News for Friday 082914
By Dave Graichen
Law enforcement agents across Cenla are sending out a special warning to weekend warriors: Drink and drive over the Labor Day weekend, and chances are you will be caught. These agencies will increase their patrols and operate impaired driver checkpoints throughout the area. Alexandria Police will have four DWI units on patrol, instead of their average two units, while LSUA Police will work with Louisiana State Police on sobriety checkpoints, and the Rapides Sheriff's Office will work with Pineville Police to conduct a sobriety checkpoint. A happy labor day weekend is one where you are around on Tuesday.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s department has filed more charges against a Pineville man, 56 year old Joseph Glenn Desoto, after being charged with aggravated incest and drug charges. After continuing the investigation, detectives got more search warrants for Desoto's residence, which resulted in the additional charges. Desoto now also has been charged with six counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, five counts of aggravated incest, four counts of sexual battery, three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of intimidating a witness. He remains in the Parish lockup.
Crest Industries is acquiring the assets and will expand the workforce of Eunice-based Precision Cutting Specialties Inc. Crest, based in Pineville, will invest $5 million to develop a new cutting, machining and fabrication facility in Eunice and add new machining centers to existing PCS equipment. Crest will retain 18 PCS jobs, and the expansion project will create 20 new jobs averaging $50,000 per year, plus benefits. Louisiana’s economic development department estimates the investment will result in an additional 24 indirect jobs.
A U.S. District Judge heard arguments Thursday regarding an abortion rights organization’s request for a temporary restraining order to block the state from enforcing a law that would require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. A ruling is expected today.
Today marks the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana. Even after nine years, memories are still fresh and recovery continues. Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Kevin Davis, says the state has made great strides in hurricane preparedness since Katrina. Davis was President of St. Tammany Parish when Katrina hit. Davis is very confident on the local and statewide level that officials are prepared for any type of disaster.
The South Plaquemines High School student who was suspended because of his religiously mandated hairstyle, has been allowed to return to class. The student is a follower of the Rastafarian religion and is required not to cut his hair. ACLU-LA Executive Director Marjorie Esman says school policy is that boy’s hair cannot extend past the collar. The school has allowed the student to attend class with his dreadlocks pinned up. Esman says it’s unfortunate that there doesn’t seem to be enough recognition of the rights of members of minority faiths. She says the US Constitution is very clear on this issue
The family of a 22-year-old New Iberia man who sustained a fatal gunshot wound while in police custody is asking the US Justice Department to investigate the circumstances of his death. The Iberia Parish coroner has ruled Victor White III’s death to be a suicide. But Monroe lawyer Carol Powell-Lexing wonders how White could shoot himself while he’s handcuffed. Powell-Lexing has been hired by White’s family to represent them.
A 2-year-old Zachary child drowned in a backyard pool on Thursday morning after the child slipped outside without the mother noticing. When the mother found her child in the pool she ran to the front yard with the child in her arms screaming for help. Arriving police performed CPR, and EMS took the child to a nearby hospital, where the child was pronounced dead
An investigation is underway into a fatal shooting involving a Livingston Parish Sheriff’s deputy. Sheriff Jason Ard says 48-year-old Freddie Leblanc was armed when deputies responded to a call of an attempted suicide. Ard says despite repeated demands, Leblanc refused to drop his weapon and eventually pointed his gun at the officers. The Livingston Parish Coroner’s office pronounced Leblanc dead the scene.
Troubling allegations are coming out about Baton Rouge TV personality Scott Rogers, who was fatally shot Wednesday allegedly by his producer who then turned the gun on himself. On a Baton Rouge talk show yesterday, nameless victims came forward and claimed Rogers had been physically and sexually abusing them since they were children. One victim said Rogers fostered and adopted the children he abused and tortured. The alleged gunman, Mathew Hodgkins, is in critical condition. Rogers was reportedly booked on child molestation charges in the UK, but never disclosed that when he came to America which is why he was under a federal investigation.
Officials in St. John the Baptist Parish are increasing the chlorine levels in their water system after testing confirmed the presence of a deadly brain-eating amoeba. This brain-eating amoeba was previously detected in St. Bernard and DeSoto Parishes and has killed three people in Louisiana since 2011. In all three cases it was from tap water getting up the victims’ nose. Officials say the water is safe to drink and cook with, but the public should avoid tap water going up their noses.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces Bell Helicopter will start assembly operations at the Lafayette Regional Airport in 2016. He says it’s going to happen in a new $26 million dollar facility and create an estimated 115 new jobs.
Two Louisiana teams begin the college football season tomorrow against Top 25 opponents. The 13th ranked Tigers will face 14th ranked Wisconsin at a neutral site in Houston. LSU Coach Les Miles says the plan is to play two quarterbacks, Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings, but that could change depending how the game goes.
Louisiana Tech is also facing a Top 25 team as the Bulldogs will visit third ranked Oklahoma tomorrow night. The game is listed as a sell-out in Norman, Oklahoma and Bulldogs wide receiver Paul Turner says staying focus is the key when playing in front of 82-thousand fans
News for Thursday 082814
By Dave Graichen
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy will deliver his annual "State of the City" address on Friday. The address will come at 11:30 a.m. Friday in the City Council Chambers in City Hall as part of Roy's general press conference and preview of City Council issues. The public is invited to attend, and the State of the City address will be shown at various times on the public access television channel, which is Suddenlink cable Channel 4
Construction is set to begin next week on a major expansion of the emergency department at Rapides Regional Medical Center. The expansion which will cost upwards of $12.5 million dollars will nearly double the department beds, from 26 to 51, including four psych beds. It will add 16,370 square feet of space and renovate more than 6,000 of the department’s current 20,000 square feet. Construction is scheduled to take about 18 months, with completion in early 2016.
Governor Jindal has filed a lawsuit against the federal government alleging the Obama administration violated the Constitution by using federal grant money to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards. Jindal says Common Core is the latest effort by the feds to have Washington D-C in control of everything. Jindal, a one-time supporter of Common Core, has taken steps this year to keep the new math and English standards out of Louisiana. US Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said Jindal’s actions are about politics, not education.
The 16-year-old who sucker-punched another student at Natchitoches Central High School will be charged as an adult with manslaughter in connection with the death of another student in a fight. Principal Bill Gordy says they don’t know much about 16 year old Timothy Ray Robinson, because he had just started at Natchitoches Central. Eighteen year-old Johnquaries Smith died Tuesday at a local hospital.
Following the second arrest of the star of the “Sons of Guns” show, the Discovery Channel, has decided to pull the plug on the series. In this latest charge, Will Hayden is accused of repeatedly raping an 11 year old for almost a year and a half. Hayden’s bond is set for $250 thousand dollars.
The American Automobile Association says more people are traveling for the Labor Day Holiday than since the recession. AAA spokesman Don Redman says 34.7 million people are projected to journey 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals allocates 18-million dollars to a Baton Rouge Hospital to keep its emergency room open. Baton Rouge General decided to close their Mid-City ER because they were losing money providing health care to an increasing number of uninsured patients. But DHH Chief of Staff Calder Lynch says this commitment should meet the ER’s needs for the current fiscal year. Baton Rouge General says the increase in uninsured patients is due, in part, to the closure of LSU’s Earl K. Long Medical Center.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says tourism is encouraging for 2014 following last year’s record setting year. Over 27 million people visited Louisiana in 2013, a nearly 4-percent increase from 2012. That translated into dollars. Domestic and international visitors spent nearly 11-billion dollars in the state last year. Dardenne says there are no hard numbers available for 2014, as of yet. But he says the LouisianaTravel-dot-com website and their social media activity has been ranked number four among all tourism sites in the US.
Cliff Vannoy, who has been serving as acting head of the LSU Alumni Association in recent weeks, has been named the new president and Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit alumni group. Vannoy took on the acting president role earlier this month, after former CEO Charlie Roberts retired amid a lawsuit that claims he had entered into a monetary arrangement with a former employee to keep secret a sexual relationship between the two.
A Baton Rouge television personality shot and killed in his home Wednesday afternoon was in the midst of a child custody battle and a federal criminal investigation that were both shrouded in mystery.
Attorneys and local prosecutors were tight-lipped about why a federal grand jury was convening around the same time 52 year old Scott Rogers was killed in what’s being called a murder-attempted suicide. His business partner 36 year old Mathew Hodgkins is in critical condition.
Michael DiNardo, the son of former LSU football coach Gerry DiNardo, was arrested this week in Baton Rouge under felony drug and firearm charges. Michael DiNardo, a 21-year-old student at LSU, was booked Wednesday by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office for the intent to distribute marijuana and possessing a firearm with drugs. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. The Department of Health and Hospitals said Wednesday that the amoeba was found in the St. John Water District 1, which serves 12,577 people in the towns of Reserve, Garyville and Mt. Airy. Officials say there are currently no known cases of illness related to the amoeba in the parish or elsewhere in the state.
The ULM Warhawks kick-off their 2014 season tonight hosting Wake Forest in a nationally televised game on ESPNU. Head coach Todd Berry says this is a rare opportunity for the Warhawks to play in front of the home fans early in the season. Berry is hopeful tonight’s crowd is rowdy
News for Wednesday 082714
By Dave Graichen
The 18-year-old Natchitoches Central High School student who was sucker punched by another student at school has died as a result of injuries he sustained. Johnquaries Smith passed away Tuesday morning. Natchitoches Police Captain Brad Walker says the incident happened Monday afternoon. The 16-year-old suspect will now be charged with manslaughter.
The Department of Children and Family Services says they’ve collected more than $2 million dollars in casino winnings from parents who owe back child support. Deputy Assistant Secretary Lisa Andry says this is a huge milestone for the Casino Intercept Program which launched in September 2011. She says winnings were taken from over 15-hundred non-custodial parents who owed back child support.
The books on Louisiana’s last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work. To fill gaps in the budget that ended June 30, the treasury had to dip into dollars slated to pay for state agency operations this year. Treasurer John Kennedy said the state used $24 million from this year’s budget to plug last year’s holes. Jindal’s top budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, said Tuesday that the budget was balanced and the borrowing was only temporary.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is the father of a new baby girl. Brees says his wife Brittany gave birth to their fourth child and first girl Monday night. Brees believes this will be the last addition to their immediate family. Brees says mom and baby are doing great.
The House Democratic Caucus chairman wants the Louisiana House to look into major changes planned to the program that provides health insurance to about 230,000 state employees, retirees and their dependents.The Jindal administration is preparing to launch in a few weeks a sweeping change in the insurance coverages offered through Group Benefits. The idea is to give more choices and allow state employees to choose plans more closely tailored to their wants. But a recent Legislative Fiscal Office report indicates that the out-of-pocket expenses for members will increase as will co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance costs.
