The study also found that New Orleans is third in the nation for the percentage of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who aren’t working or in school.

 

Bogalusa Representative Harold Ritchie files a bill that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to the national average. The governor has proposed an increase in the state’s cigarette tax to the southern regional average, but Ritchie believes the tax on cigarettes should be higher. Ritchie’s bill would raise the tax from 36-cents to a $1.54 per pack. It will be considered during the legislative session that begins April 13th. The Jindal administration says they will support an increase in tobacco taxes, but only if it’s accompanied with a tax break.

 

More police presence in New Orleans, as State Police have redeployed additional troopers to patrol the Crescent City. This comes courtesy of $2.5 million dollars raised by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, based on the needs of NOPD and requests from business leaders. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says this will not take away any patrol efforts for the rest of the state.

 

Louisiana Tech is under somewhat of a microscope after a claim comes up accusing their Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity of racist chanting in 2010 — similar to the now-closed Oklahoma Chapter. Tech says there is no evidence of this. Tech says they are investigating the matter.

 

The United Steelworkers union has reached an agreement with Shell that could soon lead to the end of a six-week strike that has affected 12 U.S. refineries,  including two in Louisiana.

 

The union and Royal Dutch Shell have been negotiating a contract that would serve as a blueprint for agreements with other refiners.

 

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating a school bus crash and a driver that is suspected of being under the influence when the accident took place. They say no there were no major injuries of students on the bus. The driver, 50-year-old John Harvey Bernard, was issued a careless operation citation and is still under investigation pending results from a blood alcohol  test.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal announces legislation will once again be brought up this session that would protect sexual assault victims and ensure that they are not charged by hospitals for medical services associated with assault claims. The Stand and Support Survivors Bill is sponsored by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno.

 

A new Centers for Disease Control study shows that two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer in the US survive five years or more. The cancer survivor estimates are based on cases of invasive cancers reported during 2011. Associate Dean for Research at LSU’s School of Public Health, Ed Trapido, says these numbers show a remarkable amount of progress.

Among the most common types of cancer, the study reports a five-year-survival rate of 97-percent for prostate cancer and 88-percent for breast cancer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sports..

 

The New Orleans Saints did another trade Thursday  to clear some salary cap room, saving the team $3.6 million. Two time Pro-Bowler guard Ben Grubbs was traded to Kansas City in exchange for a 5th round pick. The move allowed the Black and Gold to sign cornerback Brandon Browner from the New England Patriots.

 

According to a new research by the LSU economics department, LSU is the number 32 most disliked team in the country. LSU is behind some other SEC schools-Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The most disliked team in the nation is Boise State.

 

The LSU Tigers begin SEC play tonight against Ole Miss as the number one ranked team in the country according to Baseball America. Coach Paul Mainieri says his team earned that number one ranking, by playing solid baseball. Jared Poche will be tonight’s starting pitcher.

 

 

 

 

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The investigation continues today in the Army helicopter crash that killed all 11 servicemen on board during a training mission Tuesday night in the Florida Panhandle. Of the 11, four were Louisiana National Guard soldiers based out of Hammond.  David Strother Of Pineville was one of four Louisiana National Guardsmen serving as crew members. The other seven servicemen were Marines based out of Fort LaJeune in North Carolina.

 

U.S. Attorney Walt Green announced yesterday a licensed clinical social worker has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for her role in a health care fraud scheme involving two companies that operated in the Alexandria area. 50 year old Carla Clark of Pineville, also was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson to pay more than $413,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

 

State Police announce that during a crackdown of insurance fraud throughout Louisiana, several arrests have been made of people who have tried to abuse the system various ways. LSP Spokesman Dustin Dwight says insurance fraud is a problem that affects all citizens here who pay some of the highest premiums in the country. This latest round of arrests include people who are accused of faking car accidents, filing fraudulent medical bills from injuries they’ve claimed to have received in vehicle crashes.

 

Work is progressing on several million dollars of improvements to pave the way for construction of a Cool Planet Energy Systems plant at the Port of Alexandria. The larger portion of the improvements began a few weeks ago, though rain has robbed contractors of many of those days. The $6.4 million project includes construction of roads, fire-suppressant equipment and an operations center for the plant, which will manufacture gasoline and agriculture-boosting biochar out of wood chips. On Wednesday, the port’s board of commissioners approved advertising for an additional $1.8 million in infrastructure improvements related to the project.

 

An autopsy performed on the US Deputy Marshal who was fatally injured Tuesday as a result of a shoot-out with a suspect, died because of a shot to the neck. Twenty-seven year-old Josie Wells was serving a warrant for a double homicide suspect in Scotlandville  when he was shot. The suspect, Jamie Croom,  succumbed to his injuries Yesterday. Wells leaves behind a wife and a baby on the way.

 

Payscale-dot-com ranks Louisiana Tech number one in the state in overall Return of Investment for both in-state and out-of-state students. University spokesman Dave Guerin says this is a great accomplishment and it shows Louisiana Tech provides students with marketable skills to go into a company and make an impact. This is the second straight year that Tech has received the top ranking in Louisiana.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy wants the Jindal administration to rethink the sale of the rest of the state’s tobacco settlement to generate cash to fill a budget hole. Kennedy said yesterday It’s the same bad fiscal policy that’s created the current $1.6 billion “structural deficit” in the state budget. The administration proposes sale of the remaining portion of a 1998 tobacco settlement in order to generate $750 million for spending.

 

State education officials announced yesterday, while about 320,000 public school students will take Common Core tests starting Monday, they will also face a second round of the exams May 4-8. The second phase, like the questions next week, will focus on what students know about math, reading and writing. Common Core and its assessments have been a hot topic of debate for the past 18 months, and the tests had to overcome a court challenge from Gov. Bobby Jindal before they won final clearance.

 

The video of a 7-year-old girl’s tearful reaction to New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham getting traded to Seattle, has gone viral. The child, Lexia Woods, was obviously devastated after her mother, Ashley Ann Woods, told her the news with the video camera rolling. Lexia is doing much better today.

 

The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in an overnight home invasion  in New Iberia, where two male victims inside the home were shot. Sheriff Louis Ackal says the victims were transported to the hospital; the two suspects wore ski masks, and are still at large.

 

The gas price keeps rising. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.26 up a penny in the past 24 hours.

 

Sports..

 

Louisiana Tech men’s basketball begins play tonight in the Conference USA tonight. The Bulldogs won the regular season title and a conference tournament championship will give them an automatic berth in the Big Dance.

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News for Tuesday 031015

By Dave Graichen

 

New Louisiana College president Rick Brewer is on the Pineville campus this week even though he doesn’t officially begin until April 7th. Brewer will meet with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools who placed the institution on academic probation. Brewer says he took the job, because he believes the private Baptist College has a great future. Brewer says he plans to turn things around for LC and make it a place students, faculty and alumni can be proud of again. Brewer says it’s time to change the dial at LC and that’s what he plans to do slowly, but surely.

 

Alexandria police have identified one victim of the Friday wreck that killed two people and injured two others. 18 year old Darius Jones and a 15year-old juvenile both died in the wreck in the 3200 block of North Bolton Avenue. Other sources and a death notice published Sunday in The Town Talk identified the 15-year-old as Kashayla Jones, a freshman at Alexandria Senior High School. The APD reports the wreck still is under investigation. One person died at the scene of the wreck, and three others were taken to local hospitals. The second person died later, according to police. The two other passengers remain hospitalized

 

Lin Dyess Stewert was appointed Monday by the Police Jury to become registrar of voters on July 1st when the current registrar retires. The unusual twist to the story is, when Joanell Wilson retires, her successor will be the daughter of the man she succeeded. Wilson has worked for registrar’s office since January 1968. She became registrar in July 1988, succeeding B.G. Dyess, Stewart’s father.

 

In what has all the makings for a TV reality show, it appears the City of Alexandria will appeal a ruling made Monday by the 9 Judicial court having to do with the ongoing squabble between the city and the police jury over the issue of the Rapides parish coliseum parking lot. Judge George Metoyer on Monday ruled against the city of Alexandria when he refused to grant an exception about proper jurisdiction in the case.  The city believes that Metoyer doesn’t  have the jurisdiction to hear the property dispute between the two public bodies. The Judge, disagrees.

 

The Kiwanis Club of Pineville is hosting its annual Pancake Day fundraiser from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. today in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The club is offering pancakes, sausage, milk and coffee for $6 per person. Children 5 and under can eat free with an adult meal purchased. Takeout orders are available. Pancake Day raises funds so that the Kiwanis Club of Pineville can support various charitable causes and organizations, including the Key Clubs of Pineville and Tioga high schools.

 

A state audit looking at the “Road Home” program finds that $939 million was given out to homeowners who did not comply with the rules of the program. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says “Road Home” was set up following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to help homeowners repair and reoccupy their homes. Purpera says it’s possible the federal government will ask the state to return the money that was not used appropriately, but he says the feds also understand the complexity of the program. The audit shows the $939 million in noncompliant funds is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

A new poll on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican US Senator David Vitter leading with 35% followed by Democratic Amite Representative John Bel Edwards at 33%. The survey by Triumph Campaigns shows Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne third with 15% and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle with 7%. 11% of those polled remain undecided.

 

Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil has filed a Constitutional Amendment for the 2015 session which would give colleges control of raising their own fees. Foil says currently our state constitution does not allow colleges the autonomy to raise their fees — it has to be approved by two-thirds vote of the members of each house. He says if this constitutional amendment passes, colleges would have the option to raise fees in certain areas as they see fit for the students.

 

A republican lawmaker describes Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal as “insane” in a letter to supporters. Monroe Representative Jay Morris says the Americans for Tax Reform has okayed the Jindal administration’s plan, but it’s not the best way to handle a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall next fiscal year. Morris says the Americans for Tax Reform, which is an anti-tax group, has said its okay to scale back the inventory tax credit, but they do not approve of capping the state’s film tax credits. Morris says it’s hard to say what the final budget will look like. He suspects there will be a combination of cuts to state government and measures to raise revenue that are supported by the ATR.

 

Central Casting Louisiana is looking for people with oil rig, merchant marine, and Coast Guard experience to work on the upcoming feature film, “Deepwater Horizon”. Director of Casting, Adam Hochfeld (HOCK-feld), says the movie will tell the story of the rig workers on the platform when the explosion took place back in 2010 and the subsequent rescue of those workers. Those interested can e-mail their information, including work experience, to deepwater-at-centralcasting-dot-com. The film will star Mark Wahlberg.

 

Trilby Lundberg, who monitors gas prices across the country, says Baton Rouge has the lowest national average gas price in the country at $2.16. Gas-buddy-dot-com’s Gregg Laskoski  says Louisiana’s statewide average of $2.24, ranks in the top ten for lowest gas prices in the nation. The lowest statewide average in the country is Wyoming and South Carolina at $2.14 a gallon. Laskoski says gas prices have been rising since the start of February and he expects that trend to continue.

 

Sports..

 

The New Orleans Saints have released linebacker Curtis Lofton. The move saves a reported $9.25 million dollars. Lofton was picked up by the Black and Gold as a free agent in 2012. The NFL salary cap deadline is today. Teams will be able to sign free agents starting at 3pm.

 

The NFL free-agency period begins today. Teams will be able to sign free agents to their roster beginning at 3PM. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says the Saints will be looking to improve the team on both sides of the ball. He says they need to address a couple of issues going into the 2015 season. Although the Saints are dealing with salary cap issues, Detillier says that won’t stop the team from getting the players they need.

 

No one is playing better basketball than U-L Lafayette heading into this week’s Sun Belt Tournament in New Orleans. The Ragin Cajuns have won six straight to raise their overall record to 19-and-12. U-L Lafayette will play either U-T Arlington or Texas State in the semi-finals on Friday at Lakefront Arena. The Cajuns won the Sun Belt Tourney and earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament last year.

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News for Monday 030915

By Dave Graichen

 

And now there are three. Rapides Parish Assistant District Attorney Monique Metoyer has been fired. After 23 years on the job, she was told Friday she was no longer needed. Since Phillip Terrell was been sworn in as DA, two other DA’s have lost their jobs, Daphne Robinson, a 19 year veteran and Jerry Deason.

 

The APD now reports 2 people lost their lives as a result of a single vehicle accident on North Bolton Ave late Friday afternoon. Police also report two other people received moderate to severe injuries in the crash.

 

A Baton Rouge lawmaker will file a bill for the upcoming legislative session that seeks to let citizens vote on whether or not marijuana should be legal in Louisiana for recreational use. Representative Dalton Honore is also bringing back his medical marijuana bill which failed last year. He says people should be able to vote on the recreational pot law. Recreational marijuana for adult use is legal in Oregon, Washington D.C., Colorado, Alaska and Washington. Honore says he hopes other lawmakers will get on board with letting people decide whether or not marijuana for recreational use should be legal here. The legislative session begins April 13th.

 

This school year, the Ascension Parish School Board turned the work of hiring substitute teachers to Kelly Educational Staffing, a division of the national employment agency.

The motivation for the School Board was the difficulty, both financially and time-wise, of meeting requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which calls for providing health insurance for employees who work more than 30 hours a week, which substitute teachers sometimes do.

The move is saving the School Board $358,000 a year, with other benefits being the recruitment and training of substitute teachers that Kelly Services provides.

 

With the beginning of Daylight Saving Time over the weekend, everyone lost an hour of sleep. But State Police says that’s no excuse to drive fatigued. Sgt. Nick Manale says they often see accidents that were caused by sleepy drivers, so if you do feel yourself becoming fatigued while driving, Manale suggests pulling over and getting a breath of fresh air, stepping out of the car, or getting something to drink as ways you can revive yourself. Manale says sleepy driving can be as dangerous as impaired or distracted driving.

 

Lafayette has been named as one of the top 20 hardest working cities in the US by the personal finance site badcredit-dot-org. Editor Steven Richmond says about 350 cities were ranked on four separate categories for this report, the  percentage of population over age 16 in the workforce, average commute times, percentage of households with children, and average number of hours worked each week. He says this list represents some of the busiest, hardest working, and most workaholic populations in the US.

 

 

 

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News for Friday 030615

By Dave Graichen

 

The vote by the board of trustees was unanimous and Rick Brewer is the new president at Louisiana College. Brewer is currently vice president of student affairs and athletics at Charleston (S.C.) Southern University. He succeeds Joe Aguillard, president of the college from January 2005 until the board voted in April of last year  to approve an agreement to for his removal. Brewer will take office April 7.

 

BESE rejects a proposal to waive penalties against schools who have students that opt out from taking the Common Core exam. In a 7-to-4 vote, BESE agreed with Superintendent of Education John White, who says let’s wait and see how many opt outs there are first. A zero score will be given for each student who doesn’t take the test, which could lower a school’s performance score. Before the vote, BESE members heard from frustrated parents and educators who are upset over the new academic standards and the tests tied to them.

 

A former LSU football tight end for the Tigers 2003 national championship team was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday for his role in shooting up a Port Allen truck stop casino more than three years ago. 32 year old Demetri Robinson pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder in the Sept. 2011, shooting at the Cajun Circus Casino. Robinson shot a cashier then fired shots at two other employees after he was asked to leave the casino.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Thursday that he is pushing two pieces of legislation that aim to help veterans and military students earn college degrees in Louisiana. One would establish the “Governor’s Veterans Friendly Campus Designation” for colleges that implement a list of support measures for student veterans. The other bill Jindal’s backing would help streamline the transfer of credits to Louisiana colleges from accredited schools that contract with the Department of Defense to teach on military bases around the world. Both bills will be debated in the upcoming legislative session.

 

Acadia Parish authorities are searching for a Church Point attorney who is accused of allegedly stealing more than 435 thousand dollars from clients who had hired him as their lawyer. Malcolm Brasseaux is nowhere to be found. Anyone with information is asked to call the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has cited a New Iberia man for allegedly killing a Louisiana Black bear in St. Mary Parish. Agents say 52-year-old Richard Picard Junior was hog hunting and Picard claims he mistakenly identified the black bear as a wild hog. Picard faces hundreds of dollars in fines and possible jail time as well.

 

Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is planning to hold regular meetings with various stakeholders from across the state during the upcoming legislative session. The new “Commissioner’s Roundtable” initiative has been planned as a way to keep business and industry leaders, faculty, staff and others outside of Baton Rouge engaged in legislative issues related that will impact higher ed throughout the session. Rallo, who took on the job in January, set out on a statewide listening tour earlier this year. He has since met with more than 1,000 people across 45 parishes.

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News for Thursday 030515

By Dave Graichen

 

Due to the threat of Icy weather, Schools in Rapides, Grant, LaSalle, Catahoula  and Avoyelles parishes are closed today.  Catholic schools in Rapides and Avoyelles parishes also will be closed. Also closed LSUA and Central Louisiana Technical Community College. The Alexandria, Jena & Avoyelles campuses and Northwestern State University - Alexandria campus.

 

Louisiana State Offices are closed in: Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, & Rapides parishes.

 

The Louisiana College Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting today, at which time they are expected to announce their selection of a new President. Board Chairman Tommy French announced February the 17 that one candidate would appear before the full board at the special meeting. However, members of the board have refused to reveal the name the candidate prior to their vote.

 

The Country Cares For Kids St. Jude’s Radiothon is today on 100.3 KRRV  call 1-800-573-5425 to become a partner in hope.

 

The APD reports Two juveniles a, 15 and a 16 year old, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kendrick  Hayes, who was found early Sunday in the City Park area.. The department has asked Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office that both juveniles be tried as adults.

 

Sources say the New Orleans Saints have released running back Pierre Thomas from the team. The 30-year-old will save the Black and Gold $1.735 million dollars against the salary cap. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says it’s a heart breaking move, but not really a surprise.

New Orleans needs to continue to move or lay-off some players by March 10th to get below the salary cap.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that EPIC Piping would be making a $45.3 million dollar capital investment in Livingston Parish to establish an advanced facility and corporate headquarters. The project is to create 560 new direct jobs with an average daily salary of $56,600 plus benefits.

 

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet today and one of them items on the agenda is the question of what to do about Common Core Opt-Outs. Some families who oppose the education standards have said they won’t let their child take the PARCC test. BESE member Jane Smith seeks to delay consequences for schools who have students who opt out. Smith says students who opt-out of taking the Common Core test won’t be punished but it’s the school that would get a zero for that student towards its performance score.

 

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and a deputy in Victor White III’s death by White’s mother. White died from a gunshot wound while handcuffed in the backseat of the deputy’s squad car. The Iberia Sheriff’s Department claims White shot himself.

 

Sports..

 

The roller-coaster ride of a season continued for the LSU men’s basketball team on Wednesday night at a most unfortunate time. Facing a team it crushed by 18 points on the road just 2½ weeks earlier, LSU had an opportunity to solidify its spot in the NCAA tournament field on its home floor against Tennessee. However Tennessee rolled to an easy 78-63 victory. LSU will try to rebound on Saturday in the regular-season finale against Arkansas in Fayetteville.

 

 

 

 

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News for Wednesday 030415

By Dave Graichen

 

Get ready for a big change in the weather. State climatologist Barry Keim says high temperatures today will be in the 70s and tomorrow they’ll be back in the 30s and 40s as a result of a strong cold front. This front has the potential to produce another round of winter precipitation. Keim says the northern half of the state could see freezing rain during the overnight hours.

 

Now all we can do is wait and see.. Army officials were in Leesville Tuesday to hear concerns about a potential downsizing that could remove up to 6,500 troops, more than half the personnel at Ft. Polk. At the listening session in Leesville, and concurrent events in Alexandria and Lake Charles, Strong community support was evident. The Army is evaluating ways to reduce its strength by as many as 70,000 troops. Fort Polk is one of 30 bases that is being considered for personnel reductions to achieve that.

 

The price of gas keeps going up. The state wide average is now $2.22 which is almost a dime more than this time last week. The Energy Department says there is a major increase in crude oil and the US is running out of room to store it. Some say this could mean another huge drop in the price we’re paying for gas at the pump in Louisiana.

 

Authorities in Vernon Parish report A Pitkin man is facing several charges after he allegedly had sexual contact with a 10-year-old. A complaint was made on Tuesday, and detectives conducted a forensic interview with the victim, who said that Robert L. Fortenberry III had touched her inappropriately. The 37 year old Fortenberry admitted to the incident during the interview with detectives.

 

The state Department of Revenue announces that tax refunds are now being issued. Spokeswoman Kizzie Payton says there was a slight delay this year due to the increase in fraudulent tax returns across the nation. She says, thus far, over 763,000 tax returns have been filed and about 244,000 have been processed.

 

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry plans to fight Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to repeal the inventory tax credit. Such a move would save the state an estimated $380 million to help the budget crisis. But LABI Vice President, Jim Patterson, says the vast majority of states do not have inventory taxes, so if the refund went away businesses could decide to shift inventories to states that do not have such a tax and those warehouse jobs would be lost.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy sees pros and cons to Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal. The governor has proposed scaling back certain tax credits and cut spending in other areas to address a $1.6 billion revenue shortfall. Kennedy says some of the proposed reductions in spending make sense, especially in the area of consulting contracts. Kennedy says the proposed budget looks to reduce 60-percent of the deficit by repealing tax credits and 40-percent by reducing spending. However, Kennedy does question the proposal of closing all health clinics in New Orleans, which will affect about 57,000 people.

 

Louisiana has built a $1.1 billion medical teaching hospital in New Orleans, but the manager of the soon-to-be-opened University Medical Center says Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget leaves it millions short of the operating cash it needs. Altogether, private operators of the state-owned hospitals previously run by LSU asked for $142 million more than Jindal proposed to spend on them in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nearly $88 million of that was for the hospital in New Orleans, which will shift services from an interim facility to the larger, new hospital this summer.

 

An early morning fire yesterday claimed the life of a 73-year-old woman in Opelousas. Firefighters responded to a wood frame dwelling around 4am, which they found fully engulfed in flames. The state fire Marshal’s office is still working to determine the cause of the blaze.

 

A Campti man died Monday after fell to his death after his safety harness became entangled in machinery at the International Paper-Red River. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office  reports 42 year old David  Long was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Shreveport Police Department is investigating a overnight home invasion, where one of the suspects was shot and killed. Corporal Marcus Hines says they believe two men wearing masks, and entered the home with guns. Further evidence indicated there may have been illegal drugs present. Police say there were children inside the home, but they were not injured.

 

Agents with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control say a Ruston woman is under arrest accused of selling booze out of her personal residence. ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says 21-year-old Bryanna Jackson was taking money for cocktails at her apartment. Hebert says undercover agents went in one evening and were able to purchase two mixed drinks from the suspect. He says they discovered the illegal activity was going on from ads the woman was posting online.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU men’s basketball team plays its final home game of the year tonight as they host the Tennessee Volunteers at six pm in the Maravich Center. These two teams met in Knoxville on Valentine’s Day and it was all LSU as they won by 18 points. LSU has won its last three and they are ten and six in league play.

