News for Wednesday 073113
By Dave Graichen
Entergy announces it will lay off about 800 employees in the Gulf South. A spokesman with the company says about 240 Entergy employees in Louisiana will be let go; a 5% reduction in its workforce in our state. He says the layoffs are to reduce overall costs. People have already started to be let go and Entergy says the layoffs should be completed by the end of the year.
The Covington Police Department says its investigating a shooting at a law firm where upwards of 80 rounds were fired by a man. They say the only person there was a secretary who was able to escape, but there is a dead individual inside the building. The report indicates the shooter was a former client who went inside and opened fire, then shot himself.
The Livingston Parish Coroner's office has reportedly confirmed that a 14-year-old child has drowned at the Cajun Lagoon water park in Livingston Parish. Authorities are not releasing much information at this time other than to say it happened around 2pm.
A nationwide FBI sting has recovered 105 juveniles from underage prostitution. Four were from New Orleans and two were from Baton Rouge. Working with local officials they arrested over 40 "johns" and adult prostitutes in both cities as well as in Lake Charles, Shreveport and here in Alexandria.
State Police are urging citizens to download their new "See Something, Send Something" smart phone app, which makes reporting possible criminal behavior quick and easy. LSP Superintendent Mike Edmonson says one can remain anonymous when using the app, if you wish. He says the app is a help for law enforcement, because they cannot be everywhere at once. He says a similar app was instrumental in quickly identifying the Boston Marathon bombers. Versions for Android and iPhone are free downloads at the Apple store or Google Play.
Officials in Caddo Parish say there were no serious injuries in a train crash that happened in Vivian Tuesday morning. They say two Kansas City Southern trains collided along the tracks that run next to LA Highway 1 just before 8am.
Louisiana could soon have its first commercial wind farm. Metairie-based Southern States Renewable Energy is planning to build eight, 498-foot-tall wind turbines near the Port of West St. Mary. Frank Fink, economic development director for St. Mary Parish, says Southern States Renewable Energy is working on a power purchase agreement with Cleco. He says the wind farm will also be located near the substation. Fink says they hope to begin construction on the project before the end of the year.
The Jindal administration is moving forward with finding a replacement for CNSI, the Medicaid claims processing contractor fired by the state. The state health agency is asking for professional help in figuring out the kind of information technology system needed in Louisiana. The multiyear contract is the most lucrative in state government. The Medicaid claims processing system is responsible for paying doctors, hospitals, clinics and others who provide medical care for the poor who rely on the government insurance program. About one of every four Louisiana residents are part of Medicaid.
After a wetter than normal spring in Louisiana, a good portion of the state is now experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. State Climatologist Barry Keim says there's been a lack of rainfall in north Louisiana and down into southwest Louisiana. However, it's not been a dry summer for the entire state, southeast Louisiana is running above normal for precipitation.
The area of low oxygen known as the dead zone off of Louisiana's coast is now measured at 58-hundred square miles. The dead zone is the result of certain nutrients, like fertilizer, flowing into the
Gulf from the Mississippi river, killing off oxygen. Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Coast Restoration Network, says this is a major concern for the Gulf fishing industry.
New Orleans police are searching for a stolen fake police car. It was part of a movie shoot and the real police caution that the vehicle contains explosives that create small holes to mimick bullet
holes. It looks like a police car however it will not have the official NOPD markings on it.
Crews will drill a relief well to properly seal in the natural gas well in the Gulf that blew out and caught fire last week. No one was hurt but the rig was destroyed by the fire. Sand and silt settled
into the well hole, sealing it temporarily and snuffing the fire. The relief well operation is expected to take a little over a month to complete. When done, the well will be sealed in with mud and cement.
State sales tax will take a holiday this weekend, giving consumers a chance to save on the purchases of clothes, appliances, electronics and other goods. Lifting the 4 percent state sales tax is a tradition that dates back to the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, when legislators wanted to help storm victims replenish their households. The August tax holiday stuck as a boost for parents preparing children for the new school year.
Good economic development news for Washington Parish, as defense contractor General Dynamics announces plans to open a branch in Bogalusa - bringing hundreds of new jobs. General Dynamics plans a Contact Center for its I.T. (information technology) branch, which should mean jobs in administrative and customer service positions.