The Houma Police Department is the latest law enforcement agency in Louisiana that will use body cameras. Chief Todd Duplantis says the Terrebonne Parish Council has purchased 84 cameras that will be equipped to an officers’ uniform. He says it should be a great benefit to the department. Not to mention the help the help it will be to prosecutors in court cases.
A Marrerro woman has been arrested on charges related to child trafficking for sexual purposes, and other serious sex crimes. Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says the woman is 38 year-old Candice Caulfield, and with all of the charges against her, she faces a combined total of more than 200 years in prison.
A robbery suspect in Slidell was really left holding the bag. Slidell Police say 18-year-old Terry Jones approached a woman holding her infant. Jones allegedly stuck a pistol in the woman’s chest and demanded her purse. The purse turned out to be a diaper bag. Jones then took off running, but was caught by a police officer. Jones was booked on one count of armed robbery.
The “Sons of Guns” reality television show star arrested earlier this month on accusations of molestation of a juvenile landed back in jail Tuesday, accused of raping the same girl on multiple occasions prior to his initial arrest. William Hayden, who until Tuesday owned Red Jacket Firearms, a Baton Rouge gun shop which is the setting for the Discovery Channel reality show, was arrested by U.S. marshals in Livingston Parish.
The roommate of a child’s caregiver was arrested on Tuesday, accused of negligent actions that left a 2-year-old free to walk out of the house and on to traffic-heavy roadway in Lafayette. Jenika Brooks of Lafayette faces one count of child desertion for allegedly leaving for work without making sure her roommate, the child’s caretaker, was awake to watch over the child. She wasn’t and didn’t. The child is fine and was returned to a family member.
The American Heart Association has released a statement saying the use of electronic cigarettes may help some people quit smoking. The recommendation is for the use of e-cigarettes as a last resort with several notes of caution. The recommendation was written by a group of scientists, physicians, and researchers after studying the latest information available on e-cigarettes. It’s emphasized that e-cigarettes should be used as a last resort to help quit smoking. However, the group’s statement admits that much more research needs to be done as there is a lack of knowledge on the long-term health impact of e-cigarettes.
The Saints roster now stands at 75 after cutting eight players yesterday. The most high profile cut was linebacker Victor Butler. The former Dallas Cowboy was signed in 2013 by the Saints to be a starter, but he never played because of two separate injuries. The Saints final preseason game is Thursday night at home against Baltimore.
News for Tuesday 082614
By Dave Graichen
The Natchitoches Police Department is investigating a battery that happened Monday at Natchitoches Central High School that resulted in an 18 year old being airlifted to a Shreveport hospital, where he’s listed in critical condition. After an investigation, detectives arrested an unidentified 16 year old male and charged him with one count of second degree battery. Authorities say, despite rumors to the contrary, the incident was not a large fight and was not a gang fight of any kind.
Council for A Better Louisiana is partnering with Louisiana Public Broadcasting to present a US Senate debate on October 14th. Incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican challengers Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness will all participate. CABL President Barry Erwin says the debate will take place at Centenary College in Shreveport and will be broadcast statewide on LPB television stations. Erwin says there are several pressing issues important to the state tied to this election. He says it’s important nationally because, potentially, the balance of power in the Senate could be determined by the outcome.
Personal finance forecaster Kiplinger reported Monday, Louisiana is the third-most tax-friendly state in the nation. In the Kiplinger-ranked order, the five most tax-friendly states were Delaware, Wyoming, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The five least tax-friendly states were listed by Kiplinger as California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Hawaii. Officials at Kiplinger said their rankings were based on comparisons of rates for income, sales and gas taxes. Also considered were so-called “sin taxes” on products like alcohol and tobacco.
The Iberia Parish coroner has concluded that a handcuffed man in the back seat of an Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office patrol unit shot himself to death in March. Dr. Carl Ditch said Victor White III, whose hands were cuffed behind his back, was pronounced dead a few hours after a single bullet struck him. He was 22. Ditch has refused to publicly release the full autopsy of White’s body but issued a summary on Monday describing his office’s findings, adding that he concluded the shooting was a suicide.
The Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office says they’ve arrested a 21-year-old Jennings man on several charges for allegedly breaking in to a family member’s home and assaulting her in front of her two young kids. Spokesman Chris Ivey says Sebastion Hanks allegedly kicked in the door of the victim and began beating her up. He says Hanks was booked into the Jefferson Davis Parish jail.
The Lafayette Police Department says a would be robber is dead after he allegedly broke into a home. Spokeswoman Nicole Benoit says the homeowner armed himself, confronted the alleged burglar, and fired two shots at him. The identity of the victim is being withheld upon notification of next of kin. The investigation is ongoing.
The popular Louisiana spice “Slap Ya Mama” has been told by the NFL they can’t have virtual on-field ads during game telecasts anymore citing the fact it may send the wrong message regarding domestic violence. Jack Walker’s mother owns the company and says they’ve never had a problem with anyone associating the brand with any type of domestic violence. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says all advertised products must be consistent with league standards.
A new panel called the Transportation Funding Task Force plans to meet next month and discuss ways the state can put more towards a better road and bridge system in Louisiana. Ken Perret is the president of the Louisiana Good Roads Association and hopes state leaders will be willing to do something, because the public outcry about road conditions keeps getting louder. There’s a reported 12-billion dollar backlog of road and bridge needs.
In Baton Rouge, A city-parish ordinance that prohibits residents from keeping firearms in their parked cars while they’re inside establishments that sell alcohol is unconstitutional and can no longer be enforced. Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson found the ordinance runs afoul of the Second Amendment. Ernest Taylor, of Baton Rouge, challenged the ordinance in federal district court in September of last year after he was pulled over in October 2012 after leaving a bar because he didn’t have his headlights on. Taylor was arrested after three rifles were found in his car. He was booked on, among other things, possession of a firearm where alcohol is sold. The rifles were confiscated by Baton Rouge police. Taylor had no prior arrests or convictions.
The ACLU of Louisiana has sent a letter to the Plaquemines Parish School Board and South Plaquemines High School administrators regarding a student who has been suspected because of his hairstyle. The student is Rastafari and ACLU-LA Executive Director Marjorie Esman says his long dreadlocks are religiously mandated. Esman says they are seeking an expedited hearing before the full school board very quickly with the expectation that they will do the right thing.
State Representative Jeff Thompson of Bossier City will leave the state legislature to become a district judge. Thompson qualified unopposed to fill the judgeship left vacant by the retiring Ford Stinson. Thompson will preside in the 26th Judicial District Court of Bossier and Webster Parishes in northwestern Louisiana. He will be sworn in on January 1st.
The Baton Rouge Police Department is investigating a strange crash involving a train and a car that happened Monday morning. Authorities says the car was trying to cross the tracks when it was hit by the train, then the three occupants of the vehicle fled the scene on foot. Police say they later returned and will be issued multiple citations. There were no injuries reported in the accident.
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 20-year-old LaPlace man on charges of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and armed robbery. Captain Pat Yoes says the victim was walking in New Orleans when a vehicle stopped beside her and two subjects exited the vehicle and grabbed her. Yoes says the subjects took the victim from there to St. John Parish and into St. Charles Parish, where she was raped. The victim was dropped off in Kenner where she flagged down someone to notify the Sheriff’s Office.
A child suffered minor injuries Monday afternoon when she was struck by a vehicle after getting off a school bus in East Feliciana Parish. The school bus had stopped on the two-lane highway and had its stop signs out when the girl exited the bus, crossed in front and was struck by a vehicle. Troop A spokesman Trooper 1st Class Jared Sandifer says the driver was cited for failure to yield to a school bus and driving with a suspended license.
13th ranked LSU is just four days away from the season opener against number 14 Wisconsin and it remains a mystery to the public who will be the starting quarterback for the Tigers. Coach Les Miles is staying tight lipped, but he says Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris will get a chance to play against the Badgers. Miles says how Jennings and Harris perform during the games will determine how long they go with a two quarterback system and he doesn’t anticipate the battle for starting quarterback to be a distraction for his team.
News for Monday 082514
By Dave Graichen
A state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital goes into a effect next Monday, but the Center for Reproductive Rights yesterday filed lawsuit in federal court challenging the law. They say if the law is enforced starting September 1st, it’s not clear that any abortion doctor in Louisiana could legally provide those services. Similar laws have been blocked by the courts in other states.
Tropical Storm Cristobal grew in strength Sunday and lashed parts of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands with heavy rainfall and high surfs. The storm was upgraded from a tropical depression Sunday morning. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm may strengthen into a hurricane on Wednesday while over the open waters of the Atlantic. The storm’s center was expected to curve away from the U.S. East Coast.
A “Hiring Our Heroes” job fair, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with Fort Polk's Army Community Service and the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at the Army base. A networking reception is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Tuesday at the Showboat Theater. It is open to all military spouses including active duty, Guard, Reserve, veterans and Gold Star spouses. The job fair is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at the Youth Gym. Participants are encouraged to preregister online at www.hiringourheroes. org.
Qualifying is over and election season is officially underway. The first in line to qualify Friday was 5th Congressional District Representative Vance McAllister. McAllister shrugged off the fact that Governor Jindal and the Louisiana GOP don’t support him. He says God has given him a second chance with his family and he hopes voters will continue to support him because he knows more about values now than ever before. The Congressman came under fire earlier this year for being caught on tape kissing a married woman at his office.
Retired air force colonel, Rob Maness, signed up at the Secretary of State’s office for the US Senate race. Polls show Maness as the underdog to Senator Mary Landrieu and fellow Republican Bill Cassidy.
With election qualifying behind us, all eyes are turned toward November 4th. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat sees several races destined for a runoff election in December. In the US Senate race, Pinsonat says the picture is pretty clear. Pinsonat says a December runoff between Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy could determine control of the US Senate. He says the waters are a little cloudy when it comes to the 6th Congressional District race. Most pundits believe Edwin Edwards is a shoe-in for a December runoff. Pinsonat says beyond that, this race is really a toss up. Pinsonat thinks the 5th Congressional District election is wide open. He says incumbent Vance McAllister has lost a lot of his base and popularity due to the infamous kissing scandal earlier this year. Pinsonat says that plus the fact that he has some well funded challengers, makes this race difficult to call…
The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards will air tonight on NBC and there are five Louisiana-made series and miniseries that are all in the running for some really nice honors. Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly says Nominates are True Detective, Bonnie & Clyde, American Horror Story and Treme and Top Chef New Orleans. Stelly says we’ll find out tonight if Matthew McConaughey will pick up the best actor Emmy for his role in True Detective the way he did for Dallas Buyers Club which was also filmed in Louisiana.
