News for Monday 102714
By Dave Graichen
The Department of Health and Hospitals now reports that two more people from Marrero are being watched for symptoms of Ebola after they returned from an infected area in West Africa. That brings the total number of people being monitored in the state to four. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there are no cases of Ebola in Louisiana and he feels comfortable that medical personnel are prepared if a case should develop in the state. All four being monitored are considered “low risk” for contracting Ebola.
The Pineville Police Department has received a grant through the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to enhance its traffic safety enforcement activities for the rest of this year and throughout 2015.The grant will be used to help promote changes in dangerous behaviors on the roadway, by encouraging seatbelt usage, enforcing distracted driver regulations and encouraging sober driving.
We are now eight days away from the November 4th primary election. Polls still show a considerable amount of undecided voters. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says, at this point, candidates kind of throw most undecideds out the window. Pinsonat says if voters are undecided this late in the campaign, they are not likely to vote. He says in the final week of the campaign, candidates, especially in the US Senate race, will begin talking more about themselves and why you should vote for them. He says you’ll still see national ads attacking Bill Cassidy and Senator Mary Landrieu in the US Senate race.
With just over a week to go before election day, there is still a lot of uncertainty looming in the two big Congressional races. In the 5th District ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says things are starting to become a tad more clear that the front-runners could be Congressman Vance McAllister and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Stockley says Mayo will get the Democratic Vote in the District and McAllister has a substantial advantage on the republican side due to name recognition. But he says with such a large district, there is always the possibility of a surprise. With Zach Dasher, Harris Brown or Dr. Ralph Abraham — it’s all about who can get out the vote
The man who died at Tiger Stadium towards the end of LSU’s dramatic 10-7 win over Ole Miss has been identified. East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Doctor Beau Clark says it appears 59-year-old Brian Tinley of Plaquemines Parish died of natural causes.
Clark says every effort was made to revive Tingley who died from complications related to cardiovascular disease.
The state police are investigating an officer involved shooting in Iberville Parish Friday night that left a 36-year-old man dead. The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office says the incident happened in a rural area near Bayou Pigeon as deputies were attempting to locate Shaun Ramo, who had been accused of raping a woman in the area. Deputies reported when they located Ramo, he aimed his rifle at the deputies, who then fired on the subject. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Louisiana soybean farmers are reporting that this year’s harvest is one of their best yet. LSU AgCenter Soybean Specialist, Ron Levy, says the state’s average yield will be between 53 and 54 bushels per acre. He says this the state’s best crop ever. He says several growers in north Louisiana are reporting 80 bushels an acre, while some in northeast Louisiana have broken the 100 bushel mark.
The Saints dominance in primetime games at the Superdome continued on Sunday as the Black-and-Gold sent the Packers back to Wisconsin with 44-23 loss. It was their 14th straight win at home in primetime. The Saints offense finally found the consistency it was looking for, as QB Drew Brees threw for 311 yards and 3 TDs.
The LSU Tigers won an old fashion type of game on Saturday night against Ole Miss. They used a powerful running game and outstanding defense to beat the Rebels 10-7.
It was an emotional game for Head Coach Les Miles. His 91-year-old mother, Martha Miles, passed away on Friday night. After the win, the players gave Miles the game ball.
Louisiana Tech is one of 12 teams in the FBS that is undefeated in conference play. The Bulldogs improved to 4-and-0 in league action by beating Conference USA rival Southern Miss 31-20.
News for Friday 102414
By Dave Graichen
Rapides Parish and the city of Alexandria appear headed to court over the Rapides Coliseum property. The Police Jury filed suit Thursday to force the city to allow its half of their jointly owned portion of the property to be used for parking, or to partition the property. The two sides have said for months they intended to pursue a sale agreement, but little progress has been made. The jointly owned portion of the property became an issue when the parish moved forward with plans for a $23 million renovation to the coliseum. For the project to receive permitting, designers have to show the design contains enough parking spaces to meet city code requirements. To do that, the parish must secure ownership to the city’s portion of the property or an agreement with the city to use it, or else find additional parking elsewhere.
The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles is testing a program that could help seniors renew their licenses and register vehicles without the long wait times they may currently face. “Senior Day” will be tested at select locations throughout the state, one Saturday a month beginning next month, as a time for only Louisianans older than age 60 to head to local OMV offices. Here in Cenla, the DMV office on Coliseum Blvd will participate.
The RPSO reports a Jena woman faces a charge of filing a false police report that accused a man of rape. The office got a report Saturday night from a local hospital’s emergency room, which said there was a possible rape victim seeking treatment. A deputy spoke with the woman, Mary Taylor of Jena, who claimed that a man had raped her in a wooded area off Twin Bridges Road. After a second interview though, Taylor recanted her story, after which she was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
20 year old Colan Tyler of Colfax has been arrested after he allegedly attempted to sell an undercover Grant Parish Sheriff's deputy fake meth. Tyler was charged with distribution of a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance II and obstruction of justice.
Out of the 2.9 million voters who are registered for the November 4th election, there are about 1.8 million white voters, which could be a problem for incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu according to political analyst Bernie Pinsonat. He says there are about 919 thousand registered black voters, plus about 93 thousand more independent voters than there were 6 years ago.
We’re now about halfway through the early voting period for the November 4th election and Secretary Of State Tom Schedler says there’s been good participation among voters. He says so far the number of early votes is at 75% of what the state saw two years ago for the Presidential election. Scheduler says overall participation looks good.
The voting locations will be closed on Sunday and the last day to early vote will be Tuesday.
State health officials are monitoring a New Orleans area man for signs of the deadly Ebola virus. The federal Centers for Disease Control alerted the state to the individual who had just returned from a visit to an Ebola affected country. According to the feds, the individual is at low risk for Ebola, but they are monitoring him just to be on the safe side. The man, who is voluntarily staying at home will be monitored until Nov. 5. So far, he has no symptoms.
We are now one year away from the gubernatorial primary election in Louisiana. Republicans Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, as well as Democrat State Representative John Bel Edwards have announced their intent to run for Governor. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says, the biggest question mark at this point in the Governor’s race is whether or not Democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will join the field. Cross says Landrieu will probably wait until after the holiday season to make up his mind. Cross says you should really see the gubernatorial race kick off after Mardi Gras…
Kenny Henderson is out as executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Henderson led the L-H-S-A-A, which governs high school athletics, since 2007. His contract was set to expire next summer, but past-president of the LHSAA, Todd Guice, says both sides felt now was the time for a change. Guice would not say why Henderson will not fill out the remainder of his contract. The search for Henderson’s replacement has already started.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a 67-year-old man from Boyce is booked on 3rd offense DWI after cops believe he was driving drunk on his lawnmower. They say Ralph Rufus Carroll was traveling in the middle of the highway and tried to dodge an officer by driving his lawnmower into the woods. Carroll was apprehended at his home and arrested for driving under the influence for the third time.
The 108th Annual State Fair of Louisiana opens today in Shreveport and organizers are thrilled with this great weather. Besides lots of live entertainment, there’s rides, games, and some fun things for the kids. The fair will run through November 9th, except Mondays and Tuesdays.
News for Thursday 102314
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Department of Education says 92% of public school teachers evaluated this year received an effective grade. Superintendent John White says this report also showed that schools who expect more of their teachers, will see their students do better. Two percent of teachers were classified as ineffective down from 4 percent last year.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces JP Morgan Chase has donated $1 million into the fund that helps technical colleges fund programs focused on training skilled workers. Monty Sullivan is the Louisiana Community and Technical College System President. He says this money will be used in a very targeted way to address the most high demand programs in Louisiana. The $1 million dollar gift will be matched with $4 million in state funds.
The Secretary of State’s Office is reporting that nearly 36 thousand people registered to vote in the November 4th election since August 1st. That puts the total voter roll at 2.9 million and Secretary of State Tom Schedler says voter turnout could be as high as 50 percent. Early voting is underway through Next Tuesday excluding Sunday.
