News for Friday 013114
By Dave Graichen
Things are finally starting to get back to normal across central Louisiana after another major winter storm closed schools and highways. This morning, all children return to the class room. All highways and bridges are back open as well. Another bit of good news, it will be at least the middle of next week before we see temps back in the 30’s..
After hearing numerous complaints about the sky-high rates for flood insurance, the Senate today passed a bill to delay premium increases to homeowners who get their flood insurance from the federal government. The bill still needs to pass the house. Many critics of the bill say it will damage the reforms on the program that resulted in numerous bailouts and a huge $24 billion dollar debt owed to the US Treasury.
Crews lost control of a natural-gas well being drilled off the Louisiana coast Thursday, but officials said no injuries or pollution have been reported and efforts are underway to stop the flow of gas.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said most crew members were evacuated from the rig, which was drilling in 262 feet of water about 108 miles southwest of Lafayette. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash said no sheen was sighted when a Coast Guard crew flew over the site Thursday.
A federal agency must sign off on the funding the Jindal administration plans to use to pay for expanded community-based services for the developmentally disabled. The administration’s budget proposal earmarks $11 million of federal hurricane recovery money for the purpose.
State police report a 68-year-old Bunkie man died early Thursday morning when he lost control of his vehicle and hit a tree. Troopers say David Chenevert was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash.
Blood Donation Centers throughout Louisiana are reporting critical shortages this week after weather forced them to close down for two days this week. The Blood Center spokeswoman Amanda Chittenden says their organization needs to collect 300-350 pints of blood each day to maintain a stable blood supply for the community. Blood donors must weigh at least 110 pounds, be at least 17 years old and in good health. Chittenden says they are urging donors of all blood types to please donate this week
After a two day weather delay, the federal corruption trial for former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin continued, with jurors being chosen yesterday afternoon. Nagin is charged with wire fraud and bribery, connected with free trips and spiffs from contractors, so they could secure millions in rebuilding work. Several people within Nagin's circle have already been convicted or issued guilty pleas as a result of a New Orleans City Hall investigation.
Tax filing season begins today and the Louisiana Department of Revenue should be careful when choosing a tax preparer. Spokesperson Byron Henderson says authorities know that fraudulent tax preparers are out there because a bunch of them have been arrested. The most recent fraud case had a Lafayette based tax preparer arrested last week on several felony accounts including tax evasion and computer fraud. Consumers could be held liable for a fraudulent tax return even if it
was prepared by a service.
A Winnfield man has been sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the beating death of a Wheeling Jesuit University student. 24 year old Jarrett Chandler pleaded guilty Thursday and agreed to cooperate with Ohio County prosecutors in the case against a co-defendant. Chandler also was fined $1,000. He will receive credit for time served since his Sept. 3 arrest in the attack that occurred three days earlier. Prosecutors say the 21 year old victim was beaten during an argument and died the next day.
The brutally cold weather will most likely affect the supply of crawfish. David Savoy is a crawfish farmer in Church Point says many of his ponds iced over this past week. The mud bugs don't eat
or move around when the temperatures dip that low and Savoy predicts this will makes the crawfish smaller because of it. Savoy says he's never seen it this bad..
Tuesday's State of Union address by President Obama inspired Centenary College in Shreveport to raise the minimum wage of the college's workers to $10.10 an hour. Centenary President David Rowe says they have 25 workers who will receive a raise. He says they also have 2 major vendors that have workers at the college, who have also decided to pay their employees at least $10 and ten cents an hour. President Obama asked congress to approve a higher minimum wage so low-wage workers would have better economic opportunities.
A Natchitoches Parish woman is arrested after she brought a shotgun to Fairview Alpha Elementary School just north of Campti. Based on a tip, thirty year-old Aftan Creighton allegedly was going inside
the school to forcibly to remove her child. Deputies found a loaded shotgun in her truck that was in the parking lot. She was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.
A Galliano man is in jail following a rape, battery and false imprisonment of a Lafourche Parish woman this past weekend. Twenty seven year-old Lee Hartman allegedly had been holding the woman against her will, forced himself on her, raped her, and threatened her with several knives in her home. Monday, another man showed up at the residence distracting him, and she was able to call Sheriff's deputies. Hartman was booked into the LaFourche Parish Detention Center.
New Orleans native Peyton Manning looks to match his brother Eli Manning by winning his second championship Ring when Peyton's Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 48. Both teams are wrapping up two weeks of preparation and Manning says he needed that much time, because he's unfamiliar with the Seahawks. Sunday's game is a match-up of the N-F-L's best offense against the league's best defense Seattle.
News for Wednesday 012914
By Dave Graichen
I-49 Remains closed until further notice from Rapides Station to the North to Hwy71 to the South.
Boyce Highway 8 Bridge is Closed as is the Jackson Street Bridge in Alexandria.
A-Trans Bus Service has been suspended until further notice.
South Louisiana Highways are in many cases closed.. I-10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge is closed..
Most Central Louisiana Schools, Public & Private are closed again tomorrow. The exceptions at this point, Natchitoches Parish and Winn Parish Schools..
NSU, Louisiana College And LSUA Will be closed Wednesday
State office closings: State offices will be closed Wednesday in the following parishes:
Acadia, Allen, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, LaFourche, LaSalle, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Terrebonne, Vermillion, Vernon, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.
Rapides Parish Courthouse: Closed Wednesday
City Of Pineville City Hall Closed Wednesday (essential Personnel Only)
Alexandria VA Medical Center, Fort Polk VA Clinic and Natchitoches VA Clinic: Closed Wednesday.
Old Man winter begins to loosen its grip on Louisiana today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the sun will come out and the icy conditions will melt away as the day goes on. Keim says we'll see high temperatures today in the low 40s and the warm-up will continue into Thursday, before we some really mild temps for the weekend.
Now that the precipitation has left The Bayou State, the Department of Transportation says there are still certain conditions they have to monitor before a closed road is deemed passable. DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett says it does take a while for a frozen bridge or elevated roadway to thaw out. Mallett says just because it's sunny & clear outside, that doesn't mean a road is safe to travel.
Two teenagers were killed and five others were injured Monday night as a result of a single-vehicle crash in the Rapides Parish town of Tioga. State Police Trooper Scott Moreau says wreck is NOT weather-related, but they believe the 16-year-old driver of the 2011 Jeep S-U-V was driving at a high rate of speed. Moreau says seven juveniles were in the vehicle, and two of them were killed, 17-year-old Logan Cameron Ammons of Ball and 15-year-old Christian Gage Lavaillie of Pineville. He says the driver received minor injuries and he's initially been charged with careless operation. Moreau says none of the teenagers were wearing seatbelts.
We could see more changes to the high school football playoffs as the LHSAA convention gets underway today. The postseason was split between select and non-select schools last fall. LHSAA president Todd Guice says there are different proposals to change the format, but how high school
principals will vote is anyone's guess. Guice says one of the proposals calls for each classification to decide if they want to have split playoffs. He says their agenda also calls for a vote on scrapping the current playoff system and returning to the previous system, which resulted in five state champions. Principals will get a chance to vote tomorrow.
President Obama made the case for raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour in last night's State of the Union address. LSU Economics Professor Robert Newman says the President won't get the desired results he is seeking because businesses will actually lay off workers. The President will sign an executive order that brings new federal contract workers wages up to ten dollars and ten cents an hour, but raising the minimum wage for all Americans is up to law-makers.
Metairie business owner Roger Villere has been re-elected to another 2 - year term as chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. Villere has held that post since 2004. Villere says the state G-O-P has made tremendous strides since he took over. Villere says the top priority of the party right now is defeating Landrieu this year. Villere will also serve as the party chair when Louisiana elects a new governor in 2015.
The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected a challenge Tuesday to two state firearm statutes, deciding voters expected “sensible” gun regulations when they approved a constitutional amendment in 2012 that made the right to bear arms fundamental.The high court reversed the findings of an East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court judge in an opinion experts said would send a clear signal to lower courts weighing similar challenges to the state’s gun laws.
News for Tuesday 012814
Closed Until Further Notice:
I-49 from Rapides Station North To The Highway 71Exit South of the city
The Gillis Long Bridge (Jackson St.) In Alexandria
The Highway 8 Bridge In Boyce
Rapides, Grant, Allen, Avoyelles, Natchitoches, Sabine, Evangeline, La Salle, Beauregard, Vernon & Catahoula Parish public schools closed Today
All Catholic Schools Rapides & Avoyelles Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Alexandria Country Day School - Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
NSU, Louisiana College, Closed Thru Wednesday
LSUA Closed Tuesday
The Rapides Parish Courthouse will be closed today.