5 people throughout the state have been arrested for their alleged involvement with an Asian Massage Parlor prostitution ring. Authorities in Calcasieu Parish say the investigation began 10 months ago when they started sending undercover cops to the business. Arrests were made in Lake Charles, Lafayette and Bossier City. The investigation is said to be very much underway and more arrests are expected.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana has confirmed 10 new cases of the West Nile Virus. They say the new illnesses reported Friday now bring this year’s West Nile total number to 52. DHH urges residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
A 41-year-old English teacher from a small private Christian school in Baton Rouge has been arrested for allegedly having sex with one of her 16-year-old male students on the campus of the school. Deputies indicate the boy’s parents found naked pictures and explicit messages on their son’s phone and when questioned he admitted they were from his teacher, Ashley Dowden. The teacher was arrested and booked into East Baton Rouge Parish prison on counts including computer-aided solicitation of a juvenile and carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
The Saints look like they are ready for the regular season based on their performance on Saturday night as they defeated the Colts 23-17. Quarterback Drew Brees, who has been nursing an oblique injury, appeared in his first preseason game and threw for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Game week has arrived for the 13th ranked Tigers as they’ll leave later this week for Houston where they’ll play 14th ranked Wisconsin on Saturday night.
News for Friday 082214
By Dave Graichen
The city of Alexandria has been given an extension to pay a $1.3 million judgment ordered by a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Dee Drell has agreed to give the city until close of business Sept. 3 to make the payment to H. Craig Davidson for his legal work in the city's fraud lawsuit against Cleco. The City Council will consider an ordinance authorizing the payment at its meeting Sept. 2.
As of the close of business yesterday, five candidates have signed up to challenge US Representative Vance McAllister in the fifth Congressional District, one being Republican Zach Dasher, a businessman and nephew of “Duck Dynasty” TV star Phil Robertson. Dasher says if elected, he’ll do what the voters want. Support from the “Duck Dynasty” family helped McAllister get elected last year. This time, they are throwing their weight behind Dasher.
Today is the final day of qualifying for the upcoming November elections. So far, no surprises have popped up during the qualifying period. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says that’s because to run for political office today, you’ve got to lay the groundwork for your campaign early. In the 5th Congressional District race, incumbent Vance McAllister tells LaPolitics-dot-com that he’s put 400-thousands dollars of his own money in his campaign. That makes McAllister the official cash leader in the field. Cross says between McAllister’s kissing scandal and a large field of candidates, this race will definitely be interesting. Qualifying ends at 4:30 this afternoon.
To help ease the backlog of medical treatment of veterans, Congressman Charles Boustany from Lafayette announced yesterday that the VA will complete 2 southwest Louisiana clinics. The Lake Charles facility should be ready next summer, and the Lafayette Clinic, by the end of next year, or early 2016.
A Delegation of anti-Common Core state lawmakers are headed to Oklahoma today to hear how leaders there were able to successfully repeal the education standards. Among them will be Lake Charles Rep. Brett Geymann who says they’ll be meeting with legislators who passed bills that reassert state control over standards and tests. Geymann says they feel Common Core standards are a form of federal government intrusion into something that should be a state matter.
A committee seeking a new president to lead Northwestern State University has trimmed a field of 12 candidates down to four. The panel on Thursday met about four hours, including a lengthy executive session, before reaching a unanimous decision. It will meet again on campus the week of Sept. 9 to interview the four and again thin the field, probably to two. The entire University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors will vote at a special meeting Sept. 23 on the finalists to determine who will replace Randall Webb, who holds the record for longevity as NSU president.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says the 5-year-old child who was taken to the hospital this week after allegedly being beaten by his father, died last night. Corporal Don Coppola says the dad, 36-year-old Varnell Day Jr., initially stated that the child had fallen off the bed but that story didn’t add up. He says initially Day was charged with attempted first degree murder. You can now drop the “Attempted” from that charge. The child was hospitalized suffering multiple brain bleeds, bruises in various stages of healing, contusions to the forehead, and malnourishment.
The member of Louisiana’s US House delegation that has most the clout, qualified for re-election today at the Secretary of State’s office in Baton Rouge. Republican Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish is seeking his fourth term. Scalise was recently elected as the House Majority Whip.
Louisiana’s ACT scores were down slightly from last year. Louisiana student’s average score on the test is 19.2, compared to 19.5 last year. But State education officials say that more students are taking the college prep test which affects the average and more of them are scoring well enough to qualify for TOPS. The national average is a score of 21, while a perfect score for the test is 36.
The Shreveport Police Department says two men are behind bars for allegedly beating up a 91-year-old man after they tried to rob him of casino winnings. Corporal Marcus Hines says 39-year-old John Perkins and 60-year-old Gary Smith are each charged with second degree robbery. He says the elderly man was transported to a hospital with minor injuries. Hines says the victim was able to injure one of his attackers during the incident.
Lottery scratch-off tickets seem to be more popular than ever. The Louisiana Lottery is reporting an increase in the sale of scratch-off tickets which helped them add a near record amount of money to the state treasury this year. Louisiana lottery spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says lottery scratch-off sales grew by 10%. Chopin says over 161-million dollars was transferred to the state treasury for K-12 public education. She says that figure is 1.4 million dollars more than last year and is the highest since 1993.
A week from today, many LSU fans will make their way to Houston for the season opener against the Wisconsin Badgers. For those Tiger supporters who still want to go, David Fletcher, executive director of the Advocare Texas Kickoff, says there’s still a handful of tickets left. Fletcher says even though the game is a thousand miles away from Wisconsin, they expect a large contingent of Badger fans to make the trip as well.
News for Thursday 082114
By Dave Graichen
An early morning break in this morning at the offices of Cenla Broadcasting was thwarted by an alert neighbor, an employee who was working late and the APD. The robber gained access to the marketing offices here at the station by breaking a large window in the front of the building. An Alexandria police Canine officer apprehended a man and he was arrested.
The National Weather Service is keeping their eye on a tropical disturbance forming in the Atlantic. Forecasters give this system a moderate chance of forming into a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next few days. Meteorologist Danielle Manning says over the next few days, conditions will become more favorable for the system to develop into a tropical cyclone. As far as where this system will go, Manning says if this system develops into a tropical cyclone, forecast models will have a much better idea of where the storm is heading. But for now, too soon to tell.
State education superintendent John White says public schools are moving forward with Common Core education standards after a judge lifts the Jindal administration’s suspension of contracts for the tests tied to Common Core. White says it’s time to that we focus on the welfare of the student. Despite the ruling though, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says she is still concerned a legal contract is not in place to give out the exam known as PARCC. White says Judge Todd Hernandez’s ruling is clear and it says the current contract can be used to provide the tests tied to Common Core.
Incumbent Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy, Jamar Gailes, Jeff Hall and Nicholas Wright signed up yesterday the first day of qualifying for the November 4th primary election. Expected to join the four candidates who have already qualified is City Councilwoman Mitzi LaSalle. Former Alexandria Councilman Roosevelt Johnson wasted no time, he qualified yesterday to run for the District 2 seat on the City Council. That is the seat currently held by Mitzi LaSalle. Alexandria Councilmen Jim Villard and Harry Silver also qualified today to run for re-election. Chris Roy Jr. and Phillip Terrell both qualified to run for Rapides Parish district attorney. Incumbent James "Jam" Downs is not seeking re-election. Qualifying runs through Friday.
Four of the six candidates expected to file paperwork to run in the Nov. 4 primary for the 5th Congressional District have registered so far. Former Grant Parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley, Monroe businessman Harris Brown, Dr. Ralph Lee and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo all signed up yesterday. Also expected to qualify is political newcomer Zach Dasher, a pharmaceutical representative from Calhoun.
Dixie Boys Baseball is coming back home to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Pineville will host the 2016 Dixie Junior Boys and Dixie Boys World Series at the Ward 9 Sportsplex on Donahue Ferry Road. The two 12-team, double-elimination tournaments will be held from Aug. 6-10 of 2016.
Incumbent US Senator Mary Landrieu and her main challenger, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, have officially signed up for the Senate race for the November 4th election. Yesterdays was the first day of qualifying which runs through Friday. Landrieu, who has held the office for 18 years, says this campaign is about leadership. But Cassidy says most people agree that this country is going in the wrong direction under Mr. Obama.
The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s office has released a picture of the vehicle that was involved in last weekend’s fatal shooting of a seven-year-old boy in Baton Rouge in what appears to be a random act of violence. Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says surveillance video from a nearby residence captured a light-colored, four-door sedan in the area when a shot was fired into another vehicle, killing Terrez Coleman. Gautreaux says through private donations, a 10-thousand dollar reward is being offered, along with the 25-hundred dollar reward from Crime Stoppers, for information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the gunman.
Shreveport Police detectives are investigating a shooting at Shreveport Regional Airport Tuesday night. The initial investigation showed the shooting grew out of a dispute between a cab driver and a security officer. No one was injured.
News for Wednesday 082014
By Dave Graichen
Judge Todd Hernandez sided with Common Core proponents, Tuesday, and lifted the Jindal administration’s suspension of testing contracts tied to the controversial education standards. This lawsuit was filed by teachers and parents who claim Governor Jindal overstepped his Constitutional authority when he halted the implementation of Common Core. In his written ruling, Hernandez says it would be a detriment to teachers, students, and schools if he did not rule as he did. The governor’s office says the judge’s ruling is wrong and they will appeal.
The Alexandria City Council voted 4 to 3 at it meeting yesterday to pay more than $1.3 million to a Baton Rouge attorney for work he did in the city's lawsuit against Cleco. But, there’s a slight problem. The City Charter won't allow a payment to be made as quickly as a federal judge would like. The action comes in the wake of a federal court order issued Friday by U.S. District Judge Dee Drell that the city had five business days to pay Davidson or else representatives of the U.S. Marshal's Office would seize the funds from Alexandria's Utility System Enterprise Fund. It’s hoped the Council’s vote will appease the judge until the council can vote to write the check. That will happen at the September 2nd meeting.
Fort Polk Progress and its chairman Michael Reese are energizing efforts to save the Vernon Parish army base from impending major budget cuts. Reese was on Talkradio 970 KSYL and spoke to the Alexandria Rotary Club yesterday in an effort to get cenla residents involved in the movement by signing letters and petitions which will be sent to top army officials in Washington, D.C. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 25, but Reese and local business leaders urge citizens to sign the letters now, rather than later. You can find a link to the petition and letters on the ksyl.com website.
State Police Bureau of Investigations Special Victims Unit has arrested a Leesville man for attempted aggravated rape and trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Sixty-six year old Ernest Kickel Jr was allegedly attempting to buy a 10 year-old for sexual purposes. His bond was set at 1.5 million dollars.
