News for Tuesday 093014
By Dave Graichen
Congratulations going out to the crew of KALB TV5 as the central Louisiana icon celebrates it’s 60th anniversary. Among the first images that traveled across the airwaves of kalb, the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians.
A federal judge receives an update today on progress abortion providers have made when it comes to obtaining privileges to admit patients at local hospitals. A state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges has been put on hold. Center for Reproductive Rights attorney, Janet Crepps, says the doctors they represent still have applications pending. Louisiana’s new abortion restrictions law was set to go into effect September first, but a US judge in New Orleans blocked enforcement, so abortion clinic doctors can obtain privileges. Crepps says since the doctors they represent haven’t made any progress, she expects the judge will rule legal abortions can continue.
A group of Louisiana lawmakers and other state leaders are expressing outrage about Louisiana hospitals charging rape victims for care. Slidell Representative Kevin Pearson says rape separates itself from other types of violent crimes because they so very often go unreported. Even though the standard rape kit at hospitals is free, the HIV and pregnancy test is not; including any medications ot treatment that may be needed.
The Louisiana Association of Educators has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of using public school budget money to fund certain types of charter schools. $60 million from the budget, also known as the MFP, has been designated to fund those charter schools. LAE President Debbie Meaux says the Louisiana Constitution is clear on this issue. Education Superintendent John White says this lawsuit is a money grab for unions and school boards and an attempt to keep parents from choosing the school they think is best for their children. But, Meaux says the charter schools in question are schools not controlled by city or parish school boards and, therefore, not eligible for funds from the public school budget.
A CNN poll on Louisiana’s US Senate race shows Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu winning the primary, but losing a runoff with Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says the survey also shows Landrieu will have to make sure registered Democratic voters get to the polls and she needs more support from white voters. The poll was conducted last week. Stockley contends, unless Cassidy makes a mistake during the campaign, he has an excellent chance to win it.
Beginning Monday, the hours at the Alexandria VA Medical Center’s Urgent Care Clinic will change.
The new hours will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday. On weekends and holidays, hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The clinic, on the first floor of Building 7, offers care for cold and flu symptoms, high/low blood pressure, high/low blood sugar and stitches.
A Fort Polk man, 23 year old Casey Young, has been arrested after a sexual misconduct investigation by the Leesville Police Department. Young was booked into the Leesville City Jail and was charged with aggravated rape and aggravated incest. Young’s bond was set at $175,000, and he remains in jail. An investigation is continuing.
The “Move Over” law requires drivers, when approaching a stopped vehicle utilizing warning lights, to change to a non-adjacent lane to the parked vehicle. If a lane change is not possible, you should slow down before passing the stopped vehicle. Edmonson says if someone is broken down on the side of the road, that person is owed certain amount of consideration. More first responders are killed by traffic crashes than by any other line-of-duty cause.
State Police say a 38-year-old passenger from DeRidder is dead after a 13-year-old driver hit a cow. Sgt James Anderson says the victim is identified as 38-year-old Jason Brooks. Anderson says the reason the 13-year-old was driving is still under investigation. He says there was another 16-year-old passenger in the vehicle and nobody was buckled up.
In Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in the United States, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson comes in at number 386. The 2014 FORBES 400 lists Benson’s net worth at $1.6 billion. Benson is the only Louisianan to make the list.
True freshman Brandon Harris is the new starting quarterback at LSU. Coach Les Miles says Harris deserves a chance to start this Saturday against fifth ranked Auburn after leading the Tigers on seven consecutive touchdown drives against New Mexico State on Saturday. Miles says Harris made quality decisions with the football and likes his ability to ad-lib. Harris will make his first collegiate start at Auburn and raucous crowd is expected for this SEC West clash. Miles expects Harris and the rest of the team to handle the hostile environment well.
Saints Coach Sean Payton says there needs to be a sense of urgency this week to correct the mistakes that has led to a 1-and-3 start. On Monday, Payton listed several reasons why the team has struggled. He says a negative turnover ratio of negative six, which is tied for worst in the NFL is near the top of the list.
News for Monday 092914
By Dave Graichen
Authorities have yet to release the name of the one know victim of a single vehicle fiery crash on highway 171 in Vernon Parish over the weekend. The driver, a 21-year-old man from Fort Polk, has been identified, but that victim's name has not been made public as Fort Polk authorities are making arrangements to notify next of kin, police said. The passenger has not been identified yet due to the severity of injuries/burns. Routine toxicology tests are pending. The crash remains under investigation.
According to the Army Environmental Command, Fort Polk has received the most supporting public comments of any of the 30 Army bases across the country facing military cutbacks. Michael Reese, with Fort Polk Progress, says out of about 110,000 comments received this year, over 34,000 comments supported Fort Polk. Fort Polk’s maximum troop reduction could be as high as 6,500, out of a current military population of just under 11,000. Reese says the Army will make an announcement next June.
It’s unusual for one US Senator to go door-to-door to encourage voters NOT to vote for the other US Senator in the same state, but that’s exactly what Senator David Vitter did Saturday in Baton Rouge. Vitter was accompanied by representatives from an anti-abortion group. Senator Many Landrieu believes in pro-choice. Landrieu’s main challenger in the race, Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy, is pro-life
State Police announce the arrest of eleven people between the ages of 21 and 61 in an undercover operation targeting prostitution, human trafficking and child exploitation in Shreveport. Authorities say two of the people arrested were child predators who were allegedly involved in a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old.
A federal jury in Alexandria returned a verdict of guilty with the death penalty Friday against the man who kidnapped and murdered a 12 year-old girl in the fall of 2010. Fifty-seven year old Thomas Sanders was convicted in the brutal killing of Lexis Roberts, whose body was found in a wooded area in Catahoula Parish. Prosecutors say Sanders also killed the girl’s mother in Arizona in what they call a vacation that went terribly wrong.
According to the Shreveport Mayor’s office, Fire Chief Ronald Craig Mulford has been fired after being on paid leave since being indicted in June on charges stemming from his handling of complaints against several firefighters under his command. Mulford is accused of not reporting criminal activity. One of the firefighters has pleaded guilty to hiring a prostitute and to abusing an intellectually disabled man.
US Senate candidate Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy released a television ad over the weekend featuring former supporters of incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu. In the spot, three women say they will not vote for Landrieu this year because of her support of the Affordable Care Act. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this is a good move on the part of Cassidy. Pinsonat says President Obama and Obamacare remain extremely unpopular in Louisiana. He says attaching Landrieu to Obama is a smart strategy for Cassidy…
LSU moved up three spots to No. 15 in the coaches poll and two spots to No. 15 in the Associated Press top 25, both of which were released Sunday.
The Tigers are 4-1 after beating New Mexico State 63-7 behind a breakout performance from true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris. LSU, 0-1 in Southeastern Conference play, travels to No. 5 Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC) next Saturday.
News for Friday 092614
By Dave Graichen
Cenla has done it again. Word yesterday from the Army Environmental command that Fort Polk received more support comments than any other base in the country. The base, along with others across the country, is facing the possibility of major staff reductions in the latest round of military cutbacks. Residents last month were asked to show their support for the base in the form of letters, petitions and emails and did they ever. 34,619 comments were received by the Army brass. Michael Reese with Fort Polk Progress said he was “awed” by the response, which far exceeds what they were expecting.
Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives are asking for help in finding a runaway girl who may be in the Pineville or Pollock areas. Megan Nicole Johnson is 16, has black hair and blue eyes. She stands 5 feet, 4 inches and weighs 140 pounds. She has a heart tattoo on her left hand. She last was seen in the Pineville area on Tuesday, wearing a white-hooded sweatshirt, black T-shirt, blue jeans and black and pink Nike shoes. If anyone has seen or knows where Megan can be found, contact authorities.
Flu season is right around the corner and that means it’s time for your flu shot. Bill Schaffner with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says everyone older than six months of age should be getting a vaccination because there is no excuse not to do it. Schaffner says you can get flu shots at any doctor’s office, clinic or even pharmacy. He says young adults get hit the hardest when it comes to getting sick because they are the hardest demographic to get vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 100 children lost their lives to the flu last season and 90 percent of them were not vaccinated.
A state judge has suspended his ruling that struck down Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban, effectively putting the decision on hold pending an appeal by the state Attorney General’s Office.
Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Edward Rubin’s ruling earlier this week was not expected to have any immediate impact in other jurisdictions, but his order granting the state’s request to suspend the ruling makes clear that no same sex marriage licenses will be issued in Lafayette Parish until the legal issue is resolved.
Governor Bobby Jindal is spending yet another weekend visiting key presidential campaign states. Jindal is still considering a presidential bid in 2016, although recent poll numbers do not have the governor performing well against other contenders. Jindal is in New Hampshire today, Saturday, Jindal returns to Iowa to make an appearance at an Iowa State University tailgate for Republican Senator Bill Dix and give a speech to the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition. The governor has said he will not announce a possible presidential bid until after the November elections.
With the report of the resignation of US Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, the Louisiana delegation is reacting to the news. And not everyone was complementary of his job performance, as South Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany said Holder set a – quote – “bad precedent for the future attorney generals and undermined the trust of the American people in their government.” Also, In a prepared statement released yesterday, senator David Vitter said that he couldn’t think of any AG in history who has attacked Louisiana more than Holder.
Louisiana State Police is reporting another officer involved shooting, this time in Beauregard Parish where a man was killed after allegedly tried to run over authorities during a pursuit. Sgt. James Anderson says officers responded to a disturbance in Dry Creek. Anderson says they were trying to apprehend the subject, who was in a vehicle. He says the suspect, identified as 25-year-old Jacob Navarre, tried to run over the deputies who shot and killed the him. Navarre was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tackling a volatile topic, a state panel Thursday began considering ways to revamp the way Louisiana evaluates its public school teachers. The group, which advises the state’s top school board, is required by a law passed earlier this year to review the state’s teacher evaluation law and to make recommendations to the Legislature, possibly as early as November.
Louisiana State Police found over 14 pounds of cocaine and more than a pound of marijuana during a traffic stop on Interstate 12 in Tangipahoa Parish on Thursday morning. They say the cocaine alone was worth millions.
The LSU Police Department says a man is under arrest for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in an RV on campus following a tailgate party. Spokesman Captain Corey LaLonde says the victim told officers the sexual battery occurred at night while she was sleeping in the RV. 47-year-old Daniel Sanchez of Gonzales is charged with two counts of sexual battery and two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has filed a lawsuit against the Abbeville Police Department claiming they are violating the First Amendment with their social media policy. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says the rule basically states that employees can’t post anything on social media which casts the city in a negative light. The rub is, what constitutes a negative light? The Abbeville Police Department is not commenting on the suit.
New Orleans Senator JP Morrell leads a new study commission trying to determine how much Louisiana agencies spend on the death penalty. Morrell, a Democrat, says the idea came to mind when the current combination of drugs used for lethal injection became unavailable and seeing what happened in other states. Views differ widely on the topic. Morrell says prosecutors will say the cost of executing someone is negligible, while defense attorneys say it cost millions of dollars.
Northwestern State University officials got initial approval from the Board of Regents Thursday to develop a solution that would allow people with associate degrees in resource management to work toward a bachelor’s degree while keeping their current jobs. NSU has been working with the Regents staff for almost a year to develop an online Bachelor of Applied Science in Resource Management program designed to meet that need. Courses will be offered online in eight- and 16-week formats, whichever works best for students, the university says in its submitted plan. Since the university already offers the courses, no additional faculty or space would be needed.
News for Thursday 092514
By Dave Graichen
The grand opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch of the Rapides Parish Library is set for 3:30 to 5 p.m. today. The MLK branch library is at 1115 Broadway Ave. in Alexandria. The 4,000-square-foot building opened at that new location last month after the branch was closed for more than a year. It was previously located on Lower Third Street.