 

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News for Tuesday 030315

By Dave Graichen

 

As the military, once again, looks to reduce the number of troops at the Fort Polk Army base, the Army is holding a meeting tonight to listen to concerns about the potential effects a troop reduction could have on the area. Fort Polk Progress Chairman, Michael Reese, says the listening session is the final event in their evaluation process. He says they will host three events in Leesville, Lake Charles, and here in Alexandria. The listening sessions begin at 6 p.m., though people are encouraged to arrive early. The Alexandria session is at Alexandria Convention Hall (in City Hall). The military is considering troop reductions at 30 bases nationwide.

 

The RPSO reports an Alexandria man was killed Saturday evening when he was struck by a train while he was walking on railroad tracks in the Wardville area of Pineville The train was traveling north on the tracks between Louisiana College and the creosote plant when a pedestrian was spotted in the middle of the tracks. The engineer told deputies he sounded the horn and applied the emergency brake, but was unable to stop in time. Killed in the incident was 36 year old Brandon Iles.

 

It looks like north Louisiana is in for yet another winter weather event Wednesday night into Thursday. Meteorologist Davyon Hill with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says a cold front is moving through late this evening into tomorrow bringing some rain along with it and a massive temperature drop behind it. Hill says this line of a possible wintry mix is from Natchitoches to Monroe and northwest of that. Central Louisiana could get some freezing rain and as you go north the risk for sleet and possibly some snow gets higher.

 

Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo says Governor Jindal’s proposed budget is about 200-million dollars short of what’s needed to fully fund the state’s public college and universities. Rallo says if the funding situation doesn’t change, campus leaders will have to make some tough decisions. One possible solution is to close college campuses. Another option, the privatization of some public universities.

 

A straw poll conducted at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference showed Governor Bobby Jindal finishing in 12th place among Republican presidential hopefuls. Jindal received less than one percent of the ballots in that poll. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul won the poll, followed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

 

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon will be facing a newly announced challenger in this year’s re-election campaign. Matt Parker, a political newcomer who owns a car repair business in West Monroe announced his candidacy in an email to reporters Monday. Parker claims Donelon is taking campaign contributions from the insurance industry which could mean higher rates for customers.

 

It was a very close vote, but a New Orleans flood protection board has decided not to abandon their appeal of the dismissal of a lawsuit of coastal erosion. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-east filed the suit in 2013, seeking damages from oil and gas companies who built pipelines they contend caused the loss of coastal wetlands that were vital for hurricane protection.

 

Slidell Police has arrested a Baton Rouge man after he threw his 17 month-old baby daughter to the ground while fleeing officers during a shoplifting attempt. Twenty-four year-old Lamar Causey is facing numerous charges. Fortunately, the little girl had only minor injuries.

 

Sports..

 

LSU sophomore guard Tim Quarterman is the SEC player of the week. Quarterman had a triple-double on over the weekend, the first one in LSU’s history since Shaquille O’ Neal did it in 1992.

 

LSU and its former defensive coordinator John Chavis are in a legal battle. The two sides filed lawsuits against each other. LSU claims Chavis owes a 400-thousand dollar contractual buyout for accepting a job with Texas A-and-M. Legal analyst Tim Meche says where the case will be heard, Texas or Baton Rouge, needs to be settled first. Chavis filed the first lawsuit in Texas, claiming he took the proper steps when he left LSU. LSU counter sued, seeking to dismiss Chavis’ suit and have the case heard in Baton Rouge.

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News for Monday 030215

By Dave Graichen

 

APD detectives are investigating a homicide that occurred in the city over the weekend. Police found the body of 21 year old Kendrick Hayes of Alexandria about 2:45 a.m. Sunday after responding to a report of an unconscious male in the vicinity of City Park off of Masonic Drive. The death is being treated as a homicide. An autopsy is pending.

 

If at first you don’t succeed, try 86 more times. The APD reports an Alexandria man was arrested last week on a charge of attempted simple burglary and booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. While that is not unusual in and of itself,  this arrest was the 87 arrest for 54 year old Jessie Swafford. At the time of the arrest, Swafford was out on bond in connection with a November felony theft charge, which is pending in 9th Judicial District Court.

 

The Jindal administration presented a proposed budget Friday that provides  a starting point on how to prevent drastic cuts to health care and higher education, despite a one-point-six billion revenue shortfalll for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says they want lawmakers to scale back a dozen  refundable tax credits which would save the state 526-million dollars. Even with a cap on certain tax credits, the cut in the proposed budget to higher ed is 211-million dollars. The potential drop in funding for health care services is 235-million dollars according to the proposed budget.

 

Republican gubernatorial candidate, US Senator David Vitter, is getting the endorsement of an ex-president. The Vitter campaign sent an e-mail to supporters announcing the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush. In his endorsement, Bush describes Vitter as an effective, conservative leader and urges people to contribute to his campaign. Vitter is the front runner in this year’s governor’s race, ahead of Republicans Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Democratic state Representative John Bel Edwards.

 

As the Louisiana filmed blockbuster “Focus” opened over the weekend, a group of lawmakers are looking at ways to improve the state’s film tax credits. Some have argued that the movie credits here are corrupt and too generous. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell, who is working on reform legislation, says he fully supports the program but it has major issues. Economic impact numbers revealed Focus filmed here for 43 days and spent over $8.3 million on local labor at in-state businesses and on location.

 

In two weeks, students will take Common Core exams and a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that will prohibit penalties if a student decided to opt out of the testing. Abbeville Representative Bob Hensgens’ bill would protect students, schools, and school systems from non-participation penalties. He says there is no law that levies penalties for not taking the tests, but that’s not what he’s hearing from school districts. Education Superintendent John White says they will address opt-outs when they see how many students actually opt-out of the exams.

 

The Jindal administration has said they are willing to scale back 526-million dollars in tax credits for businesses. As a way to help reduce cuts to higher education, The Jindal administration proposes higher fees to attend public college, but provides a tax credit to offset those costs, which would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax. The governor has highlighted 12 tax credits that could become non-refundable which would give the state more money to spend.

 

NBC’s hit show “The Voice” begins its second week of the new season tonight and Louisiana already has ties to three contestants who made it through the blind auditions. 22-year-old Rob Taylor, who was raised in Baton Rouge and now lives in Donaldsonville, gets to move on to the battle rounds which take place next month. Also vying to win a recording contract this season is Tonya Boyd-Cannon who’s from Jackson, Mississippi but currently lives in Chalmette. And Meghan Linsey who’s from The Big Easy but currently lives in Nashville.

 

A state Attorney General’s Office investigation has lead to the arrest of a former St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s deputy on multiple charges. They say 39-year-old Michael Barber of Breaux Bridge was booked into the St. Martin Parish jail on counts of malfeasance in office, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and attempted production of child pornography. Barber was a school resource officer at St. Martinville High.

 

The New Orleans Police Department has arrested a 13-year-old boy accused of raping three relatives on several occasions. They say the incidents happened over the last two years. The alleged victims include two girls, ages 13 and 11, and a 7-year-old boy.

 

In Baton Rouge, an eighth-grader is being hailed a hero after he quickly stopped a moving school bus after the driver was punched unconscious by another student. 14-year-old Tay’veon Slaughter quickly stopped the bus, preventing it from crashing, and called authorities after the bus driver was unresponsive. The 15-year-old alleged attacker was arrested and booked on numerous charges including second degree battery.

 

ULM officials will break ground today on a new end zone building at Malone Stadium. It’s the first new athletic facility built on campus in 1983 and it will feature a new locker room, a Hall of Fame area and new coaches’ offices. Coach Todd Berry says the project has been a long time coming for the program

 

 

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News for Monday 022315

By Dave Graichen

 

Rapides schools Superintendent Nason "Tony" Authement announced schools are closed Monday and Tuesday due to predictions of freezing temperatures, rain and ice accumulation on roads. The Diocese of Alexandria has canceled school for Monday, which affects Holy Savior Menard Central High School, Our Lady of Prompt Succor School and St. Frances Cabrini Elementary in Rapides Parish and St. Joseph School in Plaucheville. Schools in Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches and Vernon parishes are closed Monday with decisions pending for Tuesday.

 

Also closed today all state offices in Central and North Louisiana.  Louisiana State University and University Academy, Louisiana College in Pineville and all campuses of Northwestern State University are closed Monday.

 

Major economic news for Central Louisiana was announced Friday as local and state officials made it official that American Specialty Alloys  plans to develop a $2.4 billion aluminum mill at the site of the former International Paper mill in Pineville. The plant, which will  provide strong, lightweight metal for the automotive and aerospace industries, will create 1,450 new permanent jobs, including 850 direct ASA employees and 600 employees of corporate partners that will perform additional manufacturing and logistics functions on the mill campus. In addition, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project would result in 2,600 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 4,000 new jobs in Central Louisiana.  ASA expects to break ground later this year, with a targeted completion date of all facilities in 2020. ASA estimates development of the aluminum mill will generate 2,000 construction jobs.

 

In the end it really was no race at all.. Jeff Hall won a landslide victory Saturday in a special election for the House District 26 seat. Hall, a retired Cleco executive, had 3,361 votes or 84.07 percent to defeat two other candidates, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

Daniel Williams, Alexandria's Community Services director, was second with 457 votes or 11.43 percent. Alice "Red" Hammond, a retired Air Force captain, had 180 votes or 4.5 percent

 

Alcohol is suspected in a traffic accident that claimed the life of one teen and left another in serious condition. The victim was identified by police as 18 year old Abigail Welch of Deridder. Welch was a passenger in a pickup driven by 19 year old Blake Shell of Singer, who was partially ejected, according to police. Neither teen was wearing a seatbelt.

 

The legislature’s joint budget committee approved a 103-million dollar cut to this fiscal year’s budget. But there were several complaints on how the cuts were handed down. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith expressed her frustration that the governor’s office only received a ten-thousand dollar cut in funding. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols pushed lawmakers to approve the governor’s plan, because if any proposed cuts are re-stored, it will lead to deeper cuts next fiscal year.

 

Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is the first 2015 gubernatorial candidate to begin advertising on television. LaPolitics.com’s Jeremy Alford says the commercials are part of the $200,000 buy. Alford says there are three commercials in rotation feature Angelle’s “Workhorse Not a Showhorse” line and in one of the ads he speaks in Cajun French.  Alford says now we can expect to see gubernatorial ads non-stop between now and the fall, not only from candidates but also from super PACS.

 

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon encourages taxpayers to file for an insurance rebate available to any person who pays for a homeowners, renters or business property insurance policy. Donelon says eligible taxpayers should check the box on their returns for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Assessment rebate. Donelon says if you have questions, go to the insurance department’s website or call his office.

 

A group of LSU students believe the legislature should approve a constitutional amendment that protects higher education from budget cuts. Higher ed and health care are not protected and they will likely take the brunt of next fiscal year’s budget cuts. So far the group has gathered over one-thousand signatures of LSU students.

 

Sports..

 

It was another great weekend for Tiger Baseball. LSU rolled up 21 hits in 16-2 win over Boston College Saturday to sweep the series. This is the second sweep in as many weekends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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News for Friday 022015

By Dave Graichen

 

In a recent CBS News Poll, 67-percent of Republican respondents said they did not know enough about Governor Bobby Jindal to consider him for the Republican presidential nomination. The poll found that 18-percent of respondents would consider Jindal.

 

The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office announced the arrests of 19 people yesterday. According to Avoyelles parish sheriff Doug Anderson the operation was "part of an ongoing investigation targeting drug trafficking.

 

Tomorrow is election day in Rapides parish. Voters will choose from among three Alexandria Democrats on Saturday in a special election to fill the vacant House District 26 seat. The candidates are Jeff Hall, a retired Cleco executive; Alice “Red” Hammond, a retired Air Force captain; and Daniel Williams, Alexandria’s director of Community Services. The winner will fill the remainder of Herbert Dixon’s legislative term, which ends next January. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Saturday.  The House District 26 race is the only election taking place Saturday in Rapides Parish.

 

The city just wants assurance the project will be completed. That was the response from Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy when asked about the ongoing dispute between the city and Rapides Parish Police Jury over the Rapides Parish Coliseum and the adjacent parking lot. The mayor addressing the Exchange club, went on to say the city is not holding up the process on the renovation project or the sale of the parking lot to the jury.

 

Former Governor Edwin says he done with politics, and now he’s talking about a career as a real estate broker. As a convicted felon, a majority of the Real Estate Commission members must approve Edwards’ application before he is tested for his license. The 86 year-old Edwards says he wants to work with friends to develop property along the I-10, 1-12 corridor.

 

A Kenner woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Saints linebacker Junior Gallette, claiming he was physically and emotionally abusive to her during their 2-year relationship. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this is not good for Gallette or the Saints. Sunseri says the results of the investigation could also determine if Gallette violated the NFL’s new Domestic Abuse Policy. The lawsuit also claims that other members of the team groped her while she was drugged.

 

The former pastor of President Barack Obama, Reverend  Jeremiah Wright, spoke to students at Southern University on Thursday telling the audience that you shouldn’t seek help from the government but instead from the Lord. Wright says for too many years, blacks have looked to government for help and that’s the wrong place. Wright was Barack Obama’s minister until 2008 when controversial comments surfaced from a sermon he gave in 2003. Wright didn’t mention Mr. Obama during his speech, but defended his work as President.

 

The case of the man who was convicted of literally scaring a Lafayette woman to death after he broke into her home, then had the ruling overturned, will be reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. A jury found 40-year-old Willie Robertson guilty in 2013 of causing 86-year-old Irene Schoofs heart attack which killed her. The woman died in 1999  but the case wasn’t prosecuted until 13 years later.

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News for Thursday 021915

By Dave Graichen

 

The APD Reports, Homicide suspects, Mark Hayes and Melissa Hayes are in custody. U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force and APD Detectives learned that the suspects were returning to the Alexandria area. Both were arrested, without incident Wednesday afternoon. The two were booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. The brother and sister are key suspects in a double homicide in the city last Friday.

 

The US Department of Health and Human Services says over 184,000 people in Louisiana are signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. That is a growth of 82 thousand state-wide over last year. Nationwide that number is about 11.4 million Americans. These numbers are as of February 15th which was the deadline to sign up this year.

 

Louisiana taxpayers who quickly filed their state taxes and are eagerly waiting for their tax refunds will have to keep waiting. The state Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that it won’t start issuing refunds until the week of March 2. The department said it was taking “extra precautions to verify the filings” because of concerns about fraudulent tax returns that had been discovered around the country. Nearly 665,000 electronic returns have been filed with the state since Jan. 20, with no refunds issued so far.

 

The Secretary of State’s Office is bracing for a $930 thousand dollar mid-year budget reduction. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this one is the largest to hit historical sites. He says there will be dozens of layoffs, and hours of operation reductions are planned, as many museums and the Old State Capitol cut back.

 

A survey of Louisiana teachers finds 78-percent of them believe state-required standardized tests takes too much time away from classroom instruction. Louisiana Association of Educators president Debbie Meaux says teachers believe there’s an overemphasis on standardized testing in state’s school accountability system .Meaux believes students should only be required to take standardized tests once in elementary school, then again in middle school and one more time on the high school level. She says annual testing does not give teachers enough time to teach the concepts for mastery. Meaux says current amount of standardized tests is also driving younger teachers away.

 

Tom Benson intends to appeal a San Antonio court’s decision to oust him as steward of a Texas trust set up for his now-estranged daughter. Attorneys for the owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans have filed a notice of appeal with the Bexar County Probate Court in San Antonio. The notice does not give a specific reason for the appeal, which will be filed with the Texas 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio.

 

According to the latest campaign finance reports, U.S. Sen. David Vitter has more campaign funds than that of his fellow Republican governor’s race opponents combined. Vitter reported $3.5 million in cash on hand when 2015 began compared to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne at $1.55 million and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle at $1.43 million. Lagging behind is Democratic contender state Rep. John Bel Edwards who said he’s raised “over $1 million … since he first announced his candidacy.

 

A year after Congress amended the National Flood Insurance Program to prevent south Louisiana homeowners from getting hit with huge premium hikes, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is warning again about proposed changes to the program. Last month, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to the program, which would take into account projected sea level rises when determining the risk of future flooding for federal buildings. Cassidy says his  concern is it could influence the bond market and other activities and that could come in a back-end way to influence the private market.

 

The State Department of Ag and Forestry says the severe insect pest Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB) has been detected in Louisiana. Commissioner Mike Strain says this pest attacks ash trees and has been confirmed in Webster Parish making Louisiana the 25th state to report the presence of this beetle. He says the EAB could be devastating to the trees. Strain says one of their biggest concerns with the EAB is that there is no effective eradication method.

 

New federal guidelines for an increase in guest worker wages could be hitting crawfish lovers in the pocketbook. Louisiana’s crawfish industry depends heavily on guest workers to perform jobs they cannot fill locally, and processors say the five dollar an hour raise to 12.35 an hour will result in a $3 per pound increase in the price of tail meat.

 

 

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News for Wednesday 021815

By Dave Graichen

 

Alexandria police have issued warrants for a brother and sister in connection to Friday's double homicide. 29 year old Mark Hayes and 24 year old Melissa Hayes are considered armed and dangerous and are believed to be in the New Orleans area. The Alexandria victims, 25-year-old Richard Prenell and 18-year-old Kiasha Clovis, were found Friday afternoon in a 21st street apartment complex.

 

According to the Towntalk, Louisiana College's search for a permanent president to succeed Joe Aguillard might be nearing the end. The Rev. Tommy French, chairman of the LC Board of Trustees, has called a special meeting of the board for March 5 to "vet and vote on a candidate as president of the college. The private Baptist college in Pineville has conducted its search in secret. LC officials are not disclosing the name the candidate who will appear before the board.

 

Army officials announced Tuesday  Fort Polk will gain an additional 700 soldiers as the Army realigns its brigade combat teams. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, will be deactivated next week but the soldiers in the unit will be remain at Fort Polk. The 4th BCT, with the additional 700 troops, will become the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in a reflagging ceremony on Feb. 24. The base could still face a cut of up to 6500 soldiers later this year.

 

Four people are facing charges in an early morning shooting Tuesday after a concert at the VFW on 3rd street in Alexandria. Police say four people were injured, two of whom required surgery.  Detectives worked through the night, interviewing witnesses and serving search warrants. Several weapons were seized during the searches

 

A report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education shows the black male high school graduation rates in Louisiana trails whites’ by 16 points. For the 2012-13 school year, only 53-percent of black male students graduated compared to 69-percent of white males. Foundation President John Jackson says these numbers are reason for concern. He says the results of this study indicate a climate that doesn’t foster health living and learning environments for black males.

 

As people across the state head to their local places of worship to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, a Shreveport church is offering ashes to go. Christ United Methodist Church will offer “Drive By Ashes” to accommodate those who’s schedules won’t allow them to make their full church service. Associate Pastor Kelly Berne says this is an event has done well. The church began offering this service in 2011 and Berne expects over 100 people drive through today.

 

Today is the start of the Lenton season and many people will be totally giving up meat for the next 40 days or at least eating seafood only on Fridays. Gulf Seafood Institute chairman Harlon Pearce says the warmer things get, the better the supply will be of our Louisiana favorites. Pearce says fish is in excellent supply right now and this is the time of year that oysters are at their best

 

State Police say a third person has died from Monday’s truck versus train collision in DeSoto Parish. Trooper Matt Harris says the driver and the two passengers in the truck were the ones killed in the wreck. Harris says truck attempted to cross over a set of tracks that didn’t have a warning gate or lights. Harris says they believe the driver stopped, but began moving forward when it was already too late and they were hit.

 

Union Parish authorities have arrested a 23-year-old mother who allegedly left her eight-month-old son on his grandfather’s droop step wrapped in a blanket and in a car seat. Detectives say Keondra Ferguson left the child there, because she was depressed and there was no one to help her. Deputies believe the child was outside in mid-30 temperatures for an hour and a half. Ferguson was charged with child abandonment and the father is now taking care of the baby.

 

In Acadiana, several phone bomb threats were received on Fat Tuesday. The first two were called into the Walmart in Crowley, and Rayne Police are investigating another one made to a  Pharmacy. Several law enforcement agencies are working together to find the person or persons responsible.

 

Abita Brewing Company announces their craft-brewed root beer is now available in cans. Abita President David Blossman says ever since they launched Abita beer in cans, people have been asking for their root beer to be in cans. Blossman says it’s the same great old-fashioned root beer they’ve been making for years, but now you can get it in portable, recyclable 12-pack aluminum cans. He says their root beer is unique in that it’s made with pure Louisiana cane sugar.

 

Sports..

 

It’s the one that got away from the LSU football, as Calvary Baptist 5 star quarterback Shea Patterson from Shreveport announces he will be going across the border to play for the Ole Miss Rebels next year. For the last two seasons, Patterson threw for over 5 thousand yards, 72 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions.

 

The fourth ranked LSU baseball team looks to improve to 4-0 tonight when they host Nicholls State at 6:30. Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says Freshman right-hander Doug Norman will start on the mound for the Tigers, while the Colonels will counter with a senior.  Mainieri says tonight’s game should be a good challenge for his team.

 

 

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News for Tuesday 021715
By Dave Graichen

Now that a strong cold front has moved through, Canadian air has settled over Louisiana leaving us with another chilly Mardi Gras day. State Climatologist Barry Keim says southeast Louisiana should brace for temperatures today in the upper 30s this morning, then high temperatures this afternoon only in the upper 40s. Keim says if you’re headed to parades today anywhere in the state, make sure you bring a lot heavy coats, gloves and blankets.

The investigation continued yesterday into a Sunday night house fire in Pineville. Police Chief Eddie Laborde say when firefighters arrived shortly before 9:30 Sunday evening the home on Wildwood Drive was totally engulfed in flames. Although the home was badly damaged, the good news is, no one was injured.

The APD has released the names of two people who were found dead Friday in an Alexandria apartment complex on 21st Street. Alexandria police identified the pair as 25 year old Richard Prenell and 18 year old Kiasha Clovis, both of Alexandria. No other information has been released by the police who reported Friday the deaths were not from natural causes..

Louisiana State Police has increased their numbers in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and they’re making their presence known. Over 150 additional troopers are patrolling the French Quarter and the metro area, and so far, troopers have made over 140 arrests.

The question over which city “started” Mardi Gras, New Orleans or Mobile, Alabama, is coming up again this Fat Tuesday. Mobile Mayor Sandy Simpson is bragging that the Alabama destination is where the pre-Lenten celebrations originally began in the United States. The Big Easy Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy says the first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade was held in 1857,  Mobile’s parades on Fat Tuesday did not begin until 1868  after the Civil War.
Hardy says the style of parade,  floats and costumes and masks,  did in fact start in Mobile, but they didn’t roll on Mardi Gras day until 11 years after New Orleans did.

IBM technology announces plans for a 400-job application development and innovation center in Monroe. Officials say IBM will provide software technology services to clients across the nation and partner with CenturyLink on research and product innovation initiatives. Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says this is huge for Northeast Louisiana. Mayo says this announcement is in addition to the 800+ jobs coming to the CenturyLink technology center which will open in March.