Louisiana Attorney General – Buddy Caldwell – filed a lawsuit Tuesday against State Farm claiming the insurance company has created a culture of unsafe business practices when it comes to vehicle repairs. Assistant A-G Randy Ishee says there are multiple cases where State Farm forced shops to use sub-standard parts. State Farm says the accusations are not in line with its mission and history of vehicle safety advancements.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed a lawsuit today against State Farm claiming the insurance company has created a culture of unsafe business practices when it comes to vehicle repairs. In a written statement, State Farm says the accusations in the lawsuit are not in line with its mission and history of vehicle safety advancements. But Assistant A-G Randy Ishee says State Farm steers its customers involved in a car accident to repair shops where the primary goal is cost-savings and not safety. State Farm holds the largest share of auto insurance policies in Louisiana.
Gov. Bobby Jindal wants the Legislature to repeal a state law he signed that provides State Police Col. Mike Edmonson with enhanced retirement benefits. Jindal’s press secretary on Tuesday released a statement outlining Jindal’s position. The governor was quoted as saying they did not know the legislation affected only two people. The governor says the Legislature shouldn’t have handled the issue the way they did and that they should fix it next session. The enhancement , valued at $300,000 for Edmonson and another trooper, was approved by legislators June 2 in the waning minutes of the legislative session without mention of its impact. Jindal signed the bill into law on June 23.
Qualifying is underway today for November’s congressional elections. Two competitive races will happen in the fifth and sixth districts. The sixth district race is headlined by Democratic former governor Edwin Edwards running for the seat against Republicans Dan Claitor, Paul Dietzel, Garrett Graves, and Lenar Whitney among others. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says while it’s likely Edwards will make the runoff, the other slot is up for grabs. In the fifth district, embattled incumbent Vance McAllister’s challengers include Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and Republicans Ralph Abraham, Harris Brown, and Zach Dasher. Hogan feels McAllister is facing an uphill battle.
A former LSU football player is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder in a 2011 shooting at a Port Allen truck stop. Demetri Robinson, 5223 Sand Drive, Port Allen, entered his plea in the 18th Judicial District Court on Monday, a day before he was to stand trial for shooting several employees at the Cajun Circus Casino truck stop on Sept. 18, 2011. Robinson, who is now 32, will be sentenced Nov. 5. He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison. Robinson shot a cashier and then fired shots at two other employees after employees asked him to leave the casino on U.S. 190.
Covington Police have arrested the brother of St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed on charges of sexual battery. Police Chief Tim Lentz says Richard Reed allegedly assaulted an intoxicated woman earlier this month at a restaurant, and authorities saw the surveillance video.
A dog attack Monday night in Houma has a 71 year-old woman in the hospital with severe lacerations to her face, arms and hands. Houma Police Chief Todd Duplantis says there were two dogs inside her residence, and the male dog – who belonged to the victim’s son-was the one who attacked her. Duplantis says they are still investigating what provoked the attack.
According to “The New York Times”, Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of residents born in-state. The data shows that in 2012, 79 percent of Louisiana residents were actually born in Bayou State. Nevada has the least native residents with just 25 percent born in-state.
News For Tuesday 081914
By Dave Graichen
A water boil advisory has been issued for a small part of the Alexandria, that after a 12-inch water line was damaged on New York Avenue near the Stratford Manor subdivision. As a precaution, the Alexandria Water Department issued the advisory effective immediately. This boil advisory is to remain in effect until further notice.
The Alexandria City Council is expected to consider increasing its contribution to build the new Central Louisiana Technical Community college campus at its meeting tonight. The new main campus will be located in downtown Alexandria and will replace the current Alexandria campus on South MacArthur Drive. The city had pledged $2.28 million to the project as the required 12 percent match of the budget. However, it looks like the figure will now be at least $2.8 million, with the added funds to cover things such as property appraisals.
Education Superintendent John White told the Baton Rouge Advocate the education department’s website was shut down Monday because the Jindal administration refused to make a payment. A spokesperson for the division of administration says that was not the case and called it a technical glitch. Jindal’s office and the Department of Education are involved in a legal battle over Common Core. The website was up and running again by midday. A statement from the education department said they are glad the bill was paid.
Louisiana’s private sector labor force grew to an all-time high in July. Statistics show just over 2.1 million people employed across the state. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says several industry sectors hit all-time employment records in July. While the labor force grew to record numbers in July, the state’s unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent, up from 5 percent in June. Eysink thinks that may partially be due to more people joining the workforce in Louisiana to look for work. He says every part of the state will benefit from the employment growth.
Monday The Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested 34 year old Willie Chapman of Colfax after deputies discovered a large amount of drugs. Chapman was arrested for Possession of CDS II (crack cocaine) with the Intent to Distribute, Possession of CDS I (marijuana) with the Intent to Distribute, and Possession of Legend Drugs.
Beginning today, United Airlines is offering nonstop flights from Lafayette to Denver, CO. The flight will be offered seven days a week departing at 4PM. Lafayette Regional Airport Director Michael Burrows says, in part, this flight is in response to oil and gas industry workers traveling to the northwest corridor. A small fifty seat jet will be used in the service.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office says they are still looking for the person or persons responsible for the death of a 7-year-old child who was shot while traveling in a car with his family. Spokeswoman Casey Hicks says two children in the back seat of the car were shot — one was grazed with a bullet and she’s expected to be okay.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office says a Denham Springs couple is under arrest after being found passed out in a vehicle with their two young children in the back seat. Col. John Fortunato says investigators were called to the parking lot of a closed restaurant in Metairie Sunday afternoon. When questioned, 41-year-old Michael Pierce and his 34-year-old wife, Melanie, each admitted to injecting heroin earlier in the day. Both were charged with child endangerment and several drug related charges.
The LSU Ag Center is conducting research to determine the extent of damage done by feral hogs in Louisiana. Forestry economist Shaun Tanger says they’ve been getting reports from farmers and landowners about property damage, but they want to get a better picture of the problem with a couple of detailed surveys. Tanger says the animals cause major damage to agricultural crops because they can be used for wallows, for forage and for protection. He says the first step to reaching a resolution to the problem is to find out exactly how big the problem is.
Saints Quarterback Drew Brees is on track to see his first action of the preseason when New Orleans visits Indianapolis on Saturday night. Brees has spent most of this training camp recovering from an oblique injury, but has taken a majority of the snaps with the first team offense the last two days. Coach Sean Payton liked what he saw from number nine yesterday.
News for Monday 081814
By Dave Graichen
The Grant Parish Sheriff's Office is asking the public for their assistance in helping locate an inmate who walked away from the Federal Prison in Pollock Sunday. 26 year old Jose Garza is described as being 5'8" and 155 lbs. He was last seen wearing grey sweats. He was incarcerated for drug charges and a felon in possession of a firearm. If you have any information please contact the Grant Parish Sheriff's Office or local authorities.
Commercial truck traffic will be banned from the O.K. Allen Bridge beginning Tomorrow. Trucks will be detoured from the bridge, which carries U.S. 71 over the Red River between Alexandria and Pineville, and told to use the Purple Heart Bridge on U.S. 167. The state DOTD says the move is needed to enforce weight limits on the current bridge. The state is spending $82.9 million to build twin two-lane bridges replacing the existing bridge. Traffic should be rerouted from the old bridge by early 2015 and both spans completed by summer 2016. The old bridge will be demolished.
LSU is ranked No. 13 in the preseason Associated Press top 25 released Sunday. The Tigers are one of eight Southeastern Conference teams ranked: No.2 Alabama, No. 6 Auburn, No. 9 South Carolina, No. 12 Georgia, No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 24 Missouri. Florida State tops the poll at No. 1, receiving 57 of 60 first-place votes.
Another court hearing takes place today regarding the controversial Common Core education standards. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says at issue today, is whether Governor Bobby Jindal violated his constitutional authority when he took steps to suspend the testing contracts that are tied to Common Core. Common Core supporters were victorious last week when Judge Tim Kelley denied a request from 17 lawmakers to halt the implementation of the academic standards. Today’s hearing is the result of a lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who support the Common Core standards and the judge hearing in the case has already denied a motion to dismiss any parts of the case.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals confirms 13 new cases of West Nile in the state this past week. Seven of those cases came from Caddo Parish in northwest Louisiana. That brings the total number of cases in the state to 42. Two people have died from West Nile in Louisiana so far this year.
Louisiana Economic Development has created a new, free website to help meet recruitment needs of Louisiana employers, while also being a centralized hub for job seekers. Louisiana Job Connection will accelerate the job/applicant search process for both employers and potential employees. Executive Director Kristi Williams says this is not your typical job board site. Louisiana Job Connection.com will automatically match job seekers with jobs for which they are most qualified. Job seekers just need to fill out their information and the site will immediately notify you of available jobs that match your skill set.
Elio Motors is about a year away from producing its three-wheeled vehicle at the former General Motors plant in Shreveport. Paul Elio has told the Associated Press that 27-thousand people have already reserved one of their cars that will get 84 miles to the gallon and cost 68-hundred dollars. Elio plans to produce 250-thousand cars a year at the Shreveport facility by 2016.
According to the Federal Elections Commission, G-O-P Congressman and US Senate candidate Bill Cassidy has slightly more campaign cash available than Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu. Cassidy’s war chest is at 5-point-6 million dollars, while Landrieu is at 5-point-5 million.
The upcoming CBS Television series “NCIS: New Orleans” will do some filming in Baton Rouge at the USS KIDD. USS KIDD Executive Director Alex Juan says the show was looking for a real naval battle ship and the KIDD was an ideal location. The ship will be closed to the public through Friday for ongoing inventory and filming on the ship. No word on when the episode filmed on the KIDD will air. The series premiere of “NCIS: New Orleans” is set for September 23rd.
Forty-five years ago today one of the most destructive hurricanes in US history made landfall along the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Camille was a Category Five storm when it churned over the mouth of the Mississippi River, before slamming into the Mississippi coast. Louisiana State Climatologist Barry Keim says the storm killed an estimated 150 people in Louisiana and Mississippi.
An LSU engineering professor is involved in research that’s trying to develop technology so your vehicle could one day communicate with other vehicles on the road. Professor Sherif Ishak says hopefully soon, cars will be able to warn other drivers of accidents, traffic jams and other road hazards. He says the technology is similar to how Wi-Fi works.
The LDWF Enforcement Division have arrested a St. Amant (SAN a maw) man in connection with a boating hit and run on the Amite River Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish. Thirty-two year old Thomas Amorello was booked on felony hit and run, negligent injury and reckless operation of a vessel.
The Saints beat the Titans 31 to 24 Friday night in preseason action, but Coach Sean Payton called it painful to watch because of the 22 penalties called against his team for 184 yards. Payton says having that many penalties is a sign of an undisciplined team.
We’re less than two weeks away from LSU’s kicking the season off against Wisconsin and Coach Les Miles has provided very little information on who is leading the battle for the starting quarterback. Miles says Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are improving and he likes how they are competing. The Tigers held a scrimmage on Saturday and LSU did not provide any individual statistics on the quarterbacks.
