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Local News
  • News for Friday 042415

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The City of Alexandria adopted its 2015-16 fiscal year budget at a special meeting Thursday.

    The $220 million budget includes pay raises for city employees for the second straight year. The new budget takes effect May 1.

     

    It’s been close to 2 ½ years since voters gave their approval to spent $23 million to renovate the Rapides Parish Coliseum. Monday, after a long list of delays and chest pumping, ground breaking will finally get underway. The contract with Ratcliff construction gives the company 20 months to complete construction. The deadline for substantial completion of construction is Dec. 17, 2016. Voters also approved a one mill tax to fund Coliseum operations over 20 years.

     

    57 year old Steven Saucier of Alexandria has died from injuries he received Wednesday morning when he was struck by a pickup truck while attempting to cross Lee Street in a motorized wheel chair. No charges had been filed against the driver of the truck as of Wednesday.

     

    Authorities in LaSalle parish have a suspect  in custody in the shooting death of an elderly Urania  woman who’s body was found Thursday. . According to a spokesperson with the Sheriff’s Department, the case is “very actively being investigated,” and no other information is immediately available.

     

    Coach Patrick Garvin has resigned as head football coach at Tioga High. He leaves to take another coaching job in Mississippi. With the new districts next fall, the Indians will be playing in the very tough 2-4A district, joining Neville, West Ouachita, Bastrop, Franklin Parish, and Grant. The search for a replacement will begin immediately.

     

    The candidates for Louisiana governor appeared at a forum yesterday to give their ideas on how to address the budget shortfall. Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says one short term fix for the budget crisis is for legislators to increase the cigarette tax. Democratic Amite state Representative John Bel Edwards says Louisiana should reduce or eliminate tax credits that aren’t producing a the desired benefit. Republicans Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he would redo the state’s tax code and US Senator David Vitter says he would immediately call a special legislative session to address the budget. The forum was put on by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal has an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times that explains his support for the religious liberty bill that will be debated in the Louisiana legislature. Some companies are concerned about the legislation, but there are some Louisianaians that support the governor’s stance. Still, there are many who wish that Jindal would spend more time addressing specific state issues. Jindal also says in the op-ed column that he continues to have the view that marriage is between one man and one woman.

     

    The 2015 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival gets underway today. The lineup this first weekend includes headliners Keith Urban tonight, The Who tomorrow and Sunday it’s Jimmy Buffett on the Acura Stage. Festival producer Quint Davis says he’s excited about the music as usual, but he knows festers can’t get enough of the delicious Louisiana food. Other huge artists performing this weekend are Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Irma Thomas, Ryan Adams, John Legend, Wilco, Jimmy Cliff, Wayne Toups and more. Also this weekend, in Lafayette, it The Festival International, that event is totally free.

     

    The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission begins their “Buckle Up in Your Truck” campaign today in an effort to get more pickup drivers to use their seat belts. Executive Director Lt. Col. John LeBlanc says even though Louisiana’s seat belt compliance rate rose to a record 84-percent in 2014, pickup truck drivers lag behind.  LeBlanc says less than 79-percent of pickup truck drivers are using seat belts, which is the lowest rate for all vehicles. He says because of a pickup’s tendency to roll over, it’s especially important for people to be restrained inside a truck. The campaign runs through the end of the month.

     

    The Department of Health and Hospitals is issuing early reminders about the importance of taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family from West Nile. They believe this will be a big mosquito season because of all the rain we’ve gotten in April. DHH State Epidemiologist Raoul Ratard says get rid of all standing water when skeeters breed.  He says the virus typically doesn’t pop up in humans until July, but it’s good to start preparing your home now.

     

    Thursday, federal prosecutors announced corruption charges against former St. Tammany and Washington Parish District Attorney Walter Reed. The grand jury indictment comes after months of investigation, during which Reed announced he would not run for re-election. Reports linked him to allegations of misusing his authority.

     

    The New Orleans District Attorney has dropped Louisiana gun charges against wealthy New York real estate heir Robert Durst. Legal analysts say this is not a big break for Durst because the federal court charges are still on. The federal charge of felon in possession of a firearm carries a penalty of up to 10 years. Prosecutors say Durst killed a friend as police were preparing to interview her about the disappearance of Durst’s wife in New York decades earlier.

     

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  • News for Thursday 042315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    It’s upwards and outwards, the Port of Alexandria may have a new name in the near future. A proposed port to serve Rapides Parish is getting a name change following some lobbying by police jurors Wednesday in Baton Rouge. Rep. Lance Harris said the port agency will be called the Central Louisiana Regional Port. If Harris’ bill becomes law, a new board will have port domain throughout Rapides Parish, “excluding any private port facility.” The current Port of Alexandria would be incorporated into the Central Louisiana Regional Port.

     

    A man in a motorized wheel chair was struck by a pickup truck while he tried to cross Lee Street Extension yesterday morning. No charges have been filed against the driver of the truck yet, since the investigation is ongoing. Police report the victim is listed in critical condition.

     

    Two bills that attempt to address gender inequality when it comes to pay failed to get approval from the House Labor Committee. Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox says Louisiana has the worst gender pay gap in the nation at 66 percent. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says employees are hard enough to find and this legislation would be a strain on business owners like himself. Harris feels the data is skewed when it comes to saying Louisiana is 51st in the nation for gender pay equality because we have a different workforce here.

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy says Moody’s Investors Service has lowered LSU’s credit outlook from positive to stable. He says the flagship university is now one step away from a negative outlook which would be bad. Moody’s wrote the downgrade is due to limited prospects for sustained revenue growth due to potential reductions in the state budget. Kennedy says the solution would be for the legislature to stabilize funding for higher education.

     

    Despite opposition from Governor Bobby Jindal, the Senate Education committee approves legislation designed to control the cost of the TOPS scholarship program. The bill’s author, Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue, says as tuition costs rise, so does the cost for TOPS and something needs to be done to preserve the program. Donahue’s bill heads to the Senate floor for more discussion.

     

    Legislation that would give public colleges the authority to raise tuition and fees without legislative approval advanced out of the House Education Committee Wednesday. Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater says this legislation is needed because state funding has been on the decline since 2008. Many lawmakers are not comfortable with the idea, but many admit a funding source involving state dollars has yet to emerge.

     

    It’s a nice economic combo, as Louisiana’s labor force continues to grow as the state’s unemployment rate dropped for a third month in a row. There were almost 2 million nonfarm jobs in Louisiana, the highest March on record. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says the state seems to be weathering the oil company cutbacks fairly well.

     

    The widespread April showers are doing more than just causing flood concerns. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says all the free standing water is proving to be an excellent breeding ground for mosquitos; and that translates into West Nile Virus concerns. Last year, there were 61 cases reported in the state, and DHH reminds you to fight the bite.

     

    Caddo Parish District Attorney Charles Scott died in his sleep Tuesday night in Baton Rouge while in town to meet with lawmakers at the Capitol. LSU Police Captain Corey Lalonde says by all indications this was just an extremely tragic sudden death. Scott was 67.

     

    Federal health officials say three people have died and five others have fallen ill from bacteria that may have come from Blue Bell products. A company spokesperson says they are focusing on cleanup and working to make sure they have a safe product. A Blue Bell spokesperson says the company could start shipping product to stores again in the next couple of weeks. Business experts are saying it could be many years before Blue Bell wins back the trust and business of their customers.

     

    You wouldn’t think this would be a tough one to figure out.. The Youngsville Police Department says they are trying to identify a youth softball coach in Lafayette who allegedly punched another coach and broke her nose during a fight after a game. They say three players jumped on top of opposing players then a male coach punched a female coach breaking her nose in three places. Cops say the three instigating players and the coach will face changes once they are identified.

     

    There is good news about the St. Charles Parish Deputy who was working a school crossing last week when he was gunned down by a crazed man. Corporal Burt Hazeltine was shot three times but he was released from the hospital and is recovering at home.

     

    The American Press is reporting a former teacher from Lake Charles Academy is facing charges alleging she was engaging in sexual activity with students. 35-year-old Sommer Nicole Odom of Iowa was placed under arrest Tuesday on three counts of oral sexual battery, four counts of indecent behavior with juveniles and one count of sexual battery the newspaper reports. The Lake Charles Police Department has not released information on this yet.

     

    The American Automobile Association says the gas price went up again another penny last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.27.

     

    The number one ranked baseball team in the country meets the second ranked team in the country tonight in Baton Rouge as the Tigers host Texas A-and-M.

     

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  • News for Wednesday 042215

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The U.S. Department of Justice says it's investigating allegations that people may have been detained unlawfully by police officers and sheriff's deputies in Evangeline Parish in Central Louisiana. The Justice Department said Tuesday it's looking into whether the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office have used "investigative holds" to unlawfully detain people. It's against the law for officers to detain people without proper cause.

    The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is leading the investigation.

     

    It’s week two of the legislative session and so far a House or Senate committee has yet to pass a bill that addresses the state’s huge budget deficit. Jeremy Alford, publisher of la-politics-dot-com, says what makes the $1.6 billion dollar shortfall challenging is Governor Bobby Jindal’s revenue neutrality policy. Alford says, with eight weeks left in the legislative session, no one really knows what to expect.

     

    Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton’s bill that that would provide equal pay for women gets a hearing today in the House Labor Committee. Norton says this bill is necessary since the number of single parent households are on the rise. She says this measure would help these women provide for their families. Some critics of Norton’s legislation say that this measure would duplicate existing federal law. Norton says laws regarding equal pay for women may be on the books, but they are not being enforced and the figures back her up.  According to recent Census data, Louisiana women are paid about two-thirds of what men are paid, that’s the largest gender pay gap in the nation.

     

    A bill supported by Governor Bobby Jindal passed out of the House Criminal Justice committee today. The measure by Kenner Representative Julie Stokes would make it illegal to share a sexual picture of a person without their consent. Stokes says this form of harassment has become a common problem among young adults. The measure now heads to the house floor.

     

    An LSU Public Policy Polling survey done for the state’s film industry shows 48% of those polled said they had a positive opinion of the state’s film tax credit program. The poll shows 80% of Louisianians agree it’s good for the economy to have movies made here. Legislators have to yet to even debate the various bills dealing with the state’s film tax credit program in this session.

     

    A teacher from Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge has been arrested and charged with having an alleged sexual relationship with a 15 year-old boy in 2013. East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Detectives arrested 27 year-old Amber Anderson and charged her with Felony Carnal Knowledge Of A Juvenile. The victim told detectives the two of them also exchanged sexually explicit text messages.

     

    There was a two cent jump in the price of gas last night. Today’s statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.26 according to AAA.

     

    The Lafayette Council Chairman is working with local Grammy award winning zydeco musician Chubby Carrier are teaming up in support of an ordinance to ban smoking in bars and clubs. Council chair Kenneth Boudreaux says the goal is to protect musicians and servers from second hand smoke. The New Orleans ban went into effect at midnight this morning.

     

    Blue Bell has recalled all its frozen products on continued threats of a Listeria Bacteria. Authorities now believe there are 10 illnesses linked to the ice cream over the last 5 years. State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoul Ratard says once the CDC put two and two together, the company was informed and Blue Bell took proper action. Health Officials say If you have any Blue Bell products, as hard as it may be, throw it away.

     

    A bicyclist in Ouachita Parish is dead following a crash on Highway 165 just south of Monroe at about 1:30 am Tuesday morning. State Police say that 36 bike rider tried to cross the road and was hit by a car driven by 22 year-old Tommy Coleman. Coleman was cited for speeding, and no license, or plate., but not for the accident.

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  • News for Tuesday 042115

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee was packed Monday with people waiting to hear what would happen with a bill that would repeal Louisiana’s inventory tax. It’s a critical piece of legislation when it comes to balancing the state’s budget in the face of a one-point-six billion dollar deficit. But the bill’s author, Benton Senator Robert Adley, decided not to move forward, because there are questions over the exact fiscal impact of his measure.

     

    The move by Adley resulted in the House Ways and Means committee re-adjusting it’s agenda for Today  as the panel removed all bills that are considered revenue generating and that includes a bill to raise the state’s cigarette tax and a measure that would put an end to the film tax credit program in 2019.

     

    US Senator David Vitter announces that he has raised over $5.2 million in his campaign for governor, with $4.2 million in cash on hand.  More than $1.1 million dollars was raised by Vitter in the first quarter of this year.

     

    The state’s Democrats versus Republicans flag football game in Tiger Stadium Sunday raised over $20,000 for the families of the Louisiana National Guardsmen who were killed in the Black Hawk helicopter crash.

     

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Independent or “No Party” voters is the fastest growing group of registered voters in Louisiana. Schedler says “other” party registration has increased by nearly 75-hundred since last summer. Schedler says the “No Party” trend is not just happening in Louisiana, it’s happening across the country. Schedler believes the rise in independent or no party voters is the result of the constant bickering between the republican and democratic party on the national level.

     

    An effort to have an anti-Common Core bill bypass the House Education committee for a hearing by the full House was defeated Monday. Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann made a motion to move House Bill 373 directly to the House floor, but members of the House Education Committee opposed the effort. Geymman’s motion failed on a 62-36 vote.

     

    A bill that would taper off the transfer of money from the state’s road and bridge fund to state police clears the House appropriations committee. The measure would limit the of dollars going to LSP from the Transportation Trust Fund to $40 million starting in July, then $25 million next year and $10 million in future years. Lafayette Representative Terry Landry is the bill’s author. Landry says there is a $12 billion dollar backlog of road and bridge projects and the fund to address that needs to be left alone. The measure heads to the House Floor.

     

    Today’s funeral services for R&B star and longtime Baton Rouge resident Percy Sledge will be streamed online at percyseldge.org. You can watch live started at 10:30am the visitation at Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker. The funeral starts at 11.

     

    Military officials say a North Carolina based Army paratrooper was killed during a training exercise at Fort Polk. An Army spokesperson says 19-year-old Pvt. Joshua Phillips of Las Vegas, Nevada died while parachuting during an exercise. The cause of Phillips’s death is currently under investigation and no further information is being released. Phillips was a member of the 82nd Airborne and joined the Army in 2014

     

    Gas prices have been inching back up over the past week. Gasbuddy.com says the price right now is $2.23 which is 6 cents up from last Monday. Senior Petroleum analyst Gregg Laskoski says part of the reason for the increase this week in crude oil prices is an overreaction by traders to data that came out from the Department of Energy showing a bump in inventory.

