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News For Tuesday 11/25/14
News for Tuesday 112514
By Dave Graichen
The state continues to set new employment records. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says total nonfarm employment in Louisiana reached 1,988,900 in October, which is a new record high. The number of private employment jobs has grown by 31-thousand over the last year. In a strange twist, The state’s unemployment rate is also going up, along with the number of people who are employed. The unemployment rate for October was six-point-two percent, up four-percentage points from last year.
Early voting for the December 6th runoff election continues across the state, and will run through this Saturday, excluding Thursday and Friday. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says voter turnout for the kickoff this past Saturday was brisk, and when compared to early voting for the primary. He expects the voter turnout to be around 35 percent.
A West Monroe lawmaker filed a lawsuit this week seeking to extend the early voting period for the December 6th runoff because two days were lost this time due to the Thanksgiving Holidays. Governor Bobby Jindal declared this Friday a state holiday, Acadian Day, and polls are closed. Representative Marcus Hunter says this election, with the US-Senate race at the top of the ballot, is too important to shorten the amount of time someone is given the opportunity to vote. He says he hopes a judge will add those two extra days back.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Hardman Family who lost five in a crash in Ouachita Parish while on their way to their dream Disney World vacation last week. According to the site, the money, now reaching almost $30,000, will be used for the five funeral expenses. Trudi and Michael Hardman died in a crash along with three juveniles age 15, 7 and 4.
New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has pledged two gifts to the Pro Football Hall of Fame totaling $11 million. This is the largest individual contribution in the Hall’s 51 year history. The donation will help build a Hall of Fame Village. $10 million of Benson’s donation will be used to renovate Fawcett Stadium, which will now be called Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The renovations will allow the stadium to be used for other sporting and entertainment events. The additional $1 million will help construct the Hall of Fame’s Legends Landing, a residence where former greats can live if they fall on hard times.
The famous Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is officially underway. The 300,000 lights were turned on for the first time on Saturday and will twinkle every night at dusk through January 6th of next year. Downtown attractions include carriage tours through the historic district and all shops and restaurants will be open late. The 88th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival and parade happens December 6th. You can get more information on the festival online at christmasfestival.com.
Governor Bobby Jindal announce ClearEdge Wholesale Glass will invest $2.65 million dollars to renovate a 41,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Baton Rouge and relocate their current smaller operations from New Orleans to the new facility in Baton Rouge. He says ClearEdge will create 120 new direct jobs at the new facility with an average salary of nearly $40,000 a year plus benefits.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards took several shots at his opponent in the 6th Congressional District race in a debate where Garret Graves did not show up. Edwards accuses Graves of playing dirty politics in a flyer he sent out prior to the November 4th election that may lead voters to believe Paul Deitzel is gay. Edwards is also accusing Graves of helping his family profit from Government contracts when he was the head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Edwards was asked if he thought Senator Mary Landrieu was affecting his campaign. The former governor joked that it’s The President hurting that’s them both.
As the rate of diabetes continues to rise, new numbers show the disease costs Louisiana’s five-billion dollars a year. The study was conducted by LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the facility’s executive director, Dr. William Cefalu, says the cost of pre-diabetes went up 74-percent and undiagnosed diabetes grew 82-percent since 2007. Nationally, the cost of diabetes has grown to $322 billion per year in excess medical costs and lost productivity. Cefalu says diabetes is becoming an economic burden for the entire country.
Louisiana Tech can win the West Division of Conference USA this Saturday. But the defending league champions stand in the Bulldogs way. The Rice Owls won ten games last year and were crowned the C-USA champs. This season Rice can win the West from Tech by beating the Bulldogs in Ruston this weekend. Last season, the Rice Owls embarrassed Louisiana Tech, beating them in Houston 52-14.
LSU heads into Thursday night’s regular season finale against Texas A-and-M struggling on offense. So will true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris get some snaps against the Aggies. When asked. Coach Les Miles gave a non-committal answer.
LSU has won the two previous meetings against Texas A-and-M, since the Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference.
News For Monday 11/24/14
News for Monday 112414
By Dave Graichen
Early voting for the December 6th runoff elections is underway. You’ll have until this Saturday to cast your ballot. But, keep in mind, the polls will be closed Thursday Thanksgiving day and this Friday, which is a state holiday. The polls are open at 8:30am and close at 6pm.
State Representative Marcus Hunter says he’s asking the Secretary of State’s office to extend the December 6th runoff early voting period which began Saturday. The Democratic West Monroe lawmaker is upset the 7-day early voting is reduced to five days this time because the voting precincts are closed for the Thursday and Friday state holidays. Hunter says he plans to take the matter to court this week.
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the state plans to use amnesty money, eliminate 167 unused positions and reduce spending as part of the plan to fill the state’s current $171 million dollar budget shortfall. The deficit was tied to low severance tax and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.
As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating a statewide Click It or Ticket campaign aimed at saving lives. Executive Director Lt. Col. John Leblanc says last year’s Thanksgiving holiday was one of the most dangerous of the year on Louisiana roadways. He says Louisiana law requires everyone in a vehicle to be buckled up at all times.
It looks like your Thanksgiving meal will cost a little more this year, according to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Association. The average price for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost $49.41, 37 cents more than last year. Louisiana Farm Bureau Association’s Avery Davidson says the biggest price hikes you’ll see are your proteins, particularly turkey and beef. Davidson says prices are up. because fewer turkeys were processed this year and we have the smallest beef herds in the last 30 or 40 years.
A recent State Farm survey found drivers are still texting and driving, even though they know its dangerous. 52 percent of those polled admit they have talked on a cell phone while driving and 34 percent say they have texted while driving. State Farm Spokesperson Gary Stephenson says there has been an increase in the use of hands free cell phones. Stephenson says 77 percent of young drivers say they believe they can safely text while driving. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 80 percent of crashes are due to distracted driving.
The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association has met their Kickstarter goal with money they were raising for a study that will research the economic impact of the movie industry in Louisiana. LFEA Executive Board member Raelyn Loop says once the study is complete, they will present the findings to lawmakers. Loop says the state has to look at whether the motion picture tax incentive that benefits outside companies coming in to do business here is helping Louisiana. She says other states are mimicking our program so Louisiana needs to remain competitive.
State Police say a crash in Jackson Parish with a 15-year-old behind the wheel claimed the life of a 14-year-old passenger Friday night. They say the juvenile from Jonesboro veered off the road and slammed into a tree. Both occupants were unrestrained. Investigators say the 14-year-old passenger from Quitman died at the scene and the driver has serious injuries. It is not known at this time if alcohol was a factor in the crash.
State Police report two men died Saturday afternoon in Concordia Parish when the car they were in overturned and erupted in flames after being hit. Ernie Climer of Cheneyville and Jeremy Elliott of Trout, both 36, died at the scene of the wreck on La. Highway 565
News For Friday 11/21/14
News for Friday 112114
By Dave Graichen
The Jindal Administration will be announcing mid-year budget cuts today. Louisiana is facing a $171 million dollar revenue shortfall. Jindal’s chief administrator has indicated that higher education will avoid any substantial cuts, but Senate Finance chairman Jack Donahue doesn’t see that being possible. There are many dedicated budget items that can’t be cut so typically higher education and health care are hit hardest.
President Barack Obama announced his plans for immigration reform last night, but many people say more needs to be done. Local business consultant Randy Hayden says the new Congress that is sworn in next year should look at making more working visas available, which could help with the state’s worker shortage. Hayden says one area of reform desperately needed deals with foreign students who are a educated by a Louisiana college and university, but then can’t stay after graduation because they can’t get a visa.
A concerned citizen’s tip led to the arrest of a Natchitoches Central High School teacher after police found she had sent nude photos to a 17-year-old student.
27year-old Nickol Smith was released on bond after the city’s High Tech Crime Unit found the photos with a warrant to search her phone and that of the male student.
Smith was charged with one count of prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student. The charge carries a $1,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment.
The Rapides Parish sheriff’s office reports an inmate walked away from his work release job Thursday. 27 year old Chad Babb was last seen around 7 a.m. while working for the Parish Highway Department compound on Highway 28 West. Babb was convicted of first degree robbery burglary. He is not considered to be dangerous.
Louisiana’s latest amnesty program is expected to bring in $169 million according to the state department of revenue who says they got 41,000 applications. $38 million will go to help the state close its mid-year budget deficit. The Jindal Administration will announce those cuts tomorrow. Louisiana is looking at a $171 million dollar shortfall.
The early voting period for the December 6th runoff elections begins tomorrow. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will run through Saturday November 29th excluding a few days, Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following Thanksgiving. Schedler expects voter turnout in the 5th and 6th Congressional districts to outpace the rest of the state but he says even though control of the Senate has already been decided, it is still important hit your polling place, even if the US Senate race is the only item on your ballot
A lawyer for the Obama administration asked a judge Thursday to dismiss Governor Bobby Jindal’s anti-Common Core lawsuit because the education standards were not forced by the feds to be accepted in states. A ruling on the matter is expected in December.
A new poll on the 6th Congressional District runoff race shows Republican Garret Graves with a large lead over Democrat former governor Edwin Edwards. Pollster John Couvillon says the numbers indicate that Republicans have really gotten behind Graves as the GOP nominee. The JMC Analytics and Polling Company conducted the survey, and it shows Graves with 59 percent of the vote; with Edwards getting 34 percent.
Clean-air rules regulating new or expanding factories would be modified with the goal of spurring more chemical manufacturing under a bill by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, that won House approval Thursday — and that has prompted a veto threat from Democratic President Barack Obama. The bill would cut red tape and bring more transparency to the air-quality permitting process, Scalise has said. In Louisiana alone, Scalise has said, burdensome regulations have stalled 39 proposed projects worth $28.6 billion that would create 46,000 new jobs.
State Police report an extremely tragic accident out of Ouachita Parish Wednesday night which claimed the lives of 5 people, including young children, headed to Disney World for family vacation. They say the 16-year-old licensed driver from Texas likely fell asleep when the Tahoe crashed on I-20 and 6 out of the eight occupants, all unrestrained, were ejected. The children who died were 4, 7 and 15.
In the 1950′s, it was estimated there were only 80 to about 120 Louisiana black bears in the state. Today, the numbers are much better, with most of the bears in the northeastern part of the state in the Tensas River Basin. That’s LDWF biologist Maria Davidson, who says this report could result in the bears being removed from the endangered species list.
News For Thursday 11/20/14
News for Thursday 112014
By Dave Graichen
Today is the Great American Smoke out and the Smoking Cessation Trust, or SCT, is urging smokers in Louisiana to take advantage of all the free products and services available to help them quit today. SCT CEO Mike Rogers says qualified applicants are entitled to certain “stop smoking” benefits which tobacco companies fund. Rogers says in order to qualify for the free benefits you’d need to have started smoking cigarettes before September 1, 1988 and live in Louisiana. He says since their program started in 2012, over 22,000 citizens have received the benefit card. For more info log on to www.smokefreela.org
Governor Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against the federal government over Common Core will be heard in a Baton Rouge federal court today. The governor claims the Obama administration over reached their authority in trying to implement the controversial education standards in Louisiana. Jindal claims the federal government used education grant money and waivers to force Louisiana and other states to adopt Common Core.
Louisiana has saved $12 million from a debt refinancing that took advantage of lower interest rates. State Treasurer John Kennedy announced the savings figure Tuesday, after the state completed its refinancing of the $229 million in existing bond debt. The state sells general obligation bonds to investors for upfront cash to pay for construction projects. The borrowing is paid off over time with interest. The refinancing lowers that multiyear repayment rate. The refinancing had been delayed briefly because of a disagreement between Kennedy’s office and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration over the financial paperwork. But the two sides reached a compromise. Up Next, a plan to borrow another $200 million to replenish the escrow account that pays for state-financed construction work.
Louisiana State University of Alexandria opened its new student health center this week. The school had been the only senior institution of higher education in Louisiana without a student health center, something Chancellor Dan Howard and his administration had worked to change since March. A partnership with Rapides Regional Medical Center will provide the medical staff to perform health care for the school's more than 700 students, about 300 of which live on campus.
The faculty senate at Grambling State University has given a “no confidence” vote for interim president Cynthia Warrick and they are seeking her immediate dismissal. G-S-U faculty Senate President, Doctor Herbert Simmons Jr, says they are disappointed Warrick hired several administrators at a six-figure salary, when the university faces a three-point-seven million dollar deficit. Warrick was named as Grambling’s interim A-D in June.
Well, he did say he would welcome any and all endorsements.. The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy over democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. Louisiana Cannabis spokesperson Jesse McCormick says in a debate last month Bill Cassidy said he supports the legal use of medical marijuana, while Landrieu opposes it. McCormick says because Cassidy is a doctor, he understands why there’s a need for marijuana to be legal for medicinal purposes. No comment from the Cassidy camp.
A federal grand jury has handed down indictments to a total of 13 people from Louisiana and one from Texas in connection with a methamphetamine distribution ring in South Central Louisiana. Some defendants face up to 20 years in prison, while others face up to life imprisonment. The arrests are part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Prosecutors say methamphetamine was purchased in large quantities in Texas and then distributed throughout southwest Louisiana, mainly Lafayette and New Iberia, over several months in 2014.
Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken Plant in Natchitoches has been named one of the nine worst chicken plants in the nation for animal cruelty. Farm Sanctuary and the Animal Welfare Institute director of policy, Bruce Friedrich (FREED-rick) says they had gotten reports of workers routinely throwing live birds into bags of dead on arrival birds.
