News for Wednesday 073113
By Dave Graichen
Entergy announces it will lay off about 800 employees in the Gulf South. A spokesman with the company says about 240 Entergy employees in Louisiana will be let go; a 5% reduction in its workforce in our state. He says the layoffs are to reduce overall costs. People have already started to be let go and Entergy says the layoffs should be completed by the end of the year.
The Covington Police Department says its investigating a shooting at a law firm where upwards of 80 rounds were fired by a man. They say the only person there was a secretary who was able to escape, but there is a dead individual inside the building. The report indicates the shooter was a former client who went inside and opened fire, then shot himself.
The Livingston Parish Coroner's office has reportedly confirmed that a 14-year-old child has drowned at the Cajun Lagoon water park in Livingston Parish. Authorities are not releasing much information at this time other than to say it happened around 2pm.
A nationwide FBI sting has recovered 105 juveniles from underage prostitution. Four were from New Orleans and two were from Baton Rouge. Working with local officials they arrested over 40 "johns" and adult prostitutes in both cities as well as in Lake Charles, Shreveport and here in Alexandria.
State Police are urging citizens to download their new "See Something, Send Something" smart phone app, which makes reporting possible criminal behavior quick and easy. LSP Superintendent Mike Edmonson says one can remain anonymous when using the app, if you wish. He says the app is a help for law enforcement, because they cannot be everywhere at once. He says a similar app was instrumental in quickly identifying the Boston Marathon bombers. Versions for Android and iPhone are free downloads at the Apple store or Google Play.
Officials in Caddo Parish say there were no serious injuries in a train crash that happened in Vivian Tuesday morning. They say two Kansas City Southern trains collided along the tracks that run next to LA Highway 1 just before 8am.
Louisiana could soon have its first commercial wind farm. Metairie-based Southern States Renewable Energy is planning to build eight, 498-foot-tall wind turbines near the Port of West St. Mary. Frank Fink, economic development director for St. Mary Parish, says Southern States Renewable Energy is working on a power purchase agreement with Cleco. He says the wind farm will also be located near the substation. Fink says they hope to begin construction on the project before the end of the year.
The Jindal administration is moving forward with finding a replacement for CNSI, the Medicaid claims processing contractor fired by the state. The state health agency is asking for professional help in figuring out the kind of information technology system needed in Louisiana. The multiyear contract is the most lucrative in state government. The Medicaid claims processing system is responsible for paying doctors, hospitals, clinics and others who provide medical care for the poor who rely on the government insurance program. About one of every four Louisiana residents are part of Medicaid.
After a wetter than normal spring in Louisiana, a good portion of the state is now experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. State Climatologist Barry Keim says there's been a lack of rainfall in north Louisiana and down into southwest Louisiana. However, it's not been a dry summer for the entire state, southeast Louisiana is running above normal for precipitation.
The area of low oxygen known as the dead zone off of Louisiana's coast is now measured at 58-hundred square miles. The dead zone is the result of certain nutrients, like fertilizer, flowing into the
Gulf from the Mississippi river, killing off oxygen. Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Coast Restoration Network, says this is a major concern for the Gulf fishing industry.
New Orleans police are searching for a stolen fake police car. It was part of a movie shoot and the real police caution that the vehicle contains explosives that create small holes to mimick bullet
holes. It looks like a police car however it will not have the official NOPD markings on it.
Crews will drill a relief well to properly seal in the natural gas well in the Gulf that blew out and caught fire last week. No one was hurt but the rig was destroyed by the fire. Sand and silt settled
into the well hole, sealing it temporarily and snuffing the fire. The relief well operation is expected to take a little over a month to complete. When done, the well will be sealed in with mud and cement.
State sales tax will take a holiday this weekend, giving consumers a chance to save on the purchases of clothes, appliances, electronics and other goods. Lifting the 4 percent state sales tax is a tradition that dates back to the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, when legislators wanted to help storm victims replenish their households. The August tax holiday stuck as a boost for parents preparing children for the new school year.
Good economic development news for Washington Parish, as defense contractor General Dynamics announces plans to open a branch in Bogalusa - bringing hundreds of new jobs. General Dynamics plans a Contact Center for its I.T. (information technology) branch, which should mean jobs in administrative and customer service positions.
News for Tuesday 073013
By Dave Graichen
State Treasurer John Kennedy says he's seriously considering a run for the governor of Louisiana in 2015. Kennedy, who has been a vocal critic of fellow Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, says he believes that the state's future can he much better than it is right now. Kennedy feels Louisiana needs a Governor with knowledge and wisdom who believes higher education is sacred and not line items on a budget. There's been chatter that Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne also intends to run in two years and possibly US Senator David Vitter. State Representative John Bel Edwards has already announced his candidacy.
State Treasurer John Kennedy threatened Monday to forward files on 36 community groups, including one with ties to a state legislator, to a new state debt collection unit. The groups on Kennedy’s list include a New Orleans area housing organization, a Baton Rouge social club, an alumni association, a health care center and an organization affiliated with a Boy Scouts troop.
Kennedy said the groups either ignored or failed to fully comply with requests for details on how $4.5 million in taxpayer money was spent. He said certified letters and emails have been sent and personal calls have been made for years to the groups without resolution.
New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Louisiana among the few states with more jobs now than it had before the recession. Louisiana Workforce Commission executive director Curt Eysink says the net increase is not huge, 15,000 jobs, but it's still good news. Eysink says the future looks bright for employment in Louisiana, as existing industries expand here, and new businesses - like IBM – plan multi-billion dollar investments in our state.
Six people charged with unlawfully and improperly storing explosives at Camp Minden have pleaded "not guilty". The men are all with Explo Systems, where over 10-million pounds of M-6 propellant was found stored unsafely. You may remember the whole town of Doyline was evacuated for several days in December while those munitions were moved. The men go to trail in November.
The Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office says famous radio personality David "Kidd" Kraddick died from complications related to heart disease. The 53-year-old radio host was in New Orleans over the weekend for his "Kidd's Kids" charity golf tournament when he suddenly became ill Saturday. The coroner went on to say Kraddick died quickly and most likely felt little pain.
Senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu are urging President Obama to hold FEMA chief David Fugate's promotion to head the Department of Homeland Security, until problems with the National Flood Insurance Program are addressed. Vitter says Louisianans face crippling flood insurance premiums hikes if something isn't done. Vitter says FEMA is using flawed flood maps to predict future flood insurance rates in Louisiana. Vitter says he and Landrieu just sent the letter Monday, so there's been no response yet from the White House.
The state auditor’s office says former Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Vernon Bourgeouis owes $19,000 for allegedly improperly paying officers during the time they were being filmed on the A&E relativity show Cajun Justice. The report says Bourgeouis is going to pay the money but he is protesting the claim.
Two Baton Rouge cops are on administrative leave after they shot and killed a 32-year-old man who they say tried to run them over. The officers were trying to stop Tyris Wilkerson for a traffic
violation, when the incident occurred. It's now under investigation.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux apologized Monday for several arrests his deputies have made of men who agreed to have consensual sex with undercover agents. The deputies used an unconstitutional anti-sodomy law that Gautreaux is now seeking to get repealed. None of the arrests was prosecuted because the District Attorney’s Office determined the men had not committed a crime. The law had been invalidated a decade ago by a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Say it ain't so....The Duck Commander himself, Phil Robertson, says he may be leaving the top-rated show "Duck Dynasty" Robertson doesn't say when, but feels the show can easily go on without him. Robertson founded the West Monroe duck call business that blossomed
into a multi-million dollar venture for his sons. Season 4, which features Phil quite a bit, debuts next month on A&E.
State Police say a man from Dehli died Sunday night after his motorcycle hit a deer. Trooper albert Paxton says 67-year-old Bobby Davis was traveling on Highway 134 when he was unable to avoid a deer that was crossing the road. He says his passenger, 66-year-old Mary Davis was taken to a local hospital with moderate injuries..
News for Monday 072913
By Dave Graichen
The first woman elected to Congress in Louisiana, former US Representative Lindy Boggs, passed away. LSU media professor Bob Mann says Boggs was a known ambassador for Louisiana and dedicated her life to public service and civil rights. Mann says Boggs was a graceful trailblazer with a tremendous amount of compassion for the poor. She succeeded her husband, Thomas Hale Boggs Sr. in Congress where she served nearly 18 years. Lindy Boggs was 97.
Louisiana colleges and universities lag in new rankings by Forbes Magazine. The publication rated Tulane the state's #1 school, but even so, it is #128 out of 650 colleges ranked. LSU ranked 179 out of 650 in the Forbes list.
