News For Tuesday 10/21/14
News for Tuesday 102114
By Dave Graichen
An investment group has agreed to buy Pineville based Cleco for a reported $3.4 billion. Cleco Power has approximately 284,000 customers in Louisiana. Cleco Power President Darren O’Lages (O-lay-jes) says customers should not expect any change in utility rates or service as part of the sale. He says there are no lay-offs or restructuring of employee salaries planned. The sale is expected to close in the second half of 2015.
He says this investment group is experienced and understands what it means to own utility companies and what it takes to make them successful.
The early voting period for the November 4th election kicks off today. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will take place through October 28th from 8:30AM to 6PM, excluding Sunday. Schedler reminds voters that there are 14 Constitutional Amendments on this year’s ballot, and statewide, this is the biggest election in the state in decades. He says for sample ballots and early voting locations, you can go online at geauxvote-dot-com.
Louisiana State Police and several other agencies will host a “Heroin Summit” today to educate the public about heroin use and address the recent rise in heroin deaths. Trooper Jared Sandifer says Col Mike Edmonson is going to be the keynote speaker.
Sandifer says the CDC named the Greater Baton Rouge area as the 19th worse in the nation per capita for heroin over dose deaths in 2013.
Former President Bill Clinton tells a crowd of Mary Landrieu supporters he doesn’t see how the senior senator is not a clear favorite in Louisiana’s US Senate race over her republican challengers. Clinton says Landrieu has a history of getting things done.
Clinton was in Baton Rouge Monday and spoke at a Landrieu rally. During a nearly 30-minute speech, Clinton spoke about Landrieu’s efforts to help college students afford their education, her support for a higher minimum wage and chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says they plan to stop billing rape victims for exams and tests. Advocacy groups and lawmakers were critical of the fact that women who had been raped were getting big hospital bills after checking in to be treated for the assault. DHH says they now plan to seek reimbursement for such visits from the Crime Victim’s Reparation Board.
This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is urging parents to set rules for their kids before they get the keys. Lt. Col John LeBlanc says parents should tell their teens the “5 to drive Rules” – No cell phones, no extra passengers, no speeding, not alcohol and EVERYONE must be buckled up. LeBlanc says according to a recent survey, only one in four parents had talked seriously with their teens about what it means to be a safe driver.
According to location marketing firm Development Counselors International, the business climate in Louisiana is the 10th best in the nation. Additionally DCI said the Louisiana Economic Development agency is the nation’s second best.
Cleanup crews are continuing to work a major crude oil spill in Caddo Parish that has killed dozens of fish and some reptiles. The oil leaked into Tete Bayou due to the rupture of a Mid-Valley pipeline. Workers were able to stop the spill from reaching into Caddo Lake. It’s estimated that approximately 4,000 barrels of crude oil flowed into the Bayou.
Two St. John Parish employees have been incited on two counts each of malfeasance in office and filing or maintaining false public records after a state police amoeba investigation & low chlorine levels. The accused are Kevin Branch and Danielle Roussel. The DHH asked the state police to investigate after the state found no mandated chlorine residuals in the water system on August 12th but did find indications of the deadly amoeba.
Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order stating that state agencies and departments develop new policies and reporting mechanisms for certain individuals who travel to Ebola stricken countries as a result of educational or work related missions. Included in the order are public employees, students faculty and staff of higher education institutions who go to countries the CDC says have the threat of contracting the Ebola virus.
News For Monday 10/20/14
News For Monday 102014
By Dave Graichen
State police report an Alexandria man was killed in a 2 vehicle crash late Friday afternoon on England Drive at Enterprise Road. 59 year old Ton Brown Jr. was taken to a local hospital where he died Saturday. Although the investigation is ongoing, preliminary evidence indicates that the driver of the motorcycle was acting in a careless manner and that alcohol may have also been a factor in the crash.
President Bill Clinton is scheduled to join Senator Mary Landrieu in Baton Rouge today to rally support for her campaign. Clinton’s visit comes the day before the early voting period for the November 4th election begins. Landrieu is in a tight re-election battle with Republican challengers Congressman Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness. Both parties are sending “big guns” to the state for this Senate race. Republicans sent former presidential candidate Senator John McCain to campaign with Cassidy last week. This is Clinton’s second visit to Louisiana on Landrieu’s behalf during this election.
Are people making too much over the threat of Ebola in the United States? State and National health care officials are urging the public to calm down when it comes to the threat of Ebola. Medical Director for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, Dr. Frank Welch, says people aren’t concerned for “no reason” but it’s over the top to think that you’re going to walk outside and contract Ebola. He says, on the other hand, this is a huge wake up call for our health care system to keep their workers safe. Welch wants to emphasize that Louisiana has been intensively preparing for the possibility of an Ebola patient entering the health care system here at any level.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says auto theft in Louisiana has dropped 48% since 2007 which beats the national average of 34% in the same time period. Donelon credits the massive decline, in part, to public outreach and initiatives by law enforcement. Donelon says they’ve also been able to bust car thieves by using bait cars places in high risk areas that are equipped with monitoring equipment and cameras if they are stolen. He says also says technology has improved so that law enforcement now has the ability to read license plates as vehicles drive down the street. That alone has resulted in hundreds of apprehensions
The Community that was hardest hit by the EF-2 tornado in northeast Louisiana A week ago today is making news because of the huge way they are rallying together to help each other out in the aftermath. Alan West Brockman is president of a property management company in Monroe and a local musician. He says it was amazing to see how many people came out to help clear all of the debris. Brockman says their local celebrated Chef Cory Bahr, who runs Restaurant Cotton in the Garden District, is offering free meals to those helping out and Wal-Mart donated 500 pounds of meat for him to cook.
Baton Rouge Police made a drug bust on I-12 where 48 Jesus Sacred Heart candles with meth mixed in the wax were found on a bus by a K-9 during a traffic stop on I-12. The candles weighed 72 pounds cops say and there were also four larger candles weighing 41 pounds all with meth inside the wax.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals says two new cases of West Nile were reported last week but there are no new deaths. They say there have been 130 reported cases of the virus in Louisiana this year with 6 of those resulting in death. One of the new cases was reported from Caddo Parish and one from East Baton Rouge Parish. Heath officials are urging Louisianians to continue to take steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
It appeared the Saints were on their way to a victory on Sunday in Detroit, but the Lions roared back with two touchdowns in the four minutes to beat New Orleans 24-23. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns. But threw an interception with just over three minutes left that set up Detroit’s winning score.
After a two-week absence, The LSU Tigers are back in the Top 25 polls. The Bayou Bengals are ranked 24th in the AP poll, and 23rd in the coaches. LSU won easily on Saturday, 41-to-3 over the Kentucky Lions.
LATECH Senior linebacker Terrell Pinson should be named Conference USA defensive player of the week today based on his performance in Saturday’s 27-20 win over Texas-San Antonio. The Bulldogs trailed 10-6 at halftime, but the game turned when Pinson had a two-yard fumble recovery for a touchdowns. Tech scored two more quick touchdowns and Head Coach Skip Holtz says that was the difference in the game.
News For Friday 10/17/14
News for Friday 101714
By Dave Graichen
An LSU employee who was recently in Ebola stricken Liberia has been asked to stay off campus for 21 days. That’s the time frame during which symptoms of the virus could show up according to Olivia Watkins with the state Department of Health and Hospitals. She says the man told DHH he did not have contact with anyone who had Ebola so he’s not considered high risk. Watkins says it’s important to remember that Ebola cannot be passed to another individual when there are no symptoms present.
A new protocol has been implemented to 911 operators in Louisiana which has them screen callers for Ebola symptoms. Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Kevin Davis says the caller will be asked a series of questions about illnesses, particularly fever and recent travel. He says that will help EMS responding. Davis says the caller’s answers would determine whether the emergency responder would need to wear protective gear to the call. He says the person would be asked additional questions when in route then EMS would let the hospital know they have a suspect patient.
Local & State Officials were on hand to officially open a “one of a kind” facility at England Airpark Thursday. It’s a 400-bed staging facility the will be used to house immigration detainees who are being deported or in the process of potentially being deported. It is expected the new facility will employ close to 150 people.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus will be in Louisiana today to try to boost black voter turnout with the focus of helping Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign. The 42 member caucus of Democrats say they are pushing Landrieu hard because they want to keep control of the Senate. Louisiana Black Caucus Chairwoman Katrina Jackson says the Congressional Black Caucus will be in New Orleans and Baton Rouge through Monday and possibly visit Alexandria. She says they will be encouraging voters to push the button for Landrieu, Congressman Cedric Richmond and 5th Congressional District Candidate, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Jackson says national and local Democrats are spending upwards of $700,000 for get-out-the-vote efforts in the state.
Laura Larisey, a Baton Rouge student at Northwestern State University who had been been reported missing, has been found safe, according to the University Police. “Law enforcement located Larisey in good spirits and in good health in the company of friends. The student was reported missing by her parents Wednesday.
In Alexandria yesterday, Senator Mary Landrieu announced her endorsement choice for the Fifth Congressional District. The Senator says Jamie Mayo, the long-time Democratic mayor of Monroe is the right choice for the district, and said he would be a bridge-builder for Democrats, Republicans and Independents on the Hill, and continue the economic building of that district.
There’s been another sexual student/teacher incident. The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman who teaches at Crowley High is under arrest for allegedly being inappropriately involved with some of her students. Spokeswoman Maxine Trahan says they received an initial report about 34-year-old Tracy Marie Barras of Duson in early October. After an investigation Barras was charged with three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
A committee of Avoyelles Parish School Board members will begin the process of finding the district's next superintendent next week. The committee was formed at a special meeting Tuesday after the board accepted a notice of retirement from Superintendent Dwayne Lemoine. The group set a meeting for Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. to discuss a timeline and other parameters of the search process. The School Board used a consulting search firm when hiring Lemoine in 2007.
Public Service Commission member Foster Campbell says he’ll call for an investigation into whether or not aging Entergy infrastructure caused extra damage in Ouachita Parish after a tornado blew through Monday. But he says the utility company did a great job getting the power restored to the more than 35,000 who were in the dark. Entergy says their goal is to have all lights back on by 5pm today.
According to the Federal Election Commission, “Duck Dynasty” family member Republican Zach Dasher has raised the most campaign cash among the candidates for the 5th District Congressional seat. Dasher has raised over $500,000 through the third quarter. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says much of the cash raised by fellow Republican candidates Dr. Ralph Abraham, Harris Brown, and incumbent Vance McAllister was their own. Stockley says Dasher is benefiting financially from the “Duck Dynasty” association.
The Louisiana State Police is investigating a shooting involving an Opelousas Police officer. Authorities say 23-year-old Demarcus Jones led police on a foot chase after threatening someone with a gun. Jones then reportedly fired on the officer who returned fire. Jones was treated for his injuries and released into police custody. The officer was unharmed.
Bayou Country Superfest producers announce the shows for 2015 will span over three days again and include a special Friday concert. The BCS lineup for the Tiger Stadium concerts will be announced November 5th.
A teenager from Lafayette is under arrest after police say he tried to rob a gas station with a stick wrapped in plastic while wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask. 18-year-old Lacorrion Turner was booked with first degree robbery.
LSU announces a home-and-home two-game series against the University of Texas. The Tigers will visit Austin on September 7th, 2019 and the teams will meet in Baton. Rouge on September 12th, 2020. LSU will also be returning to the Cowboys Classic against Miami to open the 2018 season.
News For Thursday 10/16/14
News for Thursday 101614
By Dave Graichen
Residents in Ouachita Parish continue to clean up after Monday’s tornado ripped through the area. An EF-2 tornado tore through Monroe and West Monroe. Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Neil Brown says the biggest challenges facing residents now are debris and power. Brown says many residents, including himself, may not get power restored to their home until Friday. He says preliminary damage assessment teams will be coming to the area in the next few days. Brown says, as of now, he cannot set a monetary figure to the amount of damage the tornado has caused, but it is significant.
A Baton Rouge student at Northwestern State University has been reported missing.
Laura Larisey was reported missing by her parents. Larisey lives on the university’s main campus in Natchitoches. Anyone with details about her whereabouts is asked to contact campus police or the state police.
In a victory for Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a hotly-debated state law that makes it harder for public school teachers to earn and retain a form of job protection called tenure. The ruling, for the second time, reversed a decision by state District Judge Michael Caldwell, of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge. Caldwell concluded that the overhaul was illegally approved by the Louisiana Legislature because it jammed too many subjects into a single bill. The court disagreed, and handed the governor a big legal win on one of the most contentious issues of his 2012 public schools overhaul.
According to the latest economic projection numbers for Louisiana by Loren Scott & Jim Richardson, The Bayou State is projected to surpass 2 million overall jobs by 2015. Dr. Scott says we have an industrial boom going on right now that is completely off the charts compared to anything we’ve seen in Louisiana history. Louisiana’s Economic Outlook projects the state to add 34,100 jobs in 2015. Dr. Scott says the Baton Rouge area is expected to be the second fastest growing over the next 2 years with about 19,600 new jobs or a 2.4 percent growth. He says areas north of I-10 will see growth but not nearly what the southern region will. Scott says Lafayette and Houma will also see big gains but the big winner will be Lake Charles.
The big question lingering after Tuesday night’s US Senate race debate is who were the winners and losers? UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross thinks both Senator Mary Landrieu and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness helped themselves during the debate. However, Cross doesn’t think it was a great debate overall for Congressman Bill Cassidy. Cross says Cassidy had a couple of kinks in his performance during the debate. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says
Cassidy didn’t do much to dazzle voters, but he really doesn’t need to at this point.
Hogan doesn’t believe the debate will change any voter’s minds, and Cross agrees.
Latest campaign finance totals in the US Senate race show Republican challenger Bill Cassidy with one million dollars more in cash on hand than Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu. Cassidy has four-point-four million, while Landrieu has three-point-four million. Political analyst Clancy Dubos points out Landrieu raised more money than Cassidy in the third quarter. Landrieu raised two-point-seven million dollars in the third quarter, beating out Cassidy by two-hundred thousand dollars. Dubos expects Landrieu to spend more of her campaign funds than her main GOP challenger. The third major candidate in the race, Air Force Colonel Rob Maness, reports he has 388-thousand dollars in his account
A second Dallas hospital worker has tested positive for Ebola. Both workers contracted the virus while providing care to Thomas Duncan, who died from the disease a week ago today. So are Louisiana hospitals prepared to handle an Ebola patient? Louisiana Hospital Association Vice President Ken Alexander believes so, thanks to daily guidance provided by the C-D-C. however, National Nurses United is concerned about the new case, and questions whether nurses have been adequately trained and have the protective gear to take care of Ebola patients. Alexander says what has happened in Texas is providing learning moments for the health care industry
Gas prices are being nice to our wallets these days. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is $3.03 which is down nearly a dime from this time last week.