In a statement, Pilgrim Farms says they have made voluntary corrective actions.
USA Today released its annual report on college football coaches today, and LSU Head Coach Les Miles is the 7th highest paid coach with an annual four-point three million dollars. Alabama Head coach Nick Saban is the highest paid with an annual salary of seven-point-one million.
Louisiana State Police say a Coushatta woman who wasn’t buckled up died in a crash last night in Red River Parish. They say 44-year-old Salley Giddens was hit from behind when she was stopped waiting to turn into a private drive on Highway 71. Her car was thrown into the opposite lane of traffic and hit by a truck. LSP says Giddens wasn’t restrained and suffered fatal injuries in the crash.
A former office manager at a Baton Rouge electrical engineering firm stands accused of embezzling $465,000 from the company. 46 year old Lori Fry was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of wire fraud, accusing the former manager and bookkeeper of diverting more than 100 separate payments from the firm’s account for her own personal use through her personal bank account.
Search and rescue workers on Wednesday found the bodies of two men missing since their single-engine plane crashed into Lake Pontchartrain last week. The bodies were recovered from the lake after authorities spent days searching for the two men. Both bodies were taken to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office for identification, and Coroner Jeffrey Rouse said Wednesday night that his office “has made positive identifications of the two plane crash victims, Burt Lattimore and Aftab Rab.” The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Sunset Mayor Cecil Lavergne asked the St. Landry Parish Council on Wednesday night for money to restore the former Sunset High building. Lavergne asked for a maximum of $50,000 for the project, but said he’d be happy to get $30,000 to $35,000 to repair the 89-year-old building. The council voted to delay action on the request until the 2015 budget is approved. The proposed budget for 2015 was introduced during the meeting without discussion.
News For Wednesday 11/19/14
News for Wednesday 111914
By Dave Graichen
According to the Department of Health and Hospitals, flu activity is on the increase in Louisiana. Frank Welch, Medical Director for the Immunization Program, says the state typically gets a late start on flu activity, but not this year. Welch says the strain of flu that seems to be dominant this year, is one that is captured by the flu shot. He says if you haven’t gotten your flu shot, yet, now is the time to do so.
The State police report the chief of Marksville's Tunica-Biloxi Tribe was arrested Tuesday on 21 charges of obtaining prescriptions through doctor shopping in both Avoyelles and Rapides parishes. 36 year old Joey Barbry of Mansura was booked into the Parish jail. It was alleged that Barbry was getting prescriptions fraudulently from multiple physicians
Gov. Bobby Jindal announced yesterday that he will shield Louisiana’s public colleges from cuts when he reveals his proposal Friday to rebalance this year’s budget, which contains a $171 million hole that must be eliminated. Jindal’s Division of Administration confirmed the same protection will be given to all four public college systems, which have lost $700 million in state financing since 2008, one of the steepest declines for higher education across the nation. The shortfall stems from two main problems: worse than projected revenue tied to falling oil prices and anemic personal income tax growth.
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu did not prevail in her attempt to get the US Senate to pass a bill that would authorize the construction of the Keystone Oil Pipeline. The measure needed 60 votes to pass but it only got 59. Landrieu has spent the last week trying to pass the bill as a way to show her clout in Congress in the Senate runoff.
Grammy award-winning artist Stevie Wonder will be traveling to New Orleans to headline a campaign fundraiser for Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu early next month. Wonder recorded a radio ad for Landrieu during the primary. The exact time of the fundraiser will be announced later date.
The trial date of a former Natchitoches Parish police officer accused in a Sabine Parish man’s death has been postponed. Sabine Parish District Judge Stephen Beasley originally set the first-degree murder trial of Robert Barthelemy for Jan. 19 and had been pushing toward that goal. However, late last week, after Barthelemy changed his plea, from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity Beasley moved the trial date to Sept. 28. The 35 year old Barthelemy is accused in the dead of Tony Procell in august of last year. The DA in the case say he plans to seek the death penalty.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is reporting a record $35.5 million dollars in refunds for Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program for the last fiscal year. Right now, there is more than $635 million dollars in unclaimed property. You can search online at LAtreasury.com.
State Farm announces they will increase auto insurance rates for Louisiana customers beginning December 8th. Spokesman Gary Stephenson says the statewide average increase will be about 3.6 percent. State Farm is the largest insurer of automobiles in Louisiana and in the United States. The price we pay for car insurance here in Louisiana has been and continues to be some of the highest in the nation.
Ouachita Parish won’t be getting federal money to aid in the aftermath of the tornadoes that went through the area in October. FEMA calculated that the tornadoes did $4 million in damage and $6.3 million in damage is required to be declared a federal disaster. Neal Brown, Director of the Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says they also didn’t reach the threshold of uninsured home owners who were impacted.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says a school bus driver in East Baton Rouge Parish detained and harassed a student because he thought the 16-year-old was gay. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says they’ve asked the East Baton Rouge School System to fully investigate the complaint and educate their employees. School officials say the bus driver’s supervisor is aware of the situation and it’s been addressed.
The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s office says a man from Zwolle is behind bars on murder charges for allegedly stabbing his step-father seven times. They say 27-year-old Dustin Rivers claimed 51-year-old Howard Ferguson hit him first in the head with an aluminum bat during a fight. Rivers is being held on $25,000 bond after his Sunday night arrest for second-degree murder.
Lake Charles Police have arrested three men today accused of a violent home invasion and robbery last week that resulted in the sexual battery of a woman who was home alone. Chief Don Dixon says they believe the trio targeted that specific house.
Bond has been set at 1 million dollars for each of the men.
The former teacher accused of having sex with a Destrehan High School student is asking for some leniency in her house arrest. Thirty-two year-old Shelley Dufrense is seeking some time for a Jazzercise class to help with depression and a mood disorder. Another reason is Dufrense’s oldest child has autism and requires therapy twice a week. . A hearing on the matter will be held next Tuesday.
Louisiana Tech hits the road this weekend looking to improve to 7-0 in Conference USA action. The Bulldogs are at Old Dominion who is 4-and-6 overall, 2-and-4 in the league. A win for the Bulldogs on Saturday and they will clinch the Western Division of Conference USA.
News For Tuesday 11/18/14
News for Tuesday 111814
By Dave Graichen
Public school superintendents in Louisiana are having a tough time finding substitute teachers due, they say, to the Affordable Care Act. Scott Richard, Executive Director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, says work restrictions within the ACA, limiting part-time workers to 30 hours a week, is a huge problem. He says this makes finding substitutes difficult, especially when a teacher is on an extended leave.
Falling oil prices are having a negative impact on the state’s oil and gas industry. Many analysts say layoffs are in the industry’s near future. Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs says the low prices for oil is forcing companies to pull back and reassessing their budgets. Briggs says he’s seen companies already reducing manpower and scaling back drilling budgets in the Gulf of Mexico for 2015. Briggs says
says oil prices in the $70 to $80 dollar a barrel range can be problematic for a while.
Gas prices continue their rapid decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.71 which is down 6 cents from just last week.
Retired US Army General Wesley Clark is in Louisiana pushing the federal free cell phone program despite complaints from Senator David Vitter saying it’s a waste of tax payer dollars. Vitter has been a vocal critic of the Lifeline program which gives cell phones to low-income families. Clark says more than 300,000 Louisianians have the phone including 36,000 veterans. He says the federal free cell phone program helps a lot of people get connected who otherwise would be unable to do so.
LSU broke ground Monday on a 110-million dollar renovation and expansion of the engineering school. LSU College of Engineering Dean Rick Koubek (ko-beck) says they expect construction to begin in 2017, and will help them produce more grads to meet workforce demands.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a new report which shows homelessness in Louisiana has fallen over the past four years. The numbers indicate a 12 percent decline in the number of homeless people over the past year and down about 63 percent since 2010.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is trying to find information about a cougar that was found dead in Calcasieu Parish. They say owning exotic cats like that is illegal without a permit in Louisiana. The lifeless cougar was found along LA-Highway 12 near Dequincy.
Louisiana will get $13.2 million to help monitor, and if necessary, change the management of river diversions and barrier island coastal restoration projects. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Monday that more than $13 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund will go toward the effort in Louisiana with the rest of the gulf states sharing $86 million for projects.
News For Monday 11/17/14
News for Monday 111714
By Dave Graichen
It doesn’t look like Louisiana is out of the woods, yet, when it comes to freezing temperatures. State Climatologist Barry Keim says two fronts are now affecting Louisiana. He says the weather should clear up today and more Canadian air will settle over the state. Keim expects highs to only get up to around 50 degrees statewide today and temperatures to once again drop below freezing overnight. He says the polar vortex is angry again and we have to brace for it. Keim says Wednesday will pretty much be a carbon copy of Tuesday with another hard freeze expected.
Mid-year budget cuts are coming in state government as a result of lower than anticipated revenues. The shortfall for this fiscal year ending June 30th is 171 million dollars and Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.com says higher education will likely take the brunt of these cuts. Louisiana’s budget woes only get worse as the state spent $141 million more than it brought in last year, and next year’s shortfall is projected to be $1.4 billion.
Friday, the US House gave approval the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline in a bill that was sponsored by Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy. House Republican whip, Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise, says the Keystone Pipeline is an issue that brings people together. The move is viewed as an effort by Republicans to boost Cassidy’s chances in the Senate runoff election against Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Landrieu has pushed the Senate to vote on this issue next week.
Open enrollment for those seeking health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act is not officially underway. Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says an additional insurer will be selling plans on the federal Marketplace, giving many Louisiana residents up to six different insurance companies to choose from. The website that had a multitude of problems when Obama Care began last year, reportedly is operating smoothly now. Over 100,000 Louisiana residents are currently insured thought the Affordable Care Act.
Shreveport Police are on the hunt for a home intruder who allegedly shot a three-year-old girl inside her home and then fled. Authorities have identified the victim as Paris Hill. Hill is hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. Anyone with information on this shooting is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.
Mid-year budget cuts are coming for state government. That’s because the Revenue Estimating Conference officially recognized on Friday a 171-million dollar shortfall for the current fiscal year. Falling oil prices and lower than expected growth in personal income taxes caused the shortfall.
Entergy is launching new energy efficiency programs to help customers use less power and save money on their electricity bills. Entergy Solutions Program Manager Heather Leblanc says this program provides customers a variety of ways to cut energy use at their homes. She says programs are also available for business owners. For more information and to sign up, go online to entergysolutionsla.com
It’s possible you haven’t thought about next year’s elections in Louisiana, but a research firm has already polled voters on the 2015 ballot. Multi-Quest pollster John Scurich says in the race for Governor, US Senator David Vitter leads with 25.9 percent followed by Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne with 10.9 percent. He says 53% are undecided. Scurich says most voters will likely become more involved in next year’s races after the first of the year when the state Senate and Congressional races are over. Even so he says this early on, Vitter looks to be in good shape.
LSU’s offense failed to score a single point on a frigid night in Fayetteville as they lost to the Razorbacks 17-0 on Saturday. The Tigers only rushed for 36 yards and had 123 total yards as LSU fell to 3-and-4 in the SEC.
A frustrating season for the Saints, became more aggravating on Sunday with a 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s second straight loss at home, New Orleans hasn’t done that since 2012.
News For Friday 11/14/14
News for Friday 111414
By Dave Graichen
When you see Local fire departments out conducting local boot drives this weekend, keep in mind, it’s for a good cause, The Food Bank of Central Louisiana. The participating departments and locations are: The Pineville Fire Department at intersection of Griffith and La. Highway 28 East in Pineville, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. The Ball Fire Department at intersection of U.S. Highway 165 and Shangai Road in Ball, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Rapides Parish Fire Department District 3 at intersection of Hickory Hill and Shreveport Highway in Tioga, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Rapides Parish Fire Department District 2 at Walmart on La. Highway 28 West in Alexandria, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday.
The Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce will host its 2nd Annual Women in Business Conference today from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in downtown Alexandria. Workshops and seminars will be held at The Rapides Foundation, 1101 Fourth St. while a luncheon will be held at The Diamond Grill, 924 Third St. More than 100 women are expected to attend the conference, which will provide a platform for learning, networking and sharing information.
The numbers from to Bloomberg are out, and during the primary election, Democrats outspent Republicans two-to-one; despite the majority of the polls on this race still have Congressman Bill Cassidy winning the runoff. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says you can expect even more spending. Ninety-six percent of television ads during the first week of runoff campaigning supported Republican Bill Cassidy.
Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy is hitting the campaign trail again the runoff race for the Senate, and this Saturday in Monroe, he will have some help from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The campaign rally at 2:30 will also feature former Republican candidate Rob Maness.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, was re-elected as expected Thursday to the No. 3 position, majority whip, in the House’s ruling Republican hierarchy.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu broke ranks with her fellow Democrats to vote against the re-election of Harry Reid, of Nevada, as the party’s leader. Reid, currently majority leader, was re-elected but will serve as minority leader in the incoming Congress in January as a result of Democratic defeats in Senate elections Nov. 4, which cost them control of the Senate.
The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today where it’s expected the state will receive bad news concerning the amount of revenue coming in. Senate President John Alario says he’s bracing to hear there’s been a significant reduction in anticipated revenues. Not only is a mid-year budget cut possible, but it’s likely the state will have less money to spend next fiscal year, which could lead to additional cuts. Alario says the two main factors are low oil prices and income tax revenue is also down, even though employment is at an all-time high in Louisiana
The Monroe Police Department says they are testing body cameras on officers. They are working to see if they benefit the department with the ultimate goal of getting footage that would protect both the interests of officers and citizens.