The Internal Revenue Service has slapped the city of Leesville with more than $400,000 in fines and penalties as a result of failure to properly file W-2 forms in 2010. Mayor Rick Allen said this was the first notice the city has received of the fine and that officials could not locate any other notice in its mail log. Allen said he is hopeful that the city can negotiate a lower penalty.
The Alexandria Police Department will host the 7th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Public Safety Complex on Bolton Ave. The Drug Enforcement Administration again will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcements agencies, focused on removing potentially dangerous controlled substance from our nation’s medicine cabinet. More than 2 million pounds of medication has been taken out of circulation, nationwide, during the past Take Back events
The Jindal administration and the Louisiana Legislature’s fiscal advisors reported Wednesday that rising health insurance claims and a 9 percent reduction in premiums were responsible for the Office of Group Benefits reserves dropping nearly $300 million over a three year period. The reports were released to counter allegations in blogs and among some state workers that Gov. Bobby Jindal and his staff balanced the state budget by raiding state insurance program reserves. Opponents of the Group Benefits overhaul contend the administration created the financial problem that it is now using to justify changes that will increase costs, some substantially, for the roughly 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their dependents who receive their health coverage from the Office of Group Benefits.
State Police say an on-duty St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot by a fellow deputy yesterday during a domestic dispute in LaPlace. The Sheriff’s Office received a call of a deputy involved in a domestic dispute brandishing a weapon, when officers arrived, they found that Lt. Nolan Anderson was armed. During a short standoff, Anderson turned the gun on the officers, at that point deputies then fired. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Anderson was a 25-year veteran of the sheriff’s office.
Higher education leaders gave general overviews of their budget outlooks to the state Board of Regents on Wednesday. Three of Louisiana’s college and university systems are just hoping the state Legislature won’t cut higher education funding next year. Meanwhile, the Southern University System is facing significant funding issues next year, as officials suspect the Baton Rouge campus will fail to meet state benchmarks necessary to raise tuition for a second year.
Baton Rouge Congressman and Senate candidate Bill Cassidy has agreed to two public debates before the November 4th election which Senator Mary Landrieu, says signals a lack of courage. But Cassidy says Landrieu’s record is well known and there’s no need to debate it over and over. Cassidy, Landrieu and the other Republican challenger, Col Rob Maness, will appear together at a debate in Shreveport on October 14th and Baton Rouge on October 29th. Cassidy says meeting voters face to face is a better way to discuss the issues. Landrieu says debates are routine in elections and the fact that Cassidy is dodging so many speaks volumes.
Baton Rouge Congressman and US senate candidate Bill Cassidy says it was inappropriate for Senator Mary Landrieu to assist another man perform a keg stand at an LSU tailgate. Cassidy says beer distributors are also not happy because it promotes drunkenness. Cassidy made the comments at an event where he received the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business. He says the beer industry spends a lot of money promoting responsible drinking and Landrieu’s actions on a college campus were unfitting for a US Senator.
A Federal Judge ordered today that businesses won’t have to pay BP back money the oil giant says was overpaid as a result of a flawed settlement money formula. Judge Carl Barbier had ordered the formula changed several weeks ago but as for money already paid, the ruling was a deal is a deal. With that ruling total liability for BP continues to grow; now approaching $50 billion dollars
The Louisiana State Police are investigating the death of a High School freshman who was allegedly shot by a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputy. Trooper Evan Harrell says authorities responded to a report of several armed individuals running inside a home in Houma. He says they aren’t sure exactly what transpired when deputies arrived. The teen is identified as Cameron Tillman. Harrell says three other suspects were taken into custody and another fled the scene.
St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta was indicted Wednesday by a state grand jury on a single charge of stalking his ex-wife, marking the second time that the first-term parish leader has faced criminal charges this year. Thus far the 60 year old Peralta has resisted pressure to resign his post, though many parish observers expect that the latest indictment, which is a felony, could force his hand.
Survey results released by the Louisiana Department of Education show that future teachers need more time in the classroom. The survey polled more than 6,000 educators. Superintendent John White agrees, but says the extra time in the classroom should be used for teaching and not observation. White says the department is moving toward a model where the educator is a classroom teacher for a year, as an apprentice, under a mentor teacher before entering their own classroom.
Sugar cane harvest season starts to ramp up with the beginning of grinding season today. American Sugar Cane League’s Jim Simon (SEE-moan) says this year’s start-up is a week to ten days later that normal. Simon says the crop looks to be a little short compared to the last few years. He says a couple of sugar mills will begin operation today and all 11 mills in the state will be up and running by October 10. He also reminds everyone to be on the lookout for the trucks that carry the cane.
The Saints are back on the practice field, looking to even up their record at 2-and-2. New Orleans is preparing to face Dallas in Sunday night game and Quarterback Drew Brees says he hopes last week’s win over Minnesota is the start of a long winning streak.
News for Wednesday 092414
By Dave Graichen
There’s a new president of Northwestern State University, and his name is James Henderson, who is the current Chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College. The unanimous decision from the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System came down today. Henderson has been serving as BPCC since 2009. His first day on the job at Northwestern State is January 1st.
A special state grand jury has indicted Governor Jindal’s former state health secretary Bruce Greenstein on nine counts of perjury. The alleged untruths happened during sworn testimony before a state Senate confirmation hearing and at a grand jury investigation. The indictment is related to Greenstein’s association in the award of a state government contract of nearly $200 million. Greenstein’s lawyer says he will plead not guilty.
A new state funded feasibility study found that tolls starting at 18 cents a mile could pay for up to 50 percent of the $3 billion dollars it would take to complete I-49 South from Lafayette to New Orleans. Franklin Senator Bret Allain says a toll proposal shouldn’t focus on the entire stretch but on areas where upgrades are still needed. He says the route would help facilitate one of the most productive areas of energy in our country.
Gas-buddy-dot-com says gas prices this fall will be the lowest they’ve been since 2010. Gas-Buddy Senior Petroleum Analyst, Gregg Laskoski, says the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.11. He says an increase in domestic production of gasoline has pushed prices below three-dollars a gallon at many service stations in Louisiana.
One day after a Lafayette Parish judge declared Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the state AG has announced plans to challenge that decision before the state Supreme Court. Buddy Caldwell's Office will ask the high court to overturn Judge Edward Rubin's ruling, that was handed down Monday in the same-sex adoption case of Angela Costanza and her partner, Chasity Brewer. The judge’s decision affects only the 15th Judicial District, which also includes Acadia and Vermilion parishes. Rubin said Constanza may adopt her partner's son and be listed as a parent on his birth certificate. The couple's lawsuit said the state should recognize their marriage, which took place in California.
Today marks the nine year anniversary of Hurricane Rita making landfall on Sabine Pass. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says southwest Louisiana learned a lot as a result of Rita and has done quite well rebuilding. Morrish says most of the infrastructure of the area damaged by Hurricane Rita has been rebuilt and is functioning well. But he says there is still an issue of people moving back to Cameron Parish. He says many would like to move back to Cameron Parish, but due to high insurance costs, they cannot afford to.
In WalletHub’s list of Most and Least Happy States in America, Louisiana ranks 39th in terms of happiness. The report looked at 26 factors and the Bayou State ranked near or at the bottom in terms of obesity, volunteerism, divorce rate, and participation in sports. The report says Utah is the happiest state in America and West Virginia the least happy.
In Money magazine’s 2014 Best Places to Live rankings, Bossier City ranks seventh among the best places to find a new job. The magazine’s rankings are based on a community’s unemployment rate, past job growth, and projected job growth. Money says tourism and gaming are dominant employers.
The state’s highest Democratic elected official has declined to endorse former Governor Edwin Edwards in his bid for the 6th Congressional District seat. Senator Mary Landrieu said she thinks the 86-year-old has been very energetic and would get a good vote. But she says she’s running her campaign and Edwards is running his. Landrieu was asked if her comments meant she supported Edwards and she didn’t say yes or no.
News for Tuesday 092314
By Dave Graichen
A photograph was captured this weekend of Senator Mary Landrieu helping an LSU fan perform a keg stand prior to Saturday night’s game. Two republican activists reportedly sent out the pictures. Landrieu says people making a fuss over this need to get a sense of humor and get a life.
The RPSO reports a Pineville contractor was arrested Monday, charged with four counts stemming from two complaints that he had not done work for which he had been paid. 50 year old Douglas Jerry Selman Jr was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on charges of contractor fraud, misapplication of payments, home improvement fraud and forgery. Selman remains in jail on a $251,700 bond.
The Rev. Lee Weems, the longtime associate pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Alexandria, is recovering from a heart attack he suffered on Friday of last week. Weems was moved out of ICU and into a private room in Rapides Regional Medical Center around noon Monday, but, according to a church spokesperson, is not able to receive visitors or phone calls yet. Rev. Weems underwent a heart catheterization and a stent was inserted.
A state judge in Lafayette on Monday declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, according to an attorney representing two women who challenged the law in an adoption proceeding. Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Edward Rubin’s decision is thought to be the first by a Louisiana state judge declaring the ban unconstitutional. It is reported that the state’s Attorney General’s Office has already initiated an appeal to Rubin’s ruling.
The state Department of Veterans Affairs says they’ve been approved for a grant to fund a State Veterans Cemetery in Rayville. Secretary David LaCerte says the $7.3 million dollars will fund 100% of the costs to develop the cemetery on property donated by the Franklin family. He says the property is located near I-20 off Highway 425 and spans about 50 acres. Lacerte says construction on the site is set to begin by November and is scheduled for completion by Spring 2016, weather permitting.
Incumbent 5th District Congressman Vance McAllister released a television ad Monday featuring his wife by his side offering forgiveness to her husband. Kelly McAllister addresses the camera in the commercial and says, “I’m blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes.” It’s the first spot we’ve seen since the infamous kissing scandal earlier this year. The commercial began airing throughout the 5th Congressional District today.
Officials have confirmed two additional cases of West Nile Virus in Lafourche Parish. They say one case was confirmed in Cut Off and another in Thibodaux. The condition of the individuals is unknown at this time.
Officials in Sabine Parish say a 19-month-old boy died of apparent asphyxiation over the weekend after he got his head stuck in a car window while his mom was driving. The mother reportedly said she left the child unrestrained when she was going from one place to another Saturday night. The Child was taken to a local hospital and removed from life support Sunday evening.
Louisianans who owe back taxes will have another shot at paying the state back with discounted interest and without penalties this fall, when the 2014 tax amnesty program kicks off Oct. 15.
The state budget relies on the program bringing in just over $100 million this year, after a similar program recouped an estimated $452 million last year. This year’s amnesty period, which runs a month through Nov. 14, will be the fourth since 2000, and another already is being planned for next year.
The Vermillion Parish Sheriff’s office says two people were killed and a juvenile is in the hospital following a 4-wheeler accident. Sheriff Mike Couvillion says the crash involved 34-year-old Shawn Lalonde, 29-year-old Kyle Dudding, and a 13-year-old at the intersection of Highway 35 near Kaplan. Both Lalonde and Dudding were pronounced dead at the scene. The juvenile is listed in stable condition.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 63-year-old Opelousas man for allegedly misusing the 9-1-1 emergency line. Authorities say Olan Deville called 9-1-1 eighteen times on September 20th requesting medical assistance only to cancel or refuse medical attention when the ambulance arrived. Deville is charged with 18 counts of criminal mischief among other charges.