The state Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a $350,000 contract for incoming Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo. The contract, as the board unanimously voted, runs through Dec. 31, 2017 and is subject to Louisiana Senate confirmation. He’s slated to start the job Jan. 2. Rallo, who is finishing up a seven-year tenure with the Texas Tech System, was selected for the post earlier this month.
Cold and flu season is upon us and people are looking for ways to avoid coming down with a seasonal bug. The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over six-months of age to get a flu vaccine. Dr. Fred Lopez, with the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, says once you receive a flu vaccine, you’ll still want to take steps to avoid any infections this season. He says washing your hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizers are good ways to keep the flu at bay. Flu season runs through April.
A recent survey by the National Retail Federation shows a record number of Americans will buy Halloween costumes this year. The survey says more than two-thirds of Americans will buy costumes this year and the average person will spend $77.52 for the holiday All in all, Americans will spend a total of $7.4 billion this Halloween.
A partial solar eclipse will take place today as the new moon will obscure part of the sun. Louisiana Tech Astronomer Lee Sawyer says we should be able to see the maximum point of eclipse in The Bayou State before the sun goes down today.
If you’re planning to fly for the Holidays this year prepare to go a little deeper into your wallet. According to Expedia.com, Thanksgiving flights are up 17 percent from last year and Christmas flights have gone up 2 percent. Travel expert Dale Irvin says airlines are finding it’s more profitable to fly less with more people. Irvin says over 20 million people are expected to fly from now through December.
There are many parts of the state that haven’t seen rain over the last several days and State Climatologist Barry Keim says it will likely remain dry in Louisiana at least until November rolls around. Keim says on the upside, the sugarcane harvest is going on right now and the farmers are probably loving the dry conditions. He says on the other hand our lawns and gardens aren’t going to be happy campers. But Keim says most parts of the state are actually ahead of schedule in terms of year-to-date rainfall.
News for Wednesday 102214
By Dave Graichen
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy announced yesterday that plans are still in motion to sell the downtown Alexander Fulton Hotel to the Southern Hospitality Group, LLC, which operates other hotels. The Fulton would undergo major improvements and be operated as a Holiday Inn. The mayor says the deal should be completed in about 6 months and word of the renovations is already paying dividends. Word is the Louisiana Municipal Association’s 2016 convention will be held in Alexandria.
An investigation is underway after an inmate from Deville died Tuesday, one day after suffering what appeared to be a seizure at the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
24 year old Robert Keith Rachal Jr., was transported to and died at a local hospital Tuesday. Foul play is not suspected, according to the release, and an autopsy and toxicology tests will be performed later this week.
Regional Trauma Center and Louisiana State Police Troop E are conducting a free child passenger safety seat check-up event today from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event will take place at Rapides Regional Trauma Center Medical Terrace on Fourth Street, downtown Alexandria. No appointment is necessary.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says we’re getting closer and closer to the 2 million mark when it comes to the number of people who have jobs here. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says non-farm employment grew by 33,100 jobs over the year ending September 30th — a new record with employment now exceeding 1.98 million. Construction added the most jobs with 11,000 over the year.
However, not all the news was good. The information sector lost 1,500 jobs, as did the mining and logging sector, which includes jobs in the oil and gas industry. Government agencies lost 5,800 jobs in Louisiana. State government shrank by 4,100 jobs, and local government dropped 1,500 jobs. Despite steady job growth, Louisiana’s unemployment rate increased for the fifth consecutive month and was 6.0 percent in September — 0.1 percent higher than the nation’s unemployment rate of 5.9 percent
Louisianians are seeing big savings at the gas pump as we approach the holiday travel season. The average price for a gallon of regular gas has fallen to under three dollars a gallon in the Bayou State. Gasbuddy-dot-com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHann says these are the lowest gas prices we’ve seen in over three years.
Louisiana’s average price for regular gas is $2.95 a gallon. DeHaan says some stations in the state are charging less than $2.60 per gallon. He says we could see prices below $2.50 at some stations in the next week.
The number of Louisiana Public Schools earning a state performance grade of an A has gone up from 187 to 241 this year, according to the Department of Education. Education officials released the reports earlier today. Superintendent John White says numbers are up because schools are responding to what they have been asked to achieve.
School performance scores are primarily based on student test scores. Rapides Parish public schools' state performance scores moved the district from a C rating to a B, ranking the district fifth in the state for growth. This year’s school report card also shows 10 Louisiana school districts earning an A and no school districts in the state receiving an F grade.
Advance Publications on Tuesday announced plans to lay off 100 more Times-Picayune workers and abandon its long-time headquarters as it consolidates its printing operations in Alabama. The move is expected to occur in late 2015 or early 2016. The layoffs are the largest since the newspaper’s massive reduction in 2012, which preceded the company’s decision to reduce home delivery to 3 days a week.
There’s a new poll out by Real Clear Politics which found Landrieu ahead with 38 percent, Bill Cassidy with 36 percent and Rob Maness with 9%. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says that while it may be true that Maness is taking votes away from Cassidy, the Congressman will need support from those ultra-conservative voters by addressing the policies that are most important to them. Hogan says when it comes to the undecided voters so late in the campaign, they are the ones who are likely conservative but are influenced by Landrieu’s longtime incumbency.
A ULM freshman basketball player has been suspended indefinitely from the team, after an alleged rape of a female student Sunday night. University spokesperson Donna Bernard says police interviewed the alleged victim the next day. That player charged is 18 year-old Roderick Taylor.
Governor Bobby Jindal has 14 months left in office and he says he still has plenty of work to do in Louisiana, even though a presidential campaign could be on the horizon. During recent debates, candidates have been asked what grade they would give the governor, Jindal says it’s too early to give himself a grade. Jindal defends his record, based on the record number of people who are working in the state today. Jindal has made it no secret that he is considering a potential Presidential run in 2016. The governor says he’s not interested in running for his old job as a US Representative
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s office says an arrest has been made in the October 11th hit and run that left a 6 month old child injured after a truck rammed into a house. They say 28-year-old Dustin Wayne Lasseter was the owner of a vehicle spotted Monday with damage that matched evidence collected at the scene. The man was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for hit and run and reckless operation.
News for Tuesday 102114
By Dave Graichen
An investment group has agreed to buy Pineville based Cleco for a reported $3.4 billion. Cleco Power has approximately 284,000 customers in Louisiana. Cleco Power President Darren O’Lages (O-lay-jes) says customers should not expect any change in utility rates or service as part of the sale. He says there are no lay-offs or restructuring of employee salaries planned. The sale is expected to close in the second half of 2015.
He says this investment group is experienced and understands what it means to own utility companies and what it takes to make them successful.
The early voting period for the November 4th election kicks off today. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will take place through October 28th from 8:30AM to 6PM, excluding Sunday. Schedler reminds voters that there are 14 Constitutional Amendments on this year’s ballot, and statewide, this is the biggest election in the state in decades. He says for sample ballots and early voting locations, you can go online at geauxvote-dot-com.
Louisiana State Police and several other agencies will host a “Heroin Summit” today to educate the public about heroin use and address the recent rise in heroin deaths. Trooper Jared Sandifer says Col Mike Edmonson is going to be the keynote speaker.
Sandifer says the CDC named the Greater Baton Rouge area as the 19th worse in the nation per capita for heroin over dose deaths in 2013.
Former President Bill Clinton tells a crowd of Mary Landrieu supporters he doesn’t see how the senior senator is not a clear favorite in Louisiana’s US Senate race over her republican challengers. Clinton says Landrieu has a history of getting things done.
Clinton was in Baton Rouge Monday and spoke at a Landrieu rally. During a nearly 30-minute speech, Clinton spoke about Landrieu’s efforts to help college students afford their education, her support for a higher minimum wage and chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says they plan to stop billing rape victims for exams and tests. Advocacy groups and lawmakers were critical of the fact that women who had been raped were getting big hospital bills after checking in to be treated for the assault. DHH says they now plan to seek reimbursement for such visits from the Crime Victim’s Reparation Board.
