News for Friday 022814
By Dave Graichen
A judge in Texas ruled that the ban on gay marriage in the Lone Star State violates the US Constitution. The decision will be appealed and heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans which hears cases that come out of Texas Louisiana and Mississippi. Legal analyst Tim Meche thinks the Texas ruling could affect gay marriage laws here. The Texas lawsuit was originally filed by two same sex couples and Meche says if the 5th Circuit upholds the lower court's ruling, you'll probably see a similar case come up in Louisiana. He says opponents haven't made a good case in explaining why gay couples getting married should be against the law.
Senator David Vitter meets with state officials today to get an update on the investigation into the food stamp recipients who abused the system during a computer failure last October. The Dept of Children and Family Services announced six people have lost their benefits, but Vitter says why only six when over 12-thousand people overspent. Vitter says hopes these state agencies pick up the pace with their investigation and disqualify more than six people from the program.
A new report just released by the state Legislative Auditor’s office shows, Louisiana gave away 55 percent of its corporate tax revenues, while continuing to struggle with higher education funding, retirement system obligations and paying for other government services. Over a five-year period, state government gave up about $3 billion in taxes to encourage companies to come to Louisiana or to stay here. That’s out of a $5.4 billion that otherwise would have been collected through “corporate and franchise taxes.”
Rape accusations against former Saints safety Darren Sharper continued to mount Thursday as New Orleans police issued a warrant for his arrest, saying he is suspected of sexually assaulting two women in September at a Warehouse District apartment. Police said they also issued a warrant for Erik Nunez, one of Sharper’s friends, who is alleged to have raped the same two women the same night. The 38 year old Sharper is the focus of at least five other rape investigations in four states.
Lafayette Police say they've arrested a man who was unable to drive a manual transmission which gave him trouble trying to steal a car. Corporal Paul Mouton says Harold Sam, who is just 18 years old, allegedly threw a woman to the ground then tried to get away in her car. As you may suspect, Sam faces numerous charges.
Crawfish boil gatherings over the Mardi Gras weekend may find it difficult to get enough of their main dish. That's because cold weather in January and early February affected the crop. Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association Director, Stephen Minvielle says crawfish suppliers will be hard pressed to meet the demand. It’s expected the low supply of crawfish coupled with the high demand
will lead to high prices for mudbugs.
State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is reminding property owners of a rebate available to them. It's called the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Assessment rebate and taxpayers are entitled to it after paying the assessment attached to their property insurance bill. The easiest way to get the money back is by checking a box on your state tax return and attaching the proper paperwork.
Legislation that would prohibit employers or school administrators from demanding their employees or students give up their social media login information has been pre-filed for next month's session. The bill by Baton Rouge Representative Ted James would make it illegal to require students to share personal online information. James says he filed the same bill last year, but they weren't able to get to it in the Senate before the session was over. The biggest difference in this year's proposed "Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act" is that employers would now be allowed to request the information, and an employee could freely give up any information they wanted.
The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's office says both suspects in the fatal shooting and armed robbery at the LaPlace feed store Tuesday are now in custody. They say 22-year-old Dracier Dewey confessed to the crime Wednesday and the other man, 22-year-old Charles McQuarter III surrendered to US Marshall's Thursday afternoon.
LSU has named North Carolina educator Lawrence “Larry” Clark as chancellor of LSU-Shreveport, nearly two years after former Chancellor Vincent Marsala announced his retirement. Clark serves as dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. He previously worked as a dean at LSU-S.
News for Thursday 022714
By Dave Graichen
The Town Talk is reporting today, Joseph Cole, a former Louisiana College employee who worked closely with school President Joe Aguillard, left the school with an employment settlement of nearly $35,000 after threatening to go public with accusations against Aguillard in 2011. The Town Talk obtained minutes of a Nov. 15, 2011, meeting of the Executive Committee of the LC Board of Trustees along with a copy of a financial settlement between LC and Cole that were posted on line yesterday The documents surfaced on the same day the executive board of the LC Board of Trustees met on campus and less than a week after the college issued a news release touting that Aguillard was “fully exonerated” of past allegations made against him over the last year.
Cool Planet Energy Systems will begin construction soon on its alternative fuel production facility at the Port of Alexandria. Company officials and Gov. Bobby Jindal were in town Wednesday for a ground-breaking ceremony for the plant. Cool Planet’s technology converts biomass such as wood products into high-octane gasoline and an agricultural-enhancement product known as biochar. It is the company’s first such facility. The plant in Alexandria will employ 24 people and cost approximately $56 million to build.
A deadly armed robbery in LaPlace has left a 63-year-old man dead and his wife in the hospital. The St. John Baptist Sheriff's office has detained two persons of interest, but no arrests have been made. The fatal armed robbery took place Tuesday afternoon at LaPlace Feed and Supply.
Legislation that would bring the electric chair back to Louisiana for executions will be discussed in the upcoming 2014 session. Metairie Representative Joe Lopinto is proposing House Bill 328. He says lethal injection would still be allowed under this bill, but if that medication is not available, Louisiana needs a backup plan, like the electric chair.
Crews are on the scene of a gas well blowout in Acadia Parish near the city of Eunice. The blowout happened Tuesday as employees with Black Creek Drilling were attempting to drill a natural gas well. No one was injured, but 12 homes had to be evacuated. State Police Trooper Stephen Hammons says it will take a couple days to cap the well. He says LA-13, which connects Crowley to Eunice, is shutdown as a result of the blowout.
Cox is centralizing its call center operations, a move that will eliminate 246 jobs in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette but lead to 150 new positions at its Baton Rouge operations. The net loss to its operations in the state is 96 jobs. The company is setting up seven “Centers of Excellence” nationwide, that will focus on matters such as account services, sales and technical support.
The state’s former point man on coastal restoration announced Wednesday that he’s entering the race to represent Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District in Washington. Garrett Graves, of Baton Rouge, stepped down as chairman of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and director of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities last week after six years on the job. The 6th District seat is being vacated after 2014 because Congressman Bill Cassidy is running for the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 election.
A first of its kind study says hurricane devastation could be reduced with the use of thousands of offshore wind turbines. Stanford University engineering professor, Mark Jacobson says his team ran computer models illustrating an array of 78 thousand wind turbines would have weakened Hurricane Katrina and reduced the storm’s damage by 30 to 70 billion dollars. Building thousands of 200 foot tall wind turbines is costly. But Jacobson says they would take power from winds and give us pollution free electricity year round.
A Baton Rouge lawmaker wants schools in Louisiana to be required to teach sex ed. Representative Pat Smith says currently schools are only authorized to offer sexual education but she thinks a law needs to be in place making the instruction mandatory. She says right now our children are not being taught the risks associated with having sex. Smith says the problems of youth STDs and teen pregnancies are worse than ever and there needs to be a conversation between the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Hospitals about these issues. Smith has filed similar legislation in the pasted but it fails because opponents feel sex ed should be taught by parents.
Authorities are still looking for two fugitives who scaled a fence at the Union Parish jail last Saturday night. The men are identified as 36-year-old Thomas Kinnard Jr. and 39-year-old Benjamin Morana.
Union Parish Sheriff Dusty Gates thinks someone picked them up after they escaped. He says anyone with information on the whereabouts of these two men, who are considered to be dangerous, is urged to contact local law enforcement.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office has arrested a woman who is accused of abusing a 10 month old baby. They say 28-year-old Jennifer Eastwood allegedly used hear hand to strike the victim leaving numerous whelps to her leg. A judge set the suspect's bond at $100,000.
It was made official yesterday afternoon. The Duck Commander will be the new title sponsor of the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, effective immediately. The sponsorship will allow the name Independence" to be included as one of the longest running bowls in the nation.
Two suspects who robbed a thrift store in Shreveport were arrested after their escape vehicle got stuck in the mud. Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prador says deputies were able to track down the suspects with some help from muddy shoe prints. Forty-nine year-old John Patterson of Vivian and sixty-one year old Michael Anderson of Shreveport now find themselves stuck in the Caddo Parish Correctional Center on burglary charges.
News for Wednesday 022614
By Dave Graichen
A Pineville man crashed his puck up into the back of a stopped Rapides Parish school bus yesterday morning on highway 28 east. That accident led to the injury of the bus driver and eight students. The good news is, none of the injuries were severe. Pineville PD have not released any details of the crash other than to say 31 year old Anthony Phillips has been charged with possession of a stolen firearm, and charges of reckless operation of a vehicle.
A utility bill paying scam has hit customers of another Louisiana power company. Some Cleco customers are reporting some phone calls from individuals who identify themselves from Cleco, demanding payment for an unpaid balance on their utility bill. Spokesperson Shirley Turner reminds everyone serviced by Cleco they never call customers demanding payment over the phone.