Grand Isle Fire Chief Aubrey Chaisson is one of 20 people arrested during an undercover operation aimed at the sale of illegal drugs and alcohol on the island. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand says he received confidential information claiming possible misconduct could be taking place. Chaisson was charged with possession of Marijuana. Normand says all of the arrests were the result of an extensive undercover operation.
An LSU police officer remains in stable condition after getting hit by a passing vehicle late Saturday night in which Alabama team doctors rushed to his aid. The story is starting to grab national headlines. The doctors, Lyle Cain, Norman Waldrop and Benton Emblom were part of the team’s motorcade according to LSUPD spokesman Captain Corey Lalonde. LaLonde says the officer is 33-year-old Sgt. Christopher Gresham and he’s an eight year veteran of the department. He says Gresham sustained very serious injuries in the crash.
The search continues for a missing Louisiana woman believed to be in a wooded area of south Arkansas. 32-year-old Amanda McKinnie McPherson of Marion was last seen in in woods near Three Creeks in Union County on November 3rd. Sheriff Mike McGough (ma GOO) says McPherson and a male friend were driving in the area and got stuck. McGough says the male friend left to find help, but got lost. He says by the time the male friend returned to the truck, McPherson had left. McGough says she talked to family and friends on her cellphone before trying to walk out of the woods on her own. But, No one has heard from McPherson since her phone went dead. McGough says they have no reason to suspect foul play at this point, but they are not ruling that out.
Ochsner Health System is hosting the first Alton Ochsner Conference on Tobacco today in New Orleans. This commemorates the 75th anniversary of Dr. Alton Ochsner’s groundbreaking article linking smoking to lung cancer. The event is co-sponsored by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.
ULM will look to an end a five-game losing streak when they host in-state rival U-L Lafayette on Saturday. The Warhawks have lost their last three games by a combined 11 points and Coach Todd Berry says it won’t be any easier on Saturday night when they face the Ragin Cajuns, who are undefeated in Sun Belt play.
LSU will attempt to bounce back from a tough overtime loss to when they visit Arkansas on Saturday night. The Razorbacks are looking to end a 17-game SEC losing streak.
News For Thursday 11/13/14
News for Thursday 111314
By Dave Graichen
Much of the state is under a freeze watch or warning tonight as that cold Canadian air the cold front brought to Louisiana is really entrenched across the state. Mike Efferson, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says you can expect temperatures really drop tonight. Efferson says the freeze watch could turn into a freeze warning in some areas depending on local conditions. Efferson says lows tonight could dip down as low as 25 degrees…
The Keystone Pipeline project has become the focus of the US Senate race. During the campaign, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu has touted her clout as a reason to elect her, so Wednesday she called on her colleagues in the Senate to vote on the Keystone Pipeline project. Shortly after Landrieu spoke, republican leaders in the House said they would vote on a bill tomorrow by Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy that authorizes the building of the pipeline. It’s unclear if the Democratic controlled Senate will have their own vote.
Republicans have promised Bill Cassidy a seat on the Senate’s energy committee if he defeats Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana’s runoff election next month, potentially undercutting one of her main arguments for re-election. Landrieu has repeatedly touted the importance of her seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in her campaign for a fourth term representing a state with a robust oil and gas industry. While she will no longer serve as the committee’s chair in the GOP-led Senate in the next Congress, Landrieu has campaigned hard on her place as the committee’s senior Democrat and Cassidy’s inability to get a seat on the panel as a freshman senator.
Two Baton Rouge Police officers and a former officer were indicted today on sex-related charges. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says Isaac Bolden, Emerson Jackson and Travis Wheeler were all in uniform and on duty at the time when they convinced a woman to perform a sexual act on one of the three men at a Baton Rouge park.
The coldest temperatures of the fall have arrived and that could result in an increase in home fires. The American Red Cross says heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase in the winter months. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says if you use a space heater, make sure there’s a clear area of space around it. Browning says it’s also important to turn off space heaters before you go to bed and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
A now-banned new component in synthetic marijuana known as Mojo and Spice is believed to be responsible for sending more teenagers to the hospital in Louisiana. Louisiana Poison Control Executive Director Mark Ryan says most teenagers don’t realize that ingredients in synthetic weed are specifically designed to be abused and are far more dangerous than the real thing.
A man had to be rescued from his burning home in Shreveport Wednesday morning. Authorities say a retired state trooper pulled an individual out of his home that was engulfed in flames. The former law enforcement officer was not injured, but the man inside the house suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Three constitutional amendments approved by voters last week leaves higher education more vulnerable to budget cuts. Traditionally, higher ed and health care are hit the hardest during tough budget times. But Jan Moller, head of the Louisiana Budget Project, says the approval of Amendments One and Two protects a larger portion health care dollars from being cut. The passage of Amendment eight, which protects funding for artificial reef development, is another amendment that has the potential of keeping state dollars away from higher education.
A total of 40 plus animals have been rescued in Washington Parish, and an arrest warrant has been issued for an unnamed woman, who is being accused of hoarding and neglecting animals. Officials from the Humane Society of Louisiana says law enforcement executed a search warrant at the property, but the owner was not there.
The Republican National Committee has announced that they are sending more than 200 people to Louisiana to aid Congressman Bill Cassidy in the US Senate runoff election. RNC Louisiana Communications Director Ben Voelkel (vocal) says these people will focus on getting out the vote.
Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk feels many people have just started paying attention to this race, and he sees polling numbers going up for the Senator. Handwerk says there is a lot of support for Mary Landrieu because of what she has delivered for Louisiana.
News For Wednesday 11/12/14
News for Wednesday 111214
By Dave Graichen
As you’re headed outside today, it’s time to grab your jacket and coat. State climatologist Barry Keim says the cold front has now completely moved through the entire state with cool Canadian air fully settled over Louisiana. Much cooler temps are expected over the next few days.
As things turn cold, fire officials are urging residents to please make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home. There was a tragedy last night in New Orleans in which three children and two adults died in a blaze inside their two story home. Authorities say there were no working smoke alarms inside the home. The three children who died were age 6, 11 and 12.
According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control, Baton Rouge has moved from #1 to #2 in new rankings of AIDS cases. The Capital City dropped behind Atlanta after having the highest rate in the country according to the CDC. The CDC says New Orleans was ranked fourth in the nation.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is concerned Louisiana is spending way more than it’s bringing in which could lead to another round of mid-year budget cuts. He says the state general fund is running at a historically high negative balance just four months into the fiscal year. The Revenue estimating conference is meeting Friday and Kennedy says changes need to be made otherwise mid-year budget cuts could do further damage to higher education. He says DHH just announced that we are already $171 million dollars over budget in our Medicaid program.
A Terrebonne Parish fiery crash involving two trucks lead to 3 deaths on Highway 24 yesterday. Trooper Evan Harrell says one driver driving at a high rate of speed, lost control of his vehicle in an S curve and slammed into another truck. Harrell says, due to the nature of the impact, the two vehicles almost instantaneously caught fire…
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has sent out a written statement apologizing for fans using a “profane” chant that was directed towards Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. Coach Les Miles was unaware it happened at the time and didn’t like hearing that LSU fans would do that. Alleva called it crude behavior by a small minority.
According to a report from the Entertainment Software Association, Louisiana gaming is big business with big salaries. The report shows the state’s computer and video game industry paid workers $14 million dollars in 2012, with an average salary of $88 thousand dollars annually per person.
Despite having millions for their Senate runoff campaigns, both Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy are doing their own versions of dialing for dollars. Landrieu has already been active on the phone, and in a release out today, Bill Cassidy asks “Will you stand with me?,” and then asks for anywhere from between $25 and $250. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says total spending for the runoff could top $80 million dollars.
21 year old Christopher Goodley, of Ville Platte, has been booked on a count of first-degree murder in the death of his 80-year-old grandmother, Delsy Williams, whose body was found last week in a field off La. 1161. State Police began investigating Williams’ disappearance as a homicide Nov. 2, the day after family members reported her missing.
News For Tuesday 11/11/14
News for Tuesday 111114
By Dave Graichen
State Climatologist Barry Keim says a strong cold front begins passing through the state today. The next couple of days will basically be a transition period before a big blast of cold air from Canada hits the Bayou State. He doesn’t expect this to bring record lows, but temperatures should fall below freezing in northern and central Louisiana. Afternoon highs will be in the 40s and 50s statewide. Keim says what makes this cold weather event unique is that it will last for a while, with cool temps right into next week.
Today is Veteran’s Day, a day to honor the millions who have served our country and fought, and are still fighting, for our freedom. Louisiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David LaCerte says it’s important to not only remember veterans today, but 365 days a year. LaCerte says there are a lot of people to thank in Louisiana where we have about 320,000 vets. LaCerte says there are many Veteran’s Day events planned across the state today and you can find a schedule on their website at www.vetaffairs.la.gov. A Veterans Memorial Tribute Service is set for 2 p.m. today at Veterans Memorial Plaza at Alexandria City Hall. The public is invited.
Better than half of the Rapides Parish school board members were no shows Monday night at a special meeting held to discuss the new Common Core-aligned math curriculum. Four of nine board members attended the meeting that was called to hear from parents and community members about Eureka Math. The curriculum was implemented in Rapides Parish schools this year. The organizer of the event, Pineville parent Stephanie Riley requested the special meeting after receiving nearly 1,000 signatures on an online petition she began in October to remove the curriculum from local schools. Riley says she will be requesting another meeting in January.
Good news is, no one was injured in an early Monday fire at the St. Charles Place apartment complex on Versailles Boulevard. Three apartments in a unit were heavily damaged, according to the Alexandria Fire Department. Firefighters from Rapides Parish Fire District #2 also responded to that blaze.
A fatal shooting of a hunter in Rapides Parish will not result in any charges. Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Tommy Carnline says 37-year-old Michael Haynes of Alexandria was the victim of a single gunshot wound and was pronounced dead on the scene. Carnline says investigators determined that Haynes was shot by a hunting partner who mistook him for a deer.
The Louisiana Poison Control Center is sending out a warning to parents about the dangers of laundry detergent pods which have harmed hundreds of children nationally who mistake them for toys or candy. Director Mark Ryan says kids who ingest the concentrated detergent in these pods can quickly have central nervous system depression and become lethargic. He says as with any cleaning product, the first rule is to keep them up and away from a child’s reach.
Sad news to report out of the Lafayette-area. Former Ragin Cajuns star and Minnesota Vikings standout Orlando Thomas has passed away. Thomas has been battling A-L-S, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the last ten years of his life. Thomas won a state championship at Crowley High, was an All-American at U-S-L and played seven seasons with the Vikings. Thomas was 42.
The former health secretary for Governor Bobby Jindal has entered a plea of not guilty on nine counts of perjury regarding his involvement in a 200 million dollar Medicaid deal. Bruce Greenstein is accused of lying to a Senate confirmation hearing and a grand jury reviewing the state’s contract.
Victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita can apply to receive a settlement check, amounting anywhere from one dollar to more than $400. You may be included in the proposed Settlement Class if you lived, owned property, operated a business or were present within the Parishes of Jefferson, Orleans or St. Bernard, Louisiana at the time of Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. Residents and businesses in those areas are receiving letters in the mail saying they can apply for the benefits.
A Shreveport woman is in jail after she allegedly threw her 17 month-old baby across the room while intoxicated as a form of punishment. Shreveport Police Cpl. Breck Scott who says 25 year-old Gabrielle Kirkendoll was arrested for cruelty to a juvenile.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards doesn’t seem to be bothered much by the fact that the National Democratic Party isn’t endorsing him in his 6th Congressional District race against Republican Garret Graves. He says he was never one to fall in line with some of the policies and values of the National Democratic Party which is struggling in the south.
He says this election is about issues facing the 6th Congressional District, not about party affiliation.
In the fifth Congressional District race, republican Zach Dasher has endorsed fellow republican Ralph Abraham, who is in a runoff with democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Dasher just missed being in the runoff against Abraham. And former US Senate candidate Rob Maness threw his support behind fellow republican Bill Cassidy today. Maness finished third in the primary last week.
News For Monday 11/10/14
News for Monday 111014
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana’s 2014 tax amnesty period comes to an end at the end of the week. Department of Revenue Deputy Secretary Jarrod Coniglio says until 11:59 PM Friday. Those who are behind on their taxes with the state, can settle their debt without a penalty and pay only 50-percent of the interest. Coniglio says the state hopes to collect 104-million dollars in back taxes.
A dedication ceremony scheduled today celebrates the long awaited completion of the final section of Interstate 49 in northwest Louisiana. The final stretch of roadway connects Texarkana, Arkansas to Shreveport. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says this will open the area to Canada and the Mid-West. There are a couple of small sections of the Interstate that need to be tied in to I-220 in Shreveport. He says once that’s done, they’ll be at full gallop for economic development.
If you’re planning to hit the road for the Thanksgiving Holiday, you can reduce your travel gas budget as the price at the pump continues to drop. Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com says they predict the price per gallon to drop another 5-10 cents before Turkey Day. GasBuddy.com reports the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline statewide is below 2.80.
A former staffer for Democrats John Breaux and Kathleen Blanco says Mary Landrieu needs to change her message in order to have a chance at victory on December sixth. Bob Mann, who is currently an LSU Mass Communications Professor, says the senator must continue to differentiate herself from Bill Cassidy and explain why he would be harmful to what people who have voted Democrat in the past care about. He says Landrieu also needs to appeal to women. Landrieu only received 18-percent of the white vote Election night. Mann says, if Landrieu expects to defeat Cassidy in December, she’s going to have to do much better in both areas.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration made some adjustments Friday to help stabilize the state’s insurance program. The new plan will raise premiums, but it will lower out-of-pocket expenses. Before the move, the lawmakers received numerous complaints from constituents about it.
