KSYL Local News Archives for 2016-02

News For Monday 02/29/16


News for Monday 022916

By Dave Graichen

 

A Senate committee sends to the Senate floor a bill that would raise the state’s four-cent sales tax by a penny. The panel changed the sunset date of the additional penny from 18-months to five years. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says an 18-month sunset won’t help their current budget problems, because it couldn’t be used for ongoing expenses like higher education.

The extra penny on the state sales tax would go into effect on April 1st and raise 210-million dollars. Morrell says they also need this additional revenue in place long enough so they can perform long-term budget reform.. Governor John Bel Edwards is disappointed the House didn’t move the tax bills sooner, but is optimistic there’s enough time for the Senate to act.

 

One of the items the bill includes a $52 million mid-year cut to the state Department of Education, according to the Council for a better Louisiana. CABL President Barry Erwin says this would also take away payments for mandated student testing for the current school year. Erwin says all in all, this would take away 85% of the DOE’s remaining cash on hand for the current fiscal year. He says some deals were made and essentially the House just wanted to make a statement that they wanted to cut the budget further. The special session to address the state’s budget deficit ends March ninth.

 

The House is expected to take up a bill today that would raise the alcohol tax for the first time since 1948. The author of the measure, Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox, says every dollar we can raise is important and this tax would generate 27 million dollars a year. Cox says there are a few legislators against raising the alcohol tax, but many are more willing to increase “sin taxes” than sales or income taxes.

 

Lafayette Man has been charged In what appears to have been a Double Murder-Arson. Investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office  were summoned to the scene just after 4:00 p.m. Saturday, when firefighters discovered the two bodies. Investigators say the bodies shows signs of blunt force trauma. Autopsies are scheduled to be conducted today.

 

A second officer assigned to the US Drug Enforcement Administration task force has been arrested for allegedly stealing and selling drugs seized in raids. Karl Newman, a deputy with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, was booked on counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and abuse of office. Newman’s arrest comes just weeks after another Tangipahoa parish deputy was booked on drug distribution charges.

 

A campaign launched by the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance aims to build support for a new I-10 bridge over the Calcasieu River. George Swift, president and CEO of the alliance, says the bridge endures heavy traffic every day, and it will only get worse as more industrial projects move to the area in the next few years.

 

A jury indicted former Monroe TV personality “Mr. Wonder” on sexual assault charges. According to the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, investigators have identified 7 alleged victims as a result of a 1979 investigation. Selas has been living in California since 1985. He is currently being held in a San Diego jail. Rapides Parish Assistant District Attorney Brian Mosley says Selas will be brought back to Louisiana to face the charges.

 

The 13 tornadoes that hit Louisiana last Tuesday set a record for the most in a day in February, according to officials at the Storm Prediction Center. The record more than doubled the old record from 2008, which was 6. The most powerful twister hit a mobile home park in Convent, where 2 people were killed and 30 were injured. The weather service upgraded the ranking of the Sugar Hill RV Park tornado to EF-3 with winds up to 140 miles per hour.

 

The Louisiana National Guard at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans opens a Desert Storm exhibit today to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the conflict. Louisiana National Guard Historian Rhett Breerwood says 16 of our guard’s units were mobilized and nine were sent to the war zone. He says the Boots in the Sand exhibit honors multiple units. Breerwood says as visitors tour the exhibit, they can expect to see original equipment, uniforms and pictures taken by soldiers overseas from 1990 to 1991. He says also many enemy weapons captured by Guardsman will be on display.

 

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals opens a new water testing laboratory in Shreveport on Monday. The lab is expected to speed up the time it takes to test samples from drinking water systems in north Louisiana. Currently water samples from the northern part of the state are shipped to Baton Rouge. DHH spokesperson Bob Johannessen says this will be especially helpful when communities are under a boil water advisory.

 

Sports

 

In his final regular season game at the Thomas Assembly Center, senior guard  Alex Hamilton messed around and recorded a triple-double to help Louisiana Tech beat Rice 88-69 on Saturday night in front of 55-hundred fans. Hamilton had 25 points. 11 rebounds, and 11 assists to register the program’s first triple-double since 1991. Hamilton says to do it on senior night made the accomplishment even sweeter…

 

Solid pitching and plenty of offense led to an 11-1 victory for the 5th ranked LSU baseball team against Sacramento State on Sunday. Starting pitcher John Valek allowed one run in seven innings and struck out six.

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News For Friday 02/26/16


News for Friday 022616

By Dave Graichen

 

The state House has sent to the Senate a bill that will increase the state’s four-cent sales tax by another penny for an 18-month period beginning on April 1st. The higher sales tax is expected to generate an estimated 200-million dollars this fiscal year, but Jeremy Alford with la-politics-dot-com says more needs to be done to deal with the 940-million dollar shortfall. Measures to increase cigarette and alcohol taxes and legislation to reduce tax breaks for businesses has yet to be taken up by the full House.

 

The House also approved legislation that makes 101-million dollars in cuts to the current budget, which is 81-million dollars more than what the governor had proposed. K-through-12th grade state funding would be cut by 44-million dollars under the House plan.

 

Louisiana’s budget instability over the last several years has led Moody’s Investors Service to downgrade the state’s credit rating. The drop in the state’s credit rating will make it more expensive for the state to borrow money for construction projects. Governor John Bel Edwards says it’s disappointing Moody didn’t wait until the conclusion of the special session to make a decision on Louisiana’s credit rating. Edwards says it’s more important than ever for the legislature to work with him to stabilize the budget.

 

The Center for Reproductive Rights plans to appeal the ruling by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals that says Louisiana’s admitting privilege law for abortion doctors can be enforced. David Brown, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, says the ruling will make it very difficult for Louisiana women to get a legal abortion. The 5th Circuit’s action means abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Brown says as a result there are now only two clinics available in Louisiana where an abortion can be performed, one in Shreveport and one in New Orleans.

 

Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany’s PROTECT Act to help the Louisiana seafood industry has been signed by President Barack Obama. Boustany says the PROTECT Act will help Louisiana producers expand their markets around the country. He says if other countries want to sell seafood in the United States, they need to play by our rules.

 

Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting totals for the March 5 Louisiana Presidential Primary have already surpassed 2012 numbers, and there’s still two days left to early vote. Schedler says there’s been a lot of interest in this Presidential election and the early voting totals so far reflect that.

 

North Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell announced on the Jim Engster Show that he is making preparations to run for the US Senate. Campbell says if he goes to Washington he’ll bring his populist beliefs with him. Campbell would join a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace Republican David Vitter, who is not running for re-election.

 

A new study from AAA shows 87% of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior while driving in the past month. AAA spokesperson Don Redman says the data is not surprising because about 30 to 40 thousand people die in car crashes each year in the US. Redman says 42% or drivers admit to texting and 70% admit to being on the phone. Redman says driving when you’re sleepy is also a major problem.

 

Felons in Louisiana face more employment obstacles that any other state, according to a new study. Louisiana has 389 job restrictions but the average number in the US is 123. Allyson Fredericksen, with the Alliance for a Just Society, says this problem can often lead ex-inmates to return to a life of crime to make ends meet. She says some of these restrictions need to be lifted. Fredericksen says the Alliance for a Just Society is seeking to eliminate the lifetime legislative bans to employment and review the restrictions to see if they are all still applicable.

 

The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation has submitted a bid to host the SEC baseball tournament at Zephyr Field in Metairie from 2017 to 2021. Several other cities are also bidding, including Nashville. But foundation President Jay Cicero says we have the biggest college baseball fan base of any area in the nation within driving distance, plus other assets. The SEC baseball tournament has been held in Hoover, Alabama for the last 18 years.

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News For Thursday 02/25/16


News for Wednesday 022516

By Dave Graichen

 

On a three-to-two vote the Public Service Commission rejects Cleco’s attempt to sell the Pineville-based utility company to a private investment group. International investors were looking to buy Cleco for nearly five billion dollars. Cleco says they are disappointed in today’s decision and they are reviewing their future options.

 

The House of Representatives votes today on several different tax proposals that the governor is pushing for as a way to solve the state’s budget crisis. Up for consideration, is an increase to the state’s sales tax, higher cigarette and alcohol taxes and fewer tax exemptions for businesses. There are 14 days left in the special session and whatever tax bills clear the House, still need to be debated in the Senate.

 

Republican State Representatives sent Governor John Bel Edwards a list of long-term changes they want in the state government as they try to negotiate the governor’s proposed tax increases aimed at fixing the budget deficit. Legislators are interested in pension reform, capital outlay reform and tax reform. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris, who oversaw preparation of the letter, says legislators don’t want to keep having to deal with midyear deficits. The letter also asks that any tax increases approved during the special session end once revenue from long term reform is collected.

 

A federal appeals court has ruled against abortion clinics by allowing a Louisiana law to take effect that requires doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles. On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a federal judge’s ruling that had found the admitting privileges unconstitutional. Supporters say the law’s provision requiring admitting privileges at area hospitals is meant to protect women’s health. Opponents say it’s meant to make it essentially impossible for women to get abortions, and would do just that.

 

The National Weather Service confirms an EF2 tornado is the one responsible for ripping through the RV park in Convent Tuesday where two people lost their lives. Assumption Parish was also hit hard by a tornado. John Boudreaux, director of the Assumption office of emergency preparedness says a water tower on LA-1 totally collapsed. Entergy reports that, as of 5pm yesterday, about 17,500 customers in the affected areas remained without power.

 

The state department of insurance says assistance is available to residents affected by the storms. Commissioner Jim Donelon says the sooner residents file a claim, the sooner they can start getting their lives back to normal.

