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A new poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research shows Republican Donald Trump winning the Presidential race in the Bayou State and six in ten voters give Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards a favorable rating. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says Trump has a strong lead over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

“Donald Trump’s doing very well in Louisiana. He’s at 49%, and Hillary Clinton’s at 33%,” Pinsonat said.

Pinsonat says only 8-percent of voters remain undecided about the presidential race. But neither candidate is well liked. Pinsonat says 53% of voters have an unfavorable view of Trump, while 60% dislike Clinton.

“Hillary’s doing very poorly in Louisiana. She’s got extremely high negatives, and she may be doing worse than Obama did,” Pinsonat said.

The survey also found that Edwards’ approval rating is at 60%. But Pinsonat says one elected official beat out Edwards as the most popular Louisiana leader.

“You have to say they’re very good numbers for a Democrat in Louisiana, but John Kennedy regained his ranking as the most popular statewide elected official,” Pinsonat said.



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A Union parish high school student is suing the LHSAA for not allowing him to play his senior year because he was held back in the sixth grade. An LHSAA rule states that if a student is held back a year in middle school, he or she can only play three years of high school sports. The student’s attorney, Brian Blackwell, says the LHSAA’s decision violates the American with Disabilities Act, because the student repeated sixth grade because of ADHD.

“This student repeated sixth grade, and no other fact was important, and I just think putting blinders on like that is unfair,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell says the act requires reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, and he is confident the court will rule in favor of this student.

“What the suit requests that the court do is to prohibit the LHSAA from enforcing this ineligibility rule in this particular situation,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell says teachers and doctors made a decision for this student that were in no way intended to challenge LHSAA’s eligibility rules. He says playing high school sports helps this student deal with his disability. 

"His parents would say, and I think he'll say, his participation in sports has helped him deal with his ADHD," Blackwell said.  

The LHSAA has not issued a statement on the case, but a court hearing is set for Friday.



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The 110th Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport kicks off today at 10 a.m. with tons of new and different activities. The fair runs until Sunday November 13th. Fair President and General Manager Chris Giordano says they have changed the days the fair is open to accommodate the festivalgoers and will now only be closed on Mondays.

“All our weekdays we’re open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. but it’s free from 10 to 3. On Fridays we close at 11 and on Saturdays we close at 11.”

There are also parking and entrance discounts available from Tuesdays to Thursdays. Giordano says they have the largest carnival in Louisiana with 60 rides. He says the fair has a circus and a zoo with many different animal attractions.

“With giraffes and zebras and camels and petting zoo animals. We have racing pigs, we have the Great American Duck Race, we have a big bear show.”

Wayne Toups and Joe Diffie will be among the artists performing throughout the three week long fair. Giordano says the fair also offers different shows from break dancing to daredevil stunt acts. And he says every year the food vendors gets even wilder with their unique concoctions.

“Worm pizza, cricket pizza, scorpion pizza, donut burgers. They fry everything, even have someone that does fried watermelon.”



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Governor John Bel Edwards along with local lawmakers begin a two-day tour today where they’ll fly over the Louisiana coast and then visit offshore oil and gas facilities. State Rep. Jerome Zeringue of Houma will be with the governor and says trip’s primary purpose is to help the oil and gas industry and coastal restoration co-exist.

“Highlight the significance of what our working coast is all about, the oil and gas industry. Just as important, it’s about how vulnerable we are and how important it is to address these issues of coastal land loss.”

Gov. Edwards issued a statement saying our coast is disappearing at an alarming rate, but we can’t ignore the important role offshore energy plays with the state’s economy. Zeringue says Edwards is very adamant that the funding reserved for coastal restoration will be used for that purpose.

“Every dollar that’s intended to restore and protect our coast, we need to ensure it actually goes to that purpose. The governor indicated his support for restoring and protecting out coast and we can make some significant headway.”

There will also be an offshore energy industry roundtable in Port Fourchon. Zeringue says this will provide the industry a chance to talk with Governor Edwards about how important oil and gas is to the economy in coastal parishes. He says this sector is not only important to this region but the entire country.

“A significant amount of dollars that go to the GDP of this nation are generated off the coast of Louisiana. We need to do what we can to support the industry.”



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The latest Southern Media and Opinion Research poll shows Republican John Kennedy continuing to lead the field in the US Senate race with 22%, followed by Democrat Foster Campbell at 16%. Rounding out the top five are Republican Charles Boustany with 14%, then Democrat Caroline Fayard at 12%, and GOP candidate John Fleming at 9%.