A small experimental aircraft similar to a helicopter crashed into a canal Sunday afternoon in Reserve at the St. John the Baptist Parish airport killing the two occupants. Authorities say as the gyrocopter was attempting to make a turn, the top rotor blades collapsed causing the aircraft to crash. The victims have been identified as 48-year-old Darren Mahler and 13-year-old Payton Wilt, both of Metairie. An FAA investigation is underway.
The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office says a West Monroe man with a sweet tooth was arrested and accused of stealing over $35 worth of candy. Authorities say 36-year-old Arlic Vanburen subsequently removed three bags of Snickers, three bags of Twix, one bag of Skittles, and a bag of bite sized candies that he had pushed down his pants. Vanburen was booked at the Ouachita Correctional facility.
State Police say a man from Welsh was killed in a crash in Avoyelles Parish late Sunday afternoon. They say 24-year-old Timothy Vanness ran off the roadway when he lost control on High 114, entered a ditch and crashed into several trees. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The New York Times Reports The University of Louisiana at Monroe is one of at least 66 colleges that got surplus military weapons. ULM paid $507.43 for 12 M-16 assault rifles, through a U.S. Department of Defense program. The program transfers military surplus to law-enforcement agencies. The M-16 is the most popular weapon acquired through the program, although Ohio State University acquired an armored vehicle and other schools obtained retooled grenade launchers, the story says. The military surplus is free to law-enforcement agencies, which pay only delivery and maintenance costs. Arizona State University has the biggest collection of M-16s with 70. Florida International University and the University of Maryland each have 50.
News for Monday 092214
By Dave Graichen
Autumn begins today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says fall officially begins tonight at 9:29PM. Keim forecasts normal temperatures across the state for the next three months. Above average rainfall is predicted for Louisiana over the next three months due to expected El Nino conditions forming over the Gulf of Mexico. Keim says, as we get into the fall season, fronts will start coming through and temperatures will begin to fall across the state.
August was another record breaking month in terms of employment in Louisiana. The Louisiana Workforce Commission released new job numbers Friday and non-farm employment grew by 30-thousand over the last 12 months and a record one-point-nine million people were employed in August. L-W-C sportsperson Tom Guarisco says the construction sector led the way by hiring 95-hundred workers. Guarisco says they anticipate setting more employment records in the coming months.
Two-thirds of the contracts Gov. Bobby Jindal used to privatize the operation of Louisiana’s charity hospitals are being renegotiated. Federal authorities, who are providing most of the dollars the private companies receive, are troubled with the way the finances are organized in the agreements worth more than $1 billion. Taken out of the agreements , per federal directive, are the guaranteed higher-level reimbursements for the care of the poor and uninsured. That’s making executives with the private groups running the public hospitals a little nervous. Six of the cooperative endeavor agreements that privatized nine of the LSU hospitals are being redrafted. They involve public hospitals in Lafayette, New Orleans, Bogalusa, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Monroe. Contracts at three other hospitals are not involved.
Starting today a brand new license plate will be available to Louisiana drivers boasting, “I’m Creole, and Proud.” Lafayette Representative Vincent Pierre says he lead the effort to make this happen because he wanted to give more exposure to the Creole culture. The plates cost $30 plus fees. Pierre says the funds that are generated from the Creole plate will go to the French Immersion Program.
The Louisiana Inspector General has issued a set of recommendations for state agencies to stop wasting airline tickets. Stephen Street’s office found that between 2011 and 2013, over half a million dollars in non-refundable airline tickets were purchased by state entities, but never used. Street says his office is mandated to find and eliminate waste and this is a classic example of waste.
A man from Donaldsonville who pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in in 1995 for a crash that killed a ten-week old child avoids prison. Stanley White got a two-year prison sentence 19 years ago, but was never given a report date. White, who has since been a model citizen since then, was re-sentenced again and White’s sentence this time was two years of home incarceration. White was 19 at the time of the accident. It’s unknown why he never received a date to report to prison.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in gathering information about a murder that happened last week. Deputies found the remains of a 66-year-old woman identified as Marjorie Taylor that day and an autopsy revealed she had been killed. Crimestoppers in St. Landry is offering $2,500 for anyone with information on this incident.
Louisiana’s obesity rate is dropping for the first time in 30 years according to an annual study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. LeAnne Redman is an obesity researcher at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. We’re now No.6 instead of the pervious #1. But the study shows that Louisiana’s adult obesity rate is still 33.1% so Redman says we need to keep having healthy conversations so our numbers continue to improve.
Following their 40-day initiative, The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles is now on the fast track to install more than 400 credit card stations statewide with the goal to improve convenience for fee payments. In the past, OMV customers had to pay with cash or schedule return visits to complete the transaction. They will continue their online services as well. Many residents have been complaining lately of :60 to :90 minute waits after recent personnel cuts at the DMV.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler is advising voters to study up on their November fourth ballot, because they’ve had a record number of candidates who have withdrawn from their respective races since qualifying. Schedler says 110 candidates have dropped out of their race and the printed ballot may not reflect the change in the number of candidates. Schedler says you can always go to GeauxVote-dot-com to keep yourself updated.
With it now being 4 years since the Deepwater Horizon well was capped, several agencies continue to look at ways we can restore Louisiana’s struggling coast. Dr. Keith Ouchley is the Director of the Nature Conservancy in Louisiana. He says, for one, we really need to work on oyster reefs around the coast. He says they are implementing on-the-ground restoration projects that protect shorelines from erosion, filter water, provide habitat for fish and create jobs.
Saints defeat Vikings Sunday for their first win of season. The final 20 to 9
Northwestern State scored 20 4th quarter points to come from behind and upset their longtime rival Louisiana Tech 30 to 27. Chris Moore’s 47-yard field goal with no time left was the game winner. It was Northwestern’s first win over an FBS opponent since 2005 and the Demons first win over the Bulldogs since 1979.
For the first time since 1991, Mississippi State beat LSU in Baton Rouge as the Bulldogs held on for a 34-29 victory on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
More than a goal of free-flowing cars in all directions, some fans who attended LSU’s first three home football games said after Saturday’s SEC opener they would settle for consistency in post-game traffic plans.
They want to know where, when and how to get from one place to another without running into unexpected road blocks and dead ends. But through three home games thus far this season, confusion among drivers has been common. Officials posted an updated traffic and parking map online prior to the first game of the season. But since then, some changes have been made, rendering the map at least partially inaccurate.
The Cajun Nationals Car Show is set for next weekend, Sept. 27-28, in England Airpark. Proceeds will benefit the Food Bank of Central Louisiana. The spectator entry fee for the event is $10 a day, with $5 off with the donation of five nonperishable food items. Children under the age of 10 are admitted free.
News for Friday 091914
By Dave Graichen
The investigation into a fatal officer involved shooting in Pineville has determined that shooting to be justified. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s spokesman, Lt. Tommy Carnline, says Pineville Police Officer Vince Deville responded to a call and was confronted with the suspect, Christopher Leblanc, brandishing a large sword. Carnline says witnesses said they heard the officer order the suspect to drop his weapon “repeatedly and loudly”. Leblanc refused to comply and charged the officer, who fired his weapon and struck the suspect several times. Leblanc was pronounced dead at the scene. Carnline says the officer responded to a tense, uncertain, rapidly evolving situation and performed in accordance with his training and the law.
According to new census data, Louisiana women make about two thirds of what men in The Bayou State are paid. Tulane Business Professor Dr. Mark Rosa believes women in Louisiana, even if they have a high paying degree, are more inclined to stay home and not work in favor of raising their family. The figures show that Louisiana’s gender pay gap is the largest in the nation.
A former principal has submitted an ethics violation against Rapides Parish School Board President Janet Dixon. Fred Moore, who retired as principal of Julius Patrick Elementary School in Alexandria in 2013, on Wednesday sent a letter to the State Ethics board. Moore claims Dixon violated a provision of Louisiana's Code of Governmental Ethics by going to work for the consulting firm that helped the district in its search for a superintendent in 2012. "McPherson & Jacobson LLC, of which Mrs. Dixon is now an employee, conducted operations and activities regulated by the Rapides Parish School Board and that firm has or had substantial economic interest substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of her official duties. No comment yet from Dixon.
Four years ago today workers were able to cap the BP well that created the largest environmental disaster in the history of North America. Executive Director for The Coastal Protection Restoration Authority, Kyle Graham, says, four years later, most of the oil has been removed from the coastal beaches and marshes in Louisiana. Graham says they anticipate to see oil on Louisiana’s coast for decades. He says it’s still too early to tell what the long-term effects the oil-spill will have on the ecosystem along the state’s coast.
A new poll conducted by Fox News shows Republican US-Senate candidate Bill Cassidy with a substantial lead over the incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in a head-to-head matchup. The survey shows Cassidy with 51% of the vote and Landrieu with 38% in a potential runoff scenario. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley questions the validity of this poll. The poll interviewed just over 600 likely Louisiana voters between September 14th-16th. Stockley says it’s possible that Landrieu has lost some support, but he’s skeptical that she’s all the way down to just 38% support. He says so many other polls on this race show Landrieu in the mid to upper 40s.
Officials in Lafourche Parish are alerting residents that a North Larose resident was found deceased last week and the Department of Health and Hospitals confirmed he had the West Nile Virus. This marks the 5th death from the disease in Louisiana this year.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office says a United States Postal worker is under arrest for allegedly stealing marijuana from packages he was supposed to be delivering. CPSO spokesman Bobby Herring says they got an anonymous tip that 31-year-old Russell Leon Ellis of Shreveport was stealing the mail he thought contained pot. Herring says they were able to obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s home and there they found an additional 618 grams of suspected marijuana with a street value of $6100, 25 weapons and $15,000 in cash. He says the suspect was targeting packages being sent from states that have legalized marijuana.
For two days, members of the Louisiana Board of Regents met with an unknown number of people interested in becoming the state’s next higher education commissioner. After finishing up the last of the so-called “informal conversations” Thursday, the board quickly named three finalists for the job: West Liberty University President Robin Capehart, Community College of Rhode Island President Raymond Di Pasquale and Joseph Rallo, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Texas Tech University System. A potential fourth finalist, who has not been identified, has been given until 5 p.m. Tuesday to decide whether he wants to continue in the process. The finalists will go through a second round of interviews Oct. 7-8, and a new commissioner will be named Oct. 9.
A Washington woman is being questioned about a shooting of her parents. St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says they got the call of shots fired at the residence yesterday, then found 27 year-old Jamie Fontenot on the porch holding a firearm. Her 59 year-old father is in critical condition, while her 58 year-old mother was treated and released.
A Dry Prong man has been arrested after armed himself and raided the house of a person he mistakenly believed had stolen his car. 39 year old Adam Kertz had reported his stolen vehicle to the Grant Parish Sheriff's Office, but didn't wait for an investigation to be completed. Kertz was charged with home invasion and for an outstanding warrant. 34-year-old Robert Burgess Jr. who assisted Burgess force his way into the home has been charged with unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling. Meanwhile, Grant Parish Deputies arrested 33 year old Jonathan Perry and charged him with stealing the vehicle.
In Jonesville, the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office is reporting the arrest of seven adults on several charges; all of them in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of one teenage victim. Several of those arrested have already confessed, and Sheriff James Kelly says he expects more arrests to be made.
The largest crowd to ever watch a football game in Tiger Stadium is expected Saturday when the Tigers face SEC West foe Mississippi State. The game is nearly sold-out in, which means 100-thousand tickets have been sold and LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette says this will put to test their contralow plan after the game. LSU is also encouraging fans to arrive early for the game Saturday to avoid expected traffic back ups.
