News for Wednesday 012815
By Dave Graichen
Rapides Parish Police Jury President Richard Billings has called a special Police Jury meeting for 4 p.m. today to discuss the Police Jury's lawsuit against the city of Alexandria. The jury sued the city over the parking lot dispute, which parish officials say has delayed the start of the $23 million Coliseum renovation project. It’s believed the city and the parish are very close to an agreement. The police jury is also working toward a long-term lease for "overflow parking" on property that is not owned by the city.
When it was created last year, a $40 million incentive fund to pay for college programs that fill high-demand jobs in Louisiana was hailed as critical to both higher education and the state's workforce needs. Now, with the state grappling with deep budget problems, Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to strip financing from the fund that only months ago he described as among his top priorities. But with Louisiana facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the 2015-16 fiscal year that begins July 1, Jindal is considering cuts of $300 million to $400 million to public colleges. And WISE, as the program is called, is on the chopping block.
According to the American Automobile Association, the statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is at $1.87 for the second day in a row. So has the price bottomed out? AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it’s possible, as the price of crude oil has stabilized between $45 and $48 a barrel. But, that’s not likely. Redman says there’s a chance that we could still see prices slip as we head into February. Redman says the drop in fuel costs is astounding, especially when you compare prices to this time last year…
The health of the teachers’ retirement system in Louisiana got a “C minus” in a report issued Tuesday by The National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan research and policy organization. The report says the state’s teacher retirement debt totals $11.3 billion.
The latest estimate from state officials is nearly $12 billion, which is the largest of the four statewide retirement systems. The report said the retirement debt is not well funded and lacks the flexibility needed to be fair to teachers, including allowing them to be vested in no more than three years. The requirement here is five years.
Louisiana's economy keeps creating jobs, but it can't keep up with the state's growing workforce. The state's unemployment rate rose in December for the eighth straight month, to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent in November. Louisiana now ties for the sixth-highest jobless rate among the states. But at the same time, the state hit new all-time highs for jobs. Experts say The jobless rate rose, though, because the number of job seekers grew faster than the number of jobs.
Two men were gunned down Monday and killed in Donaldsonville less than two hours before a community group intent on stemming a recent tide of violence prayed in the city’s downtown square. Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said 37 year old Chad Nichols was slain in his front yard. A second man, 29-year-old Benny Booker of Prairieville, was wounded with serious injuries and taken to a hospital but later died.
Witnesses told deputies that two white cars were seen speeding away from the mobile home shortly after the shooting.
The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office says the search for a teen, wanted in connection to a weekend robbery, ended unexpectedly when the suspect was found dead. Sheriff’s spokesperson Maxine Trahan says officers responded to a call from a crawfisherman who discovered the body of 18 year old Slye Mier in a field just east of Crowley. Authorities say Mier’s death is being classified as suspicious, although the exact cause of death is unknown at this time.
A Breaux Bridge woman Tuesday admitted to a judge that she was one of two people who strangled her elderly mother in 2011, drove her body to Lake Martin and left it in a car for others to find. 51 year old Heller Marie Dupuis plead guilty to manslaughter in the November 2011 killing of 83-year-old Jessie Messex, whose body police found with the rope still around her neck. Dupuis acknowledged to 16th District Judge Lori Landry on Tuesday that she and an accomplice, her 33-year-old daughter, Toni Marie Dupuis, carried out the crime. Toni Dupuis has agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter, though no court date has been scheduled.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual convention begins today and the main agenda item is the current split of the football playoffs. There is a proposal to expand the postseason split of public and private schools to other sports. A vote on the football playoff proposals will take place Friday.
Studies show more and more women are buying guns and becoming more familiar with how to use them. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 74 percent of gun shops saw growth in female customers in 2014. Barret Kendrick, a firearms trainer in Covington, says they have seen a major increase in the number of women coming into the gun market. Kendrick says women want to be able to protect themselves and their children and not feel like they have to rely on a man to protect them.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear “Boudin King Cake?” Well it’s out there. The brains behind the now crazy viral concept is Acadiana food critic Bob Carriker who is a UL-Lafayette history professor. He says he reviews King Cakes and Boudin from all over the nation and decided to combine the two and share the idea on his Facebook Page. Carriker says the now-famous King Cake uses a bread that is savory, not sweet, stuffed with boudin, topped with Steen’s cane syrup then sprinkled with cracklin.