An advocacy group urges citizens to call their congressmen about a proposed cut to Medicare and Medicaid funding for dialysis treatment. Nancy Scott is with the group, Dialysis Patient Citizens. She says the proposed cut is nearly 10%, which could be disastrous for persons who rely on assistance with paying for kidney dialysis. Scott, who was a dialysis patient herself for 7 years, says having the treatments is not optional, and one cannot simply forego the dialysis if one can't afford it. She says lives are on the line if the funds are cut and treatment centers close. Louisiana has the nation's 6th-highest rate of patients needing dialysis in the U.S.
LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander says he hopes the pay raises they are able to grant their faculty and staff will be a sign of good things to come in the future. It was announced Friday that employees in the entire LSU System will see get an increase for the first time in four years. Alexander says the funds for these adjustments, ranging up to 4%, are coming from internal administrative savings and from anticipated enrollment increases. He says the raises themselves will vary by and within institution and personnel types.
Five Madison Parish prison guards are under arrest; accused of abusing inmates at the parish jail in Tallulah. State Police Trooper Albert Paxton says Madison Parish Sheriff Larry Cox asked the LSP to
investigate allegations against the guards on July 16th. Based on the LSP investigation, two of the guards are charged with aggravated battery and malfeasance in office. Three others are also charged with malfeasance.
The Monroe Police Department says they are looking for someone who tried to rob two different ATMs early Friday morning in Ouachita Parish with a stolen truck. Sgt Mark Johnson says the first incident happened at the Richland State Bank in Monroe around 2am in a stolen truck. Johnson says the suspect was not successful in gaining access to that ATM after he ripped it off the ground then he fled the scene. He says the investigation revealed the same suspect then tried to do the same thing at a bank in West Monroe about 30 minutes later. Johnson says the truck was found abandoned later.. The suspect remains at large.
LA Swift, the low-cost bus service between Baton Rouge & New Orleans will end next week. The service was begun after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to assist displace Crescent City residents during the recovery. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Lauren Lee says 100% federal funding for LA Swift has now run out. In order to keep the LA Swift buses rolling past the end of this month,
local sources would have to put up about $750-thousand yearly to match federal funding. That money is not in the state's budget. About 10-thousand rode LA Swift weekly , at a $10 round trip fare.
After a few days of practice, New Orleans Saints coaches and players seem to be in agreement that there is a renewed energy within the team. First-year Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan feels good about how things are going so far and is impressed with how many leaders there are on the team.
News for Friday 072613
By Dave Graichen
Federal regulators say natural gas has stopped flowing from a well that has been ablaze in the Gulf of Mexico and remaining small flames are from gas still in the pipe. The Bureau of Safety and
Environmental Enforcement says the well "bridged over" meaning sand and sediment collapsed into the area being drilled, blocking the line.
An update on Tropical Storm Dorian; still in the mid-Atlantic, moving west-northwest at 17 miles an hour, it’s strength decreased slightly over night. Maximum winds 50. Forecaster (LIX-ee-on uh-VEE-uh) Lixion Avila, with the National Hurricane Center, says it's still too early to tell if Dorian will threaten US Shores. Computer models do NOT predict the storm entering the Gulf.
State Police say a Lafayette woman is charged with aggravated rape, incest and human trafficking. 48-year-old Lorrie Anderson is accused of selling kids under 16 for sex. She's alleged to have sexually assaulted them as well. If convicted, she could face 50 years in prison.
The Allen Parish Sheriff's Office say a man is behind bars for robbing a bank -- but he did this during a casino trip with his mom. They say 31-year-old Justin Schill was booked Wednesday with first-degree robbery and felony theft for robbing the Iberia Bank in Kinder.
Two Port Barre teens are in critical condition after the ATV they were riding was hit by a car on a local St. Landry Parish road. The boys are in a Lafayette area hospital. The crash is under
investigation. Riding ATVs on the highway IS illegal in the state.
Three people have died in motorcycle crashes on Louisiana roadways since last weekend, bringing the total to seven deaths since June 1st. The most recent motorcycle-related death was Tuesday, when a Houma man crossed the center line and ran into oncoming traffic. LSP says the victim was not wearing an approved helmet at the time.
Monroe Police say a young man is dead following a bizarre incident at the Motel 6 on US 165. Sgt. Mark Johnson says officers responded to several 911 calls from people reporting a person was under the influence of PCP in the hotel parking lot -- trying to get into cars and jumping on top of cars.
Johnson says an ambulance arrived to treat Christopher Livingston's injuries and during that time the man stopped breathing. He says Livingston was pronounced dead at a local hospital. An autopsy is pending.
The remains of a U.S. soldier from Baton Rouge, that have been missing since the Korean War, will be returned home today for burial with full military honors. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Lacerte says 18 year old Army Sgt. Clement Thibodeaux Jr was part of the 25th Infantry Division fighting the Chinese in North Korea. Thibodeaux died in a North Korean POW camp known as "Death Valley". Returning soldiers told officials he died of malnutrition and pneumonia in 1951.
Governor Jindal has been on the road this week. Mr. Jindal is in Colorado for more Republican Governors Association events. He serves as chairman of the group this year. He spoke Thursday as part of GOP governors panel at the Aspen Institute. The Governor returns home
Hollywood insiders report that a big budget super hero film is switching production locations, from Canada to Baton Rouge. The website "TheWrap.com" says the rebooted "Fantastic Four" feature is choosing Louisiana for its film tax incentives. LA Film Office director Chris Stelly says that is unconfirmed as yet, but if it’s true, it’s great news.
State Police say an 18 year old died in a crash yesterday morning in Livingston Parish, but the infant inside her car sustained only minor injuries. Police say the young woman turned into the path of an 18 wheeler and her car was smashed on the driver’s side. She suffered fatal injuries in the crash.
Two former LSU-Eunice employees are accused of taking tens-of-thousands of dollars from the college. Defendants Marvette Thomas and Carra Sergeant allegedly used the money to buy stuff for themselves.
News for Wednesday 072413
By Dave Graichen
An offshore rig in the Gulf blew out yesterday and overnight caught fire. Coast Guard Spokesman Petty Officer Carlos Vega says it happened on a rig located about 55 miles south and east of Grand Isle. The unmanned rig is owned by Walter Oil & Gas is located in about 154 feet of water. Vega says the well is currently flowing natural gas, but no oil is being released. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is overflying the rig site, and monitoring Walter Oil & Gas' response efforts to bring the well under control. 47 people were evacuated from an adjacent rig. A safety perimeter keeping marine traffic away from the rig Vega says there's no plan to battle the fire yet.
It is a state investment that is paying off. State officials announced yesterday the massive DNA backlog of over 9,000 cases at the State Police Crime Lab has been eliminated. Before the backlog was eliminated, state police was unable to process all their own cases and outsourced some of their forensic cases to other agencies. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says the elimination of the backlog is attributed to expansion of the crime lab in 2009, as well as increased funding for new equipment and technology...
The state's first case of West Nile virus in a human has been confirmed. State health officials say a seriously ill person in Caldwell Parish has the disease. By this time last year, 31 people
were diagnosed with the neuroinvasive form of West Nile. In total last year, there were 160 cases of West Nile encephalitis and 191 cases of the less-serious West Nile fever.
The new school year is just around the corner and the Department of Health and Hospitals is reminding parents, "No shots, No School. It's the Law." State immunization director Dr. Frank Welch says now is the time to make sure your student is current on their shots. Welch says Louisiana law requires children age four or older who are entering kindergarten or pre-k this year have proof they have been vaccinated.
A magazine that looks at corporate expansion and relocation projects released a report that says Louisiana's business climate ranked NO. 4 in the nation. Business Facilities also ranked the LED FastStart program as the top state workforce development program in the country.
The state Department of Revenue says another period of Tax Amnesty will begin September 23rd. LDR spokesman Douglas Baker says the amnesty will offer a 60-day window for delinquent taxpayers to pay outstanding state tax debts without paying heavy penalties. Baker says LDR is calling the amnesty program "Fresh Start", and they've put up a special website just to inform taxpayers of how to take advantage. It’s LDRTaxAmnesty.com
American Tank Company says it will build a $2-million manufacturing plant in New Iberia. When complete, in mid-2014, the plant will employ 20 or more people at good salaries. The company makes oil &
gas storage tanks.
The family of 7 people who lost their life when they were hit by a man on his 4th DWI is protesting his sentence citing judicial racism. Brett Gerald of Clinton plead guilty to killing seven people while drunk and was initially sentenced to 70 years in jail, but his sentenced was later reduced to 35 years and his lawyer is still appealing.
West Feliciana Parish sheriff's deputies have recovered half of the 80 tablet computers stolen in a school burglary. Investigators say five people, including three juveniles, have been arrested in the
theft of a laptop computer and 80 iPad tablets during a June 26th burglary of West Feliciana High School. The search for the remaining 40 devices is ongoing.