State Police say two people have died in a crash involving a truck and a train in DeSoto Parish. They say the vehicle was hit by the train and a third person is critically injured at the University Health Center in Shreveport. It is not known why the truck was on the tracks but the investigation is ongoing.


Sports..

The LSU men’s basketball team is at Texas A-and-M looking to pick up another win on the road tonight.
 

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News for Monday 021615

By Dave Graichen

 

It was a great day for a parade as thousands showed up yesterday for the 22nd Alexandria Mardi Gras Association’s Krewe Parade. The annual event wrapped up parade season in the Alexandria area. It was the 10th year for the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band to participate in the parade. Parade activities continue today and tomorrow across the state.

 

No new information yet in the case of two people, a male and a female, who were found dead Friday afternoon in an apartment building in the 700 block of 21st Street in Alexandria’s garden district. The APD is treating the case as a homicide. The identity, ages and cause of death are unavailable at this time, as the investigation is in its early stages.

 

It appears the peak of the flu season is behind us, but health officials say we can’t let our guard down. Doctor Frank Welch, with the state department of health and hospitals, says during the height of the flu season, over 500-thousand Louisiana residents were hit with the flu. He says the elderly have been hit especially hard this season.

 

Law enforcement are patrolling throughout the Mardi Gras holiday to discourage impaired driving and help reduce the number of crashes on Louisiana roadways. State Police spokeswoman, Melissa Matey, says if you’re going to partake in Carnival revelry, do it responsibly and have a designated driver. During last year’s five-day Mardi Gras holiday, there were 599 crashes which resulted in 13 deaths statewide. Over half of those deaths involved alcohol.

 

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a New Orleans area levee board that claimed dozens of oil and gas companies should pay damages for destroying Louisiana’s coast. Judge Nannette Brown ruled that federal and state laws are not set up so that the levee authority could successfully file a suit against the energy industry.

 

Louisiana’s Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the mid-year budget cuts handed down by Governor Bobby Jindal are just not fair. He says most of the larger cuts hit departments managed by elected officials. The Department of Ag received mid-year cuts equivalent to $2.6 million dollars, while the governor’s office had a ten-thousand dollar cut to its budget. The Jindal administration is defending the way the cuts were handed down.

 

A Shreveport police officer has been arrested after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female in his office. The victim was at the police station so she can discuss with detectives harassing phone calls she received. The officer arrested has on the force for 15 years.

 

So far, The Louisiana Office of Alcohol And Tobacco Control says they’ve conducted over 600 alcohol and tobacco compliance checks across the state since February 2nd, finding 83 violations of business selling to underage customers. The A-T-C says they are continuing those checks throughout Mardi Gras

 

A Walker man is under arrest, accused of secretly recording himself having sex with his girlfriend, then posting it on social media after the couple broke up. Thirty-year-old Robert Howard reportedly had an argument with his girlfriend, when she told him to leave her apartment. Shortly after, she noticed that Howard posted to sex video to Facebook. Howard was arrested on charges of video voyeurism.

 

CC’s and Raising Cane’s, two prominent Louisiana-born businesses, made the 2014 Top 10 Excellent Fast-Food Chains list. The California based research firm Sandelman & Associates ranked Raising Cane’s number four and CC’s Coffee House number six in the Quick-Track Awards of Excellence for quick service chains.

 

The Bossier Sheriff’s Office is trying to figure out who is creating elaborate websites for schools purporting to be in the parish — but that actually don’t exist. Lt. Bill Davis says there are three websites with pictures of people, biographies of principals and teachers, enrollment information for schools listing Bossier City addresses. Davis says they are working with the Louisiana Department of Education to see if the people behind the sites are trying to defraud the federal government or the state via grant dollars.

 

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News for Friday 021315

By Dave Graichen

 

Thursday Governor Bobby Jindal announced Metal plate Galvanizing will make a $9.7 million dollar capital investment to develop a plant in Jennings. The facility is expected to span 50,000 square feet and create 104 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $46,300 plus benefits.

 

State Police arrest two drug traffickers in Alexandria that were preparing to sell drugs to Mardi Gras revelers. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says authorities were alerted to suspicious activity of an aircraft at Alexandria International Airport. He says during their investigation, a K-9 alerted officers of possible drugs on the aircraft and a search began. He says troopers seized over 34 pounds of marijuana and over 550 grams of hashish. 37-year-old George Marshall of Gulf Shores, AL and 40-year-old John Marshall of Grass Valley, CA were taken into custody.

 

The Central Louisiana Technical and Community College is eliminating 24 positions and cutting two programs at the Leesville campus to make up a $1.3 million structural deficit across its seven campuses.  Most of the cuts will take effect March 1, while some will come at the end of the semester.

 

A member of the “Angola 3″ is indicted for a third time in the 1972 murder of an Angola prison guard. Albert Woodfox’s case went before a West Feliciana Parish grand jury, because a federal appeals court overturned his last conviction on grand jury selection issues.

 

The National Highway Safety Administration reports that fewer drunk drivers are on the road, but drug use while driving is rising. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Col. John Leblanc says there have been an exceptional number of Louisiana drivers found to be under the influence of drugs. He says synthetic drugs have become a particularly bad problem and warns motorists that driving under the influence of narcotics is just as dangerous as driving drunk.

 

In the latest round of midyear budget cuts, Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking a deeper carving knife to the spending of his fellow statewide elected officials than to most agencies under his control, including his own office. The governor's office will come through the $61 million in slashing largely unscathed, taking a reduction of $10,000 — less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its budget. Departments overseen by the lieutenant governor, treasurer, insurance commissioner and agriculture commissioner are slated to take hits of 3 to 4 percent, more than nearly all departments managed by Jindal's cabinet secretaries.  Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said the offices controlled by Louisiana's elected officials, excluding the governor, comprise less than 1 percent of the $25 billion state budget. But they're in line for 16 percent of the midyear budget cuts recommended by the governor.

 

Port Barre Police have arrested a 15 year-old student from Port Barre High School who threatened to use a gun on the school principal. Police Chief Deon Boudreaux says the teen had a bullet and a fake gun in his possession but, he thought it was the real deal.  The student remains in police custody. They are hopeful the teenager can get some counseling help.

 

Next Wednesday is the deadline for the candidates for running governor to report by how much they raised during 2014. It’s expected Republican Senator David Vitter will report the most at around four-million dollars, and Lt Governor Jay Dardenne says he’s raised about half of that.

 

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has fallen behind chief opponent Jeff Landry in fundraising for this fall’s election. Both Republican candidates in the Oct. 24 election filed their campaign finance report this week with the Board of Ethics. Landry, a former congressman, has more than three times the campaign cash reported by Caldwell. Caldwell’s report shows him ending the year with $302,000 in the bank. Landry reported having more than $1 million in his campaign account.

 

The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act comes to an end Sunday. Kara James, with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, says this year’s enrollment figures are a nearly 55-percent increase from last year. She says there have been several improvements to the HealthCare-dot-gov website to make it easier and faster for people to enroll. Although premiums in the marketplace have risen since last year’s open enrollment, James says financial assistance is available that can help many lower their monthly payment. She says nine out of ten Louisianians, who have selected coverage, were determined eligible for assistance to lower their monthly premium.

 

The price at the pump in Louisiana jumped another 2 cents overnight. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.08 according to the American Automobile Association.

 

Officials in New Orleans want people who are heading to The Big Easy for Mardi Gras over the next few days to know that the city is safer than ever. Convention and Visitors Bureau President Stephen Perry says State Police is bringing in 150 extra troopers into the city to help keep the Carnival crowd under control. Perry says they are trying to spread the word that Mardi Gras season is typically one of the most protected times of the year in New Orleans.

Perry says with the increased presence of state police combining forces with the NOPD, they are expecting this to be one of the safest Mardi Gras season’s in history.

 

 

Sports..

 

The 2015 college baseball season begins tonight with the second ranked LSU Tigers hosting the Kansas Jayhawks at Alex Box Stadium. Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman believes this team has what it takes to get back to the College World Series.

 

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News for Thursday 021215

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor Bobby Jindal proposes reducing the size of tax credits in cases where a company or individual receives more money from the state than they owe as a way to balance next fiscal year’s budget. Jindal says two of his cabinet secretaries are looking at how this could help the state’s fiscal situation. The state faces a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall for next fiscal year. Jindal’s commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, will present a proposed spending plan to lawmakers on February 27th and despite this huge deficit, Jindal says increasing taxes are off the table.

 

The voice of the LSU Tigers, Jim Hawthorne, has announced he will retire next year. Hawthorne has been calling LSU sporting events for 35 years and plans to hang up the headphones and microphone following the 2015-16 basketball season. During his career, he’s been on the mic for LSU’s three Final four appearances, two national titles in football and all six of LSU’s national championships in baseball.

 

Unless you bought your Powerball ticket in North Carolina, Porto Rico or Texas, you didn’t win the big jackpot. The $564 million will be split 3 ways.

 

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says a three year old child is dead after she accidentally shot herself with one of the family’s guns. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the father was cleaning his guns and suddenly had to leave for work. He says the dad called the mom and told her to put the guns away when she got home, but it was too late. No charges have been filed at this time.

 

The American Automobile Association says the price of gas in Louisiana is shooting up faster than the national average, but that’s because the pump price here was so low to begin with. We’re up 2 cents from yesterday to $2.06 according to AAA.

 

Planned Parenthood has filed an appeal regarding a Department of Health and Hospitals decision denying the group permission to perform abortions at a new facility currently under construction in New Orleans. Senior Counsel, Roger Evans, says the basis of the appeal is that DHH offered no basis in denying the application. The group says they currently see about 8,000 patients at their current health center in New Orleans. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says the organization did not meet the Facility Need Requirements specified by the state and their application was denied. A decision from an administrative law judge is expected in 4 to 7 months.

 

States in the south are snatching up more tickets than ever for the February 14th release of the movie “50 Shades of Grey” compared to the rest of the nation. According to Fandango, Louisiana and Alabama are buying twice as many pre-sale tickets than normal for the film, while Mississippi tops the list at 4 times their usual rate. The movie debuts here in Alexandria tonight. But, only showing late in the evening.

 

The US House has approved a bill that authorizes construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas. The measure now heads to President Barack Obama, who is expected to veto it over environmental concerns. Supporters say the pipeline would create thousands of jobs, without adding more greenhouse gasses into the air. Opponents say the high pressure pipeline could spring a massive leak and cause irreparable damage the water aquifers below it.

 

As we approach the February 15th deadline, the US Department of Health and Human Services announces since open enrollment began on November 15th, 157,900 people in Louisiana have selected plans or were re-enrolled through HealthCare.gov. With only three  days left, officials are urging uninsured citizens to get signed up for coverage if you haven’t already.

 

Serious charges are facing a Houma man, after 4 new born puppies were found dead in a home, including one with a severed head. Police Chief Todd Duplantis says the live-in boyfriend of the woman who owned the puppies got into an argument with her, and when she left the residence to calm down, she returned, made the discovery, and called police. Fifty-two year-old Richie Kiffe (KEEF)was arrested on four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.

 

A businessman whose testimony helped put former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in prison has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to fraud related to Nagin’s corruption case. Frank Fradella was sentenced today for making a $50,000 payoff to Nagin in exchange for favorable treatment of his business interests. Nagin is serving a 10-year prison sentence.

 

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News for Wednesday 021115

By Dave Graichen

 

Local authorities continue to investigate an armed robbery of an armored vehicle yesterday morning at the highway 28 west Walmart in Alexandria.  The APD reports several shots were fired during the robbery, but no one was injured. The robber got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. But, didn’t get far. He was involved in a crash just a short distance from the store and was disarmed and subdued by a retired state trooper, an additional off-duty LSP Trooper, a nearby citizen and an Alexandria Police Officer.  The suspect was identified as 57 year old James Gilbert of Deville.

 

In the ongoing Benson family legal feud, New Orleans Judge Kern Reese has ordered that Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson undergo an examination. Benson will face three exams performed by three different doctors in what is called a standard assessment. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this ruling is not in Benson’s favor. This ruling comes on the heels of a Texas judge’s appointment of two men to oversee the Benson family trust. The standard assessment exams must be completed by March 15. Meche says, because of these recent rulings, Tom Benson is learning it’s not going to be easy to disinherit his heirs.

 

Tonight’s Powerball jackpot has reached a massive $485 million which is the third largest prize in the game’s history. The lump sum cash value for the drawing is worth $327 million according to Kimberly Chopin with the Louisiana Lottery. She says the odds of winning any prize on Powerball are one in 32, the odds of winning the jackpot are one in 175 million. This jackpot has been growing since November 29th.

 

Over a dozen Louisiana public school districts have passed resolutions that ask the state not to enforce penalties for students who decide not take to the Common Core standardized tests. Louisiana School Boards Association executive director Scott Richard says as it stands now, school systems will receive a “zero” for every student who opts out. Richard says if a school or school system has a large number of opt-outs, it will result in a lower school performance score or letter grade, as part of the state’s accountability system. Students will take the Common Core exams the week of March 16th. Richard says the uncertainty is not good for anyone.

 

When the legislative session begins in April, lawmakers will once again discuss whether or not to authorize the use of medical marijuana in Louisiana. Democrat Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore’s measure was defeated in the Senate last year. Honore says he’s bringing it back up due to the results of recent polls on the issue. State associations of sheriffs and district attorneys successfully blocked efforts to pass this legislation last year. Honore says their main concern is that this bill would legalize marijuana for recreational use and that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since 1991 for people with certain conditions. But rules for dispensaries were not set, so no prescriptions have been issued.

 

Halliburton announces plans to lay-off at least five thousand of its workers as a result of falling oil prices. The Houston-based oil field services company the cuts will impact all areas of Halliburton’s operations.

 

A big announcement yesterday that a  Holiday Inn Express is coming to Pineville, and a new townhouse development may be as well. Pineville officials have been working on the hotel project for two years now, and they expect the company to break ground on the project in two months. The hotel, which will be located on U.S. 165 south of the Kmart, will have 81 rooms.

 

It has happened again, A 6-year-old girl who had fallen asleep on the way to her first grade class woke up on a parked and empty school bus. It happened yesterday morning in the garden district. A neighbor spotted the child and was able to get her out of the bus safely and contacted the child’s father. The name of the driver of the bus has not been announced. But Rapides parish school officials say the matter has been addressed.

 

Louisiana gas prices are shooting back up. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.04 up almost 15 cents from this time last week according to AAA.

 

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a woman is in critical condition at a local hospital after they believe she fell out of the back of a truck her estranged husband was driving. 46-year-old Allen Wray and 48-year-old Sherri Wray were sitting on the back of a tailgate, when the husband told his wife to get in the cab. She refused; he drove off, causing her to fall. She’s in very critical condition.

 

Monroe Police say an officer has been fired because of racially offensive comments he made on social media about the Ferguson Missouri incident in which a black unarmed teen was shot by a white officer. Officials announced Monday that Officer Doug Lambert, who’s been on leave since November, is no longer with the department after an internal investigation. The Chief said the comments are not at all what the department stands for.

 

What does it mean for Louisiana now that a federal ruling has been issued in Alabama clearing the way for Clerk of Court offices to begin distributing marriage licenses for same sex couples? Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says all eyes right now are on the US Supreme court which is currently considering four cases that will soon be argued. Same sex marriages are against state law in Louisiana and recently federal district judge in New Orleans upheld that prohibition,  a ruling which is currently under appeal.

 

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Raceland man for his seventh DWI late last night on Highway 1 at a convenience store. Thirty year-old Jessi Joseph III was booked into the Lafourche Parish Detention Center with his first Louisiana DWI offense, to go with his six prior arrests on DUI in California.

 

Research from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans finds that a psychedelic drug prevents the development of allergic asthma in mice. Lead researcher Dr. Charles Nichols says the next step in their research is to see if the drug has a positive effect on mice who already have asthma. There are over 25 million people in the US known to have asthma.

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News for Tuesday 021015

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating KKK fliers that are being left in some neighborhoods in the area. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the fliers have a picture of a hooded man on them and say “You can sleep well tonight knowing the Klan is awake.

Carnline says even though the flier doesn’t contain any threats, they are asking the FBI to investigate because the literature is ending up in the driveways of minorities which could be considered a hate crime.

 

The public is invited to a forum this evening in Pineville for candidates in the House District 26 race. The forum, sponsored by Pineville Concerned Citizens, is set for 6 to 8 p.m in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The three candidates Jeff Hall, Alice Hammond and Daniel Williams have been invited to participate.  Early voting in the House District 26 race continues today through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Rapides Parish Registrar of Voters’ Office in the parish courthouse. The primary election is set for Feb. 21.

 

Twenty-seven Radio Shack locations in Louisiana are included on the company’s list of 1,750 stores it expects to close by the end of March as the electronics retailer seeks bankruptcy reorganization. The two Alexandria Stores, the North Mall Drive and Alexandria Mall locations are on the closure list.

 

Sunday night, a single vehicle crash killed a man from Effie.  The state police reports the crash occurred around 7:30 p.m., on LA Hwy 1206, near the Deville Cutoff Road.  60 year old Jeffery Parker apparently lost control of his Jeep Wrangler and left the roadway causing the vehicle to overturn. Parker, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected. He was pronounced dead a short time later.  The investigation continues. 

 

The Jindal administration’s $3.5 million dollar mid-year budget cut to the state department of Tourism means lay-offs and reduced hours at state parks and museums.  Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says the size of this cut is disproportionate than what other agencies are experiencing. Dardenne says they’ve had to close three state historic sites and layoff 106 employees.  He says no state parks will be closed due to the cut, but they will operate under reduced hours through the rest of the fiscal year.  Also, swimming pools at state parks will not be open this year due to the budget cuts.

 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says efforts by the Republican establishment to conduct a “kinder, gentler” presidential nominating process in 2016 are misguided and designed to stifle conservative candidates. Jindal, who is considering a run for the White House, took aim Monday at the Republican National Committee’s decision to officially sanction no more than a dozen debates among Republican contenders. Jindal trails well behind the front-runners in opinion polls of potential Republican candidates and could be hampered by the RNC’s guidelines.

 

A 16-year-old is in jail and another dead after a shooting in Sabine Parish. Authorities say the teen suspect is charged with second degree murder for allegedly fatally shooting the victim in the head once. The motive is under investigation but cops believe the two had been arguing at the apartment complex outside of Many.

 

Sasol announces they’ve selected Louisiana-based construction contractors to begin work on its ethane cracker and derivatives project in Westlake. Spokesman Mike Hayes says these appointments reflect Sasol’s commitment to using Louisiana businesses on the project.

Hayes says construction of the complex will begin soon and they hope to launch commercial production in 2018. They predict the $8.1 billion dollar complex will create about 5,000 construction jobs.

 

LSU officials are reporting rather unpleasant scenarios, as the threat of state budget cuts are approaching. An internal report details layoffs, hundreds of classes on the chopping block, and academic programs eliminated. The Jindal administration is considering big cuts to higher education for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal stole a line from the late comedian Richard Pryor when he was asked about a portrait that shows him with a different skin tone. The picture went viral on social media last week. When asked about it in Washington D.C. Jindal said “You mean I’m not white,” which Pryor said in the movie See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Jindal added the controversy surrounding the portrait is silly.

 

Kenner Police say a Mississippi woman is under arrest for allegedly driving drunk then backing into the police car that pulled her over two times. 46 year-old Debra Lynn white was booked with DWI, reckless operation and aggravated flight from an officer.

 

Louisiana’s Longest Known Married couple for 2015 has been announced by the Louisiana Family Forum. Executive Director Gene Mills says Lawrence and Varrie Player of Benton celebrated 80 years of marriage last month. He says when they wed, he was 21 and she was 15.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU men’s basketball team has a chance to hand top ranked Kentucky its first loss of the season tonight. The two teams will square off in the Maravich Center at six P-M Kentucky is 23-0 on the season, while LSU is 17-6

 

 

 

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News for Monday 020915

By Dave Graichen

 

The Jindal administration proposes 61-million dollars in cuts to various state agencies and using 43-million dollars in stopgap funds to fill a 103-million dollar revenue shortfall for this fiscal year.  Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the cuts will eliminate certain state contracts, plus museums and state parks will be impacted. Nichols says the joint legislative committee on the budget will have its opportunity to approve the governor’s revised budget plan at their meeting on February 20th

 

After five years of virtual freezes, state aid for public schools is up in the air again, another potential casualty of Louisiana’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall. The aid, which goes through a complex formula called the Minimum Foundation Program, is the lifeblood for a system used by about 720,000 students. Schools are getting $3.6 billion this year, which makes the assistance one of the state’s biggest expenditures. Educators say how schools fare this year is crucial, amid rising costs of retirement, health care and classroom technology.

 

The $17.7 billion long-term debt of Louisiana’s teacher and state employee pension plans just got larger. Known as “unfunded accrued liabilities,” the UAL for the state’s teachers’ and employees’ retirements has hit the $19.2 billion mark. It represents how far short the systems are from having the assets necessary to pay their long-term pension obligations, a debt for which the state’s taxpayers are ultimately responsible. The systems include more than 240,000 active and retiree members. State officials and legislators are aware of the increased debt but say it’s under control.

 

A judge in Texas is expected today to officially name the former mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger and estate lawyer Art Bayern as overseers of a trust that benefits Tom Benson’s heirs. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says Judge Tom Rickhoff will likely ask these two individuals to conduct an audit of the trust fund. Millions of dollars are in this trust, which was created for Renee Benson by her mother Shirley Benson, who passed away in 1980. Sunseri says assets inside that trust have been frozen by the courts. The battle over this trust fund is part of the larger feud concerning future ownership of the Saints and Pelicans.

 

According to a new report by InsuranceQuotes.com, car insurance premiums in Louisiana rise by an average of 30% after a single claim. Senior analysts Laura Adams says that’s the 15th lowest hike in the country. She says while 30% seems high, it falls well below the 41% claim hike which is the national average. Adams says many consumers underestimate the consequences of making claims because they can affect your rate for years.

 

A new CDC study shows that Americans who live in the southeast, between the ages of 30 and 74, are at a higher risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years than people in other parts of the country.   Bruce Johnson, a heart attack survivor and heart health advocate, says the death rate from heart disease in Louisiana is particularly high. He says nearly 250 Louisianians, out of every 100,000 residents, die from cardiovascular disease per year.  Among African-Americans, that figure rises to 266.  Johnson says, for many, lifestyle changes can lead to better heart health.  He says a lot of heart health issues have to do with lack of exercise and diet.

 

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Louisiana has climbed back to over $2.00 a gallon.  According to the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of regular in the Bayou State is $2.01.  AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it was expected that fuel prices would increase as we head into spring. Redman says the price of gas has increased about 10-percent over the last two weeks and he says you can expect to see the price continue to rise in the coming months.  But Redman says the US Department of Energy is forecasting that gas prices will remain below $3.00 a gallon this year.

