As the military, once again, looks to reduce the number of troops at the Fort Polk Army base, the Army is holding a meeting tonight to listen to concerns about the potential effects a troop reduction could have on the area. Fort Polk Progress Chairman, Michael Reese, says the listening session is the final event in their evaluation process. He says they will host three events in Leesville, Lake Charles, and here in Alexandria. The listening sessions begin at 6 p.m., though people are encouraged to arrive early. The Alexandria session is at Alexandria Convention Hall (in City Hall). The military is considering troop reductions at 30 bases nationwide.
The RPSO reports an Alexandria man was killed Saturday evening when he was struck by a train while he was walking on railroad tracks in the Wardville area of Pineville The train was traveling north on the tracks between Louisiana College and the creosote plant when a pedestrian was spotted in the middle of the tracks. The engineer told deputies he sounded the horn and applied the emergency brake, but was unable to stop in time. Killed in the incident was 36 year old Brandon Iles.
It looks like north Louisiana is in for yet another winter weather event Wednesday night into Thursday. Meteorologist Davyon Hill with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says a cold front is moving through late this evening into tomorrow bringing some rain along with it and a massive temperature drop behind it. Hill says this line of a possible wintry mix is from Natchitoches to Monroe and northwest of that. Central Louisiana could get some freezing rain and as you go north the risk for sleet and possibly some snow gets higher.
Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo says Governor Jindal’s proposed budget is about 200-million dollars short of what’s needed to fully fund the state’s public college and universities. Rallo says if the funding situation doesn’t change, campus leaders will have to make some tough decisions. One possible solution is to close college campuses. Another option, the privatization of some public universities.
A straw poll conducted at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference showed Governor Bobby Jindal finishing in 12th place among Republican presidential hopefuls. Jindal received less than one percent of the ballots in that poll. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul won the poll, followed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon will be facing a newly announced challenger in this year’s re-election campaign. Matt Parker, a political newcomer who owns a car repair business in West Monroe announced his candidacy in an email to reporters Monday. Parker claims Donelon is taking campaign contributions from the insurance industry which could mean higher rates for customers.
It was a very close vote, but a New Orleans flood protection board has decided not to abandon their appeal of the dismissal of a lawsuit of coastal erosion. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-east filed the suit in 2013, seeking damages from oil and gas companies who built pipelines they contend caused the loss of coastal wetlands that were vital for hurricane protection.
Slidell Police has arrested a Baton Rouge man after he threw his 17 month-old baby daughter to the ground while fleeing officers during a shoplifting attempt. Twenty-four year-old Lamar Causey is facing numerous charges. Fortunately, the little girl had only minor injuries.
LSU sophomore guard Tim Quarterman is the SEC player of the week. Quarterman had a triple-double on over the weekend, the first one in LSU’s history since Shaquille O’ Neal did it in 1992.
LSU and its former defensive coordinator John Chavis are in a legal battle. The two sides filed lawsuits against each other. LSU claims Chavis owes a 400-thousand dollar contractual buyout for accepting a job with Texas A-and-M. Legal analyst Tim Meche says where the case will be heard, Texas or Baton Rouge, needs to be settled first. Chavis filed the first lawsuit in Texas, claiming he took the proper steps when he left LSU. LSU counter sued, seeking to dismiss Chavis’ suit and have the case heard in Baton Rouge.
APD detectives are investigating a homicide that occurred in the city over the weekend. Police found the body of 21 year old Kendrick Hayes of Alexandria about 2:45 a.m. Sunday after responding to a report of an unconscious male in the vicinity of City Park off of Masonic Drive. The death is being treated as a homicide. An autopsy is pending.
If at first you don’t succeed, try 86 more times. The APD reports an Alexandria man was arrested last week on a charge of attempted simple burglary and booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. While that is not unusual in and of itself, this arrest was the 87 arrest for 54 year old Jessie Swafford. At the time of the arrest, Swafford was out on bond in connection with a November felony theft charge, which is pending in 9th Judicial District Court.
The Jindal administration presented a proposed budget Friday that provides a starting point on how to prevent drastic cuts to health care and higher education, despite a one-point-six billion revenue shortfalll for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says they want lawmakers to scale back a dozen refundable tax credits which would save the state 526-million dollars. Even with a cap on certain tax credits, the cut in the proposed budget to higher ed is 211-million dollars. The potential drop in funding for health care services is 235-million dollars according to the proposed budget.
Republican gubernatorial candidate, US Senator David Vitter, is getting the endorsement of an ex-president. The Vitter campaign sent an e-mail to supporters announcing the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush. In his endorsement, Bush describes Vitter as an effective, conservative leader and urges people to contribute to his campaign. Vitter is the front runner in this year’s governor’s race, ahead of Republicans Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Democratic state Representative John Bel Edwards.
As the Louisiana filmed blockbuster “Focus” opened over the weekend, a group of lawmakers are looking at ways to improve the state’s film tax credits. Some have argued that the movie credits here are corrupt and too generous. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell, who is working on reform legislation, says he fully supports the program but it has major issues. Economic impact numbers revealed Focus filmed here for 43 days and spent over $8.3 million on local labor at in-state businesses and on location.
In two weeks, students will take Common Core exams and a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that will prohibit penalties if a student decided to opt out of the testing. Abbeville Representative Bob Hensgens’ bill would protect students, schools, and school systems from non-participation penalties. He says there is no law that levies penalties for not taking the tests, but that’s not what he’s hearing from school districts. Education Superintendent John White says they will address opt-outs when they see how many students actually opt-out of the exams.
The Jindal administration has said they are willing to scale back 526-million dollars in tax credits for businesses. As a way to help reduce cuts to higher education, The Jindal administration proposes higher fees to attend public college, but provides a tax credit to offset those costs, which would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax. The governor has highlighted 12 tax credits that could become non-refundable which would give the state more money to spend.
NBC’s hit show “The Voice” begins its second week of the new season tonight and Louisiana already has ties to three contestants who made it through the blind auditions. 22-year-old Rob Taylor, who was raised in Baton Rouge and now lives in Donaldsonville, gets to move on to the battle rounds which take place next month. Also vying to win a recording contract this season is Tonya Boyd-Cannon who’s from Jackson, Mississippi but currently lives in Chalmette. And Meghan Linsey who’s from The Big Easy but currently lives in Nashville.
A state Attorney General’s Office investigation has lead to the arrest of a former St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s deputy on multiple charges. They say 39-year-old Michael Barber of Breaux Bridge was booked into the St. Martin Parish jail on counts of malfeasance in office, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and attempted production of child pornography. Barber was a school resource officer at St. Martinville High.
The New Orleans Police Department has arrested a 13-year-old boy accused of raping three relatives on several occasions. They say the incidents happened over the last two years. The alleged victims include two girls, ages 13 and 11, and a 7-year-old boy.
In Baton Rouge, an eighth-grader is being hailed a hero after he quickly stopped a moving school bus after the driver was punched unconscious by another student. 14-year-old Tay’veon Slaughter quickly stopped the bus, preventing it from crashing, and called authorities after the bus driver was unresponsive. The 15-year-old alleged attacker was arrested and booked on numerous charges including second degree battery.
ULM officials will break ground today on a new end zone building at Malone Stadium. It’s the first new athletic facility built on campus in 1983 and it will feature a new locker room, a Hall of Fame area and new coaches’ offices. Coach Todd Berry says the project has been a long time coming for the program
Rapides schools Superintendent Nason "Tony" Authement announced schools are closed Monday and Tuesday due to predictions of freezing temperatures, rain and ice accumulation on roads. The Diocese of Alexandria has canceled school for Monday, which affects Holy Savior Menard Central High School, Our Lady of Prompt Succor School and St. Frances Cabrini Elementary in Rapides Parish and St. Joseph School in Plaucheville. Schools in Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches and Vernon parishes are closed Monday with decisions pending for Tuesday.
Also closed today all state offices in Central and North Louisiana. Louisiana State University and University Academy, Louisiana College in Pineville and all campuses of Northwestern State University are closed Monday.
Major economic news for Central Louisiana was announced Friday as local and state officials made it official that American Specialty Alloys plans to develop a $2.4 billion aluminum mill at the site of the former International Paper mill in Pineville. The plant, which will provide strong, lightweight metal for the automotive and aerospace industries, will create 1,450 new permanent jobs, including 850 direct ASA employees and 600 employees of corporate partners that will perform additional manufacturing and logistics functions on the mill campus. In addition, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project would result in 2,600 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 4,000 new jobs in Central Louisiana. ASA expects to break ground later this year, with a targeted completion date of all facilities in 2020. ASA estimates development of the aluminum mill will generate 2,000 construction jobs.
In the end it really was no race at all.. Jeff Hall won a landslide victory Saturday in a special election for the House District 26 seat. Hall, a retired Cleco executive, had 3,361 votes or 84.07 percent to defeat two other candidates, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
Daniel Williams, Alexandria's Community Services director, was second with 457 votes or 11.43 percent. Alice "Red" Hammond, a retired Air Force captain, had 180 votes or 4.5 percent
Alcohol is suspected in a traffic accident that claimed the life of one teen and left another in serious condition. The victim was identified by police as 18 year old Abigail Welch of Deridder. Welch was a passenger in a pickup driven by 19 year old Blake Shell of Singer, who was partially ejected, according to police. Neither teen was wearing a seatbelt.
The legislature’s joint budget committee approved a 103-million dollar cut to this fiscal year’s budget. But there were several complaints on how the cuts were handed down. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith expressed her frustration that the governor’s office only received a ten-thousand dollar cut in funding. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols pushed lawmakers to approve the governor’s plan, because if any proposed cuts are re-stored, it will lead to deeper cuts next fiscal year.
Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is the first 2015 gubernatorial candidate to begin advertising on television. LaPolitics.com’s Jeremy Alford says the commercials are part of the $200,000 buy. Alford says there are three commercials in rotation feature Angelle’s “Workhorse Not a Showhorse” line and in one of the ads he speaks in Cajun French. Alford says now we can expect to see gubernatorial ads non-stop between now and the fall, not only from candidates but also from super PACS.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon encourages taxpayers to file for an insurance rebate available to any person who pays for a homeowners, renters or business property insurance policy. Donelon says eligible taxpayers should check the box on their returns for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Assessment rebate. Donelon says if you have questions, go to the insurance department’s website or call his office.
A group of LSU students believe the legislature should approve a constitutional amendment that protects higher education from budget cuts. Higher ed and health care are not protected and they will likely take the brunt of next fiscal year’s budget cuts. So far the group has gathered over one-thousand signatures of LSU students.
It was another great weekend for Tiger Baseball. LSU rolled up 21 hits in 16-2 win over Boston College Saturday to sweep the series. This is the second sweep in as many weekends.
In a recent CBS News Poll, 67-percent of Republican respondents said they did not know enough about Governor Bobby Jindal to consider him for the Republican presidential nomination. The poll found that 18-percent of respondents would consider Jindal.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office announced the arrests of 19 people yesterday. According to Avoyelles parish sheriff Doug Anderson the operation was "part of an ongoing investigation targeting drug trafficking.
Tomorrow is election day in Rapides parish. Voters will choose from among three Alexandria Democrats on Saturday in a special election to fill the vacant House District 26 seat. The candidates are Jeff Hall, a retired Cleco executive; Alice “Red” Hammond, a retired Air Force captain; and Daniel Williams, Alexandria’s director of Community Services. The winner will fill the remainder of Herbert Dixon’s legislative term, which ends next January. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Saturday. The House District 26 race is the only election taking place Saturday in Rapides Parish.
The city just wants assurance the project will be completed. That was the response from Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy when asked about the ongoing dispute between the city and Rapides Parish Police Jury over the Rapides Parish Coliseum and the adjacent parking lot. The mayor addressing the Exchange club, went on to say the city is not holding up the process on the renovation project or the sale of the parking lot to the jury.
Former Governor Edwin says he done with politics, and now he’s talking about a career as a real estate broker. As a convicted felon, a majority of the Real Estate Commission members must approve Edwards’ application before he is tested for his license. The 86 year-old Edwards says he wants to work with friends to develop property along the I-10, 1-12 corridor.
A Kenner woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Saints linebacker Junior Gallette, claiming he was physically and emotionally abusive to her during their 2-year relationship. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this is not good for Gallette or the Saints. Sunseri says the results of the investigation could also determine if Gallette violated the NFL’s new Domestic Abuse Policy. The lawsuit also claims that other members of the team groped her while she was drugged.
The former pastor of President Barack Obama, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, spoke to students at Southern University on Thursday telling the audience that you shouldn’t seek help from the government but instead from the Lord. Wright says for too many years, blacks have looked to government for help and that’s the wrong place. Wright was Barack Obama’s minister until 2008 when controversial comments surfaced from a sermon he gave in 2003. Wright didn’t mention Mr. Obama during his speech, but defended his work as President.
The case of the man who was convicted of literally scaring a Lafayette woman to death after he broke into her home, then had the ruling overturned, will be reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. A jury found 40-year-old Willie Robertson guilty in 2013 of causing 86-year-old Irene Schoofs heart attack which killed her. The woman died in 1999 but the case wasn’t prosecuted until 13 years later.
The APD Reports, Homicide suspects, Mark Hayes and Melissa Hayes are in custody. U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force and APD Detectives learned that the suspects were returning to the Alexandria area. Both were arrested, without incident Wednesday afternoon. The two were booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. The brother and sister are key suspects in a double homicide in the city last Friday.
The US Department of Health and Human Services says over 184,000 people in Louisiana are signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. That is a growth of 82 thousand state-wide over last year. Nationwide that number is about 11.4 million Americans. These numbers are as of February 15th which was the deadline to sign up this year.
Louisiana taxpayers who quickly filed their state taxes and are eagerly waiting for their tax refunds will have to keep waiting. The state Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that it won’t start issuing refunds until the week of March 2. The department said it was taking “extra precautions to verify the filings” because of concerns about fraudulent tax returns that had been discovered around the country. Nearly 665,000 electronic returns have been filed with the state since Jan. 20, with no refunds issued so far.
The Secretary of State’s Office is bracing for a $930 thousand dollar mid-year budget reduction. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this one is the largest to hit historical sites. He says there will be dozens of layoffs, and hours of operation reductions are planned, as many museums and the Old State Capitol cut back.
A survey of Louisiana teachers finds 78-percent of them believe state-required standardized tests takes too much time away from classroom instruction. Louisiana Association of Educators president Debbie Meaux says teachers believe there’s an overemphasis on standardized testing in state’s school accountability system .Meaux believes students should only be required to take standardized tests once in elementary school, then again in middle school and one more time on the high school level. She says annual testing does not give teachers enough time to teach the concepts for mastery. Meaux says current amount of standardized tests is also driving younger teachers away.
Tom Benson intends to appeal a San Antonio court’s decision to oust him as steward of a Texas trust set up for his now-estranged daughter. Attorneys for the owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans have filed a notice of appeal with the Bexar County Probate Court in San Antonio. The notice does not give a specific reason for the appeal, which will be filed with the Texas 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio.
According to the latest campaign finance reports, U.S. Sen. David Vitter has more campaign funds than that of his fellow Republican governor’s race opponents combined. Vitter reported $3.5 million in cash on hand when 2015 began compared to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne at $1.55 million and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle at $1.43 million. Lagging behind is Democratic contender state Rep. John Bel Edwards who said he’s raised “over $1 million … since he first announced his candidacy.
A year after Congress amended the National Flood Insurance Program to prevent south Louisiana homeowners from getting hit with huge premium hikes, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is warning again about proposed changes to the program. Last month, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to the program, which would take into account projected sea level rises when determining the risk of future flooding for federal buildings. Cassidy says his concern is it could influence the bond market and other activities and that could come in a back-end way to influence the private market.
The State Department of Ag and Forestry says the severe insect pest Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB) has been detected in Louisiana. Commissioner Mike Strain says this pest attacks ash trees and has been confirmed in Webster Parish making Louisiana the 25th state to report the presence of this beetle. He says the EAB could be devastating to the trees. Strain says one of their biggest concerns with the EAB is that there is no effective eradication method.
New federal guidelines for an increase in guest worker wages could be hitting crawfish lovers in the pocketbook. Louisiana’s crawfish industry depends heavily on guest workers to perform jobs they cannot fill locally, and processors say the five dollar an hour raise to 12.35 an hour will result in a $3 per pound increase in the price of tail meat.
Alexandria police have issued warrants for a brother and sister in connection to Friday's double homicide. 29 year old Mark Hayes and 24 year old Melissa Hayes are considered armed and dangerous and are believed to be in the New Orleans area. The Alexandria victims, 25-year-old Richard Prenell and 18-year-old Kiasha Clovis, were found Friday afternoon in a 21st street apartment complex.
According to the Towntalk, Louisiana College's search for a permanent president to succeed Joe Aguillard might be nearing the end. The Rev. Tommy French, chairman of the LC Board of Trustees, has called a special meeting of the board for March 5 to "vet and vote on a candidate as president of the college. The private Baptist college in Pineville has conducted its search in secret. LC officials are not disclosing the name the candidate who will appear before the board.
Army officials announced Tuesday Fort Polk will gain an additional 700 soldiers as the Army realigns its brigade combat teams. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, will be deactivated next week but the soldiers in the unit will be remain at Fort Polk. The 4th BCT, with the additional 700 troops, will become the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in a reflagging ceremony on Feb. 24. The base could still face a cut of up to 6500 soldiers later this year.
Four people are facing charges in an early morning shooting Tuesday after a concert at the VFW on 3rd street in Alexandria. Police say four people were injured, two of whom required surgery. Detectives worked through the night, interviewing witnesses and serving search warrants. Several weapons were seized during the searches
A report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education shows the black male high school graduation rates in Louisiana trails whites’ by 16 points. For the 2012-13 school year, only 53-percent of black male students graduated compared to 69-percent of white males. Foundation President John Jackson says these numbers are reason for concern. He says the results of this study indicate a climate that doesn’t foster health living and learning environments for black males.
As people across the state head to their local places of worship to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, a Shreveport church is offering ashes to go. Christ United Methodist Church will offer “Drive By Ashes” to accommodate those who’s schedules won’t allow them to make their full church service. Associate Pastor Kelly Berne says this is an event has done well. The church began offering this service in 2011 and Berne expects over 100 people drive through today.
Today is the start of the Lenton season and many people will be totally giving up meat for the next 40 days or at least eating seafood only on Fridays. Gulf Seafood Institute chairman Harlon Pearce says the warmer things get, the better the supply will be of our Louisiana favorites. Pearce says fish is in excellent supply right now and this is the time of year that oysters are at their best
State Police say a third person has died from Monday’s truck versus train collision in DeSoto Parish. Trooper Matt Harris says the driver and the two passengers in the truck were the ones killed in the wreck. Harris says truck attempted to cross over a set of tracks that didn’t have a warning gate or lights. Harris says they believe the driver stopped, but began moving forward when it was already too late and they were hit.
Union Parish authorities have arrested a 23-year-old mother who allegedly left her eight-month-old son on his grandfather’s droop step wrapped in a blanket and in a car seat. Detectives say Keondra Ferguson left the child there, because she was depressed and there was no one to help her. Deputies believe the child was outside in mid-30 temperatures for an hour and a half. Ferguson was charged with child abandonment and the father is now taking care of the baby.
In Acadiana, several phone bomb threats were received on Fat Tuesday. The first two were called into the Walmart in Crowley, and Rayne Police are investigating another one made to a Pharmacy. Several law enforcement agencies are working together to find the person or persons responsible.
Abita Brewing Company announces their craft-brewed root beer is now available in cans. Abita President David Blossman says ever since they launched Abita beer in cans, people have been asking for their root beer to be in cans. Blossman says it’s the same great old-fashioned root beer they’ve been making for years, but now you can get it in portable, recyclable 12-pack aluminum cans. He says their root beer is unique in that it’s made with pure Louisiana cane sugar.
It’s the one that got away from the LSU football, as Calvary Baptist 5 star quarterback Shea Patterson from Shreveport announces he will be going across the border to play for the Ole Miss Rebels next year. For the last two seasons, Patterson threw for over 5 thousand yards, 72 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions.
The fourth ranked LSU baseball team looks to improve to 4-0 tonight when they host Nicholls State at 6:30. Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says Freshman right-hander Doug Norman will start on the mound for the Tigers, while the Colonels will counter with a senior. Mainieri says tonight’s game should be a good challenge for his team.
Now that a strong cold front has moved through, Canadian air has settled over Louisiana leaving us with another chilly Mardi Gras day. State Climatologist Barry Keim says southeast Louisiana should brace for temperatures today in the upper 30s this morning, then high temperatures this afternoon only in the upper 40s. Keim says if you’re headed to parades today anywhere in the state, make sure you bring a lot heavy coats, gloves and blankets.
The investigation continued yesterday into a Sunday night house fire in Pineville. Police Chief Eddie Laborde say when firefighters arrived shortly before 9:30 Sunday evening the home on Wildwood Drive was totally engulfed in flames. Although the home was badly damaged, the good news is, no one was injured.
The APD has released the names of two people who were found dead Friday in an Alexandria apartment complex on 21st Street. Alexandria police identified the pair as 25 year old Richard Prenell and 18 year old Kiasha Clovis, both of Alexandria. No other information has been released by the police who reported Friday the deaths were not from natural causes..
Louisiana State Police has increased their numbers in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and they’re making their presence known. Over 150 additional troopers are patrolling the French Quarter and the metro area, and so far, troopers have made over 140 arrests.
The question over which city “started” Mardi Gras, New Orleans or Mobile, Alabama, is coming up again this Fat Tuesday. Mobile Mayor Sandy Simpson is bragging that the Alabama destination is where the pre-Lenten celebrations originally began in the United States. The Big Easy Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy says the first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade was held in 1857, Mobile’s parades on Fat Tuesday did not begin until 1868 after the Civil War.
Hardy says the style of parade, floats and costumes and masks, did in fact start in Mobile, but they didn’t roll on Mardi Gras day until 11 years after New Orleans did.
IBM technology announces plans for a 400-job application development and innovation center in Monroe. Officials say IBM will provide software technology services to clients across the nation and partner with CenturyLink on research and product innovation initiatives. Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says this is huge for Northeast Louisiana. Mayo says this announcement is in addition to the 800+ jobs coming to the CenturyLink technology center which will open in March.
State Police say two people have died in a crash involving a truck and a train in DeSoto Parish. They say the vehicle was hit by the train and a third person is critically injured at the University Health Center in Shreveport. It is not known why the truck was on the tracks but the investigation is ongoing.
The LSU men’s basketball team is at Texas A-and-M looking to pick up another win on the road tonight.
It was a great day for a parade as thousands showed up yesterday for the 22nd Alexandria Mardi Gras Association’s Krewe Parade. The annual event wrapped up parade season in the Alexandria area. It was the 10th year for the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band to participate in the parade. Parade activities continue today and tomorrow across the state.
No new information yet in the case of two people, a male and a female, who were found dead Friday afternoon in an apartment building in the 700 block of 21st Street in Alexandria’s garden district. The APD is treating the case as a homicide. The identity, ages and cause of death are unavailable at this time, as the investigation is in its early stages.
It appears the peak of the flu season is behind us, but health officials say we can’t let our guard down. Doctor Frank Welch, with the state department of health and hospitals, says during the height of the flu season, over 500-thousand Louisiana residents were hit with the flu. He says the elderly have been hit especially hard this season.
Law enforcement are patrolling throughout the Mardi Gras holiday to discourage impaired driving and help reduce the number of crashes on Louisiana roadways. State Police spokeswoman, Melissa Matey, says if you’re going to partake in Carnival revelry, do it responsibly and have a designated driver. During last year’s five-day Mardi Gras holiday, there were 599 crashes which resulted in 13 deaths statewide. Over half of those deaths involved alcohol.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a New Orleans area levee board that claimed dozens of oil and gas companies should pay damages for destroying Louisiana’s coast. Judge Nannette Brown ruled that federal and state laws are not set up so that the levee authority could successfully file a suit against the energy industry.
Louisiana’s Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the mid-year budget cuts handed down by Governor Bobby Jindal are just not fair. He says most of the larger cuts hit departments managed by elected officials. The Department of Ag received mid-year cuts equivalent to $2.6 million dollars, while the governor’s office had a ten-thousand dollar cut to its budget. The Jindal administration is defending the way the cuts were handed down.
A Shreveport police officer has been arrested after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female in his office. The victim was at the police station so she can discuss with detectives harassing phone calls she received. The officer arrested has on the force for 15 years.
So far, The Louisiana Office of Alcohol And Tobacco Control says they’ve conducted over 600 alcohol and tobacco compliance checks across the state since February 2nd, finding 83 violations of business selling to underage customers. The A-T-C says they are continuing those checks throughout Mardi Gras
A Walker man is under arrest, accused of secretly recording himself having sex with his girlfriend, then posting it on social media after the couple broke up. Thirty-year-old Robert Howard reportedly had an argument with his girlfriend, when she told him to leave her apartment. Shortly after, she noticed that Howard posted to sex video to Facebook. Howard was arrested on charges of video voyeurism.
CC’s and Raising Cane’s, two prominent Louisiana-born businesses, made the 2014 Top 10 Excellent Fast-Food Chains list. The California based research firm Sandelman & Associates ranked Raising Cane’s number four and CC’s Coffee House number six in the Quick-Track Awards of Excellence for quick service chains.
The Bossier Sheriff’s Office is trying to figure out who is creating elaborate websites for schools purporting to be in the parish — but that actually don’t exist. Lt. Bill Davis says there are three websites with pictures of people, biographies of principals and teachers, enrollment information for schools listing Bossier City addresses. Davis says they are working with the Louisiana Department of Education to see if the people behind the sites are trying to defraud the federal government or the state via grant dollars.
Thursday Governor Bobby Jindal announced Metal plate Galvanizing will make a $9.7 million dollar capital investment to develop a plant in Jennings. The facility is expected to span 50,000 square feet and create 104 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $46,300 plus benefits.
State Police arrest two drug traffickers in Alexandria that were preparing to sell drugs to Mardi Gras revelers. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says authorities were alerted to suspicious activity of an aircraft at Alexandria International Airport. He says during their investigation, a K-9 alerted officers of possible drugs on the aircraft and a search began. He says troopers seized over 34 pounds of marijuana and over 550 grams of hashish. 37-year-old George Marshall of Gulf Shores, AL and 40-year-old John Marshall of Grass Valley, CA were taken into custody.
The Central Louisiana Technical and Community College is eliminating 24 positions and cutting two programs at the Leesville campus to make up a $1.3 million structural deficit across its seven campuses. Most of the cuts will take effect March 1, while some will come at the end of the semester.
A member of the “Angola 3″ is indicted for a third time in the 1972 murder of an Angola prison guard. Albert Woodfox’s case went before a West Feliciana Parish grand jury, because a federal appeals court overturned his last conviction on grand jury selection issues.
The National Highway Safety Administration reports that fewer drunk drivers are on the road, but drug use while driving is rising. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Col. John Leblanc says there have been an exceptional number of Louisiana drivers found to be under the influence of drugs. He says synthetic drugs have become a particularly bad problem and warns motorists that driving under the influence of narcotics is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
In the latest round of midyear budget cuts, Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking a deeper carving knife to the spending of his fellow statewide elected officials than to most agencies under his control, including his own office. The governor's office will come through the $61 million in slashing largely unscathed, taking a reduction of $10,000 — less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its budget. Departments overseen by the lieutenant governor, treasurer, insurance commissioner and agriculture commissioner are slated to take hits of 3 to 4 percent, more than nearly all departments managed by Jindal's cabinet secretaries. Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said the offices controlled by Louisiana's elected officials, excluding the governor, comprise less than 1 percent of the $25 billion state budget. But they're in line for 16 percent of the midyear budget cuts recommended by the governor.
Port Barre Police have arrested a 15 year-old student from Port Barre High School who threatened to use a gun on the school principal. Police Chief Deon Boudreaux says the teen had a bullet and a fake gun in his possession but, he thought it was the real deal. The student remains in police custody. They are hopeful the teenager can get some counseling help.
Next Wednesday is the deadline for the candidates for running governor to report by how much they raised during 2014. It’s expected Republican Senator David Vitter will report the most at around four-million dollars, and Lt Governor Jay Dardenne says he’s raised about half of that.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has fallen behind chief opponent Jeff Landry in fundraising for this fall’s election. Both Republican candidates in the Oct. 24 election filed their campaign finance report this week with the Board of Ethics. Landry, a former congressman, has more than three times the campaign cash reported by Caldwell. Caldwell’s report shows him ending the year with $302,000 in the bank. Landry reported having more than $1 million in his campaign account.
The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act comes to an end Sunday. Kara James, with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, says this year’s enrollment figures are a nearly 55-percent increase from last year. She says there have been several improvements to the HealthCare-dot-gov website to make it easier and faster for people to enroll. Although premiums in the marketplace have risen since last year’s open enrollment, James says financial assistance is available that can help many lower their monthly payment. She says nine out of ten Louisianians, who have selected coverage, were determined eligible for assistance to lower their monthly premium.
The price at the pump in Louisiana jumped another 2 cents overnight. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.08 according to the American Automobile Association.
Officials in New Orleans want people who are heading to The Big Easy for Mardi Gras over the next few days to know that the city is safer than ever. Convention and Visitors Bureau President Stephen Perry says State Police is bringing in 150 extra troopers into the city to help keep the Carnival crowd under control. Perry says they are trying to spread the word that Mardi Gras season is typically one of the most protected times of the year in New Orleans.
Perry says with the increased presence of state police combining forces with the NOPD, they are expecting this to be one of the safest Mardi Gras season’s in history.
The 2015 college baseball season begins tonight with the second ranked LSU Tigers hosting the Kansas Jayhawks at Alex Box Stadium. Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman believes this team has what it takes to get back to the College World Series.
Governor Bobby Jindal proposes reducing the size of tax credits in cases where a company or individual receives more money from the state than they owe as a way to balance next fiscal year’s budget. Jindal says two of his cabinet secretaries are looking at how this could help the state’s fiscal situation. The state faces a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall for next fiscal year. Jindal’s commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, will present a proposed spending plan to lawmakers on February 27th and despite this huge deficit, Jindal says increasing taxes are off the table.
The voice of the LSU Tigers, Jim Hawthorne, has announced he will retire next year. Hawthorne has been calling LSU sporting events for 35 years and plans to hang up the headphones and microphone following the 2015-16 basketball season. During his career, he’s been on the mic for LSU’s three Final four appearances, two national titles in football and all six of LSU’s national championships in baseball.
Unless you bought your Powerball ticket in North Carolina, Porto Rico or Texas, you didn’t win the big jackpot. The $564 million will be split 3 ways.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says a three year old child is dead after she accidentally shot herself with one of the family’s guns. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the father was cleaning his guns and suddenly had to leave for work. He says the dad called the mom and told her to put the guns away when she got home, but it was too late. No charges have been filed at this time.
The American Automobile Association says the price of gas in Louisiana is shooting up faster than the national average, but that’s because the pump price here was so low to begin with. We’re up 2 cents from yesterday to $2.06 according to AAA.
Planned Parenthood has filed an appeal regarding a Department of Health and Hospitals decision denying the group permission to perform abortions at a new facility currently under construction in New Orleans. Senior Counsel, Roger Evans, says the basis of the appeal is that DHH offered no basis in denying the application. The group says they currently see about 8,000 patients at their current health center in New Orleans. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says the organization did not meet the Facility Need Requirements specified by the state and their application was denied. A decision from an administrative law judge is expected in 4 to 7 months.
States in the south are snatching up more tickets than ever for the February 14th release of the movie “50 Shades of Grey” compared to the rest of the nation. According to Fandango, Louisiana and Alabama are buying twice as many pre-sale tickets than normal for the film, while Mississippi tops the list at 4 times their usual rate. The movie debuts here in Alexandria tonight. But, only showing late in the evening.
The US House has approved a bill that authorizes construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas. The measure now heads to President Barack Obama, who is expected to veto it over environmental concerns. Supporters say the pipeline would create thousands of jobs, without adding more greenhouse gasses into the air. Opponents say the high pressure pipeline could spring a massive leak and cause irreparable damage the water aquifers below it.
As we approach the February 15th deadline, the US Department of Health and Human Services announces since open enrollment began on November 15th, 157,900 people in Louisiana have selected plans or were re-enrolled through HealthCare.gov. With only three days left, officials are urging uninsured citizens to get signed up for coverage if you haven’t already.