News for Friday 081514
By Dave Graichen
A lawsuit filed by 17 lawmakers who claim the department of education and BESE did not follow the state’s laws when it adopted Common Core will be heard in a Baton Rouge courtroom today. This is one of two Common Core-related suits that are moving through the legal system. There’s also a pro Common Core lawsuit against Governor Jindal. It will have a full hearing on Monday.
The Jindal administration told lawmakers who sit on budget committees that next year’s budget is one-point-two billion dollars short. Publisher of Lapolitics-dot-com, Jeremy Alford, says the news is not a surprise to legislators and some have already discussed rolling back some tax exemptions as a way to raise revenues. Jindal will propose a budget for next fiscal year to lawmakers early next year.
Today begins the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign across the country, with hundreds of law enforcement agencies participating here in Louisiana. With alcohol being a factor in as many as 40 percent of all fatal vehicular crashes, cops are keen to get out and lock up drunk drivers. Executive Director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Lt. Col. John Leblanc says drunk driving has become too prevalent on state roads.
State police report 62 year year old Gaylon Bolton of Flatwoods was killed Wednesday night in a single-vehicle crash on La. Highway 8 in Vernon Parish. Bolton was not wearing a seatbelt and was partially ejected in the crash. Troopers believe Bolton was traveling at an excessive rate of speed when the crash occurred.
A recent study of the housing market in Louisiana finds nearly 45 percent of renters are rent stressed. Rent stress is defined as paying more than 35 percent of your monthly income in rent. LSU Economist Jim Richardson says the stress comes in when you have limited resources left over to provide other necessities. The percentage of rent stressed Louisianans has grown by nearly 15 percentage points since 2000.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Republican Jim McCrery from Shrevepor,t has been appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal to fill a vacant seat on the LSU Board of Supervisors. McCrery served over twenty years in the House, and he was also the man given credit for introducing Jindal to Louisiana politics.
LSU Alumni Association President, Charlie Roberts, has resigned as he faces a lawsuit from a former employee, Kay Heath, who claims there was financial arrangement to keep their sexual relationship secret. Roberts attorney, Mary Olive Pierson, says Roberts now looks forward to telling his side of the story in court.
Some lawmakers are getting a lot of complaints about wait times at the Office of Motor Vehicles; this on the heels of Governor Bobby Jindal reducing staffs there. The Legislative Fiscal Office says the waits have gone up as much as an hour and a half. The Legislative Budget Committe announced today that they want to meet with leaders of the OMV to answer those questions being raised.
Almost 900 violations have been cited to various Louisiana establishments for selling alcohol to minors during the Alcohol and Tobacco Control’s 2014 Summer Crackdown. ATC also reports that almost 400 citations were issued for selling tobacco to minors.
Senator Mary Landrieu is facing accusations that she used Senate money to pay for chartered flights to attend campaign events. Her two Republican opponents in the upcoming Senate race have criticized Landrieu on this issue in recent days. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan doesn’t see this as a big campaign issue. The Landrieu campaign office says her Senate office was incorrectly billed for one of the flights. The campaign says they will reimburse the Senate for both flights that have been questioned. The conservative group Keep Louisiana Working has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the Senator over this issue.
26-year-old Diondre Jones of Slidell has been charged with medicaid fraud after allegedly using her dead sister’s name to receive medical treatment at Slidell Memorial Hospital. Slidell police officials say in a bizarre twist, Diondre was wearing a memorial T-shirt in honor of her deceased sister when a police officer caught up to her in the hospital parking lot.
A Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola maintenance worker has been arrested on a felony count of malfeasance in office. The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office says 64-year-old Danny Daniel of St. Francisville is accused of inappropriate behavior with an inmate. Authorities are not releasing any details of the inappropriate behavior.
A Monroe couple is accused of leaving their 2-week-old child on the hood of a vehicle, unattended, while they went fishing in Vidalia. Marcella Watson and David Ramey, both 33, were arrested on cruelty to a juvenile and improper supervision of a juvenile. The child was taken to a local hospital to check for sunburn and dehydration.
The Saints return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome tonight to take on the Tennessee Titans in NFL preseason action. Saints color commentator Hokie Gajan says he’s keeping his eye on the running game and the defense. Gajan hopes the running game has another strong showing like they had last week against the Rams. Quarterback Drew Brees is not expected to play in tonight’s game, as he continues to nurse an oblique injury.
News for Thursday 081414
By Dave Graichen
Ball’s police chief has been cleared of any wrong doing in a case of sexual harassment. The state’s assistant attorney general ruled, based upon information provided to his office, they have determined there was no evidence of criminal conduct related to the complaint. The original complaint was filed by a former Ball police officer Kyle McCain, who alleged that Williams sexually harassed him back in March.
Common Core crossed its first of many legal hurdles in Louisiana on Wednesday when a judge said a lawsuit challenging Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to order the state away from the hotly contested academic standards and companion tests can go forward. But state District Judge Todd Hernandez said attorneys for the group of parents and teachers who filed the suit last month cannot question the governor under oath in a deposition. Now, the pro-Common Core suit will be the focus of a full-blown hearing Monday. Hernandez is being asked to lift the Jindal administration’s suspension of state test contracts that Common Core advocates plan to rely on.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue says the state will hold another tax amnesty period from October 15th through November 14th. Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield says there’s something new this year: the option that delinquent taxpayers can pay their debt through payments. The tax payer will also have all penalties waived and only have to pay 50% of the interest that is due.
A new law preventing anyone 70 or older from running for constable or justice of the peace in Louisiana is facing stiff opposition, especially among the officials who are about to be banned from re-election because of their age. The mandatory retirement provision was signed into law in June with little fanfare. Now, however, the law is drawing fire as the deadline for filing to run in the November election approaches next week.
The long anticipated SEC Network, which promises to air more than 1,000 live events in its first year, will officially launch today at 5pm. Herb Vincent, who is a former leader within the athletic department at LSU, is the associate commissioner of communications for the Southeastern Conference. He says the SEC Network will broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year, all SEC all the time.
For the first half of 2014, Louisiana has had a 9.3 percent increase in exports compared to the same period last year. According to the World Trade Center of New Orleans report, the Bayou State exports hit $32.1 billion dollars. That’s good enough to be ranked 6th out of the top ten exporting states.
A Lafayette mother is facing negligent homicide charges in the death of her three-year-old child. Lafayette Police corporal Paul Mouton says 27-year-old Sara Leblanc told investigators the child was sick for a couple of days, and their investigation revealed the child went 25 hours without food or fluids during her illness. An autopsy report has determined the cause of death can be attributed to hypothermia and dehydration. Leblanc was charged with negligent homicide. Mouton says the investigation remains ongoing
The former chief financial officer at the Catahoula Sheriff’s office faces theft and malfeasance charges after he allegedly gave himself two unauthorized pay increases. State Police Trooper Albert Paxton says the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office provided the evidence that led to the arrest of 61-year-old George Tosspon of Jonesville. Paxton says the state audit revealed Tosspon received over 22-thousand dollars in excess wages from August 2009 to November 2013.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals issues a warning for travelers, beach goers, and fisherman about two diseases. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says one is the flesh-eating bacteria found in brackish or saltwater. He says the bacteria can be fatal, but it is treatable if you catch it early. DHH says the flesh-eating bacteria has infected 8 people in Louisiana this summer. Guidry says the other is a virus usually transmitted by mosquitoes in the Caribbean. He says initial symptom of this virus resemble the flu. The good news is, it is usually not fatal.
New research provided to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries shows Louisiana Black Bear population is making great strides toward recovery. Large Carnivore Program Manager, Maria Davidson, says they believe there are at least 250 female bears. They’re hopeful to soon have the Louisiana Black Bear removed from the endangered species list.
It’s been 2 years since the Bayou Corne sinkhole showed up in Assumption Parish, and now Federal Judge Jay Zainey has approved a $48.1 million dollars class action settlement which will compensate 269 residents. There were no objections to the settlement.
The Lake Charles Police Department says a 16-year-old Barbe High School student was hit by a car while she was crossing McNeese St Wednesday morning. The driver told cops she couldn’t see the pedestrian due to glare from the sun. The student is at a hospital with minor injuries.
News for Wednesday 081314
By Dave Graichen
State Climatologist Barry Keim says we’ve had northerly breezes move into Louisiana causing the humidity levels to drop dramatically. He says the weather outside is feeling much more comfortable that what you’d expect in The Bayou State for the middle of August. On the down side, Keim says this blast of Canadian air won’t drop temps all that much.
In the Common Core hearing yesterday, the attorneys for the Jindal administration argued that parents and educators have no authority to file a lawsuit against him for blocking Common Core. The argument was also made that – in case Judge Todd Hernandez rules against Governor Bobby Jindal-that the administration cannot be forced to testify, or give depositions. Hernandez says he will issue his written ruling soon.
A committee of Louisiana’s top school board Tuesday afternoon rejected a bid to derail Common Core test plans. The vote was 3-6 to use LEAP and iLEAP exams in the current school year, which were the tests used during the 2013-14 school year. But state Superintendent of Education John White urged the panel to stick with plans to have a test lineup in place by Aug. 31. A court hearing is set for Aug. 18 on a bid to allow Common Core tests to be given to students in March.
Jefferson Parish President John Young announces he’s running for Lt. Governor in 2015. The seat is being left open by Jay Dardenne who intends to run for Governor next year. Young says the Office of Tourism is a major growth industry for Louisiana. Young joins already announced candidates Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
We’re a week away from the start of the three-day qualifying period, where candidates officially sign up to run in the November election. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat does not expect any surprise candidates to enter the US senate race. Pinsonat says democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu will face two main republican challengers, Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness. A large field of candidates is expected in the six district congressional race. He says former governor Edwin Edwards is the favorite to make a run-off. Pinsonat says the fifth district congressional race will also have a large field, as challengers see Vance McAllister as a vulnerable incumbent.
5th district congressman Vance McAllister had a message for Gov. Bobby Jindal yesterday, that after the governor, while on a weekend trip to Iowa, once again called the congressman "an embarrassment" who he won't be endorsing because of McAllister's kissing scandal with a former staffer. McAllister told the media to “Thank the governor” McAllister says he wasn’t the Governors hand-picked candidate when he ran to replace Rodney Alexander and he won’t be this time either. The congressman had some advice of his own for the governor, saying "If the governor actually spent time in Louisiana listening to the concerns of his voters rather than those of the voters in Iowa he would better serve the people of Louisiana.
The VA announced yesterday a new, much-enlarged Veterans Affairs medical clinic should open in Lafayette 18 months from now to provide outpatient care to eligible veterans in the area. The path to opening the new Lafayette clinic was smoothed last week, after years of delay, when the President signed a VA reform bill that included approval for that outpatient clinic and 25 others around the country, including one in Lake Charles. The existing Lafayette VA clinic occupies the War Memorial Building . The new clinic, which will move to a building constructed for it, should be roughly double the size of the current one.