State offices will be closed today in all Cenla parishes except for Catahoula, Natchitoches and Winn parishes.
City Of Pineville Offices Closed
A winter storm warning is in effect until six A-M tomorrow for the lower half of Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry Keim says we could see freezing rain, sleet and snow. The National Weather Service says we could see 1-to-3 inches of snow and locally higher amounts for areas north of the Interstate 10 corridor. Ice accumulations of one quarter of an inch is possible south of I-10.
The Department of Transportation is taking precautions on the roads. DOTD is trying to keep roads open as long as possible. Officials say they'll have trucks out sanding and salting roads. But there is not enough equipment to keep all bridges open so they will focus on keeping main corridors open and safe.
State Police will have extra patrols out today in an effort to avoid the dramatic increase they saw in weather related accidents during last Friday's winter storm. LSP Spokesperson Captain Doug Cain says there was a 400% increase in weather related crashes including six fatality crashes. Cain says the LSP is working closely with DOTD to salt, sand and de-ice the roads. Cain says having extra troopers on patrol will help them determine which roads need to be closed due to icy conditions.
President Obama's State of the Union address tonight could have a tremendous impact on low wage workers in Louisiana and across the country. U-L Lafayette Political Science professor Pearson Cross says the President is expected to ask Congress to pass a higher minimum wage. Cross says raising the minimum wage will not make Louisiana's republican delegation happy, because there's a concern this will hurt businesses. G-O-P Congressman have said they would rather see the President talk about making changes to Obamacare, but Cross says that's unlikely. Latest reports say Obama's approval ratings are low going into tonight's State of the Union. But Cross says that's not unusual for a President heading into his sixth year of office.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission reported Monday. first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 18 decreased to 2,726 from the previous week’s total of 3,330. There were 3,850 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
News for Monday 012714
By Dave Graichen
The southern half of Louisiana, including Alexandria, is under a winter storm watch as there's a good chance we'll see snow and ice, starting tonight in southwest Louisiana. Fred Zeigler, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says we could see between one and two inches of snow north of Interstate 10, and freezing rain along the coast.
Louisiana's 2014 U-S Senate race is now considered a 'toss-up.' Larry Sabato with the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia changed his rating from a slight lean in favor of democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu to a toss-up. Sabato says Landrieu should be worried if a run-off is needed to decide the race, because democrats could have trouble getting their voters to the polls for a run-off election. Three republicans are actively campaigning against Landrieu. Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy, state representative Paul Hollis and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness. Cassidy remains Landrieu's biggest challenger.
Tax season kicks off January 31st and the Internal Revenue Service is getting the word out about a no cost option for most Louisianans to prepare their taxes. It's called "Free File" and it's available
for free for individuals and families making 58 thousand or less a year I-R-S spokesperson Dee Harris Stepter says, You can get the 'Free File' software at the I-R-S dot gov website. Despite the many ways you can file your tax returns, Stepter says the 'Free File" software is a big help at absolutely cost. The I-R-S says 70 percent of Americans are eligible to use the "Free File" software.
The long-awaited corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin begins today in federal court. Among the charges, prosecutors argue Nagin was given over $100,000 in kickbacks in exchange for multi-million dollar city construction contracts. Nagin got national attention during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a rebuilding effort spurred by billions of federal dollars.
Nagin is the first mayor in the history of New Orleans to be indicted and face a federal corruption trial.
The Jindal administration presented lawmakers Friday with a 25-billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year that starts July first. The governor's chief financial administrator, Kristy Nichols, says it's a
responsible and balanced spending plan that doesn't raise taxes or use one-time dollars on recurring expenses. The governor's proposed budget calls for increased funding to pay for TOPS Scholarships and there's new dollars to pay for workforce development programs that will be utilized by colleges and universities. Nichols says the budget also includes money to train another State Police cadet class. It does call for the elimination of more than one- thousand jobs in state government, most of them are vacant, but Nichols says the spending proposal contains pay raises for thousands state employees.
According to the Jindal administration, In just a few weeks’ time, a New York global management firm has found more than $4 million in savings for state government. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols told legislators Friday, “The contract itself has paid for itself”. The Jindal administration added the savings recommendations into its proposed $25 billion state spending plan for the fiscal year that starts this summer. The ideas all focus on health care and include a new rate for some patients staying in hospitals on the state’s dime, the elimination of a claims processing step and a crackdown on high-cost medication.
The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office identified the man whose body was found Saturday afternoon in a sugar-cane field near Rosedale. The body of 42 year old Avery Hastings Corpus Christi was found Saturday by a group of all-terrain vehicle riders. Hastings is believed to be the victim of a violent incident that happened about a week ago in West Baton Rouge Parish, however authorities have not released any details.
All Public And Private Schools In Rapides, Grant, Vernon, Winn, Avoyelles, Evangeline, Natchitoches, Beauregard, St. Landry and Allen Parishes are closed.
All Catholic Schools in Rapides and Avoyelles Parishes and Alexandria Country Day School are closed.
Also Closed, Louisiana College, Louisiana State University of Alexandria and the NSU Cenla and Fort Polk/Leesville and Natchitoches campuses.
Louisiana government offices will be closed Today..
Union Tank in Alexandria has announced that all normal and special scheduled operations have been canceled for Friday morning. All departments will work Tonight (regular second shift). Normal weekend operations will resume Saturday morning.
At Fort Polk, only key and essential military and civilian personnel are required to report to work.
News for Thursday 012314
By Dave Graichen
Snow is a rare thing in Louisiana but there is a possibility that portions of the state might see some snowflakes tonight and Friday. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the chance of snow is only twenty percent even though temperatures will surely be frosty enough. Regardless of whether or not snow crops up in parts of Louisiana, Keim says we're looking at a hard freeze that should last for more than a few days.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has delayed , for at least a year, $6.6 million in funding for the construction of three Central Louisiana outpatient health clinics. The construction of the clinics is part of the state’s plan to replace services currently provided by Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville. Huey P. Long, which is part of the state charity hospital system, is scheduled to be closed sometime before July 1, when the state’s new fiscal year begins. The $6.6 million in state funding is designated to build permanent structures for the clinics. Funding to operate the three facilities that are open or will be soon, is already in place.
Five people are in jail in Natchitoches Parish charged with faking a home invasion where two people were supposedly beaten and robbed. The reason the suspects gave during questioning with authorities, is that one of them needed money to pay their rent. All five have been booked awaiting bond.
Governor Jindal has weighed in on the debate over whether to legalize pot. The governor says he's opposed to the legalization of marijuana, but Jindal says he's willing to look at the issue of medical marijuana more closely. State lawmakers discussed the pro and cons of legalizing medical marijuana during a committee hearing this week. Jindal says he will veto any legislation that attempts to legalize recreational use of pot.
Governor Bobby Jindal says it's too early to endorse anyone for the governor’s race in 2015 in response to David Vitter throwing his hat into the ring. However The Governor did praise Vitter's work in D.C. and also pointed out that the US Senator supported Jindal's education reforms. Jindal is term-limited so he can't run in 2015.
There's already been response to US Senator David Vitter's announcement to run for governor in 2015. Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards says that the senator -quote- "has excelled in two things: obstruction and division." Political experts say this election should be very entertaining.
Higher education leaders are pleased to hear Jindal's proposing to increase state funding for Louisiana's colleges and universities. Jindal's proposed budget for next fiscal year will contain a $142 million dollar increase in funding for higher ed. LSU System President F . King Alexander says that's welcomed news after so many years of budget cuts.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is asking lawmakers to include $60 million in next year’s budget to give pay raises to state workers. The governor will include dollars for the raises in his 2014-15 budget proposal, which will be presented to lawmakers Friday. If lawmakers agree to the funding, the raises would be doled out to workers who receive a good rating on their annual evaluations in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Governor Bobby Jindal announced the grand opening of the Pennington Biomedical Center's Childhood Obesity Clinic in Baton Rouge Wednesday. The administration is also pledging $6.4 million dollar in funding for a newly renovated building to help fight childhood obesity in
the state, which he says has reached epidemic proportions. Nearly 50% of all children in Louisiana are overweight or obese.
