News for Thursday 032813
By Dave Graichen
More good economic news for the Pelican State today. Governor Bobby Jindal announced IBM will be moving into Baton Rouge and bringing 800 new jobs. About 30-million dollars in state, federal and city money will help construct the office building, which will also include residential units overlooking the Mississippi River. Jindal also announced Louisiana will provide 14-million dollars over ten years to LSU so they can produce more computer science grads.
State Superintendent of Education John White says demand for the state's voucher program is growing. White says they received nearly 12-thousand applications from families seeking state assistance to attend a private school. White says that's up from the 10-thousand applications they received last year, the first year of the statewide voucher program. The Louisiana Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether the funding mechanism for the voucher program violates the state constitution. White is not saying how they will fund the vouchers program if they get an unfavorable decision.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is now guesstimating our state could save 368-million dollars by expanding the state's Medicaid program under the new federal health law. The savings would be spread out over ten years. But the governor doesn't like it, calling it an inappropriate growth of a government entitlement program.
The LSU Board of Supervisors has approved a preliminary agreement that allows Shreveport’s Biomedical Research Foundation to negotiate a deal that could lead to the takeover of LSU Health in Shreveport and E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe.
The board — minus Supervisor John George of Shreveport — unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding that sets off official negotiations.
LSU has a new system president and chancellor. The Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously gave their approval to naming Dr. F. King Alexander to the position. The former president of California State University Long Beach says a great LSU will lead to a great Louisiana for decades to come.
The Louisiana Legislative Democratic Caucus held a press conference yesterday morning to give reasons on why Governor Jindal's tax proposal is bad for the
Bayou State. The press conference came on the heels of a report the Jindal administration is touting that says the tax-swap plan will lead to more jobs and high incomes for residents. But Leesville Representative James Armes (ARMS) says Jindal's attempt to eliminate income taxes in exchange for higher sales will allow the rich to
become richer. The head of the caucus, Amite Representative John Bel Edwards, pointed out the governor’s plan would create the highest sales tax in the nation.
More than 1200 acres have burned since this weekends' wild fires began along the Tangipahoa-St.Tammany parish line. It's created a haze in the air for nearby parishes as well. Firefighters say without significant rainfall they will continue to burn. Authorities believe the cause of the fires maybe arson or people burning debris.
It's being reported the cast of A&E's hit reality show Duck Dynasty which is filmed out of West Monroe want more money -- or no season 4. The Robertson family is reportedly engaged in a salary standoff with the cable network that's delaying the show's renewal.
Total personal income in Louisiana grew at a slower rate than the United States average during the fourth quarter, according to a report released Wednesday.
Total personal income in the state was $183.9 billion during the fourth quarter, an increase of 1.7 percent from the third quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s slightly below the 1.9 percent growth nationwide in total personal income, which is the income earned by individuals from all sources.
News for Wednesday 032713
By Dave Graichen
A town hall meeting last night in Pineville drew the line for those against and those for the sale of alcohol in the city. Mayor Fields told the crowd, the purpose of the meeting was to get public input on the city potentially moving forward with a process that could result in allowing restaurants in Pineville to serve alcohol. The council would need approval from the state legislature to call for an election on that issue.
The LSU Board of Supervisors will recommend F. King Alexander today to be the next President of the state's flagship university. During a meeting with the media last week, the Cal State Long Beach president said he's excited about helping higher education thrive in Louisiana. LSU's resources have been spread thin, but Alexander has made clear he plans to work with the state to increase the University's status as a necessary asset in Louisiana.
A non-partisan think tank releases its study, saying Governor Jindal's tax reform proposal will benefit Louisiana's economy. Kevin Kane is President of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He says they examined the economic impacts of the tax swap, and predict a positive effect on individuals and businesses. Kane says the study finds the tax swap would enable business to create over 10-thousand new jobs in Louisiana by 2017, and would boost corporate investment in the state by $183-million. Download the full study report at "pelicaninstitute.org"
Tim Barfield, executive counsel for the Department of Revenue said yesterday Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tax restructuring plan would shift $500 million in tax costs from individuals to businesses. Barfield went on to say though business tax costs would grow, the governor’s plan would benefit companies by giving them increased stability and simplicity.
New York Mayor and gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg is paying for TV ads that attempt to convince Senator Mary Landrieu and 14 of her Senate colleagues to vote for legislation that would require background checks of gun purchases. The 12-million dollar ad campaign will run during the two-week congressional Easter-Passover recess.
State Superintendent of Education John White says he wants to consider eliminating one of Louisiana’s three high school diplomas. The move is driven in part by a new push to aid students who want to pursue a career after high school rather than seeking a four-year college degree. The diplomas offered now are: Core 4, which is the college preparatory curriculum. Career, which is supposed to prepare students for jobs or community or technical colleges. Basic, which is aimed at getting students ready for community or technical college and is less rigorous than Core 4. White told the Superintendents’ Advisory Council last week that the system is flawed and that the state should consider issuing only two diplomas — college and career. Superintendents generally praised the concept, and several said they would back pilot projects.
Recent colder-than-normal temperatures will have an impact on crawfish availability for the busy Easter weekend. That's according to David Savoy, president of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmer's Association, who says the supply of mudbugs will not meet the demand. Savoy says the recent cold snap an earlier Easter and a less than average supply to start with are the main reason for the shortage.
A group has formed to help Louisiana residents understand the changes that will take place as a result of the new federal healthcare law. It's called the Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana CEO Mike Reitz says more people will be required to buy their own insurance and that could be a daunting task for some. Under the new federal health care law, people who are unable to get insurance through their employer or other means will be required to buy coverage through a health insurance marketplace set up by the government. Open enrollment for the health insurance marketplace begins in October with coverage to begin in 2014.
The Louisiana Department of Corrections says a fugitive who's been on the run since January 1st has been captured. Authorities say 33-year-old Keana Barnes gave Los Angeles Police a fake name as she was being given a ticket for loitering outside of a
business there and the officer became suspicious. Barnes was serving a 25-year-sentence on 2 counts of manslaughter.
Police in the Acadiana area are actively searching for a Youngsville man who walked out of his vehicular homicide trial yesterday and didn't come back. They say 43-year-old Wade Lohse told the prosecutor he needed to put more money in a parking meter at the courthouse then never came back. He is accused in a drunk driving death that happened last year and is facing several other felony charges.
25 more trees have been swallowed by the Bayou Corne sinkhole. The most recent slough-in was on the hole's southeastern side. Seismic sensors detected tremors last Friday and water movement within the muddy slurry that fills the hole. Texas Brine, the company who owns the underground salt cavern beneath the sinkhole, is in the process of buying out homeowners nearby, who've been evacuated for over 7
State Agricultural Commissioner Mike Strain says his office is monitoring the unseasonably cold weather to make sure that it will not have an impact on Louisiana's crops. He says freezing temperatures throughout the state may have some slight effect on corn, tomatoes and peppers. However, weather will begin warming up this weekend and Strain says will be a good time to plant your vegetable garden.
The No. 6 seed Lady Tigers – with just seven healthy players – upset No. 3 seed and healthy Penn State 71-66 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Tuesday night to get beyond the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. LSU (22-11) will meet California (29-3) in the Sweet 16 on Saturday in Spokane, Wash.
Lsu baseball last night.. the tigers defeated Tulane 14 to 1in 8 innings.. The boys travel to Missouri for a three game series starting this Friday.
News for Tuesday 032613
By Dave Graichen
A town hall meeting is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. at Pineville City Hall to get citizen input on allowing restaurants to sell alcohol in the city. Mayor Clarence Fields said the meeting is “to make sure people have the right information.” Multiple developers have lobbied the City Council to consider loosening the restrictions on alcohol sales. They say the restaurants and hotels that are shying away from the city would seriously consider coming to Pineville if alcohol was on the table. Again, that town hall meeting is tonight at Pineville city hall.
A 41-year-old Alexandria man is facing an aggravated battery charge after a fight at an Alexandria daquiri shop led to a stabbing Friday. Alexandria police responded to the Frosty Factory on Jackson St. in response to a stabbing in the parking lot. Officers found a 23-year-old victim who had been stabbed in an arm and the chest after an argument over parking. Police issued a warrant for the arrest of Demetrius Green of Alexandria. Green was arrested and booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. The victim was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated and released.
The state Legislative Auditor's office says a 5-year study reveals the state's many tax rebates and tax credits have cost Louisiana over $6- billion. Auditor Darryl Purpera says the audit of the years 2006 to 2011 was done to provide citizens and state lawmakers information on the impact the tax breaks have had on state revenues. Purpera says tax credits accounted for the loss of $5.4-billion from state coffers. He says tax rebates account for well over $731-million in revenue losses. Purpera says a healthy portion of the losses are from the state's film & TV tax incentives. The audit didn't look at what if any merits the rebates and credits offered.
A government watchdog group believes Governor Jindal's tax plan should be phased-in so that the state can prevent future budget deficits. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says Jindal's proposal to eliminate income taxes, in exchange for higher sales and tobacco taxes, will be very difficult to begin January 1st, if the legislature passes it this spring. State Treasurer John Kennedy said Monday that Gov. Bobby Jindal should put his tax plan to a vote of the people, instead of vetting it only with legislators.