News For Wednesday 10/15/14
News for Wednesday 101514
By Dave Graichen
The three major candidates in the US Senate race appeared in a televised debate last night. Analysts’ have said that US Senator Mary Landrieu needed to take some shots as she’s trailing in the polls to Republican Challenger Bill Cassidy, and she did early in the debate. Congressman Cassidy stayed with party talking points during the majority of the 1 hour and stressed his intention to vote to get rid of Obamacare if elected. Retired Air Force Col Rob Maness took shots at both Landrieu and Cassidy and criticized President Obama in most of his answers.
Entergy reported thousands of customers remained without power late Tuesday after a strong long of thunderstorms caused widespread damage Monday. Governor Bobby Jindal, who declared a state of emergency, toured the Monroe/West Monroe area yesterday to survey the damage. Jindal says they are working with affected areas and FEMA is sending preliminary teams to begin damage surveys.
Governor Bobby Jindal has sent a letter to the President seeking to restore funding that helps provide free funerals for military veterans. Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David LaCerte says the Obama administration allocates the across the board cuts. He says the National Guard’s ability to perform honor detail for military veterans who have passed will be severely impaired. The across the board cuts were made to all branches of the military.
Proposed charter schools in Alexandria, Monroe and Lake Providence were put on hold Tuesday by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White told BESE members that he wants to see how the schools already being administered by Charter Schools USA perform before approving any more. That company has applied for charter schools in Monroe and Alexandria under the Louisiana Charter Foundation.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue is offering delinquent tax payers a chance to settle their overdue debt with the state. The 2014 Louisiana Tax Amnesty period begins today and runs through November 14. Deputy Secretary Jarrod Coniglio says this is a golden opportunity to get up-to-date on late taxes. He says, during the amnesty period, tax payers can settle their debt by paying 100-percent of delinquent taxes and 50-percent of interest owed. The department will waive the remaining 50-percent of interest and 100-percent of the penalty that is due. Coniglio says this year’s amnesty is offering something new, an installment plan. Last year’s tax amnesty period collected $435 million that went into the state budget.
The first meeting of a working group put together by state Senator JP Morrell to review sexual assault policies on Louisiana’s college campuses takes place today. The New Orleans lawmaker wants to craft legislation that seeks to prevent sexual assault incidents at higher education institutions in Louisiana. He says they will begin with education Today’s meeting will be mostly introductory to try to figure out the key areas they would like colleges to address in implementing sexual assault policies for students
According to a study by the Williams Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles, if same-sex couples were allowed to marry in Louisiana, it would mean an economic boost to the state. The study predicts 4,038 in-state same-sex couples would get married in Louisiana within the first three years. The figures show spending on those weddings by same-sex resident couples and their out-of-state guests would generate $28.3 million dollars in the same time frame. Weddings are big business.
Research is underway at Tulane into a finger-prick test which would identify whether or not someone had the Ebola Virus within minutes. Doctor Robert Garry says they are still in the testing phase but getting close with this. Garry’s team received a two-point-nine million dollar grant last June to develop a speedy diagnostic test that health care workers could use.
Seven people have been arrested today for participating in an online sales scam. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says the suspects are believed to be members and affiliates of Romanian organized crime. The suspects are charged with federal racketeering for stealing approximately $1.4 million dollars from more than 500 people.
Two people sitting in a waiting room at a dentist’s office in East baton Rouge were injured yesterday when a car crashed through the building and into the room. A woman and her son were trapped under a large, 350-gallon aquarium that had to be drained and lifted using large, heavy rubber air bags. Their injuries were non-life threatening. The driver of the vehicle was not injured.
LSU Coach Les Miles says its his hope quarterback Brandon Harris will get a chance to play Saturday against Kentucky. Miles says they wanted to get Harris on the field against Florida, but the opportunity never presented itself. Anthony Jennings is expected to start against the Wildcats. The last time he played in Tiger Stadium, he was booed off the field after committing three turnovers.
News For Tuesday 10/14/14
News for Tuesday 101414
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal has issued a state of emergency as a result of the severe weather that moved the through the state on Monday. Kevin Davis, director of the governor’s office of homeland security and emergency preparedness, says Ouachita Parish is cleaning up from a possible tornado or damaging straight line winds. Some areas experienced 60 mile per hour winds when the storm system moved through. At one time, nearly 40-thousand people were without power in north Louisiana. Most are back on line today.
Tonight voters will finally see a US Senate debate featuring all three major candidates. Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican challengers, Congressman Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness will face off in Shreveport at 7PM. The debate, sponsored by Council for a Better Louisiana in partnership with Louisiana Public Broadcasting, will be televised statewide on LPB stations.
Walmart announced yesterday that they plan to hire up to 190 associates for the Walmart Neighborhood Markets opening in Alexandria and Pineville. Walmart is hosting a temporary hiring center in the food court area of the Alexandria Mall. It's open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Interested applicants can also apply online at http://careers.walmart.com.
An accident yesterday morning in downtown Alexandria, has left four people injured. The accident occurred when a city bus struck an SUV at the intersection of Jackson Street and 4th. The driver of the SUV received moderate injuries, while the driver of the bus and two passengers were treated for minor injuries. Police are not saying who ran the light, causing the accident.
A judge in Baton Rouge grants a temporary restraining order that keeps the ashes from the incineration of a Dallas Ebola victim’s belongings from being disposed in a Calcasieu Parish landfill. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell sought . The company that owns the landfill involved in this controversy released a statement that says it will not take the Ebola waste, until state officials determined it would not pose a health threat. Linen, bedding and carpet from the apartment of Thomas Duncan, who died from Ebola, was destroyed at an incinerator in Port Arthur, Texas and was set to be transported to a landfill in Calcasieu Parish.
Election day is three weeks away and Secretary of State Tom Schedler is encouraging Louisiana voters to download their GeauxVote mobile phone app. The app is convenient way to get all of the election information you may need. Schedler says Louisiana is a front runner in the country for this technology.
The app, which is available for iPhone and Android phones, provides information on local polling locations, updated ballots, and much more. Schedler says it even provides up-to-the-minute election results.
Despite his concerns about Common Core, Gov. Bobby Jindal will back a state bid to land a $15 million federal prekindergarten grant. Jindal’s office made the announcement Monday after days of letter exchanges between the governor, who opposes Common Core, and state Superintendent of Education John White, who backs the classroom standards. Jindal repeatedly said he was concerned that the grant would be linked to the new academic standards in reading, writing and math. White disagreed and said the money could finance pre-K services for about 800 4-year-olds from low-income families per year for four years.
The Tigers wild 30-27 victory over Florida was win number 100 at LSU for Coach Les Miles. The mad hatter joins Charles McClendon as the only two coaches in LSU history to win at least 100 games. Miles says one of his players gave him the game ball after the win and he’s glad it was the type of victory that exemplifies how his teams play. Miles will go after win number 101 this Saturday at home against Kentucky.
News For Monday 10/13/14
News for Monday 101314
By Dave Graichen
The run of warm and humid weather comes to an end today thanks to a cold front that will move through the state, bringing us more fall like weather. State Climatologist Barry Keim says Last week it felt more like summer than fall, with high temperatures in the upper 80s and high humidity levels. Keim says this cold front will give us high temperatures in the 70s across the state tomorrow. But, before the cooler temperatures we’ll get rain and there’s the potential of severe weather today.
An amazing story out of Pleasant Hill in Sabine Parish. A 43 year old man dies, of what appears to be natural causes, while sitting in bed working on his computer. Authorities say he fell backwards on the bed pinning his 10 month old infant beneath his body. Three days passed before the little girl’s 5 year old brother went next door and told a neighbor he thought his dad was dead. The infant, Betty Jean Fields, was dehydrated and suffering from blistering skin. But, authorities believe she will survive the ordeal.
The statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline has fallen another two cents in the past few days. The American Automobile Association has the statewide average price at $3.07. Triple-A fuel analyst Don Redman says the summer is over and demand is down. Redman says there’s potential we could see prices the lowest they’ve been since 2010.
A sergeant with the Louisiana State Police faces charges of DWI and hit and run, after causing a crash on Interstate 10 early Saturday morning. State Police Captain Doug Cain says 34-year-old Damien Dyson Sr of Baton Rouge was heading west on I-10 in Ascension Parish, when he struck the rear of another vehicle at a high rate of speed. Cain says Dyson kept going, but eventually pulled over and State Police responded to the scene. Dyson was booked into the Ascension Parish jail and immediately placed on administrative leave. Dyson, who was off duty at the time, had a blood alcohol level that was over twice the legal limit.
The LSU Health tumor registry has found colon cancer rates in the Acadiana parishes are among the highest in the United States. The study was led by Doctor Jordan Karlitz, who is also at the Tulane University of Medicine and he says their research focused on 18 parishes in the Acadiana area and colorectal cancer rates were significantly higher than both Louisiana and US rates. Karltiz says colorectal cancer rates are high in French speaking homes in Acadiana and those families with a Cajun heritage, which raises the possibility of a genetic predisposition. Another possible explanation could be contained within the environment, but he says more research is needed…
Eunice Police are seeking the public’s help in locating a woman who robbed the State Bank and Trust with a fake bomb Thursday afternoon. Surveillance video showed a middle-aged woman with a baseball cap also produced a gun and got away with an undisclosed amount of money. State Police Bomb Squad arrived and determined the package she left at the scene was not a bomb. It was the second fake bomb robbery in about year in Eunice.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section is investigating reports of scammers targeting Entergy resident customers and small business owners. Amanda Larkins, with the A-G’s office, says a con artist, claiming to be with Entergy, calls a customer’s home or business and the victim is told they need to make an immediate payment, because they are behind on their bill. Larkins says this scam has been around for a while, targeting elderly and other residential consumers, but now these scammers are moving on to small business owners with larger utility expenses. If you get such a call, the best thing you can do is hang up.
An Ascension grand jury will not be indicting the driver of an SUV, who ran off the road in Ascension Parish and killed two children fishing with their father in June. State Police said at the time they would not charge the driver, Shanette Taylor, and Friday, the grand jury unanimously agreed. Daylon and Sarai Lanus died as a result of that crash.
We’re a little more than three weeks away from the November election and voters have yet to see or hear a commercial from Former Governor Edwin Edwards in the sixth district Congressional race. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Edwards has the luxury of not having to run TV. According to Edwards last campaign finance report, he had 145-thousand dollars in cash on hand. Pinsonat says Edwards will likely finish in the top 2 in the primary, but he’ll need to spend some money and probably get on TV to win the run-off election.
The LSU Tigers finally have their first SEC win of the season and it wasn’t easy. LSU and Florida went back-and-forth in a crazy fourth quarter on Saturday in Gainesville, but it was the Tigers who came out on top 30-27.
News For Friday 10/10/14
News for Friday 101014
By Dave Graichen
The VA in Pineville will conduct a drive through flu shot clinic at building 7 on Friday from 8-12 and again at 4-6. They will repeat on Saturday from 8-12..
Glascock Group releases a new poll on the 5th Congressional District race and Congressman Vance McAllister looks to be in a good position to make the runoff. The numbers show the incumbent with 24% of the vote, then it’s fellow Republican Ralph Abraham with 20% then Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo with 18. The Duck Dynasty family member Zach Dasher polled at 11% with 12% saying they are still undecided.
A visit Wednesday here in Rapides parish from state Supt of Schools John White. White spent time with a group of Rapides Parish teachers at Pineville High while on his annual Louisiana Believes tour to “get the pulse” of what’s going on in the classroom and plan any course corrections for the next year. Most of the teachers’ questions revolved around keeping pace with new, more rigorous curriculum while reaching every student.
The Board of Regents Thursday unanimously selected Joseph Rallo to be Louisiana's next commissioner of higher education. Rallo is currently vice president for academic affairs and second in command in the Texas Tech University System. Rallo said his proposed contract calls for taking over around Jan. 2 but he expects to be in the state several times before that to get acclimated to the new job.
The big news in Louisiana politics today is sudden release of Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign manager. In an 11th hour shake-up, Landrieu hired Ryan Berni to run things as he did for her bother Mitch’s successful bid for New Orleans mayor. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this move shows that Landrieu recognizes things aren’t working right internally and it’s time for a change if she plans to defeat Congressman Bill Cassidy.
Former Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is coming to Louisiana to appear with US Senate candidate Bill Cassidy at a series of veteran’s rallies. The Arizona Senator’s first appearance with Cassidy is Sunday night in Metairie. Monday the pair will make stops in Covington, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Bossier City.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says some AT&T mobile customers could receive a refund as a result of a 105 million dollar settlement reached with the cell phone provider over unauthorized text message fees. Chris Styron is an assistant AG and he says this refund is specific to customers who have been “crammed. Styron says consumers who are victims of “cramming” are charged for “premium” text message subscription services that the consumer has never heard of or requested. However, says sometimes it’s difficult to find the charges on your phone bill. Styron says they encourage AT&T mobile customers in Louisiana who believe they may have been affected by cramming to submit a claim through the restitution program.
Based on filings with the Louisiana Insurance Department, health care policies purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange will see a double digit rate increase. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, and Vantage Health have all filed for rate increases ranging from 10 to 20 percent. He says policy holders will notice the difference next year.
The Kenner Police Department released records Thursday on the arrests of two Destrehan High school teachers who allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old student at the same time and the affidavit states the suspects were both drinking. Both women face felony charges of carnal knowledge, indecent behavior and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. A retired judge from New Iberia has been appointed to hear the case.
A former Department of Health and Hospitals worker pleaded guilty to stealing over $1 million dollars from the state to fund her gambling addiction. State Inspector General Stephen Street says 47-year-old Deborah Loper was accused of misappropriating Medicaid over payments. Under terms of Loper’s plea agreement, she’ll serve five years in prison, five years’ probation and she must pay over a million dollars to the state in restitution.
The field of Republicans hoping to fill the 6th Congressional District seat has narrowed by one. Attorney Cassie Felder has dropped out; mainly based on the inability to raise enough money to do the advertising she would need to win. She announced yesterday she is putting her support behind State Senator Dan Claitor.
An owner of a Covington horse farm, who provides handicapped individuals the opportunity to use the facility and ride horses, has been arrested for allegedly raping a 21 year-old mentally challenged woman. St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office booked the owner of Parkview Farms-50 year-old Vincent Datrio on aggravated rape into jail and set his bond at $200 thousand dollars. Authorities say, there could be more victims.
LSU reports its freshman class this fall has the highest average ACT score and highest average grade point average in the university’s history. The school also says this is the most diverse student body they’ve ever had. President and Chancellor F King Alexander says LSU is doing a good job appealing to more students with more diverse backgrounds.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says Poverty Point will be officially inscribed as 1001st site on the World Heritage List tomorrow in Epps near Delhi. He says the ceremony will begin at 10am when the plaque will be unveiled that recognizes Poverty Point as only the 22nd World Heritage site in the United States.
