KSYL Local News Archives for 2014-07

News For Thursday 07/31/14


News for Thursday 073114

By Dave Graichen

 

There are now two hearing dates in the Common Core Curriculum dispute coming up in mid August.  The 17 lawmakers who want to suspend the program will present their case to Judge Tim Kelly, August 15th.  Parents and teachers who have sued Governor Bobby Jindal for his executive order to stop Common Core will make their case before Judge Todd Hernandez on August 18th.

 

Starting Today, public colleges and universities in Louisiana will be required to make their campuses smoke-free. Several schools have taken a step beyond that, making their campuses tobacco-free as well, including all of Central Louisiana’s colleges and universities. Act 211, passed by the Legislature in 2013, mandates all public postsecondary institutions in Louisiana must develop and implement non-smoking polices at all facilities by Aug. 1.

 

Newly uncovered court documents and an alert from a national watchdog group accuse a longtime Lafayette Catholic priest of being among Acadiana’s long list of pedophile clerics. The Rev. Gilbert Dutel is accused of coercing a young boy to have sex multiple times over a five- to six-year period beginning in 1976 almost 40 years ago, according to a 1992 10-page statement made by the victim, who was not identified. The victim also said that as he grew older, the alleged trysts with Dutel ended and he began being molested by two other Diocese of Lafayette priests. The Diocese released a statement saying “Many years ago, unproven allegations were made against Father Gilbert Dutel”

 

Tulane is again the highest ranked private or public university in Louisiana, according to Forbes’ annual rating of the nation’s top colleges.The Forbes list, released Wednesday, placed Tulane at 147 in its ranking of the 650 best undergraduate colleges in the country. LSU was the next-best Louisiana school at 190.

 

A man in a stolen truck committed suicide yesterday morning in Baton Rouge, after a police chase that ended in a fast food restaurant parking lot.  BRPD says the suspect 28-year-old Jeremy Anderson of Gulport, MS, exited I-12, entered the parking lot, and reportedly shot himself.

 

The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Dulac woman for allegedly raping a child she was babysitting.  Spokeswoman Captain Dawn Foret says they began investigating the complaint by a 17-year-old male victim. The 23-year-old baby sitter confessed to having multiple sexual encounters with the juvenile and has been charged with one count of aggravated rape.

 

The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office says they busted a woman who allegedly filed a false report last week.  Spokeswoman Traci Landry says Megan Dugas told deputies that she was brutally attacked and robbed at her home Friday by two men wearing masks.  Landry says once the detectives got into the case, things weren’t adding up in the story Dugas was telling. Landry says Dugas had self-inflicted wounds on her she claimed to sustain during the fake invasion.  Dugas was issued a criminal mischief summons for falsely reporting a crime.

 

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office and the FBI announce the return and arrest of a Top Ten Fugitive accused in the 2008 murder and rape of a woman in front of a four year-old. The FBI New Orleans field office says they’ve been looking for 26-year-old Jose Guevara of Lake Charles for 6 years.

 

A Webster Parish company is expected to plead guilty for the improper storage of millions of pounds of explosives at Camp Minden. Explo Systems Incorporated will enter that plea in September. But, it may all be for nothing.. The company is currently in Chapter 11 proceedings.

 

With summer coming to a close, school will be back in session in a few short weeks.  The American Automobile Association reminds drivers to be especially cautious before and after school hours as kids head back to the classroom.  AAA’s Don Redman says  nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during after-school hours between 3PM and 7PM.  He says if you are the parent of a teen aged driver it is important for you to remind them of their responsibilities on the road and limit the number of passengers they have in their car

 

The Office of Alcohol and Tobacco control has issued over 2 dozen summons in Monroe and West Monroe for selling alcohol to minors. The fines could be between $500 and $25 thousand dollars, and possible suspensions or revocations of liquor licenses.

 

Morgan City Police detectives have arrested two women accused of stealing money from a local financial consulting company. They allege 59-year-old Karen Duhon of Morgan City stole over 1.2 million dollars over a seven year period. Authorities also believe 57-year-old Donna Peveto of Houma committed theft in excess of 600 thousand dollars during the same time period. Officials say the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible.

 

A former secretary for the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has been arrested for allegedly using a diocese credit card for personal use. Baton Rouge Police Corporal Don Coppola says an audit revealed that 57-year-old Alice Faucheaux (FOH’ shay) was in possession of a corporate credit card from Office Depot to purchase office supplies. He says she used the card to purchase several VISA pre-paid debit cards totaling around $41,000. Coppola says Faucheaux purchased the debit cards at various Office Depot locations in Baton Rouge and Zachary.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has named 55-year-old Joseph Broussard head of their Enforcement Division. The 23-year veteran from Port Barre was also promoted to colonel. Broussard served as chief of staff for Jeff Mayne, who recently retired from the position.

 

Louisiana is ranked number 2 in the nation for heartworm incidents in pets. At least one million pets in the U.S. are estimated to currently have the disease. The President of the American Heartworm Society Doctor Stephen Jones says the state is unique in the reasons we have outbreaks. Jones says all it takes in one infected pet in a neighborhood to spike the number of animals with heartworms. He says once a mosquito bites one pet, it can transmit the disease up to half a mile away. The best way to fight it, keep your dog on the heartworm pills year round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

News For Wednesday 07/30/14


News for Wednesday 073014

By Dave Graichen

 

Sarah Smith has been named acting city marshal in Pineville. Smith who has been the Deputy city Marshall for 18 years, assumes the position due to the death of  longtime marshal Larry Jeane. Smith says after discussing the matter with Larry Jeane’s family, she will run for the office as well in the fall.

 

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has voted 6 to 4 to join a Common Core lawsuit against Governor Bobby Jindal. That suit accuses Jindal of illegal use of executive powers to halt the use of the new education standards. The Jindal administration has filed a counter lawsuit, alleging BESE violated its constitutional authority when it agreed to adopt Common Core testing.

 

With lawsuits flying back and forth over Common Core, education superintendent John White is working to develop an assessment test to be used in public schools for the upcoming school year. White says BESE has ordered the Department of Education to provide a final resolution to the testing issue by the end of August. The upcoming school year begins next month. White says hearings over the Common Court lawsuits will take place next month and initial rulings will provide them a guide to the type of standardized test they’ll have

 

Pineville police arrested a homeless man who attempted to rob the Pelican State Credit Union on Main Street yesterday afternoon.  The man entered the bank carrying a duffel bag demanding a large amount of money and making threatening statements to the bank staff. Police were forced to use a stun gun to subdue the man.

 

Ville Platte Police have made an arrest in connection with their first homicide case of the year Monday as a store owner Anna Nguyen (Gwen), was brutally murdered in an apparent armed robbery. Nguyen leaves behind several children.

 

The bad number is 8.7 — the percentage of Louisiana residents who are shown on credit reports as having past-due debt, according to the Urban Institute.  Among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, 8.6 percent of residents of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans regions had past-due debts.

Across the nation, more than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies

 

The Baton Rouge Police Department says they’ve identified a woman who they believe ran over a 6 year old girl who was riding her bicycle and fled the scene yesterday afternoon. Authorities say  20-year-old Maigan Scott of Baton Rouge struck the child and then took off leaving the girl lying in the road. Scott was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail. The little girl is in critical condition.

 

In Money magazine’s 2014 Best Colleges list, Louisiana Tech is named as one of the nation’s best college values. The rankings were based on educational quality, affordability and alumni earnings data. Tech was named No. 154 in the nation and 2nd in Louisiana behind LSU. Other schools on the list included Tulane, Loyola and Grambling.

 

Though a federal appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that a Mississippi law that would close the state’s only abortion clinic is unconstitutional, a very similar law here in Louisiana, is expected to stand. Voting 2-1, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that Mississippi’s 2012 “admitting privileges” statute effectively would close the state’s only abortion clinic, forcing patients to travel out of state for the procedure. That would not be the case in Louisiana, since the state has more than one clinic.

 

A year-long study is underway that will examine the feasibility of Amtrak Passenger Rail Service from the Shreveport area to Vicksburg, MS. This is one of three studies looking to extend passenger train service from Dallas to Meridian, MS. It is believed that re-establishing rail service will have a positive economic impact on north Louisiana.

 

LSU faculty and staff are looking at a second straight year of pay raises, following what was a particularly difficult stretch for university funding over the last few years. Faculty and staff members will receive a 3% merit raise, right on the heels of last years 4%. Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope says the pay raise is a welcome news for anyone involved with the university. The pay raise may not only help retain talent, but may also help to attract professors from around the country. While the raise is welcome amongst the faculty and staff of the university, LSU still lags behind other major state programs in compensation.

 

A 10 year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department has been arrested on numerous charges and placed on emergency leave for allegedly trying run a man down with her car. Officer Stephanie Caldwell reportedly got into an altercation with the man and then pursued him going against traffic before striking a car.

News For Tuesday 07/29/14


News For Tuesday 072914

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisianians are once again waking up to cooler feeling weather outside here on this last week in July. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this less humid air is very similar to the cold front we had a couple of weeks ago. Keim says the lower humidity is going to last most of the week and could even go into the front part of this weekend. It’s uncommon to have one cold front this time of year, much less two.

 

Authorization for new VA clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles is one step closer to reality according to Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany. Boustany received confirmation that authorization for the two new clinics will be included in the final draft of a bipartisan bill on VA legislation. Boustany expects both houses of Congress to vote on the measure this week. He says funding for the construction of these new clinics is not included this legislation. But Boustany says if this bill passes, it will clear the way for funding.

 

The Louisiana Supreme Court has announces a replacement Phillip Terrell, who resigned as Pineville city judge in March to run for Rapides Parish District Attorney. Long time Pineville attorney Mike Johnson, will take the position of judge pro temp Friday, and he is scheduled remain in the position through the end of the year. A permanent judge will be chosen in the fall elections. As city judge, Johnson will be responsible for hearing cases from within the Pineville city limits, as well as Wards 9, 10 and 11.

 

The state’s top school board will hold its second special meeting in less than a month today in the battle over Common Core. The key issue is whether and how the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will proceed on a possible legal challenge over tests that are supposed to accompany the new academic standards. One possibility is for BESE to join a pro-Common Core lawsuit filed last week by parents and teachers.

 

A Shreveport man is dead after being shot inside his home following a reported home invasion very early Monday morning. Shreveport Police say forty-eight year-old William David Carroll was reportedly shot once in the upper body inside his Highland residence near Centenary College.

 

A Lake Charles woman has been arrested for leaving her three young children in a locked car for over an hour. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrested 26 year-old Faith LaFleur on 3 counts of cruelty to a juvenile. The children, aged 5, 2, and 11 months have been placed in the care of family members.