Much of the state is experiencing below freezing temperatures this morning. Tuesday morning lows dipped into the upper 20s for north Louisiana and temps are in the 30s in south Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a large dome of high pressure from Canada has brought unseasonably cold temperatures to Louisiana. He says cold air will hang around into tomorrow.
The head of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System is the latest higher ed leader to say colleges and universities should have more authority to control tuition. Louisiana is the only state that requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise tuition. Joe May supports a bill to allow higher ed management boards to control tuition.
The Bossier Parish Sheriff's office says a softball coach in Haughton is under arrest for having an inappropriate relationship with a player. They say 28-year-old Jessica Banet is charged with prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and a student.
The former youth minister at St. Thomas More Catholic High in Lafayette has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for having sex with a minor. Prosecutors say 23-year-old Michael Manuel had more than 100 sexual pictures of boys on his phone. He's also been sentenced to 15 years of supervision after he's released.
Officials in Terrebonne Parish are now working to ban saggy pants. The council will consider an ordinance this week and if approved, people who wear pants in public below the waistline exposing skin or underwear could be subject to a ticket.
Father of the Year: The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's office says a 23-year-old man has been cited with careless operation after he picked his daughter up from an Elementary School on a 4-wheeler then peeled out so fast the ATV almost flipped over. School officials say William Jones got angry when he was told he had to wait for the buses to leave first.
A jury in East Baton Rouge Parish finds a local man guilty of the brutal 2008 murders of two people in a public park, and the attempted murder of his own child. EBR Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore says there was ample evidence and testimony to convict 31-year-old Dominique Smith. Smith was found guilty of having slashed the throats of the mother of his children and her brother and his then- four-year-old daughter, Paige. The child survived and is now 9 years old she testified against her father in court.
The LSU Tiger Baseball team has moved up in the polls today. They are NO. 2 in the USA today coaches rankings and NO. 4 in the Baseball America pool. The Tigers are now 22-2 heading into a four game road trip that starts tonight night at Tulane.
News for Monday 032513
By Dave Graichen
Lawmakers trying to track how Louisiana spends its money are learning that even if they don't fund pay raises, state agencies still are finding ways to boost worker salaries.
Promotions, merit raises, optional pay. The raises have many names. No complete tally has been done of pay raises over the past year, but the details have trickled out as individual agencies go to the Appropriations Committee to talk about the budget for the next year that begins July 1.
A Breaux Bridge lawmaker proposes the Legislature look into legalized Internet gaming. Rep. Mike Huval says his primary interest is helping to protect Louisianans who already gamble on websites--sometimes at significant risk. Huval says his House Concurrent Resolution 3 requests the legislature to convene a joint meeting of the House Criminal Justice and Senate Judiciary committees, to study the feasibility and practicality of legalized online gaming. Huval says he's not trying to promote more gambling in Louisiana, but people in the state ARE engaged in online gaming and the state may as well make some revenue from that.
Gov. Bobby Jindal said he would support giving Louisiana’s public colleges and universities more control over tuition, provided they agree to higher performance standards and greater oversight from the state Legislature. Jindal’s comments come as the Board of Regents, which sets policy for all the state’s public university systems, is considering whether to take the fight for “tuition control” to court. The Regents last week publicly announced it was looking at the possibility of filing a lawsuit that could potentially take tuition control away from the Louisiana Legislature and give it to the institutions.
The Federal Aviation Administration will close the Shreveport Downtown Airport's control tower, as part of enforced budget cuts brought about by the so-called sequestration. The tower will go dark on April 8th. Airport officials are working out plans to try to keep air traffic flowing there nevertheless. The air control tower at Monroe Regional Airport is not among those listed for closure by the Federal Aviation Administration. However, the FAA is expected to make another round of cuts in September because of federal budget cuts.
Minden Congressman John Fleming blasts Senator Mary Landrieu for her "no" vote on a bill that would repeal Obamacare and demand the US balance its budget. However, this time the bill would have also strip out money for Pell Grants, historically black colleges and $2 billion for community colleges. No response from Senator Landrieu. By the way, in case you are keeping count, Friday's vote is the 36th time that Senate Republicans have tried -- and failed -- to repeal Obamacare.
The Jindal administration cancels a $185-million Medicaid claims contract with a company called C-N-S-I after it became public that a federal grand jury was looking into how the contract was awarded. Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein is a former employee of CNSI. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says the federal
investigation is looking at whether Greenstein used his authority as DHH Secretary to help his former employer land this contract. The governor's chief of staff, Paul Rainwater, released a statement that says they have confidence in Greenstein. But Pinsonat says if the allegations are true, Jindal will have to take action.
A group of Louisiana clergy says Governor Jindal's tax reform team used flawed information to claim that the tax swap plan won't place a burden on families with limited income. Baton Rouge pastor Rev. Melvin Rushing says the administration’s impact analysis conveniently leaves out the 5.88% tax that would be charged on many services not currently taxed. Rushing and fellow pastors want the Governor's Office to refigure the impact taking service taxes into account and release those findings.
Google is offering free websites for small businesses in Louisiana. Spokeswoman Rebecca Ginsberg says 97% of consumers do some type of online shopping, yet 64% of small businesses in Louisiana don't have a website. She says businesses are missing out on a huge opportunity by not having a presence on the web. Ginsberg says small business owners can take advantage of this opportunity by visiting www.LouisianaGetOnline.com.
A Baton Rouge state lawmaker wants convicted felons to have their voting rights back as soon as they are released from prison. Democratic representative Patricia Smith says the idea behind this legislation is to help former prison inmates feel like they are part of society again, which could keep them from committing another crime. The legislation does not restore voting rights for felons convicted of federal crimes, this proposal only impacts state prisoners.
New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show Louisiana leads the nation in cases of Prostate Cancer. Our state's incidence rate is 178.4 per 100-thousand male residents; the national rate is 137.7 per 100k. The good news is, when caught early, chances of making a complete recovery are good.
The third ranked LSU baseball team completed a sweep over Auburn with an
8 to 2 victory on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers are now 22-and-2 heading into a four-game road trip that starts Tuesday night at Tulane.
News for Friday 032213
By Dave Graichen
The man designated to be LSU's new president meets today with members of the faculty. Dr. F. King Alexander will leave his position as President of Cal State Long Beach to take over the Old War Skule. He says he's looking forward to getting to know professors and instructors. Dr. Alexander says he's not daunted by controversy on campus over his selection. The Faculty Senate voted No Confidence in the LSU Board, over the lack of transparency and inclusion in the presidential search. Alexander says he'll be the faculty's ally, and he intends to be at LSU for "the long haul".
State Police superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson tells state lawmakers he will HAVE to have more new troopers soon. He says there hasn’t been a cadet class since 2008, and troop strength since then has
dropped from 650 to 575. But, the chances of training any new troopers is at least a year or more away. The state budget for the fiscal year that starts in July includes a 15-percent cut for Public Safety, under which the LSP operates.
A good government group says Governor Jindal's proposed tax swap plan will NOT be revenue neutral. The Public Affairs Research Council says the plan could cost the state up to $650-million in
lost revenue, mostly because the plan relies on revenue numbers from 2011, when the state was in the middle of a recession. Tim Barfield, the governor’s lead man on the tax rewrite, says PAR's analysis is based on flawed assumptions, and it WILL be revenue neutral.
Wednesday Former four-term Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards weighed in on Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposal to replace state income taxes with increased sales taxes, saying the plan is bad for the poor and the state. In a Lafayette Daily Advertiser interview Edwards said "It's a tax plan for the rich at the expense of the poor". On Monday, another former Democrat governor, Kathleen Blanco, accused Jindal, a Republican, of using the tax debate to pull attention away from the coming cuts in the state health-care system.
The Jindal administration on Thursday announced it has canceled a controversial contract that has come under scrutiny by a federal grand jury. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols issued a prepared statement announcing the decision impacting a $185 million-plus contract to process Medicaid claims with CNSI, a firm with ties to state health secretary Bruce Greenstein. The state will work with the current contractor, Molina Medicaid Solutions, to provide services during this transition and until a new Service provider can be found.
Lake Charles Police name a suspect in a triple homicide Wednesday night. Police Chief Don Dixon says the shooter and accomplices approached a group of young men shooting dice in the city's McMillan Park and ordered them to lie on the ground and turn out their pockets. Four men were shot, three of them were killed. Dixon says the shooter is 18-year-old Armonta Hadnot. He is also suspected of a non-fatal shooting just hours earlier at a Lake Charles gas station.
The multistate Powerball jackpot drawing for Saturday night is a whopping estimated $320 million. Louisiana Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says this is the 6th largest Powerball jackpot ever. She says more and more people are playing which is why these jackpots get big so quickly. The cash
value of the current jackpot is an estimated $198.3 million.
U-L Lafayette has announced the details of its much anticipated 115-million dollar master plan to improve the athletic facilities on campus. Ragin Cajuns Athletic Director Scott Farmer says a new athletic practice
facility is one project they hope to begin construction on soon. Farmer says the master plan also calls for the major renovation of their baseball park and an upgrade of their football stadium, which will include replacing the current press box at Cajun Field and adding club seats and box suites. Farmer says for the entire Master Plan to become a reality it will take a financial support from all levels of the Ragin Cajuns fan base.
The Northwestern State University Demons will face an uphill battle as they take on a heavily favored Florida team in the second round of the N-C-A-A Tournament tonight. The last time the Demons were in the tournament was in 2006, when that year's squad upset the third-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes in the first round before losing a hard-fought game against West Virginia.
