News for Monday 033114
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana's unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since mid 2008 in the month of February according to the US Department of Labor. The state's unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in January and was 4.5 percent last month.
Today is the last day to sign-up for private health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana spokesperson Robin Mayhall says the federal government is not requiring the uninsured to purchase a plan by the end of today, but start the process if you want coverage in 2014. The federal government reports there's been an increase in the last week in the number of uninsured people signing up for coverage through
the Health Insurance Marketplace.
State officials announce that the Phelps Correction Center in Dequincy will re-open. The state closed the facility in November 2012, resulting in 300 employees losing their jobs or being
transferred to another prison. But the prison is re-opening and it will house about three-hundred adult men, who are non-violent offenders that are within four years within their release date.
Today lawmakers will discuss legislation that would put regulations on traffic cameras that issues tickets. New Orleans Representative Jeff Arnold has filed bills in the past to put certain restrictions on the cameras that can issue tickets, and one of the three bills before committee today deals with issuing citations through the mail. House Bill 859 would require that automated traffic enforcement
systems use the standardized yellow light time. Arnold says studies have shown that the best way to reduce accidents is to extend the caution light time.
The House Commerce committee will hear legislation today that will prohibit an employer or a school from asking for a person's log-in and password information for their personal e-mail or social media page. The bill by Baton Rouge Representative Ted James also states that an employer can't fire someone if they don't give up that information.
On April 5th there are several local governments in Louisiana that have tax measures on the ballot and voter turnout for that election will likely be low. That's why state senator Bret Allain of Franklin (ah-Leh) has filed a constitutional amendment to require at least a voter turnout of 20% before any tax measure would be implemented. Allain doesn't think it's right that very small percentages of people show up at the polls then vote on a tax that will apply to everyone in their municipality.
After months of arguments outside the State Capitol, lawmakers are set to cast their first votes Wednesday on the future of the academic standards known as Common Core. In an unusual move, the House Education Committee will devote what may be a daylong hearing, and possibly more, strictly to the bills that would repeal or revamp the classroom goals, which were adopted by Louisiana and 44 other states.
A Boston-based hedge fund is threatening to shut down a major pipeline that provides natural gas to thousands in Louisiana and Mississippi. ArcLight Capital Partners is threatening to abandon the American Midstream Pipeline , which was built in the 1920, that runs from Ouachita Parish to as far south as East Baton Rouge Parish. It provides natural gas to Jonesville, Ferriday, Sicily Island, Vidalia, Slaughter and Clayton as well as Natchez, Miss. Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the company is asking towns to pay $200 million to replace the line.
The Natchitoches Parish School Board says 13 people have applied for the position of school superintendent. The applicants are being vetted for minimum eligibility. Derwood Duke, superintendent in Natchitoches since 2009, announced in January that he would resign April 30.
The first round of interviews to determine finalists to become Duke’s successor will be April 8-10.
Louisiana State Police say a deputy with the Richland Parish Sheriff's office is under arrest for sexual battery and Malfeasance. They say 39-year-old Dewey Allen of Rayville committed battery on a female without her consent while in his patrol unit. Bond is set at $40,000 and Allen was terminated. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.
The St. Helena Parish Sheriff's office says a 6 month old baby died Thursday after drowning when a vehicle rolled into a pond. They say the child was in the care of her grandparents who could not stop the car from sinking after it fell off a 20 foot cliff into the water while the infant was strapped inside. First responders could not reach the baby in time. The incident is under investigation.
This season's shrimp harvest so far has been smaller than normal and that has caused prices at the market to go up for consumers. Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry says most of the shrimp we eat is imported and there has been a decline in imported shrimp as well. It’s hoped prices will come down the closer we get to summer.
News for Friday 032814
By Dave Graichen
Alexandria police arrested 10 people Wednesday after they allegedly kicked in the door at the Boys & Girls Club. The suspects were four adults and six juveniles. The juveniles, ranging in ages from 12 to 16, all were arrested and were charged with unauthorized entry of a place of business. The adults were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center and additionally charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The investigation is ongoing.
There's a new Gallup Well-Being poll out that shows Louisiana is near the bottom of the list of states whose residents can afford food. Our percentage of almost 23% of residents who struggle to afford food is only one place away from the bottom, where Mississippi is.
State Ag and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain announced yesterday more than 5 million gallons of gasoline shipped from the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge terminal in mid-March was tainted by something that is causing the intake and valve systems of vehicles to gum up. The problem is contained to two batches of gasoline shipped between March 12 and March 15. Contaminated gas was found at several locations around the Baton Rouge area.
As part of the investigation into the pit-bull attack that killed a little girl on Tuesday, Houma Police have requested testing on the dog's remains for rabies, and to also see if the 130 pound dog had
been injected with steroids, which is illegal. Four year-old Mia DeRouren was killed and her mother hospitalized as a result of the attack in their home.
Opening arguments in the first degree murder trial of Brian Horn get underway today in a DeSoto Parish Courtroom. Horn, a former taxi driver, is accused of killing 12-year-old Justin Bloxom in 2010. Jury selection for the case began March 11th in East Baton Rouge Parish and the panel consists of 6 men and 6 women. They were transported to Mansfield and will be sequestered until a verdict is reached.
A group of citizens for pot legalization in The Bayou State are urging voters to change their political affiliation to the Louisiana Marijuana Party. Jerry Jacobs is leading the effort to have the party
officially recognized by the office of the Secretary of State. He says they need 1,000 residents to register for the party by May 1st. Jacobs says they need this so The Louisiana Marijuana Party can qualify a candidate for the US Senate race in November.
State lawmakers are working on a bill that would create a specialized human trafficking court. Kenner Representative Julie Stokes' proposal calls for judges to get special training on how to handle human trafficking cases. Stokes says currently many human trafficking victims are charged as prostitutes, instead of receiving support services.
Legislation that allows every parish and city in Louisiana to organized a gun buyback program is heading to the House floor. Under current Louisiana Law, New Orleans is the only place
authorized in the state that can have a weapon buyback program.
Legislation that will allow for the sale of wine ice cream Louisiana gets put on the shelf, so that the author of the bill can work out details to make sure minors can't purchase the adult treat. Monroe
Representative Marcus Hunter says he'll bring the bill back up, but he first wants to alleviate the concerns of lawmakers that wine ice cream won't be used as a way minors can get drunk.
The Monroe based Century Link has been awarded a contract from the US Defense Information Systems Agency worth a reported $1.7 million. The company is charged with providing a communications system that could survive a nuclear attack. The system operates continuously
connecting all three air bases in the Colorado Springs region.
Colleges and universities would be required to increase the contributions they make toward faculty pensions under legislation approved Thursday by a Louisiana House panel. House Bill 6, as amended in committee, would require the employer contribution to what is called the Optional Retirement Plan, or ORP, to reach 6.2 percent by 2018. It is the same amount private employers are required to contribute toward Social Security.
LSU Police have arrested four fast food employees for allegedly stealing money from customers who paid for their meals with the university debit card system. Capt. Corey Lelonde says the thefts occurred at a McDonald's located in the student union. More arrests are pending and the investigation is ongoing.
A study commissioned by the environmental group Restore Louisiana Now, says funding the Louisiana's multi-billion-dollar, 50-year master plan for coastal protection and restoration could create anywhere from 109,000 to 212,000 new jobs for the state while stimulating the economy with billions in spending related to the projects.
In response to a recent population explosion, legislation to allow year round night hunting of feral pigs was reintroduced into Legislation. Present law only allows nighttime hunting between March
through August. The House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment voted 11-3 to move the bill to the House floor for further consideration.
News for Thursday 032714
By Dave Graichen
The Town Talk is reporting Dr. Joe Aguillard has been asked by the Louisiana College Board of Trustees to resign from his position as president of the private Baptist school in Pineville. Multiple sources confirmed that Dr. Aguillard met with his senior leadership team Wednesday afternoon, telling them he had no plans to resign. No official word has been made as of yet by LC of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Authorities in Houma report a 4-year-old girl was killed Tuesday night by a pit bull that her family owned. The child's mother was also injured. When police arrived, the dog was running loose in the home in a vicious manner and the mother was screaming for help in a bedroom. Officers had to shoot the dog to stop the threat. They are not sure what set the animal off.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office says a 17-year-old is under arrest after deputies say they found a .25 caliber handgun on him while he was at Peabody High School. They say Andrew Smith was booked for possession of a firearm in a school zone.