 

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s office is in mourning today after a 32-year veteran of the department drowned Sunday while trying to rescue his dog from a pond. Lt. Col. Bobby Webre says 56-year-old Sam Vitter’s Yorkshire Terrier went in the pond running after some wildlife. He says Vitter went in and rescued the dog, but never resurfaced. Webre says they aren’t exactly sure what happened to cause the drowning.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is investigating a rare hit-and-run boating crash. L-D-W-F’s Adam Einck says the incident happened Saturday night on the Amite River Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish when one ski boat was rear ended and run over by another ski boat.  He says that boat was last seen speeding through a wake zone. Three people on the ski boat that was struck were treated for minor injuries.

 

A Baton Rouge man is in jail following a rape of a woman he met through a social media app. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Casey Hicks, following an incident like this, she reminds everyone to be extremely cautious about meeting people through social media, and never meet them at your home. Twenty-two year-old Jacob Witz is charged with one count of forcible rape.

 

As the spicy food trend spreads across the country, the hot sauce market is growing by leaps and bounds. Since 2000, the US hot sauce market has grown by 150 percent, according to a story by Atlantic Media’s Quartz. President and CEO of New Iberia-based Bruce Foods, Si Brown, says they have definitely noticed the trend. Hot sauce sales have increased 6-percent annually for the past 10 years.

 

 

News For Monday 7/28/14


News for Monday 072814

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana State Police report a single-vehicle crash early Sunday morning claimed the life of a 22-year-old Pleasant Hill man. Wallace Jones was driving a pickup truck on La. Highway 174 when he lost control and ran off the road. The vehicle overturned and Jones, who was not wearing a seat belt, was partially ejected. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers believe alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

 

The new school year begins in less than a month and thoughts are turning to back-to-school shopping.  The Department of Revenue encourages families to keep their receipts while shopping for back-to-school items such as books, supplies, uniforms, and equipment required by schools.  Press Secretary Byron Henderson says these expenses may qualify for a series of income tax reductions.  To qualify for the deduction you must be able to claim the student as a dependent on your state income tax return and be able to document the expense.  Henderson also reminds residents the state’s annual sales tax holiday is this Friday and Saturday. 

 

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals officials have confirmed the state’s first death from West Nile Virus this year in Caddo Parish. They say say the case involves a patient who was between 60 and 74 years of age. It’s one of four cases of West Nile confirmed in Caddo Parish in the past week.

 

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has filed an amicus brief supporting Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that found the Indiana state law banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Caldwell’s office says it’s each state’s right to determine whether same sex marriage should be permitted.

 

State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson will not accept a controversial retirement boost that was given to him and another veteran trooper as a result of a law that was passed by lawmakers in the final hours of the legislative session. Since the retirement increase has become public, there’s been concern over how costly it is for the state, some $300,000. Edmonson says the issue has become a distraction and he’ll have the legislature look at it again next year.

 

Louisiana State Police say a former Baldwin Police officer is under arrest amid allegations he fathered a baby with a 14-year-old girl. Master Trooper Brooks David says they were initially called to investigate 39-year-old Joseph Brent about possible drug dealing in 2013, but they ended up finding more information. David says detectives couldn’t substantiate the narcotics allegation. He says they discovered instead that Brent was living with a minor who was carrying his child. David says the baby was born this month and DNA was collected from all parties. Brent’s charges include molestation of a juvenile, malfeasance in office and sexual battery.

 

In the wake of the power outages that plagued the Shreveport area last week, the Louisiana Public Service commission will consider implementing a new rule for power companies to follow that would keep the public better informed when outages occur. Commissioner Foster Campbell says the system would send automated telephone and text messages to customers when outages occur. He says Entergy power companies have already implemented such a system. Campbell says he’ll ask all electric utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission to do likewise. The topic will be discussed at the PSC’s August 6th meeting in Baton Rouge.

 

An area of the Atchafalaya Basin could become the next national park in Louisiana. The Acadiana chapter of The Sierra Club says there is a segment of the basin in St. Martin, Iberia and St. Mary parishes that is all state owned. Chairman Harold Shoeffler (Sheff-Ler) says the proposed national park is completely unaltered. The proposed park is 150 square miles of the last portion of the basin that is remote and wild. He says they want to keep it that way.

 

A woman is recovering after she was attacked by two pit bull dogs near Slidell. The incident occurred as the victim was on a walking trail. A person who heard her screams for help shot the dogs, killing one. The owner of the pitbulls was issued a misdemeanor summons for violating the parish leash law.

 

The faculty and staff at the LSU Baton Rouge campus are getting a 3 percent merit pay raise. Last year a four percent pay raise was given and LSU officials are on track to remain competitive with other schools.

 

 

 

 

News For Friday 07/25/14


News For Friday 072514

By Dave Graichen

 

Mitzi LaSalle will formally announce her candidacy for Mayor of Alexandria tonight at a gathering in city park on Masonic Drive. LaSalle is a graduate of Grambling State University, the mother of four, and is currently the Vice President of Business Development for Keller Enterprise. The get together, from 6 to 8 this evening is open to the public.

 

Two Central Louisiana women are dead following a one vehicle crash into a tree in Alexandria on Louisiana Highway 1205 just after midnight Thursday. The passenger-29 year-old Ashley Gallien of Pineville was pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver – 31 year-old Heather McCormick of Boyce – died later at a local hospital. State Police Trooper Scott Moreau says things might have turned out different if the two women had worn seatbelts.

 

The National Weather Service in Shreveport says that bad storm that blew through northwest Louisiana Wednesday night left thousands without power and claimed the life of one person. Senior Meteorologist Jason Hansford says they saw 60-70 mile an hour winds which downed numerous trees and power lines. Even though those numbers have gotten lower, SWEPCO now says several thousand people in the Shreveport area could be in the dark until Sunday.

 

The efforts of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to hire a law firm to legally challenge the governor’s decision to scrap Common Core is receiving some push-back from the Jindal administration. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the law firm cannot represent any party that is harmful to the state.

 

It’s called The Memorandum of Understanding, and it’s the result of a private-public long-term partnership between higher education, the state and the oil industry to get more workers for industry needs in the Gulf. The combination of more demand and 40% of the current workforce retiring within ten years.  It’s putting a curriculum on the fast-track to certify new gulf oil workers in two  years. Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association President Chris John  says it’s important since deep water exploration and production is expected to increase in the Gulf.

 

An Organized Crime Task-Force investigation has led to 7 indictments in North Louisiana for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and other related drug charges. The 2 year-long undercover investigation resulted in the seizure of over a half-million dollars in cash, firearms and 16 pounds of marijuana.

 

The annual International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is underway and thousands of people are expected descend on coastal town to enjoy the festivities. Anglers from across the area will compete to see who can catch the biggest fish in a number of categories. Property tax clerk for the town of Grand Isle, Bonnie Pizani (piz-annie), says in addition to the fishing, the event will also feature family events, craft vendors, crab races, live music, and more. The fishing rodeo began in 1928 and is informally referred to as the “Mardi Gras of Grand Isle.” Pizani says businesses across the island look forward to the economic boost the thousands of people who attend the event bring every year

 

White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, has rolled out the red carpet for the New Orleans Saints who begin training camp there today. The Black and Gold will spend the next three weeks getting ready for the upcoming season at the Greenbrier resort. Kara Dense, with the Greenbrier Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, says they were thrilled when the team bus rolled in. For the past few seasons, the team has held training camps exclusively at their Meterie facility. Dense says this is a great chance for some out of town Saints fans to watch the team play.

 

News For Thursday 07/24/14


News for Thursday 072414

By Dave Graichen

 

Spanish language interpreter, employed by the Terrebonne Parish Government, is in jail for allegedly taking money from some defendants, telling them she would use that money to bribe the US Immigration Services to get their cases dropped. 45-year-old Trina Bourg was arrested on federal and state charges.

 

Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany files legislation that would give south Louisiana veterans the option to receive health care from a non V-A provider. Boustany says the federal government should pay for the care. There is another bill that would authorize new VA clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. But Boustany says our veterans in those areas shouldn’t have to wait for the new clinics to open, so he wants to give them the option to receive care from a non VA provider.

 

Thousands of people who bought health insurance through the marketplace created by the federal health care overhaul face price hikes next year that could top 10 percent. More than 60,000 people who get health insurance through the individual marketplace, which was expanded by the federal Affordable Care Act , are in line for double-digit rate increases on Jan. 1 if they keep their current policies.  Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said the average health insurance rate increase planned in the state's individual market next year is 12 percent to 13 percent.

 

A report from the American Gaming Association ranks Louisiana fourth for its number of casino jobs. The group says the state’s 19 casinos employ 15,706 people on a permanent basis.

 

The LSU Ag Center has launched a statewide billboard campaign urging people to engage in a more healthy lifestyle. Diane Sasser is the AgCenter director of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Educational Program. She says the first message to be promoted is for people to eat more fruits and vegetable. Sasser says this effort also includes banners and posters that will be displayed in schools, stores and parish extension offices.

 

The man who is in jail for the Bourbon Street shooting in New Orleans that killed one and injured nine made a court appearance this morning. Twenty year-old Trung Le faces one count of first-degree murder, and 9 counts of attempted first-degree murder, but his attorney says there is video evidence he says will clear his client.

 

A federal judge has decided he doesn’t need to hear more arguments in the case of a gay couple who want a Louisiana marriage license. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman has already heard arguments regarding Louisiana’s refusal to recognize the unions of gay couples legally married in other states. At the end of that hearing he asked for briefs on related issues, including whether the state’s refusal to let same-sex couples marry in Louisiana is constitutional. Feldman said he didn’t want to make a piecemeal ruling on the gay marriage issue. He gave no indication when he will rule.

 

An assistant principal at a Baton Rouge Middle School is facing charges in connection with the exchange of naked pictures with a 15 year-old former student. BRPD Sergeant L’Jean (el gene) McKneely says the mother contacted police about the crime and an official investigation was launched. The suspect is 42 year-old Edwin Chastang, and he is charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile and also computer aided solicitation of a minor. He’s been suspended with pay from the school.

 

A Monroe couple is charged with second degree cruelty to a juvenile after taking their 7-week old son to the hospital. The Monroe Police Department believe the infant suffered repeated abuse. Assistant Police Chief Don Bartley says officers responded to a call from a local hospital in reference to an injured child. Doctors discovered the child was suffering from bleeding on the brain. The  medical tests showed various stages of healing in the child’s brain, which indicated repeated abuse.

 

Following a discovery in Arkansas, Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says the USDA is conducting trap surveys across the state to watch for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) beetles. Strain says the EAB is an invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees. He says when the pest gets into an ash tree, it generally kills the tree in three to five years. The EAB was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and is now present in 24 states.

