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Game week has arrived for the Tigers as they kick-off the season against McNeese State this Saturday. In years past, LSU has opened the season against big name opponents, but senior associate athletics director Verge Ausberry says with Mississippi State and Auburn looming in Weeks two and three, they didn't want to start the season with a Top 5 opponent.


"Schedule smart...putting them in a position to win," Ausberry said.
 
Ausberry says it just happened to be LSU's year to play a couple of early SEC matchups. But he says when that's not the case, they like to open the season with a strong opponent. 
 
"I don't think we'll have this every year, we're still going to be playing neutral site games, big games against big opponents," Ausberry said.
 
Next year, LSU opens the season against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. In 2017, the Tigers return to Houston to face BYU. In 2018, LSU's first game is against Miami of Florida in Dallas, Texas.  
 
 
 
 

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As we enter the month of September, it’s usually the busiest month of the year for the hurricane season. State Climatologist Barry Keim says sea surface temperatures tend to peak during this month.

“Now early to mid-September is also the time where we get the highest frequency of storms and the highest average intensity of storms. So we can clearly see an uptick in the activity which has taken place in recent times.”

Keim says in September, we typically see an average of three to four named storms in the north-Atlantic and about two to three become hurricanes. He says we’ve had several September hurricanes that had devastating impacts.

“Hurricane Betsy was a September storm, Gustav, Ike and Rita, those were all September storms. It’s a very popular month and if we can make it through September then we should be in pretty good shape.”

But Keim says this year an El Nino is creating wind shear. He says although these conditions are working against storm formation, we’ve already had six named storms and 10 to 12 is the average number.

“But the benefit again is the storms that have formed well out in the Atlantic have eventually encountered some of these hostile conditions and it’s broken them apart.” 

 
 
 

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A new Louisiana State Police cadet class starts their first full day of training today in Baton Rouge. Sgt. Nick Manale says over the next 16 weeks, they will cover everything from classroom instruction to hands on scenario based training. He says these individuals were carefully selected to ensure State Police has the right people.

“These men and women are putting their lives on the line and they have to be the best trained, best prepared, best equipped to put out there on our roadways. So we’re certainly happy to have this group of cadets for our new academy.”

Manale says 80 cadets will participate in the intense training in hopes of graduating in December and wearing the “Gold Boot” badge. He says this is the third State Police cadet class since 2014, which is helping to boost their numbers after not having any new troopers for five years.


“We’re just really try to make sure we have an increased presence out on our roadways, make sure our Troopers are out there doing what they’re supposed to be doing and they’re well trained and capable and reflecting the professional law enforcement agency in our state, of course.”

Manale says even though they’ve added over 100 troopers since 2014, they are still hoping to have another cadet class soon, after this current one wraps up.

“We urge people to either go to our website and click on the recruiting tab to learn the process of becoming a State Trooper and they can also visit the Louisiana State Police Commission website to get information on cadet testing, the process and the application process.”

 
 
 

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According to BankRate.com, Louisiana is the worst state for drivers. The website’s research and statistics analyst Chris Kahn says they ranked all 50 states according to the amount of fatal crashes, car thefts, commute times, gas prices, and insurance premiums. 

 
"Also repair costs are much higher in Louisiana than the national average and also fatal crashes, there are a lot of fatal crashes in Louisiana."

Kahn says the fatal crash rate is above the national average in the state but the one main factor that is always dragging Louisiana down is the absurdly high insurance premiums. He says the reason it's so high could be because of a couple different things.
 
"The crime rate in different cities in Louisiana, things like fatal crashes, there is a lot of natural disasters, or the potential for natural disasters and all those combined to make the insurance premiums really high."

Kahn says one way to help get Louisiana from the bottom of the list is to chat with your insurance provider to find out about discounts.
 
"There are so many different things that go into your insurance premium, I would suggest calling your insurance carrier and asking about different ways and every insurance carrier has different tips and different ways for people to lower their insurance premiums."
 
 
 

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The Saints fell to 0-3 in the preseason with a 27-13 loss to the Houston Texans. Penalties were a big problem again for New Orleans as they were flagged 11 times for 148 yards.
 