Louisiana Tech has its home opener on Saturday night as they face in-state rival Northwestern State. The Bulldogs should be feeling good about themselves are winning two consecutive games on the road against the Ragin Cajuns and North Texas. But Tech coach Skip Holtz says it’s too early to be patting themselves on the back.
News for Thursday 091814
By Dave Graichen
The US-House has passed three bills by Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany designed to address any controversial practices by the IRS on individuals and groups by the IRS, and to bring more transparency. Boustany adds that Americans want higher ethics from the IRS. The bills still need to be approved by the Senate.
Louisiana’s highway conditions plummeted to 40th in the nation and pavements on urban interstates are better than only two other states, according to a report released Thursday. The state also ranks 44th in its highway fatality rate, 41st in the condition of rural interstate pavements and 39th in the number of deficient bridges. The findings are included in the 21st Annual Highway Report by the Reason Foundation, which calls itself a libertarian think tank.
The NFL’s image is suffering because of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case and now Vikings star Adrian Peterson is facing child abuse charges. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees says unfortunately the perception is NFL players beat their wives and children but that’s only a handful of cases in a league that has 17-hundred players. Brees is considered one of the faces of the NFL. He says the Rice and Peterson cases provide examples for other players that there are consequences for poor decisions away from the field.
The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association announces a plan to commission a study on the economic impact of Louisiana’s film tax credit incentive program. The study is estimated to cost $150,000. LFEA President Will French hopes the results of this study will show what the program actually costs the state. He says the state’s analysis doesn’t take into account tourism dollars the film industry brings in, among other factors.
The state legislative auditor’s office announced yesterday, a report legislators ordered up to help evaluate how goes the privatization of the government-run health insurance program is full of errors and inconsistencies. State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert disagrees, saying the report “fully complies” with the law legislators adopted requiring the “transparency” report that includes the data lawmakers can use to analyze the performance of the private managed-care networks hired by the state to handle Medicaid services through what is called the Bayou Health program. But Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said the report “has comments and numbers you cannot rely on.” Plus, the report has math errors and makes unsubstantiated claims.
The US House voted to give President Obama authority to train and arm Syrian rebels in the effort to defeat ISIL forces in the Middle East. The authorization passed on a 273-156 vote that crossed party lines. Republican Minden Congressman John Fleming is the only member of the Louisiana delegation to vote against the authorization. Fleming says he feels we are going down the wrong path in dealing with the militant group. Fleming feels this is a situation that US troops need to handle. He says if it is necessary to go in there after ISIL, then we need to acknowledge the truth: it will require boots on the ground.
Louisianians are liking the price they’re seeing at the pump these days. According to gasbuddy-dot-com, the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is just $3.13. The lowest prices are seen in southeast Louisiana with some stations reporting regular gas as low as $2.83 per gallon.
The DA in DeSoto Parish is expected to dismiss criminal charges against the Yogi and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary in Frierson this morning. The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was trying to secure a court order to physically remove 9 exotic cats at the location citing safety concerns. But Yogie and Friends Executive Director Jenny Senier says they have tried extremely hard to comply spending over $10,000 on improvements to the facility since July. DA Richard Johnson is quoted as saying they “don’t have a dog in the fight” between wildlife officials and the cat sanctuary.
The Shreveport Police Department says a man is in jail today after allegedly hitting a 5-year-old about 25 time with a belt causing the child to be hospitalized. 23-year-old Frank Butler is charged with a single count of second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Corporal Marcus Hines says there are ways to legally discipline your child, but this isn’t one of them. The child is expected to recover.
The St. James Parish Council, in a 7-1 vote, denied Wolverine Terminals’s request for approval to build a $30 million crude oil terminal and blending operation along La. 44 in Paulina. The council upheld the Planning Commission’s recommendation in July to deny the permit request based on concerns from residents about building an industrial facility in a residential area.
News for Wednesday 091714
By Dave Graichen
One person died and another was injured Tuesday afternoon when they apparently came in contact with a power line while working in a field off La. Highway 1200 in Boyce. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Deputies found one person unresponsive and another injured near a piece of farm equipment. They also found that a nearby power line still was active. First responders arrived to treat the surviving victim, who later was taken to a hospital. The other victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The names of the victims have not been released.
The Rapides Parish School Board has voted unanimously to revert back to the 2013-14 grading policy after hearing public comments for more than an hour at a special meeting Tuesday night. Students in Rapides Parish will again be graded on a numerical scale of percentages rather than letter grades only. Board members said the change had "unintended consequences," but was created in good faith to help all students of the district.
The Towntalk reports At least three members of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees resigned Tuesday in the wake of the Rev. Tommy French being re-elected chairman of the body that oversees the private Baptist school. French, was elected to a second one-year term as chairman, leaving him in charge of the school's search for a new president and in a leadership position as LC responds to issues raised by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools when the accrediting agency placed LC on probation this past December.
The Department of Health and Hospitals confirm that two children are being treated at a Baton Rouge hospital for Enterovirus D68. Assistant State Health Officer, Dr. Takiesha Davis, says this is a very common of strain of virus in the US that typically flares up in the fall. She says DHH advises parents to be particularly mindful of children. Most people recover without treatment, but Enterovirus D68 appears to aggravate breathing problems in children who have asthma.
Louisiana remains the country’s prison capital by a long shot, but a federal report released Tuesday shows the number of people imprisoned in the state has dipped slightly. The report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicates Louisiana’s prison population fell by 2.2 percent to below 40,000 last year after peaking in 2012. The drop, while noticeable, did not change the fact the Louisiana imprisons more people per capita, by far, than any other state.
The state Board of Regents releases a report showing students at colleges are more vulnerable when it comes to sexual assault because there is no statewide policy in place for handling such allegations. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says Louisiana needs to establish a benchmark that all colleges must meet when it comes to the way sexual assault claims are handled. Morrell says alleged college student victims need to all feel comfortable reporting any potential sexual assault.
According to a new report with data compiled from the US census, Louisiana has the most single people in the nation. The Martin Prosperity Institute study found 55.7% of adults here are not married. Demographer Greg Rigamer says this could be because after Katrina and the BP Oil spill, Louisiana got a big boost in job opportunities. Rigamer says there has also been a significant increase in the number of people here between the ages of 20 and 29. New Orleans topped the list as the metro area in the US with the highest number of single people at 58%.
Governor Bobby Jindal is not concerned about poll numbers that show him receiving little support when compared to other potential presidential candidates. Jindal received only three percent in a recent CNN poll of New Hampshire republican voters that listed ten other candidates. Jindal says he doesn’t look at polls. Jindal made the comments in Washington DC after unveiling a US energy policy that was developed from his nonprofit group called America Next. The governor says he is thinking about running for President and a decision will be made after the November election. But he says his decision will have nothing to do with polls or fundraising
According to officials, two students from Central High in Baton Rouge had to be removed from class Monday after having a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana they smoked at school. Superintendent Michael Faulk says the students, aged 17 and 18, were rushed to the emergency room for treatment, then an investigation began. Faulk says according to school policy each student will be automatically expelled.
Louisiana schools are still seeing a higher number of teachers retiring compared to what they saw prior to 2010. Nearly three-thousand K-through-12 teachers retired during the fiscal year that ended June 30th. Scott Richard, director of the Louisiana School Board Association, blames it on the turmoil that’s going on in public education. He says if there wasn’t so much uncertainty with Common Core and changes to how teachers are evaluated, many recently retired teachers would still be teaching.
State Judge Janice Clark has ruled that the last-minute retirement boost lawmakers gave to State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson and another trooper is unconstitutional. Clark said the Louisiana Legislature did not properly pass the measure. Edmonson and the other trooper had both said they had no intention of accepting the increased benefit. No one defended the law in court.
The Tallulah Police Department says a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself after finding a loaded handgun in his home. Spokeswoman Yvonne Lewis says the mother left the home for about 3 to five minutes to get the kids something to drink at a nearby store and when she returned the child had already found the gun and shot himself.
The Vermillion Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Loreauville man in connection to a shooting in Abbeville over the weekend. Seven people sustained non-life threatening injuries during the incident. 20-year-old Bryson Provost is charged with seven counts of attempted first degree murder. Authorities say more arrests are possible
Two women testified Tuesday that former Lafayette policeman Jackie Hagan Jr. touched them in sexually criminal ways when they encountered the on-duty officer in 2011 and that they were at first scared to report him to the police department. Hagan, who took the stand in his defense on the trial’s second day, testified he fought off the advances of the 40-year-old woman in November 2011 before succumbing to temptation and kissing her outside her home. Hagan said he’d doesn’t remember meeting the other woman, who testified the officer violated her with a probing hands pat-down near her Jefferson Street home in August of that year. Hagan, who is 36, faces up to 10 years in prison at hard labor if all six jurors say he’s guilty of sexual battery.
About 3,800 Louisiana residents who bought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will have their coverage canceled Sept. 30 because they didn’t clear up their citizenship and immigration status by Sept. 5, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In August, CMS notified about 6,900 people in Louisiana that they needed to confirm their eligibility or lose the health coverage. They were among roughly 310,000 people nationwide who got letters requesting their citizenship and immigration documents. Many of those people received multiple requests for the information, according to CMS.
News for Tuesday 091614
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals confirms that the brain-eating ameba that has showed up in two South Louisiana water districts, has now been found in a water system in Sabine Parish. Office of Public Health Medical Director, Takiesha Davis, says while the ameba is potentially dangerous, it doesn’t make water unusable. The only the ameba can be dangerous is when it finds it’s way to the brain. The way it is believed that can happen is through the nose. Davis says a chlorine burn has been ordered for that water supply in Sabine Parish.
Efforts to increase enrollment at Central Louisiana universities seem to be working. Louisiana State University of Alexandria announced a 21-percent increase for the fall at a news conference Monday. It’s the largest enrollment at the school since 2008 and largest year-to-year increase since 1987, according to the university. Northwestern State also reported a small increase Monday, pushing the school’s enrollment past 9,000 students. Louisiana College in Pineville reported 330 new students this fall, with 247 being first-time freshmen. LC Director of Enrollment Management Byron McGee said that is a little lower than last fall.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office reports a traffic stop near Centerpoint ended with the arrests of Pineville and Hessmer men and the recovery of more than a quarter-million dollars in heavy equipment reported stolen from multiple Central Louisiana parishes. Avoyelles deputies stopped a truck driven by 30-year-old Robert Paul of Pineville. The 20-feet trailer with a track hoe that Paul's vehicle was towing both were reported stolen. An investigation also led to the arrest of 34 year old Ryan Juneau of Hessmer. The recovered equipment includes boats, motors, farm tractors, trailers, bobcats, welding machines and assorted other items, that had been reported stolen over the past year. More arrests are expected.
PayScale-dot-com ranks Louisiana Tech number one in the state in early- and mid-career salaries for graduates. The report says Tech graduates, early in their career, earn an average of over $49,000 per year. Mid-career salaries for Tech graduates, who have at least 10 years of experience in their field, average over $86,000 per year.
A Democrat-leaning group has filed a complaint accusing U.S. Sen. David Vitter of violating a state campaign finance law. The American Democracy Legal Fund accused Republican Vitter and his Senate campaign of impropriety in contributing $100,000 to a group supporting his 2015 governor’s race bid. The complaint was filed Friday with the Louisiana Board of Ethics which functions as the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure. The group publicly released the complaint and request for an investigation on Monday.
When the Saints play the Minnesota Vikings in the dome Sunday, there will be a recognizable name on the playing field. Less than a week after he was charged with child abuse, star running back Adrian Peterson is cleared to play. The Vikings’ owners say they want to let the legal process play out before any other playing decisions are made.
