98.7 Hip-Hop & R&B Is Now A
Member Of The I-Heart
Family. Click The Logo
To Listen Live!
News For Friday 05/22/15
News for Friday 052215
By Dave Graichen
A four hour man hunt has led to the arrest of a man accused of shooting a Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agent last night. The agent was shot in the back Thursday evening near the Wham Brake boat launch.32 year old Sgt. Scott Bullitt is reportedly in in serious condition.
30 year old Luke Hust, from Monroe. It’s believed The officer was one of two who pulled over Hust under suspicion of DUI. It was when Sgt Bullitt was walking back to his vehicle that he was shot in the back.
Some of the worst flooding along the Red River in nearly two decades has closed all riverside recreation areas, including Fort Buhlow Recreation Area. It has also shut down all public boat launches on the river, closed two of the five locks and dams and has led to more restrictions on barge traffic. The Red River is at one of its highest levels in years, and flood warnings have been issued for the Red River at Alexandria, as well as the Calcasieu River near Glenmora.
Due to the threat of rain, The Little Walter Music Festival will take place indoors on Saturday. The festival will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Music begins at 11 a.m. and will continue until 11 p.m. The event had been scheduled for the Alexandria Levee Park Amphitheatre.
On a 65-37 vote, the state House approved a 24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year, sending the spending plan to the senate. As it stands now, the budget reduces funding for LSU’s medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport and the state’s public-private hospital partnerships are also underfunded. House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin says some state agencies will also face cuts The Senate Finance Committee will take up the budget next week.
With all of the travel miles Governor Bobby Jindal is logging, state lawmakers in the House voted to have the governor’s office to pay for the State Police Security detail in his out-of-town travel, instead of State Police having to foot the bill. For next year’s budget, Jindal would be on the hook for the money, and have to make cuts within his own office.
A bill that would phase out most of the movement of state dollars from a fund for roads and bridges to State Police won approval Thursday in the Louisiana Senate Transportation Committee. The measure, House Bill 208, earlier won House approval 92-5. It next faces action in the Senate Finance Committee because of its impact on the state budget.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s religious freedom executive order is receiving strong criticism from democrats. The leader of the state democratic party, New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson, says she can’t believe Jindal would issue the order, when businesses and the tourism industry expressed concern the measure could alienate visitors or keep conventions away. Jindal’s controversial order prevents the executive branch of state government from taking adverse action against a person or a business for their belief in traditional marriage. The governor says it re-affirms our first amendment rights. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed his own executive order in response. The mayor says his executive order lets the nation know New Orleans is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity.
The former teacher of the year in Plaquemine who was arrested for allegedly having sex with three of his students, apparently fathered a child with one of the victim’s when she was 15-years-old. 30 year-old Keavin Keith was arrested Monday on 30 counts of prohibited sex with a student.
State Police say a fire yesterday at their data center has left Office of Motor Vehicles offices across the state unable process any transactions. Major Doug Cain says an electrical panel fire has disabled all automated systems at the Department of Public Safety, including OMV locations statewide. He says he hopeful they will be up and running sometime today.
An Acadia Parish woman has been arrested on charges in connection with the death of her newborn. The baby girl went into cardiac arrest after she was born at home, then died at the hospital. The toxicology report showed high levels of methamphetamine. The woman faces second-degree murder charges.
In Houma cops are searching for a woman they believe spread thumbtacks all over the bed of her ex-boyfriend, then poured boiling water on top of him while he was sleeping. They say 36-year-old Lynette Joseph is wanted for questioning in the crime of aggravated 2nd degree battery. According to a news release, the victim suffered severe burns to his torso, right arm and face and had to be shipped to the burn center in Baton Rouge.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission has asked the state Attorney General’s office to investigate the sentence of the Destrehan High School teacher who had sex with one of her students. Shelley Dufresene admitted to the act in exchange for no jail time and not having to register as a sex offender. The MCC wants the AG’s office to look into whether St. Charles Parish DA Joel Chaisson committed any criminal violations with regards to the plea.
News For Thursday 05/21/15
News for Thursday 052115
By Dave Graichen
A Senate bill that will likely result in future TOPS students having to pay a portion of their tuition clears the House Education Committee. Under Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue’s legislation, the TOPS award will match 2016-17 tuition levels but the award will not automatically go up when tuition rises. Donahue says TOPS is unsustainable in its current form and this baseline will ensure its survival. The measure will now be debated on the House floor.
Legislation by Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater that would allow state colleges to raise fees for students passes the state House. Broadwater says a percentage of the revenues generated from additional fees would be set aside for needs based assistance.
A Senate committee has approved New Orleans Senator JP Morrell’s bill that would change a second-offense marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. It also allows a first-time offender to have their record expunged if they are not convicted for another marijuana violation within two years. He says there’s still significant penalties for 3 or more convictions. The bill heads to the full Senate.
The United Health Foundation ranks Louisiana 50th in the nation for Senior Health. That’s last according to the Annual America’s Health Rankings 2015 Senior Report. Katherine Palmier (palm-yay) is the Chief Medical Officer for the East Region of United Health Care. She says while Louisiana is ranked as the least healthy state for older adults, Mississippi is Number 49 this year then Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Palmier says in Louisiana there is a high percentage of nursing home residents that are not receiving proper care. She also says a lot of Louisiana seniors struggle with food insecurity which means they wonder if they are going to have enough money to pay for their next meal.
New Orleans has been invited to bid to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls. The Big Easy last hosted the Super Bowl in 2013. Jay Cicero, President of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation says Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, and Los Angeles have also received invitations to bid on hosting the big game from the NFL. New Orleans lost out on hosting the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis and their new stadium last year. Cicero says with new stadiums proposed for Atlanta and Los Angeles, the competition will be stiff.
It will likely take a year before the Louisiana Black Bear is taken off the threatened species list, but federal officials are now recommending that delisting. After public input, they could open the door for regulated hunting of the black bear, but State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says that’s not happening anytime soon.
After about 3 hours of debate, the Lafayette City-Parish Council has rejected a smoking ban in bars. Supporters of the proposed ban–backed by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living–expressed health concerns for employees and musicians in clubs. Some opponents argued that decision should be left to club and bar owners. The vote was 5-4.
A recent study by NOAA shows a strong connection between the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill and a high number of dolphin deaths. Dr. Kathleen Colegrove is the study’s lead veterinary pathologist, and she says half of the mammals in Barateria Bay-which was heavily damaged–had the rare adrenal lesions.
A Loreauxville (Lora ville) teen-ager lost his life after he was playing in rain water and accidently fell into a drainage pipe in New Iberia. Rescuers pulled the body of 15 year-old John Michael Steine from the pipe. He was dead at the scene.
The American Automobile Association expects more Americans to travel this Memorial Day weekend than they have in the last 10 years. Spokesman Don Redman says they predict a 5-percent increase from last year in people who will travel for the holiday weekend. He says over 37 milion Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home for the holiday. Redman says if you plan to travel by car this weekend, you can expect to share the road with a lot of people. It’s expected that about 33-million people will be traveling by car. Most drivers can expect to pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in five years.
News For Wednesday 05/20/15
News for Wednesday 052015
By Dave Graichen
An ordinance introduced Tuesday in Alexandria would block expansion of bingo halls and other charitable gaming sites in the city. A moratorium on bingo expansion in Alexandria has been in place for about eight years, but the City Council has lifted the moratorium at least twice. It is expected to come up for a vote in two weeks.
After a lengthy debate over Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson’s religious freedom bill, the House Civil Law Committee overwhelmingly voted to return the bill to the calendar, essentially killing it for the session. Johnson told the panel that his legislation is designed to protect business owners who have deep religious beliefs concerning traditional marriage.
Opposition to the legislation came from the business community and the head of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Stephen Perry called the bill radioactive. Lawmakers though could have stayed home for the day, After the vote, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order that will do the same thing as the bill. It’s expected lawsuits will follow. Jindal did just what he often criticizes President Barack Obama for doing. When Obama issued his executive order on immigration, for example, Jindal had this to say: “If the President wants to make the case that the law should be changed, he should go make the case to Congress and our people.”
A pro-Governor Bobby Jindal advocacy group has released a television ad in Iowa supporting his candidacy for president. The American Future Project says the ad will run on cable television in Iowa and online for one week. This ad, that positions Jindal as the conservative Republican’s leading voice in the battle over religious freedom, comes on the heels of the governor forming an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency.
A House bill that would allow elementary school students to be taught gun safety is headed to the Senate. The legislation is by Baton Rouge Representative Blake Miguez who says firearm accident prevention and safety would be something kids should learn at a young age . The measure passed on a 93-3 vote. In a somewhat ironic twist, A bid to require that sex education be taught to public school students in grades seven to 12 in New Orleans was crushed Tuesday in the Louisiana House. The vote was 33-59, which is 20 votes short of the minimum needed for final approval.
The LSU baseball team begins play this afternoon at 4:30 in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Coach Paul Mainieri says this week will get them ready for the NCAA Tournament.
LSU has won the last two SEC Tournaments and with Mainieri as the head coach, the Tigers won the SEC Tourney from 2008 through 2011. The coach says they go into this tournament with very little pressure on them, since they know they’ll be a part of the NCAA Tournament.
House lawmakers balked at a proposal that would have let public colleges set their own tuition rates. House Bill 66 would have ended the need for legislative approval for tuition hikes. To stop the increases from hitting the state budget, the bill would have kept the TOPS free college tuition program from covering the additional costs. Only 45 lawmakers in the 105-member House bothered to cast a vote. It needed 53 votes to pass.
The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office has booked a 30-year-old teacher on 37 counts of inappropriate behavior with students. They say Keavin Keith’s charges include 30 counts of sex between student and teacher. Keith was named teacher of the year in 2013.
Legislation is headed to the Louisiana House floor that impose a new one-cent sales tax, with the monies from that revenue going toward the funding of 15 major transportation projects. If the bill makes it to the legislature, it is expected to be vetoed by Governor Bobby Jindal.
US Representative Steve Scalise of Metairie, the third highest ranking member in the US House, has endorsed US Senator David Vitter in his bid to become the next governor of Louisiana. This is the fifth endorsement the Senator has received from GOP members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. Vitter was previously endorsed by Senator Bill Cassidy and Representatives Ralph Abraham, Charles Boustany, and John Fleming.
Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will make an important announcement at the Governor’s Mansion regarding the Louisiana black bear. It is expected that the black bear will be officially removed from the threatened species list. Secretary Robert Barham says the black bear was put on the threatened list nearly 25 years ago.
According to a recent survey by the LSU Public Policy Research lab, voters in Louisiana are still not tuned in to the upcoming Governor’s race. The numbers show only 25% of people here are following news about the election. All four candidates have favorable ratings.
News For Tuesday 05/19/15
News for Tuesday 051915
By Dave Graichen
Public schools in Natchitoches Parish are closed today because of heavy rains in the parish on Monday that closed several roads and Cane River Lake. A state of emergency was declared in Natchitoches Parish by Parish President Rick Nowlin because of the flooding.
Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton will hold a press conference Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Best Western Inn & Suites On MacArthur Drive in Alexandria, to announce that he is running for reelection this fall. Two other candidates already have declared their intentions to run, Robert Dukes and William “Billy“ Burns Jr.
Eleven revenue generating bills previously approved by the House were also passed by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee. The measures raise an estimated 615-million dollars. The senate panel also agreed to increase Louisiana’s cigarette tax by 32-cents, to 68-cents for a pack of cigarettes. But New Orleans Senator JP Morrell indicated the proposed tax could go up even more as the bill moves through the legislative process. The bills head to the Senate Finance committee for more discussion.
Today the House Civil Law Committee will hear Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson’s controversial religious freedom bill. Johnson says HB 707 would prevent adverse treatment from the state of any person or entity on the basis of their religious views on marriage, while opponents say it legalizes discrimination. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat doesn’t think the outlook for this bill is good. The committee is also expected to hear a bill by New Orleans Representative Austin Badon that would protect someone from being fired from a job or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. Pinsonat feels this bill will be shot down as well.
Governor Bobby Jindal has formed an exploratory committee to help him decide on whether or not to make a presidential run. He has been considering a run for several months and has stated he will make a final decision by the end of June.
Ruston Police say an 11-year-old boy died after being trapped in a car swept away during flash flooding yesterday. He was apparently being driven to school by his grandmother who was able to escape the car along with another 7-year-old but the 11 year old did not make it out
Four arrests by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office have been made in connection of the death of a 54 year-old woman reported missing in April. Those arrested included her ex-husband who alleged planned the murder for hire scheme to kill his wife.
The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hears legislation today that seeks to expand offshore drilling and provides Louisiana with additional dollars from oil and gas produced in federal waters off the state’s coast. Recently elected Senator Bill Cassidy is the author of the bill that supporters say could create over 200-thousand jobs. Louisiana and three other gulf states currently receive hundreds of millions of dollars for hosting offshore energy production. But there’s a cap on how much the states can receive, Cassidy is calling for a raising of the cap with this bill. Cassidy’s bill would also allow for offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in 2017.
To recognize National Dog Bite Prevention Week, State Farm compiled claims data and found that Louisiana ranks 14th in the United States in a 2014 analysis of dog bite injury claims. The company says it paid out nearly $3 million dollars here for dog bite claims last year.