 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has written a letter to the St. Martinville Police Department regarding an apparent policy stating floats in their Mardi Gras parades can’t play rap music with obscene lyrics. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says people participating in the parade reportedly had agreed to some rules about music along the route that are unclear and not constitutionally enforceable.  She says just because the police and the city council don’t like rap music it doesn’t mean they can ban it.

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News for Friday 020615

By Dave Graichen

 

The City of Pineville is gearing up for their first Mardi Gras parade. Eleven floats and several marching bands will make their way down Main Street tonight. Mayor Clarence Field’s Chief of Staff, Rich Dupree, says there are a couple of distinctions that will make Pineville’s parade stand out. First of all this will be one of the few night parades in central Louisiana. Secondly, the parade will cross the Jackson Street bridge into Alexandria and end in time for the “Taste of Mardi Gras” event. The “Light the Night” parade will roll at 5:30PM.

 

As suspected, A body found by a pond in Eunice on Tuesday has been identified as a missing woman from Elton. Allen Parish authorities say 61-yearold Earthy Maye Griffin was reported missing by her husband Monday morning. She was last seen Sunday in Eunice when she was picked up by a couple from Elton who knew her. Hebert said the couple gave her a ride to a store in Eunice. Investigators say there were no immediate signs of trauma and that Foul play is not suspected. However, the investigation continues.

 

With 10 days before open enrollment ends, nearly 150,000 Louisianians have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Billy Justice, Director of Marketing for Vantage HealthPlan in Monroe, feels people are getting more knowledgeable about the health care marketplace. With only a week and a half left, Justice encourages people who are in need of health insurance to check out the marketplace. He says the plans come from private insurance companies and there are plenty of options for residents who need to sign up.

 

The Council for a Better Louisiana says it doesn’t make sense for kids to opt out from taking the assessment tests that are part of the Common Core education standards. CABL president Barry Erwin says the tests measure a student’s progress and that’s important considering the state spends over three billion dollars on public schools. Governor Jindal is calling on BESE to provide an alternate test for children who opt out.

 

A state appeals court this week declared unconstitutional a 2012 law that gave Louisiana school superintendents wide discretion in firing tenured teachers. The law, part of the state Legislature’s controversial public schools overhaul in 2012, was rewritten last year and no longer includes some of the provisions included in the courts decision. But that  decision could bolster the arguments of tenured teachers challenging terminations from July 2012 to June 2014, the time between when the law was passed and when the Legislature tweaked it. It’s  unclear how many tenured teachers fired during that time period would be affected by the appeals court ruling.

 

There’s been a surprise development in the ongoing Benson family feud as a judge in Texas has apparently decided to place a trust set up for Tom’s daughter Renee into the hands of the former San Antonio mayor, Phil Hardberger, and an attorney. Judge Tom Rickhoff is expected to make the official order on Monday. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this is a huge victory for Renee. Meche says now it’ll be up to Hardberger to make the decision on what will happen to some of Benson’s properties and it’s assumed that he won’t do what Tom Benson wanted.

Meche says Tom wanted Renee fired from various boards of companies owned by the trust, but now that probably won’t happen. He says the fact that Benson didn’t take the stand in the Texas hearing likely hurt his case.

 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana emphasized Thursday that it was not affected by a cyberattack and data breach that involved Anthem Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer. Anthem is one of 37 independent licensees of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a separate and independent plan from Anthem and all other Blue plans in the country. Hackers broke into Anthem’s database storing information for about 80 million people, gaining access to names, birthdates, email addresses, employment details, Social Security numbers, incomes and street addresses.

 

There will be plenty for Louisiana to be rooting for this Sunday during the 57th annual Grammy awards ceremony. There are at least a dozen locals who are nominated or who have ties to nominations on Music’s Biggest Night. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne will be hosting the “Only in Louisiana” luncheon in Los Angeles tomorrow to honor the Bayou State and its nominees.

The Grammy music awards ceremony will broadcast on CBS at 7pm on Sunday.

 

Abita Brewing Co. in Abita Springs has fired back at Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial which essentially says craft beer is for snobs. Other small brewers throughout the country are doing the same. Abita has posted a You Tube video and in it they say “We’re not a dog and pony show” — taking a jab at the popular Budweiser puppy/Clydesdale commercial. Blossman also says Budweiser suggests their beer is “brewed the hard way.” He says he has no idea what that means. He says brewing great beer is and should be fun.

 

Noranda Alumina in St. James Parish is asking the state department of environmental quality for permission to release mercury into the air, after learning they may have been doing so without a permit since they began operations in 1959. D-E-Q spokesperson Greg Langley says the refinery could be fined for releasing mercury without a permit. Langley says D-E-Q doesn’t monitor for mercury releases on a regular basis, so it needs to be determined how much mercury may have been released and for how long, before a potential fine is handed down.

 

 

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News for Thursday 020515

By Dave Graichen

 

More problems for the Rapides Parish Coliseum.  A state appeals court has ruled that a former Rapides Parish Coliseum employee, Terri Clark Hunter,  can proceed with a whistleblower lawsuit against the Coliseum Authority. Hunter sued the Coliseum Authority in 9th Judicial District Court in July of 2013, claiming she was fired because she refused to keep quiet about financial improprieties involving Coliseum operations. Ninth District Judge George C. Metoyer Jr. ruled in favor of the Coliseum Authority on technical grounds. On Wednesday, the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the 9th District ruling and remanded the case back to the 9th for further proceedings.

 

The RPSO has arrested a Lena man who allegedly tried to coax a minor via cellphone to meet him for sex. 24 year old Brandon Coutee is now is facing a charge of computer sex solicitation. Coutee was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on Wednesday where he remains on $100,000 bond.

 

A 34 year old Marksville man was arrested Tuesday by state police for the possession and distribution of child pornography. He was booked into the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center. LSP investigators have reason to believe that there may be local victims.

 

Alexandria police officers were doing a check Tuesday, along with U.S. Probation and Parole officers, at the home of 64year-old Paul Tyler. Tyler is a Tier 3 sex offender. That tier contains the most serious offenses like aggravated rape and forcible rape, and offenders must register for life. “During this check, evidence was obtained that  indicated Tyler might be in possession of items that would violate the conditions of his parole. According to authorities, the evidence contained child pornography. Tyler was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. An investigation is continuing.

 

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain is offering a retirement incentive  in lieu of job layoffs as he tries to shrink employee payroll to cut budget expense. The retirement incentive is part of Strain’s plan to comply with Jindal administration-directed cuts required to balance the current and next year’s state budget. The state must cut $300 million in the current year because of lagging state revenues and $1.6 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1. So far, 34 employees have signed up to take advantage of the program.

 

Gas prices jumped 4 cents last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is up to $1.94 according to the American Automobile Association.

 

Law enforcement officials across the state are warning parents about a social media app that’s being used for cyberbullying. Yik Yak is an anonymous bulletin board where users can post comments that can be read by anyone within a 10 mile radius. Washington Parish Chief Deputy Mike Haley says some parents have called them reporting their children have been bullied through the Yik Yak app. He says there have been arrests at several colleges across the country due to threats made through Yik Yak. Haley says parents need to be aware of their children’s social media activities.

 

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Lake Charles woman after the child she was babysitting  was found wandering along a busy highway. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office says 23-year-old Jamie Jackson is charged with cruelty to a juvenile.

 

The Louisiana SPCA is on the hunt for the person or persons responsible for cutting off the head of a baby goat last week in an Orleans Parish park. Spokeswoman Alicia Haefele (Hay-Fa-Lee) says the owner of the animals believes an altercation with a group of teenagers could be at the root of the act, after they were told to leave the goats alone. The reward money has been increased to three thousand dollars…

 

The LSU Alumni Association is organizing a lobbying effort to protect LSU campuses from significant budget cuts. LSU Alumni Association President Cliff Vannoy says they are seeking volunteers that will be part of a group called Tiger Advocates, who will have lawmakers’ attention as they craft the budget. If you want to be a Tiger Advocate, go to the LSU Alumni website. Vannoy says volunteer advocates will be kept up to date on key legislation that will impact higher education and they’ll have a chance to make their voices heard.

 

The driver of the car that crashed head on into a school bus in Denham Springs on Tuesday is booked for DUI and other drug charges. Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard says 32-year-old Brandon Vince was behind the wheel when he crossed a center line and hit the bus full of children. Ard says at least 15 of the children on the bus were treated and released for minor to moderate injuries after the crash.

 

The state’s budget woes are causing difficulties in the search for a new president for Grambling State University. Possible job applicants are apparently worried about the state’s potential budget cuts to higher education. University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley says they received a letter from The Hollis Group, the search firm hired to recruit candidates, expressing the concerns. Woodley says they originally intended to introduce the new president in April. The search committee will meet with The Hollis Group later this month to discuss changing the timeline for finding a new president.

 

Bossier Parish Community College makes history as they sign a female player to a baseball scholarship. Sarah Hudek (Hoo-Deck) is a left handed pitcher and is the daughter of MLB All-Star John Hudek. Coach Aaron Vorachek says she will be one of the first girls ever to play baseball at the collegiate level. Vorachek says this is not a gimmick and he’s not concerned about the media attention this move is garnering. He says the 5-foot-10 Hudek is capable of throwing in the upper 70s to low 80 miles per hour which, as a left-hander, is acceptable for anyone at the collegiate level.

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News for Wednesday 020415

By Dave Graichen

 

A Houston-based company announced plans Tuesday to invest $2 billion for a liquefaction facility and liquefied natural gas export terminal near Lake Charles. The Live Oak LNG project will create 100 new direct jobs at the liquefaction and export facility, with an average annual salary of $75,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project also will result in 385 new indirect jobs, for a total of 485 new permanent jobs in Calcasieu Parish and surrounding parishes. The plant is targeted to begin operations in late 2019.

 

The Louisiana Lottery says tonight’s $317 million dollar Powerball jackpot is the 11th biggest in the game’s history. Kimberly Chopin says their total sales from Powerball in its current run have been about $15.6 million dollars, which is good news since 35 cents of every dollar of sales from all of their games goes to the state to help fund public education.  Tonight’s jackpot has a cash value of $220 million dollars.

 

Governor Jindal released a statement yesterday urging all parents to have their children vaccinated. A debate is underway nationally over whether it’s safe to have your child vaccinated against diseases. In Jindal’s statement, he says sciences supports them and he wouldn’t send his kids to a school that didn’t require vaccinations.

 

The death of a nine-month old baby from Alexandria in March of last year has resulted in the arrest of a Eunice mother and stepfather. Twenty-one year-old Michelle Cotten and 21 year-old Billy Dean Cotten were both charged with first degree murder, with a bond set for 1 million dollars each. The investigation is ongoing.

 

State officials announced yesterday Louisiana roadway fatalities dropped by 29 percent between 2007 and 2013. According to Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, over the past seven years we have made tremendous progress. In 2007, Louisiana suffered 993 traffic fatalities compared with 703 in 2013, a drop of almost 30 percent.

 

The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating the discovery of a body found floating in a body of water just off US 190 outside of Eunice. They reportedly believe it could be a woman who was reported missing from Allen Parish. We’ll have more on this as it develops.

 

The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a first-grade teacher for allegedly striking a student . Witnesses told authorities that 31-year-old Chanel Lemelle of Bains Lower Elementary in St. Francisville, berated, kicked, and slapped a student. Apparently video surveillance supported the claims. Lemelle is charged with cruelty to a juvenile.

 

We have some more cold temperatures on the way, how will that affect Louisiana’s crawfish crop heading into Mardi Gras? Long term it should be OK, according to LSU Aquaculture Specialist Dr. Greg Lutz. Short term, the cold weather may keep crawfish from crawling into the traps set by crawfish farmer, and that affects their cost. Bottom line, crawfish may be hard to find this weekend and if you can find them, plan to pay more.

 

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services released the 2015 Louisiana Child Support Most Wanted poster. It features the names and photos of 14 non-custodial parents who owe nearly half a million dollars in past-due child support. You can view the poster online at dcfs.louisiana.gov and if you know the whereabouts of a person on it please contact authorities.

 

Qualifying for spring municipal elections begins Wednesday and runs through Friday at parish clerk of court offices in five Central Louisiana parishes. Secretary of State Tom Schedler  says the five area parishes, which are among 17 parishes statewide for which qualifying is taking place, are Avoyelles, Beauregard, Concordia, Grant and Natchitoches parishes.

 

One man is dead after a shootout with an off-duty Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputy Tuesday afternoon in what police are describing as a domestic situation. The deputy was at a home with his girlfriend when the woman’s ex-husband arrived at the house and tried to get inside. The two men got into a gunfight, and when it was over, the ex-husband was dead. State police are investigating and they say, at this point in the investigation, they have not confirmed the deputy killed the ex-husband.

 

It’s national signing day and the LSU Tigers are expected to bring in another Top Ten recruiting class in football. Mike Farrell, director of national recruiting with Rivals-dot-com, says LSU has four 5-star prospects, including two from Louisiana.

 

 

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News for Tuesday 020315

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a teacher is under arrest accused of having sex with an underage student. They say 28-year-old Donald Gene Parker III apparently found out about the complaint against him and went to the home of the victim to beg them not to have him arrested. Detectives searched his home and found plenty of evidence to arrest him. Parker’s charges include pornography involving juveniles and indecent behavior with juveniles.

 

The APD believe they got their men.  Three juveniles were arrested late last week, ending a three-month investigation into a rash of burglaries in the city.  Police Chief Loren Lampert said the investigation revolved around about 30 burglaries in the north and southeast Alexandria. The unidentified juveniles were arrested on "multiple counts of burglary," and were taken to a juvenile facility.

 

No arraignment date has been set yet for an Oakdale woman accused in the death of a Lecompte woman and her unborn baby.  But bond for Pamela Causey-Fregia has been set at $780,000. Causey-Fregia was charged Saturday with the first-degree murder of Victoria Perez and the first-degree feticide of Perez’s unborn child. Perez disappeared in March 2011 after a doctor’s appointment in Alexandria. Because of that tip, investigators interviewed one of Causey-Fregia’s minor children, who claimed their mother killed Perez. Allen parish sheriff Doug Hebert said investigators believe the woman intended to keep Perez’s child for herself, to use in a ruse to get her estranged husband to return to her.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy says Louisiana is in danger of seeing a drop in its credit score. Moody’s Investors Service warned that the state’s recent reductions in revenue estimates are a “credit negative. Kennedy says Moody’s is one of the major credit rating agencies and they’ve essentially fired a warning shot at Louisiana saying that if we don’t get our financial house in order, they will downgrade us from stable to negative. Kennedy says the report pointed to Louisiana’s multiple fiscal challenges including the $330 million dollar revenue forecast drop, next year’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall, current mid-year budget cuts and more.

 

Louisiana would lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars from offshore oil and gas drilling under a proposal included by President Barack Obama in his budget rollout Monday.

The Democratic president’s $4 trillion blueprint for the 2016 fiscal year starting Oct. 1 would eliminate the sharing of revenue from drilling in federal waters with Louisiana and three other states along the Gulf of Mexico, as outlined in a 2006 law cited in December by former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu as the signature achievement of her 18 years in the Senate. US senator David Vitter says the bill has no chance of passage.

 

A new poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics show that Governor Bobby Jindal’s numbers have slipped among Iowa Republican voters. Jindal got two-percent of respondents when asked for their first choice in a presidential candidate.  Jindal also received two-percent when respondents were asked for their second choice. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lead the poll with 16-percent, followed by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul with 15-percent. The poll also showed the governor’s unfavorable numbers rose to 20-percent.

 

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose in Louisiana for the second week in a row according to Gasbuddy-dot-com. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says this might be the end of the four-month-long drop in prices at the pump. He says wholesale prices have increased by more than 20 cents a gallon, and those increases will, eventually, get passed on to consumers.

 

Lapolitics.com is reporting former 5th District Congressman Vance McAllister is considering a run for the US Senate next year. Apparently McAllister said if Congressman John Fleming of Minden is the only one who seeks the seat then he’d go up against him. However, several other top republicans, including state treasurer John Kennedy, have expressed an interest in running.

 

Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore wants to see Louisiana implement an air monitoring system, paid for by private companies. Honore, who was in charge of military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, now leads a coalition of environmental groups called the Green Army. Honore says the state has 150 chemical plants and no system in place to monitor what they put into the air. The Green Army proposes a series of sensors to be installed outside of chemical plants, monitoring the air quality. Honore says if something goes wrong, the sensors can notify nearby residents.

 

In case you didn’t know, Monday was groundhog day. In South Louisiana, we have the Cajun Groundhog Pierre C. Shadeaux, who by the way didn’t see one didn’t see one when he emerge from his home yesterday morning. That should mean a longer spring for the state. Daily Iberian publisher Will Chapman says, Pierre almost always gets it right. Almost is the key word.

 

Some sad news from Shreveport Police yesterday about the 7 year-old little girl hit on her bicycle by a drunk driver Saturday afternoon. Cpl Breck Scott says the child passed away from her injuries. Scott says the charges against 46 year-old Randy Presentine were upgraded to vehicular homicide along with having no insurance and driving without a license while under suspension.

 

 

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News for Monday 020215

By Dave Graichen

 

The investigation continues into a deadly blaze  in Avoyelles parish last week that left 4 people dead.  Fire Marshall Butch Browning says a father, grandmother, son, and daughter all perished in the blaze. The victims’ ages range from 10 to 73-years-old. Browning says they believe the four victims were asleep at the time of the fire. He says the mother of the children was at work when the blaze broke out. Browning says the investigation is in its initial stages.

 

An early morning house fire destroyed one home, and damaged two neighboring homes on Cook Avenue in Alexandria Sunday morning. Fire officials say it appears a stove caught fire and the home became engulfed in flames. It took firefighters a little over an hour to get control of the fire. Good news is, no one was injured in the blaze.

 

Allen Parish authorities report the remains of a pregnant Lecompte woman missing since 2011 have been found, and the charges of an Oakdale woman arrested on Wednesday of last week in connection to the case have been upgraded. Pamela Fregia was charged Saturday with first-degree murder and first-degree feticide of Victoria Perez and her unborn baby. Lecompte Police first reported 20-year-old Perez missing in March of 2011 after she went to a doctor's appointment at Rapides Regional Medical Center and never came home.

 

Amid reports that some families are opting out from having their child take standardized tests that are part of Common Core, the chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer, is encouraging parents to have their child take the test in March.  Roemer says the new standardized tests are more rigorous than previous ones, but it will help determine a student’s strength and weakness. Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order that calls on BESE to have an alternate test for those students who opt-out of the Common Core exam. But Roemer says Jindal doesn’t have the constitutional authority to do that and he accuses the governor of simply creating chaos.

 

Mitt Romney announces he’s decided not to run for president next year, so what could that mean for Governor Bobby Jindal? 2016 would have been Romney’s third run at the White House. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says Romney passed on Jindal as a vice presidential contender last time saying the two never really connected so him bowing out of the race also helps The Governor. Also, Cross says anytime one of the main candidates drops out of a presidential race, it’s a victory for all of the remaining contenders.

 

High school principals vote to keep the current split between public and private schools that exists with the football playoffs and allow the new executive director of the LHSAA, Eddie Bonine, develop solutions that could possibly bring the classes back together. Bonine says his first step will be to organize a committee to examine the issues that caused the split. Many principal Norman Booker authored proposals to divide the postseason between public and private schools in other sports, but it was voted down.

 

Many are waiting to see if democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will get in the governor’s race. Jeremy Alford, publisher of la-politics-dot-com, says Landrieu only has about 40-thousand dollars in campaign money in the bank, so if he’s getting in, he’ll need to make a decision soon. Alford says some Democratic operatives say Landrieu will pass on the governor’s race, so he can have a major influence on the presidential race. But, Alford says he’s also heard that Mayor Landrieu has yet to completely rule out a run for governor.

 

According to a report from Duke University, The South had the nation’s lowest five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS with 15 percent of people with HIV and 27 percent with AIDS dying within the first five years of their diagnosis. Louisiana was one of nine southern states with the poorest rates of survival. Younger, rural, African-American females who attributed their HIV infection to heterosexual sex were among the majority of patients with the worse survival rate. Louisiana had the lowest survival rates after a diagnosis, followed by Mississippi. In Louisiana, 19 percent of people diagnosed with HIV died within five years and one-third of people diagnosed with AIDS died within five years. The full article is in today’s Town Talk.

 

There is a new, free app for your smart phone that puts the health reports for local restaurants at your fingertips. The app is called “What the Health” and is the brain-child of Chris Peoples and Jake Van Dyke of Modern Appsolutions. Louisiana is one of just eight states, along with Washington DC, serviced by the app. Van Dyke says the app will show you a letter and number grade for each restaurant along with any actual violations they received during their last health inspection. The app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.

 

LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center launches an initiative to provide doctors in Louisiana with proven strategies which would reduce and treat obesity in children. The project is led by Dr. Amanda Staiano (stye-an-no) who says the Child Obesity Treatment Toolkit helps primary care physicians determine who’s at risk for obesity. Staiano says childhood obesity is a very serious issue in Louisiana with half of our kids being overweight or obese.

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News for Friday 013015

By Dave Graichen

 

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined that Wednesday’s  fire in Calhoun, where two bodies were recovered, was a murder suicide. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they believe the situation began with a domestic dispute between 52-year-old Larry Lisotta and his wife, 57-year-old Diane Lisotta. Browning says they have determined that Larry Lisotta shot his wife in the head and then set the home on fire. They believe he then turned the gun on himself. Browning says this appears to be an isolated incident and do not believe anyone else was involved

 

Abortion rights activists testified Thursday The state Department of Health and Hospitals has gone too far in its proposed rules governing the operation of abortion clinics in the state.

About 80 people attended the DHH hearing to take public testimony on rules and regulations updated after the Louisiana Legislature passed several laws about the licensing and operation of abortion clinics. Nobody spoke in favor of the rules.

 

Lawyers on both sides of a same-sex marriage case urged Louisiana’s Supreme Court on Thursday to rule soon on the matter even though the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to do so by late June. Louisiana voters approved a 2004 amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriages in the state and forbids the recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. In September, state District Judge Edward Rubin, of Lafayette, ruled the ban unconstitutional.

 

The Louisiana Lottery says we’ve now hit the biggest Powerball jackpot of 2015 with tomorrow’s drawing worth a whopping $298 million dollars. Spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the current jackpot has been running since the end of November. She says the last big jackpot winner in Louisiana was from a May 2013 drawing so we’re due. Chopin says the current jackpot has a cash value of about $198.4 million dollars.

 

A new study ranks Louisiana third nationally on a per-capita basis for inappropriate teacher-student relationships. Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the US Department of Ed and now chair of Drive West Communications, says he found 23 reported cases in 2014, and six cases so far this year. In many situations, social media advanced a teacher-student relationship to an inappropriate level. Another interesting aspect to the study, there’s also a higher percentage of inappropriate relationships involving female teachers than the national average.