According to State Farm, the number of vehicle-deer collisions are on the rise in Louisiana. Spokesman Gary Stephenson says there was a nearly six-percent increase in these accidents in the state. Stephenson says there were over 9,700 vehicle-deer collisions in the Bayou State last year. He says the number of collisions is actually higher because many of these collisions are not reported, uninsured motorist collisions are not included, and drivers with only liability coverage were not counted. Stephenson says there’s a fair amount of expense involved, too. He says the average claim was around $3,400.
The recent indictment of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on child abuse charges has opened a nationwide discussion on disciplining children with corporal punishment. Peterson allegedly used a switch, a tree branch stripped of its leaves, on his son reportedly causing multiple injuries to the child. State Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Suzy Sonnier says corporal punishment is considered legal in Louisiana within reason. Sonnier says there is nothing in Louisiana law that explicitly says what you can or cannot do when it comes to disciplining your child. She hopes parents put a lot of thought into how they discipline their child and consider using alternative methods to corporal punishment.
Attorneys for the state Department of Corrections are asking a federal appellate court to reverse a judge’s ruling that said conditions on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola are unconstitutional during the summer. Judge Brian Jackson says the state must install a cooling system that will keep heat indexes from going over 88 degrees.
Two Shreveport police officers are on routine paid administrative leave after they were involved in a shooting of an armed robbery suspect. Corporal Marcus Hines says the incident happened Saturday night and the person who was shot has been identified as 26-year old Anthony Thomas of Shreveport. He says Thomas’ gunshot wound is considered non-life threatening, but he faces numerous criminal charges.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Bethany couple after they delayed seeking medical treatment for a toddler with a head injury. Spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says detectives responded to a call from a local hospital and found a 15-month-old girl suffering from severe bruising and swelling of her head. The couple told deputies the child was injured when the man fell asleep feeding her in his lap and dropped her. They said in a panic he then fell on top of the child. Chadwick says the charges stem from the couple not seeking medical attention for the child until about 48 hours after the injuries occurred. Chadwick says the couple were also arrested for possession of marijuana.
The Saints are 0-and-2 and now their leading rusher will reportedly miss the next four weeks, because of a broken hand. ESPN reports running back Mark Ingram suffered the injury in Sunday’s heartbreaking loss against Cleveland.
News for Monday 091514
By Dave Graichen
The LSU Board of Supervisors Approves a three year contract extension for Athletic Director Joe Alleva. He isn’t getting a raise, but his base salary will remain $725,000. Alleva, who has been the AD since 2008, says he loves his job. The contract extension will keep him on it until 2019.
The Rapides Republican Parish Executive Committee has voted to endorse Dr. Ralph Abraham in the 5th Congressional District election. Wayne Ryan who is the chairman of the organization says, Dr. Abraham has lived out his conservative values in his professional life, home life, his community service activities and his service to our country in the military. Ryan said Abraham would bring “honor, the restoration of integrity, honesty and trustworthiness to the office.
Monroe police say a man shot his ex-wife’s boyfriend in the parking lot of a daycare center. Assistant police chief Don Bartley says 32-year-old Marlando Honeycutt had just dropped off his girlfriend’s kids at the daycare center, when Lemerick Christopher walked up and confronted Honeycut. He then opened fire. Christopher was arrested a short time later and now faces several charges including attempted murder. Bartley says Honeycutt is in stable condition after being shot in the face and chest.
A freak accident over the weekend. State Police said one motorcyclist was killed and another was injured Sunday when a tree limb fell and struck them while they were riding near French Settlement.
The accident occurred about 1:30 in the afternoon. One man was pronounced dead at the scene the other is in serious condition at a Baton Rouge hospital. State police report both riders were wearing their helmets and neither was suspected of driving while intoxicated.
The Municipal Police Employees Retirement System announces the first permanent cost of living adjustment for retirees in more than a decade. Ben Huxen, Chief Advisor to the Commissioner of Administration, says the increase will begin November 1st. The last permanent cost of living adjustment was made in January 2002. Eligible members will receive a minimum increase of $20 per month.
Fort Polk has announced a highly decorated soldier from Missouri has died in a motor vehicle accident that took place at the Fort Polk Training area. Twenty-two year-old Silas Jones was a cannon crew member, who joined the army two years ago. Another soldier was injured and that accident is under investigation.
The Louisiana Republican Party continues to make Senator Mary Landrieu’s chartered flights a campaign issue. Landrieu has completed a report on the use of flights for campaign events and has admitted to over $33,000 in improperly charged flights. Executive Director Jason Dore says he’s surprised by that amount. Landrieu says she takes full responsibility and that these mistakes are a result of sloppy bookkeeping. She says safeguards have been put in place to make sure this never happens again. The report states that prior to the report even being released, Senator Landrieu’s campaign had already reimbursed the Federal Treasury for the mistakes.
Starting this week, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne will host town hall meetings at three locations in Louisiana he’d like to see tapped for tourism growth. Dardenne says they’ll be in Shreveport tomorrow to get input from the community about opportunities there like the Louisiana Hayride. He says they’ll be in Lafayette on October 15th at Vermillionville then is on to Monroe on October 28th at the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum to talk about the unprecedented attention that northeast Louisiana has been getting thanks to things like Duck Dynasty.
There is a new insect that Louisiana homeowners should be aware of, especially if you have ornamental plants growing outside. The pest is called a chilli thrip and LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings says they feed on about 250 different species of ornamental plants. He says the chilli thrip feeds on the foliage of these plants instead of the flowers, like other thrip species. Owings says if a plant is infected with chilli thrips, you’ll have some malformation or deformed new growth after a growth flush is initiated. Owings says there are insecticides that can effectively deal with chilli thrips.
The LSU Tigers are 3-and-0 heading into Saturday’s SEC opener against Mississippi State. The Tigers blanked ULM on Saturday 31 to 0. Coach Les Miles says his team is ready to play an SEC West opponent. LSU’s defense has been outstanding this season. They’ve shutout their opponents in the last two games, first time that’s happened at LSU since 1985.
Many Saints fans thought this was the year for the Black and Gold to get back to the Super Bowl. But New Orleans is 0-and-2 after suffering a heart breaking 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns. For the second straight game, New Orleans couldn’t preserve a late lead. Coach Sean Payton says all they could do at this point is work on trying to become a better team.
News for Friday 091214
By Dave Graichen
Rapides Parish School Board President Janet Dixon announced Thursday that she won’t run for re-election this November. Dixon said her and her husband, state Rep. Herbert Dixon might be moving out of District D, the area she represents on the School Board. Dixon went on to say ,While she won’t be far away, the fact remains that if she does not meet the residency requirements to serve the citizens of the district, she must do what is right and relinquish that responsibility to someone who will. Dixon put here support behind Willard “Bubba” McCall as the race moves forward.
A 46-year-old Oberlin man faces life in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice in the stabbing death of his estranged wife. Joseph Eric Vercher was accused of killing 34-year-old Rachel Denise Lambert Vercher last year. A jury deliberated for 35 minutes Wednesday before finding him guilty. The jury rejected defense claims that Vercher should be convicted of manslaughter because the crime was committed in the “heat of passion” after a night of arguing and drinking. Vercher, who showed no emotion after the verdict was read, asked Judge Joel Davis to impose sentence immediately. He received an additional 10 years for obstruction of justice for removing items from the crime scene and tossing the two knives used in the slaying.
Republican US Senate candidate Bill Cassidy says he will now debate at least two times against Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. The Cassidy campaign says Landrieu is pushing three other debates, which Cassidy has declined to participate, because they are highly scripted and don’t require voter interaction. Cassidy, Landrieu, and Tea Party favorite Rob Maness will face off on LBP on October 14th in Shreveport and on Raycom Stations October 29th in Baton Rouge.
There are 14 constitutional amendments on the November fourth ballot and the Public Affairs Research Council has released a guide to help voters understand the potential impact of each proposition. PAR President Robert Scott says the guide provides an objective review of all 14 amendments. The first two amendments deal with health care funding. Scott says amendment one would protect the Louisiana Medical Assistance Trust Fund, while amendment two sets up an amendment that will help hospitals pay for uninsured and those on Medicaid. Scott anticipates there will also be a lot of talk about amendment five, which will eliminate the mandatory retirement age of judges. The guide can be found at parlouisiana.org
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says to be on the look-out for a phone scam, where callers are claiming to be an IRS official, stating that the citizen owes money, threatening that they will be arrested or lose their license if they don’t make debit card payments or wiring the money. If you get such a call, the best thing to do is tell the caller you will contact the IRS yourself, and hang up.
The LSU Board of Supervisors will meet today and they are expected to extend Athletic Director Joe Alleva’s contract through 2019. Alleva’s base pay will reportedly remain at $725,000 a year plus incentives. Assistant Tiger Rag Editor James Moran says Alleva has done well in helping to generate funds for new facilities and the expansion of Tiger Stadium.
A new poll shows Democratic former Governor Edwin Edwards making the runoff in the 6th District Congressional race, but that same survey shows Edwards finishing second in four different runoff scenarios. But pollster Darrell Glascock says you shouldn’t count out Edwards, just yet. He says Edwards has significant numbers as respondents second choice. Edwards garnered 32-percent of the vote in The Glascock Group poll, which would seem to guarantee him a runoff spot. However, the former governor has trouble breaking 45-percent of the vote in any hypothetical runoff. Glascock says when it comes to runoff elections, traditionally half of voters don’t return to the polls. He says that could play in the favor of Edwards.
In a nationally televised interview, Stephanie Hayden Ford, the daughter and co-star of Will Hayden on the now-cancelled “Sons of Guns” television show, says her father inappropriately touched her when she was 12-years-old. Ford told the “Dr. Phil” show that her father allegedly came to her room drunk one evening, sat her in his lap and began touching her and kissing on her chest. Hayden remains in the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail in lieu of bail. Ford said that she had basically repressed the memory until her little sister told her grandfather about alleged inappropriate behavior on the part of Hayden. Ford says she’s telling her story now because her sister needs her.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday the state may apply for a federal pre-kindergarten grant of up to $15 million if it is not linked to any Common Core requirements. Louisiana is overhauling its early childhood education system as a result of a bill pushed by Jindal in 2012. In his letter, the governor said that the Preschool Development Grants published in the Federal Register last month “could offer an opportunity for Louisiana to expand access for parents who choose to send their children to early childhood programs.
The ULM Warhawks head to Baton Rouge on Saturday as heavy underdogs. The 10th ranked Bayou Bengals are favorite to win by 31 points in the recently expanded Tiger Stadium. ULM Coach Todd Berry says his senior class has played in front of a lot of big crowds, so he expects them to be able to focus on the task at hand on Saturday night. This will be the third meeting between the two teams. They last played in 2010 and the Tigers won 51 to 0.
The Saints head to Cleveland where they’ll look to avoid an 0-and-2 start to the 2014 NFL season. New Orleans is favorite to win.
The Baltimore Ravens took to the field last night for the first time since Ray Rice was banned from the NFL, and came away with a 26-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Louisiana tech beat North Texas last night 42 to 21
News for Thursday 091114
By Dave Graichen
The Texas teen who has been charged with calling in bomb threats to four Rapides Parish schools Tuesday, is facing charges in his home town of Fredericksburg for a similar threat at that city's high school. Police there questioned Reuben Byon and during a second interview he confessed to making phone calls to the high school, school board member and to an assistant vice principal at the High School. Extradition to Rapides Parish will begin "as soon as possible. Each count carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison at hard labor.
The US Department of Energy has given final approval for Sempra Energy to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its plant in Cameron Parish. With this, Sempra can begin construction to expand their facility near Hackberry. The expansion project is expected to create about 3,000 construction jobs and as many as 150 permanent full-time jobs. With the expansion, the Cameron plant will be capable of producing up to 12 million metric tons of LNG for export. Construction is expected to begin this fall and they should be fully operational by 2019.