Officials with the Ascension Parish plant that had a fatal explosion in Geismar last summer is disputing the safety violations found by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Williams Olefins is also contesting almost $100,000 in civil penalties proposed by federal regulators. The blast on June 13 killed two and injured 114.
Major drug busts hit Acadiana last week. Law enforcement officials report nearly 97 thousand dollars in narcotics were seized and two hundred fifty one people were arrested. Captain John Babin of the Lafayette Metro Task Force says 17 area agencies focused on drug criminals to put a dent in over- all crime.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lung cancer rates are down in Louisiana and state health officials attribute the decline to the 2007 Smoke Free Air Act. The CDC report shows newly diagnosed lung cancer cases between 2005-09 dropped 8.4 percent in women ages 35-44. The numbers in Louisiana for women of all ages showed a 1 percent drop in reported lung cancer cases and the drop for men of all ages was 2.8 percent.
News for Wednesday 012213
By Dave Graichen
U. S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., announced Tuesday morning that he plans to run for governor in 2015.
In an email to supporters, Vitter said he and his family arrived at the decision after thought, prayer and discussion. The 52 year old Vitter vowed to make the governor’s office his last political job, either elected or appointed. Vitter could face two strong republican challengers like Lt. Governor Dardenne or State Treasurer John Kennedy.
State lawmakers met in Baton Rouge Tuesday to discuss the legalization of marijuana and the possibility of reducing sentences for those found guilty of possession. Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore requested The House Criminal Justice Committee meeting. He says it doesn't make
sense that a doctor can prescribe marijuana but patients can't fill it.
Louisiana has been dealing with some very dry conditions and high winds which has fueled many out of control brush fires recently. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning stopped short on a statewide burn ban, but he does request all Louisiana citizens to delay debris and trash burning until the state gets so more precipitation.
Governor Bobby Jindal announced yesterday that he'll propose a $142 million dollar increase in funding for higher education institutions across the state. That will be part of his proposed budget, which will be released Friday. He's also proposing a new 40 million dollar workforce fund as an incentive for colleges to produce more high demand jobs.
Baton Rouge Police may have a break in a series of home invasions, where women were victims of sexual assaults. 35 year old Vorris Mouton of New Iberia was arrested for a December home invasion, but Police Chief Carl Dabadie says D-N-A linked him to a break-in and sexual assault of a
woman last Friday.
In Baton Rouge, Authorities are investigating a police chase late Monday in which a vehicle being pursued because it had no license plate slammed into another car, killing the driver of that car.
The crash claimed the life of a 37 year old man who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Department of Transportation says they are discussing the possibility of picking up more revenue by selling sponsorships on things like roads and bridges. Spokesman Rodney Mallett says they want to tap into resources they already have in order to bring in more cash. For example, the service of the Motor Assistance Patrol vehicles. Mallet says right now they are talking with other states that sell sponsorships on its highways to see how it's working for them and once they have that information they will proceed accordingly.
The Natchitoches Parish sheriff’s office reports a man’s body was recovered Tuesday morning from Black Lake near Chandler’s Camp on La. Highway 9, north of Campti, after a person reported finding the body on the edge of the lake. The man was pronounced dead at the scene by the Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office. His identity is being withheld until his next of kin has been notified. The man was known to have had a heart condition and it is believed he got wedged between two stumps while fishing and could not help himself.
A former Haliburton manager is sentenced to one year of probation for destroying evidence after the 2010 BP oil spill. US District Judge Jay Zainey had the option of sentencing Anthony Badalamenti to one-year in prison, but legal analyst Tim Meche says the judge determined that prison time did not fit the crime. Badalamenti also must perform 100 hours of community service and pay a one-thousand dollar fine.
Sad story out of St. Francisville. The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff's office says one of their long-time deputy's drowned in a fishing pond. They say 55 year old Ernest James was with a friend
fishing when their boat overturned. His body was found about 30 minutes later. The situation is still being looked into by investigators.
LSU announces Jeff Grimes as its new offensive line coach and running game coordinator. He served in the same capacity at Virginia Tech last season and he also served as an o-line coach at Auburn from 2009-2012. Grimes is considered, by many to be, one of the better offensive line coaches and recruiters in college football.
News for Tuesday 012114
By Dave Graichen
The National Weather Service says there's a slight chance we could see frozen precipitation, maybe even snow, for areas of southeast Louisiana later this week. Forecaster Danielle Manning says a cold front with precipitation will cross the state on Thursday and if that precipitation sticks around when the temperatures drop, we could see a wintry mix. But, before you get excited, the chance for snow is not high, only 20-to-30-percent.
The House Criminal Justice Committee meets today to discuss the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana in Louisiana. Chairman Joe Lopinto says the meeting is to get more time for the panel to hear testimonies from parties interested in the topic. They will also receive feedback from the
states that recently legalized pot to see the positives and negatives. Lopinto says there will be discussions about decreasing the penalties for marijuana possession in the meeting. But he doesn't see a strong push to legalize marijuana.
Lafayette-based Acadian Ambulance is having a difficult time expanding, because there's a national shortage of paramedics and emergency medical technicians. Randall Mann of Acadian Ambulance says many people don't think of being an E-M-T or a paramedic as a career, but he thinks it's a great opportunity with a solid income. Acadian Ambulance has its own training academy and they are seeking recruits for their fall courses.
Four teen-agers are in custody today accused of manufacturing and using bombs illegally. Seventeen-year old Blaine Burkett of Greenwell Springs has been charged with manufacturing and possessing bombs with explosives and the intent to be used on people and houses; along with contributing to the delinquency of juveniles. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office did not identify the other teens involved.
Doctors, hospitals and other providers aren’t getting paid for the care they deliver to a quarter-million state employees and retirees insured through the Office of Group Benefits. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana recently took over, in a private contract, the management of the agency that had overseen health care coverage for state employees and retirees. Blue Cross notified the state by letters that payments would be delayed while computer programs were upgraded. Patients should not be affected, according to Blue Cross, but physicians and health care providers may not get paid for six to eight weeks.
Though most of LSU’s charity hospitals and clinics have been turned over to private managers, federal officials still haven’t decided whether they’ll agree to the financing plans that are being used to pay the new hospital operators. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration expresses confidence that the deals will eventually gain approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, but says that these types of complex arrangements take time. CMS isn’t talking about how far apart the two sides are in negotiating final terms. The deals are costing the state $1.1 billion this budget year, much of it paid with federal health care dollars.
For one of Louisiana's darlings of the Olympics, it's a shot of redemption for the upcoming games. Former LSU track star Lolo Jones will be teamed with Lauryn Williams on the U.S. bobsled team. The games begin on February 6th.
January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Cervical cancer is caused by the sexually transmitted infection, human papillomavirus (HPV). Dr. Ann Moriarty, a pathologist says around 80 million Americans have been exposed to HPV. A pap smear and a HPV test are the only ways to check for the cancer and virus. Sexually active women should begin testing at 21. She says without getting tested there is no way to know if you have the disease because cervical cancer does not have any symptoms. Moriarty says women in Louisiana could be at a higher risk because they tend to not get tested.
News for Monday 012014
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana's largest automotive insurer has announced they're raising rates by an average of 3.4 percent. State Farm insurance also says that premiums for liability, med pay, collision and comprehensive coverage are also increasing. The increase will become effective next month.
It was announced on Friday that G. Daniel “Dan” Howard was named the next chancellor of Louisiana State University of Alexandria. The 64 year old Howard is a tenured full professor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark., who has served as its vice chancellor for academic affairs, provost and interim chancellor. He will begin the job March 1, pending approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.
The Jindal administration did an about-face Saturday and announced that a controversial contract will be amended to ensure at least $500 million in savings are identified before a consulting firm receives final payment. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said New York-based Alvarez and Marsal agreed to the change. She said an amendment will be attached to the contract. The Jindal administration told legislators the goal of the $4.2 million contract with the global management firm was to identify how state government can save a minimum of $500 million. However, neither the contract nor the original 80-page job description spelled out achieving the benchmark as a requirement for payment.
Four states, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, would again have to get approval from the Justice Department before changing the way they hold elections under a bipartisan bill introduced last week to restore parts of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional. Supporters said the bill, introduced Thursday, would modernize and improve the 1965 civil rights legislation by updating a formula used to require certain states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing election laws and practices.
