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A record number of people plan to shop local for Small Business Saturday. Dawn Starns, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, says they partnered with American Express and their survey found a large majority of shoppers plan to participate in Small Business Saturday.

“80% of consumers are saying they’re willing to pay slightly more that they know they’ll pay at a small independently owned retailer because they’ll get the opportunity to buy something a little unique.”

Starns say this is so encouraging because this is the time of year where small businesses are in competition with big name stores. She says shoppers are often looking for unique gifts and items and that’s where your small business retailer comes in handy.

“A lot of times people feel like they’re in a line, running in droves with the masses and really a lot of times people are looking for something not everybody is going to have to give as a gift.”

Starns encourages shoppers to keep local stores in mind this holiday season, because says the money spent at a small retailer goes right back into the local economy.

“These local shops are doing everything they can to not only be in business and be there for them to offer great opportunities to shop but also give back to the community and employ people.”



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Many in the national media believe its crazy LSU would fire Coach Les Miles at the end of the regular season. Miles has won one national championship and 110 games in his eleven seasons in Baton Rouge. Dennis Dodd with cbssports.com, says LSU would be making a horrible decision if they axed Miles…

“I can’t think of another school that’s willing to part with a coach for $17 million in the middle of winning.”

Dodd says it was only three weeks ago when LSU was ranked second in the college football playoff rankings. He says it will be very hard to replace Miles with a better coach…

“If you’re going to do this, you’d better have a (Florida State) Jimbo Fisher in your back pocket, you better have a (Clemson) Dabo Swinney in your back pocket and as we sit here right now, I don’t know if they do.”

Miles’ job security came into question last week as a result of a published report that said he was coaching for his job. Athletic Director Joe Alleva has remained quiet. Dodd says Alleva is mishandling this situation…

“I think it’s horrendous that the AD has just been mute about this. It’s pretty obvious these stories were written at least with his passive approval, if not guidance and that’s fine but you’ve got to stand up and say something in the middle of this.”



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Blue Bell ice cream lovers are in luck, the creamery is announcing they’re coming back to the Pelican State. Spokesperson Joe Robertson says Blue Bell will begin to restock Louisiana grocery stores on December 21st.

“Now that we have all three of our facilities back up and running, we’re able to build up enough inventory to return to some of these phases.”

Blue Bell pulled its ice cream from the shelves in April over listeria concerns. The popular ice cream has been coming back in phases over the last few months. Robertson says most of their retail partners have welcomed them back and they’ll be in most major grocery stores. He says currently, they’re only selling five flavors of ice cream.

“We’ve got our Homemade Vanilla, our Cookies ‘n Cream, Dutch Chocolate, The Great Divide and our Butter Pecan flavor right now and that’s how we’ll start out.”

Robertson says with each phase, they bring back more employees.

“With phase four, Louisiana and Jackson, Mississippi phase, we’ll bring back an additional 115 employees. Most of those we're employees at the distribution centers in those areas.”



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Governor-elect John Bel Edwards made his first address since winning Saturday's election at the annual Louisiana Federation of Teachers convention in Lake Charles.  Edwards told teachers that he will insist on a greater accountability of charter schools and push for more autonomy for local school systems.

"We've got to stop substituting the opinion of the BESE board in Baton Rouge for school boards at the local level when those school districts are performing well under our own accountability system."

Edwards says a recent report in the Advocate newspaper stating that he wants to ban charter schools is not true.  He says he has proposed nothing that would really affect an existing charter school.  But Edwards says charter school placement should not necessarily be a decision made by BESE.

"But in those districts that perform well under our accountability system, the final decision as to whether a new charter school opens ought to rest with that school board.  It's just that simple."

Edwards told teachers that after he is sworn into office on January 11th, they were going to have a partner in the Governor's Office.  Edwards also stated that he had no intention to take the voucher program off the books, but would seek to steer the program back to its original purpose.