The defense didn't have much of a pass rush and allowed the Texans to convert on 8-of-16 on 3rd chances. The offense had trouble scoring in the red zone, going 0-for-3.


Saints quarterback Drew Brees only played one series and led New Orleans to a field goal on the first drive of the game.
 
Houston took control of the game with 10 points in the first quarter. Former LSU Tiger Kenny Hilliard led the Texans in rushing with 25 yards on 10 carries. He also had 2 catches for 28 yards.
 
Luke McCown led the Saints quarterbacks as he was 8-of-14 for 117 yards and fumbled once. Edwin Baker led New Orleans in rushing, with 49 yards. He had a 45-yard touchdown run.
 
Rookie Marcus Murphy had 3 catches for 67 yards. He had 43 yards rushing and looked good on returns.
 
Zach Hocker was 2-for-2 on field goals including a 53-yarder.
 
The Saints wrap up the preseason on Thursday against the Green Bay Packers.  

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As part of Louisiana Radio Network's continuing Q-and-A with the men running for governor, we asked the four candidates about how transparent their administration will be once they are in office. Democrat John Bel Edwards says he's the only candidate that voted for a bill that will bring new transparency to the records in the governor's office.


"Whenever practical, I will always provide information on where I am and with who I am meeting, I will always deal with the people of Louisiana in the light of day," Edwards said.
 
Republican David Vitter plans to make more documents available to the public than what's currently available and the US Senator says he'll make himself available to the public with town hall meetings in every parish. 
 
"Also, host a monthly coffee open house at the governor's mansion for the public to visit in a more relaxed way," Vitter said.
 
Republican Scott Angelle says his administration will be more transparent than any past administration. He says access to records is a critical part in building public's trust with government. 
 
"We certainly have to make sure that government officials are not driven into a smoke filled back room to discuss the things that are important to Louisiana," Angelle said.
 
Republican Jay Dardenne also agrees that the records of the executive branch, including the office of the governor, need to be made open and available upon request. 
 
"At the same time, I'll work with the legislature to create an open records law that keeps pace with technological changes and forces future governors to make certain their records are to the public open as well," Dardenne said.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron says he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he's fine and his health is good. Cameron says he's already had it treated.
 
"Given a clean bill of health, pathology reports are 100%, locked, loaded and ready to go," Cameron said.

Cameron says his treatment did not include radiation and received word two weeks ago that he is cancer free.
 
He will be in the press box calling plays when the Tigers kick off the season on September 5th against McNeese State.  

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Monroe-based Centurylink announces plans to bring high-speed internet to more than 24-thousand rural households and businesses in Louisiana.
 
Centurylink Senior vice-president John Jones says they have accepted money from the Federal Communications Commission to get this work done. 


"You're going to see some new markets enabled and you'll also see some faster speeds in existing markets," Jones said.
 
Jones says the company accepted about 500-million dollars a year for six years from the FCC to develop high-speed Internet service to one-point-two million Centurylink customers nationwide.
 
"It does not happen instantly, but it's incumbent on us to come up with a plan of how we are going to roll it out. That's going to take a little time," Jones said. 
 
Jones says they'll spend the next few months mapping out a plan to bring high-speed internet to rural areas and construction is expected to begin early next year. 
 
"We are excited about it, because it will help us complete most of our footprint in the state, unfortunately there will be some pockets that we quite can't get to."   
 
 
 
 
 

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Former President George W. Bush spoke at Warren Easton High School today to emphasize how far public education in New Orleans has come since Hurricane Katrina. In his speech, Bush said nine in 10 public school students in New Orleans now attend a charter school and praised the good work done by these charter schools.
 
"According to a new report by the Cowen Institute, the percentage of New Orleans students graduating on time has soared since Katrina," Bush said. "The percentage of students who attended schools have scored greater than the state average has doubled." 
 
Bush said he and wife Laura visited New Orleans to salute the leaders of the city who have helped it and its schools progress since the tragic storm. After Katrina, Bush said educational entrepreneurs came together to help reform the school system.
 