An Iberia Parish man allegedly ingested a lethal amount of narcotics while barricading himself in a room of the residence during a drug bust. Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office says thirty-five year-old Heath Duplechain is in a medically induced coma, and deputies say he will be facing numerous drug charges, if he makes it.
Lawmakers launched their latest effort Wednesday to try to chip away at a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge repair and improvement work across Louisiana, seeking ideas to raise new transportation dollars in an anti-tax environment. Louisiana, like many states, is struggling with a stagnant gasoline tax that hasn’t kept pace with construction inflation and a disinterest from the governor and lawmakers to raise new taxes to fill the gaps in roadwork. Lawmakers instructed the Transportation Funding Task Force to look for enterprising ways to tackle the backlog. Task force recommendations are due Jan. 15.
It’s been two weeks since the state Department of Health and Hospitals ordered a chlorine burn for the St. John the Baptist Parish water system, because a potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba was detected in the water. The state’s safe drinking water administrator, Jake Causey, says efforts to increase and maintain a certain level of disinfectant is ongoing. In the meantime, Causey says the water coming out of a faucet in St. John is safe to drink, even though they’ve increased chlorine levels. DHH advises residents to make sure tap water doesn’t go up your nose, because that’s how the bacteria can become harmful.
The community of Jennings got together in a big way on Wednesday to welcome home an officer who was shot in the line of duty and has been in recovery since the June incident. Jennings Police Chief Todd D’Albor says Sergeant Ricky Benoit was responding to a domestic violence call when he was shot in the neck by the suspect. The streets of Jennings were lined with well-wishers all the way to Benoit’s home which he has not seen since June 23rd. The bullet came within millimeters of killing or permanently paralyzing the 25-year veteran officer. D’Albor says Benoit can now move his arms, legs and neck and can walk a short distance but a full recovery could take years.
St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe issued a statement Tuesday saying they plan to cut about 300 jobs. The hospital is one of Ouachita Parish’s top 10 largest private employers. St. Francis issued a statement saying they are taking steps to line up their expenses with expected revenue.
Slidell Police Detective John Cole, who was seriously injured in a crash last weekend, died Wednesday afternoon at a Slidell hospital. The 31 year old Cole lost control of his Jeep Wrangler and overturned in a ditch. Daniel Hanlon, a front-seat passenger, died at the scene of the crash Sunday morning.
A Baton Rouge man has admitted he sexually touched a sleeping woman aboard a cross-country flight, according to federal prosecutors in New Jersey. Devender Singh, a 62-year-old Indian national, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of abusive sexual contact. He faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he’s sentenced Oct. 23. While the plane was in the air, the woman fell asleep. Prosecutors say she awoke to find Singh kissing her face with his hand inside her shirt, and he was touching himself in a sexual manner.
LSU receiver Travin Dural suffered a deep laceration to the head during a car accident Sunday morning, but coach Les Miles said he will play Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. Dural needed “about 15 stitches” to his forehead, said his former high school coach at Breaux Bridge, Paul Broussard. He had not been practicing with the team this week because he’s unable to wear a helmet with the stitches. Miles said Dural returned to practice with the team Wednesday. Doctors have cleared Dural to play Saturday if he can wear the helmet while not disturbing the stitches.
Louisiana Tech will kick-off conference play tonight with a meeting against North Texas. Kick-off is at six o’ clock in Denton and the game can be seen on C-B-S Sports Network. The Bulldogs are coming off a big win over U-L Lafayette, while the Mean Green beat up on SMU last week. Tech head coach Skip Holtz says he’s impressed with North Texas’ power running game. North Texas beat Louisiana Tech 28-13 last season. Hear the game tonight on ESPN 1410 airtime 5:30.
News for Wednesday 091014
By Dave Graichen
A major disruption of classes a four Rapides Parish schools yesterday, that after local authorities received bomb threats. Evacuated for a period of time yesterday were Alexandria Senior High, Brame Middle School, Bolton High and Pineville High. A search of all facilities was conducted and no suspicious items were found. Just after 10 p.m last night police issued a statement saying that 17 year old Reuben Byon of Fredricksburg, Texas, a former Bolton student, had been arrested and had been charged with three counts of communicating false information. It’s expected Byron will face more charges in the Pineville High School threat today. The investigation continues with the help of local, state and federal officials.
President Obama will address the nation tonight speaking on his strategy for defeating the ISIS militant group in the Middle East. Republican Minden Congressman and member of the House Armed Forces Committee, John Fleming, says the President should clarify the reason why we need to go after ISIS. The President recently returned from a NATO summit where the US and nine allies agreed to take on the militants. President Obama’s address is scheduled to begin at 8PM.
The Louisiana Democratic Party announced its endorsement of Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo Tuesday as he seeks to represent Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District. Mayo is the only Democrat in the ten person field and state Democratic Party Chairman Karen Peterson says the endorsement will provide Mayo with the resources he needs to run an effective campaign. Mayo ran in last year’s special election in the 5th District and finished third in the primary.
Republican Louisiana Senate candidate Representative Bill Cassidy is getting some criticism over a remark he made regarding Democratic House Majority Leader Harry Reid. In an interview with E&E Publishing, Cassidy said Reid was running “the Senate like a plantation.” The comment is already receiving backlash from Democrats and some Republicans who say it is offensive. Fellow Republican Senate candidate Rob Maness has called for Cassidy to immediately apologize for the comment since it included a term that is “incredibly offensive to many Americans”. In a statement regarding criticism over the remark, Cassidy said he thinks the leadership style of Reid is more offensive than his analogy.
Today is the statistical peak of the Atlantic Hurricane season. State Climatologist Barry Keim says that means, historically, half of all the hurricanes in the season occur before September 10th and then half occur after. Keim says really we’ve seen almost zero tropical activity in the United States this season which is following almost exactly what we saw last year. Bottom line, if we can hang in there for another eight weeks we probably wouldn’t have to worry about a storm threatening Louisiana at all
A hearing has been set for November 20th in Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against the Obama Administration over Common Core. Lawyers for the Governor claim the federal government illegally used federal money to convince states to adopt the controversial education standards.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne unveils the next round of Louisiana’s out of state “Pick Your Passion” ad campaign. He says this year the marketing focused on Louisiana culture and next year the ads will concentrate on food in The Bayou State. He says the marketing efforts are working well and they just learned this week that there is a 7.6% increase in hotel occupancy so far this year.
LSU climbed a few notches in U.S. News and World Report’s latest ranking of the top schools in the country, while Tulane University and Louisiana Tech slid slightly on the annual sizing-up of university and colleges. Tulane remains Louisiana’s highest ranked university at No. 54 — down from last year’s No. 52. Meanwhile, LSU went from 135th to 129th in the “Best Colleges 2015” list released Tuesday. Louisiana Tech University slipped from 190th to No. 201 this year. All three made U.S. News’ top tier of national universities, the only three in the state to do so.
A former LSU football player has been arrested for allegedly choking his girlfriend. 25-year-old DeAngelo Peterson, an LSU tight end from 2008-2011, was booked on one count of simple battery.
A twelve year-old boy from Pearl River is in the hospital recovering from alligator bites while he was fishing in Lake Pontchartrain. Matthew Kelly told a New Orleans TV station he felt the large gator clamp down on his leg, and the boy’s father said, amazingly, he saw his son pull the 10 foot alligator off his leg and fight him off.
As the ULM football team prepares to travel down to Baton Rouge for the big game against the Tigers this weekend, Athletic Director Brian Wickstrom says there is a lot of excitement from the Warhawk Nation. He says lots of the Monroe college football fans are scooping up tickets for the LSU game. Wickstrom says they’ve sold about 3000 tickets from their office and they get more requests coming in every day.
News for Tuesday 090914
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office reports that a 40-year-old Pineville man is dead after a confrontation with officers from the Pineville Police Department. RPSO Lt. Tommy Carnline says Pineville Police received a 9-1-1 call Monday morning claiming a man had threatened another person with a weapon. When officers arrived at the scene they were confronted by a man swinging a large sword. Carnline says the suspect then charged toward one of the officers. He says the officer fired and hit the subject to stop his advance. Carnline says the officer immediately called for medical assistance, but the subject, Christopher Shane Leblanc, was unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene.
A jury in Alexandria Monday took just over an hour to convict Thomas Sanders in the 2010 kidnapping and slaying of a 12-year-old girl. Sanders was convicted of both counts — kidnapping resulting in death and using a firearm in a violent crime that resulted in death — in the killing of Lexis Roberts, whose remains were discovered in Catahoula Parish woods in October 2010. Sanders confessed to killing Lexis and her mother, Suellen Roberts, to multiple law enforcement officers. Monday’s verdict that could result in a death sentence.
According to a new Violence Policy Center report, Louisiana ranks fourth in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men. The report applies to 2012, the most recent year data is available. The United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Kim Sport says this year’s report is particularly concerning. Louisiana’s rate of women murdered by men was 1.92 per 100,000 in 2012. Sport says the actual number in the state is higher because this report only covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. The state legislature recently passed legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Sport feels confident these firearms restrictions will make a difference.
According to a report released by the state legislative auditor’s office yesterday, Louisiana state agencies are paying above-market rates to rent office space from New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, and on top of that, the state is paying $625,000 for space it isn’t using. The state auditor reviewed the lease, which was negotiated by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration in 2009 as part of a package of incentives that replaced a previous state deal with the NFL team. Agencies moved into the building in February 2011, and the lease runs through December 2025. The audit says the state pays annual rent of about $7.5 million and another $625,000 for vacant space.
Yet another audit says the Pineville City Court did not comply with the Louisiana Unclaimed Property Act for checks dating back at least a dozen years. A court official says logistical problems in dealing with a large number of checks for small amounts of money, combined with a manpower shortage, led to the problem. The Pineville City Court has hired a firm to assist it in complying with the law. And has also asked the state to provide assistance. Phillip Terrell, former Pineville City Court judge says, at stake is a small amount of money, probably several thousand dollars.
The Louisiana Democratic Party has officially endorsed former governor Edwin Edwards in his quest to become Louisiana’s next sixth district Congressman. LSU political science professor Robert Hogan says the endorsement legitimizes Edwards campaign. 13 candidates have qualified for the sixth congressional district race. Edwards is one of three democrats on the ballot and has the most name recognition.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, who is planning on running for governor in 2015, lays out what he thinks should be the priorities of Bobby Jindal’s successor. Dardenne says there would be a much more transparent administration than what we’ve seen in that office since 2008. Specifically Dardenne said he felt the privatization of LSU hospitals was a good idea, but he felt the implementation needed work. He also didn’t dismiss the idea of Medicaid expansion but said it was something that should be looked at and considered. Dardenne says the next Governor needs to listen and make decisions for the right reasons.
5th District Congressman Vance McAllister apparently does not have the support of the “Duck Dynasty” family as he seeks re-election this fall. Phil Robertson reportedly took some jabs at McAllister at a couple of events over the weekend. LaPolitics-dot-com’s publisher Jeremy Alford says Robertson’s first jab came at a Lake Charles fundraiser for his nephew, Zach Dasher, who is challenging McAllister. He says Robertson continued his criticism of McAllister the following night at a speaking engagement in Bossier City. Alford says Phil Robertson never technically endorsed McAllister, although his son Willie did appear in a commercial for McAllister last year. He says there is no question that the Robertsons and McAllister are on two different sides of the fence.
