News for Monday 042715
By Dave Graichen
Two sailors, including a Pineville businessman, were killed and Coast Guard crews still are searching for five people missing Sunday following a powerful weekend storm that capsized several sailboats competing in a regatta near Mobile Bay. Authorities have not released the names of the victim but family members here in Cenla say the body of Kris Beall was among the two recovered. Beall was 27. Arrangements are pending at Hixson Brothers Funeral Home of Pineville.
The $22.9 million makeover of the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria begins today after numerous delays. The project is finally getting underway after voters approved a bond issue to renovate the facility two-and-a-half years ago. Rapides Police Jury President Richard Billings says everyone’s excited these changes are finally being made. He says the coliseum last held an event over a year ago. Billings says, when complete, the venue will be practically brand new with renovations happening both outside and inside the building. The renovations are expected to take 20 to 22 months to complete.
The House Ways and Means Committee will consider this morning a bill that will raise the state’s cigarette tax from 36-cents per pack to $1.54 per pack, which is the national average. Stasha Rhodes, with the American Heart Association in Louisiana, says the measure has an excellent chance at passing, because of the state’s massive budget shortfall. Rhodes says the cigarette tax increase under consideration today would generate 223-million dollars in new revenue for the state.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says national investors have pulled out of a 114-million dollar bond deal that would helped fund various construction projects on LSU’s campus. Kennedy says investors are concerned about potential big budget cuts to higher education. State lawmakers are trying to come up with a plan that would prevent large cuts to higher ed, but so far a clear solution has yet to develop.
The LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man in connection with a double homicide. 37-year-old Randy Eugene Waits is behind bars today for the deaths of 19-year-old Kylie Duncan and 76-year-old Irma Cotton. Sheriff Scott Franklin says there appears to be a connection between the suspect and one of the victims. He says the teen was shot and her throat slit and the older woman was shot in the head. Waits is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and more charges are possible.
Ochnser Health System says they are the first in the nation to use the new Apple Watch for its patients. Dr. Richard Milani says with the Apple Watch, patients can receive medication reminders, feedback from clinics, activity tracking, and exercise reminders
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reports that there was a seven percent decline in the number of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2014 compared to the prior year. Deputy Director Ken Trull says helmets are helping to reduce motorcycle deaths. He says an observational study in 2014 found that 100-percent of motorcyclists wore a helmet. He says they need all motorists to get on board with keeping an eye on motorcyclists.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, who is running for governor, announces he’s raised three million dollars so far and has one-point-eight million dollars on hand. Last Week week, another gubernatorial candidate, David Vitter, said he had four-point-two million in his campaign war chest.
Caddo Parish District Attorney Charles Scott will be laid to rest today after his sudden death last week in a Baton Rouge hotel while on business at the Capitol. Preliminary findings reveal the 67-year-old died of previously diagnosed heart disease. A special election for a new Caddo DA is expected to happen in conjunction with this fall’s gubernatorial race.
Two LSU students died Sunday afternoon after they were found earlier that morning unresponsive at the bottom of a swimming pool in an apartment complex near LSU. Baton Rouge. Police say the pool gate was locked and it appears the two jumped the fence. Initially there were no signs of foul play, but the investigation continues.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s office urges consumers to research the costs and benefits of solar panels before purchasing them. The director of the public protection division of the state’s A-G’s office, Sam Pleasant, says homeowners can be attracted by a promise of reduced energy costs from solar power systems, but sometimes there are some significant upfront costs. Pleasant says they issued this alert now, because warmer weather prompts many consumers to look at ways to save money on utility bills.
The Pelicans season is over after getting swept by Golden State in their four-game playoff series. Even though New Orleans didn’t win a game in the postseason, Anthony Davis showed he’s one of the top players in the league. Davis had 36 points and 11 rebounds in the series finale. Head Coach Monty Williams believes Davis’ first experience in the playoffs will only fuel him to become a better player.