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New data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows Louisiana’s unemployment rate for October was 4.8% the lowest it’s been since June of 2008.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie says this is the sixth consecutive month the rate has declined. She says we’ve had four industry super sectors that have reached all-time record highs this year.

“The education and healthcare super sector, construction, as well as, leisure and hospitality and a smaller sector comprised mostly of industries engaged in equipment and machinery repair.”

Dejoie says the announcement that DXC will open up in New Orleans will only help this number continue to decrease. She credits many programs to helping those unemployed in the Bayou State find work.

“We’re constantly working through our local offices to place individuals to provide skills upgrading. We have a number of apprenticeship programs going on, particularly in the healthcare sector.”

Professional and Business Services gained nearly 5,000 jobs for the month and Education and Health Services gained 400 jobs. Dejoie says oil and gas is still struggling in the state but they are working to transfer employees in that industry into other fields. She says Lake Charles continues to grow the most in the state with job opportunities.

“With all of the different refineries, processing, chemical manufacturers in that area that are expanding and also with the people they have retiring, there is continued momentum in that area.”



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Governor John Bel Edwards announces a plan to upgrade high speed internet connectivity to 164,000 students in K-12 public schools. Education Policy Advisor for the Governor Donald Songy says these kids have broadband in their schools but it’s slow.

“Most of them have adequate bandwidth and speed. There are just a few districts, about 7 or 8 districts, that we’d like to help to get up to that minimum speed.”

88% of school districts are meeting the Federal Communications Commission’s recommended minimum connectivity required for students to take advantage of digital learning. Songy says the state will partner with the non-profit EducationSuperHighway to help improve internet services for schools lagging behind. He says they are identifying which schools need additional help.

“To work with the local school districts to leverage funds to make sure that they’re getting all of the E-Rate funding that they’re entitled to. They even provide technical help like setting up networks.”

90% of high speed internet costs are paid for by grant money but Songy says the struggle for many schools is finding the funding for that last 10%. He says these last few school districts are working hard to receive this level of broadband and sometimes just need a little extra technical support.

“The technical expertise can come from a group like EducationSuperHighway to help them to do the E-Rate application, to set up the networks, to leverage all the funding that they have.”



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A south Louisiana restaurant will get national attention this weekend on the Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise.” Boudreau and Thibodeau’s Cajun Cookin’ in Houma will be one of the segments on the show. Owner Debra Blanchard says a producer has local ties to Houma and thought it make for a great feature.
"One of the executive producer's mother used to live in Houma.  He really wanted to get back to his roots and his family's roots.  He did some research and found out we're a fun place to visit and a great place to eat."
She calls it an honor to be chosen for the show. They have been in business for nearly 20 years. Blanchard says the combination of good food and fun is the secret to their longevity. 
"Learning, trying new things and keeping to the cajun roots.  Etouffees, jambayala and stuff that people grew up on."
Blanchard says when it came time to name the restaurant. She explains it comes from a long time tradition throughout south Louisiana. 
"The Boudreau and Thibodeau cajun jokes.  We have plenty of Boudreau and Thibodeau jokes on the walls."
The show will air Sunday at 7pm on the Travel Channel.


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The state is launching a Louisiana Cultural Shopping Trail to provide visitors an opportunity to discover unique retail stores as they travel through the Bayou State. Chairman of the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Commission Steve Windham says L-A-shopping-trail-dot-com will highlight great antique or boutique shops, along with stores that feature hand-crafted goods.

"The ones that are small business operated, by mom and pop family operations, that could range from a Tobasco shop to the shops along the main street."
Windham says the Louisiana Cultural Shopping Trail gives specialized businesses off the beaten path a chance to showcase the state’s vibrant culture to visitors who are traveling our highways.
"It's a way to encourage them to see more of what Louisiana is like and the things we have to offer as a cultural destination."
Windham says Louisiana residents are encouraged to visit the over 100 stores that make up the Louisiana Cultural Shopping Trail, which winds throughout the state, but the main goal is to encourage out of state travelers to shop at these unique retailers.
"In order to build and grow any economy, what you want to do is bring in wealth from the outside.  You don't want to shuffle it from one pocket to another."


