News for Monday 022315
By Dave Graichen
Rapides schools Superintendent Nason "Tony" Authement announced schools are closed Monday and Tuesday due to predictions of freezing temperatures, rain and ice accumulation on roads. The Diocese of Alexandria has canceled school for Monday, which affects Holy Savior Menard Central High School, Our Lady of Prompt Succor School and St. Frances Cabrini Elementary in Rapides Parish and St. Joseph School in Plaucheville. Schools in Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches and Vernon parishes are closed Monday with decisions pending for Tuesday.
Also closed today all state offices in Central and North Louisiana. Louisiana State University and University Academy, Louisiana College in Pineville and all campuses of Northwestern State University are closed Monday.
Major economic news for Central Louisiana was announced Friday as local and state officials made it official that American Specialty Alloys plans to develop a $2.4 billion aluminum mill at the site of the former International Paper mill in Pineville. The plant, which will provide strong, lightweight metal for the automotive and aerospace industries, will create 1,450 new permanent jobs, including 850 direct ASA employees and 600 employees of corporate partners that will perform additional manufacturing and logistics functions on the mill campus. In addition, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project would result in 2,600 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 4,000 new jobs in Central Louisiana. ASA expects to break ground later this year, with a targeted completion date of all facilities in 2020. ASA estimates development of the aluminum mill will generate 2,000 construction jobs.
In the end it really was no race at all.. Jeff Hall won a landslide victory Saturday in a special election for the House District 26 seat. Hall, a retired Cleco executive, had 3,361 votes or 84.07 percent to defeat two other candidates, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
Daniel Williams, Alexandria's Community Services director, was second with 457 votes or 11.43 percent. Alice "Red" Hammond, a retired Air Force captain, had 180 votes or 4.5 percent
Alcohol is suspected in a traffic accident that claimed the life of one teen and left another in serious condition. The victim was identified by police as 18 year old Abigail Welch of Deridder. Welch was a passenger in a pickup driven by 19 year old Blake Shell of Singer, who was partially ejected, according to police. Neither teen was wearing a seatbelt.
The legislature’s joint budget committee approved a 103-million dollar cut to this fiscal year’s budget. But there were several complaints on how the cuts were handed down. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith expressed her frustration that the governor’s office only received a ten-thousand dollar cut in funding. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols pushed lawmakers to approve the governor’s plan, because if any proposed cuts are re-stored, it will lead to deeper cuts next fiscal year.
Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is the first 2015 gubernatorial candidate to begin advertising on television. LaPolitics.com’s Jeremy Alford says the commercials are part of the $200,000 buy. Alford says there are three commercials in rotation feature Angelle’s “Workhorse Not a Showhorse” line and in one of the ads he speaks in Cajun French. Alford says now we can expect to see gubernatorial ads non-stop between now and the fall, not only from candidates but also from super PACS.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon encourages taxpayers to file for an insurance rebate available to any person who pays for a homeowners, renters or business property insurance policy. Donelon says eligible taxpayers should check the box on their returns for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Assessment rebate. Donelon says if you have questions, go to the insurance department’s website or call his office.
A group of LSU students believe the legislature should approve a constitutional amendment that protects higher education from budget cuts. Higher ed and health care are not protected and they will likely take the brunt of next fiscal year’s budget cuts. So far the group has gathered over one-thousand signatures of LSU students.
It was another great weekend for Tiger Baseball. LSU rolled up 21 hits in 16-2 win over Boston College Saturday to sweep the series. This is the second sweep in as many weekends.
News for Friday 022015
By Dave Graichen
In a recent CBS News Poll, 67-percent of Republican respondents said they did not know enough about Governor Bobby Jindal to consider him for the Republican presidential nomination. The poll found that 18-percent of respondents would consider Jindal.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office announced the arrests of 19 people yesterday. According to Avoyelles parish sheriff Doug Anderson the operation was "part of an ongoing investigation targeting drug trafficking.
Tomorrow is election day in Rapides parish. Voters will choose from among three Alexandria Democrats on Saturday in a special election to fill the vacant House District 26 seat. The candidates are Jeff Hall, a retired Cleco executive; Alice “Red” Hammond, a retired Air Force captain; and Daniel Williams, Alexandria’s director of Community Services. The winner will fill the remainder of Herbert Dixon’s legislative term, which ends next January. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Saturday. The House District 26 race is the only election taking place Saturday in Rapides Parish.
The city just wants assurance the project will be completed. That was the response from Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy when asked about the ongoing dispute between the city and Rapides Parish Police Jury over the Rapides Parish Coliseum and the adjacent parking lot. The mayor addressing the Exchange club, went on to say the city is not holding up the process on the renovation project or the sale of the parking lot to the jury.
Former Governor Edwin says he done with politics, and now he’s talking about a career as a real estate broker. As a convicted felon, a majority of the Real Estate Commission members must approve Edwards’ application before he is tested for his license. The 86 year-old Edwards says he wants to work with friends to develop property along the I-10, 1-12 corridor.
A Kenner woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Saints linebacker Junior Gallette, claiming he was physically and emotionally abusive to her during their 2-year relationship. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this is not good for Gallette or the Saints. Sunseri says the results of the investigation could also determine if Gallette violated the NFL’s new Domestic Abuse Policy. The lawsuit also claims that other members of the team groped her while she was drugged.
The former pastor of President Barack Obama, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, spoke to students at Southern University on Thursday telling the audience that you shouldn’t seek help from the government but instead from the Lord. Wright says for too many years, blacks have looked to government for help and that’s the wrong place. Wright was Barack Obama’s minister until 2008 when controversial comments surfaced from a sermon he gave in 2003. Wright didn’t mention Mr. Obama during his speech, but defended his work as President.
The case of the man who was convicted of literally scaring a Lafayette woman to death after he broke into her home, then had the ruling overturned, will be reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. A jury found 40-year-old Willie Robertson guilty in 2013 of causing 86-year-old Irene Schoofs heart attack which killed her. The woman died in 1999 but the case wasn’t prosecuted until 13 years later.
News for Thursday 021915
By Dave Graichen
The APD Reports, Homicide suspects, Mark Hayes and Melissa Hayes are in custody. U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force and APD Detectives learned that the suspects were returning to the Alexandria area. Both were arrested, without incident Wednesday afternoon. The two were booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. The brother and sister are key suspects in a double homicide in the city last Friday.
The US Department of Health and Human Services says over 184,000 people in Louisiana are signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. That is a growth of 82 thousand state-wide over last year. Nationwide that number is about 11.4 million Americans. These numbers are as of February 15th which was the deadline to sign up this year.
Louisiana taxpayers who quickly filed their state taxes and are eagerly waiting for their tax refunds will have to keep waiting. The state Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that it won’t start issuing refunds until the week of March 2. The department said it was taking “extra precautions to verify the filings” because of concerns about fraudulent tax returns that had been discovered around the country. Nearly 665,000 electronic returns have been filed with the state since Jan. 20, with no refunds issued so far.
The Secretary of State’s Office is bracing for a $930 thousand dollar mid-year budget reduction. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this one is the largest to hit historical sites. He says there will be dozens of layoffs, and hours of operation reductions are planned, as many museums and the Old State Capitol cut back.