The third ranked LSU baseball team hosts Auburn tonight for the start of a three-game series. The Tigers are 2-and-1 in league play, while Auburn was swept by Vanderbilt last weekend. Aaron Nola will start on the mound for LSU. Airtime 6:30p on 970 KSYL
News for Thursday 032113
By Dave Graichen
It's officially still unofficial, but Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne told a luncheon in Baton Rouge Thursday he does intend on running for governor of Louisiana in 2015. Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain is also making plans on running for the same office, which would pit two Republicans against each other for the governor’s mansion in less than two years.
This has only happened a few times since the “New Deal” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling in favor of St. Joseph Abbey and against the state board of funeral directors. The decision will allow Benedictine monks to keep selling plain, low-cost caskets from their monastery outside New Orleans. The court’s decision shot down a regulation that only state-licensed funeral directors may sell coffins in Louisiana.
The man tagged to be LSU's new president meets today with faculty and staff, as the Faculty Senate votes "no confidence" in the LSU Board over his selection. Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope says that's largely due to the complete lack of transparency in the search for a new president. Cope says the Faculty Senate voted "no confidence" in the board, after the announcement of a lone finalist for the job, Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander. Dr. Alexander’s appointment is expected to be ratified by the full LSU Board next week.
A nearly 39 million-acre oil and gas lease sale Wednesday for the central Gulf of Mexico drew $1.2 billion in high bids by offshore energy producers. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said 52 companies submitted 407 bids on 320 tracts, three to 230 miles off the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Senator Mary Landrieu continues to push for Louisiana's fair share of offshore oil & gas revenues. Landrieu says the revenue sharing bill passed a few years ago doesn't kick in until 2017, and places a
half-billion dollar cap on what the state can collect. Landrieu says she's reintroduced what she calls the FAIR Act. Under Landrieu's bill, Louisiana would lift the cap on royalties paid, and would let the state begin sharing in 37 & a half percent of offshore oil & gas production royalties immediately upon
enactment. Currently that revenue share isn't set to begin for another 4 years.
A New Orleans lawmaker files a bill to make it illegal for a registered gun dealer to sell a gun to a person, who has not completed a firearms training course. Rep. Austin Badon says undergoing a background check should not be the only requirement before purchasing a gun. He says taking a firearms safety class should also be mandatory.
Legislation has been filed to allow Louisiana residents to buy special license plates that say "I'm Cajun". Breaux Bridge Rep. Mike Huval came up with the idea. He says he has no doubt it would be a big seller. The proposed legislation will be discussed when the regular Spring session starts in April. If approved, the plates would be available through the Office of Motor Vehicles at an additional cost of $15.
Beauregard Parish deputies charge a 21-year-old Dry Creek man with a list of sex charges after he was found inside a child's bedroom. Christopher Bounds is charged with aggravated rape, aggravated
second-degree battery, battery of a police officer, resisting arrest and home invasion. He allegedly struck the 8-year-old girl's mother, when caught, then fled the home. His bond has been set at over
State utility regulators voted 3-2 Wednesday morning to postpone for six months part of their order aimed at lowering the cost of phone calls from prisons between incarcerated inmates and their families. PSC Commissioner Lambert Boissiere III, of New Orleans, moved to suspend the part of the December order addressing expenses, saying that the companies should be allowed to charge the fees and put them in escrow account until the PSC decides whether a particular fee can be exempted. He said suspending that part of the order dealing with fees for six months actually gave commissioners a better procedure from which they could enforce the order.
A bill prefiled for the upcoming state legislative session would transfer about 12.5 acres of state property around the Red River levee in Pineville to the city. The property lies between and around a city wastewater treatment facility and a Cleco substation close to the river and the Forts Randolph and Buhlow historic site. It consists of two tracts -- one of approximately 12.3 acres and another of .23 acres.
Rich Dupree, chief of staff for Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields, said the city has no definite plans for the property.
News for Wednesday 032013
By Dave Graichen
Despite the fact that many said he days were over at LC, Dr Joe Aguillard held onto his position as president of Louisiana College, surviving an attempted coup by a segment of the school's Board of Trustees to oust. The board wrapped up two days of meetings on the campus of the private Baptist college Tuesday afternoon. However, Aguillard isn’t out of the woods yet. The board is scheduled to meet again next month. It is expected the matter will be brought up again at that meeting.
It was one of those traffic accidents that to look at, made no sense. One person has died and two others were injured in a three-vehicle crash yesterday at the intersection Lee Street and Texas Avenue in Alexandria. The crash involved two cars, a truck and a van. The damage was much worse than you would have expected to see at an intersection where the speed limit was 35 or under.
Authorities wasted no time in making an arrest in connection with a fire in Wardville yesterday, in which a body in the rubble after the fire was extinguished. Arrested was 44-year-old John Richard Purvis of 419 Smith St. Purvis is being charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated arson and two counts of contempt of court. The identity of the person found in the burned house has not been released, and no cause of death has been determined yet. But detectives are treating the case as a homicide.
Lawyers for the state and for teachers unions argued for and against the controversial school vouchers law before the state Supreme Court Tuesday. A state District Court ruled late last year that the funding mechanism for the scholarship plan violates the language of the state constitution. The state is appealing that ruling. The High Court will have 30 days to issue a ruling on the case. Meanwhile the
vouchers program is evaluating applications for the 2013-2014 school year.
A State Trooper in the Monroe area is under arrest on drug charges. Ronald O. Thomas worked in the Bureau of Investigation Unit. He's accused of payroll fraud, conspiring to distribute cocaine, malfeasance in office and obstructing justice. His arrest is the result of a nearly year-long investigation. Thomas was booked into the Ouachita Parish jail.
Latest numbers provided by the Louisiana Workforce Commission show the state added 18-thousand non-farm jobs from January 2012 to 2013. The commission's executive director Curt Eysink says one-point-nine million people are working in Louisiana and the state could hit two million jobs by the end of the year or early next year. January was the 29th straight month of private sector job growth. Job growth is stronger in south Louisiana, because of a growing chemical industry.
Criminal charges have been filed against a Winnsboro woman who reportedly set herself on fire, then told police she was the victim of a racially-motivated attack. Franklin Parish 5th District Attorney Mark Lancaster says 20-year-old Sharmeka Moffit faces charges of terrorizing & false swearing for the purpose of violating public safety. Moffitt reportedly doused herself with lighter fluid & set herself aflame. She also allegedly wrote "KKK" of her own car, to give the appearance of a hate crime.
Today is the first day of spring and State Climatologist Barry Keim says conditions are likely to be warmer and dyer than normal over the months leading into summer. Keim says this is following a trend that we've seen over the past several years in The Bayou State. About 18 inches of rain has fallen so far this year in Louisiana which is about 5 inches above average. Keim says since we've already had so much rain this year it will take longer before a worry would emerge over drought conditions. But, that could be the case later this year.
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold its Central Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale in New Orleans today. Michael Lyons with the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association says this lease sale is the largest held by the federal government every year, are is very important to Louisiana. Lyons says this year's lease sale will offer 38.6 million acres of offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
It may have taken some strong arming, but Governor Bobby Jindal met for the first time with Bayou Corne families yesterday at that massive Assumption Parish sinkhole. Residents had complained in recent months that the Governor hadn't been very involved with the sinkhole which was highlighted in the media since August. The good news for residents is the governor has been much more vocal for displaced residents the past week.
Again this year a state lawmaker seeks to repeal a state law allowing creation theory to be taught in public school science classes. New Orleans Democrat Senator Karen Peterson has tried the same bill in two previous years. Supporters of the Science Education Act say it's purpose is promote critical thinking by examining alternate theories.
An Opelousas lawmaker says he's concerned that part of Governor Jindal's tax swap plan would deny film payroll tax breaks to people making over a million bucks on movies and tv shows shot here. Democrat state Senator Elbert Guillory says that could potentially chase away some bigger movie productions. Guillory says we should encourage the Louisiana film industry to grow, not enact policies to discourage it.
Bond is set at over a million bucks for a West Monroe man, charged with 150 counts of child pornography. 41-year-old Dwayne Greer was arrested Sunday. If convicted of the charges he could face up to 20 years in prison, and lifetime registration as a known sex offender.
The third ranked LSU baseball team is back in action tonight against Northwestern State. You can hear the game on 970 KSYL. Airtime 6pm
News for Tuesday 031913
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office is investigating what they believe was a homicide, after finding a body inside a burnt structure yesterday afternoon. The fire at 120 Wayne Street that was reported shortly after noon. When Firefighters and deputies arrived witnesses told them that someone was still inside the house. When the fire was extinguished, a body was found inside. The causes of the fire and death are unknown, and there has been no identification made yet on the victim.
Classrooms were evacuated for a short period of time yesterday morning after a bomb threat was called into Acadian Elementary school. The building was searched and classes resumed. Police report the arrest of a 12 year old boy, who they believe was responsible for calling in the threat.
The Rapides parish school board appears a little closer to selecting the districts next superintendent of schools. The board has been interviewing candidates for the past week or so and this Thursday they will, in a special meeting, whittle the list down to three finalists.