The LSU Tigers leave today for the Sunshine state where they’ll face Florida tomorrow night in Gainesville. On social media and radio call-in shows, Tigers fans have expressed their frustrations with the 0-and-2 record in SEC play, but Coach Les Miles says there’s been a lot of positive energy at practice and in meeting rooms. No word on who will start at quarterback for the Tigers
In the Southland Conference…Northwestern State will play its first home game in 43 days when they host Incarnate Word on Saturday night in Turpin Stadium. The Demons are coming off a four-game road trip, where they went two and two. Coach Jay Thomas is encouraged with how his team played on the road.
News For Thursday 10/09/14
News for Thursday 100914
By Dave Graichen
A trial date has been set for the lawsuit which challenges the controversial law in Louisiana which requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The case is scheduled to be heard on March 30th of next year but until then a temporary restraining order barring the state from penalizing doctors who are applying to have admitting privileges remains in effect.
Governor Bobby Jindal issues an executive order to protect a teachers’ right to freedom of speech after hearing a teacher in Rapides Parish was “written up” by school administrators, because she criticized Common Core on her Facebook page. Louisiana Federation of Teachers spokesperson Les Landon supports Jindal’s action . The Alexandria Town Talk published the story that claims a teacher was reprimanded for voicing her concerns over Common Core. Another teacher in the story says some teachers are scared to speak up. But Landon says they have not heard of local school officials using intimidation tactics to keep teachers quiet.
Some 40,000 classified Civil Service employees will see an increase in their paychecks this month, some for the first time in years. Funding for the 4 percent boost is included in the Jindal administration’s budget that went into effect July 1.
The raise comes as the administration is preparing to implement state health insurance program changes which include increased out-of-pocket expenses for many of the same employees. The state budget included more than $60 million to cover the cost of the so-called “performance adjustments.”
A preliminary deal has been reached with 12 Louisiana municipalities to build a new natural-gas pipeline from Winnsboro to Natchez that would replace the existing 90-year-old Midla pipeline. Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland is a member of the Louisiana Municipal Gas Authority. He says they are elated this agreement was made in principle with Midla. Copeland says this new pipeline will ensure that future economic growth is possible to areas that have been hindered in the past by the low pressure and resulting low capacity available through the existing pipeline. The agreement must be signed off now by all parties in the negotiations.
The Louisiana Community and Technical College System launches a 6 year plan designed to meet the state’s growing workforce demand. President Monty Sullivan says the goal is to double the number of graduates a year to 40,000 graduates a year. Officials say tens of thousands of workers will be needed to fill the number of jobs that are expected to be created over the next five to ten years. Sullivan says they have put together a bold plan that will help the state address its workforce challenges.
The fall festival season continues in Louisiana as the 39th annual Zwolle Tamale Fiesta kicks off today in the Sabine Parish town. The festival is an annual celebration of Zwolle’s rich Spanish and Native American heritage. Here in Rapides Parish, it’s The Rapides Parish Fair at it’s new location on Highway 71 by LSUA. Finally, in Evangeline Parish it the Cotton Festival, one of the state’s oldest festivals. All continue through the weekend.
American Horror Story: Freak Show, the FX anthology series which was shot in New Orleans, debuted Last Night. This season the show is about a traveling carny sideshow troupe of “mistakes of nature” as the script says. Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly expects this one will be as successful as American Horror Story: The Coven which was also shot in The Big Easy . This American Horror Story season includes Academy Award winner Kathy Bates playing a bearded lady, and Sarah Paulson with two heads.
It’s a tragedy that hit hard yesterday morning in Kenner, as a father accidently ran over and killed his one year-old baby in the driveway of his home. Unbeknown to the father, the little girl had crawled under the car through the open front door as his wife was helping him set his GPS
News For Wednesday 10/08/14
News for Wednesday 100814
By Dave Graichen
A new independent poll conducted on the 5th District Congressional race shows Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo with a slight lead in a very tight field. The poll was conducted by Cygnal (signal) and surveyed just over 500 voters in the district. Pollster Brent Buchanan says Mayo polled 19-percent of the vote, followed by Republican incumbent Vance McAllister with 17-percent, Zach Dasher with 13-percent, and Dr. Ralph Abraham with 11-percent. But Buchanan says there is still a lot up for grabs. Over 20-percent of the voters polled said they were undecided at this point. Buchanan says, with less than a month to go, this election is still way too close to call.
An Alexandria man was arrested Monday after he was found drunk at the D.G. Hunter Power Electrical Plant. 47 year old Donald Ray Clifton Sr. was charged with unauthorized entry of critical infrastructure and disturbing the peace by intoxication. Clifton was allegedly hiding from officers after attempting to steal copper from a recycling bin. This is the 26th time Clifton has been booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
According to analysis done by The Wesleyan Media Project, the US Senate race in Louisiana is the most negative campaign in the country. The Wall Street Journal found that 0% of the ads run by Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, over a two week period, were positive. Erica Franklin Fowler is the co-director on the Wesleyan Media Project, she says campaigns across the country this year are more negative than they were in 2012 or 2010, but she says in Louisiana BOTH Landrieu and Cassidy have opted against puppies and families in their commercials.
The state says the number of Louisiana students scoring 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exam, and thereby earning college credit, has increased 24.6 percent in 2014. The state education department also says more students are taking AP classes: Louisiana is now ranked 38th for the percentage of high school juniors and seniors taking an AP test. In 2012, we were last in the nation.
Gay and lesbian couples are getting legally married in the Southeast for the first time, crossing a threshold in a conservative region long opposed to same-sex marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to turn away appeals from a handful of states means marriage bans are unconstitutional in Virginia and similar bans in West Virginia and North and South Carolina should fall as soon. But as with other civil rights battles, plenty of southern conservatives seem determined to fight to the bitter end. The state’s attorney general in west Virginia says they will fight it in the courts.
Average weekly wages of $997 in the Houma-Thibodaux area topped the state’s first-quarter chart, according to numbers released by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. New Orleans-area wages averaged $950 per week, just ahead of the $887 recorded for the Lafayette area. The Baton Rouge area’s average wage of $881 was the fourth-highest in the state. Other weekly wage numbers released by the LWC were for areas surrounding Lake Charles, $830; Shreveport, $737; Alexandria, $679; and Monroe, $660.
Louisiana’s economic development department launched a nationwide campaign Tuesday to attract former state residents to growing numbers of new jobs in this state. The campaign, dubbed “Come Home, Louisiana,” is tied to a free state website, LouisianaJobConnection.com. That website is designed to match the skills of job seekers with the best available jobs of Louisiana employers.
Since the LJC website became available to people searching for jobs on Aug. 18, more than 12,000 job seekers have placed the details of their experience and training on it. State economic development officials said more than 950 Louisiana employers have posted available jobs on the same website.
LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Cliff Vannoy says two separate audits that were ordered following a sex scandal involving the group’s former leader have found no wrongdoing or misused money. The independent reports are expected to formally be released this week. Former association head Charlie Roberts resigned in August after an ex-employee claimed in a lawsuit that Roberts gave her a marketing job at the Alumni Association so she would continue a sexual relationship with him and then paid her monthly hush money after she resigned.
The State Department of Health and Hospitals says a case of rabies has been confirmed in a dog in the West Monroe area. Last month a cat in Washington Parish also tested positive for rabies and so was a dog in Lafayette Parish in January according to DHH. State Veterinarian Dr. Gary Balsamo says the state is reminding residents that, by law, anyone who owns a dog, cat or ferret over three months old must have their animal vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian. Balsamo says, unfortunately, some people seem to be downplaying the seriousness of vaccinating for rabies.
Hydrocodone based drugs like Lortabs are now a lot harder to get after they were moved into a more restrictive category by the federal government. Under the new rules, doctors will only be able to prescribe a 30-day supply with no automatic refills. LSU Health’s Emergency Medicine Chairman, Dr. Tom Arnold, says they are trying to get control of abuse of these drugs. He says you also now won’t be able to call in hydrocodone-based prescriptions.
The New Orleans Police Department says they found 3 bodies early yesterday morning in the Bywater after what they believe is a double murder-suicide. An investigation has thus far determined that a 55-year-old man shot and killed his 60-year-old sister and 58-year-old brother before killing himself. Detectives are not releasing the identities of those involved at this time
It looks like this year’s most popular movies and television show characters will be knocking on your doors looking for Candy October 31. Spirit Halloween is one of the season’s largest retailers in North America and spokeswoman Lisa Barr says you can’t expect to see plenty of Disney’s “Frozen” characters. Barr says also in their top 10 costume trends for the coming season are the usual Superheroes including Batman, Captain America, Spiderman and Transformers. She says DIY is a big trend this year with themes around Burlesque, Punk and Leopard. Barr says there is a huge demand for costumes featuring characters from HBO’s Game of Thrones and of course zombies..
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are looking for the killer of a black bear in Concordia Parish. Spokesman Adam Einck says this animal was part of their Black Bear Restoration Program and its movements were being tracked with a radio collar. He says the bear was normally tracked in the Turnbull Island area. LDWF is offering a reward of up to $7,000 for information on this case.
Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer a Louisiana Concealed Carry Class on Saturday and Sunday. The class is for those age 21 or older who want to obtain a Louisiana concealed handgun permit. The course will be from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday in South Hall on the NSU campus and Sunday at the Natchitoches Shooting Range. The cost is $110. For more information, call (318) 357-5682
News For Tuesday 10/07/14
News for Tuesday 100714
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal is traveling the country again and yesterday he gave a speech calling for increased funding for the US military. Jindal spoke at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He says we need to go back to the 2011 budget proposed by former defense Secretary Robert Gates. Jindal stated that the nation’s military has suffered devastating budget cuts under President Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The governor says now the need is for more funding, not less
The Louisiana Democratic party is bashing Governor Bobby Jindal over his speech yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. calling for a strengthening of the US military. Chairwoman Senator Karen Carter Peterson says Jindal needs to stop putting so much effort into matters outside of Louisiana. Peterson says even though his own constituents think he shouldn’t run for president, Jindal keeps courting D.C. insiders. She says instead of talking about increasing federal military funding, she’d rather hear Jindal explain why he cut hundreds of millions dollars from higher education in our state.
We’re now 4 weeks away from the November elections and political voters can expect to see and hear a lot more from the candidates. LSU political research director Michael Henderson says the “air war” will continue over radio and television. He says candidates will be putting a lot more resources toward the “ground game” here over the next couple of weeks to mobilize core voters to get out the vote. He says in the 5th & 6th Congressional District races, it’ll be all about making it to the runoff.
A statewide survey conducted by CBS and the New York Times shows Republican US Representative Bill Cassidy leading Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu 47-to-41 percent in a head-to-head match-up. The survey also shows 12 percent of Louisiana voters are undecided.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman is under arrest on animal cruelty charges for allegedly trying to throw puppies away. A deputy rescued the puppies and returned them to their rightful owner. Deputies have no idea why this woman was trying to dump puppies but she was arrested and charged with three counts of cruelty to animals.
Covington Police have arrested two 14-year-old’s for allegedly calling 9-1-1 to falsely report someone was shooting up the school and requesting fried chicken and kool-aid be brought to William Pitcher Junior High. The alleged incident took place on the school bus and investigators traced the call to the teens. The charges include terrorizing, misuse of 911 and telephone harassment.
A TV station in Baton Rouge is reporting a horse fell on top of West Feliciana Parish Sheriff Austin Daniel at the Angola Prison rodeo on Sunday. They say as a result the sheriff suffered four broken ribs, a punctured lunch and a broken collarbone. A family member told the station Daniel is expected to make a full recovery, but it will take a long time.
The Shreveport Police Department says they are investigating a two-vehicle crash which claimed the life of a 35-year-old man on I-49. They say Elton Anderson was traveling south when his car hit a pickup and lost control. The victim was not restrained and was ejected and thrown over the interstate barrier falling about 30 feet. Anderson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Even though the Tigers are off to an 0-and-2 start in SEC play, Coach Les Miles is not ready to say this is a rebuilding season. Miles says there’s still plenty of victories to be had this season, if his team can execute better. LSU is at Florida this Saturday. Miles plans to name a starting quarterback later in the week as he’ll allow Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris compete for the job this week.
The Saints are headed into the bye week with a much needed win under their belts as they defeated Tampa Bay 37 to 31 in overtime. But it was a painful victory or New Orleans, who saw tight end Jimmy Graham leave the game with a shoulder injury. Coach Sean Payton did not offer any specifics yesterday, but it’s been reported that Graham is suffering from a shoulder sprain. The Saints next game is October 19th at Detroit and it’s also possible running back Mark Ingram could return to that game after recovering from a broken hand.
News For Thursday 10/02/14
News for Thursday 100214
By Dave Graichen
The first autumn cold front hits Louisiana today. CS Ross, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says the front will roll through the state through early tomorrow morning. Once the cold front moves through the state, we can expect sunny skies and great weather across Louisiana for the weekend.
The Rapides parish sheriff’s office reports someone is calling local residents, trying to get them to make a payment for a warrant or overdue fine, but it’s a scam. Several complaints were received Tuesday, saying that someone calls and identifies himself as Mark Hamilton or Lt. Dan Jordan. The number appears to be the office’s main number, and they’re telling people that they are trying to collect a payment via telephone for an outstanding warrant or overdue fine. Truth is, according to the Sheriff’s office, they will NEVER call someone telling them they have a warrant or overdue fine and attempt to make a payment over the phone. Bottom line, don’t give the caller any personal information. The office says to hang up on and to block the number.
An Alexandria police officer checking some Veterans Drive storage units on Tuesday surprised two men who allegedly were stealing from them, causing them to run, according to a release. They were nabbed a short time later. As the first officer continued looking around the units in the 600 block of Veterans Drive, he found an unoccupied pickup truck with a washer and dryer in the bed. He also found several burglarized units. As the pair were being searched, officers found suspected crystal meth and counterfeit money on one of them. Both men were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. More arrests are expected.
Amidst the news out of Dallas reporting the first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States, Governor Bobby Jindal is taking action to ensure Louisiana isn’t at risk but is ready for any potential threat. Jindal and GOHSEP held a meeting yesterday to get an update from state agencies to make sure the state is prepared if a case of the life threatening disease were to be present here.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office reports a Campti couple died Tuesday last night after their mobile home caught on fire. Florence and John Berguin, both 68, were pronounced dead at the scene. The victims were the mother and step-father of Campti Police Chief Greg Eldridge.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s office says an Amite Police Officer is under arrest on multiple charges of kidnapping, sexual battery and rape. Spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto says they got a report from a woman in August about a man who had kidnapped her, taken her to a remote location and forced her to perform sexual acts. She says they got a similar report last month. Panepinto says investigators identified 25-year-old Grant Carruth, an Amite Police Officer as the suspect. He was arrested and taken into custody. Panepinto says Carruth would pose as a narcotics agent to trick the victims.