Tulane researchers determine eating shrimp from an area of the Gulf of Mexico impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill poses no acute health risks or increased cancer risks. Research professor Mark Wilson says when the spill occurred, there were concerns that shrimp would be contaminated by a class of chemicals that can pose health hazards. Wilson says they also surveyed over one-hundred Vietnamese residents in New Orleans East that tend to eat more shrimp than most people and that helped them reach the conclusion that Gulf shrimp are safe to eat.
Wilson hopes the study’s results will get to wholesalers and distributors, who still may have concerns Gulf Shrimp are contaminated
The LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health has been awarded a $2.2 million grant to increase the availability of health information and support services for young breast cancer survivors in the Gulf South. Project Coordinator Helen McMillan says they were one of seven sites awarded grants from the CDC. McMillan says the issues facing young women who diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 45 are much different from older women who are diagnosed. She says this program will provide support services and resources for these women.
LSU’s overtime loss to Alabama on Saturday night is expected to sting for a long time. The Tigers were poised to beat the Crimson Tide, but victory slipped away as Alabama won in overtime 20-13.
49er kicker Phil Dawson put a 35-yard field goal through the uprights in overtime as San Francisco edged the Saints 27-24 yesterday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
News For Friday 11/07/14
News for Friday 110714
By Dave Graichen
Once again, Louisiana is expected to have a nice weather weekend with temperatures running a few degrees below normal for this time of year. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a cold front moved through the state yesterday bringing some much needed rain. Keim says high temps will be in the 60s across the state today with weekend lows dropping into the upper 30’s to low 40’s. He says a warming trend will hit the state early next week bringing a chance of rain by mid-week.
It’s a nice Christmas Present for employees of the Rapides Parish School District. The school board approved on Wednesday a $1,200 annual employees’ Christmas “supplement” . The one-time special salary increase to be issued to employees as a 13th check on Dec. 18.
The LSU Alabama game has been one of the hottest tickets in college football in recent years and this Saturday’s matchup is no exception. The Tigers and the Tide kick off at 7pm. Connor Gregoire with SeatGeek, an online ticket search engine, says tomorrow’s game in Tiger Stadium is one of the most expensive tickets in college football. Gregoire says the highest seats in the upper sections of death valley are still going for about $150. Other, more desirable seats are running in the thousands.
Governor Bobby Jindal doesn’t want the Republican Party to waste the opportunity that’s in front of them now that the G-O-P has majority control of both the US House and Senate. He says based on Tuesday’s election results, Americans want changes in Washington D-C and they hope republicans can provide bold ideas. Jindal is considering a run for President in 2016.
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu hopes Governor Bobby Jindal’s endorsement of Bill Cassidy will hurt the Republican in December’s US Senate runoff election. Landrieu says she looks at Jindal’s endorsement as a black eye for the Cassidy campaign, based on how the governor has led the state. Landrieu says Cassidy and Jindal are two peas in a pod.
Meanwhile, yesterday, the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee cancelled almost $2 million dollars in TV ad placement to help Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign against Congressman Bill Cassidy. The committee says they still support Landrieu, but they will now evaluate their ad spending on a weekly basis
Congressman Bill Cassidy has responded to Landrieu’s 6 debate challenge. He’s accepted an invite to debate the incumbent on December 1st, and says he’ll debate her as many other times as she brings Barack Obama to Louisiana.
With Republicans gaining control of the US Senate, a new opportunity presents itself to Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Vitter is slated to be the chairman of the Small Business Committee when the new Senate convenes next year. He says the country would still be in a technical recession if not for the new energy jobs related to American natural gas and oil. Vitter says this does not change his mind about running for governor next year.
The Opelousas Police Department has arrested a man accused of buying votes for certain candidates in the November 4th election. Sergeant Jody White says it is unclear if 64-year-old Wilfred Young acted alone or some candidates were involved in the scheme. He says two people have come forward, so far, and they’re still trying to determine exactly how many people were approached and how much money they were offered. Young is charged with bribery of voters, which is a felony.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc will construct a new production facility in St. Charles Parish and upgrade their plant in Ascension Parish. He says the plant expansions represent a capital investment pf $66 million and will retain 55 jobs in Geismar while creating 13 new direct jobs. LED estimates the project will result in an estimated 74 new indirect jobs.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday that Shreveport’s Moonbot Studios is once again a semifinalist in the animated short film about books category for “The Numberlys” — a story about the alphabet. Moonbot won the Oscar for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” three years ago in the same category.
The Saints continue preparation for Sunday’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams come into the game with 4-4 records on the season. The 49ers are coming off a 13-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Quarterback Drew Brees says there’s never a good time to play them, especially right after a disappointing loss. The Black and Gold come into Sunday’s game winning two in a row and leading the NFC South.
News For Thursday 11/06/14
News for Thursday 110614
By Dave Graichen
Voter turnout for the November fourth election was 50-percent. Secretary of State Tom Schedler wishes it was higher, but he’s glad there were very few problems at the polls.
He hopes the turnout is higher for the December sixth runoff and the election goes as smoothly. Early voting begins Saturday, November 22nd.
Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham and Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo will face off for Representative Vance McAllister’s congressional seat in the 5th District for the December 6th runoff. McAllister said yesterday, whoever is elected to take his place, he will support the new congressman as much as he can. McAllister went on to say, he was at peace with the election results. Saying he left the decision up to the voters.
McAllister finished fourth in the primary.
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell won for this third term on election night this week. The 67-year-old represents District 5 on the five-seat commission which regulates utility companies — which spans all of northern Louisiana and covers 24 parishes. Campbell is one of the last elected Democrats in the state but won across both parties.
Governor Bobby Jindal, who was not vocal about Louisiana races prior to the November 4th election, announces his support for Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy as he tries to defeat Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in the December sixth runoff. Jindal says Landrieu doesn’t represent the state’s best interests. Jindal has also announced his support for the republican candidates in the two Congressional district run-offs. And if they want him to appear with them on the campaign trail, the governor says he’ll be there.
Bayou Country Superfest announces the lineup for the 2015 shows. They say Kenny Chesney will headline Saturday night May 23rd and Maranda Lambert and husband Blake Shelton will be back to back to close out the shows on Sunday night May 24th. It was previously announced that Taylor Swift’s show in Tiger Stadium that Friday May 22nd was part of Bayou Country Superfest, but today promoters of the show are calling it a stand alone.
News For Wednesday 11/05/14
News for Wednesday 110514
By Dave Graichen
It was an amazing evening for Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy. The mayor, who faces a long list of challengers earned another four years in office Tuesday, but he just barely escaped a runoff. Roy received 51.25 percent of the vote to win outright a third term in office. Jeff Hall finished a second with 33.61 percent.
The District 4 seat on the Alexandria City Council will stay with Harry Silver, but an atlarge council seat is heading to a runoff. Incumbent At-Large Councilman Jim Villard will face Malcolm Larvadain in a Dec. 6 runoff after neither candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election. Both are Democrats.
The Rapides Parish district attorney race will be decided in a runoff between Phillip Terrell, a Democrat from Pineville, and state Rep. Chris Hazel, a Republican from Ball.
Hazel and Terrell each received 35 percent of the votes, and Chris Roy Jr. came in third with 31 percent. Rapides Parish had 84,259 voters eligible Tuesday, and about half of them turned out for the DA’s race.
The controversy over the Division G judgeship in the 9th Judicial District Court ended on election day. Greg Beard took 53.5 percent of the vote Tuesday to win the race outright, and avoid what could have been a messy situation in a race where the incumbent was legally too old to take office. The incumbent in the race, Harry Randow, needed to not only win or get into a runoff Tuesday, but also relied on passage of a constitutional amendment to be able to retain his seat. Amendment No. 5 would have eliminated the mandatory retirement age of 70 for state judges. Randow is 70. The amendment was soundly beaten, with nearly 60 percent of people voting against it.
In Division A of the 9th JDC, Monique Rauls was the top vote getter with 33.5 percent. She will face Monique Metoyer (28 percent) in a runoff. Tiffany Sanders missed the runoff by 305 votes, finishing with 25 percent.
The Pineville City Court Judge race will be a runoff between Gary Hays and Todd Farrar. Hays was first with 36 percent of the vote, while Farrar, with 24 percent. Lauren Saucier came in 3rd with 23 percent.
City marshal races in Alexandria and Pineville will also come down to runoffs.
In Alexandria, incumbent Terence Grines took 40 percent of the vote. He will face Charlie Dewitt, second at 29 percent.
In Pineville, Sarah Smith (40 percent) will face Jay Slater (24 percent). Smith has been serving as interim marshal since longtime marshal Larry Jeane died in July from injuries sustained in a car crash.
Willard McCall is one of the new faces of the Rapides Parish School Board after claiming more than 65 percent of the vote for the District D seat Tuesday. McCall, who’s a democrat, defeated Jennifer Atwood, a republican to replace Janet Dixon, who qualified as a candidate but later withdrew from the race due to plans to move outside of her district. New members also filled two seats that were being vacated this election. Gerald Crooks replaced Julie McConathy in District C and Sandra Franklin replaced Pam Webb in District I. Both were unopposed.
As expected Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy are heading into a run-off and both candidates like their chances on December sixth. Landrieu, who was critical of Cassidy for not participating in more debates prior to yesterday’s election, issued a challenge of six debates before the next election.
Cassidy says the issues between himself and Landrieu are clear and Louisiana voters are seeking a change. Analysts say it’ll now be up to which candidate can get more people to the polls in the runoff which traditionally has low voter turnout.
Vance McAllister, finishes 4th in lastnight’s 5th District Congressional primary and will not serve a full term in Washington D.C. Though coming on strong in the final days of the primary, Zach Dasher couldn’t make it happen and the two candidates that made it to the December 6th runoff are, family physician Ralph Abraham and Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo.
And in the 6th Congressional District Race, it’ll be Former Governor Edwin Edwards taking on Garrett Graves on December 6th. Edwards picked up 30% of the vote with Graves getting 27%. Next in that race was Dietzel with 14%.
U.S. Rep. John Fleming will continue to represent Northwest Louisiana in Washington. The Minden Republican won a fourth term gaining 65 percent of votes cast in Tuesday’s election.
The man accused of killing two teenage girls in Breaux Bridge last week remains hospitalized and has communicated very little with authorities about the crash. Jeremy Abraham, an army veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait, may have reportedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. LSP Master Trooper Brooks David they are still waiting on toxicology results to see if Abraham was impaired at the time of the crash.
Hercules Offshore has announced plans to lay off 324 offshore Gulf of Mexico workers by the end of the year. The Houston-based company says the layoffs are a result of a decline in business. The cutback will affect employees who work out of Port Fourchon, Grand Isle, Cameron, Abbeville, Lafitte, Larose and Venice.
A Lake Charles woman has been charged with negligent homicide in connection to the death of an infant in April. Twenty-six year-old Brittany K. Woodcock was arrested Monday after further investigation from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office showed she was under the influence of drugs when the baby became wedged between a mattress and the wall.
News For Monday 10/27/14
News for Monday 102714
By Dave Graichen
The Department of Health and Hospitals now reports that two more people from Marrero are being watched for symptoms of Ebola after they returned from an infected area in West Africa. That brings the total number of people being monitored in the state to four. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there are no cases of Ebola in Louisiana and he feels comfortable that medical personnel are prepared if a case should develop in the state. All four being monitored are considered “low risk” for contracting Ebola.
The Pineville Police Department has received a grant through the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to enhance its traffic safety enforcement activities for the rest of this year and throughout 2015.The grant will be used to help promote changes in dangerous behaviors on the roadway, by encouraging seatbelt usage, enforcing distracted driver regulations and encouraging sober driving.
We are now eight days away from the November 4th primary election. Polls still show a considerable amount of undecided voters. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says, at this point, candidates kind of throw most undecideds out the window. Pinsonat says if voters are undecided this late in the campaign, they are not likely to vote. He says in the final week of the campaign, candidates, especially in the US Senate race, will begin talking more about themselves and why you should vote for them. He says you’ll still see national ads attacking Bill Cassidy and Senator Mary Landrieu in the US Senate race.
With just over a week to go before election day, there is still a lot of uncertainty looming in the two big Congressional races. In the 5th District ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says things are starting to become a tad more clear that the front-runners could be Congressman Vance McAllister and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Stockley says Mayo will get the Democratic Vote in the District and McAllister has a substantial advantage on the republican side due to name recognition. But he says with such a large district, there is always the possibility of a surprise. With Zach Dasher, Harris Brown or Dr. Ralph Abraham — it’s all about who can get out the vote
The man who died at Tiger Stadium towards the end of LSU’s dramatic 10-7 win over Ole Miss has been identified. East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Doctor Beau Clark says it appears 59-year-old Brian Tinley of Plaquemines Parish died of natural causes.
Clark says every effort was made to revive Tingley who died from complications related to cardiovascular disease.
The state police are investigating an officer involved shooting in Iberville Parish Friday night that left a 36-year-old man dead. The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office says the incident happened in a rural area near Bayou Pigeon as deputies were attempting to locate Shaun Ramo, who had been accused of raping a woman in the area. Deputies reported when they located Ramo, he aimed his rifle at the deputies, who then fired on the subject. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Louisiana soybean farmers are reporting that this year’s harvest is one of their best yet. LSU AgCenter Soybean Specialist, Ron Levy, says the state’s average yield will be between 53 and 54 bushels per acre. He says this the state’s best crop ever. He says several growers in north Louisiana are reporting 80 bushels an acre, while some in northeast Louisiana have broken the 100 bushel mark.