    He says the good news is that prices today are about $1.24 less than what we were paying a year ago.

     

    According to an LSU Public Policy Polling survey done for the state’s film industry, 80% of Louisianians agree it’s good for the economy to have movies made here. The survey also found that about half of the public isn’t aware that Louisiana is No. 1 in the nation for movie production. Baton Rouge’s Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn says movies mean jobs. 48% of those polled said they had a positive opinion of the film tax credit program. Mulhearn says while not perfect, the tax benefits are helping put money in people’s pockets.

     

    This is National Infant Immunization Week and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals encourages families to get their infants immunized. DHH Immunization Medical Director, Dr. Frank Welch, says people need vaccinations across their lifespans, but this week the focus is on babies. DHH immunization programs educate parents and health care providers to protect infants and toddlers from vaccine-preventable diseases. Welch says part of National Infant Immunization Week is encouraging parents to contact their pediatrician to not only make sure their babies are protected, but protected on time.

     

    St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne  reports  that the condition of Cpl. Burt Hazeltine  is improving. Last Wednesday he was shot multiple times in an ambush by a disgruntled driver. Hazeltine is in University Hospital in stable condition with a surgery scheduled for today

     

    The Claiborne Building near the state capitol which houses the Division of Administration and Department of Education was evacuated Monday due to a bomb threat. In a joint statement Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols and State Superintendent John White said the Education Department got the threat over the weekend and state police recommended the evacuation so the building could be swept.

     

    The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office is looking for a man they believe stole three utility trailers full of tools from Habitat for Humanity — a Christian-based ministry that builds and renovates houses for families in need. They say anyone with information on the whereabouts of 35 year old Jeremy Rogers of Gray is urged to call Crimestoppers for a reward.

     

    First Lady Michelle Obama was in New Orleans Monday joining others to discuss the city’s success in the area of finding homes for veterans who were living on the streets. According to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office, New Orleans in December became the first city in the country to end veteran homelessness among those who were willing to get help.

     

     

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  • News for Monday 042015

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Today marks the five year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, which is considered America’s worst environment disaster ever. An estimated three to four million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf for 87 days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. But LSU department of environmental sciences professor Ed Overton is impressed with how well the Gulf has bounced back. Overton says we’re lucky the oil that discharged from the damaged well was highly degradable and the gulf is well acclimated to degrade oil.

     

    Oilfield services giant Schlumberger has announced plans to lay off approximately 11,000 additional employees due to the reduction in oil prices. LSU Economist Loren Scott says oil companies are dealing with oil prices roughly half of what they were a year ago. He says the drop in oil prices has led to a decline in exploration and production, mainly on land rigs. When those rigs aren’t drilling, there is less need for service companies. In January, Schlumberger announced they were reducing their workforce by 9,000 employees.

     

    This week lawmakers will begin public hearings on how to deal with the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit. Legislation that would raise more revenue will get their first hearing today in the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee. Governor Bobby Jindal says dealing with this deficit will be complicated, but feels conversations so far have been very positive. Jindal says the state could raise over half a billion dollars by taking away refunds given to businesses for 12 different taxes. Jindal says it would be wrong to protect these tax credits and then make deeper cuts to higher ed and health care.

     

    The House Ways and Means Committee will begin hearing tax bills tomorrow. One proposed tax to generate more revenue that has received a lot of talk would raise the cigarette tax in Louisiana to the national average.

     

    A new poll on the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire says Governor Bobby Jindal is someone to keep an eye on after receiving the best favorability rating out of all the presidential hopefuls. Tom Jensen with Public Policy Polling says Jindal’s favorability rating was 43-percent. He says it really stuck out on this poll. Jensen says Jindal has recently been excluded from their Republican presidential polls after consistently polling in last place. He says these new favorability numbers could see Jindal’s name thrown back in the mix.

     

    The chairwoman of the Louisiana House Transportation Committee proposes a one cent sales tax that could generate $7 billion dollars over the next decade to help fund roads and bridges. Pierre Part Representative Karen St. Germain also has a bill that would increase the state tax on gasoline based on the price at the pump to help offset depletion of revenues that are supposed to be dedicated to improving highway capacity and infrastructure.

     

    Sports..

     

    LSU quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris combined to throw for 420 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s spring game. Harris threw for 178 yards and two scores, Jennings had 242 passing and two TDs. Coach Les Miles likes how the two developed over the spring, but they still need to get more consistent.

     

    Louisiana Tech also completed spring practice on Saturday and three quarterbacks for the Bulldogs threw touchdown passes. Jeff Driskel threw for 269 yards and four touchdowns, Ryan Higgins had 214 passing yards and one TD and Price Wilson threw for 181 yards and a TD. Coach Skip Holtz says all three of them showed they are capable.

     

     

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  • News for Friday 041715

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Central Louisiana saw some of the worst flooding we’ve seen in years yesterday as for hours the clouds just opened up. A foot of water in the roads in many areas of town was the norm. In some cases there was a lot more. Several homes and businesses around the south traffic circle had water in their buildings. Tim Humphrey, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Lake Charles, said a gauge south of Alexandria International Airport recorded 6.4 inches of rain. That amount varied a lot depending upon where you happened to be. Forecasters say we could see more rain anytime throughout the weekend.

     

    The Rapides Parish Police Jury has voted unanimously to renew its contract with the Acadian Ambulance service  through Oct. 31, 2019. The renewal is in the form of two two-year terms, for a total of four years. Under the contract Acadian will continue to provide exclusive emergency and non-emergency ambulance services in the Parish.

     

    The chairwoman of the Louisiana House Transportation Committee said Thursday that she is sponsoring a one-cent state sales tax hike for roads and bridges that would raise $675 million per year. State Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, said the increase, which faces massive political hurdles, is needed to tackle Louisiana’s $12 billion backlog of transportation needs. The tax hike would raise about $7 billion over 10 years.

     

    The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Department is calling Thursday morning’s shooting of a deputy directing traffic at a school crossing, an ambush. 36-year-old Corporal Burt Hazeltine is in stable, but guarded condition. Captain Pat Yoes says when other deputies arrived, the suspect dropped the gun and surrendered. The 56 year old suspect  reportedly got angry at the deputy over being held up in school traffic.

     

    With lawmakers facing a one-point-six billion dollar budget deficit, Governor Bobby Jindal stands behind his efforts to cut government spending instead of raising taxes. Jindal says it has led to a strong job market and growing economy. Jindal made those comments during a wide-ranging discussion with reporters at the state capitol. The governor was also asked about how many out-of-state trips he plans to take during the legislative session. The governor did not give a number. As far as a plan to deal with the state’s budget shortfall, Jindal says those conversations are ongoing.

     

    The state House and Senate did not meet Thursday and they are off today as well, but that’s not stopping the debate over a so-called religious freedom bill. Governor Jindal says the bill will not lead to discrimination of same sex couples, instead it protects businesses from being punished by the state for their religious belief in traditional marriage. The governor says, passing the bill this legislative session it one of his top priorities.

     

    Louisiana’s health advocacy groups see an opportunity this legislative session to get a long-sought cigarette tax hike in a state that has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country. As lawmakers look to raise new money to plug a $1.6 billion budget hole, at least 10 tobacco tax measures have been filed for debate.

     

    The number of Formosan subterranean termites are rising in Louisiana and homeowners should take precautions against them. LSU AgCenter Entomologist Gregg Henderson says these termites build shelter tubes as they move up a home’s foundation. He says if you think your home may have termites, you should get an inspection.

     

    The LSU football team completes spring practice on Saturday with the annual spring game. The scrimmage will give quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris another opportunity to show whether they should be the starting quarterback next season.

     

    Louisiana Tech will hold its spring game on Saturday. The coaching staff has divided the team into two squads and Coach Skip Holtz says Saturday is like a final exam, especially for the younger players on the roster.

     

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  • News for Thursday 041615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    BESE unanimously approves a process that will be used to review the state’s controversial Common Core academic standards. President Chas Roemer says the goal is to improve current standards where necessary instead of rewriting them. Roemer says the public will have the opportunity to review and provide input on every standard, and all related meetings will be open to all. He says this is not about being pro or anti-Common Core, it’s about finding out what should be expected of children who are learning.

     

    State Police report, a Jonesville man and woman died late Tuesday night in a crash that may have been caused by excessive speed.  A 4-year-old child survived the crash.

     

    Over 100 college students gathered on the steps of the state capitol yesterday to rally against proposed budget cuts to public universities. Nearly all of Louisiana’s colleges were represented and many held up signs that said “No Funding, No Future”. UNO student David Teagle says these cuts equate to the theft of the future of Louisiana.

     

    The results of a six-month study of wait times at veterans medical facilities were mixed for the Alexandria Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the medical center was below the national average, but three of the four clinics it operates beat the average. The Associated Press gathered data on wait times at nearly 1,000 Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities from September through February. It concluded that, despite major reforms and billions of dollars spent, the number of veterans facing long waits for care has not significantly dropped.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal and Dallas-based Monster Moto announce the company will establish a headquarters and manufacturing facility in Ruston. The project includes a $4 million investment to build a 100,000 square foot facility at the former site of Ruston’s municipal airport. Monster Moto manufactures minibikes, go-carts, and other youth oriented vehicles. Construction on the facility will begin in June and operations are expected to begin by the end of the year. Monster Moto’s move will create 287 direct jobs for north Louisiana over the next decade.

     

    The ACLU of Louisiana is calling on the candidates for Governor to address the state’s massive incarceration problem. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says the all of the gubernatorial candidates are talking about more about fixing the state’s budget problem, and overlooking a serious crisis. Esman says we are the world’s incarceration leader, jailing more people per capita than any place on the planet.

     

    The Natchitoches Police Department says the assistant principal at Frankie Ray Jackson Senior Technical Center is under arrest for allegedly paddling a teacher. Captain Chris Payne says they got the complaint in February that a female teacher at the school. 64-year-old Hugo Vogel of Goldonna was arrested this week for simple battery and was later released on $303 bond. Motive for the alleged battery is unclear.

     

    As we look ahead to the 2016 presidential election, how big of a roll will social media play? Both Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz used Twitter to announce they were running and Senator Marco Rubio’s announcement was shared thousands of times on Facebook. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says social media is great to get out positive feel-good messages, but it’s also effective in spreading negative messages as well. He says you’ll see a combination of both as the presidential race gets going…

     

    Sinkholes will now be recognized as threats in the state’s updated hazard mitigation plan. Louisiana is working on the five year plan which must be in place to receive federal money after natural and manmade disasters. This is the first time the state is going to map salt domes and their surrounding 1 mil radius in each parish. Authorities believe a failed salt dome caused a nearly 30 acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish in 2012.

     

    Oceana has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in an attempt to protect sea turtles from shrimp trawl nets. The suit alleges that the Endangered Species Act is being violated as 53,000 endangered sea turtles are allowed to be killed every year in the Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery off the Louisiana coast.

     

    A transgender Lake Charles man has filed a federal sex discrimination lawsuit against his former employer. 21-year-old Tristan Broussard alleges he was fired from Tower Loan last year when it was discovered he used to be a woman. The suit alleges that during a review of Broussard’s employment paperwork, it was noticed that his driver’s license listed his sex as female. After the company’s vice president found out, Broussard was terminated.

     

    The New Orleans Pelicans are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 as they defeated the defending NBA champion, San Antonio Spurs, 108-103.

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  • News for Wednesday 041515

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A Louisiana music legend has left us. Percy Sledge passed away at his Baton Rouge home early Tuesday morning, after a battle with cancer. The man who recorded “When A Man Loves A Woman” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Louisiana Music Hall in 2007. Percy Sledge was 73.

     

    Alexandria utility customers from 1995 to 2005 may finally get the long-proposed rebates from the city’s settlement of a lawsuit against Cleco. The amount of the potential rebates, which most likely will be in the form of lower utility bills, is undetermined, but it would involve more than $6.5 million, with more than 70 percent of that  going to big corporate and government customers. That means the amount of the total rebates available for residential customers would be less than 30 percent.

     

    Today is tax day and even though many have already settled up with Uncle Sam, there are still millions who have yet to file and are waiting till the last minute. If you’re filing electronically it must be done by midnight. But Bill Potter, a CPA in Baton Rouge, says if you don’t think you’re gonna make it then you can file an extension. If you make less than $60,000 a year you can log on to irs.gov and choose from several different commercial software companies that let you file your taxes for free. Potter says one of the most common mistakes people make is getting their social security number wrong. He says it’s also important to report ALL your income.

     

    State legislators are weeks away from settling on a solution to Louisiana’s huge budget deficit, but on Tuesday, they said one thing is clear: They don’t expect much help from Gov. Bobby Jindal in solving the problem. Lawmaker after lawmaker,  Democrats and Republicans alike,  expressed disappointment that Jindal in his 21-minute address kicking off the 2015 legislative session on Monday didn’t offer more substantive ideas to help close a $1.6 billion deficit projected for the upcoming year. Several of them noted that Jindal ended his speech by wishing them good luck, as if, said state Sen. Robert Adley “the problem is in our laps, and we need to solve it.”

     

    Louisianians who depend on state health for health care services are urging lawmakers not to cut services that Governor Bobby Jindal has on the chopping block to cut for next year’s budget. Some parents of disabled children made their case to the House Appropriations Committee for budget changes.

     

    Louisiana college students will rally at the state capitol this afternoon to express their concerns about a potential 600-million dollar cut in state funding to public colleges and universities. Stephanie Travis, who chairs the council of student body presidents, says she started at Southeastern Louisiana in 2009 and has seen how previous budget cuts have impacted the Hammond campus. Lawmakers are looking at how they can preserve higher education, but finding ways to raise revenue to prevent drastic cuts will be difficult. Travis says raising tuition on students is NOT the answer.

     

    Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson took to the House floor Tuesday to try and clear up some of the misconceptions of his so-called religious freedom bill. Johnson says his bill does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians. He says it’s only an attempt to safe guard religious freedom. But state representative John Bel Edwards says the legislation is vaguely written. Johnson plans to change the language in his bill, when it gets its first hearing in the House Civil Law committee.