This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is urging parents to set rules for their kids before they get the keys. Lt. Col John LeBlanc says parents should tell their teens the “5 to drive Rules” – No cell phones, no extra passengers, no speeding, not alcohol and EVERYONE must be buckled up. LeBlanc says according to a recent survey, only one in four parents had talked seriously with their teens about what it means to be a safe driver.
According to location marketing firm Development Counselors International, the business climate in Louisiana is the 10th best in the nation. Additionally DCI said the Louisiana Economic Development agency is the nation’s second best.
Cleanup crews are continuing to work a major crude oil spill in Caddo Parish that has killed dozens of fish and some reptiles. The oil leaked into Tete Bayou due to the rupture of a Mid-Valley pipeline. Workers were able to stop the spill from reaching into Caddo Lake. It’s estimated that approximately 4,000 barrels of crude oil flowed into the Bayou.
Two St. John Parish employees have been incited on two counts each of malfeasance in office and filing or maintaining false public records after a state police amoeba investigation & low chlorine levels. The accused are Kevin Branch and Danielle Roussel. The DHH asked the state police to investigate after the state found no mandated chlorine residuals in the water system on August 12th but did find indications of the deadly amoeba.
Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order stating that state agencies and departments develop new policies and reporting mechanisms for certain individuals who travel to Ebola stricken countries as a result of educational or work related missions. Included in the order are public employees, students faculty and staff of higher education institutions who go to countries the CDC says have the threat of contracting the Ebola virus.
News For Monday 102014
By Dave Graichen
State police report an Alexandria man was killed in a 2 vehicle crash late Friday afternoon on England Drive at Enterprise Road. 59 year old Ton Brown Jr. was taken to a local hospital where he died Saturday. Although the investigation is ongoing, preliminary evidence indicates that the driver of the motorcycle was acting in a careless manner and that alcohol may have also been a factor in the crash.
President Bill Clinton is scheduled to join Senator Mary Landrieu in Baton Rouge today to rally support for her campaign. Clinton’s visit comes the day before the early voting period for the November 4th election begins. Landrieu is in a tight re-election battle with Republican challengers Congressman Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness. Both parties are sending “big guns” to the state for this Senate race. Republicans sent former presidential candidate Senator John McCain to campaign with Cassidy last week. This is Clinton’s second visit to Louisiana on Landrieu’s behalf during this election.
Are people making too much over the threat of Ebola in the United States? State and National health care officials are urging the public to calm down when it comes to the threat of Ebola. Medical Director for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, Dr. Frank Welch, says people aren’t concerned for “no reason” but it’s over the top to think that you’re going to walk outside and contract Ebola. He says, on the other hand, this is a huge wake up call for our health care system to keep their workers safe. Welch wants to emphasize that Louisiana has been intensively preparing for the possibility of an Ebola patient entering the health care system here at any level.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says auto theft in Louisiana has dropped 48% since 2007 which beats the national average of 34% in the same time period. Donelon credits the massive decline, in part, to public outreach and initiatives by law enforcement. Donelon says they’ve also been able to bust car thieves by using bait cars places in high risk areas that are equipped with monitoring equipment and cameras if they are stolen. He says also says technology has improved so that law enforcement now has the ability to read license plates as vehicles drive down the street. That alone has resulted in hundreds of apprehensions
The Community that was hardest hit by the EF-2 tornado in northeast Louisiana A week ago today is making news because of the huge way they are rallying together to help each other out in the aftermath. Alan West Brockman is president of a property management company in Monroe and a local musician. He says it was amazing to see how many people came out to help clear all of the debris. Brockman says their local celebrated Chef Cory Bahr, who runs Restaurant Cotton in the Garden District, is offering free meals to those helping out and Wal-Mart donated 500 pounds of meat for him to cook.
Baton Rouge Police made a drug bust on I-12 where 48 Jesus Sacred Heart candles with meth mixed in the wax were found on a bus by a K-9 during a traffic stop on I-12. The candles weighed 72 pounds cops say and there were also four larger candles weighing 41 pounds all with meth inside the wax.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals says two new cases of West Nile were reported last week but there are no new deaths. They say there have been 130 reported cases of the virus in Louisiana this year with 6 of those resulting in death. One of the new cases was reported from Caddo Parish and one from East Baton Rouge Parish. Heath officials are urging Louisianians to continue to take steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
It appeared the Saints were on their way to a victory on Sunday in Detroit, but the Lions roared back with two touchdowns in the four minutes to beat New Orleans 24-23. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns. But threw an interception with just over three minutes left that set up Detroit’s winning score.
After a two-week absence, The LSU Tigers are back in the Top 25 polls. The Bayou Bengals are ranked 24th in the AP poll, and 23rd in the coaches. LSU won easily on Saturday, 41-to-3 over the Kentucky Lions.
LATECH Senior linebacker Terrell Pinson should be named Conference USA defensive player of the week today based on his performance in Saturday’s 27-20 win over Texas-San Antonio. The Bulldogs trailed 10-6 at halftime, but the game turned when Pinson had a two-yard fumble recovery for a touchdowns. Tech scored two more quick touchdowns and Head Coach Skip Holtz says that was the difference in the game.
News for Friday 101714
By Dave Graichen
An LSU employee who was recently in Ebola stricken Liberia has been asked to stay off campus for 21 days. That’s the time frame during which symptoms of the virus could show up according to Olivia Watkins with the state Department of Health and Hospitals. She says the man told DHH he did not have contact with anyone who had Ebola so he’s not considered high risk. Watkins says it’s important to remember that Ebola cannot be passed to another individual when there are no symptoms present.
A new protocol has been implemented to 911 operators in Louisiana which has them screen callers for Ebola symptoms. Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Kevin Davis says the caller will be asked a series of questions about illnesses, particularly fever and recent travel. He says that will help EMS responding. Davis says the caller’s answers would determine whether the emergency responder would need to wear protective gear to the call. He says the person would be asked additional questions when in route then EMS would let the hospital know they have a suspect patient.
Local & State Officials were on hand to officially open a “one of a kind” facility at England Airpark Thursday. It’s a 400-bed staging facility the will be used to house immigration detainees who are being deported or in the process of potentially being deported. It is expected the new facility will employ close to 150 people.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus will be in Louisiana today to try to boost black voter turnout with the focus of helping Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign. The 42 member caucus of Democrats say they are pushing Landrieu hard because they want to keep control of the Senate. Louisiana Black Caucus Chairwoman Katrina Jackson says the Congressional Black Caucus will be in New Orleans and Baton Rouge through Monday and possibly visit Alexandria. She says they will be encouraging voters to push the button for Landrieu, Congressman Cedric Richmond and 5th Congressional District Candidate, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Jackson says national and local Democrats are spending upwards of $700,000 for get-out-the-vote efforts in the state.
Laura Larisey, a Baton Rouge student at Northwestern State University who had been been reported missing, has been found safe, according to the University Police. “Law enforcement located Larisey in good spirits and in good health in the company of friends. The student was reported missing by her parents Wednesday.
In Alexandria yesterday, Senator Mary Landrieu announced her endorsement choice for the Fifth Congressional District. The Senator says Jamie Mayo, the long-time Democratic mayor of Monroe is the right choice for the district, and said he would be a bridge-builder for Democrats, Republicans and Independents on the Hill, and continue the economic building of that district.
There’s been another sexual student/teacher incident. The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman who teaches at Crowley High is under arrest for allegedly being inappropriately involved with some of her students. Spokeswoman Maxine Trahan says they received an initial report about 34-year-old Tracy Marie Barras of Duson in early October. After an investigation Barras was charged with three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
A committee of Avoyelles Parish School Board members will begin the process of finding the district's next superintendent next week. The committee was formed at a special meeting Tuesday after the board accepted a notice of retirement from Superintendent Dwayne Lemoine. The group set a meeting for Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. to discuss a timeline and other parameters of the search process. The School Board used a consulting search firm when hiring Lemoine in 2007.