The New Orleans Police Department is still searching for the gunman who opened fire on a house in the Lower Ninth Ward that killed two and left five people injured. 33-year-old Terrance McBride and 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson were killed in the shooting. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says it is vitally important that citizens help police identify the shooter. A mother and her two children, both under the age of 5, remain in critical condition.
Hundreds of thousands of people who signed up under the new health care law risk losing their taxpayer-subsidized insurance unless they act quickly to resolve questions about their citizenship or immigration status. The government warned on Tuesday that they have just over three weeks to show that they're eligible. No numbers yet on how many people in Louisiana will be affected.
The recent death of actor-comedian Robin Williams has opened a discussion about suicide across the country. The death of the 63-year-old entertainer has been officially ruled a suicide. LSU Mental Health expert, Dr. Howard Osofsky, says the actor showed several risk factors for suicide. Williams was said to have been battling severe depression as of late. That along with his history of alcohol and substance abuse made the actor susceptible for suicide. Osofsky says, after a suicide, friends and family are often left wondering if they could have done something to prevent it. He says if you notice a loved one’s behavior changing, you may want to seek help. But, bottom line, even with help, sometimes suicides still occur.
According to Louisiana Oyster Task Force Chairman John Tesvich, since the BP spill, oyster production along Louisiana’s coast has reached lows that have not been seen in decades. Last year, just under a million pounds of oyster meat was produced and Tesvich says early numbers for this year are only slightly better. Prior to the BP spill, Louisiana public reefs would produce three to seven million pounds of oyster meat a year. As of now, there is no scientific evidence citing the oil spill as the sole factor for the decline in oyster populations.
News for Tuesday 081214
By Dave Graichen
On a day when there was only a 30% chance of rain, Heavy wind and rains rolled throughout Cenla Monday and left more than 3,000 residents without power. According to Cleco, nearly 1,700 power outages were reported in Rapides Parish. All of those have been restored. More than 800 customers were without power in Avoyelles parish as well.
Louisiana was the second-most expensive state in which to operate a motor vehicle, according to online personal finance firm Bankrate.com. The average driver in Louisiana spends $2,555 a year for gasoline, insurance and repairs, according to the report. On average, Louisiana drivers spend $1,277 a year on insurance. Only Wyoming was more expensive than Louisiana, at $2,705. But Wyoming residents drive 60 percent more than motorists in the rest of the country so their gasoline costs are much higher. Iowa was the cheapest state at $1,942 per year because drivers there have the cheapest auto insurance rates in the country. The average policy in Iowa costs just $630 per year.
The dispute over Common Core heads to court today. A hearing is set in Judge Todd Hernandez’s courtroom over a lawsuit filed by parents and educators who accuse Governor Jindal of overstepping his authority when he blocked tests associated with Common Core. Another Common Core hearing is scheduled for Friday in Tim Kelley’s courtroom. That one was filed by legislators who claim BESE and the department of education violated state law when it approved Common Core standards.
WalletHub, a national study group that looks at economic and social issues, ranked Louisiana 41st among 50 states and the District of Columbia in its ranking of "2014 Best and Worst States for Underprivileged Children." The state ranks 37th in early foundations and economic well-being, 37th in health and 49th in education. The ranking uses 16 metrics, ranging from infant death rates and children in foster care to child food insecurity rates and percentage of maltreated children. Louisiana ranks 21st in the percentage of children covered by health insurance but factors such as a much higher than normal infant death rate and poor health outcomes drag down the health factor.
5th District Congressman Vance McAllister has only 233 dollars in available campaign funds according to the last report he filed with the Federal Elections Commission on August 2nd. It’s expected the Congressman will self-finance much of his campaign. But ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says it sends a signal that McAllister may not have much support from voters…McAllister’s three Republican challengers have each raised over 200-thousand dollars.
Louisiana State Police is investigating an officer involved shooting in Crowley that has left an unidentified suspect dead. Master Trooper Brooks David says Crowley Police officers were responding to a disturbance call when a male subject began to shoot at the officers. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is ongoing
The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s office says a man from New Iberia is under arrest for allegedly shooting at a car he was trying to pass while traveling on a roadway. Spokeswoman Major Ginny Higgins says the suspect is identified as a 30-year-old Jeroswaskie Collette. She says he was allegedly driving erratically when he just opened fire on the other vehicle. Collette is charged with assault by drive by shooting. Fortunately, the other driver was not hurt.
A Baton Rouge gun dealer who stars in the Discovery Channel show “Sons of Guns” has been booked on charges of molestation of a juvenile and aggravated crimes against nature. 49-year-old William Hayden was released on bond Saturday. Hayden told TMZ the allegations come from an ex-girlfriend as retaliation for their break-up.
LSU fans will be able to add a little something extra to their tailgate or football parties for the upcoming season…An LSU Jell-O mold. Emilie Fitch is the brand manager for Jell-O. She says these college team Jiggler kits are just another way fans can show how passionate they are about their team. Fitch says she realizes that people make Jell-O shots but they do not advocate that behavior or promote recipes that include alcohol. The college Jiggler kit is available now at local retailers and they are apparently going fast.
An elderly driver from Grayson is dead following a crash with a charter bus on U.S. Highway 165 just south of Columbia. Eighty-six year-old Ted Coleman was attempting to enter the road from his driveway when he was struck by the bus. Coleman died later at a local hospital. His two passengers suffered moderate injuries. None of them were wearing seatbelts.
Almost a quarter of a million dollars worth of marijuana has been seized after a traffic stop on I-12 near I-55 in Hammond yesterday morning. Twenty-six year-old Carlos Davis of Greenwood, Mississippi was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Authorities say there could be other arrests connected to this one in Mississippi.
News for Monday 081114
By Dave Graichen
The President of the LSU Alumni Association goes on annual leave amidst a lawsuit claiming he paid a former female employee hush money. Mary Olive Pierson says her client, Charlie Roberts, admits to having a sexual relationship with Kay Heath but didn’t do anything unethical. Health’s attorney, Jeffry Sanford, says the two entered into a contractual financial agreement that was terminated by Roberts without notice. The lawsuit alleges Roberts asked Heath to quit her job and promised to pay her monthly money for the rest of her life.
The Department of Health and Hospitals reports 14 new cases of West Nile, bringing the state total to 29. And this past week, there was a second Louisiana death. David Holcombe, who is the Medical Director for the Office of Public Health in Central Louisiana, says the threat of West Nile will remain until we get cold weather. Not much is known about the latest victim, except that it was reported he was from the Capital area, and he was over the age of 75.
An experienced pilot died Sunday morning when his Bell 47 helicopter carrying crop-dusting materials crashed in a sugar cane field near Jeanerette. The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office say 60 year old Kenneth E. Squires was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash is under investigation.
With school starting around the state, teachers are educating kids in the classroom with no idea what assessment test will be given this year. Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan says educators are frustrated and angry about all of this. Monaghan says most teachers are irritated about being in the middle of a political battle between BESE and the Department of Education and Governor Bobby Jindal over Common Core. The two sides head to court this week. Monaghan says these political forces need to make this year about teaching.
Russia’s “full embargo” on food imports from the US, in response to sanctions over its crisis in Ukraine, will have a minimal impact on Louisiana farmers. The LSU AgCenter says, over the past five years, Russia has been a relatively minor customer for most US ag products.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says a Fed Ex man is under arrest for allegedly stealing packages he was supposed to deliver to businesses. BRPD spokesman L’Jean McKneely says they believe 50-year-old Nathaniel Smith would lie by saying he delivered goods he’d kept for himself. He says Fed Ex launched an investigation and that’s when they interviewed Smith and booked him for felony theft. McKneely says Smith was even supposed to deliver two computers to the police department that never arrived.
A man accused in two homicides has been charged with asking friends to beat, bribe, intimidate or kill the witnesses who planned to testify against him at his murder trials. The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s office issued a true bill against 23 year old Erick Scott charging him with solicitation for first-degree murder and conspiracy to injure or intimidate witnesses after an investigation into his jailhouse phone calls and letters. Scott has been in Parish Prison since 2012 awaiting trial in the murder of two men and attempted murder of two others.
Farmers across the state are beginning to harvest another rice crop. There was a phenomenal crop last year yielding a statewide average of 7,500 pounds per acre. LSU AgCenter Rice Specialist, Dr. Johnny Saichuck (SAY-chuck), says we shouldn’t expect those same numbers with this year’s crop. Saichuck says this year’s rain and cloud cover has affected this year’s rice crop. He thinks the crop is running about two weeks behind what it was last year.
LSU’s defensive line has been hit by another injury as junior defensive tackle Quentin Thomas from Breaux Bridge is out for the season with a torn bicep. Tiger Rag Editor Robert Stewart says having a significant player lost for the season at this particular position is a tough blow for the Tigers.
News for Friday 080814
By Dave Graichen
24 year old Bubbie Waters of Lecompte has been arrested and faces multiple charged in connection with the theft of several ATV’s and side by side utility vehicles. Detectives with the RPSO say the vehicles were stolen in the dead of the night and the victims didn’t realize the vehicles were gone until the next day or in some cases several days later. Detectives also recovered a stolen ATV from Waters' house.
A Pineville man, Keith Wayne Ranburger, is being accused of scouting stuff that people had listed for sale across the state, but then, according to the RPSO, would return later and steal the items. The investigation involved thefts in 5 parishes..
Bobby Jindal is scheduled to be in Iowa today and tomorrow, his third visit to the important presidential primary state in recent months. Early polls show muted interest in Jindal’s aspirations, a recent CNN poll even put him outside the top 7 candidates. Jindal says he will not make any calls on a presidential run until after the November elections have concluded.
Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have updated their hurricane season forecast and now say there is an increased chance it will be below-normal. Lead seasonal forecaster Gerry Bell says conditions across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea are incredibly unfavorable for hurricane development. He says the outlook issued today calls for a 70% chance of a below normal season.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry says the state will lose jobs and energy prices will rise if the EPA’s proposed ozone standards are enacted. The EPA is considering new regulations that will require the state to lower ozone pollution. LABI President Stephen Waguespack says a National Association of Manufacturers report indicates the regulations would hurt the state’s booming economy. The EPA will finalize the new ozone regulations in December. The federal agency says history proves you can reduce pollution and grow the economy at the same time.
Louisiana State Police is now offering the sale of crash photographs online through their website. The purpose of the new system is to increase accessibility to crash photos and to streamline the purchasing process. However, Fatality photographs will not be available online.