 

After more Louisianians have been hospitalized and even died as a result of synthetic marijuana, Governor Bobby Jindal has announced the ban of multiple new synthetic marijuana compounds. The new banned compounds are called “PX 1″, PX 2″, and “MDMB-CHMICA” (chimika).

 

Sometimes made in china can be a pain. A  lot of Mardi Gras Krewes  are getting nervous as most of their custom throws have not arrived yet and Fat Tuesday is just around the corner. There was an ongoing labor dispute at a Los Angeles port which held up thousands of signature Mardi Gras product, but Beads By the Dozen President Dan Kelly says tensions have calmed. Kelly says almost every Carnival Krewe was affected by the delay. He says now all of the Mardi Gras containers are being taken off ships and hopefully will be put on trains over the next two days.

 

So how likely would it be that former KKK leader and Louisiana lawmaker David Duke would be elected again here? Not very likely according to political analyst Bernie Pinsonat. Duke challenged Congressman Steve Scalise to step down for apologizing about speaking to a white supremacist group in 2002. Pinsonat says Duke is only milking this for attention

Duke took it a step further and said that he would consider challenging the House Majority Whip in the next election for the 1st District Seat. Pinsonat says Duke is just trying to get publicity and he will probably never get re-elected in Louisiana if he chooses to run.

 

The legal drama between the Benson family over ownership of the Saints and Pelicans could drag on for a year or more. The scene will play out in courtrooms in New Orleans and San Antonio. Legal analyst Tim Meche says an Orleans Civil District Court Judge could rule whether or not Tom Benson is physically and mentally fit to handle his business affairs by spring. Meche says the real litigation will take place in San Antonio involving whether or not Tom Benson can transfer the teams out of the family trust. He says, thus far, Benson has been unsuccessful in his attempts to do so.

 

A Louisiana inmate at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court debate over leniency for juvenile criminals had his life sentence cancelled Thursday after spending more than three decades in prison. George Toca, convicted in New Orleans of second-degree murder in 1985. Under the agreement, the 47 year old Toca enter a plea to a lesser charge of manslaughter and  plead guilty to two counts of attempted armed robbery. Police said Toca accidentally shot his 16 year old friend while they were robbing a couple at gunpoint in April of 1984.

 

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News for Thursday 012915

By Dave Graichen

 

It all comes down to attachment A.  The Rapides Parish Police Jury voted Wednesday to approve an agreement with the city of Alexandria to settle the parking lot dispute, once the wording of that attachment is worked out. In case you are wondering what is in that attachment that is holding up the project, it is the definition of the project. The city rejected it saying they plan to draft their own. The overall agreement provides that the Police Jury will pay the city $1.1 million for its share of the jointly owned parking lot. Having a valid parking plan is needed before the $23 million Coliseum renovation can begin.

 

Sasol says it will delay a decision on whether or not it will make the final announced investment into the proposed gas-to-liquids plant in Westlake Near Lake Charles. The South African energy company says they’re holding off on the 14 billion dollar phase of the project due to tumbling oil prices. Sasol has already approved an $8.1 billion dollar cracker unit in Westlake but right now says they are working to conserve as much money as possible.

 

Sasol’s announcement of a delay in their final decision to invest in a proposed gas-to-liquids plant in southwest Louisiana has raised some concern in the business community. But George Swift, President of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, says construction has already begun on Sasol’s $8 billion ethane cracker and that quells his concern. Swift says his confidence that the project will go ahead is boosted by the infrastructure work that Sasol is doing around the site of the proposed plant.

 

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire early Wednesday morning in Ouachita Parish that has claimed the lives of two people. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says officials are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire. The identities of the man and woman who perished in the fire have not been released.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal says his proposed budget cuts will be presented to lawmakers, along with a list of “options” to ease some of the slashing. With the state facing a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, the Jindal administration is considering cuts for colleges, and to health care services.

 

State Police announce that 150 additional troopers will be deployed to New Orleans for this year’s Mardi Gras season. The detail will include a visible uniform security presence in the French Quarter and Central Business District as well as plain clothes officers. Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson says the troopers will be working in the city through Fat Tuesday.

 

Republican Congressman Steve Scalise has agreed to a meeting with two civil rights leaders in the aftermath of reports that Scalise spoke to a group of white supremacists in 2002. The pair want to ask Scalise to help advance civil and human rights issues, like the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Scalise has acknowledged it was a mistake to speak to the group and has apologized. Former KKK leader and State Representative David Duke says Congressman Steve Scalise is a sellout and he may consider running against him.

 

Officials from Grambling will be meeting with the Louisiana State Board of Nursing next month to rule on the school’s undergraduate program. Grambling’s nursing program has not maintained an 80 percent pass rate for students taking their state exams. Grambling currently has about 200 students in the program.

 

The Onion, a satirical news website, recently wrote an article skewering Governor Bobby Jindal that’s getting national attention. The fictitious article claimed that Jindal’s presidential campaign would last about two months before he pulled out of the race. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says The Onion writing an article about Jindal is not flattering and not the kind of national attention that the governor would prefer at this time. He says the underlying joke in the article is one that Louisianians will surely understand. The governor may end up running a two month campaign. But, truth is he has running for the presidency for the past five years.

 

Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has responded to a lawsuit filed by his daughter and two grandchildren. In a court filing, Benson says for years he attempted to groom Renee Benson and his two grandchildren to take over the professional franchises once he dies, but they never rose to the task. He adds the decision for his wife to take control of the teams following his death was a deliberate and reasoned decision.

 

Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky will battle for first place in Conference USA when the two basketball teams meet tonight in Ruston. Tech is 6-and-1 in Conference USA, while the Hilltoppers are 7-and-0. Bulldogs Coach Michael White says Tech has won 22 in a row at home and tonight is about protecting their home floor against a really good offensive team.

 

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News for Wednesday 012815

By Dave Graichen

 

Rapides Parish Police Jury President Richard Billings has called a special Police Jury meeting for 4 p.m. today to discuss the Police Jury's lawsuit against the city of Alexandria. The jury sued the city over the parking lot dispute, which parish officials say has delayed the start of the $23 million Coliseum renovation project. It’s believed the city and the parish are very close to an agreement.  The police jury is also working toward a long-term lease for "overflow parking" on property that is not owned by the city.

 

When it was created last year, a $40 million incentive fund to pay for college programs that fill high-demand jobs in Louisiana was hailed as critical to both higher education and the state's workforce needs. Now, with the state grappling with deep budget problems, Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to strip financing from the fund that only months ago he described as among his top priorities. But with Louisiana facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the 2015-16 fiscal year that begins July 1, Jindal is considering cuts of $300 million to $400 million to public colleges. And WISE, as the program is called, is on the chopping block.

 

According to the American Automobile Association, the statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is at $1.87 for the second day in a row. So has the price bottomed out? AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it’s possible, as the price of crude oil has stabilized between $45 and $48 a barrel. But, that’s not likely.  Redman says there’s a chance that we could still see prices slip as we head into February. Redman says the drop in fuel costs is astounding, especially when you compare prices to this time last year…

 

The health of the teachers’ retirement system in Louisiana got a “C minus” in a report issued Tuesday by The National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan research and policy organization. The report says the state’s teacher retirement debt totals $11.3 billion.

The latest estimate from state officials is nearly $12 billion, which is the largest of the four statewide retirement systems. The report said the retirement debt is not well funded and lacks the flexibility needed to be fair to teachers, including allowing them to be vested in no more than three years. The requirement here is five years.

 

Louisiana's economy keeps creating jobs, but it can't keep up with the state's growing workforce. The state's unemployment rate rose in December for the eighth straight month, to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent in November. Louisiana now ties for the sixth-highest jobless rate among the states. But at the same time, the state hit new all-time highs for jobs. Experts say The jobless rate rose, though, because the number of job seekers grew faster than the number of jobs.

 

Two men were gunned down Monday and killed in Donaldsonville  less than two hours before a community group intent on stemming a recent tide of violence prayed in the city’s downtown square.  Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said 37 year old Chad Nichols was slain in his front yard.  A second man, 29-year-old Benny Booker of Prairieville, was wounded with serious injuries and taken to a hospital but later died.

Witnesses told deputies that two white cars were seen speeding away from the mobile home shortly after the shooting.

 

The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office says the search for a teen, wanted in connection to a weekend robbery, ended unexpectedly when the suspect was found dead. Sheriff’s spokesperson Maxine Trahan says officers responded to a call from a crawfisherman who discovered the body of 18 year old Slye Mier in a field just east of Crowley. Authorities say Mier’s death is being classified as suspicious, although the exact cause of death is unknown at this time.

 

A Breaux Bridge woman Tuesday admitted to a judge that she was one of two people who strangled her elderly mother in 2011, drove her body to Lake Martin and left it in a car for others to find. 51 year old Heller Marie Dupuis plead guilty to manslaughter in the November 2011 killing of 83-year-old Jessie  Messex, whose body police found with the rope still around her neck. Dupuis acknowledged to 16th District Judge Lori Landry on Tuesday that she and an accomplice, her 33-year-old daughter, Toni Marie Dupuis, carried out the crime. Toni Dupuis has agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter, though no court date has been scheduled.

 

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual convention begins today and the main agenda item is the current split of the football playoffs. There is a proposal to expand the postseason split of public and private schools to other sports. A vote on the football playoff proposals will take place Friday.

 

Studies show more and more women are buying guns and becoming more familiar with how to use them. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 74 percent of gun shops saw growth in female customers in 2014. Barret Kendrick, a firearms trainer in Covington, says they have seen a major increase in the number of women coming into the gun market. Kendrick says women want to be able to protect themselves and their children and not feel like they have to rely on a man to protect them.

 

What is the first thing you think of when you hear “Boudin King Cake?” Well it’s out there. The brains behind the now crazy viral concept is Acadiana food critic Bob Carriker who is a UL-Lafayette history professor. He says he reviews King Cakes and Boudin from all over the nation and decided to combine the two and share the idea on his Facebook Page. Carriker says the now-famous King Cake uses a bread that is savory, not sweet, stuffed with boudin, topped with Steen’s cane syrup then sprinkled with cracklin.

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News for Tuesday 012715

By Dave Graichen

 

RPSO Deputies arrested a home invasion suspect, 27 year old Nicholas Damico of Alexandria,  around lunchtime yesterday. Authorities received a 911 call about shortly after noon stating that a burglary was in progress in the 5000 block of Plantation Road in Alexandria. When deputies arrived a short time later they found the suspect  being held at gunpoint by the homeowner. Damico was charged with home invasion, stalking and simple battery.

 

Despite the number of burglaries being down 5% in the past year in Alexandria, city police are advising the public to be on the lookout for suspicious people looking in to vehicles. According to police there has been a rash of guns being stolen from parked vehicles. The police remind everyone to lock tempting items in the trunk of their vehicles. 

 

The APD reports three teenagers from Jena were arrested over the weekend on drug and weapon charges.  Police searched a vehicle after an officer saw one of the suspects smoking marijuana in the parking lot of the Grand Theatre on North Mall Drive. In that vehicle, Police found 29 bags of marijuana and a handgun. The suspects were taken to at the Rapides Parish Detention Center.

 

The state fire marshal is investigating a deadly blaze yesterday in Natchitoches that claimed the life of a yet unidentified person. Fire fighters made the gruesome discovery after extinguishing a fire at an abandoned mobile home yesterday morning. The body was so badly burnt investigators were unable to make an formal id. It is hope an autopsy will be able to do that.

 

Weak oil prices will result in a 103 million-dollar reduction in spending this fiscal year by state government. That determination was made at the Revenue Estimating Conference meeting in Baton Rouge Monday afternoon. The panel, which determines how much money the state can spend, also determined the budget deficit for next fiscal year has increased by another 203 million to one-point-six billion dollars.

 

Republican Minden Congressman John Fleming says he, along with eight other congressman,  have formed the House Freedom Caucus. Fleming says they’ll advance an agenda that calls for an of accountable and limited government. Fleming says this new group of truly conservative lawmakers will look to advance legislation and also prevent measures that do not represent what he calls “America’s Agenda.

 

The state police confirmed yesterday the U.S. Secret Service is investigating a number of cases of ATM thefts in a major cities along the Interstate 10 corridor. Nick Manale of the Louisiana State Police says skimmers, devices which can read numbers from ATM cards, have been put on some ATM machines. Manale says keep an eye on their banks accounts, going back as long as one or two months, and if you suspect  fraudulent activity, call your bank and  the police.   the Secret Service suspects this is the work of a group of people.

 

An accidental shooting at a Shreveport casino resulted in a man being hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Shreveport Police Cpl. Breck Scott says 34-year-old Jerry Grimes arrived at the casino valet early Monday morning and while in the process of removing his gun from his holster and placing it in the trunk, the gun fired striking Grimes in the upper thigh. Police say the injury was non-life threatening. The investigation is ongoing, but Grimes had no signs of impairment.

 

As New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is working to reduce crime in the Crescent City, one auto-theft crime hit home with the mayor, as a jeep registered to Landrieu was reportedly stolen over the weekend. An off-duty officer was able to locate the abandoned vehicle in the Uptown section of New Orleans. They are still seeking the suspect.

 

Entergy has cut the ribbon on a new power plant in suburban New Orleans that company officials say will reduce fuel costs and produce reliable and affordable power for Louisiana customers. Entergy Spokesperson Mike Burns says Ninemile 6 is already using 30 percent less fuel than other natural gas combustion plants. This is the first power plant Entergy has opened in Louisiana in 30 years. Burns says Ninemile 6 was completed under budget and ahead of time.

 

The State Department of Health and Hospitals sets up a program that encourages Louisiana residents to take control of their health. The program is called “Own Your Own Health”. It’s a three month wellness challenge that can assist residents in living a healthier lifestyle. Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Director Rudy Macklin says you can participate as an individual or part of a team. The challenges are meant to motivate Louisianians to make small daily steps in creating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. You can sign up at oyohla.com

 

A University of Michigan Medical School study finds, that since the late 90s, there has been an almost 30-percent increase in the report of falls among the elderly. Dr. Cathi Fontenot, with LSU Health Internal Medicine, as one ages, your sense of balance typically gets a little worse. Fontenot says it’s important to keep those core muscles as strong as possible to help maintain your balance. She says the weakening of core muscles in the elderly can affect their sense of balance

 

 

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News for Monday 012615

By Dave Graichen

 

The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today  to determine the budget shortfall the state faces this fiscal year and next. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says it’s likely mid-year cuts will be needed to offset the deficit. Though state officials say the reason for the shortfall is falling oil prices, Erwin says that’s not the only reason we’re in this situation. He says the structure of the budget has never really been repaired since 2008-2009. He says we’ve just been borrowing money from ourselves over and over and then that ran out.

 

Senate President John Alario plans to meet with Governor Jindal this week to discuss ways to reduce a potential budget cut of up to $380 million dollars to Louisiana’s public colleges. He says that kind of cut would completely devastate higher education not only to the universities but to the children who are seeking it. Alario says one of the items of discussion that’s on the table is trying to increase revenue

 

The state labor department says first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 17 decreased to 2,987 from the previous week's total of 3,601. The  

Industries with the biggest over-the-week decrease in initial claims were construction, accommodation and food services, administrative and waste services, and retail trade.

 

It appears state Treasurer John Kennedy is testing the waters for a few races in this year’s upcoming election. It’s reported Kennedy has hired Virginia-based North Star Opinion Research to poll the races for governor, attorney general, and if there was a special US Senate election in 2016. Kennedy says, at this time, he’s keeping his options open.

The survey shows the Treasurer topping a possible attorney general’s race and the leading Republican in a US Senate race should David Vitter become governor.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal has seen a slight uptick in Louisianans who view him favorably, according to a new poll of likely Louisiana voters. The poll, conducted by Jindal’s campaign pollster Wes Anderson of OnMessage Inc., found 46 percent approve of Jindal’s job performance heading into the final year of his final term, while 45 percent view him unfavorably. Among respondents 45 and younger, Jindal’s numbers were 55 percent favorable to 41 percent unfavorable.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal told Christian evangelicals gathered at an all-day prayer rally Saturday that the nation needs a “spiritual revival,” as he continued to court religious conservatives for a possible presidential campaign. The rally attracted thousands to the basketball arena on LSU’s campus but drew controversy both because of the group hosting it, the American Family Association, and Jindal’s well-advertised headlining appearance.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal took a hard-line stance against same-sex marriage during a five-minute interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sunday morning. The governor added that he hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately let states like Louisiana keep their bans on same-sex marriage in place. If it doesn't, he said he will support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to guarantee that states would be able to define marriage themselves.

 

State police report a Port Barre man died Saturday night as a result of an ATV accident. 28 year old Lance Lomas was on U.S. 190 in St. Landry Parish, driving on the westbound shoulder of the road, when for some unknown reason he veered right, crossed a driveway and drove into the ditch, flipping the ATV. Lomas was not wearing a helmet and suffered critical injuries. He died later at a hospital. Alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor in the crash.

 

The trial for a man accused of tying up and abandoning a baby pit-bull in a storage building in October 2013 begins in Caddo District Court today, and there are plenty of angry citizens expected to be in attendance. 32-year-old Gabriel Lee, charged with cruelty to an animal after he allegedly left the dog without food and water for several days. When the dog was discovered, he was barely alive. He has since made a full recovery.

 

 

 

Sports..

 

LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri says sophomore left-hander Jared Poche will start opening day on February 13th against Kansas, but he’s not sure on what the rest of his starting rotation will look like. Mainieri says he has several freshmen to choose from and the situation will play itself out during the non-conference portion of the schedule

 

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News for Friday 012315

By Dave Graichen

 

Employees at General Electric's Pineville plant have been told the facility is closing. The valve plant was formerly operated by Dresser Inc. before that company was bought by GE in 2010. It employs about 300 people. So far, company officials have refused to confirm or deny the closing.

 

Pineville Police report 48 year old Tyrone Teasley was arrested Wednesday after he walked  into a classroom at Louisiana College and started teaching a class. Problem was, Teasley was neither a teacher or a student at the private school. Teasley was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and disturbing the peace. He was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.

 

Finally some good news relating to the Rapides Parish Coliseum.  Police Jury President Richard Billings announced yesterday a proposed agreement between the Police Jury and the city of Alexandria over jointly owned property needed for Coliseum parking could be finalized as early as next week. The Police Jury canceled a special meeting that had been set for Thursday morning on a proposed intergovernmental agreement with the city of Alexandria on the parking lot issue. Word is, the agreement needed some tweaking. Billings is hopeful the agreement will be ready soon.

 

An Alexandria police officer who has been under investigation has resigned, according to Chief Loren Lampert. Two investigations into possible misconduct by the unidentified ex-officer were turned over to the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office in late December for grand jury consideration. A new grand jury was expected to be empaneled late this month. The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office started an investigation after receiving a complaint about possible misconduct by the officer while he was off duty and outside of the city. The Alexandria Police Department started its own investigation after being notified of the allegation.

 

Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson announces ownership of both teams will transfer to his wife, Gayle, upon his death. This move effectively cuts out Benson’s daughter, Renee, and grandchildren, Ryan Leblanc and Rita Benson Leblanc, from the sports franchises. Benson stated that this change in succession is necessary for the long-term success of both teams. Shortly after the announcement, Benson’s former heir filed a law suit claiming her grandfather is incapacitated. Rita Benson LeBlanc, her mother Renee Benson and brother Ryan LeBlanc filed the petition in Orleans Civil District Court. The suit also alleges that Tom Benson’s wife, Gayle, is trying to take advantage of her husband’s unfit mental state and is only after his money.

 

Republican supporters of Governor Bobby Jindal establish a super PAC that could assist him in a presidential bid. Former Louisiana Congressman, Bob Livingston, is the chairman of the political action committee, called Believe Again PAC. Livingston acknowledges this is the first step in a possible run for the White House. The Super PAC can raise an unlimited amount of money, but Jindal can’t direct or coordinate how the money is spent.

 

The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department has arrested a 24-year-old woman in the May 2014 death of her fiancé’s 3-year-old son. After an eight month investigation, Brittany Marie Prejean of Rayne is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Keaghyn Parsons. Prejean was caring for the toddler the day of his death. An autopsy performed on the child showed he died of blunt trauma. The Calcasieu Parish Coroner ruled his death a homicide.

 

The New Orleans City Council Thursday approved a smoking ban at bars and casinos by a 7-0 vote. This is a big win for supporters who say it’s a public health issue for workers and patrons of these establishments. Tonia Moore is with the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living. She says they are thrilled this initiative had so much support. The opposition was mostly from business owners who were worried such a smoking ban would threaten revenue. Moore says they hope to see many other municipalities in Louisiana follow suit.

 

This weekend, the Mystick Krewe of Louisiana will be hosting the DC Mardi Gras in our nation’s capital. A reported 3,000 Louisiana will fly in for the festivities at the Washington Hilton.

 

The woman who has assisted law enforcement locally and nationally in identifying human remains, Mary Manhein, announces she is retiring from the LSU FACES Laboratory after more than 30 years. Also known as “The Bone Lady,” Manhein has consulted on hundreds of forensic cases including mass disasters. Manhein says her last day is April 30th and she’ll then turn over the reins of the program to another generation.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the whooping crane that was shot in Vermilion Parish then later died late last year. Spokesman Adam Einck says the reward money is coming from several sources. Einck says the whooping crane is one of the world’s most endangered birds and they want to make it clear that there are serious repercussions  from killing one. He says this is now the 6th bird that has been shot and killed in Louisiana. Anyone with information on this case  can report it online at wlf.louisiana.gov.

 

College baseball teams can begin full squad workouts today and for the LSU Tigers they enter the season ranked ninth in the country according to Division One-Baseball-dot-com.

 

 

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News for Thursday 012215

By Dave Graichen

 

You may have noticed a lot of extra traffic in town. There’s a good reason for that. The Pentecostals of Alexandria are playing host to over 3000 people from all around the world. It’s the 32 “because of the times Conference”. An event that has continued to grow since it’s inception back in 1984. The conference started Tuesday and runs through today.

 

A fish fry will be held Sunday at Bea’s Grocery in Montgomery to raise funds for the family involved in a fatal wreck over the weekend. Three members of the West family from Montgomery died after the wreck on U.S. Highway 71 near Clarence. Jennifer Tell West and Brian West  died at the scene. Their 10year-old daughter, Kayle West, died Tuesday morning.

The wreck also killed Pineville resident Stacey Lachney and injured her daughter.

Jennifer West worked at Bea’s Grocery for about three years, and her father has established a fund at Montgomery Bank to help with expenses. All proceeds from the fish fry will go to that fund. Plates are $10 each, and sales begin at 10 a.m. and will last until supplies are gone.

GoFundMe accounts also have been established for the West family

 

Falling oil prices has resulted in Lafayette-based Stone Energy Company to announce it will cut spending this year by more than half of what they spent in 2014. Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, says Stone Energy is not the only oil company scaling back. The price of oil is trading at 47-dollars a barrel today.