The Louisiana Senate approved Monday a measure that would allow some sheriff’s departments to automatically scan the license plates of drivers they pull over. Senate Bill 250, which supporters say will help police crackdown on uninsured motorists and car thieves, was approved on a 33-2 vote and now moves to the House for consideration.
There is a new coach on the reservation at Tioga. He is Kevin Cook. Cook coached at Bunkie last year leading them to the playoffs and before that he was responsible for the turnaround of the Buckeye program. Tioga along with the Grant Cougars, will now be playing in the extremely competitive new District 2-4A, facing Neville, West Ouachita, Franklin Parish, and Bastrop. The search now begins for the Bunkie Program. Word is they will name a coach later this week.
News For Monday 051815
By Dave Graichen
A deadly 3 car crash Friday has killed a husband and wife on I-49 near Bunkie. Their car reportedly rear-ended a wrecker truck, who had rear-ended another vehicle, which apparently had been struck by lightning. Austin and Destinee Jones of Covington were killed, while their 12 month baby in a car seat sustained minor injuries; same for the occupants in the other car. The wrecker driver was not injured.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission begins a statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign today focusing on back seat passengers, pickup trucks, and low compliance areas. Their 2014 seat belt survey showed 84-percent of Louisiana motorists buckled up, the highest rate to date. Executive Director Lt. Col. John LeBlanc says this is a statewide campaign, but they will focus efforts in areas of the state where seat belt compliance is the lowest. Seat belt compliance was lowest in the here in the Alexandria area, 71-percent, followed by Monroe with a 75-percent.
Blue Bell announces layoffs of 1450 employees across the country following the listeria outbreaks. In Louisiana, they are planning 10 layoffs, and about 130 furloughs for disruption sites in Louisiana; including Slidell, Shreveport, Ruston, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge. Bluebell says the clean-up at the infected sites is taking longer than expected.
Alexandria Police arrest a man accused of throwing a baby up against the wall. Deputy Chief Cedric Green says they received a call from the baby’s mother saying 20-year-old Devontee Smith kicked in the back door of her residence and threatened her and the baby. Smith faces charges of domestic abuse battery, home invasion, simple assault, and theft of diapers and milk.
According to a recent statewide survey, almost two-thirds of voters (many of those-parents and graduates) are in favor of the TOPS scholarship program to remain fully funded. This, despite lawmakers efforts to put a cap on the awards. That’s a problem which leaves lawmakers with a bit of a dilemma, given the state budget crisis.
Hollywood South takes center stage in this summer’s blockbuster movie season, starting this weekend with opening of Pitch Perfect 2 filmed in Baton Rouge. Also scheduled is “American Ultra,” “Selfless” and “The Fantastic Four. Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly, even with adjustments to the film tax credits being considered by the legislature to help ease the state budget deficit, he does not believe this would be a deterrent to film makers.
The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee will discuss today the revenue generating bills that were approved by the House. The lower chamber passed 11 bills that would increase revenues by 615-million dollars. Word is the Senate leadership wants to raise even more revenue to offset a one-point-six billion dollar budget gap. The tax bills up for consideration in the Senate would reduce tax breaks businesses currently enjoy, there’s also legislation that scales back the film tax and solar tax credit programs and raises the cigarette tax to a higher amount than that already agreed upon by the House.
The Revenue Estimating Conference announces that $179 million has been found that can help budget issues for this fiscal year and next. They say $99.4 million would be used for this fiscal year and $79.3 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The Department of Children and Family Services is recruiting Foster Families, especially those who can take larger sibling groups or children with special needs. DCFS Policy Advisor Kaaren Hebert says this month, more than 4300 children will be served by Louisiana’s foster care system and just 2,000 certified foster homes are available. She says that’s a huge deficit for their agency.
News For Friday 05/15/15
New for Friday 051515
By Dave Graichen
State lawmakers Thursday decided residents in Rapides parish weren’t ready yet to vote for or against alcohol sales in the unincorporated area outside of Pineville. Senate Bill 112 by Sen. Rick Gallot did not get the necessary 20 votes to pass on the Senate floor. It received 16 votes for and 15 votes against, with eight senators absent. The other three senators who represent parts of Rapides Parish, Gerald Long, Bob Kostelka, and Neil Riser all voted against the bill.
If you haven’t gotten your state taxes done yet, this is the last day you can procrastinate. Today is the deadline for filing 2014 Louisiana individual income tax returns. The state department of revenue recommends electronic filing.
The bodies of a previously reported missing mother and her two children were found in a car in New Orleans East. NOPD says 25-year-old Michelle McCullum and her children, 5-year-old Caden and 3-year-old Cylie, were all found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.
In a unanimous vote, the state House passed New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno’s bill that would ban hospitals from billing rape victims for their medical exams. The measure would permit health care providers to submit a claim to the victim’s insurance company for payment, but the victim would not be required to pay any share of the costs. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The full House has approved legislation that will reduce the maximum penalty for those who are convicted multiple times for simple marijuana possession. Under the bill, a person convicted three times for having a small amount of pot, faces a maximum sentence of eight years, instead of 20 which is current law. The senate will debate the measure next.
One person is dead and another three injured after a pickup truck struck a school bus head-on in Beauregard Parish Thursday morning. State Police say the crash killed a passenger in the truck and injured both drivers. There were no children on the school bus at the time.
The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office has charged a substitute teacher on counts of producing and possessing child pornography and carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Lt. Bill Davis says 26-year-old Christopher Kerr of Bossier City used his position as a teacher to get access to children, and he used social media as well. Four girls between the ages of 13 and 16 have been identified, and there are at least 30 more that are unidentified.
The Louisiana House approves legislation that would prohibit gender based abortions. The bill’s author is Houma Representative Lenar Whitney. She says there have been no documented cases in Louisiana, but she cited an article from Forbes about pregnancies ending early in US Asian communities because the sex of the unborn child was a girl. The bill passed 84-2 and now heads to the Senate.
Former LSU Tiger Odell Beckham has been voted to be on the cover of the Maden NFL 16 video game. Beckham beat out Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski a in vote by the fans.
The Baton Rouge-shot “Pitch Perfect 2″ opens nationwide today and expectations that it will be as loved as the first one are high. The sequel will once again be set at the fictional Barden University but was filmed in and around LSU. Ashley Territo is a manager in the office charged with approving all film projects on campus. During filming, producers issued an open invitation casting call to fill in a concert crowd for one of the scenes and over 3000 people showed up so many Louisianians will be looking to see if they made the cut.
A new political action committee targets US Senator David Vitter’s attempt to become governor of Louisiana. Gumbo PAC has launched a website and released a video that takes a critical look at Vitter’s time in political office. Gumbo PAC Chairman Trey Ourso says their mission is to educate voters about Vitter’s record. Ourso says some are concerned because Vitter has served in Congress since 1999 and is basically a “career Washington politician”.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announces that Safe Boating Week begins Saturday. In Louisiana, Safe Boating Week marks the start of the spring and summer boating season. LDWF spokesman Adam Einck says boaters can expect increased patrols and safe boating checks this weekend. Einck says these increased patrols are not designed to stop anyone from having fun, they just want to make sure everyone is safe on the water.
News For Thursday 05/14/15
News for Thursday 051415
By Dave Graichen
A deadly crash in Vernon parish last night claimed the life of a Leesville teen. State police report 15 year old Acadia Sanders lost control of the pickup she was driving and struck a tree on LA 465. Sanders, who was not wearing a seat belt was pronounced dead at the scene. An 18 year old passenger, Jon Stuckey, who was wearing a seatbelt survived the crash with moderate injuries. Troopers say the crash remains under investigation.
The Red River Waterway Commission announced yesterday that public boat launching ramps on the Red River are closed til further notice due to high water. These include the ramps in Rapides, Natchitoches, Grant, Avoyelles, Caddo, Bossier and Red River parishes. The commission says the boat launches will be re-opened as soon as conditions permit the public to utilize the ramps safely.
Supporters and opponents of Common Core have come together on legislation that puts a process in place that could lead to new public school education standards. Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann, an outspoken critic of Common Core, says the compromise legislation, which was approved by the House Education committee Wednesday, allows for more public input in developing academic standards. The plan calls for BESE to approve new education standards in March 2016, but the next governor could reject them. The Governor’s office says they don’t like the veto mechanism and also have concerns that BESE would set up a standard’s commission filled with Common Core Supporters.
In a narrow vote, the state Senate advances an equal pay bill to the House. According to recent Census data, Louisiana has the largest gender pay gap in the nation. The bill also lays out a course of legal action if a worker is not paid the same as another doing the same job. Opponents say this would set businesses up for hoards of litigation but New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson says this bill is about shrinking the gender pay gap, not promoting lawsuits. The bill passed the Senate on a 21-16 vote.
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested a man accused of leaving his truck in the middle of the road then breaking into someone’s home and dancing naked under a water hose at another house. They say 27-year-old Tristan Yenzer of Alexandria was booked with unauthorized entry, aggravated obstruction of a roadway, theft of utilities and 2 counts of criminal trespassing.
Retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who gained fame in his no-nonsense approach to relief efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans, says he’s considering running for Governor. On a Baton Rouge Talk Show, Honore says if he does decide to run, he would do so under “No Party” and make an announcement before July 4th. He says he’d be in it to win it and even though it’s late in the game, raising money for a campaign would be no problem.
A bill that would ban someone from getting an abortion based on sex selection is scheduled for debate on the House Floor today. The measure by Houma Rep. Lenar Whitney made it out of committee without objection. Louisiana Right to Life says the use of abortion as a means of sex selection is a major social problem in a number of Asian countries where male children are widely preferred over females. However, opponents of the bill say, this isn’t China and the bill is just another roadblock being put in front of women who want an abortion in the state.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s approval rating in Louisiana is at an all-time low according to a new survey. Bernie Pinsonat conducts the Southern Media and Opinion Research Poll. He says they found Jindal got a 31.8% positive job performance rating from likely Louisiana voters.
Pinsonat says that rating is lower that President Barack Obama.
A Louisiana based oil company is set to drill near the site of the BP well blowout that killed 11 workers and caused the nation’s largest offshore oil spill. LLOG (log) Exploration Offshore has been approved to drill into the Macondo reservoir. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Professor Eric Smith, says this shouldn’t cause people to be concerned. He says the BP blowout was the cause of human error and the reservoir is safe to drill.
The state house approves a bill that would let some motorists get an inspection sticker every five years. Currently the brake tags are $10 a year and drivers can get either a one or two year sticker. Stonewall Rep. Richard Burford says his bill would only apply to vehicles 7 years old or less. The vote was 58-33 and the measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
Senior Jared Foster is expected to start at second base tonight when the number one ranked LSU baseball team visits South Carolina. Foster, who was ruled academically ineligible last week, was reinstated after an “obscure” NCAA rule was uncovered that restored his eligibility.
News For Wednesday 05/13/15
News for Wednesday 051315
By Dave Graichen
A bill to allow for an election on alcohol sales in the unincorporated area of District B around Pineville got Senate committee approval Tuesday. The committee advanced SB 112 to the full Senate without objection.
The debate legislation that would remove the controversial Common Core education standards from public schools and replace it with one developed by Louisiana residents hits committee Today. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris authors the bill and he says Common Core was implemented with little public input and now parents see it’s not good for our students. But, not everyone agrees. Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, says ditching Common Core for another education curriculum is a wrong move for the state. The bill comes up in the House Education Committee.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says the state needs far more oversight and transparency in state government contracts in light of a recent report by the state Legislative auditor. It indicates Louisiana has nearly 15,000 contracts worth about $21 billion with no real way to keep track of many of them. Kennedy says this is unacceptable. Kennedy says many of these contracts are wasteful spending and millions could be saved with better oversight.
A new statewide poll shows Republican Senator David Vitter is separating himself even more as the front-runner in the governor’s race. In a survey conducted by Southern Media and Opinion Research, 38-percent of respondents said they would vote for Vitter, his closest challenger is Democrat John Bel Edwards at 25-percent. Republican Jay Dardenne finished third in the poll as he received support from 17-percent of those surveyed, while Republican Scott Angelle got five-percent.
The Attorney General’s office says two former St. John the Baptist Parish Water Works employees were convicted Tuesday for covering up their failure to properly collect water samples from testing sites. The Department of Health and Hospitals later found a brain eating amoeba at those sites. Both were sentenced to one year in parish prison, with that sentence suspended, and 6 months’ probation.
A bill by Gonzales Representative Johnny Berthelot that would double littering fines is headed to the full Senate. The House bill advanced out of the Senate Environmental committee Tuesday. Berthelot says the additional revenue would go towards law enforcement retirement.
Under the measure, first offense fines for simple lit erring would go to $150 up from $75.
In a stunning move, the Pelicans announced the firing of head coach Monty Williams after five seasons, which included two trips to the playoffs. Jake Madison, a writer for a blog website called Bourbon Street Shots, says the move is surprising considering Owner Tom Benson recently wrote a letter expressing support for Williams, who just guided the Pels to the postseason. But Madison says general manager Dell Demps apparently wanted to go in another direction.
A stand-off Tuesday morning with Shreveport Police, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s deputies and some federal agents has ended with two people dead, and another injured. A woman was shot and killed at the residence, and the second victim was taken to University Hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. Officers later discovered the unidentified shooter was found dead inside the home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.