It was a close call for the main house of the historic Myrtles Plantation Wednesday night when a fire broke out in the gift shop. It took the St. Francisville Fire Department, along with several other agencies from around the area, a couple of hours to get control of the blaze. The main house was not damaged. And that fire is currently being investigated by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
State Police say the man who drove through a house in Schriever and caused the death of a baby on June 27, was extremely drunk at the time according to blood-alcohol tests that came back this week. Trooper Evan Harrell says during the incident, 20-year-old Tony Milligan of Houma rear-ended another car then fled the scene. Milligan remains in jail on a vehicular homicide charge among many others.
Well it’s a start.. A 57-million dollar construction project is set to begin on US 90 in Lafayette Parish as crews will expand that highway to interstate standards from Ambassador Caffery to Albertsons Parkway. State department of transportation spokesperson Deidra Druilhet (Drool yet) says this is also a part of a larger plan to extend I-49 South. She says it should take about 3 years to complete the one-point-six mile stretch of roadway.
The LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans has been awarded a $5.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to build a regional cancer clinical trials network. This program creates a network of physicians, nurses, and researchers to deliver the latest promising treatments for cancer.
The Saints kick off their preseason campaign tonight against the St. Louis Rams. Head Coach Sean Payton says he likes the current NFL preseason schedule of four games. He says it give players the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Payton hasn’t said how much or if quarterback Drew Brees will play in tonight’s game. Brees has been out of pads for about a week because of an oblique injury. Backup quarterback Luke McCown is expected to see plenty of action tonight.
The LSU football team will go through its practice in pads this morning as the entire freshmen class will also be competing with the veterans for the first time. Coach Les Miles says based on yesterday’s practice, the defense is ahead of the offense. A question mark on defense this season is at defensive tackle as the Tigers must find two new starters.
News for Thursday 080714
By Dave Graichen
Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway yesterday asked for the resignation of CLECO’s CEO Bruce Williamson. Commission members spent nearly two hours Wednesday quizzing Williamson about why he wants to sell the publicly traded utility based in Pineville. Williamson insisted that the company is not for sale, but by law, they have a fiduciary duty to review a proposal when it is received. Williamson went on to say federal law prohibited him from talking about the offer.
Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested a 23 year old Alexandria man on charges of armed robbery and home invasion. Donald Ray Sias Jr. is accused of breaking into a Kelley Land subdivision home early Tuesday and demanding money from a resident. The victim said he woke up to find a man holding a pistol in his face, demanding money. The suspect left after taking money and other items, according to the release. When detectives and deputies found Sias, he still had items that had been taken from the residence.
Governor Jindal wants a judge to rule Louisiana’s public schools can NOT use testing material tied to the Common Core education standards. Attorney Jimmy Faircloth filed the petition in state court today on Jindal’s behalf. At one time Governor Jindal was a supporter of Common Core, but now describes the controversial education standards as an attempt by the federal government to interfere with local education. This issue also has a lawsuit from the other side, filed by parents and teachers who say Jindal violated the constitution when his administration suspended the testing contract tied to Common Core.
The state police report Rosepine's police chief was arrested Wednesday, accused of stalking his estranged wife at her home and at work. Detectives received a complaint last month about Chief James "Dennis" Parrott's alleged stalking. According to the complainant, Parrott followed his wife and a male friend back to her new residence where he obtained the license plate number of the male’s vehicle. Parrott then allegedly used the Rosepine Police Department’s computer databases to run the license plate to obtain the identity of the male friend." Parrott was arrested Wednesday at the Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office and was charged with stalking and malfeasance in office. His bond was set at $15,000.
The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa now stands at 932, according to the World Health Organizations. Medical Director for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Dr. Frank Welch says there is no real threat of an outbreak in Louisiana. Welch says the Ebola virus is spread by very close personal contact with an infected person through their bodily fluids. He says that’s why many cases now are health care workers caring for patients with Ebola. Welch says you cannot contract Ebola very easily like, for example, the flu.
In a postscript to ill-fated damage claims made against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Corps has sent out about 565,000 letters formally notifying victims of those storms that their claims have been denied. The Corps released a copy of the one-page letter Wednesday. It is signed by chief counsel Earl Stockdale. He describes it as “the final administrative action” in claims against the Corps regarding Katrina- or Rita-related injuries, deaths or property damage blamed on faulty levees or badly maintained navigation channels. It is all a moot point since various court rulings have held that the Corps is immune from such claims.
As summer winds down and we look toward the fall, it looks like another banner year for the film industry in Louisiana. Jurassic World, Pitch Perfect 2, Terminator 5, and a new Fantastic Four movie were all filmed here this year. Executive Director of Louisiana Entertainment, Chris Stelly, says there are more movie productions scheduled for the Bayou State. Stelly says the number of projects filmed in Louisiana have steadily increased over the past few years. He says the future of the film industry in Louisiana looks bright.
As most kids head back to the classroom this week or next, the State Police are reminding motorists that cell phones are now banned, by law, in a school zone. Trooper Jared Sandifer says cops will be out enforcing this law. Sandifer says a first violation of the cell phone school zone ban is a $175 fine and subsequent violations can be up to $500.
The LSU Alumni Association President is speaking out about a lawsuit filed on Friday where it is alleged he offered lifetime payoffs to an female employee with whom he reportedly was having a sexual relationship. In a statement released Wednesday, Dr. Charlie Roberts said he was “blindsided” by the accusations, and responded that the charges of him trying to pay off Kay Heath – when she was let go – are false.
A new 14-million dollar laboratory for animal and food science research is open for business on the LSU Baton Rouge campus. LSU Ag Center Associate Vice Chancellor Phil Elzer says the state-of-the-art research and teaching facility has spacious labs and three-million dollars in new equipment. Elzer says the renovated animal and food science laboratory will help LSU attract more students and faculty who want to perform cutting edge research. State funding helped revitalized the two-story, 49-thousand square foot building.
The new iphone 6 will be here next month, and insiders are saying there will be many benefits that users are looking for, along with some surprises. So LN asked around the state, “What do you want on your phone?” Most said better coverage and fewer gimmicks
News for Wednesday 080614
By Dave Graichen
Nicholas Wright has announced his candidacy for mayor of Alexandria. According to a press release announcing his candidacy, Wright is an Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Wright, who will turn 28 years old at the end of this month, is the fifth announced candidate in the race, including incumbent Jacques Roy.
Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu agrees to participate in four televised debates before the November fourth election. The first one will be in New Orleans October second. No word if Republican challenger Bill Cassidy will participate, while Tea Party candidate Rob Maness says he’ll be at the first three for sure.
Top officials with Cleco are expected to appear today at the Public Service Commission meeting to answer questions regarding a possible sale of the utility company. Commissioner Eric Skrmetta says if a company wants to come and invest in a company in Louisiana that’s not a problem, but the PSC needs to make sure rate payers and employees are not affected. He says they’ve heard there are several parties interested in acquiring the company. Cleco is a public utility and they can do whatever they want, according to Skrmetta, but whatever it is has to be approved by the PSC.
According to a new poll, US Representative Vance McAllister’s challengers are within single digits in the race for the 5th congressional seat. The survey, conducted by the Glascock group out of Pineville, shows McAllister at 27 percent, with democrat and Monroe Mayor Jaime Mayo at 21 percent and Republican Ralph Abraham at 18 percent. ULM political science professor Joshua Stockley says the race is wide open.
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden criticizes Governor Jindal’s trip to the US-Mexico border. After the trip, the governor blamed the Obama administration for not doing more to keep illegal immigrants out of the US. Holden, who plans to run for Lieutenant Governor, says Jindal should worry about Louisiana’s issues. Holden made his comments on Baton Rouge Talkshow.
Saints Owner Tom Benson left practice in an ambulance yesterday after reportedly having trouble breathing because of the high altitude. He was taken to a local hospital to receive oxygen. Team officials say the 87-year-old is fine.
The Louisiana Department of Education has released the “High School Student Planning Guidebook: A Path to Prosperity for Every Student”. It’s a comprehensive guide for parents and school personnel, detailing pathways to opportunities for students after high school. Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Content, Ken Bradford says in the past three years, college opportunities have expanded for students in Louisiana, as well as opportunities to achieve meaningful career credentials through the Jump Start initiative and the related Course Choice program. The guide can be found at louisianabelieves.com
The Plaquemine Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating an industrial incident at Daybrook Fisheries in which two men got trapped in some equipment. Spokesman Commander Eric Becnel says each man had damage to their legs. Both men remain hospitalized in stable condition.
A Rayne woman has been sentenced for 8 years without parole for deaths of 4 of her children in a home fire, while she was out “clubbing” in 2012. Shequela McDade was charged with four counts of negligent homicide for each child, all under the age of eight.
Crape myrtles in Louisiana are under attack from a new invasive species. Crape myrtle barkscales, the invasive bug, are infesting trees across north Louisiana, and feeding off of the popular summer flowering tree. LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings says the bug first arrived from overseas. The bugs don’t pose an imminent threat to the life of the trees, but given time, could severely weaken their flowering output and vibrancy.
Saints training camp continues in West Virginia and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan likes what the defense has accomplished so far. Ryan admits the run defense did not perform well in Saturday’s scrimmage. He says since then, they have put some good practices behind them. As the team heads into Friday’s first preseason game at St. Louis, Ryan wants to see continued improvement in his defense. He says they have a lot to work on, but the coaching staff needs to make sure the Saints “D” plays up to its potential.
News for Tuesday 080514
By Dave Graichen
With school just about to begin in Rapides parish, finishing touches are being put on close to $40 million in construction projects. Martin Park Elementary will open its doors to students again on Aug. 12 after a fire in October 2012 sent faculty and students to the former Hadnot-Hayes Elementary building on Lincoln Road. That project carried with it a $6.7 million price tag. Cafeteria work will continue past the opening of school at several facilities across the district.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal traveled to the Texas/Mexico border on Monday in response to the spike in undocumented immigrant children from Central America illegally crossing the border alone. Also on the trip to McAllen, Texas, are Louisiana House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson. Following a tour and briefing, Edmonson said he’s concerned about the impact the influx of immigrants could have on safety in Louisiana, as well as public services. Edmonson said in at least three locations they saw where people were trying to make their way into Texas and there was no one there to stop them.
Cleco Corp.’s top executive and several board members are expected to appear at Wednesday’s meeting of the Louisiana Public Service Commission to answer questions related to a possible sale of the Pineville-based utility. Bruce Williamson, Cleco’s president, chief executive officer and chairman of the Board of Directors, has voluntarily agreed to appear, along with at least four board members. That meeing will be open to the public.
Alexandria’s Night Out Against Crime will be held tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Alexandria Public Safety Complex, 100 Bolton Ave., and at other sites around the city. The event is free, and food and entertainment will be provided .Children must be accompanied by an adult. There will be jumpers, a dunk-a-cop booth, police motorcycle demonstration and more. Drawings will be held for bicycles and others gifts..