A Bossier City lawmaker files a bill that would allow concealed handgun permit holders to possess a firearm in restaurants that serve alcohol. State Representative Jeff Thompson says the current law states a person carrying a firearm with a concealed permit cannot go into any place where alcohol is being sold for consumption on the premises. Thompson says he wants to make sure people can protect their families while out in public. Thompson says his proposed law does not allow permit holders to get drunk while possessing their weapon at the same time.
US Senator David Vitter has introduced a bill in Congress that would require food stamp beneficiaries to show a photo ID when they purchase items with SNAP funding. Vitter says the EBT system is riddled with fraud and serious action must be taken to correct what he calls the flawed taxpayer funded program. Vitter says requiring a photo ID when EBT card purchases are made would restore some accountability in the program so it's not ruined for people who use it appropriately.
Congress has approved legislations that will delay large flood insurance rate hikes until 2015 for thousands of policy holder in Louisiana. The measure is part of a government spending bill that's
expected tobe signed by the President. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the U-S senate is scheduled to vote on another bill later this month that will go even further to make sure Louisiana policyholders are not priced out of their homes because of massive flood insurance rate hikes.
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Walter Lee has be indicted by a grand jury of felony theft, public contract fraud and malfeasance in office. A recent report from the state legislative auditor claims the Lee double billed his travel expenses to the Desoto Parish school system and BESE.
A Livingston Parish School Resource Officer has uncovered a plot where several students were involved in what appeared to be a plan to damage Live Oak High School as well as harm some targeted students. Authorities say that once the students involving were confronted, they all claimed it was all part of a joke. Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard wasn't laughing. Six students have charged with terrorizing.
A fourth home invasion within a week has authorities in Baton Rouge stepping up their efforts to catch the criminal. The break ins have people on edge. Baton Rouge Police Cheif Carl Dabadie said the women should only trust people they know. Three of the home invasions happened to women in their seventies.
News for Thursday 011614
By Dave Graichen
Rapides Parish Sheriff's detectives arrested a Deville man Wednesday and found nine firearms that had been reported stolen on Tuesday. Detectives arrested 18 year old Colby Deville after a complaint from a local pawn shop Tuesday launched an investigation. A juvenile was also arrested and authorities say they expect there will be more arrests in the case.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday officially opened a substation the new substation on Lower Third St. in the old Martin Luther King branch library. The South Alexandria substation will provide dispatching and assistance to the School Resource Officer Section of the Law Enforcement Division and will handle the deputies assigned to the southeast parts of Rapides Parish, including Poland, Echo, Lecompte and Cheneyville.
According to an article in today’s Town Talk, the plan is to have The Hotel Bentley will reopened in March. Owner Michael Jenkins bought the downtown Alexandria hotel in October 2012 and is overseeing a complete restoration and renovation of the historic property. In his words, It has not been easy. The Bentley had been closed for nearly eight years when Jenkins bought it. He is converting the seven-story tower portion of the property into condominiums. The original portion of the property will remain a hotel with 92-94 rooms.
Can you imagine having a million dollars and not knowing it.. A $1 million lottery prize is fast dwindling to nothing. The $1 million Powerball ticket sold in Alexandria in July will expire today. The prize must be claimed by 5 p.m. at Louisiana Lottery Corp. headquarters in Baton Rouge. The winning ticket was sold at Albertsons on South MacArthur Drive and was for the drawing on Saturday, July 20. Prizes that go unclaimed are recycled into the game in the form of higher jackpots and special promotions.
The only university in the state to make the top 50 in the 'return on investment' ranking of 2014 is Louisiana Tech. Best-Colleges-Dot-Com Com looked at nearly 7 thousand colleges and universities. The school in Ruston was number 48 on their list. According to the data, the average price for Tech students to get their degrees is just under 70 thousand. But the average 30 year net 'return on investment' is over 800 thousand.
In a somewhat related story, The U-S Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency list ranks U-L Lafayette as the most affordable school in the state.
J.C. Penney announced Wednesday it will cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores as it tries to get back on the path to profitability. The news raises concerns that Penney's holiday season sales were not what the company hoped for and that the chain needs to do even more to recover from a turnaround plan that has had disastrous results. The good news is, at this point, no Louisiana stores are on the closure list.
For the first time in six years there are no expected budget cuts for state agencies, even though the income forecasts show the Bayou State will bring in about $35 million dollars less than expected.
The Jindal administration is asking the legislature to use more one time money to help offset those losses, in this case, the money gained through the recent tax amnesty program .
An infant from Lake Charles has died from injuries he received after his father accidentally hit the baby with his car. Authorities report says the child was in critical condition after the accident,
and was flown to Children's Hospital in New Orleans, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Some women in the Capital City are a little nervous after Baton Rouge police confirm there have been three separate home invasions that resulted in sexual assaults against females. B-R-P-D Sergeant Mary Ann Godawa (Guh-da-wah) says in each case the intruder gained entry into the home through an open window or forced entry. Godawa says they are advising homeowners to lock their doors, windows and use other safety precautions.
It's called the Food Stamp Fraud Prevention and Accountability Act, and U.S. Senator David Vitter is introducing it to require beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to
show a valid photo ID when purchasing items with SNAP funding. Recent incidents in Northwest Louisiana exposed flaws in the SNAP program's Electronic Benefits Transfer system. Vitter says the act will help cut down on future fraud.
The U.S. House approved a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill Wednesday that also would delay flood insurance rate hikes likely until early 2015 for some policyholders who were drawn into more expensive zones in flood maps. The U.S. House approved the legislation on a vote of 359 to 67, with all but three of the “nay” votes coming from Republicans. U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who chairs the self-proclaimed conservative Republican Study Committee, was the only Louisiana congressman voting against passage. The Bill was sponsored in the house by Louisiana Congressman Bill Cassidy and in the senate by Mary Landrieu.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu partnered Wednesday with the Canadian foreign affairs minister and the Canadian ambassador to the U.S. to urge approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas. The U.S. State Department is nearing completion of a final environmental review of the project, which Landrieu said should come in “just a few weeks.” Landrieu is in line in the next couple of months or so to take over as chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The cold weather Louisiana received last week caused a delay in strawberry growth. The freeze destroyed the blooms on strawberry plants but did not kill the crop. Prices are expected to increase only slightly due to the loss.
Louisiana's film industry is now being recognized worldwide according to Louisiana's Entertainment Executive Director. Chris Stelly says Louisiana is one of the top 5 production destinations in the world. He cites the multiple movies filmed in the state that were nominated for Golden Globe Awards.
The Sun Belt Conference changed their minds and has now agreed to refer the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's sports teams as the "Louisiana Ragin Cajuns" amid a little controversy. But the conference says that when the name is abbreviated is should read U-L hyphen L.
There are multiple reports that say LSU has hired Jeff Grimes as the Tigers new offensive line coach. Grimes spent last season at Virginia Tech as an assistant. He also coached Auburn's offensive line from 2009 through 2012.
News for Wednesday 011514
By Dave Graichen
State police report a Glenmora man was killed in an accident late Monday Night on la hwy 112. 24 year old Michael skinner was a passenger in a vehicle driven by 18 year old Elizabeth Skinner. Troopers say the vehicle for some unknown reason left the roadway and overturned. The driver of the vehicle received moderate injuries. But, Michael Skinner was killed. The crash remains under investigation. Alcohol is a suspected factor in the crash.
Governor Bobby Jindal continues his weeklong trip to Asia. It's the Jindal's first economic trip abroad and he has already met with the President of Taiwan as well as private sector executives from Formosa Plastics corporation. Before the Governor departed on Saturday he said he had plans to meet with at least ten major companies in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
New figures released yesterday show there's a lot of legal spending going on in defense of Governor Bobby Jindal's education policies. So far $750,000 in legal fees have been approved by the BESE board to fight off lawsuits against the voucher program.
As of December 28th, the latest numbers show that over 17 thousand people in Louisiana have signed up for Obamacare. Doug Wilkinson with the Louisiana Heathcare Education Coalition says he expects the number of enrollees in Louisiana will grow. The question is, will residents sign up before the March 31st deadline. Wilkinson says most of the previous glitches with health-care-dot-gov have been fixed.