     

    Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush endorses US Senator David Vitter in this year’s governor’s race. Bush will appear with Vitter today at a fundraising event in New Orleans. Vitter has also picked up endorsements from presidential hopefuls Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

     

    The Miss USA Pageant announces they will be returning to Louisiana for the July 12th, 2015 live broadcast from the Baton Rouge River Center at 7 pm on NBC. Last year, the pageant attracted about 5.5 million viewers and created over two and a half million dollars in hotel revenue.

     

    If the Pelicans win tonight against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs they are in the Western Conference playoffs for the first time since 2011. Pelicans head coach Monty Williams says the players are embracing the situation before them.

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  • News for Tuesday 041415

    By Dave Graichen

     

    It’s going to be an extremely wet week in Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry Keim says there is a 80 percent or higher chance for rain through Friday. He says you can expect waves of gulf moisture to produce downpours.

     

    The Rapides Parish Police Jury wants to ensure the needed public infrastructure is in place to accommodate the aluminum alloy plant to be built at the old International Paper Mill near  Pineville. The Police Jury on Monday voted unanimously to authorize jury President Richard Billings to take actions to facilitate the ASA plant locating in Rapides Parish. The assistance would come in the form of “grant applications and other legislatively created financing opportunities” to help ASA with its public infrastructure needs related to roads, water, sewer, rail and port access .

     

    The two month long legislative session is now underway in Baton Rouge. Governor Bobby Jindal delivered his opening remarks. Many are saying this has the potential to be one of the most challenging sessions in decades as lawmakers deal with a $1.6 billion dollar budget deficit.

     

    There were three priorities laid out yesterday by Governor Bobby Jindal to both houses of the legislature on the opening day of the legislative session yesterday. At the top of the list was balancing the budget without a tax increase. He also said he would work to do away with Common Core, then he mentioned his full support of the Religious Freedom Bill from Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson

     

    Education is going to be a huge topic this legislative session. One of the bills seeks to add more quality substitute teachers because of the shortage. Ville Platte Representative Bernard LeBas says HB 43 would raise the salary cap to 50 percent of benefits for retired teachers to sub because it’s currently just 25%. He says the whole idea is to offer our students the best possible education.

     

    Today and tomorrow members of the public will have a chance to lobby before the House Appropriations Committee about what they would like to see funded in next fiscal year’s budget. Because of a $1.6 billion dollar shortfall, money is tight and several government services are facing massive cuts.

     

    The House Democratic Caucus says Medicaid expansion and state funding for higher ed are their top priorities in this legislative session. Baton Rouge Representative Ted James, says democrats will not approve a budget for next fiscal year, if the legislature doesn’t pass a bill that allows the state to receive federal dollars so more low-income residents can receive Medicaid. There’s talk about giving public colleges more autonomy to raise tuition or passing additional fees on students. James says the democratic party opposes both efforts. Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, state representative John Bel Edwards, says there’s enough democrats in the legislature that can prevent the passing of bills that raise college tuition costs for students.

     

    It was a tough first day of session for a Covington lawmaker. Representative Paul Hollis was driving his Audi A8 through a parking lot at the Capitol when a new security system on the grounds went off and two upright structures shot up and through the front of the car. Hollis said he hit his windshield and his airbag also deployed.

     

    Two law enforcement officers have been arrested on racketeering charges in a case where they allegedly planted drugs on an individual. A spokesman with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office says State Trooper Corey Jackson and Lafayette Parish Deputy Jason Kinch were arrested. The case involved over $100,000 in cash payments to a number of people including the two officers. Warrants for co-conspirators have been issued.

     

    While the rest of nation has experienced a slight increase in the price of gas, Louisiana average prices are staying about the same. According to GasBuddy.com, the average price for regular gasoline in $2.17 a gallon. The projections still predict summertime gas levels to approach the lows of 2009.

     

    Alexandria police have arrested 64 year old Robert Charles Lee Jr., after he was involved in a Saturday night hit and run accident on Broadway. Lee charged with third-offense DWI, reckless operation, hit and run, having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle and the illegal carrying of a weapon.

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  • News for Monday 041315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    State Police graduated 58 brand new troopers Friday from Cadet Class #93. Sergent Nick Manale says the cadets have trained in crash investigations, emergency vehicle operations, impaired driving detection, and traffic incident management. He says the addition of these graduates puts the number of troopers statewide at about 1000.

     

    State Police say a single vehicle crash in Rapides Parish has taken the life of a Dry Prong man. Authorities say 31-year-old Donald Johnson lost control of his vehicle and exited the roadway where the vehicle began overturning. Johnson, who was unrestrained at the time of the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene. This crash remains under investigation.

     

    What is expected to be a very difficult legislative session begins today in Baton Rouge. Lawmakers will have until June 11th to approve a spending plan that takes into account a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall. Senate President John Alario says legislators are looking at ways to generate more state revenue. There are several bills that seek to increase the tax on tobacco products, but for the governor to approve them, there has to be a tax cut somewhere else to offset new revenue. Alario says it will take several weeks before lawmakers can agree on a plan.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal will provide the opening address as the legislative session gets underway today. The question is how involved will the governor be as lawmakers grapple with a $1.6 billion budget deficit? Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says it’s important for Jindal to be active this session. He doesn’t think the legislative session will stop Jindal from traveling outside the state pursuing his presidential hopes. However, Pinsonat says you can’t run for president when the state you’re supposed to be running is a disaster.

     

    Even though the massive budget deficit will by far be the biggest issue lawmakers will be dealing with this session, there are still many other issues on the agenda as well. LaPolitics.com publisher Jeremy Alford says Common Core will be one of the major items that will distract from the budget.  Alford says even with the budget issues and the complicated tax situations on the table, lawmakers will still find time to touch that third rail of Louisiana politics.

     

    One of the bills set to be discussed during the 2015 legislative session would raise the base pay for severs from $2.13 per hour to at least minimum wage. Monroe Representative Marcus Hunter says whether you get good tips or not, $2.13 an hour is deplorable pay for any worker

    Hunter says he doesn’t want to continue to see hard working people who are committed to serving their businesses go home with less than minimum wage.

     

    The fourth ranked LSU baseball took two of three from Auburn this past weekend. The Tigers lost for just the sixth time all season on Saturday, but rebounded with a six-to-two win on Sunday to avoid their first two-game losing streak of the season.

     

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  • News for Friday 041015

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Louisiana is about to get really wet as thunderstorms cloud the forecast for the next several days. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a slow moving cold front is pushing through the state today and looks to be hanging around into at least Monday. Keim says as far as rain totals go, the state can expect at least two inches with higher totals in isolated areas.

     

    The Colorado State University forecast team is predicting the 2015 Hurricane season will be below average and about 45 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2014′s tropical cyclone activity was about 75 percent average. The lead author of the report is Dr. Phil Klotzbach who says if the forecast holds true, it would be the third quiet Gulf hurricane season in a row.

     

    State Rep. Lance Harris will again seek to create a regional port for Rapides Parish. Harris says he will file a bill for a regional port authority, which would include the Port of Alexandria.

    Last year, Harris’ bill to expand the territorial limits of the Port of Alexandria to all of Rapides Parish died in committee. But he says they have a very good chance to work it out this year.( A Louisiana Economic Development report shows a regional port is needed and the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance support that concept.) The Port of Alexandria currently handles about 120,000 tons of cargo a year, but it is running out of land for development.

     

    Plans are moving forward to sell the remainder of the state Tobacco settlement money .

    If the Legislature approves, the state would raise $300 million from the sale of the settlement sometime before June 30; another $300 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1; and the remaining amount for $150 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016. But, the state won’t be the only one coming into some quick onetime cash if the plan is approved. Lawyers, financial advisors and underwriters will get paid $1.29 million for their efforts.

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy announces he’ll seek re-election this fall ending long-time speculation that he’d run for governor or attorney general. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this is a good move on Kennedy’s part. Stockley says many people believe Kennedy has his eye on the US Senate seat that could come open if David Vitter becomes Governor.

     

    Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is very concerned about how some universities will be able to operate if lawmakers are not able to come up with a funding solution to the state’s one-point-six billion dollar budget deficit. Rallo says higher ed is facing a potential cut of about 600-million dollars in state funds. Over the next several weeks lawmakers will discuss ways to generate revenue so that the cuts to higher ed are minimal.

     

    Real estate millionaire Robert Durst entered a not guilty plea to a couple of weapons charges in a New Orleans court Thursday. The weapons arrest has kept Durst in Louisiana, although he had waived his extradition to Los Angeles, where he is charged with the 2000 shooting death of 55 year-old Susan Berman.

     

    The 32-year-old Destrehan teacher accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student has reached a plea deal with the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s office. Under the terms of the deal, Shelley Dufrense avoids jail time, but she’ll have to complete 90 days of treatment at a mental health facility. Dufrense also faces charges out of Jefferson Parish, along with another former teacher, where an alleged threesome took place with the same 16-year-old student.

     

    New Orleans Representative Joseph Bouie files legislation that would transfer regulation of cable and satellite companies to the Public Service Commission. He says currently the Secretary of State’s office is responsible for the certification and regulation of cable and video entities. Bouie says he’s heard many complaints and concerns from people who feel like cable and satellite companies aren’t held to the same rules as their other utilities.

     

    Republican Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson says he plans to amend the religious freedom bill he has filed amid public concerns but gay rights advocacy groups want the legislation pulled altogether. Johnson says he’ll remove a paragraph in the bill that some believed gave businesses the right to deny benefits to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs. Gay rights groups feel this bill legalizes discrimination and are banding together in opposition to Johnson’s legislation

     

    The streets of Ponchatoula will be packed this weekend as the 44th annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival gets underway today. 2015 Festival Chairman Donald Lanier says this is the largest free festival in Louisiana. Strawberries are the focal point of the festival, which runs through Sunday, but there is lots more for people to enjoy. Live music will be featured all weekend long. Of course food is always an attraction plus carnival rides and a parade tomorrow morning.

     

    The LSU Tigers put their six-game winning streak on the line tonight when they host Auburn to begin a weekend set with the War Eagles. Tonight’s game is set to begin at 7 PM, but the forecast doesn’t look good for the weekend as there’s an 80 to 90-percent chance of rain each day.

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  • News for Thursday 040915

    By Dave Graichen

     

    It has been a long time coming, but, it appears the renovation of the Rapides Parish Coliseum will begin in about two weeks. The Police Jury on Wednesday unanimously approved an agreement with the city of Alexandria, allowing the Coliseum renovation work to begin. The City Council unanimously signed off on the deal on Tuesday. It’s expected work should be completed in about two years.

     

    State Police is investigating an Iberia Parish crash which claimed the life of a Jeanerette Police officer. Master Trooper Brooks David says 22-year-old Juandre Gilliam was conducting a traffic stop when the suspect fled. Detectives determined the cop crashed his car in the chase and it overturned. The officer was pronounced dead at the scene. There are two suspects, one a juvenile, and charges are pending in the tragedy.

     

    House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Karen St. Germain of Pierre Part files a bill that would increase Louisiana’s gasoline tax by 4 cents a gallon. The funds, about $120 million per year, would be dedicated to the state’s roads and bridges on a local level. The measure was also submitted by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley of Benton. Dollars raised by the increased tax would go to the Parish Transportation Fund which finances local projects.

     

    Republican US Senator David Vitter has picked up another endorsement for his campaign for Louisiana governor Wednesday. Fifth district Congressman Ralph Abraham announced that he is throwing his support to the Senator, saying Vitter has released a clear plan to stabilize the budget through spending and tax reform.

     

    With just a few days left before the start of the legislative session, the head of Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is concerned about a proposal to eliminate refunds businesses receive for paying an inventory tax to local governments. LABI president Stephen Waguespack says you’ll see companies leaving the state if it happens. As a way to soften cuts to higher ed and health care, the Jindal administration has proposed scaling back inventory tax refunds. But Waguespack believes there’s other solutions, including eliminating the inventory tax all together.

     

    There is a bill filed for the upcoming legislative session that would essentially make playing fantasy football online for money legal. Right now in Louisiana, “play-for-cash” computer fantasy football would violate state gambling laws. The measure is by Metairie Representative Joe Lopinto who says there are numerous states which create gambling exceptions for fantasy football.

     

    The National Hurricane Museum and Science Center in Lake Charles has taken another big step toward opening, as the Stream family has made a pledge of one million dollars toward the project. The total amount contributed so far is about 40 million dollars, and Gray Stream says they’re about 15 million dollars away from the goal.

     

    Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden sort-of already spilled the beans Yesterday at a press conference, but it looks like the Miss USA pageant is officially once again coming to the Capitol City. The Baton Rouge Metro Council unanimously approved funding for the event in 2015 Wednesday afternoon.

     

    An Orleans Parish grand jury has indicted millionaire murder suspect Robert Durst on gun charges in Louisiana. Durst’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, has been attempting to get Durst extradited to California to face murder charges there. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this indictment means Durst won’t be going to California any time soon. Durst is charged for the 2000 shooting death of Susan Berman.

     

    The $30 million dollar expansion of Abita Brewing Company is now complete. This will more than double their old production output, and give them more National exposure, becoming a Founding Brewery Partner of Enjoy Beer Inc. which is an enterprise created to provide resources to top independent craft brewers on a national scale.

     

    LSU defensive back Jalen Mills will not have to go to trial on his simple battery case after accepting a one-year pretrial diversion program to resolve the charge. Prosecutors say included in the program is that Mills has to perform 30 hours of community service and can’t get arrested or do drugs. The charge stemmed from a woman who claimed Mills punched her last May.

     

    Blue Bell Creameries has expanded its recall of products they tested positive for Listeria. That recall includes Louisiana and 21 other states.

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  • News for Wednesday 040815

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Alexandria City Council have given it’s final approval to an agreement clearing the way for the Rapides Parish Coliseum renovation project to begin. In anticipation of that decision the city issued a building permit to the Rapides Parish Police Jury for the $22.9 million renovation project. The Police Jury is expected to sign off on the agreement today.

     

    Area lawmakers will discuss the upcoming legislative session in a forum set for Thursday in Pineville. The public is invited to the forum that will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. Central Louisiana legislators will talk about the session and answer questions from a panel made up of representatives of The Town Talk, KALB-TV and KLAX-TV. The legislative session begins Monday.

