News for Wednesday 112614
By Dave Graichen
The city of Alexandria City will finally be getting out of the Hotel business. The council Tuesday made a decision between two groups seeking to buy the Alexander Fulton Hotel. In a 4-3 vote, the council elected to go with Southern Hospitality Group over Windfeel Properties. Windfeel, who has been managing the Fulton since September 2013, was unable to come up with the money to purchase the hotel. The council also passed an ordinance and resolution to compensate Windfeel for improvements or services it has provided that have added value to the hotel or the renovation process, as well as services provided during the transition period to SHG ownership.
In other good downtown news, word is the Mirror Room in the shuttered Hotel Bentley will be opening before the end of the year. The Bentley had been closed for nearly eight years when Alexandria Businessman Michael Jenkins bought it in 2012. Renovation plans call for converting the seven-story tower portion of the property into condominiums. The original portion of the property will remain a hotel with 92-94 rooms. It’s hoped that other sections will be opening after the first of the year.
Republican Senate candidate Bill Cassidy received the endorsement Tuesday of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Meanwhile, Senator Mary Landrieu spent the afternoon in Houma meeting with workers at Weeks Marine Incorporated and speaking with seniors and disabled citizens at a senior center.
The American Automobile Association says more than 46 million Americans will be hitting the road to celebrate Thanksgiving which is the most since 2007. The travel days are defined as tomorrow through Sunday. 90% of vacationers will be taking their car and enjoying the lowest gas prices in over 4 years.
A family from Moreauville is fighting a proposed ban on vicious dogs. Joanna Armand, who owns a one year-old pitbull named Zeus, says their family dog is providing love and support to four of her children, who are special needs kids. She says giving up the dog would be a devastating blow for her family.
The former Destrehan High School teacher accused of participating in group sex with a 16-year-old student entered a not guilty plea to a charge of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The judge loosened some restrictions of her bond, which will allow her to attend an exercise class and help her husband care for their three young children.
A Jonesboro woman has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man inside his home. Fifty-one year-old Veronica Denise Jackson has been charged with second degree murder for allegedly shooting 58 year-old Grover Brown in rural Lincoln Parish. His body was discovered Sunday morning and that investigation continues.
It may be a tradition at your household to rinse the turkey before putting it in the oven for the Thanksgiving feast. But LSU AgCenter nutritionist Denise Holston-West advises against it. She says washing poultry or meat can spread bacteria. Once the turkey is in the oven, use a food thermometer to make sure it cooks to 165-degrees. Holtston-West says the stuffing should be cooked in a separate casserole.
Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships, the Nina and Pinta, will be on display in Houma starting today. The ships are floating museums educating the public on the type of ship that Columbus used during the age of discovery. Captain of the Nina, Stephen Sanger, says the ships attract people of all ages. The ships will be on display through December 7th at the Downtown Marina in Houma.
News for Tuesday 112514
By Dave Graichen
The state continues to set new employment records. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says total nonfarm employment in Louisiana reached 1,988,900 in October, which is a new record high. The number of private employment jobs has grown by 31-thousand over the last year. In a strange twist, The state’s unemployment rate is also going up, along with the number of people who are employed. The unemployment rate for October was six-point-two percent, up four-percentage points from last year.
Early voting for the December 6th runoff election continues across the state, and will run through this Saturday, excluding Thursday and Friday. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says voter turnout for the kickoff this past Saturday was brisk, and when compared to early voting for the primary. He expects the voter turnout to be around 35 percent.
A West Monroe lawmaker filed a lawsuit this week seeking to extend the early voting period for the December 6th runoff because two days were lost this time due to the Thanksgiving Holidays. Governor Bobby Jindal declared this Friday a state holiday, Acadian Day, and polls are closed. Representative Marcus Hunter says this election, with the US-Senate race at the top of the ballot, is too important to shorten the amount of time someone is given the opportunity to vote. He says he hopes a judge will add those two extra days back.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Hardman Family who lost five in a crash in Ouachita Parish while on their way to their dream Disney World vacation last week. According to the site, the money, now reaching almost $30,000, will be used for the five funeral expenses. Trudi and Michael Hardman died in a crash along with three juveniles age 15, 7 and 4.
New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has pledged two gifts to the Pro Football Hall of Fame totaling $11 million. This is the largest individual contribution in the Hall’s 51 year history. The donation will help build a Hall of Fame Village. $10 million of Benson’s donation will be used to renovate Fawcett Stadium, which will now be called Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The renovations will allow the stadium to be used for other sporting and entertainment events. The additional $1 million will help construct the Hall of Fame’s Legends Landing, a residence where former greats can live if they fall on hard times.
The famous Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is officially underway. The 300,000+ lights were turned on for the first time on Saturday and will twinkle every night at dusk through January 6th of next year. Downtown attractions include carriage tours through the historic district and all shops and restaurants will be open late. The 88th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival and parade happens December 6th. You can get more information on the festival online at christmasfestival.com.
Governor Bobby Jindal announce ClearEdge Wholesale Glass will invest $2.65 million dollars to renovate a 41,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Baton Rouge and relocate their current smaller operations from New Orleans to the new facility in Baton Rouge. He says ClearEdge will create 120 new direct jobs at the new facility with an average salary of nearly $40,000 a year plus benefits.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards took several shots at his opponent in the 6th Congressional District race in a debate where Garret Graves did not show up. Edwards accuses Graves of playing dirty politics in a flyer he sent out prior to the November 4th election that may lead voters to believe Paul Deitzel is gay. Edwards is also accusing Graves of helping his family profit from Government contracts when he was the head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Edwards was asked if he thought Senator Mary Landrieu was affecting his campaign. The former governor joked that it’s The President hurting that’s them both.
As the rate of diabetes continues to rise, new numbers show the disease costs Louisiana’s five-billion dollars a year. The study was conducted by LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the facility’s executive director, Dr. William Cefalu, says the cost of pre-diabetes went up 74-percent and undiagnosed diabetes grew 82-percent since 2007. Nationally, the cost of diabetes has grown to $322 billion per year in excess medical costs and lost productivity. Cefalu says diabetes is becoming an economic burden for the entire country.
Louisiana Tech can win the West Division of Conference USA this Saturday. But the defending league champions stand in the Bulldogs way. The Rice Owls won ten games last year and were crowned the C-USA champs. This season Rice can win the West from Tech by beating the Bulldogs in Ruston this weekend. Last season, the Rice Owls embarrassed Louisiana Tech, beating them in Houston 52-14.
LSU heads into Thursday night’s regular season finale against Texas A-and-M struggling on offense. So will true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris get some snaps against the Aggies. When asked. Coach Les Miles gave a non-committal answer.
LSU has won the two previous meetings against Texas A-and-M, since the Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference.