 

Funerals were held Yesterday for two DeQuincy High School seniors that were killed in a two vehicle crash on LA 27 on Sunday. Lauren Leblanc was 17 years-old and Charlee Smith was 18-years-old. KPLC-TV is reporting residents of DeQuincy raised 27-thousand dollars to help pay for the teenagers funerals.

 

State Police are investigating a deadly shooting in Baton Rouge involving several East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputies. Deputies were reportedly responding to a domestic disturbance. Sheriff Sid Gautraux said it’s possible the man involved was trying to commit suicide by cop when he tried ramming the deputies with his vehicle.

 

ExxonMobil invests $13 million into the National Math and Science Initiative College Readiness Program. Four schools in Louisiana already benefit from this program, including Bossier and Parkway High Schools. Last year, students from Parkway and Bossier saw a 215% increase in qualifying math, science and English AP exam scores.

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News For Wednesday 2/24/16


News for Wednesday 022416

By Dave Graichen

 

The Louisiana Public Service Commission is set to vote Today on whether or not Cleco will be sold for nearly 5 Billion dollars to the investment group Macquarie Infrastructure. Cleco says this merger will not charge utility customers for any costs related to the sale and their rates will not go up. The proposed sale is opposed by PSC member Clyde Holloway who says it’s not worth the long-term risk to Cleco ratepayers. Cleco claims the transaction will result in 143 million dollars in credits to customers over the next 15 years.

 

It’s was a stormy day yesterday as a cold front worked its way across the state. In South  Louisiana numerous tornadoes caused a lot of damage. In St. James parish two people were killed after a twister touched down at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon in Convent. The manager of an RV Park confirmed that hundreds of trailers were damaged and several occupants were injured.

 

The trials for a Eunice man and woman accused in the death of the woman's infant son have been pushed back to June. Billy Dean Cotten and Michelle Cotten were indicted for first-degree murder in the death of 9-month-old Aiden Wayne Dyson. Dyson, the son of Michelle Cotten and stepson of Billy Dean Cotten, died at a local hospital the day after he'd been brought in by ambulance in March 2014. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

 

The House Ways and Means Committee sent several tax bills to the House floor Tuesday. But the panel used a procedural move to advance the tax hikes without having to vote “yes or “no.” Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President Stephen Waguespack says the committee basically punted these revenue-generating pieces of legislation to the House floor.

The full House is expected to vote on Thursday whether or not to increase taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, telephones, rental cars and there’s proposal to raise the state sales tax by a penny.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards is pushing lawmakers to approve some [of these] tax increases as a way to balance this fiscal year’s budget, which has a 900-million dollar deficit. Many republicans oppose the tax hikes, but Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana budget project, says there are other republican legislators who understand the need for them. Moller expects a fierce debate on the House floor over these tax bills as it will take 70 votes for them to advance to the senate.

 

The public feud between Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy continues to ramp up. The Governor released a statement claiming Kennedy is misleading the public when talking about the state’s current budget crisis. Kennedy has pushed for the legislature not to raise taxes as a way to solve a 900 million dollar deficit for this fiscal year. While Edwards has maintained some new revenues are needed to balance the budget.

 

Today is higher education day at the state capitol. Hundreds of students are expected to rally on the steps of the capitol at noon to protest proposed cuts to public colleges and universities. Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo is glad that college students are voicing their concerns. Under a best case scenario, public colleges and universities are facing a 70-million dollar cut this fiscal year.

 

A report out of Tulane University finds that students in Louisiana’s voucher program end up scoring drastically lower math. Co-author of the study Jonathan Mills says after one year in the program, they found a large negative drop in both English and language arts and math scores on the Louisiana State assessment test.

 

State lawmakers are discussing whether or not to file a proposed constitutional amendment in the special session that would give Louisiana residents a chance to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana. Why now, so the state would have the ability to tax it. So far it’s just in the talking stage, nothing has been filed in this special session related to legalizing marijuana.

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News For Tuesday 02/23/16


News for Tuesday 022316

By Dave Graichen

 

Much of Louisiana could see severe weather today, including the potential for tornadoes. State Climatologist Barry Keim says it will be a bumpy ride over the next 24 hours or so as result of cold front that’s moving through the state. Keim says cities like New Orleans, Houma, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Alexandria are under an enhanced threat of severe weather. The severe weather threat will diminish Wednesday morning, then we should feel much lower temps.

 

The city of Alexandria held a press meeting yesterday to announce plans for this year’s Alex RiverFête, which  will take place May 5-7 in downtown Alexandria. The anchor event, Louisiana Dragon Boat Races, will take place on the last day of the festival May 7th.  City officials unveiled details about the musical lineup and information on a new activity at the festival – “a costumed bicycle parade”. A complete list of events can be found in today’s Town talk. Various other “Fêtes” will join in the festivities of RiverFête, including ArtFête, CarFête and KidsFête, as well as Dinner on the Bricks.

 

22 year old Daniel Verzwyvelt of Boyce will  serve 10 years in prison for the Easter Sunday 2014 crash that killed a Pineville man on Bayou Rapides Road.  Verzwyvelt, was sentenced on Monday morning by 9th Judicial District Court Mary Lauve Doggett after he changed his plea on one count of vehicular homicide with drugs to guilty. Doggett sentenced Verzwyvelt to 20 years at hard labor, with 10 years suspended.

 

Today could be a pivotal day in the special session that’s been called to eliminate a $900 million deficit this fiscal year. The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on various proposals to increase taxes, including a measure that would increase the state sales tax from 4-cents to 5-cents. Jeremy Alford, publisher of la-politics-dot-com, says the sales tax bill is a key revenue raising measure that the Edwards administration is pushing for. Alford says many republicans could vote for an increase in the sales tax, but they want the governor to commit to some long-term spending cuts. The committee has also heard bills that would increase taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, rental cars, phone lines, internet sales and hotels.

 

The House Appropriations Committee approved a series of bills today aimed at reducing or cutting down on number of state contracts, which supporters say will save the state some much needed dollars. Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy says there are dozens if not hundreds of contracts that the state spends money on that are NOT needed. Some of the examples Kennedy named include contracts for tutoring students and providing adult education to prisoners.

 

According to experts at the International Energy Agency, oil prices will not rebound until next year. David Dismukes, Executive Director at the LSU Center for Energy Studies, says this is disappointing news to the oil industry, after hearing reports about a production freeze in the Middle East. But Dismukes doesn’t see a cutback in production by oil producing countries.

Oil prices have plummeted 70% in the last two years, leading to layoffs in the oil industry and supporting businesses. Today the price of US oil is trading around $30 a barrel.

 

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera has released an annual report that points out areas where state government can do a better job of protecting taxpayer dollars. Purpera says on multiple occasions his auditors discovered the Department of Health and Hospitals didn’t do what was needed to receive payments from third parties for medical services provided for Medicaid patients. Purpera says nationally, nearly 6 percent of Medicaid claims are subject to abuse and the number could be even higher in Louisiana.

 

Early voting for the Louisiana Presidential Preference Primary continues today through Saturday. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this primary is costing Louisiana $3.5 million during tough budget times. He says switching to a caucus format would save the state that money, because a caucus is paid for by the political parties. Schedler says he has proposed caucus voting to the legislators, but it takes a vote by the legislature to make that change.

 

St. Landry Sheriff Bobby Guidroz is asking Captain Clay Higgins to tone down in crime stopper videos after more groups are coming forward expressing anger over the latest viral Crimestoppers video. The so called, “Cajun John Wayne” is coming under fire for some of the terminology he used to refer to the Gremlins Gang suspects.  National Action Now president, Reverend Raymond Brown, doesn’t like that Higgins called these individuals ugly names. Guidroz says this gang has been terrorizing Acadiana for a long time.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU men’s basketball team is at Arkansas tonight in a game that is a  must have for the Tigers who are on the wrong side of the bubble when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament. LSU will play the game without senior shooting guard Keith Hornsby, who re-aggravated a sports hernia injury that forced him to miss several games earlier this season. Coach Johnny Jones says it’s too early to say if Hornsby will miss the rest of the season as some reports suggest.

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News For Monday 02/22/16


News for Monday 022216

By Dave Graichen

 

Early voting started Saturday for Louisiana’s March 5th Presidential Preference Primary. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Democrats must choose a Democrat and Republicans choose a Republican, but everyone should vote in local elections. He says early voting runs through this Saturday.

 

The Louisiana Public Service Commission is expected to vote on whether to approve or reject the proposed sale of CLECO at its meeting in Baton Rouge this Wednesday. Pineville-based Cleco agreed in October 2014 to a sale proposal of nearly $5 billion from an investment group. The deal was approved by Cleco shareholders and has received other regulatory clearance, leaving the final decision in the hands of the Public Service Commission.

 

The first week of the special legislative session is now behind us and we are still waiting for the  first significant piece of legislation to make it out of the House Ways and Means Committee. The panel heard testimony all week on various proposals to increase taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, personal income, businesses and there’s a bill to raise the state sales tax by a penny. The budget must be balanced by June 30th and the special session is set to end by March 9th.

 

A new poll from Invest in a Healthy Louisiana and Public Opinion Strategies finds increasing the tobacco tax is favored by seven out of 10 voters. The Invest in a Healthy Louisiana Coaltion is advocating a $1.25 per pack increase in the tobacco tax. So far, only a 22-cent increase has been discussed by the legislature. Pollster Glen Bolger says the poll asked people about three different tax levels and found no statistical difference between the options.

 

Recent polls have shown the public is opposed to the legislature increasing taxes as a way of solving the state’s fiscal crisis. But Michael Henderson, Director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, says these surveys might not tell the whole story, because the polls do not ask the respondents about potential consequences if revenues are not raised.  Henderson, who puts together the annual Louisiana Survey, says the public always opposes proposals to increase taxes. But voters also oppose spending cuts to education or transportation.