The Louisiana Supreme Court hears oral arguments today over whether the financing of the state's voucher program is constitutional. In November, a Baton Rouge judge ruled in favor of opponents to the statewide voucher program. The state supreme court is not ruling on whether vouchers are illegal,
but whether Louisiana can divert dollars from the state's public education fund to pay for a student's tuition at a private or parochial school.
A letter signed by over 250 Louisiana clergy members says Governor Bobby Jindal's proposal to eliminate income taxes in favor of higher sales taxes is unfair to the poor. The letter was dropped off at the governor's office today. The Jindal administration says the tax swap plan will not lead to higher taxes for families.
Houston Based Texas Brine has begun the process of trying to buy out evacuated residents of Assumption parish who live near that giant sink hole. Some of the residents, who have been living away from their homes since August of last year, have said enough is enough and they want the company to buy their property so they could move elsewhere.
In the meantime, The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources says members will be appointed by the end of this week to a "blue ribbon commission" to determine when Bayou Corne residents can safely return home. Odds are though not many of the 150 homes will be deemed to be habitable, especially since Assumption parish officials say another acre of land was swallowed up at the sinkhole Sunday.
It looks like LSU has selected a new campus president. The LSU presidential search committee has recommended F. King Alexander of Cal State Long Beach for the job. Sources have confirmed LSU could finalize a deal and Dr. Alexander could be moved in by June first.
Once again this year, Louisiana tops an annual survey of car insurance costs by state. Auto coverage in our state costs more than any other state in the US. Michigan comes in a close second. The lowest car insurance rates are found in Maine. The high rates are due to high numbers of claims and high lawsuit rates.
The state Legislative Auditor's office uncovers some "problems" with two local governments. Auditor Alan Brown says Jonesboro, in Jackson Parish, had a number of non-compliance violations. Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson was arrested last month for malfeasance related to charges in the audit. In addition, Brown says a 27-page audit turned up possible violations at the Calcasieu Parish Registrar of Voters office. Brown says the Registrar, Angie Quienalty (quee-uh-nall-ty) kept improper records of regular and overtime hours worked by her and her staff, and of vehicles and fuel usage. He also alleges she improperly had staff perform personal errands for her on company time.
A 21-year-old Prairieville man is dead after being run over by a train. Authorities say Ryan Freeman was struck by a Kansas City Southern train. The train conductor says Freeman was lying down
between the rails of the tracks and never looked up or moved as he approached. Freeman was pronounced dead at the scene.
The man suspected of stealing a Shreveport mother's car, with her 7-year-old child still inside, has turned himself in to police. 18-year-old Zerquario Reddix abandoned the car when he saw he had a
passenger. The car was recovered, the little girl unhurt. He is in the parish jail, charged with carjacking.
News for Monday 031813
By Dave Graichen
A vehicle in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s security detail struck a utility pole Sunday afternoon while returning the governor home from his son’s soccer game. The governor’s spokesman, Sean Lansing, said Jindal was not injured in the three-vehicle accident. One of the governor’s bodyguards went to a hospital with minor injuries. At the time of the accident, the governor was returning home in a two-vehicle caravan. State Police said the crash happened when a truck made an illegal U-turn in front of the governor’s vehicles. The truck scraped the side of the vehicle carrying the governor and a state trooper. A second vehicle in the governor’s security detail took “evasive action” to avoid hitting the crashed vehicles and struck a utility pole.
Governor Bobby Jindal tied for 8th place with Sarah Palin in a poll of 2016 GOP presidential candidate choices at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Jindal spoke at the CPAC - jokingly mentioning how unlikely it would be for "a skinny guy with dark complexion and a funny name" to be elected president. The CPAC straw poll put Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in front, followed closely by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Also ahead of Jindal in the poll, Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan and New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says he will not run for U-S Senate next year. Dardenne said he would "ponder" whether to challenge democratic three- term incumbent Mary Landrieu. But after two weeks of thinking about it, Dardenne told John Maginnis of LaPolitics Weekly he loves his job as Lt. Governor and has no desire to run for Senate. Dardenne thought about running for U-S Senate after a statewide poll showed he would fare well against Landrieu in a head-to-head match-up.
Uncertainty over Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed 2013-14 budget for public colleges and universities is sparking widespread alarm both at the Capitol and on Louisiana’s campuses. The distress is twofold. This year’s proposed $209 million budget cut would make six straight years that the governor and legislators have taken an ax to college and university state revenues. Secondly, much of the money earmarked for higher education is speculative and may not materialize at all. Jindal’s budget proposal also counts on schools making up some, but not all, of their shrinking budgets with tuition increases.
Officials with the Monroe Regional Airport say the FAA will make a decision this week on whether or not to close the control tower there. Local officials are lobbying the FAA to keep the tower open. There are five airports in Louisiana that could lose their air traffic control staff due to sequestration.
The National Federation of Independent Business has mixed feelings on Governor Bobby Jindal's proposed tax reforms. The plan would end income taxes, while raising state sales tax from 4% to 5.88%. NFIB Director Rene Amar says some small businesses like the idea of a tax swap. Jindal's plan also proposes to tax services at places like hair salons, dog groomers, landscapers and others. Amar says sales tax collections may be too complicated for some small business systems. She says there are a lot of unknowns about the proposed tax reforms at this point and small business owners are waiting to see the full list of services Jindal is proposing to tax.
About 170 workers at Dean Foods' Oak Farms Dairy in Shreveport will soon be out of a job. The positions are being phased out as the company scales back production. The Shreveport area has had tough jobs news lately, with the closure of the GM plant last summer, and layoffs at Libby Glass, announced last month.
Reforms of the National Flood Insurance Program will likely mean higher premium rates for residents in extreme south Louisiana. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says federal subsidies and rate discounts have been chopped from the NFIP, as a result of flood insurance reforms recently passed by Congress. He says it is regrettable, but the NFIP is currently running an $18-billion deficit.
A Lockport man was busted for video voyeurism, after admitting he took photos looking up a woman's skirt at a Galliano Subway restaurant. 28-year-old Jeremy Perry took the digital images while standing behind the woman in line, without her knowledge. After she left, he showed the photos to some others at the Subway and even e-mailed a picture to another person.
A former Baton Rouge city prosecutor was found dead in a Denham Springs hotel, and police are seeking the woman seen with him there as a person of interest in the case Wilburt Jordan Jr. was once Assistant Secretary of DEQ, and an assistant attorney general. The manner of his death has not been released. Police want to question the woman, once they determine who she is.
Lt Governor Jay Dardenne says he can't afford repairs to Louisiana's state parks damaged after Hurricane Isaac. Dardenne says in recent years the Jindal Administration has shifted money away from the park maintenance fund and there's another proposal to do just that in the budget up for debate this session. Dardenne says it's frustrating that he can't put the cabins back into service at Fountainbleau park which generate money for the state. He says Jindal wants to use $9 million from the maintenance fund for park operations in the budget for the upcoming 2013-14 year.
News for Friday 031513
By Dave Graichen
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a man shot by a Pineville Police Department officer last April. The story started when family members asked the Pineville PD for help in locating a family member , Carter Rhodes Jr., that after they had obtained an order of protective custody for Rhodes. Pineville PD report when they located Rhodes he charged them with a knife. An officer at the scene followed procedure and shot Rhodes. Authorities say video and physical evidence collected at the scene will prove the officer acted properly.
The weather promises to be perfect this weekend for the 28th annual The Louisiana Nursery Festival in Forest Hill. A wide variety of shrubs and trees are available, as well as rose bushes, including the new disease-resistant Knock-Out Rose. Alongside those, there will be bedding plants. Gardening experts will be on site to answer questions. Plus, more than 50 vendors will be at the festival with handmade crafts. The festival runs today through Sunday.
The Jindal Administration unveiled its tax reform plan to state lawmakers yesterday. On the upside, It would eliminate income taxes. On the down side it would eliminate about 200 tax breaks currently on the books. The plan would raise the state sales tax from 4% to 5.88% on most purchases and the cigarette tax would go from 36-cents a pack to $1.41. The plan would include rebates for retirees making less than $60,000 and low and middle income families. The proposed tax changes would go into effect January 1st and lawmakers will debate the reforms when the legislative session begins in April.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s rejection of the federal Medicaid expansion could prove expensive to Louisiana businesses. Collective tax penalties for Louisiana employers potentially could range from $51.7 million to $77.5 million annually, based on the analysis by Jackson Hewitt, a national tax accountants’ company.
A clause in the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, penalizes some employers with 50 or more employees when those workers aren’t able to obtain affordable medical coverage through their company. The employers don’t have to pay the penalty if their employees qualify for Medicaid expansion coverage. That is something the governor has so far refused to agree to.
In an effort to turn things around in failing schools, state superintendent of education john white says Louisiana will use $5million in federal professional development funds to train
educators. The grants will reportedly cover a year of advanced training for the new school leaders.
The East Baton Rouge Metro Council has approved a proposal to let casinos serve alcohol 24 hours a day. The panel voted, 7-4, with one abstention, in favor of creating a special license for casinos that
will allow them to sell alcohol past 2am.
The US Marshals Service added an escaped murdered who disappeared from a St. Gabriel women's prison to their 15 most wanted fugitive list today. Keana Barnes escaped January 1st. She was serving 15 years on two counts of manslaughter.