"It's stated purpose was to provide a choice for parents whose kids were trapped in failing schools.  A 'C' school is not a failing school." 


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The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the state Fire Marshal's Office, and local authorities are seeking information on 86 suspected arsons.  Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says the suspicious fires happened between August 30th and October 21st.

"These fires began in the Castor community in Bienville Parish and progressed east through the Liberty Hill area and east to North Hodge in Jackson Parish."

Investigators have determined that a majority of these fires occurred on properties owned by timber company Weyerhaeuser Industries.  Strain says a substantial reward is being offered for information leading to the capture for these arsonists...

"The Louisiana Forestry Association and Weyerhaeuser have put up a $4,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and the conviction of the people or person responsible for these arsons."

Strain says arson is a serious crime that comes with serious penalties...

"Not only is it a criminal activity, for which you will go to jail, but you will also have to pay full restitution.  Pay for what you have destroyed." 


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For the fourth year in a row, the cost for a traditional Thanksgiving meal has increased.  The LSU AgCenter recently did a survey of Baton Rouge retailers and found the cost of items to prepare a meal for 10 was $49.81, a $1.31 increase from last year.  

Economist Kurt Guidry says a rise in turkey prices led to this year's price increase.
"That's predominately the function of the outbreak of avian influenza that impacted that industry earlier this year."

He says, on the wholesale level, the price of turkey is up 9-percent from a year ago.  On the other hand, the price of milk is about 50-cents lower than last year.  Guidry says, fortunately for consumers, the retail price of turkey is only up slightly...

"I think most of that is because retailers are still trying to entice consumers to come in there and purchase their products."

If you plan to fry your turkey for Thanksgiving, you can add $30 to $45 dollars for the peanut oil you will use.  Guidry says, while the price for the meal is a little higher, he doesn't think it will limit anyone's Thanksgiving dinner...

"We're only still looking at probably a one to two-percent increase over last year and that's normal inflation that we would normally expect to see." 


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LSU Coach Les Miles does not want the focus on him or the rumors of his firing, as his team prepares for the final regular season game of the year on Saturday against Texas A&M. The Tigers have lost three in a row for the first time in Miles 11-year coaching career at LSU and he was not ready to address his job status at his weekly luncheon with reporters. 

"At some point and time there's a me in this, but not when I'm coaching. This will always be about our players and the team."

It’s been reported that LSU is preparing to part ways with Miles, but the decision is not final. The coach sidestepped a question on whether he’s spoken with any LSU administrators about his job security.
"Speculation on my job at this point is off limits. The information I have is do your job as you would do it," Miles said.  
Speculation over whether LSU would fire Miles at the end of the season intensified last week as a result of a published report in the Advocate newspaper that said the head coach was coaching for his job in the final two regular season games. Miles says the only instruction he’s received is to continue doing his job. 
"Someone is asking me that If I'm coaching for my job, I think I've done that for eleven years," Miles said.  
LSU's regular season finale is Saturday against Texas A&M.  


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US Representative John Fleming of Minden has joined fellow Republican Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany in letting voters know that he plans to run for US Senate next year. Political analyst Elliot Stonecipher says it’s not a surprise to see Fleming to throw his hat into the ring for David Vitter’s Senate seat.
"I don't think any of these early announcements are new," Stonecipher said. "Congressman Fleming has been saying for a year or so already."

Boustany, state treasurer John Kennedy and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle are other candidates that could run as Vitter has announced he’s not seeking re-election in 2016.
In a statement, Fleming says voters are eager to see real, conservative solutions in our nation’s capital. Boustany says considering the Senate race is still nearly a year away, he thinks any candidates for that race should hold off on making any announcements until the dust settles from this past election. 
"There's just a lot new and different stuff happening out there," Stonecipher said. "We don't know if it will happen again in any so-called national election in 2016, but I think everyone is thinking through that and these candidates aren't." 