A Slidell police officer remains in critical condition after he was possibly driving drunk in a crash that killed his passenger. State Police Trooper Greg Marchand says the single vehicle wreck occurred early Sunday morning and 31-year-old John Cole, who was not working at the time, was at the wheel. A 31-year-old passenger in Cole’s vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. Marchand says impairment is suspected on Cole’s part as bottles of alcohol were found in the vehicle. He says a blood sample from Cole was collected for a toxicological analysis.
After two games, LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings is ranked second in the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency. Jennings has thrown for 427 yards and five touchdowns and Coach Les Miles likes how the sophomore is managing the game. The Tigers host ULM this Saturday night.
The Saints will look to rebound from a tough season opening loss to Atlanta when they visit Cleveland this Sunday. New Orleans Coach Sean Payton says it’s important the players do not allow this loss to linger. The Saints defense allowed 568 total yards to the Falcons, the second most in Black and Gold history.
News for Monday 090814
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana Health Officials have confirmed two more West Nile Virus deaths in Northwest Louisiana, and another in the Baton Rouge area. The Department of Health and Hospitals says that brings the number of deaths in the state to four so far this year, and 19 additional cases reported this past week, bringing the yearly case total to 80.
A Baton Rouge judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Senator Mary Landrieu’s residency, and whether she can legally run for Senate. The suit, filed by Covington Representative Paul Hollis, says he’ll revisit the issue if Landrieu wins.
Meanwhile, there are new numbers from a Rasmussen poll that shows Landrieu is trailing Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy by 3 percentage points. As for Tea Party candidate Rob Maness, LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says the poll show little support for him.
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin begins his prison sentence today. Nagin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his conviction on bribery and money laundering charges. Loyola University Criminal Justice Professor and former Bureau of Prisons official, Robert English says Nagin will report to the Texarkana Federal Correctional Institution to serve his time. The judge in this case recommended Nagin serve his time at the Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution, but the final decision rests with the Bureau of Prisons. English says the BOP does this to make it easier for the family to come visit the inmate. The Texarkana facility is closer to Nagin’s current home in the Dallas suburb of Frisco.
One year from today candidates will officially be able to qualify for the 2015 Governor’s Race. So far, Republicans Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and US Senator David Vitter have declared candidacy. Other potentials Republicans include State Treasurer John Kennedy and PCS Commissioner Scott Angelle. UL-Lafayette Political Science professor Pearson Cross says Vitter is a solid favorite, however. The only announced democrat so far is state representative John Bel Edwards. Cross says if the Amite lawmaker gets a lot of support, it would put him in the runoff with Vitter.
Supporters of gay marriage in Louisiana have filed an appeal with the US Fifth Circuit of Appeals regarding the ruling last week by federal judge Martin Feldman who upheld Louisiana’s ban on same sex marriages. But Tulane constitutional law professor Keith Werhan says the US Supreme Court will likely rule on this issue, before the federal appeals court in New Orleans has a chance. Werhan says the US Supreme Court is set to begin a new session in October and ruling on same sex marriages will likely come in 2015.
The California Legislature approved a bill that would more than triple the funding for California’s film and TV tax credit program. What impact will this have on “Hollywood South”? Executive Director of Louisiana Entertainment, Chris Stelly, doesn’t think it will have much impact. The measure would boost funding for California’s film incentives to $330 million a year for five years. California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign that legislation into law. Stelly says California’s move speaks highly of what Louisiana has done over the last several years.
Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Deputies are calling it a “cartel like” marijuana grow in the Village of Tangipahoa, finding a combination of 250 pounds of processed marijuana, and 320 massive marijuana plants, which according to authorities, looked like Christmas trees. Four arrests were made.
LSU is a top-10 team. The Tigers are No. 9 in the coaches poll and No. 10 in the Associated Press top 25, both released Sunday. LSU, 12th in each poll last week, has its first top-10 ranking since last October – before a loss at Ole Miss. The Tigers followed a comeback victory over Wisconsin in the season opener by beating Sam Houston State 56-0 on Saturday night.
One of the bigger upsets this past weekend in college football happened in Lafayette as Louisiana Tech trounced the Ragin Cajuns 48-20. The Bulldogs had 533 total yards and they were led by quarterback Cody Sokol, who threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns.
Saints defense crumbles and the Falcons were there to take advantage of it . The Falcons, needing only a field goal to win, kicked a 52-yarder by Matt Bryant to defeat the Saints, 37-34, in extra time.
News for Friday 090514
By Dave Graichen
Four of the 10 candidates in the 5th Congressional District race took part in a forum last night in Pineville. Incumbent Rep. Vance McAllister, Zach Dasher, Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo all answered questions from the media and from the public for more than an hour. In the DA’s race, Chris Roy Jr. and Phillip Terrell answered questions from the public. Rep. Chris Hazel who lives in Pineville was a no show. All three Division G judge candidates were on hand as were the five candidates for Pineville city marshal.
Three Alexandria residents were arrested Thursday and charged in connection with an armed robbery of the South Circle Pawn shop earlier in the day. Two men, both in their late 20 were arrested by the RPSO. They are both being held in the Rapides Parish Dention Center. A 19 year old female was taken into custody by Shreveport police and is being held there until she can be returned to Rapides Parish. All three face charges of armed robbery and criminal conspiracy.
The 2014 Louisiana Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday begins today and runs through Sunday. Byron Henderson with the Louisiana Department of Revenue says this is the third sales tax holiday that happens here every year and it’s exclusively for hunters. Henderson says a wide range of hunting gear is exempt from local and state sales taxes this weekend. Henderson says items that fall under the sales tax holiday include firearms, ammunition, archery supplies and apparel such as safety gear or camouflage clothing you’d use for hunting. He says you can find out more at revenue.louisiana.gov/second amendment.
A federal judge in New Orleans says BP’s reckless conduct is what caused millions of gallons of oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling states BP is 67 percent to blame for the spill, while rig owner Transocean take 30 percent, and contractor Halliburton takes 3 percent. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Eric Smith, says the fine is based on the number of barrels of oil spilled. He says the oil giant will appeal this ruling.
The Tigers play Sam Houston State for their first home game of the season and there are some new traffic patterns for fans to follow. Tiger Athletic Foundation has made large investments to create more parking for fans. Sports information director Michael Bonnette says additional parking lots have opened allowing for more than 2,300 new parking spaces. Bonnette says the stadium has been enhanced with new HD video and LED message boards. He says fans at the game will have a better experience by being able to watch replays and have the same perks as watching the game on their home tvs.
At the helm for nearly 47 years, Dr. Norman C. Francis has decided to step down as president of Xavier University of Louisiana. At a news conference Thursday in New Orleans, Francis, the nation’s longest serving university president, said it was time to pass the torch on to new leadership and he’s doing so with confidence that Xavier is “better prepared to continue its educational and spiritual mission.” Francis’ last day will be June 30th of next year.
Funeral Services will be held tomorrow for Samuel Dunbar, A well-known Alexandria businessman who passed away passed away on Sunday. His funeral will be held Saturday, September 6, Services will be held at St. James Episcopal Church in Alexandria. Visitation will be held in the church parish hall beginning at 10 a.m. Samuel Dunbar was 82.
Louisiana State Police announce the arrest of 21 sex offenders in Calcasieu Parish busted for using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Sgt. James Anderson says “Operation Off Limits” included cooperation with several other law enforcement agencies. State law prohibits registered sex offenders convicted of certain crimes involving minors from accessing social networking sites.
According to new a study compiled by Forbes Magazine, the Houma-Thibodaux area ranks No. 8 among America’s fastest-growing small cities. Story contributor Joel Kotkin says of the top 10 fastest growing small cities, five are energy driven boom towns with high wage employment. He says they looked at factors like job growth, income growth and population growth.
Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to be in New Orleans tomorrow. He will be the featured speaker at a fundraiser for Senator Mary Landrieu. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says this should be a nice boost for the Landrieu campaign. Landrieu is currently in a tight Senate race with Republicans Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness. The former president is one of the Democratic party’s most successful fundraisers.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal still hasn’t received additional details from the federal government on the nearly 1,300 unaccompanied immigrant children living with sponsors in Louisiana. The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement released figures this week that show 533 of them are living in Jefferson Parish, while Orleans and East Baton Rouge parishes have received 237 and 173, respectively. Sponsors in Lafayette Parish have taken in 51. That answers one of Jindal’s questions, outlined in a letter to the federal government last month. But the Governor’s Office still wants to know more about the sponsors the children are living with, the timeline for determining their ultimate status and whether the federal government is going to pay anything toward their education and health care costs here.
Those diets are apparently paying off. Louisiana used to be ranked at number 1 in the nation for the most obese adults. Now, the percentage has dropped from 34.7 percent to 33.1 percent, which moves Louisiana to number 6 on the report released from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Foundation.
Yesterday, a man who was upset about being fired from Wal-Mart in Sulphur was arrested for ramming his vehicle into the store. Sulphur Police say the unidentified man allegedly drove around the parking lot, crashed into the front door, and then ran inside to make verbal threats against several employees. A handful of people had minor injuries.
Former LSU track star and Olympian Lolo Jones will compete on season 19 of ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars”. And Jones is not the only Louisianian taking part. “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson will compete this season as well.
According to the LSU AgCenter, even though demand for food and fiber is growing faster than ever, the agriculture workforce and the number of Ag science teachers is shrinking. Mike Burnett is the executive associate dean with the College of Agriculture at LSU. He says these shortages have been happening for quite some time. Burnett says there are about 230 Ag teachers in 185 Louisiana schools, but many are nearing retirement age. He says surrounding states, like Texas and Mississippi have been actively recruiting Ag teachers from Louisiana.
News for Thursday 090414
By Dave Graichen
A federal judge in New Orleans has ruled Louisiana’s ban on same sex marriage is constitutional. In a 32-page ruling, Judge Martin Feldman says states have the right to define marriage. But John Dennison, chairman of Forum for Equality Foundation, says numerous judges around the country have ruled the other way on this issue. In 2004, Louisiana voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills believes that amendment played a role in Feldman’s decision. Opponents of the ban say they will appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Natchitoches teen accused of fatally punching a student at Natchitoches Central High School was in court yesterday for arraignment and a bond hearing. Sixteen year-old Timmy Robinson is charged with manslaughter in the death of 18 year-old Johnquaries Smith. Bond was set at 100-thousand dollars.
The APD reports, an Alexandria man is facing an attempted second-degree murder charge after a verbal fight escalated into a stabbing. Officers were sent to a local hospital Tuesday because of a reported battery. After an investigation, officers arrested and booked the suspect, 19 year old Louis Means, into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. The victim remains hospitalized, his condition is unknown.
The Alexandria City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday that would officially committed up to $2.8 million to help build Central Louisiana Technical Community College's new campus downtown. Plans call for the campus ,now located on South MacArthur Drive, to be built in an area across Murray Street from the federal courthouse in downtown Alexandria. The cost will be nearly $22 million, with the city providing up to $2.8 million of that.
In a new poll by the Glascock Group, Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham has taken the lead in the 5th District Congressional race. Abraham comes in at 22-percent followed by incumbent Republican Vance McAllister with 20-percent and Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo with 15-percent. Pollster Darrell Glascock believes McAllister’s drop in the poll can be attributed to the addition of Clyde Holloway to the candidate field. He says McAllister has a hard core base of 20-percent. Glascock says in a field this large, that means you shouldn’t write off the incumbent. Monroe businessman Harris Brown received 11-percent in the poll and Clyde Holloway garnered 9-percent. Duck Dynasty favorite Republican Zach Dasher polls at 7-percent of the vote.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana Medicaid will no longer pay for early elective medically unnecessary deliveries of newborns before 39 weeks of gestation. DHH Secretary Kathy Kleibert says Blue Cross is joining the state in the same effort. Kleibert says these early elective deliveries are called “convenience births”. Any births before 39 weeks that are deemed medically necessary will continue to be covered. Kleibert says the goal of this move is to get people to wait until the baby is ready to be born. She says there are definite benefits of giving birth at full term.
