News for Tuesday 032216
By Dave Graichen
The Pineville Police Department has closed its investigation into the January death of retired Judge Richard Lee after an autopsy ruled his death was the result of a "self-inflicted injury," reads a release. Lee's body was found in his Main Street office on Jan. 15. A preliminary investigation had found that Lee died of an "accidental discharged single gunshot wound" . Lee was 79.
The investigation continues into the death of a woman who’s body was found over the weekend under a bridge on North Bolton Avenue. The APD is confirming the body is that of a woman who was reported missing earlier in March. 30 year old Virginia Irwin was last seen in the 600 block of North Bolton Avenue on March 9. No cause of death was immediately determined. Her body was released to the Rapides Parish Coroner's Office for an autopsy that will attempt to make that determination.
A bill that before state lawmakers that would force major changes in the way waste is disposed of at Clean Harbors Colfax is picking up support. But, members of the Rapides Parish Police Jury are not on board. The Police Jury has voted not to endorse House Bill 11 because of the economic impact and potential loss of jobs it could create at Clean Harbors Colfax. HB 11, which is pending a hearing by the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment, would put an end to open burning of munitions or waste explosives. Something Clean Harbors Colfax openly burns at its facility located about 5 miles northwest of Colfax.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission could decide today to reconsider its decision last month to reject the proposed sale of Cleco Corp. A motion to re-hear the application of an investor group to buy Pineville-based Cleco is on the agenda for the LPSC meeting in Baton Rouge.
The governor’s top budget advisor told the House Appropriations Committee despite the additional one-point-two billion dollars in taxes raised, some government agencies are looking at a 30-percent cut in state funding. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says painful cuts will need to occur for the fiscal year that starts July 1st. Dardenne says more details will be released later this week.
The state has started handing out disaster food aid to families who have been impacted by the flooding. Deputy Assistant Secretary with the Department of Children and Family Services Sammy Guillory says the number of those applying has been pretty steady in the Covington area but not so much in north Louisiana, where it’s rare for the state to provide disaster food stamps. Guillory recommends pre-registering for food assistance if you live in one of the 23 parishes that have been declared a federal disaster. Links to do so are at ksyl.com & cenlabroadcasting.com
Gas prices are climbing in Louisiana. The average price for a gallon of gas in the state has surpassed $1.80. AAA Spokesperson Don Redman says those prices could continue to go up for a couple more months. Redman says the transition from winter-grade to summer-grade gas means refineries have to shut down for a while. He says that, coupled with more people out on the road, keeps gas prices higher. However, Redman says we should see a decline in gas prices by the time summer arrives.
Louisiana voters are split over whether or not elected officials should compromise, according to a new LSU survey. Doctor Michael Henderson, director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, says 55-percent of Democrats would like their representatives to compromise, while 52% of Republicans want their elected officials to stand their ground. Henderson says this does not bode well for getting things done in the legislature. Henderson says with a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature, it’s likely state politicians will have a hard time coming to agreements. He says we’re starting to see Washington-style politics here in Louisiana.
Only 51% of LSU Health New Orleans medical graduate are staying in Louisiana for their residencies. Dr. Steve Nelson, Dean of the School of Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans, blames talk of budget cuts for the lower number. But, he says it is positive to see 50% of LSU Health New Orleans graduates are entering primary care in Louisiana. Forty percent of LSU Health Shreveport grads and only 10% of Tulane grads will take residencies in Louisiana.
Two of the three people struck by lightning at a music festival in Lafourche parish have been treated and released. The third person, 28-year-old Jaqui Stavis and her black lab, were killed when the bolt of lightning struck the concert goers. State Climatologist Barry Keim says Louisiana is the second most lightening prone state in the country.
Two giraffes at the Baton Rouge Zoo died over the weekend, and workers are heartbroken. Sam Winslow, the zoo’s general curator, says one of the giraffes, a 24-year-old named Hope, was receiving treatment for a chronic illness. Her condition worsened and she had to be euthanized. He says when severe storms moved in, they were forced to put another female into a stall with a male she’s normally not with. It believed the male attempted to mate with the female causing injuries that led to her death.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that basketball star Ben Simmons has played his final game at LSU. Simmons has told ESPN he’s turning pro. Despite failing to lead the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament, he’s expected to be the number one pick. Tiger Rag Editor Cody Worsham says it remains to be seen if it was a positive that Simmons even played for the Tigers. Simmons averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists last season.
NBA superstar Pelicans center Anthony Davis says he’s been playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder for three years and will take the rest of the season off due to surgery. This also means he won’t go to the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Davis is also suffering from a knee injury. He says the main reason he’s getting his shoulder fixed is because he was already getting surgery on his knee.