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A professor at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health says it’s never a good idea to carry your cell phone to the bathroom. Dr. James Diaz says a smart phone can contain more bacteria than the bathroom. He says what gets spread to our phones can get on a lot of other things we touch.

“If you’re not washing your hands after you use the bathroom it could collect bacteria from feces or it could just collect some of the normal flora that’s on your hands.”

Diaz says people need to be wary of what they’re touching every day, from door knobs to computer keyboards. He says fecal oral transmission to inanimate objects occurs when individuals don’t wash their hands after leaving the bathroom.

“Whenever you’re using the bathroom you should certainly wash your hands because anything that’s on your hands can be transferred by touch.”

Diaz suggests using an antiseptic to clean your phone screen on a regular basis. He says it’s best to never bring your cell phone into the bathroom because it poses the risk for dropping it in the toilet.

“You would really have to clean with an antiseptic particularly if the toilet is still filled with feces, that could even transmit something like cholera.”

 
 

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Louisiana’s FastStart workforce training program has been named the best in the nation by Business Facilities magazine for a record eight years in a row. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says this can help LED bring more companies to the Bayou State.

“This provides a lot of security to that company that’s considering that location or expansion here in Louisiana,” Pierson said.

Pierson says per capita, Louisiana attracts more jobs and major projects than any other state. He says although as a state we’re small in stature – having a statewide population comparable to just the Houston area – we’re standing out in a big way.

“We’ve got some big states competing against us, but to see that pound for pound we’re bringing home the highest ratio of jobs and projects speaks to the hard work that’s done by Louisiana Economic Development,” Pierson said.

Business Facilities also ranked Louisiana third for infrastructure, seventh for cost of doing business, ninth for exports and economic growth potential, and tenth for industrial electricity rates. Pierson says that’s evidenced by job growth in the state.

“Over the last year, we now have a net plus 22,000 jobs in our state. We really feel like we’ve got great momentum. The unemployment rate is dropping in all regions of our state,” Pierson said.

 
 
 
 
 

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A poll on the State Treasurer's race finds it to be a wide open contest. The October 14th election features three well-funded Republicans, Angele Davis, Neil Riser and John Schroder. JMC Analytics pollster John Couvillon says the GOP candidates are polling in the high single digits.
 
"None of the three major announced Republicans in that race show any signs of early front-runner status," Couvillon said.  


Couvillon says the biggest number from his poll is the undecided, which is 60%. 
 
"Given that it's still relatively early in political season, nobody started spending any money, so that combined with the fact it's a down ballot state race, I was not surprised at all to see the undecideds as high as they were." 
 
There is a major Democrat in the race, New Orleans attorney Derrick Edwards. Couvillon says in the horse race portion of the survey, Edwards polled at 18%, which is higher than the three GOP candidates. 
 
"If the Democratic vote remains consolidated, than conceivably even someone like Derrick Edwards, who is someone not considered a major candidate, can make the run-off. " 

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The Department of Children and Family Services launches a program aimed at improving the foster care system. On any given day, there are more than 4,000 Louisiana children in foster care. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says they want to raise expectations for foster parents and caregivers through the new Quality Parenting Initiative.

“What quality parenting is about is making sure that every single child has a quality parent 24 hours a day every day, whether that parent is their birth parent, a foster parent, a relative,” Walters said.

Walters says DCFS will work closely with foster parents, give them more authority to take care of the child, and offer help when needed. She says being a quality parent means doing everything for that child that a parent would do for their birth child.

“You go to school when they’re playing baseball. You go watch them practice band. You take them to the doctor. You take them to their therapy appointment. You take them to the dentist. You’re there for them all the time,” Walters said.

Walters says this initiative is about allowing foster parents to act more as parents instead of temporary caregivers. Assistant Director for Child Welfare Renda Hodnett says this also means DCFS will expect more of foster parents.

“Expecting them to be at the table when we’re making decisions, when we’re talking about what’s going on with the child, what is in the child’s best interest, how to we plan for that child’s future,” Hodnett said.

 
 
 
 
 

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New data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows Louisiana’s unemployment rate is at a three-year low at 5.5%  The June employment report shows nonfarm jobs increased by nearly 21,000 over the last 12 months.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie says three industry sectors reached all-time highs in employment.


