News for Thursday 122216
By Dave Graichen
Next year State Police will begin equipping 700 troopers with a body camera. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says each trooper will be equipped with two cameras, and they will automatically turn on if a trooper activates a stun gun. Edmonson hopes these new cameras will improve transparency between police and citizens. Troopers in New Orleans will be the first to get the body cameras and they hope to have them statewide by next summer.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and Venture Global LNG announced Wednesday the company will invest $8.5 billion to develop a natural gas liquefaction facility and export terminal in Plaquemines Parish. They say Plaquemines LNG will create 250 new direct jobs at an average annual salary of $70,000 per year, plus benefits. Full operations are expected to begin in 2022
With Christmas this weekend, there are still thousands of flood victims that are still not in their homes, and Governor John Bel Edwards says they are doing what they can to get them back home as quickly as possible. Congress approved $438 million for flood recovery in September, and an additional $1.2 billion was allocated in December. Edwards says the biggest challenge with getting federal funds into the hands of those that need it, is all the federal red tape. But he says hopefully the wait is almost over for displaced flood victims. Edwards says thanks to the Shelter At Home program, more than 10-thousand families were able to move back into their homes while repairs continue. He says only 400 homes in the program are left to be repaired.
There’s a new report that shows women earn on average 76-percent of the salary men make in Louisiana. Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa says business owners agree with the concept of equal pay for equal work, but it’s hard to make it a reality when job duties are different. The statistics show women in Louisiana had a median weekly income of $630 to $828 for men.
Louisiana’s population has grown very little, according to the latest census data. Demographer Greg Rigamer says the nation as a whole changed more than 4-percent from 2010 to 2016, while the southern region changed about 6.5-percent. He says Louisiana saw a 3-percent change over the same period. Rigamer says in 2010, Louisiana ranked 25th in the nation for population, and we still rank 25th today. He says job loss could be pushing some working people out of the state. He says while Louisiana saw a small growth, Mississippi’s population decreased slightly.
Some Entergy customers will see a refund on their January bill. The refund is a result of an agreement approved by state regulators regarding a dispute over 140-million dollars in repairs to the Waterford 3 nuclear power plant. The typical refund will be worth about 40-dollars and there will be a small reduction in monthly rates going forward.
Governor John Bel Edwards met with reporters yesterday outlined his goals for 2017. Edwards says addressing long-term structural budget reform, so that Louisiana has a fair and predictable tax structure is a priority. Edwards says his administration also plans on tackling criminal justice reform. The Governor called 2016 a challenging year. Edwards says he entered office and immediately addressed an unprecedented budget deficit by making cuts and raising revenues through tax increases. He say the most difficult day was July 17th, that’s when three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana wildlife and fisheries secretary Charlie Melancon tells the Associated Press that he’s resigning immediately, because people in the office are making it difficult for him to implement reforms to improve the department’s finances. After clashing with recreational fishermen and employees with L-D-W-F, it was announced that Melancon would leave in February, but he’s decided to step down now.
State wildlife biologists have determined that a picture of an animal taken in Morehouse Parish is that of a cougar. It’s the first time the state has been able to verify a cougar sighting since 2011. Maria Davidson says cougars are known to travel hundreds of miles, so it’s likely the animal is no longer in Louisiana, but they encourage the public to report any physical evidence of cougar sightings.
A Mississippi man has been charged with arson for starting a fire that caused damage to the ULM waterski house. Campus surveillance captured video footage and authorities have determined that 36-year-old Michael Daquilla of Centerville allegedly set fire to the building. Daquilla has no known connections to ULM.
LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre says he remains undecided on whether he’ll enter the NFL draft after the bowl game. Dupre was expected to have a big junior season, but he started off slow. The former John Curtis star finished the regular season with 34 catches and three touchdown receptions. He says he’s not leaning one way or the other on what he might do…
LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux is another Tiger that has yet to decide on whether he’ll stay or go.
As of right now, there is not one Saints player who will play in the NFL pro bowl. Quarterback Drew Brees and defensive end Cam Jordan still might get an invite, depending on injuries and which two teams will play in the Super Bowl.
According to an audit, the ULM football team broke the law and the UL system policy when it played at Hawaii last season. That’s according to a report from the Monroe News Star. University officials says they though the school met state and system guidelines
News for Wednesday 122116
By Dave Graichen
Winter Solstice officially began at 4:44 this morning, according to State climatologist Barry Keim. He says we’ve been experiencing some cold temperatures this week, but the Climate Prediction Center is calling for warmer and drier than normal conditions for the next three months. Keim says the chance of having a white Christmas in Louisiana this year is basically nil, since temps are predicted to be in the 70’s Christmas day.
State department are making cuts to their respective agencies this week, as $277 million has been carved from the state budget. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says these cuts are being made by not hiring new people to fill vacant positions. Dardenne says we’ll get the full budget picture when the Revenue Estimating Conference meets again in January.
The state’s revenues will likely get a boost with the news that Amazon will begin collecting state and local sales taxes on purchases made by Louisiana consumers, starting January 1st. State Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson hopes other online retailers follow Amazon’s new policy. It’s a state law that taxes must be paid on internet purchases, but it’s up to the consumer to self-report.
Governor John Bel Edwards met with Senator-elect John Kennedy, along with Congressmen-elect Mike Johnson and Clay Higgins to discuss flood recovery efforts. Edwards says he’s asked the entire Louisiana Congressional delegation to press the Housing and Urban Development department to publish guidelines on how the second round of federal dollars can be used by the state.
Governor John Bel Edwards is set to meet with reporters today to look back at the challenges and successes Louisiana has seen during 2016. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Edwards inherited an historic budget deficit when he took office on January 11th, which took up most of his time during the first half of the year. Pinsonat says Edwards had some victories in his first year, like getting federal funding for flood victims and raising over 1.5 billion dollars in revenues during two special sessions. A survey last month found that 64-percent approve of the governor’s job performance.
The ACLU of Louisiana has sent a letter to the Grant Parish Police Jury because a Christmas display outside of the courthouse only includes a Nativity scene. The Nativity scene is on display in front of the courthouse "without including other holiday symbols," reads the letter. The letter does not call for the display's removal, but the inclusion of other faiths.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three panhandlers in Slidell, over an ordinance that requires them to get a permit in order to beg for money on city streets. Louisiana ACLU executive director Marjorie Esman says the city of Slidell’s requirement violates the panhandlers First Amendment Rights. Slidell has yet to enforce the ordinance, which was passed in October. A spokesperson says they are waiting for the newly elected police chief and mayor to decide how to proceed.
The assistant warden at the Angola State penitentiary has been arrested for rape. 34-year-old Barrett Boeker reportedly faces one count of second degree rape for an alleged incident that occurred on November 30 at his home behind the gates of the prison. Boeker turned himself in shortly after the warrant was issued Tuesday.
Baton Rouge has received funding to start plans for a commuter train between the Capitol City and New Orleans. John Spain with the Southern Rail Commission says the city received quarter of a million dollars to start planning for a new train station in downtown Baton Rouge, and the city has agreed to match the federal investment. Spain says this commuter rail would hopefully be part of a larger route that stretches from Baton Rouge to Orlando, Florida. He says a passenger train used to run that route, but parts of it were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
A Walker man has been charged with attempted second-degree murder following a road rage incident. Walker Police Capt. John Sharp says 31-year-old Bradley Deville fired a 9mm pistol into the side of 35-year-old Johnny Franz’ vehicle. Sharp says the incident began when Franz tailgated Deville and the two began arguing at an intersection.