There's been a toddler tragedy in Minden as a three-year old was struck and killed by a truck Monday. Minden Police say that the man's truck had very large tires, and they speculate because the truck was riding a bit higher, the driver was not able to see the child who had wondered out into the neighborhood street. Authorities say that the investigation is on-going.
A Bossier City lawmaker is filing legislation for the 2014 session that would ban any type of cell phone use when traveling through a school zone. Representative Jeff Thompson says studies show one out of six drivers in a school zone drive distracted and cell phone use was the number one reason. House Bill No. 370 would make it illegal to engage in a call, access email, send a text or read or post to social media at any time when in a school zone. All items on that list, with the exception of talking on the phone are already against the law in Louisiana.
A second person has been arrested as a result of an alleged dog fighting operation that was broken up last week in Breaux Bridge. St. Martin Parish Sheriff spokesperson Ginny Higgins says 33-year-old Antonio Boyd is facing 47-counts of cruelty to animals and his bond has been set at 140-thousand dollars. The other man arrested was 25-year-old Jason Haskett of Natchitoches. Higgins says the two men staged illegal dog fights in the back yard of a residence located on Breaux Bridge Senior High School Road. She says during the raid, deputies found dozens of pit bulls, most of them were on chains.
An advocacy group for the recognition and equal rights for same sex couples who want to get married, launches a one million dollar campaign across southern states. "Freedom To Marry" founder and president Evan Wolfson says they want to get southerners talking about the issue.
The US House is getting close to voting on legislation that would prevent large flood insurance premiums for property owners. Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy says the bill would repeal provisions of a 2012 flood insurance reform law that calls for much higher flood insurance rates for thousands of Louisiana homeowners. Cassidy believes the US House will vote tomorrow on this flood insurance reform legislation. He says it contains several key provisions that builds upon a bill already passed in the Senate. The Baton Rouge republican says one of those provisions caps annual rate increases at 15-percent.
Danos, a manufacturer of offshore equipment and piping, will build a $23.2 million, 100-employee plant at the Port of Iberia. President and Chief Executive Officer Hank Danos, along with Gov. Bobby Jindal, made the announcement after the signing of a 40-acre lease near New Iberia with the port’s board of commissioners. Construction on the 172,000-square-foot plant is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter and will require 200 construction workers. The 100 permanent plant jobs will have annual salaries that average $65,000 for a total annual payroll of $6.5 million.
A Baton Rouge man who pleaded guilty in November to threatening to murder former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, of New Orleans, as well as members of Letten’s family, was sentenced Tuesday to 41 months in federal prison plus three more years under supervision after he’s released. 57 year old Gerald P. Estrade of Baton Rouge will be transferred to a federal prison in the next few weeks to serve his sentence.
A federal judge received assurances Tuesday that three insurance companies won’t immediately stop accepting premium payments from a program that helps HIV and AIDS patients cover health care costs. After receiving the pledge that no payments would be rejected before April 1, U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson lifted the temporary restraining order he had issued only hours earlier prohibiting the dropped coverage. Jackson plans a March 10 hearing on whether to issue a long-term injunction that would bar the companies from refusing to accept payments from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which helps more than 2,400 low- and moderate-income Louisianians pay for health coverage.
The giant sinkhole in Assumption parish has a new bubbling site on about 30 feet from Highway 69. Officials says the bubbles seen in water of Grand Bayou is the result of natural gas escaping from underground. Assumption parish Emergency Preparedness Director John Boudreaux says this new bubbling site does NOT mean another sink hole will form. Since the sinkhole appeared in August of 2012, it has grown over 20 times its original size.
Southwest Louisiana authorities now believe that a man who was found shot dead inside his home, accidently shot himself in his lower back. Fifty year old Kenneth Morrow Senior's body was found in January. It was a homicide investigation but Jennings Police Chief Todd (D-AL-BORE) D'Albor says ballistics and forensics show the deceased shot himself. Officials think the gun fired when Morrow reached for it in his rear pocket or waistband.
The myth of knowing if a crawfish was dead before it was cooked by the straightness of it's tail has been debunked .LSU Ag researcher Ray McClain says if a crawfish dies before it's cooked in a boiling pot of water, it may curl it's tail during the cooking process. He says research indicates uncooked mudbugs that are both alive or dead can come out of the pot with a straight tail. McClain also says putting crawfish in salt water before you boil them has no benefit based on his research.
Renovations to the Cajun Dome in Lafayette may cost a bit more than first projected. The Cajun Dome commission members got an 18 point nine million figure quoted to them at their meeting on Monday. At that price the renovated Cajun Dome would be cost two-point-nine million more than it's original 16 million dollar price tag.
News for Tuesday 022514
By Dave Graichen
Downtown Alexandria has been chosen as the home of Central Louisiana Technical Community College’s new main campus. The $21 million-plus campus will replace the college’s current Alexandria campus, located on South MacArthur Drive. The Louisiana Legislature approved $251.6 million for 29 capital projects at technical colleges during its session last year. Included in that was $19 million for CLTCC’s new main campus. The full story can be found in today’s Town Talk.
As temps start to warm up analysts say the gas price will climb with them. The American Automobile Association says the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $3.23 which is up a ten cents from a month ago.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday proposed shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years, closing bases and reshaping forces to confront a "more volatile, more unpredictable" world with a more nimble military. The nation can afford a smaller military so long as it retains a technological edge and the agility to respond on short notice to crises anywhere on the globe. The defense spending plan will be part of the 2015 budget that President Barack Obama will submit to Congress next week. It is too early to tell how the proposed Army cuts would impact the Fort Polk in Vernon Parish.
Officials with the Independence Bowl confirm they are very excited about the partnership with its new title sponsor, "Duck Commander", the popular West Monroe business made nationally famous by the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty. In a release from an I-Bowl spokesman, details of the new sponsorship will be announced during a news conference Wednesday.
The recent Louisiana food stamp fraud that took place in October because of a computer glitch has resulted in action from the Department of Children and Family Services. DFCS Secretary Suzy Sonnier says they have already disqualified 6 individuals from the program. And Sonnier says there could be more. Some 500 residents have received letters informing them that they also could lose their benefits once they conduct their interviews.
Former Congressman Jeff Landry announces his intent to run for attorney general. The republican from New Iberia served in Congress but lost his seat in an election when his district was combined with Charles Boustany's district. Buddy Caldwell is the current attorney general and he is serving his second term. The election will be held in the fall of 2015.
The nation's governors emerged from a meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday claiming harmony, only to immediately break into an on-camera partisan feud in front of the West Wing. Governor Bobby Jindal stood outside of the White House yesterday criticizing President Obama for pushing a higher minimum wage instead of trying to create higher paying jobs. After the news conference broke up, Colorado's governor called Jindal a "cheap shot artist."
A legislative auditor’s review of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast operations in Louisiana, requested by some legislators, found no indication that the group has recommended abortions or billed Medicaid for anything other than allowed family planning services. The review came in response to legislative resolutions directing various agencies to investigate and monitor the practices of the group, which has broken ground on a new 7,000-square-foot clinic in New Orleans. The $4.2 million facility on the 4600 block of South Claiborne Avenue will offer abortion services that previously had not been provided.
A 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that had been closed to maritime traffic since Saturday was re-opened Monday afternoon by the U-S Coast Guard. Petty Officer Ryan Tippets says they've been responding to a leaking barge in St. James Parish. He estimates 31,500 gallons of light crude oil spilled into the river.
The state department of Wildlife and Fisheries is seeking input from dove hunters through an online survey. The department's study leader for doves, Dr. Jeff Duguya (Doo-gay) says they want to hear from dove hunters this year, because the federal government has expanded the season from 70 to 90 days. The 13 question survey asks about ammunition and other dove hunting information. Duguay says one major question involves the state's dove dove hunting season, which could start as early September first and end January 15th. To participate in the survey go to the L-D-W-F website, find the hunting link then look for the dove hunters survey.
The undefeated LSU baseball team is moving up in some polls. Collegiate Baseball puts LSU at No. 1. Baseball America has the Tigers at No. 7 and the UL-Ragin Cajuns at No. 10.
News for Monday 022414
By Dave Graichen
A single vehicle crash in grant Parish early Sunday morning has claimed the life of 21 year old Chad Chandler of Dry prong. State police say he lost control of his vehicle and ran off of Race Track Road, flipping the vehicle. Chandler, who died at the scene and and four passengers in the pickup were not wearing seatbelts. The passengers all received moderate injuries. Alcohol was, according to the state police, believed to be a factor.
District 29 State Sen. Rick Gallot has filed a bill to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under 18. Gallot has introduced the bill for consideration in the legislative session that begins March 10. It would add e-cigarettes and other “alternative nicotine products” to the list of items that can’t be sold to minors in Louisiana.