 

A self-confessed child killer named Phillip DeSelle is set to be released from prison today and the family of the little girl and Evangeline Parish citizens are outraged.  Averie Evans of Natchitoches who was killed by DeSelle when she was 11 years old. DeSelle, now 65, served just 24 years in prison on a 50 year sentence and was given time off for good behavior.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal continues to insist there are neighborhoods in Europe where authority is ceded to a more harsh version of Islamic law. Jindal had a chance to back down from those comments in a one-on-one interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Fox News previously reported the same claims, but has since apologized and said those reports were false. But in the governor’s interview on Fox News, he said there are government officials in Europe who say they have Muslim-led communities who do want to assimilate. Jindal expressed concern a similar situation could develop in this country, if our federal government doesn’t take appropriate measures to make sure immigrants are not trying to overturn our culture.

 

According to the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, 137-thousand people in Louisiana have signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. Open enrollment ends on February 15th. More information can be found at health-care-dot-gov.

 

A man wanted for the shooting injury of an Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Deputy yesterday has been found and arrested.  Sheriff Jeff Wiley says 35 year-old John McMullen was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by police for a shop-lifting incident, when McMullen shot at the car and the deputy, hitting him in the hand.  The suspect took off, but they found him later. A man and a woman in the car were also arrested. McMullen is charged with attempted first degree murder of a police officer.

 

The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested an Opelousas woman for allegedly burning her child with cigarettes. 26-year-old Jessica Deville is facing a charge of cruelty to a juvenile. Lt. Clay Higgins says they were alerted by a local hospital about the alleged abuse. She denies those charges. The 5 year old is now in the custody of his father.

 

New Orleans City Council is expected to vote on a controversial ordinance that would prohibit smoking in bars and casinos. Claudia Rodas, with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, is in favor of the ordinance. She says more should be done to protect bar and casino workers from the dangers of second hand smoke. But, Alex Fine, President of the French Quarter Business League, points out that there are already over 100 bars in the city that do not allow smoking. He says owners should be allowed to make the decision on whether or not they want to be smoke-free

 

 

 

Sports..

 

LSU football received a verbal commitment from one of the top high school prospects in the state, Riverdale defensive back Donte Jackson, who had five interceptions last season The 2015 recruiting class also features a couple of other highly thought of defensive backs in Kevin Toliver and Xavier Lewis.

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News for Tuesday 012015

By Dave Graichen

 

State Police say a two-vehicle accident in Natchitoches Parish on Sunday afternoon left three people dead and four others injured. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Stacey Lachney of Pineville crossed the center line of US 70 and collided with a vehicle driven by 31-year-old Jennifer Tell of Montgomery head on. Lachney was killed as a result of the crash, as was Tell along with a passenger in her car identified as Brian West. Moreau says three juvenile passengers in Tell’s car received minor to serious injuries.

 

Massive traffic problems on I-10 yesterday morning as Authorities had to close the I-210 bridge in Lake Charles shortly after 4am due to a bomb threat. State Police Sgt. James Anderson says they received a call about a car on fire on the Calcasieu River bridge, but found no car on fire and the person with the car said he had a bomb. Anderson says the investigation is ongoing. No bomb was found and the bridge was reopened just before 12:30 p.m.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal continued Monday to warn of "no-go zones" in Europe where non-Muslims are unwelcome and residents are ruled by religious laws, even after Fox News declared that there is "no credible information" that such areas exist in France and England. CNN reporter Max Foster challenged Jindal during an interview Monday, saying he had lived in London  a long time and he don't know of any no-go zones. However, Jindal stood firm.

 

A CBS News poll of one one-thousand Americans nationwide found 14-percent of Republicans would like to see Governor Bobby Jindal run for President, while 20-percent said they do not want to see him run. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the republican getting the most support based on this poll, as 59-percent of the respondents said they would like to see Romney run again.

 

Former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason will be Senator David Vitter’s special guest tonight at President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS and works with his Team Gleason organization to empower others living with the disease. Vitter says he’s honored to have Gleason attend, calling Gleason an inspiring leader in the fight against ALS.

 

Starting today, taxpayers can file their federal and state 2014 returns. Mark Eldredge, with Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants, says if you bought health insurance through the federal marketplace, also referred to as Obamacare, there is a special form you’ll have to fill out proving you had insurance. If you did not, you’re subject to a fine that’s laid out in the Affordable Care Act.  Eldredge  encourages you to get your returns to a licensed preparer soon, because even tax pros are trying to get up to speed on the new rules.

 

A federal trial to determine how much oil giant B-P will be required to pay in penalties for its role in the massive 2010 Gulf oil spill begins today in New Orleans. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Eric Smith, says a ruling made last week by U-S District Judge Carl Barbier gave us an indication on how steep the fine could be. BP faces up to 13-billion dollars in Clean Water Act fines.

 

With election day about nine months away, the four major announced candidates are starting to speak out about why they should be Louisiana’s next governor. During a recent forum in Baton Rouge, Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says there are many major issues facing the state and he has a history of bringing people together to solve problems. Democratic state representative John Bel Edwards says if elected, he’ll put Louisiana first, something that the current governor is not doing. Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he’s committed to building a better Louisiana & Republican Senator David Vitter says if he’s elected governor, it will be his last political job, which means his focus will be strictly on the challenges that lie ahead for Louisiana.

 

 

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News for Monday 011915

By Dave Graichen

 

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. Faye Williams of Alexandria currently serves as the Chair of the National Congress of Black Women. She says today is a day of service. Williams says we should use today to remember Dr. King by calling on people from all walks of life to work together in providing solutions to our most pressing national problems. Activities are scheduled all across the state today.

 

The Joint Legislative Committee on the budget approved a 20% pay raise for state troopers. The original request from Col. Mike Edmonson was for a 30% increase but the measure was amended down to 20% reducing the cost from about $14 million to about $10 million. Edmonson says this will be the first pay raise for Louisiana State troopers since 2002.

The vote from the House side was 24-5 and the Senate side 13-3. Much of the pushback Friday came from lawmakers who argued the request came as somewhat of a surprise and the process was too rushed.

 

State Police say a hostage situation in Evangeline Parish turned deadly with the suspect being shot and killed by police. They say the unidentified man took his girlfriend hostage in a trailer park in Pine Prairie. Master Trooper Brooks David says the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s deputies responded to call from a neighbor of a domestic disturbance. David says after deputies arrived, gunshots were fired from inside the residence. The female hostage broke out a window and screamed to the officers that she was going to be killed. David says, at that time, the hostage taker presented himself in the window and was shot. The hostage received only minor injuries.

 

Minden Representative Gene Reynolds says the EPA has agreed to delay the open tray burn of the more than 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden for at least 90 days. He says they also have now said they would support any decision on an alternative method to get rid of the explosives by the DEQ and the National Guard. Reynolds says there will now be more meetings and further discussions on the way to disposed of in a way that does not harm the environment.

 

The four announced candidates for governor met in Baton Rouge Friday to discuss ways Louisiana can have a better highway system. The idea of raising the gasoline tax was not discussed, but republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he would look into toll roads if elected. The lone democrat in the race, Amite representative Jon Bel said  Louisiana could spend more money on highways, if state government made sure transportation Trust  Funds went to roads and no other areas. Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says in too many cases transportation projects are funded as a political favor and that needs to stop.  Republican US Senator David Vitter says one of his priorities as the next governor would be to develop a targeted highway building plan.

 

A Baton Rouge lawmaker is concerned about a department of education report that shows more than 61-thousand public school students received an out of school suspension last academic year as a result disciplinary action. That’s about nine-percent of the state’s public school students and senator Sharon Weston Broome believes that’s too high. The report also indicates about five-hundred students between K-and-12th grade received an out-of-school expulsion because of their actions. Broome says she’s meeting with principals, school board members and teachers in an attempt to find out if sending a disruptive or troubled child home is the best punishment.

 

New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond is concerned that airfare prices have not gone down despite the significant decline in fuel costs. Richmond says the fact that airline ticket prices haven’t gone down doesn’t make any sense to him. Richmond says if air travel is cost prohibitive, it is a detriment to American families. He wants an explanation of what exactly makes up the price of an airline ticket. Richmond feels there’s a chance that this issue could be heard in a Congressional hearing.

 

 

 

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News for Friday 011615

By Dave Graichen

 

After a cold and cloudy week in Louisiana, get ready for some warmer temperatures and sunshine. Gary Chatelain, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, says we’re going to see a January thaw over the next few day. Chatelain says we’ll see high temperatures in the mid to upper  50s today, but the warm-up doesn’t stop there. Temps should be around 60 under sunny skies Saturday and Sunday.

 

Alexandria City officials and others gathered yesterday at the D.G. Hunter Generating Station,  the city power plant ,  to highlight the start of a project in which seven new “rapid start” generators will add to the city’s generating capacity. The $100 million project is expected to be completed in a year. Mayor Jacques Roy says the project should keep city utility rates stable for the next 20 to 30 years.

 

A Campti man, 22 year old Robert  White, who had been wanted on bank fraud and other charges was captured Thursday in Natchitoches. Authorities say White had been wanted since Dec. 31 on two counts of felony bank fraud and two counts of monetary instrument abuse. Another suspect in the case, Colie Northcutt, turned herself in last week.

 

The head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association is not expecting another oil bust like we saw in the 1980s even though the price of oil has fallen over 50-dollars in the last six months. LOGA President Don Briggs says while he doesn’t see a large number of oil and gas companies going under, there will be some belt tightening and some of that has already occurred. Briggs says there are currently 55 active off-shore rigs, and so far, these have not been impacted by the lower prices.

 

Those falling oil prices are not helping Louisiana’s state budget shortfall, as Secretary of State Tom Schedler reports his office faces a proposed $3.8 million dollar mid-year budget reduction from the Jindal Administration. This will force him to implement an agency-wide employee furlough as early as Tuesday.

 

You saw and heard the commercials every time you turned on the radio and TV. Now we know why. A just released report shows outside groups spent $27 million in Louisiana Senate campaign, all aimed at unseating Mary Landrieu. But, it was worse in other states. The No. 1 target for outside groups in 2014 was the Senate race in North Carolina, with $80 million spent. Republican Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in that election. The races in Colorado ($68 million) and Iowa ($59 million) ranked second and third. In all three of those elections Republicans captured a seat previously in Democratic hands, contributing to the gain of nine seats that has given Republicans control of the Senate in the current Congress.

 

Jonesboro Rep. Jim Fannin says he won’t support the pay increase for State Police when Col Mike Edmonson makes the request today before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. A bill was passed last session which created an account with motorist’s fines to be used for LSP. But Fannin says lawmakers have bigger fish to fry right now than pay raises

Fannin says with so many other state agencies cutting budgets in the mid-year, it wouldn’t be a good time to give troopers such a big increase. He also says a 30% increase is unreasonable…

 

State Senate President John Alario says forthcoming budget cuts to higher education would be disastrous to institutions across the state. The Jindal administration has discussed a potential $200 to $300 million cut to higher education. But Alario says he’s heard it could be as high as $380 million which would be devastating. The state has projected a $1.4 billion budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, and that number could rise due to falling oil prices. It’s expected that higher ed will take the brunt in efforts to try to balance the budget.

 

The major candidates in the 2015 Governor’s race will get together for the first time today in a Baton Rouge forum that will address transportation and infrastructure issues. The event is sponsored in part by The Louisiana Associated General Contractors. US-Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commission Scott Angelle, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and state Representative John Bel Edwards are expected to attend the two-hour forum.

 

The Washington Parish Sheriff’s office says a former speech therapist from Franklinton High School is under arrest for allegedly having sex with at least 2 students under the age of 17. Chief Deputy Mike Haley says after the complaint came in, they were able to gather enough evidence to arrest 40-year-old Kimberly Cooke. Haley says the suspect is booked with indecent behavior with juveniles.

 

Looking ahead to the governor’s race, Republican Senator David Vitter made a couple of major policy announcements yesterday. The first is concerning a fundamental spending and tax reform package; and the second being a targeted highway building plan. He says Louisiana needs to break out of the budget chaos, and he’s tired of poor roads and mounting traffic.

 

BP faces possible $13 billion in penalties at trial . That after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that 3.19 million barrels,  just under 134 million gallons,  were discharged into the Gulf after a rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well. The number is more than the 2.4 million barrel figure BP had argued for and less than the government’s estimate of about 4.2 million, a figure that could have meant $18 billion in maximum penalties under the Clean Water Act. Those penalties are to be determined in a trial set to open Tuesday.

 

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News for Thursday 011515

By Dave Graichen

 

The Alexandria Zoo is under fire from an animal rights group after two endangered primates froze to death last week. A zoo employee left three cotton-top Tamarins out in the cold, resulting in the death of two of the monkeys. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesperson, Brittany Peete says PETA wants the zoo to be held accountable for any possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.  Zoo officials say the employee in question, who was initially placed on administrative leave, has resigned.

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s department reports A Rapides inmate on a road crew stole a truck from a Pineville church parking lot and fled yesterday afternoon. 43 year old Christopher  Bailey was serving time for a burglary conviction. Because it was a non-violent conviction, Bailey was assigned to a crew that works across the parish, picking up trash or clearing brush. He is not considered dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call authorities.

 

According to the Violence Policy Center, Louisiana has the fifth highest black homicide victimization rate in the nation. The study details homicide rates for 2012. VPC executive director, Josh Sugarmann, says this is the ninth year they’ve conducted this report. Louisiana’s black homicide rate is 25.75 per 100,000, much higher than the national average of 18.03. There were 384 black homicide victims in Louisiana in 2012. Sugarmann says, in black homicides where the weapon used could be identified, one weapon stood out far above all others, that’s handguns.

 

Sometimes it seems had to believe you have to tell people they are being scammed.. but, this is one of those times.. the Grant Parish Sheriff’s office put out an alert yesterday warning  If someone calls you and insists that a 5 percent processing fee is all that stands between you, a sizable amount of money and a Mercedes, it a scam. The Sheriff says the callers have been very persistent, placing several calls to people to try to convince them. No word if anyone has taken the bait.

 

The APD does not suspect foul play in the death of a man who’s body was found Tuesday morning lying next to Murray St. The identity of the man is being withheld until the next of kin is notified. An autopsy and other forensic testing are pending,

 

A new study shows that less than half of Louisiana families earn enough money to cover basic costs. The report, by Loyola University’s Jesuit Social Research Institute, finds 52-percent of families with children not making enough money to live, what they call, “a modest, dignified life.” According to their findings, the average Louisiana couple with one child accrues expenses adding up to 55-thousand dollars a year, but most people make far less.

 

Gas prices continue their steady decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $1.95 according to the American Automobile Association. That’s down a staggering 45 cents from this time last month.

 

The mother of the two siblings killed in a house fire in Bastrop Monday, now faces criminal charges in their death. 4-year-old Tashae Johnson and her 3-year-old brother Clifton were killed in the fire after being left unattended in the home. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says the investigation is ongoing, but one thing is for sure: the two children were left unattended in the home for hours before the fire broke out.

 

A state lawmaker concerned about potential health effects of an open tray burn of 15-million pounds of M-6 propellant in Webster Parish did not get the answers he was seeking in a closed door meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is pushing for an incinerator burn, but E-P-A continues to say an open tray burn is safe and easy. The EPA say the propellants at Camp Minden are deteriorating and an open burn is the safest and fastest way to get rid of it. But Reynolds says the state owns the explosives, so they should have the final say on the method of disposal.

 

 

 

 

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News for Wednesday 011415

By Dave Graichen

 

As expected, Chuck Fowler was elected Tuesday to once again lead the Alexandria City Council. This will be Fowlers 3rd go around as president.  Lee Rubin was elected to the vice-presidents position.

 

The Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office has concluded its investigation into the death of Mrs. Bobbie Chevallier of Pollock.  Chevallier was found unconscious in the back yard of her home suffering from bite wounds to the lower half of her body the day before Thanksgiving last year.  She died from her injuries several days later. It was originally believed Chevallier was the victim of a stray dog attack. But, a just completed autopsy determined that Mrs. Chevallier was unconscious before the encounter with the dogs. A number of dogs belonging to a next door neighbor and a stray dog believed to have been involved in this incident were seized following the investigation and have been euthanized.  No additional attacks or incidents have been reported since this incident.

 

The Grant Parish sheriff’s department has arrested an Atlanta man on charges that he  allegedly abused his wife in front of their children. Deputies report the office had received a report about a domestic disturbance in which shots had been fired. Deputies went to the scene and found that 41 year old Walter Box Jr.  He had allegedly had beaten his wife and had fired a shotgun over her head. Box also allegedly destroyed his wife’s cellphone and had threatened to kill her if she left. Box was arrested and was booked into the Grant Parish Detention Center.

 

It’s a bad flu season and the numbers prove it. Doctor Frank Welch, medical director for the state’s immunization program, says nearly 400-thousand people have come down with the flu so far this flu season and influenza has hospitalized up to four-thousand people. Even though the flu vaccine is not a direct match with the flu strain going around, Welch still advises getting an influenza shot.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy is getting the word out that they’ve collected through audits 31-million dollars in unclaimed property from life insurance companies. Kennedy says the money belongs to thousands of beneficiaries that never received their money. To see if you’re owed money go to la-treasury-dot-com.

 

Fifth District congressman Ralph Abraham has been appointed to serve on the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture.

Abraham was also assigned to the Subcommittee on Nutrition on House Agriculture. Abraham said his position on the committees puts him in direct position to supervise the implementation of the new Farm Bill. Last week Abraham landed a subcommittee chairmanship on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

 

State Police is requesting a 30% increase for many of its troopers. Col Mike Edmonson says the money is coming from a special fund approved in last year’s legislative session which collects fines from drivers with expired auto insurance and puts them in an account for LSP salaries. If lawmakers approve the money shift, starting pay with benefits for troopers would go from about $35,600 a year to $46,600 a year. This will be the first raise for rank-and-file troopers since 2002.

 

State Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, said Tuesday he plans to run for the Louisiana District 35 Senate seat this fall. Fannin, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, is term limited in the state House. The District 35 seat is currently held by state Sen. Bob Kostelka of Monroe, but he is also term limited.  Republican Stewart Cathey Jr., a small business owner and veteran, said Tuesday he will also run for the seat.

 

A 21-year-old mother has been charged with two counts of negligent homicide in the death of her three-year-old and four-year-old, who died in a house fire in Bastrop yesterday. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they’ve learned that 21-year-old Ciarria Johnson left her children unattended for hours as she was having her hair styled. Browning says they believe the fire started from a gas heater in the living room, they also suspect a space heater was in close proximity to flammable materials.

 

Senator David Vitter has announced he has 4 million dollars for his Louisiana gubernatorial campaign with 3.5 million dollars cash on hand. Vitter’s office says that 88 percent of campaign contributions are from over 25 hundred in-state donors. Vitter announced his candidacy last January.

 

A Monroe stand-off Tuesday morning at an assisted living complex ended tragically, as the resident courtesy officer died after he was allegedly shot by a resident . Seventy-six year-old Alton Sutter died at a local hospital.

 

A researcher at the L-S-U Health Sciences Center in Shreveport hopes sea moss found below the surface of the Pacific Ocean could be used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Doctor Steven Alexander and his team have tested a drug derived  from sea moss and it has a positive effect on mice who suffer from human Alzheimer’s disease. Alexander says they are seeking FDA approval to begin clinical trials on humans.

 

Two local events Thursday will mark the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The Alexandria VA Medical Center will hold a ceremony Thursday at 2 p.m. The “Color of Unity” program will be held in the center’s auditorium and is open to the public. The guest speaker will be Vonda Williams, social worker coordinator for the Mental Health Intensive Case Management Program at the Alexandria VA. Peabody Magnet High School Jazz Band will perform. Also Thursday, the Rapides Parish Library will screen King’s famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech at the main library, 411 Washington St. in downtown Alexandria, at 5:30 p.m.

 

Also, Alexandria artist Morris Taft Thomas will speak about King and his work. Refreshments will be served after the film at the family friendly event.

 

The Downtown Alexandria Merchants Association will host the first Third Thursday on Third event this Thursday along Third Street in downtown Alexandria from 6 to 9 p.m. Ten businesses on or adjacent to Third Street will be offering specials or providing entertainment.

Get information on the group’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/darealexandria

 

LSU has confirmed reports that Alabama linebackers coach Kevin Steele is will be the next defensive coordinator at LSU. Prior to coaching at Alabama, Steele served three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Clemson, helping Clemson win the A-C-C in 2011. He’s also the former head coach at Baylor and coached linebackers for the Carolina Panthers in the 1990s.

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News for Tuesday 011315

By Dave Graichen

 

The Alexandria City Council will take up the business of electing officers at tonight’s meeting. It is expected that Chuck Fowler will try for a third consecutive term as president. The council definitely will get a new vice president, since the 2014 vice president, Mitzi Gibson La-Salle, is no longer on the council. The council meets at 5 p.m. today

 

Authorities are looking for a  Natchitoches man who is wanted in connection with December dog-fighting ring near Derry. At that site, sheriff’s deputies found several dead dogs and seized several others. 29 year old Jarin Pikes, who also goes by the name of  “Moonie,” is wanted by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office on multiple warrants. If you see him, contact authorities. Pikes has ties to the areas of Natchitoches, Cloutierville, Derry, Campti, St. Maurice and Winnfield.

 

The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in finding a Leesville couple after being contacted by a concerned family member earlier this month. 39 year old Allison Gilcrease and 40 year old James Michael Jeane were last seen on Christmas Day at their home. Anyone with information on the couple are asked to call the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s office.

 

The US Supreme Court has rejected a plea to consider striking down Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. This decision from the US Supreme Court means the district court ruling upholding Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage must first be challenged in a federal appeals court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments last week on the issue. It’s expected  the 5th Circuit will issue a ruling sometime this spring.

 

Fourth District U.S. Rep. John Fleming said he will definitely run for the U.S. Senate if Sen. David Vitter wins the governor's race this fall. If Vitter is elected governor, he would appoint someone to his U.S. Senate seat until an election could be held. Has Fleming’s name come up when it comes to an appointment?  Apparently not. However,  The congressman say he would "certainly" accept the appointment if Vitter were to offer it. However,  Fleming said he would run for the seat regardless.

 

Even as state agencies are cutting budgets, the Louisiana State Police seeks a 30 percent pay raise for many of its troopers. The hike would bring State Police in line with what other law enforcement officers are paid and was approved before the price of oil dropped by $40 a barrel, requiring a midyear correction in this year’s budget and massive cuts to next year’s. About 1,646 employees will get raises starting Jan. 19

 

Gas prices keep dropping. According to the American Automobile Association the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $1.96.

 

Republican US Senator David Vitter says he plans to be active in Washington D-C, even though he’s running for governor this year. Vitter says he has several priorities and one of them is to pass a highway and transportation bill that would help improve traffic flow on major highways. Vitter says he’ll also work to repeal the Affordable Care Act and if Obamacare is not going away, then the federal health care laws should apply to everyone in Washington, meaning even the President would have to purchase his insurance through the Marketplace.