CNN will again celebrate New Year’s Eve in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune reported that Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin will host a Central Time Zone countdown to the new year in the Crescent City. CNN’s New Year’s coverage begins at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31 with “New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin” in New York’s Time Square. They will hand off to Lemon and Baldwin from New Orleans at 11:30 p.m.
During a Q-and-A session on twitter, LSU’s Brandon Harris said he plans to be back with the Tigers in 2017. The backup QB seems to be excited about new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
A couple of other LSU notes, wide receiver Malachi Dupre says he’s not made a decision on whether he’ll turn pro following the Citrus Bowl. It’s been learned linebacker Kendell Beckwith suffered a torn ACL when he left the Florida game with an injury. Beckwith will not participate in the Senior Bowl.
In college baseball…Collegiate Baseball ranks LSU number two in the country. Three other Louisiana schools are ranked in the Top 40, the Cajuns are ranked 14th, Tulane is 34th and Southeastern Louisiana is ranked 36th.
The Saints have placed linebacker Stephone Anthony on injured reserve. The 2015 first-round pick has been slowed by a knee injury and a move to strong side linebacker has not worked out well for him or the Saints. Anthony finishes the season with just 16 tackles.
News for Tuesday 122016
By Dave Graichen
The APD reports an Alexandria man was robbed Saturday afternoon while walking down the street. While that in itself is not so unusual, the fact that as many as nine kids worked together to commit the crime is. The victim told officers that he was walking down the road when as many as nine juveniles surrounded him and went through his pockets, looking for stuff to steal. So far, police have made two arrests in connection with the incident.
A sad story out of Pineville, A family of three lost their home and everything in it to a fire Monday afternoon. A neighbor spotted the fire before 3 p.m. and alerted the woman, who was home alone while her husband was at work and their daughter was at school. Three engines from the Pineville Fire Department were at the scene around 3 p.m. but the house was a total loss. It’s believed the blaze started in the attic of the home.
Not surprisingly, all 8 of Louisiana’s electors cast their votes for President-elect Donald Trump. Chairman of the Republican Party in Louisiana, Roger Villere, says they were not expecting any surprises, and they got what they expected. Villere says several electors received tens of thousands of emails, letters, and phone calls asking them not to vote for Trump. Mr. Trump got 301 electoral votes. Villere says although electors sign an affidavit when they are selected saying they will vote for the nominee, they would not have faced consequences had they voted against Mr. Trump.
Governor John Bel Edwards has said tax reform will be a major item on his 2017 legislative agenda. Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary, Kimberly Lewis Robinson, sat on a state Tax Task Force that has provided recommendations to provide a fair, simple and stable tax code. She says to simplify the system, they recommend the elimination of some tax exemptions and deductions. Robinson says in order to be competitive, Louisiana needs a 4-percent sales tax, rather than a 5-percent rate, which lawmakers approved earlier this year. She says currently the largest percentage of the budget comes from sales tax collections, which isn’t fair to consumers or businesses.
Governor John Bel Edwards was in Tensas Parish yesterday visiting with residents of St. Joseph after a public health emergency was issued after lead and copper was found during testing of the towns drinking water. Julie Baxter Payer, with the governor’s office, says
construction has started on repairing the town’s drinking neglected water delivery system.
Thirteen parishes in north and central Louisiana have been declared a natural disaster area by the US Department of Agriculture because of drought conditions during 2016. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says crops were damaged because of the drought, and this declaration could help farmers recover. Strain says these farmers have 8 months from the date of the declaration to apply for assistance.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announces that the city has reached settlements totaling 13-million dollars with the families of those involved in fatal police shootings and a fatal police beating that took place right around the time of Hurricane Katrina. The settlements are with 17 plaintiffs.
Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office announces the arrest of three people involved in armed robbery, kidnapping, and rape. Chief Deputy Mike Haley says a woman in her early 50s and her husband were targeted for the heinous crime because of their large gun collection.
More than $2 million in federal funds will go to 11 communities in three southern states to restore and improve passenger rail service. The Southern Rail Commission announced on Monday that the Federal Railroad Administration funding for the communities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The cities of Baton Rouge and Gonzales, as well as St. John Parish, will benefit.
The communities will get money for station-area planning and construction projects to improve safety, access and convenience.
NFL analyst Mike Detillier believes Sean Payton will be the head coach of the Saints in 2017, despite a report that said the New Orleans franchise is interested in trading the Super Bowl winning head coach. Two teams already have vacancies and Detillier says the opening in Los Angeles might intrigue Payton, but not enough to force a trade. Many Saints fans are getting frustrating with the team as they are headed for the their third consecutive losing season and might like a change at the top. But Detillier says be careful for what you root for
News for Monday 121916
By Dave Graichen
With budget shortfalls still looming, higher education leaders are looking at more potential changes to the TOPS scholarship program. Higher Ed Commissioner Joe Rallo says one option being discussed is raising the hourly requirement for the scholarship from 24 credits per year to 30. He says the idea is to encourage students to graduate more quickly, as TOPS only covers 8 semesters. Rallo says this is just one of several changes they’re considering to stabilize the program. Lawmakers are hopeful they can find the necessary $89 million to fully fund the program next year, but Rallo says changes will likely come to TOPS whether or not it’s fully funded.
There’s talk around the Capitol about the potential for another special session to address a looming $300 million budget shortfall for this fiscal year. That’s according to La-politics-dot-com, who heard that from a source within the Edwards administration. The Revenue Estimating Committee meets again in January, so lawmakers will have a better idea of how much money is available.
Today, Louisiana’s 8 electors will cast their votes for President-elect Donald Trump. Scott Wilfong is one of those electors. Wilfong says each elector will cast his or her ballot in their respective state capitals today. He says the votes will then be sent to Washington, where the new Congress will read them when they convene in January. Wilfong says he and other electors have received hundreds of phone calls, emails, and letters asking them not to vote for Mr. Trump. But he says it would be a disservice to the people of Louisiana to go against their votes. However, he does expect some electors will be swayed.
David Vitter has just two weeks left in office as a U.S Senator. Vitter says representing and serving the people of Louisiana has been the greatest honor of his professional life. He says he’s most proud of his work in the post-Katrina recovery, as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the coast just months after Vitter was sworn in as a Senator. Vitter served as Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District Representative from 1999 to 2004 and as a US Senator since 2005. Prior to that, Vitter served in Louisiana’s House of Representatives from 1992 to 1999.
Louisiana is no longer the least healthy state in the country, according to the United Health Foundation. State Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee says this is great news, but unfortunately Louisiana still ranks 49th in the nation for overall health. She says the state has high rates of low birth weight, infant mortality, and obesity. Mississippi was the only state found to be less healthy than Louisiana.
Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a public health emergency in St. Joseph after testing found levels of lead and copper in the public water system that has been poorly maintained for years. Bottled water has been sent into the Tensas Parish town as health officials are advising residents to use an alternative source of water to drink, brush their teeth and food preparation.
Louisiana Willdlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon tells the Associated Press he’s been forced out from his Cabinet Position. Melancon says he’s not been given a reason why, but he’s had public disagreements with recreational fishermen and has been criticized for his handling of agency changes that have been recommended by state auditors. A spokesperson for the governor says there’s been unnecessary public battles as the agency tries to reform.