“In construction, 155,600 workers, leisure and hospitality 236,000 and in the education and health care services, 317,000 people.”

Dejoie credits the film tax credit program for helping to boost the leisure and hospitality sector. She says they are also seeing positive signs with the oil and gas industry. She says the Houma area has gained 600 jobs from May and Lafayette has added jobs in four out of the six months.

“We’re not back where we were in Lafayette or Houma but we’re encouraged that we’ve at least seen some increases.”

Construction is the industry that saw the largest one-month gain, an additional four-thousand workers. Dejoie says Lake Charles continues to be the fastest growing market with an increase in 5,500 jobs over the last year.

“Construction of course, and it’s had continued gains and construction is leading the way in the Lake Charles region.”

 
 

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Over 2,000 soldiers from Fort Polk are deploying to Iraq this fall to handle antiterrorism operations. Base Spokesperson Kim Reischling says members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team have spent the last year training.

“They don’t get any better training than what they do right here at home right here at the Joint Readiness Training Center.”

Reischling says they are committed to providing support to the families of deployed soldiers from the Vernon Parish military base. She says Fort Polk provides many services to the spouses and children to help them with any services needed when their loved ones are in Iraq.

“Spouses whose soldiers are deployed can ask for things to be done around the house, where the husband might normally do that if he’s not around. There’s also family support groups.”

Reischling says 60% of the unit will be deployed to Iraq. She says less than 2,000men and women of the combat team will remain in Fort Polk.

“They’ll be continuing their training and doing everything that they do when they’re here anyway.”

 

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Louisiana will be able to export rice to China for the first time ever under a landmark trade agreement involving the U.S. and the Asian country. Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain says this is a huge achievement for the rice industry.

“China consumes the equivalent of the entire U.S. rice crop every 13 days.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts China will import 5 million tons of rice in 2017 and 2018. Strain says it took so long for the trade agreement to be finalized because of safety protocols.

“Making sure there are no pests that rice from the United States into China and that’s a protocol we have with all nations in the movement with agricultural product.”

Louisiana produces the most rice in the U.S. just behind Arkansas and California. Strain says China also imports rice from other countries in south Asia but now Louisiana is in the hunt.

“Trade with all of our nation’s partners is critical to sustain Louisiana and American agriculture and this is very good news.”

 
 

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Investigators are trying to get to the bottom of claims that some Louisiana inmates are being forced to bark like dogs for food. A lawsuit on behalf of the Advocacy Center alleges the organization has a right to investigate this kind of claim.

Attorney Katie Schwartzmann with the McArthur Justice Center says they are concerned about conditions at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer based on letters they received from inmates.

“The Advocacy Center attempted to do a site inspection, and the staff at David Wade did not allow us to speak to prisoners when we were walking on the tiers, and they also did not allow us to speak to prisoners who were on suicide watch,” Schwartzmann said.

Schwartzmann says they filed the suit to get access to the prisoners. She says it’s the Advocacy Center’s job to go in and conduct an investigation when they hear claims of abuse, and unfortunately they’ve received a lot of complaints from inmates at this prison.

“We’ve received really serious allegations about the conditions in there, including physical violence against people with disabilities, prolonged use of segregation, really horrifying facts coming out of that prison,” Schwartzmann said.

Schwartzmann says one of those allegations is that prison staff has forced inmates to bark like dogs to get their food. If these allegations prove true, another suit could be filed to address the issue. She says this suit is only about getting access to the inmates.

“We’re asking the court to declare the Advocacy Center has a right to go in and investigate the conditions, and we’re asking the court to issue an order requiring the prison to allow the Advocacy Center in,” Schwartzmann said.

The Department of Corrections has not issued a comment on the suit.

 
 
 
 

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Doctors at LSU Health New Orleans helped regrow a toddler’s brain after she drowned. Two-year-old Eden Carlson lost a significant amount of brain tissue after spending 15 minutes underwater. Director of Hyperbaric Medicine, Dr. Paul Harch, says she made remarkable improvements after being treated with oxygen for 45 minutes twice a day.

Weeks later, Eden’s parents brought her to New Orleans, and Harch put her in a hyperbaric chamber.

“I dosed it at the same level of oxygen but now with pressure, and she made another very noticeable improvement with just the first hyperbaric treatment and from there just accelerated,” Harch said.