It’s been reported that former Governor Buddy Roemer has suffered a stroke. According to his son Chas, who was speaking at the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday, the former governor suffered the minor stroke about 4 weeks ago, but has already been back at work.
Drivers across the state are now seeing gas prices around $3.30 for a gallon of regular. That’s a good deal lower from where they were last month, and have been dropping at a steady rate of about one cent a day over the last week or so. American Automobile Association fuel analyst Don Redman expects that will continue this month.
Over 190 new people have joined a lawsuit designed to stop the implementation of common core in Louisiana. The additions, mostly concerned Louisiana parents, joined the lawsuit over a less than 48 hour period. The number of lawsuits in involving common core has sky rocketed over the last month, with both sides gearing up for lengthy litigation.
LSU junior safety Jalen Mills participated in team practice Monday afternoon after the East Baton Rouge District Attorney reduced the charges against him from felony second degree battery to misdemeanor simple battery. The charges stem from a May incident where Mills allegedly punched a woman near his apartment. DA Hillar Moore says the felony charge was the arrest charge and his office believes the misdemeanor charge is appropriate after reviewing evidence and reports.
A large percentage of Shreveport Public Works solid waste and disposal service employees did not show up for work Monday. That left over 2 dozen trash trucks unmanned for Monday collections. One employee says workers were told there were no funds for pay raises, and recently, the city bought two street sweepers for about $600 thousand dollars.
According to “Governing” magazine, Louisiana is the seventh most popular state for millennials. Millennials are defined as persons born between 1981 and 2000. The magazine states that 28.5-percent of Louisiana’s population falls into the millennial age bracket. That is the largest age group living in the Bayou State. Excluding Washington, DC, Louisiana has the highest concentration of millennials in the eastern half of the United States.
Flying Tiger Aviation, which trains pilots for work in the agricultural industry, announced Monday it is relocating its operations from Rayville to Bastrop, a move that will create 21 new jobs. The new jobs will have an average salary of $61,000 a year, plus benefits. Flying Tiger will retain 14 existing jobs.
News for Monday 080414
By Dave Graichen
So far, At least three candidates will challenge Incumbent Jacques Roy this fall for the Alexandria mayor’s seat. As of now, Roy will face National Guard officer Jamar Gailes, former Cleco executive Jeff Hall and City Councilwoman Mitzi LaSalle. While Mayor Roy stands on his eight-year record as mayor, LaSalle stressed her experience from serving on the City Council, Gailes his record of service in the military and the community and Hall his record in the public and private sector.
551 new laws went into effect in Louisiana Friday. One of those laws would grant an immediate divorce in domestic violence situations. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says previously, even if you had tons of evidence that you were a victim of domestic violence, you’d still have to wait 6 months to a year before you get a divorce.
Morrell says other new laws dealing with domestic violence ban abusers under a protective order from possessing a firearm and those convicted of domestic abuse are prohibited from possessing a firearm for 10 years.
Motorists now face much stiffer penalties if they throw a cigarette butt from a car window. The new law increases fines for the intentional disposal of a cigarette from a motor vehicle. First offense fines are increased from $250 to $300, plus community service. Marrerro Representative Patrick Connick says the key to the success of this law is enforcement…
A Louisiana Public Safety delegation is on the US/Mexico border today for a security briefing and tour by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Among those in the delegation are State Police Colonel Mike Edmondson and Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, Chuck Kleckley.
In the battle for a Louisiana Senate seat in the upcoming November election, Senator May Landrieu has just picked up an endorsement from The Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. The group also endorsed her in 2002 and 2008.
Business Facilities Magazine names the state of Louisiana as the number one business climate in the nation. This is the first time the Bayou State has topped a national business climate ranking.
New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson is a wealthy man. Turns out, he is very, very wealthy. Movoto, a real estate website, released an interactive map listing the richest person in each state, and Benson is the wealthiest person in Louisiana with an estimated $1.5 billion.
The new school year is approaching and the Department of Health and Hospitals is reminding parents to be sure your child is up-to-date on vaccinations. State immunologist Dr. Frank Welch says not only is ensuring your child has received the proper vaccinations important, it’s also the law. Welch says vaccines have proven safe and effective in preventing illness and death from many infectious diseases.
Colorado State University researchers continue to predict a below average 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season. CSU report Author Dr. William Gray says they are now calling for a total of 10 named storms with four becoming hurricanes and one to reach major hurricane strength. Gray says, just because a below average season is predicted, that doesn’t mean residents along the Gulf Coast shouldn’t take the usual precautions because you just never know.
The massive sinkhole in Bayou Corne happened 2 years ago and resident frustrations over the massive disaster continue. The collapsed salt dome caused the evacuations of 350 people. John Boudreaux, Director of the Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says the sinkhole was created from a collapsed underground salt dome cavern operated by Texas Brine Company. The company and property owners reached a settlement earlier this year to end damage claims and buy out their properties.
A University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor is conducting research to keep astronauts healthy. Dr. Ray Boudreaux’s research is focused on one of the hazards of extended space missions: bone loss. Boudreaux says the bone mass of astronauts is reduced by 1 to 2 percent each month they are in space. He says the ultimate goal of this research is to get astronauts to Mars healthy. Boudreaux says his research could also be helpful to help people who are bedridden for several months at a time or patients suffering from spinal cord injuries
In a recently released ranking of the “50 Great Affordable College Towns in the US”, Monroe comes in at number 33 in the nation. Monroe is the only city in Louisiana to be ranked. ULM President Nick Bruno says Monroe offers great support to the university. The list was compiled based on the cost of living index published by the Council for Community and Economic Research. Bruno says in these days of rising tuition costs, students consider things like cost of food, housing, utilities and transportation when choosing where they want to attend college.
LSU Head Coach Les Miles spoke with the media Sunday and said 103 players reported as fall training camp gets underway today. The LSU roster will kick things off today with the veterans, and some freshman, going in the morning and the other freshman will take the afternoon session.
News for Friday 080114
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana’s sales tax holiday starts today. For the next two days, customers will not have to pay the 4% sales tax on the first 25 hundred dollars of each item they buy. Louisiana Department of Revenue spokesperson Byron Henderson says the tax exemption applies to the state sales tax of 4%, any other taxes, local and parish, will still apply…
Gov. Bobby Jindal is demanding further details from the White House about 1,071 unaccompanied immigrant children living with sponsors in Louisiana. Jindal wants to know where the children are living, the timeline for determining their ultimate status and whether the federal government plans to kick in dollars for their education and health care. He also wants to know how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decided where to place them.
Tropical Storm Bertha has formed, becoming the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami said the tropical storm’s maximum sustained winds at last report were near 45 mph. The storm was centered about 275 miles southeast of Barbados and about 385 miles southeast of St. Lucia, and is moving northwest at 20 mph. The hurricane center said little change is expected in the storm’s strength over the next couple of days.
Longtime youth baseball and softball coach Edwin Prescott Armstrong Jr. known as most “Skip,” died Tuesday after a long fight with cancer. Services are at 1 p.m. today at Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria. Interment will follow in Alexandria Memorial Gardens. Armstrong was 60.
Starting today, individuals with a concealed carry permit are allowed to bring a concealed firearm into restaurants that serve alcohol. HB 72, sponsored by Metairie representative Joe Lopinto, is now in effect, along with a host of other bills that were passed in the last legislative session. The bill increases the growing number of places that citizens with licenses are allowed to enter with their concealed weapons.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne expressed his frustration Thursday about the Common Core Curriculum stand-off between Governor Bobby Jindal who wants to stop it and BESE who wants to keep it. Dardenne says whether you agree with Common Core or not, the legislature has already voted to keep it, which, in his mind, is the right thing to do. Both sides will have hearing dates scheduled in a little over 2 weeks from now.
The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest in the case of the murder of a man whose remains were found in his burned down house earlier this month. They say 27-year-old Major Jones of Zwolle is charged with second degree murder in the death of 50-year-old James Green of Fisher. The victim’s body was found at his residence on July 18th.
USA Today has released their preseason football coaches poll yesterday and the LSU Tigers will enter the season ranked number 13
The Air Force’s oldest bomb wing, located in Bossier City, is now being commanded by its first ever female bomb wing commander. Col. Kristen Goodwin is taking command of the 2nd Bomb Wing based out of Barksdale Air Force Base. Retired Master Sgt. and military archivist at LSUS Shawn Bohannon says first and foremost, it’s about a qualified officer getting a well earned promotion
A St. Martinville man was taken to the hospital Thursday afternoon after he attempted to commit suicide in a courtroom after being found guilty of an aggravated sex crime. It is reported that after receiving the verdict, the defendant pulled a razor from his pocket and slashed both wrists and his throat. Authorities do not know how he got the razor through courthouse metal detectors.
Yesterday was the first day Congressman Steve Scalise officially took on the role of House Majority Whip. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says the Jefferson Congressman’s number 3 position in the US House of Representatives means he has a greater say in the debate for federal funding of critical infrastructure in Louisiana. He says for Scalise to be able to get elected to this high position by his fellow members of Congress speaks volumes of his political skills. Pinsonat says this gives Louisiana a level of power and influence we haven’t had in Washington in many years.
Caddo Parish Public School officials are investigating allegations of grade changing at Booker T. Washington High School in Shreveport. The Shreveport Times reports that the principal has been placed on paid leave, after an anonymous tip was sent to the Superintendent. The investigation is ongoing.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 79-year-old DeRidder man on sexual battery charges. Authorities say George Dion allegedly sexually assaulted a detective during an undercover investigation on the I-10 beach. Dion was released on $5,000 bond.
State Police say a 70-year-old woman from Robert is accused of cashing fake checks in amounts of over 125-thousand dollars. Investigators say Barbara Dantone’s boss noticed something wrong with the money and notified authorities who began an investigation confirming the discrepancies. Dantone was booked into the Tangipahoa Parish Jail on more than 250 counts of forgery and bank fraud.
The James Brown biopic “Get On Up” opens in theaters everywhere today. Officials in Natchez, MS want to take advantage of the film’s buzz by developing a tour map of filming locations around the area. Natchez Convention and Visitor’s Bureau spokesperson, Jessica Cauthen, says their brochure is based on a similar map of Greenville, MS following the movie “The Help”. “Get On Up” was filmed in 21 locations in and around Natchez. Cauthen says their map will contain historic information and trivia about the filming of the movie. Greenville is still hosting bus tours from “The Help” three years after its release. Cauthen says they’d like to do the same in Natchez for this movie.
Methanex Corp. expects to be producing methanol from its 1.1 million-ton Geismar 1 facility in late 2014, while production from the 1.1 million-ton Geismar 2 plant is expected to begin production in early 2016. Methanex recorded $100 million in spending related to both facilities during the second quarter of this year.
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