News for Wednesday 031616
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana’s Health Department reports there’s been a fourth storm-related death, which occurred in Natchitoches Parish. The coroner reports three people were moving items from a flooded residence when the boat there were using began taking on water, and only two of the individuals were able to swim to safety.
Here in Alexandria / Pineville, The Red River in could hit its highest point in more than 70 years this weekend. The river is forecast to crest at 40.5 feet on Sunday. That would be the highest it has been in Alexandria since a 40.65 crest on May 9, 1942. It has not topped 40 feet since 1958. The approximate top of the levees in Alexandria is 44 feet.
Sixteen more Louisiana parishes have been added to FEMA’s list of federal disaster areas bringing the total number of parishes to 23 that will be eligible for federal aid, like temporary housing, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property and money for home repairs. That request was granted after Governor John Bel Edwards asked the federal government to expand the federal disaster area. Mike Steele with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says people whose homes were damaged need to register to receive their federal assistance.
Hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers have been assisting people affected by the flooding around the state. Nancy Malone with the Red Cross says they have 6 shelters in north Louisiana, three in southeast Louisiana and one in the Calcasieu area that are still open. She says hundreds of homes were either destroyed or received major damage. Malone says people can donate $10 to the Red Cross via cell phone by texting the word “REDCROSS” to 9-0-9-9-9.
Traffic is now flowing on both spans of the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge over the Red River. The southbound span opened late yesterday afternoon after striping was completed. Both spans are in use now, but each only has one lane of traffic for the time being to allow the contractor to continue working to complete the roadway approaches to both bridges.
It’s expected we’ll get a better idea of the exact budget deficit facing the state at today’s Revenue Estimating Conference meeting. LSU Economist Dr. Jim Richardson serves on the panel and he says they’ll hear from the state’s fiscal office about how much was actually raised during the special session. Richardson says they’re required to give their best estimate of how much was raised for this year and next year because budgets must be made based on those revenue estimates. Richardson says we’re about 800 million dollars short for next fiscal year.
Alexandria attorney Thomas Davenport is asking the Rapides Parish Police Jury to remove a Confederate monument outside of the Rapides Parish Courthouse. Davenport says it is saddening that of all the good things our state has done, this is what was chosen to be memorialized. The police jury has reviewed Davenport’s request, but is holding off on any action, until the state legislature acts on legislation dealing with the confederate monuments.
The chief justice of Louisiana’s Supreme Court, Bernette Johnson, told lawmakers to look for ways to reduce the state’s incarceration rate, which is the highest in the country. Johnson, the state’s first black chief justice, says the US locks up more people than Iran, China and Germany.
The House Governmental Affairs committee meets Wednesday where they’ll discuss legislation that would prohibit a convicted felon from holding an elected office or being appointed to office. It’s in response to a court ruling that removed a provision in Louisiana’s constitution that kept convicted felons from qualifying for an elected office.
LSU is launching the car sharing service, Zipcar, to rent a vehicle by the hour, week, or month. Jeff Campbell, LSU’s Sr. Director of Parking and Transportation Services, says interested students or anyone in the area would pay a yearly membership fee and the cars are conveniently located around campus. He hopes this will increase international students at LSU.
An Opelousas man was arrested after allegedly killing his mother’s dog when she refused to give him money. Corey Leger with the Opelousas police department, says Johnathan Williams became furious when his mother would not give him $4 for a pack of cigarettes.
LSU men’s basketball Johnny Jones stands by his decision to reject an opportunity to play in the NIT. Jones says a season-ending injury to Keith Hornsby and an illness to shooting guard Antonio Blakeney would have made it a tough to put a competitive team on the court. Jones says they’ll use this time to begin preparations for next season, a year they hope will result in a trip to the NCAA Tournament.