"Kennedy is ahead, but they are all pretty close in this race that's far from over in a short amount of time," says pollster Bernie Pinsonat.

The same poll also found that the State Treasurer received the highest "positive" job performance rating among the five elected officials tested with Governor John Bel Edwards coming in second.

Pinsonat says the number of undecided in this round for the seat being vacated by David Vitter is 15% which is down considerably from the last survey.

"Which means that some of these candidates are going to have to do a lot better from someone else's number to be able to make it to the runoff," says Pinsonat.

Pinsonat says of those voters who have not selected a candidate in this race yet, 12% are white and 22% are black. He says that means it appears as though Campbell will be getting most of those votes.

"If he gets most of that vote and gets 5 or 6 percent of the whites," said Pinsonat. "How does he not make the runoff?"


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State officials have wrapped up a two-day meeting discussing the importance of restoring Louisiana’s coast before it’s too late. Val Marmillion with America’s WETLAND Foundation says Louisiana could lose a third of its coast in the next 50 years. He says the five year revision of the coastal restoration plan will be released in January.

“The state legislature will have to take a look at it and hopefully move it through and pass it, hopefully unanimously because we need the plan now to move from the planning stages into implementation,” Marmillion said.

The master plan for coastal restoration needs to be revised immediately, and Governor John Bel Edwards believes the cost of this plan will go up significantly. Officials believe they will have at least $10.7 billion for the first 15 years of the 50 year plan.

“The current five year master plan, when it was developed back in 2012, the price tag on it was a minimum of $50 billion. It may be close to twice that in 2017,” Edwards said.

About $7 billion of the cost will be covered by the Deepwater Horizon settlement from BP. Edwards says it will also help tremendously if Congress allows Louisiana to reinvest its $100 million annual payments for the levee system that was constructed after Hurricane Katrina. He says it’s important to protect that asset that taxpayers have already invested in.

“You don’t ever want the coast lapping at the levees, and so the more coast we can restore between the levees and the Gulf, the longer those levees are going to last, the better they’re going to perform,” Edwards said.

Another roundtable on coastal restoration will be held December 7.



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Early voting has only just begun, and it’s already a record breaking year for turnout. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the 2012 election set voting records in Louisiana, but the turnout yesterday even topped that.

“Yesterday we had 87,000 people vote, more than double what we did in a record setting year in ’12,” Schedler said.

Schedler says lines are shorter today for early voting, and he expects wait times to be around 10 to 15 minutes. He says yesterday there was one issue briefly in Jefferson Parish when a fiber optic line went out between the registrar of voters and the satellite office.

“That causes a little bit of delay on the registration side, and we had to do it the old fashioned way. But other than that, we were clear sailing,” Schedler said.

Schedler says his office is getting record calls from voters concerned the election is rigged. He blames the campaign rhetoric for these outrageous claims that have caught fire nationwide on both ends of the political spectrum.

“We usually hear from one side in an election of this occurring, that occurring. I’m hearing from both sides, and I’m trying to figure out who they think I’m rigging it for because both sides are about it,” Schedler said.



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A Baton Rouge man who set his wife on fire in September is finally behind bars. Sgt. Don Coppola with the Baton Rouge Police Department says 28-year-old John Harleaux got into an argument with his wife on September 24th. He says things turned violent when the woman called for her mother to come pick her up.

“He felt the need to begin spraying her with hairspray. Mr. Harleaux placed a lighter to the flammable liquid, causing her to ignite,” Coppola said.

Coppola hates that someone would think of doing this to anyone, much less to their own spouse. He says the woman was seriously injured.

“The wife suffered second and third degree burns to her left arm, shoulder, and back area as a result of his actions,” Coppola said.

Coppola says Harleaux evaded police officers since the dispute. He says thanks to a tip from Crime Stoppers, they were able to locate the suspect yesterday. He says Harleaux was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

“He is charged with domestic abuse battery by burning,” Coppola said.



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The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center is making donations to community groups assisting with flood relief efforts in south Louisiana. Executive Director Cashauna Hill says $200,000 dollars from their Baton Rouge Revitalization Fund will be distributed among faith-based and nonprofit organizations.

“The funds will be used to boost the existing capacity of those organizations who are already working on the front lines to ensure that everyone has equal access to recovery,” Hill said.

Hill says organizations in the greater Baton Rouge area will receive a portion of these grants. She says the groups will then use the funds at their discretion to assist flood victims in any way that they need.