News for Monday 112414
By Dave Graichen
Early voting for the December 6th runoff elections is underway. You’ll have until this Saturday to cast your ballot. But, keep in mind, the polls will be closed Thursday Thanksgiving day and this Friday, which is a state holiday. The polls are open at 8:30am and close at 6pm.
State Representative Marcus Hunter says he’s asking the Secretary of State’s office to extend the December 6th runoff early voting period which began Saturday. The Democratic West Monroe lawmaker is upset the 7-day early voting is reduced to five days this time because the voting precincts are closed for the Thursday and Friday state holidays. Hunter says he plans to take the matter to court this week.
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the state plans to use amnesty money, eliminate 167 unused positions and reduce spending as part of the plan to fill the state’s current $171 million dollar budget shortfall. The deficit was tied to low severance tax and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.
As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating a statewide Click It or Ticket campaign aimed at saving lives. Executive Director Lt. Col. John Leblanc says last year’s Thanksgiving holiday was one of the most dangerous of the year on Louisiana roadways. He says Louisiana law requires everyone in a vehicle to be buckled up at all times.
It looks like your Thanksgiving meal will cost a little more this year, according to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Association. The average price for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost $49.41, 37 cents more than last year. Louisiana Farm Bureau Association’s Avery Davidson says the biggest price hikes you’ll see are your proteins, particularly turkey and beef. Davidson says prices are up. because fewer turkeys were processed this year and we have the smallest beef herds in the last 30 or 40 years.
A recent State Farm survey found drivers are still texting and driving, even though they know its dangerous. 52 percent of those polled admit they have talked on a cell phone while driving and 34 percent say they have texted while driving. State Farm Spokesperson Gary Stephenson says there has been an increase in the use of hands free cell phones. Stephenson says 77 percent of young drivers say they believe they can safely text while driving. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 80 percent of crashes are due to distracted driving.
The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association has met their Kickstarter goal with money they were raising for a study that will research the economic impact of the movie industry in Louisiana. LFEA Executive Board member Raelyn Loop says once the study is complete, they will present the findings to lawmakers. Loop says the state has to look at whether the motion picture tax incentive that benefits outside companies coming in to do business here is helping Louisiana. She says other states are mimicking our program so Louisiana needs to remain competitive.
State Police say a crash in Jackson Parish with a 15-year-old behind the wheel claimed the life of a 14-year-old passenger Friday night. They say the juvenile from Jonesboro veered off the road and slammed into a tree. Both occupants were unrestrained. Investigators say the 14-year-old passenger from Quitman died at the scene and the driver has serious injuries. It is not known at this time if alcohol was a factor in the crash.
State Police report two men died Saturday afternoon in Concordia Parish when the car they were in overturned and erupted in flames after being hit. Ernie Climer of Cheneyville and Jeremy Elliott of Trout, both 36, died at the scene of the wreck on La. Highway 565
News for Friday 112114
By Dave Graichen
The Jindal Administration will be announcing mid-year budget cuts today. Louisiana is facing a $171 million dollar revenue shortfall. Jindal’s chief administrator has indicated that higher education will avoid any substantial cuts, but Senate Finance chairman Jack Donahue doesn’t see that being possible. There are many dedicated budget items that can’t be cut so typically higher education and health care are hit hardest.
President Barack Obama announced his plans for immigration reform last night, but many people say more needs to be done. Local business consultant Randy Hayden says the new Congress that is sworn in next year should look at making more working visas available, which could help with the state’s worker shortage. Hayden says one area of reform desperately needed deals with foreign students who are a educated by a Louisiana college and university, but then can’t stay after graduation because they can’t get a visa.
A concerned citizen’s tip led to the arrest of a Natchitoches Central High School teacher after police found she had sent nude photos to a 17-year-old student.
27year-old Nickol Smith was released on bond after the city’s High Tech Crime Unit found the photos with a warrant to search her phone and that of the male student.
Smith was charged with one count of prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student. The charge carries a $1,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment.
The Rapides Parish sheriff’s office reports an inmate walked away from his work release job Thursday. 27 year old Chad Babb was last seen around 7 a.m. while working for the Parish Highway Department compound on Highway 28 West. Babb was convicted of first degree robbery burglary. He is not considered to be dangerous.
Louisiana’s latest amnesty program is expected to bring in $169 million according to the state department of revenue who says they got 41,000 applications. $38 million will go to help the state close its mid-year budget deficit. The Jindal Administration will announce those cuts tomorrow. Louisiana is looking at a $171 million dollar shortfall.
The early voting period for the December 6th runoff elections begins tomorrow. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will run through Saturday November 29th excluding a few days, Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following Thanksgiving. Schedler expects voter turnout in the 5th and 6th Congressional districts to outpace the rest of the state but he says even though control of the Senate has already been decided, it is still important hit your polling place, even if the US Senate race is the only item on your ballot
A lawyer for the Obama administration asked a judge Thursday to dismiss Governor Bobby Jindal’s anti-Common Core lawsuit because the education standards were not forced by the feds to be accepted in states. A ruling on the matter is expected in December.
A new poll on the 6th Congressional District runoff race shows Republican Garret Graves with a large lead over Democrat former governor Edwin Edwards. Pollster John Couvillon says the numbers indicate that Republicans have really gotten behind Graves as the GOP nominee. The JMC Analytics and Polling Company conducted the survey, and it shows Graves with 59 percent of the vote; with Edwards getting 34 percent.
Clean-air rules regulating new or expanding factories would be modified with the goal of spurring more chemical manufacturing under a bill by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, that won House approval Thursday — and that has prompted a veto threat from Democratic President Barack Obama. The bill would cut red tape and bring more transparency to the air-quality permitting process, Scalise has said. In Louisiana alone, Scalise has said, burdensome regulations have stalled 39 proposed projects worth $28.6 billion that would create 46,000 new jobs.
State Police report an extremely tragic accident out of Ouachita Parish Wednesday night which claimed the lives of 5 people, including young children, headed to Disney World for family vacation. They say the 16-year-old licensed driver from Texas likely fell asleep when the Tahoe crashed on I-20 and 6 out of the eight occupants, all unrestrained, were ejected. The children who died were 4, 7 and 15.
In the 1950′s, it was estimated there were only 80 to about 120 Louisiana black bears in the state. Today, the numbers are much better, with most of the bears in the northeastern part of the state in the Tensas River Basin. That’s LDWF biologist Maria Davidson, who says this report could result in the bears being removed from the endangered species list.
News for Thursday 112014
By Dave Graichen
Today is the Great American Smoke out and the Smoking Cessation Trust, or SCT, is urging smokers in Louisiana to take advantage of all the free products and services available to help them quit today. SCT CEO Mike Rogers says qualified applicants are entitled to certain “stop smoking” benefits which tobacco companies fund. Rogers says in order to qualify for the free benefits you’d need to have started smoking cigarettes before September 1, 1988 and live in Louisiana. He says since their program started in 2012, over 22,000 citizens have received the benefit card. For more info log on to www.smokefreela.org
Governor Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against the federal government over Common Core will be heard in a Baton Rouge federal court today. The governor claims the Obama administration over reached their authority in trying to implement the controversial education standards in Louisiana. Jindal claims the federal government used education grant money and waivers to force Louisiana and other states to adopt Common Core.