     

    An Alexandria man has been charged after allegedly firing shots at bystanders after an argument on Monday. The APD reports 23 Quentavis  Woodard was arrested shortly after the incident in the 2400 block of Harris Street Monday night.  Woodard was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with being a principal to attempted second- degree murder. No one was injured in the shooting.

     

    Louisiana public support for same-sex marriage is lagging behind the national average, but a recent LSU Public Policy Research Poll shows the gap between support and opposition is shrinking. A large majority of older Louisianians are opposed, while almost 60 percent of adults under 30 support it.

     

    The 2015 Louisiana Survey finds that state residents support the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, but not personal use. LSU Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says 52-percent of residents oppose the personal use of marijuana, but the difference between support and opposition is shrinking. 68-percent of 18 to 29 year olds support legalizing marijuana for personal use while 68-percent of residents 65 and older oppose it.

     

    Five major health advocacy groups are teaming up to launch a campaign in support of a bill to raise the state’s tax on cigarettes by $1.18 a pack. The American Heart Association is part of the “Invest in a Healthy Louisiana” campaign and its spokesperson Stasha Rhodes says it’s time to bring the state’s tax on cigarettes to the national average, which is a $1.54 a pack.

    Bogalusa Representative Harold Ritchie is sponsoring a bill to do just that.

     

    A bill to criminalize so-called ‘revenge porn” will be debated in the upcoming legislative session. Kenner representative Julie Stokes says she wants to ensure that people who spread private pictures without permission are held accountable.

     

    Louisiana education superintendent John White tells lawmakers he needs more money so the state can provide standardized tests next school year. White says the budget, as it currently exists, will prevent students from taking the A-C-T or an assessment test like PARCC. The Jindal administration has said White will have to decide what to cut from his budget. White says Louisiana will violate state and federal law if it doesn’t have  a standardized test.

     

    According to a report from the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana agriculture as a whole contributed $12.7 billion dollars to the state’s economy in 2014. The summary indicates net value for all sectors was up 7.6 percent, or $900 million dollars, from 2013. It’s the third year in a row Louisiana farmers broke records in the value of their commodities.

     

    The Department of Health and Hospitals has cut the ribbon on a new public health laboratory that will be used to test water, screen for genetic disorders and help the state respond to public health threats such as Ebola. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says this is a ultra-modern lab with all of the latest technology. Kliebert says the new lab site allows the state to better identify food outbreaks, test infectious disease samples and any number of other public health concerns.

     

    Four underage college students from Louisiana were issued summons’ in Alabama when busted hauling a trailer full of alcohol to Gulf Shores for spring break. Mobile County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Paul Burch says deputies noticed a trailer traveling on Interstate 10 with an expired tag. Burch says deputies found over 100 18-packs of beer.

     

    Another piece of Louisiana is being sold. Bruce Foods in New Iberia has sold it’s Original Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce to Georgia-based Southeastern Mills Inc. They say the purchase includes all of the property related to Bruce’s hot sauce business. Under the terms of the deal  Southeastern Mills will keep current workers and the plant in New Iberia.

     

    A new twist today in the Darren Sharper case Tuesday, as a New Orleans judge delayed the arraignment until the federal drug charges are resolved. That move means the previous plea deal for the former Saints star on drug and rape charges, is likely to change. Legal analyst Chick Foret says the Orleans Parish DA may not like, what many refer to as, a sweetheart deal.

     

    A high school in Monroe which previously told a gay female student that she was not allowed to wear a tuxedo to prom has now reversed it’s decision. The change of heart came after Carroll High School and Claudetteia Love’s story got national attention.

     

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  • News for Tuesday 040715

    By Dave Graichen

     

    An agreement that would enable the Rapides Parish Coliseum renovation project to begin is up for a vote this evening by the Alexandria City Council. The Police Jury needs clear ownership of certain property for parking in order to get an unconditional building permit from the city for the $22.9 million renovation project. The Police Jury has called a special meeting for 8:30 tomorrow to discuss the agreement.

     

    Alexandria mayor Jacques Roy held a briefing Monday to go over the proposed 2015-16 fiscal year budget for the city. Under the plan City employees would receive a pay raise of close to 3 percent. A public hearing will be held at tonight’s City Council meeting, and council members will meet at least three times over the next two weeks to hammer out details. The new budget takes effect May 1.

     

    According to the United States Public Interest Research Group, federal data from 2014 indicates that over 1,800 bridges in Louisiana need repairs. The Federal Highway Administration lists 1,837 bridges in Louisiana as “structurally deficient”. Louisiana Department of Transportation spokesman Rodney Mallett says a “structurally deficient” designation doesn’t mean a bridge is unsafe. It means the bridge has at least one component that needs repair or replacement. The state faces a $12 billion backlog in delayed road and bridge maintenance projects.

     

    The state Department of Education says Louisiana’s four-year high school graduation rate was at a record high in 2014 and increased for the fourth straight year. Superintendent John White says about 75% of students who entered 9th grade, graduated in 2014 which is a 1.1% increase over the prior year. White says this increase is a great sign for our state and a true testament to the hard work and devotion of teachers, principals and families. He says in the class of 2014, nearly 1600 more students graduated than did in the class of 2013 and nearly 3,440 more students than in 2011.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal made an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press to talk about the religious freedom debate that’s created a national controversy. Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson has filed a religious freedom bill in Louisiana. Jindal says this issue is about business owners that don’t want to have to choose between their religious beliefs and being able to operate their businesses. Johnson’s proposed bill would permit private businesses to deny the same benefits to same-sex couples as other married couples based on a religious objection.

     

    The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association says a study they commissioned found that movies made here created up to $4 billion dollars in economic output in 2013. The report by  HR&A Advisors says over 33,000 jobs and over $1.2 billion in personal income can be attributed to the state’s film tax credits. The report also pointed out  the movie industry attracts tourists to the state. Based on a survey of nearly 1400 recent visitors to Louisiana, 14.5% said they were spurred to visit Louisiana because of a television show or movie that was filmed here.

     

    Funeral services will be held today for Loreauvile Mayor Albert Broussard. Broussard was killed in a car crash Friday night when a vehicle crossed the center line and struck the vehicle he was riding in head on. Broussard served as Alderman for 24 years and was serving his third term as mayor at the time of his death. He was also a 1st Lieutenant in the Louisiana National Guard.

     

    Even though it’s been common knowledge that Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is running for governor, he made it official Monday. He says Louisiana is in horrible financial shape right now and he plans to go to work on budget matters from day one. Dardenne says his office will work to end the practice of using one-time money to pay for ongoing expenses. The LT. Governor is scheduled to make a campaign stop in Alexandria today.

     

    Republican US Senator David Vitter begins to unveil his plan on leading Louisiana into the future as governor. Vitter calls the plan “Together, Louisiana Strong”. He has released the first two chapters; one dealing with staying in touch with Louisiana citizens while governor and the second focusing on stabilizing the budget through spending and tax reform. Vitter says he would immediately call a special legislative session to deal exclusively with the budget crisis, if elected. His entire plan can be seen on his website.

     

    Former NFL star and Saints safety Darren Sharper entered a not guilty plea Monday afternoon in US District Court in New Orleans. Sharper faces federal charges that he drugged women to rape them. It’s expected Sharper will issue a guilty plea at a later date. He’ll also appear in state court today on similar charges. Sharper has already pleaded guilty or no contest on related charges in three other state and faces a nine-year prison sentence.

     

    There’s somebody on Craigslist who is selling what appears to be an authentic 2009 Saints Superbowl ring. The ad says the ring is currently owned by a former Saints player and is in perfect condition,  but it does not say who is selling the jewelry other than its location being in Atlanta, Georgia. The asking price is $45,000.

     

    Shreveport Police are looking for a 19-year-old man accused of firing a gun into a crowd gathered at a park, killing a 13-year-old boy. Witnesses told authorities a man was asked to leave the park after pulling a gun during an argument. They say, as he was driving off, he stopped and fired into the crowd. Keandre Broadway was shot and died later at a local hospital.

     

    Sports..

     

    LSU’s Austin Bain has been named SEC Co-Freshman of the week. Bain was outstanding out of the pen on Saturday as he pitched 6.2 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a career-high nine strikeouts in a win over Alabama. LSU hosts UNO tonight.

     

    The Pelicans, who are fighting to get into the NBA Playoffs, will host Golden State tonight. The Warriors have the best record in the NBA and we don’t want to sound negative but,

    New Orleans has lost 11 straight games to Golden State.

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  • News for Monday 040615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The investigation into the death of a Pineville man on Thursday of last week by a Rapides Parish Sheriff’s deputy continues. Over the weekend, the RPSO ID’d the man as 27 year old Aaron Rutledge, a Louisiana National Guard Recruiter who served overseas as a combat medic in 2013-14.  Rutledge, who friends described as a great guy, was shot and killed after he aimed a gun at an RPSO deputy, during a domestic disturbance call.

     

    A fire early Saturday morning on main street in Pineville claimed the life of a  68-year-old man.

    Fire officials report the building where the fire occurred, had  three apartments, two of which were occupied. Two men in one apartment escaped without injury. But,  Robert Rivers' body was found in one of the other apartments after the fire was extinguished. Rivers, who was physically-handicapped, had been battling illness for a prolonged period of time.

     

    The religious freedom debate which made national headlines in Indiana and Arkansas is coming to Louisiana. Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson has filed a bill that would prevent state government from penalizing a business or person for decisions made based on their religious views about marriage. Jeremy Alford, of la-politics-dot-com, says the big question is, with the state facing a huge budget deficit and the common core issue, will legislators even be willing to debate this issue.

     

    Lt Governor Jay Dardenne begins a statewide tour today to officially announce that he’s running for Governor. Dardenne will begin in Baton Rouge and Lafayette today, tomorrow he’ll visit Alexandria and Lake Charles. Wednesday it’s New Orleans then Thursday Monroe and Shreveport. Recent polls have shown Dardenne a distant third in the race behind the leading Republican David Vitter then the Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards.

     

    Data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, shows Louisiana’s personal income for the fourth quarter in 2014 grew by just 0.6 percent, which is last in the country. But LSU economist Loren Scott says a reason for the low growth is because Louisiana did not accept federal dollars to expand its Medicaid program. Scott says there’s fewer federal dollars flowing into the state to assist low-income or unemployed workers and that’s what led to the ranking.

     

    What is expected to be a very difficult legislative session begins a week from today as state lawmakers will try to come up with a fiscal plan to avoid large budget cuts to health care and higher education. Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert has been appointed as Governor Jindal’s legislative liaison. Hebert is familiar with the legislature as he’s served in the House and the Senate prior to becoming A-T-C Commissioner. He says while the state’s budget problems are difficult, he believes every crisis is an opportunity.

     

    Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper is scheduled for arraignment today in federal court and tomorrow in state court. The 39-year-old, who is accused of drugging and raping women in four states, struck a “global” plea deal to resolve all of the charges.  It’s been reported that Sharper will get 20 years in Louisiana, but will serve just nine under the multi- state deal.

     

    Haughton Representative Henry Burns, who has filed a bill that would require bar and restaurant patrons to have a designated driver, is now saying he will not try to seek approval of his measure in this session. Burns says he filed the legislation after hearing from families who have lost loved one as a result of drunk drivers, but he hasn’t figured out how the legislation could be enforced.

     

    A Baton Rouge woman is accused of leaving her three small children at home alone in squalid living conditions. After receiving an anonymous tip, police on Saturday found the children, ages 1, 3 and 5. The 3-year-old child had swollen eyes and was covered in welts, police said. It’s unclear how those injuries happened. The apartment also had no beds or electricity, and had feces and urine on the floors

     

     

     

    Sports..

     

    The LSU Tigers spent Easter Sunday relaxing after a long, but successful series in Hoover, Alabama. The Tigers completed a sweep of the Crimson Tide on Saturday with a 6-4 victory in 13 innings. It was the fourth extra-inning game for the Tigers in their last six SEC contests.

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  • News for Thursday 040215

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a man is behind bars on felony stalking charges after allegedly continuously harassing a female victim. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the woman told cops that 47-year-old Christopher Charles Lammons of Alexandria would not leave her alone. Carnline says a warrant was obtained for Lammons’ arrest as well as a search warrant for his residence for additional evidence. A new law that went into effect  last year, “Gwen’s Law”,  mandates that he stay in jail without bond .

     

    Authorities yesterday arrested an Avoyelles Parish corrections officer after she was accused of making a stop while transporting prisoners to let one of the inmates buy drugs. 47 year old  Michelle George faces charges of malfeasance in office, assisting escape and obstruction of justice.

     

    It was one of those traffic accidents that looked a lot worse than it actually was.. Three people suffered minor injuries Wednesday afternoon in Pineville shortly after noon at the intersection of highway 71 and Claiborne street. Pineville PD report a juvenile driving a PT Cruiser tried to turn onto Claiborne, but crashed into a passenger van, causing it to overturned and land on its roof. All those involved in the crash were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The wreck remains under investigation.  

     

    The prison population in Louisiana is going down for the first time in years. Secretary of Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc told the House Appropriations Committee that from 2006-2009 the state added about 1200 new prisoners a year, and at the pace, there would have been about 44,000 inmates at the end of 2014 instead of closing the year with about 38,000.

     

    The River Waterway Commission announced yesterday Public boat ramps in Rapides and Avoyelles parishes have reopened. Still, the commission is advising boaters to use caution when launching into the current and to be highly aware of obstacles, such as trees and sandbars, while navigating the Red River.

     

    Opelousas Senator Elbert Guillory files a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if life begins at conception. Guillory says his proposed change to the constitution would give unborn children the same legal rights that all other people enjoy Guillory says the constitutional amendment will also make abortions automatically illegal, if Roe versus Wade is overturned. The legislation is referred to as “personhood” but similar proposals have failed to pass in other states.

     

    The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating a Donaldsonville shooting Wednesday Morning , where a 9 year-old boy was shot while sleeping in his bed. Authorities say the house was hit multiple times. The little boy has been released from the hospital. Police say so far, no suspects.

