News for Tuesday 013117
By Dave Graichen
Congressional Support in Louisiana for President Donald Trump’s executive order placing travel bans on people from seven Middle Eastern countries is pretty much split along party lines Most if not all Republicans are for with the Democrats against. The Catholic diocese of New Orleans has come out against the executive order as well saying it against the teachings of the church.
Margaurette Beard, the former Rapides Parish District Attorney employee already facing state charges for theft, has been indicted by a federal grand jury. The indictment was handed down last week and charges Beard with two counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds. Beard, of Elmer, was employed as a bookkeeper from October 1988 to October 2015, when she resigned. The two counts point to specific examples of alleged attempts by Beard to cover up thefts by shifting money between funds.
An Alexandria man who is accused of robbing an armored truck outside of the Coliseum Drive Walmart back in 2015 will stand trial March 13th after the window for making a plea deal expired. Police say 59 year old James Gilbert robbed the armored truck of $115,000. But he didn’t get far, he captured after he ran a red light while attempting to escape and struck another vehicle.
President Donald Trump will announce who he plans to nominate for Supreme Court Justice tonight to replace the late Antonin Scalia. LSU Political Science Professor James Stoner expects Trump will appoint someone who will have a strong Republican voice on the nation’s highest court for at least the next couple of decades. Whoever Trump nominates, it will take 51 votes in the Senate to confirm.
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to reduce regulations on small businesses and the National Federation of Independent Business is eagerly awaiting to see which restrictions are cut. State Director Dawn Starns says this order can only help business owners run and grow their businesses. Starns says she ultimately hopes the cost of compliance for small business drops and the complexity of laws they are required to follow are simplified.
A second person has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder of an off-duty Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s deputy. Prosecutors say 21-year-old Baylon Taylor was one of two men involved in the fatal shooting of Allen Bares who confronted Quintylan Richard and Taylor about a residential burglary in June of 2014.
With a 304 million dollar budget deficit and a special session coming up next month, does that mean more cuts to healthcare services? Angela Lorio, co-founder of Trach Mommas of Louisiana, hopes families of elderly and disabled people are prioritized as they are stressed enough. She says tapping into the rainy day fund is a no-brainer.
A 4-year-old from Metairie was hit and killed while walking with his mother along a busy highway in Jefferson Parish Sunday Night. The state police report the driver of the vehicle has not been cited, since the boy ran into the path of the S-U-V.
Restaurants have teamed up with the Well Ahead initiative to offer healthier options on their menu. Well-Ahead Louisiana director Melissa Martin says the partnership will help restaurant goers make smarter food choices. And She says healthy food can still taste great. To learn more about the initiative visit well-ahead-la.com.
For the first time in the state’s history, Louisiana is willing to partner with private companies in the construction of roads. Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says over the next two months they’ll talk with firms who can help finance highway projects that would alleviate congestion along the I-10 corridor in Baton Rouge.
The staff at Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge is trying to find the owner of a framed American flag. They believe it was left behind by one of the four-thousand flood victims they sheltered last August. On the front of the shadow box is the name Joseph Zikmund. Anyone who has information should contact Celtic media.
The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office says a woman is under arrest on animal cruelty charges amid allegations she slammed a pet rabbit against a truck to kill it. They say 19-year-old Kagon Duplantis of Bourg is believed to have been drunk when she killed the rabbit and posted the video on Facebook.
News for Monday 013017
By Dave Graichen
State Police say nearly two million dollars’ worth of drugs are off the streets of Central Louisiana as the result of the arrest of an Alexandria man. Trooper Scott Moreau says earlier this month detectives began investigating 37-year-old Derrick Felton for distribution of methamphetamine and he was taken into custody during a traffic stop. Moreau says the street value of the drugs seized is approximately one-point-seven million dollars. Police also seized over 100-thousand dollars’ worth of cocaine and 67-thousand dollars in cash. Felton was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
Governor John Bel Edwards has called a special session so lawmakers can make cuts to address the state’s 304 million dollar budget shortfall. Edwards says he won’t ask legislators to increases taxes during the 11-day special session but will recommend using 119-million dollars from the Rainy Day Fund. Edwards says he’ll present a budget slashing plan to the legislature by February sixth. The session will start of February 13th.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival announces the 2017 line up and Harry Connick Jr, Tom Petty and David Matthews are just a few of the artist who will perform. Jazzfest producer Quint Davis says not only is the Jazzfest wildly popular for it’s amazing musical lineup and arts and crafts, there’s no place else you can get a gourmet meal in a field. Davis says it takes place the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May.
A Louisiana Department of Education study group finds a significant increase in the number of students completing the application for federal financial assistance. The rate of kids completing the FASFA form increased by 24-percent from last year. Educational Technology Consultant Stephanie Marcum attributes this jump to cuts in funding to the TOPS scholarship program.
Marcum says in the past, Louisiana students have been bad about filling out the application and leaving that grant money on the table.
A State Police Trooper was hit by a passing car during a traffic stop in St. Helena Parish. According to police, the trooper was walking around the stopped vehicle when 75-year-old Johnnie Lee of Covington struck the trooper. The trooper was transported to a local hospital with moderate injuries and is expected to make a full recovery. Lee is charged with careless operation.
A report released by High-Speed-Internet.com finds Louisiana is the third most dangerous state for online dating. Website researcher, Kaz Weida, says one factor that makes the Bayou State so dangerous is the extremely high rate of crime. Weida says they are also concerned about Louisiana’s weak policies when it comes to sex education in public schools. Washington D-C and Alaska were ranked ahead of Louisiana.
Former U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s papers from his tenure in Congress will be preserved at Tulane University. The university’s Louisiana Research Collection announced it will house the documents, which include materials Vitter accumulated during his time as a member of the Senate and of the U.S. House. The files include correspondence, briefing books, constituent mail, grant and project requests, daily schedules, news clippings and photographs. Vitter, a Republican from Metairie, served in the House from 1999 to 2005 and in the Senate from 2005 to 2017. The Tulane collection already holds the papers of dozens of Louisiana’s political figures.
Now is your chance to ride in a self-driving automated shuttle, as a demonstration takes place in New Orleans today. Neil Hemenover with Transdev North America says the vehicle was created by EasyMile and is already in use in Europe. He says the technology is available for a self-driving shuttle to follow a set route. Hemenover says about 4-thousand people a day use a self-driving shuttle in France and the Netherlands. Hemenover says Transdev thinks New Orleans is a great place for this technology with the amount of visitors coming into the city
An Ascension Parish woman will spend five years in prison after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated with her 15-month old child on her lap. At the time of the arrest, deputies said Katherine Summerfield had a blood-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit to drive. Prosecutors say she was so drunk, authorities took her to the hospital.
Mandeville Police have arrested an 18-year-old father for allegedly causing internal bleeding on the brain of his one-month old baby. Chief Gerald Sticker says the infant’s grandmother discovered the toddler’s condition and rushed the small child to the hospital. The child’s father has been charged with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile. Authorities say he violently shook the infant.
Spring practice is underway for the LSU baseball team, who goes into this season with some of the best talent in the country. Opening day for the Tigers is February 17th against Air Force.
News for Friday 012717
By Dave Graichen
A special session to rebalance the state’s budget could become more of a reality today. LaPolitics.com publisher Jeremy Alford anticipates the Edwards administration will present three options to the joint legislative budget on fixing a 304-million dollar shortfall. Alford says what the committee decides, will indicate whether or not another special session will be called before the regular session in April. He says if one is necessary, the Governor will likely call the legislature back in mid-February.
Governor John Bel Edwards’ chief of staff Ben Nevers told state lawmakers today that federal regulations are preventing Louisiana from recovering from two historic floods. Nevers says they’re moving as quickly as possible to get flood aid to the people that need it, but red tape is slowing things down. It could be April or May before the first round of federal dollars gets into the hands of flood victims.
Over 2-thousand Louisiana residents are in Washington D.C. along with hundreds of thousands of Americans for today’s annual March for Life. Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life Ben Clapper says there is a renewed sense of hope under a Trump administration. On Saturday, there will be a March for Life in Shreveport, where 5-thousand people are expected to be in attendance. Another march is schedules in Alexandria Saturday February 4th.
Former Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham told lawmakers a state audit questioning how he spent Gulf oil spill money is the worst Monday morning quarterbacking he’s seen. Barham says allegations of extensive financial problems with the agency he once led couldn’t be further from the truth. Auditors say money intended for fish testing was used on unnecessary items.