A Public Policy Polling survey and a CNN poll both show Congressman Bill Cassidy with a three-percentage point lead over Senator Mary Landrieu in a possible December runoff. UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says the Cassidy campaign has to be pleased with the polls that show him leading a three-term incumbent. Cross says two reputable polls showing Cassidy in the lead is significant.
The federal government begins sending out refund checks to those homeowners who overpaid for their insurance premiums. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the refunds will go to those residents who purchased or renewed coverage after 2012 and paid higher premiums, until Congress passed another law to re-adjust flood insurance rates. The federal government estimates that about one-million policyholders nationwide will receive refunds that average one-hundred dollars.
Well, here we are the beginning of October and this year’s hurricane season has been pretty uneventful, so far. But state climatologist Barry Keim says we’re not out of the woods just yet. He says October can still be a pretty active month. Keim says this is not the time to put our guard down when it comes to hurricanes.
Two Destrehan High School teachers are facing accusations that they invited a 16-year-old student to a Kenner apartment last month for a three-way sexual encounter. 24 year old Rachel Respess and 32 yesr old Shelley Dufresne were booked on one count each of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, indecent behavior with a juvenile and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile
Now that we’re into October you’ll start seeing pink all over the place for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Dr. Mignonne Morrell with the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine is also an Academic Director of Breast Imaging. Morrell says right now there are over two and a half million people in the US that have a history of breast cancer. She says the more you increase the conversation about the disease, the more likely a woman is to encounter someone who caught it at an early stage which is the goal of breast cancer screening.
News For Wednesday 10/01/14
News for Wednesday 100114
By Dave Graichen
Baton Rouge-based All Star Automotive Group has sold its two Alexandria dealerships to Walker Automotive. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The dealerships will be rebranded as Walker Toyota/Scion and Walker Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. Officials with Walker said the deal was signed Tuesday after four months of working on the details.
Alexandria-based Martin Companies, L.L.C., announced Tuesday that it has bought an ownership interest in the Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital, also in Alexandria. Martin Companies will have a seat on the CLSH board of directors.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a formula that would result in a refund for Entergy Corp. electricity customers. If approved by the five elected regulators the refunds would appear as credits on regular monthly electricity bills. A typical residential customer would receive between $8 and $15. The refunds would appear as credits on regular monthly electricity bills.
The Jindal administration Tuesday backed off its aggressive time frame to implement major changes in health insurance plan offerings involving some 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their dependents. Group Benefits members will now have more time to make decisions about their health care coverage. The administration announced it would extend the enrolment period through November, instead of cutting it off Oct. 31.
A state judge has ruled a Metairie man, who spent 17 years in prison for an attempted rape he did not commit, is entitled to up to $330,000 in compensation. Innocence Project attorney Kristin Wenstrom says 40-year-old Nathan Brown is also entitled to petition the court for an additional $80,000 for loss of life opportunities.
According to a recent survey, Republican voters in Louisiana are following the election more closely and are more committed to casting ballots than Democratic voters. The results are part of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab’s 2014 Election Report. Research Director, Dr. Michael Henderson, says the report shows Republicans, statewide, are more enthusiastic about the November elections. The survey shows 60-percent of Republicans surveyed are closely following the candidates and campaigns, compared to 41-percent of Democrats.
The state’s annual survey of seat-belt use found that a record 84% of Louisiana motorists are buckling up in 2014. LA Highway Safety Commission Executive Director John LeBlanc says this proves that we’re on the right track in increasing seat-belt use. He says state law says everyone in your car needs to be restrained and it’s one of the best ways to protect lives.
The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office is seeing an increase in voter registration leading up to the November 4th election. They say about 90,000 people have filed voter registration paperwork since August 1st. Residents who wish to cast a ballot in the upcoming election need to be registered by October 6th. You can register to vote online at www-dot-geauxvote-dot-com, with geaux spelled the cajun way.
A restaurant in Port Allen is getting national attention for a sign hanging up informing customers packing heat they get a 10 percent discount. The owner of Bergeron’s Restaurant, Kevin Cox, says he originally had a sign posted offering law enforcement officers a discount for eating there. The sign says, “Thank you for carrying your gun today, 10% Discount.” Cox said the support he’s been hearing from people all over the country has been phenomenal. So far Cox says he hasn’t heard a single negative thing about his gun toting discount program.
There’s another Louisiana opinion poll out, but this time it’s not about politics; it’s about pot, and the punishments for possession. The survey from Public Policy Polling says that marijuana reform support is growing, with 59% of those surveyed say first time offenders should not have to go to jail.
A Lafayette financial planner who defrauded residents of over $6 million dollars in an investment scam is going to jail for 10 and half years. U S District Judge Richard Haik (hike) gave that term to forty six year-old Richard Boswell, along with requiring him to pay $6.3 million to his victims, many of whom lost their life savings. No word as to how he’ll do that from prison.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says the daughter and granddaughter of an elderly woman who was found dead in her wheelchair Monday are under arrest for cruelty to the infirm. Authorities say the victim’s daughter and granddaughter both admitted to being the main caregivers of the deceased and being aware of her condition but not seeking medical attention. He says the suspects could face additional charges.
A Bossier City man convicted last month of stabbing his mother to death in 2011, was formally sentenced today to life in prison. Christopher Holder will spend the rest of his life behind bars with no chance of parole.
News For Tuesday 09/30/14
News for Tuesday 093014
By Dave Graichen
Congratulations going out to the crew of KALB TV5 as the central Louisiana icon celebrates it’s 60th anniversary. Among the first images that traveled across the airwaves of kalb, the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians.
A federal judge receives an update today on progress abortion providers have made when it comes to obtaining privileges to admit patients at local hospitals. A state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges has been put on hold. Center for Reproductive Rights attorney, Janet Crepps, says the doctors they represent still have applications pending. Louisiana’s new abortion restrictions law was set to go into effect September first, but a US judge in New Orleans blocked enforcement, so abortion clinic doctors can obtain privileges. Crepps says since the doctors they represent haven’t made any progress, she expects the judge will rule legal abortions can continue.
A group of Louisiana lawmakers and other state leaders are expressing outrage about Louisiana hospitals charging rape victims for care. Slidell Representative Kevin Pearson says rape separates itself from other types of violent crimes because they so very often go unreported. Even though the standard rape kit at hospitals is free, the HIV and pregnancy test is not; including any medications ot treatment that may be needed.
The Louisiana Association of Educators has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of using public school budget money to fund certain types of charter schools. $60 million from the budget, also known as the MFP, has been designated to fund those charter schools. LAE President Debbie Meaux says the Louisiana Constitution is clear on this issue. Education Superintendent John White says this lawsuit is a money grab for unions and school boards and an attempt to keep parents from choosing the school they think is best for their children. But, Meaux says the charter schools in question are schools not controlled by city or parish school boards and, therefore, not eligible for funds from the public school budget.
A CNN poll on Louisiana’s US Senate race shows Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu winning the primary, but losing a runoff with Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says the survey also shows Landrieu will have to make sure registered Democratic voters get to the polls and she needs more support from white voters. The poll was conducted last week. Stockley contends, unless Cassidy makes a mistake during the campaign, he has an excellent chance to win it.
Beginning Monday, the hours at the Alexandria VA Medical Center’s Urgent Care Clinic will change.
The new hours will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday. On weekends and holidays, hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The clinic, on the first floor of Building 7, offers care for cold and flu symptoms, high/low blood pressure, high/low blood sugar and stitches.
A Fort Polk man, 23 year old Casey Young, has been arrested after a sexual misconduct investigation by the Leesville Police Department. Young was booked into the Leesville City Jail and was charged with aggravated rape and aggravated incest. Young’s bond was set at $175,000, and he remains in jail. An investigation is continuing.
The “Move Over” law requires drivers, when approaching a stopped vehicle utilizing warning lights, to change to a non-adjacent lane to the parked vehicle. If a lane change is not possible, you should slow down before passing the stopped vehicle. Edmonson says if someone is broken down on the side of the road, that person is owed certain amount of consideration. More first responders are killed by traffic crashes than by any other line-of-duty cause.
State Police say a 38-year-old passenger from DeRidder is dead after a 13-year-old driver hit a cow. Sgt James Anderson says the victim is identified as 38-year-old Jason Brooks. Anderson says the reason the 13-year-old was driving is still under investigation. He says there was another 16-year-old passenger in the vehicle and nobody was buckled up.
In Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in the United States, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson comes in at number 386. The 2014 FORBES 400 lists Benson’s net worth at $1.6 billion. Benson is the only Louisianan to make the list.
True freshman Brandon Harris is the new starting quarterback at LSU. Coach Les Miles says Harris deserves a chance to start this Saturday against fifth ranked Auburn after leading the Tigers on seven consecutive touchdown drives against New Mexico State on Saturday. Miles says Harris made quality decisions with the football and likes his ability to ad-lib. Harris will make his first collegiate start at Auburn and raucous crowd is expected for this SEC West clash. Miles expects Harris and the rest of the team to handle the hostile environment well.
Saints Coach Sean Payton says there needs to be a sense of urgency this week to correct the mistakes that has led to a 1-and-3 start. On Monday, Payton listed several reasons why the team has struggled. He says a negative turnover ratio of negative six, which is tied for worst in the NFL is near the top of the list.
News For Monday 9/29/14
News for Monday 092914
By Dave Graichen
Authorities have yet to release the name of the one know victim of a single vehicle fiery crash on highway 171 in Vernon Parish over the weekend. The driver, a 21-year-old man from Fort Polk, has been identified, but that victim's name has not been made public as Fort Polk authorities are making arrangements to notify next of kin, police said. The passenger has not been identified yet due to the severity of injuries/burns. Routine toxicology tests are pending. The crash remains under investigation.
According to the Army Environmental Command, Fort Polk has received the most supporting public comments of any of the 30 Army bases across the country facing military cutbacks. Michael Reese, with Fort Polk Progress, says out of about 110,000 comments received this year, over 34,000 comments supported Fort Polk. Fort Polk’s maximum troop reduction could be as high as 6,500, out of a current military population of just under 11,000. Reese says the Army will make an announcement next June.
It’s unusual for one US Senator to go door-to-door to encourage voters NOT to vote for the other US Senator in the same state, but that’s exactly what Senator David Vitter did Saturday in Baton Rouge. Vitter was accompanied by representatives from an anti-abortion group. Senator Many Landrieu believes in pro-choice. Landrieu’s main challenger in the race, Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy, is pro-life
State Police announce the arrest of eleven people between the ages of 21 and 61 in an undercover operation targeting prostitution, human trafficking and child exploitation in Shreveport. Authorities say two of the people arrested were child predators who were allegedly involved in a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old.
A federal jury in Alexandria returned a verdict of guilty with the death penalty Friday against the man who kidnapped and murdered a 12 year-old girl in the fall of 2010. Fifty-seven year old Thomas Sanders was convicted in the brutal killing of Lexis Roberts, whose body was found in a wooded area in Catahoula Parish. Prosecutors say Sanders also killed the girl’s mother in Arizona in what they call a vacation that went terribly wrong.
According to the Shreveport Mayor’s office, Fire Chief Ronald Craig Mulford has been fired after being on paid leave since being indicted in June on charges stemming from his handling of complaints against several firefighters under his command. Mulford is accused of not reporting criminal activity. One of the firefighters has pleaded guilty to hiring a prostitute and to abusing an intellectually disabled man.
US Senate candidate Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy released a television ad over the weekend featuring former supporters of incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu. In the spot, three women say they will not vote for Landrieu this year because of her support of the Affordable Care Act. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this is a good move on the part of Cassidy. Pinsonat says President Obama and Obamacare remain extremely unpopular in Louisiana. He says attaching Landrieu to Obama is a smart strategy for Cassidy…
LSU moved up three spots to No. 15 in the coaches poll and two spots to No. 15 in the Associated Press top 25, both of which were released Sunday.
The Tigers are 4-1 after beating New Mexico State 63-7 behind a breakout performance from true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris. LSU, 0-1 in Southeastern Conference play, travels to No. 5 Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC) next Saturday.
News For Friday 09/26/14
News for Friday 092614
By Dave Graichen
Cenla has done it again. Word yesterday from the Army Environmental command that Fort Polk received more support comments than any other base in the country. The base, along with others across the country, is facing the possibility of major staff reductions in the latest round of military cutbacks. Residents last month were asked to show their support for the base in the form of letters, petitions and emails and did they ever. 34,619 comments were received by the Army brass. Michael Reese with Fort Polk Progress said he was “awed” by the response, which far exceeds what they were expecting.
Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives are asking for help in finding a runaway girl who may be in the Pineville or Pollock areas. Megan Nicole Johnson is 16, has black hair and blue eyes. She stands 5 feet, 4 inches and weighs 140 pounds. She has a heart tattoo on her left hand. She last was seen in the Pineville area on Tuesday, wearing a white-hooded sweatshirt, black T-shirt, blue jeans and black and pink Nike shoes. If anyone has seen or knows where Megan can be found, contact authorities.
Flu season is right around the corner and that means it’s time for your flu shot. Bill Schaffner with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says everyone older than six months of age should be getting a vaccination because there is no excuse not to do it. Schaffner says you can get flu shots at any doctor’s office, clinic or even pharmacy. He says young adults get hit the hardest when it comes to getting sick because they are the hardest demographic to get vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 100 children lost their lives to the flu last season and 90 percent of them were not vaccinated.
A state judge has suspended his ruling that struck down Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban, effectively putting the decision on hold pending an appeal by the state Attorney General’s Office.
Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Edward Rubin’s ruling earlier this week was not expected to have any immediate impact in other jurisdictions, but his order granting the state’s request to suspend the ruling makes clear that no same sex marriage licenses will be issued in Lafayette Parish until the legal issue is resolved.
Governor Bobby Jindal is spending yet another weekend visiting key presidential campaign states. Jindal is still considering a presidential bid in 2016, although recent poll numbers do not have the governor performing well against other contenders. Jindal is in New Hampshire today, Saturday, Jindal returns to Iowa to make an appearance at an Iowa State University tailgate for Republican Senator Bill Dix and give a speech to the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition. The governor has said he will not announce a possible presidential bid until after the November elections.
With the report of the resignation of US Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, the Louisiana delegation is reacting to the news. And not everyone was complementary of his job performance, as South Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany said Holder set a – quote – “bad precedent for the future attorney generals and undermined the trust of the American people in their government.” Also, In a prepared statement released yesterday, senator David Vitter said that he couldn’t think of any AG in history who has attacked Louisiana more than Holder.
Louisiana State Police is reporting another officer involved shooting, this time in Beauregard Parish where a man was killed after allegedly tried to run over authorities during a pursuit. Sgt. James Anderson says officers responded to a disturbance in Dry Creek. Anderson says they were trying to apprehend the subject, who was in a vehicle. He says the suspect, identified as 25-year-old Jacob Navarre, tried to run over the deputies who shot and killed the him. Navarre was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tackling a volatile topic, a state panel Thursday began considering ways to revamp the way Louisiana evaluates its public school teachers. The group, which advises the state’s top school board, is required by a law passed earlier this year to review the state’s teacher evaluation law and to make recommendations to the Legislature, possibly as early as November.