Public Service Commission member Foster Campbell says he’ll call for an investigation into whether or not aging Entergy infrastructure caused extra damage in Ouachita Parish after a tornado blew through Monday. But he says the utility company did a great job getting the power restored to the more than 35,000 who were in the dark. Entergy says their goal is to have all lights back on by 5pm today.
According to the Federal Election Commission, “Duck Dynasty” family member Republican Zach Dasher has raised the most campaign cash among the candidates for the 5th District Congressional seat. Dasher has raised over $500,000 through the third quarter. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says much of the cash raised by fellow Republican candidates Dr. Ralph Abraham, Harris Brown, and incumbent Vance McAllister was their own. Stockley says Dasher is benefiting financially from the “Duck Dynasty” association.
The Louisiana State Police is investigating a shooting involving an Opelousas Police officer. Authorities say 23-year-old Demarcus Jones led police on a foot chase after threatening someone with a gun. Jones then reportedly fired on the officer who returned fire. Jones was treated for his injuries and released into police custody. The officer was unharmed.
Bayou Country Superfest producers announce the shows for 2015 will span over three days again and include a special Friday concert. The BCS lineup for the Tiger Stadium concerts will be announced November 5th.
A teenager from Lafayette is under arrest after police say he tried to rob a gas station with a stick wrapped in plastic while wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask. 18-year-old Lacorrion Turner was booked with first degree robbery.
LSU announces a home-and-home two-game series against the University of Texas. The Tigers will visit Austin on September 7th, 2019 and the teams will meet in Baton. Rouge on September 12th, 2020. LSU will also be returning to the Cowboys Classic against Miami to open the 2018 season.
News for Thursday 101614
By Dave Graichen
Residents in Ouachita Parish continue to clean up after Monday’s tornado ripped through the area. An EF-2 tornado tore through Monroe and West Monroe. Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Neil Brown says the biggest challenges facing residents now are debris and power. Brown says many residents, including himself, may not get power restored to their home until Friday. He says preliminary damage assessment teams will be coming to the area in the next few days. Brown says, as of now, he cannot set a monetary figure to the amount of damage the tornado has caused, but it is significant.
A Baton Rouge student at Northwestern State University has been reported missing.
Laura Larisey was reported missing by her parents. Larisey lives on the university’s main campus in Natchitoches. Anyone with details about her whereabouts is asked to contact campus police or the state police.
In a victory for Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a hotly-debated state law that makes it harder for public school teachers to earn and retain a form of job protection called tenure. The ruling, for the second time, reversed a decision by state District Judge Michael Caldwell, of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge. Caldwell concluded that the overhaul was illegally approved by the Louisiana Legislature because it jammed too many subjects into a single bill. The court disagreed, and handed the governor a big legal win on one of the most contentious issues of his 2012 public schools overhaul.
According to the latest economic projection numbers for Louisiana by Loren Scott & Jim Richardson, The Bayou State is projected to surpass 2 million overall jobs by 2015. Dr. Scott says we have an industrial boom going on right now that is completely off the charts compared to anything we’ve seen in Louisiana history. Louisiana’s Economic Outlook projects the state to add 34,100 jobs in 2015. Dr. Scott says the Baton Rouge area is expected to be the second fastest growing over the next 2 years with about 19,600 new jobs or a 2.4 percent growth. He says areas north of I-10 will see growth but not nearly what the southern region will. Scott says Lafayette and Houma will also see big gains but the big winner will be Lake Charles.
The big question lingering after Tuesday night’s US Senate race debate is who were the winners and losers? UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross thinks both Senator Mary Landrieu and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness helped themselves during the debate. However, Cross doesn’t think it was a great debate overall for Congressman Bill Cassidy. Cross says Cassidy had a couple of kinks in his performance during the debate. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says
Cassidy didn’t do much to dazzle voters, but he really doesn’t need to at this point.
Hogan doesn’t believe the debate will change any voter’s minds, and Cross agrees.
Latest campaign finance totals in the US Senate race show Republican challenger Bill Cassidy with one million dollars more in cash on hand than Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu. Cassidy has four-point-four million, while Landrieu has three-point-four million. Political analyst Clancy Dubos points out Landrieu raised more money than Cassidy in the third quarter. Landrieu raised two-point-seven million dollars in the third quarter, beating out Cassidy by two-hundred thousand dollars. Dubos expects Landrieu to spend more of her campaign funds than her main GOP challenger. The third major candidate in the race, Air Force Colonel Rob Maness, reports he has 388-thousand dollars in his account
A second Dallas hospital worker has tested positive for Ebola. Both workers contracted the virus while providing care to Thomas Duncan, who died from the disease a week ago today. So are Louisiana hospitals prepared to handle an Ebola patient? Louisiana Hospital Association Vice President Ken Alexander believes so, thanks to daily guidance provided by the C-D-C. however, National Nurses United is concerned about the new case, and questions whether nurses have been adequately trained and have the protective gear to take care of Ebola patients. Alexander says what has happened in Texas is providing learning moments for the health care industry
Gas prices are being nice to our wallets these days. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is $3.03 which is down nearly a dime from this time last week.
News for Wednesday 101514
By Dave Graichen
The three major candidates in the US Senate race appeared in a televised debate last night. Analysts’ have said that US Senator Mary Landrieu needed to take some shots as she’s trailing in the polls to Republican Challenger Bill Cassidy, and she did early in the debate. Congressman Cassidy stayed with party talking points during the majority of the 1 hour and stressed his intention to vote to get rid of Obamacare if elected. Retired Air Force Col Rob Maness took shots at both Landrieu and Cassidy and criticized President Obama in most of his answers.
Entergy reported thousands of customers remained without power late Tuesday after a strong long of thunderstorms caused widespread damage Monday. Governor Bobby Jindal, who declared a state of emergency, toured the Monroe/West Monroe area yesterday to survey the damage. Jindal says they are working with affected areas and FEMA is sending preliminary teams to begin damage surveys.
Governor Bobby Jindal has sent a letter to the President seeking to restore funding that helps provide free funerals for military veterans. Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David LaCerte says the Obama administration allocates the across the board cuts. He says the National Guard’s ability to perform honor detail for military veterans who have passed will be severely impaired. The across the board cuts were made to all branches of the military.
Proposed charter schools in Alexandria, Monroe and Lake Providence were put on hold Tuesday by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White told BESE members that he wants to see how the schools already being administered by Charter Schools USA perform before approving any more. That company has applied for charter schools in Monroe and Alexandria under the Louisiana Charter Foundation.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue is offering delinquent tax payers a chance to settle their overdue debt with the state. The 2014 Louisiana Tax Amnesty period begins today and runs through November 14. Deputy Secretary Jarrod Coniglio says this is a golden opportunity to get up-to-date on late taxes. He says, during the amnesty period, tax payers can settle their debt by paying 100-percent of delinquent taxes and 50-percent of interest owed. The department will waive the remaining 50-percent of interest and 100-percent of the penalty that is due. Coniglio says this year’s amnesty is offering something new, an installment plan. Last year’s tax amnesty period collected $435 million that went into the state budget.
The first meeting of a working group put together by state Senator JP Morrell to review sexual assault policies on Louisiana’s college campuses takes place today. The New Orleans lawmaker wants to craft legislation that seeks to prevent sexual assault incidents at higher education institutions in Louisiana. He says they will begin with education Today’s meeting will be mostly introductory to try to figure out the key areas they would like colleges to address in implementing sexual assault policies for students
According to a study by the Williams Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles, if same-sex couples were allowed to marry in Louisiana, it would mean an economic boost to the state. The study predicts 4,038 in-state same-sex couples would get married in Louisiana within the first three years. The figures show spending on those weddings by same-sex resident couples and their out-of-state guests would generate $28.3 million dollars in the same time frame. Weddings are big business.
Research is underway at Tulane into a finger-prick test which would identify whether or not someone had the Ebola Virus within minutes. Doctor Robert Garry says they are still in the testing phase but getting close with this. Garry’s team received a two-point-nine million dollar grant last June to develop a speedy diagnostic test that health care workers could use.
