News for Wednesday 030415
By Dave Graichen
Get ready for a big change in the weather. State climatologist Barry Keim says high temperatures today will be in the 70s and tomorrow they’ll be back in the 30s and 40s as a result of a strong cold front. This front has the potential to produce another round of winter precipitation. Keim says the northern half of the state could see freezing rain during the overnight hours.
Now all we can do is wait and see.. Army officials were in Leesville Tuesday to hear concerns about a potential downsizing that could remove up to 6,500 troops, more than half the personnel at Ft. Polk. At the listening session in Leesville, and concurrent events in Alexandria and Lake Charles, Strong community support was evident. The Army is evaluating ways to reduce its strength by as many as 70,000 troops. Fort Polk is one of 30 bases that is being considered for personnel reductions to achieve that.
The price of gas keeps going up. The state wide average is now $2.22 which is almost a dime more than this time last week. The Energy Department says there is a major increase in crude oil and the US is running out of room to store it. Some say this could mean another huge drop in the price we’re paying for gas at the pump in Louisiana.
Authorities in Vernon Parish report A Pitkin man is facing several charges after he allegedly had sexual contact with a 10-year-old. A complaint was made on Tuesday, and detectives conducted a forensic interview with the victim, who said that Robert L. Fortenberry III had touched her inappropriately. The 37 year old Fortenberry admitted to the incident during the interview with detectives.
The state Department of Revenue announces that tax refunds are now being issued. Spokeswoman Kizzie Payton says there was a slight delay this year due to the increase in fraudulent tax returns across the nation. She says, thus far, over 763,000 tax returns have been filed and about 244,000 have been processed.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry plans to fight Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to repeal the inventory tax credit. Such a move would save the state an estimated $380 million to help the budget crisis. But LABI Vice President, Jim Patterson, says the vast majority of states do not have inventory taxes, so if the refund went away businesses could decide to shift inventories to states that do not have such a tax and those warehouse jobs would be lost.
State Treasurer John Kennedy sees pros and cons to Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal. The governor has proposed scaling back certain tax credits and cut spending in other areas to address a $1.6 billion revenue shortfall. Kennedy says some of the proposed reductions in spending make sense, especially in the area of consulting contracts. Kennedy says the proposed budget looks to reduce 60-percent of the deficit by repealing tax credits and 40-percent by reducing spending. However, Kennedy does question the proposal of closing all health clinics in New Orleans, which will affect about 57,000 people.
Louisiana has built a $1.1 billion medical teaching hospital in New Orleans, but the manager of the soon-to-be-opened University Medical Center says Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget leaves it millions short of the operating cash it needs. Altogether, private operators of the state-owned hospitals previously run by LSU asked for $142 million more than Jindal proposed to spend on them in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nearly $88 million of that was for the hospital in New Orleans, which will shift services from an interim facility to the larger, new hospital this summer.
An early morning fire yesterday claimed the life of a 73-year-old woman in Opelousas. Firefighters responded to a wood frame dwelling around 4am, which they found fully engulfed in flames. The state fire Marshal’s office is still working to determine the cause of the blaze.
A Campti man died Monday after fell to his death after his safety harness became entangled in machinery at the International Paper-Red River. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office reports 42 year old David Long was pronounced dead at the scene.
Shreveport Police Department is investigating a overnight home invasion, where one of the suspects was shot and killed. Corporal Marcus Hines says they believe two men wearing masks, and entered the home with guns. Further evidence indicated there may have been illegal drugs present. Police say there were children inside the home, but they were not injured.
Agents with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control say a Ruston woman is under arrest accused of selling booze out of her personal residence. ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says 21-year-old Bryanna Jackson was taking money for cocktails at her apartment. Hebert says undercover agents went in one evening and were able to purchase two mixed drinks from the suspect. He says they discovered the illegal activity was going on from ads the woman was posting online.
The LSU men’s basketball team plays its final home game of the year tonight as they host the Tennessee Volunteers at six pm in the Maravich Center. These two teams met in Knoxville on Valentine’s Day and it was all LSU as they won by 18 points. LSU has won its last three and they are ten and six in league play.