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There is a lot of speculation concerning the job security of Les Miles’ at LSU. Tiger Rag Editor Cody Worsham says athletic director Joe Alleva has not commented on Miles’ future but his silence is telling.

“All Joe Alleva would have to do at this point is come out and say that Les Miles is on board for next season and that they’re sticking with him. So far, despite all the reports, to the contrary nothing has been said from LSU.”

Miles’ contract runs until 2019. Worsham says coming off of the Tigers three game losing streak, it’s pretty clear to him that Miles’ job is in jeopardy. But he doesn’t believe there is any rush to get rid of Miles just yet.

“I think before Alleva makes any decision, he’ll want to have all his ducks in a row and know where he’s going next. I wouldn’t expect a decision anytime soon but it’s college football and it’s LSU, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Worsham says Miles’ 15 million dollar buyout isn’t much of a determining factor because those who want him gone are willing to front that money.

“The key there is that none of that money will be coming from the university, it would be raised privately from a few private donors and those private donors are willing to pay.”



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Republican Congressman Charles Boustany has announced his intention to run for David Vitter's Senate seat next year.  Vitter announced Saturday night that he would not seek re-election.  

UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says this announcement was expected.
"Charles Boustany had made it fairly evident that if David Vitter was the winner in the gubernatorial contest that he would, in fact, seek his seat.  Now that Vitter has said he's not running for re-election, he can move ahead with his plans."

He says Boustany has already been fundraising and meeting with donors in anticipation of a Senate campaign. The congressman plans to make a formal campaign announcement in his hometown of Lafayette in the near future. Cross says the race for the soon-to-be vacant Senate seat could feature some familiar names.

"Congressman from the 4th District, John Fleming, is considered a very likely entrant in that race.  Certainly, Treasurer John Kennedy's going to give it a fairly careful look."

He says Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is another possible name that could enter the field. Cross adds that even Governor Bobby Jindal could jump into the race, but thinks that is unlikely.

"He was not a super enthusiastic congressman in his two terms in the US Congress.  He didn't seem to really like that job so much, he preferred the job as governor.  So going back to the Senate, I'm not sure is the best option." 


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Bossier Parish authorities are still trying to figure out why a mother fatally shot her son and injured another woman while driving down Interstate 20. Lt. Bill Davis says after the three people left a casino, 47-year-old Dora Blake of Minden took out a handgun, while riding in the backseat of the vehicle and shot the two people in the front seat.

“The driver, which was her 22-year-old son named Patrick Hollingsworth, shot him in the head and he is deceased and also shot a female, who was shot in the shoulder and she was sent to the hospital, and she’s going to be okay.”

Davis says after Blake shot Hollingsworth and the passenger, the vehicle crashed into a tree on the side of the interstate. He says when witnesses came to help, Blake told them she’d been kidnapped and managed to shoot her abductors.

“Of course we soon realized there was not an indication of any kidnapping but rather a lady who had killed one person and attempted to kill another one.”

Davis says Blake was treated for injuries sustained during the accident and was highly intoxicated. He says she was booked into Bossier Maximum Security Facility on a one million dollar bond.

“Why she did it, we just don’t know at this point. It’s just a really strange and odd thing that a woman would shoot her own son and then the lady that was in the front.”



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Governor-elect John Bel Edwards names longtime state senator Ben Nevers of Boglausa as his chief of staff when he takes office. Nevers will also lead the new governor’s transition team. Edwards says Nevers has been a mentor to him in the legislature…

“And I know that together, he and I, will work extremely hard to put Louisiana first and to form a state government that looks like the people of Louisiana.”

Lake Charles business owner Laura Leach, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, Baton Rouge senator Sharon Weston Broome, former legislator Taylor Townsend and Baton Rouge businessman Richard Lipsey are also on the transition team. Edwards says there’s a lot to do before he takes office on January 11th…

“Understand we will have a special session in February, so we have to come up with a legislative agenda there with precision.”