A Louisiana lawmaker has pre-filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would guarantee protections for biological parents who seek surrogacy. Currently in Louisiana parents of a child being carried by another woman have to adopt their own baby after it is born which Metairie Representative Joe Lopinto says as it stands right now in Louisiana, a surrogate's name initially goes onto the child's birth certificate then the parents have to go through the courts to have that changed after the child is born. . He says this exact bill was overwhelming passed last year, but Governor Bobby Jindal, under pressure from the Louisiana Family Forum, vetoed it.
A new survey from Gallup ranks Louisiana as the 10th most miserable state in the country. The Well-Being Index considered several factors, one of those is that only 61% of respondents felt safe walking home alone at night, lowest rate in the U.S. Gallup Researcher Dan Witters say safety is a big part of community well-being. Witters says based on the survey's results, many people are concerned with violent crime and property crime in their area. He says Louisiana also gets its low raking because of a high smoking rate and a lack of healthy eating by many who were surveyed. 2,600 randomly selected Louisiana residents took the survey.
Governor Bobby Jindal along with governors from across the country will meet with President Barack Obama in Washington D-C today. LSU Professor Bob Mann, who also served as former governor Kathleen Blanco's communications director, says the President will not be the only one
talking during this annual gathering. He expects President Obama to push governors to support legislation that would raise the minimum wage in their individual states. He says health care will also be a big topic.
During his appearance on "Face the Nation," Governor Jindal was asked if he will run for President in 2016. The governor's answer was "I don't know." He says the focus needs to be on winning congressional and gubernatorial races across the country this year.
The Coast Guard says a 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River is closed until further notice while crews clean up oil from a barge that hit a towboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The collision happened Saturday afternoon near Vacherie, 47 miles west of New Orleans. In nearby St. Charles Parish, officials say public drinking water intakes on the river are closed as a precaution.
The author of a bill to reduce penalties for those convicted of simple possession of marijuana believes his legislation now has a better chance at passing since it's being supported by the Louisiana Sentencing Commission. New Orleans Representative Austin Badon says the proposed bill only reduces penalties for marijuana possession, not dealers or smugglers with larger amounts. Badon says it would reduce the costs associated with locking people up for marijuana possession.
Older drivers are actually in fewer accidents than younger drivers according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Their study shows drivers 70 and older are less likely to be in accidents than previous generations. The report also shows older driver are driving more miles than in the past.
A legal battle over the delivery of food services at a Louisiana military base has led to $365,000 in attorney bills for the state. It’s also sparked a feud between the Jindal administration and a group of legally blind vendors. Central to the fight is a state-managed trust fund that takes money from vending operations in courthouses and other state or federal properties and uses it to help the legally blind run snack stands, cafeterias and vending machines. What’s aggravating some blind vendors is that money is being withdrawn from their trust fund for the legal fight. The trust fund doesn’t pay all of the programs’ cost, but it does supply dollars for health insurance, equipment and repairs. The federal government might pick up part of the legal tab, but the state’s portion of the bill depletes the trust fund.
The Louisiana Supreme Court is cracking down on judges using tax dollars to pay for exotic junkets.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson has signed an order that bans the use of public dollars for international travel for meetings, unless the travel is approved by the state Supreme Court. The judicial rule goes into effect May 1 for all Louisiana judges. The rule was issued just a month after The Advocate reported about the frequent publicly funded travels of City Court Judge Yvette Alexander, who most recently spent a week in January at a judicial conference in Morocco. Between 2007 and 2012, Alexander took 37 trips and spent $52,704 in public funds.
The Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder reopened Sunday morning, more than 12 hours after what officials called “a small electrical fire” forced the casino to be evacuated. The fire was discovered around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. No patrons were injured, and the damage was minimal.
The Vernon Parish Police Jury wants the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to add Vernon Lake to its list of alligator harvesting locations. The parish fish and game commission recommended the lake be placed in the lottery for alligator hunting. Commission Chairman Jason Nolde says up to six alligator permits might be issued for the lake. Alligator hunting has been permitted for years at Anacoco Lake, which also is in Vernon Parish. The lake will be in the lottery again this year. Nolde says the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has the final say on the Vernon Lake matter and should make a decision before alligator season begins in September.
News for Friday 022114
By Dave Graichen
The St. Martin Parish Sheriff's office says a man from Natchitoches is under arrest after investigators discovered drugs and 47 dogs during a search of his property Wednesday. They say 25-year-old Jason Hasket is charged with cruelty in animals, dog fighting and several counts related to possession and intent to distribute narcotics.
Alexandria Police are withholding the name of a man whose body was found just before 8am Thursday morning in Bayou Rapides near the 3000 block of MacArthur Drive. Though no immediate signs of foul play were visible, an autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death."
State health officials are seeing fewer flu cases in the last couple of weeks, but there's still a steady flow of people heading to doctors' offices suffering from flu-like symptoms. Doctor Frank Welch, with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says the H1N1 strain or swine flu is not as prevalent as it was in December and January. But still, before the flu season ends, he estimates between 500 to 600 people will have here in Louisiana.
225 million dollars is what the state is borrowing for mostly rural road improvements. The governor's office says the money will repair over 400 miles of Louisiana roadways in 37 parishes. Bonds were
sold yesterday and the debt and interest will be paid through registration, license fees, and taxes on commercial trucks and trailers.
In a sharp turnaround, a commission that advises the governor on criminal sentencing issues backed legislation Thursday to reduce penalties for simple possession of marijuana. In November, the Louisiana Sentencing Commission turned down the idea of reducing sentences for people convicted of possessing marijuana. But after occasionally heated debate Thursday, the commission voted favorably on a measure that would do just that.
Two men in South Louisiana are facing child pornography charges in two separate cases A Livingston Parish man A joint law enforcement and government investigation contributed to the arrest of 25 year-old Brandon L. Hunt of Denham Springs on 50 counts of possessing and six counts of distributing pornography of children. In Sulphur, twenty-seven year-old Christopher Marler was also booked on five counts of distributing porn to juveniles.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries say they had to put down the other whooping crane that was shot earlier this month. A female crane was found dead at the scene in Jefferson Davis Parish the male crane's condition continued to worsen till there was nothing vets could do. A $15,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
Another law enforcement agency is investigating former Saints Safety Darren Sharper on charges of sexual battery. Police in Miami Beach, Florida, say they have opened a criminal probe involving Sharper. This means Sharper is being investigated in five different states on accusations for some sort of sexual crime, drugging and raping.
News for Thursday 022014
By Dave Graichen
The rumors have been flying for a while and yesterday he made it official, Former state Rep. Chris Roy Jr. announced his candidacy for Rapides Parish district attorney in the fall elections. The 52 year old Roy became interested in the position after it was announced the current DA, James Downs, was retiring and will not seek re-election. Roy says his work drafting laws that protect children and the elderly give him a unique perspective that he would use as district attorney. The primary election for the DA’s office is Nov. 4. A runoff, if needed, will be Dec. 6.
The gas price has been rising all week. AAA reports the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $3.20 up a penny from yesterday and a nickel from one week ago.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards tells the Louisiana Radio Network that, while he is not ready to make and official announcement, he has made up his mind about running for Congress in November. The seat left open by Republican Bill Cassidy in the 6th congressional district became open when he announced plans to run for Senate. Edwards, who turns 87 in August says he is still working out the legalities.
State Senator Dan Claitor, a Republican from Baton Rouge, and businessman Republican Paul Dietzel are among those who have already filed candidacy paperwork for the 6th District. UL-Lafayette Political Science professor Pearson Cross says Edwards would most certainly be the strongest candidate in the race if he ended up running.
The DeSoto Parish Sheriff's office says they've arrested three men in the brutal murder and robbery of an elderly man from Gloster. Chief Deputy Horace Womack says 79-year-old Nathaniel Cash was found dead in his ransacked home Tuesday morning. Womack says the suspects allegedly killed the elderly who had aheart attack while being choked and tied up. He says the robbers though Cash had a large amount of money in his house, but they found nothing.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says 62-thousand Louisiana residents will not be able to keep their current insurance because of the federal healthcare law known as Obamacare. A spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only company doing business in Louisiana that offered transitional relief for those policy holders.
People in Louisiana with HIV or AIDS are facing roadblocks in getting health insurance through the online marketplace created under the federal health law. Most participating insurance companies say they won’t accept payment from a federal program that helps the patients cover their health costs. The decision started with the largest insurer offering coverage to Louisianans through the federal marketplace: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. The Louisiana Health Cooperative followed suit. Vantage Health Plan says if those companies continue that policy, it will have to follow their lead. People living with HIV and AIDS accuse the companies of discrimination against costly patients.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says a man is under arrest amid allegations he used Craigslist to trick people into paying thousands of dollars for cars that didn't exist. They say 30-year-old Anthony Sherman was booked Monday during a traffic stop in New Orleans on 5 counts of felony theft.
