News for Thursday 042315
By Dave Graichen
It’s upwards and outwards, the Port of Alexandria may have a new name in the near future. A proposed port to serve Rapides Parish is getting a name change following some lobbying by police jurors Wednesday in Baton Rouge. Rep. Lance Harris said the port agency will be called the Central Louisiana Regional Port. If Harris’ bill becomes law, a new board will have port domain throughout Rapides Parish, “excluding any private port facility.” The current Port of Alexandria would be incorporated into the Central Louisiana Regional Port.
A man in a motorized wheel chair was struck by a pickup truck while he tried to cross Lee Street Extension yesterday morning. No charges have been filed against the driver of the truck yet, since the investigation is ongoing. Police report the victim is listed in critical condition.
Two bills that attempt to address gender inequality when it comes to pay failed to get approval from the House Labor Committee. Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox says Louisiana has the worst gender pay gap in the nation at 66 percent. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says employees are hard enough to find and this legislation would be a strain on business owners like himself. Harris feels the data is skewed when it comes to saying Louisiana is 51st in the nation for gender pay equality because we have a different workforce here.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says Moody’s Investors Service has lowered LSU’s credit outlook from positive to stable. He says the flagship university is now one step away from a negative outlook which would be bad. Moody’s wrote the downgrade is due to limited prospects for sustained revenue growth due to potential reductions in the state budget. Kennedy says the solution would be for the legislature to stabilize funding for higher education.
Despite opposition from Governor Bobby Jindal, the Senate Education committee approves legislation designed to control the cost of the TOPS scholarship program. The bill’s author, Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue, says as tuition costs rise, so does the cost for TOPS and something needs to be done to preserve the program. Donahue’s bill heads to the Senate floor for more discussion.
Legislation that would give public colleges the authority to raise tuition and fees without legislative approval advanced out of the House Education Committee Wednesday. Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater says this legislation is needed because state funding has been on the decline since 2008. Many lawmakers are not comfortable with the idea, but many admit a funding source involving state dollars has yet to emerge.
It’s a nice economic combo, as Louisiana’s labor force continues to grow as the state’s unemployment rate dropped for a third month in a row. There were almost 2 million nonfarm jobs in Louisiana, the highest March on record. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says the state seems to be weathering the oil company cutbacks fairly well.
The widespread April showers are doing more than just causing flood concerns. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says all the free standing water is proving to be an excellent breeding ground for mosquitos; and that translates into West Nile Virus concerns. Last year, there were 61 cases reported in the state, and DHH reminds you to fight the bite.
Caddo Parish District Attorney Charles Scott died in his sleep Tuesday night in Baton Rouge while in town to meet with lawmakers at the Capitol. LSU Police Captain Corey Lalonde says by all indications this was just an extremely tragic sudden death. Scott was 67.
Federal health officials say three people have died and five others have fallen ill from bacteria that may have come from Blue Bell products. A company spokesperson says they are focusing on cleanup and working to make sure they have a safe product. A Blue Bell spokesperson says the company could start shipping product to stores again in the next couple of weeks. Business experts are saying it could be many years before Blue Bell wins back the trust and business of their customers.
You wouldn’t think this would be a tough one to figure out.. The Youngsville Police Department says they are trying to identify a youth softball coach in Lafayette who allegedly punched another coach and broke her nose during a fight after a game. They say three players jumped on top of opposing players then a male coach punched a female coach breaking her nose in three places. Cops say the three instigating players and the coach will face changes once they are identified.
There is good news about the St. Charles Parish Deputy who was working a school crossing last week when he was gunned down by a crazed man. Corporal Burt Hazeltine was shot three times but he was released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
The American Press is reporting a former teacher from Lake Charles Academy is facing charges alleging she was engaging in sexual activity with students. 35-year-old Sommer Nicole Odom of Iowa was placed under arrest Tuesday on three counts of oral sexual battery, four counts of indecent behavior with juveniles and one count of sexual battery the newspaper reports. The Lake Charles Police Department has not released information on this yet.
The American Automobile Association says the gas price went up again another penny last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.27.
The number one ranked baseball team in the country meets the second ranked team in the country tonight in Baton Rouge as the Tigers host Texas A-and-M.