In February of 2016, Eden escaped the baby gate in her home and fell into a near-freezing pool. Eden’s heart did not beat on its own for two hours, as doctors performed CPR for 100 minutes.

Harch says after multiple hyperbaric treatments, Eden could walk and talk again, something doctors said she would never be able to do. He says even more incredible was her brain, as the toddler actually regrew the brain matter she had lost. That was evident in the MRI scans of her brain.

“The MRI came back as ‘normal,’” Harch said, “She had regrown a substantial amount of lost brain tissue, and you could see it involve the entire brain.”

Harch says Eden continues to improve today. This is the first known case of growing back both white and gray brain matter. He says the potential for future patients with similar problems is enormous. He says it will allow for a forum to look at hyperbaric oxygen treatments.

“It’s a therapy that’s been around for 350 years, and the medical profession has missed the potential application of this therapy,” Harch said.

 
 
 
 
 

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A Crime Prevention Research Center report finds more women and minorities are receiving concealed handgun permits compared to white males. Wade Duty, co-owner of Precision Firearms in Baton Rouge says he’s seen the exact same trend in recent years. He credits this spike to the increased awareness of domestic violence issues.

“We encourage people to get restraining orders but sometimes people need something in additional to that to hopefully ensure their safety. So absolutely, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of women interested in obtaining permits.”

The national report finds permits for men grew 22-percent from 2012 to 2016 and permits for women increased by a whopping 93-percent. Duty says minorities seeking concealed carry permits also increased. He says personal security cuts across all demographics.

“People want to be secure in their own homes and as they go about their own business at work or shopping or whatever so it’s not a surprise that people have a universal concern about their safety.”

Duty expects these trends to continue as more people become aware of concealed carry laws that support personal defense in Louisiana. He also says women are more likely to seek out a concealed carry class based on a cultural shift.

“They’re becoming more comfortable with seeking training on their own and not so dependent on a male in their life. They recognize that they can and should be able to provide for their own protection.”

 
 

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Now is the time for lawmakers to work on a plan to address the looming fiscal cliff in 2018. That’s the message of a letter Governor John Be Edwards sent to House Speaker Taylor Barras. Lawmakers failed to address the cliff during this year’s fiscal session. Edwards says they simply cannot wait until next year to start working.

“We’re going to work extremely hard with the leadership in the House and the Senate and with different stakeholders around the state to come up with a responsible plan so we don’t fall off that cliff,” Edwards said.

Over a billion dollars in temporary taxes are set to expire in July of next year. The governor advises Barras to form a working group of both Democrats and Republicans to find a way to replace that lost revenue. Edwards says something must be done to fill that budget hole.

“Doing nothing is not an option. There is no body who can identify $1.3 billion in state general fund cuts that we can enact that would preserve the critical services that the people of Louisiana expect,” Edwards said.

Edwards has proposed several recommendations for addressing the cliff and says he welcome other ideas from lawmakers. The governor will hold meetings around the state to gather public input on the matter. He says it is in everyone’s best interest to devise a plan sooner rather than later.

“It is my hope, my expectation that as we get closer to the fiscal cliff and that sense of urgency increases that they will decide that we do have to act,” Edwards said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Lt. Bruce Simmons is back to work at the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, just over a year after being shot in the police ambush. Casey Rayborn Hicks with the sheriff’s office says it means a lot to the department to have Simmons back.

“It’s been over a year now since the shooting. So as a department, as a community, I think we’ve all been trying to heal and move forward. So this is a huge step in that direction,” Hicks said.

Simmons was shot in the left arm by a gunman who targeted Baton Rouge law enforcement officers following the Alton Sterling shooting. Doctors had to put a titanium bar in his arm because the bone was shattered. Even so, Hicks says Simmons was determined to get back on his patrol bike.

“Everyone was a little bit worried that might not happen, and Bruce has proved all of us wrong fortunately, and he’s come so far,” Hicks said, “He’s back to get out there and continue serving the community, and that’s exciting for all of us.”

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux welcomed Simmons back by promoting him from sergeant to lieutenant and his fellow deputies gave him a standing ovation. Hicks says Simmons cleared his qualifying tests with flying colors.

“He went out to the range to qualify with his weapon, and he did a great job with that and had no problems,” Hicks said, “and he got back on his bike and rode around a little bit, and he said it felt great.”