With the Mardi Gras season getting started, this year's crawfish harvest might not be ready for a few more weeks. LSU Ag Center Researcher Ray McClain says it's still going to take some time because of the unusually cold winter. That means crawfish will be hard to find this weekend. McClain says
there will still be some available to boil but they could be small because they haven't grown much in the cold weather.
The subjects of gay marriage and marijuana legalization in the United States have been major news topics over the past year. So where do Louisianans stand on these issues? Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of 600 likely voters in the Bayou State and spokesman Tom Jenson gay marriage continues to be very unpopular here. Jenson says only 28% of voters in the state think gay marriage should be allowed while 62% of those polled think it should be illegal. However he says 54% of people in the group they interviewed from here said they favor at least civil unions for same sex couples. Jenson says they see a similar divide on the marijuana issue. He says Louisiana supports medical marijuana with 60% in favor and 30% opposition. However Jenson says voters here are not ready for recreational marijuana.
News for Wednesday 021914
By Dave Graichen
Students and teachers in Rapides Parish have gotten some bad news, due to the many days lost due to the icy weather over the past few weeks, the Mardi Gras break has been eliminated this year. Students will attend school on March 3 and 4, which were the scheduled holidays for Mardi Gras, and also spend an 20 extra minutes each school day in class from Feb. 24 through April 8 to make up the missed days..
Voters in Alexandria will decide on May 3 whether to pass a property tax to fund recreation and the city’s zoo. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put the tax referendum on the ballot. The proposed tax is 6 mills for 20 years, with half of the proceeds going to fund recreation efforts and the other half going to help fund the Alexandria Zoo. Details on the referendum in today’s Town Talk..
It’s a big deal.. Louisiana State University of Alexandria Tuesday announced the largest donation in the school’s history, $6.2 million from the Mulder Charitable Trust. Funds from the endowment will go toward student scholarships and as well as faculty and staff support
More jobs headed to Northwest Louisiana. Bossier City has been chosen for a new 800-job Technology Center for Computer Sciences Corporation. Construction The 116,000 square foot building will begin toward the end of the year...and will be the anchor tenant of a 3,000 square foot research Park.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff's Department has charged a 39 year-old substitute teacher from Simpson with one count of Prohibited Sexual Conduct Between and Educator and a Student. Cindy Martin allegedly had sexual relations with a 17 year-old student. She was booked into the Vernon Parish Jail.
Tonight's estimated $400 million dollar Powerball jackpot is considered the fourth-largest in the game's history according to the Louisiana Lottery. Tonight's jackpot is also the nation's sixth-largest jackpot ever and has a cash payout of up to $227.8 million dollars.
A Super PAC supporting U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s gubernatorial bid asked a federal judge late Tuesday to declare the state’s limits on campaign contributions unconstitutional. The argument made by The Fund for Louisiana’s Future is that the state violates the First Amendment clause in the U.S. Constitution by capping individual contributions to political action committees at $100,000 per four-year election cycle. The filing in New Orleans’ U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top aide, Paul Rainwater, surprised even his closest political friends late Tuesday by submitting his resignation. Rainwater, the governor’s chief of staff, told legislators and other state officials that he plans to pursue opportunities in the private sector. His last day is March 3.
A new poll released Tuesday suggests Gov. Bobby Jindal is among the least popular governors in the U.S. Public Policy Polling, of North Carolina, which generally works with Democrats, drew that conclusion after surveying 635 Louisiana voters between Feb. 6 and Feb. 9. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percent for the overall survey. Fifty-three percent said they disapprove of Jindal’s job performance. But, the poll may not be too far off the mark. A survey conducted late last year by Baton Rouge pollster Bernie Pinsonat found that 55 percent of 600 likely Louisiana voters questioned between Nov. 6 and Nov. 12, answered “poor” or “not so good” when asked to rate the governor’s job performance.
There's been a drop in the number of people who will not be able to keep their current insurance because of Obamacare. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon's office says that number in Louisiana is now close to 62 thousand, instead of the over 92 thousand they reported towards the end of last year.
Northwestern State University announced that it's going completely tobacco free on August 1st. Their current policy is smoke free within 25 feet of campus buildings and athletic facilities, but
tobacco free will prohibit cigarettes, pipes, oral tobacco and even E-cigarettes. Marcus Jones, vice president of university affairs says the response is very positive to the new policy. It also prohibits tobacco use in privately owned vehicles on the Northwestern State campus.
News for Tuesday 021814
By Dave Graichen
A legislative panel Monday gave its blessing to a Jindal administration plan that allows extra charges to renew a driver’s license for those seeking faster service. The new rules, which have been tested in Metairie and Slidell and are expected in Baton Rouge soon, allow private contractors, call “public tag agents,” to charge up to $18 more than the typical $21.50 fee. Currently, according to State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, Louisiana’s 2.9 million motorists have typically renewed their driver’s license at Office of Motor Vehicle offices, which operate in all 64 parishes, or online. Public tag agents offer a third option, and presumably one that is faster than visiting a state office.
A 16 teen year old Lafayette boy has been charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile after he drove to Wichita, Kansas, to pick up a 12 year old girl he met on the internet. Captain Kip Judice of
the Lafayette parish sheriff's office says the 12 year old girl was missing for little over 24 hours before authorities found her at a home in Lafayette. He says the 16-year-old from Lafayette did not
hurt the girl. Judice says the 16 year old boy's parents were out of town for the weekend and unaware of the situation until authorities notified them.
Three of Louisiana’s most powerful lawmakers agreed Monday that changes need to be made to TOPS, Louisiana’s college scholarship program, before it becomes too expensive for the state to maintain. One of them said nothing will change as long as the family for whom the program is named has the governor’s ear. The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students is set to cost the state $235 million next year and is projected to increase to more than $370 million over the next five years.
The Louisiana department of corrections turned in a plan on Monday to keep death row of the Angola state prison cooler. The department was directed by U-S District Judge Brian Jackson to draft a plan to keep temperatures from going higher than 88 degrees. The plan filed in court lists air conditioning, cold showers, and ice chests to cool death row. The order was in response to suits by 3 inmates who say the excessive heat violated their constitutional rights to NOT be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
Troop I also investigated a fatal crash in Evangeline Parish Sunday that claimed the life of a motorcyclist who wasn't wearing a helmet. Hammons says 60-year-old Terry Thrasher of Ville Platte lost control of his bike and hit a tree. The helmet-less man was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene
State Police say during a routine traffic stop Sunday morning in Port Allen, a US Army Sergeant was busted with 23 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle. They say during questioning, 30-year-old
Sergeant Borace Brown of Florida, troopers became suspicious and discovered the drugs during a search of the vehicle. Sgt Brown was booked into the West Baton Rouge Parish jail and US Army CID was informed of the arrest.
The band director at Kentwood High School has been arrested on child pornography charges. Tangipahoa Sheriff's Deputies say they made the arrest of Kenneth Dillon after explicit pictures and videos were found on his computer; one involving an adult having sex with a 10 year-old child.
If you've been a chronic smoker for decades, there is a free smoking cessation program in Louisiana. It's called Smoking Cessation Trust and it's located in New Orleans, but anyone in the state can use their services. Smoking Cessation Trust C-E-O Mike Rogers says they hope to help at least 200 thousand Louisianans. The Smoking Cessation Trust was created as a result of a class-action lawsuit and the judgment required that tobacco companies fund a program to help people quick smoking. The program has been around for about a year and a half. Rogers says about 11 thousand people are in the program today. The program funds doctor visits, prescription medications and counseling for smokers.
News for Monday 021714
By Dave Graichen
Congratulations to Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields and The entire Pineville City Council, The mayor and his entire council were automatically re-elected on Friday when qualifying ended without any opponent stepping forward. It was third straight time Mayor Fields, who has been on the job since 1999, has been re-elected unopposed.
According to the American Automobile Association gas prices are going up. Prices have risen nearly a dime in just the past week. Now the price is about three-twenty a gallon. Triple A spokesperson Don Redman says it's a normal trend but it's not as bad as other years. While it's impossible to know when gas prices will peak, AAA is advising the public expect to pay about 3 dollars and sixty cents, in the next few weeks.
A family from Patterson is grieving and members of a high school baseball team are still shaken up today after a violent collision between a school bus and an SUV in St. Mary Parish on Saturday resulted in four deaths. State Police Trooper Stephen Hammons says the 4 victims who lost their lives were riding in the SUV. Several Players on the school bus was transporting the Lafayette High baseball team to a game in Berwick, we injured. Investigators believe the SUV had some sort of tire failure.