 

News For Wednesday 07/23/14


News for Wednesday 072314

By Dave Graichen

 

The O.K. Allen Bridge will be closed much of the day today, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for inspection. The bridge is expected to be closed from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

 

A group of parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Governor Jindal. They claim the governor violated his legal authority by using executive orders and contract suspensions to keep schools from using Common Core. Navis (Novice) Hill is a parent of a public school student and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Hill says Jindal is playing political games and because of that her fourth grader is preparing for a school year, not knowing what standardized test he’ll take. This pro Common Core lawsuit comes one day after a separate suit, which challenged whether BESE followed state law when it adopted the controversial education standards.

 

The governor’s office has responded to the latest legal action over the Common Core debate. A lawsuit filed yesterday claims Governor Bobby Jindal overstepped his authority when he canceled the testing contract for Common Core. Jindal’s legal counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, says the suit has no legal basis. A collection of concerned parents and teachers were behind this latest filing. The suit claims the governor does not have the constitutional authority to dictate education policy. But Faircloth says there is no question as to whether Jindal has the authority to influence policy in this case. The lawsuit is seeking to reverse the Jindal administration’s decision to use the Division of Administration to cancel a vendor contract to supply Common Core testing

 

According to the Annie B. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book, Louisiana ranks among the worst in the country in terms of the well-being of children. The Bayou State ranks 47th among all states and the District of Columbia. The report contributes Louisiana’s poor showing to children who live in poverty and single parent homes whose situation deteriorated from previous reports.

 

Louisiana led all U.S. states in the value of industrial construction projects during 2013 and was ranked second overall for all commercial construction, according to a new report released Tuesday.

Nearly $4.9 billion in direct industrial construction spending happened in Louisiana last year, well ahead of Iowa, which was second with just over $2 billion in industrial construction projects. All that industrial construction powered Louisiana to more than $5.5 billion in overall commercial construction projects. Texas, which had nearly $5.8 billion in direct commercial construction spending was first, while New York, at $4.8 billion, was third. That report was from The national commercial real estate development association.

 

A federal judge has sentenced a Shreveport pastor to six-and-a-half years in prison for taking minors across state lines and having sex with them. 54-year-old Andrea (Andre) Lewis, pastor of Act on Faith Ministries, was found guilty of three federal sex crimes in May. Lewis was also sentenced to three years supervised release and must register as a sex offender. Lewis is also facing state charges.

 

Officials say an arrest has been made in the case of the bomb threat last week at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette that closed the campus down for an entire day. Louisiana State Police Troop I spokesman Brooks David says 30-year-old Devin Haywood of Lafayette is charged federally through the FBI with planting a hoax device and attempted armed robbery. David says they believe Haywood called KATC last Wednesday morning saying there was a bomb in a trash can at a park near the campus, then minutes later attempted to rob MidSouth Bank.

 

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s office says they’ve arrested a Golden Meadow Police officer in connection with a methamphetamine investigation. Spokesman Brennan Matherne says they learned 37-year-old Officer Ashley Pollard and his brother, 33-year-old Courtney Pollard were allegedly making meth for personal use. They also learned the cop’s girlfriend, Anna King, was buying products for the meth lab. Matherne says they brought in Officer Pollard for questioning Monday. He says Golden Meadow Police Chief Reggie Pitre issued a statement indicating Pollard resigned from the department upon his arrest.

 

The Monroe Police Department says a man has been arrested that they believe is responsible for hitting another man over the head with a large stick causing fatal injuries. 20-year-old Christopher Robinson is charged with second degree murder in the death of 48-year-old James Atwell. Robinson reportedly attacked Atwell during an argument over a cell phone.

 

The Bossier Parish man who was convicted of killing his estranged wife, then dumping her burned remains in Webster Parish has been sentenced to 40 years in prison at hard labor. The body of 46 year-old Annie Bond was discovered in November. If he lives that long, Robert Bond will be 93 when he gets out.

 

 

News For Tuesday 07/22/14


News For Tuesday 072214

By Dave Graichen

 

Lecompte Fire Chief Billy Norris died Monday afternoon in his home. Town officials said Norris had a massive heart attack after he returned home from the scene of a fire. Norris had been with the Lecompte Volunteer Fire Department for more than a decade. He was 62. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

 

Funeral arrangements have been announced for long time Pineville City Marshall Larry Jeane, who died over the weekend after a Friday auto accident.  Visitation will be Wednesday from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. at Hixson Brothers in Pineville with a wake at 7 p.m. Visitation at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pineville will be from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday with a funeral mass at 10 a.m. Graveside services will be in Many.

 

A lawsuit has been filed by 17 lawmakers challenging the methods the state used to adopt the Common Core education standards. The suit alleges the BESE board and the State Department of Education did not follow the Administrative Procedure Act. Meanwhile, the stand-off over Common Core between Governor Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent of Education John White continues.

 

Republican US Senator David Vitter files legislation that he says will stop the flow of illegal border crossings. Between October and this past June, an estimated 57-thousand unaccompanied children were apprehended by Border Patrol. The Obama administration says that number could reach 90-thousand by the end of September. Vitter says law enforcement of immigration laws for decades has encouraged more immigrants to come here illegally. Vitter admits his legislation will have a difficult time getting a debate in the Senate, because Senate leader Harry Reid will not bein support of this legislation.

 

The tens of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing over into neighboring Texas is raising concerns Louisiana may face an immigration problem of it’s own. Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges, a member of the House Committee on Criminal Justice, is calling on the state leadership to develop a plan of action for immigration in Louisiana. She says the crisis next door is spreading to states across the country. With Texas shelters currently overflowing with the children, Hodges is concerned that Louisiana facilities may be used to house the immigrants.

 

Covington Representative Paul Hollis has announced that he is endorsing Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy in Louisiana’s US Senate race. Hollis, a Republican, dropped out of the race last week.

 

Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert is facing a federal racial discrimination lawsuit alleging he made working conditions unbearable for African-American employees. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three employees. Hebert says it is not a secret he inherited a troubled agency with problem employees, but he’s very proud of the way they’ve turned things around. The attorney for the employees n question alleges Hebert was trying to force out his clients in every conceivable way. Hebert denies the allegations.

 

It was a violent weekend in the Crescent City as police report a total of nine people are recovering from gunshot wounds throughout the metro area. New Orleans Police say the gun violence ranged from New Orleans East to South Carrolton in broad daylight. While the city’s murder rate is down from last year, New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas says it’s clear that NOPD needs more police officers.

 

A Grant Parish woman has been arrested after she was standing in the middle of Parsonage Road, yelling, holding a knife an throwing rocks at passing cars. When a deputy arrived, she dropped the knife, took a swing at him, and ran away. When that deputy caught up to her, fifty year-old Connie Pennington of Colfax became violent. She was arrested on numerous charges.

 

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Donaldsonville man after finding his wife shot to death at their home. Police Chief Tony Bacala says deputies responded to the residence after receiving a call 10AM Monday morning. When deputies arrived they found 27-year-old Shella Howard dead in her bathroom, having been shot several times. 31-year-old Jaris Howard was found shortly thereafter and arrested without incident. He says the couple’s six year old child was in the home at the time and heard the gunshots, but did not witness the incident. Bacala says Jaris Howard is facing multiple charges

 

News For Monday 7/21/14


News for Monday 072114

By Dave Graichen

 

Pineville City Marshal Larry Jeane (pronounced Gene) has passed away from injuries suffered Friday afternoon in a two-vehicle collision on Highway 107 in Pineville. Larry Jeane was in his third term as Marshal for Wards 9, 10 & 11, having held that office since 1997. Larry has also served as an adjunct instructor of Criminal Justice at Louisiana College, his alma mater. Larry Jeane has been a resident of Pineville, Louisiana for over 45 years and is a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pineville, where he has served as a member of the Parish Council and the Finance Committee. In a press release from the Mayor’s office, Chief of staff Rich Dupree summed it up by saying “Larry loved to serve and our “Big Brother” will be GREATLY missed!” Funeral arrangements are pending. Larry Jeane was 68.

 

Pineville Police are investigating that Friday afternoon crash in which  city marshal Larry Jeane vehicle crossed the center line on Melrose Street and hit a vehicle carrying four people. The driver of the other vehicle and City Marshall Jeane had to be extricated from their vehicles. A witness to the accident  reported that they observed Marshal Jeane slumped over the steering wheel while his vehicle was crossing over into their lane of travel. No word on the condition of the surviving victims of the crash.

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office says they’ve arrested 13 people during an operation targeting prostitution. Lt. Tommy Carnline says their detectives became suspicious illegal sexual activity was taking place at local hotels when they came across internet advertisements that offered “massages”, “quality time”, and “anything you want”. Carnline says in one night, over 17-hundred dollars was paid and taken as evidence from those soliciting prostitution He says several of those arrested are from various parts of the state including Bossier City and suburban New Orleans.

 

The Wall Street Journal’s business website has listed Lafayette as the happiest city in America. In fact, the top 5 happiest cities are all in Louisiana. Houma was ranked number two, followed by Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and hold your heart, Alexandria. The list was compiled by a Harvard professor.

 

On a not so happy note, For the second month in a row, Louisiana’s jobless rate has grown, and payroll rates have slowed. The U.S. Labor Department reports that unemployment rates went from 4.9 percent to 5 percent in June, which is still well below the nation’s rate at 6.1 percent. The total number of unemployed people in the state is now just above 100 thousand.

 

State Farm has announced the hurricane deductible for home owner policy  holders will go up from 2 to 5 percent. Commissioner of Insurance Jim  Donelon met with State Farm officials and requested that they allow  policy holders in Louisiana the option to buy back down to the two  percent deductible in their policy by paying a higher insurance premium. Donelon says a typical policy holder with  a two percent hurricane deductible on a $150,000 home would pay $3,000  out of pocket before their insurance took effect...

 

 We're another day closer to the start of the school year and because of  the dispute over Common Core a standardized test is not in place for the  upcoming school year. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry  Erwin says a lawsuit needs to be filed, so the judicial system can  determine who has constitutional authority over education policy. Meanwhile, good government group, the Public Affairs Research Council,  has issued a commentary criticizing Governor Jindal for creating a  "crisis in education." PAR President Robert Travis Scott says Jindal's  actions call into question whether he's a reliable leader.

 

Authorities in Sabine Parish are investigating an apparent homicide. The body 49-year-old James Paul Green was found  on the kitchen floor of his burnt home after firefighters extinguished the Blaze.

 

The three day qualifying period for the November 4th election is now  one month away. Thus far the US Senate race between the incumbent  Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill  Cassidy has been an extremely close one according to most polls. LSU  Political Science Professor Dr. Wayne Parent says it's a toss up. In the race for the 6th Congressional District, Parent says even  though a majority of the voters tend to vote Republican, former  democratic governor Edwin Edwards will most certainly make the runoff.