 
 
 
 
 

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State Superintendent of Education John White could be on his way out the door as he was not reconfirmed by the Senate in this year’s legislative session. Governor John Bel Edwards said on his radio call in show that confirmation is a legal requirement for White to keep his job. But White says,

“I’m hired by a board to do a job, they hired be 5 and a half years ago and until they tell me to stop, I’m going to keep doing that job for our kids.”

A recent lawsuit seeking to remove White as superintendent was thrown out as only a few elected officials, including the governor, have the authority to take such legal action. White says he’s made great strides in his years as superintendent and the students are showing improvement.

“And so you have to ask, how well has the job been done? Look, we’re the fastest improved state in the nation in 4th grade literacy, we’re the second fastest improving in 4th grade math when every state takes the same test.”

If the governor decides not to take legal action, a two-thirds vote from BESE could remove White from office. White says it’s time to focus on the students, not on politics.

“We need to get things out of the court room and get them back to the classroom. School starts in a month, our discussion about public education should not be focused on the personnel and the people involved, it should be focused on our kids.”

 
 

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Work begins this week to waterproof the first six floors of the State Capitol. Jacques Berry with the Division of Administration says scaffolding is up around the base of the building. And he says the front doors to the tallest building in the city will remain closed over the next year.

“There’s always a danger with projects like this when you’re working high above where people are walking. So it’s out of an abundance of caution,” Berry said.

Berry says the two entrances on the ground level will remain open. He says crews will use this as an opportunity to reattach some of the limestone panels. He says new technology gave them a closer look at the structure and showed pieces coming loose from the 80-year-old building.

“This was the first time anybody was able to see exactly how the bones of the building look, and once that was discovered it was determined there may need to be some reinforcement of the bones of the building,” Berry said.

Berry says construction began Monday and is expected to take one year. The project will cost roughly $5 million. He says the waterproofing and limestone repair will only be for the first six floors of the capitol.

“This waterproofing project is only for the base of the building. We’re not going to do any work on the tower itself,” Berry said, “That is part of a separate project that has yet to be funded but needs to happen.”

 
 
 
 
 

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A man rushing his pregnant wife to the hospital missed the birth of his child after being arrested in Rapides Parish. Creola Police Chief Heath Landry says one of his officers clocked a vehicle doing 108 in a 55 mph speed zone. He says the officer witnessed more dangerous driving as he attempted to pull over Zak Evans.

“As he was catching up to the vehicle, he observed the vehicle passing people on the left and right shoulder, running people off the road,” Landry said.

Landry says the officer radioed ahead to Pineville, where officers set up a road block because Evans would not stop. He says when officers finally pulled over Evans and got him out of the vehicle, he was livid.

“The guy was very irate, screaming, yelling, and they put him in the back of the police car in handcuffs after they Mirandized him. He’s still kicking, yelling at the glass,” Landry said.

An ambulance took Evans’ wife Bridget to a local hospital where she gave birth, and Evans was arrested on charges of flight from an officer and careless operation, as well as ticketed for speeding.

Evans told KALB-TV that he didn’t have time to look at the speedometer because he was worried about his wife and baby.
 
Landry says they understand it was an emergency, but there was still a safety concern.

“At that rate of speed driving like that, you’re not going to make it to the hospital, and you may end up injuring someone else or yourself and your unborn child and wife,” Landry said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Female military veterans will have a new support system, as the state Department of Veterans Affairs is set to launch monthly Coffee Conversations in August. Female veterans outreach coordinator Alex Juan says this will offer a safe space for military women to talk about the issues affecting them.

She says the discussions will be live streamed and open to all of female veterans in the state.

“It’s pretty cool because you can be at home in your pj’s, or you can be at your local Starbucks, and you can still be part of the conversation,” Juan said.

Louisiana is home to more than 32,000 women veterans. Juan says military women can be more hesitant to seek services from the VA than their male counterparts because females are not always well-received. She says she even ran into a similar incident yesterday morning.

“I went in to one of the VA clinics to pick up some medicine, and immediately the question comes up, ‘Oh, your husband’s a veteran, are you here to pick up his medicine?’” Juan said.

Juan says this is about changing the conversation and recognizing that both men and women serve their country. She says it’s also an opportunity for these women to talk about specific struggles they’ve faced with someone who can understand.