Henderson says legislators should take these polls with a grain of salt, because the poll questions don’t take into account what could happen if certain taxes are not raised

 

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has awarded a 2.1 million dollar loan to assist an Avoyelles Parish water system improve its drinking water. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says the money comes from the state‘s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, which helps improve infrastructure to ensure drinking water stays safe. Guidry says the project calls for a new pump stations, new ground water storage tank, a new well and chlorination facility at the Yellow Bayou Pump station

 

In another blow to Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, his estranged daughter has taken over their family’s estate in Texas. This was under a settlement agreement approved by a judge. Benson cut his heirs out of his will when the feud began, and a settlement on the lawsuit over the ownership of the sports franchises in New Orleans is scheduled for a hearing next week. Renee Benson argues that her father is not competent to handle his affairs.

 

The last member of the Angola three was released from prison Friday. 69 year old Albert Woodfox plead no contest to the manslaughter and aggravated burglary charges he’s facing in the death of a 1972 prison guard. Woodfox has spent most of his prison life in solitary confinement. Attorney General Jeff Landry says they will NOT seek to try Woodfox for a third time.

 

Supermodel Pamela Anderson suggests to Governor John Bel Edwards that Louisiana’s budget could benefit from serving all-vegan food to prisoners. That’s according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA spokesperson Dan Matthews says Anderson has visited other jails around the country that save hundreds of thousands of dollars by not serving meat. Anderson is the “honorary director” of PETA and she wrote a letter to Governor Edwards saying enormous savings on freezer costs and prisoners’ healthcare would be made by serving healthy, colorful vegan meals. Matthews says Louisiana taxpayers would save over $620,000 a year by offering inmates beans, rice, lentils, pasta, potatoes and other vegetables.

 

Dozens of students marched to the state capitol Friday in efforts to protest the proposed cuts to higher education to offset the massive budget deficit.  The students say they want to make legislators pay attention and stop these drastic measures. Higher Ed Commissioner Joseph Rallo says under the best case scenario, public colleges would receive a 70-million dollar cut this fiscal year.

 

The ACLU of Louisiana has responded to the latest Crime Stoppers video by St. Landry Parish’s Captain Clay Higgins that’s gone ridiculously viral. Higgins is looking for wanted members of the Gremlins Gang and says they each have a $2500 bounty on their head. ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman feels like all this does is exacerbate the problem of a public who feels cops are the bad guys.

 

24 year old Dewayne Calloway of Columbia died early Sunday morning in a Grant Parish single vehicle crash. State police report Calloway lost control of his vehicle on Highway 165, ran off the road and struck several trees. Calloway was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected. Troopers believe excessive speed was a factor in the crash.

 

Early voting for the Louisiana Presidential Preference Primary is underway, and polls remain open until Saturday. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are battling for the Democratic nomination. Former US Senator Mary Landrieu supports Hillary Clinton. Landrieu says Clinton has the skills necessary to be an effective leader. Landrieu says Sanders is not as well equipped to handle the presidency. However, Sanders’ supporter Gilda Reed, a psychology professor at UNO, says she is “feeling the Bern.” She says he can make crucial changes in the country. Reed says Sanders is capturing the hearts of everyday Americans and energizing the youth because of his progressive ideas.

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News For Friday 02/19/16


News for Friday 021916

By Dave Graichen

 

Early voting begins tomorrow for Louisiana’s Presidential Preference Primary which will be held on March 5th. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says only registered Republicans and Democrats will be able to vote in their respective primaries.  Other items, mainly local elections, will be on the ballot in 24 parishes for which all registered voters will be able to vote. Schedler encourages people to check out GeauxVote-dot-com to see what will appear on their ballot.

 

The APD arrests an Alexandria man after he allegedly robbed a Pizza Delivery driver Wednesday night in the 1600 block of Parker street. 21 year old Michael Snowden was charged and placed in the Parish Detention Center. Police say they are looking for more suspects in the case.

 

Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says her agency needs 15-million dollars or she’ll be forced to furlough and layoff employess, which would impact adults and children who are in need. DCFS is in need of resources to care for the more than four-thousand children in foster care in Louisiana. She says Louisiana could face federal penalties if it falls short of meeting required standards.

 

A debate broke out at the state capitol over a tax credit that benefits working individuals with low incomes. Prairieville Representative Tony Bacala has legislation to do away with the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which he says will save the state about 50-million dollars a year. But Democratic state representative Walt Leger says the Earned Income Tax Credit helps the working poor pay for daily life expenses .The New Orleans lawmaker has a bill to double the earned income tax credit. A vote on the two different measures was not taken. The House committee is waiting to hear on all of the different tax bills, before deciding which ones should advance.

 

The State Bond Commission yesterday approved $375 million dollars in funding for projects across the state, and more than $35 million in interest savings.

 

A federal judge in New Orleans has rejected former Saints star Darren Sharper’s plea deal. Sharper who is accused of drugging and raping women in several states was hoping to get a nine-year sentence, but Judge Jane Milazzo says the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Judge Milazzo had said the accusations against Sharper should lead to a 15 to 20 year prison sentence if found guilty.

 

Attorney General Jeff Landry announces new polices that attempt to rid his department of public corruption. Landry says one new policy eliminates all outside government legal contracts with District Attorneys and their civil practices. And He says fulltime lawyers in his office will no longer take on private legal cases on the side. Landry says he will permit his attorneys to do pro-bono work under circumstances where there are clearly no conflicts of interest. He also announced the termination of existing contracts with outside council in the BP litigation.

 

State Police has charged a St. Mary Parish man with 18 counts of attempted murder of a police officer. 50-year-old Derrick Bodin of Baldwin was taken into custody after extensive investigation. Authorities say Bodin shot at multiple officers who came to the aid of a shooting victim on December 27th .

 

South Louisiana law enforcement are actively searching for the seven remaining wanted fugitives of the Gremlins Criminal Gang and their search efforts have been boosted by the latest video message from the “Cajun John Wayne.” Captain Clay Higgins with St. Landry’s parish sheriff’s office asks the public to contact police with any information about these crimes of the whereabouts of the wanted fugitives. The video has received over 8 million views.

 

Apple is fighting the federal government over accessing iPhones and the ruling could have implications on murder case in Baton Rouge. 29-year-old Brittney Mills was shot and killed last April after answering a knock at her door. Baton Rouge investigators believe her phone has information that could answer questions surrounding the case, but they are unable to access it. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore is glad the feds are forcing Apple experts to assist in these kind of investigations. Apple is fighting the order saying it could lead to privacy issues for its customers.

 

The new voice of the Tigers, Chris Blair, will hit the airwaves for the first time tonight on the LSU Sports Radio Network as baseball season gets underway at The Box. Blair says he’s always had a passion for listening to sports on the radio and he never thought he’d be able to say one day he’d be calling play-by-play for LSU. It’s opening day for college baseball as the 7th ranked LSU Tigers host the Cincinnati Bearkats tonight at Alex Box Stadium.

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News For Thursday 02/18/16


News for Thursday 021816

By Dave Graichen

 

The RPSO reports an altercation between two men yesterday led to one of the men being stabbed in the abdomen.  46 year old James Roberts of Pineville was arrested a short time later and has been charged with aggravated second-degree battery and a probation violation. He remains in the parish detention center awaiting a $100,000 bond.

 

A judge ruled Wednesday that the proposed sale of Cleco Corp. is not in the public interest, a week before the Louisiana Public Service Commission will decide whether to approve the transaction. An investor group has agreed to buy Pineville-based Cleco for nearly $5 billion. The Public Service Commission is expected to vote on the issue at its meeting Feb. 24.

In her ruling, Administrative Law Judge Valerie Meiners joined commission staff in recommending against the sale as currently structured.

 

The House Ways and Means Committee began hearing various tax bills today that would raise revenue to close a massive budget deficit. One of the measures would increase the state sales tax on a pack of cigarettes by 22-cents per pack. Bill Shepherd, owner of Churchpoint Wholesale, says if this bill passes Louisiana smokers could save money by purchasing cigarettes across the state line and Louisiana would then collect less revenue. The panel ended its day by talking about raising taxes on beer, wine and alcohol to the southern regional average. The panel did not vote on any of these measures that will occur in the near future.

 

Alcohol taxes in Louisiana have not been raised since 1948, but that could soon change. State Representative Kenny Cox of Natchitoches is proposing a higher tax on alcohol as a means for closing the state’s huge budget deficit. The proposed bill would raise Louisiana’s alcohol tax to the Southern regional averages. Under this bill, taxes would increase $3 per gallon for hard liquor and 34-cents per gallon for wine. The tax would go into effect April 1, although it is unclear how much revenue it would generate. Unlike other taxes proposed during this special session, this increase would be permanent.

 

The first independent poll on the 2016 US Senate race has Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy as the favorite. In the Southern Media and Opinion Research Survey of 500 likely Louisiana voters, Kennedy received 22% of the vote that’s 12% more than Republicans Charles Boustany and Scott Angelle. Republicans John Young, Rob Maness, and John Fleming each have less than 8% of voters’ support. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says Kennedy is the favorite to make the run-off.

 

Republican Representative Chris Broadwater of Hammond, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, says lawmakers are taking a hard look at the Edwards Administration’s proposed one cent sales tax increase. He says the reason it’s such a pivotal issue is because they are trying to close a massive $950ish million dollar gap in the current fiscal year budget. Broadwater says there is concern about whether or not the one penny sales tax hike would be utilized as a short term approach, or if it would stay long term. Broadwater says it remains to be seen if lawmakers will decide to make this part of the solution to the budget crisis.

 

Metairie Senator Conrad Appel has written a letter to Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo calling on the Board of Regents to construct a plan for organization reform.  Appel says funding for higher education in Louisiana is pretty much stagnant as far as we can see in the future. He says it’s the duty of the Board of Regents to plan the big picture strategy and decide what actions need to be taken.