 

A Shreveport researcher has a grant to help produce a potentially cancer  preventing gum. Dr. Cherie-Ann Nathan, with the LSU School of Medicine  in Shreveport, was awarded a $50,000 grant from the LSU System's LIFT2  Program. Nathan says she will use the funds to help produce a gum that  contains curcumin .  Curcumin is a food substance found in the spice turmeric that

reportedly has cancer-preventing qualities.

 

New research shows that stress can be passed on to another person as easily as the common cold. Michele Many, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the LSU School of Medicine says you shouldn’t let yourself be dragged down by someone else’s mood as it just spreads the stress.

 

News For Friday 07/18/14


News for Friday 071814

By Dave Graichen

 

Very  sad  story  out  of  Terrebonne  Parish. State  Police  say  a 31-year-old  mother  and her 3-year-old daughter  died  after  their vehicle was submerged  into  a  canal  in Dularge Wednesday evening. They say Ashely Worrell of Theriot was driving her Nissan Titan when she traveled off the road and entered the  canal.  She and her young child were both pronounced dead.

 

A small child was struck and killed by her father's truck in Bossier  City. The tragic incident occurred Thursday morning as 27-year-old Damion  Dacaldacal (Duh-call-duh-call) was preparing to take his three children  to daycare. Authorities say at some point the man lost track of one of his children, striking his 14-month-old child as he pulled out of the driveway. The case is being treated as a tragic accident, and charges are not expected.

 

Wet weather is expected over much of the state over the next couple of  days.  Donald Jones, with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles,  says this week's rare cold front is moving out of the state and a low  pressure system is moving in from Texas. He says the rainy pattern should last through Saturday evening.  Jones  says the rainfall totals will range from two to three inches, with localized areas possibly getting four inches.

 

 A meeting between Governor Jindal and Education Superintendent John  White does not produce an agreement on where to go from here when it  comes to having a standardized test in place for the upcoming school  year.  This dispute erupted when Governor Jindal used executive authority to  keep tests associated with Common Core out of Louisiana. White says  BESE leaders believe they have the legal authority to determine the type  of standardized test students should take, but the Jindal administration  has made it clear they should be involved in that process. White says legal action may be  needed to settle this impasse...

 

The idea of shifting state money traditionally used to pay for public school education into a fund that would pay for construction at the charter schools chilled some members of the State Bond Commission. The panel of high ranking state officials that oversee borrowing by government agencies asked the not-for-profit corporation running the charter school to delay its request until its officials could answer some of the questions about using part of the the Minimum Foundation Program, called MFP, to repay construction loans. The $3.6 billion MFP is the key source of funding for about 700,000 public school students.

 

The  Louisiana  State Police Retirement System Board is looking into how State Police  Colonel Mike Edmonson and another trooper received a large increase in  retirement  benefits as a result of a bill that passed  in  the  final  hours  of  the legislative  session.  An analysis of the law that passed  shows it will cost the state an extra 300-thousand dollars.  Edmonson  has  told  reporters if an

investigation shows the retirement increase is not legal,  he  won't take the added benefits.

 

According to Forbe's magazine, the New Orleans Saints  are  the 36th most valuable sports team in the world.  The magazine estimates  the Saint's  value  at  just over 1-billion dollars, up from 971-million dollars a year ago.   That  ranks  the Black and Gold 23rd among NFL franchises.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal announces a Chinese firm will  be  building  a $1.85  billion  dollar world-scale methanol manufacturing complex on the Mississippi River  in  St.  James  Parish. Yuhuang Chemical will create over 23 hundred indirect jobs with 400 new direct jobs.

 

Specialty hot sauce makers from around the globe are making their way to Lafayette this weekend for the inaugural Louisiana Hot Sauce Festival, where they hope to introduce hot sauce aficionados to new blends and spicy flavors. Descending upon the shady oaks and Cajun houses of Lafayette’s Acadian Village will be more than 100 vendors, including 30 different hot sauce makers, nine bloody mary mix makers, and arts and crafts makers.

 

Ku  Klux  Klan  recruitment  flyers  are  popping  up  in south Lake Charles.  The flyers are contained in Ziploc bags and residents have found them in their driveway.  The flyers say "Save our  Land,  Join

our  Klan"  and  "Our Race is Our Nation."  There's also a telephone number to call which leads you to this recorded message. The phone number on  the  flyer  has  an  area  code  out  of  North

Carolina.   Lake  Charles  Police say they are investigating, but they point out the KKK or any group is entitled to freedom of speech.

 

Unbelievable.  That's  just  one of the words used by Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith to describe  the  case  of a local store owner who found  one  of his company checks missing, and  later  discovered  a

store employee  forging  it  to  receive services from a prostitute. The  surveillance video clearly showed  24  year  old  Charles  West involved  in  a  sexual  act  inside the store.  He was charged with theft, forgery and solicitation of a prostitute.

News For Thursday 07/17/14


News for Thursday 071714

By Dave Graichen

 

A  Deville man has been arrested after a search of  his  home  found over  a  pound  of  methamphetamine.   The  Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office  believe 60-year-old Johnny Campbell was  possibly  supplying several local  dealers  in  addition  to  selling  small  quantities himself.   Campbell  is  charged  with possession of methamphetamine over 400 grams. The street value according to the sheriff’s department, $47k

 

After a full day of investigation, the Louisiana State Police has determined  a bomb scare at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette was a hoax. The  threat was called in to a local television station early yesterday  morning. State Police spokesperson Brooks David (DAH-veed) says  technicians examined the suspicious device and rendered it safe.  David says the device authorities found was packaged to look real. A  second suspicious object was found on campus, but they determined it had

 nothing to do with the situation. He says the investigation is  definitely ongoing.  The UL-Lafayette campus is back to normal operations today.

 

BESE leaders offer a final compromise to settle the Common Core dispute.  Because of an impasse between Governor Jindal and Education Supt John  White, a standardized test is not in place for the upcoming school year.  BESE president Chas Roemer proposes the department of education issue a request for proposals for a new testing contract.  Roemer hopes the bidding process and approval of a contract can be  completed in 90 days. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says BESE is taking the  right approach. But she advises the education department to consider  input from the governor, before the bids go out.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration says the Department of Education appears to have repeatedly sidestepped requirements of Louisiana procurement laws on testing contracts. The criticisms were levied in a letter sent Wednesday to Education Superintendent John White, in an ongoing dispute over testing aligned with the Common Core education standards. The allegations involve contracts that go back over 11 years, covering three superintendents, and that earlier were approved by the governor’s contractual review office.The Jindal administration started digging into the education department’s testing contracts after the governor sought to stop Louisiana’s use of the Common Core and its tests.

 

The head of the state Department of Veterans Affairs announced Wednesday, Long awaited veterans’ clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles could receive federal authorization within the next couple weeks. Secretary David LaCerte, who is visiting Washington during a two-day trip, said he received assurances from members of the veterans affairs panels in the U.S. House and Senate that the Lafayette and Lake Charles clinics would stay in the legislation that is being worked over in conference committee. The finalized bill is expected to be on the president’s desk before the August recess.

 

A husband and wife are accused in a cross country bank robbery spree that  ended  with their arrests in West Carroll Parish.  34-year-old April Elizabeth  Johnson and 26-year-old Jonathan James Johnson were arrested by the West Carroll Parish Sheriff's Office.

 

Three  candidates  in  the  5th  District  Congressional  race  have reportedly  raised  over 100-thousand dollars, while incumbent Vance McAllister only has 48-hundred dollars in his campaign account.  ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says it's not surprising to see a slow start when it comes to fundraising for this race. The three candidates  that  raised  over  100-thousand  dollars  are Monroe  businessman Harris Brown, "Duck Dynasty" cousin Zach Dasher, and Richland  Parish  physician Dr. Ralph Abraham.  Stockley expects the  fundraising totals  to  pick  up  after  candidates  officially qualify for the race next month.

 

Louisiana State Police say a former police  officer  in  Oakdale  is under arrest for allegedly having sex with a juvenile while on duty. 25-year-old  Skylar Frank was fired from his job after being accused

of the allegation  in  May.  He  was  booked  Tuesday into the Allen Parish  jail for felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile  as  well  as malfeasance in office.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has seized, on  paper, nine large cats at the Yogie & Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary in  the northwest Louisiana town of Frierson. The owner, Jenny Senier, has  been cited for having the animals without a permit. LDWF spokesman Bo  Behringer says the site also failed inspection.

News For Wednesday 07/16/14


News for Wednesday 071614

By Dave Graichen

 

Even though we're in the heart of summertime, Louisiana had an unusual  cold front move in beginning yesterday afternoon and overnight. State  Climatologist Barry Keim says most of the state should be feeling the  effects of this system, with a slight drop in temperatures but a  dramatic drop in humidity.  Keim says unfortunately the temperature and humidity will start to  rebound tomorrow, and we'll basically be back to normal on Friday.

 

The 2014 Louisiana Annual Sales Tax Holiday has  been set for August 1st  and  2nd.  The holiday exempts most retail purchases  from  the 4-percent state  sales  tax.   Local  sales  taxes  will still apply during the event unless the local taxing authority waives the fees.

 

The  New Orleans Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham have finally come to an agreement on a long-term contract.  As first reported by ESPN, Graham  will get 40 million dollars over the next four years with 21 million dollars  guaranteed.   NFL  Analyst  Mike Detillier believes Graham is worth every penny and this is a win-win  for the Black and Gold and the tight end. This is the richest deal in the history of the NFL for a tight end.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal made his case Tuesday for shaping debate in the mid-term elections by offering conservatives a stinging analysis of the federal Affordable Care Act. Jindal, a possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, released his policy document just hours after news broke that he is headed to New Hampshire in September. The governor told Time magazine that any decision about running for president will come after Thanksgiving. The magazine writer marveled at Jindal’s “oversized New Orleans Saints belt buckle” and “thick Cajun drawl.”

 

Campaign  finance  reports show Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger  Bill Cassidy are nearly neck-and-neck when it comes to how much money they have available in this year's US Senate race.  Landrieu reports  6.2  million dollars on hand, while Cassidy says  he  has  5.8  million  dollars. Cassidy's  campaign  reports  they  raised over 1.6 million  dollars during the second quarter, while Landrieu  has  raised  2.1 million.

 

Former New  Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has reportedly filed a notice of appeal on his  conviction  of bribery and other charges by a federal jury  in  February.  Last week  Nagin  received  a  10  year  prison sentence for  his  crimes.  The filing does not give reasons for the appeal.

 

The Calcasieu Parish  Sheriff's Office says they are looking for the person who tried to steal  an  ATM  with  a  forklift  from a nearby construction  site.  They  say  it  occurred  in the earlt morning hours yesterday. The suspect rammed the ATM numerous times but, was unable  to gain access and no cash was stolen.