Louisiana State Police found over 14 pounds of cocaine and more than a pound of marijuana during a traffic stop on Interstate 12 in Tangipahoa Parish on Thursday morning. They say the cocaine alone was worth millions.
The LSU Police Department says a man is under arrest for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in an RV on campus following a tailgate party. Spokesman Captain Corey LaLonde says the victim told officers the sexual battery occurred at night while she was sleeping in the RV. 47-year-old Daniel Sanchez of Gonzales is charged with two counts of sexual battery and two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has filed a lawsuit against the Abbeville Police Department claiming they are violating the First Amendment with their social media policy. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says the rule basically states that employees can’t post anything on social media which casts the city in a negative light. The rub is, what constitutes a negative light? The Abbeville Police Department is not commenting on the suit.
New Orleans Senator JP Morrell leads a new study commission trying to determine how much Louisiana agencies spend on the death penalty. Morrell, a Democrat, says the idea came to mind when the current combination of drugs used for lethal injection became unavailable and seeing what happened in other states. Views differ widely on the topic. Morrell says prosecutors will say the cost of executing someone is negligible, while defense attorneys say it cost millions of dollars.
Northwestern State University officials got initial approval from the Board of Regents Thursday to develop a solution that would allow people with associate degrees in resource management to work toward a bachelor’s degree while keeping their current jobs. NSU has been working with the Regents staff for almost a year to develop an online Bachelor of Applied Science in Resource Management program designed to meet that need. Courses will be offered online in eight- and 16-week formats, whichever works best for students, the university says in its submitted plan. Since the university already offers the courses, no additional faculty or space would be needed.
News For Thursday 09/25/14
News for Thursday 092514
By Dave Graichen
The grand opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch of the Rapides Parish Library is set for 3:30 to 5 p.m. today. The MLK branch library is at 1115 Broadway Ave. in Alexandria. The 4,000-square-foot building opened at that new location last month after the branch was closed for more than a year. It was previously located on Lower Third Street.
The Internal Revenue Service has slapped the city of Leesville with more than $400,000 in fines and penalties as a result of failure to properly file W-2 forms in 2010. Mayor Rick Allen said this was the first notice the city has received of the fine and that officials could not locate any other notice in its mail log. Allen said he is hopeful that the city can negotiate a lower penalty.
The Alexandria Police Department will host the 7th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Public Safety Complex on Bolton Ave. The Drug Enforcement Administration again will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcements agencies, focused on removing potentially dangerous controlled substance from our nation’s medicine cabinet. More than 2 million pounds of medication has been taken out of circulation, nationwide, during the past Take Back events
The Jindal administration and the Louisiana Legislature’s fiscal advisors reported Wednesday that rising health insurance claims and a 9 percent reduction in premiums were responsible for the Office of Group Benefits reserves dropping nearly $300 million over a three year period. The reports were released to counter allegations in blogs and among some state workers that Gov. Bobby Jindal and his staff balanced the state budget by raiding state insurance program reserves. Opponents of the Group Benefits overhaul contend the administration created the financial problem that it is now using to justify changes that will increase costs, some substantially, for the roughly 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their dependents who receive their health coverage from the Office of Group Benefits.
State Police say an on-duty St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot by a fellow deputy yesterday during a domestic dispute in LaPlace. The Sheriff’s Office received a call of a deputy involved in a domestic dispute brandishing a weapon, when officers arrived, they found that Lt. Nolan Anderson was armed. During a short standoff, Anderson turned the gun on the officers, at that point deputies then fired. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Anderson was a 25-year veteran of the sheriff’s office.
Higher education leaders gave general overviews of their budget outlooks to the state Board of Regents on Wednesday. Three of Louisiana’s college and university systems are just hoping the state Legislature won’t cut higher education funding next year. Meanwhile, the Southern University System is facing significant funding issues next year, as officials suspect the Baton Rouge campus will fail to meet state benchmarks necessary to raise tuition for a second year.
Baton Rouge Congressman and Senate candidate Bill Cassidy has agreed to two public debates before the November 4th election which Senator Mary Landrieu, says signals a lack of courage. But Cassidy says Landrieu’s record is well known and there’s no need to debate it over and over. Cassidy, Landrieu and the other Republican challenger, Col Rob Maness, will appear together at a debate in Shreveport on October 14th and Baton Rouge on October 29th. Cassidy says meeting voters face to face is a better way to discuss the issues. Landrieu says debates are routine in elections and the fact that Cassidy is dodging so many speaks volumes.
Baton Rouge Congressman and US senate candidate Bill Cassidy says it was inappropriate for Senator Mary Landrieu to assist another man perform a keg stand at an LSU tailgate. Cassidy says beer distributors are also not happy because it promotes drunkenness. Cassidy made the comments at an event where he received the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business. He says the beer industry spends a lot of money promoting responsible drinking and Landrieu’s actions on a college campus were unfitting for a US Senator.
A Federal Judge ordered today that businesses won’t have to pay BP back money the oil giant says was overpaid as a result of a flawed settlement money formula. Judge Carl Barbier had ordered the formula changed several weeks ago but as for money already paid, the ruling was a deal is a deal. With that ruling total liability for BP continues to grow; now approaching $50 billion dollars
The Louisiana State Police are investigating the death of a High School freshman who was allegedly shot by a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputy. Trooper Evan Harrell says authorities responded to a report of several armed individuals running inside a home in Houma. He says they aren’t sure exactly what transpired when deputies arrived. The teen is identified as Cameron Tillman. Harrell says three other suspects were taken into custody and another fled the scene.
St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta was indicted Wednesday by a state grand jury on a single charge of stalking his ex-wife, marking the second time that the first-term parish leader has faced criminal charges this year. Thus far the 60 year old Peralta has resisted pressure to resign his post, though many parish observers expect that the latest indictment, which is a felony, could force his hand.
Survey results released by the Louisiana Department of Education show that future teachers need more time in the classroom. The survey polled more than 6,000 educators. Superintendent John White agrees, but says the extra time in the classroom should be used for teaching and not observation. White says the department is moving toward a model where the educator is a classroom teacher for a year, as an apprentice, under a mentor teacher before entering their own classroom.
Sugar cane harvest season starts to ramp up with the beginning of grinding season today. American Sugar Cane League’s Jim Simon (SEE-moan) says this year’s start-up is a week to ten days later that normal. Simon says the crop looks to be a little short compared to the last few years. He says a couple of sugar mills will begin operation today and all 11 mills in the state will be up and running by October 10. He also reminds everyone to be on the lookout for the trucks that carry the cane.
The Saints are back on the practice field, looking to even up their record at 2-and-2. New Orleans is preparing to face Dallas in Sunday night game and Quarterback Drew Brees says he hopes last week’s win over Minnesota is the start of a long winning streak.
News For Wednesday 09/24/14
News for Wednesday 092414
By Dave Graichen
There’s a new president of Northwestern State University, and his name is James Henderson, who is the current Chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College. The unanimous decision from the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System came down today. Henderson has been serving as BPCC since 2009. His first day on the job at Northwestern State is January 1st.
A special state grand jury has indicted Governor Jindal’s former state health secretary Bruce Greenstein on nine counts of perjury. The alleged untruths happened during sworn testimony before a state Senate confirmation hearing and at a grand jury investigation. The indictment is related to Greenstein’s association in the award of a state government contract of nearly $200 million. Greenstein’s lawyer says he will plead not guilty.
A new state funded feasibility study found that tolls starting at 18 cents a mile could pay for up to 50 percent of the $3 billion dollars it would take to complete I-49 South from Lafayette to New Orleans. Franklin Senator Bret Allain says a toll proposal shouldn’t focus on the entire stretch but on areas where upgrades are still needed. He says the route would help facilitate one of the most productive areas of energy in our country.
Gas-buddy-dot-com says gas prices this fall will be the lowest they’ve been since 2010. Gas-Buddy Senior Petroleum Analyst, Gregg Laskoski, says the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.11. He says an increase in domestic production of gasoline has pushed prices below three-dollars a gallon at many service stations in Louisiana.
One day after a Lafayette Parish judge declared Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the state AG has announced plans to challenge that decision before the state Supreme Court. Buddy Caldwell's Office will ask the high court to overturn Judge Edward Rubin's ruling, that was handed down Monday in the same-sex adoption case of Angela Costanza and her partner, Chasity Brewer. The judge’s decision affects only the 15th Judicial District, which also includes Acadia and Vermilion parishes. Rubin said Constanza may adopt her partner's son and be listed as a parent on his birth certificate. The couple's lawsuit said the state should recognize their marriage, which took place in California.
Today marks the nine year anniversary of Hurricane Rita making landfall on Sabine Pass. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says southwest Louisiana learned a lot as a result of Rita and has done quite well rebuilding. Morrish says most of the infrastructure of the area damaged by Hurricane Rita has been rebuilt and is functioning well. But he says there is still an issue of people moving back to Cameron Parish. He says many would like to move back to Cameron Parish, but due to high insurance costs, they cannot afford to.
In WalletHub’s list of Most and Least Happy States in America, Louisiana ranks 39th in terms of happiness. The report looked at 26 factors and the Bayou State ranked near or at the bottom in terms of obesity, volunteerism, divorce rate, and participation in sports. The report says Utah is the happiest state in America and West Virginia the least happy.
In Money magazine’s 2014 Best Places to Live rankings, Bossier City ranks seventh among the best places to find a new job. The magazine’s rankings are based on a community’s unemployment rate, past job growth, and projected job growth. Money says tourism and gaming are dominant employers.
The state’s highest Democratic elected official has declined to endorse former Governor Edwin Edwards in his bid for the 6th Congressional District seat. Senator Mary Landrieu said she thinks the 86-year-old has been very energetic and would get a good vote. But she says she’s running her campaign and Edwards is running his. Landrieu was asked if her comments meant she supported Edwards and she didn’t say yes or no.
News For Tuesday 09/23/14
News for Tuesday 092314
By Dave Graichen
A photograph was captured this weekend of Senator Mary Landrieu helping an LSU fan perform a keg stand prior to Saturday night’s game. Two republican activists reportedly sent out the pictures. Landrieu says people making a fuss over this need to get a sense of humor and get a life.
The RPSO reports a Pineville contractor was arrested Monday, charged with four counts stemming from two complaints that he had not done work for which he had been paid. 50 year old Douglas Jerry Selman Jr was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on charges of contractor fraud, misapplication of payments, home improvement fraud and forgery. Selman remains in jail on a $251,700 bond.
The Rev. Lee Weems, the longtime associate pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Alexandria, is recovering from a heart attack he suffered on Friday of last week. Weems was moved out of ICU and into a private room in Rapides Regional Medical Center around noon Monday, but, according to a church spokesperson, is not able to receive visitors or phone calls yet. Rev. Weems underwent a heart catheterization and a stent was inserted.
A state judge in Lafayette on Monday declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, according to an attorney representing two women who challenged the law in an adoption proceeding. Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Edward Rubin’s decision is thought to be the first by a Louisiana state judge declaring the ban unconstitutional. It is reported that the state’s Attorney General’s Office has already initiated an appeal to Rubin’s ruling.
The state Department of Veterans Affairs says they’ve been approved for a grant to fund a State Veterans Cemetery in Rayville. Secretary David LaCerte says the $7.3 million dollars will fund 100% of the costs to develop the cemetery on property donated by the Franklin family. He says the property is located near I-20 off Highway 425 and spans about 50 acres. Lacerte says construction on the site is set to begin by November and is scheduled for completion by Spring 2016, weather permitting.
Incumbent 5th District Congressman Vance McAllister released a television ad Monday featuring his wife by his side offering forgiveness to her husband. Kelly McAllister addresses the camera in the commercial and says, “I’m blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes.” It’s the first spot we’ve seen since the infamous kissing scandal earlier this year. The commercial began airing throughout the 5th Congressional District today.
Officials have confirmed two additional cases of West Nile Virus in Lafourche Parish. They say one case was confirmed in Cut Off and another in Thibodaux. The condition of the individuals is unknown at this time.
Officials in Sabine Parish say a 19-month-old boy died of apparent asphyxiation over the weekend after he got his head stuck in a car window while his mom was driving. The mother reportedly said she left the child unrestrained when she was going from one place to another Saturday night. The Child was taken to a local hospital and removed from life support Sunday evening.
Louisianans who owe back taxes will have another shot at paying the state back with discounted interest and without penalties this fall, when the 2014 tax amnesty program kicks off Oct. 15.
The state budget relies on the program bringing in just over $100 million this year, after a similar program recouped an estimated $452 million last year. This year’s amnesty period, which runs a month through Nov. 14, will be the fourth since 2000, and another already is being planned for next year.
The Vermillion Parish Sheriff’s office says two people were killed and a juvenile is in the hospital following a 4-wheeler accident. Sheriff Mike Couvillion says the crash involved 34-year-old Shawn Lalonde, 29-year-old Kyle Dudding, and a 13-year-old at the intersection of Highway 35 near Kaplan. Both Lalonde and Dudding were pronounced dead at the scene. The juvenile is listed in stable condition.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 63-year-old Opelousas man for allegedly misusing the 9-1-1 emergency line. Authorities say Olan Deville called 9-1-1 eighteen times on September 20th requesting medical assistance only to cancel or refuse medical attention when the ambulance arrived. Deville is charged with 18 counts of criminal mischief among other charges.
A small experimental aircraft similar to a helicopter crashed into a canal Sunday afternoon in Reserve at the St. John the Baptist Parish airport killing the two occupants. Authorities say as the gyrocopter was attempting to make a turn, the top rotor blades collapsed causing the aircraft to crash. The victims have been identified as 48-year-old Darren Mahler and 13-year-old Payton Wilt, both of Metairie. An FAA investigation is underway.
The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office says a West Monroe man with a sweet tooth was arrested and accused of stealing over $35 worth of candy. Authorities say 36-year-old Arlic Vanburen subsequently removed three bags of Snickers, three bags of Twix, one bag of Skittles, and a bag of bite sized candies that he had pushed down his pants. Vanburen was booked at the Ouachita Correctional facility.
State Police say a man from Welsh was killed in a crash in Avoyelles Parish late Sunday afternoon. They say 24-year-old Timothy Vanness ran off the roadway when he lost control on High 114, entered a ditch and crashed into several trees. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The New York Times Reports The University of Louisiana at Monroe is one of at least 66 colleges that got surplus military weapons. ULM paid $507.43 for 12 M-16 assault rifles, through a U.S. Department of Defense program. The program transfers military surplus to law-enforcement agencies. The M-16 is the most popular weapon acquired through the program, although Ohio State University acquired an armored vehicle and other schools obtained retooled grenade launchers, the story says. The military surplus is free to law-enforcement agencies, which pay only delivery and maintenance costs. Arizona State University has the biggest collection of M-16s with 70. Florida International University and the University of Maryland each have 50.