The Saints dominance in primetime games at the Superdome continued on Sunday as the Black-and-Gold sent the Packers back to Wisconsin with 44-23 loss. It was their 14th straight win at home in primetime. The Saints offense finally found the consistency it was looking for, as QB Drew Brees threw for 311 yards and 3 TDs.
The LSU Tigers won an old fashion type of game on Saturday night against Ole Miss. They used a powerful running game and outstanding defense to beat the Rebels 10-7.
It was an emotional game for Head Coach Les Miles. His 91-year-old mother, Martha Miles, passed away on Friday night. After the win, the players gave Miles the game ball.
Louisiana Tech is one of 12 teams in the FBS that is undefeated in conference play. The Bulldogs improved to 4-and-0 in league action by beating Conference USA rival Southern Miss 31-20.
News For Friday 10/24/14
News for Friday 102414
By Dave Graichen
Rapides Parish and the city of Alexandria appear headed to court over the Rapides Coliseum property. The Police Jury filed suit Thursday to force the city to allow its half of their jointly owned portion of the property to be used for parking, or to partition the property. The two sides have said for months they intended to pursue a sale agreement, but little progress has been made. The jointly owned portion of the property became an issue when the parish moved forward with plans for a $23 million renovation to the coliseum. For the project to receive permitting, designers have to show the design contains enough parking spaces to meet city code requirements. To do that, the parish must secure ownership to the city’s portion of the property or an agreement with the city to use it, or else find additional parking elsewhere.
The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles is testing a program that could help seniors renew their licenses and register vehicles without the long wait times they may currently face. “Senior Day” will be tested at select locations throughout the state, one Saturday a month beginning next month, as a time for only Louisianans older than age 60 to head to local OMV offices. Here in Cenla, the DMV office on Coliseum Blvd will participate.
The RPSO reports a Jena woman faces a charge of filing a false police report that accused a man of rape. The office got a report Saturday night from a local hospital’s emergency room, which said there was a possible rape victim seeking treatment. A deputy spoke with the woman, Mary Taylor of Jena, who claimed that a man had raped her in a wooded area off Twin Bridges Road. After a second interview though, Taylor recanted her story, after which she was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
20 year old Colan Tyler of Colfax has been arrested after he allegedly attempted to sell an undercover Grant Parish Sheriff's deputy fake meth. Tyler was charged with distribution of a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance II and obstruction of justice.
Out of the 2.9 million voters who are registered for the November 4th election, there are about 1.8 million white voters, which could be a problem for incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu according to political analyst Bernie Pinsonat. He says there are about 919 thousand registered black voters, plus about 93 thousand more independent voters than there were 6 years ago.
We’re now about halfway through the early voting period for the November 4th election and Secretary Of State Tom Schedler says there’s been good participation among voters. He says so far the number of early votes is at 75% of what the state saw two years ago for the Presidential election. Scheduler says overall participation looks good.
The voting locations will be closed on Sunday and the last day to early vote will be Tuesday.
State health officials are monitoring a New Orleans area man for signs of the deadly Ebola virus. The federal Centers for Disease Control alerted the state to the individual who had just returned from a visit to an Ebola affected country. According to the feds, the individual is at low risk for Ebola, but they are monitoring him just to be on the safe side. The man, who is voluntarily staying at home will be monitored until Nov. 5. So far, he has no symptoms.
We are now one year away from the gubernatorial primary election in Louisiana. Republicans Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, as well as Democrat State Representative John Bel Edwards have announced their intent to run for Governor. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says, the biggest question mark at this point in the Governor’s race is whether or not Democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will join the field. Cross says Landrieu will probably wait until after the holiday season to make up his mind. Cross says you should really see the gubernatorial race kick off after Mardi Gras…
Kenny Henderson is out as executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Henderson led the L-H-S-A-A, which governs high school athletics, since 2007. His contract was set to expire next summer, but past-president of the LHSAA, Todd Guice, says both sides felt now was the time for a change. Guice would not say why Henderson will not fill out the remainder of his contract. The search for Henderson’s replacement has already started.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a 67-year-old man from Boyce is booked on 3rd offense DWI after cops believe he was driving drunk on his lawnmower. They say Ralph Rufus Carroll was traveling in the middle of the highway and tried to dodge an officer by driving his lawnmower into the woods. Carroll was apprehended at his home and arrested for driving under the influence for the third time.
The 108th Annual State Fair of Louisiana opens today in Shreveport and organizers are thrilled with this great weather. Besides lots of live entertainment, there’s rides, games, and some fun things for the kids. The fair will run through November 9th, except Mondays and Tuesdays.
News For Thursday 10/23/14
News for Thursday 102314
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Department of Education says 92% of public school teachers evaluated this year received an effective grade. Superintendent John White says this report also showed that schools who expect more of their teachers, will see their students do better. Two percent of teachers were classified as ineffective down from 4 percent last year.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces JP Morgan Chase has donated $1 million into the fund that helps technical colleges fund programs focused on training skilled workers. Monty Sullivan is the Louisiana Community and Technical College System President. He says this money will be used in a very targeted way to address the most high demand programs in Louisiana. The $1 million dollar gift will be matched with $4 million in state funds.
The Secretary of State’s Office is reporting that nearly 36 thousand people registered to vote in the November 4th election since August 1st. That puts the total voter roll at 2.9 million and Secretary of State Tom Schedler says voter turnout could be as high as 50 percent. Early voting is underway through Next Tuesday excluding Sunday.
The state Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a $350,000 contract for incoming Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo. The contract, as the board unanimously voted, runs through Dec. 31, 2017 and is subject to Louisiana Senate confirmation. He’s slated to start the job Jan. 2. Rallo, who is finishing up a seven-year tenure with the Texas Tech System, was selected for the post earlier this month.
Cold and flu season is upon us and people are looking for ways to avoid coming down with a seasonal bug. The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over six-months of age to get a flu vaccine. Dr. Fred Lopez, with the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, says once you receive a flu vaccine, you’ll still want to take steps to avoid any infections this season. He says washing your hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizers are good ways to keep the flu at bay. Flu season runs through April.
A recent survey by the National Retail Federation shows a record number of Americans will buy Halloween costumes this year. The survey says more than two-thirds of Americans will buy costumes this year and the average person will spend $77.52 for the holiday All in all, Americans will spend a total of $7.4 billion this Halloween.
A partial solar eclipse will take place today as the new moon will obscure part of the sun. Louisiana Tech Astronomer Lee Sawyer says we should be able to see the maximum point of eclipse in The Bayou State before the sun goes down today.
If you’re planning to fly for the Holidays this year prepare to go a little deeper into your wallet. According to Expedia.com, Thanksgiving flights are up 17 percent from last year and Christmas flights have gone up 2 percent. Travel expert Dale Irvin says airlines are finding it’s more profitable to fly less with more people. Irvin says over 20 million people are expected to fly from now through December.
There are many parts of the state that haven’t seen rain over the last several days and State Climatologist Barry Keim says it will likely remain dry in Louisiana at least until November rolls around. Keim says on the upside, the sugarcane harvest is going on right now and the farmers are probably loving the dry conditions. He says on the other hand our lawns and gardens aren’t going to be happy campers. But Keim says most parts of the state are actually ahead of schedule in terms of year-to-date rainfall.
News For Wednesday 10/22/14
News for Wednesday 102214
By Dave Graichen
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy announced yesterday that plans are still in motion to sell the downtown Alexander Fulton Hotel to the Southern Hospitality Group, LLC, which operates other hotels. The Fulton would undergo major improvements and be operated as a Holiday Inn. The mayor says the deal should be completed in about 6 months and word of the renovations is already paying dividends. Word is the Louisiana Municipal Association’s 2016 convention will be held in Alexandria.
An investigation is underway after an inmate from Deville died Tuesday, one day after suffering what appeared to be a seizure at the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
24 year old Robert Keith Rachal Jr., was transported to and died at a local hospital Tuesday. Foul play is not suspected, according to the release, and an autopsy and toxicology tests will be performed later this week.
Regional Trauma Center and Louisiana State Police Troop E are conducting a free child passenger safety seat check-up event today from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event will take place at Rapides Regional Trauma Center Medical Terrace on Fourth Street, downtown Alexandria. No appointment is necessary.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says we’re getting closer and closer to the 2 million mark when it comes to the number of people who have jobs here. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says non-farm employment grew by 33,100 jobs over the year ending September 30th — a new record with employment now exceeding 1.98 million. Construction added the most jobs with 11,000 over the year.
However, not all the news was good. The information sector lost 1,500 jobs, as did the mining and logging sector, which includes jobs in the oil and gas industry. Government agencies lost 5,800 jobs in Louisiana. State government shrank by 4,100 jobs, and local government dropped 1,500 jobs. Despite steady job growth, Louisiana’s unemployment rate increased for the fifth consecutive month and was 6.0 percent in September — 0.1 percent higher than the nation’s unemployment rate of 5.9 percent
Louisianians are seeing big savings at the gas pump as we approach the holiday travel season. The average price for a gallon of regular gas has fallen to under three dollars a gallon in the Bayou State. Gasbuddy-dot-com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHann says these are the lowest gas prices we’ve seen in over three years.
Louisiana’s average price for regular gas is $2.95 a gallon. DeHaan says some stations in the state are charging less than $2.60 per gallon. He says we could see prices below $2.50 at some stations in the next week.
The number of Louisiana Public Schools earning a state performance grade of an A has gone up from 187 to 241 this year, according to the Department of Education. Education officials released the reports earlier today. Superintendent John White says numbers are up because schools are responding to what they have been asked to achieve.
School performance scores are primarily based on student test scores. Rapides Parish public schools' state performance scores moved the district from a C rating to a B, ranking the district fifth in the state for growth. This year’s school report card also shows 10 Louisiana school districts earning an A and no school districts in the state receiving an F grade.
Advance Publications on Tuesday announced plans to lay off 100 more Times-Picayune workers and abandon its long-time headquarters as it consolidates its printing operations in Alabama. The move is expected to occur in late 2015 or early 2016. The layoffs are the largest since the newspaper’s massive reduction in 2012, which preceded the company’s decision to reduce home delivery to 3 days a week.
There’s a new poll out by Real Clear Politics which found Landrieu ahead with 38 percent, Bill Cassidy with 36 percent and Rob Maness with 9%. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says that while it may be true that Maness is taking votes away from Cassidy, the Congressman will need support from those ultra-conservative voters by addressing the policies that are most important to them. Hogan says when it comes to the undecided voters so late in the campaign, they are the ones who are likely conservative but are influenced by Landrieu’s longtime incumbency.
A ULM freshman basketball player has been suspended indefinitely from the team, after an alleged rape of a female student Sunday night. University spokesperson Donna Bernard says police interviewed the alleged victim the next day. That player charged is 18 year-old Roderick Taylor.
Governor Bobby Jindal has 14 months left in office and he says he still has plenty of work to do in Louisiana, even though a presidential campaign could be on the horizon. During recent debates, candidates have been asked what grade they would give the governor, Jindal says it’s too early to give himself a grade. Jindal defends his record, based on the record number of people who are working in the state today. Jindal has made it no secret that he is considering a potential Presidential run in 2016. The governor says he’s not interested in running for his old job as a US Representative
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s office says an arrest has been made in the October 11th hit and run that left a 6 month old child injured after a truck rammed into a house. They say 28-year-old Dustin Wayne Lasseter was the owner of a vehicle spotted Monday with damage that matched evidence collected at the scene. The man was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for hit and run and reckless operation.
News For Tuesday 10/21/14
News for Tuesday 102114
By Dave Graichen
An investment group has agreed to buy Pineville based Cleco for a reported $3.4 billion. Cleco Power has approximately 284,000 customers in Louisiana. Cleco Power President Darren O’Lages (O-lay-jes) says customers should not expect any change in utility rates or service as part of the sale. He says there are no lay-offs or restructuring of employee salaries planned. The sale is expected to close in the second half of 2015.
He says this investment group is experienced and understands what it means to own utility companies and what it takes to make them successful.
The early voting period for the November 4th election kicks off today. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will take place through October 28th from 8:30AM to 6PM, excluding Sunday. Schedler reminds voters that there are 14 Constitutional Amendments on this year’s ballot, and statewide, this is the biggest election in the state in decades. He says for sample ballots and early voting locations, you can go online at geauxvote-dot-com.
Louisiana State Police and several other agencies will host a “Heroin Summit” today to educate the public about heroin use and address the recent rise in heroin deaths. Trooper Jared Sandifer says Col Mike Edmonson is going to be the keynote speaker.
Sandifer says the CDC named the Greater Baton Rouge area as the 19th worse in the nation per capita for heroin over dose deaths in 2013.
Former President Bill Clinton tells a crowd of Mary Landrieu supporters he doesn’t see how the senior senator is not a clear favorite in Louisiana’s US Senate race over her republican challengers. Clinton says Landrieu has a history of getting things done.
Clinton was in Baton Rouge Monday and spoke at a Landrieu rally. During a nearly 30-minute speech, Clinton spoke about Landrieu’s efforts to help college students afford their education, her support for a higher minimum wage and chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says they plan to stop billing rape victims for exams and tests. Advocacy groups and lawmakers were critical of the fact that women who had been raped were getting big hospital bills after checking in to be treated for the assault. DHH says they now plan to seek reimbursement for such visits from the Crime Victim’s Reparation Board.