Lottery officials say there was no jackpot winner in Saturday's Powerball drawing, adding the current estimated jackpot has jumped to $400 million or $227.8 million in cash value. The next drawing will be Wednesday.
The state department of corrections must present a plan to a federal judge today on how it will keep the heat index from going above 88- degrees on death row at Angola. U-S District Judge Brian Jackson ruled last December that death row inmates are subjected to cruel and unusual punishment during hot summer days. The state department of public safety and corrections could still appeal the ruling. They argued during the trial that death row inmates had not suffered any adverse health effects as a result of the conditions.
The Office of Motor Vehicles is in the process of changing to a new driver's licenses and identification card design. Although the design looks similar to the current one, State Police Captain Doug Cain says it will create greater security and better protection of privacy. Cain says some new features on the license are a mirrored picture, a tri-color overlay and multi-colored fine line printing. A couple of DMV locations started distributing the new drivers licenses and ID cards last week. Cain says they except all offices to have the new system in place by the end of May.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries say 2013 was a record year when it comes to the number of boating fatalities. Only 13 people were killed on Louisiana waterways last year breaking the previous record of 19. LDWF Spokesperson Adam Einck says the low numbers are likely due to mandatory boater education courses. Einck says LDWF has also upped the enforcement of drinking and boating. He says DWIs now carry the same weight on the water as they do for driving a car on the road. Einck says the state has certified over 50,000 boaters and the number keeps going up.
A state judge in LaFourche Parish has ruled a Thibodaux man accused of killing his disabled son is NOT guilty by reason of insanity. Police say 32-year-old Jeremiah Wright cut off his son's head in August 2011 and left it in the yard for the child's mother to discover after work. District Attorney Cam Morvant says Wright will likely spend the rest of his life at a mental health hospital in East Feliciana Parish. He says Wright was examined by 5 different forensic psychiatrists within 6 weeks after the horrific murder took place and all five found that he was psychotic.
A two-week period begins today where NFL teams can use the franchise tag on one of their pending unrestricted free agents. The Saints have 14 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, including TE Jimmy Graham. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says the Saints and Graham are not close on a new contract and the team will likely tag Graham.
Former LSU baseball coach Skip Bertman was the victim of a home invasion over the weekend. The 75 Year old Bertman was awakened by a masked burglar who entered the house through a window. Startled, the burglar quickly left through a door after a brief scuffle with Bertman. The good news is Neither Bertman or his wife Sandy were injured. The crook did however, get away with some of Bertman’s championship rings and money.
News for Thursday 021314
By Dave Graichen
Due to continuing power outages and uncertain road conditions, many schools across central Louisiana have decided to remain closed on Thursday.
Public schools in Rapides, Avoyelles, LaSalle & Concordia Parish will be closed today.
As will Avoyelles Parish Catholic Schools.
Avoyelles Public Charter School
Temple Christian Academy
Cenla Christian Academy
John Eskew Training Academy
UniTech Training Academy will have No classes Thursday; offices will be open.
Catholic Schools In Rapides Parish will be open.
If you're tired of the ice and the snow, warmer weather is on its way! Mike Berry with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says our warm up starts today. The warmer weather will continue through the weekend and the high temperatures will be in the middle 60s.
Cleco was reporting almost 30,000 customers were without power throughout central Louisiana. Entergy says they've got 9400 customers with outages right now throughout central and north
Louisiana due to icy power lines and freezing rain. Both companies say they are assessing the damage and will give estimated restoration times as soon as possible. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Cleco had 18,538 customers still without power, including 10,550 in Rapides Parish and 6,405 in Avoyelles Parish.
After a little over 6 hours of deliberations, the jury in former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's federal corruption trial has found him guilty on 20 out of the 21 counts. The ex-mayor has been found guilty of bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and filing false tax return. Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino the ex-mayor is facing lengthy jail time without the possibility of probation and will probably be sentenced in about 90 days.
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley wants answers about Louisiana's tax structure. He says a long term review of tax credits, deductions, rebates and exemptions is needed and Kleckley has called for an
independent study that will be completed in time for the 2015 legislative session. It's been more than 25 years since the last major analysis of the state's tax make up. Kleckley says one area of concern is the amount of money the state may be missing out on when it comes to collecting sales tax on internet purchases. Kleckley says some state tax exemptions have been on the books since
The Forum for Equality Louisiana and four gay married couples filed a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. Forum for
Equality's Chris Otten says they're suing because plaintiffs are forced to lie on state tax returns by checking single instead of married. The lawsuit, in which State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield is listed as a defendant, charges that Louisiana's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announce they distributed 18,000 dollars of reward money to numerous individuals who provided tips to the Louisiana Operation Game Thief program. LDWF Spokesperson Adam Einck says 68 people were caught last year due to the LOGT program. Einck says there is a toll free hotline which allows the public to provide tips when they see hunting violations as well as a new smart phone app "LADWF Tips" and a texting service. Each method used is eligible for a cash reward.
Two people in Thibodaux are under arrest for counterfeiting, after an anonymous tipster alerted police the pair were attempting to use counterfeit currency. After the arrest of twenty-three year-old Joshua Ray Hyatt of Livingston and 19 year-old Michelle Bourgeois from Thibodaux, police recovered printing materials, a gun, and marijuana from the motel where they had been staying.
Four members of the Saints 2009 Super Bowl team are no longer members of the Black and Gold. Cornerback Jabari Greer, safety Roman Harper and defensive end Will Smith have been cut from the Saints roster and the team will not re-sign linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
News for Wednesday 021214
By Dave Graichen
Due to threatening weather.. The elevated section of i-49 through Alexandria is closed
Jackson Street Bridge is Closed
State Offices are closed
Schools Closed Wednesday Due To Winter Storm..
Public Schools In Rapides, Grant, Avoyelles, Vernon, Sabine, Natchitoches, LaSalle & Catahoula.
LSUA & NUS Delayed Open 10a
Louisiana College Delayed Open 11a
Cenla Technical Community College (all campuses closed)
All Catholic schools in Rapides and Avoyelles
Alexandria Country Day School
Alpine Christian School
Avoyelles Public Charter School
Bentley Christian Academy
Cenla Christian Academy
Emmanuel Baptist Day School
First United Methodist of Alexandria Preschool and Child Care
Grace Christian School
Hope Baptist School
UniTech Training Academy
Adrian Lamkin a deputy with the Rapides Parish sheriff’s department died Monday from complications of the flu. Lamkin was in charge of the Tioga substation’s Detective Division. Sheriff Hilton says Lamkin fell ill with the H1N1 flu in December and remained hospitalized until his death. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Kramer Funeral Home. Lt. Adrian Lamkin was 62.
One day after closing arguments, a "juror problem" that has not been disclosed is the reason deliberations will not resume yesterday in the federal corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. The jury is expected to continue deliberating today.
According to a report released Tuesday, Louisiana’s high school seniors had among the poorest performances nationwide in reaching passing scores on Advanced Placement exams, which are used to earn college credit. Data from the College Board shows that 5.3 percent of Louisiana’s public high school graduates scored a 3 or higher last year on an AP exam, the grade most colleges require for students to earn credit. The tests are scored on a 1 to 5 scale. The only state with a lower percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher was Mississippi, at 4.4 percent. Nationally, 20.1 percent of 2013’s high school graduates reached the benchmark. Maryland led the country at 29.6 percent.
The proposed expansion of Sempra International's natural gas terminal in Cameron Parish has gotten the last green light from the Energy Department. The expansion will have a price tag that could approach $10 billion dollars. They still need the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval.
It's been awhile since Louisiana had a state income tax review. In fact, the last time was 1987. Republican House Speaker Chuck Kleckly from Lake Charles believes that state is past due.
Particularly now, with internet sales growing so fast. As it stands now, Louisiana does not collect taxes on internet sales.
US Senate Democratic caucus voted to appoint Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu as the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The appointment should become final on Thursday with a vote by the entire US Senate.
Another poll shows Louisiana's U-S Senate race is a dead heat. North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling says Senator Mary Landrieu has a slim 1-point lead over republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy. The same polling company had Landrieu with a 10-point lead in August.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission announces upgrades have been made to its website that helps connect employers and job seekers. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says they've now designed the site, www.laworks.net, to work sort-of like a dating website when it comes to matching an employer with someone who fits the job. Eysink says they plan to continue to improve their web based services so Louisiana's employers can continue to satisfy their employment needs and so more residents can find nice jobs they qualify for.
A woman from Baton Rouge pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter and cruelty charges in the case of the death of her infant daughter who was found in a garbage truck in 2002. 30 year old JoAnn King will be sentenced March 10th to 12 years in prison under terms of a plea deal.
News for Tuesday 021114
By Dave Graichen
Due to threatening weather.. The elevated section of i-49 through Alexandria is closed
Most state offices are closed
Schools Closed Tuesday Due To Winter Storm..