News For Monday 9/22/14
News for Monday 092214
By Dave Graichen
Autumn begins today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says fall officially begins tonight at 9:29PM. Keim forecasts normal temperatures across the state for the next three months. Above average rainfall is predicted for Louisiana over the next three months due to expected El Nino conditions forming over the Gulf of Mexico. Keim says, as we get into the fall season, fronts will start coming through and temperatures will begin to fall across the state.
August was another record breaking month in terms of employment in Louisiana. The Louisiana Workforce Commission released new job numbers Friday and non-farm employment grew by 30-thousand over the last 12 months and a record one-point-nine million people were employed in August. L-W-C sportsperson Tom Guarisco says the construction sector led the way by hiring 95-hundred workers. Guarisco says they anticipate setting more employment records in the coming months.
Two-thirds of the contracts Gov. Bobby Jindal used to privatize the operation of Louisiana’s charity hospitals are being renegotiated. Federal authorities, who are providing most of the dollars the private companies receive, are troubled with the way the finances are organized in the agreements worth more than $1 billion. Taken out of the agreements , per federal directive, are the guaranteed higher-level reimbursements for the care of the poor and uninsured. That’s making executives with the private groups running the public hospitals a little nervous. Six of the cooperative endeavor agreements that privatized nine of the LSU hospitals are being redrafted. They involve public hospitals in Lafayette, New Orleans, Bogalusa, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Monroe. Contracts at three other hospitals are not involved.
Starting today a brand new license plate will be available to Louisiana drivers boasting, “I’m Creole, and Proud.” Lafayette Representative Vincent Pierre says he lead the effort to make this happen because he wanted to give more exposure to the Creole culture. The plates cost $30 plus fees. Pierre says the funds that are generated from the Creole plate will go to the French Immersion Program.
The Louisiana Inspector General has issued a set of recommendations for state agencies to stop wasting airline tickets. Stephen Street’s office found that between 2011 and 2013, over half a million dollars in non-refundable airline tickets were purchased by state entities, but never used. Street says his office is mandated to find and eliminate waste and this is a classic example of waste.
A man from Donaldsonville who pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in in 1995 for a crash that killed a ten-week old child avoids prison. Stanley White got a two-year prison sentence 19 years ago, but was never given a report date. White, who has since been a model citizen since then, was re-sentenced again and White’s sentence this time was two years of home incarceration. White was 19 at the time of the accident. It’s unknown why he never received a date to report to prison.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in gathering information about a murder that happened last week. Deputies found the remains of a 66-year-old woman identified as Marjorie Taylor that day and an autopsy revealed she had been killed. Crimestoppers in St. Landry is offering $2,500 for anyone with information on this incident.
Louisiana’s obesity rate is dropping for the first time in 30 years according to an annual study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. LeAnne Redman is an obesity researcher at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. We’re now No.6 instead of the pervious #1. But the study shows that Louisiana’s adult obesity rate is still 33.1% so Redman says we need to keep having healthy conversations so our numbers continue to improve.
Following their 40-day initiative, The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles is now on the fast track to install more than 400 credit card stations statewide with the goal to improve convenience for fee payments. In the past, OMV customers had to pay with cash or schedule return visits to complete the transaction. They will continue their online services as well. Many residents have been complaining lately of :60 to :90 minute waits after recent personnel cuts at the DMV.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler is advising voters to study up on their November fourth ballot, because they’ve had a record number of candidates who have withdrawn from their respective races since qualifying. Schedler says 110 candidates have dropped out of their race and the printed ballot may not reflect the change in the number of candidates. Schedler says you can always go to GeauxVote-dot-com to keep yourself updated.
With it now being 4 years since the Deepwater Horizon well was capped, several agencies continue to look at ways we can restore Louisiana’s struggling coast. Dr. Keith Ouchley is the Director of the Nature Conservancy in Louisiana. He says, for one, we really need to work on oyster reefs around the coast. He says they are implementing on-the-ground restoration projects that protect shorelines from erosion, filter water, provide habitat for fish and create jobs.
Saints defeat Vikings Sunday for their first win of season. The final 20 to 9
Northwestern State scored 20 4th quarter points to come from behind and upset their longtime rival Louisiana Tech 30 to 27. Chris Moore’s 47-yard field goal with no time left was the game winner. It was Northwestern’s first win over an FBS opponent since 2005 and the Demons first win over the Bulldogs since 1979.
For the first time since 1991, Mississippi State beat LSU in Baton Rouge as the Bulldogs held on for a 34-29 victory on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
More than a goal of free-flowing cars in all directions, some fans who attended LSU’s first three home football games said after Saturday’s SEC opener they would settle for consistency in post-game traffic plans.
They want to know where, when and how to get from one place to another without running into unexpected road blocks and dead ends. But through three home games thus far this season, confusion among drivers has been common. Officials posted an updated traffic and parking map online prior to the first game of the season. But since then, some changes have been made, rendering the map at least partially inaccurate.
The Cajun Nationals Car Show is set for next weekend, Sept. 27-28, in England Airpark. Proceeds will benefit the Food Bank of Central Louisiana. The spectator entry fee for the event is $10 a day, with $5 off with the donation of five nonperishable food items. Children under the age of 10 are admitted free.
News For Friday 09/19/14
News for Friday 091914
By Dave Graichen
The investigation into a fatal officer involved shooting in Pineville has determined that shooting to be justified. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s spokesman, Lt. Tommy Carnline, says Pineville Police Officer Vince Deville responded to a call and was confronted with the suspect, Christopher Leblanc, brandishing a large sword. Carnline says witnesses said they heard the officer order the suspect to drop his weapon “repeatedly and loudly”. Leblanc refused to comply and charged the officer, who fired his weapon and struck the suspect several times. Leblanc was pronounced dead at the scene. Carnline says the officer responded to a tense, uncertain, rapidly evolving situation and performed in accordance with his training and the law.
According to new census data, Louisiana women make about two thirds of what men in The Bayou State are paid. Tulane Business Professor Dr. Mark Rosa believes women in Louisiana, even if they have a high paying degree, are more inclined to stay home and not work in favor of raising their family. The figures show that Louisiana’s gender pay gap is the largest in the nation.
A former principal has submitted an ethics violation against Rapides Parish School Board President Janet Dixon. Fred Moore, who retired as principal of Julius Patrick Elementary School in Alexandria in 2013, on Wednesday sent a letter to the State Ethics board. Moore claims Dixon violated a provision of Louisiana's Code of Governmental Ethics by going to work for the consulting firm that helped the district in its search for a superintendent in 2012. "McPherson & Jacobson LLC, of which Mrs. Dixon is now an employee, conducted operations and activities regulated by the Rapides Parish School Board and that firm has or had substantial economic interest substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of her official duties. No comment yet from Dixon.
Four years ago today workers were able to cap the BP well that created the largest environmental disaster in the history of North America. Executive Director for The Coastal Protection Restoration Authority, Kyle Graham, says, four years later, most of the oil has been removed from the coastal beaches and marshes in Louisiana. Graham says they anticipate to see oil on Louisiana’s coast for decades. He says it’s still too early to tell what the long-term effects the oil-spill will have on the ecosystem along the state’s coast.
A new poll conducted by Fox News shows Republican US-Senate candidate Bill Cassidy with a substantial lead over the incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in a head-to-head matchup. The survey shows Cassidy with 51% of the vote and Landrieu with 38% in a potential runoff scenario. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley questions the validity of this poll. The poll interviewed just over 600 likely Louisiana voters between September 14th-16th. Stockley says it’s possible that Landrieu has lost some support, but he’s skeptical that she’s all the way down to just 38% support. He says so many other polls on this race show Landrieu in the mid to upper 40s.
Officials in Lafourche Parish are alerting residents that a North Larose resident was found deceased last week and the Department of Health and Hospitals confirmed he had the West Nile Virus. This marks the 5th death from the disease in Louisiana this year.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office says a United States Postal worker is under arrest for allegedly stealing marijuana from packages he was supposed to be delivering. CPSO spokesman Bobby Herring says they got an anonymous tip that 31-year-old Russell Leon Ellis of Shreveport was stealing the mail he thought contained pot. Herring says they were able to obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s home and there they found an additional 618 grams of suspected marijuana with a street value of $6100, 25 weapons and $15,000 in cash. He says the suspect was targeting packages being sent from states that have legalized marijuana.
For two days, members of the Louisiana Board of Regents met with an unknown number of people interested in becoming the state’s next higher education commissioner. After finishing up the last of the so-called “informal conversations” Thursday, the board quickly named three finalists for the job: West Liberty University President Robin Capehart, Community College of Rhode Island President Raymond Di Pasquale and Joseph Rallo, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Texas Tech University System. A potential fourth finalist, who has not been identified, has been given until 5 p.m. Tuesday to decide whether he wants to continue in the process. The finalists will go through a second round of interviews Oct. 7-8, and a new commissioner will be named Oct. 9.
A Washington woman is being questioned about a shooting of her parents. St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says they got the call of shots fired at the residence yesterday, then found 27 year-old Jamie Fontenot on the porch holding a firearm. Her 59 year-old father is in critical condition, while her 58 year-old mother was treated and released.
A Dry Prong man has been arrested after armed himself and raided the house of a person he mistakenly believed had stolen his car. 39 year old Adam Kertz had reported his stolen vehicle to the Grant Parish Sheriff's Office, but didn't wait for an investigation to be completed. Kertz was charged with home invasion and for an outstanding warrant. 34-year-old Robert Burgess Jr. who assisted Burgess force his way into the home has been charged with unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling. Meanwhile, Grant Parish Deputies arrested 33 year old Jonathan Perry and charged him with stealing the vehicle.
In Jonesville, the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office is reporting the arrest of seven adults on several charges; all of them in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of one teenage victim. Several of those arrested have already confessed, and Sheriff James Kelly says he expects more arrests to be made.
The largest crowd to ever watch a football game in Tiger Stadium is expected Saturday when the Tigers face SEC West foe Mississippi State. The game is nearly sold-out in, which means 100-thousand tickets have been sold and LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette says this will put to test their contralow plan after the game. LSU is also encouraging fans to arrive early for the game Saturday to avoid expected traffic back ups.
Louisiana Tech has its home opener on Saturday night as they face in-state rival Northwestern State. The Bulldogs should be feeling good about themselves are winning two consecutive games on the road against the Ragin Cajuns and North Texas. But Tech coach Skip Holtz says it’s too early to be patting themselves on the back.
News For Thursday 09/18/14
News for Thursday 091814
By Dave Graichen
The US-House has passed three bills by Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany designed to address any controversial practices by the IRS on individuals and groups by the IRS, and to bring more transparency. Boustany adds that Americans want higher ethics from the IRS. The bills still need to be approved by the Senate.
Louisiana’s highway conditions plummeted to 40th in the nation and pavements on urban interstates are better than only two other states, according to a report released Thursday. The state also ranks 44th in its highway fatality rate, 41st in the condition of rural interstate pavements and 39th in the number of deficient bridges. The findings are included in the 21st Annual Highway Report by the Reason Foundation, which calls itself a libertarian think tank.
The NFL’s image is suffering because of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case and now Vikings star Adrian Peterson is facing child abuse charges. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees says unfortunately the perception is NFL players beat their wives and children but that’s only a handful of cases in a league that has 17-hundred players. Brees is considered one of the faces of the NFL. He says the Rice and Peterson cases provide examples for other players that there are consequences for poor decisions away from the field.
The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association announces a plan to commission a study on the economic impact of Louisiana’s film tax credit incentive program. The study is estimated to cost $150,000. LFEA President Will French hopes the results of this study will show what the program actually costs the state. He says the state’s analysis doesn’t take into account tourism dollars the film industry brings in, among other factors.
The state legislative auditor’s office announced yesterday, a report legislators ordered up to help evaluate how goes the privatization of the government-run health insurance program is full of errors and inconsistencies. State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert disagrees, saying the report “fully complies” with the law legislators adopted requiring the “transparency” report that includes the data lawmakers can use to analyze the performance of the private managed-care networks hired by the state to handle Medicaid services through what is called the Bayou Health program. But Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said the report “has comments and numbers you cannot rely on.” Plus, the report has math errors and makes unsubstantiated claims.
The US House voted to give President Obama authority to train and arm Syrian rebels in the effort to defeat ISIL forces in the Middle East. The authorization passed on a 273-156 vote that crossed party lines. Republican Minden Congressman John Fleming is the only member of the Louisiana delegation to vote against the authorization. Fleming says he feels we are going down the wrong path in dealing with the militant group. Fleming feels this is a situation that US troops need to handle. He says if it is necessary to go in there after ISIL, then we need to acknowledge the truth: it will require boots on the ground.
Louisianians are liking the price they’re seeing at the pump these days. According to gasbuddy-dot-com, the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is just $3.13. The lowest prices are seen in southeast Louisiana with some stations reporting regular gas as low as $2.83 per gallon.
The DA in DeSoto Parish is expected to dismiss criminal charges against the Yogi and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary in Frierson this morning. The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was trying to secure a court order to physically remove 9 exotic cats at the location citing safety concerns. But Yogie and Friends Executive Director Jenny Senier says they have tried extremely hard to comply spending over $10,000 on improvements to the facility since July. DA Richard Johnson is quoted as saying they “don’t have a dog in the fight” between wildlife officials and the cat sanctuary.
The Shreveport Police Department says a man is in jail today after allegedly hitting a 5-year-old about 25 time with a belt causing the child to be hospitalized. 23-year-old Frank Butler is charged with a single count of second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Corporal Marcus Hines says there are ways to legally discipline your child, but this isn’t one of them. The child is expected to recover.
The St. James Parish Council, in a 7-1 vote, denied Wolverine Terminals’s request for approval to build a $30 million crude oil terminal and blending operation along La. 44 in Paulina. The council upheld the Planning Commission’s recommendation in July to deny the permit request based on concerns from residents about building an industrial facility in a residential area.
News For Wednesday 09/17/14
News for Wednesday 091714
By Dave Graichen
One person died and another was injured Tuesday afternoon when they apparently came in contact with a power line while working in a field off La. Highway 1200 in Boyce. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Deputies found one person unresponsive and another injured near a piece of farm equipment. They also found that a nearby power line still was active. First responders arrived to treat the surviving victim, who later was taken to a hospital. The other victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The names of the victims have not been released.
The Rapides Parish School Board has voted unanimously to revert back to the 2013-14 grading policy after hearing public comments for more than an hour at a special meeting Tuesday night. Students in Rapides Parish will again be graded on a numerical scale of percentages rather than letter grades only. Board members said the change had "unintended consequences," but was created in good faith to help all students of the district.