“That may be providing educational material and doing outreach to connect people with resources in their area or working with people and providing one on one case management services,” Hill said.

Hill says being based in New Orleans, GNOFHAC understands the need for people to get back into their homes as soon as possible after a disaster. She says they’re thrilled to be able to help people and extremely grateful for the work these organizations have been doing since the flood in August.

“It is an absolutely amazing experience and incredibly satisfying for us to be able to partner in this way with these groups who are doing such necessary work,” Hill said.



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Louisiana flood victims have received over one billion dollars in flood insurance payments in less than three months after the historic flooding. Wayne Berggren with the National Flood Insurance Program says they’ve seen over 29,000 claims submitted for review and payment and of that 48% have been closed out.

“We’ve been trying to get the money back into the community as fast as we can and it’s every day, more money is getting out to the homeowners who have flood insurance.”

Berggren says the average payment a homeowner covered under the National Flood Insurance Program is about 68,000. He expects when all claims are reviewed, flood victims overall will have received a little over two billion dollars.

“We’re very pleased with what’s going on and the progress we’re making. Most of the adjusters have met with the homeowners are initial reviews and visits, it’s just a matter of getting some proof of losses and some final estimates.”

For more information about flood insurance, homeowners can visit floodsmart.gov. Berggren says these flood insurance payments will help people rebuild. He says this event is why every homeowner should at least get an estimate for flood insurance from their local agent.

“If this kind of disaster ever happens again, which I pray it does not, that the majority of the homeowners will have at least some type of flood insurance coverage so that they won’t have to wait for a presidential declared disaster.”



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LSU Health New Orleans is offering free well water testing in areas affected by the historic flooding in August.

Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Adrienne Katner says test kits that could be used to analyze for metals and coliform bacteria will be distributed at two locations in French Settlement in Livingston Parish on Thursday and Friday afternoon.

“It’s a big problem after a flood. Especially if the well hasn’t been well maintained. If there are any access points were flood water can get into the well.”

Katner says the main side effect of drinking contaminated water is diarrhea. She says a contaminated well can be cleaned through shock chlorination and FEMA also offers assistance.

“A lot of people were afraid of their water and they didn’t want to test it so they’ve been drinking bottled water and flushing it as much as they can but they don’t have a lot of resources to treat their well.”

Katner says their free well water testing program will start in Livingston Parish, but they’ll also visit other affected parishes over the next several months. She says the free sampling kits at the two locations in French Settlement on a first come, first serve basis.

“St. Joseph Catholic Church in French Settlement and the other one is at the First Baptist Church. We’ll be giving them out October 27th -28th. People can return them through October 27th-29th.”

To learn more about the study call (504) 568-5942 or email welltesting@lsuhsc.edu



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A dangerous couple is behind bars following a traffic stop in Covington that led to a disturbing discovery. Capt. Daniel Seuzeneau with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office says Monroe Myers and his girlfriend, Winter Flowers, were pulled over for a missing taillight.

“When the detectives searched the vehicle, they discovered a lot of drugs- heroin, methamphetamine, lots of cash and drug paraphernalia,” Seuzeneau said. 

Seuzeneau says the drugs and paraphernalia were not even the biggest concern. He says deputies also discovered a sawed off 20 gauge shotgun disguised as a children’s toy.

“They wrapped the shotgun in the popular children’s character ‘The Minions’ duct tape. So when you actually see this gun, it literally looks like a toy. In reality it’s a very dangerous weapon,” Seuzeneau said.

Seuzeneau says the couple have been charged with possession of meth and heroin, intent to distribute, possession of a firearm with a controlled dangerous substance, and being fugitives out of Tangipahoa parish. He says both Myers and Flowers also have previous criminal history.

“It’s very obvious that this couple is dangerous, and they belong in jail. We’re lucky that we got them, and hopefully the justice system will keep them where they belong,” Seuzeneau said.

(pictures courtesy of St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office) 


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Voters in Baton Rouge and around the state are exercising their right to vote today on this first day of early voting. Charles and Kathleen Gendusa were among those that cast their vote on the first day the polls opened. They say they were hoping to go before the lines got long, but they ended up having to wait about 20 minutes. They were so eager to vote, they even showed up a day early.

“Just to beat the crowd, but the crown was here. They beat us,” Charles Gendusa said.

“Yes it was kind of rough. As a matter of fact, we showed up yesterday on the wrong day, and so we came back today,” Kathleen Gendusa added.