Shreveport Police are seeking a man who stole car with a small child inside yesterday morning. They report a mom was dropping one child off at daycare, and momentarily left her other child in the back seat. The suspect jumped in her Mercedes sedan and roared off. Some minutes later police received a call that the vehicle was stopped and empty on a local street with a child standing outside. The child is unhurt. Police are searching for the man, who they think was attacked by a dog, while escaping on foot.
A state lawmaker says someone is scamming Louisianans with a bogus website that solicits money in exchange for info on getting a drivers license; info that is free, by the way. Mandeville Rep. Tim
Burns says "LouisianaDriversLicense.org" is a private site that LOOKs like a state website, but asks you for your credit card information and $14..just to link you to the REAL state Office of Motor Vehicles website. The legitimate state website address is "expresslane.org"
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is putting a new initiative in place that focuses on creating lasting connections for children who spend time in foster care. DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier says the "Faith in Family Services" program has several goals. It’s hoped that within 12 months 75.2 percent of children in foster care in the state will be reunified with their family -- which would equal the national standard. She says one of their main goals is also to reduce the number of children in foster care to start with.
The Louisiana Lottery says the estimated jackpot for the Saturday night Powerball drawing is up to $216 million dollars. Kimberly Chopin says this is the second jackpot that's been up over $200 million this year. She says the take home cash payout for Saturday night's drawing is a nice chunk of change, $132.8 million. Before you get too giddy, keep in mind. there have only been 14 powerball winners in Louisiana since the state lottery joined in 1995. That’s less than one per year.
A Calcasieu Parish grand jury indicts nine people in a string of armed robberies of Radio Shack stores in Lake Charles and Sulphur earlier this year. Some of the nine are also suspected of robbing
Radio Shack's in east Texas.
The LSU men's basketball team beat Georgia 68-63 yesterday afternoon and will
advance to the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. The Tigers face Florida today. You can hear that game on ESPN1410.. Airtime 11:30 this morning.
The third ranked LSU Baseball team begins SEC play with a top-ten match-up against eighth ranked Mississippi State. The three-game series with the Bulldogs gets underway in Starkville at 6:30 tonight. Coach Paul Mainieri is expecting close, hard-fought baseball games. You can hear tonight’s game beginning at 6 on 970 KSYL
News for Thursday 031413
By Dave Graichen
Two legislative budget committees meet together today, to hear the first details of Governor Jindal's proposed tax reforms. The basic plan is to eliminate income taxes, while raising some sales taxes and enacting taxes where none existed before. The House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Committee will get some much-anticipated information on how the Governor proposes
to eliminate income taxes, while staying "revenue neutral". Mr. Jindal says today's meeting is the first step in a lengthy process.
The Coast Guard says a burning oil pipeline in Bayou Perot, that was struck by a barge and tugboat, may keep burning another day or more before the oil inside burns itself out. The collision is under
investigation. Four members of the tugboat crew were injured.
Authorities in New Iberia are investigating the stabbing death of a 34 year-old woman. She was stabbed repeatedly and allegedly by her 13 year old step-son. The woman's body and was discovered by a
family friend. The teen was arrested without incident.
Barksdale Air Force Base reports that defense cuts brought about by the federal budget sequestration mean the annual Defenders of Liberty Air show has been cancelled. The show was scheduled for the
first weekend in May. The cancellation of the air show could result in the loss of some $5-million in economic impact for the Shreveport-Bossier area.
Although Gov. Bobby Jindal has rejected the idea, legislators said Wednesday they want more information about Medicaid expansion and what its impact would be on Louisiana. Sen. Committee Chairman Dan Morrish said after the meeting, the people of the state need to know we are making the right decision. The new federal health care law would expand Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor and some elderly, to include people who make too much money to qualify for government insurance but too little to buy private policies
A legislator from New Orleans has pre-filed a bill that would not subject those who are booked with possessing marijuana to the mandatory minimum sentences. Rep. Austin Badon says people who are busted with a small amount of pot should not be taken away from their jobs and
families and have their lives destroyed.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany introduces federal legislation aimed at assuring certain welfare benefits aren't used to by illegal drugs. Boustany says working people have to stay clean to keep a job, and eligibility for welfare benefits should be no different. Boustany's House Resolution 1069 would affect recipients of any public assistance via the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF) program. He says recipients who test positive for drugs would have benefits suspended--with
provisions to provide for their dependent children.
The state Department of Natural Resources has granted the first of three permits needed for two new salt caverns under Lake Peigneur (pen-YUR) in Iberia Parish and many local residents are not happy
about it. They say these two new salt caverns could cause a sinkhole, water contamination, or explosions. But DNR says this permit deals strictly with dredging, not drilling.
Governor Jindal met today with Texas Brine, owners of the salt dome underneath the Assumption Parish Sinkhole. The Governor says the company will begin the process of offering property buyouts to the hundreds of residents who've been evacuated since last August.
Bobby Jindal's appointees on the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission are upset the governor keeps taking money away from the artificial reef fund to fill holes in the budget. Jindal and lawmakers have taken 45-million dollars out of the reef fund since 2010 and the governor is proposing to divert 21-more million dollars from this fund to stave off cuts to higher education.
This afternoon marks the start of L-S-U's spring football practice. Head coach Les Miles says this year's team is quite different from last year's team, after losing several key players to graduation or the N-F-L
Draft. However, Miles says spring practice gives all players, both new and veteran, a great opportunity to improve...
The younger brother of former L-S-U quarterback Jordan Jefferson, Rickey Jefferson, is in trouble with the law. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's office says L-S-U signee Rickey Jefferson allegedly
attacked a sheriff's deputy as the deputy was arresting one of Jefferson's friends on February 2nd along a Mardi Gras parade route. L-S-U head coach Les Miles said he cannot comment on the ongoing
situation without having all of the facts.
News for Wednesday 031313
By Dave Graichen
It was 1980 when a law was passed to make the sale of alcohol in Pineville illegal. Since then a lot has changed in the city. But, many believe, for the city to make it to the next level of growth, the sale of alcohol will need to be approved. With that in mind, members of the Pineville City Council have scheduled a town hall meeting on the issue. The Council passed a resolution, suggested by Mayor Clarence Fields, to hold a town hall meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 26 at City Hall.
Sheriff William Earl Hilton speaking before the Alexandria Rotary Club yesterday, reminded those attending that a 9.6-mill property tax will be up for renewal on May 4. He said that tax accounts for about $6.6 million of his office’s $36 million budget. Hilton said the Sheriff's Office operates on budget funded by millage taxes and a half-cent sales tax.
A state judge hands down a 70-year sentence to a St. Helena Parish man who was driving nearly twice the legal limit when he crashed into a car head-on and killed seven people as they were returning home from church. Brett Gerald was sentenced to ten years for each count of vehicular homicide. Judge William Carmichael also ruled Gerald must serve 35 years before the possibility of parole.
An Avoyelles Parish priest was placed on administrative leave Tuesday after he was accused of misconduct with a minor. The Rev. Jamie Medina-Cruz, pastor of St. Mary's Assumption Catholic Church in Cottonport was relieved of his duties by the Rev. Ronald Herzog, the bishop of the diocese, pending an investigation by the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office. So far, no charges against Medina-Cruz had been filed.
Lawmakers on the House budget-writing committee are starting their work on next year's spending plans. Governor Jindal's executive budget proposal calls for spending $24.7-billion in the fiscal year
that starts July 1st. His spending recommendations rely on anticipated savings from the privatization of most LSU-run public hospitals, which hasn't yet happened.
An Iberville Parish lawmaker says she'll try again this year to pass term limits for ALL statewide elected officials. Rep. Simone Champagne Erath proposes the same limits for these officials that lawmakers are subject to. Champagne's bill would place limits of three 4-year terms on the lt. governor, state treasurer, attorney general, ag commissioner, insurance commissioner, and secretary of state.
Members of the state House and Senate committees on insurance meet today to discuss the possible expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, and the health insurance exchange contained in the federal law. Jennings Senator Dan Moorish, who chairs the Senate Insurance Committee says he wants an open public discussion to help the public grasp how they can access health care under the federal exchange. Moorish hopes the meeting can shed some light on how the health care reforms will work, and how to best use the federal health care exchange.
The State Fire Marshall’s office reported yesterday that Former Louisiana state Fire Marshal Henry Hillary Fry died Friday at his home in Covington. Fry served as fire marshal under Gov. Kathleen Blanco from 2004 to 2007 Funeral services are set for Thursday in New Orleans. Fry was 68.
According to a new study by the UNO Hospitality Research Center, a record $6 billion was spent by visitors in New Orleans last year. The study also says the number of tourists and business travelers to
the Big Easy in 2012 was the highest since Hurricane Katrina and second highest ever.
Some students at Shreveport's Calvary Baptist Church are apologizing for the Harlem Shake video they posted on the Internet. The video shows some unsavory behavior for Christian school students. The
boys' apology came in the form of, you guessed it, another Internet video.
Governor Bobby Jindal will meet with officials from Texas Brine today to push for expedited buyouts for residents displaced in Assumption Parish because of the sinkhole. In an email press statement, Jindal says it's time for Texas Brine to step up and do the right thing for the 350 residents affected by the
Sinkhole. Scientists believe the sinkhole was caused by the failure of a nearby Texas Brine salt cavern and is reportedly now 400 square feet spanning over 9 acres. Nearly 350 residents were ordered to evacuate their homes and camps on August 3rd of last year. Texas Brine has been paying their living expenses.