Fewer Louisianans are smoking cigarettes, according to the United Health Foundation. The report found 22-percent of Louisiana residents are smokers, compared to 24-percent in 2015. CEO of the Smoking Cessation Trust, Mike Rogers, credits legislation that bans smoking in bars and casinos, like one that was passed in New Orleans last year. Louisiana now ranks 43rd in the country for the rate of smokers, up from 46th last year.
LSU’s Leonard Fournette has decided not to play in the Citrus Bowl, so he can give his injured ankle more time to heal and allow his body to get ready for the NFL draft. Tigers Coach Ed Orgeron supports the decision, but he’ll miss the dynamic running back.
News for Friday 121616
By Dave Graichen
Doctors thought at first he would live the rest of his life in a vegetative state. But, that’s apparently not the case. East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy Nick Tullier (too yay) is making very good progress. That’s what doctors say at a Houston hospital where the wounded deputy continues to recover after getting shot last July during an ambush that killed three others. Doctor Katherine O’ Brien. And they say he can communicate nonverbally and move some parts of his body.
Now this is something you don’t hear every day, A Louisiana State trooper has been arrested and is facing charges after he allegedly entered a Bayou Crossing Drive house on Thursday morning. APD officers were sent to the home after a call claiming a burglar entered the home. The report says when The Burglar was confronted, he left the scene. 43-year-old Jeffrey Covington of Alexandria was charged with aggravated burglary and malfeasance in office.
55 year old Mitchell Casmere, the man who shot a downtown Alexandria Regions Bank employee while robbing the branch back in July pleaded guilty yesterday. Casmere was sentenced to a total of 30 years at hard labor. He originally faced an attempted first-degree murder charge, but it was amended to the battery charge when he agreed to plead guilty.
The House and Senate joint budget committee approved a plan Thursday that will result in a 12-million dollar cut in state funding for public colleges. The cut to higher education was needed to address a 313-million dollar deficit. But Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne warned more cuts are coming, because another 300-million dollar shortfall could be recognized next month.
Three Louisiana cities rank as some of the highest in the US for losing the most jobs. According to 24/7 Wall St, the Lafayette area topped the list having accounted for 9400 losses in the past year. Houma/Thibodaux ranked third highest with an area employment decline of 3.7%, and Shreveport-Bossier came in at No. 4 with a loss of 4200 jobs. LSU Economist Dr. Loren Scott. says the rig count in northwest Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale area has gone from about 140 to around 16, and in the Gulf of Mexico there used to be about 56 rigs online and that’s now down in the teens. He says their forecast shows the job losses in these three areas continuing into 2017, but at a slower rate.
FBI agents raided the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Hammond Police Department. An agency spokesperson says they are carrying out court ordered actions. The investigation reportedly stems from possible mishandling of evidence by a drug task force. The FBI has indicated this is a large scale investigation and there will be more raids.
Louisiana has one of the biggest wage gaps between its richest and poorest residents, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Director of the Louisiana Budget Project, Jan Moeller isn’t surprised because he says Louisiana has the fourth highest rate of income inequality in the country. Moeller says this large wage gap is a reason why Louisiana’s economy has trouble growing.
According to a report from Bankrate.com, Louisiana is the fourth worst state for drivers. The report says the high number of auto fatalities and longer than average commute times contributed to Louisiana’s ranking. New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, and California round out the bottom five states.
U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham’s Office has begun handing out their tickets to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration and they are a hot commodity. Spokesperson Cole Avery says they had a link on the Congressman’s website for people to request tickets, but they had to take it down because requests were flooding in. He says there were about 300 ticket requests, and they only have about 185 to give away.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu met with President-elect Donald Trump yesterday in New York. The mayor was invited under his title as vice president of the United States Conference of Mayors. The two were scheduled to discuss public safety and infrastructure.
Tiny beetles resembling ladybugs are swarming homes around Louisiana more than usual this year. Dr. Chris Carlton with LSU’s Entomology Department says it’s the Asian Lady Beetle and it’s not the typical ladybug we normally see, but it’s in the same family. He says while they have been known to bite people, they aren’t really aggressive.
LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center receives a 5.3 million dollar grant to study why some people benefit more or less from exercise. Associate executive director of clinical research and study investigator Dr. Eric Ravussin says everyone knows exercise improves health, but they hope to determine which activity is the most effective on certain people and why. Pennington is one of six clinical centers around the country that will recruit healthy, inactive adults to participate in this exercise study. Ravussin says they hope their efforts will help people reap the maximum benefits from physical activity.
Looks like LSU has locked up a quarterback. Myles Brennan, the 4 star QB out of Mississippi, reaffirmed his commitment to the Tigers hours after meeting with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Brennan threw for 3,982 yards and 48 touchdowns this season in high school.
News for Thursday 121516
By Dave Graichen
The APD yesterday arrested 54 year old Daniel Mikkelson and 35 year old Natarsha Meredith in connection with the stabbing death of an Eastwood Blvd resident. Police entered the home to find a body that had been stabbed multiple times. Both Mikkelson and Meredith were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on charges of armed robbery and first-degree murder. The name of the victim still has not been released by police.
If you plan on mailing a gift this Christmas, you’re running out of time to ship it. New Orleans Postmaster Matt Connelly says today is the deadline for ground mailing through the US Postal Service. He says other deadlines are also approaching. Connelly says today will be the busiest mailing day, and the busiest delivery day will be December 22.
Governor John Bel Edwards’ executive order preventing LGBT discrimination in state government and businesses who have contracts with the state has been overturned. Attorney General Jeff Landry says he applauds Judge Todd Hernandez’ ruling. He says at the end of the day, this case was about the governor trying to create his own law. Edwards says he plans on appealing the ruling. Sean Sullivan with Forum for Equality Foundation says this ruling is another setback for the LGBT community in Louisiana.
LSU System President F King Alexander is not painting a rosy picture of the school’s future with the potential for more budget cuts to be handed down. Alexander says enrollment is down 3.5 percent for the next semester compared to the previous spring. Alexander says the University of Alabama is in the process of hiring 300 new teachers, while LSU has lost over 500 in the past nine years. Alexander says at some point the state needs to invest in the next generation of students.
LSU made it official today by naming Matt Canada as the Tigers new offensive coordinator. Tiger Rag Associate Editor James Moran believes it’s a good hire and it gives LSU two young and talented coordinators, Canada and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
Former US Representative Charlie Melancon has resigned as the state’s wildlife and fisheries secretary. Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement saying it’s time to take the department in a different direction.
FEMA announces any flood victims awaiting a manufactured housing unit will receive one by January 31st. Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer for FEMA Tito Hernandez says 25-hundred families are currently eligible to live in a mobile home. Currently on average, FEMA is installing 30 trailers each day. Hernandez says a lot of work goes into installing a FEMA home, which is considered a last resort when it comes to temporary housing. He says even given the criticism, they are pleased with their performance.
Lake Charles Police have made an arrest in a homicide that took place in 1987. Lt. Richard Harrell says they re-opened the cold case last spring and put together enough evidence to charge 59-year-old Harry James Richard with armed robbery and first degree murder in the death of 75-year-old Noah Breaux. Harrell says more evidence and witness testimony has since come out, and Breaux’s body was exhumed in August.
The National Cattleman’s Beef Association says consumers could see lower beef prices because of an increase in production. CEO of Cattle Producers of Louisiana, Dave Foster, says the increase in U.S. beef production is due to packagers offering feeders more money for their cattle, which helped the struggling market rebound. The US Department of Agriculture found that November 2016 was the largest beef production month since 2010.