No changes to the TOPS program. That word came down yesterday from the House Education Committee. Several lawmakers wanted to place limits on that program, in order to save the state money, but there were not enough votes to change it. As it is now, the program will cost the state well over $230 million dollars for next year.
The rapid increase of heroin overdose deaths is getting the attention of Louisiana lawmakers. The House Criminal Justice Committee approved the bill that would double mandatory minimum
sentences for the distribution of heroin from five to ten years, and heroin possession would result in 2 years behind bars. The bill heads to the house floor for discussion.
At the State Capital, The Senate Retirement Committee has approved bills giving a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase for members of Louisiana's main retirement organizations. That averages out to about $29 a month for approximately one-hundred-eleven thousand retirees.
New stats from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission shows auto-pedestrian deaths have had a rather sharp increases. Factors have involved alcohol and mostly in the evening hours and on weekends. Latest numbers have 122 pedestrian deaths in 2012, and that's the highest number since 1997.
A jury has been seated in the Brian Horn murder case. Horn is accused of kidnapping and killing 12-year-old Justin Bloxom of Stoneway in 2010. The jurors were selected in Baton Rouge and are enroot to Desoto Parish for the trial. The trial could begin on Friday with opening statements.
A state House panel Wednesday endorsed a pilot program that would impose requirements for certain food stamp recipients to keep receiving benefits. House Bill 464 would require non-working, able-bodied adults to be engaged in acceptable workforce training or education activities. The legislation would restrict the experiment to Tangipahoa Parish where some 2,188 individuals could be impacted.
A bill that puts tougher gun restrictions on people who are involved in certain domestic violence situations clears committee Wednesday. The legislation by New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno prohibits a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse battery from possessing a gun for 10 years.
The House Natural Resources Committee passes a bill that would result in a $300 fine if you throw a cigarette butt out the car window. The normal fine for littering is $250. This bill would impose a $300 fine for a first offense of littering with a cigarette butt plus community service.
A bill by Monroe Representative Marcus Hunter, which would authorize the sale of wine ice cream, is set to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee today. Hunter points out that restaurants already sell alcohol infused dishes and wine ice cream falls into that same category. He says his bill aims to make the sale of these products legal in Louisiana.
A convicted sex offender from Port Allen, who allegedly repeatedly raped his girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter last year and arranged sexual encounters between the girl and other adults, was indicted Wednesday along with five others in the rape of the child.
For the first time in five years The Louisiana State Police is actively looking for new troopers. Captain Doug Cain says they are seeking individuals who want a career in law enforcement and a desire to make the state a safer place. 2 years of college, 2 years as a full time police officer or 3 years in the military are some qualifications needed. For more information about the application process, visit laspc.com.
News for Wednesday 032614
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides parish sheriff’s department reports a few telephone scams are making their way throughout the area. One scam revolves around a call from someone identified as a federal officer who claims that the person has a either an outstanding federal or local warrant. The caller tries to get the person to pay with a credit card, saying that the warrant will be recalled. The other, happens when a person calls and claims to be with MidSouth Bank, or some other financial institution. The call says the person’s card has been deactivated and tries to get personal information so that a new card can be activated. Both are scams.. Don’t be fooled.
A nationally prominent member of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees said an independent audit of school finances failed to substantiate LC President Joe Aguillard’s claim that he was “exonerated totally and completely” of allegations that he misappropriated funds. Board member Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., has requested the board review Aguillard’s declaration of exoneration along with the findings of an audit conducted by an Alexandria accounting firm. Perkins made his request in a letter addressed to Aguillard and board Chairman Tommy French dated March 3. Copies of the letter were sent to every member of the board. The full story can be found in today’s Town Talk.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says almost all of the drinking water systems in Louisiana are up to safety standards. They say about 70 remain in non-compliance with an emergency rule put in place in November of 2013 after a rare amoeba was discovered in St. Bernard and DeSoto Parishes and is blamed for the deaths of three people since 2011. DHH plans to work with the other systems to ensure they bring their water chlorine levels up to the new
A senate committee has approved legislation that would grant an immediate divorce in cases of spousal or child abuse. Current Louisiana law requires a woman or man to wait 180 days for divorce to be granted in cases where one spouse physically or sexually abuses the other or their children. The bill now heads to the senate floor for further consideration.
State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield told lawmakers Tuesday that he expects the state to collect $100 million in back-owed taxes through an amnesty period planned for later this year. That’s a good thing since Gov. Bobby Jindal’s $25 billion budget proposal assumes the tax amnesty program will bring in the $100 million and uses the money in the health department for ongoing services.
Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would give the legislative auditor greater ability to track state tax dollars paying for students to go to private schools through the statewide voucher program.
Under Senate Bill 460 by state Sen. Robert Adley, the private schools would have to keep the dollars either in a separate account or use an accounting procedure that allows the auditor’s office to track the receipt and spending of the money. The voucher program is slated to receive $46 million in next year’s budget.
Baton Rouge has been named as one of only four cities to receive the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant for 2014. The winning cities will receive pro bono consulting expertise on the issues which are most challenging to the community. For Baton Rouge, the focus will be on traffic. A team from IBM is scheduled to visit the capital city later this year and begin a study of the transportation system.
One thousand pounds of marijuana; several pounds of cocaine, and two handguns. That's the result of proactive traffic stops in the past few weeks by Louisiana State Police. Troopers in Troop A and Troop I made multiple arrests during the stops.
The rates of heroin overdoses are skyrocketing across the state, a state senate committee has advanced a bill designed to help get emergency help to those people faster. Baton Rouge State Senator Sharon Broome says this will exempt from prosecution people who call emergency services when the person they are with overdoses.
Louisiana State Police have arrested Homer mayor, Alicia Smith, for malfeasance in office. Trooper Sterling Davis says Smith used her office for personal financial gain. During the investigation authorities learned Smith took non-business related trips using taxpayer funds, while using the town's credit cards to pay for expenses incurred during the trips. Davis says Smith then falsified public records to justify the expenses.
The charges are two counts of manslaughter against two Houma parents who left a 2 year-old toddler and a one year-old baby home alone in house that caught fire and killed the children. Authorities are currently searching for the parents, Romell Welch Senior and Vaneshia Valentine.
According to authorities, a murder investigation in Amite City has led investigators to hundreds of thousands of dollars in counterfeit bills. The Amite Police Department said they were following up on a tip about a murder weapon when they discovered more than $200,000 in fake cash, mostly in $100 bills.
News for Tuesday 032514
By Dave Graichen
Alexandria police are investigating the apparent murder of 21 year old William Dryden of Pineville. His body was found at a North MacArthur Drive hotel early Monday morning. Police were called to the scene after reports of shots being fired.
About 50 students were involved in a student strike yesterday at Louisiana College in Pineville. The group is seeking the removal of Dr. Joe Aguillard as the college's president. The protestors gathered in front of Guinn Auditorium, held hands, prayed and sang. There are rumors students are planning another protest but school officials told the group yesterday they will not be allowed to do so on campus.
The House transportation committee put the brakes on a proposal to ban the use of a hand held cell phone while driving. Breaux Bridge Representative Mike Huval wanted to make it a secondary offense if a driver spoke on a phone up to their ear while driving. There was support for the bill from Members of the state's insurance industry, however strong opposition from committee members. The bill is dead for the session.
Also in the Louisiana House Transportation committee Monday, a bill that would ban photo speed enforcement devices on interstates passed. That bill heads to the House floor.
Teaching creationism in Louisiana science classes is unconstitutional, but senators refuse to repeal a law that mandates it.The Senate voted 32-5 Monday against a bill by Republican Sen. Dan Claitor that would remove a law requiring public schools to give balanced treatment in science classes and textbooks to evolution and creationism. The law also prohibits teaching evolution as proven scientific fact. The law, passed in 1981, was found unconstitutional in 1987 by the Louisiana Supreme Court. But lawmakers have refused to strip it from the law books.
Legislators cracked open Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed state prison budget Monday and quickly expressed displeasure with what they found. Leftover hurricane dollars will help pay for workers’ retirement costs. Funding for supplies was slashed. No money was set aside for repairs. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, said the state Department of Correction’s $525 million proposed budget doesn’t contain a nickel for any handyman projects that arise at the state’s prisons. The only increases, he said, are for salaries and benefits.
Cost of living increases appear to be on the horizon for about 100,000 retired state workers, teachers, school employees and state police troopers. The proposed 1.5 percent increases, the first in six years for some, cleared the Senate Retirement Committee on Monday. The raise must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and the governor before it can be implemented.