News for Tuesday 072313
By Dave Graichen
State Wildlife & Fisheries agents report a happy ending to the case of a man who went missing in the wilds of LaSalle Parish over the weekend. LDWF spokesman Adam Einck says 29-year-old John Paul, Jr. was reported missing Saturday evening after he took his dog for a run in the Dewey Wills Wildlife Management Area. Einck says Paul got disoriented as the sun went down, and became lost. He says the man decided to sit in one spot, near a well-traveled waterway and wait to be found--which is exactly what happened. Einck says LDWF agents and deputies from both LaSalle and Rapides parishes were involved in the search.
25 year old Jaclynn White of Pineville was killed Sunday night when she walked into the path of an oncoming car on third street. The accident took place shortly after 9 in the evening. Medical personnel responded, but White was pronounced death at the scene. No charges have been filed against the driver of the vehicle. The investigation is continuing, and an autopsy and toxicology tests are pending.
The Louisiana National Guard marked the 20th anniversary of its Youth Challenge Program, which helps high school dropouts put their lives on a more positive course. Senator Mary Landrieu is an Honorary Co-Chair of the LNG's Youth Foundation, says the program helps kids turn their lives around. Landrieu says 1400 Louisiana kids have graduated from the LNG Youth Challenger this year, but over 16-thousand have been helped over the program's 20-year history. She says she's proud to be a part of it.
Baton Rouge Police say a man who hit a police car and caused another woman to be injured in the accident then drove off is now in custody. They say 37-year-old Ronald Byrd of Baton Rouge faces felony hit and run and other charges. He turned himself into authorities Monday. The officer and woman were seriously injured but are expected to survive.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's office releases the identity of the five-year-old girl who was killed in a two-car wreck Sunday afternoon. Her name is Alajah Davis of Lafayette. Captain Kip Judice says Davis was a front seat passenger in a vehicle that crossed the center of the road and slammed into a pickup truck. Judice says the five year old victim should not have been in the front seat to start with.
Louisiana’s Secretary of State office has won a top national award for its “Geaux Vote Mobile” application and website that helps people navigate elections. Secretary of State Tom Schedler picked up the IDEAS award that recognizes innovation and achievement at the National Association of Secretaries of State annual summer conference in Anchorage, Alaska over the weekend.
Several cast members of Duck Dynasty helped raise nearly $300,000 for a Children's Home near Hattiesburg Mississippi Saturday night. Dr. Michael Garrett is the executive director at Homes of Hope, he says his annual budget for Homes of Hope, which is privately funded, is about $560,000, so the Duck Dynasty fundraiser was a huge success for them.
A 19-year-old man was arrested for his second DWI after he allegedly caused a crash on I-10, fled the scene, and allegedly tried to outrun police. The person that Darin Terrell allegedly hit followed
him; calling police. A breathalyzer revealed Terrell's blood alcohol content was .10; well over the legal limit.
Shreveport Police detectives are still developing leads from last week's triple homicide that took place at a home in the Mooretown neighborhood. The coroner says 78-year-old Irene Ellison, 41-year-old Carise Ellison and 58-year-old Brian Wilson were stabbed to death. Assistant Police Chief Bill Goodin says investigators have gathered evidence from the crime scene that will hopefully provide clues as to who is responsible. Goodin says they're working 'round-the-clock to make an arrest.
The man charged with the drunk driving death of a Lafayette woman in 2012, who made more headlines by walking out of his trial and fleeing the state, will serve 20 years in prison. Wade Lohse pleaded no contest today, to the death of Cacie Barras McGrew last year.
News for Monday 072213
By Dave Graichen
Shreveport police detectives are still developing leads in a triple homicide that happened in the city's Mooretown area Police spokesperson Bill Goodin says all three victims were stabbed once. Goodin says the murders happened in an area that's usually a quiet. A man and two women are the victims in this case. Authorities have not announced if they have any suspects.
A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention suggests elderly persons in Louisiana are less likely to lead healthy lives. The report suggests the average person can expect only 12 years past 65 of decent health. In the CDC study, the national average of healthful years after 65 is 19; 7 more years than in Louisiana.
A Baton Rouge grand jury indicts six people for the thefts of cocaine and guns from a courthouse evidence locker last year; one of them a judge's son. Two of the accused worked at the courthouse and had access to the evidence room East Baton Rouge Parish DA Hillar Moore says they took 48 pounds of coke, over the course of about a year.
A former dispatcher at the Bienville Parish Sheriff's office will spend at least one year in jail after she plead guilty on charges she faked cancer in order to receive donations. District Attorney Jonathan Stewart says 28-year-old Erin Bradley of Saline accepted over six-thousand dollars. Stewart says Bradley's motive for perpetuating the lie is still a mystery.
US Senator Mary Landrieu believes her legislation to delay a portion of the large flood insurance rate hikes will pass the senate. It's already cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee. Landrieu says Louisianans in flood prone areas are facing higher premiums, because of a flood insurance reform bill that was passed two years ago. Landrieu says the legislation that's making its way through the senate not only delays rate hikes for certain flood insurance customers, it also requires FEMA to make certain their flood maps are accurate. A bill similar to Landrieu's legislation has already passed the House.
State police report two people riding a motorcycle in Union Parish were killed when they hit a deer on Louisiana Highway 143 Friday night. Sixty-three-year-old Kenny Barrett of Marion and 52-year-old Melinda Weeks of Marion were pronounced dead at the scene.
State Police charged an Opelousas man with negligent homicide after he lost control of his vehicle last night in St. Landry Parish, killing an 18-year-old passenger in his vehicle. Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin Mayo sustained minor injuries and has been booked into the St. Landry Parish jail on several charges.
Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo must make some improvements to remain open, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection earlier this month. USDA inspectors say the Monroe zoo needs to build eight new primate holding pens and remodel the kitchen used for preparing food for the animals. Zoo officials feel
they can do that within their annual maintenance budget.
The funeral is today for six-year-old Ahlittia North of Harvey, who was stabbed to death and found in a trash bin early last week. Matthew Flugence has been charged with first-degree murder in the case.
Nucor announces its two-point-five million ton iron plant in St. James Parish will begin operations late this summer or early fall. Nucor originally hoped that it would be running by now, but heavy rains earlier this year delayed the project.
The massive sinkhole at Bayou Corne in Assumption Parish has "burped" again. Authorities report that caused a lot of movement of surface water in the slurry-fiiled hole. The burps are caused by releases of pockets of hydrocarbons at the bottom of the hole. Meanwhile property buyouts negotiations for residents who once lived
near that hole continue. 92 offers have been made; 59 have accepted the buyouts so far.
A Baton Rouge police officer and a woman suffered serious injuries early Saturday after a Dodge Caravan ran off the roadway and struck the officer’s patrol car. Police are searching for the minivan’s driver, believed to be Ronald Byrd, 37, who fled the scene on foot.
A 42-year-old Oakdale man died early Saturday in a single-vehicle crash in Allen Parish, according to Louisiana State Police Troop D. Police identified the man as Sherwin Ashworth. Ashworth lost control of the truck and drove off the right side of the road. He overcorrected to the left but again drove off the right side of the road before hitting a utility pole. He was not wearing his seatbelt and was partially ejected. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
News for Friday 071913
By Dave Graichen
State funeral directors are appealing lower court rulings in favor of a group of Covington monks who make and sell caskets. Federal district and appeals courts found no reasonable grounds for a regulation that only state-licensed funeral directors may sell coffins in Louisiana. The monks says they'll keep fighting for their
right to make and sell the coffins.
The state laid off over 3800 employees during the fiscal year that ended June 30th. Some 1900 of those were workers at four LSU hospitals and outpatient clinics that have been privatized by the Jindal administration. The Governor's Office says a good number of that 1900 have been hired by the private companies who've taken
those facilities over.
Deputies in Morehouse Parish report two people dead in a plane crash near Oak Ridge. The small aircraft was from the Flying Tigers Aviation School, and the company says a pilot and a student were killed in the crash. The victims' names are being withheld until their families are notified. Flying Tigers says they've never had a
single injury or fatality until today. The crash is under investigation.
Three Henderson Police officers including the Chief, Leroy Guidry, are facing a number of charges from fraud to malfeasance over an alleged ticket-quota scheme along I-10. Lafayette TV station KATC is reporting that court records showed the officer's pay was tied to the number of tickets they issued. An arraignment is expected on August 12th.
Average gasoline prices across Louisiana are expected to hit or exceed $3.50 a gallon today, as crude oil prices continue to rise. Louisiana AAA's Don Redman says gas prices are high, and they're going to get higher. His prediction, between $3.50 & $3.75 a gallon through the fall. Redman says troubles in Egypt and Libya are one reason for the sharp rise in crude oil prices. Crude traded at $108 a barrel yesterday.