Louisiana has saved $12 million from a debt refinancing that took advantage of lower interest rates. State Treasurer John Kennedy announced the savings figure Tuesday, after the state completed its refinancing of the $229 million in existing bond debt. The state sells general obligation bonds to investors for upfront cash to pay for construction projects. The borrowing is paid off over time with interest. The refinancing lowers that multiyear repayment rate. The refinancing had been delayed briefly because of a disagreement between Kennedy’s office and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration over the financial paperwork. But the two sides reached a compromise. Up Next, a plan to borrow another $200 million to replenish the escrow account that pays for state-financed construction work.
Louisiana State University of Alexandria opened its new student health center this week. The school had been the only senior institution of higher education in Louisiana without a student health center, something Chancellor Dan Howard and his administration had worked to change since March. A partnership with Rapides Regional Medical Center will provide the medical staff to perform health care for the school's more than 700 students, about 300 of which live on campus.
The faculty senate at Grambling State University has given a “no confidence” vote for interim president Cynthia Warrick and they are seeking her immediate dismissal. G-S-U faculty Senate President, Doctor Herbert Simmons Jr, says they are disappointed Warrick hired several administrators at a six-figure salary, when the university faces a three-point-seven million dollar deficit. Warrick was named as Grambling’s interim A-D in June.
Well, he did say he would welcome any and all endorsements.. The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy over democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. Louisiana Cannabis spokesperson Jesse McCormick says in a debate last month Bill Cassidy said he supports the legal use of medical marijuana, while Landrieu opposes it. McCormick says because Cassidy is a doctor, he understands why there’s a need for marijuana to be legal for medicinal purposes. No comment from the Cassidy camp.
A federal grand jury has handed down indictments to a total of 13 people from Louisiana and one from Texas in connection with a methamphetamine distribution ring in South Central Louisiana. Some defendants face up to 20 years in prison, while others face up to life imprisonment. The arrests are part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Prosecutors say methamphetamine was purchased in large quantities in Texas and then distributed throughout southwest Louisiana, mainly Lafayette and New Iberia, over several months in 2014.
Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken Plant in Natchitoches has been named one of the nine worst chicken plants in the nation for animal cruelty. Farm Sanctuary and the Animal Welfare Institute director of policy, Bruce Friedrich (FREED-rick) says they had gotten reports of workers routinely throwing live birds into bags of dead on arrival birds.
In a statement, Pilgrim Farms says they have made voluntary corrective actions.
USA Today released its annual report on college football coaches today, and LSU Head Coach Les Miles is the 7th highest paid coach with an annual four-point three million dollars. Alabama Head coach Nick Saban is the highest paid with an annual salary of seven-point-one million.
Louisiana State Police say a Coushatta woman who wasn’t buckled up died in a crash last night in Red River Parish. They say 44-year-old Salley Giddens was hit from behind when she was stopped waiting to turn into a private drive on Highway 71. Her car was thrown into the opposite lane of traffic and hit by a truck. LSP says Giddens wasn’t restrained and suffered fatal injuries in the crash.
A former office manager at a Baton Rouge electrical engineering firm stands accused of embezzling $465,000 from the company. 46 year old Lori Fry was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of wire fraud, accusing the former manager and bookkeeper of diverting more than 100 separate payments from the firm’s account for her own personal use through her personal bank account.
Search and rescue workers on Wednesday found the bodies of two men missing since their single-engine plane crashed into Lake Pontchartrain last week. The bodies were recovered from the lake after authorities spent days searching for the two men. Both bodies were taken to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office for identification, and Coroner Jeffrey Rouse said Wednesday night that his office “has made positive identifications of the two plane crash victims, Burt Lattimore and Aftab Rab.” The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Sunset Mayor Cecil Lavergne asked the St. Landry Parish Council on Wednesday night for money to restore the former Sunset High building. Lavergne asked for a maximum of $50,000 for the project, but said he’d be happy to get $30,000 to $35,000 to repair the 89-year-old building. The council voted to delay action on the request until the 2015 budget is approved. The proposed budget for 2015 was introduced during the meeting without discussion.
News for Wednesday 111914
By Dave Graichen
According to the Department of Health and Hospitals, flu activity is on the increase in Louisiana. Frank Welch, Medical Director for the Immunization Program, says the state typically gets a late start on flu activity, but not this year. Welch says the strain of flu that seems to be dominant this year, is one that is captured by the flu shot. He says if you haven’t gotten your flu shot, yet, now is the time to do so.
The State police report the chief of Marksville's Tunica-Biloxi Tribe was arrested Tuesday on 21 charges of obtaining prescriptions through doctor shopping in both Avoyelles and Rapides parishes. 36 year old Joey Barbry of Mansura was booked into the Parish jail. It was alleged that Barbry was getting prescriptions fraudulently from multiple physicians
Gov. Bobby Jindal announced yesterday that he will shield Louisiana’s public colleges from cuts when he reveals his proposal Friday to rebalance this year’s budget, which contains a $171 million hole that must be eliminated. Jindal’s Division of Administration confirmed the same protection will be given to all four public college systems, which have lost $700 million in state financing since 2008, one of the steepest declines for higher education across the nation. The shortfall stems from two main problems: worse than projected revenue tied to falling oil prices and anemic personal income tax growth.
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu did not prevail in her attempt to get the US Senate to pass a bill that would authorize the construction of the Keystone Oil Pipeline. The measure needed 60 votes to pass but it only got 59. Landrieu has spent the last week trying to pass the bill as a way to show her clout in Congress in the Senate runoff.
Grammy award-winning artist Stevie Wonder will be traveling to New Orleans to headline a campaign fundraiser for Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu early next month. Wonder recorded a radio ad for Landrieu during the primary. The exact time of the fundraiser will be announced later date.
The trial date of a former Natchitoches Parish police officer accused in a Sabine Parish man’s death has been postponed. Sabine Parish District Judge Stephen Beasley originally set the first-degree murder trial of Robert Barthelemy for Jan. 19 and had been pushing toward that goal. However, late last week, after Barthelemy changed his plea, from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity Beasley moved the trial date to Sept. 28. The 35 year old Barthelemy is accused in the dead of Tony Procell in august of last year. The DA in the case say he plans to seek the death penalty.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is reporting a record $35.5 million dollars in refunds for Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program for the last fiscal year. Right now, there is more than $635 million dollars in unclaimed property. You can search online at LAtreasury.com.