Shreveport police say a 71-year-old shop owner shot an individual who attempted to rob him and his business. Corporal Marcus Hines says the suspect, 36-year-old Michael Kelly, was shot three times. Kelly faces a laundry list of charges, including armed robbery.
Gas prices continue their steady rise as we head into the holidays. The current statewide average is $2.06 up over 6 cents from this time last month.
News for Wednesday 121416
By Dave Graichen
The state’s income forecasting panel has decided to delay the state’s reduced budget outlook for this fiscal year. The income projections were expected to be dismal, and Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the delay is irresponsible. The latest estimates show the state is facing a shortfall of more than $600 million. Dardenne says the wait gives agencies less time to deal with inevitable cuts.
In response to Senator-elect John Kennedy’s comment that the governor hasn’t done enough to secure federal flood aid, Governor John Bel Edwards sent a letter to Kennedy, bringing him up to speed. The Governor’s Communications Director Richard Carbo says the first round of aid was approved with unprecedented speed, but they understand Kennedy is new to this.
Carbo says the letter outlined the efforts made by the administration, as well as the process by which federal funds are approved.
Authorities say careless play led to a Baton Rouge man punching his pre-schooler to death. Police say they booked 25-year-old Kristopher Carter into East Baton Rouge Parish prison on negligent homicide charges, amid allegations he caused the death of his 4-year-old son as the two were “play fighting.” Cops say a witness told them Carter was punching the child and encouraging him to punch back.
Public meetings are being held in flood impacted areas of the state to update flood victims on the ongoing recovery efforts. Office of Community Development Executive Director, Pat Forbes says the action plan for allocating the federal funds still has to go through the bureaucratic process. The first round of money will go to low income families who are not in a flood plain and don’t have flood insurance. A meeting was held last night in Lafayette, and more are scheduled in Rapides, Caddo, Ouachita, East Baton Rouge, and Ascension parishes.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards is in the hospital being treated for pneumonia. The 89-year-old frequently suffers from the illness and his wife Trina says hopefully they’ll be able to go home soon. Trina says her husband comes down with pneumonia every year around this time.
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen former-Texas Governor Rick Perry as the Secretary for the Department of Energy. So what does that mean for Louisiana’s oil and gas industry? Acting president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Gifford Briggs, says this nomination and Trump’s other cabinet selections, including Scott Pruitt to run the EPA and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as future Secretary of State, give them hope for what the industry could be. He says at this point they are cautiously optimistic.
The mental healthcare reform bill by US Senator Bill Cassidy has been signed into law by the president. The 21st Century Cures Act seeks to give mentally ill individuals more access to treatment, as well as giving family members more access to their loved ones doctors. Cassidy says this new law marks the beginning of serious mental health reform and it will help millions of people affected by mental illness become whole.
Small business optimism has skyrocketed since the election of Donald Trump, according the National Federation of Independent Business’ monthly Index of Small Business Optimism. NFIB state director Dawn Starns says business owners said they are now excited about the future. The survey finds small businesses job creation plans have increased from 9-percent to 23-percent since October. Starns says business owners felt bogged down recently by government regulations.
Louisiana is home to three of the most sinful cities in the country, according to WalletHub. Baton Rouge came in at number 8 on the list, New Orleans is number 10, and Shreveport cracked the top 20. The report found that New Orleans came in second for excessive drinking, while Baton Rouge came in 12. Shreveport ranked 12th for violent crimes per capita, and Baton Rouge landed at number 14 on the list.
Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana has dropped his defamation lawsuit over a book that alleges the he was a client of prostitutes who were later killed. Boustany sued the author and publisher of “Murder in the Bayou” in October, when he was in a tight Senate race competition. Boustany lost the race in November and ended his lawsuit this month. Boustany lawyer Jimmy Faircloth confirmed the lawsuit dismissal Tuesday.
A train collision just north of Hammond killed two people Tuesday afternoon. WWL-TV reports a southbound Amtrak train crashed into a vehicle at a railroad crossing in Natalbany, when both passengers in the vehicle were killed. There were reportedly 68 passengers on the train at the time of the crash, and WWL-TV reports they are all okay.
News for Tuesday 121316
By Dave Graichen
The State Police are investigating a single vehicle accident that claimed the life of a Montgomery woman yesterday morning. Troopers say that 61 year old Mona Litton lost control of her vehicle, left highway 71 and struck a tree. Litton was taken to Winn Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead
The Transportation Task Force will vote today on a recommendation that the budget for roads and bridges be increased by $700 million a year. DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson says the need in Louisiana is great, and in order to address that need, they need an annual infusion of dollars that’s indexed for the Transportation Trust Fund. Wilson says that money could come from toll roads, public-private partnerships, or an increase in the gas tax. He says the state’s 20-cent gas tax that was imposed 30 years ago is only worth half that today. The state still has a $13 billion backlog of road and bridge needs.
Yesterday Governor John Bel Edwards announces that Louisiana will receive nearly 26 million dollars in funding for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program by FEMA for the devastating March floods. The money could be used to support state and parish projects to help prevent disasters in the future. The state will receive 3 million dollars and 23- million dollars will go to parishes that received a federal disaster deceleration.
Congressman Garret Graves spoke before the Baton Rouge Press Club to express his frustration with the flood recovery and what he hopes to accomplish with President- elect Trump. Graves says he’s been able to talk with President-elect Donald Trump along with vice president-elect Mike Pence about the timeline of FEMA assistance. He says both agreed that the efficiency of getting flood relief dollars to victims was absurd. Graves says the flood didn’t discriminate based on income level and neither should the disaster aid.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro says he plans to seek the maximum 60-year sentence for Cardell Hayes following his manslaughter conviction in the death of Will Smith, and attempted manslaughter for injuring Smith’s wife. Cannizzaro says this was the murder of a hero who was just trying to have fun in New Orleans. He says they believe Hayes should get the maximum 60 years.
The funeral of former NFL player and John Curtis Star Joe McKnight was yesterday in New Orleans. McKnight was gunned down in Jefferson Parish in an apparent road rage incident. Ronald Gasser is facing manslaughter charges in the incident.
The Louisiana Department of Health says they’ve been seeing an uptick in mumps cases around college campuses nationwide but more recently a large concentration in Arkansas. Dr. Frank Welch with LDH says Mississippi and Alabama have seen outbreaks, as well as, a fairly large one in Texas so it’s very concerning.
Mike Johnson, won the 4th Congressional District seat being vacated by Congressman John Fleming, said yesterday he believes the Republican wave moving across the nation means that God has given the country another chance. Johnson says he looks forwards to being part of the real reform the Trump Administration is going to bring.
In the 3rd District, Capt. Clay Higgins defeated Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle 56 to 44-percent. Higgins perhaps rode a wave of Donald Trump enthusiasm, as the man who has never held an elected office is heading to Washington to represent more than 760-thousand Louisianans. Higgins says his victory is proof that voters are tired of millionaire career politicians.
New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno has launched a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for women’s issues in Louisiana. Moreno says the Ignite Advocacy Network seeks to bring women together to raise awareness, advocate for positive policies, and ignite the network into action. Moreno says Louisiana ranks 49th for wage equality and 49th for women’s overall health, with more women dying of breast and cervical cancer in Louisiana than in many other states.
From the “It’s nice to see everyone working for the betterment of the state” department, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Republican Party told reporters yesterday, The republican victories in all of Louisiana’s federal runoffs proves Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards’ victory in last year’s gubernatorial race was a fluke. Dore says he fully expects the governor to be voted out office in the next election.