Serious charges are facing a Houma man, after 4 new born puppies were found dead in a home, including one with a severed head. Police Chief Todd Duplantis says the live-in boyfriend of the woman who owned the puppies got into an argument with her, and when she left the residence to calm down, she returned, made the discovery, and called police. Fifty-two year-old Richie Kiffe (KEEF)was arrested on four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
A businessman whose testimony helped put former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in prison has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to fraud related to Nagin’s corruption case. Frank Fradella was sentenced today for making a $50,000 payoff to Nagin in exchange for favorable treatment of his business interests. Nagin is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
Local authorities continue to investigate an armed robbery of an armored vehicle yesterday morning at the highway 28 west Walmart in Alexandria. The APD reports several shots were fired during the robbery, but no one was injured. The robber got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. But, didn’t get far. He was involved in a crash just a short distance from the store and was disarmed and subdued by a retired state trooper, an additional off-duty LSP Trooper, a nearby citizen and an Alexandria Police Officer. The suspect was identified as 57 year old James Gilbert of Deville.
In the ongoing Benson family legal feud, New Orleans Judge Kern Reese has ordered that Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson undergo an examination. Benson will face three exams performed by three different doctors in what is called a standard assessment. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this ruling is not in Benson’s favor. This ruling comes on the heels of a Texas judge’s appointment of two men to oversee the Benson family trust. The standard assessment exams must be completed by March 15. Meche says, because of these recent rulings, Tom Benson is learning it’s not going to be easy to disinherit his heirs.
Tonight’s Powerball jackpot has reached a massive $485 million which is the third largest prize in the game’s history. The lump sum cash value for the drawing is worth $327 million according to Kimberly Chopin with the Louisiana Lottery. She says the odds of winning any prize on Powerball are one in 32, the odds of winning the jackpot are one in 175 million. This jackpot has been growing since November 29th.
Over a dozen Louisiana public school districts have passed resolutions that ask the state not to enforce penalties for students who decide not take to the Common Core standardized tests. Louisiana School Boards Association executive director Scott Richard says as it stands now, school systems will receive a “zero” for every student who opts out. Richard says if a school or school system has a large number of opt-outs, it will result in a lower school performance score or letter grade, as part of the state’s accountability system. Students will take the Common Core exams the week of March 16th. Richard says the uncertainty is not good for anyone.
When the legislative session begins in April, lawmakers will once again discuss whether or not to authorize the use of medical marijuana in Louisiana. Democrat Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore’s measure was defeated in the Senate last year. Honore says he’s bringing it back up due to the results of recent polls on the issue. State associations of sheriffs and district attorneys successfully blocked efforts to pass this legislation last year. Honore says their main concern is that this bill would legalize marijuana for recreational use and that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since 1991 for people with certain conditions. But rules for dispensaries were not set, so no prescriptions have been issued.
Halliburton announces plans to lay-off at least five thousand of its workers as a result of falling oil prices. The Houston-based oil field services company the cuts will impact all areas of Halliburton’s operations.
A big announcement yesterday that a Holiday Inn Express is coming to Pineville, and a new townhouse development may be as well. Pineville officials have been working on the hotel project for two years now, and they expect the company to break ground on the project in two months. The hotel, which will be located on U.S. 165 south of the Kmart, will have 81 rooms.
It has happened again, A 6-year-old girl who had fallen asleep on the way to her first grade class woke up on a parked and empty school bus. It happened yesterday morning in the garden district. A neighbor spotted the child and was able to get her out of the bus safely and contacted the child’s father. The name of the driver of the bus has not been announced. But Rapides parish school officials say the matter has been addressed.
Louisiana gas prices are shooting back up. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.04 up almost 15 cents from this time last week according to AAA.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a woman is in critical condition at a local hospital after they believe she fell out of the back of a truck her estranged husband was driving. 46-year-old Allen Wray and 48-year-old Sherri Wray were sitting on the back of a tailgate, when the husband told his wife to get in the cab. She refused; he drove off, causing her to fall. She’s in very critical condition.
Monroe Police say an officer has been fired because of racially offensive comments he made on social media about the Ferguson Missouri incident in which a black unarmed teen was shot by a white officer. Officials announced Monday that Officer Doug Lambert, who’s been on leave since November, is no longer with the department after an internal investigation. The Chief said the comments are not at all what the department stands for.
What does it mean for Louisiana now that a federal ruling has been issued in Alabama clearing the way for Clerk of Court offices to begin distributing marriage licenses for same sex couples? Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says all eyes right now are on the US Supreme court which is currently considering four cases that will soon be argued. Same sex marriages are against state law in Louisiana and recently federal district judge in New Orleans upheld that prohibition, a ruling which is currently under appeal.
The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Raceland man for his seventh DWI late last night on Highway 1 at a convenience store. Thirty year-old Jessi Joseph III was booked into the Lafourche Parish Detention Center with his first Louisiana DWI offense, to go with his six prior arrests on DUI in California.
Research from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans finds that a psychedelic drug prevents the development of allergic asthma in mice. Lead researcher Dr. Charles Nichols says the next step in their research is to see if the drug has a positive effect on mice who already have asthma. There are over 25 million people in the US known to have asthma.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating KKK fliers that are being left in some neighborhoods in the area. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the fliers have a picture of a hooded man on them and say “You can sleep well tonight knowing the Klan is awake.
Carnline says even though the flier doesn’t contain any threats, they are asking the FBI to investigate because the literature is ending up in the driveways of minorities which could be considered a hate crime.
The public is invited to a forum this evening in Pineville for candidates in the House District 26 race. The forum, sponsored by Pineville Concerned Citizens, is set for 6 to 8 p.m in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The three candidates Jeff Hall, Alice Hammond and Daniel Williams have been invited to participate. Early voting in the House District 26 race continues today through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Rapides Parish Registrar of Voters’ Office in the parish courthouse. The primary election is set for Feb. 21.
Twenty-seven Radio Shack locations in Louisiana are included on the company’s list of 1,750 stores it expects to close by the end of March as the electronics retailer seeks bankruptcy reorganization. The two Alexandria Stores, the North Mall Drive and Alexandria Mall locations are on the closure list.
Sunday night, a single vehicle crash killed a man from Effie. The state police reports the crash occurred around 7:30 p.m., on LA Hwy 1206, near the Deville Cutoff Road. 60 year old Jeffery Parker apparently lost control of his Jeep Wrangler and left the roadway causing the vehicle to overturn. Parker, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected. He was pronounced dead a short time later. The investigation continues.
The Jindal administration’s $3.5 million dollar mid-year budget cut to the state department of Tourism means lay-offs and reduced hours at state parks and museums. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says the size of this cut is disproportionate than what other agencies are experiencing. Dardenne says they’ve had to close three state historic sites and layoff 106 employees. He says no state parks will be closed due to the cut, but they will operate under reduced hours through the rest of the fiscal year. Also, swimming pools at state parks will not be open this year due to the budget cuts.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says efforts by the Republican establishment to conduct a “kinder, gentler” presidential nominating process in 2016 are misguided and designed to stifle conservative candidates. Jindal, who is considering a run for the White House, took aim Monday at the Republican National Committee’s decision to officially sanction no more than a dozen debates among Republican contenders. Jindal trails well behind the front-runners in opinion polls of potential Republican candidates and could be hampered by the RNC’s guidelines.
A 16-year-old is in jail and another dead after a shooting in Sabine Parish. Authorities say the teen suspect is charged with second degree murder for allegedly fatally shooting the victim in the head once. The motive is under investigation but cops believe the two had been arguing at the apartment complex outside of Many.
Sasol announces they’ve selected Louisiana-based construction contractors to begin work on its ethane cracker and derivatives project in Westlake. Spokesman Mike Hayes says these appointments reflect Sasol’s commitment to using Louisiana businesses on the project.
Hayes says construction of the complex will begin soon and they hope to launch commercial production in 2018. They predict the $8.1 billion dollar complex will create about 5,000 construction jobs.
LSU officials are reporting rather unpleasant scenarios, as the threat of state budget cuts are approaching. An internal report details layoffs, hundreds of classes on the chopping block, and academic programs eliminated. The Jindal administration is considering big cuts to higher education for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Governor Bobby Jindal stole a line from the late comedian Richard Pryor when he was asked about a portrait that shows him with a different skin tone. The picture went viral on social media last week. When asked about it in Washington D.C. Jindal said “You mean I’m not white,” which Pryor said in the movie See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Jindal added the controversy surrounding the portrait is silly.
Kenner Police say a Mississippi woman is under arrest for allegedly driving drunk then backing into the police car that pulled her over two times. 46 year-old Debra Lynn white was booked with DWI, reckless operation and aggravated flight from an officer.
Louisiana’s Longest Known Married couple for 2015 has been announced by the Louisiana Family Forum. Executive Director Gene Mills says Lawrence and Varrie Player of Benton celebrated 80 years of marriage last month. He says when they wed, he was 21 and she was 15.
The LSU men’s basketball team has a chance to hand top ranked Kentucky its first loss of the season tonight. The two teams will square off in the Maravich Center at six P-M Kentucky is 23-0 on the season, while LSU is 17-6
The Jindal administration proposes 61-million dollars in cuts to various state agencies and using 43-million dollars in stopgap funds to fill a 103-million dollar revenue shortfall for this fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the cuts will eliminate certain state contracts, plus museums and state parks will be impacted. Nichols says the joint legislative committee on the budget will have its opportunity to approve the governor’s revised budget plan at their meeting on February 20th
After five years of virtual freezes, state aid for public schools is up in the air again, another potential casualty of Louisiana’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall. The aid, which goes through a complex formula called the Minimum Foundation Program, is the lifeblood for a system used by about 720,000 students. Schools are getting $3.6 billion this year, which makes the assistance one of the state’s biggest expenditures. Educators say how schools fare this year is crucial, amid rising costs of retirement, health care and classroom technology.
The $17.7 billion long-term debt of Louisiana’s teacher and state employee pension plans just got larger. Known as “unfunded accrued liabilities,” the UAL for the state’s teachers’ and employees’ retirements has hit the $19.2 billion mark. It represents how far short the systems are from having the assets necessary to pay their long-term pension obligations, a debt for which the state’s taxpayers are ultimately responsible. The systems include more than 240,000 active and retiree members. State officials and legislators are aware of the increased debt but say it’s under control.
A judge in Texas is expected today to officially name the former mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger and estate lawyer Art Bayern as overseers of a trust that benefits Tom Benson’s heirs. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says Judge Tom Rickhoff will likely ask these two individuals to conduct an audit of the trust fund. Millions of dollars are in this trust, which was created for Renee Benson by her mother Shirley Benson, who passed away in 1980. Sunseri says assets inside that trust have been frozen by the courts. The battle over this trust fund is part of the larger feud concerning future ownership of the Saints and Pelicans.
According to a new report by InsuranceQuotes.com, car insurance premiums in Louisiana rise by an average of 30% after a single claim. Senior analysts Laura Adams says that’s the 15th lowest hike in the country. She says while 30% seems high, it falls well below the 41% claim hike which is the national average. Adams says many consumers underestimate the consequences of making claims because they can affect your rate for years.
A new CDC study shows that Americans who live in the southeast, between the ages of 30 and 74, are at a higher risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years than people in other parts of the country. Bruce Johnson, a heart attack survivor and heart health advocate, says the death rate from heart disease in Louisiana is particularly high. He says nearly 250 Louisianians, out of every 100,000 residents, die from cardiovascular disease per year. Among African-Americans, that figure rises to 266. Johnson says, for many, lifestyle changes can lead to better heart health. He says a lot of heart health issues have to do with lack of exercise and diet.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Louisiana has climbed back to over $2.00 a gallon. According to the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of regular in the Bayou State is $2.01. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it was expected that fuel prices would increase as we head into spring. Redman says the price of gas has increased about 10-percent over the last two weeks and he says you can expect to see the price continue to rise in the coming months. But Redman says the US Department of Energy is forecasting that gas prices will remain below $3.00 a gallon this year.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has written a letter to the St. Martinville Police Department regarding an apparent policy stating floats in their Mardi Gras parades can’t play rap music with obscene lyrics. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says people participating in the parade reportedly had agreed to some rules about music along the route that are unclear and not constitutionally enforceable. She says just because the police and the city council don’t like rap music it doesn’t mean they can ban it.
The City of Pineville is gearing up for their first Mardi Gras parade. Eleven floats and several marching bands will make their way down Main Street tonight. Mayor Clarence Field’s Chief of Staff, Rich Dupree, says there are a couple of distinctions that will make Pineville’s parade stand out. First of all this will be one of the few night parades in central Louisiana. Secondly, the parade will cross the Jackson Street bridge into Alexandria and end in time for the “Taste of Mardi Gras” event. The “Light the Night” parade will roll at 5:30PM.
As suspected, A body found by a pond in Eunice on Tuesday has been identified as a missing woman from Elton. Allen Parish authorities say 61-yearold Earthy Maye Griffin was reported missing by her husband Monday morning. She was last seen Sunday in Eunice when she was picked up by a couple from Elton who knew her. Hebert said the couple gave her a ride to a store in Eunice. Investigators say there were no immediate signs of trauma and that Foul play is not suspected. However, the investigation continues.
With 10 days before open enrollment ends, nearly 150,000 Louisianians have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Billy Justice, Director of Marketing for Vantage HealthPlan in Monroe, feels people are getting more knowledgeable about the health care marketplace. With only a week and a half left, Justice encourages people who are in need of health insurance to check out the marketplace. He says the plans come from private insurance companies and there are plenty of options for residents who need to sign up.
The Council for a Better Louisiana says it doesn’t make sense for kids to opt out from taking the assessment tests that are part of the Common Core education standards. CABL president Barry Erwin says the tests measure a student’s progress and that’s important considering the state spends over three billion dollars on public schools. Governor Jindal is calling on BESE to provide an alternate test for children who opt out.
A state appeals court this week declared unconstitutional a 2012 law that gave Louisiana school superintendents wide discretion in firing tenured teachers. The law, part of the state Legislature’s controversial public schools overhaul in 2012, was rewritten last year and no longer includes some of the provisions included in the courts decision. But that decision could bolster the arguments of tenured teachers challenging terminations from July 2012 to June 2014, the time between when the law was passed and when the Legislature tweaked it. It’s unclear how many tenured teachers fired during that time period would be affected by the appeals court ruling.
There’s been a surprise development in the ongoing Benson family feud as a judge in Texas has apparently decided to place a trust set up for Tom’s daughter Renee into the hands of the former San Antonio mayor, Phil Hardberger, and an attorney. Judge Tom Rickhoff is expected to make the official order on Monday. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this is a huge victory for Renee. Meche says now it’ll be up to Hardberger to make the decision on what will happen to some of Benson’s properties and it’s assumed that he won’t do what Tom Benson wanted.
Meche says Tom wanted Renee fired from various boards of companies owned by the trust, but now that probably won’t happen. He says the fact that Benson didn’t take the stand in the Texas hearing likely hurt his case.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana emphasized Thursday that it was not affected by a cyberattack and data breach that involved Anthem Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer. Anthem is one of 37 independent licensees of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a separate and independent plan from Anthem and all other Blue plans in the country. Hackers broke into Anthem’s database storing information for about 80 million people, gaining access to names, birthdates, email addresses, employment details, Social Security numbers, incomes and street addresses.
There will be plenty for Louisiana to be rooting for this Sunday during the 57th annual Grammy awards ceremony. There are at least a dozen locals who are nominated or who have ties to nominations on Music’s Biggest Night. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne will be hosting the “Only in Louisiana” luncheon in Los Angeles tomorrow to honor the Bayou State and its nominees.
The Grammy music awards ceremony will broadcast on CBS at 7pm on Sunday.
Abita Brewing Co. in Abita Springs has fired back at Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial which essentially says craft beer is for snobs. Other small brewers throughout the country are doing the same. Abita has posted a You Tube video and in it they say “We’re not a dog and pony show” — taking a jab at the popular Budweiser puppy/Clydesdale commercial. Blossman also says Budweiser suggests their beer is “brewed the hard way.” He says he has no idea what that means. He says brewing great beer is and should be fun.
Noranda Alumina in St. James Parish is asking the state department of environmental quality for permission to release mercury into the air, after learning they may have been doing so without a permit since they began operations in 1959. D-E-Q spokesperson Greg Langley says the refinery could be fined for releasing mercury without a permit. Langley says D-E-Q doesn’t monitor for mercury releases on a regular basis, so it needs to be determined how much mercury may have been released and for how long, before a potential fine is handed down.
More problems for the Rapides Parish Coliseum. A state appeals court has ruled that a former Rapides Parish Coliseum employee, Terri Clark Hunter, can proceed with a whistleblower lawsuit against the Coliseum Authority. Hunter sued the Coliseum Authority in 9th Judicial District Court in July of 2013, claiming she was fired because she refused to keep quiet about financial improprieties involving Coliseum operations. Ninth District Judge George C. Metoyer Jr. ruled in favor of the Coliseum Authority on technical grounds. On Wednesday, the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the 9th District ruling and remanded the case back to the 9th for further proceedings.
The RPSO has arrested a Lena man who allegedly tried to coax a minor via cellphone to meet him for sex. 24 year old Brandon Coutee is now is facing a charge of computer sex solicitation. Coutee was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on Wednesday where he remains on $100,000 bond.
A 34 year old Marksville man was arrested Tuesday by state police for the possession and distribution of child pornography. He was booked into the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center. LSP investigators have reason to believe that there may be local victims.
Alexandria police officers were doing a check Tuesday, along with U.S. Probation and Parole officers, at the home of 64year-old Paul Tyler. Tyler is a Tier 3 sex offender. That tier contains the most serious offenses like aggravated rape and forcible rape, and offenders must register for life. “During this check, evidence was obtained that indicated Tyler might be in possession of items that would violate the conditions of his parole. According to authorities, the evidence contained child pornography. Tyler was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. An investigation is continuing.
Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain is offering a retirement incentive in lieu of job layoffs as he tries to shrink employee payroll to cut budget expense. The retirement incentive is part of Strain’s plan to comply with Jindal administration-directed cuts required to balance the current and next year’s state budget. The state must cut $300 million in the current year because of lagging state revenues and $1.6 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1. So far, 34 employees have signed up to take advantage of the program.
Gas prices jumped 4 cents last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is up to $1.94 according to the American Automobile Association.
Law enforcement officials across the state are warning parents about a social media app that’s being used for cyberbullying. Yik Yak is an anonymous bulletin board where users can post comments that can be read by anyone within a 10 mile radius. Washington Parish Chief Deputy Mike Haley says some parents have called them reporting their children have been bullied through the Yik Yak app. He says there have been arrests at several colleges across the country due to threats made through Yik Yak. Haley says parents need to be aware of their children’s social media activities.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Lake Charles woman after the child she was babysitting was found wandering along a busy highway. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office says 23-year-old Jamie Jackson is charged with cruelty to a juvenile.
The Louisiana SPCA is on the hunt for the person or persons responsible for cutting off the head of a baby goat last week in an Orleans Parish park. Spokeswoman Alicia Haefele (Hay-Fa-Lee) says the owner of the animals believes an altercation with a group of teenagers could be at the root of the act, after they were told to leave the goats alone. The reward money has been increased to three thousand dollars…
The LSU Alumni Association is organizing a lobbying effort to protect LSU campuses from significant budget cuts. LSU Alumni Association President Cliff Vannoy says they are seeking volunteers that will be part of a group called Tiger Advocates, who will have lawmakers’ attention as they craft the budget. If you want to be a Tiger Advocate, go to the LSU Alumni website. Vannoy says volunteer advocates will be kept up to date on key legislation that will impact higher education and they’ll have a chance to make their voices heard.
The driver of the car that crashed head on into a school bus in Denham Springs on Tuesday is booked for DUI and other drug charges. Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard says 32-year-old Brandon Vince was behind the wheel when he crossed a center line and hit the bus full of children. Ard says at least 15 of the children on the bus were treated and released for minor to moderate injuries after the crash.
The state’s budget woes are causing difficulties in the search for a new president for Grambling State University. Possible job applicants are apparently worried about the state’s potential budget cuts to higher education. University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley says they received a letter from The Hollis Group, the search firm hired to recruit candidates, expressing the concerns. Woodley says they originally intended to introduce the new president in April. The search committee will meet with The Hollis Group later this month to discuss changing the timeline for finding a new president.
Bossier Parish Community College makes history as they sign a female player to a baseball scholarship. Sarah Hudek (Hoo-Deck) is a left handed pitcher and is the daughter of MLB All-Star John Hudek. Coach Aaron Vorachek says she will be one of the first girls ever to play baseball at the collegiate level. Vorachek says this is not a gimmick and he’s not concerned about the media attention this move is garnering. He says the 5-foot-10 Hudek is capable of throwing in the upper 70s to low 80 miles per hour which, as a left-hander, is acceptable for anyone at the collegiate level.
A Houston-based company announced plans Tuesday to invest $2 billion for a liquefaction facility and liquefied natural gas export terminal near Lake Charles. The Live Oak LNG project will create 100 new direct jobs at the liquefaction and export facility, with an average annual salary of $75,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project also will result in 385 new indirect jobs, for a total of 485 new permanent jobs in Calcasieu Parish and surrounding parishes. The plant is targeted to begin operations in late 2019.
The Louisiana Lottery says tonight’s $317 million dollar Powerball jackpot is the 11th biggest in the game’s history. Kimberly Chopin says their total sales from Powerball in its current run have been about $15.6 million dollars, which is good news since 35 cents of every dollar of sales from all of their games goes to the state to help fund public education. Tonight’s jackpot has a cash value of $220 million dollars.
Governor Jindal released a statement yesterday urging all parents to have their children vaccinated. A debate is underway nationally over whether it’s safe to have your child vaccinated against diseases. In Jindal’s statement, he says sciences supports them and he wouldn’t send his kids to a school that didn’t require vaccinations.
The death of a nine-month old baby from Alexandria in March of last year has resulted in the arrest of a Eunice mother and stepfather. Twenty-one year-old Michelle Cotten and 21 year-old Billy Dean Cotten were both charged with first degree murder, with a bond set for 1 million dollars each. The investigation is ongoing.
State officials announced yesterday Louisiana roadway fatalities dropped by 29 percent between 2007 and 2013. According to Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, over the past seven years we have made tremendous progress. In 2007, Louisiana suffered 993 traffic fatalities compared with 703 in 2013, a drop of almost 30 percent.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating the discovery of a body found floating in a body of water just off US 190 outside of Eunice. They reportedly believe it could be a woman who was reported missing from Allen Parish. We’ll have more on this as it develops.
The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a first-grade teacher for allegedly striking a student . Witnesses told authorities that 31-year-old Chanel Lemelle of Bains Lower Elementary in St. Francisville, berated, kicked, and slapped a student. Apparently video surveillance supported the claims. Lemelle is charged with cruelty to a juvenile.
We have some more cold temperatures on the way, how will that affect Louisiana’s crawfish crop heading into Mardi Gras? Long term it should be OK, according to LSU Aquaculture Specialist Dr. Greg Lutz. Short term, the cold weather may keep crawfish from crawling into the traps set by crawfish farmer, and that affects their cost. Bottom line, crawfish may be hard to find this weekend and if you can find them, plan to pay more.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services released the 2015 Louisiana Child Support Most Wanted poster. It features the names and photos of 14 non-custodial parents who owe nearly half a million dollars in past-due child support. You can view the poster online at dcfs.louisiana.gov and if you know the whereabouts of a person on it please contact authorities.
Qualifying for spring municipal elections begins Wednesday and runs through Friday at parish clerk of court offices in five Central Louisiana parishes. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the five area parishes, which are among 17 parishes statewide for which qualifying is taking place, are Avoyelles, Beauregard, Concordia, Grant and Natchitoches parishes.
One man is dead after a shootout with an off-duty Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputy Tuesday afternoon in what police are describing as a domestic situation. The deputy was at a home with his girlfriend when the woman’s ex-husband arrived at the house and tried to get inside. The two men got into a gunfight, and when it was over, the ex-husband was dead. State police are investigating and they say, at this point in the investigation, they have not confirmed the deputy killed the ex-husband.
It’s national signing day and the LSU Tigers are expected to bring in another Top Ten recruiting class in football. Mike Farrell, director of national recruiting with Rivals-dot-com, says LSU has four 5-star prospects, including two from Louisiana.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a teacher is under arrest accused of having sex with an underage student. They say 28-year-old Donald Gene Parker III apparently found out about the complaint against him and went to the home of the victim to beg them not to have him arrested. Detectives searched his home and found plenty of evidence to arrest him. Parker’s charges include pornography involving juveniles and indecent behavior with juveniles.
The APD believe they got their men. Three juveniles were arrested late last week, ending a three-month investigation into a rash of burglaries in the city. Police Chief Loren Lampert said the investigation revolved around about 30 burglaries in the north and southeast Alexandria. The unidentified juveniles were arrested on "multiple counts of burglary," and were taken to a juvenile facility.
No arraignment date has been set yet for an Oakdale woman accused in the death of a Lecompte woman and her unborn baby. But bond for Pamela Causey-Fregia has been set at $780,000. Causey-Fregia was charged Saturday with the first-degree murder of Victoria Perez and the first-degree feticide of Perez’s unborn child. Perez disappeared in March 2011 after a doctor’s appointment in Alexandria. Because of that tip, investigators interviewed one of Causey-Fregia’s minor children, who claimed their mother killed Perez. Allen parish sheriff Doug Hebert said investigators believe the woman intended to keep Perez’s child for herself, to use in a ruse to get her estranged husband to return to her.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says Louisiana is in danger of seeing a drop in its credit score. Moody’s Investors Service warned that the state’s recent reductions in revenue estimates are a “credit negative. Kennedy says Moody’s is one of the major credit rating agencies and they’ve essentially fired a warning shot at Louisiana saying that if we don’t get our financial house in order, they will downgrade us from stable to negative. Kennedy says the report pointed to Louisiana’s multiple fiscal challenges including the $330 million dollar revenue forecast drop, next year’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall, current mid-year budget cuts and more.
Louisiana would lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars from offshore oil and gas drilling under a proposal included by President Barack Obama in his budget rollout Monday.
The Democratic president’s $4 trillion blueprint for the 2016 fiscal year starting Oct. 1 would eliminate the sharing of revenue from drilling in federal waters with Louisiana and three other states along the Gulf of Mexico, as outlined in a 2006 law cited in December by former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu as the signature achievement of her 18 years in the Senate. US senator David Vitter says the bill has no chance of passage.
A new poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics show that Governor Bobby Jindal’s numbers have slipped among Iowa Republican voters. Jindal got two-percent of respondents when asked for their first choice in a presidential candidate. Jindal also received two-percent when respondents were asked for their second choice. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lead the poll with 16-percent, followed by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul with 15-percent. The poll also showed the governor’s unfavorable numbers rose to 20-percent.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose in Louisiana for the second week in a row according to Gasbuddy-dot-com. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says this might be the end of the four-month-long drop in prices at the pump. He says wholesale prices have increased by more than 20 cents a gallon, and those increases will, eventually, get passed on to consumers.
Lapolitics.com is reporting former 5th District Congressman Vance McAllister is considering a run for the US Senate next year. Apparently McAllister said if Congressman John Fleming of Minden is the only one who seeks the seat then he’d go up against him. However, several other top republicans, including state treasurer John Kennedy, have expressed an interest in running.
Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore wants to see Louisiana implement an air monitoring system, paid for by private companies. Honore, who was in charge of military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, now leads a coalition of environmental groups called the Green Army. Honore says the state has 150 chemical plants and no system in place to monitor what they put into the air. The Green Army proposes a series of sensors to be installed outside of chemical plants, monitoring the air quality. Honore says if something goes wrong, the sensors can notify nearby residents.
In case you didn’t know, Monday was groundhog day. In South Louisiana, we have the Cajun Groundhog Pierre C. Shadeaux, who by the way didn’t see one didn’t see one when he emerge from his home yesterday morning. That should mean a longer spring for the state. Daily Iberian publisher Will Chapman says, Pierre almost always gets it right. Almost is the key word.
Some sad news from Shreveport Police yesterday about the 7 year-old little girl hit on her bicycle by a drunk driver Saturday afternoon. Cpl Breck Scott says the child passed away from her injuries. Scott says the charges against 46 year-old Randy Presentine were upgraded to vehicular homicide along with having no insurance and driving without a license while under suspension.
The investigation continues into a deadly blaze in Avoyelles parish last week that left 4 people dead. Fire Marshall Butch Browning says a father, grandmother, son, and daughter all perished in the blaze. The victims’ ages range from 10 to 73-years-old. Browning says they believe the four victims were asleep at the time of the fire. He says the mother of the children was at work when the blaze broke out. Browning says the investigation is in its initial stages.
An early morning house fire destroyed one home, and damaged two neighboring homes on Cook Avenue in Alexandria Sunday morning. Fire officials say it appears a stove caught fire and the home became engulfed in flames. It took firefighters a little over an hour to get control of the fire. Good news is, no one was injured in the blaze.
Allen Parish authorities report the remains of a pregnant Lecompte woman missing since 2011 have been found, and the charges of an Oakdale woman arrested on Wednesday of last week in connection to the case have been upgraded. Pamela Fregia was charged Saturday with first-degree murder and first-degree feticide of Victoria Perez and her unborn baby. Lecompte Police first reported 20-year-old Perez missing in March of 2011 after she went to a doctor's appointment at Rapides Regional Medical Center and never came home.
Amid reports that some families are opting out from having their child take standardized tests that are part of Common Core, the chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer, is encouraging parents to have their child take the test in March. Roemer says the new standardized tests are more rigorous than previous ones, but it will help determine a student’s strength and weakness. Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order that calls on BESE to have an alternate test for those students who opt-out of the Common Core exam. But Roemer says Jindal doesn’t have the constitutional authority to do that and he accuses the governor of simply creating chaos.
Mitt Romney announces he’s decided not to run for president next year, so what could that mean for Governor Bobby Jindal? 2016 would have been Romney’s third run at the White House. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says Romney passed on Jindal as a vice presidential contender last time saying the two never really connected so him bowing out of the race also helps The Governor. Also, Cross says anytime one of the main candidates drops out of a presidential race, it’s a victory for all of the remaining contenders.
High school principals vote to keep the current split between public and private schools that exists with the football playoffs and allow the new executive director of the LHSAA, Eddie Bonine, develop solutions that could possibly bring the classes back together. Bonine says his first step will be to organize a committee to examine the issues that caused the split. Many principal Norman Booker authored proposals to divide the postseason between public and private schools in other sports, but it was voted down.
Many are waiting to see if democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will get in the governor’s race. Jeremy Alford, publisher of la-politics-dot-com, says Landrieu only has about 40-thousand dollars in campaign money in the bank, so if he’s getting in, he’ll need to make a decision soon. Alford says some Democratic operatives say Landrieu will pass on the governor’s race, so he can have a major influence on the presidential race. But, Alford says he’s also heard that Mayor Landrieu has yet to completely rule out a run for governor.
According to a report from Duke University, The South had the nation’s lowest five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS with 15 percent of people with HIV and 27 percent with AIDS dying within the first five years of their diagnosis. Louisiana was one of nine southern states with the poorest rates of survival. Younger, rural, African-American females who attributed their HIV infection to heterosexual sex were among the majority of patients with the worse survival rate. Louisiana had the lowest survival rates after a diagnosis, followed by Mississippi. In Louisiana, 19 percent of people diagnosed with HIV died within five years and one-third of people diagnosed with AIDS died within five years. The full article is in today’s Town Talk.
There is a new, free app for your smart phone that puts the health reports for local restaurants at your fingertips. The app is called “What the Health” and is the brain-child of Chris Peoples and Jake Van Dyke of Modern Appsolutions. Louisiana is one of just eight states, along with Washington DC, serviced by the app. Van Dyke says the app will show you a letter and number grade for each restaurant along with any actual violations they received during their last health inspection. The app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.
LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center launches an initiative to provide doctors in Louisiana with proven strategies which would reduce and treat obesity in children. The project is led by Dr. Amanda Staiano (stye-an-no) who says the Child Obesity Treatment Toolkit helps primary care physicians determine who’s at risk for obesity. Staiano says childhood obesity is a very serious issue in Louisiana with half of our kids being overweight or obese.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined that Wednesday’s fire in Calhoun, where two bodies were recovered, was a murder suicide. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they believe the situation began with a domestic dispute between 52-year-old Larry Lisotta and his wife, 57-year-old Diane Lisotta. Browning says they have determined that Larry Lisotta shot his wife in the head and then set the home on fire. They believe he then turned the gun on himself. Browning says this appears to be an isolated incident and do not believe anyone else was involved
Abortion rights activists testified Thursday The state Department of Health and Hospitals has gone too far in its proposed rules governing the operation of abortion clinics in the state.