 

The Louisiana Supreme Court has delayed the scheduled execution of Daniel Blank, who was convicted of beating and stabbing a 71-year-old woman to death while robbing her home in 1997. The state corrections department said Monday that it doesn’t have the necessary drugs for Blank’s execution. Blank was accused of killing 6 people in 1996 and 1997.

 

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, despite objections from the state. Owners felt the designation, though prestigious, could delay maintenance and improvements. A student from Tulane nominated the Superdome in December, and the National Parks Service announced the structure was listed earlier this month.

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News For Wednesday 2/17/16


News for Wednesday 021716

By Dave Graichen

 

A new poll shows that a vast majority of Louisiana residents do not support increasing taxes to help state government solve its huge budget deficit this fiscal year. Southern Media and Opinion Research surveyed 500 likely voters and 72% of them said “no” to raising taxes and fees. [Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says that’s because state government has lost credibility with the people of Louisiana. Pinsonat says the public is wary of raising taxes on businesses because of concern about the economy.] That same survey showed  54% of people believe the state budget can be balanced without raising taxes.

 

That same survey shows Governor John Bel Edward has an approval rating of 42-percent. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says to make matters worse for Governor Edwards, the statewide elected official with the highest approval rating is Treasurer John Kennedy, who is arguing against the tax increases that the governor is pushing for. Pinsonat says 25-percent respondents disapprove of Edwards performance so far.

 

It’s day four of the special session that’s attempting to resolve the state’s $957 million deficit. Barry Erwin, Head of the Council for a Better Louisiana, says legislators will be looking for both short-term and long-term solutions. Erwin says he is unsure if lawmakers will be able to completely fix the budget problems in only three weeks. Erwin says the budget has been in trouble for several years and lawmakers should have addressed it sooner.

 

The House Ways and Means Committee will hear testimony today for tax increases on tobacco, alcohol, Internet sales and car rentals. Legislators will begin voting on these tax proposals, after they hear from supporters and opponents of each of the proposed taxes.

 

A proposal to use 128-million dollars in rainy day funds to fill the massive budget hole for this fiscal year was approved by the Senate finance committee. The panel also decided to redirect 200-million dollars in Gulf oil spill recovery money. Both bills head to the full senate for more discussion.

 

Fees are going up for camping and boat launches at Cotile Lake Recreation Area. The Rapides Parish Police Jury has approved fee increases that will take effect on March 1.

The fee for camping with electricity will rise from $20 to $25 per day. The fee for camping with electricity and sewerage will increase from $25 to $30 per day. The boat launch fee will go from $3 per day to $5 per day. The fee increases were recommended by the Cotile Lake Study Committee.

 

Legislators on the House Appropriations Committee discovered this week the state is paying Saints owner Tom Benson almost $2 million more than the market value of 323,000 square feet of space the state leases in Benson Tower, including an entire floor that's unoccupied. The lease, which was negotiated by former Bobby Jindal and approved by the Legislature in 2009, was part of a deal that keeps the Saints in Louisiana through 2025.

 

A Natchitoches man has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the state’s nearly $1 billion budget deficit. Eric Boleyn’s online donation page reads “Help Louisiana, Need $900 million.” The description explains that any donations will be put towards the crippling budget deficit the state is facing. The page has been shared by thousands of people and has brought in a total of $40 in the past four days.

 

The House appropriations committee heard testimony yesterday about the impact of proposed cuts to health care. Covington Representative John Schroeder was upset to hear about plans to close a pediatric health care program that helps disabled children.  Chief financial officer for DHH, Jeff Reynolds, says costs have escalated because the program has been abused by health care providers.

 

Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton has proposed a bill for the regular session that would require metal detectors to be installed at movie theaters. This would prevent people from bringing weapons into theaters. The bill comes as a response to the deadly shootings that occur at movie theaters around the country, including one in Lafayette last year.

 

A Lake Charles man has developed a new way of keeping athletes hydrated during a game. Joseph Tucker created the Hydra-Guard, which is the first re-hydrating mouth guard in the world. Tucker says the mouth guard will be released online February 25thand you can fill up the hands free system with water or your favorite sports drink. The mouth guard will retail for $34.99. Tucker says it holds just enough liquid to prevent athletes from getting dry mouth while playing.

 

Former Saints safety Darren Sharper is facing charges for allegedly drugging and raping multiple women. Sharper has received a new plea hearing set for Thursday. Legal analyst Tim Meche says Sharper could possibly plead guilty without the guaranteed sentence he was hoping to get, or he could go to trial. Meche says things could get far worse for Sharper. Sharper’s new trial date is set for May 16th.

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News For Tuesday 02/16/16


News for Tuesday 021616

By Dave Graichen

 

Severe storms moved across the state Monday causing some minor damage here in Alexandria. Police say strong winds caused to damage to a car wash and a Pizza Hut in the south end of town, injuring two employees inside the restaurant. Authorities say the injuries were not serious. In parts of south Louisiana there were reports of hail.

 

Amid mounting public opposition, Clean Harbors Colfax has withdrawn its request to be allowed to quadruple its open burning of toxic waste in Grant Parish. The company had requested a permit modification from the state Department of Environmental Quality to allow it to increase the annual amount of net explosive weight that it openly burns from about 500,000 pounds to more than 2 million pounds. A company official says with the decision for the explosive M6 and other materials to be burned on site at Camp Minden there became no need for the permit modification to move forward.

 

Today the Edwards Administration began detailing its tax proposals that will be debated during the special session. Governor Edwards recommends a combination of budget cuts and revenue raising actions as a way to solve the state’s budget deficit. State Department of Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson spoke to the House Ways and Means Committee about a proposed 1-cent state sales tax increase. Robinson said the so-called “clean penny tax” would not apply to areas of exemption including groceries, residential utilities, prescription medications and gas. Robinson says the additional penny on the state sales tax would be temporary, until the deficit is resolved.

 

The Republican Party is raising money to promote an ad that shows Governor John Bel Edwards saying on several occasions he would not raise taxes. The comments were taken when Edwards was running for governor. Louisiana Republican Party Executive Director Jason Dore says the governor promised to balance the budget by having fiscal responsibility and growing the economy, not by increasing taxes. Louisiana Democratic Party executive director Stephen Handwerk is disappointed by the GOP’s tactics. Handwerk says “there is no more fat to cut” in many programs, especially not fast enough to resolve the huge budget shortfall.

 

A published report says Nicholls State is considering closing its doors for 12 days because of a lack of state funds. But Nicholls president, Doctor Bruce Murphy, says closing the campus for several days is the last option they would ever take. University of Louisiana System president, Doctor Dan Reneau, encouraged the Senate education committee to do what they can to keep college campuses open. Lawmakers have until March ninth to come up with a funding solution that would spare higher education from deep budget cuts.

 

Parents may not be able to count on the TOPS scholarship in the future, according to certified financial planner Anne Osestriecher. (Osh-striker) The state funded scholarship program has run into funding troubles as part of the state’s budget crisis. Osestriecher, who works out of Alexandria, says parents who have students that could be eligible for TOPS need to prepare for tuition costs. Osestriecher says it could make more financial sense for parents to have their children live at home, while attending college. She says that will cut down on costly room and board expenses. She says applying for other scholarships is also an option. She says many scholarships go unclaimed every year because students simply do not apply for them.

 

Former state lawmaker Troy Hebert provided other suggestions on how to control government spending in a letter to lawmakers. Hebert recommends putting GPS devices on state vehicles and requiring state employees, including college professors, to be on a time clock while at work. Hebert’s other suggestions include tying pay to performance and monitoring civil service actions and settlements.

 

An arrest warrant has been issued for a former Department of Children and Family Services case worker, who allegedly falsified records regarding foster home visits when she worked for the state. 49-year-old Kimberly Lee of Calhoun is facing several criminal counts, including malfeasance in office. Inspector General Stephen Street says Lee is expected to surrender herself this week.  Street says over a period of a year, between July of 2013 and August of 2014, Lee falsified documents on 20 separate occasions. He says after being interviewed by investigators, she admitted to falsifying the reports.

 

President Barack Obama is expected to nominate a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but Louisiana’s Republican US senators say the next President should select Scalia’s replacement. Senator David Vitter, who is a member of the judiciary committee, says the next Justice debate should be part of the presidential election.

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News For Monday 02/15/16


News for Monday 021516

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor John Bel Edwards tells lawmakers that the state can’t cut its way out of its fiscal problems. That’s how a three and a half week long special session got underway last night as Edwards told House and Senate members that some tax increases will be needed to address a 940-million dollar budget deficit this fiscal year.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says TOPS students will not get a tuition bill this semester, despite money troubles with the popular taxpayer funded program. Edwards says if the state is unable to pay a TOPS recipient’s tuition, colleges will absorb those costs. Edwards says not enough money was appropriated for the TOPS program this year. He says they are about 28-million dollars short. Edwards says while TOPS students will have their scholarships fully paid for this year, next school year is a different story, if the state doesn’t raise revenue to help pay for this government program and others.

 

Louisiana’s two largest public school teacher unions, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators, announced they are teaming up in an effort to prevent cuts to public school funding. LAE President Debbie Meaux believes they can achieve powerful results by working together. The governor’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1st does not call for a reduction of state funding for public schools and Meaux says the LFT and LAE would like it to remain that way.

 

The Americans for Prosperity releases a poll that shows a majority of Louisiana residents oppose Governor John Bel Edwards’ proposals to increase sales and personal income taxes to address the state’s budget deficit. A-F-P state director Phillip Joffrion says the sales tax increase would put Louisiana at the highest combined local and state sales tax in the country. Joffrion says their poll shows the citizens of Louisiana were more accepting of the increase of cigarette and alcohol taxes.