State Farm announces they will increase auto insurance rates for Louisiana customers beginning December 8th. Spokesman Gary Stephenson says the statewide average increase will be about 3.6 percent. State Farm is the largest insurer of automobiles in Louisiana and in the United States. The price we pay for car insurance here in Louisiana has been and continues to be some of the highest in the nation.
Ouachita Parish won’t be getting federal money to aid in the aftermath of the tornadoes that went through the area in October. FEMA calculated that the tornadoes did $4 million in damage and $6.3 million in damage is required to be declared a federal disaster. Neal Brown, Director of the Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says they also didn’t reach the threshold of uninsured home owners who were impacted.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says a school bus driver in East Baton Rouge Parish detained and harassed a student because he thought the 16-year-old was gay. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says they’ve asked the East Baton Rouge School System to fully investigate the complaint and educate their employees. School officials say the bus driver’s supervisor is aware of the situation and it’s been addressed.
The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s office says a man from Zwolle is behind bars on murder charges for allegedly stabbing his step-father seven times. They say 27-year-old Dustin Rivers claimed 51-year-old Howard Ferguson hit him first in the head with an aluminum bat during a fight. Rivers is being held on $25,000 bond after his Sunday night arrest for second-degree murder.
Lake Charles Police have arrested three men today accused of a violent home invasion and robbery last week that resulted in the sexual battery of a woman who was home alone. Chief Don Dixon says they believe the trio targeted that specific house.
Bond has been set at 1 million dollars for each of the men.
The former teacher accused of having sex with a Destrehan High School student is asking for some leniency in her house arrest. Thirty-two year-old Shelley Dufrense is seeking some time for a Jazzercise class to help with depression and a mood disorder. Another reason is Dufrense’s oldest child has autism and requires therapy twice a week. . A hearing on the matter will be held next Tuesday.
Louisiana Tech hits the road this weekend looking to improve to 7-0 in Conference USA action. The Bulldogs are at Old Dominion who is 4-and-6 overall, 2-and-4 in the league. A win for the Bulldogs on Saturday and they will clinch the Western Division of Conference USA.
News for Tuesday 111814
By Dave Graichen
Public school superintendents in Louisiana are having a tough time finding substitute teachers due, they say, to the Affordable Care Act. Scott Richard, Executive Director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, says work restrictions within the ACA, limiting part-time workers to 30 hours a week, is a huge problem. He says this makes finding substitutes difficult, especially when a teacher is on an extended leave.
Falling oil prices are having a negative impact on the state’s oil and gas industry. Many analysts say layoffs are in the industry’s near future. Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs says the low prices for oil is forcing companies to pull back and reassessing their budgets. Briggs says he’s seen companies already reducing manpower and scaling back drilling budgets in the Gulf of Mexico for 2015. Briggs says
says oil prices in the $70 to $80 dollar a barrel range can be problematic for a while.
Gas prices continue their rapid decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.71 which is down 6 cents from just last week.
Retired US Army General Wesley Clark is in Louisiana pushing the federal free cell phone program despite complaints from Senator David Vitter saying it’s a waste of tax payer dollars. Vitter has been a vocal critic of the Lifeline program which gives cell phones to low-income families. Clark says more than 300,000 Louisianians have the phone including 36,000 veterans. He says the federal free cell phone program helps a lot of people get connected who otherwise would be unable to do so.
LSU broke ground Monday on a 110-million dollar renovation and expansion of the engineering school. LSU College of Engineering Dean Rick Koubek (ko-beck) says they expect construction to begin in 2017, and will help them produce more grads to meet workforce demands.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a new report which shows homelessness in Louisiana has fallen over the past four years. The numbers indicate a 12 percent decline in the number of homeless people over the past year and down about 63 percent since 2010.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is trying to find information about a cougar that was found dead in Calcasieu Parish. They say owning exotic cats like that is illegal without a permit in Louisiana. The lifeless cougar was found along LA-Highway 12 near Dequincy.
Louisiana will get $13.2 million to help monitor, and if necessary, change the management of river diversions and barrier island coastal restoration projects. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Monday that more than $13 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund will go toward the effort in Louisiana with the rest of the gulf states sharing $86 million for projects.
News for Monday 111714
By Dave Graichen
It doesn’t look like Louisiana is out of the woods, yet, when it comes to freezing temperatures. State Climatologist Barry Keim says two fronts are now affecting Louisiana. He says the weather should clear up today and more Canadian air will settle over the state. Keim expects highs to only get up to around 50 degrees statewide today and temperatures to once again drop below freezing overnight. He says the polar vortex is angry again and we have to brace for it. Keim says Wednesday will pretty much be a carbon copy of Tuesday with another hard freeze expected.
Mid-year budget cuts are coming in state government as a result of lower than anticipated revenues. The shortfall for this fiscal year ending June 30th is 171 million dollars and Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.com says higher education will likely take the brunt of these cuts. Louisiana’s budget woes only get worse as the state spent $141 million more than it brought in last year, and next year’s shortfall is projected to be $1.4 billion.
Friday, the US House gave approval the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline in a bill that was sponsored by Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy. House Republican whip, Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise, says the Keystone Pipeline is an issue that brings people together. The move is viewed as an effort by Republicans to boost Cassidy’s chances in the Senate runoff election against Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Landrieu has pushed the Senate to vote on this issue next week.
Open enrollment for those seeking health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act is not officially underway. Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says an additional insurer will be selling plans on the federal Marketplace, giving many Louisiana residents up to six different insurance companies to choose from. The website that had a multitude of problems when Obama Care began last year, reportedly is operating smoothly now. Over 100,000 Louisiana residents are currently insured thought the Affordable Care Act.
Shreveport Police are on the hunt for a home intruder who allegedly shot a three-year-old girl inside her home and then fled. Authorities have identified the victim as Paris Hill. Hill is hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. Anyone with information on this shooting is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.
Mid-year budget cuts are coming for state government. That’s because the Revenue Estimating Conference officially recognized on Friday a 171-million dollar shortfall for the current fiscal year. Falling oil prices and lower than expected growth in personal income taxes caused the shortfall.
Entergy is launching new energy efficiency programs to help customers use less power and save money on their electricity bills. Entergy Solutions Program Manager Heather Leblanc says this program provides customers a variety of ways to cut energy use at their homes. She says programs are also available for business owners. For more information and to sign up, go online to entergysolutionsla.com
It’s possible you haven’t thought about next year’s elections in Louisiana, but a research firm has already polled voters on the 2015 ballot. Multi-Quest pollster John Scurich says in the race for Governor, US Senator David Vitter leads with 25.9 percent followed by Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne with 10.9 percent. He says 53% are undecided. Scurich says most voters will likely become more involved in next year’s races after the first of the year when the state Senate and Congressional races are over. Even so he says this early on, Vitter looks to be in good shape.
LSU’s offense failed to score a single point on a frigid night in Fayetteville as they lost to the Razorbacks 17-0 on Saturday. The Tigers only rushed for 36 yards and had 123 total yards as LSU fell to 3-and-4 in the SEC.