Seven people have been arrested today for participating in an online sales scam. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says the suspects are believed to be members and affiliates of Romanian organized crime. The suspects are charged with federal racketeering for stealing approximately $1.4 million dollars from more than 500 people.
Two people sitting in a waiting room at a dentist’s office in East baton Rouge were injured yesterday when a car crashed through the building and into the room. A woman and her son were trapped under a large, 350-gallon aquarium that had to be drained and lifted using large, heavy rubber air bags. Their injuries were non-life threatening. The driver of the vehicle was not injured.
LSU Coach Les Miles says its his hope quarterback Brandon Harris will get a chance to play Saturday against Kentucky. Miles says they wanted to get Harris on the field against Florida, but the opportunity never presented itself. Anthony Jennings is expected to start against the Wildcats. The last time he played in Tiger Stadium, he was booed off the field after committing three turnovers.
News for Tuesday 101414
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal has issued a state of emergency as a result of the severe weather that moved the through the state on Monday. Kevin Davis, director of the governor’s office of homeland security and emergency preparedness, says Ouachita Parish is cleaning up from a possible tornado or damaging straight line winds. Some areas experienced 60 mile per hour winds when the storm system moved through. At one time, nearly 40-thousand people were without power in north Louisiana. Most are back on line today.
Tonight voters will finally see a US Senate debate featuring all three major candidates. Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican challengers, Congressman Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness will face off in Shreveport at 7PM. The debate, sponsored by Council for a Better Louisiana in partnership with Louisiana Public Broadcasting, will be televised statewide on LPB stations.
Walmart announced yesterday that they plan to hire up to 190 associates for the Walmart Neighborhood Markets opening in Alexandria and Pineville. Walmart is hosting a temporary hiring center in the food court area of the Alexandria Mall. It's open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Interested applicants can also apply online at http://careers.walmart.com.
An accident yesterday morning in downtown Alexandria, has left four people injured. The accident occurred when a city bus struck an SUV at the intersection of Jackson Street and 4th. The driver of the SUV received moderate injuries, while the driver of the bus and two passengers were treated for minor injuries. Police are not saying who ran the light, causing the accident.
A judge in Baton Rouge grants a temporary restraining order that keeps the ashes from the incineration of a Dallas Ebola victim’s belongings from being disposed in a Calcasieu Parish landfill. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell sought . The company that owns the landfill involved in this controversy released a statement that says it will not take the Ebola waste, until state officials determined it would not pose a health threat. Linen, bedding and carpet from the apartment of Thomas Duncan, who died from Ebola, was destroyed at an incinerator in Port Arthur, Texas and was set to be transported to a landfill in Calcasieu Parish.
Election day is three weeks away and Secretary of State Tom Schedler is encouraging Louisiana voters to download their GeauxVote mobile phone app. The app is convenient way to get all of the election information you may need. Schedler says Louisiana is a front runner in the country for this technology.
The app, which is available for iPhone and Android phones, provides information on local polling locations, updated ballots, and much more. Schedler says it even provides up-to-the-minute election results.
Despite his concerns about Common Core, Gov. Bobby Jindal will back a state bid to land a $15 million federal prekindergarten grant. Jindal’s office made the announcement Monday after days of letter exchanges between the governor, who opposes Common Core, and state Superintendent of Education John White, who backs the classroom standards. Jindal repeatedly said he was concerned that the grant would be linked to the new academic standards in reading, writing and math. White disagreed and said the money could finance pre-K services for about 800 4-year-olds from low-income families per year for four years.
The Tigers wild 30-27 victory over Florida was win number 100 at LSU for Coach Les Miles. The mad hatter joins Charles McClendon as the only two coaches in LSU history to win at least 100 games. Miles says one of his players gave him the game ball after the win and he’s glad it was the type of victory that exemplifies how his teams play. Miles will go after win number 101 this Saturday at home against Kentucky.
News for Monday 101314
By Dave Graichen
The run of warm and humid weather comes to an end today thanks to a cold front that will move through the state, bringing us more fall like weather. State Climatologist Barry Keim says Last week it felt more like summer than fall, with high temperatures in the upper 80s and high humidity levels. Keim says this cold front will give us high temperatures in the 70s across the state tomorrow. But, before the cooler temperatures we’ll get rain and there’s the potential of severe weather today.
An amazing story out of Pleasant Hill in Sabine Parish. A 43 year old man dies, of what appears to be natural causes, while sitting in bed working on his computer. Authorities say he fell backwards on the bed pinning his 10 month old infant beneath his body. Three days passed before the little girl’s 5 year old brother went next door and told a neighbor he thought his dad was dead. The infant, Betty Jean Fields, was dehydrated and suffering from blistering skin. But, authorities believe she will survive the ordeal.
The statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline has fallen another two cents in the past few days. The American Automobile Association has the statewide average price at $3.07. Triple-A fuel analyst Don Redman says the summer is over and demand is down. Redman says there’s potential we could see prices the lowest they’ve been since 2010.
A sergeant with the Louisiana State Police faces charges of DWI and hit and run, after causing a crash on Interstate 10 early Saturday morning. State Police Captain Doug Cain says 34-year-old Damien Dyson Sr of Baton Rouge was heading west on I-10 in Ascension Parish, when he struck the rear of another vehicle at a high rate of speed. Cain says Dyson kept going, but eventually pulled over and State Police responded to the scene. Dyson was booked into the Ascension Parish jail and immediately placed on administrative leave. Dyson, who was off duty at the time, had a blood alcohol level that was over twice the legal limit.
The LSU Health tumor registry has found colon cancer rates in the Acadiana parishes are among the highest in the United States. The study was led by Doctor Jordan Karlitz, who is also at the Tulane University of Medicine and he says their research focused on 18 parishes in the Acadiana area and colorectal cancer rates were significantly higher than both Louisiana and US rates. Karltiz says colorectal cancer rates are high in French speaking homes in Acadiana and those families with a Cajun heritage, which raises the possibility of a genetic predisposition. Another possible explanation could be contained within the environment, but he says more research is needed…
Eunice Police are seeking the public’s help in locating a woman who robbed the State Bank and Trust with a fake bomb Thursday afternoon. Surveillance video showed a middle-aged woman with a baseball cap also produced a gun and got away with an undisclosed amount of money. State Police Bomb Squad arrived and determined the package she left at the scene was not a bomb. It was the second fake bomb robbery in about year in Eunice.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section is investigating reports of scammers targeting Entergy resident customers and small business owners. Amanda Larkins, with the A-G’s office, says a con artist, claiming to be with Entergy, calls a customer’s home or business and the victim is told they need to make an immediate payment, because they are behind on their bill. Larkins says this scam has been around for a while, targeting elderly and other residential consumers, but now these scammers are moving on to small business owners with larger utility expenses. If you get such a call, the best thing you can do is hang up.
An Ascension grand jury will not be indicting the driver of an SUV, who ran off the road in Ascension Parish and killed two children fishing with their father in June. State Police said at the time they would not charge the driver, Shanette Taylor, and Friday, the grand jury unanimously agreed. Daylon and Sarai Lanus died as a result of that crash.
We’re a little more than three weeks away from the November election and voters have yet to see or hear a commercial from Former Governor Edwin Edwards in the sixth district Congressional race. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Edwards has the luxury of not having to run TV. According to Edwards last campaign finance report, he had 145-thousand dollars in cash on hand. Pinsonat says Edwards will likely finish in the top 2 in the primary, but he’ll need to spend some money and probably get on TV to win the run-off election.
The LSU Tigers finally have their first SEC win of the season and it wasn’t easy. LSU and Florida went back-and-forth in a crazy fourth quarter on Saturday in Gainesville, but it was the Tigers who came out on top 30-27.
News for Friday 101014
By Dave Graichen
The VA in Pineville will conduct a drive through flu shot clinic at building 7 on Friday from 8-12 and again at 4-6. They will repeat on Saturday from 8-12..