 

Wi-Fi communications may improve soon in Louisiana Schools.  The FCC has approved a plan to funnel $2 billion over the next two years for high-speed  wireless  connectivity in public and private schools and libraries.  The Schools  and  Libraries  Program  gives  up  to a 90 percent discount on telecommunications and internet access costs.

 

The  St.  Martin  Parish Sheriff's office says they arrested a drunk man at a truck stop  who  called  the  cops to report he'd planted a bomb in the facility. They say the suspect, 55-year-old Joseph Quinn of Parks refused to cooperate or identify himself. No bomb was found and  Parks  was  booked with terrorizing, disturbing  the  peace  by intoxication and battery of a police officer.

 

The St. John Parish Sheriff's  Office  has  a Slidell man in custody after being caught with 120 pounds of marijuana while traveling with three children.  Deputies found the drugs after conducting a traffic

stop  in  LaPlace.  33-year-old Adam Landry was  booked  on  several charges including possession of marijuana.

 

Narcotics  agents  in St. Landry Parish have arrested two people for allegedly selling synthetic  marijuana  to  undercover  agents  at a convenience  store  in  Opelousas.   Store  owner and  a  store employee were taken into custody as a result of the operation.

 

The Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal stayed a ruling Tuesday that, less than 24 hours earlier, had ordered a Donaldsonville man to serve out an unfulfilled two-year prison sentence stemming from a 19-year-old negligent homicide conviction. On July 10, 1995, Stanley White pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of negligent homicide following an alcohol-related crash on Airline Highway near Gonzales that had killed a 10-week-old girl nearly a year earlier. Though convicted, white was never call to serve his time. In the interim, White, who was 19 at the time of the accident, has earned a college degree, has held a job and has never again been in trouble with the law. No word yet as to when his next hearing will be..

 

 

 

News For Tuesday 07/15/14


News for Tuesday 071514

By Dave Graichen

 

The Grant Parish sheriff’s office reports 17-year-old Alexandra Goodman of Colfax and three juveniles have been arrested in connection with the burglary of a church in the Hudson Creek community. Goodman was charged with simple burglary of a religious building, two counts of simple criminal damage to property, and two counts of criminal damage to property by defacing with graffiti. The three juveniles were also charged with the crimes. During the incident authorities report fecal matter was spread on the walls of the church.

 

The Pineville Police Department has filed a number of charges against an Alexandria man arrested Friday in connection to a string of purse-snatchings in the area. Pineville police charged 36 year old Desmond Price Monday with second-degree robbery, simple burglary, aggravated flight from a police officer, reckless operation of a vehicle and no driver’s license. The Pineville Report  that the second-degree robbery charge applied not only to the purse-snatching, but to the violent act committed against the victim, who told police she was knocked unconscious by the assailant before he stole purse. 

 

ESPN is reporting today the much-criticized expose by Sports Illustrated last fall on NCAA violations within the Oklahoma State football program, which included LSU coach Les Miles’ time there from 2001-04, is apparently accurate enough for one governing body to take a closer look. The NCAA is investigating Oklahoma State for possible rules violations in its football program. Miles, who was 28-21 with the Cowboys with three bowl appearances after inheriting a program that had losing seasons in 11 of 12 previous seasons, was portrayed by SI as helping start a stampede of sex, drugs and cash at the Stillwater, Oklahoma, campus.

 

Republican state lawmaker Paul  Hollis  announced Monday he's dropped out  of  Louisiana's  Senate race. Hollis says he came to his decision after "prayer and thoughtful consideration".  Recent  polls  showed Hollis had very low name recognition and very little support among voters. Hollis's decision leaves Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness as the two main Republican challengers to Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu.

 

Retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness says his strength as a candidate  in this year's US Senate race is that he's not a career politician.  Maness talked about his candidacy during a speaking event in Baton Rouge  and said if elected he'll hold himself to just two terms and work to  develop solutions to solve the country's problems. Maness is one of two main Republican challengers to Democratic incumbent  Mary Landrieu. Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy is the other  Republican candidate.

 

State regulators let payday lenders slide on more than 8,000 “major violations,” according to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, a lapse that had at least one lawmaker Monday formally requesting a joint legislative investigation. The state Office of Financial Institutions failed to assess any penalties against payday lenders found to have violated state law between Jan. 1, 2010, and June 30, 2013, according to a report. The audit found that 163 lenders committed 8,315 violations during the time period, including 8,082 that were considered “major,” in that they involved overcharging borrowers.

 

New Orleans senator JP Morrell has called on the Board of Regents to  create a report detailing the number of sexual assaults reported across  state colleges over the last five years. Morrell is seeking information  after a national survey found that many college campuses are not doing   a good enough job addressing the problem.  US senator Claire McCaskill's report calls into question just how  effective colleges and universities are at handling potential sexual  assault cases.  Morrell is asking

the Board of Regents to turn this information over to the state  legislature by September 15th

 

The hot political issue across the country is immigration reform and  Senator David Vitter wants to hear what you think about the topic. The  Senator will be holding a Facebook chat this afternoon at 1:30 to answer  your questions. Vitter says to join in, all you have to do is log on to  his Facebook page.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is leasing the rights to a state-owned parking garage for $2 million to help balance Louisiana’s budget, a deal that appears to have the state taking a loss for the cash up front. The 91-year lease will generate less money than the state paid for the garage, while also giving away possibly millions of dollars the state stood to receive in parking revenue over the life of the contract. The arrangement is part of a Jindal administration trend of leasing and selling state property to patch short-term budget gaps.

 

Louisiana erroneously claimed more than $7 million in bonus payments related to its children’s health insurance program which need to be repaid. A federal inspector general’s report concludes the state Medicaid program “overstated” program enrolment , including ineligible individuals, in requests to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. DHH press secretary Olivia Watkins said the agency became aware of the “administrative error” and has corrected it.

 

The  Orleans  Parish  DA's  office  says  the suspect in the Bourbon Street  shooting  is now back in Louisiana sitting  in  the  Orleans Parish jail. Governor Bobby Jindal signed an order which started the extradition process  for  20-year-old Trung Le who was in custody in Gulfport, Mississippi. Le, who is from Belle Chasse, was booked with one count of first-degree murder  and  nine counts of attempted first degree murder. The search for the second suspect continues.

 

A sugar cane mill constructed in 2006 in Jefferson  Davis Parish, at the  request  of  then Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom,  ended  up costing  taxpayers  71-million   dollars.    That's   according   to

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera. Odom  predicted  the  state  owned  mill  would  yield  a profit and

agriculture  employees  were  used  to construct the facility.   But Purpera says the mill was in operation  for  only  two months before current Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain sold it  for scrap late last year. The  audit  says Strain sold the sugar syrup mill  for  5.7  million dollars in October, but the state spent nearly 77-million dollars to build it.

 

A Crowley man is dead following  a  shooting in the early morning hours of Monday. Crowley Police report that -after the  call  of  shots being fired - twenty-three year-old Ryan Gums was found inside a  residence.  Gums died  later  at  a  local  hospital.  Police  and the Acadia  Parish Sheriff's Office are on the hunt for the shooter.

 

In Tangipahoa Parish, a tracker trailer has collided with an Amtrack passenger train in Amite.   The  driver  of  the  truck -who was not identified  -  was taken to the hospital with undisclosed  injuries. None of the 139  passengers  on the Southbound "City of New Orleans" passenger  train  were  injured,   and  they  were  bused  to  their destinations.

 

The Army Corps Of Engineers say they will being dredging 20 miles of the Calcasieu River starting  in  the  fall.  They  say the first 10 miles will be dredged over 6 months with the second stretch expected

to begin in fall of 2015.

 

According  to  a  report from the  NFL  Network,  Jimmy  Graham  has appealed the arbitration  ruling  that designated him as a tight end and not a wide receiver.  The appeal  does  not  affect the deadline for him to negotiate a new contract with the Saints, which is 3PM This afternoon.  If a deal is not made by the deadline,  Graham will have to play under the franchise tag or sit out the season.

 

 

News For Monday 7/14/14


News for Monday 071414

By Dave Graichen

 

Many wonder if the Rapides Parish Coliseum renovation project will ever get under way. The $20 million-plus project is on hold yet again while the Rapides Parish Police Jury and the city of Alexandria try to reach an agreement necessary for the project to move forward. At issue is a large portion of the Coliseum property that is co-owned by the city and the parish. The parish must secure an agreement to use that property for parking for construction to commence. To obtain building permits, Alliance Design had to show its design meets city code for number of parking spaces available in relation to the new arena’s seating capacity. To do that, clear ownership of the parking area or an agreement to use the area must be established. Both sides, the city and the parish are pointing the finger of blame at each other for the latest delay.

 

Louisiana is among a handful of states that showed an increase in its number of troubled bridges in recent years, but officials of the state Department of Transportation and Development decline to say where they are located. DOTD officials rejected a June 13 public records request from The Baton Rouge Advocate for a list of the 1,827 bridges, 14 percent of the total statewide, rated as “structurally deficient” under a scoring system created by the federal government.  The condition of our bridges, many half a century old and older, has been criticized for years, including in a 2012 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers. That review gave the state’s bridges a rating of “D-plus.”

 

The  state  department  of education reports for the third year in a row the state's high school  graduation  rate  has  increased. State Education  Superintendent  John  White says for the class  of  2013, 74-percent graduated in four years  a  12-percentage  point increase from 2001. White says while it's encouraging to see the graduation  rate  rise, they still have a long way to go.

 

Once again there's a poll out showing that Congressman  Bill Cassidy and  incumbent  Senator  Mary  Landrieu  are  neck  and neck in  the upcoming  Senate race. The survey of 750 voters has Landriu  leading Cassidy 46-43 percent. Two other candidates  in  the race, Republicans Rob Maness and State Representative Paul Hollis, were not included in this poll.

 

A Thibodaux Police Department officer  videotaped  himself locked in his patrol car for just 10 minutes to illustrate how  dangerous  the heat  can  become  inside  in  just  a  short  period  of  time. The

Department  posted the video on YouTube and a day later it had  over 30,000 views.  Officer David Melancon said he became miserable after just 20 seconds. There  have  been  several  stories in the news lately about parents forgetting their kids were inside  the  car on hot days, which could lead to death.  Melancon says children and pets should never be left in hot cars, even for just a few minutes.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has  signed  a governor's warrant to extradite the  Bourbon  Street  shooting  suspect  from  a  Mississippi  jail. 20-year-old Trung Le was arrested  in  Gulfport  a  week ago and has resisted being sent back to Louisiana. Mississippi's  governor  must approve  the  warrant. Authorities say that could take weeks or even months.

 

The Common Core debate rages on with no apparent solution in sight.  State education superintendent John White says something needs to be done because there is still no standardized test in place for next school year. He says we're four  and a half weeks away from the first day of school and they still have  no direction. BESE thought it would be moving forward with the Common Core test  until Governor Jindal said he would use an executive order to cancel  the contract.