About 80 people attended the DHH hearing to take public testimony on rules and regulations updated after the Louisiana Legislature passed several laws about the licensing and operation of abortion clinics. Nobody spoke in favor of the rules.
Lawyers on both sides of a same-sex marriage case urged Louisiana’s Supreme Court on Thursday to rule soon on the matter even though the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to do so by late June. Louisiana voters approved a 2004 amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriages in the state and forbids the recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. In September, state District Judge Edward Rubin, of Lafayette, ruled the ban unconstitutional.
The Louisiana Lottery says we’ve now hit the biggest Powerball jackpot of 2015 with tomorrow’s drawing worth a whopping $298 million dollars. Spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the current jackpot has been running since the end of November. She says the last big jackpot winner in Louisiana was from a May 2013 drawing so we’re due. Chopin says the current jackpot has a cash value of about $198.4 million dollars.
A new study ranks Louisiana third nationally on a per-capita basis for inappropriate teacher-student relationships. Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the US Department of Ed and now chair of Drive West Communications, says he found 23 reported cases in 2014, and six cases so far this year. In many situations, social media advanced a teacher-student relationship to an inappropriate level. Another interesting aspect to the study, there’s also a higher percentage of inappropriate relationships involving female teachers than the national average.
After more Louisianians have been hospitalized and even died as a result of synthetic marijuana, Governor Bobby Jindal has announced the ban of multiple new synthetic marijuana compounds. The new banned compounds are called “PX 1″, PX 2″, and “MDMB-CHMICA” (chimika).
Sometimes made in china can be a pain. A lot of Mardi Gras Krewes are getting nervous as most of their custom throws have not arrived yet and Fat Tuesday is just around the corner. There was an ongoing labor dispute at a Los Angeles port which held up thousands of signature Mardi Gras product, but Beads By the Dozen President Dan Kelly says tensions have calmed. Kelly says almost every Carnival Krewe was affected by the delay. He says now all of the Mardi Gras containers are being taken off ships and hopefully will be put on trains over the next two days.
So how likely would it be that former KKK leader and Louisiana lawmaker David Duke would be elected again here? Not very likely according to political analyst Bernie Pinsonat. Duke challenged Congressman Steve Scalise to step down for apologizing about speaking to a white supremacist group in 2002. Pinsonat says Duke is only milking this for attention
Duke took it a step further and said that he would consider challenging the House Majority Whip in the next election for the 1st District Seat. Pinsonat says Duke is just trying to get publicity and he will probably never get re-elected in Louisiana if he chooses to run.
The legal drama between the Benson family over ownership of the Saints and Pelicans could drag on for a year or more. The scene will play out in courtrooms in New Orleans and San Antonio. Legal analyst Tim Meche says an Orleans Civil District Court Judge could rule whether or not Tom Benson is physically and mentally fit to handle his business affairs by spring. Meche says the real litigation will take place in San Antonio involving whether or not Tom Benson can transfer the teams out of the family trust. He says, thus far, Benson has been unsuccessful in his attempts to do so.
A Louisiana inmate at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court debate over leniency for juvenile criminals had his life sentence cancelled Thursday after spending more than three decades in prison. George Toca, convicted in New Orleans of second-degree murder in 1985. Under the agreement, the 47 year old Toca enter a plea to a lesser charge of manslaughter and plead guilty to two counts of attempted armed robbery. Police said Toca accidentally shot his 16 year old friend while they were robbing a couple at gunpoint in April of 1984.
It all comes down to attachment A. The Rapides Parish Police Jury voted Wednesday to approve an agreement with the city of Alexandria to settle the parking lot dispute, once the wording of that attachment is worked out. In case you are wondering what is in that attachment that is holding up the project, it is the definition of the project. The city rejected it saying they plan to draft their own. The overall agreement provides that the Police Jury will pay the city $1.1 million for its share of the jointly owned parking lot. Having a valid parking plan is needed before the $23 million Coliseum renovation can begin.
Sasol says it will delay a decision on whether or not it will make the final announced investment into the proposed gas-to-liquids plant in Westlake Near Lake Charles. The South African energy company says they’re holding off on the 14 billion dollar phase of the project due to tumbling oil prices. Sasol has already approved an $8.1 billion dollar cracker unit in Westlake but right now says they are working to conserve as much money as possible.
Sasol’s announcement of a delay in their final decision to invest in a proposed gas-to-liquids plant in southwest Louisiana has raised some concern in the business community. But George Swift, President of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, says construction has already begun on Sasol’s $8 billion ethane cracker and that quells his concern. Swift says his confidence that the project will go ahead is boosted by the infrastructure work that Sasol is doing around the site of the proposed plant.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire early Wednesday morning in Ouachita Parish that has claimed the lives of two people. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says officials are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire. The identities of the man and woman who perished in the fire have not been released.
Governor Bobby Jindal says his proposed budget cuts will be presented to lawmakers, along with a list of “options” to ease some of the slashing. With the state facing a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, the Jindal administration is considering cuts for colleges, and to health care services.
State Police announce that 150 additional troopers will be deployed to New Orleans for this year’s Mardi Gras season. The detail will include a visible uniform security presence in the French Quarter and Central Business District as well as plain clothes officers. Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson says the troopers will be working in the city through Fat Tuesday.
Republican Congressman Steve Scalise has agreed to a meeting with two civil rights leaders in the aftermath of reports that Scalise spoke to a group of white supremacists in 2002. The pair want to ask Scalise to help advance civil and human rights issues, like the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Scalise has acknowledged it was a mistake to speak to the group and has apologized. Former KKK leader and State Representative David Duke says Congressman Steve Scalise is a sellout and he may consider running against him.
Officials from Grambling will be meeting with the Louisiana State Board of Nursing next month to rule on the school’s undergraduate program. Grambling’s nursing program has not maintained an 80 percent pass rate for students taking their state exams. Grambling currently has about 200 students in the program.
The Onion, a satirical news website, recently wrote an article skewering Governor Bobby Jindal that’s getting national attention. The fictitious article claimed that Jindal’s presidential campaign would last about two months before he pulled out of the race. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says The Onion writing an article about Jindal is not flattering and not the kind of national attention that the governor would prefer at this time. He says the underlying joke in the article is one that Louisianians will surely understand. The governor may end up running a two month campaign. But, truth is he has running for the presidency for the past five years.
Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has responded to a lawsuit filed by his daughter and two grandchildren. In a court filing, Benson says for years he attempted to groom Renee Benson and his two grandchildren to take over the professional franchises once he dies, but they never rose to the task. He adds the decision for his wife to take control of the teams following his death was a deliberate and reasoned decision.
Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky will battle for first place in Conference USA when the two basketball teams meet tonight in Ruston. Tech is 6-and-1 in Conference USA, while the Hilltoppers are 7-and-0. Bulldogs Coach Michael White says Tech has won 22 in a row at home and tonight is about protecting their home floor against a really good offensive team.
Rapides Parish Police Jury President Richard Billings has called a special Police Jury meeting for 4 p.m. today to discuss the Police Jury's lawsuit against the city of Alexandria. The jury sued the city over the parking lot dispute, which parish officials say has delayed the start of the $23 million Coliseum renovation project. It’s believed the city and the parish are very close to an agreement. The police jury is also working toward a long-term lease for "overflow parking" on property that is not owned by the city.
When it was created last year, a $40 million incentive fund to pay for college programs that fill high-demand jobs in Louisiana was hailed as critical to both higher education and the state's workforce needs. Now, with the state grappling with deep budget problems, Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to strip financing from the fund that only months ago he described as among his top priorities. But with Louisiana facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the 2015-16 fiscal year that begins July 1, Jindal is considering cuts of $300 million to $400 million to public colleges. And WISE, as the program is called, is on the chopping block.
According to the American Automobile Association, the statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is at $1.87 for the second day in a row. So has the price bottomed out? AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it’s possible, as the price of crude oil has stabilized between $45 and $48 a barrel. But, that’s not likely. Redman says there’s a chance that we could still see prices slip as we head into February. Redman says the drop in fuel costs is astounding, especially when you compare prices to this time last year…
The health of the teachers’ retirement system in Louisiana got a “C minus” in a report issued Tuesday by The National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan research and policy organization. The report says the state’s teacher retirement debt totals $11.3 billion.
The latest estimate from state officials is nearly $12 billion, which is the largest of the four statewide retirement systems. The report said the retirement debt is not well funded and lacks the flexibility needed to be fair to teachers, including allowing them to be vested in no more than three years. The requirement here is five years.
Louisiana's economy keeps creating jobs, but it can't keep up with the state's growing workforce. The state's unemployment rate rose in December for the eighth straight month, to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent in November. Louisiana now ties for the sixth-highest jobless rate among the states. But at the same time, the state hit new all-time highs for jobs. Experts say The jobless rate rose, though, because the number of job seekers grew faster than the number of jobs.
Two men were gunned down Monday and killed in Donaldsonville less than two hours before a community group intent on stemming a recent tide of violence prayed in the city’s downtown square. Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said 37 year old Chad Nichols was slain in his front yard. A second man, 29-year-old Benny Booker of Prairieville, was wounded with serious injuries and taken to a hospital but later died.
Witnesses told deputies that two white cars were seen speeding away from the mobile home shortly after the shooting.
The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office says the search for a teen, wanted in connection to a weekend robbery, ended unexpectedly when the suspect was found dead. Sheriff’s spokesperson Maxine Trahan says officers responded to a call from a crawfisherman who discovered the body of 18 year old Slye Mier in a field just east of Crowley. Authorities say Mier’s death is being classified as suspicious, although the exact cause of death is unknown at this time.
A Breaux Bridge woman Tuesday admitted to a judge that she was one of two people who strangled her elderly mother in 2011, drove her body to Lake Martin and left it in a car for others to find. 51 year old Heller Marie Dupuis plead guilty to manslaughter in the November 2011 killing of 83-year-old Jessie Messex, whose body police found with the rope still around her neck. Dupuis acknowledged to 16th District Judge Lori Landry on Tuesday that she and an accomplice, her 33-year-old daughter, Toni Marie Dupuis, carried out the crime. Toni Dupuis has agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter, though no court date has been scheduled.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual convention begins today and the main agenda item is the current split of the football playoffs. There is a proposal to expand the postseason split of public and private schools to other sports. A vote on the football playoff proposals will take place Friday.
Studies show more and more women are buying guns and becoming more familiar with how to use them. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 74 percent of gun shops saw growth in female customers in 2014. Barret Kendrick, a firearms trainer in Covington, says they have seen a major increase in the number of women coming into the gun market. Kendrick says women want to be able to protect themselves and their children and not feel like they have to rely on a man to protect them.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear “Boudin King Cake?” Well it’s out there. The brains behind the now crazy viral concept is Acadiana food critic Bob Carriker who is a UL-Lafayette history professor. He says he reviews King Cakes and Boudin from all over the nation and decided to combine the two and share the idea on his Facebook Page. Carriker says the now-famous King Cake uses a bread that is savory, not sweet, stuffed with boudin, topped with Steen’s cane syrup then sprinkled with cracklin.
RPSO Deputies arrested a home invasion suspect, 27 year old Nicholas Damico of Alexandria, around lunchtime yesterday. Authorities received a 911 call about shortly after noon stating that a burglary was in progress in the 5000 block of Plantation Road in Alexandria. When deputies arrived a short time later they found the suspect being held at gunpoint by the homeowner. Damico was charged with home invasion, stalking and simple battery.
Despite the number of burglaries being down 5% in the past year in Alexandria, city police are advising the public to be on the lookout for suspicious people looking in to vehicles. According to police there has been a rash of guns being stolen from parked vehicles. The police remind everyone to lock tempting items in the trunk of their vehicles.
The APD reports three teenagers from Jena were arrested over the weekend on drug and weapon charges. Police searched a vehicle after an officer saw one of the suspects smoking marijuana in the parking lot of the Grand Theatre on North Mall Drive. In that vehicle, Police found 29 bags of marijuana and a handgun. The suspects were taken to at the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
The state fire marshal is investigating a deadly blaze yesterday in Natchitoches that claimed the life of a yet unidentified person. Fire fighters made the gruesome discovery after extinguishing a fire at an abandoned mobile home yesterday morning. The body was so badly burnt investigators were unable to make an formal id. It is hope an autopsy will be able to do that.
Weak oil prices will result in a 103 million-dollar reduction in spending this fiscal year by state government. That determination was made at the Revenue Estimating Conference meeting in Baton Rouge Monday afternoon. The panel, which determines how much money the state can spend, also determined the budget deficit for next fiscal year has increased by another 203 million to one-point-six billion dollars.
Republican Minden Congressman John Fleming says he, along with eight other congressman, have formed the House Freedom Caucus. Fleming says they’ll advance an agenda that calls for an of accountable and limited government. Fleming says this new group of truly conservative lawmakers will look to advance legislation and also prevent measures that do not represent what he calls “America’s Agenda.
The state police confirmed yesterday the U.S. Secret Service is investigating a number of cases of ATM thefts in a major cities along the Interstate 10 corridor. Nick Manale of the Louisiana State Police says skimmers, devices which can read numbers from ATM cards, have been put on some ATM machines. Manale says keep an eye on their banks accounts, going back as long as one or two months, and if you suspect fraudulent activity, call your bank and the police. the Secret Service suspects this is the work of a group of people.
An accidental shooting at a Shreveport casino resulted in a man being hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Shreveport Police Cpl. Breck Scott says 34-year-old Jerry Grimes arrived at the casino valet early Monday morning and while in the process of removing his gun from his holster and placing it in the trunk, the gun fired striking Grimes in the upper thigh. Police say the injury was non-life threatening. The investigation is ongoing, but Grimes had no signs of impairment.
As New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is working to reduce crime in the Crescent City, one auto-theft crime hit home with the mayor, as a jeep registered to Landrieu was reportedly stolen over the weekend. An off-duty officer was able to locate the abandoned vehicle in the Uptown section of New Orleans. They are still seeking the suspect.
Entergy has cut the ribbon on a new power plant in suburban New Orleans that company officials say will reduce fuel costs and produce reliable and affordable power for Louisiana customers. Entergy Spokesperson Mike Burns says Ninemile 6 is already using 30 percent less fuel than other natural gas combustion plants. This is the first power plant Entergy has opened in Louisiana in 30 years. Burns says Ninemile 6 was completed under budget and ahead of time.
The State Department of Health and Hospitals sets up a program that encourages Louisiana residents to take control of their health. The program is called “Own Your Own Health”. It’s a three month wellness challenge that can assist residents in living a healthier lifestyle. Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Director Rudy Macklin says you can participate as an individual or part of a team. The challenges are meant to motivate Louisianians to make small daily steps in creating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. You can sign up at oyohla.com
A University of Michigan Medical School study finds, that since the late 90s, there has been an almost 30-percent increase in the report of falls among the elderly. Dr. Cathi Fontenot, with LSU Health Internal Medicine, as one ages, your sense of balance typically gets a little worse. Fontenot says it’s important to keep those core muscles as strong as possible to help maintain your balance. She says the weakening of core muscles in the elderly can affect their sense of balance
The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today to determine the budget shortfall the state faces this fiscal year and next. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says it’s likely mid-year cuts will be needed to offset the deficit. Though state officials say the reason for the shortfall is falling oil prices, Erwin says that’s not the only reason we’re in this situation. He says the structure of the budget has never really been repaired since 2008-2009. He says we’ve just been borrowing money from ourselves over and over and then that ran out.
Senate President John Alario plans to meet with Governor Jindal this week to discuss ways to reduce a potential budget cut of up to $380 million dollars to Louisiana’s public colleges. He says that kind of cut would completely devastate higher education not only to the universities but to the children who are seeking it. Alario says one of the items of discussion that’s on the table is trying to increase revenue
The state labor department says first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 17 decreased to 2,987 from the previous week's total of 3,601. The
Industries with the biggest over-the-week decrease in initial claims were construction, accommodation and food services, administrative and waste services, and retail trade.
It appears state Treasurer John Kennedy is testing the waters for a few races in this year’s upcoming election. It’s reported Kennedy has hired Virginia-based North Star Opinion Research to poll the races for governor, attorney general, and if there was a special US Senate election in 2016. Kennedy says, at this time, he’s keeping his options open.
The survey shows the Treasurer topping a possible attorney general’s race and the leading Republican in a US Senate race should David Vitter become governor.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has seen a slight uptick in Louisianans who view him favorably, according to a new poll of likely Louisiana voters. The poll, conducted by Jindal’s campaign pollster Wes Anderson of OnMessage Inc., found 46 percent approve of Jindal’s job performance heading into the final year of his final term, while 45 percent view him unfavorably. Among respondents 45 and younger, Jindal’s numbers were 55 percent favorable to 41 percent unfavorable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal told Christian evangelicals gathered at an all-day prayer rally Saturday that the nation needs a “spiritual revival,” as he continued to court religious conservatives for a possible presidential campaign. The rally attracted thousands to the basketball arena on LSU’s campus but drew controversy both because of the group hosting it, the American Family Association, and Jindal’s well-advertised headlining appearance.
Gov. Bobby Jindal took a hard-line stance against same-sex marriage during a five-minute interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sunday morning. The governor added that he hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately let states like Louisiana keep their bans on same-sex marriage in place. If it doesn't, he said he will support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to guarantee that states would be able to define marriage themselves.
State police report a Port Barre man died Saturday night as a result of an ATV accident. 28 year old Lance Lomas was on U.S. 190 in St. Landry Parish, driving on the westbound shoulder of the road, when for some unknown reason he veered right, crossed a driveway and drove into the ditch, flipping the ATV. Lomas was not wearing a helmet and suffered critical injuries. He died later at a hospital. Alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor in the crash.
The trial for a man accused of tying up and abandoning a baby pit-bull in a storage building in October 2013 begins in Caddo District Court today, and there are plenty of angry citizens expected to be in attendance. 32-year-old Gabriel Lee, charged with cruelty to an animal after he allegedly left the dog without food and water for several days. When the dog was discovered, he was barely alive. He has since made a full recovery.
LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri says sophomore left-hander Jared Poche will start opening day on February 13th against Kansas, but he’s not sure on what the rest of his starting rotation will look like. Mainieri says he has several freshmen to choose from and the situation will play itself out during the non-conference portion of the schedule
Employees at General Electric's Pineville plant have been told the facility is closing. The valve plant was formerly operated by Dresser Inc. before that company was bought by GE in 2010. It employs about 300 people. So far, company officials have refused to confirm or deny the closing.
Pineville Police report 48 year old Tyrone Teasley was arrested Wednesday after he walked into a classroom at Louisiana College and started teaching a class. Problem was, Teasley was neither a teacher or a student at the private school. Teasley was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and disturbing the peace. He was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
Finally some good news relating to the Rapides Parish Coliseum. Police Jury President Richard Billings announced yesterday a proposed agreement between the Police Jury and the city of Alexandria over jointly owned property needed for Coliseum parking could be finalized as early as next week. The Police Jury canceled a special meeting that had been set for Thursday morning on a proposed intergovernmental agreement with the city of Alexandria on the parking lot issue. Word is, the agreement needed some tweaking. Billings is hopeful the agreement will be ready soon.
An Alexandria police officer who has been under investigation has resigned, according to Chief Loren Lampert. Two investigations into possible misconduct by the unidentified ex-officer were turned over to the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office in late December for grand jury consideration. A new grand jury was expected to be empaneled late this month. The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office started an investigation after receiving a complaint about possible misconduct by the officer while he was off duty and outside of the city. The Alexandria Police Department started its own investigation after being notified of the allegation.
Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson announces ownership of both teams will transfer to his wife, Gayle, upon his death. This move effectively cuts out Benson’s daughter, Renee, and grandchildren, Ryan Leblanc and Rita Benson Leblanc, from the sports franchises. Benson stated that this change in succession is necessary for the long-term success of both teams. Shortly after the announcement, Benson’s former heir filed a law suit claiming her grandfather is incapacitated. Rita Benson LeBlanc, her mother Renee Benson and brother Ryan LeBlanc filed the petition in Orleans Civil District Court. The suit also alleges that Tom Benson’s wife, Gayle, is trying to take advantage of her husband’s unfit mental state and is only after his money.
Republican supporters of Governor Bobby Jindal establish a super PAC that could assist him in a presidential bid. Former Louisiana Congressman, Bob Livingston, is the chairman of the political action committee, called Believe Again PAC. Livingston acknowledges this is the first step in a possible run for the White House. The Super PAC can raise an unlimited amount of money, but Jindal can’t direct or coordinate how the money is spent.
The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department has arrested a 24-year-old woman in the May 2014 death of her fiancé’s 3-year-old son. After an eight month investigation, Brittany Marie Prejean of Rayne is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Keaghyn Parsons. Prejean was caring for the toddler the day of his death. An autopsy performed on the child showed he died of blunt trauma. The Calcasieu Parish Coroner ruled his death a homicide.
The New Orleans City Council Thursday approved a smoking ban at bars and casinos by a 7-0 vote. This is a big win for supporters who say it’s a public health issue for workers and patrons of these establishments. Tonia Moore is with the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living. She says they are thrilled this initiative had so much support. The opposition was mostly from business owners who were worried such a smoking ban would threaten revenue. Moore says they hope to see many other municipalities in Louisiana follow suit.
This weekend, the Mystick Krewe of Louisiana will be hosting the DC Mardi Gras in our nation’s capital. A reported 3,000 Louisiana will fly in for the festivities at the Washington Hilton.
The woman who has assisted law enforcement locally and nationally in identifying human remains, Mary Manhein, announces she is retiring from the LSU FACES Laboratory after more than 30 years. Also known as “The Bone Lady,” Manhein has consulted on hundreds of forensic cases including mass disasters. Manhein says her last day is April 30th and she’ll then turn over the reins of the program to another generation.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the whooping crane that was shot in Vermilion Parish then later died late last year. Spokesman Adam Einck says the reward money is coming from several sources. Einck says the whooping crane is one of the world’s most endangered birds and they want to make it clear that there are serious repercussions from killing one. He says this is now the 6th bird that has been shot and killed in Louisiana. Anyone with information on this case can report it online at wlf.louisiana.gov.
College baseball teams can begin full squad workouts today and for the LSU Tigers they enter the season ranked ninth in the country according to Division One-Baseball-dot-com.
You may have noticed a lot of extra traffic in town. There’s a good reason for that. The Pentecostals of Alexandria are playing host to over 3000 people from all around the world. It’s the 32 “because of the times Conference”. An event that has continued to grow since it’s inception back in 1984. The conference started Tuesday and runs through today.
A fish fry will be held Sunday at Bea’s Grocery in Montgomery to raise funds for the family involved in a fatal wreck over the weekend. Three members of the West family from Montgomery died after the wreck on U.S. Highway 71 near Clarence. Jennifer Tell West and Brian West died at the scene. Their 10year-old daughter, Kayle West, died Tuesday morning.
The wreck also killed Pineville resident Stacey Lachney and injured her daughter.
Jennifer West worked at Bea’s Grocery for about three years, and her father has established a fund at Montgomery Bank to help with expenses. All proceeds from the fish fry will go to that fund. Plates are $10 each, and sales begin at 10 a.m. and will last until supplies are gone.
GoFundMe accounts also have been established for the West family
Falling oil prices has resulted in Lafayette-based Stone Energy Company to announce it will cut spending this year by more than half of what they spent in 2014. Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, says Stone Energy is not the only oil company scaling back. The price of oil is trading at 47-dollars a barrel today.
A self-confessed child killer named Phillip DeSelle is set to be released from prison today and the family of the little girl and Evangeline Parish citizens are outraged. Averie Evans of Natchitoches who was killed by DeSelle when she was 11 years old. DeSelle, now 65, served just 24 years in prison on a 50 year sentence and was given time off for good behavior.
Governor Bobby Jindal continues to insist there are neighborhoods in Europe where authority is ceded to a more harsh version of Islamic law. Jindal had a chance to back down from those comments in a one-on-one interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Fox News previously reported the same claims, but has since apologized and said those reports were false. But in the governor’s interview on Fox News, he said there are government officials in Europe who say they have Muslim-led communities who do want to assimilate. Jindal expressed concern a similar situation could develop in this country, if our federal government doesn’t take appropriate measures to make sure immigrants are not trying to overturn our culture.
According to the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, 137-thousand people in Louisiana have signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. Open enrollment ends on February 15th. More information can be found at health-care-dot-gov.
A man wanted for the shooting injury of an Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Deputy yesterday has been found and arrested. Sheriff Jeff Wiley says 35 year-old John McMullen was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by police for a shop-lifting incident, when McMullen shot at the car and the deputy, hitting him in the hand. The suspect took off, but they found him later. A man and a woman in the car were also arrested. McMullen is charged with attempted first degree murder of a police officer.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested an Opelousas woman for allegedly burning her child with cigarettes. 26-year-old Jessica Deville is facing a charge of cruelty to a juvenile. Lt. Clay Higgins says they were alerted by a local hospital about the alleged abuse. She denies those charges. The 5 year old is now in the custody of his father.
New Orleans City Council is expected to vote on a controversial ordinance that would prohibit smoking in bars and casinos. Claudia Rodas, with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, is in favor of the ordinance. She says more should be done to protect bar and casino workers from the dangers of second hand smoke. But, Alex Fine, President of the French Quarter Business League, points out that there are already over 100 bars in the city that do not allow smoking. He says owners should be allowed to make the decision on whether or not they want to be smoke-free
LSU football received a verbal commitment from one of the top high school prospects in the state, Riverdale defensive back Donte Jackson, who had five interceptions last season The 2015 recruiting class also features a couple of other highly thought of defensive backs in Kevin Toliver and Xavier Lewis.
State Police say a two-vehicle accident in Natchitoches Parish on Sunday afternoon left three people dead and four others injured. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Stacey Lachney of Pineville crossed the center line of US 70 and collided with a vehicle driven by 31-year-old Jennifer Tell of Montgomery head on. Lachney was killed as a result of the crash, as was Tell along with a passenger in her car identified as Brian West. Moreau says three juvenile passengers in Tell’s car received minor to serious injuries.
Massive traffic problems on I-10 yesterday morning as Authorities had to close the I-210 bridge in Lake Charles shortly after 4am due to a bomb threat. State Police Sgt. James Anderson says they received a call about a car on fire on the Calcasieu River bridge, but found no car on fire and the person with the car said he had a bomb. Anderson says the investigation is ongoing. No bomb was found and the bridge was reopened just before 12:30 p.m.
Gov. Bobby Jindal continued Monday to warn of "no-go zones" in Europe where non-Muslims are unwelcome and residents are ruled by religious laws, even after Fox News declared that there is "no credible information" that such areas exist in France and England. CNN reporter Max Foster challenged Jindal during an interview Monday, saying he had lived in London a long time and he don't know of any no-go zones. However, Jindal stood firm.
A CBS News poll of one one-thousand Americans nationwide found 14-percent of Republicans would like to see Governor Bobby Jindal run for President, while 20-percent said they do not want to see him run. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the republican getting the most support based on this poll, as 59-percent of the respondents said they would like to see Romney run again.
Former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason will be Senator David Vitter’s special guest tonight at President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS and works with his Team Gleason organization to empower others living with the disease. Vitter says he’s honored to have Gleason attend, calling Gleason an inspiring leader in the fight against ALS.
Starting today, taxpayers can file their federal and state 2014 returns. Mark Eldredge, with Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants, says if you bought health insurance through the federal marketplace, also referred to as Obamacare, there is a special form you’ll have to fill out proving you had insurance. If you did not, you’re subject to a fine that’s laid out in the Affordable Care Act. Eldredge encourages you to get your returns to a licensed preparer soon, because even tax pros are trying to get up to speed on the new rules.
A federal trial to determine how much oil giant B-P will be required to pay in penalties for its role in the massive 2010 Gulf oil spill begins today in New Orleans. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Eric Smith, says a ruling made last week by U-S District Judge Carl Barbier gave us an indication on how steep the fine could be. BP faces up to 13-billion dollars in Clean Water Act fines.
With election day about nine months away, the four major announced candidates are starting to speak out about why they should be Louisiana’s next governor. During a recent forum in Baton Rouge, Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says there are many major issues facing the state and he has a history of bringing people together to solve problems. Democratic state representative John Bel Edwards says if elected, he’ll put Louisiana first, something that the current governor is not doing. Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he’s committed to building a better Louisiana & Republican Senator David Vitter says if he’s elected governor, it will be his last political job, which means his focus will be strictly on the challenges that lie ahead for Louisiana.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. Faye Williams of Alexandria currently serves as the Chair of the National Congress of Black Women. She says today is a day of service. Williams says we should use today to remember Dr. King by calling on people from all walks of life to work together in providing solutions to our most pressing national problems. Activities are scheduled all across the state today.
The Joint Legislative Committee on the budget approved a 20% pay raise for state troopers. The original request from Col. Mike Edmonson was for a 30% increase but the measure was amended down to 20% reducing the cost from about $14 million to about $10 million. Edmonson says this will be the first pay raise for Louisiana State troopers since 2002.
The vote from the House side was 24-5 and the Senate side 13-3. Much of the pushback Friday came from lawmakers who argued the request came as somewhat of a surprise and the process was too rushed.
State Police say a hostage situation in Evangeline Parish turned deadly with the suspect being shot and killed by police. They say the unidentified man took his girlfriend hostage in a trailer park in Pine Prairie. Master Trooper Brooks David says the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s deputies responded to call from a neighbor of a domestic disturbance. David says after deputies arrived, gunshots were fired from inside the residence. The female hostage broke out a window and screamed to the officers that she was going to be killed. David says, at that time, the hostage taker presented himself in the window and was shot. The hostage received only minor injuries.
Minden Representative Gene Reynolds says the EPA has agreed to delay the open tray burn of the more than 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden for at least 90 days. He says they also have now said they would support any decision on an alternative method to get rid of the explosives by the DEQ and the National Guard. Reynolds says there will now be more meetings and further discussions on the way to disposed of in a way that does not harm the environment.
The four announced candidates for governor met in Baton Rouge Friday to discuss ways Louisiana can have a better highway system. The idea of raising the gasoline tax was not discussed, but republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he would look into toll roads if elected. The lone democrat in the race, Amite representative Jon Bel said Louisiana could spend more money on highways, if state government made sure transportation Trust Funds went to roads and no other areas. Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says in too many cases transportation projects are funded as a political favor and that needs to stop. Republican US Senator David Vitter says one of his priorities as the next governor would be to develop a targeted highway building plan.
A Baton Rouge lawmaker is concerned about a department of education report that shows more than 61-thousand public school students received an out of school suspension last academic year as a result disciplinary action. That’s about nine-percent of the state’s public school students and senator Sharon Weston Broome believes that’s too high. The report also indicates about five-hundred students between K-and-12th grade received an out-of-school expulsion because of their actions. Broome says she’s meeting with principals, school board members and teachers in an attempt to find out if sending a disruptive or troubled child home is the best punishment.
New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond is concerned that airfare prices have not gone down despite the significant decline in fuel costs. Richmond says the fact that airline ticket prices haven’t gone down doesn’t make any sense to him. Richmond says if air travel is cost prohibitive, it is a detriment to American families. He wants an explanation of what exactly makes up the price of an airline ticket. Richmond feels there’s a chance that this issue could be heard in a Congressional hearing.
After a cold and cloudy week in Louisiana, get ready for some warmer temperatures and sunshine. Gary Chatelain, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, says we’re going to see a January thaw over the next few day. Chatelain says we’ll see high temperatures in the mid to upper 50s today, but the warm-up doesn’t stop there. Temps should be around 60 under sunny skies Saturday and Sunday.
Alexandria City officials and others gathered yesterday at the D.G. Hunter Generating Station, the city power plant , to highlight the start of a project in which seven new “rapid start” generators will add to the city’s generating capacity. The $100 million project is expected to be completed in a year. Mayor Jacques Roy says the project should keep city utility rates stable for the next 20 to 30 years.
A Campti man, 22 year old Robert White, who had been wanted on bank fraud and other charges was captured Thursday in Natchitoches. Authorities say White had been wanted since Dec. 31 on two counts of felony bank fraud and two counts of monetary instrument abuse. Another suspect in the case, Colie Northcutt, turned herself in last week.