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The election for the New Orleans mayoral race is tomorrow and polls show Democratic councilwoman LaToya Cantrell beating fellow Democrat and former judge Desiree Charbonnet by a landslide. Political Analyst Clancy Dubos says Charbonnet has raised nearly twice as much money as her opponent but Cantrell has spent her money more wisely.

“She invested in voter identification where she went out and worked the precincts, she spent more than a year going to community meetings and building a grassroots network, identifying who her voters were.”

Dubos says Cantrell’s campaign was very much rooted in social media. He says Charbonnet began the race as the frontrunner but recent attacks weakened her considerably.

“After the attacks, she was somewhat lucky to make it into the runoff. Even though she had some good ammunition to use against Cantrell, the voters just tuned her out.”

This will be the first time a female has been mayor of New Orleans. Dubos says this big race with two Democratic candidates is likely to help out Democrat Derrick Edwards’ campaign for State Treasurer against Republican John Schroder.

“Schroder is certainly a favorite but the big turnout in New Orleans, which is a heavily Democratic city with a lot of voters, will probably make it closer than it otherwise would’ve been.”



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Secretary of State Tom Schedler is expecting a voter turnout of 13 percent statewide for Saturday’s election which features the race for state treasurer and the New Orleans mayoral runoff between LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet. Schedler says if it wasn’t for this race, it would be a slow day at the polls.


"Without the driver of Orleans Parish, it bumps us up to 13.  If we didn't have that mayoral election with the open mayor's seat with council seats, quite frankly we would be talking single digits."

Voter turnout for the October statewide election was 14-percent. Schedler says he initially thought that turnout for the November election would be even lower but early voting turnout was better than expected.
"Of course I want to put everything in perspective.  When you start talking at the high side 13 percent, that's not anything I'm proud of."

Schedler says the treasurer race between Democrat Derrick Edwards and Republican John Schroder is the only item on the ballot in half of the state’s parishes.

"My home parish of residency St. Tammany has only the treasurer's race and we have 32 of those parishes across the state."

About 400-thousand are expected to vote in Saturday’s election.



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Michelle Southern reporting. 
Tickets are on sale now for WrestleMania 34, which takes place April 8th at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The last time WWE's flagship show came to The Big Easy was in 2014, bringing in over 75,000 fans and generating $142 million dollars in economic impact.

WWE superstar Big Show did a media tour in south Louisiana this week to promote WrestleMania 34.

"If you've never been, where have you been? I mean this is a spectacle of all spectacles," said Big Show.

Fans from all 50 states and 36 countries attended WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans. Big Show says you can expect more of the same next year.

"It will influx Louisiana, which is going to bring in a lot of money," said Big Show. "And that's good because we like people to come in and spend money then leave."

This is the quickest that Wrestlemania has ever returned to a previous host city ever. Big Show encourages locals to go, even if they aren't wrestling fans, because there's really nothing like it.

"The lights, the smoke, the pyro, the entrance music," said Big Show. "These are celebrities and athletes vying for one of the most coveted prizes in our history."


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The U.S. House approved the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Republicans say will lower tax rates at all income levels and lower the corporate tax rate.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise says too many companies are moving overseas to do business because it’s too expensive in the U.S. He adds this legislation will make it easier for everyday Americans to do their own taxes.

“Over 90% of American families will actually be able to do their taxes on a post card. Just think of how much that’s going to save for people who have to pay to have their taxes done because the code is so complicated.”

The Senate still must vote on its own version of a tax reform plan and if that passes then it must be settled in a conference committee. Scalise says under the House bill, everyone at every income level will see a tax break. He says they have also doubled the standard deduction, which will be a big win for struggling families, as well as….

“We eliminate special interest loopholes. The problem is every time somebody gets a special interest loophole, it costs the rest of us. Now we get rid of those loopholes so that everybody can pay less in taxes.”

Middle class families in Louisiana are predicted to see a raise in after-tax income of $1,857, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The only House member from Louisiana to vote against the measure was Democrat Cedric Richmond. Scalise says this bill also repeals the death tax. He says this bill is about getting our economy moving again and creating jobs.