 

Parking and access at the Louisiana State Capitol is about to become a  little more difficult for visitors. A $4.3 million dollar project to  improve security around the building began last week. State Office of  Facility Planning Director Mark Moses says this will do more than just  add more security measures. It includes the installation of four security  posts and vehicles will be routed further away from the building. Moses  these upgrades will make the capitol a more pedestrian-friendly  campus. Work is expected to be completed next March, a few weeks before the 2015  legislative session is scheduled to begin. 

 

The  Palmetto  man  who  was accused of driving drunk  when  he  got involved in a road rage fueled  2011 crash that claimed the lives of 5 people on I-10 in Baton Rouge,  has been found guilty. On Friday a jury convicted David Leger of 5 counts  of  vehicular  homicide. The tragic  head-on  collision and fire killed two women and 3  children ages 3, 7 and 11.  Leger  faces  up to 30 years in prison on each of the 5 charges.

 

The SEC Media Days get underway today in Hoover, Alabama. Lyn Scarbrough  of Lindy's Magazine says some big storylines will develop over the next  four days. Many expect Alabama will win the SEC and play in the national  title game, even with a new QB this season.  LSU head coach Les Miles is scheduled to take the podium Wednesday  afternoon. Scarbrough sees LSU, Auburn, and Alabama as the top teams in  the SEC west.  In the east, he goes with Georgia and South Carolina.

 

LSU Football officials have  announced that Tiger Stadium is now the nation's fifth largest college football venue with a capacity of 102,321. They say the south end zone expansion will move LSU's Death Valley to the No. 2 in the SEC behind only Tennessee which has about 100 more seats

 

 

News For Friday 07/11/14


News for Friday 071114

By Dave Graichen

 

The  Board  of  Elementary  and  Secondary Education leaders offer a solution in the dispute with Governor Jindal over Common Core.  BESE President Chas Roemer says they are  proposing  to  use  LEAP  tests again  this  upcoming  school  year,  but  the  exams  will  contain questions  from  the  PARCC  exam,  which  is associated with Common Core. Roemer says the PARCC questions used on standardized tests next year will  be ones that Louisiana helped develop. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says  BESE's proposal is  undoable  because  contracts with the testing firms are not in place.

 

A recent survey asked Louisiana voters what issue is most important in  deciding how you will vote for Congress this year. The survey, conducted  by Harper Polling, shows the economy as the top issue for voters. UL-  Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says that result is  not surprising. Cross was surprised that Obamacare was listed as the number two concern  for voters. He doesn't see Obamacare as a real issue in Louisiana by and  large. The poll surveyed 506 likely voters. They also asked voters if things in  the country are going in the right direction. 66-percent of respondents feel the country is moving on the wrong track.

 

The Pelican State is once again getting more recognition as a hotbed for entertainment  as  several  Louisiana  filmed series earned Emmy nominations  including the HBO series "True  Detective",  which received  12.   Top Chef, which had some New Orleans  episodes, was nominated as was

The Big Easy based show "Treme" and "American Horror Story:  Coven". We'll find out who wins on August 25th.

 

As we begin to close out the summer driving season, the price at the pump  is  expected  to  dramatically decline.  The current statewide average price for a gallon  of  regular  gasoline is $3.46, down two cents from a week ago.  Gasbuddy-dot-com Senior  Petroleum  Analyst, Patrick  DeHaan, says gas prices in Louisiana could go down as  much as ten cents a gallon by August. He says you  can  attribute this to the cooling tensions in Iraq and Hurricane Arthur, which turned out to be no big deal.

 

A survey released  by  Harper  Polling finds 88-percent of Louisiana residents say the nation's immigration  laws  need to be fixed.  Dr. Sue Weishar, a migration specialist at Loyola University,  says  the current  rules  keep  thousands  of  foreign born college grads with science,  technology,  engineering, and  math  skills  from  gaining employment. The  poll  also  found 58-percent  of  the  respondents  support  an immigration reform  plan  that  would  secure the borders and expand visas for high-skilled workers and allow  young  people  brought to the   US   illegally   by  their  parents  an  opportunity  to  earn citizenship.

 

St. Landry Parish judge,  Donald  Hebert, passed away Wednesday night due to heart failure.  Hebert was one of four judges in 27th Judicial District, a one-parish judicial  district  that  served St. Landry Parish. Judge Hebert was 65.

 

Wednesday, two different  Union  Pacific  trains struck two different people in Acadiana, with one resulting  in  a  death.  In St. Landry Parish near LeBeau, an unidentified man was struck  and  killed, and in  Basile,  a  12  year-old  on  a  bicycle  was seriously injured when he was struck. The   investigations  on  both  accidents  are continuing.

 

The famous Lasyone's (Lassie-On) Meat Pie Kitchen in Natchitoches will  be featured on a new syndicated show which is scheduled to air this  fall called "Flip My Food with Chef Jeff." The television crew was in  town this week filming with the Meat Pie Kitchen  owner, Chef  Angela Lasyone.  Lasyone says in each episode, Chef Jeff meets with people to show them  how to "flip" their favorite dishes into dining experiences that are healthier. Lasyone says their episode of "Flip My Food with Chef Jeff" will air  on the Food Network either in September or October.

 

 New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick is in Shreveport this weekend  and not everyone is happy about it.  Vick will be hosting "The Michael  Vick Comedy Explosion" at the Strand Theatre Saturday night.  Local  animal rights activists plan to protest the event.  Local attorney Dan  Keele says the protest is against the venue for hosting the show.  But there are some who welcome Vick to Shreveport.  A "Forgiveness Rally" will take place at the Strand before the comedy show. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News For Thursday 07/10/14


News for Thursday 071014

By Dave Graichen

 

As expected, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo in Alexandria yesterday to announce his candidacy for the 5th Congressional District seat. The 57 year old Mayo barely missed a runoff in last year’s special election for the 5th Congressional District seat. He’s hoping to be the only Democrat in the race this year, which would better position him for a runoff spot and possibly victory in the general election.

The 5th District’s current congressman, Vance McAllister is seeking re-election. The primary election is set for Nov. 4.

 

Former  New  Orleans  Mayor  Ray Nagin was sentenced to ten years in federal prison yesterday on charges  of  bribery,  money laundering, and fraud.  Nagin was convicted in February for accepting  thousands  of dollars  in  bribes from businessmen who were seeking city contracts or favors from  Nagin. Nagin was ordered to report  to  the  federal  prison  in Oakdale by September 8.

 

A Provencal man was fired from his position as a Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's correctional officer after being arrested Tuesday on forcible rape and malfeasance in office charges. 28 year old Lindsey  Hoke was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center after an investigation into a complaint filed on Friday by a female inmate. An investigation is continuing.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal and the Department of Education announce the  state school voucher program awarded more than 8,800 student with vouchers to  attend a school of their choice for the upcoming school year. That's  nearly 3,800 more vouchers than were issued just two years ago. The vouchers were awarded for student attendance at 133 participating  schools in 30 parishes across the state.   The program received more than 13,000 applications for vouchers for the  upcoming school year - up by 1,000 applications from last year.

 

With about a year and a half left to go in his second term, Governor  Bobby Jindal's approval rating is at 32-percent. That's according to  Public Policy Polling, which surveyed over six-hundred registered voters  in Louisiana. Pollster Tom Jensen says Jindal continues to have the  worst poll numbers of just about any elected official in the country. Jindal is considering a possible run for President in 2016. But Jensen  says their poll of Louisiana voters shows he would not do well in a  republican presidential primary in his home state.

 

Louisiana State Police say two people who worked at public works for Iberia Parish  died  in  a tragic accident Tuesday afternoon. They say 48-year-old Ross Migues of Lydia and 57-year-old Jody Anthony of St. Martinville were putting up signs on the road when they were hit by their own work truck after it was hit by a car that went into the shoulder. This crash remains under investigation.

 

Louisiana State Police says a 4-year-old who stepped into the middle of  Highway  165  in Monroe shortly before 10pm Tuesday night, was struck and killed  by  a vehicle.  Trooper Albert  Paxton  says  the  investigation  revealed 45-year-old  Marvin  Jones  was traveling north on Hwy 165 when  his vehicle  ran  over  the little girl.   He  says  troopers  suspected impairment on part of the driver. Jones was arrested for 1st offense DWI. But, here’s where the story gets strange,  Jones submitted to an alcohol  breath  test  and  was  found to have a .06 blood alcohol content which is below the legal limit of .08. No word as to what a 4 year old was doing in the middle of a major highway at 10pm.

 

Police  in  Baton  Rouge  say a man and woman are under  arrest  for allegedly going gambling and  leaving  their  children behind in the Bell  of  Baton Rouge Casino Hotel. Apparently the  two  were  found roaming the  halls  and  told police they'd seen their parents hours earlier. The suspects were discovered to have been in the casino and they were booked for child desertion.

 

The 19th annual Manning Passing Academy, which brings in athletes from  across the country to Nicholls State University to work on their game,  kicks off today. The Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce estimates the event  has a nearly $2 million economic impact for their area. President and CEO Kathy Benoit says this is a tremendous event for the city. Not only does the camp bring in 1200 students and a staff  of about 120 pro football athletes, but their families also come in  for the 4 day event and they fill hotels and take big advantage of  their time in Thibodaux.

 

 

News For Wednesday 07/09/14


News For Wednesday 070914

By Dave Graichen

 

State police report a Jena woman died Tuesday when she crashed and was ejected from her SUV. Killed was 47 year old Amy Webb. Troopers say Webb was heading south on LA 127 shortly after noon when accident took place. It’s believed she lost control and ran off the road. The vehicle overturned several times. Webb was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

The Alexandria City Council yesterday temporarily lifted a moratorium on new bingo halls. Lifting the moratorium means that new bingo sites can be established within a 120-day period by meeting regulations and permitting requirements. After that 120-day period, a moratorium would be put back into place. Passage of the resolution is expected to lead to Alexandria Country Day School moving its bingo operations from their current Lee St. location to the former Carroll Furniture store building on Memorial Drive.

 

Louisiana  legislators  will  not  try  to  override any of Governor Jindal's 12 vetoes from the most recent legislative  session.   Both the  House  and  Senate  voted  to  cancel the veto override session

scheduled to start this week.  The legislature  has  never held this session  since the current state constitution was enacted  40  years ago.

 

A recent poll shows most Louisiana voters still oppose same-sex  marriage.  Public Policy Polling surveyed 664 registered voters. The  poll shows 55 percent of respondents are against same-sex marriage in  Louisiana, while 32 percent are in support. But Pollster Tom Jensen says  attitudes are changing. He says these numbers show a 12 point shift in favor of gay marriage  compared to a year ago. The poll shows that 62 percent of Louisiana  voters at least support civil unions for same-sex couples.