Edwards first priority is to deal with the budget, as the state is looking at a one-billion dollar revenue shortfall. He pledges to keep to his campaign promise and that is bring a moderate and bipartisan approach to the governor’s office….

“I am committed to doing everything that I said I was going to do in the campaign, to put Louisiana first, to change the direction of the state, to move in a new and better direction, to be the governor of all the people.”



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According to the personal finance website, Kiplinger, Louisiana ranks fourth for best state to live in for low taxes and it’s also eighth for retirees. Kiplinger Senior Associate Editor Sandra Block says the Pelican State has a variety of tax friendly policies….

“Overall we give it a very favorable ranking just because it has low income tax rates and very low property taxes, third lowest in the country.”

Block says another aspect in Louisiana’s favor is state gasoline taxes, which is 20 cents per gallon, about a dime lower than the rest of the nation.

“The national average is about 30 cents, so it’s cheap to drive in Louisiana.”

Block says Louisiana’s income tax is also one of the lowest in the US. She says a downside is that low taxes could lead to cuts in social services, roads and education…

“Certainly there are trade-offs and some people are more than happy to live in a high tax county or high tax state if they believe they are getting really good services.”



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A state representative from Amite is the next governor of Louisiana. John Bel Edwards defeated Republican David Vitter by double digits, becoming the first Democrat to win a statewide election since 2008. Edwards says his victory is a breeze of hope for Louisiana.

"The people have chosen hope over scorn, over negativity and over a distrust of others," Edwards said.
Edwards also has this message for Louisiana residents.  
"I'll always be honest with you, I will never embarrass you and I will get up everyday, fighting to put the great people of the great state of Louisiana first," Edwards said. 
About a month ago, Vitter was the odds on favorite to be the next governor of Louisiana. But now it appears his political career is over as he's announced he won't seek re-election to the US Senate in 2016.
"When I decided to make this race with Wendy that I wanted to pursue new challenges outside of the Senate no matter what," Vitter said.
Vitter did not disclose what he may do once his second-term in the US Senate ends.
"I'm genuinely excited with Wendy about starting a new chapter of my professional life and all the fun and all the reward and challenge that will bring," Vitter said.  


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Former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser was elected as the state's next Lt. Governor. Nungesser defeated East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, 55-45%. 
In the attorney general's race, Republican Jeff Landry defeated two-term GOP incumbent Buddy Caldwell, 56-44%

Caldwell says he's proud of the work he's done as the state's top lawyer and his political career is not over. 
"That out the largest pile of manure grows the prettiest flower, so I'm not through," Caldwell said.
Caldwell says he was not pleased with accusations made by Landry that he was a corrupted politician. 
"All of these things were untrue, so I wouldn't mind an apology even if it's over a cup of coffee," Caldwell said.
Attorney General-elect Landry on what he'll bring to the office.
"Honor and integrity," Landry said.
Landry is a former Congressman and had the support of the republican party in this race.  


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Republican Senator David Vitter has decided to not seek re-election to the US Senate next year.  Vitter made the announcement during his gubernatorial election concession speech Saturday night.  

LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says this does not come as a shock.
"Given the fact that he lost this election so badly, it's not too surprising he's decided.  What is surprising is how quickly he has made this announcement."

Vitter said when he decided to run for governor, he wanted to pursue challenges outside the Senate, no matter the outcome of this election.  Hogan says Vitter's decision makes sense.

"It would be very difficult for him, I think, to mount a successful campaign given how poorly he did in this election."

Vitter said he had reached his personal term limit in the Senate.  Hogan says Vitter's open Senate seat will draw a lot of interest.

"Each of the Congressmen across the state is thinking about and giving serious consideration to this.  Then you have a lot of other statewide elected officials who are probably thinking of this possibility." 


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John Bel Edwards becomes the first democrat to be elected to a statewide office in Louisiana since 2008 as he defeated Republican Senator David Vitter.
During his concession speech, Vitter announces he will not seek re-election next year and he's ready for his next challenge outside of politics.  
Republican Billy Nungesser won the Lt. Governor's race over Democrat Kip Holden. In the attorney general's race, Republican Jeff Landry has defeated two-time GOP incumbent Buddy Caldwell.  