President Donald Trump is considering a 20-percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for a wall along the southern border, so what does that mean for Louisiana? LSU economist Loren Scott says if the tax is imposed, Mexico will likely up the price of their exports to the US, which means American consumers will foot the bill. Scott says that would be bad news for the economy because Mexico is America’s number two trading partner behind Canada. He says it’s also likely Mexico will impose a tax on products shipped from the U.S. Scott says anytime a country engages in a trade war with another country, it’s bad for the economy at home. He says trade wars are one of the key reasons we entered the Great Depression in the 1930s
High school principals will vote today on a plan that would reduce the number of state football championships from nine to seven. The vote takes place at the LHSAA convention in Baton Rouge. Iowa (Eye-oh-way) principal Mike Oakley says the proposal will also reduce the number of title games in basketball, baseball and softball. There is no proposal in today’s meeting to reverse the expanded public-private school split that the association voted for last year.
A report from U-Haul finds that Louisiana’s population might have grown during 2016. The Bayou State came in at number eight on U-Haul’s growth report, based on more truck rentals coming into the state than leaving. U-Haul North Louisiana president Warren Iles says they’re opening more truck rental stores and self-storage rooms around the state. He says even if the population isn’t growing, business certainly is, which he says is good news for the state.
A team of LSU engineers is in California testing out a pod that can travel 500 to 600 miles per hour inside a vacuum tube. LSU Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Aly-Mousaad Aly is the team’s faculty adviser says they’re eager to see how fast the pod will actually travel. The team is one of 30 participating in a competition for a new high-speed transportation system.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up for Michael Louviere (Lou-v-air), the Westwego police officer who was fatally shot in Marrero. Reese d’Aquin (DAH-can) is a lifelong friend of Louviere and professional film maker who established the page, which features a video of d’Aquin telling the world about his childhood friend. D’Aquin, who now lives in Florida, says he just wanted to do what he could to help. He says the page has already raised more than $50-thousand of the $300-thousand goal.
Federal prosecutors say two owners of psychological service companies have been convicted in an $8.9 million Medicare fraud scheme that billed Medicare for unnecessary or nonexistent tests on nursing home patients in four Gulf Coast states. Rodney Hesson, 47, and his mother, 63-yearold Gertrude Parker, plan to appeal their conspiracy convictions.
A Grand Isle woman who allegedly backed over her husband with a truck killing him, has been charged with DWI and vehicular homicide, according to the Jefferson Parish records. 46-year-old Sherry Pruitt is being held on $26,150 bond.
On his 44th birthday, criminal charges against Robert Jones were dropped, but not before he spent over 20 years in prison for a 1992 French quarter crime spree that included the murder of a British tourist. His attorneys have argued there was no evidence linking Jones to the crimes.
In football recruiting….LSU has been able to get the country’s number one rated inside linebacker to flip from Oklahoma to the Fighting Tigers. Jacob Phillips of Nashville, Tennessee says he’ll sign with LSU on Wednesday. But the state’s top rated running back, Travis Etienne of Jennings, says he’ll sign at Clemson and play at the real “Death Valley.
The LSU men’s basketball team suffered a historic loss Wednesday night to Florida. It was the Tigers worst loss at home since 1963, as the Gators devoured the Tigers 106-71. Tiger Rag Editor Cody Worsham believes Johnny Jones’ days are numbered as head coach. The Tigers are 9-10 overall, 1-7 in the SEC, and have lost six games in a row.
News for Thursday 012617
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana isn’t seeing as many flu cases as we usually do this time of year. That’s according to the state’s flu bug expert, Dr. Frank Welch, who says right now, 4 out of every 100 doctor visits in the state is for the flu. He says there’s several reasons we’re seeing a slower flu season this year. Welch says while the Deep South has seen few cases, other states are seeing an uptick. But he says we aren’t out of the woods yet. He anticipates cases will pick up, once the weather gets colder, which will happen this weekend.
The state wildlife agent who was shot five times, is scheduled to be released from a Shreveport hospital Today. 25-year-old Tyler Wheeler of Monroe was shot in the temple, jaw, shoulder, arm and back while questioning a motorist last month in Morehouse Parish. LDWF Spokesperson Adam Einck says Wheeler is expected to make a full recovery.
President Donald Trump says he’s asking for a major investigation into voter fraud; specifically probes into whether people are registered in two states, illegal or dead. The Louisiana Office of the Secretary of State says there were no widespread irregularities here or fraud during the 2016 Presidential Election Cycle; as there are several layers of legal protection to prevent any such thing. The Trump Administration believes illegal ballots cost him the popular vote.
The Governor’s Office says a Republican lawmaker’s plan to close a $304 million dollar deficit would cripple public-private-hospitals, lead to the release of 45-hundred inmates and make a historic cut to public schools. Communications Director Richard Carbo says Lance Harris of Alexandria’s proposal would devastate state agencies. Harris released his proposal last week as an example of how the state can close a large midyear deficit without tapping tap into the rainy day fund. But Carbo says it is imperative rainy day dollars are used to ease some of the pain of the cuts. Harris has also said the governor can make the necessary cuts without the need of a special session. But Carbo says without a special session, spending cuts will be focused primarily on health care, higher education and the Department of Corrections.
The American Lung Association says the state is failing to reduce tobacco use in Louisiana. Regional Policy Director Ashley Lyerly says the state is not spending enough on tobacco prevention and could do so by raising tobacco taxes, plus that will reduce the number of smokers. It’s estimated 22-percent of Louisiana adults are smokers.
Louisiana has issued a standing order that makes Naloxone, which is an antidote that reverses an opioid overdose, available at pharmacies without a prescription. The governor says narcotic overdose deaths surpassed homicide deaths in both East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes by mid-year 2016.
The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that the Edwards administration will likely not increase aid to public schools when they present a budget to lawmakers for next fiscal year. But the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would like to see a 35-million dollar increase in funding for K-12 schools. Funding for public schools has been relatively stagnant since 2009.
Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approves more than $1.5 million in funding for teaching residencies. Department of Education Assistant Superintendent of Talent, Hannah Dietsch (HAHN-ah), says beginning in 2018 teacher candidates will be required to complete one year residencies, similar to doctors. She says $1 million of the investment will go to Louisiana universities that will offer the programs. She says part of the funds will provide $2,000 stipends to 233 teaching residents.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance announces they recovered $7.6 million for policy holders last year as a result of efforts by their consumer affairs division who work to resolve consumer complaints. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says it’s a significant increase over the previous year. Policyholders can file complaints online at the state insurance department’s website.
Doctors in Shreveport were able to remove a massive facial tumor from a three-year-old girl’s face. Doctor G-E Gahli, chairs the Department of oral and facial surgery at LSU Health Shreveport, and says the little girl from Brazil was on her way to becoming malnourished because of the tumor. Gali says the child will require follow up surgeries, but at least now she has full use of her tongue.
Walker Police are working to identify a female body that was found under an I-12 bridge. Captain John Sharp says employees of Gravity Draining District Five of Livingston Parish were working to clear debris under the bridge when they made the gruesome discovery. Sharp says the woman appears to have been dead for at least a week. He says at this point they have a lot of unanswered questions.
News for Wednesday 012517
By Dave Graichen
The LDWF agent who was shot during a traffic stop in Morehouse Parish is making progress in his recovery. That’s according to a Facebook post from the Louisiana Wildlife Agents Association, which shows a picture of 25-year-old Tyler Wheeler sitting up in his hospital bed. Two Monroe residents are behind bars in connection with the shooting.
President Donald Trump has signed two orders that moves forward with construction on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, so what does that mean for Louisiana? Acting President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association Gifford Briggs says this creates more hope for the construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Briggs says Trump has made comments about reducing 75-percent of regulations on the oil and gas industry. He says this would open up a lot of opportunities for investment.
The Edwards administration will unveil a proposal on Friday on how to close a 304-million dollar budget deficit for this fiscal year. Lawmakers are split on whether or not to tap into the state’s rainy day fund to close the gap. While there isn’t much of an appetite at the Capitol to raise more taxes, one option would be to broaden the base of the clean penny that was added to the sales tax last year.
Lawmakers are once again proposing more changes to the TOPS scholarship program as budget problems continue to plague the state. Republican State representative Franklin Foil plans to file a bill for the regular legislative session to raise the GPA requirement for TOPS students. Foil says all options need to be considered, so lawmakers can keep the program intact for the future. He says his proposal would make the program more of a merit-based scholarship, like it was intended to be.
Louisiana’s top school board voted Tuesday to create new public charter schools, despite questions about how the state will pay for them amid ongoing litigation that has put financing for more than 30 similar schools in doubt. The uncertainty didn’t slow the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, known as BESE, from authorizing three more of the schools to open in the fall, two in East Baton Rouge Parish and one in Lafayette Parish.