A bill that would require local municipalities who get more than half of their revenue from traffic citations to post signs warning motorists of speed traps made it out of a House committee Monday. The bill passed 9-3 and will be further considered on the House floor.
The Louisiana Senate on Monday night advanced legislation banning sale of e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products to minors. The Senate voted 37-0 for the heavily amended Senate Bill 12. State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, said the changes are the result of discussions with the state Office of Alcohol Tobacco Control and industry representatives. The changes better define the products covered in the ban.
Sabine Parish Deputies, working with Deputies in DeSoto Parish have made a total of ten arrests in connection with an organized dog fighting event near Hicks Lane of Highway 175 in North Louisiana. Deputies seized a total of 5 vehicles, a quantity of cash and two dogs in the raid over the weekend.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office is currently investigating a fatal pedestrian/vehicle hit and run. 26-year-old Justin J. Brown of Lake Charles was apparently lying in the middle of the road when he
was struck and killed. The vehicle described as an white, older model car did not stop after striking Brown Deputies investigating case have determined that due to heavy fog, it is possible the driver of the car did not know he even hit the man.
A family who did not return from a weekend boating trip were found safe late Sunday evening.
Spokesperson Traci Landry says friends of Peter and Jennifer Orlando and their two children ages 12 and 15, became alarmed when their mobile phones were sending calls straight to voicemail. She says the Orlando's left around 9am Saturday morning. After their boat's motor failed, the father was able to get the boat to land and they family took refuge in a small houseboat. Landry says
Mr. Orlando is to be commended for using available resources to keep his family safe while awaiting rescue.
The Raging Cajuns have been ranked number 1 in Collegiate Baseball's NCAA Division 1 poll. This is a first for the Cajuns who have won their last 12 games in a row and the team is hitting .303 as a team and averaging 7.5 runs per game. At 22 and 2 this is the best start in school history.
2013 was a big year in the state's agriculture business. In fact, it was a record-breaking one thanks to good weather and no major disease problems. The agriculture industry contributed
11-point-eight billion dollars to state's economy.
News for Monday 032414
By Dave Graichen
If you do not have health insurance, your deadline to purchase a policy through Obamacare is one week from today. Under the Affordable Care Act, all Americans must have health insurance or face a 95-dollar penalty. Dr. Renard Murray, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says go to health-care-dot-gov to choose your policy. Murray estimates there are over 800-thousand people here in Louisiana who are eligible for health insurance at little or no cost through Obamacare.
In an automated phone survey of over seven-hundred registered voters, 43-percent of the respondents said they will vote for former governor Edwin Edwards in the sixth district congressional primary. But the survey also shows in a hypothetical run-off between two republican candidates, Edwards trails state senator Dan Claitor and coastal expert Garret Graves.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services has implemented an emergency rule to prohibit the use of Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and Kinship Care Subsidy Program Benefits for at retailers who sell goods or provide services inconsistent with the purpose of the cash assistance programs and not necessary for basic needs. Violators of rule will lose their benefits for 12 months on the first offense, 24 on the second and permanently on the third.
Once again lawmakers will discuss banning the use of hand held cell phones while driving. A bill to do just that will be debated in the House Transportation Committee today. Breaux Bridge Representative Mike Huval says representatives for the insurance industry are in support of
this proposal. The legislation would make driving while on a hand held cell phone a secondary offense, which means you can't get pulled over for talking and driving.
Today the House Transportation Committee will hear a bill by Sulphur Representative Mike Danahay that would prohibit the use of photo speed enforcement devices on interstates. Danahay does not believe these types of devices will actually enhance public safety. He says the speed cameras are a
revenue generation device and can never take the place of manual stops. Danahay's bill contains some exceptions. He says speed traffic cameras could be used in construction zones.
After reviewing the case against a Baker Middle School teacher, who allegedly pulled a student’s shirt after he refused to tuck it in, the prosecutor has decided not to pursue charges against her. Yigal Bander, attorney for Deborah Anderson, says he feels this was the proper course of action to take, as there was no legal basis for the charge of simple battery.
Lake Charles Police have arrested a 22-year old Andre Jordan Broussard for attempted murder after he allegedly pulled out a gun during a vigil and opened fire. Deputy Chief of Police Mark Kraus says Broussard shot two people, one of the victims was treated at the scene, the other is in critical condition. About 300 people were at the vigil at the time of the shooting.
President Barack Obama has signed into law legislation that will prevent Louisiana homeowners, who live in flood prone areas, from seeing drastic increases in their flood insurance premiums. The new law limits rate increases for federal flood insurance to 18-percent per year.
A man wanted for the murder of a 24-year-old New Iberia man was arrested in Houston over the weekend. Authorities in Texas captured Michael Wade Augustine and he's now awaiting extradition to Iberia Parish. Iberia Sheriff Louis Ackal says Augustine fatally shot Uriah Joseph on March 10th.
The spring and summer are shaping up to be a busy time for "Hollywood South". Chris Stelly, executive director for Louisiana Entertainment says a number of blockbuster films are gearing up for production in the Bayou State...Stelly says Fantastic Four, Jurassic Park and Terminator 5 will all start shooting soon in Louisiana. On the TV side, HBO's True Detective ,Sci-fi thriller Salem, American Horror Story, and N-C-I-S are among the tv series that are shooting in the state.
News For Friday 032114
By Dave Graichen
A group of current Louisiana College students is calling for a strike to begin Monday and is demanding changes at the private Baptist school in Pineville, including the removal of Joe Aguillard as president. Fliers have appeared on campus asking others to join the student strike at Guinn Auditorium at 8 a.m. Monday. They’re asking for faculty and community members to join them.
After almost not moving at all to start 2014, the gas price in Louisiana is starting it's spring climb. The American Automobile Association says the current statewide average for a gallon of
regular stands at $3.29 which is up almost a nickel from just last week. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says motorists should start to budget more for gas. He says they are expecting a mostly smooth transition from winter to summer blend gasoline, but the tensions in Russia and Crimea have the market a little nervous which could mean a sharp spike later this month.
In response to U.S. sanctions over Crimea, Russia has imposed some entry bans on a number of U.S. lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. A New Orleans newspaper reports that there is speculation it is based on her criticism of Russia ending an adoption program.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler is reminding all registered voters that you can cast your ballots early for the April 5th spring municipal elections starting tomorrow. He says the elections next month will be held in 34 of the state's 64 parishes. Early voting begins tomorrow and runs through Saturday March 29th, excluding Sunday March 23rd.
Several students are reportedly facing big time punishment for allegedly changing their grades in an online class for credit. Caddo Parish officials say the seniors, from Southwood High, apparently hacked into the system and gave themselves more credit needed to graduate. They are suspended and could be expelled.
A New York City man has been arrested after making a statement that he had placed an explosive device on a Greyhound bus in Monroe. 26-year-old Jonathan Rivera locked himself in the bus bathroom and started a fire. Police report 37 passengers were removed from the bus and taken across the street while the Monroe Fire Department, Fire Marshall's Office and State Police aided in sweeping the bus and surrounding area with the of bomb-sniffing dogs. Rivera remains in custody in the Ouachita Correctional Center.
You might be due some cash from the IRS. Louisiana residents who have not filed their 2010 tax returns are due a total of over $15 million. IRS Media relations director Lea Crusberg says thousands of individuals have potential refunds waiting to be claimed. She says there is a three year window that you have to claim refunds before the money goes into the US Treasury.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office announces they've gotten more dangerous drugs off the street. They say about $40,000 worth of synthetic marijuana, about 22 pounds of it, was seized during a traffic stop near Lawtell. A search of a vehicle found 968 ten gram packets of 9 different types of the synthetic drug. Names of suspects are not being released at this time as the investigation is ongoing.
Speaking of synthetic pot, The state Department of Health and Hospitals issues an emergency
order that bans an additional eight compounds found in synthetic marijuana sold in Louisiana. Officials say in recent weeks, emergency rooms in the Baton Rouge area have treated over 100 individuals who have overdosed on synthetic marijuana.
If you are planning on kicking off the first weekend of spring with a crawfish boil, expect little mudbugs and big prices. Dr. Greg Lutz with the LSU Ag Center says, this season the crawfish are running way behind. Lutz says a good crawfish crop relies on vegetation to provide the basis
for a natural food chain. However, with the cold weather we've experienced in recent months, that vegetation is just not there. Thus smaller, fewer and more expensive crawfish.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office says a 25-year-old man from Sulphur is accused of raping a 4-year-old girl. They say Albert Hudson is accused in the incident that occurred last month, and
after further investigation he was arrested this week and booked with aggravated rape. Bond is set at $750,000.
