News for Friday 021017
By Dave Graichen
It didn’t take a Rapides Parish jury long to decided Thursday that Mark Hayes was guilty on two counts of second-degree murder in the Feb. 13, 2015, shooting deaths of Richard Prenell and Kiasha Clovis in an Alexandria apartment. Hayes showed no emotion as the verdicts were read just about 45 minutes after jurors began deliberating after two days of testimony. Hayes sister, Melissa Hayes, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.
Darren Olagues, president and CEO of Cleco has resigned his position. In December, Olagues was charged in connection to an alleged domestic abuse incident. The charges against him were dropped in January. But, many believed the bad PR would have made it difficult for Olagues to continue in his position. Peggy Scott, Cleco board chair, will serve as interim CEO of Cleco Corporate Holdings, and William Fontenot has been appointed to serve as interim CEO of Cleco Power. Both appointments are effective immediately. The Cleco board says the search for a successor could take up to 12 months.
Margaurette Beard pleaded not guilty on Thursday to two federal counts of theft stemming from her alleged theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars over decades at the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office. No court dates have been set in the case. She faces two counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds.
The flu season in Louisiana is ramping up and as the Bayou State has surpassed other states with the number of influenza cases. The state’s flu bug expert, Dr. Frank Welch, says five out of 100 visits to the doctor are for flu like symptoms. An elementary and middle school in the Shreveport area are closed for the next two days because of the number of kids absent due to the flu. Welch says the dominate strain of the flu this year is H3N2. And he says the flu can lead to other serious illnesses, namely, Bronchitis and Pneumonia. Welch says this bad flu season will likely last from six to eight weeks.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said Thursday that Wednesday’s deadly explosion at Packaging Corporation America in Beauregard Parish occurred as contractors were welding near a tank during a facility shutdown. Three people were killed and one person remains hospitalized.
A Baton Rouge contractor has been arrested amid allegations he defrauded more than dozen homeowners who flooded in August. That’s according to Ascension Sheriff Jeff Wiley who says 39-year-old Matthew Morris would complicate agreements to rack up thousands in claims. Morris faces a number of charges and his bond has been set at 500-thousand dollars.
A UNO statewide poll finds six-out-of-10 Louisiana residents blame former Governor Bobby Jindal for the state’s budget problems. The Louisiana legislature is set to begin a third special session to correct a budget deficit since Jindal left office. UNO political scientist Ed Chervenak says the state’s fiscal troubles started early in Jindal’s term. Chervenak says even though legislators are set to enter another special session where budget cuts will be required, Governor John Bel Edwards continues to have a strong approval rating of 49-percent.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon advises tornado victims not to wait to file a claim. He says while it’s important for consumers to know what their coverage is, there won’t be any flood versus wind controversy with this event. The National Weather Service has confirmed that six tornadoes hit Louisiana on Tuesday damaging hundreds of residences.
A survey by insuranceQuotes finds 39-percent of drivers in the U.S. have never shopped around to find cheaper auto insurance. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says an easy way for drivers to save money on auto insurance is to increase your deductible or lower your coverage limits. He says this is considered self-insuring and taking as much risk as a motorist can reasonably afford. The survey also finds over half of drivers haven’t switched auto insurance companies in at least eight years and 6-percent of motorists have stuck with the same provider for over 30 years.
Attorney General office announces the arrest of two women who allegedly received flood disaster relief money from FEMA that they did not qualify for. Both women received money for property they didn’t even own. In one case $30,000
U.S. Representative Clay Higgins urges new Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to use social media as a way to vet immigrants. Higgins made the comments during a Homeland Security Committee meeting. Higgins believes a good way to prevent a terrorist from entering the U.S. is to review the social media use of immigrants who apply for a visa…
The National Retail Federation finds this Valentine’s Day consumers are expected to spend 18.2 billion dollars. That’s down from 19.7 billion dollars last year. LSU Marketing Professor Dan Rice says the report also finds the number of people who celebrate the holiday has dropped by nearly 10-percent from 2007 to 54-percent this year. But Rice says this is still a big holiday for retailers. Consumers are expected to spend about 85 dollars on their significant other.
Marvel is shooting a TV series in New Orleans. Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly says television productions last longer and employ more people than movies and there’s the potential a series can be picked up year after year. He says they’ll be filming in New Orleans and likely in other areas of the state as well. Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger will air on the Freeform channel.
The Saints will stay in Louisiana for training camp this season. The NFL team will train at their facilities in Metairie after holding camp in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia the last three seasons. Coach Sean Payton was very complimentary of the setup at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. But the team let the contract expire after three years and three straight non-playoff seasons.