The head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association is not expecting another oil bust like we saw in the 1980s even though the price of oil has fallen over 50-dollars in the last six months. LOGA President Don Briggs says while he doesn’t see a large number of oil and gas companies going under, there will be some belt tightening and some of that has already occurred. Briggs says there are currently 55 active off-shore rigs, and so far, these have not been impacted by the lower prices.
Those falling oil prices are not helping Louisiana’s state budget shortfall, as Secretary of State Tom Schedler reports his office faces a proposed $3.8 million dollar mid-year budget reduction from the Jindal Administration. This will force him to implement an agency-wide employee furlough as early as Tuesday.
You saw and heard the commercials every time you turned on the radio and TV. Now we know why. A just released report shows outside groups spent $27 million in Louisiana Senate campaign, all aimed at unseating Mary Landrieu. But, it was worse in other states. The No. 1 target for outside groups in 2014 was the Senate race in North Carolina, with $80 million spent. Republican Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in that election. The races in Colorado ($68 million) and Iowa ($59 million) ranked second and third. In all three of those elections Republicans captured a seat previously in Democratic hands, contributing to the gain of nine seats that has given Republicans control of the Senate in the current Congress.
Jonesboro Rep. Jim Fannin says he won’t support the pay increase for State Police when Col Mike Edmonson makes the request today before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. A bill was passed last session which created an account with motorist’s fines to be used for LSP. But Fannin says lawmakers have bigger fish to fry right now than pay raises
Fannin says with so many other state agencies cutting budgets in the mid-year, it wouldn’t be a good time to give troopers such a big increase. He also says a 30% increase is unreasonable…
State Senate President John Alario says forthcoming budget cuts to higher education would be disastrous to institutions across the state. The Jindal administration has discussed a potential $200 to $300 million cut to higher education. But Alario says he’s heard it could be as high as $380 million which would be devastating. The state has projected a $1.4 billion budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, and that number could rise due to falling oil prices. It’s expected that higher ed will take the brunt in efforts to try to balance the budget.
The major candidates in the 2015 Governor’s race will get together for the first time today in a Baton Rouge forum that will address transportation and infrastructure issues. The event is sponsored in part by The Louisiana Associated General Contractors. US-Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commission Scott Angelle, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and state Representative John Bel Edwards are expected to attend the two-hour forum.
The Washington Parish Sheriff’s office says a former speech therapist from Franklinton High School is under arrest for allegedly having sex with at least 2 students under the age of 17. Chief Deputy Mike Haley says after the complaint came in, they were able to gather enough evidence to arrest 40-year-old Kimberly Cooke. Haley says the suspect is booked with indecent behavior with juveniles.
Looking ahead to the governor’s race, Republican Senator David Vitter made a couple of major policy announcements yesterday. The first is concerning a fundamental spending and tax reform package; and the second being a targeted highway building plan. He says Louisiana needs to break out of the budget chaos, and he’s tired of poor roads and mounting traffic.
BP faces possible $13 billion in penalties at trial . That after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that 3.19 million barrels, just under 134 million gallons, were discharged into the Gulf after a rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well. The number is more than the 2.4 million barrel figure BP had argued for and less than the government’s estimate of about 4.2 million, a figure that could have meant $18 billion in maximum penalties under the Clean Water Act. Those penalties are to be determined in a trial set to open Tuesday.
The Alexandria Zoo is under fire from an animal rights group after two endangered primates froze to death last week. A zoo employee left three cotton-top Tamarins out in the cold, resulting in the death of two of the monkeys. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesperson, Brittany Peete says PETA wants the zoo to be held accountable for any possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Zoo officials say the employee in question, who was initially placed on administrative leave, has resigned.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s department reports A Rapides inmate on a road crew stole a truck from a Pineville church parking lot and fled yesterday afternoon. 43 year old Christopher Bailey was serving time for a burglary conviction. Because it was a non-violent conviction, Bailey was assigned to a crew that works across the parish, picking up trash or clearing brush. He is not considered dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call authorities.
According to the Violence Policy Center, Louisiana has the fifth highest black homicide victimization rate in the nation. The study details homicide rates for 2012. VPC executive director, Josh Sugarmann, says this is the ninth year they’ve conducted this report. Louisiana’s black homicide rate is 25.75 per 100,000, much higher than the national average of 18.03. There were 384 black homicide victims in Louisiana in 2012. Sugarmann says, in black homicides where the weapon used could be identified, one weapon stood out far above all others, that’s handguns.
Sometimes it seems had to believe you have to tell people they are being scammed.. but, this is one of those times.. the Grant Parish Sheriff’s office put out an alert yesterday warning If someone calls you and insists that a 5 percent processing fee is all that stands between you, a sizable amount of money and a Mercedes, it a scam. The Sheriff says the callers have been very persistent, placing several calls to people to try to convince them. No word if anyone has taken the bait.
The APD does not suspect foul play in the death of a man who’s body was found Tuesday morning lying next to Murray St. The identity of the man is being withheld until the next of kin is notified. An autopsy and other forensic testing are pending,
A new study shows that less than half of Louisiana families earn enough money to cover basic costs. The report, by Loyola University’s Jesuit Social Research Institute, finds 52-percent of families with children not making enough money to live, what they call, “a modest, dignified life.” According to their findings, the average Louisiana couple with one child accrues expenses adding up to 55-thousand dollars a year, but most people make far less.
Gas prices continue their steady decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $1.95 according to the American Automobile Association. That’s down a staggering 45 cents from this time last month.
The mother of the two siblings killed in a house fire in Bastrop Monday, now faces criminal charges in their death. 4-year-old Tashae Johnson and her 3-year-old brother Clifton were killed in the fire after being left unattended in the home. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says the investigation is ongoing, but one thing is for sure: the two children were left unattended in the home for hours before the fire broke out.
A state lawmaker concerned about potential health effects of an open tray burn of 15-million pounds of M-6 propellant in Webster Parish did not get the answers he was seeking in a closed door meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is pushing for an incinerator burn, but E-P-A continues to say an open tray burn is safe and easy. The EPA say the propellants at Camp Minden are deteriorating and an open burn is the safest and fastest way to get rid of it. But Reynolds says the state owns the explosives, so they should have the final say on the method of disposal.
As expected, Chuck Fowler was elected Tuesday to once again lead the Alexandria City Council. This will be Fowlers 3rd go around as president. Lee Rubin was elected to the vice-presidents position.
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office has concluded its investigation into the death of Mrs. Bobbie Chevallier of Pollock. Chevallier was found unconscious in the back yard of her home suffering from bite wounds to the lower half of her body the day before Thanksgiving last year. She died from her injuries several days later. It was originally believed Chevallier was the victim of a stray dog attack. But, a just completed autopsy determined that Mrs. Chevallier was unconscious before the encounter with the dogs. A number of dogs belonging to a next door neighbor and a stray dog believed to have been involved in this incident were seized following the investigation and have been euthanized. No additional attacks or incidents have been reported since this incident.
The Grant Parish sheriff’s department has arrested an Atlanta man on charges that he allegedly abused his wife in front of their children. Deputies report the office had received a report about a domestic disturbance in which shots had been fired. Deputies went to the scene and found that 41 year old Walter Box Jr. He had allegedly had beaten his wife and had fired a shotgun over her head. Box also allegedly destroyed his wife’s cellphone and had threatened to kill her if she left. Box was arrested and was booked into the Grant Parish Detention Center.
It’s a bad flu season and the numbers prove it. Doctor Frank Welch, medical director for the state’s immunization program, says nearly 400-thousand people have come down with the flu so far this flu season and influenza has hospitalized up to four-thousand people. Even though the flu vaccine is not a direct match with the flu strain going around, Welch still advises getting an influenza shot.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is getting the word out that they’ve collected through audits 31-million dollars in unclaimed property from life insurance companies. Kennedy says the money belongs to thousands of beneficiaries that never received their money. To see if you’re owed money go to la-treasury-dot-com.
Fifth District congressman Ralph Abraham has been appointed to serve on the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture.
Abraham was also assigned to the Subcommittee on Nutrition on House Agriculture. Abraham said his position on the committees puts him in direct position to supervise the implementation of the new Farm Bill. Last week Abraham landed a subcommittee chairmanship on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
State Police is requesting a 30% increase for many of its troopers. Col Mike Edmonson says the money is coming from a special fund approved in last year’s legislative session which collects fines from drivers with expired auto insurance and puts them in an account for LSP salaries. If lawmakers approve the money shift, starting pay with benefits for troopers would go from about $35,600 a year to $46,600 a year. This will be the first raise for rank-and-file troopers since 2002.
State Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, said Tuesday he plans to run for the Louisiana District 35 Senate seat this fall. Fannin, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, is term limited in the state House. The District 35 seat is currently held by state Sen. Bob Kostelka of Monroe, but he is also term limited. Republican Stewart Cathey Jr., a small business owner and veteran, said Tuesday he will also run for the seat.
A 21-year-old mother has been charged with two counts of negligent homicide in the death of her three-year-old and four-year-old, who died in a house fire in Bastrop yesterday. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they’ve learned that 21-year-old Ciarria Johnson left her children unattended for hours as she was having her hair styled. Browning says they believe the fire started from a gas heater in the living room, they also suspect a space heater was in close proximity to flammable materials.
Senator David Vitter has announced he has 4 million dollars for his Louisiana gubernatorial campaign with 3.5 million dollars cash on hand. Vitter’s office says that 88 percent of campaign contributions are from over 25 hundred in-state donors. Vitter announced his candidacy last January.
A Monroe stand-off Tuesday morning at an assisted living complex ended tragically, as the resident courtesy officer died after he was allegedly shot by a resident . Seventy-six year-old Alton Sutter died at a local hospital.
A researcher at the L-S-U Health Sciences Center in Shreveport hopes sea moss found below the surface of the Pacific Ocean could be used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Doctor Steven Alexander and his team have tested a drug derived from sea moss and it has a positive effect on mice who suffer from human Alzheimer’s disease. Alexander says they are seeking FDA approval to begin clinical trials on humans.
Two local events Thursday will mark the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The Alexandria VA Medical Center will hold a ceremony Thursday at 2 p.m. The “Color of Unity” program will be held in the center’s auditorium and is open to the public. The guest speaker will be Vonda Williams, social worker coordinator for the Mental Health Intensive Case Management Program at the Alexandria VA. Peabody Magnet High School Jazz Band will perform. Also Thursday, the Rapides Parish Library will screen King’s famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech at the main library, 411 Washington St. in downtown Alexandria, at 5:30 p.m.
Also, Alexandria artist Morris Taft Thomas will speak about King and his work. Refreshments will be served after the film at the family friendly event.
The Downtown Alexandria Merchants Association will host the first Third Thursday on Third event this Thursday along Third Street in downtown Alexandria from 6 to 9 p.m. Ten businesses on or adjacent to Third Street will be offering specials or providing entertainment.
LSU has confirmed reports that Alabama linebackers coach Kevin Steele is will be the next defensive coordinator at LSU. Prior to coaching at Alabama, Steele served three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Clemson, helping Clemson win the A-C-C in 2011. He’s also the former head coach at Baylor and coached linebackers for the Carolina Panthers in the 1990s.
The Alexandria City Council will take up the business of electing officers at tonight’s meeting. It is expected that Chuck Fowler will try for a third consecutive term as president. The council definitely will get a new vice president, since the 2014 vice president, Mitzi Gibson La-Salle, is no longer on the council. The council meets at 5 p.m. today
Authorities are looking for a Natchitoches man who is wanted in connection with December dog-fighting ring near Derry. At that site, sheriff’s deputies found several dead dogs and seized several others. 29 year old Jarin Pikes, who also goes by the name of “Moonie,” is wanted by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office on multiple warrants. If you see him, contact authorities. Pikes has ties to the areas of Natchitoches, Cloutierville, Derry, Campti, St. Maurice and Winnfield.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in finding a Leesville couple after being contacted by a concerned family member earlier this month. 39 year old Allison Gilcrease and 40 year old James Michael Jeane were last seen on Christmas Day at their home. Anyone with information on the couple are asked to call the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s office.
The US Supreme Court has rejected a plea to consider striking down Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. This decision from the US Supreme Court means the district court ruling upholding Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage must first be challenged in a federal appeals court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments last week on the issue. It’s expected the 5th Circuit will issue a ruling sometime this spring.
Fourth District U.S. Rep. John Fleming said he will definitely run for the U.S. Senate if Sen. David Vitter wins the governor's race this fall. If Vitter is elected governor, he would appoint someone to his U.S. Senate seat until an election could be held. Has Fleming’s name come up when it comes to an appointment? Apparently not. However, The congressman say he would "certainly" accept the appointment if Vitter were to offer it. However, Fleming said he would run for the seat regardless.
Even as state agencies are cutting budgets, the Louisiana State Police seeks a 30 percent pay raise for many of its troopers. The hike would bring State Police in line with what other law enforcement officers are paid and was approved before the price of oil dropped by $40 a barrel, requiring a midyear correction in this year’s budget and massive cuts to next year’s. About 1,646 employees will get raises starting Jan. 19
Gas prices keep dropping. According to the American Automobile Association the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $1.96.
Republican US Senator David Vitter says he plans to be active in Washington D-C, even though he’s running for governor this year. Vitter says he has several priorities and one of them is to pass a highway and transportation bill that would help improve traffic flow on major highways. Vitter says he’ll also work to repeal the Affordable Care Act and if Obamacare is not going away, then the federal health care laws should apply to everyone in Washington, meaning even the President would have to purchase his insurance through the Marketplace.
President Obama is working on the details of a plan to offer two years of free community college education to any American to help train the US workforce. Dr. Monty Sullivan, the head of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System says it’s estimated the program will cost the federal government around $60 billion over 10 years. Sullivan admits that it is a lot of money, but people shouldn’t look at this as another big money expenditure. It’s an investment.
The President will promote the initiative in his State of the Union address on January 20th.
Louisiana’s scholarship program, also known as the voucher program, is now accepting applications from low-income families who wish to have their child attend a private school of their choice with the use of state dollars. Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children says the other major qualification is that the student is enrolled in a low-performing public school. Families may apply at the department of education’s website or in person at the participating school of their choice through February 27th. Last year over 13-thousand families applied and nearly 74-hundred were awarded vouchers.
Louisiana’s newly selected Higher Education Commissioner is starting a statewide tour to introduce himself to communities and school leaders. Joseph Rallo says he wants all of the system presidents to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with issues facing higher ed. Rallo says he plans to engage with leaders who share the common goal of creating a stronger economy through higher education. He wants to make sure the needs of all students are being met.
Officials in northwest Louisiana plan to meet with the EPA today over plans to conduct an open burn of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is representing the community’s concern over the potential health effects of burning this propellant. He believes there is another solution. Reynolds suggests an incinerator burn of the propellant. He also says that scientists have come up with other ways to dispose of the propellant. The concern among citizens is that the open burning of this propellant will pollute the air around the site.
Impressive lineup for the 2015 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Headliners include Elton John, No Doubt, Widespread Panic, Jimmy Buffett, The Who, Tony Bennett, Chicago, Lady Gaga, Keith Urban, Pitbull and many more. The final performance night headliner has yet to be announced. Jazzfest always happens the last weekend in April, and first weekend in May. You can see the full lineup online at nojazzfest.com.
NCIS: New Orleans will be back again as the CBS prime time drama has been picked up for a second season. The series is not only set in New Orleans but it’s also filmed in The Big Easy.
An interesting candidate has emerged for LSU’s vacant defensive coordinator position. LSU officials have spoken to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Smart could be looking for a change of scenery to help build his resume for a potential head coaching job down the road. The 39-year-old Smart has been Alabama’s defensive coordinator the last seven seasons.
A spokeswoman for the Jindal Administration says a 200 to 300 million dollar cut in funding to higher ed is being considered for the fiscal year budget that starts July 1st. The UL-System says they are confident the legislature would never allow such a cut in funding to happen.
A Ville Platte man arrested in the death of his grandmother in November has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. The Evangeline Parish District Attorney’s Office said the trial for Christopher Goodley has been set for June 8. Goodley pleaded not guilty on Thursday.
If convicted, Goodley would face a mandatory life sentence.
5th District newly elected Congressman Ralph Abraham joined the many Republicans in the US-House on Friday by voting to approve the TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline project. The President has promised to veto such a bill if it hits his desk. 6th District Congressman Garret Graves says having the actual Keystone Pipeline legislation in front of President Obama may cause The White house to reconsider vetoing it, considering the amount of support. The Senate has enough votes to pass an identical bill and will take a test vote today
BP can’t get out of having to dish out federal penalties for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 based on a ruling by an appeals court Friday. The oil giant was trying to blame another company’s failed equipment. A trial is set for later this month to determine Clean Water Act penalties.
The Transportation Funding Task Force meets today at the Capitol where they’ll finalize recommendations on improving the way the state funds highway improvements. There is currently a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge needs in the state. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman, Robert Adley of Benton, says they’ll work to protect the transportation trust fund from being used for the general operation of the state. With this being Governor Jindal’s final year in office, it is not expected that we’ll see major changes to how the state funds roadway projects. But Adley is hopeful. the task force will get behind his plan to ensure the state spends $70 million for roadway preservation.
There’s a growing concern in northwest Louisiana over a plan to burn 15-million pounds of M6 propellant in steel trays at Camp Minden. Minden Mayor Tommy Davis says they’re worried about possible health effects. The explosive propellant once belonged to Explo Systems, who went bankrupt which is why it’s in bunkers at Camp Minden. It’s deteriorating so there is a worry it could explode if not disposed of soon. The US E-P-A supports opening burning as the disposal method. Davis says Louisiana’s Congressional delegation is putting the pressure on the agency to prove that the open tray burn is safe.
Shaquille O’Neal was in Lafayette Friday at the Courthouse to be sworn in as a deputy city marshal. The Clerk of Court said it was the coolest swearing in he’s ever done.
The latest fund raising totals from Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle shows he is a serious candidate for governor. Angelle announced that his campaign has raised over $1.5 million since he announced his candidacy on October 2nd. Angelle is one of three Republicans seeking the governorship, along with Senator David Vitter and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne.
Sad story out of Madison Parish. A grandmother in Tallulah died Friday afternoon trying to keep one of her grandsons from shooting another according to authorities. Cops say the woman apparently died of a heart attack when trying to defuse the dispute between cousins. One teen shot the other they say and he’s in custody while the other is in the hospital.
According to a recent study out of Yale University, cold weather can in fact make you sick. Dr. Fred Lopez is an Infectious Diseases specialist at the LSU New Orleans School of Medicine. He says they are finding validity to the fact that the lower the temperature outside, the more likely a cold virus is going to thrive. Lopez says the most common virus which causes a cold replicates and makes more copies of itself at cooler temperatures. The nasal cavity is where the flu virus will most often enter the body and when that area is cooler then the bug is allowed to grow more effectively. Lopez says staying out of the cold does actually help.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne announces plans for a major motion picture set to be filmed exclusively in Louisiana about the Battle of New Orleans. The movie will be called, “Andrew Jackson – The Battle For New Orleans.” Dardenne says the project will be based off the book by Ron Drez “The War of 1812: Conflict and Deception” and will begin filming here soon.
Lynne Marino, the highly outspoken mother of serial killer victim Pam Kinamore, discloses that she has pancreatic cancer and hopes to see Derrick Todd Lee executed before she dies. Lee got the death penalty for the murder of Charlotte Murray Pace in 2004 and his case has since been tied up in several appeals. Marino says it’s time for Lee to go. Lee wants a new trial which has been rejected by a Baton Rouge state judge and now heads to the Louisiana Supreme Court -then- if those justices feel the same the case would go to a drawn out post-conviction relief stage.
A Pineville teen is facing attempted rape and other charges after he allegedly pulled a knife on a woman who had given him a ride. 17 year old Mataeo Chaney was arrested on Wednesday after an investigation by Pineville police into the incident, which happened on Dec. 19. The suspect allegedly told the victim to perform oral sex on him, but she refused. A struggle started over the knife, during which the victim was cut. The suspect then ran from the vehicle.
Police say The victim suffered a minor injury. Chaney is in the Rapides Parish detention center.
Today the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hears three cases regarding same-sex marriage bans in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. In September, Federal Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, but the ruling was appealed to the 5th Circuit. Tulane Constitutional Law Professor Keith Werhan says supporters will argue that the state has to have a legitimate reason in denying two adults who want to marry, the right to do so. He says opponents will argue on the strength of state’s rights. Because the 6th Circuit decision created a circuit split on the issue, the US Supreme Court will privately discuss same-sex marriage cases from several states today, including Louisiana. Werhan says the ultimate decision on same-sex marriage will come from the US Supreme Court, perhaps this year.
Louisiana’s public schools receive a grade of D-plus from Education Week as part of their annual report. The state’s public education system is also ranked 44th, up five spots from their previous report. House Education Chairman, Steve Carter of Baton Rouge, says a series of reforms passed in 2012, including one that allows educators who perform well to get paid more, will lead to a better grade in the future. Carter says it’s encouraging to see Louisiana move up in the rankings, because historically the bayou state has ranked 48th or 49th when it comes to public education. Louisiana received a grade of D-Minus for K-through-12 Achievement, but received a grade of B-minus for its early-education programs.
Governor Bobby Jindal, Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret will lead a Louisiana delegation to Europe for a ten-day economic development trip. Moret says says it’s an opportunity to meet with European companies who are considering investing in Louisiana. The group leaves Sunday.
The freezing temperatures we had has strawberry farmers working to minimize the damage on their crops here in the state. Regina Bracy, with the LSU AgCenter, says sub-freezing temps can have disastrous effects on the strawberry harvest. But Bracy adds that strawberry plants can take the cold, and she suspects that freezing weather will just delay the start of the Louisiana strawberry season.
The plea is not guilty on the charge of aggravated rape from the former “Sons of Guns” reality TV star Will Hayden. He is accused of raping a young girl in East Baton Rouge Parish on multiple occasions in the span between March 2013 and August 2014. He is also to plead in the forcible rape of a Livingston Parish woman next week.
A state lawmaker from Mandeville is introducing a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would restrict the use of cell phones to “hands-free” only on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Representative Tim Burns says the number of fatal accidents involving vehicles plunging off the side of the bridge has gone from one every 5 years to three a year now. Burns supports a statewide ban on hand held cell phone use while driving but lawmakers can never pass such legislation.
Entergy Gulf States Louisiana plans to build a $187 million power transmission facility in the Lake Charles area, the region projected to have the fastest job growth in the state from an industrial boom that’s driving a need for more electricity. The project includes two new substations, expanding a third substation and adding about 25 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. The Lake Charles Transmission Project is one of the largest single transmission projects in Entergy’s history.
We’re seeing temperatures in the teens for the northern half of the state and it’s not much warmer along the coast. State Climatologist Barry Keim says be prepared for what will be a cold day. It was unusually cold in Louisiana last January and Keim says we are experiencing another polar vortex. Keim says not only is the air temperature colder than normal, but we are also seeing some bone chilling wind chill readings as well.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office is seeking a Montgomery man wanted on warrants for home invasion and armed robbery. Two other suspects already are in custody, but officials still are searching for 27 year old Joshua Blake Coburn of Montgomery. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact authorities.
APD Detectives have arrested 51 year old Jerrell Fontenot after an investigation into two robberies at the south Macarthur Dr. Pizza Hut. The robberies occurred in October and in December. Fontenot was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with armed robbery and attempted first-degree robbery.
Alexandria police have arrested 22-year-old Tavis Thomas, on a warrant issued by the Alexandria Fire Department. An AFD spokesman said Thomas became a suspect in a Dec. 26 fire set at a house that was occupied by two children and an adult. The adult at the house was able to put the fire out, and there were no injuries.
On the first day of qualifying, Two former Alexandria mayoral candidates tossed their hats in the ring for the vacant House District 26 seat. Jeff Hall and Alice Hammond, both democrats from Alexandria, qualified Wednesday for the special election, which will be the only election in Rapides Parish on Feb. 21. Wednesday was the opening day of qualifying, which continues from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and Friday at the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.
According to media reports, the New Orleans Saints are reportedly going to keep Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan for next season. NFL Analyst Mike Detillier says the defensive weakness of the Saints are more about the players than the coaches, so he says the Saints have some work to do in the off-season. The New Orleans Saints ranked 31st in the league for yards allowed.
A Thibodaux High School teacher has been charged for having sexual contact with a student. The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office says they learned of the alleged sexual incident between twenty-five year-old Celeste Bergeron and a 17 year-old student. Bergeron admitted to the sexual contact, and the Lafourche Parish School Board Superintendent Jo Ann Mathews says Bergeron is no longer employed by the school system.
An Abbeville High School teacher is in jail accused of having sex with one of his female juvenile students. Thirty-six-year-old Nicholas Willis is accused of engaging in sexual relations with the juvenile which is a felony.
The Monroe Police Department says they’ve recovered the body of a 38-year-old man from Rayville in a private pond. They say Clarence Dean Roy Jr. was reported missing after he left a construction site in western Ouachita Parish and was located Tuesday afternoon in the water near the work site. Foul play is not suspected. Cops believe Roy had a medical issue.
Police in Baton Rouge say a 12-year-old boy is in critical condition after a car swerved off the road and hit him while he was walking to school Wednesday morning. They believe it was a mechanical program with the vehicle which caused the driver to lose control and hit the boy walking along a nearby sidewalk. Cops say the driver isn’t cited and the crash is under investigation.
The State Department of Transportation announces a plan to widen a portion of I-10 between Lafayette and St. Martin Parishes. The DOTD says construction will take place where I-10 meets I-49 all the way to Breaux Bridge and will take two years to complete. This is the first of three projects that will widen or improve I-10 from Lafayette to the Atchafalaya Basin.
Festivities begin today to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. As part of the War of 1812, the battle culminated in a US victory over the British in Chalmette on January 8, 1815. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says this was one of the most important battles fought on American soil. Dardenne says this victory enabled America to continue to expand westward and cemented Louisiana’s role as part of the United States. He says special events will last throughout the weekend.
If you’d like to try to save money on your homeowners and auto insurance, the Department of Insurance has enhanced its online tool to help consumers find a better rate. Commissioner Jim Donelon says you can enter specific information about you into the new website like your age, or how many miles you drive and other things that set rates for insurance. Donelon says among the features of the new website are streamlined online services and a responsive design that makes it compatible with mobile devices. The “Shop Your Rates” guides can be accessed at ldi.la.gov.
The LSU men’s basketball team begins conference play tonight as they visit the Missouri Tigers in a game that will tip-off at 6 P-M. The Bayou Bengals enter league play with an 11-and-2 record and eight-game winning streak. You can hear that game tonight on 970 KSYL.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office says the town clerk in Forest Hill has been arrested on multiple counts of forgery, malfeasance in office, and more. Lt. Tommy Carnline says their investigation began when town officials discovered some discrepancies in their fine collections. 31-year-old Trista Goleman had allegedly been cashing money orders that were being sent to the town for fine payments. Carnline says Goleman was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, where she faces 17 felony counts each of forgery, malfeasance in office, injuring public records and filing false public records. Investigators believe Goleman acted alone.
Qualifying for the special election to fill the House District 26 seat begins today in Rapides Parish. Candidates can qualify from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today through Friday this week at the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office. The House District 26 primary election is set for Feb. 21. A runoff, if needed, will be held March 28.
Early voting for the Feb. 21 election is set for Feb. 7-14 (except Sunday, Feb. 8).
The winner of the House District 26 special election will serve out the remaining year that is on the second term of Herbert Dixon who resigned Dec. 10 for health reasons.
Two New Walmart neighborhood Markets officially open today. The stores, located on highway 28 east in Pineville and off of Jackson Street Extension in Alexandria, will directly compete with other area supermarkets.
New 5th District Congressman, Republican Ralph Abraham of Alto, was sworn in on Capitol Hill yesterday. Abraham will be taking over the seat previously occupied by Vance McAllister. Abraham says the new Republican controlled Congress will get to work rather quickly and you can expect to see votes occur this week. He says they will address the immigration problem and the export ban on Liquefied Natural Gas. Abraham says one of the first items they will address will be the Keystone XL Pipeline, something the White House said yesterday the President would veto. Abraham is optimistic that the GOP controlled Senate will be able override a presidential veto.
A new republican controlled Congress is already battling with President Barack Obama over the much-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The White House has issued a veto threat, if lawmakers approve the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. Newly elected republican senator Bill Cassidy doesn’t understand the opposition to the five-point-four billion dollar project. The House could approve a bill that green lights the project by the end of the week and a Senate could happen soon after. 60 members of the Senate support construction of the Keytone, including six Democrats, but Cassidy is concerned that won’t be enough to overturn a Presidential veto.
According to 24/7 Wall Street, Louisiana is the 5th most dangerous state in the USA. The report indicates more dangerous than Louisiana are Alaska, New Mexico, Nevada and Tennessee. LSU Criminologist Edward Shihadeh (Sheh-Ha-Dah) says
Louisiana also ranks 3rd highest in poverty rate and only 83% of people here have a high school diploma which is the 4th lowest nationally. Shihadeh says lack of education and crime go hand in .
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is asking residents to please be aware of the artic weather that is currently moving through the state. The National Weather Service says the cold blast began impacting Louisiana overnight and a hard freeze is expected at sundown through Thursday morning. Officials remind you to protect pets, plants and pipes and if you plan to use space heaters, be sure you have a working smoke detector.
The premiere of Duck Dynasty Season 7 is tonight at 8:30 on A&E and some experts are saying the show is losing its luster. Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for The Washington Post. She says it’s not unusual for reality show ratings to drop, but the Robertson family has seen a major decrease in numbers. But she doesn’t think this is the end as 3 million people tuning in is a really great number for cable and it’s probably the best thing A&E has going on right now.
The mother of the Baton Rouge pre-schooler who drowned in a 20-foot, water-filled well has been charged with negligent homicide of 4 year-old Jassiah Clark. BRPD says 25-year-old Brittni Clark, was charged Tuesday afternoon, because they do not believe the child was properly supervised when he went missing on December 20th
A Baton Rouge TV station reports Ohio State Quarterback and two-time Big 10 MVP Braxton Miller is considering transferring to LSU. An injury kept Miller from playing this season and two younger QBs passed him up on the depth chart.
LSU has moved into the next step in its search for a defensive coordinator with at least one candidate.
Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will interview for the job soon. Shoop is expected to interview with coach Les Miles after a week of flirtation between the two sides. LSU’s search for a replacement for John Chavis has entered its second week with a host of candidates and possibilities, but Miles has officially interviewed only a few coaches.
Alexandria Police say a man is behind bars for pulling the trigger in a fatal shooting that investigators are calling an accident. Lt. Brooks Fairbanks says 29-year-old Kendall Smith is charged with negligent homicide. He says they responded to a report of a shooting and located another 29-year-old male victim suffering from a gunshot wound.
Fairbanks says an investigation revealed some individuals were playing with a weapon before the incident took place.
The APD is investigating a bank robbery that happened Friday afternoon after a man walked in to the Coliseum Blvd branch of First Federal Bank and demanded money.
The man left on foot with "an undetermined amount of cash,". "No weapons were observed, and there were no reported injuries."
Doctor Bill Cassidy will be sworn in as a US Senator today giving Louisiana two republicans in the US Senate. What will that mean for the Bayou State? U-L Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Louisiana will have a unified voice on issues that the Senate debates. Cross says Louisiana loses clout in the US Senate, with Cassidy replacing three-term democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. But he says the state can make up for it by having Cassidy and Senior Senator David Vitter working together in a republican controlled Senate…
It’s an election year in Louisiana and Angola Warden Burl Cain’s name has come up as a possible candidate for governor. Cain was in Baton Rouge Monday and says he’s still thinking about running for the highest elected position in the state. Cain has served as the Warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary since 1995. He says the idea of him running for governor came from people who have visited the prison. Cain says he’s a civil servant and he’ll have to resign, if he runs, so right now, he doesn’t want to talk about the topic.
Angola Warden Burl Cain says he has not taken any steps to install a cooling system on death row. A federal judge has ruled that the state needs to take more measures to cool off death row during the hot summer months. The ruling is currently under appeal. Cain says it would be too expensive to add any type of cooling system at the prison. Cain says they couldn’t just reduce the heat levels on death row, it would have to be the entire prison. That isn’t in the budget.