The state’s unemployment rate is at 6-point-1 percent. That’s based on a data from the federal Bureau of Labor statistics who compiled job numbers for December. Another report shows Louisiana added 26-hundred private-sector jobs in December as total employment in the education and health care services has hit an all-time high.
Former Angola Warden Burl Cain has responded to claims in a state legislative auditor’s report that said he may have illegally used public funds for personal reasons. The audit finds state employees worked for Cain, while they were still on the clock. But Cain says, at times, prison employees volunteered to help out at his home, but not while they were working. Cain made the comments yesterday on a Baton Rouge talk show.
Freshman 4th District U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson of Benton was named to both the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. This would put Johnson on the forefront of the lines when it comes to policy concerning building a wall on the southern US border.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and the Louisiana Family Forum is once again searching for the state’s longest married couple to share their love story. President Gene Mills urges anyone who knows a couple married for longer than 70 years to contact their office. The Top 10 Longest Married Couples will be honored by receiving official recognition and will be entered into the Louisiana Family Forum’s “Marriage Hall of Fame.” Mills says for the past two years, Lawrence and Varrie Player of Benton, have received the honor as the state’s longest known married couple, at 82 years together.
News for Tuesday 012416
By Dave Graichen
Officials are in major cleanup mode in parts of the state that saw tornadoes touchdown over the weekend. Lt. Bill Davis with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office says a tornado with 115 mph winds made a 6 mile trek near Plain Dealing. He says about 29 homes were damaged, including three that were a total loss and seven that sustained extensive damage. The National Weather Service believes at least 5 tornadoes touched down in Louisiana on Saturday.
A 66-year-old woman died Sunday after she was hit by a vehicle in Alexandria Saturday evening. The APD reports Shirley Ann Thomas Peace was struck on 6th street shortly before 8pm. The driver of the vehicle has not been ID’s but police do not believe impairment was a factor.
US Senator John Kennedy wants Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee to reduce state spending on Medicaid. Kennedy says Medicaid accounts for 41% of this year’s budget, which is why TOPS has been cut, teachers can’t be paid more money, and congestion remains a problem on I-10. Kennedy says the Medicaid budget has increased by 81% in less than a decade. But he says even though the health budget is going up every year, health outcomes aren’t improving. But Gee says the facts in Kennedy’s letter are just plain wrong. She says Medicaid expansion is actually saving the state money. Gee adds that health outcomes can’t be fixed overnight. She says Louisiana ranks at the bottom in the nation for health, but you can’t improve health if people don’t have access to care.
Republican U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy presented a health care plan Monday morning on Capitol Hill that would give states the ability to decide if they want to keep Obamacare. Cassidy says Republicans believe that if you like your health insurance, than you should keep it. Maine Senator Susan Collins is a co-author of the Patient Freedom Act. Cassidy says not only does this legislation return power to the states, it will also increase access and provide affordable health care for states who want a different health care system.
A state audit released today accuses former Angola Warden Burl Cain of using state workers performing work at private home and providing free food and housing for his family on prison property. Cain’s lawyer says the report’s findings of fact and legal conclusions are in error.
New crime prevention measures will be put in place throughout the Crescent City and it calls for big changes on Bourbon Street. The announcement was made by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who says this $40 million plan will increase the flexibility of police manpower and improve crime deterrence. Landrieu says NOPD is getting 300 more police cruisers for officers to park at home, as a means of crime deterrence. He says much of Bourbon Street will be closed off to vehicle traffic during busy times. Landrieu says security cameras will also be posted in 20 hotspots around the city, as well as a mobile booking center for big events.
Congressman Garret Graves has been named the Chairman of House Water Resources Subcommittee. Graves says this panel has jurisdiction over the Army Corp of Engineers, EPA, and other issues that greatly effect Louisiana. The Baton Rouge Republican says he’ll be in position to speak up for Louisiana during times of natural or manmade disasters. Graves will use this position to push for the construction of flood control projects.
An ROTC teacher at Mandeville High is under arrest amid allegations he had sex multiple times with two different students on campus. Mandeville Police Chief Gerald Sticker says the victims are ages 15 and 16. He says 48-year-old Hosea McGhee is charged with computer solicitation of a minor and felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
The state Supreme Court has suspended a Covington attorney’s license for one year after he told a client he would accept marijuana as payment for his legal services. The client reported to police that she had paid James Mecca with cannabis once before. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office then set up a sting, which led to Mecca pleading guilty to possession of marijuana and losing his license for a year.
News for Monday 012317
By Dave Graichen
The Restore Louisiana Task Force approves a proposal for how to spend $1.2 billion in federal flood aid allocated by Congress. Deputy Chief of Staff for the Governor’s Office, Julie Baxter Payer, says 938-million dollars will go towards rebuilding and repairing flooded homes. This state plan must get approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Louisiana is also awaiting HUD’s approval on a 438-million dollar package that will assist the elderly and disabled. Payer says they hope these federal dollars will get in the hands of flood victims by March or April.
Today marks the start of tax season, as Louisiana residents can begin filing federal and state income taxes. Baton Rouge CPA Brandon Lagarde says if you plan to use a tax preparer to file your taxes, make sure you have all your documentation together and organized. Federal returns are due April 18th this year, while state taxes must be filed by May 15th. Lagarde says refunds might take a little longer this year. He says measures to prevent identity theft have been enacted at the state and federal levels, and this can lead to delays.
Before he ultimately killed himself, 32 year old Sylvester Holt went on a rampage that left both his estranged wife and a Westwego policeman dead in Marrero early Friday. It began after Holt found out that she was about two months pregnant with her new boyfriend's baby. After fatally shooting 31 year old Simone Veal, 31, and the 26 year old officer Michael Louviere, Holt took a cab to the Crescent City Connection, Normand said. He persuaded his driver to let him out on the bridge by claiming he felt sick. He then perched on a girder, kicking off a seven-hour standoff with authorities that ended when he shot himself in the chest as night began to fall. Holt was pronounced dead at University Medical Center late Friday.
Authorities say a West Monroe pizza delivery driver, who killed a man who was attempting to rob him last week, will not face charges. Police say the man acted in self-defense. The search continues for a second robbery suspect.
Homelessness in Louisiana is down 68-percent over the last seven years. That’s according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s yearly Point-in-Time count. Louisiana Housing Corporation Executive Director Keith Cunningham credits this decrease to hard work by his agency to help individuals living on the street. The count showed there was just below four-thousand homeless people in the state in 2016, down from 12,500 in 2009.
Many Women from Louisiana were part of a huge gathering in the nation’s capital over the weekend called the Women’s March on Washington. Alyssa Leader of West Monroe says the purpose was to remind the Trump administration they will not be silent on issues of diversity, abortion and climate change. Other large and some small marches took place all across the country over the weekend.
Twenty-three federal inmates from Louisiana had their federal drug sentences reduced in an act performed by Barack Obama in his final hours as President. Three of the individuals were serving a life sentence. LSU New Orleans Public Health Criminologist Peter Scharf says there’s been a push to stop issuing life-sentences for non-violent drug offenders.
Residents in the greater DeRidder area are making a push to get high speed internet in the rural Beauregard Parish town. Beatrice Teague started a petition because she and her neighbors are unable to get broadband connections in their homes. She says they have to use satellite internet, which is expensive and unreliable. Teague says the petition received more than 500 signatures in the first 24 hours alone, and she’s hoping to reach 750 before she brings it before the PSC.
Louisiana environmental groups are gearing up for round two in a battle against a proposed 163mile oil pipeline that would stretch across south Louisiana from Lake Charles through the Atchafalaya Basin and east to St. James, over fears a leak would destroy Louisiana’s Wetlands and water. A public hearing last week for a required U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit drew more than 400 supporters and opponents. A second hearing is set Feb. 8 for a permit needed from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.
CC’s Coffee House could be opening a location near you thanks to an aggressive growth plan.
The Louisiana company plans to have 50 locations by the end of the year and triple the size of the company in three to five years. CC’s recently opened shops in Lake Charles, Monroe, Gretna, Harahan and New Orleans. Three locations — in Youngsville, Carencro and Alexandria — are set to open in the next two weeks. Store openings in Covington, Houma and Port Allen aren’t far behind.
For the first time in 18 years, the Atlanta Falcons are back in the Super Bowl -- this after trouncing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta will now play the winner of the AFC Championship game the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI in Houston, TX
News for Friday 012017
By Dave Graichen
State Police say three people are dead and a child is in serious condition following a crash in Allen Parish. Sgt. James Anderson says around 10am Thursday morning, a vehicle traveling west on Hwy 190 in Kinder crossed the center line. Anderson says there was a young child in the second vehicle who was transported to the Rapides Trauma Center in serious condition. He says they are still trying to figure out how this happened. Impairment is believed to have been a factor in the crash.