A survey of Louisiana teachers finds 78-percent of them believe state-required standardized tests takes too much time away from classroom instruction. Louisiana Association of Educators president Debbie Meaux says teachers believe there’s an overemphasis on standardized testing in state’s school accountability system .Meaux believes students should only be required to take standardized tests once in elementary school, then again in middle school and one more time on the high school level. She says annual testing does not give teachers enough time to teach the concepts for mastery. Meaux says current amount of standardized tests is also driving younger teachers away.
Tom Benson intends to appeal a San Antonio court’s decision to oust him as steward of a Texas trust set up for his now-estranged daughter. Attorneys for the owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans have filed a notice of appeal with the Bexar County Probate Court in San Antonio. The notice does not give a specific reason for the appeal, which will be filed with the Texas 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio.
According to the latest campaign finance reports, U.S. Sen. David Vitter has more campaign funds than that of his fellow Republican governor’s race opponents combined. Vitter reported $3.5 million in cash on hand when 2015 began compared to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne at $1.55 million and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle at $1.43 million. Lagging behind is Democratic contender state Rep. John Bel Edwards who said he’s raised “over $1 million … since he first announced his candidacy.
A year after Congress amended the National Flood Insurance Program to prevent south Louisiana homeowners from getting hit with huge premium hikes, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is warning again about proposed changes to the program. Last month, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to the program, which would take into account projected sea level rises when determining the risk of future flooding for federal buildings. Cassidy says his concern is it could influence the bond market and other activities and that could come in a back-end way to influence the private market.
The State Department of Ag and Forestry says the severe insect pest Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB) has been detected in Louisiana. Commissioner Mike Strain says this pest attacks ash trees and has been confirmed in Webster Parish making Louisiana the 25th state to report the presence of this beetle. He says the EAB could be devastating to the trees. Strain says one of their biggest concerns with the EAB is that there is no effective eradication method.
New federal guidelines for an increase in guest worker wages could be hitting crawfish lovers in the pocketbook. Louisiana’s crawfish industry depends heavily on guest workers to perform jobs they cannot fill locally, and processors say the five dollar an hour raise to 12.35 an hour will result in a $3 per pound increase in the price of tail meat.
News for Wednesday 021815
By Dave Graichen
Alexandria police have issued warrants for a brother and sister in connection to Friday's double homicide. 29 year old Mark Hayes and 24 year old Melissa Hayes are considered armed and dangerous and are believed to be in the New Orleans area. The Alexandria victims, 25-year-old Richard Prenell and 18-year-old Kiasha Clovis, were found Friday afternoon in a 21st street apartment complex.
According to the Towntalk, Louisiana College's search for a permanent president to succeed Joe Aguillard might be nearing the end. The Rev. Tommy French, chairman of the LC Board of Trustees, has called a special meeting of the board for March 5 to "vet and vote on a candidate as president of the college. The private Baptist college in Pineville has conducted its search in secret. LC officials are not disclosing the name the candidate who will appear before the board.
Army officials announced Tuesday Fort Polk will gain an additional 700 soldiers as the Army realigns its brigade combat teams. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, will be deactivated next week but the soldiers in the unit will be remain at Fort Polk. The 4th BCT, with the additional 700 troops, will become the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in a reflagging ceremony on Feb. 24. The base could still face a cut of up to 6500 soldiers later this year.
Four people are facing charges in an early morning shooting Tuesday after a concert at the VFW on 3rd street in Alexandria. Police say four people were injured, two of whom required surgery. Detectives worked through the night, interviewing witnesses and serving search warrants. Several weapons were seized during the searches
A report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education shows the black male high school graduation rates in Louisiana trails whites’ by 16 points. For the 2012-13 school year, only 53-percent of black male students graduated compared to 69-percent of white males. Foundation President John Jackson says these numbers are reason for concern. He says the results of this study indicate a climate that doesn’t foster health living and learning environments for black males.
As people across the state head to their local places of worship to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, a Shreveport church is offering ashes to go. Christ United Methodist Church will offer “Drive By Ashes” to accommodate those who’s schedules won’t allow them to make their full church service. Associate Pastor Kelly Berne says this is an event has done well. The church began offering this service in 2011 and Berne expects over 100 people drive through today.
Today is the start of the Lenton season and many people will be totally giving up meat for the next 40 days or at least eating seafood only on Fridays. Gulf Seafood Institute chairman Harlon Pearce says the warmer things get, the better the supply will be of our Louisiana favorites. Pearce says fish is in excellent supply right now and this is the time of year that oysters are at their best
State Police say a third person has died from Monday’s truck versus train collision in DeSoto Parish. Trooper Matt Harris says the driver and the two passengers in the truck were the ones killed in the wreck. Harris says truck attempted to cross over a set of tracks that didn’t have a warning gate or lights. Harris says they believe the driver stopped, but began moving forward when it was already too late and they were hit.
Union Parish authorities have arrested a 23-year-old mother who allegedly left her eight-month-old son on his grandfather’s droop step wrapped in a blanket and in a car seat. Detectives say Keondra Ferguson left the child there, because she was depressed and there was no one to help her. Deputies believe the child was outside in mid-30 temperatures for an hour and a half. Ferguson was charged with child abandonment and the father is now taking care of the baby.
In Acadiana, several phone bomb threats were received on Fat Tuesday. The first two were called into the Walmart in Crowley, and Rayne Police are investigating another one made to a Pharmacy. Several law enforcement agencies are working together to find the person or persons responsible.
Abita Brewing Company announces their craft-brewed root beer is now available in cans. Abita President David Blossman says ever since they launched Abita beer in cans, people have been asking for their root beer to be in cans. Blossman says it’s the same great old-fashioned root beer they’ve been making for years, but now you can get it in portable, recyclable 12-pack aluminum cans. He says their root beer is unique in that it’s made with pure Louisiana cane sugar.
It’s the one that got away from the LSU football, as Calvary Baptist 5 star quarterback Shea Patterson from Shreveport announces he will be going across the border to play for the Ole Miss Rebels next year. For the last two seasons, Patterson threw for over 5 thousand yards, 72 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions.
The fourth ranked LSU baseball team looks to improve to 4-0 tonight when they host Nicholls State at 6:30. Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says Freshman right-hander Doug Norman will start on the mound for the Tigers, while the Colonels will counter with a senior. Mainieri says tonight’s game should be a good challenge for his team.
News for Tuesday 021715
By Dave Graichen
Now that a strong cold front has moved through, Canadian air has settled over Louisiana leaving us with another chilly Mardi Gras day. State Climatologist Barry Keim says southeast Louisiana should brace for temperatures today in the upper 30s this morning, then high temperatures this afternoon only in the upper 40s. Keim says if you’re headed to parades today anywhere in the state, make sure you bring a lot heavy coats, gloves and blankets.
The investigation continued yesterday into a Sunday night house fire in Pineville. Police Chief Eddie Laborde say when firefighters arrived shortly before 9:30 Sunday evening the home on Wildwood Drive was totally engulfed in flames. Although the home was badly damaged, the good news is, no one was injured.
The APD has released the names of two people who were found dead Friday in an Alexandria apartment complex on 21st Street. Alexandria police identified the pair as 25 year old Richard Prenell and 18 year old Kiasha Clovis, both of Alexandria. No other information has been released by the police who reported Friday the deaths were not from natural causes..
Louisiana State Police has increased their numbers in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and they’re making their presence known. Over 150 additional troopers are patrolling the French Quarter and the metro area, and so far, troopers have made over 140 arrests.