According to ESPN, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has agreed to become Florida Atlantic’s coach. Kiffin was being pursued by LSU to be offensive coordinator under head coach Ed Orgeron. It’s now reported that LSU’s top choice for OC is Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
News for Monday 121216
By Dave Graichen
Cardell Hayes has been found guilty of manslaughter in shooting death of ex-Saints star Will Smith. An Orleans Parish jury found Cardell Hayes guilty of manslaughter on Sunday for pumping eight bullets into former New Orleans Saints defensive lineman Will Smith on a late April night. The jury of eight women and four men, deliberating for just short of six hours at the end of a blockbuster week-long trial, also found Hayes guilty of attempted manslaughter for a shot that tore through the legs of Smith's wife, Racquel, in a fracas on the street following a three-car collision.
Now that Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy has been elected as U.S. Senator, he plans to tackle some of Louisiana’s problems in Washington D.C. Kennedy says it’s time for a change and the first thing he will fight for is additional relief for our flood victims. Kennedy says he will fight to bring more jobs to Louisiana. He says we have the third highest unemployment rate in the country. The future U.S. Senator says our economy is in trouble and he’ll work to fix that.
Republican John Kennedy’s victory in the US Senate race gives the GOP a larger majority in the Senate. ULM political science professor Dr. Joshua Stockley says this is an important win for Republicans because it gives them a larger cushion to deal with issues as they arise in the Senate.
In his first bid for public office, Clay Higgins, known as the Cajun John Wayne, defeated political veteran Scott Angelle on Saturday night in the contest to become the 3rd district congressman. Higgins, who ran as a tough-talking outsider, soundly beat Angelle, who was the presumptive front-runner since entering the race, by about 7,000 ballots, or 12 percent of the total vote. He will replace six-term U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, who chose to pursue, unsuccessfully, Louisiana’s open U.S. Senate seat.
In the 4th congressional district runoff, republican Mike Johnson cruised to an easy win over his democratic opponent Marshall Jones, by taking 65% of the vote.
By the way, the official Voter turnout for the Saturday runoff election was just shy of 28%.
FEMA has refused Governor John Bel Edwards’ request to lower the state’s share of disaster response cost for the March flooding that affected the central and northern part of Louisiana down to 10-percent. The state is required to pay 10-percent of the response from the August flooding and 25-percent from the March flooding. Officials with the Edwards’ administration believe the floods should be grouped together because of the destruction.
With the state facing another year of budget problems, Governor John Bel Edwards says it’s time to create a tax structure that’s fair and predictable and able to pay for state services. Lawmakers learned last week that the state has a budget deficit that’s grown to 600-million dollars. Earlier this year the legislature approved 1.5 billion dollars in tax increases to help fill a huge budget gap when Edwards walked into office. But Edwards says that wasn’t enough to prevent cuts to government services.
Two different polls show a majority of Louisiana residents agree with repealing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Pollster Ed Chervenak says in a telephone survey conducted by the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center, 66-percent of 776 people polled support the idea. Chervenak says the poll also found men are more interested in the complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act than women.
The number of international visitors has grown in Louisiana, but Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, who oversees tourism in the state, doesn’t just want these travelers to visit New Orleans. Nungesser says there are direct flights into New Orleans from London, Germany, and Honduras, but he wants to see these tourists get out to the rest of the state. Louisiana saw a 36-percent increase in international tourism from 2014 to 2015, ranking second in the nation for overall growth.
Saints offense sputters for second straight game in crushing 16-11 loss at Tampa Bay. New Orleans now has just one touchdown in the past two weeks.
News for Friday 120916
By Dave Graichen
It’s a chilly day across the Bayou State. Tim Humphrey with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles says it won’t get much warmer as the day goes on. Humphrey says things will start to warm up again early next week, getting into the 50s and 60s around the state.
Tiz the season, as Christmas parades will roll all across Cenla this weekend. Tonight, it’s the Pineville Christmas parade. Starting at 7 the parade will roll up main street from the former Huey P. Long Medical Center and wrap up at the Trotter Center on Military Highway. In Ball it’s Saturday afternoon at 2 and in Glenmora at noon. The Alexandria Christmas Parade begins at 2 p.m. Sunday. The route begins at Metro drive traveling down Jackson street extension, and ends at Alexandria Senior High School. A bit of advice, Dress warm!
You’ve probably seen the video on Facebook and TV, a man stealing Christmas decorations from a home in Alexandria. Yesterday, 36-year-old Michael Cryer of Leesville was arrested and charged with lifting the decorations from three different homes late last month. Cryer was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Police say some of the stolen property was recovered.
President-elect Donald Trump will be in Baton Rouge today to support Republican John Kennedy in the US Senate race. The visit comes after Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence endorsed the State Treasurer. Kennedy says he’s humbled by Mr. Trump’s visit.
Kennedy has been leading in the polls since the primary, but he says he’s not taking anything for granted. He hopes the visit from the President-elect will encourage voters to get out to the polls on Saturday.
Jurors heard important testimony from Kevin O’ Neal during the Will Smith shooting trial Thursday. O’ Neal is a long time friend of Cardell Hayes, who is charged with second-degree murder. O’Neal was in Hayes hummer during the car accident that sparked the shooting. O’Neal says at no time was Hayes the aggressor in the heated situation. O’ Neal also said that the last time he saw the former Saints player alive, his wife was trying to push him away from the dispute.
A low voter turnout is expected for Saturday and Secretary of State Tom Schedler says that’s why he will push the Louisiana legislature to do away with December federal elections. He says not only is turnout low, it’s also hard to find commissioners to work during the holidays.
Schedler says it would make more sense to have the primary in October and then a November run-off.
Out of the three federal races on Saturday’s ballot, it appears the third congressional district race is the most competitive. ULM Political Science Professor John Sutherlin says Republican Clay Higgins is riding a wave of anti-establishment politicians.
An Affordable Housing Expo will be held in Baton Rouge this weekend for flood victims. Mike Steele with GOHSEP says there are people at different stages of recovery, so there will be a variety of housing options on display. He says people can come see manufactured homes, trailers and pre-fab housing. The expo will be open today and tomorrow at Celtic Studios.
Governor John Bel Edwards talked about some of his priorities for 2017 during a speech at the Council for a Better Louisiana annual conference. Edwards says his big goal is to ensure the state uses money from the Transportation Trust Fund in the right places. The governor’s task force on transportation will likely support a higher gasoline tax in order to improve our highways and bridges.
Life expectancy has decreased in the US for the first time in more than 20 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The report found that overall life expectancy dropped by one month from 2014 to 2015. Doctor Ben Springgate with LSU Health New Orleans says
life expectancy has increased in years past, because of medical advances. But he says health outcomes are declining because of people’s lifestyles.
News For Thursday 120816
By Dave Graichen
Strange story out of Avoyelles parish. An entire family from Bunkie has been arrested on bomb making charges. Avoyelles Sheriff Doug Anderson says they executed a warrant on 38-year-old Jenus Juneau, who was accused of stealing $12-thousand worth of household goods, guns, and jewelry on Sunday. Anderson says Juneau’s wife, Kristina, and their two 19-year-old children were also charged with manufacture and possession of a delayed action incendiary device. He says they’re still working to determine why this family was making pipe bombs.
The Town Talk Reports Rapides Parish school employees won't see a pay supplement this Christmas like they have the past four years. School Board members voted earlier in the week 6-3 not to pay stipends They also heard a report from the finance department detailing a roughly $800,000 shortfall faced due to loss of MFP funds from lower enrollment. The full story is in today’s Town Talk.