 

Louisiana is seeing its first human cases of the west Nile virus this  year. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has discovered  three cases so far, all in Livingston parish. State Epidemiologist Dr.  Raoult Ratard says the three cases were Asymptomatic, meaning they were not showing symptoms of the virus. The first cases of West Nile this year were discovered later than usual,  which may lead to a lower number of infections, but Dr. Ratard still  urges people to take simple steps to keep themselves safe from  mosquitos.

 

The U. S. Department of Education  says a new state law that will allow special education students a different route to a high school diploma may violate federal laws and jeopardize Louisiana’s public school aid. The measure, House Bill 1015, breezed through the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal last month. But it has triggered a split in the state’s special education community and criticism from national advocacy organizations, which have blasted the legislation and said it would pave the way for low standards for students with disabilities. Officials of the U.S. Department of Education, in a letter to state Superintendent of Education John White, made some of the same points as those raised by the national groups.

 

Based  on  results  from  a monthly survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business,  small  business owners are less optimistic about the direction of the economy  as  they were earlier this year.  Dawn Starns, state director of the NFIB, says their June Optimism  Index  fell  one-point-six  point,  ending  a three  month rise. She  says  the growing lack of confidence with the nation's  economy could lead small  business  owners  to  put plans to expand and grow their workforce on hold.

 

Today is the day that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is set to be  sentenced in federal court on 20 criminal counts including bribery,  money laundering and fraud.  Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino. Says It'll be up to US District Judge Helen Berrigan and given  the gravity of the crimes Nagin is accused of, the 58-year-old could  face as much as 20 years behind bars. Nagin was convicted of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from city contractors for various projects following Hurricane Katrina.

 

Louisiana State Police detectives on Tuesday arrested an employee of the state Office of Motor Vehicles in Hammond on counts of felony theft and malfeasance in office. An audit conducted by OMV found that during a nearly two-year period the employee manipulated the agency’s computer databases to show that insurance fee payments were made, but she kept more than $15,000 of the money for herself.

 

A  recent  audit  finds  that 12 guns and 39 bulletproof vests which belong to the state Department  of Public Safety disappeared between 2010  and  2014  and  have  not  been  located.    First   Assistant

Legislative  Auditor Paul Pendas says these are sensitive items  and the department should have better control over them so they don't go missing in the first place. He says they now  are required to take quarterly inventory audits of items such as weapons, vests, and radios.

 

The Kenner Police Department says they got a 911 call Early Yesterday Morning from  a child reporting their parents were fighting and the mom had shot the dad. Police report a male was discovered inside the home shot multiple times and he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The couple's children were inside the home at the time of the shooting and they range in age from 4 to 14. No charges have been filed yet in this case as authorities work to figure out  what exactly happened that lead up to the shooting.

 

Once again Tiger Stadium is getting major props. In a poll conducted by Athlon Sports released  Monday,  Death  Valley in Baton Rouge has been ranked as the best college football stadium  -AND- the one with the  best  atmosphere.  Tiger Stadium easily outpaced  Ohio  Stadium which came in at NO. 2.

 

 

News For Tuesday 07/08/14


News for Tuesday 070814

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides  Parish  Sheriff's  Office says a man is behind bars for allegedly shooting and killing his  mother.  Lt  Tommy Carnline says they  got  the  report  of  the  shooting from the suspect  himself,

52-year-old Rodney Thompson of Pitkin, Saturday morning.  Seventy-four year old Gennieve (jah  NEEV) Ashworth died Sunday at a local hospital.  Thompson was taken into custody without incident. He has been booked on first degree murder charges in the death of his mother.

 

The Alexandria City Council will meet today  to consider a resolution regarding the moratorium on new bingo halls. The proposed ordinance would lifting all Moratoria regarding Bingo Halls and expansion of gaming, plus regulating and franchising bingo halls and gaming, charitable or for profit, within the City limits. That meeting starts at 5 in the Council Chambers.

 

A  state  audit  has  found that nearly $1.3 million in federal food benefits were used in Louisiana  after  the  legal  recipients died. Legislative  Auditor  Daryl  Purpera  says  benefits for over  3,900

single-person households were spent after the  participant's  death. The  Department  of Children and Family Services, who administer the benefits,  has   entered  into  a  formal  agreement  with  the

Department  of  Health  and   Hospitals   to   receive  more  timely information about deaths in Louisiana. They hope  this  will  reduce the time it takes to determine a recipient's death.

 

In another report.. The state wrongly paid $2.7 million for Medicaid health insurance for prisoners over a nearly two-year period. The questionable spending occurred in the Jindal administration’s new privatized Medicaid programs — Bayou Health and the Behavioral Health Partnership. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office had earlier found DHH making Medicaid payments for dead people during the same period.

 

Governor  Bobby  Jindal  and Enquero executives announced today that the company will open a new  facility  in Lafayette that will create 350 new jobs over the next three years.   This will be the company's first  outsourcing  site  outside  of  Silicon  Valley.    Louisiana Economic  Development  estimates this move will create an additional 350 plus new indirect jobs for the area.

 

A third man has been charged in connection to the case of a missing man whose remains were believed to have been discovered last week in Vernon Parish. 28 year old Matthew Andrews of New Llano, was arrested and was booked into the Vernon Parish Jail. Andrews was charged with being an accessory after the fact to second-degree murder, his bond has been set at  $75,000. The charge is related to the case of James Stephens, a Rosepine man who has been missing since March 29.

 

According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers  University, our state legislature has the lowest representation of  women in the nation for the second year in a row. Of the 144 members  of the state legislature, just 18 are women. Louisiana has just 12.5% women lawmakers and the national percentage  of state legislators who are women is 24.2%.

 

The Houma Police Department has identified the  man they believe was shot in the head by another man who was upset about  being  woken up at  3am.  They  say  29-year-old  James  Rube  was  banging  on  his ex-girlfriend's  door and a neighbor, 58-year-old Ray Carlos, walked over and allegedly  shot  the  victim  in the head for waking him up. Carlos was charged with  one  count  of 2nd Degree murder.

 

The suspect in last week's Bourbon Street shooting is refusing to be extradited from Mississippi.  20-year-old Trung  Le  of Belle Chasse was arrested in Gulfport Friday.  Governor Bobby Jindal will have to issue  a  request  for  Le's  transfer to Mississippi Governor  Phil Bryant.  Officials say that could take a few months.

 

Louisiana State Police have arrested an Opelousas man after a single vehicle accident north of  Krotz  Springs  claimed  the  life  of an Opelousas  woman  and  hospitalized  two  others.   Authorities  say

28-year-old  Nicholas  Lafleur allegedly lost control of his vehicle and  struck  a  tree.  54-year-old  Judy  Stelly  of  Opelousas  was pronounced dead at a local hospital.  They say impairment appears to be a factor in the crash.  Lafleur is charged with DWI and vehicular homicide, among other charges.

 

State Police are searching for a vehicle that struck and killed a  bicyclist in Lafayette Parish. The hit and run occurred on LA 92 at  Mermentau (Mer-men-tow) Road just east of Milton Monday morning.

Master Trooper Brooks David (Dah-veed) says as of now, they have no  information on who hit 30-year-old Lon Lomas of Youngsville.

 

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested a Thibodaux woman who  runs  an animal rescue organization after her 3-year-old  child and several  dogs were found living in filthy conditions. Authorities say when deputies entered the home of Danielle Morgan they noticed a large  amount  of  feces  all over  the  floor.   He  says  not  only was the child walking in the feces, deputies also noticed scratches on the child that appeared to have been made by an animal.  He says  the toddler was released into the care of a family member.

 

 The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections is working  with the clothing store Men's Warehouse to provide professional attire  to inmates through a clothing drive. DPSC spokesperson Pam Laborde says  that its an important step in helping inmates reintegrate into the  workforce. Laborde says if you have any business attire that you don't plan on  wearing again, consider donating those items to Men's Warehouse stores  throughout the state. The clothing drive ends July 31st. Laborde says that having at least one  nice set of clothing can makes a big difference for the soon-to-be-released inmates.

 

 

News For Thursday 07/03/14


News for Thursday 070314

By Dave Graichen

 

At a public meeting yesterday in Leesville, the mode was somewhat somber. The message, The public must take action to help save Fort Polk from a 60 percent troop reduction that would devastate the Central Louisiana economy. Michael Reese, chairman of Fort Polk Progress, a nonprofit group that supports the Army base in Vernon Parish said the cuts would decimate the economy here in Central Louisiana. Jon Grafton executive director of the England Authority pointed out that this is as serious as it gets. Fort Polk possibly could lose about 6,500 personnel from its military population of close to 11,000. All involved yesterday emphasized that the public must write letters and send emails to show support for keeping Fort Polk’s troop strength at current levels.

 

Attorney Robert "Bob" Levy has ended his campaign for the Division G seat in the 9th Judicial District Court. Levy cited the recent candidacy announcement of incumbent Judge Harry Randow as the reason for his withdrawal.

 

The Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control issued 40 citations to Central Louisiana businesses since the agency’s Summer Crackdown operation began June 2. Dozens of businesses were cited, some more than once,  for selling alcohol and tobacco to minors. Businesses doing so are subject to criminal and administrative charges and face fines and penalties that could result in suspension or revocation of their alcohol and tobacco permits. The complete list of the businesses can be found in today’s “Town Talk”.

 

Now, here’s an interesting twist in the battle between the BESE board and Governor Jindal over common core. The state education board announced earlier this week it’s plan to hire attorneys for advice on a possible lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal. Here’s the twist, The contract for special legal counsel appears to need the governor's approval.  Under Louisiana law, state agencies, boards and commissions that hire outside lawyers must get written approval from the attorney general and the governor. Board President Chas Roemer said the two law firms selected for the work have agreed to represent the education board for free, which gives the Jindal administration no room to argue over payment structure.

 

A new poll on  Louisiana's  US  Senate  race  shows  it's a toss-up. Democratic  incumbent  Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger  Bill Cassidy each had 47-percent  of  the  vote  in  a potential run-off, according to a survey conducted by Public Policy  Polling.  Pollster Tom  Jensen  gives a slight edge to Cassidy, because  of  Landrieu's poor approval ratings. In the Senate  primary,  the  Public  Policy  Polling  survey  shows Landrieu  with  44-percent  of  the vote, Cassidy at 27-percent, and other Republican challengers Rob  Maness  and Paul Hollis had single digit support.

 

Authorities say Jonesville man died after the ultralight aircraft he was piloting crashed near Wallace Lake. Catahoula Parish Sheriff James Kelly said 56-year-old Richard Stafford was flying the aircraft on an apparent pleasure trip when he struck the top of a tree and crashed approximately five miles north of Jonesville The crash happened around 8 p.m. Monday evening.