The Champion Square image of Tracy Porter interception to seal the deal for the Saints Super Bowl win in 2010 is coming down. The issue is not with the former Port Allen High School star; the problem is Darren Sharper running behind him. With Sharper pleading guilty to sex crimes in three states, Saints officials say they say some images need to be “freshened up.”
News For Tuesday 05/12/15
News for Tuesday 051215
By Dave Graichen
A 24-billion dollar budget that funds higher education at the same level as this year heads to the full House for a vote next week. The House Appropriations Committee has approved next fiscal year’s spending plan and Chairman Jim Fannin says revenue generating bills approved by the House last week will prevent any cuts to public colleges and universities. The House approved 615-million dollars in additional revenue last week, by raising the state’s cigarette tax and suspending or reducing tax benefits many businesses currently enjoy.
Legislative leaders in the state House of Representatives say they are committed to an override veto session if Governor Jindal vetoes the revenue generating bills they have passed.
Jindal has said consistently that he will not approve any tax hike unless there is a tax reduction elsewhere.
The Senate has advanced a bill that would let colleges raise their own tuition without legislative approval. The vote was 33-4 Monday and the authority would only come if another proposal which seeks to control the TOPS scholarship program also advances.
Dozens of Acadiana’s top employers will screen potential employees Tuesday at the annual LEDA Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cajundome Convention Center. Organized by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, the LEDA Job Fair is in its 20th year. The fair is free to attend and will offer free services to those seeking jobs.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Vivian teenager accused of stabbing his parents. Authorities say 17-year-old Shane Alexander is charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder. Spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says Shane went into his parents’ bedroom around 3 o’clock Monday morning wielding a knife. 61-year-old LaDonna Alexander, was stabbed once in the chest and his father, 64-year-old Jerry Alexander was stabbed in the back and arm. Both survived the attack.
A high speed crash in St. Tammany Parish has claimed the life of one adult and one teen. State Trooper Dustin Dwight says they first pulled the vehicle over, then conducted an impairment test with the driver. That’s when a 21 year-old passenger jumped into the driver’s seat and took off with a teen passenger in the back seat. Troopers combed the area looking for the boys and a short time later came upon the scene of a crash. It appears the driver of the car lost control and left the road striking some trees. Both boys were pronounced dead at the scene.
Two LSU students have developed a smart phone app that allows people to record and upload videos of police encounters and share it with media outlets. The Police Officer Watchdog Events Reporter, or POWER, app was developed by Wilborn Nobles and Elbis Bolton. Bolton says this app can be used to spread both negative and positive interactions with police. The app would become a hub to share those videos with newsrooms nationwide. The POWER App is currently available for download for Android devices. Bolton says they are working on an iPhone version.
New Orleans Representative Austin Badon believes his anti-discrimination legislation has a decent chance of passing this year. House Bill 612 would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He says it needs to be realized that, across the board, all men and women are created equal.
The number one ranked LSU baseball team plays its final non-conference game of the season tonight as they visit the UNO Privateers. On paper this looks like a big mismatch as the Tigers 43-and-8 overall, while the Privateers are 14-and-36.
News for Monday 05/11/15
News for Monday 051115
By Dave Graichen
The deputy secretary of the state Department of Economic Development is getting a promotion to the top spot. Governor Bobby Jindal announced Friday that Steven Grissom will succeed Secretary Stephen Moret who, as of today, is the President and CEO of the LSU Foundation.
Across the border in Mississippi, authorities continue to investigate the shooting deaths of two Hattiesburg police officers Saturday night during, what the officers believed to be, a routine traffic stop. Authorities say three suspects are in custody, including two who are charged with capital murder.
State lawmakers have about a month left to pass a budget for next fiscal year. The House has approved a package of bills that raises 664-million dollars that will go towards mitigating budget cuts to higher education and health care. Governor Bobby Jindal says he’s okay with legislation that puts a stop to “corporate welfare.” That’s cases where businesses receive more in tax benefits than they pay in taxes. But he says some of the tax bills passed in the House, like the cigarette tax, will need to be offset with a tax break somewhere else.
The EPA has approved the Louisiana Military Department’s recommended incineration method of disposal of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. State Representative Gene Reynolds says this is a victory for the community who had strong objections to the original plan of the federal government to conduct an open burn to get rid of the explosives.
The method to be used will be a contained incineration burn method by the company Explosive Service International. The incinerator still needs to be built before the burn begins.
A bill headed to the House floor would provide free HIV tests for inmates being released from prison. Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox says before a person leaves a state jail for parole, they should be tested and if needed, treated as a way to help prevent AIDS from spreading further. Cox says Louisiana has the fourth highest number of men and women living with AIDS in the nation. Cox says that in 9 state prisons, about 3 percent of inmates are HIV positive.
Construction is underway to build a “lazy river” on the LSU campus in the shape of the letters L-S-U and some wonder if this is appropriate considering the potentially huge budget cuts facing the school. Student Body President, Andrew Mahtook, says the funding for this project is completely separate from any state appropriations. In 2011, students passed a resolution asking for a student recreation fee increase to expand the recreation center, which includes the building of the “lazy river.” Professor Kevin Cope, LSU Faculty Senate President, says this shows a flaw in how colleges prioritize funds.
New Orleans Police say an alligator is to blame for a fatal accident on I-10 Friday. Authorities say the gator was attempting to cross the interstate when it appears a van came to a complete stop after hitting the alligator. The van was then struck from behind by another vehicle. Police say the driver of that vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people were injured in the crash.
The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s office says a teacher is under arrest for allegedly telling one of his students to punch another one. They say 34-year-old Randy Louis of Baldwin, a teacher at the St. Mary Parish Alternative Program school, restrained a 9-year-old male student while instructing another student to strike him. Louis is charged of contributing to the delinquency of juveniles and simple battery.
The LSU baseball team swept the weekend series against Missouri and extended their SEC lead to a game and a half over Vanderbilt and two games over Texas A&M in the SEC West. Heading into the regular-season series finale at South Carolina next weekend, the Tigers control their own destiny, needing two wins at Carolina to lock up the SEC regular-season title ,no matter what the Commodores and Aggies do.
LSU confirms senior second baseman Jared Foster is no longer going to play ball as he’s been ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. Foster is tied for the team lead with eight home runs. LSU now has the best team in the SEC after beating Missouri 8-3 last night.
Louisiana Tech men’s basketball coach Michael White has accepted the head coaching job at the University of Florida. “Bleed Tech Blue” Publisher Jonathan Ford believes there will be plenty of interest in the opening at Tech. In White’s four years leading the Bulldogs, he accumulated a 101-40 record.
News For Friday 05/08/15
News for Friday 050815
By Dave Graichen
Two juveniles and an adult have been indicted in connection to the case of a man found dead March 1 in the City Park area of Alexandria. Z’various Mason and Richard Ambush were arrested on March 5, both charged with first-degree murder in the death of 21year-old Kendrick Hayes. At the time, their names were not released, Mason was 15 at the time of the shooting, while Ambush was 16. The Alexandria Police Department had requested that both be charged as adults. Also indicted in the case is Desmond Harris. All three were indicted on a charge of second-degree murder.
The state police report 57-year-old William Powell of Hineston died Wednesday afternoon in a wreck that shut down La. Highway 112 for several hours. Powell, who was not wearing a seat belt, was driving a 2015 Western Star dump truck loaded with gravel. It appears he lost control of the truck causing it to leave the roadway and over turn. Powell was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash is under investigation, and routine toxicology tests are pending.
The state House advances a package of bills to the Senate that would raise 670-million dollars that can be used to cover a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall. The legislation heading to the senate raises the tax on cigarettes and scales back tax programs. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says more work needs to be done to solve this budget crisis. Pinsonat says what the House did on Thursday is a good start, but even with these revenue generating bills heading to the senate, there’s still a big shortfall out there. The revenue generating bills passed in the House face an uncertain future in the Senate and may get vetoed by the governor if they make it through the legislative process.
The House approved a measure that would limit the amount of credits issued as part of the film tax program to $200 million dollars despite objections from lawmakers who thought the cap should be lower. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris tried to amend it to $150 million dollars saying that other $50 million needs to be used elsewhere. But the amendment failed with opponents saying the $150 million dollar cap would run the industry out of town. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Another bill that passed on the House Floor Thursday would double Louisiana’s littering fines. Gonzales Representative Johnny Berthelot’s bill would take a $75 first offense littering fine and make it $150 with $1,000 for subsequent offenses. After the 90-2 vote the bill now heads to the Senate.
Two bills that seek to control the wild hog population in Louisiana pass the House Natural Resources Committee. One of the bills would authorize a lifetime hunting license to shoot the hogs. The bills head to the Full House
34 people were busted by state police accused of committing insurance fraud. Sgt. Nick Manale says these people are charged with faking car accidents in order to collect the insurance money. He issues the warning that they aren’t the only ones watching for these cases as insurance companies are watching too. Manale says these insurance fraud cases affect insurance rates and policies across the state
Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins is now a Dallas Cowboy. The Baton Rouge product signed a three-year, 1.65 million dollar guaranteed contract, after not getting drafted. NFL teams were scared to select Collins, because he was wanted for questioning about the murder of a pregnant woman. Authorities have never called Collins a suspect in the murder of the woman and her child.
There’s buzz in New Orleans that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are moving as their home goes on the market. Realtors show the French Quarter property is going for $6.5 million dollars.
It appears that the first shot has been fired in Louisiana’s governor’s race. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne issued a statement calling US Senator David Vitter an absentee Senator after he missed a budget vote in the Senate. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says this is a sign of things to come. Dardenne says instead of casting a Senate vote, Vitter was in Louisiana having a beer with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in an effort to boost his gubernatorial bid.
Governor Bobby Jindal has reportedly set a self-imposed deadline on when he’ll make a decision about whether or not to run for president. Jindal now says he’ll make an announcement at the end of June. Previously he said he would announce after the session ends June 11th.
News For Thursday 05/07/15
News for Thursday 050715
By Dave Graichen
Here in Alexandria, the parents of twins who were killed in a fire last December have been indicted on criminal charges. Andrea Aaron, the mother of the two-year-old twins, faces two counts of second degree murder and the father has been charged with two counts of accessory after the fact.
Today is decision making day for House leaders as they will vote on what changes to make when it comes to tax hikes and scaling back incentives in order to balance the state’s budget. LaPolitics-dot-com Publisher, Jeremy Alford, says this entire legislative session is about the budget and filling a $1.6 billion shortfall. He says today we’ll find out which way the budget will lean. Among the issues up for debate are repealing of tax breaks for businesses and an increase in the state’s cigarette tax.
Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore has decided to pull his bill from further discussion that would have put recreational marijuana legalization on an upcoming ballot for voters to decide. Honore says maybe in the future, Louisiana residents should have the option to decide, but not right now.
In the same committee room, New Orleans Representative Austin Badon’s bill to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession passed. Jill Trahan’s son is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for simple marijuana possession. Trahan wants lawmakers to really consider the penalties imposed on marijuana possession convictions. The vote was 10-4 and now heads to the House Floor.
Legislation that would legalize the sale of raw milk in Louisiana did not make it out of a Senate Committee. The bill’s author, Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur, says there are many who believe purchasing raw milk is a basic human right and not something for government to be involved in. But State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says it’s far too risky to consume raw milk and he testified in opposition.
A bill that would prohibit sex-selection abortions in Louisiana receives the approval of the House Health and Welfare Committee. Houma Representative Lenar Whitney says, even though there have been no known incidents here in Louisiana, in several Asian countries, abortions are performed when the mother finds out she’s having a girl. The bill heads to the House floor for more discussion.
Two bills that seek to control the wild hog population in Louisiana pass the House Natural Resources Committee. One measure would approve year-round hunting seasons on razorbacks and the other would create a lifetime hunting license for the animal. The bills now head to the Full House.
The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office says a man is under arrest for allegedly beating his pregnant girlfriend so badly, the unborn child’s heart stopped beating. Captain Dawn Foret says they received a complaint that 36-year-old Tyson Cheavis of Gibson repeatedly abused his 27-year-old pregnant girlfriend. Cheavis was arrested and charged with second degree feticide and two counts of second degree battery.
A man who applied to be a youth baseball coach in Bossier Parish ended up making off with nearly $3000 in payments from players and sponsors. Lt. Bill Davis says 25-year-old Robert Martin III is wanted for felony theft. Detectives believe Martin may have fled the area or the state. He says it’s obvious Martin had no intention of every coaching the children.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested the former school bus driver who got into a crash on March 12th for operating while intoxicated. They say John Bernard was booked into jail on $40,000 bond. No students were seriously injured in the crash. Investigators say tests showed Bernard had a blood alcohol level of .04 percent at the time of the crash.
TMZ is reporting that former LSU Tiger La’el Collins told police that he was in New Orleans attending a Pelicans playoff game the night his former girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant, was murdered. Sources say his GPS records on his cell phone will back up his story. Authorities spoke with Collins on Monday.
News For Wednesday 05/06/15
News for Wednesday 050615
By Dave Graichen
The House committee on the budget needs some decisions by Monday on ways they plan to repair the state’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall. Thursday will be decision making day when it comes to House leaders asking what changes lawmakers want to make when it comes to tax hikes and scaling back incentives.