Cold temperatures are on the way to the Bayou State. That’s according to state climatologist Barry Keim, who says it’s time for Louisianans to break out the winter gear. High temperatures will only be in the 40s today with lows in the upper 20 here in Cenla tonight.
The US House Appropriations Committee has approved a continuing resolution that contains $1.2 billion in Community Development Block Grants for Louisiana flood relief. The Governor’s Communications director Richard Carbo adds that Congress should vote on the proposal by the end of the week, which will also contain dollars to fund other flood repair projects. Carbo says the state will still need federal assistance beyond this and we’ll go back to Washington DC again in April.
Former New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas took the stand Wednesday in the murder trial of Will Smith. Thomas, who had dined with Smith earlier in the evening and later ended up at the scene of the incident, testified during direct examination that Cardell Hayes was the only person who ever had a gun and that he fired shots that killed Smith. The defense is arguing Smith was the aggressor. This comes a day after emotional testimony from Smith’s wife who insists her husband did nothing wrong.
WWL-TV in New Orleans is reporting that the body of slain NFL football player Joe McKnight has been retrieved from the funeral home for more forensic testing. Ronald Gasser has been charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of McKnight.
A landmark mental health reform bill co-authored by Republican U.S Senator Bill Cassidy is on its way to be signed into law by the President. Cassidy says this measure will expand access to resources for those who need treatment for mental illnesses. The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 also strengthens suicide prevention. And he says the measure will provide more funding for the massive opioid crisis.
A report from American Builders and Contractors ranks Louisiana as the best business climate for construction. Vice President of Governmental Affairs with ABC of Louisiana, John Walters, says that’s due in large part to legislation state lawmakers have passed that benefits the construction industry. Another ABC report ranked Louisiana 8th for year-to-year changes in the construction unemployment rate. Walters says that’s because projects come and go in the Bayou State. But he’s optimistic that this new ranking will persuade more companies to build in Louisiana.
Bond was denied for one of the suspects in the Bourbon Street shooting that left one dead and nine other wounded. Prosecutors say the fight between Jordan Clay and Travon Manuel stemmed from a feud over a woman who is reportedly Clay’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of Manuel’s infant child. After the hearing, Manuel was remanded in custody without bail.
Donald Trump will be in Baton Rouge Friday to support Republican John Kennedy in the US Senate race. UL-Lafayette political science Professor Pearson Cross says the visit isn’t really necessary, as Kennedy has a double digit lead over Democrat Foster Campbell, but it’s a nice gesture. The event begins at noon in the Dow Chemical Hangar at the Baton Rouge Airport.
A Calcasieu Parish cat is missing after authorities say an escaped inmate stole a hearse with the feline inside. Police say 26-year-old Johnathan Alexander stole the hearse used by Pet Angels crematory when the trusty walked off a job. The hearse was found in range, Texas, and Alexander was apprehended in another stolen vehicle. The cat has yet to be found.
LSU releases the details of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s contract extension, which runs through 2020, includes a first-year salary of $1.8 million. Tiger Rag Editor Cody Worsham expects whoever is hired as offensive coordinator will receive a similar salary. Aranda is now the highest paid assistant in college football
News for Wednesday 120716
By Dave Graichen
At a budget hearing Tuesday morning at the State Capitol, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told lawmakers not only does the state have to address a $313 million deficit for this fiscal year, there’s another $300 million shortfall looming. He says that means state agencies will face more budget cuts. Dardenne says once again higher education and healthcare are on the chopping block.
Some LSU fans are gearing up to head to Orlando for the Citrus Bowl later this month, but so far ticket sales are lagging a bit. That’s according to LSU ticket manager, Brian Broussard, who says so far only about 4-thousand tickets have been sold. The Tigers will face Louisville in the bowl game on December 31. Broussard says they still have over 5-thousand tickets available through their ticket office and you can get a good seat at a good price.
There are reports that President-elect Donald Trump will be in Baton Rouge on Friday afternoon. Mr. Trump will apparently visit the Bayou State to show his support for Treasurer John Kennedy in the U.S. Senate race. Trump visited Baton Rouge earlier this year and over 10-thousand people came to the event at the Baton Rouge River Center.
The man who admitted to shooting former-NFL player Joe McKnight is now behind bars. 54-year-old Robert Gasser has been charged with manslaughter. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand says they waited to make an arrest, so they can talk with more independent witnesses. Normand says there’s a chance the charge could be upgraded or downgraded based on further evidence.
Saints Quarterback Drew Brees and his wife were among some big names appearing yesterday in the trial of the man who is accused of murdering former New Orleans player Will Smith. Deuce McAllister was a teammate of Smith’s, he got emotional on the stand while talking about the death of his friend. Cardell Hayes faces life in prison if convicted of second degree murder. Defense lawyers assert Hayes acted in self-defense.
Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy announced Tuesday a deal has been struck to steer $1.24 billion more in federal flood aid to Louisiana, about $1 billion less than what the delegation hoped would be secured in the lame-duck session of Congress. The House will likely vote on the measure Thursday followed by Senate action Friday.
Louisiana broke the state’s record for the number of foster children adoptions within a year. 735 children were adopted by 532 families between October of 2015 and September of 2016. Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says all of the children in state care have a history of either abuse or neglect with a big majority being under the age of five. She says while it’s exciting so many children found foster homes, many are still without a family. For information on adopting a foster child, visit the department of children and family services website.
With people getting ready to hit the road for holiday travels, AAA warns drivers to avoid drowsy driving. According to the AAA Foundation report, you double the chances of getting into a wreck if you only get 5 to 6 hours of sleep, and the risk increases by 11 if you get less than four hours of shut eye. Spokesperson Don Redman says nearly 21-percent of fatal crashes result in people falling asleep behind wheel, resulting in about 75-hundred fatalities nationwide a year.
Fort Polk has moved the first round of horses off their land because there are safety concerns about wild horses roaming the Vernon Parish army base. Fort Polk spokesperson Troy Darr says they sent 50 horses to the Humane Society of North Texas in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He says they plan to rehome the remaining 650 horses in the same manner. Advocates have expressed concerns that the horses could be sent to kill buyers or unfit owners, and the groups have called on Fort Polk to let the horses stay on their land.
A Monroe woman is facing multiple charges after she was caught shoplifting with her children. Detective Chris Bates with Monroe Police says 33-year-old Shirley Mayes and her 9-year-old and 14-year-old were caught stealing from the Monroe Walmart. Bates says Mayes faces charges of misdemeanor shoplifting, criminal conspiracy, and three counts of contributing to child delinquency.
The Baton Rouge man accused of murdering and dismembering his parents in Tennessee over the Thanksgiving holiday did not waive extradition Tuesday, meaning he will not yet return to Knoxville. 28-year-old Joel Michael Guy Jr.’s lawyers say their client is not the person that Tennessee law enforcement officials want. Another hearing has been scheduled for December 16.
News for Tuesday 120616
By Dave Graichen
Congratulations are in order for the Six Rapides Parish educators who were honored Monday as one of the district's top teachers or principals. This year’s winners Emily Weeks, teacher at Julius Patrick Elementary in Alexandria. Sarah Butler, teacher at Caroline Dormon Junior High in Woodworth. Mary Lee Mattox, teacher at Tioga High School. Deidra Shores, Pineville Elementary principal. Dana Nolan, Pineville Junior High principal and Dewayne Vines, Buckeye High School principal. All Recipients of the Teacher and Principle of the year title are eligible to become nominees for the state title.