 

President Obama is working on the details of a plan to offer two years of free community college education to any American to help train the US workforce. Dr. Monty Sullivan, the head of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System says it’s estimated the program will  cost the federal government around $60 billion over 10 years. Sullivan admits that it is a lot of money, but people shouldn’t look at this as another big money expenditure. It’s an investment.

The President will promote the initiative in his State of the Union address on January 20th.

 

Louisiana’s scholarship program, also known as the voucher program, is now accepting applications from low-income families who wish to have their child attend a private school of their choice with the use of state dollars. Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children says the other major qualification is that the student is enrolled in a low-performing public school. Families may apply at the department of education’s website or in person at the participating school of their choice through February 27th. Last year over 13-thousand families applied and nearly 74-hundred were awarded vouchers.

 

Louisiana’s newly selected Higher Education Commissioner is starting a statewide tour to introduce himself to communities and school leaders. Joseph Rallo says he wants all of the system presidents to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with issues facing higher ed. Rallo says he plans to engage with leaders who share the common goal of creating a stronger economy through higher education. He wants to make sure the needs of all students are being met.

 

Officials in northwest Louisiana plan to meet with the EPA today over plans to conduct an open burn of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is representing the community’s concern over the potential health effects of burning this propellant. He believes there is another solution. Reynolds suggests an incinerator burn of the propellant. He also says that scientists have come up with other ways to dispose of the propellant. The concern among citizens is that the open burning of this propellant will pollute the air around the site.

 

Impressive lineup for the 2015 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Headliners include Elton John, No Doubt, Widespread Panic, Jimmy Buffett, The Who, Tony Bennett,  Chicago,  Lady Gaga, Keith Urban, Pitbull and many more. The final performance night headliner has yet to be announced. Jazzfest always happens the last weekend in April, and first weekend in May. You can see the full lineup online at nojazzfest.com.

 

NCIS: New Orleans will be back again as the CBS prime time drama has been picked up for a second season. The series is not only set in New Orleans but it’s also filmed in The Big Easy.

 

An interesting candidate has emerged for LSU’s vacant defensive coordinator position. LSU officials have spoken to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Smart could be looking for a change of scenery to help build his resume for a potential head coaching job down the road. The 39-year-old Smart has been Alabama’s defensive coordinator the last seven seasons.

 

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News for Monday 011215

By Dave Graichen

 

A spokeswoman for the Jindal Administration says a 200 to 300 million dollar cut in funding to higher ed is being considered for the fiscal year budget that starts July 1st. The UL-System says they are confident the legislature would never allow such a cut in funding to happen.

 

A Ville Platte man arrested in the death of his grandmother in November has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. The Evangeline Parish District Attorney’s Office said the trial for Christopher Goodley has been set for June 8. Goodley pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

If convicted, Goodley would face a mandatory life sentence.

 

5th District newly elected Congressman Ralph Abraham joined the many Republicans in the US-House on Friday by voting to approve the TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline project. The President has promised to veto such a bill if it hits his desk. 6th District Congressman Garret Graves says having the actual Keystone Pipeline legislation in front of President Obama may cause The White house to reconsider vetoing it, considering the amount of support. The Senate has enough votes to pass an identical bill and will take a test vote today

 

BP can’t get out of having to dish out federal penalties for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 based on a ruling by an appeals court Friday. The oil giant was trying to blame another company’s failed equipment. A trial is set for later this month to determine Clean Water Act penalties.

 

The Transportation Funding Task Force meets today at the Capitol where they’ll finalize recommendations on improving the way the state funds highway improvements. There is currently a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge needs in the state. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman, Robert Adley of Benton, says they’ll work to protect the transportation trust fund from being used for the general operation of the state. With this being Governor Jindal’s final year in office, it is not expected that we’ll see major changes to how the state funds roadway projects. But Adley is hopeful. the task force will get behind his plan to ensure the state spends $70 million for roadway preservation.

 

There’s a growing concern in northwest Louisiana over a plan to burn 15-million pounds of M6 propellant in steel trays at Camp Minden. Minden Mayor Tommy Davis says they’re worried about possible health effects. The explosive propellant once belonged to Explo Systems, who went bankrupt which is why it’s in bunkers at Camp Minden. It’s deteriorating so there is a worry it could explode if not disposed of soon. The US E-P-A supports opening burning as the disposal method. Davis says Louisiana’s Congressional delegation is putting the pressure on the agency to prove that the open tray burn is safe.

 

Shaquille O’Neal was in Lafayette Friday at the Courthouse to be sworn in as a deputy city marshal. The Clerk of Court said it was the coolest swearing in he’s ever done.

 

The latest fund raising totals from Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle shows he is a serious candidate for governor. Angelle announced that his campaign has raised over $1.5 million since he announced his candidacy on October 2nd. Angelle is one of three Republicans seeking the governorship, along with Senator David Vitter and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne.

 

Sad story out of Madison Parish. A grandmother in Tallulah died Friday afternoon trying to keep one of her grandsons from shooting another according to authorities. Cops say the woman apparently died of a heart attack when trying to defuse the dispute between cousins. One teen shot the other they say and he’s in custody while the other is in the hospital.

 

According to a recent study out of Yale University, cold weather can in fact make you sick. Dr. Fred Lopez is an Infectious Diseases specialist at the LSU New Orleans School of Medicine. He says they are finding validity to the fact that the lower the temperature outside, the more likely a cold virus is going to thrive. Lopez says the most common virus which causes a cold replicates and makes more copies of itself at cooler temperatures. The nasal cavity is where the flu virus will most often enter the body and when that area is cooler then the bug is allowed to grow more effectively. Lopez says staying out of the cold does actually help.

 

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne announces plans for a major motion picture set to be filmed exclusively in Louisiana about the Battle of New Orleans. The movie will be called, “Andrew Jackson – The Battle For New Orleans.” Dardenne says the project will be based off the book by Ron Drez “The War of 1812: Conflict and Deception” and will begin filming here soon.

 

Lynne Marino, the highly outspoken mother of serial killer victim Pam Kinamore, discloses that she has pancreatic cancer and hopes to see Derrick Todd Lee executed before she dies. Lee got the death penalty for the murder of Charlotte Murray Pace in 2004 and his case has since been tied up in several appeals. Marino says it’s time for Lee to go. Lee wants a new trial which has been rejected by a Baton Rouge state judge and now heads to the Louisiana Supreme Court -then- if those justices feel the same the case would go to a drawn out post-conviction relief stage.

 

 

 

 

 

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News for Friday 010915

By Dave Graichen

 

A Pineville teen is facing attempted rape and other charges after he allegedly pulled a knife on a woman who had given him a ride. 17 year old Mataeo Chaney was arrested on Wednesday after an investigation by Pineville police into the incident, which happened on Dec. 19. The suspect allegedly told the victim to perform oral sex on him, but she refused. A struggle started over the knife, during which the victim was cut. The suspect then ran from the vehicle.

Police say The victim suffered a minor injury. Chaney is in the Rapides Parish detention center.

 

Today the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hears three cases regarding same-sex marriage bans in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. In September, Federal Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, but the ruling was appealed to the 5th Circuit. Tulane Constitutional Law Professor Keith Werhan says  supporters will argue that the state has to have a legitimate reason in denying two adults who want to marry, the right to do so. He says opponents will argue on the strength of state’s rights. Because the 6th Circuit decision created a circuit split on the issue, the US Supreme Court will privately discuss same-sex marriage cases from several states today, including Louisiana. Werhan says the ultimate decision on same-sex marriage will come from the US Supreme Court, perhaps this year.

 

Louisiana’s public schools receive a grade of D-plus from Education Week as part of their annual report. The state’s public education system is also ranked 44th, up five spots from their previous report. House Education Chairman, Steve Carter of Baton Rouge, says a series of reforms passed in 2012, including one that allows educators who perform well to get paid more, will lead to a better grade in the future. Carter says it’s encouraging to see Louisiana move up in the rankings, because historically the bayou state has ranked 48th or 49th when it comes to public education.  Louisiana received a grade of D-Minus for K-through-12 Achievement, but received a grade of B-minus for its early-education programs.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal, Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret will lead a Louisiana delegation to Europe for a ten-day economic development trip. Moret says says it’s an opportunity to meet with European companies who are considering investing in Louisiana. The group leaves Sunday.

 

The freezing temperatures we had has strawberry farmers working to minimize the damage on their crops here in the state. Regina Bracy, with the LSU AgCenter, says sub-freezing temps can have disastrous effects on the strawberry harvest.  But Bracy adds that strawberry plants can take the cold, and she suspects that freezing weather will just delay the start of the Louisiana strawberry season.

 

The plea is not guilty on the charge of aggravated rape from the former “Sons of Guns” reality TV star Will Hayden. He is accused of raping a young girl in East Baton Rouge Parish on multiple occasions in the span between March 2013 and August 2014. He is also to plead in the forcible rape of a Livingston Parish woman next week.

 

A state lawmaker from Mandeville is introducing a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would restrict the use of cell phones to “hands-free” only on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Representative Tim Burns says the number of fatal accidents involving vehicles plunging off the side of the bridge has gone from one every 5 years to three a year now. Burns supports a statewide ban on hand held cell phone use while driving but lawmakers can never pass such legislation.

 

Entergy Gulf States Louisiana plans to build a $187 million power transmission facility in the Lake Charles area, the region projected to have the fastest job growth in the state from an industrial boom that’s driving a need for more electricity. The project includes two new substations, expanding a third substation and adding about 25 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. The Lake Charles Transmission Project is one of the largest single transmission projects in Entergy’s history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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News for Thursday 010814

By Dave Graichen

 

We’re seeing temperatures in the teens for the northern half of the state and it’s not much warmer along the coast. State Climatologist Barry Keim says be prepared for what will be a cold day.  It was unusually cold in Louisiana last January and Keim says we are experiencing another polar vortex. Keim says not only is the air temperature colder than normal, but we are also seeing some bone chilling wind chill readings as well.

 

The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office is seeking a Montgomery man wanted on warrants for home invasion and armed robbery. Two other suspects already are in custody, but officials still are searching for 27 year old Joshua Blake Coburn of Montgomery. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact authorities.

 

APD Detectives have arrested 51 year old Jerrell Fontenot after an investigation into two robberies at the south Macarthur Dr. Pizza Hut. The robberies occurred in October and in December. Fontenot was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with armed robbery and attempted first-degree robbery.

 

Alexandria police have arrested 22-year-old Tavis Thomas, on a warrant issued by the Alexandria Fire Department. An AFD spokesman said Thomas became a suspect in a Dec. 26 fire set at a house that was occupied by two children and an adult. The adult at the house was able to put the fire out, and there were no injuries.

 

On the first day of qualifying, Two former Alexandria mayoral candidates tossed their hats in the ring for the vacant House District 26 seat. Jeff Hall and Alice Hammond, both democrats from Alexandria, qualified Wednesday for the special election, which will be the only election in Rapides Parish on Feb. 21. Wednesday was the opening day of qualifying, which continues from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and Friday at the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.

 

According to media reports, the New Orleans Saints are reportedly going to keep Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan for next season. NFL Analyst Mike Detillier says the defensive weakness of the Saints are more about the players than the coaches, so he says the Saints have some work to do in the off-season. The New Orleans Saints ranked 31st in the league for yards allowed.

 

A Thibodaux High School teacher has been charged for having sexual contact with a student. The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office says they learned of the alleged sexual incident between twenty-five year-old Celeste Bergeron and a 17 year-old student. Bergeron admitted to the sexual contact, and the Lafourche Parish School Board Superintendent Jo Ann Mathews says Bergeron is no longer employed by the school system.

 

An Abbeville High School teacher is in jail accused of having sex with one of his female juvenile students. Thirty-six-year-old Nicholas Willis is accused of engaging in sexual relations with the juvenile which is a felony.

 

The Monroe Police Department says they’ve recovered the body of a 38-year-old man from Rayville in a private pond. They say Clarence Dean Roy Jr. was reported missing after he left a construction site in western Ouachita Parish and was located Tuesday afternoon in the water near the work site. Foul play is not suspected. Cops believe Roy had a medical issue.

 

Police in Baton Rouge say a 12-year-old boy is in critical condition after a car swerved off the road and hit him while he was walking to school Wednesday morning. They believe it was a mechanical program with the vehicle which caused the driver to lose control and hit the boy walking along a nearby sidewalk. Cops say the driver isn’t cited and the crash is under investigation.

 

The State Department of Transportation announces a plan to widen a portion of I-10 between Lafayette and St. Martin Parishes. The DOTD says construction will take place where I-10 meets I-49 all the way to Breaux Bridge and will take two years to complete. This is the first of three projects that will widen or improve I-10 from Lafayette to the Atchafalaya Basin.

 

Festivities begin today to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. As part of the War of 1812, the battle culminated in a US victory over the British in Chalmette on January 8, 1815. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says this was one of the most important battles fought on American soil. Dardenne says this victory enabled America to continue to expand westward and cemented Louisiana’s role as part of the United States. He says special events will last throughout the weekend.

 

If you’d like to try to save money on your homeowners and auto insurance, the Department of Insurance has enhanced its online tool to help consumers find a better rate. Commissioner Jim Donelon says you can enter specific information about you into the new website like your age, or how many miles you drive and other things that set rates for insurance. Donelon says among the features of the new website are streamlined online services and a responsive design that makes it compatible with mobile devices. The “Shop Your Rates” guides can be accessed at ldi.la.gov.

 

The LSU men’s basketball team begins conference play tonight as they visit the Missouri Tigers in a game that will tip-off at 6 P-M. The Bayou Bengals enter league play with an 11-and-2 record and eight-game winning streak. You can hear that game tonight on 970 KSYL.

 

 

 

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News for Wednesday 010715

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office says the town clerk in Forest Hill has been arrested on multiple counts of forgery, malfeasance in office, and more. Lt. Tommy Carnline says their investigation began when town officials discovered some discrepancies in their fine collections. 31-year-old Trista Goleman had allegedly been cashing money orders that were being sent to the town for fine payments. Carnline says Goleman was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, where she faces 17 felony counts each of forgery, malfeasance in office, injuring public records and filing false public records. Investigators believe Goleman acted alone.

 

Qualifying for the special election to fill the House District 26 seat begins today in Rapides Parish. Candidates can qualify from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today through Friday this week at the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office. The House District 26 primary election is set for Feb. 21. A runoff, if needed, will be held March 28.

Early voting for the Feb. 21 election is set for Feb. 7-14 (except Sunday, Feb. 8).

The winner of the House District 26 special election will serve out the remaining year that is on the second term of Herbert Dixon who resigned Dec. 10 for health reasons.

 

Two New Walmart neighborhood Markets officially open today. The stores, located on highway 28 east in Pineville and off of Jackson Street Extension in Alexandria, will directly compete with other area supermarkets.

 

New 5th District Congressman, Republican Ralph Abraham of Alto, was sworn in on Capitol Hill yesterday. Abraham will be taking over the seat previously occupied by Vance McAllister. Abraham says the new Republican controlled Congress will get to work rather quickly and you can expect to see votes occur this week. He says they will address the immigration problem and the export ban on Liquefied Natural Gas. Abraham says one of the first items they will address will be the Keystone XL Pipeline, something the White House said yesterday the President would veto.  Abraham is optimistic that the GOP controlled Senate will be able override a presidential veto.

 

A new republican controlled Congress is already battling with President Barack Obama over the much-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The White House has issued a veto threat, if lawmakers approve the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. Newly elected republican senator Bill Cassidy doesn’t understand the opposition to the five-point-four billion dollar project. The House could approve a bill that green lights the project by the end of the week and a Senate could happen soon after. 60 members of the Senate support construction of the Keytone, including six Democrats, but Cassidy is concerned that won’t be enough to overturn a Presidential veto.

 

According to 24/7 Wall Street, Louisiana is the 5th most dangerous state in the USA. The report indicates more dangerous than Louisiana are Alaska, New Mexico, Nevada and Tennessee. LSU Criminologist Edward Shihadeh (Sheh-Ha-Dah) says

Louisiana also ranks 3rd highest in poverty rate and only 83% of people here have a high school diploma which is the 4th lowest nationally. Shihadeh says lack of education and crime go hand in .

 

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is asking residents to please be aware of the artic weather that is currently moving through the state. The National Weather Service says the cold blast began impacting Louisiana overnight and a hard freeze is expected at sundown through Thursday morning. Officials remind you to protect pets, plants and pipes and if you plan to use space heaters, be sure you have a working smoke detector.

 

The premiere of Duck Dynasty Season 7 is tonight at 8:30 on A&E and some experts are saying the show is losing its luster. Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for The Washington Post. She says it’s not unusual for reality show ratings to drop, but the Robertson family has seen a major decrease in numbers. But she doesn’t think this is the end as 3 million people tuning in is a really great number for cable and it’s probably the best thing A&E has going on right now.

 

The mother of the Baton Rouge pre-schooler who drowned in a 20-foot, water-filled well has been charged with negligent homicide of 4 year-old Jassiah Clark. BRPD says 25-year-old Brittni Clark, was charged Tuesday afternoon, because they do not believe the child was properly supervised when he went missing on December 20th

 

Sports..

 

A Baton Rouge TV station reports Ohio State Quarterback and two-time Big 10 MVP Braxton Miller is considering transferring to LSU. An injury kept Miller from playing this season and two younger QBs passed him up on the depth chart.

 

LSU has moved into the next step in its search for a defensive coordinator with at least one candidate.

Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will interview for the job soon. Shoop is expected to interview with coach Les Miles after a week of flirtation between the two sides. LSU’s search for a replacement for John Chavis has entered its second week with a host of candidates and possibilities, but Miles has officially interviewed only a  few coaches.

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News for Tuesday 010615

By Dave Graichen

 

Alexandria Police say a man is behind bars for pulling the trigger in a fatal shooting that investigators are calling an accident. Lt. Brooks Fairbanks says 29-year-old Kendall Smith is charged with negligent homicide. He says they responded to a report of a shooting and located another 29-year-old male victim suffering from a gunshot wound.

Fairbanks says an investigation revealed some individuals were playing with a weapon before the incident took place.

 

The APD is investigating a bank robbery that happened Friday afternoon after a man walked in to the Coliseum Blvd branch of First Federal Bank and demanded money.

The man  left on foot with "an undetermined amount of cash,". "No weapons were observed, and there were no reported injuries."

 

Doctor Bill Cassidy will be sworn in as a US Senator today giving Louisiana two republicans in the US Senate. What will that mean for the Bayou State? U-L Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Louisiana will have a unified voice on issues that the Senate debates. Cross says Louisiana loses clout in the US Senate, with Cassidy replacing three-term democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. But he says the state can make up for it by having Cassidy and Senior Senator David Vitter working together in a republican controlled Senate…

 

It’s an election year in Louisiana and Angola Warden Burl Cain’s name has come up as a possible candidate for governor. Cain was in Baton Rouge Monday and says he’s still thinking about running for the highest elected position in the state. Cain has served as the Warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary since 1995. He says the idea of him running for governor came from people who have visited the prison. Cain says he’s a civil servant and he’ll have to resign, if he runs, so right now, he doesn’t want to talk about the topic.

 

Angola Warden Burl Cain says he has not taken any steps to install a cooling system on death row. A federal judge has ruled that the state needs to take more measures to cool off death row during the hot summer months. The ruling is currently under appeal. Cain says it would be too expensive to add any type of cooling system at the prison. Cain says they couldn’t just reduce the heat levels on death row, it would have to be the entire prison. That isn’t in the budget.

 

Republican lawmakers are looking to move past the controversy surrounding the number three House GOP leader, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, over a speech he gave 12 years ago to a white supremacist group. Incoming Utah Representative Mia Love is the first black female Republican elected to the House. She told ABC’s “This Week” that Scalice has the support of the party. Scalise has stated that the speech was a mistake that he now regrets. Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, have backed Scalise. However, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says Scalise once referred to himself as -quote- David Duke without baggage.

 

The Kenner Police Department confirms New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette is under arrest and booked with domestic abuse battery. They say the incident involved a female acquaintance who sustained injuries including blood coming out of her ear when her earring was apparently ripped out. The 26-year-old linebacker told cops that the woman was a dancer he brought home for the night, but the victim claims she was Galette’s assistant who had been staying with him for about two years. Also arrested was Gallett’s cousin, 27-year-old Terrance Banks of Newark, New Jersey. The woman told cops the argument started over money for a cab.

 

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal is scheduled to have two closed door meetings with conservative religious leaders in Iowa. According to the Des Moines Register, the meetings will take place in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says Jindal is looking to shore up his support among this important group of voters. Jindal is thinking about a presidential run in 2016 and Iowa is important because they host the first primary. Stockley adds that evangelicals and conservatives are also important because of their participation in the primary.

 

 

 

 

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News for Monday 010515

By Dave Graichen

 

A cold week is on tap for Louisiana as artic air makes it way into the Bayou State. Tim Humphrey, with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, says high temperatures will only be in the 40s for north Louisiana today and 50s in south Louisiana and even more colder air will arrive Wednesday. Humphrey says the cold air mass heading down from Canada will be dry, so you won’t have to worry about any winter precipitation.

 

Just over 20 new state laws went into effect with the start of the new year. That includes changes to Louisiana’s D-W-I laws. Law enforcement officials say the changes will make it easier for everyone to understand the penalties of driving under the influence. One important change,  judges can now take certain measures to provide substance abuse help for those convicted of their first or second D-W-I. The new law  laws also calls for jail time for first time offenders, who are under the age of 21.

 

According to GasBuddy.com, it’s possible we’re at the bottom of the dramatic drop in the price we pay at the pump. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says their current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is around $2.10 and crude oil prices will likely not drop much lower. Laskoski says if gas prices are at their lowest point right now it wouldn’t be much of a surprise because that’s typically what happens in January.

 

With a new Congress set to swear-in tomorrow that puts a wrap on Mary Landrieu’s last day as a U-S Senator. Landrieu has served Louisiana in the Senate the last 18 years and LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says she’ll be remembered for her work to bring federal resources to the Bayou State. In 2006, Landrieu co-authored a piece of legislation that expanded oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and it also steered billions of dollars in revenues produced offshore to Louisiana to help fund the state’s coastal restoration efforts. Hogan says without a doubt, Landrieu fought for the state.

 

Louisiana has been experiencing some mild temperatures so far this winter which is good news for the crawfish season. LSU Ag Center Aquaculture specialist Dr. Greg Lutz says warmer weather allows the mudbugs to grow faster during the winter months. Lutz says the supply of crawfish right now is fair and it should be getting bigger toward the end of the month.

 

The state department of health and hospitals is encouraging businesses to come up with programs or policies at the workplace that would encourage employees to live a healthy lifestyle. Martin says the most important initiative is to offer a tobacco free environment. She says the state offers many cessation coaching programs for the workplace. Martin says providing two or three healthier cafeteria options can help improve employee wellness. And She says healthier snacks during meetings can actually provide a more productive workforce.