     

    The New Orleans Police Department says they’ve arrested a suspect in the killing of a Dominos pizza delivery driver. They say 24-year-old Michael Portis is believed to be responsible for the fatal shooting of 36-year-old Michael Price who was a married father of three. There was a $15,000 reward being offered in the case and cops say it was multiple tips to Crime stoppers which help lead detectives to Portis.

     

    A former Elton High School teacher and basketball coach has pleaded guilty to having inappropriate sexual relationships with students. 35-year-old Justin Fruge pleaded guilty to one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Fruge faces up to ten years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for July 20.

     

    The Louisiana SPCA is encouraging folks to celebrate Easter responsibly and think before you buy live bunnies and chicks as pets. Spokeswoman Destinie (Destiny) Hammond says hundreds of rabbits are turned in to local shelters or released into the wild shortly after the Easter holiday. Hammond says when it comes to Easter bunnies, they encourage you to go chocolate.

     

    The LSU baseball team begins a three-game series tonight against Alabama. The series will NOT be played in Tuscaloosa, because of ongoing renovations with Alabama’s ball park. So the games will be played just outside of Birmingham at the same ball park where the SEC Tournament is held.

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  • News for Wednesday 040115

    By Dave Graichen

     

    While flirting with a run for president in 2016, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has made another shuffle among his upper staff,  just days before the start of the last legislative session of his final term in office. Leaving the governor’s office are Deputy Chief of Staff Taylor Teepell and Legislative Affairs director Matt Parker. The Des Moines Register reports that Teepell and Parker are relocating to Iowa to help build a team there if Jindal runs for president. Jindal has said he won’t announce a run until after the legislative session ends in June.

     

    As Governor Bobby Jindal travels across the country to increase face time for a potential run at the White House, the expenses for his State Police Security detail have gone up. Colonel Mike Edmonson says the price tag for his agency is $2.2 million dollars on travel expenses.

     

    The four candidates looking to be Louisiana’s next governor met yesterday for a forum that was hosted by Louisiana small business leaders. All four candidates were not shy about criticizing Governor Bobby Jindal and his use of the Americans for Tax Reform to help with the state’s budget problems. All candidates said they oppose Jindal’s proposal to scale back the corporate inventory tax.

     

    A poll conducted by LSU finds Louisiana residents oppose education standards that are called Common Core, but support the concept. Doctor Michael Henderson, director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, says when citizens were asked if they support Common Core, only 39-percent said yes. Henderson says when they didn’t use the term “Common Core” and asked residents if they support higher academic standards that allows Louisiana to compare student achievement with other states 67-percent support it. Henderson says the political fighting over Common Core shows that it has tainted the Common Core brand.

     

    Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue files legislation that he says will control the cost of the TOPS scholarship program. Donahue says under his bill a baseline would be set on how much a student receives for tuition and that dollar amount will not go up in future years, unless the legislature votes to change it. Every year the cost of the TOPS program for the state grows by the millions, because of rising tuition costs at public colleges. Donahue under his bill the TOPS award stays the same for a student through their college career, even if tuition goes up.

     

    According to gasbuddy-dot-com, the statewide average for a gallon of regular gas is $2.19 cents a gallon. That’s two cents less than a week ago.

     

    Indiana is taking a lot of heat for its new “religious freedom” law. Sarah Jane Brady, with the Forum for Equality, hopes Louisiana can learn from Indiana when they push a law in the upcoming session that protects against discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. In the past, lawmakers have shot down bills to protect the L-G-B-T community.

     

    Baton Rouge representative Dalton Honore files a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would require all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. He says there have been recent incidents around the country where body cameras would have answered a lot of questions. Honore feels that a body camera is a great tool in keeping everyone honest.

    Honore’s bill does not provide additional funding for law enforcement to purchase the body cameras.

     

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana alleges that a principal at an  Elementary school in Shreveport, engaged in unlawful religious coercion by using God, prayer, and Christianity in school publications. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman say they recently learned of a newsletter the principal sent home to parents ahead of standardized testing. In a response, Caddo Parish Public Schools say they are investigating and taking steps to ensure school employees are not violating the Constitution.

     

     

    An $8,500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot a bald eagle in Caddo Parish. Officials says the bald eagle had wounds to its chest and left wing and because of the severity of the injuries, the eagle was euthanized.

     

    It’s the peak of crawfish harvest season and the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office is increasing patrols around crawfish ponds to deter thieves from stealing crawfish. Lt. Clay Higgins says deputies have been guarding ponds annually since 2011. He says a thief could get two years of hard labor for stealing just a few sacks of crawfish.

     

    The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office says an Opelousas woman is under arrest on charges of improper sexual contact with juveniles. Authorities were alerted to 35-year-old Francesca Spears after the parents of a teenage boy she was contacting reported her sending inappropriate sexual messages to him. An investigation found that two other juveniles were involved.

     

    The Grant Parish Sheriff's Office is asking the public to donate used bicycles. The bikes will be taken to the "bike shop" at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola to be completely refurbished and will be given to children of Grant Parish at Christmas during the annual Sheriff's Toys for Kids program. The bikes are being accepted through May 15 at the Sheriff's Office in Colfax.

     

    Tonight, Investigation Discovery’s documentary style show “Web of Lies” will feature the story of the kidnapping, murder, and arrest of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom’s killer. Bloxom’s body was found in a shallow pool of water in Stonewall in March of 2010. DeSoto Parish Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle says the show can bring to light how vulnerable our children are and how predators operate. Brian Horn, a previously convicted sex offender, was sentenced to death for Justin’s murder last year.

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  • News for Tuesday 033115

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A lawsuit filed by some state lawmakers seeking to kill Common Core in public schools was thrown out by a Baton Rouge judge Monday. Judge Tim Kelley said the plaintiffs filed the case too late. Governor Bobby Jindal said he was disappointed, and indicated he would support appeal efforts, which those lawmakers will likely file. Several lawmakers have stated they will work to repeal Common Core in the upcoming legislative session.

     

    An ordinance regulating bingo activity in the city of Alexandria is scheduled to be introduced at next week's council meeting. The city has had a moratorium on bingo expansion for about eight years, but the City Council has lifted the moratorium at least twice. That moratorium has been by resolution, not by ordinance. This Legislation would permanently block expansion of bingo in the city.

     

    Town Hall meeting is taking place tonight in the town of Ball. Mayor Neil Kavanagh says with the announced plans of American Specialty Alloys' to build a $2.4 billion aluminum-manufacturing complex, the town needs to be prepared for the challenges and opportunities that facilities 1,500 plus employees that will create. The meeting is set for 6:30 tonight in the Ball Community Center.

     

    An audit, released yesterday by the State Legislative Auditors office cited the village of Forest Hill with 22 violations, including four that violated the Louisiana Constitution. The report also pointed out problems with payroll and utilities. The Forest Hill audit, which covers the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014, cited three separate instances where a clerk made personal charges on the village's credit card. It also found that a clerk made an additional payment to herself "in excess of her authorized wage. The audit does note that the village was reimbursed for the charges and excess payment.

     

    The Louisiana Democratic Party endorses Amite Representative John Bel Edwards as its candidate in Louisiana’s governor’s race. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says the endorsement will keep other major Democratic candidates, like Mitch Landrieu, from jumping into the race.

     

    A Lafayette legislator proposes a bill that would require state high school students to pass a test equal to the civics portion of the US Naturalization Test. Senator Page Cortez says 92-percent of immigrants pass the naturalization test, while studies have shown that less than 4-percent of US born high school students are capable of getting a passing grade.  Cortez says his bill ultimately makes this test a requirement for graduation

     

    State Police say two people are dead, including a 5-year-old, after a fatal crash in Lafayette Parish yesterday morning just north of Carencro. Authorities say the child was unrestrained at the time of the crash. There are reports of other injuries that occurred in the crash, but no details have been released. The investigation is continuing.

     

    Authorities are investigating a fatal boat wreck on the Pearl River in St. Tammany Parish. The accident killed a 41 year-old man from Folsom. Three children onboard survived because they were wearing life vests, including one 4 year-old who got stuck under the boat.  Another passenger, a 31 year old woman, is still missing.

     

    Sea turtles, dolphins, fish and birds are still suffering from the BP oil spill that occurred nearly five years ago, according to a report from the National Wildlife Federation. Ryan Fikes, lead author, says comprehensive modeling estimates that 32-percent of the laughing gulls in the northern gulf died as a result of the oil spill. He says the exposure to oil has also been shown to cause abnormal development in many species of fish.

     

    An early morning mobile home fire yesterday in Caddo Parish has claimed the life of a husband and wife. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says fire investigators did find the remains of smoke alarms in the trailer. However, it is not known if they were working at the time of the blaze. Fifty-three-year-old Richard Fowler and his wife, 54-year-old Wanda were pronounced dead at the scene. Browning says the investigation is in its initial stages.

     

    Louisiana State Police Special Victims’ Unit detectives, along with the FBI and Bossier City Police have arrested a Bossier man on child porn charges. Sixty year-old Robert Childs is charged with some 300 counts of possession of child porn and 3 counts of distribution. If convicted, Childs could face up to 120 years in prison.

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  • News for Monday 033015

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Louisiana has set another employment record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also in February, the unemployment rate decreased for the second month in a row to 6.7 percent. The private sector added over 29 thousand jobs. That’s good news for employers and job seekers.

     

    12 tax referendums passed in Cenla over the weekend. Most one by a rather large margin. In  the town of Many, the only referendum to lose, a school tax, did so by only one vote.

    The Many School District No. 34 referendum in Sabine Parish was for a 10-year renewal of a 7.23-mill property tax that raises about $247,700 a year for building, maintaining and operating schools in the district. In that election only 5.4% of the eligible voters cast a ballot.

     

    State Police say a three-vehicle crash in St. Landry Parish killed one person and injured several others. The wreck occurred on US 190 near Interstate 49 when a vehicle attempted to cross both lanes of US 190 to gain access to the entrance ramp to I-49. A passenger in that vehicle, 55-year-old Harold Richard of Opelousas was killed. Investigators say alcohol contributed to the crash.

     

    All smiles in southwest Louisiana, as Sasol has started construction on an eight-point-one billion dollar ethane cracker complex near Westlake. The project is expected to create an estimated five-thousand construction jobs and the facility should be completed in 2018.

     

    A proposal to be sponsored by New Orleans Representative Walt Leger would use Gulf oil spill money for possible long-term financing for Louisiana colleges. Leger feels a trust fund should be set up for colleges from recovery money received from the 2010 disaste. The state is expected to receive billions of dollars from BP to pay for economic damage caused by the spill. Legislators have already dedicated the first $1 billion of that money. Leger’s proposal would target money above that.

     

    Under what leaders are calling a “doomsday scenario,” Louisiana’s public universities and colleges would get about $123 million in state funding to split among their campuses next year,  about an 82 percent cut from their current funding level. That’s the budget the state Board of Regents has instructed college leaders to start preparing for, though officials are hoping that the funding outlook will improve dramatically during the legislative session.  To put that worst-case scenario into perspective, the state would spend about $600 per student on direct campus funding. It would spend an additional $267 million on the TOPS program.

     

    5th district Congressman Ralph Abraham, who is also a physician from Richland Parish, used his medical expertise to help a man, who nearly passed out during a flight. Abraham says this is the fourth time, since he launched his Congressional campaign that he’s had to provide medical attention to a person he met in public. The young man is a former marine, who was flying back home to Texas.

     

    Louisiana’s roads and bridges are beset by dwindling dollars, pressing needs and the lack of any sweeping solutions on the horizon. Even amid a $12.3 billion backlog of transportation infrastructure projects, nearly $91 million, roughly equal to 3 cents of the state’s 20-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, is set to be diverted to the State Police and other services. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, recently said “We are spending gasoline tax revenue on everything but highways”. Officials at the state Department of Transportation and Development are scrambling to avoid the loss of federal dollars because of the state’s revenue problems.

     

    Three young children were rescued after a boat capsized on the Pearl River Saturday, but the operator of the boat died and search and rescue crews were still searching for the children’s mother as of late Sunday afternoon.

     

    The state department of agriculture and forestry will put traps out to track the invasive asian bug called the Emerald Ash Borer. The beetle was discovered recently in Webster Parish and it kills ash trees. Commissioner Mike Strain says the traps will be placed in high risk areas along the interstate, welcome centers and the Mississippi River delta. Strain says the beetle, which is difficult to eradicate, is often transported into an area by infested firewood.

     

    Sports..

     

    When the polls come out later today, it’s likely the LSU Tigers will no longer be ranked number one after a wild series to the Wildcats of Kenutcky. LSU could not hold on to a three-run lead in the eighth and ended up losing to Kentucky 12-10 in 11 innings yesterday. It’s the first weekend series the Tigers have lost this year as they fall to 5-and-4 in SEC play.

     

    Track star Lolo Jones headlined a five member class that was inducted into the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction Friday night. Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn and Former LSU Associate Athletic Director Herb Vincent were also  inductees.

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  • News for Friday 032715

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Demographer Elliot Stonecipher says Louisiana could be in jeopardy of losing another Congressional seat if the state doesn’t see more growth in population. Stonecipher is making that statement based on new Census figures, which shows the state’s population has only increased two-point-six percent since 2010. Louisiana saw it’s Congressional delegation shrink from seven to six members as a result of the 2010 Census. Stonecipher says the data suggests to him that Louisiana still has an out-migration problem.

     

    Congratulations to a Cenla Landmark Harlow’s Donuts and Bakery in Pineville, They are celebrating their 30th anniversary today.  Harlow’s originally opened in1972. But, Roy Burr purchased the business from the original owner,  Frank Dyson,  in 1985. Today some of their great treats will be priced as they were back in “85

     

    A grand jury returned a “no true bill” in the case of a Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputy shooting and killing a 14-year-old last September. The teenager had a BB gun, when the deputy came in contact with the child at an abandon house. Carlos Lazarus is the First Assistant DA in Terrebonne. He says they showed the jury pictures of the weapon the juvenile was holding and a real .45-caliber pistol and they are identical. But, the story is not over yet,  the FBI is also investigating the case.

     

    A Lafayette man who called in a bomb threat that shut down UL-Lafayette last summer has pleaded guilty in federal court to the crime. Devin Haywood faces up to 10 years for that, and up to 20 years for trying to rob a bank during the police search for the bomb.