The Ragin Cajuns look to pull off an upset this afternoon when they face the Creighton Blue Jays in the NCAA Tournament. Creighton finished in second in the Big East Conference and they are led by Doug McDermott, who is one of the top scorers in the nation. Cajuns Coach Bob Marlin says his team has a chance to make a real statement. The Ragin Cajuns received an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Sun Belt Tournament.
News for Thursday 032014
By Dave Graichen
The House Health and Welfare Committee has approved new standards for abortion clinics. The biggest provision requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The bill now heads to the House floor. But pro-choice advocates were on hand during the debate to voice their opposition to the so-called admitting privileges bill. Amy Irvin, with the New Orleans Abortion Fund, says if this legislation becomes law, it will close abortion facilities in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
A bill by New Orleans Representative Cameron Henry which calls for harsher penalties for individuals who commit battery on athletic sporting officials was approved by the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice and now moves to the house floor. Henry says that the current penalties for battery are clearly not strong enough and he wants to see fines increased along with possible jail time, community service, and court approved counseling for individuals who commit this offense.
A number of charges are facing a Department of children and family services audit director for allegedly using a state-issued credit card for personal use. State Police Captain Doug Cain says when they searched the home of 34 year-old Delrice Augustus, they discovered items worth $7500 and about $18,000 in cash. Augustus allegedly purchased iphones, flat screens, ipads and a dishwasher with the card.
Lake Charles Police are investigating a shooting Tuesday afternoon, in which a 12 year-old boy shot a 15 year-old boy after an argument. Police caught up to the young suspect shortly after he fled the scene. According to a Lake Charles TV station, they believe the gun was registered to owner of the home.
Louisiana State Police says a man from Clinton is booked with his 7th DWI in East Feliciana Parish. They say 30-year-old James Earl Haynes refused a breath test and was booked into jail on counts of 7th offense DWI and unlawful refusal to submit chemical tests. Haynes has been arrested by the same trooper 3 times since 2011 for the same offense.
A 19-year-old mother from Houma is charged with attempted second degree murder of her one month old baby. A spokesman with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's says they believe the woman was responsible for shaking her baby and throwing the boy against the wall.
The Department of Transportation has launched a "Pick the Paint" campaign to have the public pick the new paint color for the Jimmie Davis Bridge that connects Shreveport with Bossier City. With over 27 hundred votes so far, it sounds as if there's some LSU and Louisiana Tech influence, as the top choices are Purple, Blue and Red. The rehabilitation project for the bridge is scheduled to go to bid this fall.
Instead of a price-tag of almost $540 million dollars, the estimated cost for rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans has now been reduced to around $262 million dollars, according to a rail study released yesterday. The study by HNTB Corporation proposed leasing trains upfront as opposed to purchasing them to save money. The trip would take a about an hour and a half with seven stops along the way.
A Louisiana House committee voted 14-1 in favor of advancing legislation that would expand the application of the death penalty. Under House Bill 278, the killing of a prison worker would become a capital crime. First degree murder already covers the death of firemen, peace officers, Louisiana State Police Crime Lab civilian employees, taxi drivers, young children and the elderly. The last time a prison worker was killed by an inmate was during a failed prison escape at Angola 15 years ago.
As expected, a bill by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno which would ban UV tanning for anyone 17 and under was overwhelmingly approved by the House in a 97-1 vote. The only lawmaker to vote against the bill was Stonewall Representative Richard Burford. Moreno says this measure will lower risks from skin cancer associated with UV tanning lamps and beds. She says the risks are especially high for younger tanning bed users.
LSU is selling old lockers from Tiger Stadium in a fundraising effort. The Jeff Boss Locker Room is in the process of a complete renovation and the old lockers from 1996- 2013 are being sold. For more information about the lockers or to purchase a locker go to tiger-stadium-lockers-dot-net
News for Wednesday 031914
By Dave Graichen
The husband of the woman killed in LaSalle Parish Thursday has been arrested, and charged with second-degree murder. Fifty-six year-old Michael James Worley of Pineville was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center Tuesday. He allegedly pulled the trigger of the fatal shot that killed his wife, Mary Worley. She was reportedly shot in the back of the head.
Another unrestrained driver has been killed in Central Louisiana. State Police say that twenty-eight year-old Shauna Beebe of Boyce lost control of her vehicle on Bud Nichols Road Monday night, struck several trees and flipped. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Federal authorities have announced the arrest of 14 men who were allegedly involved in an online child exploitation network. The website's primary administration has been identified as 27-year old Johnathan Johnson of Abita Springs. Agent Ray Farmer, with the Homeland Security office in New Orleans, says Johnson used social networking sites to target young children. So far investigators have identified 251 victims in 39 states and five foreign countries. Two of the victims wer three years old and younger. Johnson faces up to 20 years in prison.
A senate committee has approved legislation that prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes. An additional amendment was added in committee by Senator Barrow Peacock of Bossier City to also add a ban on Vapor pens. The bills author Senator Rick Gallow of Ruston says when it comes to these devices they should be treated as other tobacco products.
A constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide if judges can remain in office after the age of 70, moved out of a senate committee Tuesday. The state constitution currently prohibits
judges from beginning a new term once they turn 70 years old.
State lawmakers questioned Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret yesterday about why state revenues have not substantially increased, even though there's been claims by the Jindal administration that business projects will bring 80-thousand jobs and 50-billion dollars in capital investments to Louisiana. Moret says the slow recovery of the national economy is hurting
Louisiana's revenue picture and he says the use of state tax breaks is taking money away from the state treasury. He says the film-tax-break program for instance is costing the state up to
200-million dollars a year. But Moret says the film tax breaks have created 10-thousand jobs in
Authorities say foul play is suspected in the death of an Oberlin man whose body was pulled from inside a burning mobile home Tuesday Morning. Allen Parish Sheriff Doug Hebert III says 59-year-old Freddie Green’s death is being treated as a homicide. An autopsy is pending to determine the official cause and time of death.
In a recent report released by the Tax Foundation, at 8.89 percent, Louisiana has the third highest average combined state local sales tax rate in the nation. Economist Scott Drenkard says while statewide sales taxes are in line with the rest of the country, our local sales taxes are not.
After remaining mostly flat for the past couple of weeks, the gas price spiked two cents last night in Louisiana. The American Automobile Association says the current statewide average for a
gallon of regular is now $3.28.
A Washington Parish Volunteer Fireman has been arrested in connection with 20 fires he allegedly set intentionally in Washington Parish. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries reports that that Johnny Erin Tarver was booked into the Washington Parish Jail with a $30 thousand dollar bond.
News For Tuesday 031814
By Dave Graichen
At the age of 86, former Governor Edwin Edwards has announced he will run for Congress. Edwards will seek the seat currently held by Bill Cassidy, who is running for U-S Senate. Because he's a recent convicted felon, he's not allowed to run governor, but Edwards says there's nothing in the constitution that says he can't run for Congress. There's already a crowded field of candidates for the sixth district congressional race. But Edwards says he's confident he'll end up in a runoff with one of the republican candidates. And he says age should not be a factor in this race.
The Louisiana Republican party wasted no time in responding to Edwin Edwards Congressional announcement. Jason Dore, LAGOP executive director says while Edwards may be a well-known figure, he is well known for all the wrong reasons.
Word yesterday that A body found Friday in LaSalle Parish near the Rapides Parish line has been identified as that of a 56-year-old Pineville woman, who was reported missing on Thursday. The LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office is treating the death of Mary Worley as a homicide. While the official cause of death has not been determined, deputies did report a gunshot wound to the back of her head. Officials believe the death was an isolated incident.
The Rapides Parish Police Jury directed counsel Monday to file litigation against the former design firm on the Rapides Coliseum renovation project. The jury terminated its contract with Barron Heinberg & Brocato in August after the firm reported it could not complete the project within the $23 million budget. More than $600,000 had been spent on the project already. The litigation seeks to recoup some of that money.
The Grant Parish sheriff’s office reports a Montgomery man is in the Grant Parish Detention Center, accused of holding a mother and five children against their will in a Monday standoff that lasted several hours. After the standoff, 35 year old Russell Hoffpauir II was arrested. Deputies say they found an assault rifle with hundreds of rounds of armor-piercing bullets, a shotgun, a pistol, a tactical vest filled with ammunition, a large knife, a GPS and other tactical equipment. Hoffpauir’s bond was set at $250,000.