Early voting will be open from 8:30 am until 6 pm every day except Sunday through November 1. Raymond Jensen works at the East Baton Rouge Registrar of Voters Office and says early voting turnout has been good so far. He says there’s usually a lot of early voters during a presidential election, and the lines show it.

“It’s been pretty steady. This morning we had a line probably about 30 minutes wait, but now we’re down to about 15 minutes,” Jensen said.

Jensen says he expects wait times to be between 15 and 30 minutes throughout the early voting period. Carla Schiavone also cast her ballot on the first day of early voting. As a displaced flood victim, she says she didn’t have any trouble finding out where to vote, but she did have to drive a long way.

“I came out today because I am currently displaced from my home. It flooded back in August. It just happened to be a day that I was in Baton Rouge, and since I’m living two hours away, I figured I would just come on in and get it done,” Schiavone said.



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There is serious conversation about an east-west interstate that would cross central Louisiana through Alexandria, connecting western Texas to Georgia. Malcom Morris of Leesville, who is with the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition, says the chance of a new interstate called I-14, is very likely. He says they’re working on getting a federal designation and Texas has already been issued one.

“We feel like we have the support of the Louisiana Delegation and we’re just waiting for an appropriations or transportation bill or some other appropriate activity to come up so we can get that designation.”

Morris says once a designation is received, a corridor is selected but the interstate is probably 10 years out from being constructed. He says the plan is for I-14 to run mostly along Highway 28.

“A route from the Sabine River Bridge, LA 8 now and Texas 63, across 28 to Natchez, Mississippi.”

Morris says having two interstates, one moving north-south and one moving east-west, is a tremendous economic boom for the cities in central Louisiana. He says I-14 would be helpful for the overall military picture of this country and especially this area.

“The Port of Beaumont, which is the port of debarkation for Fort Polk, the Port of Corpus Christi. The interstate itself will not run to Corpus Christi or to Beaumont but it will run to arteries that connect to them.”



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Louisiana ranks fifth in the country when it comes to the percentage of cancer deaths that are attributable to smoking, according to research from the American Cancer Society. The percentage is 33-percent and it's higher for men.  Chronic Disease Director with the Louisiana Department of Health, Melissa Martin, says LDH is doing what they can to reduce the number of smokers. She says that starts with preventing kids from picking up the habit.

“We’re working together to look at protective policies, as well as programs to really educate the youth in our state,” Martin said.

The report shows Louisiana ranks second for the number of male smokers who died from lung cancer, at 38%. The rate for women was 25%, coming in at number 8 nationwide. Martin says LDH is committed to supporting nonsmoker’s ability to decrease their exposure to second hand smoke to try and keep those numbers down.

“We’re working to create tobacco-free environments where we live, learn, work, and play, such as in work sites or restaurants,” Martin said.

Martin says the state also offer a free comprehensive quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW to educate the public on how to kick their habit.

“Anyone in our state is able to call in and receive quit coaching, online services, as well as free nicotine replacement therapy,” Martin said.



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We’re two weeks away from Election Day, and party leaders on both sides are facing similar struggles. Candidates for US Senate have been going at it with opponents from their own party. Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party Stephen Handwerk says those vicious blows will make it harder for the party to come together after November 8th.

“When you see that sort of fighting, it’s really hard to turn back around the day after an election and then endorse the person that was attacking you,” Handwerk said.

After Senate candidate and former-KKK leader David Duke qualified to participate in next week’s Senate debate, Handwerk and Louisiana GOP executive director Jason Dore agreed that if he polled high enough, he should be included. However, Handwerk says they share the same opinion about whether or not they would like to hear what Duke has to say.

“Because of the things that he says and the things that he does and the things that he fights for, he absolutely should not be given any extra time from anyone, is my opinion,” Handwerk said.

Selfies in the voting booth have been a big topic this election cycle. Both party leaders encourage people to exercise their First Amendment rights and selfie if they like. Dore says social media is a huge part of the world today and sees this as an extension of that.

“As long as they’re not causing longer lines at the polls or being forced to do it to prove who they voted for, I think it’s a great thing,” Dore said.

(pictured: Handwerk) 


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Recent polls show Republican Donald Trump will defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Louisiana on November 8th. But Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, Stephen Handwerk, says they are not throwing in the towel yet.

“I still have strong belief that Louisiana has some possible fight left in it to possibly win for Hillary Clinton,” Handwerk said.

But Executive Director of the Louisiana Republican Party, Jason Dore, believes Louisiana will be dark red on November 8, fully supporting Donald Trump. He says when it comes to the issues like the economy, 2nd Amendment, Obamacare, and the oil industry, it’s clear which candidate shares Louisiana values.