Governor Bobby Jindal is in Washington DC attending a meeting of the Republican Governor's Association. Jindal serves as the leader of that group. U.L. Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says it's a post that gives the governor a chance to be influential on the national scene. Cross says leading the RGA means a lot to Jindal's possible future political ambitions on a national stage.
Louisiana has reached a new all-time high in national business rankings for its climate for business. Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret says the good news comes from the Pollina Corporate Real Estate annual pro-business state rankings. Moret says Louisiana is rated the 14th-best business environment out of 50 states. He says the state was 40th in 2008; jumping 26 spots in just 5 years.
The Louisiana Republican Party is planning a statewide tour to get people involved in an effort to defeat democratic senator Mary Landrieu next year. The "Red to the Roots" 100-city tour will begin Aug. 16 in Winnsboro. Louisiana GOP Executive Director Jason Dore says this is the start of their grassroots campaign against Landrieu. Dore says the tour stops are designed to look for individuals who want to get involved with next year's election.
A Lafayette man is wanted for allegedly kidnapping his own grandson. Deputies say 54-year-old Monty Wilson is "knowingly decoying and keeping away" his grandson, 3-year-old Joshua Lowe, from the state Department of Children & Family Services, who were granted legal custody of the boy earlier this month. Deputies don't think the
child is in any danger, but they do want to catch up to Wilson and the boy. Wilson could be driving a silver Kia Sedona minivan. Plate number: WGS 269.
Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain is urging horse owners to vaccinate their animals against mosquito borne diseases. That's because a two-year-old horse in Livingston Parish has been euthanized after reportedly testing positive for both West Nile and Eastern Equine encephalitis. It's the first case of this summer.
LSU Coach Les Miles says star running back Jeremy Hill remains suspended following his guilty plea to a misdemeanor simple battery charge. Hill was arrested last April after he punched another man in the head in a parking lot outside of an off-campus bar. Hill goes before a judge in August, who will determine whether the
running back should go to jail for violating his probation.
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's deputies arrest a Sulphur man on multiple accounts of aggravated incest. Deputies allege that 50-year-old Perry Arnold molested a family member numerous times, starting in 2002, when the victim was just 6 years old. Arnold's bond is set at $3-million.
News for Thursday 071813
By Dave Graichen
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand says the suspect in the murder of 6-year-old Ahlittia North, of Harvey, has admitted he committed the crime. 20-year-old Matthew Flugence is charged with 1st degree murder, after his arrest in Westwego Tuesday night. Sheriff Normand says Flugence confessed during questioning. Flugence is a nephew of the little girl's step-father. The child's body was found early yesterday in a trash bin near her home.
State education officials report 3,600 more public high school seniors achieved a score of 18 or higher on the ACT last school year. State Superintendent of Education John White says that means more students are eligible for college and more are eligible for the TOPS scholarship program. White says of the approximately 37-thousand seniors who took the ACT last academic year, nearly 22,000 achieved a college-eligible score of 18 or higher.
Police in Crowley are investigating acts of vandalism at a local church; the second such offenses at the church in a year. Pastor Larry Guidry, of the Church of Christ in Crowley, says someone broke in and ransacked the place and wrote "you told me lies" on his desk. Less than a year ago, vandals threw rocks through the church's
windows. Crowley Police are seeking clues and tips from citizens.
The two brothers accused in the Mother's Day second line shooting in New Orleans have plead not guilty. 19-year-old Akein Scott and 24-year-old Shawn Scott were arraigned yesterday on 20 counts of attempted second degree murder.
An apparent argument over the TV turned into attempted murder in DeSoto Parish. Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Horace Womack said 17-year-old Stephen Raybon of Grand Cane allegedly shot 21-year-old William Dowling of Mansfield after a disagreement over the volume of the program they were watching. Womack says Dowling was shot once in the chest with a .40 caliber handgun. Raybon will be charged with attempted second degree murder. The victim is in stable condition.
Minden Police say they busted a local man for possession of a large amount of synthetic marijuana, a schedule 1 controlled dangerous substance. 24-year-old Paul Presley reportedly had more than 500 grams of the product; about $3000 worth. He's been booked on possession with intent to distribute. Presley was on probation for a previous charge; that has been suspended.
A Craigslist scam leads to the arrest of a 15-year-old and 18-year-old The Zachery teens allegedly advertised a $180 iPad to sell but when a Baton Rouge couple showed up to buy it the teens robbed them. Luckily, the couple took pictures of them as they approached their car.
Four arrests have been made in the weekend shooting death of a Donaldsonville man. Ascension Parish Deputies say they were called to the scene of a large fight but upon arrival found Brisecon Jasmine dead. Detectives developed several suspects and arrested four men in connection with the shooting death of Jasmine.
Despite some troubling stories about cruise ships last year, 2012 was a good year for the cruise industry out of New Orleans. Port of New Orleans president & CEO Gary LaGrange (luh-GRAHNZHE) says spending on cruises out of the Crescent City saw a healthy increase last year. The figures are from a report released this week by the Cruise Line International Association. They show Louisiana cruise spending at over $399-million last year; an increase of 42% over 2011. LaGrange says the industry gained over 2000 permanent full-time jobs as well.
If you're a fan of Abita Beer you'll be interested in two big announcements the company made this week. Abita President David Blossman says one of their most popular beers, Andygator, will become available in 6 packs by October. He says Andygator has a cult following and started mainly as a draft-driven brand. Blossman says they are also excited to announce they are adding a new beer to their line starting in December. He says the Grapefruit Harvest I.P.A. is a natural fit within the rest of the Abita Beer family.
News For Wednesday 071713
By Dave Graichen
Six-year-old Ahlittia North was last seen Friday night when her parents put her to bed. Her step father says the next morning they found she was missing. Tragically after a massive search her body was discovered early yesterday morning in a dumpster near the end of the apartment complex where she lived. Authorities have made an arrest. His name is 20-year-old Matthew Flugence, the nephew of the young girl's stepfather. The coroner’s office says the girl was stabbed to death. The investigation continues.
LSU announced Tuesday morning a $2 million private donation that should put them a step closer to finishing renovations to the university’s Patrick F. Taylor Hall. The family of Board of Regents member Roy O. Martin donated the money. Gov. Bobby Jindal last year threw his support behind a $100 million public-private partnership to turn the building into a state-of-the-art engineering facility.
U.S. News and World Report’s 24th annual Best Hospitals report was released yesterday. On that list, Louisiana’s best hospitals. As you may suspect the top hospitals were in the state’s biggest cities. #1 was Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. #2 the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport. But, the number three hospital came as a surprise to even the publisher of the report. Rapides Regional Medical Center here in Alexandria was ranked No. 3 among all Louisiana hospitals.
Cleco is warning its customers across Louisiana to beware of a scam wherein callers impersonate Cleco employees. Spokeswoman Robbyn Cooper says the con artists are threatening to disconnect power unless you wire them money. Cooper says the callers will demand immediate payment be made, using a particular money transfer agency, or the customer's power will be cut off. She wants consumers to know that Cleco may occasionally call customers to remind them of an overdue bill, but they never discuss nor dictate payment method within those calls.
Another State lawmaker switches from the democratic to the republican party. Port Allen Senator Rick ward joins Opelousas Senator Elbert Guillory and Jonesboro Representative Jim Fannin as legislators who swapped parties in the last two months. Word is he plans to run for Louisiana's sixth congressional district seat, which will become open in 2014 as Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy challenges democrat Mary Landrieu for senate.
Imagine not only surviving being struck by lightning but having it happen to you while you were inside a building. That's exactly what happened to and unidentified woman, yesterday, who was checking out her groceries at a Supermarket in Houma. Authorities think the lightning was most likely transmitted through the store's electrical system. A foot-wide blackened tile marks the spot but thankfully the woman appears to be OK.
Police say a woman from Franklin is dead and her son in critical condition after the two got into a fight. They say 60-year-old Hazel Charles died from trauma to the head and her son, Jeremiah Penns is fighting for his life with multiple stab wounds. The situation remains under investigation.
The president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers fell off a ladder last weekend and will need up to eight weeks to recover. Steve Monaghan, veteran leader of the teachers’ union, is expected to make a full recovery. Monaghan fractured two vertebrae in his back.
East Baton Rouge Parish authorities say a 25-year-old Baton Rouge man drowned in the Amite River Monday night after jumping from a dock. They say Jason Hamilton was drinking all day and swimming in the river with some friends at a camp and when he jumped into the water and screamed for help, his friends thought he was joking. He wasn’t. Divers recovered his body around 7pm.
A 20 year old Sunset man is in the St. Landry Parish jail after he allegedly raped a 4 year old girl. Sheriff's Office Captain Megan Vizena says Nathaniel Monroe was taken into custody after a complaint came in from the little girls mother. She says Monroe admitted to it and was charged with one count of aggravated rape.