A frustrating season for the Saints, became more aggravating on Sunday with a 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s second straight loss at home, New Orleans hasn’t done that since 2012.
News for Friday 111414
By Dave Graichen
When you see Local fire departments out conducting local boot drives this weekend, keep in mind, it’s for a good cause, The Food Bank of Central Louisiana. The participating departments and locations are: The Pineville Fire Department at intersection of Griffith and La. Highway 28 East in Pineville, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. The Ball Fire Department at intersection of U.S. Highway 165 and Shangai Road in Ball, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Rapides Parish Fire Department District 3 at intersection of Hickory Hill and Shreveport Highway in Tioga, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Rapides Parish Fire Department District 2 at Walmart on La. Highway 28 West in Alexandria, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday.
The Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce will host its 2nd Annual Women in Business Conference today from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in downtown Alexandria. Workshops and seminars will be held at The Rapides Foundation, 1101 Fourth St. while a luncheon will be held at The Diamond Grill, 924 Third St. More than 100 women are expected to attend the conference, which will provide a platform for learning, networking and sharing information.
The numbers from to Bloomberg are out, and during the primary election, Democrats outspent Republicans two-to-one; despite the majority of the polls on this race still have Congressman Bill Cassidy winning the runoff. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says you can expect even more spending. Ninety-six percent of television ads during the first week of runoff campaigning supported Republican Bill Cassidy.
Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy is hitting the campaign trail again the runoff race for the Senate, and this Saturday in Monroe, he will have some help from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The campaign rally at 2:30 will also feature former Republican candidate Rob Maness.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, was re-elected as expected Thursday to the No. 3 position, majority whip, in the House’s ruling Republican hierarchy.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu broke ranks with her fellow Democrats to vote against the re-election of Harry Reid, of Nevada, as the party’s leader. Reid, currently majority leader, was re-elected but will serve as minority leader in the incoming Congress in January as a result of Democratic defeats in Senate elections Nov. 4, which cost them control of the Senate.
The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today where it’s expected the state will receive bad news concerning the amount of revenue coming in. Senate President John Alario says he’s bracing to hear there’s been a significant reduction in anticipated revenues. Not only is a mid-year budget cut possible, but it’s likely the state will have less money to spend next fiscal year, which could lead to additional cuts. Alario says the two main factors are low oil prices and income tax revenue is also down, even though employment is at an all-time high in Louisiana
The Monroe Police Department says they are testing body cameras on officers. They are working to see if they benefit the department with the ultimate goal of getting footage that would protect both the interests of officers and citizens.
Grand Isle Fire Chief Aubrey Chaisson is one of 20 people arrested during an undercover operation aimed at the sale of illegal drugs and alcohol on the island. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand says he received confidential information claiming possible misconduct could be taking place. Chaisson was charged with possession of Marijuana. Normand says all of the arrests were the result of an extensive undercover operation.
An LSU police officer remains in stable condition after getting hit by a passing vehicle late Saturday night in which Alabama team doctors rushed to his aid. The story is starting to grab national headlines. The doctors, Lyle Cain, Norman Waldrop and Benton Emblom were part of the team’s motorcade according to LSUPD spokesman Captain Corey Lalonde. LaLonde says the officer is 33-year-old Sgt. Christopher Gresham and he’s an eight year veteran of the department. He says Gresham sustained very serious injuries in the crash.
The search continues for a missing Louisiana woman believed to be in a wooded area of south Arkansas. 32-year-old Amanda McKinnie McPherson of Marion was last seen in in woods near Three Creeks in Union County on November 3rd. Sheriff Mike McGough (ma GOO) says McPherson and a male friend were driving in the area and got stuck. McGough says the male friend left to find help, but got lost. He says by the time the male friend returned to the truck, McPherson had left. McGough says she talked to family and friends on her cellphone before trying to walk out of the woods on her own. But, No one has heard from McPherson since her phone went dead. McGough says they have no reason to suspect foul play at this point, but they are not ruling that out.
Ochsner Health System is hosting the first Alton Ochsner Conference on Tobacco today in New Orleans. This commemorates the 75th anniversary of Dr. Alton Ochsner’s groundbreaking article linking smoking to lung cancer. The event is co-sponsored by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.
ULM will look to an end a five-game losing streak when they host in-state rival U-L Lafayette on Saturday. The Warhawks have lost their last three games by a combined 11 points and Coach Todd Berry says it won’t be any easier on Saturday night when they face the Ragin Cajuns, who are undefeated in Sun Belt play.
LSU will attempt to bounce back from a tough overtime loss to when they visit Arkansas on Saturday night. The Razorbacks are looking to end a 17-game SEC losing streak.
News for Thursday 111314
By Dave Graichen
Much of the state is under a freeze watch or warning tonight as that cold Canadian air the cold front brought to Louisiana is really entrenched across the state. Mike Efferson, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says you can expect temperatures really drop tonight. Efferson says the freeze watch could turn into a freeze warning in some areas depending on local conditions. Efferson says lows tonight could dip down as low as 25 degrees…
The Keystone Pipeline project has become the focus of the US Senate race. During the campaign, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu has touted her clout as a reason to elect her, so Wednesday she called on her colleagues in the Senate to vote on the Keystone Pipeline project. Shortly after Landrieu spoke, republican leaders in the House said they would vote on a bill tomorrow by Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy that authorizes the building of the pipeline. It’s unclear if the Democratic controlled Senate will have their own vote.
Republicans have promised Bill Cassidy a seat on the Senate’s energy committee if he defeats Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana’s runoff election next month, potentially undercutting one of her main arguments for re-election. Landrieu has repeatedly touted the importance of her seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in her campaign for a fourth term representing a state with a robust oil and gas industry. While she will no longer serve as the committee’s chair in the GOP-led Senate in the next Congress, Landrieu has campaigned hard on her place as the committee’s senior Democrat and Cassidy’s inability to get a seat on the panel as a freshman senator.
Two Baton Rouge Police officers and a former officer were indicted today on sex-related charges. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says Isaac Bolden, Emerson Jackson and Travis Wheeler were all in uniform and on duty at the time when they convinced a woman to perform a sexual act on one of the three men at a Baton Rouge park.
The coldest temperatures of the fall have arrived and that could result in an increase in home fires. The American Red Cross says heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase in the winter months. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says if you use a space heater, make sure there’s a clear area of space around it. Browning says it’s also important to turn off space heaters before you go to bed and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
A now-banned new component in synthetic marijuana known as Mojo and Spice is believed to be responsible for sending more teenagers to the hospital in Louisiana. Louisiana Poison Control Executive Director Mark Ryan says most teenagers don’t realize that ingredients in synthetic weed are specifically designed to be abused and are far more dangerous than the real thing.