The Mayor Of Lecompte, Robert Baxter, and town council members are facing a lawsuit over their use of tax funds. The case is being handled by Rapides Assistant District Attorney Tom Wells, who has been investigating Lecompte's use of sales tax funds generated through a proposition passed in 1989. The petition states it's believed funds that should have gone to the Lecompte Fire Department during the fiscal years ending in 2014 and 2015 instead went to the Lecompte Police Department. The petition alleges it's still happening.
The leader of the state House Republican delegation has offered a plan to reduce state spending by 304-million dollars in order to alleviate a midyear shortfall. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris say Republicans are not proposing any cuts to public colleges. But, Harris’s plan is proposing 147-million dollars in cuts to the health department, also cuts to state prisons, roadwork and K-through-12 education. Seventeen public health units in 16 parishes could be closed in one scenario the Louisiana Department of Health is considering to address looming budget cuts.
The West Monroe High School Rebel Band gets the prestigious honor of performing in the inaugural parade at the nation’s capital today. Band director Robert Freeman says they learned a month ago that they would play in the inaugural parade, and they didn’t have much time to prepare or raise the $240-thousand necessary for the trip. He says students were asked to pay $600 each, and they had to do a lot of fundraising in a short amount of time to pay for the trip.
The Louisiana National Guard’s 773rd Military Police Battalion is in Washington D.C. to assist in security for the 58th Presidential Inauguration today. More than 170 soldiers with the state’s National Guard will conduct security operations along the parade route, accompanied by Guardsmen from Kansas and South Dakota. This is the first time the 773rd has been a part of a presidential inauguration.
Congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District is looking forward to the changes that will come under the new administration. He says his team has been hard at work in Washington, and the freshman Representative says he’s already learned a lot. Higgins says Congress has been meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence throughout the transition, and he was encouraged by those conversations. He says voters sent a clear message last November and now it’s time to deliver.
LSU announces a timeline for finding a new live mascot and the plan is to have a new tiger before the start of the football season. Ginger Guttner with the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine says they are searching rescue facilities and sanctuaries for a young, male tiger to become Mike VII. But Guttner says the school is ending the decades old tradition of Mike in attendance for LSU football games.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Louisiana Office of Tourism announce the hiring of China-based East West Marketing Corporation — an effort aimed at bringing more Chinese tourists to Louisiana. It includes more support for public relations, consumer marketing and social media promotions. Ultimately Louisiana wants to take advantage of the Chinese travel market.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is considered one of the leading Democrats in the state and he weighs in on his feelings about the Trump administration. Landrieu says both Republicans and Democrats like President Trump’s proposal to invest one trillion dollars on infrastructure. But Landrieu says bi-partisan leaders are concerned about the immediate repeal of Obamacare without a replacement. He says while there are some issues with the Affordable Care Act, like increased premiums, they need to be fixed rather than a full repeal.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, LSU Pennington Biomedical Doctor Steven Heymsfield suggests behavioral counseling. Heymsfield says an obese individual must lose 5-8-percent of their weight in one to two years to have successfully completed the program. Heymsfield says many YMCAs offer an affordable high intensity lifestyle treatment, along with commercial companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
News for Tuesday 011717
By Dave Graichen
Despite a less than perfect day, weather wise, large crowds filled the streets yesterday to play their respects to the father of civil rights Martin Luther King Jr. Clubs, church groups, politicians and more made their way through the excited parade goers. Most didn’t even notice the on again off again showers..
With Yesterday being Martin Luther King Jr Day, Wallet Hub has issued a report on race relations which indicates Louisiana is among the top 10 for making the most progress. We’re among a handful of other southern states in WalletHub’s rankings of racial progress, and spokeswoman Jill Gonzales says there is a bit of the “nowhere to go but up” factor at play though. She says Louisiana’s biggest improvement areas over time were health care, education and civil engagement.
A Gallup poll finds President-elect Donald Trump has a 42-percent approval rating, the lowest since George W. Bush, who had 59-percent. ULM Political Science Professor Dr. John Sutherlin says Trump will likely come into office and follow through with his agenda, regardless of what polls say. Sutherlin says Trump doesn’t seem like his is bothered by public opinion.
A special session could kick off as early as next month so that lawmakers can decide how to deal with the state’s $313 million dollar budget shortfall. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the legislature raised nearly $2 billion in taxes last year, but it just wasn’t enough to balance the budget. Dardenne says they plan to use money from the rainy day fund to close some of the gap, but that still leaves about another 200 million dollars in possible cuts.
More and more LSU students are seeking Sugar Daddies to help pay for their education. That’s according to SeekingArangment.com. Spokesperson Brook Urick says online dating in the sugar lifestyle isn’t much different than regular online dating. She says the main difference is the lifestyle expectations. The average monthly allowance for a Sugar Baby is around $24-hundred. But Urick says not all Sugar Babies get the same allowance from their Sugar Daddies. As the cost of tuition continues to increase while funding for TOPS decreases, Urick says we could see even more Louisiana students turn to the lifestyle for financial assistance.
A recent poll commissioned by Restore the Mississippi River Delta finds over half of Louisianans polled believe coastal land loss is at a crisis, while 96-percent said it needs attention. Jimmy Frederick with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana says saving the coast isn’t just about protecting coastal cities. He says it’s important for the entire state. The state’s coastal Master plan would cost 50-billion dollars. Frederick says there are federal dollars and money from BP available to get some of the work started and this survey shows Louisiana residents want major coastal projects completed.
If you’re buying items from Amazon in the New Year, you might not pay as much in sales taxes as you thought. It was announced that starting January 1st the online retailer would begin collecting state sales taxes for the first time. But Department of Revenue Secretary, Kimberly Robinson, says the only sales tax collected are on products sold directly by Amazon, LLC. That does not include items purchased through third party vendors on Amazon. Robinson says if you purchase online you are required to pay sales taxes at the end of the year, if the seller did not collect them at the time of purchase. The current plan requires self-reporting and Robinson says participation is low.
AT&T Louisiana has donated $150-thousand to the Louisiana Jobs for America’s Graduates program, which helps young people who face difficult challenges earn a high school diploma, complete college, and find employment. Governor John Bel Edwards says this program is critically important to our state.
A homeowner in Slidell shot and killed a man early Monday morning, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. The resident told investigators that he was confronted by a subject acting erratically in the front yard of his residence; so he fatally shot the man. No arrests have been made, yet. The investigation is ongoing.
State Police are looking for a vehicle that hit a trooper’s patrol car and injured the officer over the weekend. Trooper Bryan Lee says the suspect sped off immediately after the wreck on Old Hammond Highway in East Baton Rouge Parish. The good news is the trooper suffered only minor injuries.
A Houma high-school that was for black students only during segregation will reopen next month as a museum celebrating African-American history in St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes. Dedication will be held on February 4th for the schoolhouse that was once called The Academy.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva fired football coach Les Miles in mid-season, could it happen again, this time with the men’s basketball program? The Tigers are 1-4 in the SEC, they’ve lost three in a row and all three defeats have been by double digits. Glen Guilbeau covers LSU hoops for the USA Today Network and says as the losses mount, Alleva might make a change…
News for Monday 011617
By Dave Graichen
State Police report a Saturday afternoon accident on Highway 71 North of Montgomery killed a man from Natchitoches and injured a man from St. Maurice. The crash involved a vehicle driven by 41 year Michael McKinney of St. Maurice. Troopers say McKinney lost control and left the roadway colliding with several trees. McKinney received moderate injuries. But a passenger in his vehicle, 27 year old Brandon Banks, was killed in the crash. Neither man was wearing a seatbelt.
State legislators will likely be called into a special session next month to deal with a budget deficit. The Revenue Estimating Conference has determined the midyear shortfall is around 313-million dollars. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says legislative input will be needed to address a budget gap of that magnitude. Governor Edwards released a statement regarding the bad budget news. He says a special session will prevent deep budget cuts in the areas of higher education and health care. He plans to develop a plan with legislative leaders that solves this budget crisis.
Meanwhile the Governor is in Italy where the topic will be the human trafficking epidemic. He’ll be joined by State. Police Colonel Mike Edmonson and a couple of lawmakers and they’ll meet with nuns who want to open a shelter for victims of sex trade. The governor hopes to meet with the pope on Wednesday and he says he’s paying his own way, but taxpayer dollars will pay for his security.
State Senator Troy Brown of Assumption Parish has issued a statement in response for calls to him to resign over his two domestic violence related arrests, and recent “no contest” plea for alleged abuse against his wife. He says while he would respect the wishes of the Senate if they choose to expel him, legal action would follow. Brown apologized but said he doesn’t feel a misdemeanor warrants him being removed.
