News for Tuesday 011315
By Dave Graichen
The Alexandria City Council will take up the business of electing officers at tonight’s meeting. It is expected that Chuck Fowler will try for a third consecutive term as president. The council definitely will get a new vice president, since the 2014 vice president, Mitzi Gibson La-Salle, is no longer on the council. The council meets at 5 p.m. today
Authorities are looking for a Natchitoches man who is wanted in connection with December dog-fighting ring near Derry. At that site, sheriff’s deputies found several dead dogs and seized several others. 29 year old Jarin Pikes, who also goes by the name of “Moonie,” is wanted by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office on multiple warrants. If you see him, contact authorities. Pikes has ties to the areas of Natchitoches, Cloutierville, Derry, Campti, St. Maurice and Winnfield.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in finding a Leesville couple after being contacted by a concerned family member earlier this month. 39 year old Allison Gilcrease and 40 year old James Michael Jeane were last seen on Christmas Day at their home. Anyone with information on the couple are asked to call the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s office.
The US Supreme Court has rejected a plea to consider striking down Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. This decision from the US Supreme Court means the district court ruling upholding Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage must first be challenged in a federal appeals court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments last week on the issue. It’s expected the 5th Circuit will issue a ruling sometime this spring.
Fourth District U.S. Rep. John Fleming said he will definitely run for the U.S. Senate if Sen. David Vitter wins the governor's race this fall. If Vitter is elected governor, he would appoint someone to his U.S. Senate seat until an election could be held. Has Fleming’s name come up when it comes to an appointment? Apparently not. However, The congressman say he would "certainly" accept the appointment if Vitter were to offer it. However, Fleming said he would run for the seat regardless.
Even as state agencies are cutting budgets, the Louisiana State Police seeks a 30 percent pay raise for many of its troopers. The hike would bring State Police in line with what other law enforcement officers are paid and was approved before the price of oil dropped by $40 a barrel, requiring a midyear correction in this year’s budget and massive cuts to next year’s. About 1,646 employees will get raises starting Jan. 19
Gas prices keep dropping. According to the American Automobile Association the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $1.96.
Republican US Senator David Vitter says he plans to be active in Washington D-C, even though he’s running for governor this year. Vitter says he has several priorities and one of them is to pass a highway and transportation bill that would help improve traffic flow on major highways. Vitter says he’ll also work to repeal the Affordable Care Act and if Obamacare is not going away, then the federal health care laws should apply to everyone in Washington, meaning even the President would have to purchase his insurance through the Marketplace.
President Obama is working on the details of a plan to offer two years of free community college education to any American to help train the US workforce. Dr. Monty Sullivan, the head of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System says it’s estimated the program will cost the federal government around $60 billion over 10 years. Sullivan admits that it is a lot of money, but people shouldn’t look at this as another big money expenditure. It’s an investment.
The President will promote the initiative in his State of the Union address on January 20th.
Louisiana’s scholarship program, also known as the voucher program, is now accepting applications from low-income families who wish to have their child attend a private school of their choice with the use of state dollars. Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children says the other major qualification is that the student is enrolled in a low-performing public school. Families may apply at the department of education’s website or in person at the participating school of their choice through February 27th. Last year over 13-thousand families applied and nearly 74-hundred were awarded vouchers.
Louisiana’s newly selected Higher Education Commissioner is starting a statewide tour to introduce himself to communities and school leaders. Joseph Rallo says he wants all of the system presidents to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with issues facing higher ed. Rallo says he plans to engage with leaders who share the common goal of creating a stronger economy through higher education. He wants to make sure the needs of all students are being met.
Officials in northwest Louisiana plan to meet with the EPA today over plans to conduct an open burn of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is representing the community’s concern over the potential health effects of burning this propellant. He believes there is another solution. Reynolds suggests an incinerator burn of the propellant. He also says that scientists have come up with other ways to dispose of the propellant. The concern among citizens is that the open burning of this propellant will pollute the air around the site.
Impressive lineup for the 2015 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Headliners include Elton John, No Doubt, Widespread Panic, Jimmy Buffett, The Who, Tony Bennett, Chicago, Lady Gaga, Keith Urban, Pitbull and many more. The final performance night headliner has yet to be announced. Jazzfest always happens the last weekend in April, and first weekend in May. You can see the full lineup online at nojazzfest.com.
NCIS: New Orleans will be back again as the CBS prime time drama has been picked up for a second season. The series is not only set in New Orleans but it’s also filmed in The Big Easy.
An interesting candidate has emerged for LSU’s vacant defensive coordinator position. LSU officials have spoken to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Smart could be looking for a change of scenery to help build his resume for a potential head coaching job down the road. The 39-year-old Smart has been Alabama’s defensive coordinator the last seven seasons.