“It allows the economic growth that’s going to see wages finally increase after 10 years of a stagnant economy. It’s about time we finally answer the call that millions of Americans have been asking us to do for so long.”



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Nicholls State University has named Jay Clune as the university’s 6th president. Clune has served as interim graduate dean for the University of West Florida. He is a Nicholls graduate and native of nearby Homua. He will take over after the first of 2018. Clune says he wants students coming to Nicholls to learn in a modern environment.

"I think in this age of technology and innovation, we need to take another look and see if we can expand that a bit and add some programs."
For the past nine years, legislators have cut higher education budgets, trimming some 150-million-dollars over that period of time – 39-million-dollars for just Nicholls. Clune says he knows of other ways to raise money. 
"We're also going to look at public private partnerships.  Businesses and industries who come in who help get programs started, who help to underwrite some of the instructional costs."
Clune says he knows there are issues at the school, but wants to tackle them head on. 
"We're coming in with what we see as great potential.  There are some student issues that we're going to work through. And I want to hear from students as to what's important to them.  And I want to hear from faculty and staff."

He will begin his new positon after the first of the year.



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Natchitoches unveils its newly renovated rue Beauport Riverfront tonight. The riverfront has undergone a four million dollar restoration. Mayor Lee Posey says they’ve added a new festival stage, amphitheater seating and a new Santa Claus house. He says restrooms and handicap ramps have also been added along the Cane River.

“We think it’s a game changer on our riverbank. Everybody is loving it. We have the grand opening of it tonight and this weekend, people will be able to enjoy it with our Turn on the Lights weekend.”

The dedication comes as the 91st Christmas Festival of Lights is set to begin this Saturday in downtown Natchitoches with the official lighting ceremony starting at 6:30 p.m. Posey says the riverbank was torn up until about a month ago with the renovations. He says once sod was laid down, everything started to come together.

“Everybody is talking about it, how great it looks. We think it’s going to be one of those wow factors for our downtown riverbank. Come experience Natchitoches, it’s another piece of the puzzle that we think is even going to make it better.”

Posey says the Festival of Lights takes place throughout seven weekends. He says tonight’s dedication is free to the public.

“We’re just really excited, we invite everyone to come because we think you’re going to love it. It’s very family oriented. Then Christmas Festival weekend with a parade, the first weekend of December always, that’s going to be a huge day.”



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Baton Rouge Police have arrested a man in the 2014 killing of West St. John High School coach Juan Joseph. Sgt. Don Coppola says they had originally booked another man for the murder, but those charges were later dropped after the DA's office said the shooter was misidentified. Coppola says now Jamarcus Goodman is charged with second degree murder.

"They were able to link him through DNA evidence," said Coppola.

Coppola says they believe Goodman was a passenger in a vehicle that had intentionally fired a weapon which struck and killed Joseph. He says investigators had been on the case exactly three years before they caught up with Goodman.
The murder happened on November 16th, 2014. 


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As we’ve seen an excess number of wrecks this week, the state Department of Transportation reports there were 2,423 crashes on Interstate 10 between Exit 100 in Lafayette and the Baton Rouge Mississippi River Bridge from January 1st of 2014 to the end of 2016. DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson,

“It’s a pretty interesting number. When you look at the trucks and the cars and the volume, you have to think about driver responsibly. Put the phones down, be alert and pay attention.”

Of those crashes, 19 were fatal and 20 people died. Wilson says the majority of these wrecks are a result of tailgating or distracted driving.

“You might have in the middle of the day congestion on the bridge that’s causing this backup that you’re not expecting and when you don’t pay attention, you’re going to be in someone’s trunk and there is going to be someone in the back of that car that could lose their life”

Numbers from DOTD show 55% of these accidents happened when a car rear-ended another, 22% happened when a car ran off the interstate. Wilson says they have increased the number of rumble strips on the roadway to try alert drivers who may be drifting off the road or into another lane. He says the installment of cable barriers has also helped to stop drivers from running off the road.

“As gas decreases in cost, you see increased travelers. That’s a factor for us that we have to consider and so we stripe the roads better, we improve pavement condition, we try to make them as straight as we can.”