A man had to be rescued from his burning home in Shreveport Wednesday morning. Authorities say a retired state trooper pulled an individual out of his home that was engulfed in flames. The former law enforcement officer was not injured, but the man inside the house suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Three constitutional amendments approved by voters last week leaves higher education more vulnerable to budget cuts. Traditionally, higher ed and health care are hit the hardest during tough budget times. But Jan Moller, head of the Louisiana Budget Project, says the approval of Amendments One and Two protects a larger portion health care dollars from being cut. The passage of Amendment eight, which protects funding for artificial reef development, is another amendment that has the potential of keeping state dollars away from higher education.
A total of 40 plus animals have been rescued in Washington Parish, and an arrest warrant has been issued for an unnamed woman, who is being accused of hoarding and neglecting animals. Officials from the Humane Society of Louisiana says law enforcement executed a search warrant at the property, but the owner was not there.
The Republican National Committee has announced that they are sending more than 200 people to Louisiana to aid Congressman Bill Cassidy in the US Senate runoff election. RNC Louisiana Communications Director Ben Voelkel (vocal) says these people will focus on getting out the vote.
Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk feels many people have just started paying attention to this race, and he sees polling numbers going up for the Senator. Handwerk says there is a lot of support for Mary Landrieu because of what she has delivered for Louisiana.
News for Wednesday 111214
By Dave Graichen
As you’re headed outside today, it’s time to grab your jacket and coat. State climatologist Barry Keim says the cold front has now completely moved through the entire state with cool Canadian air fully settled over Louisiana. Much cooler temps are expected over the next few days.
As things turn cold, fire officials are urging residents to please make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home. There was a tragedy last night in New Orleans in which three children and two adults died in a blaze inside their two story home. Authorities say there were no working smoke alarms inside the home. The three children who died were age 6, 11 and 12.
According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control, Baton Rouge has moved from #1 to #2 in new rankings of AIDS cases. The Capital City dropped behind Atlanta after having the highest rate in the country according to the CDC. The CDC says New Orleans was ranked fourth in the nation.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is concerned Louisiana is spending way more than it’s bringing in which could lead to another round of mid-year budget cuts. He says the state general fund is running at a historically high negative balance just four months into the fiscal year. The Revenue estimating conference is meeting Friday and Kennedy says changes need to be made otherwise mid-year budget cuts could do further damage to higher education. He says DHH just announced that we are already $171 million dollars over budget in our Medicaid program.
A Terrebonne Parish fiery crash involving two trucks lead to 3 deaths on Highway 24 yesterday. Trooper Evan Harrell says one driver driving at a high rate of speed, lost control of his vehicle in an S curve and slammed into another truck. Harrell says, due to the nature of the impact, the two vehicles almost instantaneously caught fire…
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has sent out a written statement apologizing for fans using a “profane” chant that was directed towards Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. Coach Les Miles was unaware it happened at the time and didn’t like hearing that LSU fans would do that. Alleva called it crude behavior by a small minority.
According to a report from the Entertainment Software Association, Louisiana gaming is big business with big salaries. The report shows the state’s computer and video game industry paid workers $14 million dollars in 2012, with an average salary of $88 thousand dollars annually per person.
Despite having millions for their Senate runoff campaigns, both Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy are doing their own versions of dialing for dollars. Landrieu has already been active on the phone, and in a release out today, Bill Cassidy asks “Will you stand with me?,” and then asks for anywhere from between $25 and $250. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says total spending for the runoff could top $80 million dollars.
21 year old Christopher Goodley, of Ville Platte, has been booked on a count of first-degree murder in the death of his 80-year-old grandmother, Delsy Williams, whose body was found last week in a field off La. 1161. State Police began investigating Williams’ disappearance as a homicide Nov. 2, the day after family members reported her missing.
News for Tuesday 111114
By Dave Graichen
State Climatologist Barry Keim says a strong cold front begins passing through the state today. The next couple of days will basically be a transition period before a big blast of cold air from Canada hits the Bayou State. He doesn’t expect this to bring record lows, but temperatures should fall below freezing in northern and central Louisiana. Afternoon highs will be in the 40s and 50s statewide. Keim says what makes this cold weather event unique is that it will last for a while, with cool temps right into next week.
Today is Veteran’s Day, a day to honor the millions who have served our country and fought, and are still fighting, for our freedom. Louisiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David LaCerte says it’s important to not only remember veterans today, but 365 days a year. LaCerte says there are a lot of people to thank in Louisiana where we have about 320,000 vets. LaCerte says there are many Veteran’s Day events planned across the state today and you can find a schedule on their website at www.vetaffairs.la.gov. A Veterans Memorial Tribute Service is set for 2 p.m. today at Veterans Memorial Plaza at Alexandria City Hall. The public is invited.
Better than half of the Rapides Parish school board members were no shows Monday night at a special meeting held to discuss the new Common Core-aligned math curriculum. Four of nine board members attended the meeting that was called to hear from parents and community members about Eureka Math. The curriculum was implemented in Rapides Parish schools this year. The organizer of the event, Pineville parent Stephanie Riley requested the special meeting after receiving nearly 1,000 signatures on an online petition she began in October to remove the curriculum from local schools. Riley says she will be requesting another meeting in January.
Good news is, no one was injured in an early Monday fire at the St. Charles Place apartment complex on Versailles Boulevard. Three apartments in a unit were heavily damaged, according to the Alexandria Fire Department. Firefighters from Rapides Parish Fire District #2 also responded to that blaze.
A fatal shooting of a hunter in Rapides Parish will not result in any charges. Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Tommy Carnline says 37-year-old Michael Haynes of Alexandria was the victim of a single gunshot wound and was pronounced dead on the scene. Carnline says investigators determined that Haynes was shot by a hunting partner who mistook him for a deer.
The Louisiana Poison Control Center is sending out a warning to parents about the dangers of laundry detergent pods which have harmed hundreds of children nationally who mistake them for toys or candy. Director Mark Ryan says kids who ingest the concentrated detergent in these pods can quickly have central nervous system depression and become lethargic. He says as with any cleaning product, the first rule is to keep them up and away from a child’s reach.
Sad news to report out of the Lafayette-area. Former Ragin Cajuns star and Minnesota Vikings standout Orlando Thomas has passed away. Thomas has been battling A-L-S, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the last ten years of his life. Thomas won a state championship at Crowley High, was an All-American at U-S-L and played seven seasons with the Vikings. Thomas was 42.
The former health secretary for Governor Bobby Jindal has entered a plea of not guilty on nine counts of perjury regarding his involvement in a 200 million dollar Medicaid deal. Bruce Greenstein is accused of lying to a Senate confirmation hearing and a grand jury reviewing the state’s contract.
Victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita can apply to receive a settlement check, amounting anywhere from one dollar to more than $400. You may be included in the proposed Settlement Class if you lived, owned property, operated a business or were present within the Parishes of Jefferson, Orleans or St. Bernard, Louisiana at the time of Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. Residents and businesses in those areas are receiving letters in the mail saying they can apply for the benefits.