This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is urging parents to set rules for their kids before they get the keys. Lt. Col John LeBlanc says parents should tell their teens the “5 to drive Rules” – No cell phones, no extra passengers, no speeding, not alcohol and EVERYONE must be buckled up. LeBlanc says according to a recent survey, only one in four parents had talked seriously with their teens about what it means to be a safe driver.
According to location marketing firm Development Counselors International, the business climate in Louisiana is the 10th best in the nation. Additionally DCI said the Louisiana Economic Development agency is the nation’s second best.
Cleanup crews are continuing to work a major crude oil spill in Caddo Parish that has killed dozens of fish and some reptiles. The oil leaked into Tete Bayou due to the rupture of a Mid-Valley pipeline. Workers were able to stop the spill from reaching into Caddo Lake. It’s estimated that approximately 4,000 barrels of crude oil flowed into the Bayou.
Two St. John Parish employees have been incited on two counts each of malfeasance in office and filing or maintaining false public records after a state police amoeba investigation & low chlorine levels. The accused are Kevin Branch and Danielle Roussel. The DHH asked the state police to investigate after the state found no mandated chlorine residuals in the water system on August 12th but did find indications of the deadly amoeba.
Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order stating that state agencies and departments develop new policies and reporting mechanisms for certain individuals who travel to Ebola stricken countries as a result of educational or work related missions. Included in the order are public employees, students faculty and staff of higher education institutions who go to countries the CDC says have the threat of contracting the Ebola virus.
News For Monday 10/20/14
News For Monday 102014
By Dave Graichen
State police report an Alexandria man was killed in a 2 vehicle crash late Friday afternoon on England Drive at Enterprise Road. 59 year old Ton Brown Jr. was taken to a local hospital where he died Saturday. Although the investigation is ongoing, preliminary evidence indicates that the driver of the motorcycle was acting in a careless manner and that alcohol may have also been a factor in the crash.
President Bill Clinton is scheduled to join Senator Mary Landrieu in Baton Rouge today to rally support for her campaign. Clinton’s visit comes the day before the early voting period for the November 4th election begins. Landrieu is in a tight re-election battle with Republican challengers Congressman Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness. Both parties are sending “big guns” to the state for this Senate race. Republicans sent former presidential candidate Senator John McCain to campaign with Cassidy last week. This is Clinton’s second visit to Louisiana on Landrieu’s behalf during this election.
Are people making too much over the threat of Ebola in the United States? State and National health care officials are urging the public to calm down when it comes to the threat of Ebola. Medical Director for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, Dr. Frank Welch, says people aren’t concerned for “no reason” but it’s over the top to think that you’re going to walk outside and contract Ebola. He says, on the other hand, this is a huge wake up call for our health care system to keep their workers safe. Welch wants to emphasize that Louisiana has been intensively preparing for the possibility of an Ebola patient entering the health care system here at any level.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says auto theft in Louisiana has dropped 48% since 2007 which beats the national average of 34% in the same time period. Donelon credits the massive decline, in part, to public outreach and initiatives by law enforcement. Donelon says they’ve also been able to bust car thieves by using bait cars places in high risk areas that are equipped with monitoring equipment and cameras if they are stolen. He says also says technology has improved so that law enforcement now has the ability to read license plates as vehicles drive down the street. That alone has resulted in hundreds of apprehensions
The Community that was hardest hit by the EF-2 tornado in northeast Louisiana A week ago today is making news because of the huge way they are rallying together to help each other out in the aftermath. Alan West Brockman is president of a property management company in Monroe and a local musician. He says it was amazing to see how many people came out to help clear all of the debris. Brockman says their local celebrated Chef Cory Bahr, who runs Restaurant Cotton in the Garden District, is offering free meals to those helping out and Wal-Mart donated 500 pounds of meat for him to cook.
Baton Rouge Police made a drug bust on I-12 where 48 Jesus Sacred Heart candles with meth mixed in the wax were found on a bus by a K-9 during a traffic stop on I-12. The candles weighed 72 pounds cops say and there were also four larger candles weighing 41 pounds all with meth inside the wax.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals says two new cases of West Nile were reported last week but there are no new deaths. They say there have been 130 reported cases of the virus in Louisiana this year with 6 of those resulting in death. One of the new cases was reported from Caddo Parish and one from East Baton Rouge Parish. Heath officials are urging Louisianians to continue to take steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
It appeared the Saints were on their way to a victory on Sunday in Detroit, but the Lions roared back with two touchdowns in the four minutes to beat New Orleans 24-23. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns. But threw an interception with just over three minutes left that set up Detroit’s winning score.
After a two-week absence, The LSU Tigers are back in the Top 25 polls. The Bayou Bengals are ranked 24th in the AP poll, and 23rd in the coaches. LSU won easily on Saturday, 41-to-3 over the Kentucky Lions.
LATECH Senior linebacker Terrell Pinson should be named Conference USA defensive player of the week today based on his performance in Saturday’s 27-20 win over Texas-San Antonio. The Bulldogs trailed 10-6 at halftime, but the game turned when Pinson had a two-yard fumble recovery for a touchdowns. Tech scored two more quick touchdowns and Head Coach Skip Holtz says that was the difference in the game.
News For Friday 10/17/14
News for Friday 101714
By Dave Graichen
An LSU employee who was recently in Ebola stricken Liberia has been asked to stay off campus for 21 days. That’s the time frame during which symptoms of the virus could show up according to Olivia Watkins with the state Department of Health and Hospitals. She says the man told DHH he did not have contact with anyone who had Ebola so he’s not considered high risk. Watkins says it’s important to remember that Ebola cannot be passed to another individual when there are no symptoms present.
A new protocol has been implemented to 911 operators in Louisiana which has them screen callers for Ebola symptoms. Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Kevin Davis says the caller will be asked a series of questions about illnesses, particularly fever and recent travel. He says that will help EMS responding. Davis says the caller’s answers would determine whether the emergency responder would need to wear protective gear to the call. He says the person would be asked additional questions when in route then EMS would let the hospital know they have a suspect patient.
Local & State Officials were on hand to officially open a “one of a kind” facility at England Airpark Thursday. It’s a 400-bed staging facility the will be used to house immigration detainees who are being deported or in the process of potentially being deported. It is expected the new facility will employ close to 150 people.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus will be in Louisiana today to try to boost black voter turnout with the focus of helping Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign. The 42 member caucus of Democrats say they are pushing Landrieu hard because they want to keep control of the Senate. Louisiana Black Caucus Chairwoman Katrina Jackson says the Congressional Black Caucus will be in New Orleans and Baton Rouge through Monday and possibly visit Alexandria. She says they will be encouraging voters to push the button for Landrieu, Congressman Cedric Richmond and 5th Congressional District Candidate, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Jackson says national and local Democrats are spending upwards of $700,000 for get-out-the-vote efforts in the state.
Laura Larisey, a Baton Rouge student at Northwestern State University who had been been reported missing, has been found safe, according to the University Police. “Law enforcement located Larisey in good spirits and in good health in the company of friends. The student was reported missing by her parents Wednesday.
In Alexandria yesterday, Senator Mary Landrieu announced her endorsement choice for the Fifth Congressional District. The Senator says Jamie Mayo, the long-time Democratic mayor of Monroe is the right choice for the district, and said he would be a bridge-builder for Democrats, Republicans and Independents on the Hill, and continue the economic building of that district.
There’s been another sexual student/teacher incident. The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman who teaches at Crowley High is under arrest for allegedly being inappropriately involved with some of her students. Spokeswoman Maxine Trahan says they received an initial report about 34-year-old Tracy Marie Barras of Duson in early October. After an investigation Barras was charged with three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
A committee of Avoyelles Parish School Board members will begin the process of finding the district's next superintendent next week. The committee was formed at a special meeting Tuesday after the board accepted a notice of retirement from Superintendent Dwayne Lemoine. The group set a meeting for Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. to discuss a timeline and other parameters of the search process. The School Board used a consulting search firm when hiring Lemoine in 2007.
Public Service Commission member Foster Campbell says he’ll call for an investigation into whether or not aging Entergy infrastructure caused extra damage in Ouachita Parish after a tornado blew through Monday. But he says the utility company did a great job getting the power restored to the more than 35,000 who were in the dark. Entergy says their goal is to have all lights back on by 5pm today.
According to the Federal Election Commission, “Duck Dynasty” family member Republican Zach Dasher has raised the most campaign cash among the candidates for the 5th District Congressional seat. Dasher has raised over $500,000 through the third quarter. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says much of the cash raised by fellow Republican candidates Dr. Ralph Abraham, Harris Brown, and incumbent Vance McAllister was their own. Stockley says Dasher is benefiting financially from the “Duck Dynasty” association.
The Louisiana State Police is investigating a shooting involving an Opelousas Police officer. Authorities say 23-year-old Demarcus Jones led police on a foot chase after threatening someone with a gun. Jones then reportedly fired on the officer who returned fire. Jones was treated for his injuries and released into police custody. The officer was unharmed.
Bayou Country Superfest producers announce the shows for 2015 will span over three days again and include a special Friday concert. The BCS lineup for the Tiger Stadium concerts will be announced November 5th.
A teenager from Lafayette is under arrest after police say he tried to rob a gas station with a stick wrapped in plastic while wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask. 18-year-old Lacorrion Turner was booked with first degree robbery.
LSU announces a home-and-home two-game series against the University of Texas. The Tigers will visit Austin on September 7th, 2019 and the teams will meet in Baton. Rouge on September 12th, 2020. LSU will also be returning to the Cowboys Classic against Miami to open the 2018 season.
News For Thursday 10/16/14
News for Thursday 101614
By Dave Graichen
Residents in Ouachita Parish continue to clean up after Monday’s tornado ripped through the area. An EF-2 tornado tore through Monroe and West Monroe. Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Neil Brown says the biggest challenges facing residents now are debris and power. Brown says many residents, including himself, may not get power restored to their home until Friday. He says preliminary damage assessment teams will be coming to the area in the next few days. Brown says, as of now, he cannot set a monetary figure to the amount of damage the tornado has caused, but it is significant.
A Baton Rouge student at Northwestern State University has been reported missing.
Laura Larisey was reported missing by her parents. Larisey lives on the university’s main campus in Natchitoches. Anyone with details about her whereabouts is asked to contact campus police or the state police.
In a victory for Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a hotly-debated state law that makes it harder for public school teachers to earn and retain a form of job protection called tenure. The ruling, for the second time, reversed a decision by state District Judge Michael Caldwell, of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge. Caldwell concluded that the overhaul was illegally approved by the Louisiana Legislature because it jammed too many subjects into a single bill. The court disagreed, and handed the governor a big legal win on one of the most contentious issues of his 2012 public schools overhaul.
According to the latest economic projection numbers for Louisiana by Loren Scott & Jim Richardson, The Bayou State is projected to surpass 2 million overall jobs by 2015. Dr. Scott says we have an industrial boom going on right now that is completely off the charts compared to anything we’ve seen in Louisiana history. Louisiana’s Economic Outlook projects the state to add 34,100 jobs in 2015. Dr. Scott says the Baton Rouge area is expected to be the second fastest growing over the next 2 years with about 19,600 new jobs or a 2.4 percent growth. He says areas north of I-10 will see growth but not nearly what the southern region will. Scott says Lafayette and Houma will also see big gains but the big winner will be Lake Charles.
The big question lingering after Tuesday night’s US Senate race debate is who were the winners and losers? UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross thinks both Senator Mary Landrieu and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness helped themselves during the debate. However, Cross doesn’t think it was a great debate overall for Congressman Bill Cassidy. Cross says Cassidy had a couple of kinks in his performance during the debate. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says
Cassidy didn’t do much to dazzle voters, but he really doesn’t need to at this point.
Hogan doesn’t believe the debate will change any voter’s minds, and Cross agrees.
Latest campaign finance totals in the US Senate race show Republican challenger Bill Cassidy with one million dollars more in cash on hand than Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu. Cassidy has four-point-four million, while Landrieu has three-point-four million. Political analyst Clancy Dubos points out Landrieu raised more money than Cassidy in the third quarter. Landrieu raised two-point-seven million dollars in the third quarter, beating out Cassidy by two-hundred thousand dollars. Dubos expects Landrieu to spend more of her campaign funds than her main GOP challenger. The third major candidate in the race, Air Force Colonel Rob Maness, reports he has 388-thousand dollars in his account
A second Dallas hospital worker has tested positive for Ebola. Both workers contracted the virus while providing care to Thomas Duncan, who died from the disease a week ago today. So are Louisiana hospitals prepared to handle an Ebola patient? Louisiana Hospital Association Vice President Ken Alexander believes so, thanks to daily guidance provided by the C-D-C. however, National Nurses United is concerned about the new case, and questions whether nurses have been adequately trained and have the protective gear to take care of Ebola patients. Alexander says what has happened in Texas is providing learning moments for the health care industry
Gas prices are being nice to our wallets these days. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is $3.03 which is down nearly a dime from this time last week.
News For Wednesday 10/15/14
News for Wednesday 101514
By Dave Graichen
The three major candidates in the US Senate race appeared in a televised debate last night. Analysts’ have said that US Senator Mary Landrieu needed to take some shots as she’s trailing in the polls to Republican Challenger Bill Cassidy, and she did early in the debate. Congressman Cassidy stayed with party talking points during the majority of the 1 hour and stressed his intention to vote to get rid of Obamacare if elected. Retired Air Force Col Rob Maness took shots at both Landrieu and Cassidy and criticized President Obama in most of his answers.