 

The new Conn’s HomePlus store has opened in the Alexandria Mall.  According to the store manager, David Dykes, Conns plans to bring more than just appliances, electronics and furniture to the public. He wants to establish Conn’s as a place with “a sense of knowing how to treat a customer and a world-class shopping experience.” Store hours are 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The store is located  between Bed Bath & Beyond and Sears.

 

The Zika virus may be cause for caution but not alarm. That’s according to state health director, Doctor Frank Welch, with the state department of health and hospitals. Welch says The Zika virus is transmitted by a certain kind of mosquito that is not active in Louisiana at this time. However, People travelling to the Caribbean, where the disease is prevalent, should  take extra precautions. Welch says that while the virus is not cause for alarm among most people, pregnant women should take extra precautions.

 

Baton Rouge PD say a man suspected of shooting two police officers in Baton Rouge has died, but one officer’s back home and the other’s in stable condition. Baton Rouge police said Sunday that 22-yearold Calvin Smith, of Baton Rouge, died late Saturday at an area hospital.

 

For the second straight year, Lawrence and Varrie Player of Benton has been recognized as the state’s longest known married couple. The Players have been married for 81 years.

Several couples who have been married for 70-plus years were honored at the governor’s mansion last week.

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News For Friday 02/12/16


News for Friday 021216

By Dave Graichen

 

Alexandria police are investigating the shooting of a 7 year old girl while she slept early yesterday morning. The girl was asleep in a home on Morris Street, along with others, when shots were fired outside. The bullet entered the home and struck the child. The child received non-life threatening injuries and remains in a local hospital.

 

After an identity case in California, a judge has ruled that Frank Selas is former Monroe TV personality “Mr. Wonderful.” Selas is accused of committing sex crimes in Louisiana in the 70s. Lt. Tommy Carnline with the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office says now the process of getting Selas back to Louisiana begins.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says colleges and hospitals will close and critical healthcare services will be eliminated if the state legislature does not approve higher taxes to help close a $940 million budget deficit this fiscal year. Edwards made the comments during a special address that was aired on TV and radio stations.   The governor says he is proposing significant cuts to the budget, but it will also take action from the legislature to raise revenue in order to stabilize the budget.

 

After Edwards spoke, State Treasurer John Kennedy provided the Republican Party’s response. Kennedy says raising revenue is not the answer to the state’s budget problems.

Kennedy says there are plenty of areas the state can reduce spending and he has provide the legislature with ample suggestions.

 

The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance has notified colleges and universities that due to uncertainty over potential budget cuts they are holding off on making any TOPS payments. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says it would be a huge disaster for Louisiana if it’s unable to pay a TOPS recipients full tuition for this semester. A spokesperson for the office of student financial assistance says the suspension of TOPS payments to public colleges is just a precautionary measure at this time.

 

The State Department of Health and Hospitals is investigating two possible Zika cases in Louisiana. Dr. Frank Welch, with the Louisiana Office of Public Health, says at this point, Louisiana residents shouldn’t be concerned about getting the Zika Virus, because local transmission is very unlikely at this time.

 

Louisiana is experiencing one of its slowest flu seasons in several years. That’s according to Dr. Frank Welch, an influenza expert with the state department of health and hospitals. Welch says doctors are seeing very few flu cases. This slow season comes in stark contrast to last year’s terrible flu season, which exerts said was one of the worst. The peak of the Flu season in Louisiana typically peaks in late February or early March. Welch says we will not be out of the woods until early April.

 

Now that the giant burn chamber has arrived at Camp Minden, the process of disposing of the millions of pounds of M6 propellant can begin. Louisiana National Guard spokesman Col Pete Schneider says it will take about 4 days to get the massive structure installed. The 400,000 pound tank made the journey by road from the Port of Natchitoches to Minden this week.  Schneider says they expect it will take about 30-35 days to make sure everything is working properly.

 

Louisiana Researchers have played a role in detecting gravitational waves, which Albert Einstein predicted would occur as part of his general theory of relativity. LSU astronomy professor, Gabriela Gonzalez, says two black holes colliding some one-point-three billion years ago created the gravitational wave that was detected in Livingston Parish and at another facility in Washington…

 

The wife of former New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams died after being involved in a crash in Oklahoma City. Authorities say a woman crossed the center line of a road and struck the vehicle driven by 44-year-old Ingrid Williams. The driver of the other car was killed, and Williams succumbed to her injuries Wednesday evening. Monty Williams was the Pelicans head coach for five seasons, and currently serves as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He an Ingrid Williams have five children.

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News For Thursday 02/11/16


News for Thursday 021116

By Dave Graichen

 

The already bleak budget situation in the state looks to be much worse. The Revenue Estimating Conference met yesterday and said the mid-year deficit is up from $750 million to $870 million. The gap for next fiscal year has swelled past two billion dollars. Low oil prices are to blame for the less than anticipated revenues, but that’s not the only issue. The legislature’s chief economist Greg Albrecht says corporate taxes are weak.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards will address Louisiana citizens tonight to discuss the state’s historic budget deficit. This address comes ahead of the special legislative session that begins Sunday, where lawmakers will have to come up with a plan to combat an 870-million dollar budget deficit.  UL Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says that this kind of speech is unprecedented. Louisiana needs to boost state revenue and make cuts to the current budget to resolve the $870 million budget shortfall, which must be filled by June 30th.

 

A special session to address the state’s budget crisis begins Sunday, and state lawmakers have already started filing bills. One of the first proposed bills would increase the state tax on a pack of cigarettes another 22-cents per pack. West Monroe Representative Frank Hoffman says he’ll push for the tax increase but it is still important to make cuts to the current budget.

 

The Pineville council  has become the latest public agency to take a stand against a proposal for a company to quadruple its open burning of toxic waste near Colfax. In doing so, Pineville has joining the Rapides and Grant police juries and the Colfax Town Council. The Alexandria City Council has not yet voted on the open-burning issue. A spokesman for Clean Harbors Colfax has said that the company meets or exceeds all state Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations. The company also disputes claims that the burning at the facility causes health problems.

 

Is that aluminum plant that we heard so much about last year still coming to Pineville at the old IP facility? Revolution Aluminum announced a year ago this month plans to bring a multi-billion dollar aluminum manufacturing complex to Pineville. Since then the company’s projected closing date on the paper mill property has been kicked back multiple times. Jim Clinton, president of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, says he  remains optimistic of progress on the project in the near future.

 

A Baton Rouge lawmaker has filed a bill for the regular session that seeks to change the state constitution to allow Louisiana residents to possess a concealed handgun without needing a permit. Republican State Representative Barry Ivey says that this law would apply only to non-felon residents.

 

Fresh off his primary win in New Hampshire, Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump will hold a rally tonight at the Baton Rouge River Center. Political Analyst John Couvillion says new life has been breathed into Trump’s campaign, but to get the nomination, he’ll need to outperform Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the southern states.

 

A man from Tennessee was busted on I-10 near Henderson Wednesday with over 200 pounds of marijuana in his truck, according to State Police. They say 59-year-old Michael Willis was pulled over for a traffic violation and began acting strange. Troopers smelled the drugs and located about 202 pounds of pot. He was booked at the St. Martin Parish Jail.

 

The fast food chain Burger King announces they’ll add hot dogs to their menu starting February 23rd. LSU Marketing Professor Dan Rice says McDonald’s just went to all day breakfast and this is Burger King’s way of opening a new market. Fast food chain Sonic also sells hot dogs, but they have a lot of varieties. Rice says Burger King decided to only offer the classic grilled hot dog and the chili cheese dog.

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News For Wednesday 2/10/16


News for Wednesday 021016

By Dave Graichen

 

Three people are reportedly arrested in connection with a fight following Sunday’s Alexandria Mardi Gras parade that was caught on video and has hundreds of thousands of views. Cops say 23-year-old Joshua Andries, 23-year-old Chelsea Thompson and 22-year-old Lauren Paul are booked with disturbing the peace by fighting. Apparently the incident was started over a parking dispute.

 

Louisiana is facing the worst budget crisis in state history. Governor John Bel Edwards has put together a special web page to solicit public input on how to handle the state’s massive deficit. The governor’s director of communications Richard Carbo explains that the purpose of the site is to inform the public and get suggestions from citizens. The site can be found at gov-dot-Louisiana-dot-gov.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry continue to fued about a lawsuit involving Common Core. Landry wants to follow through with an appeal involving the suit, which was originally filed by former Governor Bobby Jindal. But Edwards says that’s not necessary, especially since Louisiana is in the process of rewriting its public school standards. He says he’d rather put the money needed to appeal the case into the state’s schools.

 

Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany introduces legislation that seeks to block President Obama’s proposed $10 tax on a barrel of oil to pay for a new 21st century clean transportation system. Boustany says a new tax on oil will hit an industry that has already struggled over the past year.

 

State Representative Mike Johnson, a Republican from Bossier City, announces his candidacy in the wide open 4th Congressional District race. The seat is being vacated by Congressman John Fleming who’s running for US Senate. Johnson gained name recognition after authoring the controversial “religious freedom” bill in the legislature. The measure failed but grew support from groups who oppose same-sex marriage, and criticism from those saying the bill would promote discrimination.

 

A member of the Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board says we could see one of the best years for crawfish out of the Atchafalaya basin in recent memory. Wild crawfish farmer Sherbin Collette of Henderson credits El Nino for providing warmer weather and high waters that will contribute to both the size and number of wild crawfish.

 

According to a complex algorithm developed by the website Roadsnacks, Central is the most boring town in the state of Louisiana. Spokesperson Nick James says they looked at city population data to come up with their list of 10 most boring Louisiana places. Coming in second place was Mandeville, Franklin 3rd, Springhill 4th and Minden 5th.  Rounding out the top ten were the cities of Slidell, Zachary, Oakdale, Covington, and Denham Springs.