A Shreveport woman is in jail after she allegedly threw her 17 month-old baby across the room while intoxicated as a form of punishment. Shreveport Police Cpl. Breck Scott who says 25 year-old Gabrielle Kirkendoll was arrested for cruelty to a juvenile.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards doesn’t seem to be bothered much by the fact that the National Democratic Party isn’t endorsing him in his 6th Congressional District race against Republican Garret Graves. He says he was never one to fall in line with some of the policies and values of the National Democratic Party which is struggling in the south.
He says this election is about issues facing the 6th Congressional District, not about party affiliation.
In the fifth Congressional District race, republican Zach Dasher has endorsed fellow republican Ralph Abraham, who is in a runoff with democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Dasher just missed being in the runoff against Abraham. And former US Senate candidate Rob Maness threw his support behind fellow republican Bill Cassidy today. Maness finished third in the primary last week.
News for Monday 111014
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana’s 2014 tax amnesty period comes to an end at the end of the week. Department of Revenue Deputy Secretary Jarrod Coniglio says until 11:59 PM Friday. Those who are behind on their taxes with the state, can settle their debt without a penalty and pay only 50-percent of the interest. Coniglio says the state hopes to collect 104-million dollars in back taxes.
A dedication ceremony scheduled today celebrates the long awaited completion of the final section of Interstate 49 in northwest Louisiana. The final stretch of roadway connects Texarkana, Arkansas to Shreveport. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says this will open the area to Canada and the Mid-West. There are a couple of small sections of the Interstate that need to be tied in to I-220 in Shreveport. He says once that’s done, they’ll be at full gallop for economic development.
If you’re planning to hit the road for the Thanksgiving Holiday, you can reduce your travel gas budget as the price at the pump continues to drop. Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com says they predict the price per gallon to drop another 5-10 cents before Turkey Day. GasBuddy.com reports the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline statewide is below 2.80.
A former staffer for Democrats John Breaux and Kathleen Blanco says Mary Landrieu needs to change her message in order to have a chance at victory on December sixth. Bob Mann, who is currently an LSU Mass Communications Professor, says the senator must continue to differentiate herself from Bill Cassidy and explain why he would be harmful to what people who have voted Democrat in the past care about. He says Landrieu also needs to appeal to women. Landrieu only received 18-percent of the white vote Election night. Mann says, if Landrieu expects to defeat Cassidy in December, she’s going to have to do much better in both areas.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration made some adjustments Friday to help stabilize the state’s insurance program. The new plan will raise premiums, but it will lower out-of-pocket expenses. Before the move, the lawmakers received numerous complaints from constituents about it.
Tulane researchers determine eating shrimp from an area of the Gulf of Mexico impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill poses no acute health risks or increased cancer risks. Research professor Mark Wilson says when the spill occurred, there were concerns that shrimp would be contaminated by a class of chemicals that can pose health hazards. Wilson says they also surveyed over one-hundred Vietnamese residents in New Orleans East that tend to eat more shrimp than most people and that helped them reach the conclusion that Gulf shrimp are safe to eat.
Wilson hopes the study’s results will get to wholesalers and distributors, who still may have concerns Gulf Shrimp are contaminated
The LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health has been awarded a $2.2 million grant to increase the availability of health information and support services for young breast cancer survivors in the Gulf South. Project Coordinator Helen McMillan says they were one of seven sites awarded grants from the CDC. McMillan says the issues facing young women who diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 45 are much different from older women who are diagnosed. She says this program will provide support services and resources for these women.
LSU’s overtime loss to Alabama on Saturday night is expected to sting for a long time. The Tigers were poised to beat the Crimson Tide, but victory slipped away as Alabama won in overtime 20-13.
49er kicker Phil Dawson put a 35-yard field goal through the uprights in overtime as San Francisco edged the Saints 27-24 yesterday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
News for Friday 110714
By Dave Graichen
Once again, Louisiana is expected to have a nice weather weekend with temperatures running a few degrees below normal for this time of year. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a cold front moved through the state yesterday bringing some much needed rain. Keim says high temps will be in the 60s across the state today with weekend lows dropping into the upper 30’s to low 40’s. He says a warming trend will hit the state early next week bringing a chance of rain by mid-week.
It’s a nice Christmas Present for employees of the Rapides Parish School District. The school board approved on Wednesday a $1,200 annual employees’ Christmas “supplement” . The one-time special salary increase to be issued to employees as a 13th check on Dec. 18.
The LSU Alabama game has been one of the hottest tickets in college football in recent years and this Saturday’s matchup is no exception. The Tigers and the Tide kick off at 7pm. Connor Gregoire with SeatGeek, an online ticket search engine, says tomorrow’s game in Tiger Stadium is one of the most expensive tickets in college football. Gregoire says the highest seats in the upper sections of death valley are still going for about $150. Other, more desirable seats are running in the thousands.
Governor Bobby Jindal doesn’t want the Republican Party to waste the opportunity that’s in front of them now that the G-O-P has majority control of both the US House and Senate. He says based on Tuesday’s election results, Americans want changes in Washington D-C and they hope republicans can provide bold ideas. Jindal is considering a run for President in 2016.
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu hopes Governor Bobby Jindal’s endorsement of Bill Cassidy will hurt the Republican in December’s US Senate runoff election. Landrieu says she looks at Jindal’s endorsement as a black eye for the Cassidy campaign, based on how the governor has led the state. Landrieu says Cassidy and Jindal are two peas in a pod.
Meanwhile, yesterday, the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee cancelled almost $2 million dollars in TV ad placement to help Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign against Congressman Bill Cassidy. The committee says they still support Landrieu, but they will now evaluate their ad spending on a weekly basis
Congressman Bill Cassidy has responded to Landrieu’s 6 debate challenge. He’s accepted an invite to debate the incumbent on December 1st, and says he’ll debate her as many other times as she brings Barack Obama to Louisiana.
With Republicans gaining control of the US Senate, a new opportunity presents itself to Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Vitter is slated to be the chairman of the Small Business Committee when the new Senate convenes next year. He says the country would still be in a technical recession if not for the new energy jobs related to American natural gas and oil. Vitter says this does not change his mind about running for governor next year.
The Opelousas Police Department has arrested a man accused of buying votes for certain candidates in the November 4th election. Sergeant Jody White says it is unclear if 64-year-old Wilfred Young acted alone or some candidates were involved in the scheme. He says two people have come forward, so far, and they’re still trying to determine exactly how many people were approached and how much money they were offered. Young is charged with bribery of voters, which is a felony.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc will construct a new production facility in St. Charles Parish and upgrade their plant in Ascension Parish. He says the plant expansions represent a capital investment pf $66 million and will retain 55 jobs in Geismar while creating 13 new direct jobs. LED estimates the project will result in an estimated 74 new indirect jobs.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday that Shreveport’s Moonbot Studios is once again a semifinalist in the animated short film about books category for “The Numberlys” — a story about the alphabet. Moonbot won the Oscar for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” three years ago in the same category.