Entergy reported thousands of customers remained without power late Tuesday after a strong long of thunderstorms caused widespread damage Monday. Governor Bobby Jindal, who declared a state of emergency, toured the Monroe/West Monroe area yesterday to survey the damage. Jindal says they are working with affected areas and FEMA is sending preliminary teams to begin damage surveys.
Governor Bobby Jindal has sent a letter to the President seeking to restore funding that helps provide free funerals for military veterans. Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David LaCerte says the Obama administration allocates the across the board cuts. He says the National Guard’s ability to perform honor detail for military veterans who have passed will be severely impaired. The across the board cuts were made to all branches of the military.
Proposed charter schools in Alexandria, Monroe and Lake Providence were put on hold Tuesday by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White told BESE members that he wants to see how the schools already being administered by Charter Schools USA perform before approving any more. That company has applied for charter schools in Monroe and Alexandria under the Louisiana Charter Foundation.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue is offering delinquent tax payers a chance to settle their overdue debt with the state. The 2014 Louisiana Tax Amnesty period begins today and runs through November 14. Deputy Secretary Jarrod Coniglio says this is a golden opportunity to get up-to-date on late taxes. He says, during the amnesty period, tax payers can settle their debt by paying 100-percent of delinquent taxes and 50-percent of interest owed. The department will waive the remaining 50-percent of interest and 100-percent of the penalty that is due. Coniglio says this year’s amnesty is offering something new, an installment plan. Last year’s tax amnesty period collected $435 million that went into the state budget.
The first meeting of a working group put together by state Senator JP Morrell to review sexual assault policies on Louisiana’s college campuses takes place today. The New Orleans lawmaker wants to craft legislation that seeks to prevent sexual assault incidents at higher education institutions in Louisiana. He says they will begin with education Today’s meeting will be mostly introductory to try to figure out the key areas they would like colleges to address in implementing sexual assault policies for students
According to a study by the Williams Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles, if same-sex couples were allowed to marry in Louisiana, it would mean an economic boost to the state. The study predicts 4,038 in-state same-sex couples would get married in Louisiana within the first three years. The figures show spending on those weddings by same-sex resident couples and their out-of-state guests would generate $28.3 million dollars in the same time frame. Weddings are big business.
Research is underway at Tulane into a finger-prick test which would identify whether or not someone had the Ebola Virus within minutes. Doctor Robert Garry says they are still in the testing phase but getting close with this. Garry’s team received a two-point-nine million dollar grant last June to develop a speedy diagnostic test that health care workers could use.
Seven people have been arrested today for participating in an online sales scam. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says the suspects are believed to be members and affiliates of Romanian organized crime. The suspects are charged with federal racketeering for stealing approximately $1.4 million dollars from more than 500 people.
Two people sitting in a waiting room at a dentist’s office in East baton Rouge were injured yesterday when a car crashed through the building and into the room. A woman and her son were trapped under a large, 350-gallon aquarium that had to be drained and lifted using large, heavy rubber air bags. Their injuries were non-life threatening. The driver of the vehicle was not injured.
LSU Coach Les Miles says its his hope quarterback Brandon Harris will get a chance to play Saturday against Kentucky. Miles says they wanted to get Harris on the field against Florida, but the opportunity never presented itself. Anthony Jennings is expected to start against the Wildcats. The last time he played in Tiger Stadium, he was booed off the field after committing three turnovers.
News For Tuesday 10/14/14
News for Tuesday 101414
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal has issued a state of emergency as a result of the severe weather that moved the through the state on Monday. Kevin Davis, director of the governor’s office of homeland security and emergency preparedness, says Ouachita Parish is cleaning up from a possible tornado or damaging straight line winds. Some areas experienced 60 mile per hour winds when the storm system moved through. At one time, nearly 40-thousand people were without power in north Louisiana. Most are back on line today.
Tonight voters will finally see a US Senate debate featuring all three major candidates. Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican challengers, Congressman Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness will face off in Shreveport at 7PM. The debate, sponsored by Council for a Better Louisiana in partnership with Louisiana Public Broadcasting, will be televised statewide on LPB stations.
Walmart announced yesterday that they plan to hire up to 190 associates for the Walmart Neighborhood Markets opening in Alexandria and Pineville. Walmart is hosting a temporary hiring center in the food court area of the Alexandria Mall. It's open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Interested applicants can also apply online at http://careers.walmart.com.
An accident yesterday morning in downtown Alexandria, has left four people injured. The accident occurred when a city bus struck an SUV at the intersection of Jackson Street and 4th. The driver of the SUV received moderate injuries, while the driver of the bus and two passengers were treated for minor injuries. Police are not saying who ran the light, causing the accident.
A judge in Baton Rouge grants a temporary restraining order that keeps the ashes from the incineration of a Dallas Ebola victim’s belongings from being disposed in a Calcasieu Parish landfill. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell sought . The company that owns the landfill involved in this controversy released a statement that says it will not take the Ebola waste, until state officials determined it would not pose a health threat. Linen, bedding and carpet from the apartment of Thomas Duncan, who died from Ebola, was destroyed at an incinerator in Port Arthur, Texas and was set to be transported to a landfill in Calcasieu Parish.
Election day is three weeks away and Secretary of State Tom Schedler is encouraging Louisiana voters to download their GeauxVote mobile phone app. The app is convenient way to get all of the election information you may need. Schedler says Louisiana is a front runner in the country for this technology.
The app, which is available for iPhone and Android phones, provides information on local polling locations, updated ballots, and much more. Schedler says it even provides up-to-the-minute election results.
Despite his concerns about Common Core, Gov. Bobby Jindal will back a state bid to land a $15 million federal prekindergarten grant. Jindal’s office made the announcement Monday after days of letter exchanges between the governor, who opposes Common Core, and state Superintendent of Education John White, who backs the classroom standards. Jindal repeatedly said he was concerned that the grant would be linked to the new academic standards in reading, writing and math. White disagreed and said the money could finance pre-K services for about 800 4-year-olds from low-income families per year for four years.
The Tigers wild 30-27 victory over Florida was win number 100 at LSU for Coach Les Miles. The mad hatter joins Charles McClendon as the only two coaches in LSU history to win at least 100 games. Miles says one of his players gave him the game ball after the win and he’s glad it was the type of victory that exemplifies how his teams play. Miles will go after win number 101 this Saturday at home against Kentucky.
News For Monday 10/13/14
News for Monday 101314
By Dave Graichen
The run of warm and humid weather comes to an end today thanks to a cold front that will move through the state, bringing us more fall like weather. State Climatologist Barry Keim says Last week it felt more like summer than fall, with high temperatures in the upper 80s and high humidity levels. Keim says this cold front will give us high temperatures in the 70s across the state tomorrow. But, before the cooler temperatures we’ll get rain and there’s the potential of severe weather today.
An amazing story out of Pleasant Hill in Sabine Parish. A 43 year old man dies, of what appears to be natural causes, while sitting in bed working on his computer. Authorities say he fell backwards on the bed pinning his 10 month old infant beneath his body. Three days passed before the little girl’s 5 year old brother went next door and told a neighbor he thought his dad was dead. The infant, Betty Jean Fields, was dehydrated and suffering from blistering skin. But, authorities believe she will survive the ordeal.
The statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline has fallen another two cents in the past few days. The American Automobile Association has the statewide average price at $3.07. Triple-A fuel analyst Don Redman says the summer is over and demand is down. Redman says there’s potential we could see prices the lowest they’ve been since 2010.
A sergeant with the Louisiana State Police faces charges of DWI and hit and run, after causing a crash on Interstate 10 early Saturday morning. State Police Captain Doug Cain says 34-year-old Damien Dyson Sr of Baton Rouge was heading west on I-10 in Ascension Parish, when he struck the rear of another vehicle at a high rate of speed. Cain says Dyson kept going, but eventually pulled over and State Police responded to the scene. Dyson was booked into the Ascension Parish jail and immediately placed on administrative leave. Dyson, who was off duty at the time, had a blood alcohol level that was over twice the legal limit.
The LSU Health tumor registry has found colon cancer rates in the Acadiana parishes are among the highest in the United States. The study was led by Doctor Jordan Karlitz, who is also at the Tulane University of Medicine and he says their research focused on 18 parishes in the Acadiana area and colorectal cancer rates were significantly higher than both Louisiana and US rates. Karltiz says colorectal cancer rates are high in French speaking homes in Acadiana and those families with a Cajun heritage, which raises the possibility of a genetic predisposition. Another possible explanation could be contained within the environment, but he says more research is needed…
Eunice Police are seeking the public’s help in locating a woman who robbed the State Bank and Trust with a fake bomb Thursday afternoon. Surveillance video showed a middle-aged woman with a baseball cap also produced a gun and got away with an undisclosed amount of money. State Police Bomb Squad arrived and determined the package she left at the scene was not a bomb. It was the second fake bomb robbery in about year in Eunice.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section is investigating reports of scammers targeting Entergy resident customers and small business owners. Amanda Larkins, with the A-G’s office, says a con artist, claiming to be with Entergy, calls a customer’s home or business and the victim is told they need to make an immediate payment, because they are behind on their bill. Larkins says this scam has been around for a while, targeting elderly and other residential consumers, but now these scammers are moving on to small business owners with larger utility expenses. If you get such a call, the best thing you can do is hang up.
An Ascension grand jury will not be indicting the driver of an SUV, who ran off the road in Ascension Parish and killed two children fishing with their father in June. State Police said at the time they would not charge the driver, Shanette Taylor, and Friday, the grand jury unanimously agreed. Daylon and Sarai Lanus died as a result of that crash.
We’re a little more than three weeks away from the November election and voters have yet to see or hear a commercial from Former Governor Edwin Edwards in the sixth district Congressional race. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Edwards has the luxury of not having to run TV. According to Edwards last campaign finance report, he had 145-thousand dollars in cash on hand. Pinsonat says Edwards will likely finish in the top 2 in the primary, but he’ll need to spend some money and probably get on TV to win the run-off election.
The LSU Tigers finally have their first SEC win of the season and it wasn’t easy. LSU and Florida went back-and-forth in a crazy fourth quarter on Saturday in Gainesville, but it was the Tigers who came out on top 30-27.
News For Friday 10/10/14
News for Friday 101014
By Dave Graichen
The VA in Pineville will conduct a drive through flu shot clinic at building 7 on Friday from 8-12 and again at 4-6. They will repeat on Saturday from 8-12..
Glascock Group releases a new poll on the 5th Congressional District race and Congressman Vance McAllister looks to be in a good position to make the runoff. The numbers show the incumbent with 24% of the vote, then it’s fellow Republican Ralph Abraham with 20% then Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo with 18. The Duck Dynasty family member Zach Dasher polled at 11% with 12% saying they are still undecided.
A visit Wednesday here in Rapides parish from state Supt of Schools John White. White spent time with a group of Rapides Parish teachers at Pineville High while on his annual Louisiana Believes tour to “get the pulse” of what’s going on in the classroom and plan any course corrections for the next year. Most of the teachers’ questions revolved around keeping pace with new, more rigorous curriculum while reaching every student.
The Board of Regents Thursday unanimously selected Joseph Rallo to be Louisiana's next commissioner of higher education. Rallo is currently vice president for academic affairs and second in command in the Texas Tech University System. Rallo said his proposed contract calls for taking over around Jan. 2 but he expects to be in the state several times before that to get acclimated to the new job.
The big news in Louisiana politics today is sudden release of Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign manager. In an 11th hour shake-up, Landrieu hired Ryan Berni to run things as he did for her bother Mitch’s successful bid for New Orleans mayor. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this move shows that Landrieu recognizes things aren’t working right internally and it’s time for a change if she plans to defeat Congressman Bill Cassidy.
Former Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is coming to Louisiana to appear with US Senate candidate Bill Cassidy at a series of veteran’s rallies. The Arizona Senator’s first appearance with Cassidy is Sunday night in Metairie. Monday the pair will make stops in Covington, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Bossier City.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says some AT&T mobile customers could receive a refund as a result of a 105 million dollar settlement reached with the cell phone provider over unauthorized text message fees. Chris Styron is an assistant AG and he says this refund is specific to customers who have been “crammed. Styron says consumers who are victims of “cramming” are charged for “premium” text message subscription services that the consumer has never heard of or requested. However, says sometimes it’s difficult to find the charges on your phone bill. Styron says they encourage AT&T mobile customers in Louisiana who believe they may have been affected by cramming to submit a claim through the restitution program.
Based on filings with the Louisiana Insurance Department, health care policies purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange will see a double digit rate increase. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, and Vantage Health have all filed for rate increases ranging from 10 to 20 percent. He says policy holders will notice the difference next year.
The Kenner Police Department released records Thursday on the arrests of two Destrehan High school teachers who allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old student at the same time and the affidavit states the suspects were both drinking. Both women face felony charges of carnal knowledge, indecent behavior and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. A retired judge from New Iberia has been appointed to hear the case.
A former Department of Health and Hospitals worker pleaded guilty to stealing over $1 million dollars from the state to fund her gambling addiction. State Inspector General Stephen Street says 47-year-old Deborah Loper was accused of misappropriating Medicaid over payments. Under terms of Loper’s plea agreement, she’ll serve five years in prison, five years’ probation and she must pay over a million dollars to the state in restitution.
The field of Republicans hoping to fill the 6th Congressional District seat has narrowed by one. Attorney Cassie Felder has dropped out; mainly based on the inability to raise enough money to do the advertising she would need to win. She announced yesterday she is putting her support behind State Senator Dan Claitor.