Public Schools In Rapides, Grant, Avoyelles, Vernon, Winn & Catahoula.
LSUA & NSU Closed
Cenla Technical Community College (all campuses closed)
All Catholic schools in Rapides and Avoyelles
Alexandria Country Day School
Alpine Christian School
Avoyelles Public Charter School
Bentley Christian Academy
Cenla Christian Academy
Emmanuel Baptist Day School
First United Methodist of Alexandria Preschool and Child Care
Grace Christian School
Hope Baptist School
UniTech Training Academy
Winter weather is back in Louisiana today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a winter advisory and a winter storm warnings are posted in north and Central Louisiana. He says much of the state will experience some kind of wintery precipitation. Keim says temperatures will struggle to get above the freezing mark today in north Louisiana and only to the mid 30’s here in Cenla. Keim says while south Louisiana will avoid mixed precipitation that area of the state will see a lot of rain today, with some areas getting as much as two inches.
The State Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on roads in the northern half of the state as a result of the icy conditions that are developing. DOTD Spokesperson Susan Stafford says they pretreated roads to help prevent as many closures as possible. Stafford says the crews are going to work around the clock to de-ice roads and remove fallen trees on roadways. Bridges and overpasses will be closed though if conditions are found to be unsafe.
The former executive director for the Rapides Parish Coliseum is on the defensive after a legislative auditors report was released. That report shows Kimberly Neal overpaid herself about $30 thousand dollars over a three year period. The audit shows Neal being paid for unearned leave and an unauthorized $1 an hour pay raise. She resigned from her job last year.
A manufacturing facility in Oakdale has been cited by the O.S.H.A after a fire last year severely burned a worker. The Government agency Monday cited Carol Callahan, doing business as Natural Advantage, for 19 serious violations at the facility. The alleged violations include overexposure to methylene chloride; failing to provide each worker with an appropriate respirator; and failing to implement procedures to detect chemical leaks. The company which makes flavorings for different food and drinks Is facing a fine ofl $91,000.
The Louisiana Democratic Party says it will push to increase the state's minimum wage in the 2014 legislative session. Party Chair and New Orleans State Senator Karen Carter Peterson says raising the minimum wage would help lift many people out of poverty and create an economy that would work for all Louisianans. Peterson says raising the minimum wage is a "no brainer" that national polls show over 70% of people support, including Republicans.
Starting in 2015, public school students in grades 3-through-8 will take a new assessment test that will replace the end of the year LEAP exams. Because this new test known as "PARCC," will be much different from the LEAP, the state education department has released sample questions for
students & parents to see. Hundreds of "PARCC" sample questions will be field tested in almost all
public school districts across the state. The public can see sample questions at "P-A-R-C-C-on-Line-Dot-O-R-G."
Prosecutors in the case against former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin told the jury in the federal corruption trial yesterday morning this was a case of a mayor on the take. The defense said the prosecution presented a highly misleading case. The 21 count indictment trial is now in the hands of the jury.
Governor Bobby Jindal was on hand yesterday for the formal dedication of the Louisiana Digital Media Center. The 94-thousand square feet technology hub on the LSU campus will house the Electronic Arts North American Test center. Jindal says LSU will also use the facility for high-performance computer research. The governor said the dedication of the Louisiana Digital Media Center shows that Louisiana is a strong player in the software development industry.
An investigation by the state fire into a fatal fire in central Louisiana has resulted in the arrest of two teenagers. A fire in Jonesville on Friday killed 36 year old Kevin Wiley. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says his investigators developed enough evidence that led to the arrest of Conner Thomas and Trey Seward. Browning confirms the two 17 year old suspects knew the victim, but
a motive for the crime has not been released.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals says a bad influenza season in Louisiana could get even worse. State Immunization Director Dr. Frank Welch says the entire stat is at risk. He says since October 1st of last year, lab tests have confirmed at least 53 deaths statewide from influenza.
News for Monday 021014
By Dave Graichen
The CDC have confirmed that two more children have died from the flu in the state, bringing the total number of 4 pediatric deaths this year. The kids were from Southeast and Southwest Louisiana.
Closing arguments are today in former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's corruption trial. The prosecution had witnesses testify that Nagin took thousands of dollars in bribes, which included trips and granite for a family-owned granite business. Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino says Nagin's defense team will try to discredit that testimony. Nagin, who served as mayor of New Orleans from 2002 to 2010, faces a 21-count indictment. The charges include bribery, money laundering, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
Jennings State Senator Blade Morrish has pre-filed a bill for the 2014 legislative session that would cap the popular TOPS scholarship program. The bill would cap award increases at 10% per year per student. Morrish his bill would require the program to stay in line with a higher education price index to keep price increases down. He says the program is costing almost 200 million more now than when it first started in 1998.
We're one month away from the 2014 legislative session and major issues are taking shape. The Governor has already presented a proposed budget for next fiscal year and Lapolitics.com publisher John Maginnis says unlike previous legislative sessions, lawmakers will not have to deal with a budget crisis. Maginnis says this year's session will feature previously discussed legislation like expanding Medicaid and teacher tenure. The 2014 regular legislative session begins March 10.
Gas prices in Louisiana have been flat this year but the American Automobile Association warns motorists to expect to see the price at the pump go up soon. AAA Fuel Analyst Don Redman says that is because refineries will soon shut down so they can produce a summer blend of gasoline. Louisiana's current statewide average is $3.12. That is 27 cents lower than a year ago. Redman says there is not always a certain way to tell how much gas will go up from winter to spring but it is usually a 50 cent increase.
Last year, public-school teachers won a surprise, late-session state-funded pay raise. This year, they may be out of luck. Gov. Bobby Jindal unveiled his $25 billion operating budget last month for the financial year that begins July 1, including $3.5 billion in state aid for public schools. The plan features a continuation of the $69 million that lawmakers approved last year, half of which they required to be used for teacher pay hikes. However, most of the signs this time suggest school districts will be allowed to use the $69 million without any strings, including mandates to boost teacher pay. The state has about 48,000 public-school teachers.
The organizer of a super PAC formed to support U.S. Sen. David Vitter argues that it should not be subject to Louisiana campaign contribution limits because it is operating independent of Vitter. But the organizers of the super PAC, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, have a direct tie to Vitter’s political operations. Two of the people paid to raise money for the super PAC are also paid by Vitter’s campaign operations to raise money for the candidate. It’s an arrangement that some elections experts say could invite a review by the Federal Elections Commission
News for Friday 020714
By Dave Graichen
A teacher in Monroe facing possible dismissal stemming from Governor Bobby Jindal's tenure law is filing a lawsuit in Monroe to fight it. That's not the only one. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers has filed a lawsuit claiming the bill is unconstitutional. Wednesday, the governor hinted he might make some changes to soften the current law.
Heroin addiction and heroin related deaths are reaching epidemic levels in Louisiana and throughout the country. Dr. Ken Roy is the founder and medical director of Addiction Recovery Resources in New Orleans. He says between 60-80% of people that come in for detox these days are intravenous heroin users. Roy says he hopes high profile heroin deaths, such as Phillip Seymour Hoffman's, will encourage more people to get help and treatment before it's too late.
Nobody won the Powerball last night. The jackpot for Saturday's drawing now goes to $247 million.
An Utterly ridiculous story.. After about a year of record high prices for milk, Louisiana consumers can expect to see those prices go down soon because of the Farm Bill that President Barack Obama is prepared to sign today. Most dairies are predicting prices will go down between 35 and 50 cents..
Louisiana businesses could pay substantial tax penalties starting in 2015 because of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, according to a new report by a national tax preparation firm. Jackson Hewitt estimated that the penalties could range between $41 million and $62 million annually. The study found, “States that do not expand Medicaid for adults leave their large employers exposed to higher employer ‘shared responsibility’ tax penalties” that are part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Officials with the Texas Motor Speedway announce "The Duck Commander" as the new title-sponsor of its annual spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The largest-attended, single-day sporting event in Texas will now be called "The Duck Commander 500." Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage says the race, which will be held April 6th, draws crowds in excess of 150,000 people.
A federal judge in Missouri has ruled drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their lights to alert oncoming motorists that a speed trap is up the road. But State Police spokeswoman Melissa Matey says that ruling has no impact on Louisiana's law, which says it is illegal to flash your lights, unless it's for a hazardous purpose. She says if you flash your lights to warn other drivers there are officers nearby, you could be issued a citation.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals is unrolling a Parents as Teachers program in North Louisiana which matches parents with trained professionals who provide in-home support to families from the start of a mother's pregnancy until the child enters kindergarten. Amy Zapata, the Director of the Bureau of Family Health with DHH says the goal of the PAT program is to support healthy pregnancies and early child development for low income families who qualify. She says the parent educators teach families how to stimulate their child's early learning by facilitating activities that encourage language development, intellectual growth and motor skills.