New numbers released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate Louisiana has the lowest unemployment rate in the Sothern region. This is great news for both our state and local economies says Curt Eysink with the Louisiana Workforce Commission the lower unemployment numbers can be attributed to a number of factors but is due in large part to the tremendous growth in the private sector. Private employers in Louisiana added 25,300 jobs in the 12-months ended January 2014 and states private sector has grown over-the-year every month since October 2010.
Out of 700 hundred thousand 2013 Louisiana state income tax returns filed so far, some eight thousand people have received pre-paid debit cards or checks. All refunds were supposed to distributed via direct deposits into bank accounts. The Department of Revenue says they have fixed the problem, and they are offering to cancel pre-paid cards.
State Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain went before the House Appropriations Committee Monday urging lawmakers to provide him more money than what the governor proposed in next fiscal year's budget. Strain says he needs another three-point-nine million dollars, so the department can battle a dangerous citrus infection and avoid lay-offs within his agency.
A senate committee will hear legislation today that would ban the selling of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18. Ruston senator Rick Gallot says he filed the bill because research discovered the negative effects these products have on children. Gallot says e-cigarettes are a great alternative for adults trying to quit smoking, but not for children, because they do contain nicotine, which is addictive.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says they've settled its lawsuit with the Sabine Parish school district involving a Buddhist sixth grader who claimed he was the subject of harassment due to religious beliefs. LA-ACLU executive director Marjorie Esman says the school board recognized they were in violation of the law, so they decided to settle the case. The
district has also agreed to train their teachers on what the law says in regards to religious freedom in public schools. Esman says the child's family was also awarded $4,000 to cover the costs of transporting the student to another school out of town.
The Mega Millions jackpot for today is 400 million dollars. Louisiana Lottery spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says this pot of gold has been running since January 3rd. Chopin says even though the odds are low, Mega Millions has a ton of of different prize levels. She says in the last drawing, two people won 5-thousand dollars and one player won the Megaplier and got 15-hundred dollars.
An 18 year old from Schriever is lucky to be alive after he was shot in the head Saturday night while riding his dirt bike. Major Malcom Wolfe with the Terrebonne Sheriff's office says the area where the
teen was shot is an area commonly used for target practice. While the shooting appears to be accidental, charges are possible for the shooter..
The Pointe Coupee Sheriff's office has arrested a couple in connection with the death of their three year old son. Jason Lutz and Ashley Cogar have been charged with the second degree murder of Joseph Lutz. Autopsy results have confirmed the child died as a result of malnutrition. Officials say when the boy was found dead in January, he weighed less than he did when he was born.
A new swine virus that is sweeping across the nation could mean consumers will pay more for ribs, chops, hams and other pork products this summer. Some experts forecast price increases as much as 15 percent, but Dr. Tim Page with the LSU AG Center says that may be a a conservative estimate. The PEDv virus is highly contagious and fatal to swine. The disease is new here in the US, but it has affected Europe for a number of years. Fortunately however, Page says the virus poses no threat to humans or other animals.
Former LSU, McNeese State and Miami Dolphins running back Cecil “The Diesel” Collins dodged more prison time Monday and was instead put on probation for an extra three years for violating his probation in a pair of 1998 Baton Rouge cases. Collins, who was released from a Florida prison in May after serving more than 13 years for a 1999 burglary in Miami, faced the possibility Monday of going back to prison, this time in Louisiana, for up to five additional years. State District Judge Mike Caldwell, who put Collins on probation for four years in 1999 after giving him a suspended five-year prison term, warned Collins that he’ll be given no more chances.
News for Monday 031714
By Dave Graichen
Rumors floating around Baton Rouge say that today could be the day former Governor Edwin Edwards will announce he's decided to run for the 6th Congressional District. Political analyst Bernie
Pinsonat says Edwards is still extremely popular in Louisiana, but he doesn't think there are enough Edwards lovers to elect him to Congress. However, Pinsonat says we're talking about a man who is the only Governor in Louisiana to be elected 4 times.
A West Monroe lawmaker has a bill that would allow certain motorcyclists to choose whether or not they want to wear a helmet. Senator Mike Walsworth says the legislation would only apply to people
21 and over and those who have completed a motorcycle safety awareness program. Riders were not required to wear a helmet in the late 90s early 2000's but due to a high number of fatal accidents involving bikes, the law was put back on the books.
It's against the law to threaten lawmakers according to State Police. But that's just what one Monroe man allegedly did says Trooper Albert Paxton. He says 31-year-old Roy Green was arrested after a report came in that he sent an email to a state representative saying if he didn't support marijuana law reform, the suspect would personally see that his office and livelihood were placed in danger. Paxton says Green denies sending the email but says it was a Facebook post. Green is charged with extortion and if found guilty faces 15 years in prison.
Louisiana's legendary hot sauce - Tabasco - was profiled last night on CBS's 60 minutes. Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down Tabasco and McIlhenny (MAC-LENNY) Company CEO Tony Simmons, the great great grandson of the company's founder, Edmund McIlhenny. Simmons says CBS was intrigued by
the story of a 5th generation, family owned business. Simmons says every bottle of Tabasco in the world is made in Avery Island.
In recent years there has been a growing concern that playing high school football may contribute to brain issues later in life.. However, a new study conducted by Tulane University's Dr Gregory Stewart has found there is no link between high school football play and neurocognitive function. Stewart's study involved 12-hundred New Orleans high school football players who played between 1998 and 2001. He says they looked at their concussion history and scores on common neuropsychological tests. The research does however suggest the need to reinforce education of high school and college athletes about concussion symptoms so they can be properly treated.
A woman from Galliano is facing multiple felony theft charges for allegedly stealing money from an elderly man she had befriended. Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Brennan Matherne says Charlene Romero confessed to taking thousands from the man’s home but they aren't sure exactly how much money it was. She currently is charged with more than 10 felony counts of theft.
The solider who was busted in Port Allen with 23 pounds of pot in his car in February was released from the West Baton rouge Parish prison Friday to military police. 30-year-old Sgt. Horace Brown was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
If a teacher yanked your child's shirt at school do you think that educator should be arrested for simple battery? Baker Police say yes. Chief Mike Knaps says 47-year-old Deborah Anderson is arrested for simple battery in the matter at Baker Middle. The Baker School Superintendent thinks that's too far. But Knaps says you are not allowed to touch students unless they are posing a threat.
The Ragin Cajuns men's basketball team is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. U-L Lafayette rallied back from a 9-point deficit with three minutes in regulation to beat Georgia State 82-81 in overtime in the Sun Belt Tournament Championship game. The Cajuns are a 14-seed in the tournament. And they'll play third-seeded Creighton on Friday in San Antonio.
News For Friday 031414
By Dave Graichen
A teenager from Boyce was killed Wednesday night in a single vehicle wreck on Twin Bridges Road. State police report 18-year-old Derek Stanley was a passenger in a pickup truck
that for unknown reasons left the roadway. Another passenger in the vehicle and the driver, 20-year-old Andrew Juneau of Boyce were injured in the crash Toxicology tests are pending and the crash remains under investigation.
A man whose wife was found buried in concrete on the couple's property in Opelousas is charged with manslaughter in her death. The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office says Sandra Tillett was reported missing in December and since then 59-year-old Arthur Tillett has been uncooperative with investigators. He was already charged with obstruction, cruelty to the infirm and unlawful disposal of remains.
Another statewide poll has Congressman Bill Cassidy leading democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Hickman Analytics surveyed 400 likely voters last month and found that 46-percent of them plan to vote for Cassidy, while 42-percent say they'll vote for Landrieu. A Rasmussen poll in January also showed Cassidy with a 4 percentage point lead over Landrieu.
Lawmakers have the day off Friday so there will be no legislative action, but Governor Bobby Jindal is keeping busy. Jindal is delivering a speech in New Hampshire for the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference.
Baton Rouge will host the 2014 Miss USA pageant. Officials made the announcement Thursday morning. The event will be on Sunday, June 8th. Tickets will be available to the public via Ticketmaster.
A flood insurance bill that blocks extremely high premium increases for thousands of Louisiana homeowners has cleared Congress. The Senate vote was 72-22 and the legislation now heads to President Obama's desk. Senator Mary Landrieu says this is great news for the people of Louisiana. The rate increases were put in place under the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act but under the new compromise, homes that met code when they were built are protected from these huge spikes. Landrieu says now people don't have to worry about losing their homes and having to turn them over to the bank because they can't pay their insurance bill.