 

Almost everyone in Louisiana knew her as Elly Mae, actress and former beauty queen Donna Douglas passed away in Zachary New Year’s Day. She appeared on “The Beverly Hillbillies” on CBS from 1962 to 1971. Donna Douglas was 81.

 

Sports..

 

After missing 21 games with a shoulder injury, Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon may play tonight when New Orleans hosts the Washington Wizards. Gordon, who is averaging almost 10 points a game, went through practice yesterday and believes there’s a chance he can play tonight. The Pelicans are 17-and-16 on the season, one game back of Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. You can hear tonight’s game starting at 7p on our sister station espn1410.

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News For Friday 010215

By Dave Graichen

 

The investigation continues into a fire yesterday morning at the Zion Hill church in Pineville. The fire which was confined to a warehouse owned by the church broke out at about 4 in the morning. Authorities do not believe foul play was involved in the blaze.

 

The Centers for Disease Control says the flu has now reached the epidemic level in the United States and the state Department of Health and Hospitals says its going to get worse before it gets better in Louisiana. Medical director for the immunization program, Dr. Frank Welch, says on average seven out of every 10 doctor visits in the state are for flu-like symptoms. He says this year’s flu shot is not perfect, but that should not be an excuse to not get immunized. Welch says the flu shot is still absolutely your best protection.  Welch says, after receiving a flu shot a couple of months ago, he contracted the flu last week. However, symptoms were mild.

 

The Pentagon says the Army Contracting Command at Fort Polk awarded an extension  to Northrop Grumman Enterprise Management Services to continue transportation, maintenance and supply at Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The extension will run through the end of June.

 

Louisiana driver’s licenses can now sport university logos. Smokers must step away from state Office Building entrances when they light up. And 16-year-olds will be able to register to vote but not exercise the right just yet. The changes came as the result of some of the 22 new laws that went into effect on the 1st. Other new laws provide more transparency to government agency operations, more regulatory protection to Louisiana’s payday loan industry and more options for people to make charitable donations when they file income tax returns.

 

Louisiana’s Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret anticipates significant growth in 2015 as a result of the new projects they announced last year. Moret says a lot of that growth will occur in the high tech and the software development industry

Moret says in 2014, Louisiana announced dozens of company expansions or relocations, which will result in 25-thousand new jobs.

 

With statewide elections taking place this year and the possibility of Governor Bobby Jindal announcing a run for President, 2015, expects to be another wild year in Louisiana politics. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Republican US Senator David Vitter is the front-runner in the governor’s race, but there are other strong candidates.

Pinsonat says we can expect an announcement early this year from Jindal on running for President. He says the governor may have to announce his intentions sooner than originally planned, because of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s entrance into the race. Pinsonat says it’s unclear how involved Jindal will be with state matters in his final year of office, especially if he’s focused on the 2016 Presidential race.

 

The minimum wage goes up in 21 states Yesterday. Of course, here in Louisiana the minimum hourly wage stays at $7.25. But Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa says with nearly half of the states acting on their own, it will spur more talk about raising the federal minimum wage. Critics of a higher minimum wage say it forces some businesses to reduce their work force in order to compensate for the higher wages. Traditionally, that has not been the case.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is now accepting applications from individuals who are interested in becoming an enforcement agent. LDWF spokesperson Adam Einck says individuals interested in applying should visit the state’s civil service website and also must complete a test to qualify for consideration. They will be accepting applications until January 23rd and out of those applications, 24 cadets will be chosen and will train for six months in Baton Rouge. Einck says this is a great position for people who love to be outdoors. He says field agents spend most of their time outdoors, on the water and trekking through the woods.

 

More than 56-thousand Louisiana residents have selected health insurance plans during the first month of open enrollment under what is commonly called “Obamacare.” Doctor Karen DeSalvo, with the US Department of Health and Human Services, says the 2015 open enrollment period will last until February 15th, and she urges people to get covered. Nearly 102-thousand people in Louisiana purchased health insurance through the federal marketplace in 2014.

 

With a New Year underway, many people strive to live a healthier lifestyle and try to lose weight. Melissa Martin with the State Department of Health and Hospitals says in order to keep your New Years resolution you can start with keeping it simple and realistic. Martin says having a support system to keep you motivated while working toward your goals. She says also smart phones have new food journal apps that can help you stay accountable and aware of the decisions you make. Martin says drinking water is very important to staying on track because the number one symptom of dehydration is hunger. She says also watching your alcohol consumption can really make a difference when it comes to following through with your resolutions.

 

 

 

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News for Monday 122214

By Dave Graichen

 

Today is the first full day of winter and many have not forgotten last year’s winter, which saw colder than normal temperatures and a few rounds of frozen precipitation.  State Climatologist Barry Keim says the climate prediction center’s forecast for the next three months indicates we could see a repeat. Keim says the wildcard right now is the El Nino which has been in the forecast for a while, but hasn’t formed yet. He says the climate prediction center is giving the system a 60% chance of forming sometime this winter Keim says if the El Nino does form the way they think it will this winter, we’ll get more rain and even possibly some freezing rain like we saw last winter.

 

New employment numbers are out and Louisiana’s labor force grew to a record 2,179,837 in November. The number of people employed in the state jumped by 59,419 over the year. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says people are responding to Louisiana’s strong and sustained job growth by joining our workforce in record numbers

Eysink says, over the month of November, we added about 7,000 people working in Louisiana. He says this is outpacing a national trend.

 

A group called Senate Conservatives Action is sponsoring radio ads that target Republican Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise. The ads accuse Scalise of siding with President Obama instead of standing on the conservative platform. LaPolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says this attack stems from the Congressman’s efforts to help pass a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill. Alford says this is interesting since Scalise was able to capture the whip position because he was a favorite of the tea party movement, where the Senate Conservatives Action finds its roots. He says there is a bit of political intrigue here as this group supported Rob Maness in his run for the US Senate. Rumors are circulating that Maness may challenge Scalise in 2016.

 

A new poll shows that Republican Senator David Vitter’s change in position on Common Core is popular with voters. Vitter announced earlier this month he opposes the new educational testing standards and a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey found that 64-percent agree with Vitter. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the testing standards will be a main issue in the governor’s race. Another Republican gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, says he supports the controversial education standards.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has reached an agreement with the Secretary of State’s office to archive state employee health insurance program’s records. They had stopped sending claims for several months, because of privacy concerns. Now, the new agreement will have those records in a facility that is under Federal laws protecting personal information.

 

State Police troopers are urging drivers to use extra caution while on the highways during this holiday period. Sergeant Nick Manale says driver error is responsible for many of the wrecks they are seeing. Manale says since Thanksgiving week, State Police have worked fatal wrecks that resulted in 66 deaths. Manale says in most of the fatal wrecks they’ve investigated, the victims were not buckled up.

 

Here in the final days of 2014, there are some things taxpayers can do to put them in a better financial position in 2015. John Theriot is an accountant with the Louisiana Society of CPAs and he says business owners should accelerate expenses, because anything they can pay before year’s end will get the 2014 deduction. Theriot says now would also be a good time to let your employer know you want to up your contribution on your 401K or change your filing status on your W4. He says before the new year, you also might want to think about making charitable donations, so you can deduct it on your 2014 tax form.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU Tigers are back at practice this week as they continue preparations to play Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. Even though the Bayou Bengals have some extra time to prepare for this game, Coach Les Miles says don’t expect many changes when it comes to game planning for this game. The other issue hanging around the LSU football program….Is how many underclassmen will leave for the NFL? There’s a report LSU cornerback Jalen Collins plans to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, but Miles is optimistic they won’t see as many juniors leaving for the pros early as previous seasons.

 

For the fourth straight season, the Ragin Cajuns have ended the year by winning the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. U-L Lafayette defeated Nevada 16-3 on Saturday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Coach Mark Hudspeth has now led the Cajuns to four straight…nine-win seasons.

 

Louisiana Tech holds its first practice in Dallas today leading up to its game against Illinois in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas bowl. Bulldogs Coach Skip Holtz says the team is looking forward to bowl week preparations. Holtz says the message to his team is that playing in a bowl game is great, but winning it, is even better

 

The Saints had a chance to win the NFC South on Sunday, but instead the Black and Gold’s season came to an end with a bitter 30-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. What makes it hurt even more is that, New Orleans finishes the year with five straight losses at the Dome.

 

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News for Friday 121914

By Dave Graichen

 

Some much needed rain will be hitting Louisiana today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this rain is coming at a great time as the state has been rain deficient over the last two months. Keim says the entire state is teetering right on the edge of drought with everything east of the Atchafalaya Basin experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. Keim says the precipitation will be short lived with conditions clearing by Saturday morning

 

Governor Bobby Jindal says he opposes the President’s plan to “normalize” relations with Communist Cuba, but Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says resumed trade would benefit Louisiana. He says other non-democratic countries enjoy normal trade relations with the US. Prior to 1961 Cuba was the Port of New Orleans’ largest trade partner.

 

A new Southern Media and Opinion Research poll shows 58-percent of Louisianians disapprove of Governor Bobby Jindal’s job performance as he heads into his final year in office. 600 likely Louisiana voters were surveyed. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says you probably won’t see the Governor’s popularity increase very much as he ends his term.

But Pinsonat points out that the poll shows 70-percent of Republicans give the governor a positive job rating. With both houses of the state legislature being controlled by Republicans, Pinsonat doesn’t see these poll numbers changing the way Jindal will do business in his last year

 

US Senator David Vitter has a double digit lead over other 2015 Governor candidates in Louisiana according to a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey. But Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the same poll also found 40% of respondents don’t approve of Vitter’s performance. Southern Media and Opinion Research surveyed 600 likely voters and 36-percent support Vitter.

 

Rep. John Fleming is using the congressional break to shore up support in Louisiana for a possible 2016 Senate run. Fleming, armed with $1.1 million in campaign cash, is eyeing the seat of Republican Sen. David Vitter, who is running for governor next year.

 

Gas prices are about 75-cents lower than a year ago as we head into what should be a busy two weeks of traveling during this holiday period. Gregg Laskoski, with gas-buddy-dot-com, says with the statewide average at about $2.30 a gallon, it should help consumers pay for other expenses. Laskoski says gas prices have been on a sharp decline since October and this trend should continue into next year. He says the US Department of Energy is projecting a national average price of $2.60 a gallon for 2015

 

The last Saturday before Christmas could be as big a shopping day as Black Friday especially if you’re still looking for TVs, appliances or clothes according to experts. Andrew Kuo (quoe) is a marketing professor at LSU. He says the downside of the so-called “Super Saturday” is that shoppers are typically at the mercy of the retailers.

MartketWatch reports Super Saturday could edge out Black Friday as the top sales day of the year in 2014.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal is defending his plans to headline a prayer rally next month at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus. Some professors and students protesters are up in arms over the event sponsored by the American Family Association, which has been very vocal about being against homosexuality. Jindal says he’s continuing to support the rally.

 

You might be able to have a crawfish boil with your family for Christmas as mudbugs have already been spotted in stores. Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association President David Savoy says December crops are still considered somewhat early, but weather permitting, the season will really start to kick in early next year. He says they’ll also be in mixed size right now and pricey which is typical for this time of year.

 

A grand jury in Shreveport has indicted a former Homer police officer on charges he violated the civil rights of several people on multiple occasions. 64-year-old Willie Fred Knowles is accused of pushing a woman and hitting her for no reason and tasing others without justification. He is also charged for allegedly lying to the FBI about the incident.

 

A Ponchatoula man faces 15 to 40 years in prison for downloading more than half a million images of child pornography, one of the largest collections ever found in the state. 52 year old Robert Swan pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a massive child porn network that included pictures and videos of children as young as 4 weeks of age being forced to engage in sexually explicit conduct

 

Sports..

 

U-L Lafaytte and Nevada meet tomorrow morning in the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. It’s the fourth straight year the Ragin Cajuns have played in this bowl game and last year 55-thousand people were attendance to see the Cajuns face in-state foe Tulane. Billy Ferrante, executive director of the New Orleans Bowl, says unfortunately reservations are down and they don’t expect to see that kind of crowd this year.

 

Sources close to LSU are reporting that Tigers Cornerback Jalen Collins will skip his senior year, and enter the NFL Draft. Collins has not made any official announcement, although he has met with agents, and has reportedly requested a draft grade from the NFL.

 

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News for Thursday 121814

By Dave Graichen

 

Tragedy strikes construction workers on Highway 165 near Columbia, after their stopped construction truck with a large arrow board was re-ended. State Trooper Michael Reichardt says 42 year-old Jan Williams of Columbia was traveling northbound and attempted to go around, but didn’t clear the vehicle striking it and seriously injuring one of the workers. Thirty year-old Michael Roberts of Monroe died later at an Alexandria hospital.

 

Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany plans to meet with Veterans Affairs officials today over their decision to push back the completion date of two new VA clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. It’s reported that the opening of both clinics are delayed by almost a year to 2016.  Boustany says his office has not been contacted by the VA in regard to this issue. It’s reported though that VA officials made the announcement of the delay at a town hall meeting in Lake Charles.

 

A public demonstration is being held this evening in downtown Opelousas to protest grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York where charges were not pressed in officer involved deaths. It’s being organized by newly-elected alderman Tyrone Glover who says the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Opelousas Police, the DA’s office and the city marshal are all participating.

 

The former star of Sons of Guns, William Hayden, has reportedly been formally indicted by an East Baton Rouge Parish Grand Jury on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of forcible rape. A total of four victims have made claims against the founder of Red Jacket Firearms.

 

Everyone keeps buzzing about the price at the pump. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.34 which is down two cents from yesterday and almost 13 cents lower than this time last week.

 

The super low gas prices are making car salesmen happy this Holiday season as vehicle sales rise. Bob Isreal, Executive Director of the Automobile Dealers Association, says the consumer in general is feeling more confident with their money because of the lower price at the pump.

 

Christmas is one week from today and many people would call the next 7 days the most stressful of the year. LSU AgCenter Life specialist Diane Sasser says it’s a good idea to get plenty of rest and if you’re too tired — slow down. She says it’s important to keep smiling and stay positive because getting too easily irritated is unproductive. Sasser says if you’re lonely or missing a loved one, attending a community holiday event may brighten your spirits.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday  that the video game developer High Voltage Software will open a new studio in New Orleans and starting hiring soon. The company has worked with many major brands including LEGO and Star Wars. The company CEO says the state’s tax incentives were fundamental in the decision to open a studio in Louisiana.

 

President Obama has announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, but not everybody is onboard with the move. George Fowler, a native of Cuba, and Vice Chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, says the proposed prisoner exchange could be very dangerous, and there’s very little – if any – economic benefit, with the exception of one, Cheep cigars.

 

A Grambling State University student traveling at a high rate of speed is dead, and another student injured following a crash near campus. Witnesses said the driver over-corrected, flipped multiple times and burst into flames. Twenty-one year-old Carl Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene and his passenger 23 year-old Arceneau Robinson was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition.

 

The Jeanerette Police Department says a 57-year-old man is dead after allegedly being shot by his juvenile son. They say it happened Tuesday night and they’re still investigating whether or not the shooting was accidental. The victim’s identify has not yet been released.

 

Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Metairie says he supports US Senator David Vitter in his campaign to become governor. The House Majority Whip thinks Vitter would do a great job. Scalise made his comments on a Baton Rouge Talk Show Show.

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News for Wednesday 121714

By Dave Graichen

 

There’s new information released in the fatal crash that killed three people in Beauregard Parish on Sunday. State Police originally believed that 28-year-old Kristi Poteet of DeRidder was heading the wrong way on U-S 171 when she collided head-on into a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Ricky Gill of Singer. Now investigators believe it was Gill who was driving the wrong way. The release states that Gill is suspected of being impaired, but that toxicology results on both drivers still is pending. Gill, Poteet and Brian Taylor, a passenger in Poteet’s car, all were killed.

 

A school funding task force is suggesting an increase in funding, if there is enough money available. The recommended price tag is $75 million dollars, and the next stop for the recommendation is the BESE Board before it goes to the legislature in March.

 

State Police report that a Port Allen man is under arrest after they learned he was attempting to solicit murder. 37-year-old Tommy Joe Gioele (JEE-oh-lee) is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder. Troopers say a man informed officers that Gioele approached him and asked him to kill two people in Pointe Coupee Parish. They gathered enough evidence to make the arrest.

 

23 year old Brittany Cooley and  23  Kevin Waller of DeRidder  have been arrested and  charged with cruelty in the case of an infant who is in the hospital and  on life support.

Both were charged with second degree cruelty to a juvenile after authorities were informed of a  5-month old girl being admitted at a Beauregard Parish hospital with indications of abuse. The pair  both were booked into the Beauregard Parish Jail, but bond has not been set. An investigation is continuing.

 

Crude oil prices continue to fall. They are down 47-percent since June and it’s the largest drop in five years. When oil prices decline over a long period of time, it means less revenue for the state government. But Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the state legislative fiscal office, is hopeful other revenue streams can make up for the loss in mineral revenues. Albrecht says the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet next month and agree on a forecast for future revenues.

 

A backlash is brewing over a prayer rally featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled for LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center next month. LSU students, faculty and other activists have come out against the event, called “The Response,” largely because it’s being paid for by the American Family Association, a controversial conservative religious group that opposes gay marriage and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights efforts. A protest has been planned in response to The Response, and a petition has gained hundreds of signatures in just a matter of days.

 

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he plans to “actively explore” a presidential campaign and an operation allowing him to raise money for a bid. So what does this mean for Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations? UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Jindal is more conservative and Bush is more mainstream Republican, but obviously the later has the name recognition. He doesn’t think this announcement will change Jindal’s aspirations.

 

The Louisiana Workforce Commission has launched a new online mobile tool that would help people find careers that interest them while supporting the standard of living they want to maintain. LWC spokesman Tom Guarisco says it’s called “My life. My way.” and it’s a fun way to envision the life you want. Guarisco says users can learn how much they need to earn by choosing from 8 regions in Louisiana then making lifestyle choices about housing, food, transportation. He says the app will then connect you to the appropriate career. You can find the tool online at laworks.net/mylife.

 

According to a new national survey, for the first time more teens are smoking e-cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes. The annual University of Michigan “Monitoring the Future” report surveyed over 40,000 8th, 10th, and 12 graders. DHH Health Promotions Director Caroline Brazeel says they are currently analyzing data for Louisiana but expects to see a similar trend here. It is cited that a possible reason for the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among teens is the perception that they do not harm your health. Brazeel says that’s not the case because nicotine can have a negative impact on brain development.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a Mississippi man has been cited for allegedly drowning a deer in the Mississippi River in Concordia Parish. Adam Einck with L-D-W-F says a witness observed 40-year-old David Hayes of Natchez, Mississippi, commit the crime. Einck says a wildlife and fisheries’ agent found Hayes with a dead eight point buck lying in front of the vessel. He says Hayes admitted to drowning the buck in the river on the Louisiana side. Hayes faces several hundreds of dollars in fines and up to 90 days in jail, if convicted. He also might have to pay a two-thousand dollar restitution charge for the replacement value of the deer.

 

 

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News for Tuesday 121614

By Dave Graichen

 

US Senator David Vitter announced his committee assignments Monday and says he’s been appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says he promises to use that position to launch attacks on the Obama administration’s agenda. Vitter says he’ll also become Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and continue serving on the Senate Environment, Public Works and Banking committees.

 

The Rapides parish sheriff’s office reports they have been getting a multitude of calls in reference to a person identifying themselves as being with the Sheriff’s Office. That caller is claiming the person has missed jury duty and tells them for $400.00, they will recall the warrant.  They ask the potential victim to get a reloadable VISA card to pay this fee.  Need we say, this is a scam. If you get such a call report it to authorities.

 

State Police say 61 people have died in crashes they’ve investigated since the day before Thanksgiving this year. Not being properly restrained, impairment and driver distraction were the contributing factors. Col Mike Edmonson says in his 34 years with state police, he’s never seen a worse 30 day period than this one.

 

State Police say a suspected drunk driver heading the wrong way on a four-lane highway in Beauregard Parish struck another vehicle head-on, resulting in three fatalities. Authorities says they believe 28-year-old Kristi Poteet was traveling south in the northbound lanes of US 171 just north of Longville.

 

State Police is investigating a crash involving a pedestrian who was struck and killed after he fell out of the back of a truck in LaSalle Parish over the weekend. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says 22-year-old Brittany Walker of Jena was traveling on La Highway 8 when she struck an unknown object in the roadway. Moreau says they later determined that the object in the roadway was 43-year-old Marcus Jones. He says while they were working the scene one of victim’s friends returned looking Jones because he realized he was no longer in the back of his pickup.

 

The UL-Lafayette football team leaves today for New Orleans where they’ll play in the R+L Carriers Bowl for the 4th straight time. The Ragin’ Cajuns will travel to The Big Easy to take on Nevada in the Mercedes Benz Superdome Saturday with a 10am kickoff.

 

Although he has yet to declare his intent to run for President in 2016, Governor Bobby Jindal returns to Iowa today. Iowa is a key Presidential primary state. Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson says Jindal has been making political appearances in Iowa for several years. Jindal will headline the Polk County Republican Winter Victory Dinner in West Des Moines tonight. This is the governor’s fourth trip to Iowa this year and third in the past three months.

 

Fisherman got some good news Monday as areas off the coasts of Elmer’s and Grand Terre islands opened up for the first time since the 2010 oil spill. Dean Blanchard, Seafood business owner, says the more shrimp they are able to put more on the market the lower the price will go. He says they are keeping a close eye on these shrimp to make sure they aren’t affected by the spill. There is still an area near Barataria Bay that remains closed to fishing.

 

A Louisiana Department of Public Safety officer is charged with sexual battery and malfeasance in office following a traffic stop in Zachary. State Police Lt. JB Slaton says the victim contacted the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office after the traffic stop.

Michael Selders of Clinton was booked into the East Baton Rouge Prison.

 

The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s office is investigating the case of two women who were shot in a domestic disturbance leaving one dead and one injured. Authorities say they found two female victims with gunshot wounds. A 20-year-old victim was pronounced dead at a hospital and the 19-year-old suffered non-life threatening injuries. A New Iberia man was arrested a short time later.

 

Sports..

 

Even though LSU’s Les Miles didn’t want to go on the record to talk about the vacancy at his alma mater Michigan, the Tigers head coach made it clear with reporters on Monday. While Miles wouldn’t discuss the Michigan job, he spoke highly of LSU’s future and what the Tigers can accomplish in the future, especially if they don’t lose a lot of underclassmen to the draft

The Saints are in first place in the NFC South after winning on the road again. New Orleans beat the Bears 31-15 at a soggy Soldier Field in Chicago. After getting blown out at home last week, New Orleans took it to the Bears as Quarterback Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and the Saints defense intercepted three passes and sacked Chicago Quarterback Jay Cutler seven times. The Saints are now three and four away from New Orleans. Payton’s team will look to snap a four-game home losing streak this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

 

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