Legislation that will delay significant flood insurance rate hikes for many Louisiana homeowners has been attached to a spending bill that's moving towards passage in Congress. Thousands of Louisiana homeowners are facing large flood insurance rate hikes as a result of a flood insurance reform act passed in 2012. The House could vote by the end of the week on a one-point-one trillion dollar spending bill that also includes a one year delay of flood insurance hikes
LSU has just announced an all-time high in it's graduation rate. The six year graduation rate is 69.1 percent, up from last year's high of 66.7 percent. The six-year graduation rate includes
full-time, degree-seeking new freshmen who enrolled in the fall or prior summer semester.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he's still got plenty to learn as a player and is willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means restructuring his contract, to help New Orleans win more games. Brees was specifically asked if he'd be willing to help the team get under the NFL mandated salary cap if need-be. Brees said he's game for whatever it takes to get the Saints to the
Superbowl next season. Today is Drew’s 35 birthday.
Missing money got a police chief in deep trouble that cost him his job. Kentwood police chief Gregory Newton pleaded guilty on Tuesday to felony malfeasance in office. Kurt Wall of the Louisiana Attorney General's office says Newton admitted he kept just over 2 thousand dollars connected a home burglary case in Kentwood. Newton had to resign from his job as Kentwood police chief, pay a two thousand, five hundred dollar fine and return the remaining money to the burglary victim.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has announced the lineup of musical acts. Among those scheduled to perform are Bruce Springsteen, Robin Thicke, Eric Clapton, Santana, Robert Plant and many more. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is set for the last weekend in April and first weekend in May.
News for Tuesday 011414
By Dave Graichen
It’s another major campaign promise kept. All Rapides Parish Sheriff’s substations will be fully operational again when the South Alexandria substation reopens Wednesday. The newly reopened substation will be at the old location of the Pill Box Pharmacy, 3311 Third St. and will handle the deputies assigned to the southeast parts of Rapides Parish, including the Poland, Echo, Lecompte and Cheneyville communities.
A teacher from Pineville High School is under arrest for allegedly having sex with one of his students. Officials say 28 year old Robert Stone of Alexandria was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center Friday on three counts of prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student. The Superintendent’s office has confirmed that Stone has been placed on administrative leave pending results of the investigation.
After giving indications he may return for one more season of college football, LSU running back Jeremy Hill announced on his twitter account that he will enter the NFL draft. There were media reports last week that HIll was leaning towards returning. Hill's departure leaves Terrance Magee as the likely starter at tailback next season.
A state Representative from Monroe believes that he has a way to keep students who receive TOPS scholarships working in Louisiana after they complete their degree. Representative Marcus Hunter says he plans to introduce legislation for the upcoming session that links working in Louisiana to the number of years a student receives the TOPS award. Hunter says the state has to work to keep students here after Louisiana has helped pay for their education through TOPS scholarships.
Louisiana's House Criminal Justice Committee will hold a meeting later this month to discuss the feasibility and effectiveness of legalizing marijuana possession and use. Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore requested the meeting and he says his main focus is to look at the use of medical marijuana in this state. Honore says it's legal for a doctor in Louisiana to prescribe medical marijuana, but pharmacies are not allowed to sell it. The state rep says a poll conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union last Summer shows 53-percent of the respondents support taxing and regulating marijuana for use by people over the age of 21...
The state Department of Education announced Monday , the ranks of schools that accept voucher students is up but not all will be accepting new students. The state will have 136 schools during the next school year that accept voucher students, up 8 percent from the current school year.
However, of the 136, only 114 will accept new students for various reasons, including academic or financial sanctions or decisions by school officials not to expand. The state now has 126 schools used by about 6,700 students relying on vouchers.
The State House and Senate Labor Committees meet in Lake Charles today to discuss if the region is ready to meet the increase demand for skilled workers to fill new jobs. House Labor Committee Chairman Herbert Dixon says the highest job concentration area will be Southwest Louisiana. Dixon says it is estimated that over 80,000 new high paying jobs with benefits, will engage the job market in Louisiana in 2014. The chairman says over 25% of the new jobs in the state will occur in Southwest Louisiana. Coming on-line by the end of the decade is the Sasol energy complex, which is the largest private investment in the state's history.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office says a 17 year old Northwest High student is booked with aggravated for allegedly setting a school bathroom trashcan on fire. They say the suspect, Shavera Welcome of Opelousas, claimed she was mad about being forced to go to school.
Officials with the Cajundome in Lafayette are proposing improvements to the venue. Director Greg Davis says the Cajundome is 29 years old and it's time for some major renovations. The project would be $16 million dollars and Davis says architectural plans will be presented to the Cajundome Commission next month, but in the meantime they'll be seeking permission to sell bonds to finance the renovations. Davis says the bulk of the construction would take place between May
and October of 2015.
Iberia Bank is expanding, as the Lafayette-based bank has spelled out plans today to purchase New Iberia-based Teche Federal Bank. The deal is for about $161 million, and will cover all 20 of Teche Federal's locations in South Louisiana including Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Iberia, and Franklin.
And it's that time of the year again. Festival Productions says the 2014 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival line-up will be announced today. This year's Jazz Fest will celebrate it's 45th anniversary.
An Ascension Christian High School teacher was arrested yesterday after school officials being sent home early for being drunk. Gonzalas police say Jamie Ingrassia was involved in a hit and run accident and resulted in her second offence DWI. Sgt. Steven Nethken says once police caught
her they gave her a Breathalyzer test which determined her BAC was .285. Ingrassia was arrested on the charges of careless operation, hit and run and DWI. Nethken says they have no reason to believe any other substance besides alcohol was involved.
News for Monday 011314
By Dave Graichen
State and local officials announced Friday afternoon that Crest Industries will invest $2.3 million to construct a new 22 thousand square foot office space complex in Pineville. That expansion will create another 90 new jobs.
The legislative session begins in two months and Governor Jindal says his top priority will be workforce development. Since Jindal took office ,he's announced several significant economic development projects that will create thousands of jobs. Jindal says with those projects getting underway, it's time to find workers to fill those jobs. Jindal says to fill these jobs, the administration will help more students succeed by creating training programs to fit the needs of the economy. They will focus not only on keeping students in school from K-12 but getting them into higher education.
The state department of health and hospitals announces a child has died in a Shreveport hospital due to the H-1-N-1 flu, also known as the Swine Flu. This is the first confirmed pediatric death in
Louisiana this flu season. State health officials believe there's been at least 20 deaths involving adults from influenza since October first, 2013. Flu experts are anticipating a long influenza
An Opelousas man who admitted to burying his wife in his backyard has been charged with unlawful disposal of remains. The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office says they are unable to charge 59-year-old Arthur Tillett with his wife's murder at this time because the autopsy didn't reveal how she died and he isn't talking. Authorities believe the woman was buried back in June of last year.
The police chief of Kinder was arrested Last Wednesday on charges of theft and malfeasance in office. Now, the Secretary of State's office has announced that Gary Pelican can continue to serve as police chief even after that arrest. State law states that unless he is proven guilty of a felony, he can continue to do his job. If he is found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
State Police has begun training a new cadet class. L-S-P spokesperson Jared Sandifer says the cadets reported to the State Police Academy in Baton Rouge yesterday to begin 19 weeks of intensive training. Sandifer says they expect to graduate 50 Louisiana State Troopers. It's the first State Police cadet class since September of 2008.
Criminal evidence against Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Walter Lee will go before a DeSoto Parish grand jury today. DeSoto Parish DA Richard Johnson says this is a case of double billing between the DeSoto Parish School Board and BESE. Johnson says Lee could face 10 years in prison if convicted of felony theft. The legislative auditors report was received a few weeks ago revealing the possibility of Lee's double billing of travel expenses.
The Saints offseason has started after losing to Seattle 23-15 on Saturday. The Black and Gold battled the rain, the wind and a stingy Seahawks defense for 60 minutes, but came up a little short.
News for Friday 011014
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana has another report card in public education and the grade is a D- according to a new report out today. That's better than an F that we've had for the past few years, but it still places the Bayou
State in the 49th position. There is some good news: 4th graders have shown dramatic improvement in reading scores and there's higher graduation rates for high school.
The Lake Charles Police Department says they were called out to a home Wednesday afternoon on a welfare concern and when nobody answered, they went inside and found two people dead inside the residence. The victims, who died from apparent gunshot wounds, are identified as 25 year old Mia Trahan of Lake Charles and 32 year old Kody Fontenot of Branch.