"Isn't it amazing? The storm nearly destroys New Orleans, and now New Orleans is the beacon for school reform," Bush said.
 
In closing his speech, Bush spoke of the spirit in Warren Easton High and other schools in the New Orleans area that had to rebuild and reform. He acknowledged the New Orleans spirit was stronger than any Hurricane Katrina or storm like it.
 
"When I asked how students have overcome adversity, Lauren said, 'We teach our kids to be resilient. That's in the culture of this city.'"

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The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office seized nearly 200 pounds of cocaine--the largest in the parish's history--after receiving an anonymous tip about several suspicious packages. Commander Eric Becnel says there is an ongoing investigation with the United States Homeland Security New Orleans office because the wrapping of the cocaine is consistent with drug trafficking.
 
"We're attempting to determine how those drugs wound up in our parish," Becnel said.
 
After a field test and examination, the drugs were determined to be pure cocaine. Becnel says the sheriff's office estimates the street value of the cocaine to be $18 million. No arrests have been made as of yet. But he says the seizure has helped prevent the possibility of property and violent crimes that would have been fueled by the drugs.
 
"As we all know, drug addicts have to steal and support their habit," Becnel said.
 
Becnel says the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office is grateful to have a relationship and the support of the community. He says this relationship allows the public to notify authorities when there is suspicious activity in the parish.
 
"If it wouldn't have been for the honesty of this individual, who knows where those drugs would have wound up," Becnel said. 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
Many people are reflecting back to 10 years ago when Hurricane Katrina descended on the Gulf Coast and caused catastrophic widespread damage. Families throughout the New Orleans area were displaced and people all over the state were opening their doors to evacuees.


Our Governor during that time, Kathleen Blanco, says the unbelievable recovery in the last decade shows the resiliency and determination of Louisianians.

"They are building safer. They are building stronger. They are building smarter," says Blanco. "Those are all the ingredients that we knew back 10 years ago that it would take to make this part of the state come alive again."

The immediate response efforts to the disaster by federal, state and local governments is widely criticized.

Blanco says following Katrina and Rita she instructed her staff to rewrite the disaster response. She believes Louisiana now leads the nation in knowing what to do before, during and after storms.

"We worked very hard to uncover every possible concept necessary to make our disaster response less chaotic," said Blanco.

Political leaders were shown on television clearly shaken by their surroundings and many of those who remained in New Orleans after the storm had no access to water, food or shelter.

Blanco says the thing she suffers from the most about the response is that they couldn't do enough, fast enough in a short period of time.

"No matter how many national guard soldiers I was adding to the mix, nothing was big enough," says Blanco. "Nothing was strong enough to alleviate the pain and suffering quickly."


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The director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says the state is in a better position to respond to a Hurricane Katrina like event. GOHSEP director Kevin Davis says one of the biggest advancements is a better relationship between the state and FEMA. Davis says he meets with the FEMA regional director on a regular basis.

"I see Tony the administrator probably three, four times a month in meetings and we go through all our training exercises together."

Davis was the president of St. Tammany Parish during Hurricane Katrina. He remembers the difficulty in communication, especially after the storm blew through. He says the state now has equipment to combat situations when cell service is nonexistent.

"We've had towers go down recently and again we just mobilize our trailer to that location and bring it all back up."

Where to shelter evacuees was a huge issue during Katrina. Davis says since then they have identify enough shelter to house individuals in Louisiana, if there’s a need to evacuate the New Orleans area. He says their sheltering plan is very specific.

"Plaquemines Parish will go to Monroe. We've already had meetings there in Monroe. They will bring there 600 to 700 people, we'll help them in transportation."

 
 
 

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Visitation is today for fallen State Police Trooper Steven Vincent, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this week. Due to tremendous support, the location of the visitation has been moved to the Lake Charles Civic Center Rosa Heart Theater. Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Tony Stelly says he watched Vincent grow up and he will be greatly missed by everyone.