A north Louisiana lawmaker files legislation that would prohibit outdoor smoking within 25 feet of an entrance to a state building. West Monroe Representative Frank Hoffmam had a similar bill last year, but that proposed law pertained to any public building. The bill passed the house, but failed to make it out of the senate before the session ended. Hoffman says this year he's only seeking a smoke free zone around state buildings. Hoffman says he'll make sure his bill amended so the Superdome and New Orleans Arena are NOT included, but all other state buildings will be.
Four Lafayette Teachers who call themselves the "Fearless Foursome" say they're working to get people talking about educational issues in the state through Facebook. The group's page is called "Teachers
Standing for Solutions" and expresses multiple concerns such as discipline systems, large amounts of standardized tests and the state's teacher evaluation system.
The St. Tammany Parish sheriff's office says a Covington area man who was booked for a DUI after he struck a pedestrian Sunday is now facing vehicular homicide charges because the victim passed away.
They say 21-year-old William Seither Jr is being held on a $100,000 bond. The woman he allegedly hit, 51-year-old Lisa Pitre, died Monday afternoon.
Shreveport Police continue sifting through evidence collected at a stolen car chop shop. More vehicles are turning up - most with serial numbers obliterated. Investigators said parts in the two
warehouses could belong to as many as a hundred different cars.
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith are staying with the Saints. The two have agreed to restructure their contracts, which allows the team to give them more bonus money, so less of their salary is counted against the 123-million dollar salary cap. While Vilma and Smith are staying, the Saints lost starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod and back-up quarterback Chase Daniel. Both men signed free-agent deals with other teams.
News for Tuesday 031213
By Dave Graichen
Police in Pineville are investigating six separate vehicle burglaries that happened Saturday in an 8 hour period, all of which involved windows being shattered and purses being stolen. According to the police all of the purses that were stolen were in plain sight and easily accessible.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission launches a new and improved web-based service, to help the unemployed find better jobs, faster. It's called "HIRE" which stands for Helping Individuals Reach Employment. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says the site offers jobless filing and benefits claims, and job seeking services, integrated together in one easy-to-use web tool. "HIRE" can be found on the LWC's website, "laworks.net".
Parents interested in their children taking classes not currently offered at their schools or courses that earn college credits or professional training can begin enrolling now. State education Superintendent John White announced Monday that the Course Choice program is now enrolling students for next school year. Under the plan, Hundreds of courses previously not available to every child will be available.
For the second year in a row, the Baton Rouge metropolitan area has the highest per capita rate of new AIDS cases in the nation, that according to a just released report from the CDC. Baton Rouge has a rate of 29, which means 29 people out of every 100,000 of population were diagnosed with AIDS . Miami was ranked second with a rate of 28; Atlanta was ranked third with a rate of 27; New Orleans was ranked fourth with a rate of 25 and Baltimore was ranked fifth with a rate of 24. The Baton Rouge metro area ranked first in the country last year with a rate of 33 and second in the nation the year before that with a rate of 30
Senator David Vitter will host a "virtual town hall meeting" tomorrow night at 6:30. The senator says the event will introduce his new website, and give him a chance to get valuable feedback from
voters. The new website gives the town hall a video conference aspect. Find it online at Vitter.senate.gov
A Church Point man faces numerous charges - including vehicular homicide - after allegedly causing a three-vehicle fatal crash Sunday night in Acadia parish. State Police say the man was intoxicated when he rear-ended one vehicle on state Highway 95, then crossed the center line and hit a another. Eight people were injured in that crash; one died.
Sentencing is scheduled today for the Greensburg man accused of killing seven people in a drunk driving crash last May. Brett Gerald pleaded guilty in December to seven counts of vehicular homicide. Gerald's blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit on the night of May 30, 2012, when his pickup crossed the center line and ran into the sedan carrying members of Two families on their way home from church. Gerald could get up to 210 years for the seven deaths.
Governor Jindal met with officials from Assumption Parish Monday, to talk about the Bayou Corne sinkhole. Assumption Parish President Martin Triche (trish) says it was a good meeting, and he's pleased the Governor will step in to help expedite buyouts for resident who've been evacuated from their homes since last August. Mr. Jindal will personally travel to Bayou Corne next week to see the disaster for himself. In the meantime, he'll meet with officials from Texas Brine, who own the underground salt cavern believed to be causing the sinkhole, tomorrow.
Police in Slidell arrest a local man for using an "online bakery" to lure a young girl into a sexual relationship. Authorities say he enticed a 15 year old girl into meeting with him, after having online contact on his Facebook page. They also report he met up with the girl on at least seven occasions for sex. He faces seven counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile and one count of stalking. Police believe more victims may come forward.
A Napoleonville state lawmaker proposes legislation that would bring tolls back to the Sunshine Bridge over the Mississippi River. State Senator Troy Brown says his proposal would bring needed revenue for
highway upkeep in St. James, Ascension and Assumption parishes. Senator Brown's bill would recommend returning to the 50-cent toll for using the Sunshine Bridge that was in place up until 2001.
Houma Police arrest 16 men they say used a website to arrange meetings with prostitutes. Officers used a sting to catch men using the website Backpage.com to hire sex for money. They say more such stings are planned, and other such websites users will be targeted.
News for Monday 031113
By Dave Graichen
Much of the budget savings associated with the Jindal administration’s privatization of LSU public hospitals comes from a $400 million reduction in funding for employee pay and benefits as hospital workers lose their state jobs across south Louisiana. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed $24.7 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, strips funding for hospitals in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma, Bogalusa and Lake Charles, impacting potentially about 5,000 employee jobs.
A Lafourche Parish House member files legislation that would prevent lawmakers from earning a fat state paycheck immediately after leaving the legislature. Thibodaux Rep. Dee Richard says his bill would prohibit any House or Senate member from taking another job with the state for two years after leaving the legislature. A number of state lawmakers have been appointed to high-paying jobs with agencies, immediately after the end of their last term at the Capitol. In some cases, their qualifications for those jobs have been questioned.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich told a group of Bayou Corne residents on Saturday that standing up and taking legal action against the company that owns a failed salt dome cavern believed to have caused the Assumption Parish sinkhole is the only way they will find relief from the emergency.
The sinkhole was discovered Aug. 3 in a swampland area between Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou. About 350 residents nearby remain under evacuation orders.
Assumption Parish officials are in Baton Rouge today to meet with Governor Bobby Jindal to discuss the sinkhole in Bayou Corne. Assumption Office of Emergency Preparedness Director John Boudreaux says they plan to outline in detail what is needed from the state to mitigate the situation that's left hundreds of residents under an evacuation order:
33-year old Jeremy Pierce is behind bars in Caddo Parish and his troubles with the law are starting to pile up. He was in jail for allegedly molesting a student at the school where he taught. But now, says Caddo Parish sheriff's office spokesperson Cindy Chadwick, says he' suspected of molesting at least one other student at the school. Chadwick says Pierce is still in the parish jail, pending a 750-thousand dollar bond.
A Port Allen state Senator proposes legislation establishing some rules and regulations for small business bakers, who work out of their own home. Senator Rick Ward says current state law doesn't
really recognize such home-based bakeries as businesses. Ward says bakers who gross over $50-k yearly would have to be recognized by the Department of Revenue and be subject to inspections and regulation by the Department of Health & Hospitals.
Two Ascension Parish businessmen embark on a mission to produce the first-ever flour and corn tortillas made in Louisiana. Rod Olson and his partner, Kevin Holden, are former executives with Zapp's Chips. He says they call their product "Hola Nola" tortillas. Olson says they broke ground last week on the 12-thousand square foot bakery in Geismar. Once they're up & running, He anticipates having up to 50 employees.
Many farmers are having a difficult time planting their crop, because of the wet winter Louisiana has experienced. That's according to LSU AgCenter weed scientist Jim Griffin. He says all of the wet weather has made it difficult for producers to rid their fields of weeds, before they plant. Griffin says many fields are too soggy to use a tractor to spray for weeds, so some farmers are using planes to spray the anti-weed chemicals. Farmers are starting to plant corn. Soybeans and cotton will follow. Griffin says at least commodity prices are high, which will help offset the costs of using planes to spray fields.
The third ranked LSU Baseball swung the bats well this past weekend and it resulted in a three-game sweep over Washington. . Coach Paul Mainieri says Washington provided a good test for his team heading into Friday's SEC opener.
News for Friday 030813
By Dave Graichen
Some state tax filers are concerned about their tax refunds. Many says it's been several weeks and still no refund. Department of Revenue spokesman Byron Henderson says installing a new anti-identity theft system slowed processing down...but that pace should be picking up now. He says filing electronically will always get you your money faster.
Despite fervent opposition from special education advocates, Louisiana’s top school board Thursday approved a $3.5 billion spending request for public schools. The vote was 8-3 and followed six hours of testimony. A final tally by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set for Friday but no change is expected. The plan would then go to the Legislature, which begins its 2013 regular session on April 8. The proposal, which is called the Minimum Foundation Program, or MFP, would freeze state aid per student for the fifth consecutive year.
Michael Jenkins is ready to move forward with work on the Hotel Bentley and hopes are the hotel will be open by mid-summer. Jenkins, a local entrepreneur and preservationist who bought the Bentley in October told members of the Alexandria Exchange Club on Thursday that he’s totally committed to getting it going. Jenkins plans to keep the original part of the building as a hotel with nearly 100 rooms. The tower portion, which was added in the 1930s, is being converted to condominiums.