The legislation by Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore that would let voters decide whether or not recreational marijuana should be legal in Louisiana gets a hearing today. LSU Public Policy Polling Research Director Mike Henderson says they’ve surveyed residents and there seems to be a decline in opposition to pot for adult use over the past couple of years.
The bill will be heard in House Criminal Justice. The survey found support for legalization of marijuana for personal use is at 45 percent, lagging opposition at 52 percent.
Proposed tax increases to help fund repairs for state roads and bridges has been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. One bill would increase the state sales tax by one percent; the other was amended to have a ten cent increase of the tax for a gallon and gas. The bill’s author-Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain-says it’s time. The bills now head to the floor.
AARP rallied on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday saying 90 percent of Louisiana voters express they want to stay home as they age. Interim State Director, Denise Bottcher, says at-home care services are necessary for seniors to live outside of a nursing home. She says their survey shows that 83-percent of respondents support funding to provide more services for seniors living at home.
This is the last week Stephen Moret will be the Louisiana Economic Development Secretary before he begins his job as LSU Foundation President. He says one of the most rewarding things about the last 7 years for him is how much Louisiana’s business climate ranking has improved. Site Selection has rated Louisiana’s economic development efforts No. 2 in the nation in its ranking for Top Competitive States for 2014. Moret says the ranking is a tribute to the professional, diligent efforts of the outstanding staff at LED. Moret says no LED Secretary successor has been named yet, but he believes it will be within in the next few days.
Governor Bobby Jindal has announced he has new book coming out in entitled “American Will: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic.” Experts say Jindal needs to show relevance; especially since he will not even announce his intent to run until after the legislative session.
Baton Rouge Police say the missing two year old girl, whose mother was located murdered Saturday, has been found safe. Corporal L’Jean McKneely says the child was discovered alone. He says the child’s father will likely take custody, as he is not a suspect. That investigation is on-going.
A Slidell mother is arrested on second-degree murder charges as Slidell Police believe she discarded her baby inside a trash compactor. Chief Randy Smith says 22 year-old Antwonetta Jones gave birth to the child in a bathtub and within 12 hours, the child died. Smith says Jones lived with her mother, but no one knew she was pregnant.
Dow Chemical announces they will be reducing their workforce about 3 percent in preparation to have Olin Chemical take over a significant portion of Dow’s chlorine operations. Dow employs about 300 people in local facilities, but the company did not release details of the cuts at any specific locations.
There will be a homecoming celebration tonight in Abbeville for a local Top 6 finalist on NBC’s “The Voice”, Koryn Hawthorne. The aspiring young singer will ride in a homecoming parade at 5pm then put on a special concert in Magdalen Square downtown. Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza says Koryn has been singing in their community since she was a child and they couldn’t be more proud of her.
News For Tuesday 05/05/15
News for Tuesday 050515
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Supreme Court has approved an agreement to place Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell Jr. on probation for five years in an attorney disciplinary proceeding.
The action comes following an investigation by the court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel into allegations that Terrell failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee, allowing the employee to commingle and convert client funds. Upon learning of the situation Terrell personally replaced all the funds that belonged to the third parties and fully cooperated with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
The state police report 27-year-old Jessica Short of Pineville was killed Sunday when the SUV she was driving left interstate 49 near Carencro and struck several trees. Short was critically injured and was transported to Lafayette General, where she later died. Police say impairment is not believed to have been a factor in the crash.
A judge on Monday refused to reduce the bail of a former Avoyelles Parish sheriff’s deputy accused of allowing an Assumption Parish prisoner to leave a jail transport van to buy drugs and then providing false information when the prisoner didn’t return. The Judge said 47 year old Michelle George failed to understand the risk the incident posed to the community and to prisoners and refused to reduce her bail from $250,000 to $20,000.
Legislation that aims to give tuition-setting authority to Louisiana colleges and universities is heading to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs signed off on Senate Bill 155 on Monday without opposition. The bill would ask Louisiana voters to decide by constitutional amendment whether college and university systems should have control over how much students pay to go to college or if that power should remain with the state Legislature. Currently, Louisiana is one of three states that lets state lawmakers set tuition and fee prices.
A bill that allows for the dispensing of medicinal marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions makes it off the Senate floor. New Iberia Senator Fred Mills says under the proposed law, medical marijuana could only be prescribed by a doctor for someone clinically diagnosed with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia (kwod-ruh-plee-jee-uh) or suffering symptoms from chemotherapy cancer treatment. The vote count was 22-13 and the measure now heads to the House.
Two different tax increases proposed by Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain to help fund road projects will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee today. The state currently has a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge projects. HB 777 would raise the state’s gas tax dependent on the price at the pump and HB 778 would increase the state’s sales tax by one percent. Revenue from both bills would pay for road and bridge projects.
A bill that would use funds from unclaimed gambling winnings to pay for rape victims forensic medical exams clears House appropriations. New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno says under her measure, money from expired winning tickets from casinos and race tracks would go into the crime victims reparations fund. Wade Duty, of the Louisiana Casino Association, says while they don’t oppose the bill on its merits, they don’t approve of the funding mechanism. He says winning money is the property of the gaming establishment until the player cashes the ticket. The bill passed without opposition and now heads to the House floor.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says he’s endorsing David Vitter for Governor because the US Senator respects tax payer dollars and has the ability to take on Louisiana’s fiscal challenges.
When asked if Kennedy was going to go after the US Senate seat if Vitter becomes Governor each said they are taking things one election at a time.
The House appropriations committee approves a plan that would allow the state to draw down federal money that can be used to expand Medicaid coverage. House speaker Chuck Kleckley says it would save $200 million for the state’s budget and is real money that can be put in the general fund. Since this measure is a concurrent resolution, Governor Jindal cannot veto the legislation, but it does need a two-thirds vote of both houses for passage.
According to a legislative auditor’s report released yesterday, Louisiana’s elderly and developmentally disabled wait longer than people in other states to get community-based services through Medicaid. As of October 2014, the auditor said 54,677 people remained on lists for the various Medicaid programs with wait times ranging from two-and-a-half to 10 years.
The auditor wrote that most applicants may never receive the home and community-based services they request.
Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins met with Baton Rouge police detectives Monday as part of an investigation into the shooting death of a pregnant woman on April 24th. Collins meeting with detectives lasted about an hour and a half. Authorities insist Collins is still NOT a suspect in Brittany Mills’ homicide
Authorities in St. Tammany Parish are investigating a case of a deceased baby in a trash compactor at a Slidell apartment complex. The St. Tammany Parish Coroner is working with Police to determine the cause of death and the age of the baby. The investigation is ongoing.
Shreveport Police are investigating a fatal shooting that claimed the life of a four-year-old boy. Cpl. Marcus Hines says officers were called to a hotel room and found the boy, identified as Cameron Morris, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. Hines says the other child was 6 and they are working to determine who was responsible for watching the children.
News For Monday 03/30/15
News for Monday 033015
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana has set another employment record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also in February, the unemployment rate decreased for the second month in a row to 6.7 percent. The private sector added over 29 thousand jobs. That’s good news for employers and job seekers.
12 tax referendums passed in Cenla over the weekend. Most one by a rather large margin. In the town of Many, the only referendum to lose, a school tax, did so by only one vote.
The Many School District No. 34 referendum in Sabine Parish was for a 10-year renewal of a 7.23-mill property tax that raises about $247,700 a year for building, maintaining and operating schools in the district. In that election only 5.4% of the eligible voters cast a ballot.
State Police say a three-vehicle crash in St. Landry Parish killed one person and injured several others. The wreck occurred on US 190 near Interstate 49 when a vehicle attempted to cross both lanes of US 190 to gain access to the entrance ramp to I-49. A passenger in that vehicle, 55-year-old Harold Richard of Opelousas was killed. Investigators say alcohol contributed to the crash.
All smiles in southwest Louisiana, as Sasol has started construction on an eight-point-one billion dollar ethane cracker complex near Westlake. The project is expected to create an estimated five-thousand construction jobs and the facility should be completed in 2018.
A proposal to be sponsored by New Orleans Representative Walt Leger would use Gulf oil spill money for possible long-term financing for Louisiana colleges. Leger feels a trust fund should be set up for colleges from recovery money received from the 2010 disaste. The state is expected to receive billions of dollars from BP to pay for economic damage caused by the spill. Legislators have already dedicated the first $1 billion of that money. Leger’s proposal would target money above that.
Under what leaders are calling a “doomsday scenario,” Louisiana’s public universities and colleges would get about $123 million in state funding to split among their campuses next year, about an 82 percent cut from their current funding level. That’s the budget the state Board of Regents has instructed college leaders to start preparing for, though officials are hoping that the funding outlook will improve dramatically during the legislative session. To put that worst-case scenario into perspective, the state would spend about $600 per student on direct campus funding. It would spend an additional $267 million on the TOPS program.
5th district Congressman Ralph Abraham, who is also a physician from Richland Parish, used his medical expertise to help a man, who nearly passed out during a flight. Abraham says this is the fourth time, since he launched his Congressional campaign that he’s had to provide medical attention to a person he met in public. The young man is a former marine, who was flying back home to Texas.
Louisiana’s roads and bridges are beset by dwindling dollars, pressing needs and the lack of any sweeping solutions on the horizon. Even amid a $12.3 billion backlog of transportation infrastructure projects, nearly $91 million, roughly equal to 3 cents of the state’s 20-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, is set to be diverted to the State Police and other services. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, recently said “We are spending gasoline tax revenue on everything but highways”. Officials at the state Department of Transportation and Development are scrambling to avoid the loss of federal dollars because of the state’s revenue problems.
Three young children were rescued after a boat capsized on the Pearl River Saturday, but the operator of the boat died and search and rescue crews were still searching for the children’s mother as of late Sunday afternoon.
The state department of agriculture and forestry will put traps out to track the invasive asian bug called the Emerald Ash Borer. The beetle was discovered recently in Webster Parish and it kills ash trees. Commissioner Mike Strain says the traps will be placed in high risk areas along the interstate, welcome centers and the Mississippi River delta. Strain says the beetle, which is difficult to eradicate, is often transported into an area by infested firewood.
When the polls come out later today, it’s likely the LSU Tigers will no longer be ranked number one after a wild series to the Wildcats of Kenutcky. LSU could not hold on to a three-run lead in the eighth and ended up losing to Kentucky 12-10 in 11 innings yesterday. It’s the first weekend series the Tigers have lost this year as they fall to 5-and-4 in SEC play.
Track star Lolo Jones headlined a five member class that was inducted into the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction Friday night. Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn and Former LSU Associate Athletic Director Herb Vincent were also inductees.
News For Friday 03/27/15
News for Friday 032715
By Dave Graichen
Demographer Elliot Stonecipher says Louisiana could be in jeopardy of losing another Congressional seat if the state doesn’t see more growth in population. Stonecipher is making that statement based on new Census figures, which shows the state’s population has only increased two-point-six percent since 2010. Louisiana saw it’s Congressional delegation shrink from seven to six members as a result of the 2010 Census. Stonecipher says the data suggests to him that Louisiana still has an out-migration problem.
Congratulations to a Cenla Landmark Harlow’s Donuts and Bakery in Pineville, They are celebrating their 30th anniversary today. Harlow’s originally opened in1972. But, Roy Burr purchased the business from the original owner, Frank Dyson, in 1985. Today some of their great treats will be priced as they were back in “85
A grand jury returned a “no true bill” in the case of a Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputy shooting and killing a 14-year-old last September. The teenager had a BB gun, when the deputy came in contact with the child at an abandon house. Carlos Lazarus is the First Assistant DA in Terrebonne. He says they showed the jury pictures of the weapon the juvenile was holding and a real .45-caliber pistol and they are identical. But, the story is not over yet, the FBI is also investigating the case.
A Lafayette man who called in a bomb threat that shut down UL-Lafayette last summer has pleaded guilty in federal court to the crime. Devin Haywood faces up to 10 years for that, and up to 20 years for trying to rob a bank during the police search for the bomb.
State Police and the FBI have arrested a man and woman and rescued a 17-year-old girl in connection with a sex trafficking case. Spokesperson Melissa Matey says the victim was being against her will and forced to perform commercial sexual acts in the French Quarter area through online ads. A 21 year old woman and 36 year old man are being charged with trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said a woman kidnapped from East Baton Rouge was found in the wreckage of a crash which claimed the life of her captor Thursday morning. They say the woman was airlifted to the hospital after the wreck. Deputies said the woman told them she was kidnapped Wednesday night. Authorities say the investigation into the incident is in it’s early stages.
An 11-year-old boy has missed more than two weeks of school because his hair is too long according to Rapides Parish School Board policy. Ashton Bodiford’s hair falls past the middle of his back. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman, who is not involved in this case, says it’s time for courts to recognize that students should be able to have a greater range of appearances. Esman says courts have ruled that schools are within their rights to have appearance policies like this.
A student at Buckeye High School has started an online petition to replace the district school uniform policy with a casual dress code in Rapides Parish. 14 year old Eighth-grader Brandon Richardson created the "Uniform Policy Removal" petition March 18 on the Change.org website. In about a week his petition has received more than 580 signatures.