Summer travel budgets may need to be adjusted after this massive spike in the gas price recently. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular according to AAA is currently 14 cents more than it was this time last week.
SEC Media Days continue in Birmingham today and the conduct of football players away from the field is a hot topic. LSU has its issues in this area involving former players Jordan Jefferson and Tyrann Mathieu and now suspended running back Jeremy Hill. Commissioner Mike Slive says the league can't ignore the recent off-the-field incidents.
News for Tuesday 071613
By Dave Graichen
The investigation continues into the shooting death of a 34 year old Alexandria man over the weekend. The APD reports the victim was found in a home in the 2000 block of Thornton Court shortly before midnight Saturday night. The victim has been Identified as Troyville Brown. Police say they have identified a suspect, but no charges have been filed.
Governor Jindal announcing yesterday Honeywell Corporation will invest over $200-million to expand the size and scope of operations at 4 Louisiana plants; 2 in Baton Rouge, 1 in Geismar and 1 in Shreveport. He says it will mean the creation of about 190 new jobs at good salaries, with well over 450 construction jobs as well.
State education officials announced yesterday that demand for nontraditional public school courses has exceeded the 2,000 available slots. The program, called Course Choice, is a pilot project aimed at offering hard-to-get classes for students through unusual sources, including on-line firms. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in June approved the use of $2 million in federal funds from an oil and gas settlement that have aided schools since 1986 to pay for the courses.
State Police are investigating a Lafayette Police officer involved shooting. They say officers responded to an attempted suicide complaint Sunday where they encountered 34-year-old Harold Bastin. Apparently the man from Lafayette approached law enforcement with a handgun when he was fatally shot by an officer.
It was an exceptionally violent weekend in New Orleans. Over a 12-hour period starting Saturday at 7 p.m. there were seven shootings that left 5 people dead. A two-year-old is in critical condition, police believe he and his mother were not the intended victims. The shootings are not considered to be related and the
Governor Bobby Jindal has commuted the sentence of a man sentenced to life for murder. 50-year-old Shelby Arabie was sent to Angola 27 years ago, for killing a man during a drug deal gone sour. Mr. Jindal has commuted Arabie's life sentence to 45 years--making him eligible for parole right now. Governor Jindal says numerous people came forward to say Arabie IS a changed man.
The Louisiana Association of Educators teachers' union has a new president. Vermilion Parish language teacher Deborah Meaux accepted leadership of the union Monday, from outgoing president Joyce Haynes. Meaux ("MO") says it's an honor to represent the 20-thousand members of the LAE. Meaux teaches French at Kaplan High School in Vermilion Parish, and has been teaching for nearly 4 decades.
An Anacoco teenager, who was not wearing her seatbelt, was killed in a two-vehicle accident near Toledo bend in Sabine Parish over the weekend. State Police trooper Scott Moreau says the victim is 17-year-old Winter Airhart. Moreau says Airhart was a passenger in a Dodge pickup truck that collided with a GMC pickup making left-hand
turn. He says Aihart was ejected from the truck and pronounced dead at the
State Police say a Texas man who wasn't wearing his seat belt is dead after a morning crash yesterday in St. Landry Parish. They say the driver, who has not been identified, ran off La Highway 357 into a ditch and was ejected. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The man accused of murdering his wife in Calcasieu Parish 50 years ago pleads not guilty. Felix Vail entered his plea during his arraignment Monday. He's charged with killing Mary Horton Vail in 1962 and leaving her body in the Calcasieu River. Vail is suspected in the deaths of a girlfriend in the 1970s and a second wife in the 1980's.
News for Monday 071513
By Dave Graichen
The state Legislature will not call its members into a special session to consider overriding Governor Jindal's veto decisions. The Senate voted 26-13 against the session, despite calls from Democrat leaders to undo cuts to programs for disabled persons. In the House, only 39 of 105 members voted against the session, but state law says if a majority of members in EITHER chamber vote "no", the veto session is cancelled. Louisiana hasn't had a veto override session in modern times.
Pleading guilty to simple battery, LSU running back Jeremy Hill has been given a six-month suspended prison sentence, two years of probation and ordered to pay 375-dollars in restitution for hitting another man outside a Baton Rouge bar last April. Hill still may have his probation from a previous crime revoked.
Louisiana's unclaimed property program distributed a record 31-million dollars in checks to residents during the fiscal year that ended June 30th. The money comes from old checking accounts, CDs, insurance proceeds and utility deposits. When a business cannot locate the person the money belongs to, they turn it over to the
state. State Treasurer John Kennedy says there's still 575-million dollars that needs to be claimed by over 500-thousand Louisiana residents. Kennedy says you can check to see if Louisiana has any of your money by going to latreasury.com.
Could Opelousas state Senator Elbert Guillory be thinking of running for U.S. Senate against Mary Landrieu? Guillory recently switched parties, becoming the state legislature's only black Republican. Guillory posted a YouTube video last month explaining why he left the Democrats to join the GOP. It's been viewed nearly 800-thousand times. Since then he's appeared on numerous national radio and cable TV talks shows. It's been suggested that, as a republican in the Senate race he
could draw black votes that another GOP candidate probably wouldn't
A Harvey family woke up to every parent’s worst nightmare Saturday morning: their child missing without a trace. Six-year-old Ahlitta North disappeared from her mother’s home sometime between 11 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday. Authorities say there were no signs of forced entry and that the front door was ajar. Family members said a handful of the girl’s possessions, a toothbrush, blanket and toothpaste, also were missing.
LSU's chief of Health Care Services is resigning. Dr. Michael Kaiser says he'll exit his $350-thousand a year position at the end of August. Kaiser began the job last fall as the Jindal administration worked toward privatization of six of the seven charity hospitals in south Louisiana under the umbrella of the LSU Health Care Services. He's presided over the layoffs of thousands of state employees at LSU medical facilities statewide.
A new ranking by financial website Kiplinger.com rates Louisiana America's Most Disaster-Prone State. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says this comes as little surprise, based on how the report's data was collected. The Kiplinger report covers a period from 2003 through 2012, and shows Louisiana had 7 hurricanes, 2 tropical storms and 20 other severe weather incidents during that time. Estimated insured property losses over $32-billion. Donelon says Florida was Number Two on the Kiplinger "Disaster-Prone List", followed by Texas, Mississippi then New York at Number Five--due to huge losses from Superstorm Sandy.
News for Friday 071213
By Dave Graichen
State police report two people were killed yesterday when, just before 7 in the morning, two vehicles collided on highway 1 near the community of Hamburg. Killed was 66 year old Leo David of New Roads and 37 year old Michael Zaunbrecher of Mansura. Troopers say neither man was wearing a seatbelt.
A casting call will be held in Alexandria tomorrow for a new movie that will begin production later this month. The Aftermath,” an independent film, is the brainchild of Alexandria native Shaun Sanghani, who co-wrote the script and will produce “The Aftermath” as well.” The star of the movie will be Sam Trammell, one of the stars of HBO’s “True Blood. That open casting call will be tomorrow afternoon from 1-6 p.m. at 1501 Wimbledon Boulevard.
Caught red handed, an employee at the LaQuinta Inn in Alexandria is facing a charge that he entered a guest's room without permission and took some electronic items. 27 year old Tyrus Gable was arrested and booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on a simple burglary charge. All items stolen were recovered and returned to the guest.
It’s all over for the Alexandria Aces for this season. The United League Baseball has shut the team down rest of the season, but plans are in the works to return the team to Alexandria in 2014. The reason for the early end to the season, League CEO John Bryant saying it is pretty obvious the public will not attend professional baseball at Bringhurst Field in its current condition. In a statement released Thursday afternoon from Mayor Jacques Roy's office, he said the city was notified of the decision Thursday by email.
The American Automobile Association says the current statewide average for a gallon of regular gasoline jumped two cents overnight to $3.33 a gallon. That's up five cents from last week. But last year at this time during summer travels the gas price was just $3.15.
Louisiana's junior US Senator has a lot of money in the bank to be used either for a re-election bid or a run for governor next year. Charlie Spies treasurer for the Fund for Louisiana's Future, a super political action committee supporting Vitter says the PAC will report raising 750-thousand dollars for Vitter to federal election officials tomorrow. Vitter hasn't made public any specific plans but the current governor cannot succeed himself which could lead the senator to a run for the state house. The super PAC has been formed at both the state and federal levels.
Livingston Parish authorities want to know who put ten puppies in an ice chest and left them on the roadside, near the Walker Animal Shelter. The dogs were all malnourished and some had heat stroke, but all are still alive. The responsible party faces animal cruelty charges when found. Meanwhile adoptive homes for the puppies are being sought.