Chanting “enough is enough” some 300 people showed up last at Huey p. Long hospital in Pineville to protest budget cutbacks at the facility. Volunteers with the Coalition to Save Our State passed petitions through the crowd, and more than a dozen spiritual leaders and elected officials spoke out against the governor’s plans to close or privatize the facility. Jindal's proposed budget released last month for the fiscal year that begins July 1 does not include funding for Huey P. Long.
With the Legislative session set to begin a month from today, Governor Jindal says the details of his tax reform plan are still a week off. Mr. Jindal says he is still meeting with state lawmakers and other stake- holders, to help formulate the tax swap plan. The Governor seeks to eliminate corporate and personal state income taxes, and replace the nearly $3-billion that brings in annual revenue with higher sales taxes. He says he will unveil the plan a week from today.
According to a report by 24/7 Wall Street, Baton Rouge is the 4th-worst paying city for women. The report indicates men in the capitol city get paid an average of $51,000 while women an average of $35,000. That puts women's pay in Baton Rouge as a percentage of men's pay at just 69.3 percent.
Louisiana motorists have seen some small relief from the recent surge in gasoline prices. Louisiana AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says the statewide average price of regular gas is now $3.59; down 5 cents from a week ago, but still over 20-cents higher than one month ago. Redman says some gas stations have lowered their priced by as much as ten cents a gallon in the past week.
A Concordia Parish prison corrections officer has been arrested for alleged inappropriate sexual contact with an inmate at the jail. Chief Deputy David Hedrick says a routine check of telephone communications at the jail led to the arrest of a 48-year-old female officer. Hedrick says Watts was allegedly engaged in phone sex with a male inmate at the Concordia jail.
Police in East Baton Rouge Parish say a 16-year-old student is under arrest for threatening to bring a gun to school and shoot several students. They say the teen told officers she felt threatened by other students at the school and told them she was going to shoot them. She is charged with disturbing the peace and terrorizing.
Deputies in Natchitoches Parish say a man is under arrest after he put a variety of drugs on a counter as he was walking through a security checkpoint at the parish courthouse. They say 50-year-old Walter Parker Jr. of Marthaville allegedly placed meth, pot, pills and drug paraphernalia on a table in front of security officers on his way to get a birth certificate. He's booked on a variety of drug
She should have seen this coming.. Police in Kenner arrest a psychic for conning a client out of thousands in cash. Police spokesman Sgt. Brian McGregor says 20-year-old April Stevens told her emotional customer that she was cursed and that $10,000 had to be taken away and "cleansed". Stevens is charged with theft
The NO. 3 LSU Baseball team begins a three game series against Washington tonight at Alex Box. It's the first meeting ever between LSU and the Huskies in baseball and the first-ever action for Washington against SEC competition during the regular season.
News for Thursday 030713
By Dave Graichen
And now, there are seven. The Rapides Parish School Board on yesterday selected seven candidates, four of them from within the district to interview for the superintendent's job. The field will be narrowed to three finalists before the Board hires a replacement for interim Superintendent Gerald Woodard.
Interviews will begin Monday. The complete list of simi-finalists can be found in today’s Town Talk.
Governor Jindal will present his tax reform plan to state lawmakers by March 15th. Jindal made the announcement after House Speaker Chuck Kleckley asked the governor to provide details of the proposal that would eliminate income taxes, but increase sales taxes. Department of Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield says their plan would improve the state's business climate.
At that same economic development announcement, The governor would not answer whether or not he has any plans to visit the site of a nine-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish. Over 350 residents near Bayou Corne have been displaced since the sinkhole opened last August. The governor says his office is receiving "constant" updates" about the situation. That’s all he would say.
36 year old Tericca Simmons has been charged with negligent homicide by the Grant Parish Sheriff's Office. The arrest comes from an investigation that started with the death of her 21 month-old son.
Simmons remains behind bars pending $50,000 bond.
State government would not be able to fire a person because he or she is gay under a bill filed by New Orleans lawmaker Austin Badon. The bill also prohibits discrimination in state employment based on gender identity and gender expression. Since 2011, a bill has been filed every year, to protect gay state workers from employment discrimination, but none of those made it to the House or Senate floor for a vote.
The Alexandria/Pineville area will remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a series of events from today to Sunday. Sherry Ellington with the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau says the events range from speeches, dinner theatre and of course, re-enactments and examples of living history.
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has the forecast danger as very high for portions of the state mainly in southwestern Louisiana. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says we've had a lot of rain across the region but the danger of wildfires still remains.
A Belgian company plans to spend $150 million to build a plastics storage, packaging and distribution center just north of Baton Rouge, a project that will create 210 direct jobs.The Louisiana economic development department estimated the project will also generate 516 indirect jobs and 150 construction jobs.
A Dry Creek lawmaker files legislation that attempts to crack down on people using an ingredient found in most cough syrups as a drug. Democrat Sue Hill says DXM is used as a cough suppressant but when taken in large amounts can produce euphoria. She says a local judge asked her to file this bill because there's been an increase in teen abuse of DXM. Several states, including Mississippi and Alabama, have already placed restrictions on purchasing DXM products.
Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy is not happy the Obama administration has decided to halt tours of the White House. Cassidy believes the President is doing this as way to convince Congress the federal government needs to spend more money.
Gas prices fell another penny overnight. The American Automobile Association says the current statewide average is $3.59 a gallon and that's down six cents from this time last week.
A Lafitte man was arrested for allegedly making threats over the phone to two Jefferson Parish schools. Sheriff's Office spokesperson Colonel John Fortunato says the whole situation began Wednesday morning when a caller phoned Fisher High in Lafitte and Marrero Academy. The schools were placed on lockdown after the threats were made. After a search of the schools' buildings, authorities determined the students were safe.
News for Tuesday 030513
By Dave Graichen
17 year old Quantavious Richards, of Alexandria, was arrested Friday by Alexandria police detectives and was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree feticide. The arrest stems from a drive by shooting Feb. 28 in the 300 block of Florence Avenue. The APD reports that they received a complaint from a man who said he was driving home from work when a man on a bicycle fired several shots at his car. The car was hit, but none of the three people inside - including a pregnant woman - were injured.
The Rapides Parish School Board never got a chance to vote on candidates for superintendent of schools as planned last night. The Board had called a special meeting to receive applications from independent search firm McPherson & Jacobson. But, personnel committee chairwoman Janet Dixon said an email was not sent Sunday from the firm’s office to inform the candidates of the meeting. The Board set another special meeting for Wednesday at 6 p.m. to receive and discuss 31 applications in executive session. Dixon said an email notifying the candidates of the meeting would be sent today.
A Baton Rouge judge rules Governor Jindal's revamp of teacher tenure laws is unconstitutional. In his ruling, Judge Michael Caldwell says the legislation passed last year had too many different items crammed into one law. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers filed the suit. The way the state's school vouchers program, another education reform by the Administration, is funded was also ruled unconstitutional last year. The governor's office says they plan to appeal Monday’s ruling.
Republican legislators complained Monday that the governor’s approach to the budget threatens long-term funding for a popular college tuition program. At issue is $120 million from tobacco companies that the Jindal administration wants to use in next year’s budget for the TOPS Program. The money is a one-time infusion that would leave more dollars in the state general fund to pay other expenses, including health care and higher education, during a time in which the state is pressed for cash.
The good government group Council for A Better Louisiana has some concerns about proposed legislation to do away with the state income taxes, while raising some state sales taxes. CABL president Barry Erwin says it's extremely important that the bill is drafted and debated based on the best possible data available. Erwin says CABL hopes lawmakers will be vigilant that the tax swap is indeed revenue neutral; both now and several years down the road. Erwin says state government must be aware of how the tax proposal will impact local governments, and their ability to raise revenues.
The debate over separate football playoffs for public and private schools heads to the state capitol today. A special legislative panel will hear the pros and cons of the new playoff system. Lafayette Senator Page Cortez says today's meeting will allow lawmakers to gather information on why high school principals voted for separate playoffs. Most public schools say having private and parochial schools compete in their own postseason will give public schools a better chance at winning state titles. But the private schools, also called select schools, say the new system is unfair and waters down the value of a
championship. Cortez says today's meeting is only designed to hear the facts.
Monroe Police say an 8 year old student at Madison James Foster Elementary School brought a loaded .22-caliber pistol to school this morning to trade for a video game. Sgt Mark Johnson says school officials confronted the child after other students told them about the gun. Johnson says the child is to be expelled from the school but is too young to be arrested so he was released to his parents. He says a preliminary investigation revealed that the gun was in the child's home and belonged to his parents.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany announces he will not run for U-S Senate next year. Boustany's spokesman Neal Patel released a statement that says the U-S Representative wants to continue his service on the House Ways and Means Committee. So far, Republican Congressmen Bill Cassidy and John Fleming have expressed interest in challenging Landrieu. So has former US Representative Jeff Landry and BESE President Chas Roemer.
A 34-year-old Eunice man is accused of killing his live-in girlfriend's 19-month old child. Authorities say Robert Henry Miller the Third was booked on a charge of 2nd-degree murder.
