News for Monday 012516
By Dave Graichen
New Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson begins a statewide tour today, meeting with local economic development groups emphasizing small business success in the state. Pierson says Governor John Bel Edwards has made small business growth a priority of his administration. He says it’s important to learn the different economic development needs from each region of the state. Pierson will make stops today in Tallulah, Delhi, and Alexandria.
Governor John Bel Edwards administration has informed higher education leaders that a cut in state funding to public colleges and universities is likely this fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says at this point it could be as much as 131 million dollars. Dardenne says they’re still in the process of reviewing what’s going to be necessary in order to combine cuts with revenue measures in the hopes of softening the cuts. He says this is just the reality of where we are as a state.
LSU President F King Alexander says they are expecting another round of cuts, but that Governor John Bel Edwards remains committed to prioritizing higher education. Alexander says, in the face of a $750 million dollar budget shortfall in the current fiscal year, LSU will take a $65 million dollar cut out of the $131 million for higher ed across the board, without legislative intervention.
Governor John Bel Edwards has put out a variety of different proposals to help with the state’s budget deficit, one being increasing the cigarette tax by 22 cents. Consultant with the Invest in a Healthy Louisiana campaign Randy Hayden says his organization doesn’t think that’s enough. He says the campaign suggests raising the cigarette tax another $1.25 per pack. Hayden says we had the third lowest cigarette tax in the country until Louisiana increased the tax 50 cents in 2015.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said he told Louisiana’s congressional lawmakers during his first trip to Washington since taking office that his administration wants to put “Louisianians first and shed our party labels at the door.” The newly elected Democrat met last week with the mostly Republican delegation in the office of Rep. Steve Scalise, the House GOP whip. Edwards says he asked them to approach issues in Louisiana, primarily as Louisianians rather than as Democrats or Republicans. The governor went on to say, that certainly doesn’t mean we’re going to agree on everything… But hopefully the disagreement can be respectful and professional so that it doesn’t poison our ability to work together on those things where we can agree or where we can find common ground.”
A 60-year-old man from St. Tammany Parish won a one-million dollar Powerball prize. Charles Schwetizer the Second matched all five white ball numbers on the January 13th drawing. That was the day when the grand prize was one-point-five billion dollars. Schweitzer received 700-thousand dollars after federal and state taxes were withheld.
The Shreveport Police Department says a $5,000 reward is now being offered for information in the search for the two endangered boys taken by force by their mother and a man wanted in connection with a pair of bank robberies. They say 2-year-old Elijah Wong and 7-year-old Donnie Simmons are believed to be in imminent danger. They are seeking to apprehend Keith Rogers and the boy’s mother, Antoinette Wong. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of these four is urged to contact authorities.
A St. Tammany Parish jury acquits a former teacher’s aide of molestation of a juvenile. Wendell Troullier (Trool-yay)was arrested by Slidell Police in 2014 after a 10-year-old boy said Troullier touched him inappropriately while at the man’s house. Defense attorney Robby Gill says the lead detective said during the trial that they never took DNA from the child, which led to the jury finding Troullier not guilty. Troullier was facing a minimum 25-year prison sentence if found guilty. Gill says Troullier was never arrested before this case and he maintained his innocence throughout, even during intense interrogation at police headquarters.
A man from Zachary is under arrest for allegedly shooting his dog multiple times when the pet wouldn’t cooperate during a bath. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office said the roommate and wife of 51-year-old Brian Keith Blair tried to talk him out of it, but deputies found nin .22 caliber casings and were forced to euthanize the pet at the scene. Blair is booked on animal creulty charges and illegal use of a weapon.
Do you have a favorite king cake that you swear by? Now there’s a website where you can rate and judge yours against other bakeries. Erica Sweeney is the spokesperson for the site, KingCakeSnob.com. She says you vote on a variety of characteristics of the king cake and the results are updated as each user submits a review.
The family of the man who died on New Year’s after being run over in New Orleans and dragged through the French Quarter for 6 miles, is desperate to find out who is responsible. 28-year-old Josh Woodruff was hailing an Uber around 3am January 1st when he was struck by a four door black sedan and dragged away, according to investigators. At this time the vehicle has not been found and no arrests have been made. There is a $10,000 reward.
A New Iberia railroad crossing where five people were killed is dangerously near a highway intersection, leading to traffic backups that can trap vehicles in a train’s path, safety experts But state transportation officials say the crossing is not scheduled for improvements such as a traffic signal guided by sensors for approaching trains. Since 2012, at least one train a year has hit a vehicle stopped at that crossing.
LSU football fans are anxious for the start of the 2016 season as the Tigers will have 19 scholarship seniors on the team. Several of them had an opportunity to enter the NFL draft and Coach Les Miles is happy to see them stay. The season opener is September 3rd against Wisconsin.