Well there was somebody in Louisiana who could have been a Powerball millionaire, but they missed their chance. The Match 5 winning ticket was sold in Minden for the September 27th drawing, but no one came forward to claim the prize by the Thursday deadline. Louisiana Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the $1 million will go back into winnings.
Shreveport’s Independence Bowl finds itself, once again, without a sponsor. Duck Commander, who was the title sponsor of last year’s game, will not return as the title sponsor this year. Last year’s game was played under a letter of intent between Duck Commander and the Independence Bowl and not a contract.
A man from LaPlace has developed an app to keep teenagers from texting and driving. Mike Watson says Text Guardian is tied to the GPS device on cellular devices and parents can set to a certain speed. Watson says if somebody tries to call or text a teen while Text Guardian is activated, they will get a message back right away saying that the person will get back to you when it is safe to do so. He says it’s completely free and the difference between this and some other anti-driving-and-texting apps is that Text Guardian can not be removed. Right now Text Guardian is only available on Android devices but should be on iOS soon.
Turkey season opens tomorrow and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries predicts a bumper crop for hunters. Wild Turkey and Resident Small Game Leader, Jimmy Stafford, says there should be some carryover this season after bad weather lead to a poor hunting last year.
The number one ranked LSU baseball team opens up a three-game series tonight against Kentucky, with first pitch set for seven P-M at the Box. The Wilcats are 2-and-4 in league play, but Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says they are one of the better hitting teams in the conference.
News For Thursday 03/26/15
News for Thursday 032615
By Dave Graichen
The public memorial period to pay respects to National Guardsman David Strother continues today in the Alexandria Riverfront Center from noon to 4 At 4 a memorial service will be held, followed by a graveside ceremony in Alexandria Memorial Gardens. Strother, a resident of Alexandria was killed March 10 along with 10 other soldiers in a military helicopter crash in Florida. The family requests memorials be made to the Mojo 69 Memorial Fund, giveforward.com
The Jindal administration’s experiment in privatizing Louisiana’s charity hospitals is running into some troubled financial waters. The House Appropriations Committee learned Wednesday that $332 million of the funding to keep the hospitals operating at a stand-still level relies on the uncertain legislative approval of some tax law changes. Committee chairman Rep. Jim Fannin said there should be no assumption that the dollars will materialize. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health agency budget proposal is already $142 million shy of the funding the private partners say is needed for operations in the fiscal year that begins July 1st. The bulk of the additional funding request is associated with the opening of the state-of-the-art $1 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans. Its opening has been delayed until Aug. 1.
A Lafayette jury convicted Seth Fontenot of manslaughter on Wednesday rather than the first-degree murder charge prosecutors were seeking in the shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault. Fontenot was also convicted of two counts of aggravated battery for the wounding of two teens who were with Rivault in a pickup truck the night of the shooting. It took the Jury less than two hours to reach a verdict.
An American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows that distraction in teen crashes is worse than previously thought. The study found that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. AAA spokesman Don Redman says the two leading causes of distraction are other passengers and cell phones. Redman says parents should sit down with their teen drivers and talk about the dangers of using their cell phones while behind the wheel. He also suggests that parents restrict the number of passengers their teen drivers are allowed to drive around.
A leak in one of the 97 igloos storing the 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden in Webster Parish has resulted in the recommendation of the emergency destruction of its contents. Military officials says the moisture build up creates a chemical reaction the could cause the M6 to “auto-ignite”. An evaluation team, led by the Louisiana National Guard, is still reviewing the bids that were submitted to dispose of the propellant. Their decision is expected any day.
A total of 46 Beau Chene (SHEN) High School Students have been suspended after an investigation into a pupil who is accused of changing grades. St. Landry school superintendent Edward Brown says the scheme began unraveling after one pupil became suspicious. He says the investigation is ongoing.
A legislator wants to make it a law that a designated driver be present at certain locations that sell alcohol. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says he at least wants to get a dialogue started about the importance of having someone present who hasn’t been drinking at establishments which sell alcohol. Burns is still working on the final details, but believes that it should be illegal to sell alcohol to a designated driver.
Governor Bobby Jindal is keeping active for a potential run at the White House, and on the stationary bike. The Governor was spotted in a high-end gym in mid-town Manhattan Wednesday, and told reporters that he likes to start with some cardio then rotate through the weights. New York Magazine calls him Governor Bobby GYMdal.
A cell phone video has emerged showing a group of young men beheading a live goat. The graphic 12 second video shows one man beheading the goat with a machete sword over a child’s swimming pool, while the others cheered. The Louisiana SPCA is offering a three thousand dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this felony crime.
The Strawberry Festival Board and the Kiwanis Club of Ponchatoula have apologized for the controversial 2015 poster and they say they will not sell it at the event. The NAACP called for both boards to have a more diverse membership which they agreed to make an effort to do. The Kiwanis Club will continue to sell the posters (in house) until the festival begins.
LSU Sophomore forward Jarell Martin announced Wednesday that he’s leaving the Tigers to enter the N-B-A draft. The six-foot-ten forward from Baton Rouge averaged nearly 17 points and nine rebounds this past season. Martin is glad that he played a role in getting the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament, but it’s now time to move on.
Fellow LSU forward Jordan Mickey might also leave for the NBA, but he says as of now he’s still considering his options. And Tigers assistant coach Eric Musselman was named today as the new head coach at Nevada.
News For Wednesday 03/25/15
News for Wednesday 032515
By Dave Graichen
A very touching scene yesterday as Hundreds of people, many of them holding American flags, lined the streets as a motorcade accompanying a white hearse passed carrying the body of National Guardsman David Strother. A public memorial will be held from noon to 9 p.m. today and a public funeral service will be held at 4 p.m. Tomorrow. Both will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Strother, was one of 11 soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during a training mission on March 10.
Now here’s something you don’t see every day.. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office says two elephants were used to keep an 18-wheeler from overturning on I-49. Deputies say a truck carrying elephants from New Orleans to Dallas got stuck in the mud, when deputies arrived on the scene Tuesday, they were surprised to find the elephants on the side of the truck that was starting to tip over. The 18-wheeler was eventually pulled out of the mud and no citations were issued, and the elephants were uninjured.
It has been a long time coming, a contract has finally been awarded to build a new VA clinic in Lafayette. While Republican Congressman Charles Boustany – who got the legislative authorization to build new clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles – says it’s great news for Lafayette, he says the VA is dragging its feet though when it comes to construction of the Lake Charles clinic.
A Winsboro woman has been sentenced go to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Twenty-four year-old LaSasha Allen placed her 20-month-old daughter, unrestrained, in the passenger’s seat of her vehicle. Authorities say she opened the car door while rounding a curve, allowing her daughter to fall out. Franklin Parish District Attorney Mack Lancaster says Allen showed no remorse.
The 2015 Louisiana Survey reveals that 83-percent of Louisianians want the state’s budget deficit to be resolved through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says of those preferring a combination, 59-percent would rather see the focus mostly on the side of spending cuts. The way the Louisiana Constitution is written, higher education and health care will take the brunt of budget cuts. Henderson says that is not what the public wants. Most surveyed said they would like to see more spent in that area. When it comes to raising revenue, Henderson says the public seems to behind a hike in the so-called “sin taxes”: alcohol, tobacco, and gaming
A new study conducted for the state by LSU economist Dr. Loren Scott shows the film tax credit program created nearly 13-thousand jobs, but cost Louisiana 171-million dollars last fiscal year. And Scott adds that many of the jobs produced do not benefit Louisiana. The state’s film tax credit program is expected to face changes in the upcoming legislative session.
The financial planning website Bankrate.com lists Louisiana as the fifth worst place to retire. Bankrate’s research analyst Chris Kahn says Louisiana scores low when it comes to its crime rate, health care services and weather. Kahn says retirees in Louisiana do not face a huge tax burden, which is good, but the state has the second highest crime rate in the nation, which does NOT make the bayou state a dream retirement spot.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana has cut the rate of Tuberculosis cases by more than half from 2010 to 2014. DHH’s Charles DeGraw says they have also reduced the percentage of TB cases with HIV infection from 10% in 2010 to 4 percent in 2014.
A man who was tree-sitting in City Park in New Orleans to block the construction of an upscale golf course, has fallen out of a large Cyprus tree. It is believed the man, who is identified as Lloyd Boover, may have broken an ankle and his nose from the fall. Authorities reportedly patrolled his protest, and continuously shined a spotlight on him at night. Boover is expected to be charged with trespassing.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a Bossier City man is accused of stealing from his employer and selling the items on eBay. They say 60-year-old Michael Thompson returned about $2300 worth of stolen construction items to his company but said everything else had been sold on the online auction site. He is charged with theft.
A former school board candidate in south Louisiana has been charged with felony sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl whom he used to coach in basketball. Lawrence McLeary with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office says the juvenile told her doctor that she was assaulted by 34-year-old Philip Ziegler of Central about a year and a half ago.
The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Branch is meeting this morning with the Mayor of Ponchatoula and other leaders to discuss the controversial Strawberry Festival poster. They believe the painting is racist and want the Kiwanas Club to stop selling it. In a prepared statement, Mayor Bob Zabbia says because negative feelings about the poster go against the purpose of the Strawberry Festival, which has brought the community together for decades, he would recommend that Kiwanis reevaluate their decision to sell the poster.
U-L-M men’s basketball will host Vermont tonight at seven P-M in the semifinals of the C-B-I tournament. The Warhawks started the tournament by beating Eastern Michigan and then rallying on the road to defeat Mercer by 20.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reports that LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey is leaning towards entering the NBA draft. Mickey was a first-team ALL SEC selection this past season as he led the league in rebounding and he’s also the top shot blocker in the country.
News For Tuesday 03/24/15
News for Tuesday 032415
By Dave Graichen
The recent ISIS online hit list that are targeting military personnel, has 25 names on a list of 100 that are current and/or past personnel from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport-Bossier. The threat was released by an ISIS hacking division, and because of that source, the Pentagon is asking the those concerned to adjust their online settings for social media accounts.
The State Police have arrested 33 year old arrested Angelle Temple of Marksville, LA, after an audit of the State motor vehicle office where she worked came up short. The audit determined Temple manipulated the OMV computer system on over 30 separate occasions in the beginning of 2014. Auditors reported customers paid the fines/fees, but Temple's cash drawer did not reflect payment for any of these transactions. The total amount Temple defrauded the state, in Rapides Parish, totaled over $5,500.00.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but Governor Bobby Jindal says he will wait until the legislative session ends in June before announcing whether he will enter the race. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Cruz, Rick Santorum and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will all have some impact on a Jindal candidacy because of their similar politics. He says it’s smart for Jindal to wait until after the session to start a campaign.
LSU President and Chancellor F King Alexander says 2,000 classes will be cancelled and every LSU employee will have to be furloughed if the legislature doesn’t restore the massive cut to higher education that’s proposed in Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget. Alexander says the proposed budget for next fiscal year will only provide LSU with 30-million dollars in state funding, a reduction of 110-million dollars from this fiscal year. He says students and alumni need to speak up loudly against this type of cut
It looks like the price at the pump will continue to make our wallets happy. The American Automobile Association reports a gallon of regular on average statewide is $2.22. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says even the US Department of Energy predicts the national average won’t get above $2.50 for the entire year. Redman says the falling price at the pump can, in part, be attributed to a robust supply.
Today, a grand jury will consider the case against a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed 14-year-old Cameron Tillman last September. The Sheriff’s Department says Deputy Preston Norman fired in self-defense after Tillman appeared to be holding a gun. The grand jury will hear evidence and testimony, possibly from Norman, himself. Relatives and others who were at the abandoned house with the boy say he was not holding a weapon.
Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper has made a “global” plea deal with prosecutors in 4 states where he is accused of drugging and raping women and sentencing started today. He’ll reportedly serve 9 years behind bars. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this type of plea deal means Sharper has agreed to one punishment for all charges. He says this is a good move on the part of Sharper who could get life on a conviction and it’s also smart on the victim side because rapes are hard to prove without a reasonable doubt.
The millionaire accused of killing a female friend in California 15 years ago will be staying put in Louisiana. Seventy-one year-old Robert Durst was in court Monday for a bond hearing on weapons charges, a week after he was discovered at a New Orleans hotel under a fake name, with a gun, passport and a large amount of cash. He had been sent to a prison’s mental health unit, as jail officials said he was a suicide risk.
A son is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound after cops say he was shot by his father when there was no more orange juice in their Baton Rouge home. They say 58-year-old Eldrige Dukes got into a huge fight with his son when he discovered the orange juice was gone and began to chase him around the house with a gun and firing several times eventually striking the teen in the butt. Dukes is charged with attempted manslaughter and illegal use of a dangerous weapon. The son is going to be okay.
A 30-year-old Baton Rouge heroin user will spend at least 6 years in prison on charges related to the death of his girlfriend from a fatal overdose. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore says Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin.
Moore says the evidence showed that Eirick purchased the heroin earlier in the day, and he and Leah Hitchinson shot each other up. He says since the Eirick supplied Hitchinson with the heroin that lead to her death, he was charged.