The Towntalk reports At least three members of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees resigned Tuesday in the wake of the Rev. Tommy French being re-elected chairman of the body that oversees the private Baptist school. French, was elected to a second one-year term as chairman, leaving him in charge of the school's search for a new president and in a leadership position as LC responds to issues raised by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools when the accrediting agency placed LC on probation this past December.
The Department of Health and Hospitals confirm that two children are being treated at a Baton Rouge hospital for Enterovirus D68. Assistant State Health Officer, Dr. Takiesha Davis, says this is a very common of strain of virus in the US that typically flares up in the fall. She says DHH advises parents to be particularly mindful of children. Most people recover without treatment, but Enterovirus D68 appears to aggravate breathing problems in children who have asthma.
Louisiana remains the country’s prison capital by a long shot, but a federal report released Tuesday shows the number of people imprisoned in the state has dipped slightly. The report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicates Louisiana’s prison population fell by 2.2 percent to below 40,000 last year after peaking in 2012. The drop, while noticeable, did not change the fact the Louisiana imprisons more people per capita, by far, than any other state.
The state Board of Regents releases a report showing students at colleges are more vulnerable when it comes to sexual assault because there is no statewide policy in place for handling such allegations. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says Louisiana needs to establish a benchmark that all colleges must meet when it comes to the way sexual assault claims are handled. Morrell says alleged college student victims need to all feel comfortable reporting any potential sexual assault.
According to a new report with data compiled from the US census, Louisiana has the most single people in the nation. The Martin Prosperity Institute study found 55.7% of adults here are not married. Demographer Greg Rigamer says this could be because after Katrina and the BP Oil spill, Louisiana got a big boost in job opportunities. Rigamer says there has also been a significant increase in the number of people here between the ages of 20 and 29. New Orleans topped the list as the metro area in the US with the highest number of single people at 58%.
Governor Bobby Jindal is not concerned about poll numbers that show him receiving little support when compared to other potential presidential candidates. Jindal received only three percent in a recent CNN poll of New Hampshire republican voters that listed ten other candidates. Jindal says he doesn’t look at polls. Jindal made the comments in Washington DC after unveiling a US energy policy that was developed from his nonprofit group called America Next. The governor says he is thinking about running for President and a decision will be made after the November election. But he says his decision will have nothing to do with polls or fundraising
According to officials, two students from Central High in Baton Rouge had to be removed from class Monday after having a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana they smoked at school. Superintendent Michael Faulk says the students, aged 17 and 18, were rushed to the emergency room for treatment, then an investigation began. Faulk says according to school policy each student will be automatically expelled.
Louisiana schools are still seeing a higher number of teachers retiring compared to what they saw prior to 2010. Nearly three-thousand K-through-12 teachers retired during the fiscal year that ended June 30th. Scott Richard, director of the Louisiana School Board Association, blames it on the turmoil that’s going on in public education. He says if there wasn’t so much uncertainty with Common Core and changes to how teachers are evaluated, many recently retired teachers would still be teaching.
State Judge Janice Clark has ruled that the last-minute retirement boost lawmakers gave to State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson and another trooper is unconstitutional. Clark said the Louisiana Legislature did not properly pass the measure. Edmonson and the other trooper had both said they had no intention of accepting the increased benefit. No one defended the law in court.
The Tallulah Police Department says a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself after finding a loaded handgun in his home. Spokeswoman Yvonne Lewis says the mother left the home for about 3 to five minutes to get the kids something to drink at a nearby store and when she returned the child had already found the gun and shot himself.
The Vermillion Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Loreauville man in connection to a shooting in Abbeville over the weekend. Seven people sustained non-life threatening injuries during the incident. 20-year-old Bryson Provost is charged with seven counts of attempted first degree murder. Authorities say more arrests are possible
Two women testified Tuesday that former Lafayette policeman Jackie Hagan Jr. touched them in sexually criminal ways when they encountered the on-duty officer in 2011 and that they were at first scared to report him to the police department. Hagan, who took the stand in his defense on the trial’s second day, testified he fought off the advances of the 40-year-old woman in November 2011 before succumbing to temptation and kissing her outside her home. Hagan said he’d doesn’t remember meeting the other woman, who testified the officer violated her with a probing hands pat-down near her Jefferson Street home in August of that year. Hagan, who is 36, faces up to 10 years in prison at hard labor if all six jurors say he’s guilty of sexual battery.
About 3,800 Louisiana residents who bought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will have their coverage canceled Sept. 30 because they didn’t clear up their citizenship and immigration status by Sept. 5, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In August, CMS notified about 6,900 people in Louisiana that they needed to confirm their eligibility or lose the health coverage. They were among roughly 310,000 people nationwide who got letters requesting their citizenship and immigration documents. Many of those people received multiple requests for the information, according to CMS.
News For Tuesday 09/16/14
News for Tuesday 091614
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals confirms that the brain-eating ameba that has showed up in two South Louisiana water districts, has now been found in a water system in Sabine Parish. Office of Public Health Medical Director, Takiesha Davis, says while the ameba is potentially dangerous, it doesn’t make water unusable. The only the ameba can be dangerous is when it finds it’s way to the brain. The way it is believed that can happen is through the nose. Davis says a chlorine burn has been ordered for that water supply in Sabine Parish.
Efforts to increase enrollment at Central Louisiana universities seem to be working. Louisiana State University of Alexandria announced a 21-percent increase for the fall at a news conference Monday. It’s the largest enrollment at the school since 2008 and largest year-to-year increase since 1987, according to the university. Northwestern State also reported a small increase Monday, pushing the school’s enrollment past 9,000 students. Louisiana College in Pineville reported 330 new students this fall, with 247 being first-time freshmen. LC Director of Enrollment Management Byron McGee said that is a little lower than last fall.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office reports a traffic stop near Centerpoint ended with the arrests of Pineville and Hessmer men and the recovery of more than a quarter-million dollars in heavy equipment reported stolen from multiple Central Louisiana parishes. Avoyelles deputies stopped a truck driven by 30-year-old Robert Paul of Pineville. The 20-feet trailer with a track hoe that Paul's vehicle was towing both were reported stolen. An investigation also led to the arrest of 34 year old Ryan Juneau of Hessmer. The recovered equipment includes boats, motors, farm tractors, trailers, bobcats, welding machines and assorted other items, that had been reported stolen over the past year. More arrests are expected.
PayScale-dot-com ranks Louisiana Tech number one in the state in early- and mid-career salaries for graduates. The report says Tech graduates, early in their career, earn an average of over $49,000 per year. Mid-career salaries for Tech graduates, who have at least 10 years of experience in their field, average over $86,000 per year.
A Democrat-leaning group has filed a complaint accusing U.S. Sen. David Vitter of violating a state campaign finance law. The American Democracy Legal Fund accused Republican Vitter and his Senate campaign of impropriety in contributing $100,000 to a group supporting his 2015 governor’s race bid. The complaint was filed Friday with the Louisiana Board of Ethics which functions as the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure. The group publicly released the complaint and request for an investigation on Monday.
When the Saints play the Minnesota Vikings in the dome Sunday, there will be a recognizable name on the playing field. Less than a week after he was charged with child abuse, star running back Adrian Peterson is cleared to play. The Vikings’ owners say they want to let the legal process play out before any other playing decisions are made.
According to State Farm, the number of vehicle-deer collisions are on the rise in Louisiana. Spokesman Gary Stephenson says there was a nearly six-percent increase in these accidents in the state. Stephenson says there were over 9,700 vehicle-deer collisions in the Bayou State last year. He says the number of collisions is actually higher because many of these collisions are not reported, uninsured motorist collisions are not included, and drivers with only liability coverage were not counted. Stephenson says there’s a fair amount of expense involved, too. He says the average claim was around $3,400.
The recent indictment of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on child abuse charges has opened a nationwide discussion on disciplining children with corporal punishment. Peterson allegedly used a switch, a tree branch stripped of its leaves, on his son reportedly causing multiple injuries to the child. State Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Suzy Sonnier says corporal punishment is considered legal in Louisiana within reason. Sonnier says there is nothing in Louisiana law that explicitly says what you can or cannot do when it comes to disciplining your child. She hopes parents put a lot of thought into how they discipline their child and consider using alternative methods to corporal punishment.
Attorneys for the state Department of Corrections are asking a federal appellate court to reverse a judge’s ruling that said conditions on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola are unconstitutional during the summer. Judge Brian Jackson says the state must install a cooling system that will keep heat indexes from going over 88 degrees.
Two Shreveport police officers are on routine paid administrative leave after they were involved in a shooting of an armed robbery suspect. Corporal Marcus Hines says the incident happened Saturday night and the person who was shot has been identified as 26-year old Anthony Thomas of Shreveport. He says Thomas’ gunshot wound is considered non-life threatening, but he faces numerous criminal charges.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Bethany couple after they delayed seeking medical treatment for a toddler with a head injury. Spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says detectives responded to a call from a local hospital and found a 15-month-old girl suffering from severe bruising and swelling of her head. The couple told deputies the child was injured when the man fell asleep feeding her in his lap and dropped her. They said in a panic he then fell on top of the child. Chadwick says the charges stem from the couple not seeking medical attention for the child until about 48 hours after the injuries occurred. Chadwick says the couple were also arrested for possession of marijuana.
The Saints are 0-and-2 and now their leading rusher will reportedly miss the next four weeks, because of a broken hand. ESPN reports running back Mark Ingram suffered the injury in Sunday’s heartbreaking loss against Cleveland.
News For Monday 9/15/14
News for Monday 091514
By Dave Graichen
The LSU Board of Supervisors Approves a three year contract extension for Athletic Director Joe Alleva. He isn’t getting a raise, but his base salary will remain $725,000. Alleva, who has been the AD since 2008, says he loves his job. The contract extension will keep him on it until 2019.
The Rapides Republican Parish Executive Committee has voted to endorse Dr. Ralph Abraham in the 5th Congressional District election. Wayne Ryan who is the chairman of the organization says, Dr. Abraham has lived out his conservative values in his professional life, home life, his community service activities and his service to our country in the military. Ryan said Abraham would bring “honor, the restoration of integrity, honesty and trustworthiness to the office.
Monroe police say a man shot his ex-wife’s boyfriend in the parking lot of a daycare center. Assistant police chief Don Bartley says 32-year-old Marlando Honeycutt had just dropped off his girlfriend’s kids at the daycare center, when Lemerick Christopher walked up and confronted Honeycut. He then opened fire. Christopher was arrested a short time later and now faces several charges including attempted murder. Bartley says Honeycutt is in stable condition after being shot in the face and chest.
A freak accident over the weekend. State Police said one motorcyclist was killed and another was injured Sunday when a tree limb fell and struck them while they were riding near French Settlement.
The accident occurred about 1:30 in the afternoon. One man was pronounced dead at the scene the other is in serious condition at a Baton Rouge hospital. State police report both riders were wearing their helmets and neither was suspected of driving while intoxicated.
The Municipal Police Employees Retirement System announces the first permanent cost of living adjustment for retirees in more than a decade. Ben Huxen, Chief Advisor to the Commissioner of Administration, says the increase will begin November 1st. The last permanent cost of living adjustment was made in January 2002. Eligible members will receive a minimum increase of $20 per month.
Fort Polk has announced a highly decorated soldier from Missouri has died in a motor vehicle accident that took place at the Fort Polk Training area. Twenty-two year-old Silas Jones was a cannon crew member, who joined the army two years ago. Another soldier was injured and that accident is under investigation.
The Louisiana Republican Party continues to make Senator Mary Landrieu’s chartered flights a campaign issue. Landrieu has completed a report on the use of flights for campaign events and has admitted to over $33,000 in improperly charged flights. Executive Director Jason Dore says he’s surprised by that amount. Landrieu says she takes full responsibility and that these mistakes are a result of sloppy bookkeeping. She says safeguards have been put in place to make sure this never happens again. The report states that prior to the report even being released, Senator Landrieu’s campaign had already reimbursed the Federal Treasury for the mistakes.
Starting this week, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne will host town hall meetings at three locations in Louisiana he’d like to see tapped for tourism growth. Dardenne says they’ll be in Shreveport tomorrow to get input from the community about opportunities there like the Louisiana Hayride. He says they’ll be in Lafayette on October 15th at Vermillionville then is on to Monroe on October 28th at the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum to talk about the unprecedented attention that northeast Louisiana has been getting thanks to things like Duck Dynasty.
There is a new insect that Louisiana homeowners should be aware of, especially if you have ornamental plants growing outside. The pest is called a chilli thrip and LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings says they feed on about 250 different species of ornamental plants. He says the chilli thrip feeds on the foliage of these plants instead of the flowers, like other thrip species. Owings says if a plant is infected with chilli thrips, you’ll have some malformation or deformed new growth after a growth flush is initiated. Owings says there are insecticides that can effectively deal with chilli thrips.
The LSU Tigers are 3-and-0 heading into Saturday’s SEC opener against Mississippi State. The Tigers blanked ULM on Saturday 31 to 0. Coach Les Miles says his team is ready to play an SEC West opponent. LSU’s defense has been outstanding this season. They’ve shutout their opponents in the last two games, first time that’s happened at LSU since 1985.
Many Saints fans thought this was the year for the Black and Gold to get back to the Super Bowl. But New Orleans is 0-and-2 after suffering a heart breaking 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns. For the second straight game, New Orleans couldn’t preserve a late lead. Coach Sean Payton says all they could do at this point is work on trying to become a better team.
News For Friday 09/12/14
News for Friday 091214
By Dave Graichen
Rapides Parish School Board President Janet Dixon announced Thursday that she won’t run for re-election this November. Dixon said her and her husband, state Rep. Herbert Dixon might be moving out of District D, the area she represents on the School Board. Dixon went on to say ,While she won’t be far away, the fact remains that if she does not meet the residency requirements to serve the citizens of the district, she must do what is right and relinquish that responsibility to someone who will. Dixon put here support behind Willard “Bubba” McCall as the race moves forward.
A 46-year-old Oberlin man faces life in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice in the stabbing death of his estranged wife. Joseph Eric Vercher was accused of killing 34-year-old Rachel Denise Lambert Vercher last year. A jury deliberated for 35 minutes Wednesday before finding him guilty. The jury rejected defense claims that Vercher should be convicted of manslaughter because the crime was committed in the “heat of passion” after a night of arguing and drinking. Vercher, who showed no emotion after the verdict was read, asked Judge Joel Davis to impose sentence immediately. He received an additional 10 years for obstruction of justice for removing items from the crime scene and tossing the two knives used in the slaying.
Republican US Senate candidate Bill Cassidy says he will now debate at least two times against Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. The Cassidy campaign says Landrieu is pushing three other debates, which Cassidy has declined to participate, because they are highly scripted and don’t require voter interaction. Cassidy, Landrieu, and Tea Party favorite Rob Maness will face off on LBP on October 14th in Shreveport and on Raycom Stations October 29th in Baton Rouge.