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There is a new North Louisiana Crime Lab operating in Shreveport, serving 29 north Louisiana parishes. Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator says the state of the art 86-thousand-square foot North Louisiana Forensic Sciences Center should help them solve D-N-A cases much faster.

"We've got some of the nicest conditions and the newest of technology so it will get us a long way toward crime fighting."
The planning started over 12 years ago with construction beginning in 2013 at a cost of 26-million-dollars. Prator says the new lab will also partner with the LSU Medical School in Shreveport.
"Forensics will be taught there and they will do autospies.  So it's good for our entire north Louisiana community." 

Prator says real life crime work takes much longer than what is seen during television shows. He says the ability to conduct DNA tests in the new facility will save time and money in investigations.

"This will get us a lot closer.  We'll be able to do them faster and more efficently and hopefully less expensive."


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The state has added 23 juvenile whooping cranes to the Louisiana flock as part of an effort to regrow the population after the large white birds disappeared from the Bayou State in 1950. Louisiana Department of Wildlife Fisheries Biologist Sara Zimorski says these young birds join 49 other cranes.

She says they re-introduced whooping cranes to Louisiana back in 2011.

“I think we have seen a lot of good progress, we’ve seen some setbacks, as well. So I think we’re doing pretty good, we’ve got birds who are starting to breed now. That’s sort of the next big step.”

LDWF along with Audubon Nature Institute and Chevron have partnered to save the whooping cranes from extinction. Zimorski says these generous donors have allowed them to achieve measurable conservation results and impact the future of the species.

“The plan and the hope is that they will be more involved in the future with hatching and raising chicks for us. Audubon, Chevron and LDWF are going to be working closer on this project in the next few years.”

Zimorski says last year, for the first time, a young pair of birds hatched and raised a chick. She says 2017 has also been successful with new baby whooping cranes.

“We have three different chicks that hatched to three different pairs and one of those survived and is still with its parents and probably will be for another two months or so before it separated from the parents.”



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65-year-old Wilbert Jones is walking away as a free man after serving over 45 years in jail in connection with a 1971 rape and kidnapping of a Baton Rouge nurse. State District Judge Richard Anderson threw his conviction out, because he determined the case against Jones was weak and the prosecution withheld evidence. Loyola University law professor Dane Ciolino explains.


"The only eyewitness to the crime died nearly ten years ago.  Sounds to me that the trial judge it right in overturning this conviction as a result of the prosecutorial misconduct."  

The group the Innocence Project has worked for 15 years to free Jones. However, Ciolino says prosecutors approach these type of cases without much merit and Jones is fortunate to be released after so long.

"This is one of those small percentage of cases where there's been clear evidence of and injustice that happened to an incarcerated person.  He was righted by the criminal justice system."

State law does allow for wrongly convicted individuals to receive compensation but Ciolino says this case doesn’t qualify.

"There is a compensation fund that allows payments to released individuals if they are released on grounds of innocence.  This is not a finding that this man is innocent."


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Many people will travel to visit with friends and family this holiday season but TSA reminds those flying out of Baton Rouge or New Orleans that any electronic larger than a cellphone must be taken out of a carryon when going through security. TSA Spokesperson Sari Koshetz says this is just another step in stopping terrorists.

“We know that terrorists are still very much interested in taking down an airplane and we have determined that terrorists are trying to hide explosives in electronic devices.”

Koshetz says these bigger electronics need to be in a bin without anything under or over the item. She says this will create a more efficient screening through security and allow passengers to get on their planes quicker.

“If we have a number of bags that had electronics in it that needed to have a second look then we’d have to open that bag, take the item out, put it in a bin and send it through again.”

Liquids and aerosols still can be no bigger than 3 ounces and must fit into a quart sized bag. Koshetz says they have discovered knives inside the handles of brushes and stun guns disguised as cellphones. She says so far this year, TSA has confiscated 6 guns in Baton Rouge and 52 in New Orleans.

“If you’re going to travel with your gun, it must be in your checked bag, you must declare that you have a gun to the airline when you are checking in, the gun must be in a hard sided locked container and it must be unloaded.”