     

    State Police and the FBI have arrested a man and woman and rescued a 17-year-old girl in connection with a sex trafficking case. Spokesperson Melissa Matey says the victim was being against her will and forced to perform commercial sexual acts in the French Quarter area through online ads. A 21 year old woman and 36 year old man are being charged with trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

     

    The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said a woman kidnapped from East Baton Rouge was found in the wreckage of a crash which claimed the life of her captor Thursday morning. They say the woman was airlifted to the hospital after the wreck. Deputies said the woman told them she was kidnapped Wednesday night. Authorities say the investigation into the incident is in it’s early stages.

     

    An 11-year-old boy has missed more than two weeks of school because his hair is too long according to Rapides Parish School Board policy. Ashton Bodiford’s hair falls past the middle of his back. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman, who is not involved in this case, says it’s time for courts to recognize that students should be able to have a greater range of appearances. Esman says courts have ruled that schools are within their rights to have appearance policies like this.

     

    A student at Buckeye High School has started an online petition to replace the district school uniform policy with a casual dress code in Rapides Parish. 14 year old Eighth-grader Brandon Richardson created the "Uniform Policy Removal" petition March 18 on the Change.org website. In about a week his petition has received more than 580 signatures.

     

    Well there was somebody in Louisiana who could have been a Powerball millionaire, but they missed their chance. The Match 5 winning ticket was sold in Minden for the September 27th drawing, but no one came forward to claim the prize by the Thursday deadline. Louisiana Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the $1 million will go back into winnings.

     

    Shreveport’s Independence Bowl finds itself, once again, without a sponsor. Duck Commander, who was the title sponsor of last year’s game, will not return as the title sponsor this year. Last year’s game was played under a letter of intent between Duck Commander and the Independence Bowl and not a contract.

     

    A man from LaPlace has developed an app to keep teenagers from texting and driving. Mike Watson says Text Guardian is tied to the GPS device on cellular devices and parents can set to a certain speed. Watson says if somebody tries to call or text a teen while Text Guardian is activated, they will get a message back right away saying that the person will get back to you when it is safe to do so. He says it’s completely free and the difference between this and some other anti-driving-and-texting apps is that Text Guardian can not be removed. Right now Text Guardian is only available on Android devices but should be on iOS soon.

     

    Turkey season opens tomorrow and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries predicts a bumper crop for hunters. Wild Turkey and Resident Small Game Leader, Jimmy Stafford, says there should be some carryover this season after bad weather lead to a poor hunting last year.

     

    The number one ranked LSU baseball team opens up a three-game series tonight against Kentucky, with first pitch set for seven P-M at the Box. The Wilcats are 2-and-4 in league play, but Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says they are one of the better hitting teams in the conference.

     

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  • News for Thursday 032615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The public memorial period to pay respects to National Guardsman David Strother continues today in the Alexandria Riverfront Center from noon to 4  At 4 a memorial service will be held, followed by a graveside ceremony in Alexandria Memorial Gardens. Strother, a resident of Alexandria was killed March 10 along with 10 other soldiers in a military helicopter crash in Florida. The family requests memorials be made to the Mojo 69 Memorial Fund, giveforward.com

     

    The Jindal administration’s experiment in privatizing Louisiana’s charity hospitals is running into some troubled financial waters. The House Appropriations Committee learned Wednesday that $332 million of the funding to keep the hospitals operating at a stand-still level relies on the uncertain legislative approval of some tax law changes. Committee chairman Rep. Jim Fannin said there should be no assumption that the dollars will materialize. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health agency budget proposal is already $142 million shy of the funding the private partners say is needed for operations in the fiscal year that begins July 1st. The bulk of the additional funding request is associated with the opening of the state-of-the-art $1 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans. Its opening has been delayed until Aug. 1.

     

    A Lafayette jury convicted Seth Fontenot of manslaughter on Wednesday rather than the first-degree murder charge prosecutors were seeking in the shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault. Fontenot was also convicted of two counts of aggravated battery for the wounding of two teens who were with Rivault in a pickup truck the night of the shooting. It took the Jury less than two hours to reach a verdict.

     

    An American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows that distraction in teen crashes is worse than previously thought. The study found that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. AAA spokesman Don Redman says the two leading causes of distraction are other passengers and cell phones. Redman says parents should sit down with their teen drivers and talk about the dangers of using their cell phones while behind the wheel. He also suggests that parents restrict the number of passengers their teen drivers are allowed to drive around.

     

    A leak in one of the 97 igloos storing the 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden in Webster Parish has resulted in the recommendation of the emergency destruction of its contents. Military officials says the moisture build up creates a chemical reaction the could cause the M6 to “auto-ignite”. An evaluation team, led by the Louisiana National Guard, is still reviewing the bids that were submitted to dispose of the propellant. Their decision is expected any day.

     

    A total of 46 Beau Chene (SHEN) High School Students have been suspended after an investigation into a pupil who is accused of changing grades. St. Landry school superintendent Edward Brown says the scheme began unraveling after one pupil became suspicious. He says the investigation is ongoing.

     

    A legislator wants to make it a law that a designated driver be present at certain locations that sell alcohol. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says he at least wants to get a dialogue started about the importance of having someone present who hasn’t been drinking at establishments which sell alcohol. Burns is still working on the final details, but believes that it should be illegal to sell alcohol to a designated driver.  

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal is keeping active for a potential run at the White House, and on the stationary bike. The Governor was spotted in a high-end gym in mid-town Manhattan Wednesday, and told reporters that he likes to start with some cardio then rotate through the weights. New York Magazine calls him Governor Bobby GYMdal.

     

    A cell phone video has emerged showing a group of young men beheading a live goat. The graphic 12 second video shows one man beheading the goat with a machete sword over a child’s swimming pool, while the others cheered. The Louisiana SPCA is offering a three thousand dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this felony crime.

     

    The Strawberry Festival Board and the Kiwanis Club of Ponchatoula have apologized for the controversial 2015 poster and they say they will not sell it at the event. The NAACP called for both boards to have a more diverse membership which they agreed to make an effort to do. The Kiwanis Club will continue to sell the posters (in house) until the festival begins.

     

     

    Sports..

     

    LSU Sophomore forward Jarell Martin announced Wednesday  that he’s leaving the Tigers to enter the N-B-A draft. The six-foot-ten forward from Baton Rouge averaged nearly 17 points and nine rebounds this past season. Martin is glad that he played a role in getting the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament, but it’s now time to move on.

     

    Fellow LSU forward Jordan Mickey might also leave for the NBA, but he says as of now he’s still considering his options. And Tigers assistant coach Eric Musselman was named today as the new head coach at Nevada.

     

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  • News for Wednesday 032515

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A very touching scene yesterday as Hundreds of people, many of them holding American flags, lined the streets as a motorcade accompanying a white hearse passed carrying the body of National Guardsman David Strother. A public memorial will be held from noon to 9 p.m. today and a public funeral service will be held at 4 p.m. Tomorrow. Both will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Strother, was one of 11 soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during a training mission on March 10.

     

    Now here’s something you don’t see every day.. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office says two elephants were used to keep an 18-wheeler from overturning on I-49. Deputies say a truck carrying elephants from New Orleans to Dallas got stuck in the mud, when deputies arrived on the scene Tuesday, they were surprised to find the elephants on the side of the truck that was starting to tip over. The 18-wheeler was eventually pulled out of the mud and no citations were issued, and the elephants were uninjured.

     

    It has been a long time coming, a contract has finally been awarded to build a new VA clinic in Lafayette. While Republican Congressman Charles Boustany – who got the legislative authorization to build new clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles – says it’s great news for Lafayette, he says the VA is dragging its feet though when it comes to construction of the  Lake Charles clinic.

     

    A Winsboro woman has been sentenced go to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Twenty-four year-old LaSasha  Allen placed her 20-month-old daughter, unrestrained, in the passenger’s seat of her vehicle. Authorities say she opened the car door while rounding a curve, allowing her daughter to fall out. Franklin Parish District Attorney Mack Lancaster says Allen showed no remorse.

     

    The 2015 Louisiana Survey reveals that 83-percent of Louisianians want the state’s budget deficit to be resolved through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says of those preferring a combination, 59-percent would rather see the focus mostly on the side of spending cuts. The way the Louisiana Constitution is written, higher education and health care will take the brunt of budget cuts. Henderson says that is not what the public wants. Most surveyed said they would like to see more spent in that area. When it comes to raising revenue, Henderson says the public seems to behind a hike in the so-called “sin taxes”: alcohol, tobacco, and gaming

     

    A new study conducted for the state by LSU economist Dr. Loren Scott shows the film tax credit program created nearly 13-thousand jobs, but cost Louisiana 171-million dollars last fiscal year. And Scott adds that many of the jobs produced do not benefit Louisiana. The state’s film tax credit program is expected to face changes in the upcoming legislative session.

     

    The financial planning website Bankrate.com lists Louisiana as the fifth worst place to retire. Bankrate’s research analyst Chris Kahn says Louisiana scores low when it comes to its crime rate, health care services and weather. Kahn says retirees in Louisiana do not face a huge tax burden, which is good, but the state has the second highest crime rate in the nation, which does NOT make the bayou state a dream retirement spot.

     

    The Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana has cut the rate of Tuberculosis cases by more than half from 2010 to 2014. DHH’s Charles DeGraw says they have also reduced the percentage of TB cases with HIV infection from 10% in 2010 to 4 percent in 2014.

     

    A man who was tree-sitting in City Park in New Orleans to block the construction of an upscale golf course, has fallen out of a large Cyprus tree. It is believed the man, who is identified as Lloyd Boover, may have broken an ankle and his nose from the fall. Authorities reportedly patrolled his protest, and continuously shined a spotlight on him at night. Boover is expected to be charged with trespassing.

     

    The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a Bossier City man is accused of stealing from his employer and selling the items on eBay. They say 60-year-old Michael Thompson returned about $2300 worth of stolen construction items to his company but said everything else had been sold on the online auction site. He is charged with theft.

     

    A former school board candidate in south Louisiana has been charged with felony sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl whom he used to coach in basketball. Lawrence McLeary with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office says the juvenile told her doctor that she was assaulted by 34-year-old Philip Ziegler of Central about a year and a half ago.

     

    The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Branch is meeting this morning with the Mayor of Ponchatoula and other leaders to discuss the controversial Strawberry Festival poster. They believe the painting is racist and want the Kiwanas Club to stop selling it. In a prepared statement, Mayor Bob Zabbia says because negative feelings about the poster go against the purpose of the Strawberry Festival, which has brought the community together for decades, he would recommend that Kiwanis reevaluate their decision to sell the poster.

     

    Sports..

     

    U-L-M men’s basketball will host Vermont tonight at seven P-M in the semifinals of the C-B-I tournament. The Warhawks started the tournament by beating Eastern Michigan and then rallying on the road to defeat Mercer by 20.

     

    ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reports that LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey is leaning towards entering the NBA draft. Mickey was a first-team ALL SEC selection this past season as he led the league in rebounding and he’s also the top shot blocker in the country.

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  • News for Tuesday 032415

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The recent ISIS online hit list that are targeting military personnel, has 25 names on a list of 100 that are current and/or past personnel from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport-Bossier. The threat was released by an ISIS hacking division, and because of that source, the Pentagon is asking the those concerned to adjust their online settings for social media accounts.

     

    The State Police have arrested 33 year old  arrested Angelle Temple of Marksville, LA, after an audit of the State motor vehicle office where she worked came up short. The audit determined Temple manipulated the OMV computer system on over 30 separate occasions in the beginning of 2014.  Auditors reported customers paid the fines/fees, but Temple's cash drawer did not reflect payment for any of these transactions.  The total amount Temple defrauded the state, in Rapides Parish, totaled over $5,500.00. 

     

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but Governor Bobby Jindal says he will wait until the legislative session ends in June before announcing whether he will enter the race. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Cruz, Rick Santorum and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will all have some impact on a Jindal candidacy because of their similar politics.  He says it’s smart for Jindal to wait until after the session to start a campaign.

     

    LSU President and Chancellor F King Alexander says 2,000 classes will be cancelled and every LSU employee will have to be furloughed if the legislature doesn’t restore the massive cut to higher education that’s proposed in Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget. Alexander says the proposed budget for next fiscal year will only provide LSU with 30-million dollars in state funding, a reduction of 110-million dollars from this fiscal year. He says students and alumni need to speak up loudly against this type of cut

     

    It looks like the price at the pump will continue to make our wallets happy. The American Automobile Association reports a gallon of regular on average statewide is $2.22. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says even the US Department of Energy predicts the national average won’t get above $2.50 for the entire year. Redman says the falling price at the pump can, in part, be attributed to a robust supply.

     

    Today, a grand jury will consider the case against a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed 14-year-old Cameron Tillman last September. The Sheriff’s Department says Deputy Preston Norman fired in self-defense after Tillman appeared to be holding a gun. The grand jury will hear evidence and testimony, possibly from Norman, himself. Relatives and others who were at the abandoned house with the boy say he was not holding a weapon.

     

    Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper has made a “global” plea deal with prosecutors in 4 states where he is accused of drugging and raping women and sentencing started today. He’ll reportedly serve 9 years behind bars. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this type of plea deal means Sharper has agreed to one punishment for all charges. He says this is a good move on the part of Sharper who could get life on a conviction and it’s also smart on the victim side because rapes are hard to prove without a reasonable doubt.

     

    The millionaire accused of killing a female friend in California 15 years ago will be staying put in Louisiana. Seventy-one year-old Robert Durst was in court Monday for a bond hearing on weapons charges, a week after he was discovered at a New Orleans hotel under a fake name, with a gun, passport and a large amount of cash. He had been sent to a prison’s mental health unit, as jail officials said he was a suicide risk.

     

    A son is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound after cops say he was shot by his father when there was no more orange juice in their Baton Rouge home. They say 58-year-old Eldrige Dukes got into a huge fight with his son when he discovered the orange juice was gone and began to chase him around the house with a gun and firing several times eventually striking the teen in the butt. Dukes is charged with attempted manslaughter and illegal use of a dangerous weapon. The son is going to be okay.

     

    A 30-year-old Baton Rouge heroin user will spend at least 6 years in prison on charges related to the death of his girlfriend from a fatal overdose. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore says Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin.