Former Lake Charles gynecologist Peter LaFuria will be spending the next eight years in prison after he plead guilty to taking explicit photos of his patients, some even juveniles, without their
permission. There were 20 counts in the plea including counts of video voyeurism.
If you think the waiting times are long now at the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles, hold on to your novels, because the work force has shrunk about 23% courtesy of Governor Jindal's state budget cuts. The wait was an average of 8 minutes in 2009 and now, its' more than an hour.
Governor Bobby Jindal says he has yet to decide if he'll run for President in 2016, even though Arizona Senator John McCain said Jindal would make a good candidate for the GOP. Louisiana's governor says he will be active in national politics this year as he has created an organization called "America Next" which will formulate conservative policy ideas. Jindal did say he is humbled by McCain's statements on the "Tonight Show" this week indicating he likes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Jindal as presidential candidates in 2016.
A soup kitchen in Monroe will receive 100 pounds of Iowa ham as a result of LSU's victory over Iowa in the Outback Bowl. It's courtesy of a bet made between Iowa Governor Terry Branstand and Governor Jindal. Grace Place Ministries Found Rhonda Grace says she's received word from the governor's office that they'll get the donated meat. Governor Brandstand says he is also donating 100 pounds of Iowa ham to a food bank in his home state.
The largest employer in Vidalia, Fruit of the Loom, announced this week it would lay off nearly 150 of its 260 employees beginning in March. Martin Mills Inc., a subsidiary of Union Underwear Company Inc., announced Tuesday it will permanently reduce the workforce at its Vidalia distribution center, which opened in 1995.
Oberlin Mayor Rick Smith has resigned from office, citing town officials’ lack of communication and unwillingness to work together.Smith, who has served as mayor three years, announced his resignation Wednesday, a day after meeting with state legislative auditors concerning the town’s financial crisis and pending audit. Findings of the audit are expected to be made public Monday.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office is sending out a warning about an email scam going around that tells people they need to appear in court over "illegal software usage." They say the email claims to be from a court clerk but they are not real and they should be ignored and deleted.
A ground breaking construction ceremony is set for today in Logansport for the U-S highway eighty four Sabine river bridge. Susan Stafford of the Louisiana Department of Transportation a pair of bridges over the Sabin River to replace single old bridge in Logansport will have a big impact.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne wants to help pay the way for Louisiana's 2014 Grammy nominees to travel to the awards show in Los Angeles later this month, so he's hosting a fundraiser towards that effort Saturday night. Dardenne says the event at Baton Rouge Magnet High will feature a few of
the artists who received such a great honor. Dardenne says the Hot 8 Brass Band, Zachary Richard and Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience will headline the concert and they are all among 11 Louisiana Acts recently announced as finalists for America's top music honors. Dardenne says tickets to the concert are $25 and you can get them at the door or online at LouisianaTravel.com
The state expects to spend $668 million on coastal restoration and protection work during fiscal year 2015, with almost two-thirds of the money going towards construction of projects as opposed to planning or design, that according to the draft annual plan released Thursday by the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The annual plan details yearly expected revenues and spending on items and projects outlined in the state’s master plan, the latest of which was approved by the state legislature in 2012.
News For Thursday 010914
By Dave Graichen
Kinder police chief Gary Pelican was arrested Wednesday for allegedly spending almost 8,000 dollars on the town credit cards to put gas in his relative's vehicles. State Police Spokesperson Sgt. James Anderson says this information was discovered after an audit was conducted of the town finances. It is unclear if Pelican will lose his job. Anderson says the Chief of Police is charged with theft over 15-hundred dollars and malfeasance in office.
Yesterday a judge in Baton Rouge once again ruled that Governor Bobby Jindal's legislation that restructured public school teacher tenure and salaries in Louisiana still violates the constitution. The state Supreme Court vacated a similar ruling last year and asked Judge Michael Caldwell to re-evaluate...but Caldwell didn't change his mind. Governor Bobby Jindal issued a statement in response saying they plan to appeal again and the law continues to be in effect.
One of the state's major teacher unions hopes Governor Jindal will sit down with them to discuss teacher tenure reform. Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan hopes that discussion will occur now that a state judge has ruled for a second time that a law passed in 2012 that changes teacher tenure rules is unconstitutional. Monaghan says instead of seeing more court action on this issue of teacher tenure, why don't legislators, the governor and teachers sit down and try to come up with a plan that works for everyone.
Gannett Newspapers in Louisiana are reporting that LSU running back Jeremy Hill plans on returning for his Junior season. According to the report, Hill, who rushed for 1400 yards, is expected to make his decision official on Monday in a press conference.
State Treasurer John Kennedy thinks there’s too much waste in state government. On Wednesday, he proposed a way to cut out some of that waste and provide some financial relief to colleges and universities at the same time. Kennedy’s plan, unveiled in an opinion column, calls on the state Legislature to pass a bill that would require every agency in state government to cut its spending on consulting contracts by 10 percent. State Rep. Dee Richard, No Party-Thibodaux, has filed similar bills only to see them advance through the Louisiana House and then get knocked down in the Senate, despite strong support from Kennedy. Kennedy said this time is different. His idea is to take all of the money saved from reducing consulting contracts, and dedicate those dollars toward the state’s higher education institutions.
Louisiana didn’t have a good showing in U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 ranking of online degree programs released Wednesday, with only four universities ranked in the top 200. Of the Louisiana schools included in the U.S. News rankings, Loyola University had the best showing, coming in at 32nd. Northwestern State University in Natchitoches came in at 108th. Nicholls State University in Thibodaux ranks 141st. The University of Louisiana at Monroe is ranked 160th. Other Louisiana schools were listed in the report, but were not ranked.
Yesterday at the Baton Rouge Press Club, Governor Bobby Jindal announced he'll be taking a trip to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to cultivate more foreign-direct investment opportunities and increased trade between Louisiana and key Asian markets. Jindal said, in all, he'll be meeting with ten companies, including those that are actively considering projects in Louisiana.
If your New Year’s Resolution is to quit smoking, right now there are several programs being offered in Louisiana to help you out. According to a report by The United Health Foundation, 25% of Louisianans smoked in 2013. Brandi Bourgeois with the Louisiana Tobacco Control Program
says they've developed the 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline. Bourgeois says anyone who calls the Quit
Line will get free counseling, free patches and gum. Again that # 1-800-QUIT-NOW
A 22-year-old hunter spent over 30 hours in freezing temperatures after becoming separated from his partner while hunting hogs in the Atchafalaya Basin. Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack says he went missing Monday night and he was found after 9 P-M the next night on a gas platform. Waguespack says when hunter became lost, he decided to swim to a gas platform in the swamp. The man is recovering from his ordeal..
Congressman Bill Cassidy's U-S Senate campaign announced they've raised more than 1 million dollars in the fourth quarter, giving him almost 4.5 million dollars in cash on hand. Cassidy appears to be Landrieu's toughest challenger as she seeks a 4th term. The senior senator said she raised nearly 1.4 million dollars with 6.3 million dollars in cash on hand.
News for Wednesday 010814
By Dave Graichen
That arctic blast that dropped temperatures in Louisiana to record setting lows in the past few days, should be easing up. State Climatologist Barry Keim says temperatures this morning are cold, but a warm-up begins this afternoon. Keim says the high pressure that pushed cold air into Louisiana will shift to the east that will pull warmer air from the gulf of Mexico. Although Keim says we have not reached the peak of winter, it's unlikely we'll see the type of cold weather we experienced this week
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office says they've made an arrest in the double murder of a father and 2 year-old daughter in the Covington area. Seventeen year-old Jacob Middleton Jr. - who is the son of the dad Jacob Middleton Sr., and the half-brother of the little girl who was also killed - will face two counts of first-degree murder. The younger Middleton admitted to the crime, saying he hated his father for what he called years of abuse and family violence.
A state senator has submitted a proposed revamp of the controversial Tulane University legislative scholarship program following revelations of political awards and lack of transparency. State Sen. Dan Claitor prefilled the “Legislative Scholarship Fairness Act” for debate by the 2014 Legislature which opens March 10. The legislation would ban scholarship awards, valued at an estimated $43,150 annually, to relatives of Louisiana elected officials and legislators’ political donors as well as require legislators to publicize the scholarships and Tulane University to publish annually who gets them and from whom. The program dates back to to the 1880s when the then-public University of Louisiana was privatized into Tulane.