Crowley Representative Jack Montoucet begins his duties today as the new Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Montoucet was appointed by Governor Edwards and says his main goal is to ensure Louisiana stays the Sportsman’s Paradise. He plans to try to get more residents involved in outdoor activities, like preservation, hunting and fishing. Montoucet has been the owner of an alligator farm in Acadiana for 30 years.
New Orleans Police report Seven people were injured in five separate shootings across New Orleans between Saturday morning and early Sunday. More people have now been shot in New Orleans in the first 14 days of 2017 than all of January 2016
The entire New Orleans Fair Grounds race track is under a quarantine in an effort to stop the spread of an equine herpes virus. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain. Strain says nine of the two-thousand horses at the track are in isolation.
A local doctor advises parents to limit their children’s screen time each day because too much time looking at a TV, computer or tablet can be bad for a child’s health. Ochsner Health Center Zachary Pediatrician Dr. Myriam Ortiz says when children spend too much time in front of a screen, it limits their outdoor activity time, which leads to higher rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. Ortiz says that’s why parents of children up to age 5 should limit their child’s screen time to one hour per day. She says parents of kids who are older than 6 should keep the media restrictions consistent.
Settlement discussions have failed to bring about a resolution to a federal court case accusing New Orleans criminal court judges of unconstitutionally jailing poor people who cannot afford to pay court fees. The suit was filed in 2015 by six people who said they were locked up for owing court debts. Lawyers are seeking to make it a class action case that could affect hundreds of others.
LSU’s leading receiver this past season Malachi Dupre has decided to enter the NFL draft. Dupre struggled early on during the 2016 campaign and finished with 41 catches for 593 yards and three touchdowns. NFL draft analyst Mike Detillier believes he’ll be selected in either the second or third round. Dupre is the fourth Tiger to turn pro early.
News for Friday 011316
By Dave Graichen
The judge says no bail for Derrick Henderson, the grant parish man accused of bludgeoning he grandparents with a baseball bat. On Thursday, Henderson was in a Grant Parish courtroom for a Gwen's hearing, which determines bond for suspects in domestic violence cases. He is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and home invasion in the Monday incident that seriously wounded his paternal grandparents, both of whom are in their 70s.
State Police report A Florida woman died Wednesday morning in a single-vehicle crash in Grant Parish. 56 year old Carolyn Trissler lost control of her vehicle on Highway 71and ran off the road. The car then hit a culvert and some trees. Trissler was pronounced dead at the scene.
A state judge has denied bond for the two individuals arrested in connection with the shooting of state Wildlife and Fisheries Agent Tyler Wheeler. The judge says Amethyst Baird and Jeremy Gullette are a risk to flee and both pose an imminent danger to the community. Wheeler was shot five times last weekend and at last report was responding well to treatment.
In the past week, Louisiana has seen an increase in the number of flu cases around the state. That’s according to Medical Director for the state Immunization Program Dr. Frank Welch who says four out of every 100 people who visit the doctor have the flu. He says if you got the flu shot, you should be protected. Welch says it’s rare, but if you do contract the flu virus after getting a shot, it’s usually a very mild case. Those who are at the most risk if they catch the flu, pregnant women and the elderly.
We’ll get better idea today whether or not Governor John Bel Edwards intends to call another special session to address looming budget shortfalls. The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today and the panel will determine the exact size of a revenue shortfall for this fiscal year. Edwards says the size of the deficit will determine if a special session is needed.
Edwards estimates a shortfall greater than $300 million would require a special session to resolve.
Louisiana has received 18-million dollars as part of a 4.3 billion dollar Volkswagen settlement in which the car maker admitted to cheating on air emissions tests. DEQ Secretary Chuck Brown says they may use that money to replace diesel engines in school buses with engines that burn cleaner fuels. The money has to be used on an environmental friendly project.
Even after a crazy year of weather in 2016, the crawfish crop seems to be doing just fine. LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Specialist Mark Shirely says the sizes of the mud bugs vary but the harvest is coming along fairly well. Shirely says since it’s early in the season, the price per pound for mud bugs will be more expansive than later in the season. But he says the price will drop depending on supply and demand.
Some state lawmakers are calling for Napoleonville Senator Troy Brown to resign after being convicted of his second domestic violence charge in four months. Senate President John Alario says Brown was suspended from serving on committees when he was arrested in July.
Governor Edwards called for Brown to resign after the arrest, but Brown said he has no plans to leave office.
The Director of the Louisiana State Police Commission has resigned. Cathy Derbonne submitted her resignation this morning amid speculation she may get fired because of controversial political contributions made by former board members. Derbonne served at that post for eight years
Police in Shreveport arrest a 44-year-old man in the death of an 11-month old baby. They said it’s believed that Frederick Clark had been watching the child for an extended period of time before it was discovered the baby was suffering complications that ultimately lead to his death. Clark is charged with second-degree murder and is being held on a million dollars bond.
The criticism is mounting against the LSU men’s basketball program. The Tigers are 1-3 in the SEC and in all three losses, LSU has allowed 90 or more points. LSU hosts Alabama on Saturday and Jones says there’s still plenty of time left in the season to move up the SEC standings.
News for Thursday 011217
By Dave Graichen
An autopsy has been ordered on the body of a man who was found lying alongside Willow Glen Road Monday afternoon. The APD says the, yet to be identified 49 year old man, was found lying face down in the ditch. The initial investigation does not indicate foul play. But the investigation is ongoing. This is the third time in less than a week police have investigated the discovery of a body.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the average price of crude oil in 2017 should be 52 dollars per barrel, so what does that mean for Louisiana? Tulane University Energy expert Eric Smith says this is a nine dollar improvement from last year, but not enough to support new deep water activity. Smith says the offshore oil industry needs prices in the low 60s to commit to new projects.
2017 is looking good for construction workers in Louisiana, as the Associated General Contractors of America finds 70-percent of Louisiana contractors anticipate hiring workers this year. Chief Economist with AGC, Ken Simonson, says the strongest category appears to be hospital construction, but the industry is expecting plenty of work in other sectors as well.
Louisiana State Police say a 51year-old trooper has died of a heart attack in Lake Charles
Tracy Morgan collapsed while walking from the parking garage to his office shortly after 1 p.m.
Tuesday. Troopers and medical personnel who worked in the building gave CPR until an ambulance arrived, but were unable to revive Morgan. He had been a state trooper since 1994, and was assigned to the Gaming Division. He also had worked as a crisis negotiator and had extensive investigative experience.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in finding a man who hasn’t been seen since New Year's Day. 41 year old Marty Powell is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighs 151 pounds and has brown hair and green eyes. Anyone who has seen Powell or has information about him is asked to call the sheriff's office.
January marks the 10 year anniversary of the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, which prohibited smoking in public buildings and places of employment- most significantly restaurants. Director for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, Tonya Moore, says the law has improved public health and it’s been good for the state’s economy. Moore says unfortunately, the ban did not include bars and casinos. But she says the Smoke-Free Air Act approved by the state legislature a decade ago has opened the door for stronger anti-smoking measurers locally.
Napoleonville Senator Troy Brown plead no contest to domestic violence charges. Brown’s 30 day sentence was suspended, and instead he wills spend just 38 hours in jail. Brown will also have to perform 64 hours of community service while on probation for three months.
Baton Rouge Police are looking for a gunman who fatally shot a 27-year-old mother in her doorway Tuesday night as her three children were inside. Sergeant L’Jean McKneely says they believe the woman was targeted. The children were not physically harmed in the shooting.
A Luling man has been arrested in connection with an armed robbery gone wrong. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne says 31-year-old Jerel Smith encountered the victim, Ryan Dubuc of Metairie, on Monday morning at a gas station, where he got into the victim’s truck.
Champagne says at some point, police believe Smith shot Dubuc multiple times in the head at close range, before dumping his body on the side of the road. Authorities say Dubuc was robbed for about $80. He says Smith faces multiple charges in this case.
Stabilizing the budget, flood recovery, criminal justice reform and coastal restoration are among John Bel Edwards’ goals as he begins his second year in the governor’s office. Edwards says last year he tackled a historic budget deficit with 850-million dollars in cuts and urging the legislature to raise taxes to protect higher education and health care. He says comprehensive tax reform is needed this year. Edwards says he’ll continue to push for adequate funding for healthcare, higher ed, and TOPS.
Louisiana is the third most dangerous state for pedestrians, according to a report by Smart Growth America. Director the National Complete Streets Coalition Emiko (EM-mee-koh) Atherton says this means Louisiana has a lot of work to do to increase pedestrian safety. She says many of these deaths are preventable. Florida and Alabama came in first and second for the most dangerous states for pedestrians.