    Moore says the evidence showed that Eirick purchased the heroin earlier in the day, and he and Leah Hitchinson shot each other up. He says since the Eirick supplied Hitchinson with the heroin that lead to her death, he was charged.

     

    Sports..

     

    The number one ranked LSU baseball team will resume its rivalry with Tulane tonight in New Orleans. The Fighting Tigers are 21-and-3 overall, while the Green Wave are 17-and-7

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • News for Monday 032315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    State police report a two vehicle accident late Saturday night claimed the life of a 16 year old driver from Florian and injured another teen from Many. The accident occurred shortly before midnight when a pickup driven by Kelby Pilcher crossed the center line of highway 118 and struck another pickup head on. Pilcher was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene. 18 year old Michael Fair, the driver of the vehicle that was struck, was wearing a seatbelt and survived the crash with serious injuries. Routine toxicology tests are pending.  The crash remains under investigation.

     

    An Opelousas man died early Sunday in a crash on La. 749 in St. Landry Parish. The state police report 38 year old Herbert Rideau was driving north near Opelousas about 1:30 a.m. when his pickup truck ran off the right side of the road and struck a parked 18-wheeler. Rideau was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology tests are pending and the crash remains under investigation.

     

    Police are investigating the case of a man who walked into the New Orleans airport wielding a machete and slashing at TSA officers while spraying them with bug spray before being shot several times. The Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office say a TSA officer and traveler sustained non-life threatening injuries apparently from bullets fired at the suspect by a sheriff’s deputy. The man, 62-year-old Richard White of Kenner, died from his injuries.

     

    According to state officials, Louisiana casinos brought in $224.1 million dollars last month which is 6.8 percent higher than February the year before. Casino Association Executive Director Wade Duty says while the revenues are up, this isn’t an accurate year-to-year comparison because of the mid-December opening of the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.

    He says the big gains can also be attributed to lower gas prices as more out of state gamblers head in.

     

    The state Department of Transportation and Development is taking part in National Work Zone Awareness Week which runs through Friday. DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett says this is about bringing attention to the fact that safety should be a top priority through road construction areas. Mallett says since 2013 in Louisiana there’s been about 580 people who have lost their lives in work zones. Mallett says drivers face fines, fees and other consequences if they’re caught speeding in a work zone or driving without their headlights on.

     

    Former New Orleans Saints Safety Darren Sharper has cut a deal on charges he drugged and raped women in four states. The Orleans DA office says details of the deal have not been made public. A news release says Sharper is also pleading guilty to charges in three other states and federal charges.

     

    Parks Senator Fred Mills is sponsoring legislation this session that looks at ways to change the way public school teachers are evaluated. Currently educator effectiveness is determined by students’ standardized test results. Mills says his bill seeks to make a teacher’s job performance more accurately measured.  He says this measure would take things back to the way they used to be when it comes to checking out how a teacher is doing. Mills says the proposed law would not completely remove the use of test scores as a factor in deciding teacher effectiveness.

     

    A Shreveport lawmaker feels the state legislature should look at different options in trying to shrink the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit. Democratic Representative Patrick Williams it’s clear that the state needs to generate additional revenue. The House Ways and Means Committee member says a hike on cigarette and alcohol taxes is one way the state can raise funds quickly. Williams also feels that lawmakers should take a closer look at tax incentives offered by the state to shrink the budget gap. He says some of these are not paying dividends back to the state.

     

    Sentencing is scheduled today for a Baton Rouge man who allegedly shot his girlfriend up with a fatal injection of heroin in 2013. 31-year-old Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and heroin distribution in the death of 31-year old Leah Hutchinson. Eirick was originally charged with second degree murder in this case, but pleaded to the lesser charge of negligent homicide in October.

     

    The 2015 Poncatoula Strawberry Festival Poster is being called racist by some, and beautiful by others. The Tangipahoa NAACP says the painting, depicting faceless black children carrying a basket of strawberries, is offensive and they are calling for it to stop being sold immediately. Strawberry Festival spokesperson Shelley Matherne says the depiction is meant to build a bridge between cultures.

     

    Sports..

     

    LSU won it’s series with  Arkansas over the weekend with anxiety-filled 7-4 rubber match win.

    The Tigers won a three-game Southeastern Conference series after losing the opening game for just the second time in five years, and they grabbed a 10th series win over the Razorbacks in the last 11 tries.

     

    The “Dunkin Dogs” of Louisiana Tech will face Texas A&M tonight in the second round of the NIT.  Bulldogs Coach Michael White says his program doesn’t have many opportunities to beat a team from a major conference, so they need to take advantage of it when it comes. Tech enters the game with a 26-8 record, while the Aggies are 21-11 and beat Montana in the opening round of the NIT.

     

    The Pelicans are now three games back of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after completing an 0-for-3 road trip with a 107-100 loss to the Clippers.

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  • News for Friday 032015

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Spring Equinox occurs later today at precisely 5:45pm our time, marking the end of winter and the very beginning of Spring. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the Bayou State has been getting a lot of rain over the past few weeks and it’s setting the stage for what we can expect this spring. He says the good news is that the Climate Prediction Center says we should have normal temperatures throughout the season

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy says the Jindal Administration is considering selling the Louisiana Lottery as a way to help plug the state’s massive budget hole. The Administration is denying this. But, Kennedy says he has reports from CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs which essentially say that selling the Louisiana Lottery would provide significant general fund relief. He says these documents are irrefutable evidence that these discussions are ongoing

     

    LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab says more and more Louisianians are starting to say that the state is headed in the right direction. In the results of their 2015 Louisiana survey, Director Michael Henderson also says 26-percent of citizens say the state business climate is better than it was a year ago. He says public confidence in state government to effectively deal with the most pressing issues has increased for the first time in five years.

     

    State Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret tells lawmakers it’s time to reign in the state’s film tax credit program. Moret says the state’s film program has created an estimated ten-thousand jobs and brought positive attention to the state, but it only produces 20-cents in revenue for every dollar of tax credit. Moret also suggests tighter controls on who is getting the tax credits as there have been recent reports of fraud in the program. But he says the most important thing is limiting the program’s benefits so the state has a greater control of how much they are spending on it.

     

    A survey by MarblePort Polling on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican David Vitter leading the field with 34-percent of the vote. Democrat John Bel Edwards is close behind with 31-percent, followed by Republicans Jay Dardenne with 14-percent and Scott Angelle with 7-percent. The automated survey polled just over 1000 Louisiana residents.

     

    Spring is in the air and crawfish season is in full swing in Louisiana. Gulf Seafood Institute Chairman Harlon Pearce says they expected a substantial change in the price of the mudbugs once we got those crazy early March winter temperatures out of the way and you’ll certainly see it this weekend. Pearce says you could easily see boiled crawfish this weekend at about $3.50 a pound

     

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the Jindal Administration’s budget for next fiscal year doesn’t fund a presidential preference primary for Louisiana in 2016. It would cost three and a half million dollars and Schedler says he’s telling lawmakers that unless they command another way, the state intends to move forward. A spokesperson from the Division of Administration says they have spoken with Schedler and they will work with his office to come up with a funding solution so that the state can have a Presidential Primary next year.

     

    According to the Louisiana National Guard, they have received a total of 10 bids from companies to destroy about 75 hundred tons of M6 artillery propellant near Camp Minden. An evaluation team is being formed with a dialog committee, after some residents spoke out against the open burning method. The Guard says they may consider other methods.

     

    An appeals court judge has thrown out the sentence of former Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson and ordered a re-sentencing. Thompson was convicted in 2013 on three counts of malfeasance in office. The court ruled that Thompson’s sentence of six years in prison, combined with having to pay restitution of almost $52,000, was excessive. It is unknown when the re-sentencing will take place.

     

    The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says an 85-year-old man is booked with vehicular homicide charges for allegedly running over his long time female companion in a driveway. They say when deputies responded to medical emergency in DeQuincy they found 56-year-old Mary Franklin laying near the driveway and she was pronounced dead at the scene. It was determined she was run over by James Abdalla Jr. He is in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on $60,000 bond.

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  • News for Thursday 031915

    By Dave Graichen

     

    LifeShare Blood Center reports Donations of O negative blood are being sought to meet a critical need. Donors of all blood types are necessary and welcome, but the immediate need is for more O negative donors. Blood donations of blood may be made at the LifeShare Donation Center on North Mall Drive in Alexandria.

     

    The IRS says there are about 22,000 people in Louisiana who did not file a tax return in 2011 which amounts to potential refunds of up to $21.4 million dollars. Spokeswoman Lea (Lee) Crusberg says tax payers only have until April 15th of this year to file their 2011 return to get their refund or else the money will go into the US Treasury. Crusberg says the average potential refund in Louisiana is $693.

     

    Just as some 316-thousand students are taking the Common Core tests this week, Governor Bobby Jindal announces a plan to remove Common Core from Louisiana’s public schools and replace it with a plan and test developed by Louisiana teachers and parents. Jindal says the plan will be presented to lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session next month.

     

    State Superintendent John White is moving forward with plans to have Louisiana educators review and tweak the Common Core academic standards, despite Gov. Bobby Jindal’s intent to support legislation to throw them out altogether. White reviewed preliminary plans with educators, superintendents and other stakeholders Wednesday morning, just hours before Jindal’s statements. They will be discussed with superintendents from across the state on Thursday.

     

    There’s a new state-wide poll that shows 56-percent of Louisiana residents support an increase in the state’s cigarette tax. That same poll also revealed Governor Bobby Jindal with a 28 percent positive rating.

     

    While drivers enjoy low gas prices, the plummeting price of crude is starting to take its toll on the oil industry, with layoffs happening here in Louisiana. In the past few months, about a thousand oil industry jobs have been lost, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. State officials say they are optimistic that the losses will be temporary.

     

    The drop in the price of oil was seen in a new lease sales yesterday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Regulators report only 195 bids for new oil and gas leasing were placed off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That’s the lowest amount since 1986, when there were only 129 bids offered.

     

    State Police say a former detective with the Ville Platte Police Department has been arrested on multiple charges. Authorities say Nathanial Savoy, who also owns a roofing business, was allegedly spotted on surveillance video stealing roofing materials from a local business. To add insult to injury, he was reportedly in a police unit when the crime was committed.

     

    New Orleans Senator JP Morrell files a bill that would allow public students in Orleans Parish to be surveyed about what type of behaviors they are involved in — including sexual behavior. He says results of such a review would help with coming up with a sex ed class that would actually be effective. Baton Rouge Representative Pat Smith introduced similar legislation last year but it failed after a massive push-back from the Louisiana Family Forum. Morrell says opponents believe that by addressing sexual education you are making kids promiscuous.

     

    Lobbyists can spend more wining and dining legislators and others they seek to influence beginning later this year as the cap increases yet again, but not by much. The Louisiana Board of Ethics is scheduled Friday to start the legal process to allow $60 to be spent per occasion effective July 1. The current per event limit is $58. The amount has been steadily rising since the Legislature implemented a $50 spending cap in 2008 as part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ethics package. The new law allowed the spending cap to increase with the consumer price index, or CPI. The provision has resulted in a 20 percent increase over five years.

     

    Sports..

     

    Ninth-seeded LSU faces 8th seeded North Carolina State tonight in the NCAA Tournament. The oddsmakers have the Wolfpack as a two-point favorite.

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  • News for Wednesday 031814

    By Dave Graichen

     

    We missed an important birthday yesterday.. The Town Talk was founded on March 17, 1883. That made the paper a young 132 years old. To give you an example of how different life was back then, an article in the March 18th Paper described how Hoodlums damaged several women’s dresses by stretching a tarred rope across a dark street. The women returning from church damaged their dresses when they rubbed up against it.  The suggestion for punishment if caught, The boys should be tarred and feathered.  We’ve come a long way, or have we? A belated Happy Birthday to the Town Talk.

     

    It didn’t take long, Rapides Parish police jurors on Tuesday gave their stamp of approval to an agreement with the city of Alexandria that could pave the way for Coliseum renovations to begin. Police jurors met in executive session for 37 minutes Tuesday morning before the unanimous vote to go along with the terms of a proposed Alexandria City Council ordinance.

    The ordinance was introduced by the City Council on Monday and is expected to come up for a council vote in early April.

     

    Latest employment numbers show that there were 7500 less people working in January than in December, ending a long streak of monthly employment gains. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says even though there was the typical job drop that you see in January, we’re still employing far more people this year than we were this time last year. At 7 percent the unemployment rate for January ranked as the third highest among states.

     

    Residents will soon have to pay more for flood insurance. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the increases are the result of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that were passed by Congress last year.  He says the premium hikes for primary residences are capped at 18-percent each year. However,  premium increases for second residences, commercial, and rental properties are capped at 25-percent per year. In addition to the rate increases, property owners will have to pay a surcharge, $25 per year for your primary residence and $250 for businesses, rentals, or secondary residences. Donelon says these changes are complicated, so you may want to get some advice.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal is looking at selling the remainder of a multi-billion dollar settlement from tobacco manufacturers to help the state’s budget problems. The Jindal administration says it could be used finance the TOP’s scholarship program for the next seven to eight years, but State Treasurer John Kennedy doesn’t like this idea. Kennedy says the Jindal administration has raided all other pots of money and this is the last one left. Despite Kennedy’s concerns, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation, voted to begin the process of selling the tobacco settlement.

     

    State Police say a truck driver from Alabama died when he was run over by a trooper who was looking for him in Madison Parish. Sgt. James Anderson says they received a report early Tuesday morning that an 18-wheeler was stuck in the lane of travel on US Highway 65. Anderson says 47-year-old David Watford of Cottonwood, Alabama was walking in the middle of the road wearing blue jeans and a camouflage shirt when he was struck and killed by the trooper. The investigation continues.

     

    An 81-year-old Korean War veteran died in a mobile home fire in Arnaudville Tuesday  morning. The state Fire Marshal’s office has identified the victim as Robert Kaltenbach. Investigators say the fire started near a desk right next to an overloaded power outlet.

     

    A State Police investigation into criminal activity at Jackson Parish Hospital has led to the arrest of four people, three of whom were hospital employees. Sgt. James Anderson says investigators discovered cases of illegal drug distribution and payroll fraud at the hospital.