“When you have a tragedy like this that is just so horrendous. It just makes everyone just stop and think. It just a very, very, very horrible thing to happen to such a good bunch of people.”

The funeral service will take place Saturday at noon at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church in Lake Charles. Stelly expects many people to come out and pay their respects at the visitation and funeral. He says Vincent’s reputation was like gold in his hometown of Iowa because he was such a caring person.

“It’s simply because the young man was raised right, he was raised that family is number one.”

Stelly says Steven comes from a great family who is widely respected and the community will do whatever they can to make this time easier for the Vincent’s.

“But the young man comes from really, really good people and we’re going to stand behind that family and we’re going to give them whatever support they need to get through this.” 

 
 
 

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Before even coaching his first LSU football game, Coach Les Miles was forced to deal with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. 10 years ago the Ohio native came to Baton Rouge as the brand new football coach with big shoes to fill. Miles says looking back at that time, the landfall of Hurricane Katrina proved to be one of the strongest moments in Louisiana history.

“I just want you to know, there is no way I could’ve anticipated that and neither could our team. They volunteered their time and our doctorial staff, and I was really fortunate to be here and witness it.”

Miles says at first he didn’t realize summers weren’t always like this and major hurricanes weren’t so common. Miles says he still held practice during this hectic time, but would let the athletes out early to donate their time to assist those flown to the P-MAC for medical treatment.

“Probably the most visual name tag I saw was volunteer. It was a special time, I thought that the state showed great strength and commitment.”

Miles says the community went above and beyond their duties to help those in need. He says many of his players housed their displaced family members in small dorms, but it was a time where he learned what was most important in life.

“I can remember taking the field with the Tigers when they were worn out because they weren’t sleeping at night. It was a very difficult time and it was a great time.”

 
 
 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
10 years ago thousands of people were evacuating out of the New Orleans area as Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on Louisiana; and it was chaos. So in that time how has the state improved efforts to make such a large scale evacuation more smooth?
 
Department of Transportation spokesman Rodney Mallett says they now contract with bus services.

"So we can get buses down to help us," says Mallett. "We've worked with the Department of Education so we can get school buses and the Louisiana National Guard to provide personnel as well to help in the evacuation."

At the time Katrina approached, there was no real mechanism in place to get so many citizens safely out of harms way -- but Mallett says now there is. 

He says one of the important things they've learned in dealing with past contraflow situations, is to work closely with our neighbors.

"Mississippi and Texas and throughout the Gulf Coast so that we work together," says Mallett. "We have a meeting with those guys each year to go over contraflow plans."

Mallett says they have also expanded the Motorists Assistance program so that in a mass evacuation situation, there would be more vehicles out on the road to help out vehicles that get stranded in travel lanes.

He also says they have since added traffic cameras on interstate systems in metropolitan areas.

"So that we can monitor anything that is going on and provide that information via tweets and emails and websites to the traveling public," said Mallett.
 
Click here to see a video from DOTD which outlines the plans in greater detail. 



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The St. Landry Parish town of Sunset is mourning the loss of Police Officer Henry Nelson.  35-year-old Harrison Lee Riley is accused of shooting and killing Nelson in the line of duty Wednesday while responding to a domestic disturbance.  


Sunset Mayor Charles James says the town will get past this tragedy.
 
"It's a mark on our spirit, at this point, and something that we can't explain and that's understandable because such evil is not explainable." 

Riley is also accused of stabbing three women in the incident, killing 40-year-old Shameka Johnson.  James says this incident has really shaken the town of approximately 3,000 residents.

"There isn't a situation where something of this magnitude takes place and it doesn't effect the whole community because everyone pretty much knows everyone."

Riley faces charges of first degree murder of a police officer, first degree murder, and attempted first degree murder.  James says he knew Nelson since he was a child and he will be someone who won't be forgotten.

"A very good gentleman, very gentle, very patient and he was effective.  He did his job well." 

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The East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office and Capital Area Human Services are teaming up to raise awareness about the growing heroin and synthetic marijuana problem in the area. Coroner Dr. Beau Clark says his office has already seen 24 heroin overdose deaths so far this year. He says the message of this campaign is clear.