Jonesboro state Representative and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin has left the Democrat Party and become a Republican. Fannin says the Democrats are now TOO far to the left, and he can no longer stand wth them on issues like gay marriage, gun control. Fannin has long considered himself a so-called Blue Dog Democrat; a party member who leans toward more conservative values. He says there's no room for Blue Dogs in the Democrat Party these days. Fannin may be thinking of running for state Senate, to fill the seat of Senator Bob Kostelka, who is term-limited.
Lafayette Police arrest a 19-year-old mom, after her 3-year-old was found wandering about the neighborhood alone. Lafayette Police Corporal Paul Mouton says Chelsea Jones was napping, when her child got out of the house and walked some two blocks from the home. Mouton says Jones was charged with 2nd-offense child desertion, because this isn't the first time she's been in similar trouble.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services has increased its funding of 18 domestic violence service providers by more than 840-thousand dollars to the tune of six million dollars. The increase comes after last years mid-year reductions. The funding takes into account for the first time the size of the population served, square miles covered and the quality of the service provided.
Police in Eunice seek a pickup truck that hit a 4-year-old girl and kept going. The victim was crossing the street when the truck hit her, but she sustained only minor injuries. Eunice Police are looking for a grey Ford pickup; late 1990's or early 2000's model, driven by a white male. When found, he'll be charged with hit & run.
The city of Minden has a new mayor, after the death of Mayor Bill Robertson two weeks ago. The Minden City Council voted to appoint Councilman Joe Cornelius to lead the town, until an election is held this fall. The Council will also appoint someone to fill Cornelius' now-empty council seat.
Jefferson Parish deputies arrest a Texas woman for human trafficking; accused of bringing an underage girl to a Metairie motel room to sell her for sex. The girl is 16, the suspect Andrea Birdow is 22. She reportedly solicited an undercover cop to have sex with the girl for $320.
News for Thursday 071113
By Dave Graichen
Governor Jindal announces a Russian company called Eurochem will build a fertilizer plant in either St. John or Iberville Parish. Jindal says the facility will take three to four years to build, creating two-thousand construction jobs. The plant is expected to
employ 15-hundred workers.
State lawmakers have until midnight tonight to vote to call off a mandatorily scheduled veto override session. House Democratic Caucus leader John Bel Edwards, of Amite, wants legislators to convene the special session. He says Governor Jindal's vetoes were too harsh this year. State law says a session to consider overturning any of the Governor's vetoes is automatically slated, unless a majority vote it un-necessary.
To cope with ongoing budget troubles, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has steadily depleted a trust fund for elderly services created with an infusion of federal cash a decade ago. When Jindal took office, the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly contained more than $830 million. Today, according to the state treasurer’s office, the balance has dropped to $410 million. By the end of the current fiscal year, it is projected to sink to $250 million or less. Officials involved with creating the fund expected the state to use largely the interest and investment earnings and leave the principal alone, so the fund would be available for decades.
The latest on Chantal; the system is now a tropical wave - a bit south of Haiti, but some computer models show the storm regaining strength and turning to the north, toward the Florida east coast. Another model predicts the system will proceed west into the Gulf.
The Louisiana National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force announces the seizure of about ten million dollars in marijuana plants growing in Vernon Parish. Counterdrug Task Force coordinator Lieutenant Colonel Ray Schindler says their high-tech aerial equipment helped uncover thousands of pot plants on a three acre plot. Schindler says this is the largest marijuana eradication seizure the Louisiana National Guard has ever participated in. Schindler says no arrests have yet been made related to the pot
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, predicts one-third of its customers who purchase their own policies will see their premiums decrease under the new federal health care law. However, Senior Economist Michael Bertaut says policy holders who receive insurance through their workplace could see their premiums rise. About 175-thousand Blue Cross customers pay for their own insurance. Bertaut says fortunatly two-thirds of those policyholders will continue to pay the same premiums or even less when the health care changes take effect in 2014.
According to a report by Kiplinger, Louisiana is the state most disaster prone state in the nation. The study was put together based on which state has suffered the biggest property loss. The Pelican State got the No. 1 spot, mostly because of Hurricane Katrina – the costliest disaster in US history.
Police in Baton Rouge arrest a man and his wife for running prostitution in their home, in a quiet neighborhood. Charles and Kaelice Smith have been taken into custody. Officers say Mrs. Smith was selling herself for sex in the home; using an Internet add to solicit business. Mr. Smith would take the couple's two children for
a ride when clients came by. The kids have been placed with a family relative.
The annual Manning Passing Academy starts today at Nicholls State University. The traditional summer camp helps hundreds of young players from around the country build up their football skills. The camp is in its eighth year in Thibodeaux
The company responsible for the 4-mile wide rainbow sheen visible from the natural gas leak of a well southwest of Port Fourchon has had problems before. The leak started Tuesday but Energy Resource Technology-Gulf of Mexico LLC has been cited for problems in 2007 and 2008. They have also been investigated for several accidents since 2005 that included three fatalities.
Police in Zachary say a man is under arrest for beating up his 88 year old grandmother -- breaking her eye socket and nose. They say 31-year-old Keon Brown told family members his grandmother had actually fallen. The man was booked on counts of cruelty to the infirmed and second-degree battery involving domestic violence.
Research done by a doctor at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans has found people can become very ill and even die from eating a raw crawfish. Doctor James Diaz says he's found 16 cases in the US where people consumed a parasite from eating a raw crawfish and it developed into a serious lung infection. Diaz says the infection is not possible when eating boiled crawfish.
Convicted killer Brandon Lavergne has kept busy while serving life in Angola for the murders of Mickey Shunick and Lisa Pate. Lavergne has filed lawsuits against dozens of individuals, law enforcement agencies and media - alleging slander, libel, false reporting and theft of his personal property. Lavergne's suits may never see a
courtroom if he cannot raise the money needed for filing fees. Remember, Lavergne confessed to the murders and pleaded guilty.
News for Wednesday 071013
By Dave Graichen
Construction on the $23 million makeover of the Rapides Parish Coliseum is set to begin towards the end of January of next year. Word is, The design phase is expected to be finished in November. Bids could then be taken and the contract signed around the first of the year.
Teachers are continuing to retire here in Louisiana at higher than usual numbers, more than 7,500 in the last two years. The number of retirements in 2013 increased from the 24 percent increase last year. Dana Vicknair, the assistant director at the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana says “We are up about 1,000 from what we would normally see. State Superintendent of Education John White said the exodus should be looked at as primarily a financial decision on the part of more veteran employees.
But school superintendents also said the decision has a lot to do with changes occurring in the classroom, including new teacher evaluations pushed by the Jindal administration, which one educator said created “a tipping point.”
AT&T says they are looking to hire 500 individuals in Louisiana as part of the company's multibillion dollar plan to expand and improve its 4G LTE network and wired I-P broadband network nationwide. AT&T Louisiana President Sonja Perez says its great news for the state, because it means new jobs and better telecommunication services. She says if you'd like to apply for one of the new jobs at A&T, you can visit the career's website at connect.att.jobs.
Gov. Bobby Jindal denounced a U.S. Senate immigration bill Tuesday as a government pork-laden power grab by Democrats that could demonize Republicans among Hispanic voters. Jindal, the son of immigrants, shared his viewpoint in an editorial for “National Review,” which is a self-described conservative magazine. The governor wrote that the so-called Gang of Eight bill passed by the U.S. Senate is a win-win for Democrats. Passage of the bill would grant amnesty to millions without resolving the country’s immigration problems, while failure would allow Democrats to tell Hispanic voters that Republicans are to blame. The so-called Gang of Eight group of four Republicans and four Democrats proposed the legislation, arguing that a majority of both parties want to fix the nation’s “broken” immigration system.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana is weighing in on a Lafayette's Councilman's plans to introduce an ordinance that would ban certain types of flags from being flown on government-owned flagpoles. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says ordinance gets close to infringing upon a citizens constitutional right to
expression. Councilman Andy Naquin said he brought up the issue after
constituents expressed anger over a gay pride flag flying seen flying along with an American flag at a city park.
The Louisiana Lottery says a man from Albany has claimed his $1million Powerball prize from the June 29th drawing. They say Eric Bankston's Quick Pick ticket matched all five white ball numbers.
A group of three Metairie co-workers pooled on a Powerball ticket that won a million dollars in the July 6th drawing. LA Lottery spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says the winners each got $233-thousand after taxes. She says all three have different plans of what to do with their winnings. Chopin says the three work together at the Macy's in Metairie, and had been pooling cash to play Powerball for a while. They matched all five white numbers last Saturday night to win the $1-million.
A new report says wildlife tourism along the Gulf Coast is a 19-billion dollar-a-year business that attracts 20-million visitors to the region. The Environmental Defense Fund and the Walton Family Foundation paid for the study. Lt Governor Jay Dardenne says they wanted to show that tourism is a critical industry to our coastal parishes. Dardenne says the groups who paid for the report are lobbying to make sure oil spill fine money will be used on the Gulf Coast ecosystem that was damaged in the 2010 deepwater horizon disaster. BP has already provided a one-billion dollar down payment for coastal restoration and it's still to be determined how more money in fines the Gulf Coast States will receive.