The US Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would delay massive flood insurance rate hikes that thousands of Louisiana homeowners are facing. Senator Mary Landrieu is a co-sponsor of a bill that would push back large rate increases for those properties in flood prone areas. Senator Vitter has also thrown his support behind the bill.
The flu virus continues to pop up in Louisiana this season and health officials say the rate of cases reported is nearly three times what the CDC says is considered "normal" for our area. Dr. Fred Lopez with the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans says The Bayou State is one of several in the southern region reporting a widespread flu outbreak. Dr. Lopez says the predominate flu strain that's being typed by the CDC right now is the same H1N1 or Swine Flu we saw hit in 2009. He says thankfully that strain is covered in this year's flu shot so it's extremely important to get vaccinated. Dr. Lopez says even healthy young people should get their flu shot.
The 63-year-old Shreveport woman who fatally shot a 16-year-old who broke into her home over the weekend is speaking out about her terrifying ordeal. Elzie Pipkins is not facing any charges after using a gun to kill Devon Antonio Young. Pipkins says she hasn't slept much since Sunday. Pipkins says she was home with her grand-daughter and great-grandson when Young busted through the front door on Sunday night and demanded money a safe. Pipkins she gave the boy the money, all $55.00 of it, but he wasn’t satisfied with that. She was able to retrieve a gun from the safe and fire.
The out-of-state attacks against Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and her support of the Affordable Care Act continued Tuesday with the Republican National Committee launching new radio advertisements in Louisiana. The new RNC ads follow those of a string of third-party groups fighting against Landrieu and working to promote Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, in the 2014 Senate race. A new super PAC is being formed to support, but not coordinate with, Cassidy.
A state District judge has set another execution date for 69 year old Christopher Sepulvado of Mansfield, the third time a date has been set in just over a year. The man is now scheduled to be put to death on March 7th for scalding and killing his 6 year old stepson nearly 22 years ago.
Police in Opelousas say they are investigating the death of a homeless woman who likely lost her life because of the weather. They say the body was located early Monday morning and OPD says all indications are that she froze to death. The woman is not being identified at this time pending notification of next of kin.
The Saints are trying to replicate the environment they'll face when they play the Seahawks in Saturday's playoff game in Seattle. They've painted the Seahawks logo on their practice field and Payton says they are playing crowd noise over speakers at a loud level. Payton says even though Seattle's loud crowd presents a challenge, a bigger challenge is the type of football players the Seahawks will have on the field.
News for Tuesday 010714
By Dave Graichen
Many of us woke up to temperatures in the teens this morning something that doesn't happen very often during Louisiana's winters. State Climatologist Barry Keim says northern parishes are seeing low teens, central Louisiana upper teens, and temperatures near 20 stretch down all the way to the coast of The Bayou State. Keim says the cold today is going to be brutal and it's not going to be
much better tomorrow morning. But he says things are going to start to warm up into the latter part of Wednesday.
Louisiana Public Service Commission Chairman Eric Skrmetta has instructed utility providers in the state that disconnecting of services is prohibited during the extreme cold weather in the next
few days. He says even if a customer is past-due on an account, nobody is to have their power turned off when it's this cold outside.
We are expecting more details to come out today on the shooting deaths of a two-year-old girl and her father. The bodies were found yesterday morning inside a residence near Abita Springs in St. Tammany Parish. Sheriff Jack Strain says the two were killed by gunshots at close range. Strain says investigators believe it’s either a double homicide or a murder-suicide. He says the family had a custody dispute which may have played a role. But they will continue to piece together what could have led to the violent deaths.
Louisiana physicians are seeing a “big uptick” in flu-type illnesses as patients line up at doctor’s offices and hospitals across the state. The rate is nearly three times what the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention projects as normal for the region. State health officials say the good news is, this year’s flu shot is well targeted to fight the current strain, better known as the swine flu.
Police in Shreveport say a juvenile suspected of breaking into a home and rob the owner at gunpoint was shot and killed during the invasion. They say the 16 year old allegedly demanded valuables from a safe when the 63 year old homeowner grabbed a gun from the safe and shot the suspect. Police say the teen ran but collapsed just down the street and later died at a hospital. No charges have been filed in this incident.
It's not the first thing you think of as a hot robbery item for a business, but a Natchitoches Parish thief has been arrested for stealing 300 pounds of pecans near the Bermuda community.
Forty-three year old Jerry Wayne Nelson of Robeline was charged with simple burglary, among other charges.
Educators & students say good bye the General Educational Development test commonly known as the G.E.D. Now there's a different test called the HI-SET or High School Equivalency test for those students. According to Sean Martin, a Director of the Louisiana Community and Technical College system, much of the test material is similar. The HI-SET is from the Educational Testing Service and Martin says it will save the state money compared to using the GED. Among the reasons for the change is that the GED will soon only offer a computer based test.
First, they were to be used for national security. Now LSU AgCenter researchers are examining the possibility of unmanned drones to provide surveillance of crops for farmers. Officials say this technology would be especially helpful to determine disease and fertilizer needs for taller crops like corn and sugar cane.
LSU has named Daniel T. Layzell as the university system’s new vice president for finance and administration. The hiring is subject to approval of the LSU Board of Supervisors at its Feb. 25 meeting. Layzell has held a similar position at Illinois State University since 2009.
The Saints players return to the practice field today to get ready for Saturday afternoon's playoff match-up with the Seahawks. Seattle plays in one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL and Coach Sean Payton says they'll work on how to handle the loud crowd during practice this week. The Saints played in Seattle earlier this year and lost to the Seawhawks 34-to-7. Seattle finished the regular season with a 13-and-3 record. Payton says his players understand the challenge that lies before them.
News for Monday 010614
By Dave Graichen
Arctic air has moved into Louisiana bringing some of the coldest temps the Pelican State has felt in years. Various cold-related warnings are posted across the state from a hard freeze warning to a wind chill advisory in northeast Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this cold weather will be here for the next couple of days.
It's January 6th; known as 12th Night, the Twelfth Day of Christmas and also King's Day. It's also the official start of the Mardi Gras season and time for King Cakes. This will be a long Carnival, with Fat Tuesday on March 4th.
The Saints finally have that monkey of winning a road playoff game off their back. New Orleans went into Philadelphia on Saturday night and beat the Eagles 26-24 in cold temperatures. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 250 yards and a touchdown. He calls it a great team win. The Saints are now getting ready to play the Seahawks in Seattle on Saturday.
The conservative blog called the "Hayride" reports former Governor Edwin Edwards is looking at running for the state's 6th Congressional district. That seat is open because Bill Cassidy is running for Senate. Edwards reportedly believes the potential field for that race is weak. When asked about running for Congress Edwards told a reporter that he's received a lot of encouragement, but he's not commenting any further. Now.
The Jindal administration announces it's paying an outside contractor four-million dollars to help finds ways to make state government more efficient. Commissioner of Administration Kristy
Nichols says Alvarez and Marshal will find savings that will far exceed the 4-million dollar contract.
Enrollment at Louisiana public schools has increased by nearly 6,000 students. There are 713-thousand students attending K-through-12th grade schools and that's up from 707-thousand the year before. State department of education spokesperson Barry Landry credits the higher enrollment total to a decrease in the state's dropout rate.
In a report to the state department of environmental quality, Axiall admits chemicals were released into the air when its vinyl chloride plant in Lake Charles caught on fire on December 20th. How large of a discharge is unknown. A total of 27 people were treated for injuries as a result of the fire.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office says they've arrested a 20-year-old woman who allegedly stole two vehicles, two computers and other electronic items from a man she met through a social networking site. Deputies say Jamie Howard spent the night at the man's house and ran off with his 2000 Cadillac Deville, a 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe, and other items, after the victim fell asleep. Authorities believe more than one person participated in the crime.
State Police say charges are pending against an 87-year-old driver who allegedly caused a fiery crash that killed a motorcyclist from Baton Rouge. Trooper report the driver of the motorcycle was hit from behind by a Ford F-150 pick-up truck in LaFourche Parish and killed. Authorities the 87 year old driver of the pickup has investigators looking at distracted driving as a factor.
News for Friday 010314
By Dave Graichen
State Police say seat belts might have saved the lives of two Bunkie men, who died Wednesday night in a single vehicle crash on state Highway 29 south of Bunkie. Troopers suspect that 42-
year-old Marvin Overbey was impaired when he lost control of his pickup and struck a utility poll. Overbey and a 50 year old passenger, Gary Ogea was pronounced dead at the scene. A female passenger received moderate injury and was taken to a hospital. The crash and its cause remains under investigation.