The numbers are in and they show only 171-thousand ballots were cast during the early voting period which ended last Saturday. John Couvillion, with JMC Analytics, says the early voting totals were impressive for the November election, but not so much this time for the runoff.
Polls are open this Saturday from 7 AM to 8 PM.
Tulane has published an online survey that found 59-percent of the respondents are supporting Republican John Kennedy in the U.S. Senate run-off. Democrat Foster Campbell, received 40-percent. Tulane political science professor Brian Brox says the survey also found that 31-percent of the residents who voted for Hillary Clinton in the Presidential election, will not vote for Campbell in this runoff.
In a new ad, Governor John Bel Edwards asks residents to vote for Democrat Foster Campbell in Saturday’s US Senate race. In the 30-second spot, Edwards says Campbell could be the deciding vote against substantial cuts to social security and Medicare. ULM political science Professor Dr. Joshua Stockley says as popular as the governor is, this ad likely won’t do much to help Campbell.
New Orleans will now be featured as part of the 2017 Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest. Local Representative for Dick Clark Productions Gary Solomon says this is the first time in the show’s history that there will be another countdown in the Central time zone. He says it’s a real game changer for the Crescent City… Solomon says Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin eve will cut to New Orleans throughout the five and a half hour nationally televised show.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating a drowning in Lake Charles that claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy. They say friends reported the teen slipped and fell into a canal and was swept through a culvert that was about 75 feet long. His body was later located several hundred feet away. The investigation is ongoing.
Senator David Vitter gave his farewell speech on the Senate floor Monday, as he will leave the office he’s held since January 2005. Vitter says as a Louisiana state legislator he worked to impose term limits here, as well as authoring the leading term limits measure for Congress. He says that’s why he’s imposing one on himself. The outgoing Senator thanked members of his team, his colleagues, and friends in Washington. But he says he owes the most to his wife, Wendy.
We can expect to see some Louisiana leaders working in the Trump Administration either in the cabinet or administrative positions, according to Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, who led the Trump campaign in Louisiana. He says federal lawmakers from this state are recommending Louisiana residents to the transition team.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has received 21 whooping cranes from Maryland in the last week, giving the Bayou State a total of 25 large birds that have been delivered to this state this year. LDWF Biologist Sara Zimorski says the Whooping Cranes will be spread out between two facilities. Zimorski says currently, there are released 38 birds in the wild and the new arrivals will be counted into the population in a few weeks. The whooping crane was considered extinct in Louisiana in 1950, but for the last six years the state has been working to restore a solid population of these large birds back into the state.
Officials with the Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport are excited about their December 26th contest that pits North Carolina State versus Vanderbilt. Bowl Spokesperson Stefan Nolet says the ACC and SEC matchup marks the second time in three seasons the two conferences have played each other in this bowl. Kick off for the Independence Bowl is at 4 p.m.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette announced Monday that he will enter the NFL draft after the Tiger’s Citrus Bowl game on December 31. The announcement came on twitter, where Fournette also stated that he does plan to play in the game against Louisville, despite an ankle injury. Fournette has 3,755 yards for his career, which is the fourth highest in LSU history. NFL Draft Analyst Mike Detillier believes LSU running back Leonard Fournette will be a top five pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
Louisiana Tech is heading to the Armed Forces Bowl to take on 25th ranked Navy on December 23. Athletic Director Tommy McClelland says they were offered the option to play Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl or the top 25 team. He says they chose the game that would give players a new experience. McClelland expects between 500 and a thousand students will attend the game.
Officials with the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl are expecting a big crowd for its bowl game on December 17th in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. On that night, the Ragin Cajuns will face Southern Miss. Jay Cicero, C-E-O of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, says they expect 40-to-45-thousand fans for what should be a great game.
News for Monday 120516
By Dave Graichen
Despite nasty weather Saturday, Alexandria officials say they were very happy with this year’s turnout for Alex Winter Fete. The numbers haven’t been crunched yet, but attendance was very good for opening night Thursday and Friday night as well. However Saturday was a different story with heavy rain cancelling the remainder of the festival’s activities early in the day. To the north in Natchitoches, That city’s festival of lights was cancelled as well.
The Louisiana Department of Health reminds the public that December is the start of peak flu season. Dr. Frank Welch with LDH says we’re at a higher risk of catching the flu during the holiday season. Welch advises people to clean frequently used surfaces like door knobs when they have people in their homes. He says it’s not too late to get a flu shot, but keep in mind, the shot takes two weeks to take effect.
Two arrests have been made in the case of the Bourbon Street shooting that left one man dead and 9 others injured. NOPD Chief Michael Harrison says 20-year-olds Jordan Clay and Kavon Manuel of Lafayette have been charged with 2nd degree murder. He says a multi-agency investigation led to the suspects’ arrest. The suspects also face 9 counts of attempted murder.
The jury selection is expected to begin today in the trial of Cardell Hayes, the man accused of killing Former Saints defensive end Will Smith. A judge has determined that the jury will be sequestered for the entire trial. Legal Analyst Chick Foret says it will be hard for potential jurors to leave their families during the holiday season. Jurors will not have access to TV’s or telephones. But Foret says Judge Camille Buras has promised to move the case along quickly and trial testimony will be heard even on weekends.
The Edwards’ family is getting in the holiday spirit as they will spend their first Christmas in the Governor’s Mansion. The family was displaced during the August flooding but are now settling back into life in the mansion. First Lady Donna Edwards has been revamping the mansion since moving back into the home. The basement took on 7 feet of water during the August flood.
Governor John Bel Edwards announces FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program have extended the deadline for submitting proof of loss for claims resulting from the August flood. Edwards filed for the claim extension last week. The extension means policy holders will have a total of 180 days after the loss to provide proof to providers.
A recent poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research finds Governor John Bel Edwards’ approval rating is at 63-percent. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says that’s a big improvement over the governor’s approval rating earlier this year. A poll from Morning Consult found Edwards’ approval rating was only 45-percent in the spring, while a UNO poll showed 56-percent of respondents approved of his job performance in October. Pinsonat says Edwards’ response to all the floods, tornadoes, and other issues the state has seen this year may have helped boost his numbers.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a news conference Friday to update the case surrounding the death of former NFL player Joe McKnight during an apparent road rage incident. Multiple protests are taking place over the fact that the shooter, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, was released claiming self-defense. According authorities, McKnight exited his car and was shot by Gasser as he approached the shooter’s passenger window. It says Gasser fired 3 rounds from a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun from the driver’s seat of his car, and three hit McKnight. Normand said Gasser did not stand over McKnight as reports have stated and that there were 3 casings located inside the vehicle. He also says there was no video. Normand says Gasser admitted to shooting McKnight, but has not been charged pending the outcome of the investigation.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser extends the France-Louisiana Cooperation Accords for four more years. Nungesser says it’s a program that brings French teachers to teach the French history, culture, and language in Louisiana schools. The agreement extends the mutual agreement until 2020.
Three DOW Chemical plant employees who were being monitored after a chemical leak have been released, after a chlorine leak was reported Friday afternoon. Three employees were reportedly observed at the Plaquemine facility’s onsite health services center, and 16 others drove themselves to local hospitals. All non-essential employees were evacuated after the small chlorine leak reportedly happened when the plant lost power.
The Saints appear to be heading towards another losing season as New Orleans played poorly in a 28-13 loss to the Detroit Lions. The Black and Gold committed 10 penalties and Quarterback Drew Brees threw three interceptions.