New Orleans Police have arrested three men in connect to the fatal hit and run that claimed the life of an off duty officer Sunday morning. Justin McKey was booked into Orleans Parish Prison on charges of manslaughter and hit and run. Two men were also arrested for obstructing justice including the owner of a body shop where the Porche McKey was allegedly driving was found.
Minden Congressman John Fleming is urging his fellow members of Congress to support efforts to allow U.S. military to publicly express their religious beliefs. Dr. Fleming says there have been numerous occurrences in the recent past of military personnel being discouraged, or forbidden from letting people know or see evidence of their faith. Fleming says the quashing of religious expression in the armed forces
seems, to him, to be more focused at Christians and Jews than other religions. Fleming's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act - a key defense spending bill - drew a statement of opposition from the Obama White House.
The Coast Guard says natural gas is leaking from a well at a production platform in the Gulf of Mexico 74 miles southwest of Port Fourchon. Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash says the well is not spewing, but a rainbow sheen four miles wide and three-quarters of a mile long was spotted in an aerial survey Tuesday. The Coast Guard says a crew was working Monday night to temporarily plug the well when workers lost control. Two other wells on the platform were closed off. No one was hurt.
News for Tuesday 070913
By Dave Graichen
The season's third named storm, Tropical Storm Chantal, has formed in the mid-Atlantic, with a course predicted to take it towards Florida's east coast. That's where most computer models show the storm heading, but there ARE a few that forecast a track into the Gulf of Mexico. Chantal is still several days from any possible U.S. landfall. We'll keep an eye on it for you.
State Police say a 20-year-old Marksville man died in a single-vehicle crash in Avoyelles Parish. They say Christian C Cole lost control of his truck and drove off Highway 107 hitting a culvert then a tree. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene.
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the hit-and-run driver responsible for the death of an off-duty New Orleans police officer. Officer Rodney Thomas was involved in a minor accident at about 1 a.m. Sunday morning on I-10. He was struck when he got out of his car to check on the other person in the wreck. Police are looking for a late model white Porsche with possible damage to its right front side.
Shreveport Police identify the three-year-old who died last week, after being left unattended inside a hot car. They say Seriah Delafosse (sur- EYE-uh DEL-uh-foss) died from heat stroke after almost 19 hours in the vehicle. The child's mother, Krystal Delafosse, told officers she forgot the child in the car when she got home on the evening of July 4th, and didn't discover the girl until 4:30 the next afternoon. The Child’s death is still under investigation, and charges against the child's mom are possible.
The U.S. Coast Guard has re-opened the Mississippi River near its mouth, after a tug boat sank there Saturday. Spokesman Petty Officer Carlos Vega says efforts to find the sunken vessel have so far been unsuccessful, but that tells them it's not in the way of, and a threat to shipping traffic.He says shallow draft vessels may proceed at a slow, safe pace. Meanwhile the search for the sunken 48-foot tug "C Pec" continues.
The Coast Guard continues searching for man who fell overboard in the Gulf of Mexico south of Port Fourchon. 36-year-old Hung Nguyen was on a commercial dive boat when he went missing. The ship and crew conducted an extensive search, Now the Coast Guard has 2 helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft scanning the area for any sign of the man, who's been in the water since early Saturday
State Police report a total of five fatal crashes over the July 4th weekend, resulting in 6 deaths. Three of the victims were not wearing seat belts. One of the wrecks is known to have been alcohol-related.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar more has formally charged LSU running back Jeremy Hill with simple battery in the case of the bar fight outside Reggie's in April. The 20 year old was suspended by Coach Les Miles in May when the Mad Hatter said he would wait for the legal process to carry out before he made any further action against Hill.
Governor Bobby Jindal announced a Baton Rouge Company, CB&I will be adding 400 jobs from out-of-state locations to the company's Baton Rouge location. The new direct jobs will pay salaries averaging $68,000 to $78,000 per year plus benefits.
Governor Bobby Jindal confirms he has no plans to run for U.S. Senate against incumbent Mary Landrieu in the fall of 2014. Though a Jindal advisor two weeks ago said the Governor has "no interest", reporters at a Jindal press conference Monday heard it from the Governor himself.
Bossier City Police say a suspected drunk driver is accused of trying to kill a police officer, by ramming his patrol car with his pickup truck. 41-year-old Robert Abraham led officers on a chase, when they attempted to stop him. He slammed his vehicle into a squad car twice before losing control, taking out a gas meter and crashing
into a house. He faces a slew of charges including attempted 1st degree murder of an officer and 4th offense DWI.
News for Monday 070813
By Dave Graichen
A noted demographer says U.S. Census data shows Louisiana is still steadily losing population, despite what the Governor says. Shreveport's Elliot Stonecipher numbers spanning 10 years, from July 2002 to July 2012, shows net outmigration losses decreased Louisiana's population by over 178-thousand. This contradicts Governor Jindal's periodic claims that Louisiana has stemmed outmigration, and has - indeed - been gaining population. Stonecipher says outmigration is also outpacing the rate of births-to- deaths in Louisiana; meaning the population continues to shrink.
A federal appeals court is wading into a high-stakes dispute over the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement of claims arising from BP’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments today by attorneys for the London-based oil giant and for Gulf Coast businesses that say the nation’s worst offshore oil spill cost them money. BP asserts that the judge who approved the deal and a court-appointed claims administrator have misinterpreted the settlement, allowing thousands of businesses to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in payments for inflated and fictitious losses.
A new study ranks Louisiana last in the country for its percentage of women in the legislature. Slightly less than 12% of our state lawmakers are women. The study was done by Rutgers University and the Ctr for American Woman and Politics. It shows, there are just 13 women in the 105-member state House, and only 4 in the 39-member Senate.
The U.S. Coast Guard has shut down Mississippi River traffic in southeastern Louisiana near Venice as the search continues for a sunken tugboat. The 48-foot tug “C-Pec” sank Saturday afternoon. The Coast Guard said two people aboard were rescued by a vessel in the area. River traffic was shut down in both directions from around the mouth of the river up to mile marker 10. The Coast Guard said it will be re-opened only after the submerged vessel is located and authorities are sure the river can be safely navigated.
According to a list of America's Top Booming Suburbs, the Ascension Parish town of Prairieville came it at No. 2. The rankings put together by Coldwell Banker Real Estate rated 1500 communities based on good employment opportunities, good schools, commute by car and community safety. The price of real estate is much lower in Prairieville than it is in Baton Rouge.
There's a little controversy stirring over a New Orleans Police Department Policy that goes into effect next month requiring officers to hide all of their tattoos. NOPD says it's about making the force look more professional. The new policy will reportedly require officers with visible tattoos to wear long sleeve shirts or put makeup over neck tattoos. Until now New Orleans Police officers could have tattoos as long as they weren't offensive.
With the Summer season here, a dating website survey ranks Baton Rouge in the Top Ten American cities for having the "Best Bikini Bodies". MissTravel.com spokeswoman Angela Bermudo says their destination-dating website polled 14-thousand single men to determine which cities had the hottest women to go to the beach with. Bermudo says with seven of the "Top Ten Best Bikini Bodies" cities located in the southern United States, single men should travel to the Bayou State if they're looking for romance.
News for Wednesday 070313
By Dave Graichen
The news came as a bit of a shock to many yesterday, Rapides schools Superintendent Nason Authement underwent triple-bypass surgery yesterday after being taken to the hospital Monday by his wife. Authement , an avid exerciser, had been experiencing chest pains. Doctors say the surgery went well and the Superintendent is recovering nicely. It’s not know at this time how long Authement will be out of the office. An executive assistant superintendent is taking over Authement’s responsibilities in the interim.
The Downtown Alexandria Revitalization Effort of d.a.r.e. was introduced to the public Tuesday. The newly formed nonprofit held its coming out party in the space above Sentry Drug. The group, headed up by Tobias Wilhelm, hopes to become a clearinghouse on downtown properties.
The Louisiana State Police will hold a training academy for new troopers for the first time in 5 years. In 2009 there were over 11 hundred troopers statewide; now there are just 960.
Speaking of more troopers, you can expect to see them throughout the fourth of July holiday weekend. Officials say extra man power has been funded by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission who say aggressive drivers, impaired drivers and those not properly restrained will be targeted.
State Police say they've investigated four motorcycle fatal crashes in less than a week across south Louisiana. Trooper Nick Manale says this is a popular time of the year
for motorcyclists to highway and the public needs to be vigilant while driving.