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The downward spiral to the 2015 LSU football season continued on Saturday with a 38-17 loss to Ole Miss in Oxford. For the second straight game, the Tigers dug themselves a big hole and could not come back.
In last week's loss to Arkansas, LSU trailed by 3 touchdowns and fell behind 24-0 to the Rebels.

And just like they did against Arkansas, LSU fought back to give themselves a chance. The Tigers trailed by a touchdown in the 3rd quarter, but the Bayou Bengals didn't have an answer for Ole Miss' offense.
Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly was 19-of-34 for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kelly also rushed for 81 yards and two scores. 
Meanwhile, LSU's Brandon Harris was 26-of-51 for 324 yards, 1 touchdown and two interceptions. His lone touchdown pass was to Tyron Johnson, who finished with 5 catches for 83 yards. Junior wide receiver Travin Dural went down with a hamstring injury in the 1st half.
Running back Leonard Fournette got over the century mark as he finished with 108 yards. Fournette also caught 4 passes for 72 yards.
It was a dysfunctional game for LSU. The Tigers were flagged 13 times for 95 yards. You knew it was going to be a long day when a 50-yard plus run by Fournette was called back by a holding penalty on the first play from scrimmage for LSU.  
Fast forward to the 4th quarter, LSU had it 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line, but failed to score. On the 4th down play, Harris pitched the ball to Fournette, who had the ball bounce off his body. It seemed like Fournette was not ready for the ball, even though the play occurred right after a time out.
The loss drops LSU's record to 7-3. It's the first three-game losing streak for Coach Les Miles during his 11-year tenure at LSU. 
This loss will only fan the flames about Miles' job security. So far LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has been silent, which says a lot. Miles said after the game he doesn't think he's in danger of losing his job. But plans to address the issue with his team on Monday. 


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The joint legislative budget committee approves Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to close a 487-million dollar budget deficit. The plan calls for cuts to state agencies, patchwork financing and tapping into the rainy day fund. Senate president John Alario says it’s not a perfect plan, but it puts something in place until a new governor takes over in January…

"That certainly provides the right time to make those studies that are necessary to get a good plan on the table and not just willy-nilly and do what's happening."

Gubernatorial candidates, David Vitter and John Bel Edwards, had asked legislators to reject Jindal’s deficit reduction plan. Covington Representative John Schroder was one of a handful of lawmakers who voted against it. Schroder says it doesn’t address the state’s spending problems…
"Why waste time. We know we have the problems, this clearly isn't fixing anything with $22 million in reductions."

Higher education was not cut under the plan. Commissioner of Administration Stafford Palmieri says the governor made it a priority to make sure public colleges were not hit with cuts…
"We believe that higher education is a critical component of moving Louisiana forward."


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With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission kicks off their Click it or Ticket campaign this Sunday. State Police Trooper Michael Reichardt says make sure you buckle up, because it’s the first step in saving your life in case you’re in an accident.

“Statistics show that you have a much better chance of surviving a crash and not being seriously injured if you’re wearing your seatbelt. That takes like three seconds, it’s that easy.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45-percent. Reichardt says the campaign runs from November 22 until the 29th. He says if you don’t buckle up, it could turn your happy holiday into a nightmare.

“We’ll be looking for seat-belt violators, aggressive drivers, people drinking and driving. We want everyone to have a safe holiday of course and it’s not a time where you’re supposed to remember tragedy.”

Reichardt says in addition to checking for seat-belt violations, troopers will also be on the lookout for motorists drinking and driving.

“Always wear your seat-belt, don’t drink and drive. If you decide to go to a party and have a couple alcoholic beverages, make sure you have a designated driver or call a cab or just have a plan to make sure you get home safe.”



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