 

The website Trulia ranked the most Saintly Sanctuaries and Sin cities in the country and to no surprise, New Orleans comes in a number one for a sinful city. Spokesperson Filipe Chacon says the number of gambling establishments per household ranked highly in the categories of lust and greed for New Orleans. He says Shreveport came in as the number seven sin city in the country.

 

A 19-year-old from Ponchatoula is dead after being hit by a bullet while riding in a car this yesterday morning. The say the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s office was told by the driver that he heard a popping sound then later turned to find his passenger, Gerrell Lee, shot. Anyone with information on this crime is urged to contact authorities.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU men’s basketball team plays the first of two consecutive games against ranked teams tonight when they visit 20th ranked South Carolina. After tonight, it’s 13th ranked Texas A-and-M at home on Saturday.

 

A statue honoring the late Pete Maravich has been approved by the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. The setback for a Maravich statue has been that “Pistol Pete” passed away a few credit hours short of earning an LSU degree. The LSU Board of Supervisors recently made changes to a policy that opened the door for a Maravich statue

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News For Tuesday 02/09/16


News for Tuesday 020916

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana’s economy is just one out of those in seven states in the nation that did not end 2015 on a strong note, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The index shows our economy contracting during the last three months of the year. LSU Economist Dr. Loren Scott says the impact of the oil cuts are hitting Louisiana really hard. As you may suspect, Scott says the big hits Louisiana incurred were in Houma and Lafayette, with employment down three and a half and two and a half percent. He says the historic low oil prices have hammered most areas across the state.

 

It’s Mardi Gras Day and the hottest spot to celebrate in the nation today is in Louisiana. Fat Tuesday expert Arthur Hardy, who puts out a comprehensive guide to all things Carnival, says he cannot remember the last time we’ve had such beautiful weather for the parades. He says the greater New Orleans area had a 12-day parade season. There are also events all over south Louisiana today like the unique Courir de Mardi Gras in Mamou. In Lake Charles & Lafayette, parades roll all day long.

 

With Louisiana facing historic budget shortfalls, a good government group, the Public Affairs Research Council, recommends ways the state can control its spending. PAR President Robert Travis Scott PAR has published a nine page report on ways to control state spending. Scott says one suggestion is to do away with various tax credits the state gives, like the tax deduction parents receive for sending their child to a private school. Some of PAR’s other recommendations include no merit pay increases for state employees next fiscal year, stay away from funding local pork projects and no more tax amnesty programs. Scott admits legislators have a difficult task in front of them.

 

The state police report a Plaucheville man died Sunday evening in a single-vehicle accident. 51 year old Charles West died after his vehicle left highway 451 and struck a tree. State police believe alcohol may have been a factor.

 

For the second time in two weeks there has been a shooting along a Mardi Gras parade route in Louisiana. A week ago, there was a shooting in Thibodaux and Sunday night shots rang out during the Bacchus Parade. Good news is, no one was injured in the shooting

 

A Crowley man is facing multiple charges after allegedly stabbing two Acadia Parish Narcotics Agents. 42-year-old Jason Broussard has been arrested for several charges including two counts of Attempted First Degree Murder. The officers are recovering, and Broussard is held on a one million dollar bond.

 

The Saints have released four-time All-Pro right guard Jahri Evans, who has started all 10 seasons since New Orleans drafted him. In moves posted on the NFL’s transactions list Monday, New Orleans also has released linebackers David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber and receiver Seantavius Jones, while signing veteran free agent defensive back Tony Carter.

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News For Monday 02/08/16


News for Monday 020816

By Dave Graichen

 

If you didn’t attend a parade this past weekend, you certainly can’t use the weather as an excuse. Cenla say near perfect parade weather Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Crowds were some of the largest we’ve seen in years. Forecasters are saying this great weather should stay with us through the end of the week.  

 

Governor John Bel Edwards has issued the call for a special legislative session to deal with a 750-million dollar budget shortfall for this fiscal year. During the session, which starts February 14th and ends March 9th, lawmakers will debate budget cuts and tax increases. Governor John Bel Edwards says he’s listened to legislators and has drafted a call allow flexibility to consider both cuts and raising money for the state.

 

Jeremy Alford of La-politics-com says to expect the unexpected during a special session that will start Sunday. Legislators will meet for 3 and half weeks looking at proposed cuts and tax increases to fix the state’s massive budget issues. Alford says Governor Edwards has released a broad call when it comes to taxes and to no one’s surprise, Republicans aren’t pleased. Alford anticipates Governor Edwards will work with Republicans to try to find a balance between budget cuts and tax increases. He says Republicans will go into the session looking for ways to reduce spending.

 

Chevron North America notified the Louisiana Workforce Commission of layoffs at five office locations in Covington and Lafayette. Eric Smith, Associate Director at the Tulane Energy Institute, says the low oil prices originally impacted independent oil producers, but now big companies are feeling the effects…The company says they’ll work to help laid-off employees find jobs in other Chevron locations and offer severance packages to those unable to find one. Smith believes even more layoffs are coming.

 

Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham introduces legislation aimed at stimulating agribusiness. The proposed FAME act changes the depreciation schedule for farm equipment. Abraham says it makes a simple adjustment to the tax code to shorten the depreciation schedule on farm equipment to five years rather than seven. Abraham says other businesses typically have a five year depreciation schedule for their durable equipment. He says this will help put money in the farmers’ pockets.

 

The preservationists have lost another step in their fight to keep the Confederate monuments up in New Orleans as a civil district court judge rules against an effort to stop the removal of the statues. A similar challenge was shot down in federal court last month. The preservationists say they would appeal.

 

KPLC in Lake Chares is reporting a former Catholic priest in Calcasieu Parish has been found guilty of molesting and raping altar boys. 60-year-old Mark Anthony Broussard was convicted of aggravated rape, molestation of a juvenile, aggravated oral sexual battery and aggravated rape. Broussard was accused of sexually abusing two boys while a priest in the 1980s and 90s.

 

New Orleans attorney Caroline Fayard is the first Democrat to enter Louisiana’s US Senate race. Fayard has never held political office, but did run for Lt. Governor in 2010. Fayard says she’s running for the Senate because she doesn’t want the rest of the country to take Louisiana for granted and that starts in Washington, D.C. A release from her campaign describes Fayard as a “pro-life, pro-business Democrat.” She believes there are too many career politicians in Congress and voters are upset with the level of service they’re getting from their government.

 

Negotiations have begun about forming another high school athletic association. This is in response to a vote by member principals of the LHSAA who chose to expand the championship split to basketball, baseball and softball. Former commissioner of administration, Paul Rainwater, planned a meeting with several high school principals and A-D’s to address what it would take to form a new organization.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU Tigers are in first place in the SEC after beating Mississippi State 88-77 on Saturday. Antonio Blakeney led the way with a career-high 31 points, Keith Hornsby had 25 points and Ben Simmons chipped in with 16 points. Coach Johnny Jones liked that the Tigers had 25 assists to go along with 32 made field goals. After a rough go during the nonconference schedule, the Tigers are now 8-2 in the SEC, one game ahead of three other teams in the league.

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News For Friday 02/05/16


News for Friday 020516

By Dave Graichen

 

A six-year-old girl was killed early yesterday in a three-bedroom mobile home fire in Deville. Her 12-year-old sister was also seriously injured in the blaze that started while the family was sleeping. Investigators believe a space heater may have caused the fatal fire. Also, there were no working smoke alarms in the home.

 

The RPSO reports one person is dead after an attempt to serve a warrant in a domestic violence case led to a chase and a crash on U.S. Highway 165 south of town.  Deputies went to serve a warrant shortly after noon yesterday on Shannon Road in Alexandria. But the suspect got into a vehicle and fled, leading deputies on a chase on U.S. 165 toward Woodworth and then back again toward Alexandria. The suspect, whose name has not been released, then headed south again on U.S. 165 and crashed into another vehicle. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

First it was the Alexandria Ryans location late last year and now it the Pineville Ryans. Ovation Brands announced "Seventy-four restaurants throughout the United States were permanently close on yesterday. Employees of the closed stores will be able to relocate to other markets with open restaurants.

 

New Orleans lawyer Caroline Fayard, who once ran for Lt. Governor, is the first Democrat to get in Louisiana’s US Senate race. Fayard joins a crowded field of republican candidates. It’s also been rumored that Democrat and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell will also get in the race.

 

We are expecting Governor John Bel Edwards will issue the call for a special legislative session very soon, possibly today. Jeremy Alford, with la-politics-dot-com, says the call outlines which tax measures the governor will ask legislators to vote on, to help close a 750-million dollar budget deficit for this fiscal year. A three-and-a-half week special session is expected to start on February 14th. Alford says republicans in the legislature are pushing the governor to include in the call, opportunities where significant budget cuts can be made. Republican legislators have expressed interest in making cuts that go beyond what Governor Edwards has suggested. But Alford says many lawmakers also realize that higher taxes are inevitable.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards announces he’s dropping the lawsuit filed by the Jindal Administration to end Common Core. Edwards says, since the process to develop and implement Louisiana’s own education standards is nearing completion, the case, which is pending on appeal before the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, uses money, time, and resources that do not benefit students. He says his administration will not continue to waste taxpayer money on lawyers and lawsuits.

 

The Republican Party of Louisiana has launched their “Red to the Roots” campaign. The initiative is an effort to identify, engage, and register new conservative voters across Louisiana. Executive Director Jason Dore (DOOR-ay) says the $2 million dollar campaign will put permanent boots on the ground in Louisiana with a primary focus of registering conservative voters.