He says man reason fatal motorcycle crashes occur because a motorist fails to see a bike and react in time.
Authorities in Grant Parish report an investigation into the vandalism of some farm equipment near Colfax resulted in the apprehension of four children, ages 8 to 12. One piece of equipment that was destroyed was valued at $275,000. A spokesperson for the Grant parish sheriff’s office say, investigators had the suspects in custody within two hours.
The State Fire Marshal's Office and the Department of Ag and Forestry held a memorial yesterday afternoon to honor the 19 firefights who perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says these 19 firefighters represent the largest single incident losses to life since 9/11 when 343 New York
City Firefighters died. Browning says we owe a great deal to those who selflessly put themselves in harm's way every day to protect us.
According to the American Automobile Association, fewer people plan to travel this 4th of July Holiday than last year at this time. AAA Spokesman Don Redman says about 40-million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday, which is down slightly from last year. Redman says 84% of those traveling over the next few days will be driving.
Because of the blasts at two plants in Ascension Parish, that killed three and sent near 100 to the hospital last month, they remain closed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has six months to complete an investigation into both explosion sites. One worker from each blast remains in the hospital being
treated for injuries.
Thibodaux police arrest a homeless man who allegedly raped a child on two separate occasions. Police spokesman David Melancon says 49-year-old Brian Stickel is accused of assaulting the child in the woods and once inside the child's home. Stickel faces two counts of aggravated rape. Until his arrest, Stickel was friendly with the boy's family.
A 12-year-old Sabine Parish boy faces criminal charges after he reportedly poured a pot of boiling water on a 6-month old stray puppy. The dog suffered serious burns and runs the risk of infection. The boy, who says he did it to keep the dog out of the
family's garbage cans, is charged with cruelty to animals, and could face up to six months behind bars. Meanwhile a number of people have offered to adopt the female Labrador pup, nicknamed "Amazing Grace".
Slidell Police say a 16-year-old faces attempted murder charges for hacking off another man's earlobe with a machete. The teen reportedly told officers he tried to kill the man, but missed. The victim is recovering in a Slidell hospital. The teen recently came to the area from Los Angeles and is believed to be member of the
vicious MS13 street gang.
State Wildlife & Fisheries have closed an area off East Grand Terre Island, along the Louisiana coast, to commercial fishing, due to large tar mats that turned up, and were cleaned up last week. Secretary Bob Barham says it's residual mess from the 2010 BP oil spill. He says seafood in that area will be tested again, to assure it is safe to eat, before the area is reopened.
News for Tuesday 070213
By Dave Graichen
Former LSU and NBA Star Shaquille O'Neal says he wants to build a children's hospital in Baton Rouge. O'Neal made the announcement during a press conference this weekend in Natchitoches prior to his induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He says he wants to build a big hospital in Baton Rouge, where sick
children can receive medical care for free.
You can scratch Ag Commissioner Mike Strain's name off the list for potential candidates for governor in 2015. Strain says he formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee, ran polls and talked with voters over the last few months and game to the realization that he has the job he wants.
U.L.-Monroe has named Brian Wickstrom as its new Athletic Director. Wickstrom comes to ULM from the University of California - Riverside, to replace Bobby Staub who resigned last April after 9 years helming ULM sports.
A dip at the beach may seem like a good idea to beat the summer heat, but state health officials warn there are health risks in Louisiana's natural waters. State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard says Gulf seawater can contain the so-called flesh-eating bacteria. Dr. Ratard says four swimmers in Louisiana Gulf Coast waters were infected with the bacteria - probably through open wounds or cuts. Three have gotten sick and one person died. He says the bacteria can be especially harmful in persons with pre-existing health issues, or weak immune systems.
The Department of Children & Family Services says all the state's 15 juvenile justice facilities are now under one set of operational standards. DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier says the standards lay out clear rules for health, safety, staff training and many of procedures and policies. She says it's been a long time coming.
Motorists are seeing some relief at the pump during fourth of July travels as gas prices in Louisiana have fallen five cents from last week. According to Patrick Dehaan with GasBuddy.com, the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $3.27. you can find it a lot lower here in Alexandria / Pineville. He says gasoline inventory in the United States is 10% higher than it was a year ago.:
A St. Mary Parish Sheriff's deputy was killed Sunday, when his motorcycle swerved into oncoming traffic and hit an SUV. It happened in Morgan City on state Highway 182. Deputy Carril Crooks was pronounced dead at the scene. The matter is under investigation
An investigation continues into a rather strange crash and fatality. Police in Shreveport are reporting that just after 11pm last night a car went off Jefferson Paige Road and fell onto I-220. The car was reportedly on fire when the driver jumped out and then ran into traffic where he was struck several times.
No sooner does a major construction project on I-10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans finish, than another is slated to get underway. The Department of Transportation says they'll soon begin elevating the roadway at LaPlace, an area that was covered in over a foot of water - and had to be closed - in the days after Hurricane
Isaac last Fall. Crews will lay 15 inches of additional asphalt, to bring the roadway above the high water mark. The work should be done by September.
Police in Monroe say a 25-year-old Marine drowned over the weekend. They say Sgt. Ricky Franklin Sugg was found in a swimming pool at a home Saturday afternoon. Detectives don't suspect suspicious circumstances but his drowning death is still under investigation.
Authorities in Sabine Parish say a two-year-old girl drowned Sunday afternoon in an above-ground swimming pool. It's believed she got outside while everyone else in the home was napping, and climbed the ladder--falling into the water. The parish coroner is calling it a tragic accidental death.
Do red light cameras reduce accidents? A study done in Baton Rouge after 5 years of cams says T-bone type accidents at camera-monitored intersections are down sharply....however, rear-end collisions at the same intersections are up slightly.
News for Monday 070113
By Dave Graichen
Another of the governor’s plans has gone down in flames, The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to shift future rank-and-file state workers to a 401(k)-style retirement plan is unconstitutional. The state seeks to cut it's retirement debt by making the move. The High Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it didn't receive a two-thirds majority from lawmakers. In a written statement, the Governor says he'll "work with lawmakers on the best way to proceed".
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Agents are participating in Operation Dry Water thru the 4th of July weekend. Wildlife agents are increasing patrols, looking for boaters operating or driving a boat while intoxicated. Boat operators whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .08 percent will be charged with a DWI. Meaning you COULD lose your driver’s license.
State Health officials say mosquito-borne West Nile virus activity has been slow so far, a good indicator of a low-infection season. State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoul Ratard says a long, cool Spring has kept mosquito activity and West Nile cases very low. Last year, about 160 were infected with West Nile, and 18 died from the neuroinvasive form of the disease. State officials say the best way to avoid getting the virus, it to avoid being bitten my mosquitoes.
The most sweeping changes to America's health care system in 50 years takes effect in just 90 days. The changes are the main part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2009, also called Obamacare. John Maginnis, with the Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition, says the Coalition's website has lots of information to help you understand what may change for you, under the health care reforms. Maginnis says, under healthcare reform, persons under the federal poverty level will get free health care under Medicaid. Those earning from 100% to 400% of poverty level will be eligible for health care premium subsidies. That website: LHEC.net
We are now one month into the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and have already seen two named storms. State Climatologist Barry Keim says, Warm sea surface temperatures and the absence of a Pacific El Nino, or La Nina - which can mitigate Atlantic storm formation - are behind forecasts of between 18 to 20 named storms this year. Keim feels the predictions are valid, and advises having your hurricane "game plan" ready for whatever comes.
Louisiana Tech athletics becomes an official member of Conference USA today, after a 12-year run in the Western Athletic Conference. Sports Information Director Malcolm Butler says instead of playing schools way out west, Tech will go up against nearby schools like Southern Miss, North Texas and U-A-B. Butler says Conference USA allows Tech to have regional rivalries, which should lead to greater interest in Bulldog athletics and more money coming into the athletic program.
Drug enforcement cops in Natchitoches have busted four people for allegedly distributing crystal meth and for cruelty to juveniles - via exposing them to the dangerous drug. Police Chief Roger Henson says a search warrant for the Natchitoches home turned up meth and other drugs and paraphernalia, and three kids living amongst all that. Two of the kids tested positive for meth in routine drug
screenings. The kids are now in protective custody. Three men and one woman, ll between 25 and 32 years of age have been arrested.
A tow truck driver died Sunday morning, about seven hours after he was struck by an alleged drunken driver while trying to move a disabled vehicle on the side of Interstate 10. 25 year old Blaze Louviere of Breaux Bridge, was standing on the shoulder of the interstate when a 2000 GMC Yukon driven by a 25 year old Texas man struck him and continued driving. Other drivers and witnesses to the accident followed the man into the Breaux Bridge city limits where Breaux Bridge police stopped and held him until State Police arrived to arrest him. Louviere was taken to a hospital in critical condition where he later died.
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