The number one ranked LSU baseball team will resume its rivalry with Tulane tonight in New Orleans. The Fighting Tigers are 21-and-3 overall, while the Green Wave are 17-and-7
News For Monday 03/23/15
News for Monday 032315
By Dave Graichen
State police report a two vehicle accident late Saturday night claimed the life of a 16 year old driver from Florian and injured another teen from Many. The accident occurred shortly before midnight when a pickup driven by Kelby Pilcher crossed the center line of highway 118 and struck another pickup head on. Pilcher was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene. 18 year old Michael Fair, the driver of the vehicle that was struck, was wearing a seatbelt and survived the crash with serious injuries. Routine toxicology tests are pending. The crash remains under investigation.
An Opelousas man died early Sunday in a crash on La. 749 in St. Landry Parish. The state police report 38 year old Herbert Rideau was driving north near Opelousas about 1:30 a.m. when his pickup truck ran off the right side of the road and struck a parked 18-wheeler. Rideau was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology tests are pending and the crash remains under investigation.
Police are investigating the case of a man who walked into the New Orleans airport wielding a machete and slashing at TSA officers while spraying them with bug spray before being shot several times. The Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office say a TSA officer and traveler sustained non-life threatening injuries apparently from bullets fired at the suspect by a sheriff’s deputy. The man, 62-year-old Richard White of Kenner, died from his injuries.
According to state officials, Louisiana casinos brought in $224.1 million dollars last month which is 6.8 percent higher than February the year before. Casino Association Executive Director Wade Duty says while the revenues are up, this isn’t an accurate year-to-year comparison because of the mid-December opening of the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.
He says the big gains can also be attributed to lower gas prices as more out of state gamblers head in.
The state Department of Transportation and Development is taking part in National Work Zone Awareness Week which runs through Friday. DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett says this is about bringing attention to the fact that safety should be a top priority through road construction areas. Mallett says since 2013 in Louisiana there’s been about 580 people who have lost their lives in work zones. Mallett says drivers face fines, fees and other consequences if they’re caught speeding in a work zone or driving without their headlights on.
Former New Orleans Saints Safety Darren Sharper has cut a deal on charges he drugged and raped women in four states. The Orleans DA office says details of the deal have not been made public. A news release says Sharper is also pleading guilty to charges in three other states and federal charges.
Parks Senator Fred Mills is sponsoring legislation this session that looks at ways to change the way public school teachers are evaluated. Currently educator effectiveness is determined by students’ standardized test results. Mills says his bill seeks to make a teacher’s job performance more accurately measured. He says this measure would take things back to the way they used to be when it comes to checking out how a teacher is doing. Mills says the proposed law would not completely remove the use of test scores as a factor in deciding teacher effectiveness.
A Shreveport lawmaker feels the state legislature should look at different options in trying to shrink the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit. Democratic Representative Patrick Williams it’s clear that the state needs to generate additional revenue. The House Ways and Means Committee member says a hike on cigarette and alcohol taxes is one way the state can raise funds quickly. Williams also feels that lawmakers should take a closer look at tax incentives offered by the state to shrink the budget gap. He says some of these are not paying dividends back to the state.
Sentencing is scheduled today for a Baton Rouge man who allegedly shot his girlfriend up with a fatal injection of heroin in 2013. 31-year-old Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and heroin distribution in the death of 31-year old Leah Hutchinson. Eirick was originally charged with second degree murder in this case, but pleaded to the lesser charge of negligent homicide in October.
The 2015 Poncatoula Strawberry Festival Poster is being called racist by some, and beautiful by others. The Tangipahoa NAACP says the painting, depicting faceless black children carrying a basket of strawberries, is offensive and they are calling for it to stop being sold immediately. Strawberry Festival spokesperson Shelley Matherne says the depiction is meant to build a bridge between cultures.
LSU won it’s series with Arkansas over the weekend with anxiety-filled 7-4 rubber match win.
The Tigers won a three-game Southeastern Conference series after losing the opening game for just the second time in five years, and they grabbed a 10th series win over the Razorbacks in the last 11 tries.
The “Dunkin Dogs” of Louisiana Tech will face Texas A&M tonight in the second round of the NIT. Bulldogs Coach Michael White says his program doesn’t have many opportunities to beat a team from a major conference, so they need to take advantage of it when it comes. Tech enters the game with a 26-8 record, while the Aggies are 21-11 and beat Montana in the opening round of the NIT.
The Pelicans are now three games back of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after completing an 0-for-3 road trip with a 107-100 loss to the Clippers.
News For Friday 03/20/15
News for Friday 032015
By Dave Graichen
The Spring Equinox occurs later today at precisely 5:45pm our time, marking the end of winter and the very beginning of Spring. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the Bayou State has been getting a lot of rain over the past few weeks and it’s setting the stage for what we can expect this spring. He says the good news is that the Climate Prediction Center says we should have normal temperatures throughout the season
State Treasurer John Kennedy says the Jindal Administration is considering selling the Louisiana Lottery as a way to help plug the state’s massive budget hole. The Administration is denying this. But, Kennedy says he has reports from CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs which essentially say that selling the Louisiana Lottery would provide significant general fund relief. He says these documents are irrefutable evidence that these discussions are ongoing
LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab says more and more Louisianians are starting to say that the state is headed in the right direction. In the results of their 2015 Louisiana survey, Director Michael Henderson also says 26-percent of citizens say the state business climate is better than it was a year ago. He says public confidence in state government to effectively deal with the most pressing issues has increased for the first time in five years.
State Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret tells lawmakers it’s time to reign in the state’s film tax credit program. Moret says the state’s film program has created an estimated ten-thousand jobs and brought positive attention to the state, but it only produces 20-cents in revenue for every dollar of tax credit. Moret also suggests tighter controls on who is getting the tax credits as there have been recent reports of fraud in the program. But he says the most important thing is limiting the program’s benefits so the state has a greater control of how much they are spending on it.
A survey by MarblePort Polling on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican David Vitter leading the field with 34-percent of the vote. Democrat John Bel Edwards is close behind with 31-percent, followed by Republicans Jay Dardenne with 14-percent and Scott Angelle with 7-percent. The automated survey polled just over 1000 Louisiana residents.
Spring is in the air and crawfish season is in full swing in Louisiana. Gulf Seafood Institute Chairman Harlon Pearce says they expected a substantial change in the price of the mudbugs once we got those crazy early March winter temperatures out of the way and you’ll certainly see it this weekend. Pearce says you could easily see boiled crawfish this weekend at about $3.50 a pound
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the Jindal Administration’s budget for next fiscal year doesn’t fund a presidential preference primary for Louisiana in 2016. It would cost three and a half million dollars and Schedler says he’s telling lawmakers that unless they command another way, the state intends to move forward. A spokesperson from the Division of Administration says they have spoken with Schedler and they will work with his office to come up with a funding solution so that the state can have a Presidential Primary next year.
According to the Louisiana National Guard, they have received a total of 10 bids from companies to destroy about 75 hundred tons of M6 artillery propellant near Camp Minden. An evaluation team is being formed with a dialog committee, after some residents spoke out against the open burning method. The Guard says they may consider other methods.
An appeals court judge has thrown out the sentence of former Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson and ordered a re-sentencing. Thompson was convicted in 2013 on three counts of malfeasance in office. The court ruled that Thompson’s sentence of six years in prison, combined with having to pay restitution of almost $52,000, was excessive. It is unknown when the re-sentencing will take place.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says an 85-year-old man is booked with vehicular homicide charges for allegedly running over his long time female companion in a driveway. They say when deputies responded to medical emergency in DeQuincy they found 56-year-old Mary Franklin laying near the driveway and she was pronounced dead at the scene. It was determined she was run over by James Abdalla Jr. He is in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on $60,000 bond.
News For Thursday 03/19/15
News for Thursday 031915
By Dave Graichen
LifeShare Blood Center reports Donations of O negative blood are being sought to meet a critical need. Donors of all blood types are necessary and welcome, but the immediate need is for more O negative donors. Blood donations of blood may be made at the LifeShare Donation Center on North Mall Drive in Alexandria.
The IRS says there are about 22,000 people in Louisiana who did not file a tax return in 2011 which amounts to potential refunds of up to $21.4 million dollars. Spokeswoman Lea (Lee) Crusberg says tax payers only have until April 15th of this year to file their 2011 return to get their refund or else the money will go into the US Treasury. Crusberg says the average potential refund in Louisiana is $693.
Just as some 316-thousand students are taking the Common Core tests this week, Governor Bobby Jindal announces a plan to remove Common Core from Louisiana’s public schools and replace it with a plan and test developed by Louisiana teachers and parents. Jindal says the plan will be presented to lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session next month.
State Superintendent John White is moving forward with plans to have Louisiana educators review and tweak the Common Core academic standards, despite Gov. Bobby Jindal’s intent to support legislation to throw them out altogether. White reviewed preliminary plans with educators, superintendents and other stakeholders Wednesday morning, just hours before Jindal’s statements. They will be discussed with superintendents from across the state on Thursday.
There’s a new state-wide poll that shows 56-percent of Louisiana residents support an increase in the state’s cigarette tax. That same poll also revealed Governor Bobby Jindal with a 28 percent positive rating.
While drivers enjoy low gas prices, the plummeting price of crude is starting to take its toll on the oil industry, with layoffs happening here in Louisiana. In the past few months, about a thousand oil industry jobs have been lost, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. State officials say they are optimistic that the losses will be temporary.
The drop in the price of oil was seen in a new lease sales yesterday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Regulators report only 195 bids for new oil and gas leasing were placed off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That’s the lowest amount since 1986, when there were only 129 bids offered.
State Police say a former detective with the Ville Platte Police Department has been arrested on multiple charges. Authorities say Nathanial Savoy, who also owns a roofing business, was allegedly spotted on surveillance video stealing roofing materials from a local business. To add insult to injury, he was reportedly in a police unit when the crime was committed.
New Orleans Senator JP Morrell files a bill that would allow public students in Orleans Parish to be surveyed about what type of behaviors they are involved in — including sexual behavior. He says results of such a review would help with coming up with a sex ed class that would actually be effective. Baton Rouge Representative Pat Smith introduced similar legislation last year but it failed after a massive push-back from the Louisiana Family Forum. Morrell says opponents believe that by addressing sexual education you are making kids promiscuous.
Lobbyists can spend more wining and dining legislators and others they seek to influence beginning later this year as the cap increases yet again, but not by much. The Louisiana Board of Ethics is scheduled Friday to start the legal process to allow $60 to be spent per occasion effective July 1. The current per event limit is $58. The amount has been steadily rising since the Legislature implemented a $50 spending cap in 2008 as part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ethics package. The new law allowed the spending cap to increase with the consumer price index, or CPI. The provision has resulted in a 20 percent increase over five years.
Ninth-seeded LSU faces 8th seeded North Carolina State tonight in the NCAA Tournament. The oddsmakers have the Wolfpack as a two-point favorite.
News For Wednesday 03/18/15
News for Wednesday 031814
By Dave Graichen
We missed an important birthday yesterday.. The Town Talk was founded on March 17, 1883. That made the paper a young 132 years old. To give you an example of how different life was back then, an article in the March 18th Paper described how Hoodlums damaged several women’s dresses by stretching a tarred rope across a dark street. The women returning from church damaged their dresses when they rubbed up against it. The suggestion for punishment if caught, The boys should be tarred and feathered. We’ve come a long way, or have we? A belated Happy Birthday to the Town Talk.
It didn’t take long, Rapides Parish police jurors on Tuesday gave their stamp of approval to an agreement with the city of Alexandria that could pave the way for Coliseum renovations to begin. Police jurors met in executive session for 37 minutes Tuesday morning before the unanimous vote to go along with the terms of a proposed Alexandria City Council ordinance.
The ordinance was introduced by the City Council on Monday and is expected to come up for a council vote in early April.
Latest employment numbers show that there were 7500 less people working in January than in December, ending a long streak of monthly employment gains. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says even though there was the typical job drop that you see in January, we’re still employing far more people this year than we were this time last year. At 7 percent the unemployment rate for January ranked as the third highest among states.
Residents will soon have to pay more for flood insurance. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the increases are the result of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that were passed by Congress last year. He says the premium hikes for primary residences are capped at 18-percent each year. However, premium increases for second residences, commercial, and rental properties are capped at 25-percent per year. In addition to the rate increases, property owners will have to pay a surcharge, $25 per year for your primary residence and $250 for businesses, rentals, or secondary residences. Donelon says these changes are complicated, so you may want to get some advice.
Governor Bobby Jindal is looking at selling the remainder of a multi-billion dollar settlement from tobacco manufacturers to help the state’s budget problems. The Jindal administration says it could be used finance the TOP’s scholarship program for the next seven to eight years, but State Treasurer John Kennedy doesn’t like this idea. Kennedy says the Jindal administration has raided all other pots of money and this is the last one left. Despite Kennedy’s concerns, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation, voted to begin the process of selling the tobacco settlement.
State Police say a truck driver from Alabama died when he was run over by a trooper who was looking for him in Madison Parish. Sgt. James Anderson says they received a report early Tuesday morning that an 18-wheeler was stuck in the lane of travel on US Highway 65. Anderson says 47-year-old David Watford of Cottonwood, Alabama was walking in the middle of the road wearing blue jeans and a camouflage shirt when he was struck and killed by the trooper. The investigation continues.