The question over which city “started” Mardi Gras, New Orleans or Mobile, Alabama, is coming up again this Fat Tuesday. Mobile Mayor Sandy Simpson is bragging that the Alabama destination is where the pre-Lenten celebrations originally began in the United States. The Big Easy Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy says the first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade was held in 1857, Mobile’s parades on Fat Tuesday did not begin until 1868 after the Civil War.
Hardy says the style of parade, floats and costumes and masks, did in fact start in Mobile, but they didn’t roll on Mardi Gras day until 11 years after New Orleans did.
IBM technology announces plans for a 400-job application development and innovation center in Monroe. Officials say IBM will provide software technology services to clients across the nation and partner with CenturyLink on research and product innovation initiatives. Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says this is huge for Northeast Louisiana. Mayo says this announcement is in addition to the 800+ jobs coming to the CenturyLink technology center which will open in March.
State Police say two people have died in a crash involving a truck and a train in DeSoto Parish. They say the vehicle was hit by the train and a third person is critically injured at the University Health Center in Shreveport. It is not known why the truck was on the tracks but the investigation is ongoing.
The LSU men’s basketball team is at Texas A-and-M looking to pick up another win on the road tonight.
News for Monday 021615
By Dave Graichen
It was a great day for a parade as thousands showed up yesterday for the 22nd Alexandria Mardi Gras Association’s Krewe Parade. The annual event wrapped up parade season in the Alexandria area. It was the 10th year for the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band to participate in the parade. Parade activities continue today and tomorrow across the state.
No new information yet in the case of two people, a male and a female, who were found dead Friday afternoon in an apartment building in the 700 block of 21st Street in Alexandria’s garden district. The APD is treating the case as a homicide. The identity, ages and cause of death are unavailable at this time, as the investigation is in its early stages.
It appears the peak of the flu season is behind us, but health officials say we can’t let our guard down. Doctor Frank Welch, with the state department of health and hospitals, says during the height of the flu season, over 500-thousand Louisiana residents were hit with the flu. He says the elderly have been hit especially hard this season.
Law enforcement are patrolling throughout the Mardi Gras holiday to discourage impaired driving and help reduce the number of crashes on Louisiana roadways. State Police spokeswoman, Melissa Matey, says if you’re going to partake in Carnival revelry, do it responsibly and have a designated driver. During last year’s five-day Mardi Gras holiday, there were 599 crashes which resulted in 13 deaths statewide. Over half of those deaths involved alcohol.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a New Orleans area levee board that claimed dozens of oil and gas companies should pay damages for destroying Louisiana’s coast. Judge Nannette Brown ruled that federal and state laws are not set up so that the levee authority could successfully file a suit against the energy industry.
Louisiana’s Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the mid-year budget cuts handed down by Governor Bobby Jindal are just not fair. He says most of the larger cuts hit departments managed by elected officials. The Department of Ag received mid-year cuts equivalent to $2.6 million dollars, while the governor’s office had a ten-thousand dollar cut to its budget. The Jindal administration is defending the way the cuts were handed down.
A Shreveport police officer has been arrested after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female in his office. The victim was at the police station so she can discuss with detectives harassing phone calls she received. The officer arrested has on the force for 15 years.
So far, The Louisiana Office of Alcohol And Tobacco Control says they’ve conducted over 600 alcohol and tobacco compliance checks across the state since February 2nd, finding 83 violations of business selling to underage customers. The A-T-C says they are continuing those checks throughout Mardi Gras
A Walker man is under arrest, accused of secretly recording himself having sex with his girlfriend, then posting it on social media after the couple broke up. Thirty-year-old Robert Howard reportedly had an argument with his girlfriend, when she told him to leave her apartment. Shortly after, she noticed that Howard posted to sex video to Facebook. Howard was arrested on charges of video voyeurism.
CC’s and Raising Cane’s, two prominent Louisiana-born businesses, made the 2014 Top 10 Excellent Fast-Food Chains list. The California based research firm Sandelman & Associates ranked Raising Cane’s number four and CC’s Coffee House number six in the Quick-Track Awards of Excellence for quick service chains.
The Bossier Sheriff’s Office is trying to figure out who is creating elaborate websites for schools purporting to be in the parish — but that actually don’t exist. Lt. Bill Davis says there are three websites with pictures of people, biographies of principals and teachers, enrollment information for schools listing Bossier City addresses. Davis says they are working with the Louisiana Department of Education to see if the people behind the sites are trying to defraud the federal government or the state via grant dollars.
News for Friday 021315
By Dave Graichen
Thursday Governor Bobby Jindal announced Metal plate Galvanizing will make a $9.7 million dollar capital investment to develop a plant in Jennings. The facility is expected to span 50,000 square feet and create 104 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $46,300 plus benefits.
State Police arrest two drug traffickers in Alexandria that were preparing to sell drugs to Mardi Gras revelers. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says authorities were alerted to suspicious activity of an aircraft at Alexandria International Airport. He says during their investigation, a K-9 alerted officers of possible drugs on the aircraft and a search began. He says troopers seized over 34 pounds of marijuana and over 550 grams of hashish. 37-year-old George Marshall of Gulf Shores, AL and 40-year-old John Marshall of Grass Valley, CA were taken into custody.
The Central Louisiana Technical and Community College is eliminating 24 positions and cutting two programs at the Leesville campus to make up a $1.3 million structural deficit across its seven campuses. Most of the cuts will take effect March 1, while some will come at the end of the semester.
A member of the “Angola 3″ is indicted for a third time in the 1972 murder of an Angola prison guard. Albert Woodfox’s case went before a West Feliciana Parish grand jury, because a federal appeals court overturned his last conviction on grand jury selection issues.
The National Highway Safety Administration reports that fewer drunk drivers are on the road, but drug use while driving is rising. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Col. John Leblanc says there have been an exceptional number of Louisiana drivers found to be under the influence of drugs. He says synthetic drugs have become a particularly bad problem and warns motorists that driving under the influence of narcotics is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
In the latest round of midyear budget cuts, Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking a deeper carving knife to the spending of his fellow statewide elected officials than to most agencies under his control, including his own office. The governor's office will come through the $61 million in slashing largely unscathed, taking a reduction of $10,000 — less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its budget. Departments overseen by the lieutenant governor, treasurer, insurance commissioner and agriculture commissioner are slated to take hits of 3 to 4 percent, more than nearly all departments managed by Jindal's cabinet secretaries. Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said the offices controlled by Louisiana's elected officials, excluding the governor, comprise less than 1 percent of the $25 billion state budget. But they're in line for 16 percent of the midyear budget cuts recommended by the governor.
Port Barre Police have arrested a 15 year-old student from Port Barre High School who threatened to use a gun on the school principal. Police Chief Deon Boudreaux says the teen had a bullet and a fake gun in his possession but, he thought it was the real deal. The student remains in police custody. They are hopeful the teenager can get some counseling help.
Next Wednesday is the deadline for the candidates for running governor to report by how much they raised during 2014. It’s expected Republican Senator David Vitter will report the most at around four-million dollars, and Lt Governor Jay Dardenne says he’s raised about half of that.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has fallen behind chief opponent Jeff Landry in fundraising for this fall’s election. Both Republican candidates in the Oct. 24 election filed their campaign finance report this week with the Board of Ethics. Landry, a former congressman, has more than three times the campaign cash reported by Caldwell. Caldwell’s report shows him ending the year with $302,000 in the bank. Landry reported having more than $1 million in his campaign account.