An owner of a Covington horse farm, who provides handicapped individuals the opportunity to use the facility and ride horses, has been arrested for allegedly raping a 21 year-old mentally challenged woman. St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office booked the owner of Parkview Farms-50 year-old Vincent Datrio on aggravated rape into jail and set his bond at $200 thousand dollars. Authorities say, there could be more victims.
LSU reports its freshman class this fall has the highest average ACT score and highest average grade point average in the university’s history. The school also says this is the most diverse student body they’ve ever had. President and Chancellor F King Alexander says LSU is doing a good job appealing to more students with more diverse backgrounds.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says Poverty Point will be officially inscribed as 1001st site on the World Heritage List tomorrow in Epps near Delhi. He says the ceremony will begin at 10am when the plaque will be unveiled that recognizes Poverty Point as only the 22nd World Heritage site in the United States.
The LSU Tigers leave today for the Sunshine state where they’ll face Florida tomorrow night in Gainesville. On social media and radio call-in shows, Tigers fans have expressed their frustrations with the 0-and-2 record in SEC play, but Coach Les Miles says there’s been a lot of positive energy at practice and in meeting rooms. No word on who will start at quarterback for the Tigers
In the Southland Conference…Northwestern State will play its first home game in 43 days when they host Incarnate Word on Saturday night in Turpin Stadium. The Demons are coming off a four-game road trip, where they went two and two. Coach Jay Thomas is encouraged with how his team played on the road.
News For Thursday 10/09/14
News for Thursday 100914
By Dave Graichen
A trial date has been set for the lawsuit which challenges the controversial law in Louisiana which requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The case is scheduled to be heard on March 30th of next year but until then a temporary restraining order barring the state from penalizing doctors who are applying to have admitting privileges remains in effect.
Governor Bobby Jindal issues an executive order to protect a teachers’ right to freedom of speech after hearing a teacher in Rapides Parish was “written up” by school administrators, because she criticized Common Core on her Facebook page. Louisiana Federation of Teachers spokesperson Les Landon supports Jindal’s action . The Alexandria Town Talk published the story that claims a teacher was reprimanded for voicing her concerns over Common Core. Another teacher in the story says some teachers are scared to speak up. But Landon says they have not heard of local school officials using intimidation tactics to keep teachers quiet.
Some 40,000 classified Civil Service employees will see an increase in their paychecks this month, some for the first time in years. Funding for the 4 percent boost is included in the Jindal administration’s budget that went into effect July 1.
The raise comes as the administration is preparing to implement state health insurance program changes which include increased out-of-pocket expenses for many of the same employees. The state budget included more than $60 million to cover the cost of the so-called “performance adjustments.”
A preliminary deal has been reached with 12 Louisiana municipalities to build a new natural-gas pipeline from Winnsboro to Natchez that would replace the existing 90-year-old Midla pipeline. Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland is a member of the Louisiana Municipal Gas Authority. He says they are elated this agreement was made in principle with Midla. Copeland says this new pipeline will ensure that future economic growth is possible to areas that have been hindered in the past by the low pressure and resulting low capacity available through the existing pipeline. The agreement must be signed off now by all parties in the negotiations.
The Louisiana Community and Technical College System launches a 6 year plan designed to meet the state’s growing workforce demand. President Monty Sullivan says the goal is to double the number of graduates a year to 40,000 graduates a year. Officials say tens of thousands of workers will be needed to fill the number of jobs that are expected to be created over the next five to ten years. Sullivan says they have put together a bold plan that will help the state address its workforce challenges.
The fall festival season continues in Louisiana as the 39th annual Zwolle Tamale Fiesta kicks off today in the Sabine Parish town. The festival is an annual celebration of Zwolle’s rich Spanish and Native American heritage. Here in Rapides Parish, it’s The Rapides Parish Fair at it’s new location on Highway 71 by LSUA. Finally, in Evangeline Parish it the Cotton Festival, one of the state’s oldest festivals. All continue through the weekend.
American Horror Story: Freak Show, the FX anthology series which was shot in New Orleans, debuted Last Night. This season the show is about a traveling carny sideshow troupe of “mistakes of nature” as the script says. Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly expects this one will be as successful as American Horror Story: The Coven which was also shot in The Big Easy . This American Horror Story season includes Academy Award winner Kathy Bates playing a bearded lady, and Sarah Paulson with two heads.
It’s a tragedy that hit hard yesterday morning in Kenner, as a father accidently ran over and killed his one year-old baby in the driveway of his home. Unbeknown to the father, the little girl had crawled under the car through the open front door as his wife was helping him set his GPS
News For Wednesday 10/08/14
News for Wednesday 100814
By Dave Graichen
A new independent poll conducted on the 5th District Congressional race shows Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo with a slight lead in a very tight field. The poll was conducted by Cygnal (signal) and surveyed just over 500 voters in the district. Pollster Brent Buchanan says Mayo polled 19-percent of the vote, followed by Republican incumbent Vance McAllister with 17-percent, Zach Dasher with 13-percent, and Dr. Ralph Abraham with 11-percent. But Buchanan says there is still a lot up for grabs. Over 20-percent of the voters polled said they were undecided at this point. Buchanan says, with less than a month to go, this election is still way too close to call.
An Alexandria man was arrested Monday after he was found drunk at the D.G. Hunter Power Electrical Plant. 47 year old Donald Ray Clifton Sr. was charged with unauthorized entry of critical infrastructure and disturbing the peace by intoxication. Clifton was allegedly hiding from officers after attempting to steal copper from a recycling bin. This is the 26th time Clifton has been booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
According to analysis done by The Wesleyan Media Project, the US Senate race in Louisiana is the most negative campaign in the country. The Wall Street Journal found that 0% of the ads run by Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, over a two week period, were positive. Erica Franklin Fowler is the co-director on the Wesleyan Media Project, she says campaigns across the country this year are more negative than they were in 2012 or 2010, but she says in Louisiana BOTH Landrieu and Cassidy have opted against puppies and families in their commercials.
The state says the number of Louisiana students scoring 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exam, and thereby earning college credit, has increased 24.6 percent in 2014. The state education department also says more students are taking AP classes: Louisiana is now ranked 38th for the percentage of high school juniors and seniors taking an AP test. In 2012, we were last in the nation.
Gay and lesbian couples are getting legally married in the Southeast for the first time, crossing a threshold in a conservative region long opposed to same-sex marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to turn away appeals from a handful of states means marriage bans are unconstitutional in Virginia and similar bans in West Virginia and North and South Carolina should fall as soon. But as with other civil rights battles, plenty of southern conservatives seem determined to fight to the bitter end. The state’s attorney general in west Virginia says they will fight it in the courts.
Average weekly wages of $997 in the Houma-Thibodaux area topped the state’s first-quarter chart, according to numbers released by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. New Orleans-area wages averaged $950 per week, just ahead of the $887 recorded for the Lafayette area. The Baton Rouge area’s average wage of $881 was the fourth-highest in the state. Other weekly wage numbers released by the LWC were for areas surrounding Lake Charles, $830; Shreveport, $737; Alexandria, $679; and Monroe, $660.
Louisiana’s economic development department launched a nationwide campaign Tuesday to attract former state residents to growing numbers of new jobs in this state. The campaign, dubbed “Come Home, Louisiana,” is tied to a free state website, LouisianaJobConnection.com. That website is designed to match the skills of job seekers with the best available jobs of Louisiana employers.
Since the LJC website became available to people searching for jobs on Aug. 18, more than 12,000 job seekers have placed the details of their experience and training on it. State economic development officials said more than 950 Louisiana employers have posted available jobs on the same website.
LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Cliff Vannoy says two separate audits that were ordered following a sex scandal involving the group’s former leader have found no wrongdoing or misused money. The independent reports are expected to formally be released this week. Former association head Charlie Roberts resigned in August after an ex-employee claimed in a lawsuit that Roberts gave her a marketing job at the Alumni Association so she would continue a sexual relationship with him and then paid her monthly hush money after she resigned.
The State Department of Health and Hospitals says a case of rabies has been confirmed in a dog in the West Monroe area. Last month a cat in Washington Parish also tested positive for rabies and so was a dog in Lafayette Parish in January according to DHH. State Veterinarian Dr. Gary Balsamo says the state is reminding residents that, by law, anyone who owns a dog, cat or ferret over three months old must have their animal vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian. Balsamo says, unfortunately, some people seem to be downplaying the seriousness of vaccinating for rabies.
Hydrocodone based drugs like Lortabs are now a lot harder to get after they were moved into a more restrictive category by the federal government. Under the new rules, doctors will only be able to prescribe a 30-day supply with no automatic refills. LSU Health’s Emergency Medicine Chairman, Dr. Tom Arnold, says they are trying to get control of abuse of these drugs. He says you also now won’t be able to call in hydrocodone-based prescriptions.
The New Orleans Police Department says they found 3 bodies early yesterday morning in the Bywater after what they believe is a double murder-suicide. An investigation has thus far determined that a 55-year-old man shot and killed his 60-year-old sister and 58-year-old brother before killing himself. Detectives are not releasing the identities of those involved at this time
It looks like this year’s most popular movies and television show characters will be knocking on your doors looking for Candy October 31. Spirit Halloween is one of the season’s largest retailers in North America and spokeswoman Lisa Barr says you can’t expect to see plenty of Disney’s “Frozen” characters. Barr says also in their top 10 costume trends for the coming season are the usual Superheroes including Batman, Captain America, Spiderman and Transformers. She says DIY is a big trend this year with themes around Burlesque, Punk and Leopard. Barr says there is a huge demand for costumes featuring characters from HBO’s Game of Thrones and of course zombies..
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are looking for the killer of a black bear in Concordia Parish. Spokesman Adam Einck says this animal was part of their Black Bear Restoration Program and its movements were being tracked with a radio collar. He says the bear was normally tracked in the Turnbull Island area. LDWF is offering a reward of up to $7,000 for information on this case.
Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer a Louisiana Concealed Carry Class on Saturday and Sunday. The class is for those age 21 or older who want to obtain a Louisiana concealed handgun permit. The course will be from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday in South Hall on the NSU campus and Sunday at the Natchitoches Shooting Range. The cost is $110. For more information, call (318) 357-5682
News For Tuesday 10/07/14
News for Tuesday 100714
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal is traveling the country again and yesterday he gave a speech calling for increased funding for the US military. Jindal spoke at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He says we need to go back to the 2011 budget proposed by former defense Secretary Robert Gates. Jindal stated that the nation’s military has suffered devastating budget cuts under President Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The governor says now the need is for more funding, not less
The Louisiana Democratic party is bashing Governor Bobby Jindal over his speech yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. calling for a strengthening of the US military. Chairwoman Senator Karen Carter Peterson says Jindal needs to stop putting so much effort into matters outside of Louisiana. Peterson says even though his own constituents think he shouldn’t run for president, Jindal keeps courting D.C. insiders. She says instead of talking about increasing federal military funding, she’d rather hear Jindal explain why he cut hundreds of millions dollars from higher education in our state.
We’re now 4 weeks away from the November elections and political voters can expect to see and hear a lot more from the candidates. LSU political research director Michael Henderson says the “air war” will continue over radio and television. He says candidates will be putting a lot more resources toward the “ground game” here over the next couple of weeks to mobilize core voters to get out the vote. He says in the 5th & 6th Congressional District races, it’ll be all about making it to the runoff.
A statewide survey conducted by CBS and the New York Times shows Republican US Representative Bill Cassidy leading Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu 47-to-41 percent in a head-to-head match-up. The survey also shows 12 percent of Louisiana voters are undecided.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman is under arrest on animal cruelty charges for allegedly trying to throw puppies away. A deputy rescued the puppies and returned them to their rightful owner. Deputies have no idea why this woman was trying to dump puppies but she was arrested and charged with three counts of cruelty to animals.
Covington Police have arrested two 14-year-old’s for allegedly calling 9-1-1 to falsely report someone was shooting up the school and requesting fried chicken and kool-aid be brought to William Pitcher Junior High. The alleged incident took place on the school bus and investigators traced the call to the teens. The charges include terrorizing, misuse of 911 and telephone harassment.
A TV station in Baton Rouge is reporting a horse fell on top of West Feliciana Parish Sheriff Austin Daniel at the Angola Prison rodeo on Sunday. They say as a result the sheriff suffered four broken ribs, a punctured lunch and a broken collarbone. A family member told the station Daniel is expected to make a full recovery, but it will take a long time.
The Shreveport Police Department says they are investigating a two-vehicle crash which claimed the life of a 35-year-old man on I-49. They say Elton Anderson was traveling south when his car hit a pickup and lost control. The victim was not restrained and was ejected and thrown over the interstate barrier falling about 30 feet. Anderson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Even though the Tigers are off to an 0-and-2 start in SEC play, Coach Les Miles is not ready to say this is a rebuilding season. Miles says there’s still plenty of victories to be had this season, if his team can execute better. LSU is at Florida this Saturday. Miles plans to name a starting quarterback later in the week as he’ll allow Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris compete for the job this week.
The Saints are headed into the bye week with a much needed win under their belts as they defeated Tampa Bay 37 to 31 in overtime. But it was a painful victory or New Orleans, who saw tight end Jimmy Graham leave the game with a shoulder injury. Coach Sean Payton did not offer any specifics yesterday, but it’s been reported that Graham is suffering from a shoulder sprain. The Saints next game is October 19th at Detroit and it’s also possible running back Mark Ingram could return to that game after recovering from a broken hand.
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