In a conference before U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, the City of Slidell agreed not to enforce its requirement that panhandlers register with the police pending the court’s ruling on the ordinance’s constitutionality. Based on that promise, the ACLU of Louisiana has agreed that its request for a preliminary injunction can be dismissed as moot. The ALCU is representing panhandlers who in the city who say the ordinance violates the first amendment.
New Roads Police say a teacher at False River Academy turned herself in yesterday amid allegations she was setting up a tryst with a student. They say 23-year-old Skylar Russell was found in the car with the victim before any contact was made. She is charged with attempted carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
Former LSU Coach Les Miles told Stephen A Smith on ESPN’s First Take that he’d be willing to coach at a Group Five School. Western Michigan currently has an opening. Miles says playing for a championship year in and year out is great, but he also likes taking a group of guys and making them better.
New Orleans native Vance Joseph is the new head coach of the Denver Broncos. The former Archbishop Shaw quarterback has agreed to a four-year deal and becomes the franchise’s first African-American permanent head coach.
LSU baseball is ranked number two in Perfect Game USA’s preseason Top 25 poll. TCU is ranked number one, who LSU is scheduled to play March 3rd in Houston. The Ragin Cajuns are ranked 13th in the Perfect Game poll.
News for Wednesday 011117
By Dave Graichen
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested a 31-year-old man after he allegedly beat up his grandparents with a baseball bat. Derrick Henderson of Georgetown has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and home invasion. The elderly victims received severe injuries.
Today marks one year in office for Governor John Bel Edwards, and what a year it’s been. After such a tumultuous start, it begs the question as to what the next year will hold. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says like his first year, one of the governor’s biggest challenges in year two is the budget. The Governor’s Monthly call in show is this afternoon at 2p on 970 KSYL
A new political party has been established in the Bayou State, as the official paperwork has been submitted by the Louisiana Independent Party. Party Treasurer Bill Bryan says this is more of a movement than a political action. He says often times, people vote for a party, not a person, and party affiliations can make it difficult for people to have open, honest discussions about candidates. There are currently 56-thousand Independent voters registered in the party. Bryan says the current-two party system doesn’t serve the wide spectrum of views held by voters, as evidenced by the most recent election.
5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham will have a chance to set military policy for the United States as he’s been appointed to the House Armed Services Committee. Abraham says his top priority will be looking out for the men and women who serve our country.
Abraham says it’s critically important for a member of Louisiana’s delegation to sit on the committee because the Bayou State is home to Barksdale Air Force Base, Fort Polk, and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in New Orleans. He expects Louisiana’s military bases to be vital in the ongoing fight against domestic and international terrorism.
Students who attend poorly performing schools can begin applying for vouchers today. President of the Louisiana Federation for Children, Ann Duplesis says about 10-thousand families apply every year, and students from all over the state can apply. Duplesis says students already enrolled in the program do not need to reapply. 123 schools in 31 school districts around the state participate in the voucher program.
WWE’s WrestleMania is returning to New Orleans next year. Governor John Bel Edwards says when the event came to the Big Easy in 2014, over 75-thousand fans came from around the world, bringing an economic impact of $142 million. Edwards says this is the quickest the event has ever returned to a previous host city.
Small business optimism skyrocketed last month, according to the National Federation for Independent Business. State Director Dawn Starns says it’s because business owners are anticipating better economic conditions under the new administration. The NFIB says small business optimism is at its highest level since 2004.
150-thousand Louisiana residents have signed up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Christen Young with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services says financial assistance is a key driver, as 82-percent of Louisiana consumers have qualified for tax credits. Young says most people can find a plan for less than $75 per month.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is looking into new permanent security measures for Bourbon Street. The proposed $30 million plan would include blocking off the road to vehicles during most hours, setting up a command center to monitor a network of cameras, and taking measures to allow police to respond to emergencies with force more quickly.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office says one of their deputies was involved in a shooting with a man apparently trying to kill himself. They say 19-year-old Austin Rackley of Sulphur was located fighting with a family member and he had a gun. They said he refused to put it down when he was ordered to and deputies fired striking him in the neck – injuring him. The investigation is ongoing.
Officials in Alabama say a 20-year-old LSU student has died in Tuscaloosa after being struck by a train. They say Katie Keogh was walking with others after the college title game when she failed to make it across the tracks in time and died at the scene.
A study from LSU Health New Orleans finds a parent’s concern about neighborhood safety will result in less play time outside. Research Professor Dr. Melinda Sothern says they questioned parents in neighborhoods with high crime rates along with graffiti and blighted neighborhoods and found they restricted their children’s outdoor play, which means less physical activity for those children. Sothern says the most intriguing finding was what parents thought of their own communities and if they trusted their neighbors.
News for Tuesday 011017
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office arrests two adults after three juveniles in their care tested positive for narcotics. Captain Tommy Carnline says the complaint originally came in from the Department of Children and Family Services in regards in a November incident. Arrested were 19-year-old Stephan Matthews and 22-year-old Kate Bordelon of Pineville are in jail on a charge of second-degree cruelty to juveniles.
Alexandria Senior High's football stadium may soon be named for the school's former coach "Butch" Stoker, who passed away a little over a month ago. School officials will seek approval to rename the stadium at the School Board's Jan.10 meeting.
The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Rapides Parish School Board $100,000 to replace five of its school buses with "cleaner," lower-emission models. The Rebates going to some 88 school districts in 27 states are being funded by the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. Rapides was the only school system in the state identified as a recipient of new buses this year.
The staff of the Louisiana Board of Regents is proposing several changes to the TOPS scholarship program. Higher Ed Commissioner Joe Rallo says the board is reviewing their report, and the final recommendations will be made in February. He says they are looking at a variety of ways to change how the scholarship is awarded, after the state failed to fully fund the program for the first time this year.
Governor John Bel Edwards plans to go back to Washington in February to secure more federal funds for flood recovery. He says Congress has already approved more than $1.5 billion, but that will not cover flood victims who had flood insurance. He says Louisiana is still $2 billion short for a full, robust recovery.
State Police say Wildlife and Fisheries Agent Tyler Wheeler is responding well to treatment after he was shot five times early Saturday morning in Morehouse Parish. Two residents from Monroe have been arrested in connection with the shooting and State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says more arrests are possible. Edmonson says they are still trying to get a handle on what sparked the shooting.
The clean-up process for Charity Hospital in New Orleans begins today. The historic building has been locked up tight since Hurricane Katrina. LSU Health New Orleans Director of Facility Planning Jerry Jones says the facilities contain asbestos, mold, chemicals, and other hazardous materials and the building is not safe for immediate occupancy. Jones says FEMA will pay for the cleanup to the tune of $6.4 Million Dollars. It’s unclear what will happen with the 78 year old structure once it’s cleaned out.
A Pierre Part man has been arrested after allegedly accidentally texting an Assumption Parish Sheriff’s deputy about a potential drug deal. 39-year-old Dwayne Paul Hebert was met by authorities at a location where he planned to sell crystal meth. Heber was arrested with two firearms along with the drug. He was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, resisting an officer and other charges.
The governor will be in New Orleans today for an announcement that WrestleMania is returning to the Crescent City in 2018.
AAA says the national average price for gas has increased to the highest level since June, but Louisiana is still listed on the top 10 of cheapest markets in the country this week. The statewide average stands at $2.18, up over 12 cents from the prior month.
The race to become the state’s next elected State Treasurer is underway as Covington Representative John Schroder becomes the first person to announce he’s a candidate for the job. The election takes place in October. The other big election is the New Orleans mayoral race, so Political analyst Clancy Dubos says Big Easy voters will play a major role in this race.
Dubos anticipates a lot of candidates running for State Treasurer.
The cold weather over the weekend damaged many plants and it has some wondering what to do next. LSU AgCenter Horticulturist Dan Gill recommends waiting a while to see if the plant is actually dead, even if it appears to have damage.
News for Monday 010917
By Dave Graichen
A Monroe woman was arrested and charged late Saturday night with shooting Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Agent Tyler Wheeler five times after a traffic stop in Morehouse Parish. Wheeler is listed in stable condition at University Health in Shreveport after being shot twice in the head, twice in the arm and once in the shoulder. 31 year old Amethyst Baird of Monroe was charged with attempted first degree murder of a police officer. Police also arrested 34 year old Jeremy Gullette of Monroe and charged him with one count of accessory after the fact to attempted first degree murder.
The Town Talk reports The domestic abuse charge against Cleco CEO Darren Olagues has been dropped at the request of the victim. The Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office announced in a release that it is no longer pursuing the case. Olagues was arrested on Dec. 8 and charged with one count of domestic abuse strangulation, involving his wife. Olagues has been on leave from Cleco since the arrest.