The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act comes to an end Sunday. Kara James, with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, says this year’s enrollment figures are a nearly 55-percent increase from last year. She says there have been several improvements to the HealthCare-dot-gov website to make it easier and faster for people to enroll. Although premiums in the marketplace have risen since last year’s open enrollment, James says financial assistance is available that can help many lower their monthly payment. She says nine out of ten Louisianians, who have selected coverage, were determined eligible for assistance to lower their monthly premium.
The price at the pump in Louisiana jumped another 2 cents overnight. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.08 according to the American Automobile Association.
Officials in New Orleans want people who are heading to The Big Easy for Mardi Gras over the next few days to know that the city is safer than ever. Convention and Visitors Bureau President Stephen Perry says State Police is bringing in 150 extra troopers into the city to help keep the Carnival crowd under control. Perry says they are trying to spread the word that Mardi Gras season is typically one of the most protected times of the year in New Orleans.
Perry says with the increased presence of state police combining forces with the NOPD, they are expecting this to be one of the safest Mardi Gras season’s in history.
The 2015 college baseball season begins tonight with the second ranked LSU Tigers hosting the Kansas Jayhawks at Alex Box Stadium. Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman believes this team has what it takes to get back to the College World Series.
News for Thursday 021215
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal proposes reducing the size of tax credits in cases where a company or individual receives more money from the state than they owe as a way to balance next fiscal year’s budget. Jindal says two of his cabinet secretaries are looking at how this could help the state’s fiscal situation. The state faces a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall for next fiscal year. Jindal’s commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, will present a proposed spending plan to lawmakers on February 27th and despite this huge deficit, Jindal says increasing taxes are off the table.
The voice of the LSU Tigers, Jim Hawthorne, has announced he will retire next year. Hawthorne has been calling LSU sporting events for 35 years and plans to hang up the headphones and microphone following the 2015-16 basketball season. During his career, he’s been on the mic for LSU’s three Final four appearances, two national titles in football and all six of LSU’s national championships in baseball.
Unless you bought your Powerball ticket in North Carolina, Porto Rico or Texas, you didn’t win the big jackpot. The $564 million will be split 3 ways.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says a three year old child is dead after she accidentally shot herself with one of the family’s guns. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the father was cleaning his guns and suddenly had to leave for work. He says the dad called the mom and told her to put the guns away when she got home, but it was too late. No charges have been filed at this time.
The American Automobile Association says the price of gas in Louisiana is shooting up faster than the national average, but that’s because the pump price here was so low to begin with. We’re up 2 cents from yesterday to $2.06 according to AAA.
Planned Parenthood has filed an appeal regarding a Department of Health and Hospitals decision denying the group permission to perform abortions at a new facility currently under construction in New Orleans. Senior Counsel, Roger Evans, says the basis of the appeal is that DHH offered no basis in denying the application. The group says they currently see about 8,000 patients at their current health center in New Orleans. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says the organization did not meet the Facility Need Requirements specified by the state and their application was denied. A decision from an administrative law judge is expected in 4 to 7 months.
States in the south are snatching up more tickets than ever for the February 14th release of the movie “50 Shades of Grey” compared to the rest of the nation. According to Fandango, Louisiana and Alabama are buying twice as many pre-sale tickets than normal for the film, while Mississippi tops the list at 4 times their usual rate. The movie debuts here in Alexandria tonight. But, only showing late in the evening.
The US House has approved a bill that authorizes construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas. The measure now heads to President Barack Obama, who is expected to veto it over environmental concerns. Supporters say the pipeline would create thousands of jobs, without adding more greenhouse gasses into the air. Opponents say the high pressure pipeline could spring a massive leak and cause irreparable damage the water aquifers below it.
As we approach the February 15th deadline, the US Department of Health and Human Services announces since open enrollment began on November 15th, 157,900 people in Louisiana have selected plans or were re-enrolled through HealthCare.gov. With only three days left, officials are urging uninsured citizens to get signed up for coverage if you haven’t already.
Serious charges are facing a Houma man, after 4 new born puppies were found dead in a home, including one with a severed head. Police Chief Todd Duplantis says the live-in boyfriend of the woman who owned the puppies got into an argument with her, and when she left the residence to calm down, she returned, made the discovery, and called police. Fifty-two year-old Richie Kiffe (KEEF)was arrested on four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
A businessman whose testimony helped put former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in prison has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to fraud related to Nagin’s corruption case. Frank Fradella was sentenced today for making a $50,000 payoff to Nagin in exchange for favorable treatment of his business interests. Nagin is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
News for Wednesday 021115
By Dave Graichen
Local authorities continue to investigate an armed robbery of an armored vehicle yesterday morning at the highway 28 west Walmart in Alexandria. The APD reports several shots were fired during the robbery, but no one was injured. The robber got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. But, didn’t get far. He was involved in a crash just a short distance from the store and was disarmed and subdued by a retired state trooper, an additional off-duty LSP Trooper, a nearby citizen and an Alexandria Police Officer. The suspect was identified as 57 year old James Gilbert of Deville.
In the ongoing Benson family legal feud, New Orleans Judge Kern Reese has ordered that Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson undergo an examination. Benson will face three exams performed by three different doctors in what is called a standard assessment. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this ruling is not in Benson’s favor. This ruling comes on the heels of a Texas judge’s appointment of two men to oversee the Benson family trust. The standard assessment exams must be completed by March 15. Meche says, because of these recent rulings, Tom Benson is learning it’s not going to be easy to disinherit his heirs.
Tonight’s Powerball jackpot has reached a massive $485 million which is the third largest prize in the game’s history. The lump sum cash value for the drawing is worth $327 million according to Kimberly Chopin with the Louisiana Lottery. She says the odds of winning any prize on Powerball are one in 32, the odds of winning the jackpot are one in 175 million. This jackpot has been growing since November 29th.
Over a dozen Louisiana public school districts have passed resolutions that ask the state not to enforce penalties for students who decide not take to the Common Core standardized tests. Louisiana School Boards Association executive director Scott Richard says as it stands now, school systems will receive a “zero” for every student who opts out. Richard says if a school or school system has a large number of opt-outs, it will result in a lower school performance score or letter grade, as part of the state’s accountability system. Students will take the Common Core exams the week of March 16th. Richard says the uncertainty is not good for anyone.
When the legislative session begins in April, lawmakers will once again discuss whether or not to authorize the use of medical marijuana in Louisiana. Democrat Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore’s measure was defeated in the Senate last year. Honore says he’s bringing it back up due to the results of recent polls on the issue. State associations of sheriffs and district attorneys successfully blocked efforts to pass this legislation last year. Honore says their main concern is that this bill would legalize marijuana for recreational use and that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since 1991 for people with certain conditions. But rules for dispensaries were not set, so no prescriptions have been issued.
Halliburton announces plans to lay-off at least five thousand of its workers as a result of falling oil prices. The Houston-based oil field services company the cuts will impact all areas of Halliburton’s operations.
A big announcement yesterday that a Holiday Inn Express is coming to Pineville, and a new townhouse development may be as well. Pineville officials have been working on the hotel project for two years now, and they expect the company to break ground on the project in two months. The hotel, which will be located on U.S. 165 south of the Kmart, will have 81 rooms.
It has happened again, A 6-year-old girl who had fallen asleep on the way to her first grade class woke up on a parked and empty school bus. It happened yesterday morning in the garden district. A neighbor spotted the child and was able to get her out of the bus safely and contacted the child’s father. The name of the driver of the bus has not been announced. But Rapides parish school officials say the matter has been addressed.
