News For Monday 050916
By Dave Graichen
Was it the near perfect weather or a case of practice makes perfect, you be the judge. Large crowds filled the streets of downtown Alexandria each day and night during this weekend’s Alex River Fete’. Many feared the moving of the Dragon Boat races to Buhlow Lake, which in the past has been the anchor for the weekend , would hurt overall attendance. But, that was not the case. While large crowds watched the races many came back to the Alexandria side of the river for the rest of the Fete’.
The Rapides Parish Coliseum Authority has chosen Richard Karamatic to become the Coliseum’s executive director. Karamatic is currently the city administrator in Leesville, a position he will leave at the end of the week. Karamatic also spent 17 years in Dallas in the parks and rec department. The Coliseum has been without an executive director since 2013. The facility closed in April 2014 to await $22.9 million in renovations , which began in April of last year.
A bill that would prohibit open burning of explosives and munitions could be withdrawn from the regular session. There’s opposition from a company called Clean Harbors, which has a location near Colfax that open burns. Minden Rep. Gene Reynolds says he’s talked with Clean Harbors and the state department of environmental quality. Reynolds says if lawmakers and Clean Harbors are able to come up with a reliable solution, the bill will no longer be necessary.
Reynolds says in the bill’s place would be a House resolution which would call for local input before Clean Harbors can receive a new permit next year.
The House Appropriations Committee will vote today on a proposed budget for next fiscal year that’s expected to fully fund the TOPS scholarship program. Governor John Bel Edwards proposed spending plan only allocated a third of the approximately 300-million dollars needed to fully cover tuition costs for eligible students. If legislators fully fund TOPS that means 183-million dollars will be moved from other areas of the budget. Edwards says it would be great if the state can cover 100-percent of the costs for TOPS, but that will mean less state funding for hospitals, public education and state prisons.
Key members of the Governor’s staff are in St. Joseph today, where brown water is flowing from faucets in the Tensas Parish town. The governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Julie Baxter Payer, says they are there to inform St. Joseph residents about what’s being done to improve the drinking water. Baxter Payer says there is $7.8 million available to repair the town’s water system, but unfortunately St. Joseph cannot receive the money, because it has yet to complete a 2015 financial audit. She says they are waiting on a court to approve a financial manager that will be assigned to improve the town’s financial records.
A study from the firm KPMG ranks north Louisiana has the most competitive place to do business in the country. Scott Martinez, President of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, says low utility costs is one reason why Monroe and Shreveport rank high on this list. The data from the study shows that Monroe and Shreveport each rank about 8-percent lower than the national average for business costs.
We’re six months away from Louisiana’s U.S. Senate election and it’s been a slow race so far. That’s the opinion of ULM Political Science Professor, Dr. Joshua Stockley, who says we haven’t seen or heard much from the nine declared candidates. He says this election is very similar to last year’s governor’s election. Stockley says we’ll see an uptick in attention to the race after the major party conventions in the summer. He says right now, many voters are focused on the state’s budget problems and the legislative session. Stockley believes the presidential election will likely play a role in who wins this Senate seat. He says right now, the favorites are any of the major Republican candidates.
A two-year-old girl is dead and authorities say a man who babysat the child is considered a person of interest in the case. Authorities say the child’s body was found in a remote area of Beauregard Parish. Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft says 33-year-old Rodney “Donnie” Bailey Junior was the last person to see her alive and he is in custody.
A 78-year-old Shreveport woman could face the next decade behind bars for cashing Social Security checks that were mistakenly sent to a dead man for nearly three decades. Rose Marie Jackson Allen will be sentenced in September after pleading guilty to theft of government property. Allen shared a post office box with a man who died in 1986, but the government kept sending him social security checks. It’s believed Allen collected over 200-thousand dollars in illegal benefits.
Friday morning prosecutors ruled that no charges will be filed in the fatal officer-involved shooting of a mentally-ill man last year. State Police say 32-year-old Michael Noel was shot and killed at his home in St. Martin parish while resisting officers who attempted to take him into protective custody. Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars says no one was charged in the incident, because there was no crime.