Glascock Group releases a new poll on the 5th Congressional District race and Congressman Vance McAllister looks to be in a good position to make the runoff. The numbers show the incumbent with 24% of the vote, then it’s fellow Republican Ralph Abraham with 20% then Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo with 18. The Duck Dynasty family member Zach Dasher polled at 11% with 12% saying they are still undecided.
A visit Wednesday here in Rapides parish from state Supt of Schools John White. White spent time with a group of Rapides Parish teachers at Pineville High while on his annual Louisiana Believes tour to “get the pulse” of what’s going on in the classroom and plan any course corrections for the next year. Most of the teachers’ questions revolved around keeping pace with new, more rigorous curriculum while reaching every student.
The Board of Regents Thursday unanimously selected Joseph Rallo to be Louisiana's next commissioner of higher education. Rallo is currently vice president for academic affairs and second in command in the Texas Tech University System. Rallo said his proposed contract calls for taking over around Jan. 2 but he expects to be in the state several times before that to get acclimated to the new job.
The big news in Louisiana politics today is sudden release of Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign manager. In an 11th hour shake-up, Landrieu hired Ryan Berni to run things as he did for her bother Mitch’s successful bid for New Orleans mayor. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this move shows that Landrieu recognizes things aren’t working right internally and it’s time for a change if she plans to defeat Congressman Bill Cassidy.
Former Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is coming to Louisiana to appear with US Senate candidate Bill Cassidy at a series of veteran’s rallies. The Arizona Senator’s first appearance with Cassidy is Sunday night in Metairie. Monday the pair will make stops in Covington, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Bossier City.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says some AT&T mobile customers could receive a refund as a result of a 105 million dollar settlement reached with the cell phone provider over unauthorized text message fees. Chris Styron is an assistant AG and he says this refund is specific to customers who have been “crammed. Styron says consumers who are victims of “cramming” are charged for “premium” text message subscription services that the consumer has never heard of or requested. However, says sometimes it’s difficult to find the charges on your phone bill. Styron says they encourage AT&T mobile customers in Louisiana who believe they may have been affected by cramming to submit a claim through the restitution program.
Based on filings with the Louisiana Insurance Department, health care policies purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange will see a double digit rate increase. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, and Vantage Health have all filed for rate increases ranging from 10 to 20 percent. He says policy holders will notice the difference next year.
The Kenner Police Department released records Thursday on the arrests of two Destrehan High school teachers who allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old student at the same time and the affidavit states the suspects were both drinking. Both women face felony charges of carnal knowledge, indecent behavior and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. A retired judge from New Iberia has been appointed to hear the case.
A former Department of Health and Hospitals worker pleaded guilty to stealing over $1 million dollars from the state to fund her gambling addiction. State Inspector General Stephen Street says 47-year-old Deborah Loper was accused of misappropriating Medicaid over payments. Under terms of Loper’s plea agreement, she’ll serve five years in prison, five years’ probation and she must pay over a million dollars to the state in restitution.
The field of Republicans hoping to fill the 6th Congressional District seat has narrowed by one. Attorney Cassie Felder has dropped out; mainly based on the inability to raise enough money to do the advertising she would need to win. She announced yesterday she is putting her support behind State Senator Dan Claitor.
An owner of a Covington horse farm, who provides handicapped individuals the opportunity to use the facility and ride horses, has been arrested for allegedly raping a 21 year-old mentally challenged woman. St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office booked the owner of Parkview Farms-50 year-old Vincent Datrio on aggravated rape into jail and set his bond at $200 thousand dollars. Authorities say, there could be more victims.
LSU reports its freshman class this fall has the highest average ACT score and highest average grade point average in the university’s history. The school also says this is the most diverse student body they’ve ever had. President and Chancellor F King Alexander says LSU is doing a good job appealing to more students with more diverse backgrounds.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says Poverty Point will be officially inscribed as 1001st site on the World Heritage List tomorrow in Epps near Delhi. He says the ceremony will begin at 10am when the plaque will be unveiled that recognizes Poverty Point as only the 22nd World Heritage site in the United States.
The LSU Tigers leave today for the Sunshine state where they’ll face Florida tomorrow night in Gainesville. On social media and radio call-in shows, Tigers fans have expressed their frustrations with the 0-and-2 record in SEC play, but Coach Les Miles says there’s been a lot of positive energy at practice and in meeting rooms. No word on who will start at quarterback for the Tigers
In the Southland Conference…Northwestern State will play its first home game in 43 days when they host Incarnate Word on Saturday night in Turpin Stadium. The Demons are coming off a four-game road trip, where they went two and two. Coach Jay Thomas is encouraged with how his team played on the road.
News for Thursday 100914
By Dave Graichen
A trial date has been set for the lawsuit which challenges the controversial law in Louisiana which requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The case is scheduled to be heard on March 30th of next year but until then a temporary restraining order barring the state from penalizing doctors who are applying to have admitting privileges remains in effect.
Governor Bobby Jindal issues an executive order to protect a teachers’ right to freedom of speech after hearing a teacher in Rapides Parish was “written up” by school administrators, because she criticized Common Core on her Facebook page. Louisiana Federation of Teachers spokesperson Les Landon supports Jindal’s action . The Alexandria Town Talk published the story that claims a teacher was reprimanded for voicing her concerns over Common Core. Another teacher in the story says some teachers are scared to speak up. But Landon says they have not heard of local school officials using intimidation tactics to keep teachers quiet.
Some 40,000 classified Civil Service employees will see an increase in their paychecks this month, some for the first time in years. Funding for the 4 percent boost is included in the Jindal administration’s budget that went into effect July 1.
The raise comes as the administration is preparing to implement state health insurance program changes which include increased out-of-pocket expenses for many of the same employees. The state budget included more than $60 million to cover the cost of the so-called “performance adjustments.”
A preliminary deal has been reached with 12 Louisiana municipalities to build a new natural-gas pipeline from Winnsboro to Natchez that would replace the existing 90-year-old Midla pipeline. Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland is a member of the Louisiana Municipal Gas Authority. He says they are elated this agreement was made in principle with Midla. Copeland says this new pipeline will ensure that future economic growth is possible to areas that have been hindered in the past by the low pressure and resulting low capacity available through the existing pipeline. The agreement must be signed off now by all parties in the negotiations.
The Louisiana Community and Technical College System launches a 6 year plan designed to meet the state’s growing workforce demand. President Monty Sullivan says the goal is to double the number of graduates a year to 40,000 graduates a year. Officials say tens of thousands of workers will be needed to fill the number of jobs that are expected to be created over the next five to ten years. Sullivan says they have put together a bold plan that will help the state address its workforce challenges.
The fall festival season continues in Louisiana as the 39th annual Zwolle Tamale Fiesta kicks off today in the Sabine Parish town. The festival is an annual celebration of Zwolle’s rich Spanish and Native American heritage. Here in Rapides Parish, it’s The Rapides Parish Fair at it’s new location on Highway 71 by LSUA. Finally, in Evangeline Parish it the Cotton Festival, one of the state’s oldest festivals. All continue through the weekend.
American Horror Story: Freak Show, the FX anthology series which was shot in New Orleans, debuted Last Night. This season the show is about a traveling carny sideshow troupe of “mistakes of nature” as the script says. Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly expects this one will be as successful as American Horror Story: The Coven which was also shot in The Big Easy . This American Horror Story season includes Academy Award winner Kathy Bates playing a bearded lady, and Sarah Paulson with two heads.
It’s a tragedy that hit hard yesterday morning in Kenner, as a father accidently ran over and killed his one year-old baby in the driveway of his home. Unbeknown to the father, the little girl had crawled under the car through the open front door as his wife was helping him set his GPS
News for Wednesday 100814
By Dave Graichen
A new independent poll conducted on the 5th District Congressional race shows Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo with a slight lead in a very tight field. The poll was conducted by Cygnal (signal) and surveyed just over 500 voters in the district. Pollster Brent Buchanan says Mayo polled 19-percent of the vote, followed by Republican incumbent Vance McAllister with 17-percent, Zach Dasher with 13-percent, and Dr. Ralph Abraham with 11-percent. But Buchanan says there is still a lot up for grabs. Over 20-percent of the voters polled said they were undecided at this point. Buchanan says, with less than a month to go, this election is still way too close to call.