The Transportation Task Force has released their final report on how to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, and of course, funding is number one. DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson says the state needs to increase its investment in transportation by $700 million a year. But he says they haven’t decided how those dollars will be raised. Wilson says they’re also looking into tolls and public-private partnerships as a means of funding. He says something has to be done to address the $13 billion backlog of transportation projects, as well as address the $16 billion in new projects, like a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday he expects a special legislative session to rebalance Louisiana's budget will be needed if a looming midyear deficit reaches $300 million or more, as projected. House Republican leaders, however, hope to avoid a special session. At issue are the constitutional limits on how and where Louisiana's governor and lawmakers can make cuts when a midyear budget gap emerges. The size of the gap will be decided next week by the Revenue Estimating Conference.
Governor John Bel Edwards has sent a letter to Congress urging national leaders not to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But US Senator Bill Cassidy says Obamacare isn’t working for everyone. He says when premiums and deductibles cost thousands of dollars, that’s anything but affordable. But Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee urges federal lawmakers not to fix what isn’t broken. While she admits Obamacare is causing premiums to go up nationwide, she is adamant that the Medicaid expansion has been a godsend.
Monroe is a top contender for a new Graphic Packaging facility. Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Sue Appleyard, says while they are still looking at other potential locations, the company reached a conceptual agreement with the local union to build the facility in the Monroe area. Appleyard expects a final decision to come in the next few months. She says there won’t be any impact on their current paper mill, which employs the bulk of their 400 workers in West Monroe, but the two other facilities would be consolidated. Appleyard says this new 70-million facility will be Graphic Packaging’s first brand new plant in 10 years.
News for Friday 010617
By Dave Graichen
There’s a chance some parts of Louisiana will see winter precipitation today. State climatologist Barry Keim says the region north of the I-10 corridor will likely see a wintry mix.
The annual Quality counts report from Education Week gives Louisiana a D-plus for public education. According to the study, the state performed poorly when it comes to K-12 achievement and funding for public schools. Louisiana finished 46th out of the 50 states.
The Restore Louisiana Task Force meets today to discuss plans to spend federal flood relief dollars. In the weeks after the August flood, the state secured 438-million and then another 1.2 billion was appropriated in December. Pat Forbes, executive director of the State Office of Community Development, says unfortunately, when you’re dealing with federal money – the process of how to secure it takes longer than anyone wants. Once HUD approves the final plan for the first installment, the agency will make the money available to the state; maybe by March.
Trump supporters in Louisiana are helping to drum up support for President-elect Donald Trump’s agenda for his first 100 days in office. Co-chair of the Donald Trump for Louisiana campaign Brian Trascher says they’re organizing post-election activities. He says one of the first orders of business is to make sure Louisiana’s U.S. Senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, support Mr. Trump’s cabinet picks. Trascher says the team plans to create a special fund that will be used to run ads so that people can get the full story on what the president-elect hopes to do.
Four workers on a Renaissance Offshore platform were forced into the water early Thursday when a fire broke out on the platform. US Coast Guard Petty Officer Travis Magee says they received reports of a fire on a platform 80 miles off the coast of Grand Isle. The workers were reportedly taken to Terrebonne General Medical Center for observation. They say there were no signs of pollution in the area.
The Saints have made major changes with their coaching staff. Five assistant coaches were let go, including long-time assistant head coach Joe Vitt. Vitt and James Willis both coached the linebackers and they were let go. Defensive line coach Bill Johnson will also not be back, and special teams assistant Stan Kwan and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon were also let go.
Several stores are closing their doors for good in the coming months. Sears Holdings announces Kmart locations in Gonzales and Jefferson Parish, as well as Sears in Gretna and Cortana Mall in Baton Rouge will close by this April. The Limited is shutting down nationwide, meaning all 5 stores in Louisiana will lock their doors permanently this Saturday, and the Macys in Kenner is closing in the spring. Company officials say online shopping has had a major negative effect of their businesses. Retail experts say the stores simply haven’t keep up with the times.
Walker and Denham Springs have filed a class action suit against the state and all of the contractors infolved in the I-12 widening project. The Livingston Parish towns claim the concrete barrier wall on the interstate made the flooding worse in August, because it prevented water from draining out.
Many people set New Year’s resolutions to become healthier for 2017 but nutritionists are cautioning people about the dangers of fad diets. Registered Dietitian with the LSU AgCenter Sandra May says she sees the popularity of these name brand diets ramp up at the beginning of each year. She urges consumers to eat a balanced diet. May says the most popular fad diets currently are the Adkins, Zone and Paleo diets. She says juicing or detoxing can be very dangerous, especially if you have a medical condition like diabetes.
News for Thursday 010517
By Dave Graichen
Precipitation moves into Louisiana tonight, and it could change to snow north of I-20. But State climatologist Barry Keim says the chance for wintery precipitation is not very high. Keim says this weather system is expected to move through the state quickly. But he says once it passes over, arctic air pushes in.
Well it is now official. According to the National Weather Service, at least 8 tornadoes hit Louisiana Monday. The twisters damaged parts of Avoyelles, Beauregard, Evangeline, Rapides, and Tangipahoa parishes. The most powerful storm touched down in Beauregard Parish, with winds reaching 110 mph. Ten to 25 homes were damaged.
GLOVIS America announces a new inland distribution center for imported vehicles will be located at the old General Motors plant in Shreveport. It will mean at least 150 new jobs. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says Kia and Hyundai vehicles will come from other countries and get equipment and exterior upgrades at the facility. A hiring date has not been set, but he says the average salary is expected to be around $32-thouasnd. The former Shreveport GM plant has been inactive since 2012.
Water systems across Louisiana are increasing fees to help with increased state inspections. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there’s always been a fee to pay for state inspections, but the legislature and governor agreed to increase the fee by another 75-cents per month starting this month, because health risks are getting higher. Guidry hopes this will prevent another disaster like the poor drinking water currently in St. Joseph.
Drivers can expect to pay more at the pump this year, as GasBuddy forecasts the highest prices in three years. Senior Petroleum Analyst Greg Laskowski says right now the statewide average is $2.16, which is about 40-cents higher than a year ago and a spike is likely later this winter and spring. Laskowski expects prices to peak in May or June and the yearly average is expected to be 36-cents higher.
The state has released its revised coastal protection and restoration masterplan that’s designed to reduce hurricane storm surge and restore Louisiana’s vanishing coastline. Bren Haase with the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority says the plan proposes 120 projects. Haase says the worst case scenario for the coast would be about 4-thousand square miles of land loss if they did nothing. Haase says roughly $18 billion has been secured to implement the 50-year plan, which would take $50 billion to fully fund it.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation launches a railroad safety campaign. Based on the latest numbers from the Federal Railroad Administration, Louisiana was fourth in the nation for the number of highway-rail grade crossing fatalities in 2015, with 13 deaths. DOTD Spokesperson Rodney Mallett says the message of their campaign is do not stop on the tracks.
News for Wednesday 010417
By Dave Graichen
At one point over 15,000 Avoyelles Parish CLECO customers were with power after Monday’s storms. After working around the clock, company officials say less than 900 remained with power as of 5pm yesterday. As expected, most of those still without power saw the lights come on over night. CLECO says, those left should see power restored (By Noon) today.
Another cold snap is coming our way, and state climatologist Barry Keim says it will be the coldest one yet. He says a cold front is moving into the state today, which will drastically cool things off in the Bayou State. Keim says it will get progressively colder every day until Sunday. He says a storm forming in the Gulf will increase the chance for wintery precipitation in north and central Louisiana on Friday.
Republican John Kennedy was sworn in as a new U.S. Senator for Louisiana Tuesday. Kennedy occupies the seat once held by David Vitter, who decided not to run for re-election. Kennedy also resigned as state treasurer today. Ron Henson will lead the state agency. Voters will have the opportunity to elect a new treasurer in October.
Two new members of Louisiana’s House delegation also took the oath of office Tuesday as well. Republican Congressman Clay Higgins will represent the third district, which covers southwest Louisiana. And Republican Mike Johnson moves from the state legislature to the seat representing the fourth congressional district.
Louisiana’s congressional delegation is gearing up to tackle some big issues in the 115th United States Congress. Congressman Ralph Abraham was sworn in Monday for his second term representing northeast and central Louisiana. He says a big priority for his district will be creating and protecting jobs in agriculture.
US Representative Cedric Richmond, who represents New Orleans, parts of the River Parishes and Baton Rouge, was sworn in as the new chairman of Congressional Black Caucus yesterday. Richmond says the Caucus plans to affect change. It’s expected that the Caucus will fight many of the policies that will come from the Trump administration. One piece of legislation the two sides could agree on is a funding bill for infrastructure projects.