Republican lawmakers are looking to move past the controversy surrounding the number three House GOP leader, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, over a speech he gave 12 years ago to a white supremacist group. Incoming Utah Representative Mia Love is the first black female Republican elected to the House. She told ABC’s “This Week” that Scalice has the support of the party. Scalise has stated that the speech was a mistake that he now regrets. Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, have backed Scalise. However, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says Scalise once referred to himself as -quote- David Duke without baggage.
The Kenner Police Department confirms New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette is under arrest and booked with domestic abuse battery. They say the incident involved a female acquaintance who sustained injuries including blood coming out of her ear when her earring was apparently ripped out. The 26-year-old linebacker told cops that the woman was a dancer he brought home for the night, but the victim claims she was Galette’s assistant who had been staying with him for about two years. Also arrested was Gallett’s cousin, 27-year-old Terrance Banks of Newark, New Jersey. The woman told cops the argument started over money for a cab.
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal is scheduled to have two closed door meetings with conservative religious leaders in Iowa. According to the Des Moines Register, the meetings will take place in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says Jindal is looking to shore up his support among this important group of voters. Jindal is thinking about a presidential run in 2016 and Iowa is important because they host the first primary. Stockley adds that evangelicals and conservatives are also important because of their participation in the primary.
A cold week is on tap for Louisiana as artic air makes it way into the Bayou State. Tim Humphrey, with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, says high temperatures will only be in the 40s for north Louisiana today and 50s in south Louisiana and even more colder air will arrive Wednesday. Humphrey says the cold air mass heading down from Canada will be dry, so you won’t have to worry about any winter precipitation.
Just over 20 new state laws went into effect with the start of the new year. That includes changes to Louisiana’s D-W-I laws. Law enforcement officials say the changes will make it easier for everyone to understand the penalties of driving under the influence. One important change, judges can now take certain measures to provide substance abuse help for those convicted of their first or second D-W-I. The new law laws also calls for jail time for first time offenders, who are under the age of 21.
According to GasBuddy.com, it’s possible we’re at the bottom of the dramatic drop in the price we pay at the pump. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says their current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is around $2.10 and crude oil prices will likely not drop much lower. Laskoski says if gas prices are at their lowest point right now it wouldn’t be much of a surprise because that’s typically what happens in January.
With a new Congress set to swear-in tomorrow that puts a wrap on Mary Landrieu’s last day as a U-S Senator. Landrieu has served Louisiana in the Senate the last 18 years and LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says she’ll be remembered for her work to bring federal resources to the Bayou State. In 2006, Landrieu co-authored a piece of legislation that expanded oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and it also steered billions of dollars in revenues produced offshore to Louisiana to help fund the state’s coastal restoration efforts. Hogan says without a doubt, Landrieu fought for the state.
Louisiana has been experiencing some mild temperatures so far this winter which is good news for the crawfish season. LSU Ag Center Aquaculture specialist Dr. Greg Lutz says warmer weather allows the mudbugs to grow faster during the winter months. Lutz says the supply of crawfish right now is fair and it should be getting bigger toward the end of the month.
The state department of health and hospitals is encouraging businesses to come up with programs or policies at the workplace that would encourage employees to live a healthy lifestyle. Martin says the most important initiative is to offer a tobacco free environment. She says the state offers many cessation coaching programs for the workplace. Martin says providing two or three healthier cafeteria options can help improve employee wellness. And She says healthier snacks during meetings can actually provide a more productive workforce.
Almost everyone in Louisiana knew her as Elly Mae, actress and former beauty queen Donna Douglas passed away in Zachary New Year’s Day. She appeared on “The Beverly Hillbillies” on CBS from 1962 to 1971. Donna Douglas was 81.
After missing 21 games with a shoulder injury, Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon may play tonight when New Orleans hosts the Washington Wizards. Gordon, who is averaging almost 10 points a game, went through practice yesterday and believes there’s a chance he can play tonight. The Pelicans are 17-and-16 on the season, one game back of Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. You can hear tonight’s game starting at 7p on our sister station espn1410.
The investigation continues into a fire yesterday morning at the Zion Hill church in Pineville. The fire which was confined to a warehouse owned by the church broke out at about 4 in the morning. Authorities do not believe foul play was involved in the blaze.
The Centers for Disease Control says the flu has now reached the epidemic level in the United States and the state Department of Health and Hospitals says its going to get worse before it gets better in Louisiana. Medical director for the immunization program, Dr. Frank Welch, says on average seven out of every 10 doctor visits in the state are for flu-like symptoms. He says this year’s flu shot is not perfect, but that should not be an excuse to not get immunized. Welch says the flu shot is still absolutely your best protection. Welch says, after receiving a flu shot a couple of months ago, he contracted the flu last week. However, symptoms were mild.
The Pentagon says the Army Contracting Command at Fort Polk awarded an extension to Northrop Grumman Enterprise Management Services to continue transportation, maintenance and supply at Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The extension will run through the end of June.
Louisiana driver’s licenses can now sport university logos. Smokers must step away from state Office Building entrances when they light up. And 16-year-olds will be able to register to vote but not exercise the right just yet. The changes came as the result of some of the 22 new laws that went into effect on the 1st. Other new laws provide more transparency to government agency operations, more regulatory protection to Louisiana’s payday loan industry and more options for people to make charitable donations when they file income tax returns.
Louisiana’s Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret anticipates significant growth in 2015 as a result of the new projects they announced last year. Moret says a lot of that growth will occur in the high tech and the software development industry
Moret says in 2014, Louisiana announced dozens of company expansions or relocations, which will result in 25-thousand new jobs.
With statewide elections taking place this year and the possibility of Governor Bobby Jindal announcing a run for President, 2015, expects to be another wild year in Louisiana politics. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Republican US Senator David Vitter is the front-runner in the governor’s race, but there are other strong candidates.
Pinsonat says we can expect an announcement early this year from Jindal on running for President. He says the governor may have to announce his intentions sooner than originally planned, because of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s entrance into the race. Pinsonat says it’s unclear how involved Jindal will be with state matters in his final year of office, especially if he’s focused on the 2016 Presidential race.
The minimum wage goes up in 21 states Yesterday. Of course, here in Louisiana the minimum hourly wage stays at $7.25. But Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa says with nearly half of the states acting on their own, it will spur more talk about raising the federal minimum wage. Critics of a higher minimum wage say it forces some businesses to reduce their work force in order to compensate for the higher wages. Traditionally, that has not been the case.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is now accepting applications from individuals who are interested in becoming an enforcement agent. LDWF spokesperson Adam Einck says individuals interested in applying should visit the state’s civil service website and also must complete a test to qualify for consideration. They will be accepting applications until January 23rd and out of those applications, 24 cadets will be chosen and will train for six months in Baton Rouge. Einck says this is a great position for people who love to be outdoors. He says field agents spend most of their time outdoors, on the water and trekking through the woods.
More than 56-thousand Louisiana residents have selected health insurance plans during the first month of open enrollment under what is commonly called “Obamacare.” Doctor Karen DeSalvo, with the US Department of Health and Human Services, says the 2015 open enrollment period will last until February 15th, and she urges people to get covered. Nearly 102-thousand people in Louisiana purchased health insurance through the federal marketplace in 2014.
With a New Year underway, many people strive to live a healthier lifestyle and try to lose weight. Melissa Martin with the State Department of Health and Hospitals says in order to keep your New Years resolution you can start with keeping it simple and realistic. Martin says having a support system to keep you motivated while working toward your goals. She says also smart phones have new food journal apps that can help you stay accountable and aware of the decisions you make. Martin says drinking water is very important to staying on track because the number one symptom of dehydration is hunger. She says also watching your alcohol consumption can really make a difference when it comes to following through with your resolutions.
Today is the first full day of winter and many have not forgotten last year’s winter, which saw colder than normal temperatures and a few rounds of frozen precipitation. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the climate prediction center’s forecast for the next three months indicates we could see a repeat. Keim says the wildcard right now is the El Nino which has been in the forecast for a while, but hasn’t formed yet. He says the climate prediction center is giving the system a 60% chance of forming sometime this winter Keim says if the El Nino does form the way they think it will this winter, we’ll get more rain and even possibly some freezing rain like we saw last winter.
New employment numbers are out and Louisiana’s labor force grew to a record 2,179,837 in November. The number of people employed in the state jumped by 59,419 over the year. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says people are responding to Louisiana’s strong and sustained job growth by joining our workforce in record numbers
Eysink says, over the month of November, we added about 7,000 people working in Louisiana. He says this is outpacing a national trend.
A group called Senate Conservatives Action is sponsoring radio ads that target Republican Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise. The ads accuse Scalise of siding with President Obama instead of standing on the conservative platform. LaPolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says this attack stems from the Congressman’s efforts to help pass a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill. Alford says this is interesting since Scalise was able to capture the whip position because he was a favorite of the tea party movement, where the Senate Conservatives Action finds its roots. He says there is a bit of political intrigue here as this group supported Rob Maness in his run for the US Senate. Rumors are circulating that Maness may challenge Scalise in 2016.
A new poll shows that Republican Senator David Vitter’s change in position on Common Core is popular with voters. Vitter announced earlier this month he opposes the new educational testing standards and a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey found that 64-percent agree with Vitter. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the testing standards will be a main issue in the governor’s race. Another Republican gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, says he supports the controversial education standards.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has reached an agreement with the Secretary of State’s office to archive state employee health insurance program’s records. They had stopped sending claims for several months, because of privacy concerns. Now, the new agreement will have those records in a facility that is under Federal laws protecting personal information.
State Police troopers are urging drivers to use extra caution while on the highways during this holiday period. Sergeant Nick Manale says driver error is responsible for many of the wrecks they are seeing. Manale says since Thanksgiving week, State Police have worked fatal wrecks that resulted in 66 deaths. Manale says in most of the fatal wrecks they’ve investigated, the victims were not buckled up.
Here in the final days of 2014, there are some things taxpayers can do to put them in a better financial position in 2015. John Theriot is an accountant with the Louisiana Society of CPAs and he says business owners should accelerate expenses, because anything they can pay before year’s end will get the 2014 deduction. Theriot says now would also be a good time to let your employer know you want to up your contribution on your 401K or change your filing status on your W4. He says before the new year, you also might want to think about making charitable donations, so you can deduct it on your 2014 tax form.
The LSU Tigers are back at practice this week as they continue preparations to play Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. Even though the Bayou Bengals have some extra time to prepare for this game, Coach Les Miles says don’t expect many changes when it comes to game planning for this game. The other issue hanging around the LSU football program….Is how many underclassmen will leave for the NFL? There’s a report LSU cornerback Jalen Collins plans to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, but Miles is optimistic they won’t see as many juniors leaving for the pros early as previous seasons.
For the fourth straight season, the Ragin Cajuns have ended the year by winning the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. U-L Lafayette defeated Nevada 16-3 on Saturday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Coach Mark Hudspeth has now led the Cajuns to four straight…nine-win seasons.
Louisiana Tech holds its first practice in Dallas today leading up to its game against Illinois in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas bowl. Bulldogs Coach Skip Holtz says the team is looking forward to bowl week preparations. Holtz says the message to his team is that playing in a bowl game is great, but winning it, is even better
The Saints had a chance to win the NFC South on Sunday, but instead the Black and Gold’s season came to an end with a bitter 30-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. What makes it hurt even more is that, New Orleans finishes the year with five straight losses at the Dome.
Some much needed rain will be hitting Louisiana today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this rain is coming at a great time as the state has been rain deficient over the last two months. Keim says the entire state is teetering right on the edge of drought with everything east of the Atchafalaya Basin experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. Keim says the precipitation will be short lived with conditions clearing by Saturday morning
Governor Bobby Jindal says he opposes the President’s plan to “normalize” relations with Communist Cuba, but Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says resumed trade would benefit Louisiana. He says other non-democratic countries enjoy normal trade relations with the US. Prior to 1961 Cuba was the Port of New Orleans’ largest trade partner.
A new Southern Media and Opinion Research poll shows 58-percent of Louisianians disapprove of Governor Bobby Jindal’s job performance as he heads into his final year in office. 600 likely Louisiana voters were surveyed. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says you probably won’t see the Governor’s popularity increase very much as he ends his term.
But Pinsonat points out that the poll shows 70-percent of Republicans give the governor a positive job rating. With both houses of the state legislature being controlled by Republicans, Pinsonat doesn’t see these poll numbers changing the way Jindal will do business in his last year
US Senator David Vitter has a double digit lead over other 2015 Governor candidates in Louisiana according to a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey. But Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the same poll also found 40% of respondents don’t approve of Vitter’s performance. Southern Media and Opinion Research surveyed 600 likely voters and 36-percent support Vitter.
Rep. John Fleming is using the congressional break to shore up support in Louisiana for a possible 2016 Senate run. Fleming, armed with $1.1 million in campaign cash, is eyeing the seat of Republican Sen. David Vitter, who is running for governor next year.
Gas prices are about 75-cents lower than a year ago as we head into what should be a busy two weeks of traveling during this holiday period. Gregg Laskoski, with gas-buddy-dot-com, says with the statewide average at about $2.30 a gallon, it should help consumers pay for other expenses. Laskoski says gas prices have been on a sharp decline since October and this trend should continue into next year. He says the US Department of Energy is projecting a national average price of $2.60 a gallon for 2015
The last Saturday before Christmas could be as big a shopping day as Black Friday especially if you’re still looking for TVs, appliances or clothes according to experts. Andrew Kuo (quoe) is a marketing professor at LSU. He says the downside of the so-called “Super Saturday” is that shoppers are typically at the mercy of the retailers.
MartketWatch reports Super Saturday could edge out Black Friday as the top sales day of the year in 2014.
Governor Bobby Jindal is defending his plans to headline a prayer rally next month at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus. Some professors and students protesters are up in arms over the event sponsored by the American Family Association, which has been very vocal about being against homosexuality. Jindal says he’s continuing to support the rally.
You might be able to have a crawfish boil with your family for Christmas as mudbugs have already been spotted in stores. Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association President David Savoy says December crops are still considered somewhat early, but weather permitting, the season will really start to kick in early next year. He says they’ll also be in mixed size right now and pricey which is typical for this time of year.
A grand jury in Shreveport has indicted a former Homer police officer on charges he violated the civil rights of several people on multiple occasions. 64-year-old Willie Fred Knowles is accused of pushing a woman and hitting her for no reason and tasing others without justification. He is also charged for allegedly lying to the FBI about the incident.
A Ponchatoula man faces 15 to 40 years in prison for downloading more than half a million images of child pornography, one of the largest collections ever found in the state. 52 year old Robert Swan pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a massive child porn network that included pictures and videos of children as young as 4 weeks of age being forced to engage in sexually explicit conduct
U-L Lafaytte and Nevada meet tomorrow morning in the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. It’s the fourth straight year the Ragin Cajuns have played in this bowl game and last year 55-thousand people were attendance to see the Cajuns face in-state foe Tulane. Billy Ferrante, executive director of the New Orleans Bowl, says unfortunately reservations are down and they don’t expect to see that kind of crowd this year.
Sources close to LSU are reporting that Tigers Cornerback Jalen Collins will skip his senior year, and enter the NFL Draft. Collins has not made any official announcement, although he has met with agents, and has reportedly requested a draft grade from the NFL.
Tragedy strikes construction workers on Highway 165 near Columbia, after their stopped construction truck with a large arrow board was re-ended. State Trooper Michael Reichardt says 42 year-old Jan Williams of Columbia was traveling northbound and attempted to go around, but didn’t clear the vehicle striking it and seriously injuring one of the workers. Thirty year-old Michael Roberts of Monroe died later at an Alexandria hospital.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany plans to meet with Veterans Affairs officials today over their decision to push back the completion date of two new VA clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. It’s reported that the opening of both clinics are delayed by almost a year to 2016. Boustany says his office has not been contacted by the VA in regard to this issue. It’s reported though that VA officials made the announcement of the delay at a town hall meeting in Lake Charles.
A public demonstration is being held this evening in downtown Opelousas to protest grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York where charges were not pressed in officer involved deaths. It’s being organized by newly-elected alderman Tyrone Glover who says the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Opelousas Police, the DA’s office and the city marshal are all participating.
The former star of Sons of Guns, William Hayden, has reportedly been formally indicted by an East Baton Rouge Parish Grand Jury on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of forcible rape. A total of four victims have made claims against the founder of Red Jacket Firearms.
Everyone keeps buzzing about the price at the pump. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.34 which is down two cents from yesterday and almost 13 cents lower than this time last week.
The super low gas prices are making car salesmen happy this Holiday season as vehicle sales rise. Bob Isreal, Executive Director of the Automobile Dealers Association, says the consumer in general is feeling more confident with their money because of the lower price at the pump.
Christmas is one week from today and many people would call the next 7 days the most stressful of the year. LSU AgCenter Life specialist Diane Sasser says it’s a good idea to get plenty of rest and if you’re too tired — slow down. She says it’s important to keep smiling and stay positive because getting too easily irritated is unproductive. Sasser says if you’re lonely or missing a loved one, attending a community holiday event may brighten your spirits.
Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that the video game developer High Voltage Software will open a new studio in New Orleans and starting hiring soon. The company has worked with many major brands including LEGO and Star Wars. The company CEO says the state’s tax incentives were fundamental in the decision to open a studio in Louisiana.
President Obama has announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, but not everybody is onboard with the move. George Fowler, a native of Cuba, and Vice Chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, says the proposed prisoner exchange could be very dangerous, and there’s very little – if any – economic benefit, with the exception of one, Cheep cigars.
A Grambling State University student traveling at a high rate of speed is dead, and another student injured following a crash near campus. Witnesses said the driver over-corrected, flipped multiple times and burst into flames. Twenty-one year-old Carl Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene and his passenger 23 year-old Arceneau Robinson was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition.
The Jeanerette Police Department says a 57-year-old man is dead after allegedly being shot by his juvenile son. They say it happened Tuesday night and they’re still investigating whether or not the shooting was accidental. The victim’s identify has not yet been released.
Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Metairie says he supports US Senator David Vitter in his campaign to become governor. The House Majority Whip thinks Vitter would do a great job. Scalise made his comments on a Baton Rouge Talk Show Show.
There’s new information released in the fatal crash that killed three people in Beauregard Parish on Sunday. State Police originally believed that 28-year-old Kristi Poteet of DeRidder was heading the wrong way on U-S 171 when she collided head-on into a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Ricky Gill of Singer. Now investigators believe it was Gill who was driving the wrong way. The release states that Gill is suspected of being impaired, but that toxicology results on both drivers still is pending. Gill, Poteet and Brian Taylor, a passenger in Poteet’s car, all were killed.
A school funding task force is suggesting an increase in funding, if there is enough money available. The recommended price tag is $75 million dollars, and the next stop for the recommendation is the BESE Board before it goes to the legislature in March.
State Police report that a Port Allen man is under arrest after they learned he was attempting to solicit murder. 37-year-old Tommy Joe Gioele (JEE-oh-lee) is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder. Troopers say a man informed officers that Gioele approached him and asked him to kill two people in Pointe Coupee Parish. They gathered enough evidence to make the arrest.
23 year old Brittany Cooley and 23 Kevin Waller of DeRidder have been arrested and charged with cruelty in the case of an infant who is in the hospital and on life support.
Both were charged with second degree cruelty to a juvenile after authorities were informed of a 5-month old girl being admitted at a Beauregard Parish hospital with indications of abuse. The pair both were booked into the Beauregard Parish Jail, but bond has not been set. An investigation is continuing.
Crude oil prices continue to fall. They are down 47-percent since June and it’s the largest drop in five years. When oil prices decline over a long period of time, it means less revenue for the state government. But Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the state legislative fiscal office, is hopeful other revenue streams can make up for the loss in mineral revenues. Albrecht says the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet next month and agree on a forecast for future revenues.
A backlash is brewing over a prayer rally featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled for LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center next month. LSU students, faculty and other activists have come out against the event, called “The Response,” largely because it’s being paid for by the American Family Association, a controversial conservative religious group that opposes gay marriage and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights efforts. A protest has been planned in response to The Response, and a petition has gained hundreds of signatures in just a matter of days.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he plans to “actively explore” a presidential campaign and an operation allowing him to raise money for a bid. So what does this mean for Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations? UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Jindal is more conservative and Bush is more mainstream Republican, but obviously the later has the name recognition. He doesn’t think this announcement will change Jindal’s aspirations.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has launched a new online mobile tool that would help people find careers that interest them while supporting the standard of living they want to maintain. LWC spokesman Tom Guarisco says it’s called “My life. My way.” and it’s a fun way to envision the life you want. Guarisco says users can learn how much they need to earn by choosing from 8 regions in Louisiana then making lifestyle choices about housing, food, transportation. He says the app will then connect you to the appropriate career. You can find the tool online at laworks.net/mylife.
According to a new national survey, for the first time more teens are smoking e-cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes. The annual University of Michigan “Monitoring the Future” report surveyed over 40,000 8th, 10th, and 12 graders. DHH Health Promotions Director Caroline Brazeel says they are currently analyzing data for Louisiana but expects to see a similar trend here. It is cited that a possible reason for the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among teens is the perception that they do not harm your health. Brazeel says that’s not the case because nicotine can have a negative impact on brain development.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a Mississippi man has been cited for allegedly drowning a deer in the Mississippi River in Concordia Parish. Adam Einck with L-D-W-F says a witness observed 40-year-old David Hayes of Natchez, Mississippi, commit the crime. Einck says a wildlife and fisheries’ agent found Hayes with a dead eight point buck lying in front of the vessel. He says Hayes admitted to drowning the buck in the river on the Louisiana side. Hayes faces several hundreds of dollars in fines and up to 90 days in jail, if convicted. He also might have to pay a two-thousand dollar restitution charge for the replacement value of the deer.
US Senator David Vitter announced his committee assignments Monday and says he’s been appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says he promises to use that position to launch attacks on the Obama administration’s agenda. Vitter says he’ll also become Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and continue serving on the Senate Environment, Public Works and Banking committees.
The Rapides parish sheriff’s office reports they have been getting a multitude of calls in reference to a person identifying themselves as being with the Sheriff’s Office. That caller is claiming the person has missed jury duty and tells them for $400.00, they will recall the warrant. They ask the potential victim to get a reloadable VISA card to pay this fee. Need we say, this is a scam. If you get such a call report it to authorities.
State Police say 61 people have died in crashes they’ve investigated since the day before Thanksgiving this year. Not being properly restrained, impairment and driver distraction were the contributing factors. Col Mike Edmonson says in his 34 years with state police, he’s never seen a worse 30 day period than this one.
State Police say a suspected drunk driver heading the wrong way on a four-lane highway in Beauregard Parish struck another vehicle head-on, resulting in three fatalities. Authorities says they believe 28-year-old Kristi Poteet was traveling south in the northbound lanes of US 171 just north of Longville.
State Police is investigating a crash involving a pedestrian who was struck and killed after he fell out of the back of a truck in LaSalle Parish over the weekend. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says 22-year-old Brittany Walker of Jena was traveling on La Highway 8 when she struck an unknown object in the roadway. Moreau says they later determined that the object in the roadway was 43-year-old Marcus Jones. He says while they were working the scene one of victim’s friends returned looking Jones because he realized he was no longer in the back of his pickup.
The UL-Lafayette football team leaves today for New Orleans where they’ll play in the R+L Carriers Bowl for the 4th straight time. The Ragin’ Cajuns will travel to The Big Easy to take on Nevada in the Mercedes Benz Superdome Saturday with a 10am kickoff.
Although he has yet to declare his intent to run for President in 2016, Governor Bobby Jindal returns to Iowa today. Iowa is a key Presidential primary state. Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson says Jindal has been making political appearances in Iowa for several years. Jindal will headline the Polk County Republican Winter Victory Dinner in West Des Moines tonight. This is the governor’s fourth trip to Iowa this year and third in the past three months.
Fisherman got some good news Monday as areas off the coasts of Elmer’s and Grand Terre islands opened up for the first time since the 2010 oil spill. Dean Blanchard, Seafood business owner, says the more shrimp they are able to put more on the market the lower the price will go. He says they are keeping a close eye on these shrimp to make sure they aren’t affected by the spill. There is still an area near Barataria Bay that remains closed to fishing.
A Louisiana Department of Public Safety officer is charged with sexual battery and malfeasance in office following a traffic stop in Zachary. State Police Lt. JB Slaton says the victim contacted the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office after the traffic stop.
Michael Selders of Clinton was booked into the East Baton Rouge Prison.
The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s office is investigating the case of two women who were shot in a domestic disturbance leaving one dead and one injured. Authorities say they found two female victims with gunshot wounds. A 20-year-old victim was pronounced dead at a hospital and the 19-year-old suffered non-life threatening injuries. A New Iberia man was arrested a short time later.
Even though LSU’s Les Miles didn’t want to go on the record to talk about the vacancy at his alma mater Michigan, the Tigers head coach made it clear with reporters on Monday. While Miles wouldn’t discuss the Michigan job, he spoke highly of LSU’s future and what the Tigers can accomplish in the future, especially if they don’t lose a lot of underclassmen to the draft
The Saints are in first place in the NFC South after winning on the road again. New Orleans beat the Bears 31-15 at a soggy Soldier Field in Chicago. After getting blown out at home last week, New Orleans took it to the Bears as Quarterback Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and the Saints defense intercepted three passes and sacked Chicago Quarterback Jay Cutler seven times. The Saints are now three and four away from New Orleans. Payton’s team will look to snap a four-game home losing streak this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office reports 18 year old Eric Gordon of Boyce was killed yesterday afternoon when he apparently lost control of the vehicle he was driving on highway 1204 and struck some trees. Deputies say Gordon was traveling at a high rate of speed and was not wearing a seatbelt. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The United States Postal Service says if you are shipping by standard post, today is the last day to get that package in the mail for an on-time Christmas delivery. Spokesman McKinney Boyd says today is the post office’s busiest day where they’ll process in the neighborhood of 354,000 packages statewide. Boyd says they expect to process an additional 1.5 million cards and letters tonight.
A man who was once the janitor at Port Barre Elementary School and years later became the principal is being featured in a People Magazine series called “Heroes Among Us.” Joseph “Gabe” Sonnier says one day in the mid-80s the then-principal at the school told the janitor he knew he was very smart and capable of going more with his life. Sonnier says later he decided to go to school full-time while he continued working as the custodian. He says after getting his associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree he began teaching a Port Barre Elementary School. Sonnier, now 53, says he got his master’s degree then was appointed principal at the same school where he worked as a janitor for 27 years.
Louisiana hopes to generate one-point-four million dollars in revenue by selling over seven-hundred underutilized state vehicles at auction. Division of Administration assistant commissioner Jan Cassidy says these vehicles are not being used enough by various state agencies, so the decision has been made to auction them off. Cassidy they are constantly evaluating state inventory to make sure they are spending tax dollars appropriately and it’s been determined they can reduce the number of state vehicles by over seven-hundred.
LaSalle Parish lawmen have made an arrest in the investigation into a bomb threat at Jena High School on Wednesday morning. The sheriff’s office has arrested 18-year-old Jaqurius Ogletree. He is not a Jena student and his bond will be set this week.
5th District Congressman-elect Ralph Abraham says he’s ready to begin his duties in Washington D.C. The Republican from Richland Parish says he’s already been told he’s secured assignments on the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs committees. Abraham, who is a physician, veteran, farmer and business owner, will be sworn in on January fifth.
State Police say two Town of Franklinton employees are under arrest accused of stealing over $22,000 in water and utility payments from residents. The report says the two processed over 230 payments that were never deposited into the town’s account.
They were arrested on many charges including felony theft and malfeasance in office.
Former Saints star Darren Sharper is now facing state and federal indictments based on cases that occurred in Orleans parish. He’s facing two counts of aggravated rape and federal drug charges as he allegedly drugged two female victims before sexually assaulting them in September of 2013.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is urging Louisiana residents to check out the state’s unclaimed property database. He says over 500-thousand people are owed money from old checking accounts, insurance proceeds and oil and gas royalty payments. He says the unclaimed money can certainly help during the holiday season.
The Saints will try to get another win on the road tonight when they face the Chicago Bears. New Orleans went to the Windy City last year and won 26-18.
It’s a big Christmas parade weekend here in Cenla. It starts tonight with The Pineville Christmas Parade at 7 p.m. The annual Ball Christmas Parade will begin at 2 p.m. tomorrow. In Glenmora , it’s noon Saturday. In Bunkie, the parade rolls at 4pm Saturday. In Leesville it’s 5:30 p.m. Saturday. And here in Alexandria the Christmas Parade is set for 2 p.m. Sunday. There’s a full weekend of activities scheduled in Natchitoches as well, all part of the city’s Christmas Festival.
Alexandria Representative and chairman of the state House Labor Committee, Herbet Dixon, is resigning. Dixon released a statement that said he’s stepping away from the legislature so that he can better manage his health situation, spend more time with his family and pursue other opportunities. Dixon says he has undergone a second round of chemotherapy treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and next week he will have a biopsy to help determine future treatments. House Speaker Chuck Kleckley has called a special election February 21st to fill his seat.
State education Superintendent John White is concerned only 44 percent of public high school seniors fill out the paperwork required to receive federal financial aid to attend college or a technical training school. White says Louisiana students are missing out on millions of dollars in federal assistance. White says high school seniors should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to see if they’re eligible for Pell grants and other types of aid
Democratic US Senator Mary Landrieu gave a farewell speech on the Senate floor yesterday as her third and final term is coming to a close. Landrieu says it’s been a joy to serve in the Senate these last 18 years. Landrieu did not say what her future plans hold. Her Senate farewell was the first time she spoke publicly since losing to Republican Bill Cassidy in the Senate run-off and the outgoing senator she’s at peace with what happened.
Fourth District Representative John Fleming is saying he wants to succeed Senator David Vitter in the Senate if he wins the Governor’s race. In a written statement, Fleming says his focus IS on the 4th district, but he would be interested. Political analyst Elliot Stonecipher says it’s a little early to start speculating on who will fill Vitter’s Senate seat.
In a story first reported by LaPolitics.com, Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy may consider a run against Republican incumbent Buddy Caldwell in a race for Attorney General. Editor Jeremy Alford says Caldwell could be in trouble. He says the wild-card in the race is former Republican congressman Jeff Landy, who has already announced he’s running. Alford says not only is Kennedy thinking about running, but he’s actively been seeking advice from donors. He expects Kennedy will be reporting next year that he has $3.5 million dollars in the bank.
The National Hurricane Center will issue storm surge warnings during next year’s Hurricane Season. Storm surge is often cited as the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone. Storm Surge Specialist, Jamie Rhome, says this has been many years in the making. He says the watches and warnings will highlight life threatening conditions.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission announces that DWI patrols will be increased throughout the holiday period as part of their “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. This is a state and national campaign aimed at keeping impaired drivers off the roadways and reducing deadly crashes. Lt. Col. John Leblanc says December is one of the deadliest months on Louisiana roadways. Leblanc says 59 people were killed statewide in fatal accidents in December last year and 11 people were killed in the four days comprising the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. He says alcohol use was a factor in more than half of the fatalities.
Rapides Parish Sheriff’s detectives are searching for two suspects who robbed a Dollar General Store Tuesday night in Tioga, leaving one employee slightly injured.
Deputies responded to the call at 10:20 p.m. Witnesses said two armed suspects in hoodies and wearing masks took an undetermined amount of cash before running from the store. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers or the sheriff’s department.
Governor Jindal visited southwest Louisiana today to announce that Venture Global plans to build a four-billion dollar plus liquefied natural gas company at Calcasieu Pass in Cameron Parish. 15-hundred workers will be needed to construct the facility and once completed, the project will result in 100 new long-term jobs. The company says they chose Louisiana because of a property tax exemption and tax rebate that the state provides for businesses that create jobs.
The United Health Foundation released its 25th annual America’s Health Rankings and once again Louisiana is 48th in the nation. Dr. Catherine Palmier, Chief Medical Officer for the Foundation’s East Region, says we have an extremely high incidence of low birth weight babies. She says other factors keeping our rank near the bottom in the nation is the high rate of obesity at 33% of the population, physical inactivity which is 30% and smoking which at 23%.
A report released Wednesday show a large majority of TOPS money is going to white students. The Board of Regents numbers show 79 percent of recipients are white, and 58 percent are women, and come mostly from household making $70 thousand to $99 thousand dollars annually.
Angola warden Burl Cain says he’s thinking about running for governor. Cain says the thought of running for governor first came up a year ago, when he performed well in a poll on the 2015 governor’s race. The warden says now there’s road signs encouraging him to run. Cain says he’ll think and pray about it, but he’s not sure when he’ll make a final decision.