 

Authorities  say  a 21-year-old victim in the Sunday morning Bourbon Street shooting has  died.   Brittany Thomas of Hammond succumbed to her injuries this afternoon.   A total of 10 people were shot in the incident.  Four victims remain hospitalized.  The New Orleans Police Department has identified 20-year-old  Justin  Odom  as  a person of interest in the shooting.

 

Lafayette  Police  havemade an arrest in the case of one of their officers who was run over two times by a vehicle at Wal Mart  during an apparent robbery overnight.  Cpl  Paul  Mouton  says during the investigation, the officer was hit once by a vehicle then run over again.  He  says  the   officer then held on to the car and was drug for about 100 feet. 19-year-old Alexis  Pitre  of  Lafayette is charged with attempted 1st degree murder and felony hit and run.

 

The Louisiana Fire Marshal's Office wants everyone to be cautious when  using fireworks during this Fourth of July holiday.  State Fire Marshal  Butch Browning says they document about 17,000 injuries nationwide per  year due to fireworks use.  Having a fire extinguisher or bucket of water on hand to put out a  potential fire is recommended.  Browning says you should read all labels  and follow all instructions when lighting fireworks.  He says if a  firework is designed to shoot up in the air, it's important that  that firework shoots up.  Browning says you should never consume alcohol while using fireworks.

 

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank has  ruled  that  Jimmy  Graham should be franchised as a tight end, not a wide receiver.  The  decision gives Saints  management  leverage in negotiations over a long-term  deal. Under the Collective  Bargaining  Agreement,  Graham  can appeal the decision within 10 days.

 

NFL.com is  out  with  a  2014  list  of  the  Best College Football Stadiums and LSU's Death Valley made number two.  Bryan Fischer says opponents can't argue that a trip to Baton Rouge for a game lives up to all the hype with "ridiculous" tailgating and an environment that gets louder than anywhere else when the Tigers need  the  noise. The Rose Bowl Stadium came in at No. 1 and Husky Stadium a No. 3.

 

A Slidell woman is facing criminal charges after she allegedly forgot  that her five-week-old infant was locked inside a parked car at a strip  mall. Authorities say an alert citizen  saw the child and immediately called 9-1-1. The outside temperature was 90-degrees and temps inside the vehicle were probably over 130-degrees. It's believed the toddler was in the  steamy car for more than 30 minutes. Officers say when they got to the child it was  unresponsive, sweating profusely and had internal temperature at a  deadly level. This story has a happy ending, the toddler has made a full recovery.

 

Lake Charles PD says  a  man  is  still  behind  bars  for allegedly stealing  a Mermentau Police Car. They say 38-year-old Russel  Shane was driving the stolen vehicle down I-10 with it's lights and sirens going and refused  to  stop.  He  was eventually detained and booked into  the Calcasieu Parish Jail for  illegal  possession  of  stolen things.

 

 

 

News For Wednesday 07/02/14


News for Wednesday 070214

By Dave Graichen

 

The 2014 Hurricane Season’s  first  tropical  depression  has formed off  of Florida's Atlantic coast.  The storm is projected to  travel up the  Atlantic  coast  of the United States and poses no threat to

the Gulf of Mexico.

 

He says reports about his retirement are greatly exaggerated! Yesterday 9th Judicial District Judge Harry Randow announced he will be running for re-election. Just one problem, the distinguished judge will soon be 71. Retirement age for judges in Louisiana is 70. The judge is anticipating voters in the state will approve a constitutional amendment, on the ballot this fall, that would lift that age restriction, thus allowing him to continue serving. The downside,  If the proposed constitutional amendment fails, Randow would not be able to take office even if he wins re-election.

 

Louisiana’s top School Board on Tuesday voted 6-3 to hire special legal counsel in its bid to implement Common Core tests that Gov. Bobby Jindal opposes. But the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education stopped short of authorizing any legal action for now, in part because some panel members said they do not want to sue the governor. In addition, BESE voted without objection to order talks between state Superintendent of Education John White and Jindal’s office in a bid to resolve the dispute. White is then supposed to provide an update on any progress in the standoff by July 18.

 

The Jindal administration has repaid a $70 million state treasury loan that was needed to keep public colleges and universities operating. However, state Treasurer John Kennedy raised concerns Tuesday about where the administration found the money to repay the borrowing. He said the administration grabbed dollars from another fiscal year. Kennedy also said the 2013-2014 fiscal year ended this week with a nearly $63 million deficit.

 

The Louisiana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a state law that forbids felons from possessing firearms, ruling that lawmakers did not intend to invalidate the state’s weapons laws when they proposed a constitutional amendment declaring gun ownership a fundamental right. Justice Jeff Hughes wrote in a unanimous opinion that the state’s ban on the possession of firearms by convicted felons “is not affected” by the constitutional language approved by voters in 2012.

 

The Fourth of July is just around the corner.  With the holiday falling  on Friday, it makes a three-day holiday weekend for a lot of people  which means many will be traveling.  American Automobile Association  spokesman Don Redman says even with higher gas prices, more people  are expected to hit the road.  He says approximately 41-million Americans are expected to travel for  the holiday. 

 

Indicted state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Walter Lee is now facing state ethics charges. The state Board of Ethics alleged in documents made public Tuesday that Lee violated three state conflict of interest laws. The charges involve incidents of Lee’s alleged use of his position as DeSoto Parish schools superintendent for personal gain. Lee was indicted in January by a DeSoto Parish grand jury on felony theft, public contract fraud and malfeasance in office during his tenure as schools chief. He has pled not guilty.

 

Louisiana has fewer automobile deaths related to impaired driving, but  speeding related deaths are up seven percent according to a new study by  the governors highway safety administration. Director of the Louisiana  Highway Safety Administration, Lt. Col. John Leblanc, says across the country, speeding is a factor in nearly one third of highway deaths, but in Louisiana the number is closer to 50%.

 

The Lafayette Parish  Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a 19-year-old woman found lying unconscious and nonresponsive on the side  of  the road yesterday.   Authorities  say  the  circumstances surrounding  the woman's death are suspicious and an autopsy will be performed to determine  the  cause  of death.  The incident is being treated as a homicide.

 

Two  parents are under arrest in Livingston Parish for child cruelty and endangerment and other charges connected with them leaving their infant  locked  in  a  hot  car  at a Walmart Parking lot in Walker. The two walmartians were also arrested on drug possession charges.

 

The State Fire Marshal's office says they are treating the tragic  passing of Captain Robert Thomas, who worked with Bienville Fire  District 7, as a Line of Duty Death. The 52-year-old crashed and then

was crushed by his own fire truck on the way back from a structure  blaze Monday night. Browning says this is the first Line of Duty firefighter death we've  had in Louisiana over the past year and a half.

 

Following  the  recent  New Orleans French Quarter shootings,  today Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked  Governor  Bobby Jindal to send 100 state troopers to the city to stay on what he calls a permanent basis.  He called the shootings infuriating.

News For Tuesday 07/01/14


News for Tuesday 070114

By Dave Graichen

 

US  Representative  Vance  McAllister will seek re-election, despite initially saying he would not  seek  another  term.  McAllister took office last November after a special election,  but  the  politician who  ran  on  a faith and family campaign, was involved in a kissing scandal earlier  this  year.   The  Republican  from Ouachita Parish admits  he  made  a  mistake, but that mistake made him  a  stronger person and a better Congressman. He says his wife has encouraged him to run for re-election. Shortly after McAllister’s announcement yesterday, Governor Bobby Jindal  has released a statement calling McAllister's decision to seek re-election "disappointing".

 

The city of Alexandria’s water conservation order has been rescinded, and the city’s water system has returned to normal following repairs to a massive water main that burst over the weekend.

 

State police report  an Oberlin woman was killed Sunday night in a single-vehicle crash on La. Highway 26 east of Oberlin. Troopers say 72-year-old Emily Adams lost control of her vehicle, crossed the center line and crashed into a ditch. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

An Alexandria teen is in hot water after being charged with several armed robberies. 17 year old Dontreal Hampton is in the Rapides Parish Detention Center, his bond set at $300,000. Hampton was arrested by APD officers over the weekend and charged  in connection with three robberies in the city.

 

She was last seen in the front yard of her Natchitoches home on Friday evening. Now authorities are asking for the public’s help in locating 17 year old Bianca Chew. She was last seen wearing a blue and white shirt with pink tight-legged jeans and pink house slippers. Anyone with any information concerning her whereabouts is asked to contact the Natchitoches Police Department.

 

The National Hurricane Center reports, Tropical Depression 1 has formed off the Florida east coast, about 105 miles east southeast of Cape Canaveral, and could strengthen to become Tropical Storm Arthur on today as it moves northward along Florida's east coast. At this point, the storm is no threat to the gulf.

 

US Senatorial candidate Col. Rob Maness begins a 50 Town Hall series  today in Houma.  Maness will be holding Town Hall meetings across the  state during his campaign.  UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Maness is starting to establish himself as a viable  candidate in this race, particularly in fundraising.  The Maness campaign said last week that they have now raised over one-million dollars for his election bid.  Maness has been endorsed in this race by former Vice-Presidential  candidate Sarah Palin, The Tea Party Express, and The Tea Party  Leadership Fund, among others.

 

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education holds a special meeting  today where it's likely the state's top school board will discuss taking  Governor Jindal to court for his attempt to remove the Common Core  education standards out of public schools.  An agenda item for today's meeting calls for BESE to consider hiring special legal counsel.

 

Interest in soccer seems to be at an all-time high as Team USA enters  knockout round of the 2014 World Cup taking on Belgium today.  Baton  Rouge American Outlaws President Mark Jones says the interest has  surpassed his expectations.  He thinks interest in the game has finally  "trickled up" from kids to adults.  The American Outlaws is the unofficial supporters club for United States  Soccer with over 150 chapters nationwide.  In addition to Baton Rouge, Outlaws chapters have also sprouted up in New Orleans, Lafayette, and  Covington, with a Shreveport chapter coming soon.

 

Catahoula Parish investigators are reportedly looking into a case in which human remains were discovered  in  a  cornfield  about 5 miles north  of Sicily Island. The report indicates two people  have  been arrested  in  connection  with  the  case including 30-year-old Leah Marie Pontiff on obstruction of justice and 36-year-old Daniel White on second-degree kidnapping. The victim  has not been identified and the case remains under investigation.

 

The  New  Orleans  Police  Department  now  says  the Sunday morning Bourbon Street shooting has injured 10 people, six  women  and  four men.   Five victims remain hospitalized, four in fair condition, one in critical  condition.  NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas says they are close to getting to  the  bottom  of this investigation. But, he is still asking for the public’s help with the case. Serpas  says  the shootout apparently stemmed from two young men who had gotten into an argument early Sunday morning. Neither of them are the victims.

 

 

 

 

 

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