In Livingston Parish, Walker Police arrest the 17-year-old son of a 34- year-old mother who was fatally shot in her townhouse. Tamila Wooley's body was found in her home on New Year's Day by a family member. Walker Police Captain John Sharp says Eddie Robert Island was arrested Thursday after admitting his guilt in the crime. Sharp says two children, aged 11 and two-years-old, were also in the home during the shooting, they were physically unharmed.
Tragedy struck a Plaquemines Parish family on New Year's day. State Police say a 32-year-old father killed his four-year-old while he was pulling out of the driveway at their Buras home. Trooper Melissa Matey says law enforcement learned of the tragedy when the frantic father attempted to rush his badly injured son to the hospital and was pulled over for excessive speeding. Authorities are saying speed and impairment are not suspected as factors and the incident and that it was just a tragic accident.
Two people are behind bars in connection with the murder of a 21-year- old man in Jeff Davis Parish. Jennings Police Chief Todd D'albor (Dial- bor) says Ruston Reed's body was found on New Year's eve on the side of a road. D'albor says once they identified Reed as the victim, the investigation revealed that 21-year-old Keagan Reon was the gunman. D'albor says Reon has been charged with second-degree murder, while 22-year-old Jules Batiste is facing accessory after the fact to second-
degree murder. A motive for the murder is not known.
Louisiana's pecan crop will be two thirds less than last year's total. That's according to Randy Sanderlin of the Louisiana Ag Center Pecan Research Station in Shreveport who says it's normal for a smaller pecan crop to follow a big year, and even though it's a smaller crop, producers are benefiting from a higher market price. Plus another bonus is the international demand for the nuts to be shipped to China.
The national conservative group Americans For Prosperity launches a Louisiana chapter, and a large media campaign critical of Senator Mary Landrieu. AFP state director Phillip Joffrion says their $600-thousand ad blitz doesn't target Landrieu, so much as her support of the affordable healthcare plan.
A report from the Associated Press shows Louisiana still has over a billion dollars in unspent federal hurricane recovery grant money; left over from hurricanes in 2005 and 2008. Pat Forbes is head of the state Office of Community Development's Disaster Recovery Unit. He confirms $1.5-billion still remains in the grant fund. Forbes says the money is the last of a $14.5-billion grant pool given the state for recovery from Katrina & Rita in 2005, plus Gustav and Ike 3 years later. He says it's important to understand the grants are reimbursable funds, to defray rebuilding expenses already incurred, and must wait 'til projects are done, or at least well underway.
What will be a difficult run in the playoffs begins tomorrow for the Saints who visit Philadelphia in the N-F-C playoffs. The Eagles up-tempo offense is tough to stop, but on the defensive side of the football, Philly ranks last in the NFL in pass defense. Not many people outside of Louisiana are giving the Saints a chance to reach the playoffs, because New Orleans has never won a road playoff game in franchise history. And they've struggled in games away from the Superdome this season.
Oklahoma stunned 3rd ranked Alabama last night 45 to 31 in the 80th Sugar Bowl In New Orleans.
News for Thursday 010214
By Dave Graichen
The LSU Tigers return home today as champs of the Outback Bowl. The Bayou Bengals defeated Iowa 21-14 in Tampa Bay behind a strong defense and hard running by sophomore Jeremy Hill. The Baton Rouge native rushed for a career-high 216 yards and two touchdowns...
Henley Oscar Pharis had three chances to enter the world on a memorable day.He could have been a Christmas baby. He was meant to be born on his dad’s birthday. But, in the end, he showed up in the wee hours of the morning on New Year’s Day at Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, making him the first baby born in Alexandria in 2014. Henley, born to Laura and Adam Pharis of Flatwoods, weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces and is named after Adam’s grandfather, Oscar Henley.
Another Republican says he'll enter the 2014 U.S. Senate race; seeking Mary Landrieu's job. Covington state Representative Paul Hollis says he has decided to run against Landrieu's re-election bid. He feels Senator Mary Landrieu has lost touch with what her constituents in Louisiana want of their senator. He joins GOP Congressman Bill Cassidy and political newcomer Rob
Maness in the race. Hollis was elected to the state legislature in 2012.
Louisiana lost some prominent people in 2013. In February, Louisiana lost Paul Mcillhenny at the age of of 68. Mcillhenny was the CEO of the Mcllheny Company, which makes Tabasco products. The first woman elected to Congress in Louisiana, former US Representative Lindy Boggs, passed away on July 27th at the age of 97. We also lost LSU legend Paul Dietzel who coached the Tigers to their
first national championship in 1958. The man who presided over former Governor Edwards corruption trial, Judge Frank Polozola, passed away in February. And famed Cajun artist George Rodrigue, who painted the beloved Blue Dog, passed away in December
Louisiana's population grew by 23-thousand from July 2012 to July 2013 according to the latest U-S Census Bureau report. Demographer Elliot Stonecipher says it's good to see an increase in Louisiana's population, but several states are growing faster and our population is not increasing at the same level as it was following the 2005 hurricanes Stonecipher says for Louisiana to meet the growth that's seen in several other southern states, it needs to get more people to move into the
Pelican state. He says based on all of the governor's economic development announcements that should happen soon.
The Governor's Office says 2013 was a record year for producing jobs in the state. Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret says Louisiana announced dozens of company expansions or relocations last year that will result in about 27-thousand new jobs and $26-billion in new capital investments. Moret says the state's economic growth has been noticed by others. He says the trade journal Site Selection ranks Louisiana sixth in the country in its business climate report and Business Facilities ranks the Bayou State fourth for Best Business Climate in America. He says even more development announcements are coming in 2014.
2013 did not go as planned for Governor Bobby Jindal. He started the year pushing a proposal to eliminate income taxes by raising sales taxes. The idea did not get the support of the state legislature and Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says it ended any hope for tax reform. Jindal's approval numbers were also low in 2013. A poll conducted by Pinsonat in the spring showed that only 38-percent of the registered voters approved of the governor's job performance. His poll numbers showed a slight improvement in the fall. Pinsonat says in 2014, look for Jindal to make moves that will set him up to run for President in 2016...
Looking ahead to the year in Louisiana politics, one analyst says the 2014 US Senate race will be the year's story to watch. U-L Monroe political science professor Joshua Stockley says a number of senators are retiring, and that will bring focus on our senior senator's chances of winning another term. Stockley says Landrieu's re-election, or failure to win another term will not only affect the Democrat's control of the U.S. Senate, but also that party's influence here in Louisiana. she is the only statewide elected Democrat. She currently has three announced GOP challengers; Bill Cassidy, newcomer Rob Maness and state Rep. Paul Hollis.
Entergy is warning its Louisiana customers to be wary of an ongoing scam that seeks access to your personal account info, and your money. Spokesman Will Johnson says the scammers have been making the calls for several months, posing as employees of Entergy. They tell customers their bill is overdue and try to collect an immediate electronic payment - often asking for personal account information. He says if you think you're getting a scam call, hang up and call your local police or sheriff. By the way customers of other utility companies than Entergy are also being targeted.
Police in Jennings suspect foul play in the death of man whose body was found by a motorist, lying in the road, New Year’s Eve. The man has not been identified. Officers say he is white, around 6 feet tall, with reddish beard and moustache and three tattoos; one of them the Batman symbol on his shoulder blade. They seek the public's help with his identity.
Shreveport Police are investigating a shooting just before lunchtime Wednesday. Authorities report even though the victim was shot multiple times in the upper body, he was able to identify the man who shot him. Police are holding that identification pending further investigation. The nature of the victim's injuries are also pending.
Construction is expected to begin today on Sabine River Bridge on US 84, which connects Shelby County, Texas and DeSoto Parish Louisiana. State Department of Transportation spokesperson Rodney Mallett says workers will build a pair of one way two-lane bridges to replace the current single structure. Work to replace the bridge is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016. The project will cost 20-million dollars. Mallett says motorists will still be able to U-S 84 in this area, despite the construction.
Effective today, smoking is banned in ALL public buildings in Ouachita Parish - INCLUDING bars and bingo halls. The ordinance was passed by the parish and the cities of Monroe and West Monroe.
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