Louisiana gas prices are shooting back up. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.04 up almost 15 cents from this time last week according to AAA.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a woman is in critical condition at a local hospital after they believe she fell out of the back of a truck her estranged husband was driving. 46-year-old Allen Wray and 48-year-old Sherri Wray were sitting on the back of a tailgate, when the husband told his wife to get in the cab. She refused; he drove off, causing her to fall. She’s in very critical condition.
Monroe Police say an officer has been fired because of racially offensive comments he made on social media about the Ferguson Missouri incident in which a black unarmed teen was shot by a white officer. Officials announced Monday that Officer Doug Lambert, who’s been on leave since November, is no longer with the department after an internal investigation. The Chief said the comments are not at all what the department stands for.
What does it mean for Louisiana now that a federal ruling has been issued in Alabama clearing the way for Clerk of Court offices to begin distributing marriage licenses for same sex couples? Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says all eyes right now are on the US Supreme court which is currently considering four cases that will soon be argued. Same sex marriages are against state law in Louisiana and recently federal district judge in New Orleans upheld that prohibition, a ruling which is currently under appeal.
The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Raceland man for his seventh DWI late last night on Highway 1 at a convenience store. Thirty year-old Jessi Joseph III was booked into the Lafourche Parish Detention Center with his first Louisiana DWI offense, to go with his six prior arrests on DUI in California.
Research from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans finds that a psychedelic drug prevents the development of allergic asthma in mice. Lead researcher Dr. Charles Nichols says the next step in their research is to see if the drug has a positive effect on mice who already have asthma. There are over 25 million people in the US known to have asthma.
News for Tuesday 021015
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating KKK fliers that are being left in some neighborhoods in the area. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the fliers have a picture of a hooded man on them and say “You can sleep well tonight knowing the Klan is awake.
Carnline says even though the flier doesn’t contain any threats, they are asking the FBI to investigate because the literature is ending up in the driveways of minorities which could be considered a hate crime.
The public is invited to a forum this evening in Pineville for candidates in the House District 26 race. The forum, sponsored by Pineville Concerned Citizens, is set for 6 to 8 p.m in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The three candidates Jeff Hall, Alice Hammond and Daniel Williams have been invited to participate. Early voting in the House District 26 race continues today through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Rapides Parish Registrar of Voters’ Office in the parish courthouse. The primary election is set for Feb. 21.
Twenty-seven Radio Shack locations in Louisiana are included on the company’s list of 1,750 stores it expects to close by the end of March as the electronics retailer seeks bankruptcy reorganization. The two Alexandria Stores, the North Mall Drive and Alexandria Mall locations are on the closure list.
Sunday night, a single vehicle crash killed a man from Effie. The state police reports the crash occurred around 7:30 p.m., on LA Hwy 1206, near the Deville Cutoff Road. 60 year old Jeffery Parker apparently lost control of his Jeep Wrangler and left the roadway causing the vehicle to overturn. Parker, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected. He was pronounced dead a short time later. The investigation continues.
The Jindal administration’s $3.5 million dollar mid-year budget cut to the state department of Tourism means lay-offs and reduced hours at state parks and museums. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says the size of this cut is disproportionate than what other agencies are experiencing. Dardenne says they’ve had to close three state historic sites and layoff 106 employees. He says no state parks will be closed due to the cut, but they will operate under reduced hours through the rest of the fiscal year. Also, swimming pools at state parks will not be open this year due to the budget cuts.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says efforts by the Republican establishment to conduct a “kinder, gentler” presidential nominating process in 2016 are misguided and designed to stifle conservative candidates. Jindal, who is considering a run for the White House, took aim Monday at the Republican National Committee’s decision to officially sanction no more than a dozen debates among Republican contenders. Jindal trails well behind the front-runners in opinion polls of potential Republican candidates and could be hampered by the RNC’s guidelines.
A 16-year-old is in jail and another dead after a shooting in Sabine Parish. Authorities say the teen suspect is charged with second degree murder for allegedly fatally shooting the victim in the head once. The motive is under investigation but cops believe the two had been arguing at the apartment complex outside of Many.
Sasol announces they’ve selected Louisiana-based construction contractors to begin work on its ethane cracker and derivatives project in Westlake. Spokesman Mike Hayes says these appointments reflect Sasol’s commitment to using Louisiana businesses on the project.
Hayes says construction of the complex will begin soon and they hope to launch commercial production in 2018. They predict the $8.1 billion dollar complex will create about 5,000 construction jobs.
LSU officials are reporting rather unpleasant scenarios, as the threat of state budget cuts are approaching. An internal report details layoffs, hundreds of classes on the chopping block, and academic programs eliminated. The Jindal administration is considering big cuts to higher education for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Governor Bobby Jindal stole a line from the late comedian Richard Pryor when he was asked about a portrait that shows him with a different skin tone. The picture went viral on social media last week. When asked about it in Washington D.C. Jindal said “You mean I’m not white,” which Pryor said in the movie See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Jindal added the controversy surrounding the portrait is silly.
Kenner Police say a Mississippi woman is under arrest for allegedly driving drunk then backing into the police car that pulled her over two times. 46 year-old Debra Lynn white was booked with DWI, reckless operation and aggravated flight from an officer.
Louisiana’s Longest Known Married couple for 2015 has been announced by the Louisiana Family Forum. Executive Director Gene Mills says Lawrence and Varrie Player of Benton celebrated 80 years of marriage last month. He says when they wed, he was 21 and she was 15.
The LSU men’s basketball team has a chance to hand top ranked Kentucky its first loss of the season tonight. The two teams will square off in the Maravich Center at six P-M Kentucky is 23-0 on the season, while LSU is 17-6
News for Monday 020915
By Dave Graichen
The Jindal administration proposes 61-million dollars in cuts to various state agencies and using 43-million dollars in stopgap funds to fill a 103-million dollar revenue shortfall for this fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the cuts will eliminate certain state contracts, plus museums and state parks will be impacted. Nichols says the joint legislative committee on the budget will have its opportunity to approve the governor’s revised budget plan at their meeting on February 20th
After five years of virtual freezes, state aid for public schools is up in the air again, another potential casualty of Louisiana’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall. The aid, which goes through a complex formula called the Minimum Foundation Program, is the lifeblood for a system used by about 720,000 students. Schools are getting $3.6 billion this year, which makes the assistance one of the state’s biggest expenditures. Educators say how schools fare this year is crucial, amid rising costs of retirement, health care and classroom technology.
The $17.7 billion long-term debt of Louisiana’s teacher and state employee pension plans just got larger. Known as “unfunded accrued liabilities,” the UAL for the state’s teachers’ and employees’ retirements has hit the $19.2 billion mark. It represents how far short the systems are from having the assets necessary to pay their long-term pension obligations, a debt for which the state’s taxpayers are ultimately responsible. The systems include more than 240,000 active and retiree members. State officials and legislators are aware of the increased debt but say it’s under control.
A judge in Texas is expected today to officially name the former mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger and estate lawyer Art Bayern as overseers of a trust that benefits Tom Benson’s heirs. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says Judge Tom Rickhoff will likely ask these two individuals to conduct an audit of the trust fund. Millions of dollars are in this trust, which was created for Renee Benson by her mother Shirley Benson, who passed away in 1980. Sunseri says assets inside that trust have been frozen by the courts. The battle over this trust fund is part of the larger feud concerning future ownership of the Saints and Pelicans.