The Saints continue preparation for Sunday’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams come into the game with 4-4 records on the season. The 49ers are coming off a 13-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Quarterback Drew Brees says there’s never a good time to play them, especially right after a disappointing loss. The Black and Gold come into Sunday’s game winning two in a row and leading the NFC South.
News for Thursday 110614
By Dave Graichen
Voter turnout for the November fourth election was 50-percent. Secretary of State Tom Schedler wishes it was higher, but he’s glad there were very few problems at the polls.
He hopes the turnout is higher for the December sixth runoff and the election goes as smoothly. Early voting begins Saturday, November 22nd.
Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham and Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo will face off for Representative Vance McAllister’s congressional seat in the 5th District for the December 6th runoff. McAllister said yesterday, whoever is elected to take his place, he will support the new congressman as much as he can. McAllister went on to say, he was at peace with the election results. Saying he left the decision up to the voters.
McAllister finished fourth in the primary.
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell won for this third term on election night this week. The 67-year-old represents District 5 on the five-seat commission which regulates utility companies — which spans all of northern Louisiana and covers 24 parishes. Campbell is one of the last elected Democrats in the state but won across both parties.
Governor Bobby Jindal, who was not vocal about Louisiana races prior to the November 4th election, announces his support for Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy as he tries to defeat Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in the December sixth runoff. Jindal says Landrieu doesn’t represent the state’s best interests. Jindal has also announced his support for the republican candidates in the two Congressional district run-offs. And if they want him to appear with them on the campaign trail, the governor says he’ll be there.
Bayou Country Superfest announces the lineup for the 2015 shows. They say Kenny Chesney will headline Saturday night May 23rd and Maranda Lambert and husband Blake Shelton will be back to back to close out the shows on Sunday night May 24th. It was previously announced that Taylor Swift’s show in Tiger Stadium that Friday May 22nd was part of Bayou Country Superfest, but today promoters of the show are calling it a stand alone.
News for Wednesday 110514
By Dave Graichen
It was an amazing evening for Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy. The mayor, who faces a long list of challengers earned another four years in office Tuesday, but he just barely escaped a runoff. Roy received 51.25 percent of the vote to win outright a third term in office. Jeff Hall finished a second with 33.61 percent.
The District 4 seat on the Alexandria City Council will stay with Harry Silver, but an atlarge council seat is heading to a runoff. Incumbent At-Large Councilman Jim Villard will face Malcolm Larvadain in a Dec. 6 runoff after neither candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election. Both are Democrats.
The Rapides Parish district attorney race will be decided in a runoff between Phillip Terrell, a Democrat from Pineville, and state Rep. Chris Hazel, a Republican from Ball.
Hazel and Terrell each received 35 percent of the votes, and Chris Roy Jr. came in third with 31 percent. Rapides Parish had 84,259 voters eligible Tuesday, and about half of them turned out for the DA’s race.
The controversy over the Division G judgeship in the 9th Judicial District Court ended on election day. Greg Beard took 53.5 percent of the vote Tuesday to win the race outright, and avoid what could have been a messy situation in a race where the incumbent was legally too old to take office. The incumbent in the race, Harry Randow, needed to not only win or get into a runoff Tuesday, but also relied on passage of a constitutional amendment to be able to retain his seat. Amendment No. 5 would have eliminated the mandatory retirement age of 70 for state judges. Randow is 70. The amendment was soundly beaten, with nearly 60 percent of people voting against it.
In Division A of the 9th JDC, Monique Rauls was the top vote getter with 33.5 percent. She will face Monique Metoyer (28 percent) in a runoff. Tiffany Sanders missed the runoff by 305 votes, finishing with 25 percent.
The Pineville City Court Judge race will be a runoff between Gary Hays and Todd Farrar. Hays was first with 36 percent of the vote, while Farrar, with 24 percent. Lauren Saucier came in 3rd with 23 percent.
City marshal races in Alexandria and Pineville will also come down to runoffs.
In Alexandria, incumbent Terence Grines took 40 percent of the vote. He will face Charlie Dewitt, second at 29 percent.
In Pineville, Sarah Smith (40 percent) will face Jay Slater (24 percent). Smith has been serving as interim marshal since longtime marshal Larry Jeane died in July from injuries sustained in a car crash.
Willard McCall is one of the new faces of the Rapides Parish School Board after claiming more than 65 percent of the vote for the District D seat Tuesday. McCall, who’s a democrat, defeated Jennifer Atwood, a republican to replace Janet Dixon, who qualified as a candidate but later withdrew from the race due to plans to move outside of her district. New members also filled two seats that were being vacated this election. Gerald Crooks replaced Julie McConathy in District C and Sandra Franklin replaced Pam Webb in District I. Both were unopposed.
As expected Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy are heading into a run-off and both candidates like their chances on December sixth. Landrieu, who was critical of Cassidy for not participating in more debates prior to yesterday’s election, issued a challenge of six debates before the next election.
Cassidy says the issues between himself and Landrieu are clear and Louisiana voters are seeking a change. Analysts say it’ll now be up to which candidate can get more people to the polls in the runoff which traditionally has low voter turnout.
Vance McAllister, finishes 4th in lastnight’s 5th District Congressional primary and will not serve a full term in Washington D.C. Though coming on strong in the final days of the primary, Zach Dasher couldn’t make it happen and the two candidates that made it to the December 6th runoff are, family physician Ralph Abraham and Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo.
And in the 6th Congressional District Race, it’ll be Former Governor Edwin Edwards taking on Garrett Graves on December 6th. Edwards picked up 30% of the vote with Graves getting 27%. Next in that race was Dietzel with 14%.
U.S. Rep. John Fleming will continue to represent Northwest Louisiana in Washington. The Minden Republican won a fourth term gaining 65 percent of votes cast in Tuesday’s election.
The man accused of killing two teenage girls in Breaux Bridge last week remains hospitalized and has communicated very little with authorities about the crash. Jeremy Abraham, an army veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait, may have reportedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. LSP Master Trooper Brooks David they are still waiting on toxicology results to see if Abraham was impaired at the time of the crash.
Hercules Offshore has announced plans to lay off 324 offshore Gulf of Mexico workers by the end of the year. The Houston-based company says the layoffs are a result of a decline in business. The cutback will affect employees who work out of Port Fourchon, Grand Isle, Cameron, Abbeville, Lafitte, Larose and Venice.
A Lake Charles woman has been charged with negligent homicide in connection to the death of an infant in April. Twenty-six year-old Brittany K. Woodcock was arrested Monday after further investigation from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office showed she was under the influence of drugs when the baby became wedged between a mattress and the wall.
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