“Many of us were moms having to nurse children while in uniform or having to be out in the field, and having women that get what you’ve been through has been so effective for the healing process for so many of them,” Juan said.

Female veterans interested in serving as program coordinators are encouraged to call 225-219-5005.

 
 
 
 
 

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Governor John Bel Edwards is pleased with job growth and creation in the Bayou State. On his monthly radio call in show, the governor said several sectors of the economy are improving, especially health care thanks to expansion of the Medicaid program.

“We’ve never employed more people in Louisiana in the healthcare sector than we do now. That’s a direct result of the Medicaid expansion. By bringing home our federal tax dollars, we’re hiring more people because we have to because we’re providing care to more people.”
 
Edwards says in January of 2016, the state’s unemployment rate was at 6.2% and the latest numbers show the unemployment rate in May of 2017 was 5.7% and predicts that will drop even lower when the June numbers are released.

“We’ve got an unemployment rate that is going down and we’ve got job creation and job growth that is increasing.”
 
Edwards says Lafayette, the hub of the state’s oil and gas sector, is also making great strides. He says in the last year and a half, the city saw four separate months of steady job increases.

“Job creation going up, unemployment going down, that’s great and every corner of the state is benefiting from this too.”
 
 

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Monroe Police Chief Quentin Holmes has announced he is going to retire from his post. In a joint news conference with Mayor Jamie Mayo, Holmes said he has been thinking about returning to teaching for quite some time. News outlets had reported that Mayo asked for a resignation which he says is 100% not true.

 
"I never asked him to resign, I never asked him to retire, I want to be real clear with that"
 
Mayo says Holmes will remain chief until July 30th, and during that time his office will work to name someone to serve in the interim. Holmes was named police chief in 2011 and received a no confidence vote from the union in August 2014, but he says that has nothing to do with this retirement.

"What I'm looking at is what's best for me and my family and moving forward and ultimately the most important factor that I consider is making sure that I leave the city in good grounds"

KNOE said they had received anonymous calls from people saying there was bad blood between Holmes and the Mayor over the rising crime problem in the Monroe area. Mayo says he hopes they have now cleared the air that it’s just not the case.
 
"You'll be receiving, I'm sure some more anonymous calls, and I just want you to know today we're not going to be and i'm not going to be addressing anonymous calls."
 
 
 

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Governor John Bel Edwards announced today federal funding for flood control projects in the Baton Rouge area. Edwards says 220 million dollars will go to local governments in the Capital region as part of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

“This will allow us to advance projects in the near term with real dollars that will help prevent or lessen the impact of future floods.”

Edwards says each parish will submit a plan to FEMA before the money will be allocated. He says some of the money will be used to buy back significantly damaged homes from last year’s flood and make it a green space. He says the rest of the funds will go to….

“Better control the flood waters on a flood plain basis, which is why these dollars are going to go to a lot of drainage projects.”

None of this money will go toward the much talked about Comite Diversion Canal Project because funding for that must come from a different source. Edwards says after Hurricane Katrina, a majority of hazard mitigation grant dollars went towards elevating homes but that won’t be the case this time.

“We are trying to transition away from that because that is so expensive and you use up all the available dollars if you elevate too many structures.”

 
 

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Zachary Police have made an arrest in the case of a fatal home invasion that occurred last night. Chief David McDavid says the deceased, 20-year-old Damon Hayes Jr, allegedly broke in with 20-year-old Jordale Carter and possibly two other suspects.

“Once inside, they began robbing the homeowner, what appeared to be a weapon. The homeowner was able to get up and retrieve a weapon and began shooting,” McDavid said.

Hayes died in the incident, and Carter was booked on many charges including murder because his accomplice died during a crime. McDavid says two other suspects are still at large.

“We’re working with East Baton Rouge Parish and Baton Rouge city police department to find out who these suspects are and who their acquaintances are, and hopefully we can make some more arrests,” McDavid said.

McDavid says one of the suspects was reportedly trying to get a ride away from the scene, saying he was being shot at. He says the robbery occurred in an elderly neighborhood, and they seldom have shootings like this.

“Unfortunately we have outsiders coming into Zachary that are causing some of these issues, and we’re not going to tolerate that here,” McDavid said, “and we wish that our younger generation would be more productive to society and not a burden to society.”

 
 
 
 
 

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