According to a new report by InsuranceQuotes.com, car insurance premiums in Louisiana rise by an average of 30% after a single claim. Senior analysts Laura Adams says that’s the 15th lowest hike in the country. She says while 30% seems high, it falls well below the 41% claim hike which is the national average. Adams says many consumers underestimate the consequences of making claims because they can affect your rate for years.
A new CDC study shows that Americans who live in the southeast, between the ages of 30 and 74, are at a higher risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years than people in other parts of the country. Bruce Johnson, a heart attack survivor and heart health advocate, says the death rate from heart disease in Louisiana is particularly high. He says nearly 250 Louisianians, out of every 100,000 residents, die from cardiovascular disease per year. Among African-Americans, that figure rises to 266. Johnson says, for many, lifestyle changes can lead to better heart health. He says a lot of heart health issues have to do with lack of exercise and diet.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Louisiana has climbed back to over $2.00 a gallon. According to the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of regular in the Bayou State is $2.01. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it was expected that fuel prices would increase as we head into spring. Redman says the price of gas has increased about 10-percent over the last two weeks and he says you can expect to see the price continue to rise in the coming months. But Redman says the US Department of Energy is forecasting that gas prices will remain below $3.00 a gallon this year.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has written a letter to the St. Martinville Police Department regarding an apparent policy stating floats in their Mardi Gras parades can’t play rap music with obscene lyrics. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says people participating in the parade reportedly had agreed to some rules about music along the route that are unclear and not constitutionally enforceable. She says just because the police and the city council don’t like rap music it doesn’t mean they can ban it.
News for Friday 020615
By Dave Graichen
The City of Pineville is gearing up for their first Mardi Gras parade. Eleven floats and several marching bands will make their way down Main Street tonight. Mayor Clarence Field’s Chief of Staff, Rich Dupree, says there are a couple of distinctions that will make Pineville’s parade stand out. First of all this will be one of the few night parades in central Louisiana. Secondly, the parade will cross the Jackson Street bridge into Alexandria and end in time for the “Taste of Mardi Gras” event. The “Light the Night” parade will roll at 5:30PM.
As suspected, A body found by a pond in Eunice on Tuesday has been identified as a missing woman from Elton. Allen Parish authorities say 61-yearold Earthy Maye Griffin was reported missing by her husband Monday morning. She was last seen Sunday in Eunice when she was picked up by a couple from Elton who knew her. Hebert said the couple gave her a ride to a store in Eunice. Investigators say there were no immediate signs of trauma and that Foul play is not suspected. However, the investigation continues.
With 10 days before open enrollment ends, nearly 150,000 Louisianians have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Billy Justice, Director of Marketing for Vantage HealthPlan in Monroe, feels people are getting more knowledgeable about the health care marketplace. With only a week and a half left, Justice encourages people who are in need of health insurance to check out the marketplace. He says the plans come from private insurance companies and there are plenty of options for residents who need to sign up.
The Council for a Better Louisiana says it doesn’t make sense for kids to opt out from taking the assessment tests that are part of the Common Core education standards. CABL president Barry Erwin says the tests measure a student’s progress and that’s important considering the state spends over three billion dollars on public schools. Governor Jindal is calling on BESE to provide an alternate test for children who opt out.
A state appeals court this week declared unconstitutional a 2012 law that gave Louisiana school superintendents wide discretion in firing tenured teachers. The law, part of the state Legislature’s controversial public schools overhaul in 2012, was rewritten last year and no longer includes some of the provisions included in the courts decision. But that decision could bolster the arguments of tenured teachers challenging terminations from July 2012 to June 2014, the time between when the law was passed and when the Legislature tweaked it. It’s unclear how many tenured teachers fired during that time period would be affected by the appeals court ruling.
There’s been a surprise development in the ongoing Benson family feud as a judge in Texas has apparently decided to place a trust set up for Tom’s daughter Renee into the hands of the former San Antonio mayor, Phil Hardberger, and an attorney. Judge Tom Rickhoff is expected to make the official order on Monday. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this is a huge victory for Renee. Meche says now it’ll be up to Hardberger to make the decision on what will happen to some of Benson’s properties and it’s assumed that he won’t do what Tom Benson wanted.
Meche says Tom wanted Renee fired from various boards of companies owned by the trust, but now that probably won’t happen. He says the fact that Benson didn’t take the stand in the Texas hearing likely hurt his case.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana emphasized Thursday that it was not affected by a cyberattack and data breach that involved Anthem Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer. Anthem is one of 37 independent licensees of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a separate and independent plan from Anthem and all other Blue plans in the country. Hackers broke into Anthem’s database storing information for about 80 million people, gaining access to names, birthdates, email addresses, employment details, Social Security numbers, incomes and street addresses.
There will be plenty for Louisiana to be rooting for this Sunday during the 57th annual Grammy awards ceremony. There are at least a dozen locals who are nominated or who have ties to nominations on Music’s Biggest Night. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne will be hosting the “Only in Louisiana” luncheon in Los Angeles tomorrow to honor the Bayou State and its nominees.
The Grammy music awards ceremony will broadcast on CBS at 7pm on Sunday.
Abita Brewing Co. in Abita Springs has fired back at Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial which essentially says craft beer is for snobs. Other small brewers throughout the country are doing the same. Abita has posted a You Tube video and in it they say “We’re not a dog and pony show” — taking a jab at the popular Budweiser puppy/Clydesdale commercial. Blossman also says Budweiser suggests their beer is “brewed the hard way.” He says he has no idea what that means. He says brewing great beer is and should be fun.
Noranda Alumina in St. James Parish is asking the state department of environmental quality for permission to release mercury into the air, after learning they may have been doing so without a permit since they began operations in 1959. D-E-Q spokesperson Greg Langley says the refinery could be fined for releasing mercury without a permit. Langley says D-E-Q doesn’t monitor for mercury releases on a regular basis, so it needs to be determined how much mercury may have been released and for how long, before a potential fine is handed down.
News for Thursday 020515
By Dave Graichen
More problems for the Rapides Parish Coliseum. A state appeals court has ruled that a former Rapides Parish Coliseum employee, Terri Clark Hunter, can proceed with a whistleblower lawsuit against the Coliseum Authority. Hunter sued the Coliseum Authority in 9th Judicial District Court in July of 2013, claiming she was fired because she refused to keep quiet about financial improprieties involving Coliseum operations. Ninth District Judge George C. Metoyer Jr. ruled in favor of the Coliseum Authority on technical grounds. On Wednesday, the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the 9th District ruling and remanded the case back to the 9th for further proceedings.
The RPSO has arrested a Lena man who allegedly tried to coax a minor via cellphone to meet him for sex. 24 year old Brandon Coutee is now is facing a charge of computer sex solicitation. Coutee was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on Wednesday where he remains on $100,000 bond.
A 34 year old Marksville man was arrested Tuesday by state police for the possession and distribution of child pornography. He was booked into the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center. LSP investigators have reason to believe that there may be local victims.
Alexandria police officers were doing a check Tuesday, along with U.S. Probation and Parole officers, at the home of 64year-old Paul Tyler. Tyler is a Tier 3 sex offender. That tier contains the most serious offenses like aggravated rape and forcible rape, and offenders must register for life. “During this check, evidence was obtained that indicated Tyler might be in possession of items that would violate the conditions of his parole. According to authorities, the evidence contained child pornography. Tyler was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. An investigation is continuing.
Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain is offering a retirement incentive in lieu of job layoffs as he tries to shrink employee payroll to cut budget expense. The retirement incentive is part of Strain’s plan to comply with Jindal administration-directed cuts required to balance the current and next year’s state budget. The state must cut $300 million in the current year because of lagging state revenues and $1.6 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1. So far, 34 employees have signed up to take advantage of the program.
Gas prices jumped 4 cents last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is up to $1.94 according to the American Automobile Association.
Law enforcement officials across the state are warning parents about a social media app that’s being used for cyberbullying. Yik Yak is an anonymous bulletin board where users can post comments that can be read by anyone within a 10 mile radius. Washington Parish Chief Deputy Mike Haley says some parents have called them reporting their children have been bullied through the Yik Yak app. He says there have been arrests at several colleges across the country due to threats made through Yik Yak. Haley says parents need to be aware of their children’s social media activities.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Lake Charles woman after the child she was babysitting was found wandering along a busy highway. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office says 23-year-old Jamie Jackson is charged with cruelty to a juvenile.
The Louisiana SPCA is on the hunt for the person or persons responsible for cutting off the head of a baby goat last week in an Orleans Parish park. Spokeswoman Alicia Haefele (Hay-Fa-Lee) says the owner of the animals believes an altercation with a group of teenagers could be at the root of the act, after they were told to leave the goats alone. The reward money has been increased to three thousand dollars…
The LSU Alumni Association is organizing a lobbying effort to protect LSU campuses from significant budget cuts. LSU Alumni Association President Cliff Vannoy says they are seeking volunteers that will be part of a group called Tiger Advocates, who will have lawmakers’ attention as they craft the budget. If you want to be a Tiger Advocate, go to the LSU Alumni website. Vannoy says volunteer advocates will be kept up to date on key legislation that will impact higher education and they’ll have a chance to make their voices heard.
The driver of the car that crashed head on into a school bus in Denham Springs on Tuesday is booked for DUI and other drug charges. Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard says 32-year-old Brandon Vince was behind the wheel when he crossed a center line and hit the bus full of children. Ard says at least 15 of the children on the bus were treated and released for minor to moderate injuries after the crash.
The state’s budget woes are causing difficulties in the search for a new president for Grambling State University. Possible job applicants are apparently worried about the state’s potential budget cuts to higher education. University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley says they received a letter from The Hollis Group, the search firm hired to recruit candidates, expressing the concerns. Woodley says they originally intended to introduce the new president in April. The search committee will meet with The Hollis Group later this month to discuss changing the timeline for finding a new president.
Bossier Parish Community College makes history as they sign a female player to a baseball scholarship. Sarah Hudek (Hoo-Deck) is a left handed pitcher and is the daughter of MLB All-Star John Hudek. Coach Aaron Vorachek says she will be one of the first girls ever to play baseball at the collegiate level. Vorachek says this is not a gimmick and he’s not concerned about the media attention this move is garnering. He says the 5-foot-10 Hudek is capable of throwing in the upper 70s to low 80 miles per hour which, as a left-hander, is acceptable for anyone at the collegiate level.
News for Wednesday 020415
By Dave Graichen
A Houston-based company announced plans Tuesday to invest $2 billion for a liquefaction facility and liquefied natural gas export terminal near Lake Charles. The Live Oak LNG project will create 100 new direct jobs at the liquefaction and export facility, with an average annual salary of $75,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project also will result in 385 new indirect jobs, for a total of 485 new permanent jobs in Calcasieu Parish and surrounding parishes. The plant is targeted to begin operations in late 2019.
The Louisiana Lottery says tonight’s $317 million dollar Powerball jackpot is the 11th biggest in the game’s history. Kimberly Chopin says their total sales from Powerball in its current run have been about $15.6 million dollars, which is good news since 35 cents of every dollar of sales from all of their games goes to the state to help fund public education. Tonight’s jackpot has a cash value of $220 million dollars.
Governor Jindal released a statement yesterday urging all parents to have their children vaccinated. A debate is underway nationally over whether it’s safe to have your child vaccinated against diseases. In Jindal’s statement, he says sciences supports them and he wouldn’t send his kids to a school that didn’t require vaccinations.
The death of a nine-month old baby from Alexandria in March of last year has resulted in the arrest of a Eunice mother and stepfather. Twenty-one year-old Michelle Cotten and 21 year-old Billy Dean Cotten were both charged with first degree murder, with a bond set for 1 million dollars each. The investigation is ongoing.
State officials announced yesterday Louisiana roadway fatalities dropped by 29 percent between 2007 and 2013. According to Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, over the past seven years we have made tremendous progress. In 2007, Louisiana suffered 993 traffic fatalities compared with 703 in 2013, a drop of almost 30 percent.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating the discovery of a body found floating in a body of water just off US 190 outside of Eunice. They reportedly believe it could be a woman who was reported missing from Allen Parish. We’ll have more on this as it develops.
The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a first-grade teacher for allegedly striking a student . Witnesses told authorities that 31-year-old Chanel Lemelle of Bains Lower Elementary in St. Francisville, berated, kicked, and slapped a student. Apparently video surveillance supported the claims. Lemelle is charged with cruelty to a juvenile.
We have some more cold temperatures on the way, how will that affect Louisiana’s crawfish crop heading into Mardi Gras? Long term it should be OK, according to LSU Aquaculture Specialist Dr. Greg Lutz. Short term, the cold weather may keep crawfish from crawling into the traps set by crawfish farmer, and that affects their cost. Bottom line, crawfish may be hard to find this weekend and if you can find them, plan to pay more.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services released the 2015 Louisiana Child Support Most Wanted poster. It features the names and photos of 14 non-custodial parents who owe nearly half a million dollars in past-due child support. You can view the poster online at dcfs.louisiana.gov and if you know the whereabouts of a person on it please contact authorities.
Qualifying for spring municipal elections begins Wednesday and runs through Friday at parish clerk of court offices in five Central Louisiana parishes. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the five area parishes, which are among 17 parishes statewide for which qualifying is taking place, are Avoyelles, Beauregard, Concordia, Grant and Natchitoches parishes.
One man is dead after a shootout with an off-duty Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputy Tuesday afternoon in what police are describing as a domestic situation. The deputy was at a home with his girlfriend when the woman’s ex-husband arrived at the house and tried to get inside. The two men got into a gunfight, and when it was over, the ex-husband was dead. State police are investigating and they say, at this point in the investigation, they have not confirmed the deputy killed the ex-husband.
It’s national signing day and the LSU Tigers are expected to bring in another Top Ten recruiting class in football. Mike Farrell, director of national recruiting with Rivals-dot-com, says LSU has four 5-star prospects, including two from Louisiana.
News for Tuesday 020315
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a teacher is under arrest accused of having sex with an underage student. They say 28-year-old Donald Gene Parker III apparently found out about the complaint against him and went to the home of the victim to beg them not to have him arrested. Detectives searched his home and found plenty of evidence to arrest him. Parker’s charges include pornography involving juveniles and indecent behavior with juveniles.
The APD believe they got their men. Three juveniles were arrested late last week, ending a three-month investigation into a rash of burglaries in the city. Police Chief Loren Lampert said the investigation revolved around about 30 burglaries in the north and southeast Alexandria. The unidentified juveniles were arrested on "multiple counts of burglary," and were taken to a juvenile facility.
