News For Friday 010215
By Dave Graichen
The investigation continues into a fire yesterday morning at the Zion Hill church in Pineville. The fire which was confined to a warehouse owned by the church broke out at about 4 in the morning. Authorities do not believe foul play was involved in the blaze.
The Centers for Disease Control says the flu has now reached the epidemic level in the United States and the state Department of Health and Hospitals says its going to get worse before it gets better in Louisiana. Medical director for the immunization program, Dr. Frank Welch, says on average seven out of every 10 doctor visits in the state are for flu-like symptoms. He says this year’s flu shot is not perfect, but that should not be an excuse to not get immunized. Welch says the flu shot is still absolutely your best protection. Welch says, after receiving a flu shot a couple of months ago, he contracted the flu last week. However, symptoms were mild.
The Pentagon says the Army Contracting Command at Fort Polk awarded an extension to Northrop Grumman Enterprise Management Services to continue transportation, maintenance and supply at Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The extension will run through the end of June.
Louisiana driver’s licenses can now sport university logos. Smokers must step away from state Office Building entrances when they light up. And 16-year-olds will be able to register to vote but not exercise the right just yet. The changes came as the result of some of the 22 new laws that went into effect on the 1st. Other new laws provide more transparency to government agency operations, more regulatory protection to Louisiana’s payday loan industry and more options for people to make charitable donations when they file income tax returns.
Louisiana’s Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret anticipates significant growth in 2015 as a result of the new projects they announced last year. Moret says a lot of that growth will occur in the high tech and the software development industry
Moret says in 2014, Louisiana announced dozens of company expansions or relocations, which will result in 25-thousand new jobs.
With statewide elections taking place this year and the possibility of Governor Bobby Jindal announcing a run for President, 2015, expects to be another wild year in Louisiana politics. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Republican US Senator David Vitter is the front-runner in the governor’s race, but there are other strong candidates.
Pinsonat says we can expect an announcement early this year from Jindal on running for President. He says the governor may have to announce his intentions sooner than originally planned, because of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s entrance into the race. Pinsonat says it’s unclear how involved Jindal will be with state matters in his final year of office, especially if he’s focused on the 2016 Presidential race.
The minimum wage goes up in 21 states Yesterday. Of course, here in Louisiana the minimum hourly wage stays at $7.25. But Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa says with nearly half of the states acting on their own, it will spur more talk about raising the federal minimum wage. Critics of a higher minimum wage say it forces some businesses to reduce their work force in order to compensate for the higher wages. Traditionally, that has not been the case.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is now accepting applications from individuals who are interested in becoming an enforcement agent. LDWF spokesperson Adam Einck says individuals interested in applying should visit the state’s civil service website and also must complete a test to qualify for consideration. They will be accepting applications until January 23rd and out of those applications, 24 cadets will be chosen and will train for six months in Baton Rouge. Einck says this is a great position for people who love to be outdoors. He says field agents spend most of their time outdoors, on the water and trekking through the woods.
More than 56-thousand Louisiana residents have selected health insurance plans during the first month of open enrollment under what is commonly called “Obamacare.” Doctor Karen DeSalvo, with the US Department of Health and Human Services, says the 2015 open enrollment period will last until February 15th, and she urges people to get covered. Nearly 102-thousand people in Louisiana purchased health insurance through the federal marketplace in 2014.
With a New Year underway, many people strive to live a healthier lifestyle and try to lose weight. Melissa Martin with the State Department of Health and Hospitals says in order to keep your New Years resolution you can start with keeping it simple and realistic. Martin says having a support system to keep you motivated while working toward your goals. She says also smart phones have new food journal apps that can help you stay accountable and aware of the decisions you make. Martin says drinking water is very important to staying on track because the number one symptom of dehydration is hunger. She says also watching your alcohol consumption can really make a difference when it comes to following through with your resolutions.