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, who is a democrat, announced he’s running for Lieutenent Governor yesterday. Holden says he’s not worried that Louisiana is a solid red state. Opelousas senator Elbert Guillory, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and Jefferson Parish President John Young are also lt governor candidates.
Yet another house fire, and yet another death in the state; this one yesterday morning in Roseland. Once fire fighters got inside, they found the body of sixty year-old Woodrow H. Ford Jr. in a recliner. The State Fire Marshal’s Office reports the home had no working smoke detectors
State education officials announce Louisiana has been awarded a federal grant of up to $32 million over four years to provide new and improved pre-k classes for over 10,000 children. State Education Superintendent John White says the grant is a tremendous step forward for the state. He says this grant will help address the demand issues for availability in the state’s early childhood education system. Louisiana is one of 13 states to receive this grant.
With a check on gas prices, they keep dropping as the price of crude tumbles. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.46 down a penny from last night and over a dime less than this time last week.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu told reporters Wednesday that should would not run for public office again. When asked if she would run for governor or for senator again, the Louisiana Democrat responded, “Oh Lord, no.” But she would not give a definite a no to running again. Politico has reported the opinions of several headhunters, veteran lobbyists and consultants saying that Landrieu’s status as a protector of the oil and gas industry and as a senior member, for years, then as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would make her a top recruit for the big money DC lobbying firms.
A national report issued Wednesday said Louisiana deserves a “C” for how it trains teachers, which is also the average grade nationally. The eighth annual study was released by The National Council on Teacher Quality, which calls itself a nonpartisan research and policy group. The state was faulted for what reviewers called a failure to properly prepare teachers for college and career-readiness standards, including the use of informational texts. The report also said Louisiana is lax in what it requires prospective teachers to know about subject areas, and fails to require them to pass a content exam in four core subject areas to ensure that elementary teachers have mastered material they are licensed to teach.
A tragic story out of St. Landry Parish where a father died after running into a burning house to rescue his 10-year-old son. 42-year-old John Robertson Sr. of Grand Prairie suffered fatal injuries while saving his son. Authorities say the boy is in stable condition with burns over 40 percent of his body. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
Gas prices dropped again last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.47 according to the American Automobile Association.
Two websites covering Michigan athletics reported Tuesday that the school has reached out to Les Miles’ agent to gauge the LSU coach’s interest in the vacant head coaching position at his alma mater, both quoted unnamed sources that “confirmed” the contact. Miles’ long-time agent is George Bass of Dallas. Bass did not immediately respond to a message. LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said as of Tuesday night he had not been contacted by anyone regarding Miles.
Events throughout the state and in Ferguson, Missouri have prompted law enforcement agencies in Louisiana to begin at least testing body cameras to be worn by officers. The president is calling for body cameras to be used nationwide. Jim Bueerman (BEER-MAN) is the president of the Police Foundation. He says the foundation is a strong advocate for the cameras. Bueerman says relationships between communities and police cannot be solved by technology. But he says the cameras will add a tremendous degree of viability and accountability. The cameras cost about 295 dollars per officer
The driver responsible for a head-on crash Tuesday morning in Ascension Parish that claimed the life of a 14-year-old Dutchtown High student is charged with vehicular homicide. State Police spokesman Jared Sandifer says they believe 19-year-old Dwight Perrilloux of Reserve was drunk when he was traveling in the wrong lane of traffic.
Democratic Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden is throwing his hat in the ring in Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor’s race. Holden is expected to officially announce his intentions at a press conference today. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Holden has a real shot of making the runoff for the office despite the negative climate of the Democratic Party in Louisiana. Pinsonat says it would be extremely difficult for any Democratic candidate to win a statewide office this year. But he says the election is a year away and that could be an advantage for Holden.
US Senator David Vitter has drafted legislation that would prohibit the federal government from mandating states to adopt Common Core standards. Vitter had previously supported the federal education standards. Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics.com says Vitter now has to show that he’s serious about his current stance.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says The Bayou State is ranked second best in the nation for work-related injuries and illness. The incidence rate in 2014 improved to its best level in more than 12 years. LWC spokesman Tom Guarisco says this is a great accomplishment for employers and workers in Louisiana.
Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order yesterday which directs hospitals to bill the state instead of victims for sexual assault medical treatment. Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Ebony Tucker says there is still a lot to do, but this order is a step in the right direction.
The Louisiana Workforce Commissioner says The Bayou State is ranked second best in the nation for work-related injuries and illness. The incidence rate in 2014 improved to its best level in more than 12 years. LWC praises employers and their workforce for doing the right things to keep Louisiana safer.
It’s tough times for the New Orleans Saints these days, losing four of their last five games, including a sound throttling by Carolina on Sunday. Coach Sean Payton says he’s looking for players and coaches to step up; and step up now. One player that won’t be doing that is wide receiver Joe Morgan, who was waived Tuesday. Payton says there could be more personnel and line-up changes.
The Pineville Police Department is investigating a rather bazar robbery that took place last Friday. Police say which two men posing as salesmen distracted a homeowner while it’s believed a third person stole from the home. A man presented himself as a flooring salesman and talked his way into the home, trying to sell the homeowner linoleum flooring. The release said a second man, posing as a carpenter, then came into the house. The second man held up a large piece of linoleum to show the homeowner. It’s believed that’s when a third person slipped in unnoticed, stealing a large amount of jewelry. Anyone with info is asked to call authorities…
A Livonia teenager who was placing coins onto train tracks as a train rolled by was killed early Sunday morning when a ladder hanging off one of the train cars caught the boy, throwing him under the train. 17 year old Brandt Torres was pronounced dead at the scene.
Louisiana’s newly elected Congressmen discuss Washington D.C. committee assignments. Congressman-elect Garret Graves, representing the 6th District, says he’s got a spot on the House Transportation and Natural Resources Committee. In the 5th District, Congressman-elect Ralph Abraham will likely be on the House Ag and Veterans’ Affairs committees. The GOP has already promised Senator-elect Bill Cassidy a seat on the Senate energy committee and Cassidy says he’ll also seek a spot on the Appropriations committee because he wants to see Congress change
As was predicted, the Republican party is about to have control of both the House and Senate, and 4th District Congressman John Fleming of Leesville says the party discussion now turns to how they can rebuild the trust of the American people.
Fleming says they will probably get the Keystone Pipeline on the floor fairly quickly.
The Louisiana’s Governor’s race is now a political focal point, and we already know that Senator David Vitter and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne are the Republican front-runners. On the democratic side, there WAS some speculation that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu might run, but U-L-L Political Science Professor Peaerson Cross says that was before his sister suffered defeat. State Representative Jon Bel edwards is the only announced Democrat so far.
Now that the US Senate election is over and she won’t be returning to Congress, what’s next for Mary Landrieu? Political Analyst Clancy Dubos expects Landrieu to first take some time off to spend with her family. He says, after a waiting period, Landrieu could consider becoming a lobbyist. Dubos also says Saturday’s defeat doesn’t necessarily mean that Landrieu’s political career is over. Dubos says Landrieu could decide to jump back in the political arena, but admits that it may be a while before she runs for office again.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected BP’s challenge of the multi-billion dollar settlement set forth by lower courts in connection with the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. Most legal experts suspect that there will not be any further litigation in the matter, and BP will have to abide by the deal it made.
The Jindal Administration says they are on track to reach the savings and efficiency goals in the state general fund to keep this year’s budget balanced as promised. They say Louisiana will save $75.7 million dollars by reducing spending in state agencies.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards will be releasing another book next year and this one will be loaded with pictures. Biographer Leo Honeycutt says many people have been asking him to write another book about The Cajun Prince since there are already several new chapters in his life. Honeycutt says while he was working on the 600+ page novel he ended up amassing over 900 pictures. He says the new venture is a coffee table book and will be Edwards’ life in pictures.
The Department of Health and Hospitals is hosting a symposium today which will focus on finding solutions to rising youth ADHD (or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) diagnoses and treatment. Secretary Kathy Kliebert says it’s concerning that Louisiana has the second highest state ADHD prescription rate in the nation. ADHD medication use has risen 35.5 percent from 2008 to 2012 and young adult use has nearly doubled.
The Big Easy is once again expecting many football fans in town for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the Allstate Sugar bowl. New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Corporation President Mark Romig says the New Year’s Day matchup between Alabama and Ohio State in the Sugarbowl will be legendary. Romig says they are expecting a sell-out crowd at the Mercedes Benz Superdome for the inaugural College Football Playoff and expects the city to be packed. Romig says there will also be big crows in town for the New Orleans Bowl on December 20th.
The matchup for the Duck Commander Independence Bowl has been set as the South Carolina Gamecocks will face the Miami Hurricanes on December 27th in Shreveport.
Phillip Terrell was the big winner Saturday in the Rapides Parish DA’s Race. Terrell received 52.9 percent in Saturday’s runoff to defeat state Rep. Chris Hazel who had slightly better than 47 percent. Terrell will succeed retiring DA James “Jam” Downs, who has held the office for 14 years.
Jim Villard was re-elected Saturday to a second term as an at-large member of the Alexandria City Council. Villard received 54 percent to defeat challenger Malcolm Larvadain who had just shy of 46 percent.
Terence Grines fought a tough battle to hold on to his position of Alexandria City Marshall. Grines defeated political veteran Charlie Dewitt by getting close to 52 percent of the vote. In the Pineville City Marshall’s race Sarah Smith was the big winner over Jay Slater garnering close to 62% of the vote.
In Boyce, Alma Moore is the new mayor. She won the seat with Just short of 64% of the vote over Jack Dewitt.
It was a historic night Saturday in Shreveport as Ollie Tyler became the first black woman elected mayor. In the history books, she also will be listed as the second woman to lead the city. Republican Hazel Beard left office in 1994 .
Two new congressmen have been elected in the 5th and 6th Congressional Districts. In the 6th District, Republican Garret Graves defeated Democratic former four-term governor Edwin Edwards. Graves says this election result is an emphatic statement from the voters of Louisiana. Graves will fill the seat left vacant by now Senator-elect Bill Cassidy. Republican political newcomer Dr. Ralph Abraham easily won in the 5th Congressional District race over Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Mayo received 35% of the vote at Abraham got 64-percent. The physician from Richland Parish says when he gets to Washington D.C. he’s going to work on bringing more jobs and infrastructure to his district.
For the first time in 82-years, an incumbent US Senator has lost a re-election in Louisiana. Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy easily defeated three-term Democrat Mary Landrieu. Cassidy says the voters spoke loudly that they want less interference from the government. Cassidy received 57-percent of the vote to Landrieu’s 43-percent.
Many political analysts say Landrieu’s vote for the Affordable Care Act, which is unpopular in Louisiana, played a significant role in her defeat. But Landrieu says she doesn’t regret that vote. Landrieu says it’s been a great honor to serve the state of Louisiana.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards says even though he lost the election to Republican Garret Graves, his campaign in the 6th Congressional District race was not run in vain. This is the first time the 87-year-old has ever lost in a runoff. Edwards says this doesn’t mean he’s going to retire. Edwards was defeated by Graves 62-37. Edwards says he’s happy and he feels like he’s fulfilled his role in life. Edwards says while he was hoping for a better result, this is not unexpected.
So now that all of the major Democratic candidates lost their elections this year, where does that leave the party going forward? LSU Media Professor Bob Mann, who is a former Democratic staffer, says the party needs to have some serious and honest reflection. Mann says there are many in the Democratic party who may feel that the answer is to moderate its message and start leaning more conservative.
Governor Bobby Jindal announcing some more economic news Friday, as Oxlean Manufacturing announces plan to expand it’s steel fabrication site in Walker. The company will invest over 2 million dollars, and create an additional 73 new jobs and another 122 indirect jobs.
Pathetic, terrible, horrendous, all of those adjectives describes the Saints 41-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers yesterday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. It’s the fourth straight loss at home and the largest margin of defeat for the franchise since 2007. Carolina jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and the Saints didn’t do much to get back in the game. Payton calls it an embarrassing performance.
The LSU football team will play Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl on Tuesday, December 30th. It’s the 15th straight season the Tigers will play in a bowl game and it’s their first meeting against the Fighting Irish since beating them 41-13 in the 2007 Sugar Bowl. Kick-off for the game is set for two PM in Nashville.
Tomorrow is election day in Louisiana. The ballot is highlighted by the US Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. Secretary of State Tom Schedler expects a 40-percent voter turnout for the election.
He says the high early voter turnout was a nice surprise and is hopeful that voters will turn out Saturday. Schedler expects voters to be more active in the 5th and 6th Congressional districts due to those contested seats.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a staff member at Red River Academy in Lecompte is under arrest for allegedly trying to rape a female teenage student. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the local police station requested deputy assistance into a criminal sexual conduct allegation at the residential-type school. Carnline says they were able to obtain enough probable cause to issue arrest warrants for 36-year-old Charles Allen of Cheneyville for 1 count of sexual battery, one count of attempted forcible rape and 1 count of prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student.
Gas prices in Louisiana dropped another two cents overnight. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.54
With tomorrow’s election looming, everybody wants to know who is going to represent Louisiana in the new Congress next year? ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says the US Senate race is Republican Bill Cassidy’s race to lose. The 5th Congressional District race features Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham in the runoff. Stockley says the political climate in Louisiana favors Republicans, especially in the 5th District. Stockley says the 6th Congressional District race could prove to be the most interesting of the night. He says enthusiasm isn’t very high for either candidate, Republican Garret Graves or Democrat Edwin Edwards. Stockley says voter turnout could be the deciding factor here.
In an interview with an LSU journalism student, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy says he supports over-the-counter sales of birth control. Cassidy says he’s going along with the recommendation made by the College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Cassidy says he wants to keep big government out of the birth control business. The clip was filmed for Tiger TV which is produced by LSU journalism student reporters and airs on campus.
Louisiana has petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear an appeal of Louisiana’s ban on gay marriage before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decides the case. Special counsel Kyle Duncan filed the request this week. Tulane Constitutional Law Professor, Keith Werhan, says the state may think that this issue is on the fast track to being decided in the Supreme Court. Federal Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage earlier this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control there’s a widespread outbreak of the flu in Louisiana. Dr. Frank Welch, with the state Department of Health and Hospitals, says it’s not a designation the state wants, but we appear to be leading the pack. Louisiana is the only state in the Continental US with widespread flu cases.
Louisiana residents who have health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace are advised to seek out cheaper policies during open enrollment. Brian Burton, State Director for the Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana, says there are new choices and more competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace. In Louisiana, consumers can now choose from 6 issuers in the Marketplace. Burton says United Healthcare is a new provider for this year and they’re making a big difference for consumers. Open enrollment closes on February 15.
Louisiana Tech will face Marshall in the Conference USA Championship game on Saturday. It’s the first time the Bulldogs will play in a conference title game. In order to win, the Bulldogs will have to slow down a Thundering Herd offense that’s averaging 47 points a game.
The Saints will look to end a three-game losing streak at home when they host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Before they started this losing skid in the Dome, they won 20 straight previous games, including playoffs, played in New Orleans.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office reports, a man wanted in the death of his wife was found Tuesday morning, hiding underneath a house not far from the scene of the Sunday night stabbing. 48 year old Dennis Williams was wanted for second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 46-yearold Laura Williams, who was found Sunday night in her home on Starlight Baptist Church Road. When Deputies found Williams hiding, he was suffering from apparent self-inflicted stab wounds. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
A complaint has been filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics, urging them to look into allegations whether Republican Bill Cassidy violated House rules and federal law for receiving compensation from the LSU health system that he didn’t perform. Cassidy’s opponent in the Senate, Democrat Mary Landrieu, faced an ethics complaint in September, after it was learned her office used taxpayer dollars to pay for charter flights for campaign events.
In a televised debate between Fifth District Congressional candidates, Republican Ralph Abraham and Democrat Jamie Mayo, Mayo said Abraham makes too much money to understand the needs of the district, which is one of the poorest in the nation. Abraham said he’ll bring a conservative voice and common sense approach to Washington D-C.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved new licensing rules for child care centers. One of the new regulations calls for fingerprint-based criminal background checks for the facilities workers and volunteers. The regulations include a provision that require one teacher for every 11 two-year-olds at a child care center.
Louisiana is joining a 16 state coalition-led by Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott, in suing the Obama administration for the recent executive orders regarding illegal immigrant amnesty. Abbot says that Texas would especially be harmed by President Obama’s executive orders, since his state has such a long border with Mexico.
State Police has teamed up with the Office of Motor Vehicles to implement the “Parents Supervised Driving Program”, an effort to prevent teen motor vehicle crashes through education and awareness of teen driving restrictions. The program provides parents with more information so they can do a better job with their teens while they have their learner’s permit.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards and Republican Garret Graves went head to head in Livingston Parish Tuesday and it got ugly. Perhaps the most controversial moment came at the end of the 6th Congressional District debate when Graves announced he’d been endorsed but the Sheriff’s Association. Edwards left his podium and approached Graves calling him a liar. The Sheriff’s Association reportedly held a vote on whether or not to endorse Graves and all agreed but not every member was present at the meeting.
In the final days before Saturday’s election, a new poll on the 6th District Congressional race shows Republican Garrett Graves with 53-percent of the vote while Democratic former governor Edwin Edwards has 47-percent. The Glascock Group surveyed 532 voters from across the district.
Shan Davis, a member of the staff of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was named executive director Wednesday for the panel. The executive director is responsible for administrative and fiscal operations of the board office. BESE sets policies for about 700,000 public school students statewide. Davis said she officially starts the job on Dec. 21. She said her salary has not been finalized. Her predecessor was paid $125,000 a year.
For a fourth straight season, the UL-Lafayette Football team has accepted an invitation to play in the R and L Carriers New Orleans Bowl which will be played Saturday December 20th. The voice of the Ragin Cajuns Jay Walker says their fans are always fired up about heading to the Big Easy. UL-Lafayette will likely have to wait until Sunday to find out who they will play.
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office says the 85-year-old Pollock woman who was viciously mauled by suspected stray dogs last week, died Late Monday night. Sheriff Steve Martin says nobody witnessed the attack. He says the neighbor heard screaming and found Cheveallier on the ground and two “wolf-type” dogs were near her. So far they’ve rounded up about 15 dogs in an effort to find the guilty canines.
The pitbull named Zeus WILL be able to stay with his family, following the Moreauville Town Council’s reversal of their vicious dog ban Monday night. Moving forward, Mayor Timmy Lemoine says the town now will adopt the Louisiana state statute in regard to dangerous dogs. An online petition to save Zeus received over 340 thousand signatures, and the town received numerous phone calls, along with pressure from PETA.
The state DOTD is closing the Kansas City Southern Railroad track on Melrose behind Louisiana College so work can be done. The intersection will be closed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. so that Kansas City Southern can replace track panel and the crossing. The road will be completely closed.
A state audit of Grambling State University revealed equipment thefts totaling more than $130,000. Legislative Auditor Bradley Cryer says it was the university who discovered several items missing. Cryer says the items stolen were plumbing units, air conditioners, and hot water heaters; things that were being sold for scrap metal. He says they have recommended that the school install new procedures to limit the key access to facilities that are vacant. One person has been arrested in connection with the thefts.
The Les Miles to Michigan rumors are back. That’s because Miles’ alma mater, Michigan, is searching for a new football coach after firing Brady Hoke. LSU beat reporter for Gannett Newspapers, Glen Guilbeau, says Miles has been offered the Michigan job two previous times and said no and will likely say no again, if offered a third time. Michigan went 5 and 7 this season. And Guilbeau says it will take a lot of hard work to get Michigan to become a title contender again, while LSU is closer to competing for national titles.
Louisiana Tech is one of the five universities nationwide to receive a one-point-four million dollar grant to produce more secondary math and science teachers. The grant money comes from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Tourism leaders are looking to capitalize on the increasing trend of international tourists visiting Louisiana. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says they have been very aggressive in marketing Louisiana to international visitors and those efforts are definitely paying off. He says the state had an 18-percent increase in international visitors last year, the highest increase of any state in the nation according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.
The attrition rate for public school teachers has remained steady for the past three years, according to a report issued Tuesday by the state Department of Education. A total of 12 percent of teachers left the profession from 2013 to 2014, the same percentage as 2012-13 and just higher than the 11 percent in 2011-12, the review says.
Retirement was listed as the top reason, 28 percent, followed by those taking education administrative jobs, 23 percent. Pay was cited by just 1 percent of the nearly 6,500 teachers who took part in exit interviews in all 69 of Louisiana’s school districts.
Authorities in Missouri have made an arrest of a New Iberia man in connection with the 2008 strangulation death of 61 year-old Judy Blanchard Landry. Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal says sixty-year old Keith Leleux will be extradited back to New Iberia to face first-degree murder charges
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman from Marksville was found dead in her home early Sunday of an apparent stabbing. Deputies say they are looking for the victim’s husband, 48-year-old Dennis Williams as a person of interest in the death of 46-year-old Laura Williams.
In the final debate of the year, Democratic US-Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy brought out the big guns. The incumbent began by addressing the allegations claiming Cassidy was “double billing” by getting paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he did not perform. Landrieu continues to come under fire for using tax payer money to fund personal campaign charter flights. She calls the matter a bookkeeping error that has been paid back and is a much smaller issue than Cassidy’s alleged double subsidies. Political pendants are on the fence over who won the debate. Most believe it will have little effect on Saturday’s election.
Analysts are reporting there’s a chance gas prices could drop below $2 a gallon in Louisiana. Gasbuddy-dot-com’s Gregg Laskoski says, in light of recent events, he could see some station’s price dropping below $2, but is skeptical that the statewide average will drop that low. Laskoski says you could expect to see gas prices drop another 15 to 20 cents a gallon over the next couple of weeks if crude oil prices stay as low as they are.
Oil prices are down to 70-dollars a barrel which is not good for the state’s budget, because it means lower revenues from severance taxes and mineral royalties. Chief economist for the Louisiana Fiscal office, Greg Albrecht, says they already adjusted the state’s revenue picture downward. Albrecht says if oil prices keep trading for about 70-dollars a barrel for a lengthy period of time, it will cost the state millions of dollars in revenues. Albrect says the Revenue Estimating Conference will likely meet again next month to assess the situation.
Medicaid expenditures here in Louisiana have increased by more than $900 million since 2012 amid the move to privatization, according to a legislative auditor’s report released Monday. Expenditures remained fairly consistent from 2010 through 2012 remaining in the $6.6 billion to $6.8 billion range, the report said. But the spending jumped to $7.57 billion by fiscal year 2014 which ended June 30. Included is a net increase of $600 million related to Bayou Health spending, the private health insurance program handling health care for more than 900,000 of Medicaid’s 1.4 million recipients. In addition, there has been an estimated $350 million increase in payments for care of the uninsured to private operators of LSU hospitals.
US-Senator Mary Landrieu is claiming her opponent Congressman Bill Cassidy, who is a doctor, was paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he didn’t do. She also says members of Congress are only allowed to make $26,000 a year in outside work. Cassidy was paid $50,000 per year. In a statement, Cassidy says he’s proud of his work in the LSU System and these allegations are just an attempt by Landrieu to salvage her political career. LSU announced Monday afternoon their intensions to investigate the part-time employment of the congressman.
US Senator David Vitter, who is running for governor next year, has changed his stance regarding Common Core. Vitter said four months ago that he supports the multistate educational standards, but in an email to supporters Monday, the Senator says he’s changed his mind after hearing from parents and teachers. He says Louisiana should establish its own standards and testing.
A quiet 2014 hurricane season came to an end over the weekend. State Climatologist Barry Keim says there were only 8 named storms which is the fewest since 1997. He says this is the ninth straight year we didn’t have a major hurricane hit the US Coastline, the longest such streak since records were kept. He says we can attribute the quiet season to lower than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says 221-thousand voters casted ballots during the early voting period that ended Saturday. Schedler says the heaviest voter turnout areas were East Baton Rouge, Orleans and St. Tammany Parishes. The run-off election is Saturday.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says they are still looking for two men they believe abducted and shot a woman on Thanksgiving Day. Spokesman Sergeant Clay Higgins says the victim reported she left her house that morning to walk to a nearby store when she accepted a ride from the suspects. Higgins says the 49-year-old Opelousas woman thought the men offering the ride were just being friendly on the Thanksgiving morning in her own neighborhood known as “The Hill.” However, That ended up not being the case.
Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu and republican challenger Bill Cassidy will meet in a televised Senate debate tonight. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says you can bet Landrieu will bring up the recent allegations that Cassidy, who is a doctor, was paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he never did. In published reports, Cassidy denies the accusations that he received payments for work he didn’t do. As far as the debate goes, Dubos expects Cassidy will continue to connect Landrieu’s voting record with President Obama’s policies.
After spending the weekend shopping for great deals at the mall and other retail stores, consumers will now turn to the internet for Cyber Monday. LSU marketing professor Dan Rice says savvy consumers held off on buying certain items this past weekend to see what kind of deals they’ll get today. Rice says Cyber Monday is becoming a bigger deal then Black Friday for many consumers.
The State Police Cadet Class #93 has started training to earn the privilege of wearing the “gold boot” badge of the Louisiana State Police. The cadets will go through 20 weeks of training. Trooper Jared Sandifer says about 70 new cadets reported to the Training Academy yesterday. He’s hopeful this class will produce 50 new troopers.
State Police report a single vehicle crash Saturday night involving a motorcycle killed a man from Leesville, LA and seriously injured his wife, after their motorcycle collided with a deer. Troopers responded to the crash around 9:30 p.m. on Hwy 28 West near Walnut Hill Road. Killed in the crash was 53 year old Gordon Bolton. His passenger and wife 57 year old Monika Bolton received serious injuries and was transported to Rapides Regional Trauma Center. Troopers say Both were wearing helmets.
The State Attorney General’s Office reminds shoppers to stay safe and shop smart this holiday season. Director of the Public Protection Division, Sam Pleasant, says you should be on the lookout for holiday shopping scams to protect your identity and make sure you keep credit and debit cards in a secure place.
The welders and pipefitters union in the Lake Charies area is seeking to train craftsmen for the industry work that will come online in the next few years, at no cost to its students. Roy McGraw, training director of United Association Local 198, said that individuals who want training in fields such as welding, plumbing and pipefitting, can pick up an application at the union’s new facility at 5432 Broad St. in Lake Charles.
Prospective students much have a high school diploma with transcripts or a GED with their test scores to be considered. They also must have a valid driver’s license, birth certificate and Social Security card. Prospects must also pass an aptitude test, which covers basic math and reading skills, and an interview with union representatives
Staying fit or maintaining your current weight is difficult for some during the holiday season. State department of health and hospital’s Well-Ahead Director, Melissa Martin, says staying hydrated is one way to make sure you don’t eat too much during one sitting. Martin says during the holiday season, many people take in more calories than they do during other months of the year, so she says find ways to burn off those calories. Martin says also try to plan out your meals and avoid eating on the run.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries now has a series of online hunting safety videos to help hunters be safe during the season. They cover firearms, tree stands, boats and other gear. You can view the videos online on their website, or Facebook search ldwf.
Louisiana Tech will play this Saturday in the Conference USA Championship game against Marshall after routing Rice 76-31 on Saturday. Tech will take on the Thundering Herd in the league title game this Saturday at 11 AM in Huntington, West Virginia.
The Saints continue to do the unexpected. Lose games when you expect them to win, but win games when you think they’ll get beat. New Orleans went into Pittsburgh yesterday and beat the Steelers 35-32. Quarterback Drew Brees threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers, Mark Ingram rushed for 122 yards and the defense forced two turnovers. Coach Sean Payton says it feels good to beat a good team on the road.
The LSU Tigers are No. 23 in The Associated Press Top 25 and No. 24 in the new coaches poll released Sunday. The tigers finish the regular season ranked for the sixth straight season and the ninth time in coach Les Miles’ 10 years.
The city of Alexandria City will finally be getting out of the Hotel business. The council Tuesday made a decision between two groups seeking to buy the Alexander Fulton Hotel. In a 4-3 vote, the council elected to go with Southern Hospitality Group over Windfeel Properties. Windfeel, who has been managing the Fulton since September 2013, was unable to come up with the money to purchase the hotel. The council also passed an ordinance and resolution to compensate Windfeel for improvements or services it has provided that have added value to the hotel or the renovation process, as well as services provided during the transition period to SHG ownership.
In other good downtown news, word is the Mirror Room in the shuttered Hotel Bentley will be opening before the end of the year. The Bentley had been closed for nearly eight years when Alexandria Businessman Michael Jenkins bought it in 2012. Renovation plans call for converting the seven-story tower portion of the property into condominiums. The original portion of the property will remain a hotel with 92-94 rooms. It’s hoped that other sections will be opening after the first of the year.
Republican Senate candidate Bill Cassidy received the endorsement Tuesday of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Meanwhile, Senator Mary Landrieu spent the afternoon in Houma meeting with workers at Weeks Marine Incorporated and speaking with seniors and disabled citizens at a senior center.
The American Automobile Association says more than 46 million Americans will be hitting the road to celebrate Thanksgiving which is the most since 2007. The travel days are defined as tomorrow through Sunday. 90% of vacationers will be taking their car and enjoying the lowest gas prices in over 4 years.
A family from Moreauville is fighting a proposed ban on vicious dogs. Joanna Armand, who owns a one year-old pitbull named Zeus, says their family dog is providing love and support to four of her children, who are special needs kids. She says giving up the dog would be a devastating blow for her family.
The former Destrehan High School teacher accused of participating in group sex with a 16-year-old student entered a not guilty plea to a charge of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The judge loosened some restrictions of her bond, which will allow her to attend an exercise class and help her husband care for their three young children.
A Jonesboro woman has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man inside his home. Fifty-one year-old Veronica Denise Jackson has been charged with second degree murder for allegedly shooting 58 year-old Grover Brown in rural Lincoln Parish. His body was discovered Sunday morning and that investigation continues.
It may be a tradition at your household to rinse the turkey before putting it in the oven for the Thanksgiving feast. But LSU AgCenter nutritionist Denise Holston-West advises against it. She says washing poultry or meat can spread bacteria. Once the turkey is in the oven, use a food thermometer to make sure it cooks to 165-degrees. Holtston-West says the stuffing should be cooked in a separate casserole.
Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships, the Nina and Pinta, will be on display in Houma starting today. The ships are floating museums educating the public on the type of ship that Columbus used during the age of discovery. Captain of the Nina, Stephen Sanger, says the ships attract people of all ages. The ships will be on display through December 7th at the Downtown Marina in Houma.
The state continues to set new employment records. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says total nonfarm employment in Louisiana reached 1,988,900 in October, which is a new record high. The number of private employment jobs has grown by 31-thousand over the last year. In a strange twist, The state’s unemployment rate is also going up, along with the number of people who are employed. The unemployment rate for October was six-point-two percent, up four-percentage points from last year.
Early voting for the December 6th runoff election continues across the state, and will run through this Saturday, excluding Thursday and Friday. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says voter turnout for the kickoff this past Saturday was brisk, and when compared to early voting for the primary. He expects the voter turnout to be around 35 percent.
A West Monroe lawmaker filed a lawsuit this week seeking to extend the early voting period for the December 6th runoff because two days were lost this time due to the Thanksgiving Holidays. Governor Bobby Jindal declared this Friday a state holiday, Acadian Day, and polls are closed. Representative Marcus Hunter says this election, with the US-Senate race at the top of the ballot, is too important to shorten the amount of time someone is given the opportunity to vote. He says he hopes a judge will add those two extra days back.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Hardman Family who lost five in a crash in Ouachita Parish while on their way to their dream Disney World vacation last week. According to the site, the money, now reaching almost $30,000, will be used for the five funeral expenses. Trudi and Michael Hardman died in a crash along with three juveniles age 15, 7 and 4.
New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has pledged two gifts to the Pro Football Hall of Fame totaling $11 million. This is the largest individual contribution in the Hall’s 51 year history. The donation will help build a Hall of Fame Village. $10 million of Benson’s donation will be used to renovate Fawcett Stadium, which will now be called Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The renovations will allow the stadium to be used for other sporting and entertainment events. The additional $1 million will help construct the Hall of Fame’s Legends Landing, a residence where former greats can live if they fall on hard times.
The famous Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is officially underway. The 300,000+ lights were turned on for the first time on Saturday and will twinkle every night at dusk through January 6th of next year. Downtown attractions include carriage tours through the historic district and all shops and restaurants will be open late. The 88th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival and parade happens December 6th. You can get more information on the festival online at christmasfestival.com.