So now that Glenn Ford is a free man after being wrongfully incarcerated at Angola for almost three decades, what's next for the Caddo Parish man? Alexandria Representative Herbert Dixon, who sponsored the compensation state's compensation statute, says Ford can now apply in court to receive $25,000 a year up to $250,000 total. But Dixson would like to see that maximum amount raised in the future, He says $250,000 is not nearly enough for a person to get their life back.
Tonight's Mega Millions jackpot has grown to 353 million dollars, with a cash value of 194 million dollars. Louisiana lottery spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says tonight's drawing is now a top 5 Mega Millions jackpot.
A man from northern New Jersey has been sentenced to two years’ probation for making a threatening phone call to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Twenty-nine year old Ronnie McMillian Jr. allegedly left a voice mail that said that Jindal and other Republicans would- quote - "get a bullet in the head." A federal judge says that McMillian must spend six months of that sentence in home incarceration.
Police in Shreveport say a wheelchair bound woman was struck and killed by a van, while trying to cross the street in her electric scooter. 59-year-old Julia Bay was pronounced dead at a local
hospital. No charges have of yet have been filed against the driver. Alcohol is not suspected as a factor.
Several law enforcement agencies are searching for a man who escaped from a St. Tammany Parish workforce program early Thursday morning then allegedly abducted his girlfriend. Deputies say are actively seeking the whereabouts of Christopher Ricker who ended up crashing his car during a chase with police in Tangipahoa parish then escaping in nearby river.
A woman from Baton Rouge is going to federal prison for almost 7 years for filing more than 600 false federal and state tax returns; using others' identities without their knowledge. The woman must also pay $700,000 to the IRS, and over $11,000 to the state.
News for Thursday 031314
By Dave Graichen
More headaches for Louisiana College. Less than three months after reaffirming Louisiana College’s accreditation, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools plans to open an investigation into the private Baptist school in Pineville. SACS’ decision comes in the wake of allegations that LC officials had submitted documents that contained forged signatures to the accrediting agency as it was considering whether to remove the school from warning status in 2011-12.
A recent survey of Louisiana employers conducted by Manpower indicates the majority plan to do more hiring and only 4% say they want to make cuts to their staff during the second quarter of 2014. Manpower's Regional Director, Rene Patterson that's good news and keeping us up to par with the rest of the nation. 16% of Louisiana employers polled say they want to increase their staff.
A bill that may soon mean parents would have more say in what books their children are learning from in school passed a Senate committee Wednesday without debate. The legislation would let the state choose the textbooks that meet Louisiana's educational standards, but then individual districts could hold discussions with educators and parents would get to choose which materials they think are best to use.
The Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union says there should be no more death penalty here. That's their reaction to the release Tuesday of 64-year-old Glen Ford, who spent over 25 years on death row for a crime he didn't commit. LA-ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman says even though there aren't any bills in the current session to toss capital punishment, legislators still have time to put one together. Ford was made a free man after the Caddo Parish DA's office learned
there is no way he could have murdered the Shreveport jewelry store owner.
By the way, Nobody won the Mega Millions jackpot Wednesday night. The prize for Friday's drawing is now up to $353 million dollars. That cash value? $194 million dollars.
Two state representatives are pushing for legislation that would set aside 15-percent of the state's revenue from the beer tax and put towards the Wounded Warriors Fund, which assists veterans who were disabled while serving overseas. Many Representative Frank Howard is a co-sponsor of the bill and he says he was inspired by the veterans from his own district and that's why he introduced this legislation. The bill has yet to be scheduled for committee debate.
The National Transportation Safety Board has ruled that the school bus accident caused by an S-U-V that crossed the road on U.S. Highway 190 has been found to be the result of a blown-out tire that was 10 years old. Thirty-one players and coaches from the Lafayette High School baseball team were injured in the crash; some severely. That investigation continues.
The president of the New Orleans nonprofit National Action Now, Reverend Raymond Brown, calls for the US Justice Department to investigate the fatal in-custody shooting of Victor White III. Brown says he has no confidence the State Police will conduct an impartial investigation. Authorities say White was arrested on drug charges on March 2nd and while in an Iberia Parish Sheriff's deputy vehicle, he allegedly fatally shot himself while handcuffed. Ultimately Brown, says he just wants to get to the truth.
The House Health and Welfare committee approved legislation yesterday that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning bed. The bill is by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno, who says her legislation would lower risks of skin cancer associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Since emerging 18 months ago, the Bayou Corne area sinkhole, began showing signs of stabilizing yesterday according to a leading scientist studying the hole. Newly released models indicate that while the hole is still growing, the rate of growth has slowed significantly.
A proposed new law that would create stricter penalties for littering cigarettes, will be discussed during this current legislative session. Marrero Representative Patrick Connick says the idea came up after there would be a monthly roadside clean-up and thousands of cigarette butts had to be scooped up. Connick says under this proposed law, people who throw their butts on to the ground could face a 300 dollar fine and eight hours of community service.
The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office has charged a mother for allegedly killing her Downs Syndrome baby. Twenty year-old Erika Wigstrom faces a charge of first degree-murder for the alcohol poisoning death of two year-old Lucas Ruiz (roo-eeze), who died January 14th. The baby's father, Cesar Ruiz, was accused of pouring rum into the child’s feeding tube when the baby was only 8 months old.
The New Orleans Saints have signed running back Pierre Thomas to a two year contract extension. Thomas has played seven seasons in New Orleans and last year led the team in rushing and caught 77 passes.
News for Wednesday 031214
By Dave Graichen
One victim is dead and another is in serious condition After a shooting incident last night shortly before 10 in the 1100 block of Brannon Road near Pineville. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene to find 40 year old David Wayne Lachney of Pineville, unresponsive and another person seriously injured. An investigation determined that Lachney and the other victim, whose name has not been released, were involved in an altercation, and Lachney allegedly shot the victim and then turned the gun on himself.
On Tuesday, the first full day of the legislative session, the House appropriations committee took a long look at the proposed 25-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year. But, before lawmakers can even think about next year’s budget, there are some budget holes that need to be filled in the current budget. The Senate Finance Committee learned yesterday up to $87 million in gaps exist in health care, education, prison and other state programs for the budget year that ends June 30.
On the first full day of the 2014 Louisiana Legislature, a House panel Tuesday churned out bills that would authorize prestige license plates to honor the late artist George Rodrigue, master gardeners, U.S. Army Rangers, winners of the Distinguished Service Cross and other causes. All the proposals breezed through the House Transportation Committee with little discussion. Most will be placed on the House list of noncontroversial bills when they are reviewed by the full chamber. The state has 215 specialty plates now with the LSU designation topping the list.
Legislation has been filed that allows teachers and principals, who are concealed handgun permit owners, to bring their guns into the schools they work at. The bill is by Chalmette representative Ray Garofola, who says this is in response to an increase in gun violence, particularly on school campuses. Garofola says the bill not only requires teachers and administrators to possess a concealed carry permit, it also requires them to undergo eight hours of annual tactical training. The measure will be heard at a later date by the House Criminal Justice Committee.
And two bills that attempt to crack down on human trafficking have been filed. Governor Bobby Jindal threw his support behind the legislation during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. He says Baton Rouge ranks in the top ten cities in the nation for human trafficking.
A New Orleans lawmaker says a person should be 18 or over if they want to tank in a bed that emits ultra-violate light. Rep. Helena Moreno says she was approached by a group of dermatologists who asked her to file legislation that would make it against the law for teens 17 and under to lay in a UV tanning bed. A House panel will hear the measure today.
In New Iberia, deputies have identified the victim and a suspect in a deadly shooting that took place Monday afternoon. They say 24-year-old Uriah Joseph was shot several times and died at a hospital. Iberia Parish Sheriff's investigators are now looking for Michael Augustine who is wanted for second degree murder.
Tragedy this Tuesday morning on I-55. State Police say a two people died after one person allegedly drove drunk onto the wrong side of the interstate causing a multi-vehicle crash.
A Caddo Parish man on death row has been released from Angola after a Caddo Parish District Judge signed an order vacating Glenn Ford's first degree murder conviction and death sentence. Ford was convicted for the 1983 murder of a Shreveport jeweler store owner. New evidence "supports findings that Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in the robbery and murder.