Workers compensation rates are continuing a downward trajectory in Louisiana, as the Louisiana Department of Insurance announces a statewide rate decrease of nearly 10-percent. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says this is good news for Louisiana businesses because it makes competing for jobs easier. Donelon says rates have seen a cumulative drop of 34-percent over the last 10 years and 50-percent over the last 20 years. He says workplace safety is the biggest reason Louisiana’s workers compensation rates continue to decline.
For 10 years, Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan has represented the state’s vision for preventing its bottom third from being consumed by the Gulf of Mexico. That vision got a lot grimmer Tuesday with the release of the 2017 edition of the plan. It predicts that even if everything works as planned, 2,800 square miles of coast still could be lost in the next four decades, and about 27,000 buildings may need to be floodproofed, elevated or bought out, including about 10,000 in communities around New Orleans.
Season two of the cold case series Killing Fields debuted last night on the Discovery Channel. Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi says the TV show will highlight to work of his deputies who helped solve a 1991 cold case murder and another case that made headlines last spring
The show airs at 9 PM Tuesday nights.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is partnering with Dunkin Donuts franchisee Vik Patel to develop nearly 70 more donut shops in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Monroe. The first new store is expected to open this year. Five stores are currently open in Louisiana. Brees is also involved in the Jimmy John’s Franchise and co-owns Walk-On’s Enterprises.
News for Tuesday 010317
By Dave Graichen
Yesterday’s forecast called for a good chance of thunderstorms. But, no one expected the storms that rolled through Cenla yesterday around lunch time.. Heavy rain and strong winds caused widespread damage. The worst of which was to the south and east of Alexandria / Pineville. In Avoyelles parish residents say they believe it was a tornado that tore through their neighborhoods. In the town of Cheneyville there were reports of heavy damage as well. Power was knocked out to many residents. Cleco says they hope to have most restored today.
A report released yesterday by the state legislative Auditor’s office was critical of reporting required by the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office for certain types of crime. The report pointed out two cases of theft within the department, one of which was reported to the Parish DA’s office. The other was resolved internally. A release on Monday from the RPSO said all monies in both incidents had been recovered.
The 10 story downtown Capital One Building has been sold for $1.425 million to a Hammond developer Darryl Smith. According to Rod Noles, who’s company helped to broker the deal to sell the property, Smith who intends to keep the building's current tenants and do significant renovations. The building, a downtown landmark, was built in the last months of World War One, back in 1919.
Information is still forth coming, but the APD reported yesterday morning that the 16 year old parents of a 1-month-old child have been charged in her death. Authorities arrested the, so far unidentified couple, after the little girl died at the hospital early Monday morning. After their arrests, both were put into juvenile detention and charged with second-degree murder. No other information is available at this time.
Vernon Parish authorities are reporting a man who allegedly fatally shot his aunt and another man on New Year's Day in Anacoco, was later was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The two were identified as 48-year-old Norma Ross of Anacoco and 30-year-old Calvin Stubbs of Leesville. Witnesses told deputies that Ross' nephew, 36-year-old Derrick Ross, had shot the pair.
A federal lawsuit claims sheriff's deputies shot and killed a 27-year-old man in his southwest Louisiana home after investigators improperly obtained a warrant to search his residence for drugs. The Dec. 26 lawsuit accuses a Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office detective of relying on false and uncorroborated statements from an informant and an anonymous caller to get a "no-knock" warrant to search Eric Senegal's home. Deputies told State Police investigators that they fatally shot Senegal after he pointed a .45-caliber pistol at a SWAT team member who raided his Ragley home in January of last year. A third deputy said he shot and killed Senegal's pit bull after the dog attacked them. No drugs were found, however Senegal had drugs in his system at the time of his death.
Today in Washington D.C, John Kennedy will be sworn into the 115th Congress of the United States as Louisiana’s newest Senator. The former state treasurer says he intends to hit the ground running. Kennedy says says one of the biggest things he’s going to try to do for Louisianians is get flood relief here quickly.
The Smoking Cessation Trust is offering tips to help smokers quit for the New Year. CEO Mike Rogers says this is a great resolution for people to push for. He says most people who try to quit cold turkey are unsuccessful but they have a great program to help. Visit smokefreela.org for more info on the program.
2016 was certainly an unusual year for Louisiana politics, so what can we expect in 2017? Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says next year will be all about the budget. He says we can look forward to another contentious battle over revenue versus spending. He says like last year, we are entering the New Year with a massive budget shortfall.
Saints Coach Sean Payton refused to address rumors on Monday that he could be coaching elsewhere in 2017. He said it would be silly to add fuel to those reports. Quarterback Drew Brees has said that reports of Payton leaving have been completely made up and said it comes with the territory when you don’t make the playoffs. Brees is coming off another great season. The 37-year-old signed a one-year contract extension prior to the start of 2016 season…
News for Monday 010217
By Dave Graichen
An Alexandria man, 25-year-old Keaton Spurlin, Has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence, after an accident on Wednesday of last Wednesday killed a 18 month old child. Spurlin was booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center Friday on the charge. He’s been released on bond.
Governor John Bel Edwards has named State Rep. Jack Montoucet of Crowley as the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The governor’s office says Montoucet will take office in mid-January. Former secretary Charles Melancon stepped down after an audit showed problems with his predecessor.
At least 90 homes out of the water tested at 400 residences in the town of St. Joseph were found positive for levels of lead not safe for consumption. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says in many cases, it was found the lead was coming from pipes inside of the home. He says they’re offering more tests to ensure there aren’t other sources of lead in the home that kids could be exposed to.
The state Department of Environmental Quality is urging Louisianans to recycle after the holidays. Jean Kelly with DEQ says more waste is produced in December than any other month. She says almost everything is recyclable in some way.
A Baton Rouge man is facing two counts of first degree murder from a 2015 cold case. Sgt. L’Jean McKneely with Baton Rouge police says it’s believed 26-year-old Johnathan Robertson was also involved in a number of other crimes. McKneely encourages anyone who might be a potential victim to contact police.
A Rayville man is facing one count of negligent homicide after he allegedly shot and killed his cousin when being careless with a gun. They say 34 year old Bryant Silk is accused of pointing the weapon at the victim as a joke when the two were smoking weed and drinking. This is apparently when the gun went off by accident. Bond was set at $25,000 for Silk.
Many people set new fitness resolutions for the New Year, but how do you make sure to keep up with them? Director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Rudy Macklin says it’s always a good idea to get a workout partner. Macklin says a good way to become more active is to do more physical things around the home, like mowing the grass. He says starting a diet or workout regimen with another person helps to keep up the motivation. Macklin advises people who are older or haven’t been active in a while to start out slow.
The New Orleans murder rate climbed last year to 176. That's the highest count since 2012 when 193 people were slain in the city. Murders last year included domestic violence incidents, drug turf wars and high profile cases such as the Nov. 27 mass shooting on Bourbon Street. Chicago led the country in murders in 2016 with 762 homicides. That's more killings than New York and Los Angeles combined.
A newly formed Shreveport environmental activist group has made plans to travel to Baton Rouge to protest an incoming pipeline that many worry would hurt the environment.
The $670 million pipeline project would carry an estimated 280,000 barrels of oil through 11 southern Louisiana parishes. It's backed by Energy Transfer Partners, Inc., the same company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
A disease research company will set up a pharmaceutical research and development facility at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Crown Bioscience Inc. CEO Jean-Pierre Wery announced the project. Wery said the project will enable Crown Bioscience to advance treatments for cardiovascular and metabolic disease research. The company will make a $1 million investment and create 10 jobs with an average salary of $70,000.
Baton Rouge Mayor-President-Elect Sharon Weston Broome said she’s started searching for replacements for two top jobs in her administration. Broome said she’s reached out to national organizations to help recruit candidates to fill the roles of Police Chief Carl Dabadie and Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel. She also said that all city-parish department heads were to take on the “interim” title as she tries to fill her administration with people of her choosing.
Broome said she has started soliciting feedback from national groups though no search committees have been formed yet.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl kicks off tonight in the Mercedes Benz Superdome at 7:30 as the Auburn Tigers take on the Oklahoma Sooners. Chief Operating Officer for the bowl, Jeff Hundley, says originally there were some struggles selling tickets but he still expects a big crowd to be in attendance.
Now that the Saints season is over and they’ve once again failed to make the playoffs for a third straight year, can we expect to see many changes in the off season? NFL Analyst Mike Detillier says he doesn’t see many things that need shaking up on the offense. Detililer says what the Saints really need to do in this off season is go out and find a top pass rusher. He also says there has got to be a new special teams coach.
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