An Alexandria man was arrested Monday after he was found drunk at the D.G. Hunter Power Electrical Plant. 47 year old Donald Ray Clifton Sr. was charged with unauthorized entry of critical infrastructure and disturbing the peace by intoxication. Clifton was allegedly hiding from officers after attempting to steal copper from a recycling bin. This is the 26th time Clifton has been booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
According to analysis done by The Wesleyan Media Project, the US Senate race in Louisiana is the most negative campaign in the country. The Wall Street Journal found that 0% of the ads run by Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, over a two week period, were positive. Erica Franklin Fowler is the co-director on the Wesleyan Media Project, she says campaigns across the country this year are more negative than they were in 2012 or 2010, but she says in Louisiana BOTH Landrieu and Cassidy have opted against puppies and families in their commercials.
The state says the number of Louisiana students scoring 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exam, and thereby earning college credit, has increased 24.6 percent in 2014. The state education department also says more students are taking AP classes: Louisiana is now ranked 38th for the percentage of high school juniors and seniors taking an AP test. In 2012, we were last in the nation.
Gay and lesbian couples are getting legally married in the Southeast for the first time, crossing a threshold in a conservative region long opposed to same-sex marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to turn away appeals from a handful of states means marriage bans are unconstitutional in Virginia and similar bans in West Virginia and North and South Carolina should fall as soon. But as with other civil rights battles, plenty of southern conservatives seem determined to fight to the bitter end. The state’s attorney general in west Virginia says they will fight it in the courts.
Average weekly wages of $997 in the Houma-Thibodaux area topped the state’s first-quarter chart, according to numbers released by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. New Orleans-area wages averaged $950 per week, just ahead of the $887 recorded for the Lafayette area. The Baton Rouge area’s average wage of $881 was the fourth-highest in the state. Other weekly wage numbers released by the LWC were for areas surrounding Lake Charles, $830; Shreveport, $737; Alexandria, $679; and Monroe, $660.
Louisiana’s economic development department launched a nationwide campaign Tuesday to attract former state residents to growing numbers of new jobs in this state. The campaign, dubbed “Come Home, Louisiana,” is tied to a free state website, LouisianaJobConnection.com. That website is designed to match the skills of job seekers with the best available jobs of Louisiana employers.
Since the LJC website became available to people searching for jobs on Aug. 18, more than 12,000 job seekers have placed the details of their experience and training on it. State economic development officials said more than 950 Louisiana employers have posted available jobs on the same website.
LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Cliff Vannoy says two separate audits that were ordered following a sex scandal involving the group’s former leader have found no wrongdoing or misused money. The independent reports are expected to formally be released this week. Former association head Charlie Roberts resigned in August after an ex-employee claimed in a lawsuit that Roberts gave her a marketing job at the Alumni Association so she would continue a sexual relationship with him and then paid her monthly hush money after she resigned.
The State Department of Health and Hospitals says a case of rabies has been confirmed in a dog in the West Monroe area. Last month a cat in Washington Parish also tested positive for rabies and so was a dog in Lafayette Parish in January according to DHH. State Veterinarian Dr. Gary Balsamo says the state is reminding residents that, by law, anyone who owns a dog, cat or ferret over three months old must have their animal vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian. Balsamo says, unfortunately, some people seem to be downplaying the seriousness of vaccinating for rabies.
Hydrocodone based drugs like Lortabs are now a lot harder to get after they were moved into a more restrictive category by the federal government. Under the new rules, doctors will only be able to prescribe a 30-day supply with no automatic refills. LSU Health’s Emergency Medicine Chairman, Dr. Tom Arnold, says they are trying to get control of abuse of these drugs. He says you also now won’t be able to call in hydrocodone-based prescriptions.
The New Orleans Police Department says they found 3 bodies early yesterday morning in the Bywater after what they believe is a double murder-suicide. An investigation has thus far determined that a 55-year-old man shot and killed his 60-year-old sister and 58-year-old brother before killing himself. Detectives are not releasing the identities of those involved at this time
It looks like this year’s most popular movies and television show characters will be knocking on your doors looking for Candy October 31. Spirit Halloween is one of the season’s largest retailers in North America and spokeswoman Lisa Barr says you can’t expect to see plenty of Disney’s “Frozen” characters. Barr says also in their top 10 costume trends for the coming season are the usual Superheroes including Batman, Captain America, Spiderman and Transformers. She says DIY is a big trend this year with themes around Burlesque, Punk and Leopard. Barr says there is a huge demand for costumes featuring characters from HBO’s Game of Thrones and of course zombies..
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are looking for the killer of a black bear in Concordia Parish. Spokesman Adam Einck says this animal was part of their Black Bear Restoration Program and its movements were being tracked with a radio collar. He says the bear was normally tracked in the Turnbull Island area. LDWF is offering a reward of up to $7,000 for information on this case.
Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer a Louisiana Concealed Carry Class on Saturday and Sunday. The class is for those age 21 or older who want to obtain a Louisiana concealed handgun permit. The course will be from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday in South Hall on the NSU campus and Sunday at the Natchitoches Shooting Range. The cost is $110. For more information, call (318) 357-5682
News for Tuesday 100714
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal is traveling the country again and yesterday he gave a speech calling for increased funding for the US military. Jindal spoke at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He says we need to go back to the 2011 budget proposed by former defense Secretary Robert Gates. Jindal stated that the nation’s military has suffered devastating budget cuts under President Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The governor says now the need is for more funding, not less
The Louisiana Democratic party is bashing Governor Bobby Jindal over his speech yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. calling for a strengthening of the US military. Chairwoman Senator Karen Carter Peterson says Jindal needs to stop putting so much effort into matters outside of Louisiana. Peterson says even though his own constituents think he shouldn’t run for president, Jindal keeps courting D.C. insiders. She says instead of talking about increasing federal military funding, she’d rather hear Jindal explain why he cut hundreds of millions dollars from higher education in our state.
We’re now 4 weeks away from the November elections and political voters can expect to see and hear a lot more from the candidates. LSU political research director Michael Henderson says the “air war” will continue over radio and television. He says candidates will be putting a lot more resources toward the “ground game” here over the next couple of weeks to mobilize core voters to get out the vote. He says in the 5th & 6th Congressional District races, it’ll be all about making it to the runoff.
A statewide survey conducted by CBS and the New York Times shows Republican US Representative Bill Cassidy leading Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu 47-to-41 percent in a head-to-head match-up. The survey also shows 12 percent of Louisiana voters are undecided.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman is under arrest on animal cruelty charges for allegedly trying to throw puppies away. A deputy rescued the puppies and returned them to their rightful owner. Deputies have no idea why this woman was trying to dump puppies but she was arrested and charged with three counts of cruelty to animals.
Covington Police have arrested two 14-year-old’s for allegedly calling 9-1-1 to falsely report someone was shooting up the school and requesting fried chicken and kool-aid be brought to William Pitcher Junior High. The alleged incident took place on the school bus and investigators traced the call to the teens. The charges include terrorizing, misuse of 911 and telephone harassment.
A TV station in Baton Rouge is reporting a horse fell on top of West Feliciana Parish Sheriff Austin Daniel at the Angola Prison rodeo on Sunday. They say as a result the sheriff suffered four broken ribs, a punctured lunch and a broken collarbone. A family member told the station Daniel is expected to make a full recovery, but it will take a long time.
The Shreveport Police Department says they are investigating a two-vehicle crash which claimed the life of a 35-year-old man on I-49. They say Elton Anderson was traveling south when his car hit a pickup and lost control. The victim was not restrained and was ejected and thrown over the interstate barrier falling about 30 feet. Anderson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Even though the Tigers are off to an 0-and-2 start in SEC play, Coach Les Miles is not ready to say this is a rebuilding season. Miles says there’s still plenty of victories to be had this season, if his team can execute better. LSU is at Florida this Saturday. Miles plans to name a starting quarterback later in the week as he’ll allow Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris compete for the job this week.