Governor Bobby Jindal announce ClearEdge Wholesale Glass will invest $2.65 million dollars to renovate a 41,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Baton Rouge and relocate their current smaller operations from New Orleans to the new facility in Baton Rouge. He says ClearEdge will create 120 new direct jobs at the new facility with an average salary of nearly $40,000 a year plus benefits.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards took several shots at his opponent in the 6th Congressional District race in a debate where Garret Graves did not show up. Edwards accuses Graves of playing dirty politics in a flyer he sent out prior to the November 4th election that may lead voters to believe Paul Deitzel is gay. Edwards is also accusing Graves of helping his family profit from Government contracts when he was the head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Edwards was asked if he thought Senator Mary Landrieu was affecting his campaign. The former governor joked that it’s The President hurting that’s them both.
As the rate of diabetes continues to rise, new numbers show the disease costs Louisiana’s five-billion dollars a year. The study was conducted by LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the facility’s executive director, Dr. William Cefalu, says the cost of pre-diabetes went up 74-percent and undiagnosed diabetes grew 82-percent since 2007. Nationally, the cost of diabetes has grown to $322 billion per year in excess medical costs and lost productivity. Cefalu says diabetes is becoming an economic burden for the entire country.
Louisiana Tech can win the West Division of Conference USA this Saturday. But the defending league champions stand in the Bulldogs way. The Rice Owls won ten games last year and were crowned the C-USA champs. This season Rice can win the West from Tech by beating the Bulldogs in Ruston this weekend. Last season, the Rice Owls embarrassed Louisiana Tech, beating them in Houston 52-14.
LSU heads into Thursday night’s regular season finale against Texas A-and-M struggling on offense. So will true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris get some snaps against the Aggies. When asked. Coach Les Miles gave a non-committal answer.
LSU has won the two previous meetings against Texas A-and-M, since the Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference.
Early voting for the December 6th runoff elections is underway. You’ll have until this Saturday to cast your ballot. But, keep in mind, the polls will be closed Thursday Thanksgiving day and this Friday, which is a state holiday. The polls are open at 8:30am and close at 6pm.
State Representative Marcus Hunter says he’s asking the Secretary of State’s office to extend the December 6th runoff early voting period which began Saturday. The Democratic West Monroe lawmaker is upset the 7-day early voting is reduced to five days this time because the voting precincts are closed for the Thursday and Friday state holidays. Hunter says he plans to take the matter to court this week.
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the state plans to use amnesty money, eliminate 167 unused positions and reduce spending as part of the plan to fill the state’s current $171 million dollar budget shortfall. The deficit was tied to low severance tax and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.
As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating a statewide Click It or Ticket campaign aimed at saving lives. Executive Director Lt. Col. John Leblanc says last year’s Thanksgiving holiday was one of the most dangerous of the year on Louisiana roadways. He says Louisiana law requires everyone in a vehicle to be buckled up at all times.
It looks like your Thanksgiving meal will cost a little more this year, according to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Association. The average price for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost $49.41, 37 cents more than last year. Louisiana Farm Bureau Association’s Avery Davidson says the biggest price hikes you’ll see are your proteins, particularly turkey and beef. Davidson says prices are up. because fewer turkeys were processed this year and we have the smallest beef herds in the last 30 or 40 years.
A recent State Farm survey found drivers are still texting and driving, even though they know its dangerous. 52 percent of those polled admit they have talked on a cell phone while driving and 34 percent say they have texted while driving. State Farm Spokesperson Gary Stephenson says there has been an increase in the use of hands free cell phones. Stephenson says 77 percent of young drivers say they believe they can safely text while driving. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 80 percent of crashes are due to distracted driving.
The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association has met their Kickstarter goal with money they were raising for a study that will research the economic impact of the movie industry in Louisiana. LFEA Executive Board member Raelyn Loop says once the study is complete, they will present the findings to lawmakers. Loop says the state has to look at whether the motion picture tax incentive that benefits outside companies coming in to do business here is helping Louisiana. She says other states are mimicking our program so Louisiana needs to remain competitive.
State Police say a crash in Jackson Parish with a 15-year-old behind the wheel claimed the life of a 14-year-old passenger Friday night. They say the juvenile from Jonesboro veered off the road and slammed into a tree. Both occupants were unrestrained. Investigators say the 14-year-old passenger from Quitman died at the scene and the driver has serious injuries. It is not known at this time if alcohol was a factor in the crash.
State Police report two men died Saturday afternoon in Concordia Parish when the car they were in overturned and erupted in flames after being hit. Ernie Climer of Cheneyville and Jeremy Elliott of Trout, both 36, died at the scene of the wreck on La. Highway 565
The Jindal Administration will be announcing mid-year budget cuts today. Louisiana is facing a $171 million dollar revenue shortfall. Jindal’s chief administrator has indicated that higher education will avoid any substantial cuts, but Senate Finance chairman Jack Donahue doesn’t see that being possible. There are many dedicated budget items that can’t be cut so typically higher education and health care are hit hardest.
President Barack Obama announced his plans for immigration reform last night, but many people say more needs to be done. Local business consultant Randy Hayden says the new Congress that is sworn in next year should look at making more working visas available, which could help with the state’s worker shortage. Hayden says one area of reform desperately needed deals with foreign students who are a educated by a Louisiana college and university, but then can’t stay after graduation because they can’t get a visa.
A concerned citizen’s tip led to the arrest of a Natchitoches Central High School teacher after police found she had sent nude photos to a 17-year-old student.
27year-old Nickol Smith was released on bond after the city’s High Tech Crime Unit found the photos with a warrant to search her phone and that of the male student.
Smith was charged with one count of prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student. The charge carries a $1,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment.
The Rapides Parish sheriff’s office reports an inmate walked away from his work release job Thursday. 27 year old Chad Babb was last seen around 7 a.m. while working for the Parish Highway Department compound on Highway 28 West. Babb was convicted of first degree robbery burglary. He is not considered to be dangerous.
Louisiana’s latest amnesty program is expected to bring in $169 million according to the state department of revenue who says they got 41,000 applications. $38 million will go to help the state close its mid-year budget deficit. The Jindal Administration will announce those cuts tomorrow. Louisiana is looking at a $171 million dollar shortfall.
The early voting period for the December 6th runoff elections begins tomorrow. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will run through Saturday November 29th excluding a few days, Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following Thanksgiving. Schedler expects voter turnout in the 5th and 6th Congressional districts to outpace the rest of the state but he says even though control of the Senate has already been decided, it is still important hit your polling place, even if the US Senate race is the only item on your ballot
A lawyer for the Obama administration asked a judge Thursday to dismiss Governor Bobby Jindal’s anti-Common Core lawsuit because the education standards were not forced by the feds to be accepted in states. A ruling on the matter is expected in December.
A new poll on the 6th Congressional District runoff race shows Republican Garret Graves with a large lead over Democrat former governor Edwin Edwards. Pollster John Couvillon says the numbers indicate that Republicans have really gotten behind Graves as the GOP nominee. The JMC Analytics and Polling Company conducted the survey, and it shows Graves with 59 percent of the vote; with Edwards getting 34 percent.
Clean-air rules regulating new or expanding factories would be modified with the goal of spurring more chemical manufacturing under a bill by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, that won House approval Thursday — and that has prompted a veto threat from Democratic President Barack Obama. The bill would cut red tape and bring more transparency to the air-quality permitting process, Scalise has said. In Louisiana alone, Scalise has said, burdensome regulations have stalled 39 proposed projects worth $28.6 billion that would create 46,000 new jobs.
State Police report an extremely tragic accident out of Ouachita Parish Wednesday night which claimed the lives of 5 people, including young children, headed to Disney World for family vacation. They say the 16-year-old licensed driver from Texas likely fell asleep when the Tahoe crashed on I-20 and 6 out of the eight occupants, all unrestrained, were ejected. The children who died were 4, 7 and 15.
In the 1950′s, it was estimated there were only 80 to about 120 Louisiana black bears in the state. Today, the numbers are much better, with most of the bears in the northeastern part of the state in the Tensas River Basin. That’s LDWF biologist Maria Davidson, who says this report could result in the bears being removed from the endangered species list.
Today is the Great American Smoke out and the Smoking Cessation Trust, or SCT, is urging smokers in Louisiana to take advantage of all the free products and services available to help them quit today. SCT CEO Mike Rogers says qualified applicants are entitled to certain “stop smoking” benefits which tobacco companies fund. Rogers says in order to qualify for the free benefits you’d need to have started smoking cigarettes before September 1, 1988 and live in Louisiana. He says since their program started in 2012, over 22,000 citizens have received the benefit card. For more info log on to www.smokefreela.org
Governor Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against the federal government over Common Core will be heard in a Baton Rouge federal court today. The governor claims the Obama administration over reached their authority in trying to implement the controversial education standards in Louisiana. Jindal claims the federal government used education grant money and waivers to force Louisiana and other states to adopt Common Core.
Louisiana has saved $12 million from a debt refinancing that took advantage of lower interest rates. State Treasurer John Kennedy announced the savings figure Tuesday, after the state completed its refinancing of the $229 million in existing bond debt. The state sells general obligation bonds to investors for upfront cash to pay for construction projects. The borrowing is paid off over time with interest. The refinancing lowers that multiyear repayment rate. The refinancing had been delayed briefly because of a disagreement between Kennedy’s office and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration over the financial paperwork. But the two sides reached a compromise. Up Next, a plan to borrow another $200 million to replenish the escrow account that pays for state-financed construction work.
Louisiana State University of Alexandria opened its new student health center this week. The school had been the only senior institution of higher education in Louisiana without a student health center, something Chancellor Dan Howard and his administration had worked to change since March. A partnership with Rapides Regional Medical Center will provide the medical staff to perform health care for the school's more than 700 students, about 300 of which live on campus.
The faculty senate at Grambling State University has given a “no confidence” vote for interim president Cynthia Warrick and they are seeking her immediate dismissal. G-S-U faculty Senate President, Doctor Herbert Simmons Jr, says they are disappointed Warrick hired several administrators at a six-figure salary, when the university faces a three-point-seven million dollar deficit. Warrick was named as Grambling’s interim A-D in June.
Well, he did say he would welcome any and all endorsements.. The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy over democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. Louisiana Cannabis spokesperson Jesse McCormick says in a debate last month Bill Cassidy said he supports the legal use of medical marijuana, while Landrieu opposes it. McCormick says because Cassidy is a doctor, he understands why there’s a need for marijuana to be legal for medicinal purposes. No comment from the Cassidy camp.
A federal grand jury has handed down indictments to a total of 13 people from Louisiana and one from Texas in connection with a methamphetamine distribution ring in South Central Louisiana. Some defendants face up to 20 years in prison, while others face up to life imprisonment. The arrests are part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Prosecutors say methamphetamine was purchased in large quantities in Texas and then distributed throughout southwest Louisiana, mainly Lafayette and New Iberia, over several months in 2014.
Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken Plant in Natchitoches has been named one of the nine worst chicken plants in the nation for animal cruelty. Farm Sanctuary and the Animal Welfare Institute director of policy, Bruce Friedrich (FREED-rick) says they had gotten reports of workers routinely throwing live birds into bags of dead on arrival birds.
In a statement, Pilgrim Farms says they have made voluntary corrective actions.
USA Today released its annual report on college football coaches today, and LSU Head Coach Les Miles is the 7th highest paid coach with an annual four-point three million dollars. Alabama Head coach Nick Saban is the highest paid with an annual salary of seven-point-one million.
Louisiana State Police say a Coushatta woman who wasn’t buckled up died in a crash last night in Red River Parish. They say 44-year-old Salley Giddens was hit from behind when she was stopped waiting to turn into a private drive on Highway 71. Her car was thrown into the opposite lane of traffic and hit by a truck. LSP says Giddens wasn’t restrained and suffered fatal injuries in the crash.
A former office manager at a Baton Rouge electrical engineering firm stands accused of embezzling $465,000 from the company. 46 year old Lori Fry was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of wire fraud, accusing the former manager and bookkeeper of diverting more than 100 separate payments from the firm’s account for her own personal use through her personal bank account.
Search and rescue workers on Wednesday found the bodies of two men missing since their single-engine plane crashed into Lake Pontchartrain last week. The bodies were recovered from the lake after authorities spent days searching for the two men. Both bodies were taken to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office for identification, and Coroner Jeffrey Rouse said Wednesday night that his office “has made positive identifications of the two plane crash victims, Burt Lattimore and Aftab Rab.” The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Sunset Mayor Cecil Lavergne asked the St. Landry Parish Council on Wednesday night for money to restore the former Sunset High building. Lavergne asked for a maximum of $50,000 for the project, but said he’d be happy to get $30,000 to $35,000 to repair the 89-year-old building. The council voted to delay action on the request until the 2015 budget is approved. The proposed budget for 2015 was introduced during the meeting without discussion.
According to the Department of Health and Hospitals, flu activity is on the increase in Louisiana. Frank Welch, Medical Director for the Immunization Program, says the state typically gets a late start on flu activity, but not this year. Welch says the strain of flu that seems to be dominant this year, is one that is captured by the flu shot. He says if you haven’t gotten your flu shot, yet, now is the time to do so.
The State police report the chief of Marksville's Tunica-Biloxi Tribe was arrested Tuesday on 21 charges of obtaining prescriptions through doctor shopping in both Avoyelles and Rapides parishes. 36 year old Joey Barbry of Mansura was booked into the Parish jail. It was alleged that Barbry was getting prescriptions fraudulently from multiple physicians
Gov. Bobby Jindal announced yesterday that he will shield Louisiana’s public colleges from cuts when he reveals his proposal Friday to rebalance this year’s budget, which contains a $171 million hole that must be eliminated. Jindal’s Division of Administration confirmed the same protection will be given to all four public college systems, which have lost $700 million in state financing since 2008, one of the steepest declines for higher education across the nation. The shortfall stems from two main problems: worse than projected revenue tied to falling oil prices and anemic personal income tax growth.
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu did not prevail in her attempt to get the US Senate to pass a bill that would authorize the construction of the Keystone Oil Pipeline. The measure needed 60 votes to pass but it only got 59. Landrieu has spent the last week trying to pass the bill as a way to show her clout in Congress in the Senate runoff.
Grammy award-winning artist Stevie Wonder will be traveling to New Orleans to headline a campaign fundraiser for Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu early next month. Wonder recorded a radio ad for Landrieu during the primary. The exact time of the fundraiser will be announced later date.
The trial date of a former Natchitoches Parish police officer accused in a Sabine Parish man’s death has been postponed. Sabine Parish District Judge Stephen Beasley originally set the first-degree murder trial of Robert Barthelemy for Jan. 19 and had been pushing toward that goal. However, late last week, after Barthelemy changed his plea, from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity Beasley moved the trial date to Sept. 28. The 35 year old Barthelemy is accused in the dead of Tony Procell in august of last year. The DA in the case say he plans to seek the death penalty.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is reporting a record $35.5 million dollars in refunds for Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program for the last fiscal year. Right now, there is more than $635 million dollars in unclaimed property. You can search online at LAtreasury.com.
State Farm announces they will increase auto insurance rates for Louisiana customers beginning December 8th. Spokesman Gary Stephenson says the statewide average increase will be about 3.6 percent. State Farm is the largest insurer of automobiles in Louisiana and in the United States. The price we pay for car insurance here in Louisiana has been and continues to be some of the highest in the nation.
Ouachita Parish won’t be getting federal money to aid in the aftermath of the tornadoes that went through the area in October. FEMA calculated that the tornadoes did $4 million in damage and $6.3 million in damage is required to be declared a federal disaster. Neal Brown, Director of the Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says they also didn’t reach the threshold of uninsured home owners who were impacted.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says a school bus driver in East Baton Rouge Parish detained and harassed a student because he thought the 16-year-old was gay. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says they’ve asked the East Baton Rouge School System to fully investigate the complaint and educate their employees. School officials say the bus driver’s supervisor is aware of the situation and it’s been addressed.
The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s office says a man from Zwolle is behind bars on murder charges for allegedly stabbing his step-father seven times. They say 27-year-old Dustin Rivers claimed 51-year-old Howard Ferguson hit him first in the head with an aluminum bat during a fight. Rivers is being held on $25,000 bond after his Sunday night arrest for second-degree murder.
Lake Charles Police have arrested three men today accused of a violent home invasion and robbery last week that resulted in the sexual battery of a woman who was home alone. Chief Don Dixon says they believe the trio targeted that specific house.
Bond has been set at 1 million dollars for each of the men.
The former teacher accused of having sex with a Destrehan High School student is asking for some leniency in her house arrest. Thirty-two year-old Shelley Dufrense is seeking some time for a Jazzercise class to help with depression and a mood disorder. Another reason is Dufrense’s oldest child has autism and requires therapy twice a week. . A hearing on the matter will be held next Tuesday.
Louisiana Tech hits the road this weekend looking to improve to 7-0 in Conference USA action. The Bulldogs are at Old Dominion who is 4-and-6 overall, 2-and-4 in the league. A win for the Bulldogs on Saturday and they will clinch the Western Division of Conference USA.
Public school superintendents in Louisiana are having a tough time finding substitute teachers due, they say, to the Affordable Care Act. Scott Richard, Executive Director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, says work restrictions within the ACA, limiting part-time workers to 30 hours a week, is a huge problem. He says this makes finding substitutes difficult, especially when a teacher is on an extended leave.
Falling oil prices are having a negative impact on the state’s oil and gas industry. Many analysts say layoffs are in the industry’s near future. Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs says the low prices for oil is forcing companies to pull back and reassessing their budgets. Briggs says he’s seen companies already reducing manpower and scaling back drilling budgets in the Gulf of Mexico for 2015. Briggs says
says oil prices in the $70 to $80 dollar a barrel range can be problematic for a while.
Gas prices continue their rapid decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.71 which is down 6 cents from just last week.
Retired US Army General Wesley Clark is in Louisiana pushing the federal free cell phone program despite complaints from Senator David Vitter saying it’s a waste of tax payer dollars. Vitter has been a vocal critic of the Lifeline program which gives cell phones to low-income families. Clark says more than 300,000 Louisianians have the phone including 36,000 veterans. He says the federal free cell phone program helps a lot of people get connected who otherwise would be unable to do so.
LSU broke ground Monday on a 110-million dollar renovation and expansion of the engineering school. LSU College of Engineering Dean Rick Koubek (ko-beck) says they expect construction to begin in 2017, and will help them produce more grads to meet workforce demands.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a new report which shows homelessness in Louisiana has fallen over the past four years. The numbers indicate a 12 percent decline in the number of homeless people over the past year and down about 63 percent since 2010.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is trying to find information about a cougar that was found dead in Calcasieu Parish. They say owning exotic cats like that is illegal without a permit in Louisiana. The lifeless cougar was found along LA-Highway 12 near Dequincy.
Louisiana will get $13.2 million to help monitor, and if necessary, change the management of river diversions and barrier island coastal restoration projects. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Monday that more than $13 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund will go toward the effort in Louisiana with the rest of the gulf states sharing $86 million for projects.
It doesn’t look like Louisiana is out of the woods, yet, when it comes to freezing temperatures. State Climatologist Barry Keim says two fronts are now affecting Louisiana. He says the weather should clear up today and more Canadian air will settle over the state. Keim expects highs to only get up to around 50 degrees statewide today and temperatures to once again drop below freezing overnight. He says the polar vortex is angry again and we have to brace for it. Keim says Wednesday will pretty much be a carbon copy of Tuesday with another hard freeze expected.
Mid-year budget cuts are coming in state government as a result of lower than anticipated revenues. The shortfall for this fiscal year ending June 30th is 171 million dollars and Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.com says higher education will likely take the brunt of these cuts. Louisiana’s budget woes only get worse as the state spent $141 million more than it brought in last year, and next year’s shortfall is projected to be $1.4 billion.
Friday, the US House gave approval the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline in a bill that was sponsored by Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy. House Republican whip, Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise, says the Keystone Pipeline is an issue that brings people together. The move is viewed as an effort by Republicans to boost Cassidy’s chances in the Senate runoff election against Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Landrieu has pushed the Senate to vote on this issue next week.
Open enrollment for those seeking health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act is not officially underway. Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says an additional insurer will be selling plans on the federal Marketplace, giving many Louisiana residents up to six different insurance companies to choose from. The website that had a multitude of problems when Obama Care began last year, reportedly is operating smoothly now. Over 100,000 Louisiana residents are currently insured thought the Affordable Care Act.
Shreveport Police are on the hunt for a home intruder who allegedly shot a three-year-old girl inside her home and then fled. Authorities have identified the victim as Paris Hill. Hill is hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. Anyone with information on this shooting is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.
Mid-year budget cuts are coming for state government. That’s because the Revenue Estimating Conference officially recognized on Friday a 171-million dollar shortfall for the current fiscal year. Falling oil prices and lower than expected growth in personal income taxes caused the shortfall.
Entergy is launching new energy efficiency programs to help customers use less power and save money on their electricity bills. Entergy Solutions Program Manager Heather Leblanc says this program provides customers a variety of ways to cut energy use at their homes. She says programs are also available for business owners. For more information and to sign up, go online to entergysolutionsla.com
It’s possible you haven’t thought about next year’s elections in Louisiana, but a research firm has already polled voters on the 2015 ballot. Multi-Quest pollster John Scurich says in the race for Governor, US Senator David Vitter leads with 25.9 percent followed by Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne with 10.9 percent. He says 53% are undecided. Scurich says most voters will likely become more involved in next year’s races after the first of the year when the state Senate and Congressional races are over. Even so he says this early on, Vitter looks to be in good shape.
LSU’s offense failed to score a single point on a frigid night in Fayetteville as they lost to the Razorbacks 17-0 on Saturday. The Tigers only rushed for 36 yards and had 123 total yards as LSU fell to 3-and-4 in the SEC.
A frustrating season for the Saints, became more aggravating on Sunday with a 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s second straight loss at home, New Orleans hasn’t done that since 2012.
When you see Local fire departments out conducting local boot drives this weekend, keep in mind, it’s for a good cause, The Food Bank of Central Louisiana. The participating departments and locations are: The Pineville Fire Department at intersection of Griffith and La. Highway 28 East in Pineville, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. The Ball Fire Department at intersection of U.S. Highway 165 and Shangai Road in Ball, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Rapides Parish Fire Department District 3 at intersection of Hickory Hill and Shreveport Highway in Tioga, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Rapides Parish Fire Department District 2 at Walmart on La. Highway 28 West in Alexandria, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday.
The Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce will host its 2nd Annual Women in Business Conference today from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in downtown Alexandria. Workshops and seminars will be held at The Rapides Foundation, 1101 Fourth St. while a luncheon will be held at The Diamond Grill, 924 Third St. More than 100 women are expected to attend the conference, which will provide a platform for learning, networking and sharing information.
The numbers from to Bloomberg are out, and during the primary election, Democrats outspent Republicans two-to-one; despite the majority of the polls on this race still have Congressman Bill Cassidy winning the runoff. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says you can expect even more spending. Ninety-six percent of television ads during the first week of runoff campaigning supported Republican Bill Cassidy.
Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy is hitting the campaign trail again the runoff race for the Senate, and this Saturday in Monroe, he will have some help from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The campaign rally at 2:30 will also feature former Republican candidate Rob Maness.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, was re-elected as expected Thursday to the No. 3 position, majority whip, in the House’s ruling Republican hierarchy.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu broke ranks with her fellow Democrats to vote against the re-election of Harry Reid, of Nevada, as the party’s leader. Reid, currently majority leader, was re-elected but will serve as minority leader in the incoming Congress in January as a result of Democratic defeats in Senate elections Nov. 4, which cost them control of the Senate.
The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today where it’s expected the state will receive bad news concerning the amount of revenue coming in. Senate President John Alario says he’s bracing to hear there’s been a significant reduction in anticipated revenues. Not only is a mid-year budget cut possible, but it’s likely the state will have less money to spend next fiscal year, which could lead to additional cuts. Alario says the two main factors are low oil prices and income tax revenue is also down, even though employment is at an all-time high in Louisiana
The Monroe Police Department says they are testing body cameras on officers. They are working to see if they benefit the department with the ultimate goal of getting footage that would protect both the interests of officers and citizens.
Grand Isle Fire Chief Aubrey Chaisson is one of 20 people arrested during an undercover operation aimed at the sale of illegal drugs and alcohol on the island. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand says he received confidential information claiming possible misconduct could be taking place. Chaisson was charged with possession of Marijuana. Normand says all of the arrests were the result of an extensive undercover operation.
An LSU police officer remains in stable condition after getting hit by a passing vehicle late Saturday night in which Alabama team doctors rushed to his aid. The story is starting to grab national headlines. The doctors, Lyle Cain, Norman Waldrop and Benton Emblom were part of the team’s motorcade according to LSUPD spokesman Captain Corey Lalonde. LaLonde says the officer is 33-year-old Sgt. Christopher Gresham and he’s an eight year veteran of the department. He says Gresham sustained very serious injuries in the crash.
The search continues for a missing Louisiana woman believed to be in a wooded area of south Arkansas. 32-year-old Amanda McKinnie McPherson of Marion was last seen in in woods near Three Creeks in Union County on November 3rd. Sheriff Mike McGough (ma GOO) says McPherson and a male friend were driving in the area and got stuck. McGough says the male friend left to find help, but got lost. He says by the time the male friend returned to the truck, McPherson had left. McGough says she talked to family and friends on her cellphone before trying to walk out of the woods on her own. But, No one has heard from McPherson since her phone went dead. McGough says they have no reason to suspect foul play at this point, but they are not ruling that out.
Ochsner Health System is hosting the first Alton Ochsner Conference on Tobacco today in New Orleans. This commemorates the 75th anniversary of Dr. Alton Ochsner’s groundbreaking article linking smoking to lung cancer. The event is co-sponsored by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.
ULM will look to an end a five-game losing streak when they host in-state rival U-L Lafayette on Saturday. The Warhawks have lost their last three games by a combined 11 points and Coach Todd Berry says it won’t be any easier on Saturday night when they face the Ragin Cajuns, who are undefeated in Sun Belt play.
LSU will attempt to bounce back from a tough overtime loss to when they visit Arkansas on Saturday night. The Razorbacks are looking to end a 17-game SEC losing streak.
Much of the state is under a freeze watch or warning tonight as that cold Canadian air the cold front brought to Louisiana is really entrenched across the state. Mike Efferson, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says you can expect temperatures really drop tonight. Efferson says the freeze watch could turn into a freeze warning in some areas depending on local conditions. Efferson says lows tonight could dip down as low as 25 degrees…
The Keystone Pipeline project has become the focus of the US Senate race. During the campaign, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu has touted her clout as a reason to elect her, so Wednesday she called on her colleagues in the Senate to vote on the Keystone Pipeline project. Shortly after Landrieu spoke, republican leaders in the House said they would vote on a bill tomorrow by Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy that authorizes the building of the pipeline. It’s unclear if the Democratic controlled Senate will have their own vote.
Republicans have promised Bill Cassidy a seat on the Senate’s energy committee if he defeats Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana’s runoff election next month, potentially undercutting one of her main arguments for re-election. Landrieu has repeatedly touted the importance of her seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in her campaign for a fourth term representing a state with a robust oil and gas industry. While she will no longer serve as the committee’s chair in the GOP-led Senate in the next Congress, Landrieu has campaigned hard on her place as the committee’s senior Democrat and Cassidy’s inability to get a seat on the panel as a freshman senator.
Two Baton Rouge Police officers and a former officer were indicted today on sex-related charges. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says Isaac Bolden, Emerson Jackson and Travis Wheeler were all in uniform and on duty at the time when they convinced a woman to perform a sexual act on one of the three men at a Baton Rouge park.
The coldest temperatures of the fall have arrived and that could result in an increase in home fires. The American Red Cross says heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase in the winter months. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says if you use a space heater, make sure there’s a clear area of space around it. Browning says it’s also important to turn off space heaters before you go to bed and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
A now-banned new component in synthetic marijuana known as Mojo and Spice is believed to be responsible for sending more teenagers to the hospital in Louisiana. Louisiana Poison Control Executive Director Mark Ryan says most teenagers don’t realize that ingredients in synthetic weed are specifically designed to be abused and are far more dangerous than the real thing.
A man had to be rescued from his burning home in Shreveport Wednesday morning. Authorities say a retired state trooper pulled an individual out of his home that was engulfed in flames. The former law enforcement officer was not injured, but the man inside the house suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Three constitutional amendments approved by voters last week leaves higher education more vulnerable to budget cuts. Traditionally, higher ed and health care are hit the hardest during tough budget times. But Jan Moller, head of the Louisiana Budget Project, says the approval of Amendments One and Two protects a larger portion health care dollars from being cut. The passage of Amendment eight, which protects funding for artificial reef development, is another amendment that has the potential of keeping state dollars away from higher education.
A total of 40 plus animals have been rescued in Washington Parish, and an arrest warrant has been issued for an unnamed woman, who is being accused of hoarding and neglecting animals. Officials from the Humane Society of Louisiana says law enforcement executed a search warrant at the property, but the owner was not there.
The Republican National Committee has announced that they are sending more than 200 people to Louisiana to aid Congressman Bill Cassidy in the US Senate runoff election. RNC Louisiana Communications Director Ben Voelkel (vocal) says these people will focus on getting out the vote.
Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk feels many people have just started paying attention to this race, and he sees polling numbers going up for the Senator. Handwerk says there is a lot of support for Mary Landrieu because of what she has delivered for Louisiana.
As you’re headed outside today, it’s time to grab your jacket and coat. State climatologist Barry Keim says the cold front has now completely moved through the entire state with cool Canadian air fully settled over Louisiana. Much cooler temps are expected over the next few days.
As things turn cold, fire officials are urging residents to please make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home. There was a tragedy last night in New Orleans in which three children and two adults died in a blaze inside their two story home. Authorities say there were no working smoke alarms inside the home. The three children who died were age 6, 11 and 12.
According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control, Baton Rouge has moved from #1 to #2 in new rankings of AIDS cases. The Capital City dropped behind Atlanta after having the highest rate in the country according to the CDC. The CDC says New Orleans was ranked fourth in the nation.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is concerned Louisiana is spending way more than it’s bringing in which could lead to another round of mid-year budget cuts. He says the state general fund is running at a historically high negative balance just four months into the fiscal year. The Revenue estimating conference is meeting Friday and Kennedy says changes need to be made otherwise mid-year budget cuts could do further damage to higher education. He says DHH just announced that we are already $171 million dollars over budget in our Medicaid program.
A Terrebonne Parish fiery crash involving two trucks lead to 3 deaths on Highway 24 yesterday. Trooper Evan Harrell says one driver driving at a high rate of speed, lost control of his vehicle in an S curve and slammed into another truck. Harrell says, due to the nature of the impact, the two vehicles almost instantaneously caught fire…
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has sent out a written statement apologizing for fans using a “profane” chant that was directed towards Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. Coach Les Miles was unaware it happened at the time and didn’t like hearing that LSU fans would do that. Alleva called it crude behavior by a small minority.
According to a report from the Entertainment Software Association, Louisiana gaming is big business with big salaries. The report shows the state’s computer and video game industry paid workers $14 million dollars in 2012, with an average salary of $88 thousand dollars annually per person.
Despite having millions for their Senate runoff campaigns, both Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy are doing their own versions of dialing for dollars. Landrieu has already been active on the phone, and in a release out today, Bill Cassidy asks “Will you stand with me?,” and then asks for anywhere from between $25 and $250. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says total spending for the runoff could top $80 million dollars.
21 year old Christopher Goodley, of Ville Platte, has been booked on a count of first-degree murder in the death of his 80-year-old grandmother, Delsy Williams, whose body was found last week in a field off La. 1161. State Police began investigating Williams’ disappearance as a homicide Nov. 2, the day after family members reported her missing.
State Climatologist Barry Keim says a strong cold front begins passing through the state today. The next couple of days will basically be a transition period before a big blast of cold air from Canada hits the Bayou State. He doesn’t expect this to bring record lows, but temperatures should fall below freezing in northern and central Louisiana. Afternoon highs will be in the 40s and 50s statewide. Keim says what makes this cold weather event unique is that it will last for a while, with cool temps right into next week.