No arraignment date has been set yet for an Oakdale woman accused in the death of a Lecompte woman and her unborn baby. But bond for Pamela Causey-Fregia has been set at $780,000. Causey-Fregia was charged Saturday with the first-degree murder of Victoria Perez and the first-degree feticide of Perez’s unborn child. Perez disappeared in March 2011 after a doctor’s appointment in Alexandria. Because of that tip, investigators interviewed one of Causey-Fregia’s minor children, who claimed their mother killed Perez. Allen parish sheriff Doug Hebert said investigators believe the woman intended to keep Perez’s child for herself, to use in a ruse to get her estranged husband to return to her.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says Louisiana is in danger of seeing a drop in its credit score. Moody’s Investors Service warned that the state’s recent reductions in revenue estimates are a “credit negative. Kennedy says Moody’s is one of the major credit rating agencies and they’ve essentially fired a warning shot at Louisiana saying that if we don’t get our financial house in order, they will downgrade us from stable to negative. Kennedy says the report pointed to Louisiana’s multiple fiscal challenges including the $330 million dollar revenue forecast drop, next year’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall, current mid-year budget cuts and more.
Louisiana would lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars from offshore oil and gas drilling under a proposal included by President Barack Obama in his budget rollout Monday.
The Democratic president’s $4 trillion blueprint for the 2016 fiscal year starting Oct. 1 would eliminate the sharing of revenue from drilling in federal waters with Louisiana and three other states along the Gulf of Mexico, as outlined in a 2006 law cited in December by former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu as the signature achievement of her 18 years in the Senate. US senator David Vitter says the bill has no chance of passage.
A new poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics show that Governor Bobby Jindal’s numbers have slipped among Iowa Republican voters. Jindal got two-percent of respondents when asked for their first choice in a presidential candidate. Jindal also received two-percent when respondents were asked for their second choice. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lead the poll with 16-percent, followed by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul with 15-percent. The poll also showed the governor’s unfavorable numbers rose to 20-percent.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose in Louisiana for the second week in a row according to Gasbuddy-dot-com. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says this might be the end of the four-month-long drop in prices at the pump. He says wholesale prices have increased by more than 20 cents a gallon, and those increases will, eventually, get passed on to consumers.
Lapolitics.com is reporting former 5th District Congressman Vance McAllister is considering a run for the US Senate next year. Apparently McAllister said if Congressman John Fleming of Minden is the only one who seeks the seat then he’d go up against him. However, several other top republicans, including state treasurer John Kennedy, have expressed an interest in running.
Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore wants to see Louisiana implement an air monitoring system, paid for by private companies. Honore, who was in charge of military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, now leads a coalition of environmental groups called the Green Army. Honore says the state has 150 chemical plants and no system in place to monitor what they put into the air. The Green Army proposes a series of sensors to be installed outside of chemical plants, monitoring the air quality. Honore says if something goes wrong, the sensors can notify nearby residents.
In case you didn’t know, Monday was groundhog day. In South Louisiana, we have the Cajun Groundhog Pierre C. Shadeaux, who by the way didn’t see one didn’t see one when he emerge from his home yesterday morning. That should mean a longer spring for the state. Daily Iberian publisher Will Chapman says, Pierre almost always gets it right. Almost is the key word.
Some sad news from Shreveport Police yesterday about the 7 year-old little girl hit on her bicycle by a drunk driver Saturday afternoon. Cpl Breck Scott says the child passed away from her injuries. Scott says the charges against 46 year-old Randy Presentine were upgraded to vehicular homicide along with having no insurance and driving without a license while under suspension.
News for Monday 020215
By Dave Graichen
The investigation continues into a deadly blaze in Avoyelles parish last week that left 4 people dead. Fire Marshall Butch Browning says a father, grandmother, son, and daughter all perished in the blaze. The victims’ ages range from 10 to 73-years-old. Browning says they believe the four victims were asleep at the time of the fire. He says the mother of the children was at work when the blaze broke out. Browning says the investigation is in its initial stages.
An early morning house fire destroyed one home, and damaged two neighboring homes on Cook Avenue in Alexandria Sunday morning. Fire officials say it appears a stove caught fire and the home became engulfed in flames. It took firefighters a little over an hour to get control of the fire. Good news is, no one was injured in the blaze.
Allen Parish authorities report the remains of a pregnant Lecompte woman missing since 2011 have been found, and the charges of an Oakdale woman arrested on Wednesday of last week in connection to the case have been upgraded. Pamela Fregia was charged Saturday with first-degree murder and first-degree feticide of Victoria Perez and her unborn baby. Lecompte Police first reported 20-year-old Perez missing in March of 2011 after she went to a doctor's appointment at Rapides Regional Medical Center and never came home.
Amid reports that some families are opting out from having their child take standardized tests that are part of Common Core, the chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer, is encouraging parents to have their child take the test in March. Roemer says the new standardized tests are more rigorous than previous ones, but it will help determine a student’s strength and weakness. Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order that calls on BESE to have an alternate test for those students who opt-out of the Common Core exam. But Roemer says Jindal doesn’t have the constitutional authority to do that and he accuses the governor of simply creating chaos.
Mitt Romney announces he’s decided not to run for president next year, so what could that mean for Governor Bobby Jindal? 2016 would have been Romney’s third run at the White House. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says Romney passed on Jindal as a vice presidential contender last time saying the two never really connected so him bowing out of the race also helps The Governor. Also, Cross says anytime one of the main candidates drops out of a presidential race, it’s a victory for all of the remaining contenders.
High school principals vote to keep the current split between public and private schools that exists with the football playoffs and allow the new executive director of the LHSAA, Eddie Bonine, develop solutions that could possibly bring the classes back together. Bonine says his first step will be to organize a committee to examine the issues that caused the split. Many principal Norman Booker authored proposals to divide the postseason between public and private schools in other sports, but it was voted down.
Many are waiting to see if democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will get in the governor’s race. Jeremy Alford, publisher of la-politics-dot-com, says Landrieu only has about 40-thousand dollars in campaign money in the bank, so if he’s getting in, he’ll need to make a decision soon. Alford says some Democratic operatives say Landrieu will pass on the governor’s race, so he can have a major influence on the presidential race. But, Alford says he’s also heard that Mayor Landrieu has yet to completely rule out a run for governor.
According to a report from Duke University, The South had the nation’s lowest five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS with 15 percent of people with HIV and 27 percent with AIDS dying within the first five years of their diagnosis. Louisiana was one of nine southern states with the poorest rates of survival. Younger, rural, African-American females who attributed their HIV infection to heterosexual sex were among the majority of patients with the worse survival rate. Louisiana had the lowest survival rates after a diagnosis, followed by Mississippi. In Louisiana, 19 percent of people diagnosed with HIV died within five years and one-third of people diagnosed with AIDS died within five years. The full article is in today’s Town Talk.
There is a new, free app for your smart phone that puts the health reports for local restaurants at your fingertips. The app is called “What the Health” and is the brain-child of Chris Peoples and Jake Van Dyke of Modern Appsolutions. Louisiana is one of just eight states, along with Washington DC, serviced by the app. Van Dyke says the app will show you a letter and number grade for each restaurant along with any actual violations they received during their last health inspection. The app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.
LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center launches an initiative to provide doctors in Louisiana with proven strategies which would reduce and treat obesity in children. The project is led by Dr. Amanda Staiano (stye-an-no) who says the Child Obesity Treatment Toolkit helps primary care physicians determine who’s at risk for obesity. Staiano says childhood obesity is a very serious issue in Louisiana with half of our kids being overweight or obese.
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