     

    Calcasieu, Jackson, and Central School systems lead the state in the percentage of opt-outs during Monday’s first day of statewide PARCC testing. Jackson had an opt-out rate of 13-percent, followed by 12-percent for Calcasieu and eight-percent for Central. Central School Superintendent Michael Faulk says 153 students in the district did not participate.  Faulk believes social media has something to do with the number of opt-outs. He says they began a Facebook page to try to deal with the false information about the tests spreading on the site.

     

    The Mayor of Dequincy says he’s not concerned about a fake news site once again targeting the city with an article claiming they’ve passed some ridiculous law. This time “The News Examiner” says polygamy is now legal in DeQuincy. Other articles in the past have claimed that the city was being attacked by gay zombies on bath salts and that officials had banned twerking. The Mayor says he would like to invite the man who is writing these stories to visit the Calcasieu Parish town and see what it really has to offer.

     

     

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  • News for Tuesday 031715

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Louisiana national guard made it official yesterday releasing the names  of the four guardsmen killed March 10 when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed into Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola, Florida, during a training exercise. The Guardsmen killed are:  37 year old Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin Jr, 44 year old Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother, 40 year old Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron and 26 year old Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich. Maj. Gen. Glenn  Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard said, while announcing the names, that the Guardsmen represent the best of us and their names will forever be etched on our hearts and in our minds.

     

    Today is the big day. Motorists who commute between Alexandria and Pineville and take the O.K. Allen Bridge will be redirected to begin utilizing the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge starting this morning at 10am. Deidra Druilhet with the state Department of Transportation says

    only the northbound span of the new bridge has been completed  and it will be used for the two-way traffic while the O.K. Allen Bridge is torn down. Over 20,000 motorists cross the Red River over the O.K. Allen Bridge on a daily basis. The southbound span is expected to be ready by mid-2016.

     

    An ordinance introduced Monday by the Alexandria City Council is intended to settle the Rapides Parish Coliseum property dispute with the Police Jury. The deal includes the Police Jury paying the city $1.1 million as part of a land swap. The agreement would give the parish control of the parking lot at the Coliseum. The parking lot has been the center of a dispute between the city and the parish. Resolution of the dispute is needed to clear the way for the $22.9 million renovation of the Coliseum to begin.

     

    The APD reports a North MacArthur drive homeowner chased a burglar who had just robbed his home Saturday leading police directly to the robbers Enterprise Road home. Police arrested 38 James Robertson and booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Robertson has been  charged with simple burglary.

     

    State Superintendent of Education John White says after the first day of PARCC testing, concerns that there would be widespread non-participation did not bear out. He says preliminary findings show more than 320,000 students took the test associated Common Core which is about 99% participation. White says half of the 1% of non-participants came from Calcasieu Parish. He also says Red River, Jackson and Central Community had a high number of students who didn’t test.

     

    The state’s economic development secretary Stephen Moret will leave his job in May and take over as the president and CEO of the LSU foundation, which is LSU’s top fundraising organization. Moret is an LSU grad and has severed as Governor Bobby Jindal’s LED secretary since 2008.

     

    A Washington Post article refers to Governor Bobby Jindal as one of the great mysteries of the early 2016 presidential campaign. They said that not long ago, Jindal was considered a fresh new face in the Republican Party, but his star has since fallen. The Post says, for the first time in Jindal’s political career, he appears to be lost. They say the governor looks like he’s trying to be every politician at once. According to The Post, Jindal is polling at around two-percent in national Republican polls.

     

    The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office says a toddler from Slidell is in the hospital after being run over apparently by a family member who then left the scene. They say 44-year-old Derrick Populus eventually admitted he struck the child with a vehicle in the driveway then drove off. He is booked with felony hit-and-run. The child’s condition appears to be improving.

     

    Shreveport Representative Barbra Norton has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would make it illegal to supply a child 12 or under with an Uzi sub-machine gun. She says kids are not big enough to handle such a large weapon in a safe manner. Norton says she realizes that some parents want to teach their children how to shoot guns for hunting or for general safety reasons, but she sees no reason for kids to ever have a machine gun.

     

    Jury selection begins today in Lafayette in the first-degree murder trial of Seth Fontenot, accused of a 2013 shooting that killed 15-year old Austin Rivault and injured two others. Fontenot claims he fired to scare the teens, who he thought were breaking into his truck, not to hurt them.

     

    Sports..

     

    The LSU men’s basketball team leaves today for Pittsburgh, where they’ll play North Carolina State on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers bring a 22-and-10 record to the Big Dance and needs to win six straight games to win a national championship.

     

    The new Baseball America Poll is out and LSU is still on top now for the second straight week. The Tigers went 3-1 on the week losing once in a 14-inning game against ole Miss. They’re joined in the top 10 with four other SEC teams, Florida, Vandy, Texas A&M and South Carolina.

     

    Louisiana Tech hosts Central Michigan tonight in the N-I-T. It’s the second straight year the Bulldogs will get to host a postseason game. But this year Tech is coming off a disappointing loss in the Conference USA tournament. Central Michigan was the regular season Mid-American Conference West Division champions this season and they boast a record of 23-and-8.

     

     

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  • News for Monday 031615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Early Sunday afternoon,  a Texas couple were killed in Hineston, when their motorcycle struck a vehicle that turned directly into their path. The accident occurred when 62 year old Larry Callahan made a left turn off of highway 121. The driver of the motorcycle attempted to stop in time but was unable to do so. Callahan was not injured, however he was charged with improper turning.

     

    Funeral services will be held today for former Rapides Parish Police Juror Stephen Bordelon who passed away Friday. Bordelon is known for his service to the city of Pineville in several capacities including the fire department and city council, as well as his tenure on the Rapides Parish Police Jury. Visitation will be at Hixson Brothers in Pineville this morning at 9 a.m. until the service at 11 a.m. Stephen Bordelon was 75

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order calling for the flags at all state buildings to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the military members who lost their lives in the Black Hawk crash last week. The order is through this Friday at sunset.

     

    Students in third through eighth grades will begin taking the controversial tests tied to Common Core today. This is the first time PARCC will be administered in Louisiana. State Department of Education Superintendent John White says this is about getting a basic description of what kids should be able to do at the end of each grade level. There are many people who oppose Common Core arguing that it’s too complex but White says it’s time that we stop teaching math with memorization.

     

    A special enrollment period began Sunday on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace giving some, who didn’t realized they would be penalized on their taxes for not being covered, a second chance of obtaining health insurance. This special enrollment period will go through April 30.

     

    The state Department of Health and Hospitals announces a new initiative aimed at reducing c-section rates among Louisiana mothers. DHH Secretary Kathy Kleibert says “Go the Full 40″ is a voluntary pledge by hospitals to end non-medically indicated induced pregnancies. Kleibert says about 50% of babies in Louisiana are born before 40 weeks gestation.

     

    The bird flu has made a recent appearance in Arkansas, along with confirmations in some mid-western and northwestern states. Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says  a poultry quarantine will keep any live poultry products from entering Louisiana from an area that’s been affected. The good news is, this disease is not normally contracted by humans.

     

    Proposed legislation will be presented to lawmakers that will provide funds to pay for sexual assault victim care with expired winning casino tickets. New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno says, under the proposed law, hospitals would not bill victims -and- those who come forward aren’t limited to 72 hours to report an incident in order for the services to be provided at no charge. You can expect the casinos to fight this legislation. Currently, casinos and tracks are allowed to keep expired winnings as earnings.

     

    The four candidates for governor met last Friday in a forum to discuss Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. As you may suspect, all said they support it. The Louisiana gubernatorial election will take place on October 24.

     

    Richard J. “Dick” Brennan Sr., a restaurateur who with his family owned and managed some of New Orleans most celebrated dining establishments, died Saturday at his home in New Orleans. Along with his siblings, he was instrumental in the transformation of Commander’s Palace into the definitive modern Creole restaurant of its generation, beginning in the 1970s. Dick Brennan Sr was 84.

     

    March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it is reported that nearly 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 are not getting tested as recommended. Last year alone, more than 50,000 people died of colorectal cancer in the United States.

     

    Sports..

     

    For the first time since 2009, the LSU Tigers are in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Bayou Bengals are a nine-seed and they’ll face North Carolina State on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Coach Johnny Jones says the goal all season long was to get an invite to the Big Dance.

     

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  • News For Friday 031315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Eglin Air Force Base officials say the wreckage of the Army helicopter that crashed Tuesday night over the Florida Panhandle has been found. Eglin Col. Monte Cannon says the wreckage was located in about 25 feet of water. The search has gone from a search and rescue to now just a rescue mission. The Coast Guard announced Thursday afternoon nine of the 11 victims have been found, including two from Louisiana. Pineville native David Strother a chief warrant officer, is one of those who lost his life. Strother is being remembered as someone who made the "ultimate sacrifice" for his country.

     

    Alexandria PD report that foul play is not suspected in the death of a man whose body was found under a bridge on North 3rd street Wednesday morning. The man's body was sent for an autopsy and other forensic testing. The man's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

     

    They’ve made progress. But, there’s more work to do. S.A.C.S The Southern Association Of Colleges and Schools, visited the Louisiana College Campus on Wednesday. The good news, Louisiana College is in compliance with five of the six standards that led to it being placed on probation last year. A standard citing “external influence” remains unresolved.  SACS placed the school on probation in June, six months after the agency reaffirmed its accreditation. LC had been on warning with SACS for two years prior.

     

    Lt Governor hopeful Kip Holden is finding himself involved in a scandal as a 2011 lawsuit has surfaced claiming the Baton Rouge mayor repeatedly sexually harassed a woman who was in Louisiana on business. The lawsuit does not name Holden as a defendant and it’s actually targeted at her former employer. A poll was released this week showing Holden in good position to make the run-off in the lieutenant governor’s race. Holden denies the accusations, saying both he and his wife know the truth on this one.

     

    According to a report by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, Louisiana has the highest estimated percentage of unemployed youth in the country. The study also found that New Orleans is third in the nation for the percentage of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who aren’t working or in school.

     

    Bogalusa Representative Harold Ritchie files a bill that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to the national average. The governor has proposed an increase in the state’s cigarette tax to the southern regional average, but Ritchie believes the tax on cigarettes should be higher. Ritchie’s bill would raise the tax from 36-cents to a $1.54 per pack. It will be considered during the legislative session that begins April 13th. The Jindal administration says they will support an increase in tobacco taxes, but only if it’s accompanied with a tax break.

     

    More police presence in New Orleans, as State Police have redeployed additional troopers to patrol the Crescent City. This comes courtesy of $2.5 million dollars raised by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, based on the needs of NOPD and requests from business leaders. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says this will not take away any patrol efforts for the rest of the state.

     

    Louisiana Tech is under somewhat of a microscope after a claim comes up accusing their Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity of racist chanting in 2010 — similar to the now-closed Oklahoma Chapter. Tech says there is no evidence of this. Tech says they are investigating the matter.

     

    The United Steelworkers union has reached an agreement with Shell that could soon lead to the end of a six-week strike that has affected 12 U.S. refineries,  including two in Louisiana.

     

    The union and Royal Dutch Shell have been negotiating a contract that would serve as a blueprint for agreements with other refiners.

     

    The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating a school bus crash and a driver that is suspected of being under the influence when the accident took place. They say no there were no major injuries of students on the bus. The driver, 50-year-old John Harvey Bernard, was issued a careless operation citation and is still under investigation pending results from a blood alcohol  test.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal announces legislation will once again be brought up this session that would protect sexual assault victims and ensure that they are not charged by hospitals for medical services associated with assault claims. The Stand and Support Survivors Bill is sponsored by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno.

     

    A new Centers for Disease Control study shows that two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer in the US survive five years or more. The cancer survivor estimates are based on cases of invasive cancers reported during 2011. Associate Dean for Research at LSU’s School of Public Health, Ed Trapido, says these numbers show a remarkable amount of progress.

    Among the most common types of cancer, the study reports a five-year-survival rate of 97-percent for prostate cancer and 88-percent for breast cancer.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Sports..

     

    The New Orleans Saints did another trade Thursday  to clear some salary cap room, saving the team $3.6 million. Two time Pro-Bowler guard Ben Grubbs was traded to Kansas City in exchange for a 5th round pick. The move allowed the Black and Gold to sign cornerback Brandon Browner from the New England Patriots.

     

    According to a new research by the LSU economics department, LSU is the number 32 most disliked team in the country. LSU is behind some other SEC schools-Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The most disliked team in the nation is Boise State.

     

    The LSU Tigers begin SEC play tonight against Ole Miss as the number one ranked team in the country according to Baseball America. Coach Paul Mainieri says his team earned that number one ranking, by playing solid baseball. Jared Poche will be tonight’s starting pitcher.

     

     

     

     

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Local Events

 




Kisatchie National Forest Quarter Launch & Coin Exchange

April 22nd

Alexandria Riverfront Center
707 Second Street
Alexandria, LA
10:00AM

Commemorating the release of the 2015 Kisatchie National Forest quarter, the 27th coin to be released in the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters Program.

coin exchange begins immediately following the quarter launch event 

one-roll ($10) minimum * 10-roll ($100) maximum


Holi Fest 2015

Saturday May 16th

At Tamp & Grind

A 4K Walk, Jog, Run

To Benefit CASA

For More Info Click Here !



Alexandria Amphitheatre

Music Starts 11a

Admission Is Free!


 

 

 



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New Orleans

Jazz & heritage

Festival

April 24th to May 3rd

New Orleans Fairgrounds

 

Chris Young

With

Scotty McCreery

May 16th

Kinder, LA

Coushatta Casino

 

Rush

May 22nd

New Orleans

Smoothie King Center

 

Tracy Byrd

June 6th

Marksville, LA

Paragon Casino

 

Grand Funk Railroad

June 20th

Vinton, LA

Delta Downs

 

Essence Festival 2015

New Orleans Superdome

July 2nd - 4th

 

Travis Tritt

July 10th

Lake Charles, LA

Golden Nuggett Casino

 

Whitesnake

August 8th

Marksville, LA

Paragon Casino

 

Gary Allan

August 21st

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Ariana Grande

October 9th

New Orleans

Smoothie King Center

 

Josh Groban

October 21st

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Saenger Theater

 

 

 


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