An 81-year-old Korean War veteran died in a mobile home fire in Arnaudville Tuesday morning. The state Fire Marshal’s office has identified the victim as Robert Kaltenbach. Investigators say the fire started near a desk right next to an overloaded power outlet.
A State Police investigation into criminal activity at Jackson Parish Hospital has led to the arrest of four people, three of whom were hospital employees. Sgt. James Anderson says investigators discovered cases of illegal drug distribution and payroll fraud at the hospital.
Calcasieu, Jackson, and Central School systems lead the state in the percentage of opt-outs during Monday’s first day of statewide PARCC testing. Jackson had an opt-out rate of 13-percent, followed by 12-percent for Calcasieu and eight-percent for Central. Central School Superintendent Michael Faulk says 153 students in the district did not participate. Faulk believes social media has something to do with the number of opt-outs. He says they began a Facebook page to try to deal with the false information about the tests spreading on the site.
The Mayor of Dequincy says he’s not concerned about a fake news site once again targeting the city with an article claiming they’ve passed some ridiculous law. This time “The News Examiner” says polygamy is now legal in DeQuincy. Other articles in the past have claimed that the city was being attacked by gay zombies on bath salts and that officials had banned twerking. The Mayor says he would like to invite the man who is writing these stories to visit the Calcasieu Parish town and see what it really has to offer.
News For Tuesday 03/17/15
News for Tuesday 031715
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana national guard made it official yesterday releasing the names of the four guardsmen killed March 10 when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed into Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola, Florida, during a training exercise. The Guardsmen killed are: 37 year old Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin Jr, 44 year old Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother, 40 year old Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron and 26 year old Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich. Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard said, while announcing the names, that the Guardsmen represent the best of us and their names will forever be etched on our hearts and in our minds.
Today is the big day. Motorists who commute between Alexandria and Pineville and take the O.K. Allen Bridge will be redirected to begin utilizing the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge starting this morning at 10am. Deidra Druilhet with the state Department of Transportation says
only the northbound span of the new bridge has been completed and it will be used for the two-way traffic while the O.K. Allen Bridge is torn down. Over 20,000 motorists cross the Red River over the O.K. Allen Bridge on a daily basis. The southbound span is expected to be ready by mid-2016.
An ordinance introduced Monday by the Alexandria City Council is intended to settle the Rapides Parish Coliseum property dispute with the Police Jury. The deal includes the Police Jury paying the city $1.1 million as part of a land swap. The agreement would give the parish control of the parking lot at the Coliseum. The parking lot has been the center of a dispute between the city and the parish. Resolution of the dispute is needed to clear the way for the $22.9 million renovation of the Coliseum to begin.
The APD reports a North MacArthur drive homeowner chased a burglar who had just robbed his home Saturday leading police directly to the robbers Enterprise Road home. Police arrested 38 James Robertson and booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Robertson has been charged with simple burglary.
State Superintendent of Education John White says after the first day of PARCC testing, concerns that there would be widespread non-participation did not bear out. He says preliminary findings show more than 320,000 students took the test associated Common Core which is about 99% participation. White says half of the 1% of non-participants came from Calcasieu Parish. He also says Red River, Jackson and Central Community had a high number of students who didn’t test.
The state’s economic development secretary Stephen Moret will leave his job in May and take over as the president and CEO of the LSU foundation, which is LSU’s top fundraising organization. Moret is an LSU grad and has severed as Governor Bobby Jindal’s LED secretary since 2008.
A Washington Post article refers to Governor Bobby Jindal as one of the great mysteries of the early 2016 presidential campaign. They said that not long ago, Jindal was considered a fresh new face in the Republican Party, but his star has since fallen. The Post says, for the first time in Jindal’s political career, he appears to be lost. They say the governor looks like he’s trying to be every politician at once. According to The Post, Jindal is polling at around two-percent in national Republican polls.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office says a toddler from Slidell is in the hospital after being run over apparently by a family member who then left the scene. They say 44-year-old Derrick Populus eventually admitted he struck the child with a vehicle in the driveway then drove off. He is booked with felony hit-and-run. The child’s condition appears to be improving.
Shreveport Representative Barbra Norton has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would make it illegal to supply a child 12 or under with an Uzi sub-machine gun. She says kids are not big enough to handle such a large weapon in a safe manner. Norton says she realizes that some parents want to teach their children how to shoot guns for hunting or for general safety reasons, but she sees no reason for kids to ever have a machine gun.
Jury selection begins today in Lafayette in the first-degree murder trial of Seth Fontenot, accused of a 2013 shooting that killed 15-year old Austin Rivault and injured two others. Fontenot claims he fired to scare the teens, who he thought were breaking into his truck, not to hurt them.
The LSU men’s basketball team leaves today for Pittsburgh, where they’ll play North Carolina State on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers bring a 22-and-10 record to the Big Dance and needs to win six straight games to win a national championship.
The new Baseball America Poll is out and LSU is still on top now for the second straight week. The Tigers went 3-1 on the week losing once in a 14-inning game against ole Miss. They’re joined in the top 10 with four other SEC teams, Florida, Vandy, Texas A&M and South Carolina.
Louisiana Tech hosts Central Michigan tonight in the N-I-T. It’s the second straight year the Bulldogs will get to host a postseason game. But this year Tech is coming off a disappointing loss in the Conference USA tournament. Central Michigan was the regular season Mid-American Conference West Division champions this season and they boast a record of 23-and-8.
News For Monday 03/16/15
News for Monday 031615
By Dave Graichen
Early Sunday afternoon, a Texas couple were killed in Hineston, when their motorcycle struck a vehicle that turned directly into their path. The accident occurred when 62 year old Larry Callahan made a left turn off of highway 121. The driver of the motorcycle attempted to stop in time but was unable to do so. Callahan was not injured, however he was charged with improper turning.
Funeral services will be held today for former Rapides Parish Police Juror Stephen Bordelon who passed away Friday. Bordelon is known for his service to the city of Pineville in several capacities including the fire department and city council, as well as his tenure on the Rapides Parish Police Jury. Visitation will be at Hixson Brothers in Pineville this morning at 9 a.m. until the service at 11 a.m. Stephen Bordelon was 75
Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order calling for the flags at all state buildings to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the military members who lost their lives in the Black Hawk crash last week. The order is through this Friday at sunset.
Students in third through eighth grades will begin taking the controversial tests tied to Common Core today. This is the first time PARCC will be administered in Louisiana. State Department of Education Superintendent John White says this is about getting a basic description of what kids should be able to do at the end of each grade level. There are many people who oppose Common Core arguing that it’s too complex but White says it’s time that we stop teaching math with memorization.
A special enrollment period began Sunday on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace giving some, who didn’t realized they would be penalized on their taxes for not being covered, a second chance of obtaining health insurance. This special enrollment period will go through April 30.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals announces a new initiative aimed at reducing c-section rates among Louisiana mothers. DHH Secretary Kathy Kleibert says “Go the Full 40″ is a voluntary pledge by hospitals to end non-medically indicated induced pregnancies. Kleibert says about 50% of babies in Louisiana are born before 40 weeks gestation.
The bird flu has made a recent appearance in Arkansas, along with confirmations in some mid-western and northwestern states. Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says a poultry quarantine will keep any live poultry products from entering Louisiana from an area that’s been affected. The good news is, this disease is not normally contracted by humans.
Proposed legislation will be presented to lawmakers that will provide funds to pay for sexual assault victim care with expired winning casino tickets. New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno says, under the proposed law, hospitals would not bill victims -and- those who come forward aren’t limited to 72 hours to report an incident in order for the services to be provided at no charge. You can expect the casinos to fight this legislation. Currently, casinos and tracks are allowed to keep expired winnings as earnings.
The four candidates for governor met last Friday in a forum to discuss Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. As you may suspect, all said they support it. The Louisiana gubernatorial election will take place on October 24.
Richard J. “Dick” Brennan Sr., a restaurateur who with his family owned and managed some of New Orleans most celebrated dining establishments, died Saturday at his home in New Orleans. Along with his siblings, he was instrumental in the transformation of Commander’s Palace into the definitive modern Creole restaurant of its generation, beginning in the 1970s. Dick Brennan Sr was 84.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it is reported that nearly 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 are not getting tested as recommended. Last year alone, more than 50,000 people died of colorectal cancer in the United States.
For the first time since 2009, the LSU Tigers are in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Bayou Bengals are a nine-seed and they’ll face North Carolina State on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Coach Johnny Jones says the goal all season long was to get an invite to the Big Dance.
News For Friday 03/13/15
News For Friday 031315
By Dave Graichen
Eglin Air Force Base officials say the wreckage of the Army helicopter that crashed Tuesday night over the Florida Panhandle has been found. Eglin Col. Monte Cannon says the wreckage was located in about 25 feet of water. The search has gone from a search and rescue to now just a rescue mission. The Coast Guard announced Thursday afternoon nine of the 11 victims have been found, including two from Louisiana. Pineville native David Strother a chief warrant officer, is one of those who lost his life. Strother is being remembered as someone who made the "ultimate sacrifice" for his country.
Alexandria PD report that foul play is not suspected in the death of a man whose body was found under a bridge on North 3rd street Wednesday morning. The man's body was sent for an autopsy and other forensic testing. The man's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
They’ve made progress. But, there’s more work to do. S.A.C.S The Southern Association Of Colleges and Schools, visited the Louisiana College Campus on Wednesday. The good news, Louisiana College is in compliance with five of the six standards that led to it being placed on probation last year. A standard citing “external influence” remains unresolved. SACS placed the school on probation in June, six months after the agency reaffirmed its accreditation. LC had been on warning with SACS for two years prior.
Lt Governor hopeful Kip Holden is finding himself involved in a scandal as a 2011 lawsuit has surfaced claiming the Baton Rouge mayor repeatedly sexually harassed a woman who was in Louisiana on business. The lawsuit does not name Holden as a defendant and it’s actually targeted at her former employer. A poll was released this week showing Holden in good position to make the run-off in the lieutenant governor’s race. Holden denies the accusations, saying both he and his wife know the truth on this one.
According to a report by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, Louisiana has the highest estimated percentage of unemployed youth in the country. The study also found that New Orleans is third in the nation for the percentage of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who aren’t working or in school.
Bogalusa Representative Harold Ritchie files a bill that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to the national average. The governor has proposed an increase in the state’s cigarette tax to the southern regional average, but Ritchie believes the tax on cigarettes should be higher. Ritchie’s bill would raise the tax from 36-cents to a $1.54 per pack. It will be considered during the legislative session that begins April 13th. The Jindal administration says they will support an increase in tobacco taxes, but only if it’s accompanied with a tax break.
More police presence in New Orleans, as State Police have redeployed additional troopers to patrol the Crescent City. This comes courtesy of $2.5 million dollars raised by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, based on the needs of NOPD and requests from business leaders. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says this will not take away any patrol efforts for the rest of the state.
Louisiana Tech is under somewhat of a microscope after a claim comes up accusing their Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity of racist chanting in 2010 — similar to the now-closed Oklahoma Chapter. Tech says there is no evidence of this. Tech says they are investigating the matter.
The United Steelworkers union has reached an agreement with Shell that could soon lead to the end of a six-week strike that has affected 12 U.S. refineries, including two in Louisiana.
The union and Royal Dutch Shell have been negotiating a contract that would serve as a blueprint for agreements with other refiners.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating a school bus crash and a driver that is suspected of being under the influence when the accident took place. They say no there were no major injuries of students on the bus. The driver, 50-year-old John Harvey Bernard, was issued a careless operation citation and is still under investigation pending results from a blood alcohol test.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces legislation will once again be brought up this session that would protect sexual assault victims and ensure that they are not charged by hospitals for medical services associated with assault claims. The Stand and Support Survivors Bill is sponsored by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno.
A new Centers for Disease Control study shows that two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer in the US survive five years or more. The cancer survivor estimates are based on cases of invasive cancers reported during 2011. Associate Dean for Research at LSU’s School of Public Health, Ed Trapido, says these numbers show a remarkable amount of progress.
Among the most common types of cancer, the study reports a five-year-survival rate of 97-percent for prostate cancer and 88-percent for breast cancer.
The New Orleans Saints did another trade Thursday to clear some salary cap room, saving the team $3.6 million. Two time Pro-Bowler guard Ben Grubbs was traded to Kansas City in exchange for a 5th round pick. The move allowed the Black and Gold to sign cornerback Brandon Browner from the New England Patriots.
According to a new research by the LSU economics department, LSU is the number 32 most disliked team in the country. LSU is behind some other SEC schools-Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The most disliked team in the nation is Boise State.
The LSU Tigers begin SEC play tonight against Ole Miss as the number one ranked team in the country according to Baseball America. Coach Paul Mainieri says his team earned that number one ranking, by playing solid baseball. Jared Poche will be tonight’s starting pitcher.