LSU has launched its new online master’s degree programs. University Vice-Provost for Academics Gil Reeve says the masters programs are in business administration, construction management and human resource leadership. He says the university feels the time is right to embrace the digital learning experience.
Lafayette police say a man from Sunset is under arrest for killing a man in a bar. They say 37-year-old Jay Lane is charged with one count of second degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Lucas Fargo of Lafayette. Officers located Fargo on the floor of the bar and he later died at a local hospital.
History Channel's "American Pickers", Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz plan to be in Beauregard Parish sometime next month, to search for unwanted treasures. Show producers say the pair are seeking vintage bikes and motorcycles, but just about anything can capture their attention.
News for Monday 030413
By Dave Graichen
The department of children and family services announces residents on welfare are not allowed to use their cash assistance from the state on tobacco and liquor. They also can't use their eletronic benefit card at gambling sites and strip clubs. D-C-F-S Secretary Suzy Sonnier says this rule ensures that welfare money is used for the purpose intended. Sonnier says program recipients who violate the rule will have benefits suspended for a year for a 1st offense, 2 years for a 2nd offense and permanently on a 3rd violation.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals uncovers the theft of 800-thousand dollars in state funds by one of its employees. DHH spks Kristin Sunde (Sunday) says unusual accounting practices by an employee are what aroused their suspicions. Sunde says DHH initiated an internal investigation of the employee and missing funds. Sunde says DHH has formally notified the Legislative Auditors Office and the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney, and presented the evidence they gathered. An arrest may be coming.
The Louisiana Attorney General's office says a one-point-two million dollar bond has been set on a 47-year-old Shreveport man charged with 50 counts of possession of pornography involving juveniles. Danny Owen Gorbet Junior was arrested last week and booked into the Caddo Parish Jail.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has made it known he might challenge U-S Senator Mary Landrieu next year. Dardenne said he's "pondering" a senate campaign after a national poll showed that he could have a chance at knocking off the three-term senator.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser announces plans to run for Lt. Governor again in 2015. In Nungesser's first attempt, he lost by nearly 60-thousand votes to Jay Dardenne in 2011. Nungesser made his intentions known while holding a fund raiser in Baton Rouge. The parish president told supporters he cares about Louisiana and has a lot to contribute.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette announces they've paid a 38-thousand dollar fine to the U-S Department of Agriculture over the deaths of three primates and the injury to another in unrelated incidents at their New Iberia Research Center. In a statement issued by U-L-L, it says they regret that these incidents occurred and they've made changes to reduce the chances of reoccurrences.
A federal grand jury indicts a Lafayette private investigator on charges of bribing employees of the Lafayette Parish DA's office and others. U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley says 64-year-old Robert Williamson was the central figure in "fixing" outcomes of pre-trail diversions for clients; most of whom faced drunk driving charges. Finley says Williamson paid persons to provide false documents that would help his clients to favorably resolve drunk driving offenses, without going to trial.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says older drivers have higher death rates when involved in a crash than younger age groups. Spokesperson Elaine Rogeau says data from last year shows the fatal crash rate for 75 to 84-year-old drivers was 21-percent higher than the fatal crash rate for 55-to-64 year-old drivers. Rogeau says these numbers do not suggest elderly people are unable to drive safely, but they do show a person over 75-years-old is more likely to die in a crash when involved in a crash. She says it's concerning because we'll see more older drivers in the future.
Shreveport police arrest an assistant boys basketball coach at Calvary Baptist Academy because he allegedly had a sexual relationship with a student at the school. Thirty-two-year-old Patrick Williams was charged with four counts of prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and a student. Investigators believe Williams and the student had an improper relationship that took
place for nearly two years.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says he has doubts about Governor Jindal's proposed $24.7-billion state budget for next year. Kennedy says the executive budget is, again, filled with contingencies that he worries will simply not work out. Part of the Governor's budget relies on the state making over $47-million off the sale of some unused state properties. Kennedy says there is no way of knowing if those sales will go through. Kennedy also worries that the Governor again seeks to use one-time windfalls of cash to plug recurring expenses. He says doing that in the past has resulted in 5 straight years wherein mid-year budget cuts were necessary.
State Rep. Regina Barrow has filed legislation aimed at preserving the retirement benefits of thousands LSU hospital employees in south Louisiana losing state jobs because of privatization. One bill would allow the LSU hospital employees to take a lump sum retirement benefit and move it to another qualified pension plan or investment account. Another bill would allow employees with 25 years-plus of service to retire at any age at full retirement. LSU has still not filed employee layoff plans with the Department of State Civil Service. How many employees will be impacted isn’t known. Employees of at least five LSU hospitals could lose their state jobs as the facilities are converted to management by private hospitals in those communities. Work is ongoing to find a private partner for a sixth hospital under LSU’s Health Care Services Division.
News for Friday 030113
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish School Board is expected to select 10 semifinalists to become the district's next superintendent at a special meeting on Monday. Applications for superintendent of Rapides schools will become public at the meeting after the Board receives them from the private search firm the Board hired in back August. The Board intends to discuss the applications while in executive session and later vote in open session on the 10 candidates to be interviewed. Yet another special meeting of the school board on April 4 will serve as a "second supplemental interview,"
Some thought it would never happen, but It’s now official, the final piece of the puzzle that fill bring SunDrop fuels to central Louisiana is finally in place. Ballina Farms sold 1,213 acres to Sundrop Fuels for more than $4.7 million yesterday. The land surrounds the Cowboy Town property, which Sundrop purchased last December for $2.5 million. The combined sale is around $7.2 million. When all is said and done, Sundrop will spend $500-million to build the facility.
Eighty-five billion dollars in automatic spending cuts will go into effect at 11:59 tonight unless legislation is passed to delay or avoid the so-called sequester. Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu says 7,000
civilian defense employees will be furloughed and the state will lose millions in education funding. President Obama and Congress have not been able to come up with a plan to prevent the across-the-board cuts. The democrats want to pass legislation that cuts the budget, but also raises revenues by closing tax loopholes that mostly benefit the wealthy. Republican Senator David Vitter says he's not interested in increasing taxes and he believes President Obama is playing a political game with
the American people.
The president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System said he is "more than optimistic" that funding for a new community college campus in the Alexandria-Pineville area will pass the state legislature. A new, $20 million home for the Alexandria campus of Central Louisiana Technical Community College is included in a $245.5 million facilities upgrade request for the state's community colleges.
The Louisiana School Board Association says districts need more per pupil funding in order to keep up with the state's educational reform requirements. Executive Director Scott Richard says school districts are heading into the fifth year without an increase in per pupil allocation and many are on the verge of financial crisis. The formula the state uses to allocate per pupil funding is called the Minimum Foundation Program or MFP. Richard says class sizes are increasing while reserve funding is being depleted and districts are struggling to continue to provide quality service. Money from the MFP also goes to funding the school voucher program.
State Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday he has talked with plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s expanded voucher law about a new way to fund the program. But Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, which is one of the plaintiffs, said his group remains opposed to any funding method that results in state school aid dollars going to students attending private or parochial schools.
If you thought we woke up to some cold temperatures this morning, just wait till this weekend. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a cold front is going to move through the state tonight and re-enforce these already cold temperatures for the weekend. He says we can expect near freezing temperatures everywhere north of the I-10 tonight. We can expect even colder temps Sunday.
Houston-based Waller Marine will build a small-scale liquefied natural gas facility at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in Port Allen to supply vessels with the cleaner-burning fuel they will need to keep up with tougher environmental standards. The facility is small compared with the billion-dollar LNG projects announced in south Louisiana in recent years. Waller Marine plans to spend $200 million initially, though that amount could double as Waller Marine adds capacity. The facility would create upward of 300 construction jobs. It will employ 45 people initially and could double that when fully built out.
An Austin, Texas, clean energy company on Thursday officially announced plans to develop a previously reported methanol plant at the Port of South Louisiana in LaPlace. The Billion Dollar plant, billed as “the largest methanol production plant in North America,” will convert 163,000 million British thermal units of natural gas to 5,000 metric tons methanol each day. The state says the plant will create 63 direct jobs with an average salary of $66,500 a year, plus 374 indirect jobs. Construction will begin later this year, with completion expected in 2016.
There is still plenty of concern about the millions of pounds of explosive material that is improperly stored at Camp Minden in Webster Parish. State lawmakers heard from State Police and others
today, about what's been done and what remains to be done to secure that area and the nearby town of Doyline. State Police Captain Taylor Moss says a bit over 6-million pounds of the M-6 propellant
has been moved to safe storage, but over 3-million pounds remains in a precarious place. Moss says the only way to get rid of the remaining propellant is to burn it, if it cannot be sold. But Moss says enough work has been done on the site to make sure nearby residents are not in harm's way
Well control operations have after an accident earlier this week where a crewboat hit a wellhead causing a leak in the shallow water near Plaquimines Parish. The well, owned by Swift Energy, is estimated to be leaking roughly 840 gallons of oil a day. Containment booms have been put in place.
The annual college football bowl game in Shreveport is changing its name from the Independence Bowl to the AdvoCare V-100 Bowl. Advocare has been the title sponsor of the bowl game for the last four years, and bowl chairman Jack Andres says this will allow the health and wellness company to provide great financial backing to the bowl. Andres says Advocare plans to make the Shreveport Bowl a great
destination for college football teams and their fans.
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