 

The state department of transportation is trying to determine what other safety measures are needed at a railroad crossing in Iberia Parish that saw five people die in a train-versus-vehicle crash last December. DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett says their study involves observing traffic volumes, the speed of vehicles crossing the tracks and additional reports. Mallett says gates were installed at the crossing over ten years ago and there’s also a sign warning drivers not to stop on the tracks.

 

Three Louisiana regions, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport-Bossier, are in the Top 10 of the best places to live and work as a moviemaker. Executive Director of Louisiana’s Film Office Chris Stelly says there are many films and show projects going on right now in the state.

He says the moviemaker.com ranking proves the film industry in Louisiana is alive and well.

 

The plea deal entered by former Saints star Darren Sharper in New Orleans to charges he drugged and raped women, is imploding according to a legal filing. Sharper pleaded guilty last year and agreed to a nine-year federal prison sentence in a so called “global deal.” Legal Analyst Tim Meche says it looks like the judge isn’t committing to the prison terms. He says this is bad for Sharper who has already admitted to being a serial rapist. The joint motion by Sharper’s attorneys and the US Attorney asked the judge to postpone a March 7th trial date.

 

The two men accused in the kidnapping and murder of a Baton Rouge couple have been indicted on two counts each of first degree murder. District Attorney Hillar Moore says the death penalty is now on the table. 42-year-old Ernesto Alonso and 48-year-old Frank Garcia allegedly robbed 71-year-old Denis Duplantier and his 70-year-old white Suzy, before taking them from their home and killing them in October of last year, according to authorities

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News For Thursday 02/04/16


News for Thursday 020416

By Dave Graichen

 

The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Melville woman and her two sons in connection with the shooting death of 15-year-old Treyvon Edwards. Capt. Clay Higgins says a 12-year-old has been charged with Negligent Homicide and it’s believed he and Edwards were playing with a gun and it went off accidentally killing Edwards. He says the mother, 33-year-old Twanda Louray Washington, is charged with Obstruction of Justice and two counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Juvenile.  Higgins says they suspect the mother and other son helped to cover up the crime scene. He says there are details of the case that might never be released…

 

A new study by LSU finds 17-year-olds in Louisiana should be tried as juveniles, not adults, after they are arrested. Professor Stephen Phillippi (Philip-ee), with LSU’s Institute for Public Health and Justice, says several states have recently put 17-year-olds back in their juvenile system with good results. The report discovered that 17-year-olds sent to adult prison are more likely to to commit additional crimes when they are released.

 

New York real estate heir Robert Durst pleaded guilty in New Orleans yesterday on a federal weapons charge, in exchange for over 7 years in prison. Durst will eventually be sent to California to face murder charges in the alleged killing of his friend Susan Berman. Durst was arrested at a hotel on Canal Street in March 2015.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards tells teachers there are no plans to cut funding for public schools, despite the state’s difficult budget challenges. Louisiana currently allocates three-point-seven billion dollars for public schools and puts it into the minimum foundation program, which distributes money to school districts. But Edwards added that there likely won’t be growth in the funding next fiscal year.

 

Pro-life groups are concerned about the views that new Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Rebekah Gee has on abortion. Louisiana Right to Life claims Gee, a gynecologist, is pro-choice and has ties to Planned Parenthood. Gee says she is personally pro-choice, but when it comes to being the head of DHH, she’s pro-family. Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper says Governor John Bel Edwards named a DHH secretary with stances incompatible with his own pro-life values. But Gee says she is committed to upholding the views of the governor in this role.

 

Dr. Trey Baucum, a Shreveport cardiologist and Republican, officially announced his candidacy for the 4th Congressional District seat Wednesday.  Incumbent congressman John Fleming is giving up the seat to run for U.S. Senate. Baucum, a Shreveport native, described himself as "a conservative in belief and principle.

 

The Civil Air Patrol has identified two of its members, who were killed in an Alabama plane crash while returning from La. after flying a medical patient there for treatment. The patrol said its pilots perform compassion flights, often to transport patients or family members to or from treatment. The patrol said pilot 67 year old  David Mauritsonof Fairhope, Alabama, was returning from such a flight after flying a patient to an airport near Baton Rouge, when the Cessna 182 crashed near Mobile Regional Airport Monday. The patrol said Mauritson was killed, along with 66 year old Phil Dryden of Gulf Shores, Alabama, who served as mission scanner for the flight.

 

LSU did not land the nation’s number one recruiting class, but it’s in the Top five according to 24-7 sports, Scout-dot-com and ESPN. Tiger Rag editor Cody Worshman says the strength of this class is in the secondary as the Tigers signed five talented defensive backs.

 

Clinton Police have reportedly arrested a middle school teacher after a parent complained she found explicit messages on their child’s phones. Louis Smith Jr, an 8th grade teacher at East Feliciana Middle, was charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile, computer aided solicitation of a minor and prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and student. Detectives say they’re currently investigating to see if other students are involved.

 

The FX series “The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” premiered Tuesday night and is getting rave reviews, and next season could be about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Hollywood Reporter says creator Ryan Murphy wants to follow six to eight people to examine all sides of what happened after the storm. Murphy told the entertainment outlet that Katrina was a crime against people and that’s what his show is all about.

 

Federal money received as part of a nationwide disaster resiliency competition will be used to move Native Americans living in Isle de Jean (zhan) Charles in Terrebonne Parish to safer ground. The plan is to have the members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indian tribe relocated by 2019. Chief Albert Naquin says they’re not sure where their new community will be. Naquin says the state received $48 million to relocate the community.

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News For Wednesday 2/3/16


News for Wednesday 020316

By Dave Graichen

 

Ready for an early spring.. Well the expert weather prognosticator, Acadiana’s Cajun Groundhog Pierre C. Shadeaux, predicts that’s just what we’ll see. The Nutri did not see his shadow yesterday Groundhog Day. Pierre came out of his house in New Iberia in front of a huge crowd. Not to question his abilities, but this is the 5th year in a row he has forecast an early spring.. But then again who’s counting.

 

A former cop in Avoyelles Parish who worked for Bunkie and Cottonport police has been arrested by State Police amid allegations he was on duty at the same time for both departments and collected pay from each. Investigators say they discovered 47-year-old Joseph Johnson of Mansura, for quite some time, was collecting two payroll checks for working the same hours. He was charged with 30 counts of public payroll fraud and malfeasance in office.

 

Two juveniles and their mother have been arrested in connection with the death of 14-year-old Treyvon Goudueu of Melville. The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says an autopsy determined Goudeau died of a gunshot wound to the head, and his body was found in woods Friday evening. A 12 year old is charged with Negligent Homicide. His 15-year-old brother is charged with Obstruction of Justice. Their mother is booked with Obstruction of Justice and 2 counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Juvenile.

 

The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office says they have found the murder weapon in the investigation into the stabbing death of Dylan Kyle Poche. The 18-year-old was killed Saturday at the Sibley Lake boat launch. Captain Tony Moran says they’ve arrested 18-year-old Andrew Jacob Wallace and after several days of searching detectives found a critical piece of evidence. Two other 18 year olds were arrested in connection with the murder.

 

A Campti man died on Monday afternoon after a two-vehicle crash in Campti on U.S. Highway71. Police say a pickup Reilly Runnels was driving crossed the center line and struck an 18 wheeler head on. Runnels died at the scene. The driver of the 18 wheeler was not injured.

 

A Leesville substitute teacher has been charged after allegedly having sex with a student. 23 year old Derek Telin was arrested and charged after a Leesville police investigation

discovered that Telin had numerous encounters with the victim at the school that involved improper sexual contact as well as improper electronic communication with the victim. The investigation also revealed that on at least one occasion Telin and the female student met away from the school where the encounter also resulted in improper sexual conduct between the two.” Telin’s Bond was set at $75,000.

 

Today is the final day to register to vote or change your party affiliation for Louisiana’s March 5th presidential preference primary. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says it’s important to make sure your party affiliation is correct for this election. In a closed presidential primary, Democrats vote for Democrats and Republicans vote for Republicans. Schedler says Independent voters will not be able to take part in the presidential primary. You can register to vote or change your party affiliation at your local registrar of voters office until 4:30 today or do it online at geauxvote-dot-com until midnight tonight.

 

Landry’s Incorporated, which operates the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles, says a large scale data breach resulted in customer’s credit card information being compromised for months. If you used a credit or debit card at Golden Nugget from May 4, 2014 through March 15, 2015 and from May 5, 2015 through December 3, 2015 you may have been affected.

 

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says he’s paying his executive staff nearly 400-thousand dollars less than what employees were paid under the previous administration. Dardenne says he’s decided against filling a couple of positions and will pay a few people less, because of the state’s budget problems. Dardenne’s annual salary is 237-thousand dollars, a 33-thousand dollar increase than his predecessor. Dardenne says that’s the salary the governor offered him and he accepted the challenge of solving Louisiana’s budget mess.

 

Residents in the Tensas Parish town of St. Joe are being told by the Department of Health and Hospitals that it might be a while before the murky brown water in their system can be cleared up. The good news, DHH’s Dr. Jimmy Guidry says the iron in the water that is causing the concern on the part of residents is not a health issue.

 

A mother and father are facing several charges after investigators say their baby was discovered alone at a Baton Rouge residence with what call cops described as having horrific living conditions. Baton Rouge Police were assisting a bails bondsman at the house when they found a one year old alone on a bed in a dirty diaper and the house filled with rotten food and animal feces.

 

The Tabasco plant on Avery Island cut the ribbon this week on a brand new Visitors Center which also includes a restaurant and museum. Tabasco is produced by the McIlhenny (Mackle-Henny) Company of Louisiana, and President and CEO Tony Simmons says his family has been on the island since 1818, they began creating Tabasco in 1865, so the new museum contains artifacts and history from their time there.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards announces they will continue to have “an elevated presence” of state troopers patrolling New Orleans historic French Quarter. State Police Superintendent, Colonel Mike Edmonson, says a sales tax approved by French Quarter residents last October provides the funding to keep more troopers in the Big Easy. Edmonson says they are also bringing in an additional 170 troopers for the big Mardi Gras festivities this weekend.