An Allen Parish judge has found a 19 year old man guilty of killing his grandfather with a shotgun blast and stealing more than $12,000 and his grandfather’s truck. 33rd District Judge Joel Davis called Laken Johnson “a coldblooded killer” when he handed down the seconddegree murder verdict in the death of Norman Ray Johnson Sr. Second degree murder carries an automatic life sentence. Laken Johnson testified that the shooting was an accident. The judge also found Johnson guilty of theft over $1,500 and of obstructing justice by tampering with evidence, including hiding the 12gauge shotgun police say was the murder weapon.
The Louisiana State Police Retirement System Board of Trustees is holding a public meeting this afternoon to discuss what they’ve discovered regarding the so called “Edmonson Act.” There was concern political maneuvering this past session allowed Col Mike Edmonson to get a massive pension hike. State Treasurer John Kennedy says certain people called on the board to investigate a state law that gave two troopers, including Edmonson, thousands of dollars more for retirement. Edmonson says he will refuse the extra retirement money but Kennedy says that’s not enough — the law needs to be removed from the books.
The National Weather Service says this summer will go down as the wettest on record for Lake Charles. The N-W-S Meteorologist Donald Jones says nearly 37 inches of rain fell during the months of June, July and August, breaking the old record of 33 inches in 1989. Jones says it’s unusual to break a record for summer rainfall without the help of a tropical storm. Jones says another interesting note about this record is that surrounding areas did not approach a record summer rainfall.
Authorities say a 4-year-old child is in critical condition after being injured in a residential fire Tuesday night in the DeSoto Parish town of Mansfield. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says two adults and a 10 year old child were able to escape the home but they soon realized the toddler was still inside. He says a male relative went back inside to rescue the 4-year-old. The toddler was air lifted to University Hospital in Shreveport.
Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson has weighed in on what should be done with the ISIS terrorist group. During an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Robertson said there’s only two options, convert them or kill them. Which, by the way is the same thing ISIS says about us. The difference is, they have carried out their threat. The Islamist militant group is behind the beheading of two American journalists.
A thirteen year-old juvenile from Charenton has been arrested on simple battery for physically assaulting two teachers at B.E. Boudreaux Middle School. Both teachers sought medical treatment at Franklin Hospital. That juvenile was also charged with criminal damage to property.
The Saints will kick-off the season on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Drew Brees says even though it’s just game one of a 16-game regular season schedule, this weekend’s match-up in the Georgia Dome could have postseason ramifications. Brees says even though he missed most of the preseason with an oblique injury, he’s ready for the start of the regular season.
News for Wednesday 090314
By Dave Graichen
The Alexandria City Council agreed Tuesday to pay a Baton Rouge attorney $1.32 million for legal work he did on the city’s lawsuit against Cleco. The agreement to pay H. Craig Davidson Jr. came four years after the city settled its lawsuit with Cleco by signing a new power-supply agreement that had a “settlement value” estimated at about $50 million. The payout though wasn’t entirely voluntary. U.S. District Judge Dee Drell, who ordered the city to pay Davidson or else the U.S. Marshal’s Office would seize the funds from the city’s Utility System Enterprise Fund.
Halliburton announcing yesterday that they had reached a $1.1 billion agreement aimed at settling most claims filed against the company related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement comes just over a year after Houston-based Halliburton admitted destroying evidence and agreed to plead guilty to a criminal charge for its role in the oil spill disaster that occurred at a BP offshore well. The settlement, which is subject to approval of a federal court in Louisiana, will be paid into a trust in three installments over the next two years until all appeals have been resolved.
The trial of a man charged with kidnapping and killing a 12-year-old girl is set to begin in U.S. District Court in Alexandria today. Thomas Steven Sanders is accused of kidnapping Lexis Roberts, killing her and dumping her body in the woods of Catahoula Parish. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in a trial that will begin this morning in front of Judge Dee D. Drell and could last several weeks.
The Justice Department on Tuesday said federal investigators are looking into the death of Victor White III, the 23-year-old New Iberia man died of a fatal gunshot wound while he was handcuffed and in police custody. Dr. Carl Ditch, the Iberia Parish coroner, ruled that White’s death was suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest, while his hands were cuffed behind him on March 2.
White’s family, who have disputed the coroner’s findings, has received assurances from federal officials that the matter will be investigated fully.
Republican Senatorial candidate Rob Maness will visit central Louisiana later this week. Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who lives in Madisonville, will attend the CenLa Patriots' monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Westside Regional Library in Alexandria. He also plans attend a church service at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville Sunday.
A new review of judicial candidates qualifying for elections in Louisiana shows nearly two-thirds of the district judgeships in the state will be filled by candidates who face no opposition this fall. Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a non-partisan legal watchdog organization, analyzed candidate qualifying data from the Secretary of State’s office. Executive Director Melissa Landry says this is detrimental to the overall health of the legal climate because it doesn’t lead to the most experienced or most qualified judge on the bench.
A couple faces several years in prison after being sentenced for leaving their 6-month-old daughter in their locked, unventilated vehicle for nearly an hour in the parking lot of the Walker Walmart in June. Walker Police Captain John Sharp says officers found the couple was under the influence of OxyContin at the time of the incident. Sharp says the couple entered a guilty plea in court yesterday. The child’s father, 35-year-old Billy Arthur Henry, was sentenced to four years at hard labor. Lana Henry, the child’s mother, was sentenced to seven years at hard labor.
State Police has been asked by the Department of Health and Hospitals to investigate inconsistencies in water quality reporting in St. John the Baptist Parish. Parish officials announced last week the discovery of a potentially dangerous amoeba in their water supply. Sgt. Nick Manale says DHH did their own independent testing of the water supply. He says there were large inconsistencies between the DHH testing results and those results reported by the parish. He says their investigation will determine if the conflicting reports had anything to do with criminal activity. Manale says everyone is being cooperative with the investigation which is in its early stages.
Goods exported from Louisiana supported 282,540 jobs in 2013, and the New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles metropolitan areas ranked among the country’s top 50 exporters. All three of the state’s major port cities reported record exports in 2013 and are among 26 metro area, according to the U.S. Commerce Department reaching record export levels. China, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Singapore were the leading destinations for Louisiana exports.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says residents and visitors of False River are happy about the planned man-induced draw-down of the lake which begins today. LDWF Director of Inland Fisheries Mike Wood says this first draw-down won’t do a lot on its own, but it’s happening in conjunction with lots of other work. They say this is the first step in the long awaited False River Restoration project.
According to new research out of Vanderbilt University, college football coaches are worth every penny of their high paid salaries because of the value they bring to the university. Study Co-Author Randall Thomas, a Vandy business and law professor, says they undertook a study of college football coach contracts and compared them to CEO employment agreements and found no evidence that the coaches are overpaid the way some fans might clamor. The study examined 947 college football coach contracts from the NCAA’s top programs. LSU coach Les Miles gets $4.3 million a year and is the 7th highest paid coach.
News for Tuesday 090214
By Dave Graichen
The city of Alexandria’s court-ordered payment of $1.32 million to a Baton Rouge attorney will be handled by a wire transfer if the City Council gives final approval Today. The money would be paid to H. Craig Davidson for legal work he performed in the city’s 2005 lawsuit against Cleco. Federal Judge Dee Drell of Alexandria recently ordered the payment be made by Aug. 22, but he granted an extension until tomorrow to accommodate the City Charter for such expenditures.
Guns, ammunition and other hunting supplies are exempt from state and local sales taxes this weekend. The 2014 Louisiana Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday runs Friday through Sunday and applies to individual consumer purchases of hunting gear, including firearms, ammunition, archery supplies, hunting apparel and off-road vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles designed and intended primarily for hunting. Visit www.revenue.louisiana. gov/secondamendment for more information.
Former Senate hopeful Republican Paul Hollis has filed a lawsuit against Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu claiming she cannot represent Louisiana because she does not live in the state. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this merely is a political ploy to detract from the senator’s reelection campaign. The US Constitution states that in order to qualify you have to be a registered voter in the state where you are running and an “inhabitant” of that state. The Secretary of State’s office says Landrieu is a registered Louisiana voter. Hollis dropped out of the race and threw his support to Republican Representative Bill Cassidy. He filed the lawsuit Friday.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says the job outlook in Sportsman’s Paradise has never been better. According to LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink, the labor force in Louisiana is stronger now than ever before. Eysink says private sector job growth in Louisiana has increased every month for about the last four years.
A state law passed by the legislature this year that would require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals did not take effect yesterday. Critics say the bill was specifically designed to shutter abortion clinics. A Federal Court on Sunday blocked the enforcement of the law to allow doctors to wait for approval of admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
As we approach the halfway point in this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season, there have been only three named storms, none of which have threatened the Gulf Coast. State Climatologist Barry Keim says historically the number of hurricanes from this point forward in the season is about six. Keim thinks four, maybe five, storms may form during the remainder of this season.
The Division of Administration announces that in the first two months of the fiscal year, a newly created state office has already saved the state more than 5 million dollars. Asst. Director of Technology Services Neal Underwood says the Office of Technology Services put all I.T. services under one department to streamline support and operations. Underwood says previously all departments had their own IT staffs and did their own purchasing for those departments. He says it’s expected the Office of Technology Services will save the state around $25 million by the end of the fiscal year.
George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are set to film a political comedy called “Our Brand is Our Crisis” in New Orleans this fall and producers are looking for Louisianans as extras. There is a casting call at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium on Wednesday from 10am 5pm. Shooting for the film is expected to begin at the end of September and continue through October and early November.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says a man is in stable condition after he was shot by an officer when allegedly aggressively resisting a DWI arrest early Sunday morning. They say 27 year old Derek Davis is expected to survive despite multiple gunshot wounds in the upper torso. The officer, identified as Matthew Jackson, is on administrative leave while the incident is under investigation.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says a guide with information about how to avoid fraud that targets the elderly is now available. AG office spokesperson Amanda Larkins says research shows that Americans aged 65 and older are the prime targets of scams and receive more mail and telephone solicitations than anyone. Larkins says the guide is 40 pages and talks about scams from telemarketers, mortgage lenders, contractors and fake charities. She says the guide is currently being distributed at councils on aging, sheriffs’ offices and senior centers across the state.
LSU fans are still buzzing about the Tigers come from behind win over Wisconsin Saturday night. The Tigers offense didn’t do much in the first half, but by the end of the third quarter they were unstoppable. LSU Associate Head Coach and Running Backs Coach Frank Wilson says some blocking adjustments on the offensive line helped. The Tigers will now get ready to play Sam Houston State, who has already played two games this season, winning one and losing the season opener to Eastern Washington.
The Saints are preparing for Sunday’s season opener against Atlanta. The Black and Gold signed ten players to their practice squad Monday, including former LSU and McNeese State tight end Nick Jacobs and safety Pierre Warren. Warren played well in the preseason with ten tackles and an interception.
Southeastern Louisiana remains ranked number three in the latest FCS polls. The Lions opened the season on Saturday with an easy 44 to 3 win over Jacksonville. The Lions are back in action this Saturday as they host Southern Utah in a match up of two teams who were in the FCS playoffs last season.
McNeese State is ranked sixth and seventh in the FCS polls. The Cowboys will kick off their season on Saturday at nationally ranked Nebraska. The Cornhuskers crushed Florida Atlantic this past Saturday 55 to 7.
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