The New Orleans Arena has officially become the Smoothie King Center. Governor Bobby Jindal, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, along with Smoothie King owner Wan Kim made that announcement Thursday morning. They say timing is right, because the NBA All-Star game is next weekend in New Orleans.
With 65 billion dollars coming to Southwest Louisiana in expected growth including the massive Sasol engergy complex, local business leaders and public officials want answers on how they can prepare for it. Calcasieu Police Juror, Hal McMillin says 2 studies are being conducted and the reseachers will also look at what local government can do in advance of the tremendous economic growth. McMillin says the studies should be completed in June.
An electrocution at Cyprus Black Bayou Park in Benton Wednesday has killed one man, and injured two others. Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Lt. Bill Davis told the Louisiana Radio Network electrical workers were doing some maintenance work when the accident took place. The names of the men have not been released as of yet.
The new Ouachita Parish Bridge project just got more expensive. The Army Corps of Engineers says DOTD should find three other locations to consider because of environmental concerns.
News for Thursday 020614
By Dave Graichen
The National Weather Service has issued yet another winter weather advisory for Rapides, Avoyelles and Vernon Parish. The NWS in Lake Charles says the advisory is in effect from 9 am til 12 noon. During that time there is the possibility of sleet or light freezing rain. Today's winter event could cause problems on elevated roadways or bridges, but poor conditions shouldn't last very long.
Keith Bonin, president of the Alexandria Kennel Club and chairman of the Mardi Gras Dog Show, said he plans to sign a two-year contract this week to keep the event at the At the Alexandria Riverfront Center for the next two years. It was feared, due to scheduling conflicts and the unavailability of the Rapides Parish coliseum, the show would be forced to leave town. Bonin said local officials have “bent over backward” to ensure the show stays in Alexandria.
The state department of education announces 47 of Louisiana's 69 school systems are technology ready, which is a 25 percent increase from July. State Superintendent John White says the progress seen in a short time shows school districts are committed to ensuring all students have access to technology. White says the Department of Education is helping schools achieve technology readiness by helping them purchase computers, I-pads and laptops at discounted prices.
More jobs are headed to New Orleans as Governor Bobby Jindal announced yesterday that International Shipholding Corporation is moving their corporate headquarters from Mobile to New Orleans. Once the corporate headquarters are complete, the company will bring at least 100 high-paying jobs to the city. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says this move reflects to rebuilding of New Orleans post-Katrina to be –quote -"better than we were before."
The state Civil Service Commission agreed Wednesday to the privatization of LSU’s hospital in Bogalusa after hearing that it would save taxpayers at least $10 million annually. The commission voted 6-1 for the plan, which involves the layoff of the hospital’s 554 employees. The good news is, 100 percent of the hospital employees have been offered a position with the private operator. The transition is scheduled to take place March 17.
A former volunteer firefighter has been charged with four counts of simple arson in connection with fires that investigators say were intentionally set in a wooded area just south of Deridder,
Twenty-six year-old Brandon Harris was booked into the Beauregard Parish jail with a $60 thousand dollar bond.
The prosecution has rested its corruption case against former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. Federal prosecutors brought over two-dozen witnesses to the stand and 5 of them testified they bribed Nagin in order to receive lucrative contracts. Loyola University law Prof Dane Ciolino says the prosecution has delivered a strong case so far. Ciolino says Nagin's defense team will have to prove that the prosecution's witnesses are liars.
CVS Pharmacy announced Wednesday that they will stop selling tobacco products by October 1. Director for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living Torrie Harris says they have been working hard to get pharmacies in Louisiana to get tobacco products from behind the counter. Harris says the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living advocates for a healthy lifestyle and CVS's decision is a milestone. Especially since smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths across the world.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's office says an argument over certain groups being mentioned in rap song lyrics lead to a drive-by shooting Sunday that claimed the life of a woman who was an innocent bystander. They say two arrests were made Monday and Tuesday and the search continues for a 17 year old who was also allegedly involved in the shooting. The charge for the 3 is first degree murder.
There are reports that the New Orleans Arena, where the NBA's Pelicans play, will be renamed the Smoothie King Center. An official announcement could be made today. Tulane Marketing Professor Eric Hamerman says the NBA All Star Game is taking place at the New Orleans Arena on February 16th. Hamerman says that’s probably why the naming rights deal is going down now. Hamerman says it makes perfect public relations sense that Smoothie King would want their name on the Arena since their headquarters are in suburban New Orleans.
Jacoby Davis, a former Vermilion Catholic High School standout football player filed a lawsuit against the school and Diocese of Lafayette, claiming he was expelled in 2013 without due process after he was accused of getting two teens pregnant. The lawsuit claims, one of the girls was another Vermilion Catholic student who was not expelled, while Davis was expelled in February 2013 during his junior year and was denied requests to defend himself. The lawsuit does not provide additional information about the second mother, including what school she attended.
News for Wednesday 020514
By Dave Graichen
With Louisiana having a difficult time finding drugs to perform a lethal injection against a convicted child killer, Governor Bobby Jindal confirms the state is examining other alternatives. Jindal says expect to see legislation in the upcoming session, addressing this issue. Christopher Sepulvado (suh PULL vah doe) was scheduled to be executed today for murdering his six year-old stepson.
Abortion rights supporters claimed success Tuesday as the state health agency scrapped new rules for outpatient abortion facility licensing, but said they remain leery of what comes next. The DHH suddenly canceled a planned Tuesday afternoon public hearing on the abortion clinic licensing standards. According to a statement issued by DHH communications director Olivia Watkins, “There were problems with the wording.” Watkins said the rules would be revised “for consistency and clarity.” and the agency will issue “a revised rule and letter of intent at a later date”. No time frame was given for the revamp.
Louisiana's Ag Commissioner Mike Strain is happy Congress finally approved a Farm Bill. The nearly 100-billion dollar a year measure heads to President Barak Obama's desk, where he is expected to sign it. Strain says the bill provides a safety net for farmers, who face unpredictable market and weather conditions. Strain says the bill also aggressively restores U-S trade promotion
Citing a need for better communication among first responders, State Police officials announced Tuesday plans for a new statewide training system aimed at getting roads reopened more quickly following accidents. The Traffic Incident Management system developed by the Federal Highway Administration is already in place in 33 states. The system aims to make sure all first responders, police, fire, medical and even wrecker services, have the same training and information when arriving at an accident scene to streamline the process and reopen roads more quickly.
Two inmates who escaped from the St. Mary Parish Law Enforcement Center in Centerville are back in custody. 28 year old Christopher Horton and 36 year old Joshua Folks escaped Sunday. Horton is a convicted murderer, while Folks was in prison for aggravated rape. The sheriff's office has not yet provided details on how they were captured.
Police in Welsh say caught a garbage man selling drugs from the trash truck while he was on his route. Authorities say says 33 year old Nicholas Coble was fired after he was booked on several drug charges for allegedly honking his horn outside houses where people would come out and by drugs.
Louisiana State Police say an officer with the Lake Providence Police Department is under arrest for allegedly offering to accept $50 from a person who was speeding in lieu of issuing a citation. Spokesman Albert Paxton says a resident of Arkansas told investigators the suspect pulled them over for speeding on a Lake Providence Highway. Paxton says 51-year-old Clint Reed confessed that he requested and took $50 instead of issuing the citation. He is charged with one
count of malfeasance in office.
A Lake Charles City Councilman wants to have regulations on the new e-cigarettes. Dana Jackson says the city should be careful on how easily people can get their hands on them, especially since there's not a lot of research from the FDA to determine their safety of use. The council will review the proposal tomorrow and vote on Feb 19.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says a 30 year old man is under arrest for allegedly giving his girlfriend a dose of heroin that lead to her death last month. They say Brandon Erick was taken into custody Monday and is charged with second degree murder. 31 year old Leah Hutchinson and the suspect were found by officers passed out in a car in December...both were taken to a hospital where the woman later died of an apparent drug overdose.
A man who used to fight fires himself is believed to have been found in the ashes of his own Loranger home early this morning according to State Fire Marshal Butch Browning. He says they are working with the coroner to determine if the deceased is 79 year old George George Schilling. Browning says neighbors and family told investigators Schilling was inside the home at the time of the blaze.