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News For Tuesday 02/02/16


News for Tuesday 020216

By Dave Graichen

 

The Louisiana Public Service Commission voted Monday to adopt a service quality plan for Cleco. That action "insures the current level of Cleco employees will remain even if the proposed sale is not approved by the commission later this month. The decision may be a moot point, the investor group looking to buy Cleco Corp. has already promised to maintain the company's employee headcount if the proposed sale is approved.

 

Rapides Parish police jurors voted unanimously yesterday to oppose Clean Harbors Colfax’s permit request to increase its open-burning operations. While Clean Harbors Colfax is located in Grant Parish, the jurors were convinced the harmful effects of increasing open burning could reach Rapides and other surrounding parishes. John Martel, who lives by Nantachie Lake in Grant Parish, is co-chair of the Central Louisiana Coalition for A Safe and Healthy Environment, which was formed to rally opposition to the permit request. He told jurors residents within a 40-mile radius of the site near Colfax are “most at risk” of health dangers from airborne contaminants from the open burning. He also pointed out the Rapides Parish Courthouse is only 23 miles from the site.

 

Standards Review Committee Monday announced Louisiana educators have changed 21 percent of the academic standards for math and English. Regina Sanford, chair of the Committee, told the media they have created these standards to fit the needs of our Louisiana students and they hope the changes will empower teachers. Many changes are geared toward giving teachers more flexibility, making standards clearer and ensuring standards are appropriate for students’ ages and grade levels.

 

A new report by the Violence Policy Center found gun deaths outpaced vehicle fatalities in the District of Columbia and 21 states, including Louisiana during 2014. According to the report vehicle-related deaths are on the decline as a result of decades of injury prevention strategy, but firearm deaths continue unabated. Louisiana had a total of 896 gun deaths compared to 807 motor vehicle deaths in 2014.

 

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says new revenues, possibly from an additional one-cent increase to the state sales tax, are needed to stave off big cuts to public colleges and health care services. Dardenne says they are being honest with the public when they say, just cutting the budget will not solve this fiscal year’s 750-million dollar shortfall. Dardenne says they are proposing to use some one-time money, rainy day funds and there are some proposed budget cuts to help with the budget crisis for this fiscal year. But he says additional revenue is also needed to avoid big cuts.  Governor John Bel Edwards will call a three-week long special session later this month and at that time, he’ll ask lawmakers to raise taxes.

 

In an effort to perhaps win favor with the state republicans, Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards attended a Republican legislative retreat Monday in Lafayette. GOP lawmakers met to discuss plans to deal with the state’s budget crisis.

 

A report from the state inspector general and legislative auditor finds former Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David LaCerte mismanaged his department. LaCerte resigned unexpectedly in October during the investigation by Inspector General Stephen Street and Legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera. Street says they found improprieties at several Veterans homes across the state. The report also claims LaCerte used over $27,000 in federal funds, earmarked for a veterans cemetery, to purchase an SUV for department use and  paid $44,000 to some law school classmates for professional services without  documentation of what they did. LaCerte’s attorney says these allegations are false and part of a character assassination.

 

A study out of LSU Health Shreveport finds radiation is being over used to treat elderly woman with breast cancer. Lead researcher Dr. Quyen (Quinn) Chu says woman 70 and older with stage 1 breast cancer shouldn’t be treated with radiation and should talk with doctors about taking another treatment route.  Chu says their research shows that 2/3 of women in this category are still receiving radiation. He says radiation treatment can cause many different complications in patients.  He says the reason radiation is still being used is likely because doctors are set in their ways of treating patients.

 

The Attorney General’s Office has announced six more arrests of people involved in the Lafayette D.A. bribery scandal.  A-G Jeff Landry says the corrupt practices that were being dismissed in this office were ignored by the previous Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell. He says it’s disturbing that action wasn’t taken earlier. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has already sentenced and convicted 5 others in connection with this case. He says the six people arrested here are some of the ones that have been prosecuted in the federal investigation and are now facing a variety of charges from the state.

 

The US Army Corps of Engineers closed the last open bays of the Bonnet Carre Spillway yesterday. The spillway opened early last month to divert rising Mississippi River floodwaters from New Orleans. Spokesperson Ricky Boyette says about 290 of the 350 bays of the Bonnet Carre were opened during the operation.

 

Impairment is suspected in a weekend head-on collision in Calcasieu Parish that police say claimed three lives. Cops say a car, driven by 22-year-old Alejandro Delgado of Sulphur, crossed the center line and collided with an SUV with two occupants inside. All three succumbed to their injuries. The investigation is ongoing.

 

Thibodaux Police have identified the two Napoleonville men who shot and injured each other during a parade on Sunday. They believe 20-year-old Ryan Harris got into an argument with 33-year-old Quincy Johnson, when Harris came back to the scene in body armor and shot Johnson in the chest. Johnson returned fire and struck Harris in the left side. The men are both in stable condition.

 

A Texas man accused of raping a woman he met on Tinder in 2014 was acquitted Monday by an East Baton Rouge Parish jury. 24-year-old Jacob Witz, of Bellaire, Texas, was indicted on the charge in January 2015. If found guilty, he could have served up to 40 years in prison on the forcible rape charge.

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News For Monday 02/01/16


News for Monday 020116

By Dave Graichen

 

A 19 year old Natchitoches Parish man, 18-year-old Dylan Kyle Poche,  is dead after being stabbed Saturday night at Sibley Lake boat launch in the Oak Grove community near Natchitoches. Authorities say a suspect is in custody and are asking for the public’s help. Anyone with information is asked to call the Natchitoches parish sheriff’s department.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards argues against those who say he is breaking a campaign promise by proposing to raise taxes to address Louisiana’s massive budget shortfall. Edwards says the proposals he’s made are different than talked about during the election, because the facts are different. He also says these proposals are not what he wanted, but necessary. State Treasurer John Kennedy has said there is no need to raise taxes to balance the budget, but Edwards says Kennedy is trying to boost his US Senate campaign.

 

The presidential race kicks up a notch today with the Iowa Caucus, the first electoral event in the 2016 presidential race. Many candidates who have won the Iowa Caucus, went on to win their party’s nomination. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley thinks it will be a tight race in the Republican caucus between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Eight of the last 10 Republican presidential nominees placed first or second in the Iowa Caucus. Louisiana’s presidential primary is March 5th. On the Democratic side, Stockley says Hillary Clinton is in an unexpected dogfight with Bernie Sanders. Stockley predicts Clinton will pull out a close victory in Iowa.

 

Former Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub is back in state government. Governor John Bel Edwards has appointed Ieyoub as the state’s Commissioner of Conservation. He’s in charge of conserving and regulating oil, gas and lignite resources in the state. Ieyoub served as A-G from 1992 to 2004.

 

The LSU Board of Supervisors is changing the rules so they can build a statue of former LSU star Pete Maravich. Since “Pistol Pete” never graduated college, the school can’t move forward to put a life-size statue next to the building that’s named after him. LSU board member Stephen Perry says it’s time to do what they should have done a long time ago. Maravich still holds the NCAA record for most points scored in college basketball.

 

A Montegut man has stepped up and claimed a $1 million Powerball prize just days before the winning ticket was set to expire. 53-year-old Laine Aucoin’s winning ticket matched all five white ball numbers in the August 5, 2015 drawing. After federal and state taxes were withheld, Aucoin took home $700,000. That winning ticket would have expired yesterday tomorrow.

 

The Mardi Gras parade season has arrived and law enforcement is putting more officers on the roads as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director, Lt. Col John Leblanc, says law enforcement increases its presence on the roads during the times of the year when fatal crashes are most prevalent.

Last year, there were were nearly 600 fatal and injury crashes and 10 fatalities during the Mardi Gras holiday, and more than half of those deaths involved alcohol.

 

Major changes are coming to the LHSAA after member principals voted to expand the select–nonselect championships to basketball, baseball and softball, starting with the 2016-17 school year. 40-percent of the schools are opposed to this move. But LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine says a majority of the association is pleased with what happened. Friday’s vote will create 12 champions in basketball, baseball and softball, seven on the nonselect side and five on the select side. Where these additional championship games will be played, still has to be sorted out.

 

The deadline to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act was yesterday.  Healthcare-dot-gov CEO Kevin Counihan says over 200,000 Louisianians have already signed up for coverage through the federal insurance marketplace. He says financial assistance through healthcare-dot-gov can really help in making insurance more affordable. Counihan says if you don’t have health insurance in 2016, you could face a penalty of up to 695-dollars.

 

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ Own Your Own Health Challenge is underway. The challenge, which runs until April 25th, is designed to help Louisianans become more active and create a healthier lifestyle. Director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Rudy Macklin Macklin says the challenge allows you to create teams or work individually to compete against other people in a weight loss challenge with the chance to win a prize. He says the second component helps participants learn what questions to ask when visiting the doctor. To register visit o-y-o-h-l-a-dot-com.

 

February is American Heart Month and health experts are promoting initiatives in an attempt to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the US. Professor at Tulane University’s School of Medicine, Dr. Keith Ferdinand, says heart disease is the number one killer of Louisiana residents and many of the deaths could be prevented through healthy living habits. Ferdinand says African American men experience the highest risk for heart disease and hypertension.

 

A 12-year-old boy is under his arrest for his role in the death of an elderly nun. It’s reported that an incident occurred in October where 87-year-old Sister Rosario O’Connell was helping the child with his homework, when he became enraged and slammed her into a wall which caused brain damage that could have killed her. O’Connell died last week.

 

 

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