“Mr. Trump’s views are in line with the interests and the values of the people of Louisiana, while Hillary Clinton is in opposition with the vast majority of people in our state,” Dore said.

Handwerk believes that the polls showing Trump out in front in Louisiana has more to do with the public’s dissatisfaction with the political system than it does with the billionaire businessman’s ideologies.

“They see this as ‘I don’t necessarily care for the man. He’s certainly not someone I’d want to hang out with my daughter, but he’s an individual that is short circuiting this campaign cycle,’” Handwerk said.

But Dore says Trump is energizing voters. He says they have seen record high participation in the Trump campaign in Louisiana. So much so, that they are sending volunteers from the Bayou State to campaign in other parts of the country.

“We’ve had well over 100 volunteers sign up to go knock doors in Florida. This weekend they’ll be descending upon the panhandle to assist the Florida GOP in the Trump campaign,” Dore said.



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A Tulane University study finds women and racial minorities are not widely present in Louisiana’s judicial system. The report says women make up 51% of Louisiana’s population, only 30% of state judgeships are held by women. Political scientist Sally Kenney with Tulane’s Newcomb College Institute says we need to start conversations about women and minority inclusion.

“We could encourage more women and minority men to run for judicial office and also encourage those that are serving on the lower rungs of the judiciary to run for higher judicial office,” Kenney said.

Racial minorities make up only 23% of judgeships in Louisiana, while accounting for 36% of the population. Kenney says the judicial system being dominated by white males can affect how fair people perceive the system to be.

“If they don’t see themselves represented on the bench, they can lack confidence that the decisions are fair, much that we question the fairness of all white or all male juries,” Kenney said.

The report found similar numbers for federal courts based in Louisiana, with women constituting 40% of judges and racial minorities making up only 14%. Kenney says the US Senate advises and consents for those judgeships. She says there are over 100 judicial vacancies in the country, and many senators have declined to give approval to fill those positions.

“If the Senate is determined not to replace judges who retire, I think we’re going to see even more judicial emergencies in federal judicial districts,” Kenney said.



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Early voting is underway for the Presidential election. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says polls are open at their parish Registrar of Voters Office or at other designated locations from 8:30 am until 6 pm everyday but Sunday through November 1. He says Election Day is on a Tuesday, so it might be easier to early vote, especially for flood victims.

“That way for those that have maybe missed a lot of work because of the flood, you’re not taking time away from the office again,” Schedler said.

Schedler says there are 220 races statewide involving more than 700 candidates, as well as 6 constitutional amendments and 78 propositions in 38 parishes. He says in last year’s gubernatorial race, there was about a 40% voter turnout, and he expects this race to be much higher.

“The presidential election is always the Final Four and Super Bowl all put into one, and we usually float right below 70%. I would love to attain that and have no reason to believe we can’t,” Schedler said.

Schedler says voters can use the Geaux Vote app to find out where they can cast their ballots. He says this year’s “I Voted” stickers featuring the iconic Blue Dog are extremely popular. He says the only way to get a sticker is to vote, and early voters will also get a sticker.

“We even have people that have already voted by mail that are calling us to see if they can get the Blue Dog sticker. We’ve never ever had anybody voting by mail that’s called to get an ‘I Voted’ sticker,” Schedler said.



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A tragic fire in Vermilion Parish claimed the lives of two young children, aged 1 and 3, and the woman who was trying to save them. State Fire Marshal’s Office spokesman Brant Thompson says the blaze broke out just prior to 5am on Sunday. And that’s when the mother inside the residence awoke to the smell of smoke.

"She immediately retrieved a two-year-old child and exited the home, her five-year-old child was able to flee the home," Thompson said.
Thompson says 3 of the 6 occupants of the home were able to escape. He says a second adult and close friend of the family, 22-year-old Felicie Cloteaux, did not leave the house when the fire broke out but instead ran to another bedroom.
"In a failed attempt to rescue two younger children, 3-year-old Rory Hudson and his one-year-old sister, Arabella," Thompson said.
Thompson said no official cause of the fire has been determined, but investigators suspect an electrical malfunction sparked the blaze. There were no working smoke alarms in the home at the time. Thompson says Cloteaux’s body was recovered from within that home still clutching the two small children in her arms.
"Cloteaux had every opportunity to save herself by fleeing the home, but instead selflessly sought to rescue her friends children," Thompson said. 


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