"The premise of the campaign is that heroin is deadly and synthetic marijuana is poison and certainly we don't want the coroner to be the last ride."

He says at this rate, East Baton Rouge Parish could surpass the record of 35 heroin overdose deaths recorded in 2013. Clark says it’s not a coincidence that this campaign is being launched at this time of year.

"So if we look at the few years of statistics we have, it's the fall time seems to be where we see a drastic increase in the number of overdoses."

He says they’ve seen an uptick of heroin overdoses in the fall over the past few years. Clark has confirmed three deaths this year directly from synthetic marijuana use, but those are much more difficult to determine with current testing methods. He says the ultimate goal of this campaign is to save lives.

"Two types of scenarios that I see that ultimately result in death that are completely 100% preventable by not using heroin and not using synthetic marijuana."

 
 
 

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The Louisiana Department of Agriculture says its new mobile pet shelter is ready for use. Commissioner Mike Strain says the tractor trailer can be used to evacuate up 55 domesticated animals in the event of an emergency.

“It is a state of the art mobile pet shelter and it has cages, just like in my veterinary clinic, backup generator, battery power, washing station, climate control, it is well lit, it has stairs and ramps.”

Before the mobile shelter, they were loading pets into 18-wheelers to transport them during natural disasters which was very difficult and not as safe. He says if a natural disaster strikes and you can’t take your pet with you, when you come to an evacuation point, LDAF will provide safe transportation to a mega pet shelter.

“We’ll be using those responses to have a place where we can treat animals on site and deal with any specific emergency such as a hurricane, tornado and others.”

Strain says 40,000 of the $80,000 needed to complete the project was donated by veterinary foundations. He says they want to ensure all animals are safe and well taken care of in the event of an emergency.

“It is part of our duty at the Department of Ag and Forestry, we are responsible, amongst many other things, for the evacuation and treatment of pets and animals during emergencies.”

 
 
 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
Former President George W. Bush visits New Orleans today to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina which political observers say was the low point of his presidency. Many blame Bush's administration for not getting aid to the people of Louisiana fast enough. 


LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says when people think about Katrina, they think "Bush Administration."

"Their perception is that they were very slow to respond and when they did it wasn't effective or timely," said Hogan.

Hogan says in some ways it seems strange that Bush would come back after being so chastised about what he did and did not do following the storm, but no matter what he is eternally tied to the event.

He says it's not unusual for presidents and former presidents to commemorate tragedies.

"These are points in their presidency that draw attention to them, whether or not it's beneficial," said Hogan.

Hogan says Katrina happened a few years after 9/11, and many people were very optimistic about the state of the country. He says after the storm that perception of the Bush administration almost completely dissipated.

"That he was not necessarily as confident as his followers and supporters wanted people to view him as," said Hogan.
 
 
 

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Researchers at the University of Louisiana Lafayette New Iberia Research Center are testing an Ebola vaccine for wild apes. The Research Center says Ebola is one of the leading killers of gorillas and chimpanzees. Division Head of Research Resources at the center Jane Fontenot says the vaccine is similar to a rabies immunization and this testing could benefit future vaccinations in humans and other wildlife.

“With the recent Ebola crisis, it’s even more relevant than ever so this really is a great program to benefit chimps in the wild.”

Fontenot says there have been other wild ape vaccination programs in the past, but were difficult to complete because they required three different shots over a span of time. But she says now they are testing an oral vaccine in a controlled environment.

“While we’re doing the study we’ll be able to monitor the chimpanzees very carefully. We’ll be able to assess whether there are any ill effects with the vaccine. Everything from food intake to activity levels.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa took the lives of about 11-thousand people. The global effort is led by Apes Inc., President Dr. Peter Walsh who says this testing could help pave the way for an oral vaccination for humans.

“We’ll take the vaccine, we’ll put it in a bait that the animal will eat, then the gorillas and chimpanzees will be protected from the Ebola virus and so if it’s successful we’ll go out and start trialing it in Africa.”

 
 
 

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