One of the most popular assistant coaches in the Who-Dat Nation will be serving as the Grand Marshal for the Krewe of Argus Parade. New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan will be rolling through Metairie on Fat Tuesday which is March 4th.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette announces they are now offering courses online for certified teachers who want to mentor their peers. ULL Curriculum Instruction Department head Dr. Peter Sheppard says educators can take this 12-hour, non-degree "Teacher Coaching" program to fine tune their own expertise. Sheppard says each of the four courses which, are structured to accommodate working teachers, is 7 weeks long and they all can be completed in about 10 months. You can get more information on this program by emailing: "firstname.lastname@example.org"
News for Tuesday 020414
By Dave Graichen
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's office says a man from Arnaudville is dead after he was shot in the back during a carjacking. They say 49 year old Michael Patin died in the parking lot of the Jockey Lot where he worked. Suspects are reportedly in custody but no other information on them is being released because of their age.
The State Department of Health and Hospitals will hold a public hearing today on new regulations on abortion clinics that have pro-choice activists upset. New Orleans lawyer Ellie Schilling says she opposes the new rules because they could prevent new facilities from opening and being licensed. She says by reducing the availability of abortion clinics, women's safety is at risk and access to information is eliminated.
A move to tweek the state's anti sodomy law is stirring controversy. Part of Louisiana's anti sodomy law lists consensual oral or consensual anal sex between humans, as crimes against nature. Representative Patricia Smith of Baton Rouge filed a bill to get rid that part of the law because the U.S Supreme court has already ruled it unconstitutional . However, Louisiana Family Forum leader Gene Mills is against changing the current anti sodomy law. With support from the state sheriffs association and the Louisiana district attorneys association, Smith intends to move forward with the bill in the upcoming legislative session to remove portions of the law.
The weekend death of Morgan City Police Chief Travis Crouch in a hotel room in Biolxi is being investigated as a suicide. Morgan City Police Department spokesman Lt. James Blair says the Biloxi police department does not believe there was anyone else involved in this incident at the Beau Rivage. Blair says whether or not it was an accident or intentional remains under investigation.
Sad story out of New Orleans. Police say a 6 year old boy died after he was struck by a hit and run car Monday morning while crossing a street. They say the child's 9 year old sister was injured but she will survive. Police have a suspect in custody.
Authorities in Lake Arthur say they've identified the body of a woman who was found lying face down in a ditch on Friday. They say they don't know how 27 year old Lacie Fontenot died just yet, but authorities are treating the death as suspicious.
Governor Bobby Jindal announced Monday the expansion of the LSU College of Engineering project has exceeded its private donation goal. He said more than 450 Individual and corporate donors pledged $52.5 million-dollars which fulfills the College of Engineering's commitment to match $50 million in state capital outlay funds. LSU Chancellor F King Alexander says this state of the art renovation of Patrick F Taylor Hall will attract the best and the brightest
A man on death row for killing his 6 year old stepson almost 20 years ago is going to wait another 90 days. The state has experienced difficulty in finding the approved drug used for all
lethal injections. Since the state is changing it to a two-drug system, attorneys for Christopher Sepulvado says they want to investigate that new plan to make sure it is not going to create any
cruel and unusual punishment questions.
A massive search is underway right now for two inmates who escaped from the St. Mary Parish Law Enforcement Center in Centerville. The Sheriff's Office says the men are considered to be dangerous. They are 28 year old Chris Horton of Bayou Vista and 36 year old Joshua Folks of Franklin. Horton is incarcerated for second degree murder.
According to a release from the Governor's office, the selection of Baton rouge for the IBM technology center project was one of the top 8 economic development deals in the nation in 2013. Governor Jindal also says Business Facilities magazine names Louisiana as runner-up for State of the Year.
The Powerball jackpot is getting high again. The Louisiana Lottery says the prize is up to $215 million for Wednesday's drawing. That's a cash value of $124.1 million.
A teenager from Baton Rouge has been arrested for posting a nude picture on twitter of another teen she was having an argument with. Seventeen year-old Hayley Douglas told Sheriff's Deputies she did not post the picture of the 15 year-old juvenile with any kind of maliciousness. She was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail on one count of video voyeurism.
New York just hosted its first ever Super Bowl and now we're looking at when The Big Easy could get The Big Game for the record 11th time. New Orleans is a finalist to host the Super Bowl in 2018. Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation President Jay Cicero says they've got stiff competition in Minneapolis and Indianapolis. The Super Bowl was in Indianapolis in 2012 and the city received good reviews as a host city.
It is exactly one month away from Fat Tuesday! Because Mardi Gras is a state wide event, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne hopes the new interactive web and print advertisements running in surrounding state will bring in additional visitors to partake in the Louisiana carnival. This is the first time the state has conducted an out of state advertising campaign to promote the Mardi Gras season. Dardenne says they are trying to take advantage of the later than normal carnival season.
News For Monday 020314
By Dave Graichen
The Seattle Seahawks have won their first Super Bowl title, crushing the favored Denver Broncos 43-to-8.
Tyrone Lawton Doyle, who served as mayor of Glenmora for two decades, died Friday in Grace Home in Alexandria at the age of 75. Doyle was mayor for 20 years before retiring. He chose not to seek re-election in 2006. Funeral services for Doyle will be today in Glenmora.
Late Saturday night, a single vehicle crash claimed the life of a Sabine Parish Man. 19 year old Cody James Meaux of Converse was killed when his vehicle left highway 174, struck a tree and burst into flames. It is unknown if Meaux was wearing his seatbelt. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Routine toxicology tests are pending. The crash remains under investigation.
Boosted by a drop in the city’s murder rate and an endorsement from President Barack Obama, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has won a landslide victory in his bid for a second term. Landrieu had 64 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting in Saturday’s election.
Now that we have the record cold January behind us, what does winter have in store for Louisiana this month? State Climatologist Barry Keim says the forecast for February from the Climate Prediction Center calls for warm and dry conditions. Keim says long range forecasts still leaves a lot to be desired but it's better than flipping coins. Keim says drought conditions are moving through parts of the state right now so while a warmer February would be welcome relief, Louisiana needs some rain.
The LHSAA has voted to keep the high school football playoffs split between select and non-select schools, meaning there will once again be nine state champions crowned in football next December. A motion to end the split failed 208-to-93. Most private schools do not like the split the playoff system. Calvary Baptist Football Coach John Bachman led the Cavaliers to a state championship under the split playoff format last year, but he would rather see public and private schools competing in the same playoffs. The split playoffs came about because dozens of public schools believed that some private schools had an unfair advantage over them, because they can select the students that attend their school.
A statewide poll shows democratic Senator Mary Landrieu trailing GOP Congressman Bill Cassidy in a head-to-head race. The Rasmussen Poll also shows Landrieu in a dead heat with another republican challenger, state representative Paul Hollis. But ULM Political Science Professor Joshua
Stockley says Rasmussen tends to favor republicans. The poll surveyed 500 likely Louisiana voters this week. Stockely says although the Rasmussen poll may lean toward republicans, Senator Landrieu should take note of it. The open primary election will be November 4th and if it goes to a runoff election it would be on December 6th.
The Louisiana Family Forum is looking for the top 10 longest married couples to be honored this Valentine's Day at the Governor's Mansion. President Gene Mills says Norman and Norma Burmah of Marksville have won the past two years. The couple has been married for 83 years. He encourages people to nominate couples married for 60, 70 or 80 years for the award. The deadline to enter a couple is February 7th. Entries can be made by contacting the Louisiana Family Forum with a wedding date and contact information.
A Baton Rouge legislator wants to remove from state law a provision that was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court but still was used to arrest men agreeing to have consensual sex. Both the state’s sheriffs and district attorneys have indicated support for the change in Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law, but state Rep. Patricia Smith is getting opposition from the Louisiana Family Forum, a major political force among conservatives in state politics. Smith submitted the change in Louisiana law for consideration in the legislative session that opens March 10.
Everyone's favorite crew of Louisiana gator hunters are back tonight as the History's reality series Swamp People returns for a 5th season. The guys will be back on The Bayou tonight lead by swamp patriarch Troy Landry who says this year the waters are filled with bigger and meaner gators than ever before and for season five, the prices are high and competition is out of control.
The Biloxi Police Department is investigating as a possible suicide the death of Morgan City Police Chief Travis Crouch, who was found dead from a single gunshot wound early Saturday morning.
The investigation is ongoing, and although authorities in Mississippi have not ruled it as a suicide, it is being investigated as a suspected suicide. Foul play is not suspected
Now that the Super Bowl is over, the next big US sporting event is the NBA All-Star game, which will be played in New Orleans on February 16th. Associate Executive Director of the NBA All-Star Host Committee, Jeff Rossi, says while the game is the highlight of the weekend, there are plenty of activities that will take place throughout the weekend. Rossi says they expect the All-Star weekend will attract 50-thousand visitors to the Big Easy.
Congratulations are due for Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany — they’ve announced that they’re expecting a fourth child. They revealed the news about their fourth child, whose gender isn’t know yet, on the red carpet of a Super Bowl event on Saturday night.
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