Today is Veteran’s Day, a day to honor the millions who have served our country and fought, and are still fighting, for our freedom. Louisiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David LaCerte says it’s important to not only remember veterans today, but 365 days a year. LaCerte says there are a lot of people to thank in Louisiana where we have about 320,000 vets. LaCerte says there are many Veteran’s Day events planned across the state today and you can find a schedule on their website at www.vetaffairs.la.gov. A Veterans Memorial Tribute Service is set for 2 p.m. today at Veterans Memorial Plaza at Alexandria City Hall. The public is invited.
Better than half of the Rapides Parish school board members were no shows Monday night at a special meeting held to discuss the new Common Core-aligned math curriculum. Four of nine board members attended the meeting that was called to hear from parents and community members about Eureka Math. The curriculum was implemented in Rapides Parish schools this year. The organizer of the event, Pineville parent Stephanie Riley requested the special meeting after receiving nearly 1,000 signatures on an online petition she began in October to remove the curriculum from local schools. Riley says she will be requesting another meeting in January.
Good news is, no one was injured in an early Monday fire at the St. Charles Place apartment complex on Versailles Boulevard. Three apartments in a unit were heavily damaged, according to the Alexandria Fire Department. Firefighters from Rapides Parish Fire District #2 also responded to that blaze.
A fatal shooting of a hunter in Rapides Parish will not result in any charges. Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Tommy Carnline says 37-year-old Michael Haynes of Alexandria was the victim of a single gunshot wound and was pronounced dead on the scene. Carnline says investigators determined that Haynes was shot by a hunting partner who mistook him for a deer.
The Louisiana Poison Control Center is sending out a warning to parents about the dangers of laundry detergent pods which have harmed hundreds of children nationally who mistake them for toys or candy. Director Mark Ryan says kids who ingest the concentrated detergent in these pods can quickly have central nervous system depression and become lethargic. He says as with any cleaning product, the first rule is to keep them up and away from a child’s reach.
Sad news to report out of the Lafayette-area. Former Ragin Cajuns star and Minnesota Vikings standout Orlando Thomas has passed away. Thomas has been battling A-L-S, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the last ten years of his life. Thomas won a state championship at Crowley High, was an All-American at U-S-L and played seven seasons with the Vikings. Thomas was 42.
The former health secretary for Governor Bobby Jindal has entered a plea of not guilty on nine counts of perjury regarding his involvement in a 200 million dollar Medicaid deal. Bruce Greenstein is accused of lying to a Senate confirmation hearing and a grand jury reviewing the state’s contract.
Victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita can apply to receive a settlement check, amounting anywhere from one dollar to more than $400. You may be included in the proposed Settlement Class if you lived, owned property, operated a business or were present within the Parishes of Jefferson, Orleans or St. Bernard, Louisiana at the time of Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. Residents and businesses in those areas are receiving letters in the mail saying they can apply for the benefits.
A Shreveport woman is in jail after she allegedly threw her 17 month-old baby across the room while intoxicated as a form of punishment. Shreveport Police Cpl. Breck Scott who says 25 year-old Gabrielle Kirkendoll was arrested for cruelty to a juvenile.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards doesn’t seem to be bothered much by the fact that the National Democratic Party isn’t endorsing him in his 6th Congressional District race against Republican Garret Graves. He says he was never one to fall in line with some of the policies and values of the National Democratic Party which is struggling in the south.
He says this election is about issues facing the 6th Congressional District, not about party affiliation.
In the fifth Congressional District race, republican Zach Dasher has endorsed fellow republican Ralph Abraham, who is in a runoff with democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Dasher just missed being in the runoff against Abraham. And former US Senate candidate Rob Maness threw his support behind fellow republican Bill Cassidy today. Maness finished third in the primary last week.
Louisiana’s 2014 tax amnesty period comes to an end at the end of the week. Department of Revenue Deputy Secretary Jarrod Coniglio says until 11:59 PM Friday. Those who are behind on their taxes with the state, can settle their debt without a penalty and pay only 50-percent of the interest. Coniglio says the state hopes to collect 104-million dollars in back taxes.
A dedication ceremony scheduled today celebrates the long awaited completion of the final section of Interstate 49 in northwest Louisiana. The final stretch of roadway connects Texarkana, Arkansas to Shreveport. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says this will open the area to Canada and the Mid-West. There are a couple of small sections of the Interstate that need to be tied in to I-220 in Shreveport. He says once that’s done, they’ll be at full gallop for economic development.
If you’re planning to hit the road for the Thanksgiving Holiday, you can reduce your travel gas budget as the price at the pump continues to drop. Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com says they predict the price per gallon to drop another 5-10 cents before Turkey Day. GasBuddy.com reports the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline statewide is below 2.80.
A former staffer for Democrats John Breaux and Kathleen Blanco says Mary Landrieu needs to change her message in order to have a chance at victory on December sixth. Bob Mann, who is currently an LSU Mass Communications Professor, says the senator must continue to differentiate herself from Bill Cassidy and explain why he would be harmful to what people who have voted Democrat in the past care about. He says Landrieu also needs to appeal to women. Landrieu only received 18-percent of the white vote Election night. Mann says, if Landrieu expects to defeat Cassidy in December, she’s going to have to do much better in both areas.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration made some adjustments Friday to help stabilize the state’s insurance program. The new plan will raise premiums, but it will lower out-of-pocket expenses. Before the move, the lawmakers received numerous complaints from constituents about it.
Tulane researchers determine eating shrimp from an area of the Gulf of Mexico impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill poses no acute health risks or increased cancer risks. Research professor Mark Wilson says when the spill occurred, there were concerns that shrimp would be contaminated by a class of chemicals that can pose health hazards. Wilson says they also surveyed over one-hundred Vietnamese residents in New Orleans East that tend to eat more shrimp than most people and that helped them reach the conclusion that Gulf shrimp are safe to eat.
Wilson hopes the study’s results will get to wholesalers and distributors, who still may have concerns Gulf Shrimp are contaminated
The LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health has been awarded a $2.2 million grant to increase the availability of health information and support services for young breast cancer survivors in the Gulf South. Project Coordinator Helen McMillan says they were one of seven sites awarded grants from the CDC. McMillan says the issues facing young women who diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 45 are much different from older women who are diagnosed. She says this program will provide support services and resources for these women.
LSU’s overtime loss to Alabama on Saturday night is expected to sting for a long time. The Tigers were poised to beat the Crimson Tide, but victory slipped away as Alabama won in overtime 20-13.
49er kicker Phil Dawson put a 35-yard field goal through the uprights in overtime as San Francisco edged the Saints 27-24 yesterday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Once again, Louisiana is expected to have a nice weather weekend with temperatures running a few degrees below normal for this time of year. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a cold front moved through the state yesterday bringing some much needed rain. Keim says high temps will be in the 60s across the state today with weekend lows dropping into the upper 30’s to low 40’s. He says a warming trend will hit the state early next week bringing a chance of rain by mid-week.
It’s a nice Christmas Present for employees of the Rapides Parish School District. The school board approved on Wednesday a $1,200 annual employees’ Christmas “supplement” . The one-time special salary increase to be issued to employees as a 13th check on Dec. 18.
The LSU Alabama game has been one of the hottest tickets in college football in recent years and this Saturday’s matchup is no exception. The Tigers and the Tide kick off at 7pm. Connor Gregoire with SeatGeek, an online ticket search engine, says tomorrow’s game in Tiger Stadium is one of the most expensive tickets in college football. Gregoire says the highest seats in the upper sections of death valley are still going for about $150. Other, more desirable seats are running in the thousands.
Governor Bobby Jindal doesn’t want the Republican Party to waste the opportunity that’s in front of them now that the G-O-P has majority control of both the US House and Senate. He says based on Tuesday’s election results, Americans want changes in Washington D-C and they hope republicans can provide bold ideas. Jindal is considering a run for President in 2016.
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu hopes Governor Bobby Jindal’s endorsement of Bill Cassidy will hurt the Republican in December’s US Senate runoff election. Landrieu says she looks at Jindal’s endorsement as a black eye for the Cassidy campaign, based on how the governor has led the state. Landrieu says Cassidy and Jindal are two peas in a pod.
Meanwhile, yesterday, the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee cancelled almost $2 million dollars in TV ad placement to help Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign against Congressman Bill Cassidy. The committee says they still support Landrieu, but they will now evaluate their ad spending on a weekly basis
Congressman Bill Cassidy has responded to Landrieu’s 6 debate challenge. He’s accepted an invite to debate the incumbent on December 1st, and says he’ll debate her as many other times as she brings Barack Obama to Louisiana.
With Republicans gaining control of the US Senate, a new opportunity presents itself to Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Vitter is slated to be the chairman of the Small Business Committee when the new Senate convenes next year. He says the country would still be in a technical recession if not for the new energy jobs related to American natural gas and oil. Vitter says this does not change his mind about running for governor next year.
The Opelousas Police Department has arrested a man accused of buying votes for certain candidates in the November 4th election. Sergeant Jody White says it is unclear if 64-year-old Wilfred Young acted alone or some candidates were involved in the scheme. He says two people have come forward, so far, and they’re still trying to determine exactly how many people were approached and how much money they were offered. Young is charged with bribery of voters, which is a felony.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc will construct a new production facility in St. Charles Parish and upgrade their plant in Ascension Parish. He says the plant expansions represent a capital investment pf $66 million and will retain 55 jobs in Geismar while creating 13 new direct jobs. LED estimates the project will result in an estimated 74 new indirect jobs.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday that Shreveport’s Moonbot Studios is once again a semifinalist in the animated short film about books category for “The Numberlys” — a story about the alphabet. Moonbot won the Oscar for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” three years ago in the same category.
The Saints continue preparation for Sunday’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams come into the game with 4-4 records on the season. The 49ers are coming off a 13-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Quarterback Drew Brees says there’s never a good time to play them, especially right after a disappointing loss. The Black and Gold come into Sunday’s game winning two in a row and leading the NFC South.
Voter turnout for the November fourth election was 50-percent. Secretary of State Tom Schedler wishes it was higher, but he’s glad there were very few problems at the polls.
He hopes the turnout is higher for the December sixth runoff and the election goes as smoothly. Early voting begins Saturday, November 22nd.
Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham and Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo will face off for Representative Vance McAllister’s congressional seat in the 5th District for the December 6th runoff. McAllister said yesterday, whoever is elected to take his place, he will support the new congressman as much as he can. McAllister went on to say, he was at peace with the election results. Saying he left the decision up to the voters.
McAllister finished fourth in the primary.
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell won for this third term on election night this week. The 67-year-old represents District 5 on the five-seat commission which regulates utility companies — which spans all of northern Louisiana and covers 24 parishes. Campbell is one of the last elected Democrats in the state but won across both parties.
Governor Bobby Jindal, who was not vocal about Louisiana races prior to the November 4th election, announces his support for Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy as he tries to defeat Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in the December sixth runoff. Jindal says Landrieu doesn’t represent the state’s best interests. Jindal has also announced his support for the republican candidates in the two Congressional district run-offs. And if they want him to appear with them on the campaign trail, the governor says he’ll be there.
Bayou Country Superfest announces the lineup for the 2015 shows. They say Kenny Chesney will headline Saturday night May 23rd and Maranda Lambert and husband Blake Shelton will be back to back to close out the shows on Sunday night May 24th. It was previously announced that Taylor Swift’s show in Tiger Stadium that Friday May 22nd was part of Bayou Country Superfest, but today promoters of the show are calling it a stand alone.
It was an amazing evening for Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy. The mayor, who faces a long list of challengers earned another four years in office Tuesday, but he just barely escaped a runoff. Roy received 51.25 percent of the vote to win outright a third term in office. Jeff Hall finished a second with 33.61 percent.
The District 4 seat on the Alexandria City Council will stay with Harry Silver, but an atlarge council seat is heading to a runoff. Incumbent At-Large Councilman Jim Villard will face Malcolm Larvadain in a Dec. 6 runoff after neither candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election. Both are Democrats.
The Rapides Parish district attorney race will be decided in a runoff between Phillip Terrell, a Democrat from Pineville, and state Rep. Chris Hazel, a Republican from Ball.
Hazel and Terrell each received 35 percent of the votes, and Chris Roy Jr. came in third with 31 percent. Rapides Parish had 84,259 voters eligible Tuesday, and about half of them turned out for the DA’s race.
The controversy over the Division G judgeship in the 9th Judicial District Court ended on election day. Greg Beard took 53.5 percent of the vote Tuesday to win the race outright, and avoid what could have been a messy situation in a race where the incumbent was legally too old to take office. The incumbent in the race, Harry Randow, needed to not only win or get into a runoff Tuesday, but also relied on passage of a constitutional amendment to be able to retain his seat. Amendment No. 5 would have eliminated the mandatory retirement age of 70 for state judges. Randow is 70. The amendment was soundly beaten, with nearly 60 percent of people voting against it.
In Division A of the 9th JDC, Monique Rauls was the top vote getter with 33.5 percent. She will face Monique Metoyer (28 percent) in a runoff. Tiffany Sanders missed the runoff by 305 votes, finishing with 25 percent.
The Pineville City Court Judge race will be a runoff between Gary Hays and Todd Farrar. Hays was first with 36 percent of the vote, while Farrar, with 24 percent. Lauren Saucier came in 3rd with 23 percent.
City marshal races in Alexandria and Pineville will also come down to runoffs.
In Alexandria, incumbent Terence Grines took 40 percent of the vote. He will face Charlie Dewitt, second at 29 percent.
In Pineville, Sarah Smith (40 percent) will face Jay Slater (24 percent). Smith has been serving as interim marshal since longtime marshal Larry Jeane died in July from injuries sustained in a car crash.
Willard McCall is one of the new faces of the Rapides Parish School Board after claiming more than 65 percent of the vote for the District D seat Tuesday. McCall, who’s a democrat, defeated Jennifer Atwood, a republican to replace Janet Dixon, who qualified as a candidate but later withdrew from the race due to plans to move outside of her district. New members also filled two seats that were being vacated this election. Gerald Crooks replaced Julie McConathy in District C and Sandra Franklin replaced Pam Webb in District I. Both were unopposed.
As expected Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy are heading into a run-off and both candidates like their chances on December sixth. Landrieu, who was critical of Cassidy for not participating in more debates prior to yesterday’s election, issued a challenge of six debates before the next election.
Cassidy says the issues between himself and Landrieu are clear and Louisiana voters are seeking a change. Analysts say it’ll now be up to which candidate can get more people to the polls in the runoff which traditionally has low voter turnout.
Vance McAllister, finishes 4th in lastnight’s 5th District Congressional primary and will not serve a full term in Washington D.C. Though coming on strong in the final days of the primary, Zach Dasher couldn’t make it happen and the two candidates that made it to the December 6th runoff are, family physician Ralph Abraham and Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo.
And in the 6th Congressional District Race, it’ll be Former Governor Edwin Edwards taking on Garrett Graves on December 6th. Edwards picked up 30% of the vote with Graves getting 27%. Next in that race was Dietzel with 14%.
U.S. Rep. John Fleming will continue to represent Northwest Louisiana in Washington. The Minden Republican won a fourth term gaining 65 percent of votes cast in Tuesday’s election.
The man accused of killing two teenage girls in Breaux Bridge last week remains hospitalized and has communicated very little with authorities about the crash. Jeremy Abraham, an army veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait, may have reportedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. LSP Master Trooper Brooks David they are still waiting on toxicology results to see if Abraham was impaired at the time of the crash.
Hercules Offshore has announced plans to lay off 324 offshore Gulf of Mexico workers by the end of the year. The Houston-based company says the layoffs are a result of a decline in business. The cutback will affect employees who work out of Port Fourchon, Grand Isle, Cameron, Abbeville, Lafitte, Larose and Venice.
A Lake Charles woman has been charged with negligent homicide in connection to the death of an infant in April. Twenty-six year-old Brittany K. Woodcock was arrested Monday after further investigation from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office showed she was under the influence of drugs when the baby became wedged between a mattress and the wall.
The Department of Health and Hospitals now reports that two more people from Marrero are being watched for symptoms of Ebola after they returned from an infected area in West Africa. That brings the total number of people being monitored in the state to four. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there are no cases of Ebola in Louisiana and he feels comfortable that medical personnel are prepared if a case should develop in the state. All four being monitored are considered “low risk” for contracting Ebola.
The Pineville Police Department has received a grant through the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to enhance its traffic safety enforcement activities for the rest of this year and throughout 2015.The grant will be used to help promote changes in dangerous behaviors on the roadway, by encouraging seatbelt usage, enforcing distracted driver regulations and encouraging sober driving.
We are now eight days away from the November 4th primary election. Polls still show a considerable amount of undecided voters. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says, at this point, candidates kind of throw most undecideds out the window. Pinsonat says if voters are undecided this late in the campaign, they are not likely to vote. He says in the final week of the campaign, candidates, especially in the US Senate race, will begin talking more about themselves and why you should vote for them. He says you’ll still see national ads attacking Bill Cassidy and Senator Mary Landrieu in the US Senate race.
With just over a week to go before election day, there is still a lot of uncertainty looming in the two big Congressional races. In the 5th District ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says things are starting to become a tad more clear that the front-runners could be Congressman Vance McAllister and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Stockley says Mayo will get the Democratic Vote in the District and McAllister has a substantial advantage on the republican side due to name recognition. But he says with such a large district, there is always the possibility of a surprise. With Zach Dasher, Harris Brown or Dr. Ralph Abraham — it’s all about who can get out the vote
The man who died at Tiger Stadium towards the end of LSU’s dramatic 10-7 win over Ole Miss has been identified. East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Doctor Beau Clark says it appears 59-year-old Brian Tinley of Plaquemines Parish died of natural causes.
Clark says every effort was made to revive Tingley who died from complications related to cardiovascular disease.
The state police are investigating an officer involved shooting in Iberville Parish Friday night that left a 36-year-old man dead. The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office says the incident happened in a rural area near Bayou Pigeon as deputies were attempting to locate Shaun Ramo, who had been accused of raping a woman in the area. Deputies reported when they located Ramo, he aimed his rifle at the deputies, who then fired on the subject. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Louisiana soybean farmers are reporting that this year’s harvest is one of their best yet. LSU AgCenter Soybean Specialist, Ron Levy, says the state’s average yield will be between 53 and 54 bushels per acre. He says this the state’s best crop ever. He says several growers in north Louisiana are reporting 80 bushels an acre, while some in northeast Louisiana have broken the 100 bushel mark.
The Saints dominance in primetime games at the Superdome continued on Sunday as the Black-and-Gold sent the Packers back to Wisconsin with 44-23 loss. It was their 14th straight win at home in primetime. The Saints offense finally found the consistency it was looking for, as QB Drew Brees threw for 311 yards and 3 TDs.
The LSU Tigers won an old fashion type of game on Saturday night against Ole Miss. They used a powerful running game and outstanding defense to beat the Rebels 10-7.
It was an emotional game for Head Coach Les Miles. His 91-year-old mother, Martha Miles, passed away on Friday night. After the win, the players gave Miles the game ball.
Louisiana Tech is one of 12 teams in the FBS that is undefeated in conference play. The Bulldogs improved to 4-and-0 in league action by beating Conference USA rival Southern Miss 31-20.
Rapides Parish and the city of Alexandria appear headed to court over the Rapides Coliseum property. The Police Jury filed suit Thursday to force the city to allow its half of their jointly owned portion of the property to be used for parking, or to partition the property. The two sides have said for months they intended to pursue a sale agreement, but little progress has been made. The jointly owned portion of the property became an issue when the parish moved forward with plans for a $23 million renovation to the coliseum. For the project to receive permitting, designers have to show the design contains enough parking spaces to meet city code requirements. To do that, the parish must secure ownership to the city’s portion of the property or an agreement with the city to use it, or else find additional parking elsewhere.
The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles is testing a program that could help seniors renew their licenses and register vehicles without the long wait times they may currently face. “Senior Day” will be tested at select locations throughout the state, one Saturday a month beginning next month, as a time for only Louisianans older than age 60 to head to local OMV offices. Here in Cenla, the DMV office on Coliseum Blvd will participate.
The RPSO reports a Jena woman faces a charge of filing a false police report that accused a man of rape. The office got a report Saturday night from a local hospital’s emergency room, which said there was a possible rape victim seeking treatment. A deputy spoke with the woman, Mary Taylor of Jena, who claimed that a man had raped her in a wooded area off Twin Bridges Road. After a second interview though, Taylor recanted her story, after which she was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
20 year old Colan Tyler of Colfax has been arrested after he allegedly attempted to sell an undercover Grant Parish Sheriff's deputy fake meth. Tyler was charged with distribution of a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance II and obstruction of justice.
Out of the 2.9 million voters who are registered for the November 4th election, there are about 1.8 million white voters, which could be a problem for incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu according to political analyst Bernie Pinsonat. He says there are about 919 thousand registered black voters, plus about 93 thousand more independent voters than there were 6 years ago.
We’re now about halfway through the early voting period for the November 4th election and Secretary Of State Tom Schedler says there’s been good participation among voters. He says so far the number of early votes is at 75% of what the state saw two years ago for the Presidential election. Scheduler says overall participation looks good.
The voting locations will be closed on Sunday and the last day to early vote will be Tuesday.
State health officials are monitoring a New Orleans area man for signs of the deadly Ebola virus. The federal Centers for Disease Control alerted the state to the individual who had just returned from a visit to an Ebola affected country. According to the feds, the individual is at low risk for Ebola, but they are monitoring him just to be on the safe side. The man, who is voluntarily staying at home will be monitored until Nov. 5. So far, he has no symptoms.
We are now one year away from the gubernatorial primary election in Louisiana. Republicans Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, as well as Democrat State Representative John Bel Edwards have announced their intent to run for Governor. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says, the biggest question mark at this point in the Governor’s race is whether or not Democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will join the field. Cross says Landrieu will probably wait until after the holiday season to make up his mind. Cross says you should really see the gubernatorial race kick off after Mardi Gras…
Kenny Henderson is out as executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Henderson led the L-H-S-A-A, which governs high school athletics, since 2007. His contract was set to expire next summer, but past-president of the LHSAA, Todd Guice, says both sides felt now was the time for a change. Guice would not say why Henderson will not fill out the remainder of his contract. The search for Henderson’s replacement has already started.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a 67-year-old man from Boyce is booked on 3rd offense DWI after cops believe he was driving drunk on his lawnmower. They say Ralph Rufus Carroll was traveling in the middle of the highway and tried to dodge an officer by driving his lawnmower into the woods. Carroll was apprehended at his home and arrested for driving under the influence for the third time.
The 108th Annual State Fair of Louisiana opens today in Shreveport and organizers are thrilled with this great weather. Besides lots of live entertainment, there’s rides, games, and some fun things for the kids. The fair will run through November 9th, except Mondays and Tuesdays.
The Louisiana Department of Education says 92% of public school teachers evaluated this year received an effective grade. Superintendent John White says this report also showed that schools who expect more of their teachers, will see their students do better. Two percent of teachers were classified as ineffective down from 4 percent last year.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces JP Morgan Chase has donated $1 million into the fund that helps technical colleges fund programs focused on training skilled workers. Monty Sullivan is the Louisiana Community and Technical College System President. He says this money will be used in a very targeted way to address the most high demand programs in Louisiana. The $1 million dollar gift will be matched with $4 million in state funds.
The Secretary of State’s Office is reporting that nearly 36 thousand people registered to vote in the November 4th election since August 1st. That puts the total voter roll at 2.9 million and Secretary of State Tom Schedler says voter turnout could be as high as 50 percent. Early voting is underway through Next Tuesday excluding Sunday.
The state Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a $350,000 contract for incoming Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo. The contract, as the board unanimously voted, runs through Dec. 31, 2017 and is subject to Louisiana Senate confirmation. He’s slated to start the job Jan. 2. Rallo, who is finishing up a seven-year tenure with the Texas Tech System, was selected for the post earlier this month.
Cold and flu season is upon us and people are looking for ways to avoid coming down with a seasonal bug. The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over six-months of age to get a flu vaccine. Dr. Fred Lopez, with the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, says once you receive a flu vaccine, you’ll still want to take steps to avoid any infections this season. He says washing your hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizers are good ways to keep the flu at bay. Flu season runs through April.
A recent survey by the National Retail Federation shows a record number of Americans will buy Halloween costumes this year. The survey says more than two-thirds of Americans will buy costumes this year and the average person will spend $77.52 for the holiday All in all, Americans will spend a total of $7.4 billion this Halloween.
A partial solar eclipse will take place today as the new moon will obscure part of the sun. Louisiana Tech Astronomer Lee Sawyer says we should be able to see the maximum point of eclipse in The Bayou State before the sun goes down today.
If you’re planning to fly for the Holidays this year prepare to go a little deeper into your wallet. According to Expedia.com, Thanksgiving flights are up 17 percent from last year and Christmas flights have gone up 2 percent. Travel expert Dale Irvin says airlines are finding it’s more profitable to fly less with more people. Irvin says over 20 million people are expected to fly from now through December.
There are many parts of the state that haven’t seen rain over the last several days and State Climatologist Barry Keim says it will likely remain dry in Louisiana at least until November rolls around. Keim says on the upside, the sugarcane harvest is going on right now and the farmers are probably loving the dry conditions. He says on the other hand our lawns and gardens aren’t going to be happy campers. But Keim says most parts of the state are actually ahead of schedule in terms of year-to-date rainfall.
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy announced yesterday that plans are still in motion to sell the downtown Alexander Fulton Hotel to the Southern Hospitality Group, LLC, which operates other hotels. The Fulton would undergo major improvements and be operated as a Holiday Inn. The mayor says the deal should be completed in about 6 months and word of the renovations is already paying dividends. Word is the Louisiana Municipal Association’s 2016 convention will be held in Alexandria.
An investigation is underway after an inmate from Deville died Tuesday, one day after suffering what appeared to be a seizure at the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
24 year old Robert Keith Rachal Jr., was transported to and died at a local hospital Tuesday. Foul play is not suspected, according to the release, and an autopsy and toxicology tests will be performed later this week.
Regional Trauma Center and Louisiana State Police Troop E are conducting a free child passenger safety seat check-up event today from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event will take place at Rapides Regional Trauma Center Medical Terrace on Fourth Street, downtown Alexandria. No appointment is necessary.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says we’re getting closer and closer to the 2 million mark when it comes to the number of people who have jobs here. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says non-farm employment grew by 33,100 jobs over the year ending September 30th — a new record with employment now exceeding 1.98 million. Construction added the most jobs with 11,000 over the year.
However, not all the news was good. The information sector lost 1,500 jobs, as did the mining and logging sector, which includes jobs in the oil and gas industry. Government agencies lost 5,800 jobs in Louisiana. State government shrank by 4,100 jobs, and local government dropped 1,500 jobs. Despite steady job growth, Louisiana’s unemployment rate increased for the fifth consecutive month and was 6.0 percent in September — 0.1 percent higher than the nation’s unemployment rate of 5.9 percent
Louisianians are seeing big savings at the gas pump as we approach the holiday travel season. The average price for a gallon of regular gas has fallen to under three dollars a gallon in the Bayou State. Gasbuddy-dot-com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHann says these are the lowest gas prices we’ve seen in over three years.
Louisiana’s average price for regular gas is $2.95 a gallon. DeHaan says some stations in the state are charging less than $2.60 per gallon. He says we could see prices below $2.50 at some stations in the next week.
The number of Louisiana Public Schools earning a state performance grade of an A has gone up from 187 to 241 this year, according to the Department of Education. Education officials released the reports earlier today. Superintendent John White says numbers are up because schools are responding to what they have been asked to achieve.
School performance scores are primarily based on student test scores. Rapides Parish public schools' state performance scores moved the district from a C rating to a B, ranking the district fifth in the state for growth. This year’s school report card also shows 10 Louisiana school districts earning an A and no school districts in the state receiving an F grade.
Advance Publications on Tuesday announced plans to lay off 100 more Times-Picayune workers and abandon its long-time headquarters as it consolidates its printing operations in Alabama. The move is expected to occur in late 2015 or early 2016. The layoffs are the largest since the newspaper’s massive reduction in 2012, which preceded the company’s decision to reduce home delivery to 3 days a week.
There’s a new poll out by Real Clear Politics which found Landrieu ahead with 38 percent, Bill Cassidy with 36 percent and Rob Maness with 9%. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says that while it may be true that Maness is taking votes away from Cassidy, the Congressman will need support from those ultra-conservative voters by addressing the policies that are most important to them. Hogan says when it comes to the undecided voters so late in the campaign, they are the ones who are likely conservative but are influenced by Landrieu’s longtime incumbency.
A ULM freshman basketball player has been suspended indefinitely from the team, after an alleged rape of a female student Sunday night. University spokesperson Donna Bernard says police interviewed the alleged victim the next day. That player charged is 18 year-old Roderick Taylor.
Governor Bobby Jindal has 14 months left in office and he says he still has plenty of work to do in Louisiana, even though a presidential campaign could be on the horizon. During recent debates, candidates have been asked what grade they would give the governor, Jindal says it’s too early to give himself a grade. Jindal defends his record, based on the record number of people who are working in the state today. Jindal has made it no secret that he is considering a potential Presidential run in 2016. The governor says he’s not interested in running for his old job as a US Representative
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s office says an arrest has been made in the October 11th hit and run that left a 6 month old child injured after a truck rammed into a house. They say 28-year-old Dustin Wayne Lasseter was the owner of a vehicle spotted Monday with damage that matched evidence collected at the scene. The man was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for hit and run and reckless operation.
An investment group has agreed to buy Pineville based Cleco for a reported $3.4 billion. Cleco Power has approximately 284,000 customers in Louisiana. Cleco Power President Darren O’Lages (O-lay-jes) says customers should not expect any change in utility rates or service as part of the sale. He says there are no lay-offs or restructuring of employee salaries planned. The sale is expected to close in the second half of 2015.
He says this investment group is experienced and understands what it means to own utility companies and what it takes to make them successful.
The early voting period for the November 4th election kicks off today. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will take place through October 28th from 8:30AM to 6PM, excluding Sunday. Schedler reminds voters that there are 14 Constitutional Amendments on this year’s ballot, and statewide, this is the biggest election in the state in decades. He says for sample ballots and early voting locations, you can go online at geauxvote-dot-com.
Louisiana State Police and several other agencies will host a “Heroin Summit” today to educate the public about heroin use and address the recent rise in heroin deaths. Trooper Jared Sandifer says Col Mike Edmonson is going to be the keynote speaker.
Sandifer says the CDC named the Greater Baton Rouge area as the 19th worse in the nation per capita for heroin over dose deaths in 2013.
Former President Bill Clinton tells a crowd of Mary Landrieu supporters he doesn’t see how the senior senator is not a clear favorite in Louisiana’s US Senate race over her republican challengers. Clinton says Landrieu has a history of getting things done.
Clinton was in Baton Rouge Monday and spoke at a Landrieu rally. During a nearly 30-minute speech, Clinton spoke about Landrieu’s efforts to help college students afford their education, her support for a higher minimum wage and chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says they plan to stop billing rape victims for exams and tests. Advocacy groups and lawmakers were critical of the fact that women who had been raped were getting big hospital bills after checking in to be treated for the assault. DHH says they now plan to seek reimbursement for such visits from the Crime Victim’s Reparation Board.
This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is urging parents to set rules for their kids before they get the keys. Lt. Col John LeBlanc says parents should tell their teens the “5 to drive Rules” – No cell phones, no extra passengers, no speeding, not alcohol and EVERYONE must be buckled up. LeBlanc says according to a recent survey, only one in four parents had talked seriously with their teens about what it means to be a safe driver.
According to location marketing firm Development Counselors International, the business climate in Louisiana is the 10th best in the nation. Additionally DCI said the Louisiana Economic Development agency is the nation’s second best.
Cleanup crews are continuing to work a major crude oil spill in Caddo Parish that has killed dozens of fish and some reptiles. The oil leaked into Tete Bayou due to the rupture of a Mid-Valley pipeline. Workers were able to stop the spill from reaching into Caddo Lake. It’s estimated that approximately 4,000 barrels of crude oil flowed into the Bayou.
Two St. John Parish employees have been incited on two counts each of malfeasance in office and filing or maintaining false public records after a state police amoeba investigation & low chlorine levels. The accused are Kevin Branch and Danielle Roussel. The DHH asked the state police to investigate after the state found no mandated chlorine residuals in the water system on August 12th but did find indications of the deadly amoeba.
Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order stating that state agencies and departments develop new policies and reporting mechanisms for certain individuals who travel to Ebola stricken countries as a result of educational or work related missions. Included in the order are public employees, students faculty and staff of higher education institutions who go to countries the CDC says have the threat of contracting the Ebola virus.