The 20th ranked LSU Tigers will get a chance to spend the final week of 2016 in sunny Florida where they'll play 13th ranked Louisville in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on December 31st. It will be an early start on New Year's eve day as the game will kickoff at 11 AM eastern, 10 AM central time.
News For Friday 120216
By Dave Graichen
The 2nd annual Alex Winter Fête is underway in Alexandria. The three day festival drew almost 30-thousand people in its inaugural year. Director of Community Services, Daniel Williams, says this year will be bigger and better than last year. Tonight, It's fireworks!
Early voting ends tomorrow and turnout has been lower than expected. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says we’re seeing about 22-thousand voters at the polls a day during this early voting week, down 10-thousand a day from the primary. For early voting the polls are open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The football world is mourning the death of Joe McKnight, who was fatally shot in what authorities believe was a road rage incident in Jefferson Parish. McKnight was one of the top high school football players in the country coming out of John Curtis High School in 2006. McKnight played at USC and was drafted by the New York Jets and also played for the Kansas City Chiefs. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand says the shooter turned his gun and himself into authorities.
Big news yesterday from Louisiana College. President Rick Brewer announced new academic programs coming to the school. The college plans to launch a Bachelor of Computer Science, Master of Science in Social Work and fully-online Master of Science in Nursing. The new programs still need the approval of SACS, the school’s accrediting body, but school officials expect the new offerings will available in the Fall of next year.
Medicaid enrollment has surpassed the 351,000 mark under the expansion of the program, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Secretary Rebekah Gee says the Medicaid expansion should lead to better health outcomes for working citizens who were previously uninsured. Gee says they are still unclear with will happen with the expanded Medicaid program when President-elect Trump takes office.
A bill co-authored by US Senator Bill Cassidy that seeks to reform mental healthcare has passed the US House and could receive Senate approval next week. He says the bill should foster more mental health professionals, as well as create more outpatient treatment settings. Cassidy says this legislation is two years in the making, with the goal of making sure patients are not denied care.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be in New Orleans tomorrow hosting a get-out-the vote rally to spotlight the U.S. Senate race. Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere says Pence will encourage voters to head to the polls on December 10th and cast their ballot for Republican Treasurer John Kennedy.
A new poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research finds Republican John Kennedy still has a strong lead over Democrat Foster Campbell in the US Senate race. Kennedy leads Campbell 52 to 38-percent just over a week before the December 10th runoff.
An extradition hearing yesterday to determine if a man from Baton Rouge will be returned to Tennessee to face charges for his parents’ murder will be rescheduled because the suspect was not ready to make a decision. 28 year old Joel Michael Guy Jr. is facing two counts of first degree murder for allegedly killing and dismembering his parents over the Thanksgiving holiday in Knoxville. The extradition hearing is slated to take place next week.
Bayou Country Superfest has announced the lineup for next year’s festival, which includes headliners Blake Shelton and his ex-wife Miranda Lambert. Other headliners include Thomas Rhett, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts, and Hank Williams Jr. The three day festival was moved to the Superdome because of renovations to Tiger Stadium. Tickets go on sale next week.
The Cajundome officially reopened last night with a brand new look, after a 22-million dollar renovation. Cajundome Director Greg Davis says the new improvements will help with getting big name acts.
Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond, who represents New Orleans and parts of the Baton Rouge area, has been elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Richmond was just elected to a fourth term and he will take over for US Representative G-K Butterfield of North Carolina.
Houston has reportedly contacted former LSU Coach Les Miles about its coaching vacancy. There also reports that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is a candidate for that job.
News for Thursday 120116
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards is in Washington DC today to meet with congressional leaders to discuss more federal funding for Louisiana’s flood recovery. Edwards estimates it will take more than $3.7 billion for the state to recover from the two historic floods in March and August. So far, Louisiana has received $438 million in federal assistance.
The Alexandria City Council has accepted the donation of the Weiss & Goldring building Tuesday night. The building, which has been vacant since the early 90’s, was built around 1900 and is one of the few surviving buildings from that period still standing downtown. In a terrible state of disrepair, there is no doubt, the building was facing demolition. The hope is that the city can find a private developer willing to rehabilitate the building, or form a public-private partnership to reuse it.
It is hard to believe that today is the first day of December. It is also the first day of the 12 days of Christmas in Alexandria / Pineville and the first night of Alex Winter Fête. Alexandria Mayor Jacques M. Roy says this year Winter Fête will offers something for people of all ages. The festival begins at 5 p.m tonight. City officials say the event will go on Rain or Shine. Which shouldn’t be an issue Tonight or tomorrow.. However, the weekend may prove to be a different issue as rain is in the forecast.
A Florien teen died Tuesday afternoon after he hit a train at a marked crossing. Kevin Brown was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The State Police report that Brown failed to yield to a northbound Kansas City Southern train.
OPEC members have made the decision to slow crude oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day starting next year. The announcement led to an eight-percent increase in oil prices as they were trading at around 50-dollars a barrel. Executive Director for LSU’s Center for Energy Studies, David Dismukes, says it’s a nice sign for Louisiana’s oil industry, which has been lagging because of low oil prices. Dismukes says this announcement from OPEC is not enough to jump start drilling in this state.
The Transportation Task Force meets today to further discuss recommendations on how to improve the states’ roads and bridge. Recommendations are expected to be released later this month for the legislature to consider. House Transportation Chairman and State Rep. Kenny Havard anticipates there will be a proposal to increase the state’s gasoline tax, which is currently at 20-cents a gallon
The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating an extremely disturbing case of a 51-year-old Air force Veteran who is accused of raping several foster children in his care. They say the investigation began after one of the victims came forward, and during questioning of 51-year-old Terral Parfait, he admitted to everything. Parfait faces many charges including three counts of 1st degree rape of three boys under the age of 12 — and cops fear there are more victims out there. Parfait is also charged with possession and production of child porn.
A Baton Rouge college student has been arrested, accused of murdering and dismembering his parents in Tennessee. Knox County Sheriff Major Michael Maclean says they believe 29-year-old Joel Michael Guy Junior turned violent Thanksgiving weekend during an argument about money. MaClean says the victim’s body parts were placed in acid solution in an attempt to cover up the crime.
Democratic US Senate candidate Foster Campbell announces he’s raised more than $2 million for his campaign in the last month. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat expects Campbell will use this money to hit the airwaves hard with ads attacking Republican John Kennedy. But he doubts it will be enough for Campbell to win the race.
Democratic US Senate candidate Foster Campbell announces he’s raised more than $2 million for his campaign in the last month. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat expects Campbell will use this money to hit the airwaves hard with ads attacking Republican John Kennedy. But he doubts it will be enough for Campbell to win the race.
The Feral Hog Management Task Force met Wednesday to discuss ways to control the state’s wild hog population. Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries veterinarian Dr. Jim LaCour says the state has dedicated 360-thousand dollars towards the problem. He estimates there are more than half a million feral hogs in the state.
The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially came to an end Yesterday. This was the first above average season since 2012, during which five named storms made landfall in the US this season.
With all the delicious food we eat during the holiday season, it’s easy to pack on a few extra pounds. Exercise Researcher with LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center Dr. Neil Johannsen says watching the food you eat over the next month can help, like eating higher protein foods. He also says at holiday parties avoid overeating. Johannsen says after eating a big meal, try getting a little extra physical activity, instead of sitting on the couch watching football.
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