The Saints are headed into the bye week with a much needed win under their belts as they defeated Tampa Bay 37 to 31 in overtime. But it was a painful victory or New Orleans, who saw tight end Jimmy Graham leave the game with a shoulder injury. Coach Sean Payton did not offer any specifics yesterday, but it’s been reported that Graham is suffering from a shoulder sprain. The Saints next game is October 19th at Detroit and it’s also possible running back Mark Ingram could return to that game after recovering from a broken hand.
News for Thursday 100214
By Dave Graichen
The first autumn cold front hits Louisiana today. CS Ross, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says the front will roll through the state through early tomorrow morning. Once the cold front moves through the state, we can expect sunny skies and great weather across Louisiana for the weekend.
The Rapides parish sheriff’s office reports someone is calling local residents, trying to get them to make a payment for a warrant or overdue fine, but it’s a scam. Several complaints were received Tuesday, saying that someone calls and identifies himself as Mark Hamilton or Lt. Dan Jordan. The number appears to be the office’s main number, and they’re telling people that they are trying to collect a payment via telephone for an outstanding warrant or overdue fine. Truth is, according to the Sheriff’s office, they will NEVER call someone telling them they have a warrant or overdue fine and attempt to make a payment over the phone. Bottom line, don’t give the caller any personal information. The office says to hang up on and to block the number.
An Alexandria police officer checking some Veterans Drive storage units on Tuesday surprised two men who allegedly were stealing from them, causing them to run, according to a release. They were nabbed a short time later. As the first officer continued looking around the units in the 600 block of Veterans Drive, he found an unoccupied pickup truck with a washer and dryer in the bed. He also found several burglarized units. As the pair were being searched, officers found suspected crystal meth and counterfeit money on one of them. Both men were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. More arrests are expected.
Amidst the news out of Dallas reporting the first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States, Governor Bobby Jindal is taking action to ensure Louisiana isn’t at risk but is ready for any potential threat. Jindal and GOHSEP held a meeting yesterday to get an update from state agencies to make sure the state is prepared if a case of the life threatening disease were to be present here.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office reports a Campti couple died Tuesday last night after their mobile home caught on fire. Florence and John Berguin, both 68, were pronounced dead at the scene. The victims were the mother and step-father of Campti Police Chief Greg Eldridge.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s office says an Amite Police Officer is under arrest on multiple charges of kidnapping, sexual battery and rape. Spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto says they got a report from a woman in August about a man who had kidnapped her, taken her to a remote location and forced her to perform sexual acts. She says they got a similar report last month. Panepinto says investigators identified 25-year-old Grant Carruth, an Amite Police Officer as the suspect. He was arrested and taken into custody. Panepinto says Carruth would pose as a narcotics agent to trick the victims.
A Public Policy Polling survey and a CNN poll both show Congressman Bill Cassidy with a three-percentage point lead over Senator Mary Landrieu in a possible December runoff. UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says the Cassidy campaign has to be pleased with the polls that show him leading a three-term incumbent. Cross says two reputable polls showing Cassidy in the lead is significant.
The federal government begins sending out refund checks to those homeowners who overpaid for their insurance premiums. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the refunds will go to those residents who purchased or renewed coverage after 2012 and paid higher premiums, until Congress passed another law to re-adjust flood insurance rates. The federal government estimates that about one-million policyholders nationwide will receive refunds that average one-hundred dollars.
Well, here we are the beginning of October and this year’s hurricane season has been pretty uneventful, so far. But state climatologist Barry Keim says we’re not out of the woods just yet. He says October can still be a pretty active month. Keim says this is not the time to put our guard down when it comes to hurricanes.
Two Destrehan High School teachers are facing accusations that they invited a 16-year-old student to a Kenner apartment last month for a three-way sexual encounter. 24 year old Rachel Respess and 32 yesr old Shelley Dufresne were booked on one count each of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, indecent behavior with a juvenile and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile
Now that we’re into October you’ll start seeing pink all over the place for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Dr. Mignonne Morrell with the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine is also an Academic Director of Breast Imaging. Morrell says right now there are over two and a half million people in the US that have a history of breast cancer. She says the more you increase the conversation about the disease, the more likely a woman is to encounter someone who caught it at an early stage which is the goal of breast cancer screening.
News for Wednesday 100114
By Dave Graichen
Baton Rouge-based All Star Automotive Group has sold its two Alexandria dealerships to Walker Automotive. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The dealerships will be rebranded as Walker Toyota/Scion and Walker Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. Officials with Walker said the deal was signed Tuesday after four months of working on the details.
Alexandria-based Martin Companies, L.L.C., announced Tuesday that it has bought an ownership interest in the Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital, also in Alexandria. Martin Companies will have a seat on the CLSH board of directors.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a formula that would result in a refund for Entergy Corp. electricity customers. If approved by the five elected regulators the refunds would appear as credits on regular monthly electricity bills. A typical residential customer would receive between $8 and $15. The refunds would appear as credits on regular monthly electricity bills.
The Jindal administration Tuesday backed off its aggressive time frame to implement major changes in health insurance plan offerings involving some 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their dependents. Group Benefits members will now have more time to make decisions about their health care coverage. The administration announced it would extend the enrolment period through November, instead of cutting it off Oct. 31.
A state judge has ruled a Metairie man, who spent 17 years in prison for an attempted rape he did not commit, is entitled to up to $330,000 in compensation. Innocence Project attorney Kristin Wenstrom says 40-year-old Nathan Brown is also entitled to petition the court for an additional $80,000 for loss of life opportunities.
According to a recent survey, Republican voters in Louisiana are following the election more closely and are more committed to casting ballots than Democratic voters. The results are part of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab’s 2014 Election Report. Research Director, Dr. Michael Henderson, says the report shows Republicans, statewide, are more enthusiastic about the November elections. The survey shows 60-percent of Republicans surveyed are closely following the candidates and campaigns, compared to 41-percent of Democrats.
The state’s annual survey of seat-belt use found that a record 84% of Louisiana motorists are buckling up in 2014. LA Highway Safety Commission Executive Director John LeBlanc says this proves that we’re on the right track in increasing seat-belt use. He says state law says everyone in your car needs to be restrained and it’s one of the best ways to protect lives.
The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office is seeing an increase in voter registration leading up to the November 4th election. They say about 90,000 people have filed voter registration paperwork since August 1st. Residents who wish to cast a ballot in the upcoming election need to be registered by October 6th. You can register to vote online at www-dot-geauxvote-dot-com, with geaux spelled the cajun way.
A restaurant in Port Allen is getting national attention for a sign hanging up informing customers packing heat they get a 10 percent discount. The owner of Bergeron’s Restaurant, Kevin Cox, says he originally had a sign posted offering law enforcement officers a discount for eating there. The sign says, “Thank you for carrying your gun today, 10% Discount.” Cox said the support he’s been hearing from people all over the country has been phenomenal. So far Cox says he hasn’t heard a single negative thing about his gun toting discount program.
There’s another Louisiana opinion poll out, but this time it’s not about politics; it’s about pot, and the punishments for possession. The survey from Public Policy Polling says that marijuana reform support is growing, with 59% of those surveyed say first time offenders should not have to go to jail.
A Lafayette financial planner who defrauded residents of over $6 million dollars in an investment scam is going to jail for 10 and half years. U S District Judge Richard Haik (hike) gave that term to forty six year-old Richard Boswell, along with requiring him to pay $6.3 million to his victims, many of whom lost their life savings. No word as to how he’ll do that from prison.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says the daughter and granddaughter of an elderly woman who was found dead in her wheelchair Monday are under arrest for cruelty to the infirm. Authorities say the victim’s daughter and granddaughter both admitted to being the main caregivers of the deceased and being aware of her condition but not seeking medical attention. He says the suspects could face additional charges.
A Bossier City man convicted last month of stabbing his mother to death in 2011, was formally sentenced today to life in prison. Christopher Holder will spend the rest of his life behind bars with no chance of parole.
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