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The U.S. House passed a bill Tuesday to overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program, allowing it to operate another five years and to update flood mapping requirements. Richland Parish Representative Ralph Abraham says he voted against the bill because he’s concerned about double digit premium increases.

"After this bill is the great unknown as to what is going to be the more negatively impactive rate increase.  It's going to be much more than that."
Abraham says the proposal will hurt economic growth in Louisiana, since many residents and business owners alike are in flood prone areas.
"People are going to walk away and say look I simply can't afford this.  And this is exactly the opposite of what we want to happen." 

Congressman Garret Graves called the higher premiums a tax increase and agrees with Abraham. However Congressman Steve Scalise says the bill has good reforms for taxpayers, giving real certainty to policyholders. Abraham hopes the U.S. Senate can pass a better bill.

"Senator Cassidy has got some good provisions on the Senate side.  I'm sure Scalise will look out for Louisiana first and foremost." 


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The newest numbers from the Cost of Living Index for the third quarter of this year rank Monroe and Shreveport in the top for the most affordable cities to live in the Bayou State. President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership Scott Martinez says the consumer’s dollar goes farther in these markets.

“Housing and utilities continue to be lower than the national average and most of the time the statewide average in Louisiana, as well as the country because Louisiana is a low cost of living when you compare it to the other states.”

A cost of living calculator is available at nlep.org to compare the cost of living and certain consumer items to determine which area is the cheapest to live within the 267 communities participating in the study. Martinez hopes the low cost of living in north Louisiana will convince companies to do business along the I-20 corridor.

“It’s a lower business cost, it’s a lower place for your employees, if they’re making a certain salary here, they can live much better than perhaps the other markets for technology like Austin.”

The Cost of Living Index shows that if an individual earned $50,000 in Denver, Colorado, they would only need to early a little over 40,000 in Shreveport and 43,000 in Monroe. Martinez says these numbers speak very positively on the living conditions in these north Louisiana markets.

“It shows that you can have a better standard of living if you move from one of those higher cost technology markets into north Louisiana, it makes your lifestyle much different.”



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The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness will lead a full scale nuclear disaster prevention drill called Operation Great River in which a dozen federal, state and local authorities will participate. The exercise will happen today along the Mississippi River near the Port of Baton Rouge. GOHSEP Spokesperson Mike Steele says it’s a first of a kind drill in Louisiana.

"It takes a look at all of the collaboration needed. In a potential nuclear event, you're talking about a lot of different agencies needed from the detection to the safety of the public."
Steele says it’s important to know how to handle such a scenario along a main transportation route like the Mississippi River, not only to respond in an emergency, but to protect it before a disaster happens. 
"The river involves many different industries.   Everything from the energy to
petrochemical industries to the agricultural industries up and down the river."
Steele says secrecy is kept until it’s time to start the drill to really test agencies and their preparedness. GOHSEP hopes to find how well they are prepared. 
"That will kind of dictate the way the actions will play out as far as the exercise is concerned.  But the detection and prevention aspect of it is what they're focusing on the most."


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Have you ever thought Louisiana as a golf destination? Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser is wanting to make it so. He is helping to re energize the Audubon Golf Trail. 15 courses statewide are included. He says this will be a valuable tool to gets visitors to vacation here and see what other attractions Louisiana has to offer.

"We can tell them to come here and play a round of golf, we have the best fishing in the world.  So we want to use golf to lure them here and see all of Louisiana."
Nungesser says they are promoting the Audubon Golf Trail through social media and golf shows around the country, including Canada. He says there are many Canadians that typically travel to southern states to golf. He says the sportsman paradise is the better value. 
"A lot of them go to Arizona.  Due to the slowdown in the oil industry, we want to promote how cost effective and how it's less expensive to come stay and play golf here in Louisiana." 
Nungesser says the mild climate is another reason what makes Louisiana great for golfers and vacationers alike. 
"No matter how bad the weather is, if you wait 15 minutes it will change.  Very seldom, thank goodness in a long while, does it ever rain the whole day anywhere in Louisiana."
Nungesser adds that Retire Louisiana is another initiative established to encourage retirees to choose the state as their final destination, by using the Audubon Golf Trail to draw them to Louisiana.  ;">


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