Two brothers are now facing federal charges in connection with the Mother's Day "second line" parade shooting in New Orleans, in which twenty people were injured in May. Twenty year-old Akein (ah KEEN) Scott and twenty-five year old Shawn Scott-along with seven others - violated gun control acts -according to authorities- and drug laws. All are members of a local New Orleans gang.
Officials in the Baton Rouge area have talked about an interstate loop around the capital city for years, and now, there's new discussion in the legislative session. Baton Rouge Representative
Steve Carter says they are seeking state funding to conduct studies for a proposed alternate highway around Baton Rouge. The price tag for the feasibility study is about $3.5 million dollars.
News for Tuesday 031114
By Dave Graichen
The 2014 legislative session is underway. Lawmakers started the session yesterday at 12 noon then Governor Bobby Jindal spoke to a joint session of Representatives and Senators on the House floor. The session will adjourn no later than 6pm on Monday June 2nd.
The chairwoman of the Louisiana democratic party blasts what Governor Jindal has done in office after he gave an address to lawmakers touting the need for more skilled workers. Karen Peterson says the state would be able to produce more grads, if Jindal had not cut funding for for education in recent years. Peterson says if the governor truly wants to improve this state, it would help if he was around to help pass some meaningful legislation.
The Mega Millions Jackpot is now up to 309 Million dollars. Tonight's drawing has a cash value of about 169 million dollars. Louisiana Lottery Spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says this is the ninth largest Mega Millions jackpot in lottery history.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says he wants the department of corrections to re-open the Phelps Correctional Center in Calcasieu Parish as an inmate charter school. He says a 2013 Rand Corporation study of 58 prison education programs found that every dollar spent on prison education saves four dollars in prison costs. Kennedy says taxpayers aren't benefiting from an empty prison that was closed because it was supposed to save the state two-point-six million dollars.
Governor Bobby Jindal finished in tenth place in a 2016 republican presidential straw poll that was taken at the conclusion of the Conservative Political Action Committee conference. Jindal received
just two-percent of the vote. The Governor has said he doesn't know if he'll run for President, but political analyst Clancy Dubos says it's obviously he was some sort of national aspirations. US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky won Saturday's straw poll.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says they will be conducting aerial feral hog control using helicopters on Pearl River in the marsh south of Highway 90 in St. Tammany Parish and on
Sherburne in Iberville and Point Coupee Parishes this week. The purpose of this aerial population control with firearms is to reduce the feral hog numbers.
The state of Louisiana used to be the second fattest state in the nation. Now, we find ourselves as the fourth fattest state in the union, according to a new Gallup survey. There are signs of
improvement as the work-out percentages are increasing, in those who say they exercise moderately or vigorously. Those numbers moved from 35.4 percent to 43.6 percent in a 10 year period.
Twice-convicted sex offender Brian Horn has been denied his motion for a 14 month delay in his capital murder trial for the death of 12 year-old Justin Bloxom south of Stonewall in 2010. Bloxom's body was discovered in a ditch off Highway 171, after he was kidnapped. Desoto Parish District Judge Robert Burgess said that trial will begin as scheduled today.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries announced today that the reward has been increased to $20,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for shooting two whooping cranes found in Jefferson Davis Parish earlier in the year
A Morgan City man is in a St Landry Parish jail after he allegedly held toddler's feet in scalding water. St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Captain Megan Vizena says 34-year-old Theron Thomas has been charged with one count of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.
News for Friday 030614
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office is searching for a 15-year-old girl last seen Saturday in the Pineville area. Priscilla Compton is described as being 5-feet, 1-inch tall and weighs 110 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone who has seen her or has information concerning her whereabouts is asked to call the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office.
A Rapides Parish grand jury has indicted Dorothy Vanasselberg of Elmer and Kyle Hauenstein of Pineville on hundreds of sex charges. The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Vanasselberg in July of last year after detectives investigated a complaint of possible sexual contact between Vanasselberg and a juvenile. Detectives later found evidence that indicated Hauenstein had received child pornography from Vanasselberg. While detectives searched for Hauenstein, sheriff's deputies said "they discovered evidence that led them to believe (Hauenstein) committed multiple criminal sexual acts" with one or more juvenile family members while he was in the Pineville area.
A Boyce man who tortured and murdered an 18-month-old child has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 25 year old Jaymes Harris was found guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. At the time of the child’s death, Harris was the live-in boyfriend of the child’s mother.
The Louisiana Legislative session starts Monday, and there could be a slight 1.5% cost of living increase for retirees across the state. That increase would be the first one in five years.
Small business owners in LA say they oppose any legislation that would raise the minimum wage. The 2014 legislative session is to start Monday and there are bills filed that would raise the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour. Louisiana director of NFIB Dawn Starns says they surveyed their members and 90% of them said "no" to raising the minimum wage. She says small businesses only have so much money and the increase could possibly lead to some layoffs.
The search for the missing Slidell teenager who was last seen at a UNO dorm over the weekend, ends in tragedy. Authorities confirmed Wednesday evening that the car and body of 19-year-old Hayley Howard were pulled from water near the I-10 Twin Spans around Irish Bayou. Friends say Howard was headed home to Slidell early Saturday morning when she suddenly vanished. Police say the UNO student's phone was last pinged at 6am that day in the Irish Bayou area. The case is currently being investigated as a fatal accident.
Legislation that would put a law on the books that defines a speed trap and prohibits them in Louisiana has been filed for the session that begins Monday. Baton Rouge Representative Regina Barrow says when a motorist is transitioning from one speed limit to a higher one, there should not be a cop sitting in between the two signs waiting to write tickets for people who were going 5 miles over the speed limit. She says this is a particularly big problem in small Louisiana towns.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s former chief of staff, Paul Rainwater, said Wednesday that he plans to open his own lobbying and consulting firm. Rainwater left the Jindal administration this week after serving as chief of staff, commissioner of administration and hurricane recovery adviser. He helped manage the daily operations of Jindal’s office and served as one of the governor’s closest advisers. During a stop at the State Capitol on Wednesday, Rainwater said he needed more of a personal life and often felt like he was the oldest pitcher on the team. At 52, Rainwater was one of the few gray-haired members of the governor’s staff.
First, there was a Lake Providence Police officer charged with malfeasance allegedly asking a speeding motorist for $50 to avoid a ticket. Now, a second police officer has been charged with
intentionally falsifying an accident report. Fifty-two year-old Lee Antwine surrendered to investigators Monday. It's the second Lake Providence Police officer incident in 30 days.
Authorities say a Circle K store in Opelousas was selling synthetic marijuana. Undercover officers bought the drugs from the store on East Vine street. This led to searches of the store and the
manager's residence. The store’s manager was arrested and booked into the St. Landry Parish jail.
LSU's cartoon style tiger graphic has "disappeared" from the LSU basketball court. In it's place is a Tiger graphic that's similar to what on the LSU football helmet. Luke Johnson of Tiger Rag magazine says LSU did a "soft launch" of the new Tiger by simply displaying it at center court at the PMAC.
News for Wednesday 030514
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana was hit with its fourth wintry precipitation event of the year yesterday. So when will it end? State Climatologist Barry Keim hopes Tuesday was the end of the winter weather. Keim says it's very rare to have freezing rain in Louisiana during the first week of March. He says it will be much warmer today and for the rest of the week.
Louisiana State Police say they are investigating a case out of New Iberia in which a man who was handcuffed and in the back of an Iberia Parish Sheriff patrol car, apparently killed himself. Spokesman Stephen Hammons says deputies were responding to reports of a fight Sunday night where they arrested 22-year-old Victor White III. Upon arrival at the Sheriff's office, the suspect refused to get out of the patrol car. Hammons says while in the back of the patrol car, White produced a handgun and fired once striking himself in the back. He says White was pronounced dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at a local hospital.
State Farm has compiled data that ranks Louisiana seventh in the nation for the number of wind and hail storm claims during 2013. State Farm spokesperson Gary Stephenson says State Farm paid more than three billion dollars in claims nationwide, as a result of property damage caused by wind and hail storms. In Louisiana alone, they had 14-thousand claims.
The US House of Representatives approves a bill that would spare thousands of Louisiana homeowners massive flood insurance rate increases, and the legislation now heads to the Senate. Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise says this bill protects those who have built their homes to code from unaffordable hikes permanently. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act is in-part lead by Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy who says the House legislation also lowers the cap on annual rate increases to 18% per property.