News For Thursday 03/12/15
The investigation continues today in the Army helicopter crash that killed all 11 servicemen on board during a training mission Tuesday night in the Florida Panhandle. Of the 11, four were Louisiana National Guard soldiers based out of Hammond. David Strother Of Pineville was one of four Louisiana National Guardsmen serving as crew members. The other seven servicemen were Marines based out of Fort LaJeune in North Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Walt Green announced yesterday a licensed clinical social worker has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for her role in a health care fraud scheme involving two companies that operated in the Alexandria area. 50 year old Carla Clark of Pineville, also was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson to pay more than $413,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
State Police announce that during a crackdown of insurance fraud throughout Louisiana, several arrests have been made of people who have tried to abuse the system various ways. LSP Spokesman Dustin Dwight says insurance fraud is a problem that affects all citizens here who pay some of the highest premiums in the country. This latest round of arrests include people who are accused of faking car accidents, filing fraudulent medical bills from injuries they’ve claimed to have received in vehicle crashes.
Work is progressing on several million dollars of improvements to pave the way for construction of a Cool Planet Energy Systems plant at the Port of Alexandria. The larger portion of the improvements began a few weeks ago, though rain has robbed contractors of many of those days. The $6.4 million project includes construction of roads, fire-suppressant equipment and an operations center for the plant, which will manufacture gasoline and agriculture-boosting biochar out of wood chips. On Wednesday, the port’s board of commissioners approved advertising for an additional $1.8 million in infrastructure improvements related to the project.
An autopsy performed on the US Deputy Marshal who was fatally injured Tuesday as a result of a shoot-out with a suspect, died because of a shot to the neck. Twenty-seven year-old Josie Wells was serving a warrant for a double homicide suspect in Scotlandville when he was shot. The suspect, Jamie Croom, succumbed to his injuries Yesterday. Wells leaves behind a wife and a baby on the way.
Payscale-dot-com ranks Louisiana Tech number one in the state in overall Return of Investment for both in-state and out-of-state students. University spokesman Dave Guerin says this is a great accomplishment and it shows Louisiana Tech provides students with marketable skills to go into a company and make an impact. This is the second straight year that Tech has received the top ranking in Louisiana.
State Treasurer John Kennedy wants the Jindal administration to rethink the sale of the rest of the state’s tobacco settlement to generate cash to fill a budget hole. Kennedy said yesterday It’s the same bad fiscal policy that’s created the current $1.6 billion “structural deficit” in the state budget. The administration proposes sale of the remaining portion of a 1998 tobacco settlement in order to generate $750 million for spending.
State education officials announced yesterday, while about 320,000 public school students will take Common Core tests starting Monday, they will also face a second round of the exams May 4-8. The second phase, like the questions next week, will focus on what students know about math, reading and writing. Common Core and its assessments have been a hot topic of debate for the past 18 months, and the tests had to overcome a court challenge from Gov. Bobby Jindal before they won final clearance.
The video of a 7-year-old girl’s tearful reaction to New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham getting traded to Seattle, has gone viral. The child, Lexia Woods, was obviously devastated after her mother, Ashley Ann Woods, told her the news with the video camera rolling. Lexia is doing much better today.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in an overnight home invasion in New Iberia, where two male victims inside the home were shot. Sheriff Louis Ackal says the victims were transported to the hospital; the two suspects wore ski masks, and are still at large.
The gas price keeps rising. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.26 up a penny in the past 24 hours.
Louisiana Tech men’s basketball begins play tonight in the Conference USA tonight. The Bulldogs won the regular season title and a conference tournament championship will give them an automatic berth in the Big Dance.
News For Tuesday 03/10/15
News for Tuesday 031015
By Dave Graichen
New Louisiana College president Rick Brewer is on the Pineville campus this week even though he doesn’t officially begin until April 7th. Brewer will meet with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools who placed the institution on academic probation. Brewer says he took the job, because he believes the private Baptist College has a great future. Brewer says he plans to turn things around for LC and make it a place students, faculty and alumni can be proud of again. Brewer says it’s time to change the dial at LC and that’s what he plans to do slowly, but surely.
Alexandria police have identified one victim of the Friday wreck that killed two people and injured two others. 18 year old Darius Jones and a 15year-old juvenile both died in the wreck in the 3200 block of North Bolton Avenue. Other sources and a death notice published Sunday in The Town Talk identified the 15-year-old as Kashayla Jones, a freshman at Alexandria Senior High School. The APD reports the wreck still is under investigation. One person died at the scene of the wreck, and three others were taken to local hospitals. The second person died later, according to police. The two other passengers remain hospitalized
Lin Dyess Stewert was appointed Monday by the Police Jury to become registrar of voters on July 1st when the current registrar retires. The unusual twist to the story is, when Joanell Wilson retires, her successor will be the daughter of the man she succeeded. Wilson has worked for registrar’s office since January 1968. She became registrar in July 1988, succeeding B.G. Dyess, Stewart’s father.
In what has all the makings for a TV reality show, it appears the City of Alexandria will appeal a ruling made Monday by the 9 Judicial court having to do with the ongoing squabble between the city and the police jury over the issue of the Rapides parish coliseum parking lot. Judge George Metoyer on Monday ruled against the city of Alexandria when he refused to grant an exception about proper jurisdiction in the case. The city believes that Metoyer doesn’t have the jurisdiction to hear the property dispute between the two public bodies. The Judge, disagrees.
The Kiwanis Club of Pineville is hosting its annual Pancake Day fundraiser from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. today in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The club is offering pancakes, sausage, milk and coffee for $6 per person. Children 5 and under can eat free with an adult meal purchased. Takeout orders are available. Pancake Day raises funds so that the Kiwanis Club of Pineville can support various charitable causes and organizations, including the Key Clubs of Pineville and Tioga high schools.
A state audit looking at the “Road Home” program finds that $939 million was given out to homeowners who did not comply with the rules of the program. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says “Road Home” was set up following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to help homeowners repair and reoccupy their homes. Purpera says it’s possible the federal government will ask the state to return the money that was not used appropriately, but he says the feds also understand the complexity of the program. The audit shows the $939 million in noncompliant funds is just the tip of the iceberg.
A new poll on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican US Senator David Vitter leading with 35% followed by Democratic Amite Representative John Bel Edwards at 33%. The survey by Triumph Campaigns shows Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne third with 15% and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle with 7%. 11% of those polled remain undecided.
Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil has filed a Constitutional Amendment for the 2015 session which would give colleges control of raising their own fees. Foil says currently our state constitution does not allow colleges the autonomy to raise their fees — it has to be approved by two-thirds vote of the members of each house. He says if this constitutional amendment passes, colleges would have the option to raise fees in certain areas as they see fit for the students.
A republican lawmaker describes Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal as “insane” in a letter to supporters. Monroe Representative Jay Morris says the Americans for Tax Reform has okayed the Jindal administration’s plan, but it’s not the best way to handle a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall next fiscal year. Morris says the Americans for Tax Reform, which is an anti-tax group, has said its okay to scale back the inventory tax credit, but they do not approve of capping the state’s film tax credits. Morris says it’s hard to say what the final budget will look like. He suspects there will be a combination of cuts to state government and measures to raise revenue that are supported by the ATR.
Central Casting Louisiana is looking for people with oil rig, merchant marine, and Coast Guard experience to work on the upcoming feature film, “Deepwater Horizon”. Director of Casting, Adam Hochfeld (HOCK-feld), says the movie will tell the story of the rig workers on the platform when the explosion took place back in 2010 and the subsequent rescue of those workers. Those interested can e-mail their information, including work experience, to deepwater-at-centralcasting-dot-com. The film will star Mark Wahlberg.
Trilby Lundberg, who monitors gas prices across the country, says Baton Rouge has the lowest national average gas price in the country at $2.16. Gas-buddy-dot-com’s Gregg Laskoski says Louisiana’s statewide average of $2.24, ranks in the top ten for lowest gas prices in the nation. The lowest statewide average in the country is Wyoming and South Carolina at $2.14 a gallon. Laskoski says gas prices have been rising since the start of February and he expects that trend to continue.
The New Orleans Saints have released linebacker Curtis Lofton. The move saves a reported $9.25 million dollars. Lofton was picked up by the Black and Gold as a free agent in 2012. The NFL salary cap deadline is today. Teams will be able to sign free agents starting at 3pm.
The NFL free-agency period begins today. Teams will be able to sign free agents to their roster beginning at 3PM. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says the Saints will be looking to improve the team on both sides of the ball. He says they need to address a couple of issues going into the 2015 season. Although the Saints are dealing with salary cap issues, Detillier says that won’t stop the team from getting the players they need.
No one is playing better basketball than U-L Lafayette heading into this week’s Sun Belt Tournament in New Orleans. The Ragin Cajuns have won six straight to raise their overall record to 19-and-12. U-L Lafayette will play either U-T Arlington or Texas State in the semi-finals on Friday at Lakefront Arena. The Cajuns won the Sun Belt Tourney and earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament last year.
News For Monday 03/09/15
News for Monday 030915
By Dave Graichen
And now there are three. Rapides Parish Assistant District Attorney Monique Metoyer has been fired. After 23 years on the job, she was told Friday she was no longer needed. Since Phillip Terrell was been sworn in as DA, two other DA’s have lost their jobs, Daphne Robinson, a 19 year veteran and Jerry Deason.
The APD now reports 2 people lost their lives as a result of a single vehicle accident on North Bolton Ave late Friday afternoon. Police also report two other people received moderate to severe injuries in the crash.
A Baton Rouge lawmaker will file a bill for the upcoming legislative session that seeks to let citizens vote on whether or not marijuana should be legal in Louisiana for recreational use. Representative Dalton Honore is also bringing back his medical marijuana bill which failed last year. He says people should be able to vote on the recreational pot law. Recreational marijuana for adult use is legal in Oregon, Washington D.C., Colorado, Alaska and Washington. Honore says he hopes other lawmakers will get on board with letting people decide whether or not marijuana for recreational use should be legal here. The legislative session begins April 13th.
This school year, the Ascension Parish School Board turned the work of hiring substitute teachers to Kelly Educational Staffing, a division of the national employment agency.
The motivation for the School Board was the difficulty, both financially and time-wise, of meeting requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which calls for providing health insurance for employees who work more than 30 hours a week, which substitute teachers sometimes do.
The move is saving the School Board $358,000 a year, with other benefits being the recruitment and training of substitute teachers that Kelly Services provides.
With the beginning of Daylight Saving Time over the weekend, everyone lost an hour of sleep. But State Police says that’s no excuse to drive fatigued. Sgt. Nick Manale says they often see accidents that were caused by sleepy drivers, so if you do feel yourself becoming fatigued while driving, Manale suggests pulling over and getting a breath of fresh air, stepping out of the car, or getting something to drink as ways you can revive yourself. Manale says sleepy driving can be as dangerous as impaired or distracted driving.
Lafayette has been named as one of the top 20 hardest working cities in the US by the personal finance site badcredit-dot-org. Editor Steven Richmond says about 350 cities were ranked on four separate categories for this report, the percentage of population over age 16 in the workforce, average commute times, percentage of households with children, and average number of hours worked each week. He says this list represents some of the busiest, hardest working, and most workaholic populations in the US.
News For Friday 03/06/15
News for Friday 030615
By Dave Graichen
The vote by the board of trustees was unanimous and Rick Brewer is the new president at Louisiana College. Brewer is currently vice president of student affairs and athletics at Charleston (S.C.) Southern University. He succeeds Joe Aguillard, president of the college from January 2005 until the board voted in April of last year to approve an agreement to for his removal. Brewer will take office April 7.
BESE rejects a proposal to waive penalties against schools who have students that opt out from taking the Common Core exam. In a 7-to-4 vote, BESE agreed with Superintendent of Education John White, who says let’s wait and see how many opt outs there are first. A zero score will be given for each student who doesn’t take the test, which could lower a school’s performance score. Before the vote, BESE members heard from frustrated parents and educators who are upset over the new academic standards and the tests tied to them.
A former LSU football tight end for the Tigers 2003 national championship team was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday for his role in shooting up a Port Allen truck stop casino more than three years ago. 32 year old Demetri Robinson pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder in the Sept. 2011, shooting at the Cajun Circus Casino. Robinson shot a cashier then fired shots at two other employees after he was asked to leave the casino.
Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Thursday that he is pushing two pieces of legislation that aim to help veterans and military students earn college degrees in Louisiana. One would establish the “Governor’s Veterans Friendly Campus Designation” for colleges that implement a list of support measures for student veterans. The other bill Jindal’s backing would help streamline the transfer of credits to Louisiana colleges from accredited schools that contract with the Department of Defense to teach on military bases around the world. Both bills will be debated in the upcoming legislative session.
Acadia Parish authorities are searching for a Church Point attorney who is accused of allegedly stealing more than 435 thousand dollars from clients who had hired him as their lawyer. Malcolm Brasseaux is nowhere to be found. Anyone with information is asked to call the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has cited a New Iberia man for allegedly killing a Louisiana Black bear in St. Mary Parish. Agents say 52-year-old Richard Picard Junior was hog hunting and Picard claims he mistakenly identified the black bear as a wild hog. Picard faces hundreds of dollars in fines and possible jail time as well.
Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is planning to hold regular meetings with various stakeholders from across the state during the upcoming legislative session. The new “Commissioner’s Roundtable” initiative has been planned as a way to keep business and industry leaders, faculty, staff and others outside of Baton Rouge engaged in legislative issues related that will impact higher ed throughout the session. Rallo, who took on the job in January, set out on a statewide listening tour earlier this year. He has since met with more than 1,000 people across 45 parishes.
Tell Speedy Your Hot Mess
Weekdays mornings at 5:45am