A lawmaker from Baton Rouge says he doesn't want the government to be able to use drones on the private property of Louisiana residents so he's filed a bill restricting the use of the flying devices. State Senator Dan Claitor says he wants to make it against the law for a drone to look at our backyards or into our private homes. Claitor says his bill would still allow the use of drones if a search warrant was obtained or if law enforcement needed them to help document a crime scene. He says our home is our castle and citizens are supposed to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
News for Tuesday 030314
By Dave Graichen
Many children in central Louisiana got Mardi Gras day off after all.. The threat of icy weather has closed the public and catholic school in Avoyelles, Rapides and Vernon parishes today. LSUA: Will open at 11 a.m.
The weather forecast calls for a wet and cold Mardi Gras day. State Climatologist Barry Keim says temperatures are below freezing for much of the state this morning and we are expecting highs only in the 40s. He says there's also a good chance for rain in south Louisiana.
State police report a single-vehicle crash Monday morning killed a Boyce man. 40 year old David Cundiff was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Brown's Creek Road. Troopers say Cundiff, who was not wearing a seatbelt, lost control of his vehicle, ran off the road and hit several trees and a fence.
A house fire in St. Landry Parish has claimed the lives of two people in Lawtell early Monday. The bodies of Willis and Lou Anna Semien were found on the scene by firefighters. Their 19
Year old granddaughter, a 14 year-old foster child, and another granddaughter escaped the fire, and were able to get to a neighbor's house. The State Fire Marshal says the blaze is under
A mobile home fire claimed the lives of two people in Caddo Parish Yesterday. The bodies of 35 year old Adonis Walker and his girlfriend, 32 year old Hanna Hawkins were found inside by firefighters after the blaze was extinguished.
Your state issued driver’s license can now read "I'm a Cajun" right below your DMV photo for an extra five dollars. State Senator Fred Mills the proceeds will go to the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. Mills says the money will support scholarships for French language
and culture studies.
Two bills for the upcoming legislative session have been filed to legalize the use of medical marijuana. One of the bills is authored by St. Martinville Senator Fred Mills, an owner of a retail pharmacy. Mills says Louisiana law allows for a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana, but it remains illegal for a pharmacist to dispense the drug. The legislation regulates the growers of medical marijuana, the dispensers, and the doctors who prescribe it. Mills says the proposed law involves many different agencies to share the responsibilities of implementing the intended uses of medical marijuana.
Louisiana continues to gain recognition for places that companies look to for expansion. Site Selection Magazine has listed the Baton Rouge area was one of the top 10 metro areas for new and expanded corporate facilities for 2013. According to the report, Baton Rouge placed 2nd (in the top 10).
Governor Bobby Jindal made an appearance in St. James Parish Monday to mark the completion of the Nucor's direct reduced iron plant in Convent. The $750 million dollar plant started production 2 months ago, and has already created 140 new direct jobs.
Legendary high school football coach Don Shows has passed away at the age of 75, after battling health issues for over a year. Shows turned West Monroe High School into one of the best high school football programs in the country, winning eight state championships.
The fourth ranked LSU baseball team makes a rare trip to Natchitoches today to play Northwestern State. It's the Tigers first visit to Brown- Stroud Field since 2003. LSU is trying to bounce back from a tough 8-7 loss to Yale on Sunday. You can hear that game this afternoon beginning at 3 on 970 KSYL
Nearly a two-week run of high school basketball begins today in the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, which is the host site for the Top 28 state boys and girls basketball championship tournaments.
News for Monday 030314
By Dave Graichen
12 Years a Slave,” the historical drama filmed in the New Orleans area, earned three Academy Awards on Sunday, including the night’s top honor, best picture.
State police report 43-year-old William Antee of Boyce is facing vehicular homicide and other charges after he lost control of a utility task vehicle Saturday night. The vehicle overturned and killed a 4-year-old Texas girl and injured two other girls who were riding in the vehicle. Authorities say that alcohol use is suspected in the crash. Antee was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with vehicle homicide, vehicular negligent injuring and careless operation. The investigation continues.
One man is dead and another is fighting for his life after a crash early Sunday on La. 35 inLandry Parish. State police say 31 year old Curtis Wheeler of Church Point died in the single-vehicle wreck after he was ejected from a pickup that struck a culvert and rolled over several times. Troopers believe the driver of the vehicle, 25 year old Brad Wheeler of Church Point , may have been drunk at the time of the crash. Wheeler is listed in critical condition.
Louisiana college president Dr.Joe Aguillard, could soon receive a contract extension to remain at the private Baptist school in Pineville. Board of Trustee Chair, Tommy French, says work began on the new contract and will continue over the next few weeks. If a contract extension is offered to Aguillard, it must be approved by the full board, which is scheduled to meet in April. French said he couldn’t speak for the committee or the board, but he saw no reason Aguillard would not receive a new contract.
City of Pineville water service has been restored to residents along La. Highway 3128 (old Paper Mill Road), including the Whispering Pines subdivision, but a boil advisory remains in effect for affected residents. On Saturday, an 8-inch water main burst, leading to disruption of service in that area. The main was replaced later Saturday with a temporary 2-inch line. Replacement of close to 300 feet of the original water main will take place this week. A water boil advisory remains in effect until this repair project is complete.
Mother nature cooperated and large crowds turned out yesterday for the Alexandria Mardi Gras parade. The parade featured 23 floats and five bands. Becky Deville, president of the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association, called the parade a success thanks to the work of the association and the city.
A new pediatric death from influenza in Central Louisiana has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This new death brings the total of pediatric flu deaths so far this flu season to four. Since October 2013, lab tests confirmed 66 flu deaths in Louisiana of various ages. However, state health officials say the number may be as high as 200 to 400 deaths. Since many deaths are caused by complications from the flu. Officials say a flu shot is your best protection.
A three-year-old child in Slidell died on Sunday by drowning in a neighbor's pool. Authorities say it appears the three-year-old left his parents’ home Sunday morning through a window in his bedroom. It appears the child fell into the pool.
Louisiana taxpayers who were concerned about a delay in their state tax refunds can expect to get their refunds quite soon. Byron Henderson of the Louisiana Department of Revenue says one reason the state refunds are a bit late was the federal shutdown which delayed the I.R.S. processing schedule. Henderson says the first batch of four hundred and forty thousand refund checks has been issued and promises a steady output of state tax refunds will continue.
This Mardi Gras holiday the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission handed out grants to law enforcement agencies to fund overtime and extra shifts for officers throughout the state. Their goal is to remove impaired drivers from Louisiana roadways. In Louisiana, the first offense of Driving While Intoxicated can carry a thousand dollar fine and possibly jail time, plus the suspension of a driver's license for up to 2 years.
We're now one week away from the legislative session and once again lawmakers will talk about proposed changes to the popular TOPS scholarship program. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber has weighed in and they think higher standards should be set to receive the award. BRAC COO Erin Monroe Wesley says TOPS is becoming too costly. Currently to be eligible for TOPS, you have to have a 2.5 GPA and a minimum ACT Score of 20. Wesley says an increase in those requirements would better align TOPS to comparable merit-based programs.
A Baton Rouge man will face life in prison for killing three women. A jury found 24-year-old Courtney Williams, guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend and two others during a shooting spree in 2011. Williams will be formally sentenced to life in prison at Angola, March 28th.
A Gonzales man was arrested for holding his parents captive inside their home for five days. The Ascension Parish Sheriff's office says 44 year old Richard Miley held them against their will,
beginning on February 20th. They were freed when the imprisoned couple's granddaughter visited the home and got them out. Miley told deputies he had stopped taking his medication which he says caused the incident. He is being held in Ascension Parish jail without bond.
Even though there has been an excess of snow in northern states surrounding the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, it is not expected to cause floods in Louisiana. National Weather Service hydrologist Jeff Graschel says even with seasonal rainfalls, we shouldn't see many problems with the lower part of the river. In 2011, record level rainfalls in the Midwest led to flooding issues along the Mississippi, forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to open the Morganza Spillway to prevent major flooding in southeast Louisiana Graschel says they don't expect anything like that this year.
Now that we are in March, allergy season is right around the corner. Doctor Ken Paris, with the LSU Health Sciences Center, says tree pollen in the spring time causes nasal congestion, coughing and wheezing for thousands in the bayou state, but this year's allergy season may start a little later, because of our cold winter. Paris says if you have allergy issues, there are things you can do now
to minimize the symptoms once the pollen count escalates. He says prescription and over-the-counter nasal sprays can be effective. But, if allergy season makes you feel miserable, then go see a doctor now and get a head start.
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