There are 14 constitutional amendments on the November fourth ballot and the Public Affairs Research Council has released a guide to help voters understand the potential impact of each proposition. PAR President Robert Scott says the guide provides an objective review of all 14 amendments. The first two amendments deal with health care funding. Scott says amendment one would protect the Louisiana Medical Assistance Trust Fund, while amendment two sets up an amendment that will help hospitals pay for uninsured and those on Medicaid. Scott anticipates there will also be a lot of talk about amendment five, which will eliminate the mandatory retirement age of judges. The guide can be found at parlouisiana.org
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says to be on the look-out for a phone scam, where callers are claiming to be an IRS official, stating that the citizen owes money, threatening that they will be arrested or lose their license if they don’t make debit card payments or wiring the money. If you get such a call, the best thing to do is tell the caller you will contact the IRS yourself, and hang up.
The LSU Board of Supervisors will meet today and they are expected to extend Athletic Director Joe Alleva’s contract through 2019. Alleva’s base pay will reportedly remain at $725,000 a year plus incentives. Assistant Tiger Rag Editor James Moran says Alleva has done well in helping to generate funds for new facilities and the expansion of Tiger Stadium.
A new poll shows Democratic former Governor Edwin Edwards making the runoff in the 6th District Congressional race, but that same survey shows Edwards finishing second in four different runoff scenarios. But pollster Darrell Glascock says you shouldn’t count out Edwards, just yet. He says Edwards has significant numbers as respondents second choice. Edwards garnered 32-percent of the vote in The Glascock Group poll, which would seem to guarantee him a runoff spot. However, the former governor has trouble breaking 45-percent of the vote in any hypothetical runoff. Glascock says when it comes to runoff elections, traditionally half of voters don’t return to the polls. He says that could play in the favor of Edwards.
In a nationally televised interview, Stephanie Hayden Ford, the daughter and co-star of Will Hayden on the now-cancelled “Sons of Guns” television show, says her father inappropriately touched her when she was 12-years-old. Ford told the “Dr. Phil” show that her father allegedly came to her room drunk one evening, sat her in his lap and began touching her and kissing on her chest. Hayden remains in the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail in lieu of bail. Ford said that she had basically repressed the memory until her little sister told her grandfather about alleged inappropriate behavior on the part of Hayden. Ford says she’s telling her story now because her sister needs her.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday the state may apply for a federal pre-kindergarten grant of up to $15 million if it is not linked to any Common Core requirements. Louisiana is overhauling its early childhood education system as a result of a bill pushed by Jindal in 2012. In his letter, the governor said that the Preschool Development Grants published in the Federal Register last month “could offer an opportunity for Louisiana to expand access for parents who choose to send their children to early childhood programs.
The ULM Warhawks head to Baton Rouge on Saturday as heavy underdogs. The 10th ranked Bayou Bengals are favorite to win by 31 points in the recently expanded Tiger Stadium. ULM Coach Todd Berry says his senior class has played in front of a lot of big crowds, so he expects them to be able to focus on the task at hand on Saturday night. This will be the third meeting between the two teams. They last played in 2010 and the Tigers won 51 to 0.
The Saints head to Cleveland where they’ll look to avoid an 0-and-2 start to the 2014 NFL season. New Orleans is favorite to win.
The Baltimore Ravens took to the field last night for the first time since Ray Rice was banned from the NFL, and came away with a 26-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Louisiana tech beat North Texas last night 42 to 21
News For Thursday 09/11/14
News for Thursday 091114
By Dave Graichen
The Texas teen who has been charged with calling in bomb threats to four Rapides Parish schools Tuesday, is facing charges in his home town of Fredericksburg for a similar threat at that city's high school. Police there questioned Reuben Byon and during a second interview he confessed to making phone calls to the high school, school board member and to an assistant vice principal at the High School. Extradition to Rapides Parish will begin "as soon as possible. Each count carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison at hard labor.
The US Department of Energy has given final approval for Sempra Energy to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its plant in Cameron Parish. With this, Sempra can begin construction to expand their facility near Hackberry. The expansion project is expected to create about 3,000 construction jobs and as many as 150 permanent full-time jobs. With the expansion, the Cameron plant will be capable of producing up to 12 million metric tons of LNG for export. Construction is expected to begin this fall and they should be fully operational by 2019.
An Iberia Parish man allegedly ingested a lethal amount of narcotics while barricading himself in a room of the residence during a drug bust. Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office says thirty-five year-old Heath Duplechain is in a medically induced coma, and deputies say he will be facing numerous drug charges, if he makes it.
Lawmakers launched their latest effort Wednesday to try to chip away at a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge repair and improvement work across Louisiana, seeking ideas to raise new transportation dollars in an anti-tax environment. Louisiana, like many states, is struggling with a stagnant gasoline tax that hasn’t kept pace with construction inflation and a disinterest from the governor and lawmakers to raise new taxes to fill the gaps in roadwork. Lawmakers instructed the Transportation Funding Task Force to look for enterprising ways to tackle the backlog. Task force recommendations are due Jan. 15.
It’s been two weeks since the state Department of Health and Hospitals ordered a chlorine burn for the St. John the Baptist Parish water system, because a potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba was detected in the water. The state’s safe drinking water administrator, Jake Causey, says efforts to increase and maintain a certain level of disinfectant is ongoing. In the meantime, Causey says the water coming out of a faucet in St. John is safe to drink, even though they’ve increased chlorine levels. DHH advises residents to make sure tap water doesn’t go up your nose, because that’s how the bacteria can become harmful.
The community of Jennings got together in a big way on Wednesday to welcome home an officer who was shot in the line of duty and has been in recovery since the June incident. Jennings Police Chief Todd D’Albor says Sergeant Ricky Benoit was responding to a domestic violence call when he was shot in the neck by the suspect. The streets of Jennings were lined with well-wishers all the way to Benoit’s home which he has not seen since June 23rd. The bullet came within millimeters of killing or permanently paralyzing the 25-year veteran officer. D’Albor says Benoit can now move his arms, legs and neck and can walk a short distance but a full recovery could take years.
St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe issued a statement Tuesday saying they plan to cut about 300 jobs. The hospital is one of Ouachita Parish’s top 10 largest private employers. St. Francis issued a statement saying they are taking steps to line up their expenses with expected revenue.
Slidell Police Detective John Cole, who was seriously injured in a crash last weekend, died Wednesday afternoon at a Slidell hospital. The 31 year old Cole lost control of his Jeep Wrangler and overturned in a ditch. Daniel Hanlon, a front-seat passenger, died at the scene of the crash Sunday morning.
A Baton Rouge man has admitted he sexually touched a sleeping woman aboard a cross-country flight, according to federal prosecutors in New Jersey. Devender Singh, a 62-year-old Indian national, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of abusive sexual contact. He faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he’s sentenced Oct. 23. While the plane was in the air, the woman fell asleep. Prosecutors say she awoke to find Singh kissing her face with his hand inside her shirt, and he was touching himself in a sexual manner.
LSU receiver Travin Dural suffered a deep laceration to the head during a car accident Sunday morning, but coach Les Miles said he will play Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. Dural needed “about 15 stitches” to his forehead, said his former high school coach at Breaux Bridge, Paul Broussard. He had not been practicing with the team this week because he’s unable to wear a helmet with the stitches. Miles said Dural returned to practice with the team Wednesday. Doctors have cleared Dural to play Saturday if he can wear the helmet while not disturbing the stitches.
Louisiana Tech will kick-off conference play tonight with a meeting against North Texas. Kick-off is at six o’ clock in Denton and the game can be seen on C-B-S Sports Network. The Bulldogs are coming off a big win over U-L Lafayette, while the Mean Green beat up on SMU last week. Tech head coach Skip Holtz says he’s impressed with North Texas’ power running game. North Texas beat Louisiana Tech 28-13 last season. Hear the game tonight on ESPN 1410 airtime 5:30.
News For Wednesday 09/10/14
News for Wednesday 091014
By Dave Graichen
A major disruption of classes a four Rapides Parish schools yesterday, that after local authorities received bomb threats. Evacuated for a period of time yesterday were Alexandria Senior High, Brame Middle School, Bolton High and Pineville High. A search of all facilities was conducted and no suspicious items were found. Just after 10 p.m last night police issued a statement saying that 17 year old Reuben Byon of Fredricksburg, Texas, a former Bolton student, had been arrested and had been charged with three counts of communicating false information. It’s expected Byron will face more charges in the Pineville High School threat today. The investigation continues with the help of local, state and federal officials.
President Obama will address the nation tonight speaking on his strategy for defeating the ISIS militant group in the Middle East. Republican Minden Congressman and member of the House Armed Forces Committee, John Fleming, says the President should clarify the reason why we need to go after ISIS. The President recently returned from a NATO summit where the US and nine allies agreed to take on the militants. President Obama’s address is scheduled to begin at 8PM.
The Louisiana Democratic Party announced its endorsement of Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo Tuesday as he seeks to represent Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District. Mayo is the only Democrat in the ten person field and state Democratic Party Chairman Karen Peterson says the endorsement will provide Mayo with the resources he needs to run an effective campaign. Mayo ran in last year’s special election in the 5th District and finished third in the primary.
Republican Louisiana Senate candidate Representative Bill Cassidy is getting some criticism over a remark he made regarding Democratic House Majority Leader Harry Reid. In an interview with E&E Publishing, Cassidy said Reid was running “the Senate like a plantation.” The comment is already receiving backlash from Democrats and some Republicans who say it is offensive. Fellow Republican Senate candidate Rob Maness has called for Cassidy to immediately apologize for the comment since it included a term that is “incredibly offensive to many Americans”. In a statement regarding criticism over the remark, Cassidy said he thinks the leadership style of Reid is more offensive than his analogy.
Today is the statistical peak of the Atlantic Hurricane season. State Climatologist Barry Keim says that means, historically, half of all the hurricanes in the season occur before September 10th and then half occur after. Keim says really we’ve seen almost zero tropical activity in the United States this season which is following almost exactly what we saw last year. Bottom line, if we can hang in there for another eight weeks we probably wouldn’t have to worry about a storm threatening Louisiana at all
A hearing has been set for November 20th in Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against the Obama Administration over Common Core. Lawyers for the Governor claim the federal government illegally used federal money to convince states to adopt the controversial education standards.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne unveils the next round of Louisiana’s out of state “Pick Your Passion” ad campaign. He says this year the marketing focused on Louisiana culture and next year the ads will concentrate on food in The Bayou State. He says the marketing efforts are working well and they just learned this week that there is a 7.6% increase in hotel occupancy so far this year.
LSU climbed a few notches in U.S. News and World Report’s latest ranking of the top schools in the country, while Tulane University and Louisiana Tech slid slightly on the annual sizing-up of university and colleges. Tulane remains Louisiana’s highest ranked university at No. 54 — down from last year’s No. 52. Meanwhile, LSU went from 135th to 129th in the “Best Colleges 2015” list released Tuesday. Louisiana Tech University slipped from 190th to No. 201 this year. All three made U.S. News’ top tier of national universities, the only three in the state to do so.
A former LSU football player has been arrested for allegedly choking his girlfriend. 25-year-old DeAngelo Peterson, an LSU tight end from 2008-2011, was booked on one count of simple battery.
A twelve year-old boy from Pearl River is in the hospital recovering from alligator bites while he was fishing in Lake Pontchartrain. Matthew Kelly told a New Orleans TV station he felt the large gator clamp down on his leg, and the boy’s father said, amazingly, he saw his son pull the 10 foot alligator off his leg and fight him off.
As the ULM football team prepares to travel down to Baton Rouge for the big game against the Tigers this weekend, Athletic Director Brian Wickstrom says there is a lot of excitement from the Warhawk Nation. He says lots of the Monroe college football fans are scooping up tickets for the LSU game. Wickstrom says they’ve sold about 3000 tickets from their office and they get more requests coming in every day.
News For Tuesday 09/09/14
News for Tuesday 090914
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office reports that a 40-year-old Pineville man is dead after a confrontation with officers from the Pineville Police Department. RPSO Lt. Tommy Carnline says Pineville Police received a 9-1-1 call Monday morning claiming a man had threatened another person with a weapon. When officers arrived at the scene they were confronted by a man swinging a large sword. Carnline says the suspect then charged toward one of the officers. He says the officer fired and hit the subject to stop his advance. Carnline says the officer immediately called for medical assistance, but the subject, Christopher Shane Leblanc, was unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene.
A jury in Alexandria Monday took just over an hour to convict Thomas Sanders in the 2010 kidnapping and slaying of a 12-year-old girl. Sanders was convicted of both counts — kidnapping resulting in death and using a firearm in a violent crime that resulted in death — in the killing of Lexis Roberts, whose remains were discovered in Catahoula Parish woods in October 2010. Sanders confessed to killing Lexis and her mother, Suellen Roberts, to multiple law enforcement officers. Monday’s verdict that could result in a death sentence.
According to a new Violence Policy Center report, Louisiana ranks fourth in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men. The report applies to 2012, the most recent year data is available. The United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Kim Sport says this year’s report is particularly concerning. Louisiana’s rate of women murdered by men was 1.92 per 100,000 in 2012. Sport says the actual number in the state is higher because this report only covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. The state legislature recently passed legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Sport feels confident these firearms restrictions will make a difference.
According to a report released by the state legislative auditor’s office yesterday, Louisiana state agencies are paying above-market rates to rent office space from New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, and on top of that, the state is paying $625,000 for space it isn’t using. The state auditor reviewed the lease, which was negotiated by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration in 2009 as part of a package of incentives that replaced a previous state deal with the NFL team. Agencies moved into the building in February 2011, and the lease runs through December 2025. The audit says the state pays annual rent of about $7.5 million and another $625,000 for vacant space.
Yet another audit says the Pineville City Court did not comply with the Louisiana Unclaimed Property Act for checks dating back at least a dozen years. A court official says logistical problems in dealing with a large number of checks for small amounts of money, combined with a manpower shortage, led to the problem. The Pineville City Court has hired a firm to assist it in complying with the law. And has also asked the state to provide assistance. Phillip Terrell, former Pineville City Court judge says, at stake is a small amount of money, probably several thousand dollars.
The Louisiana Democratic Party has officially endorsed former governor Edwin Edwards in his quest to become Louisiana’s next sixth district Congressman. LSU political science professor Robert Hogan says the endorsement legitimizes Edwards campaign. 13 candidates have qualified for the sixth congressional district race. Edwards is one of three democrats on the ballot and has the most name recognition.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, who is planning on running for governor in 2015, lays out what he thinks should be the priorities of Bobby Jindal’s successor. Dardenne says there would be a much more transparent administration than what we’ve seen in that office since 2008. Specifically Dardenne said he felt the privatization of LSU hospitals was a good idea, but he felt the implementation needed work. He also didn’t dismiss the idea of Medicaid expansion but said it was something that should be looked at and considered. Dardenne says the next Governor needs to listen and make decisions for the right reasons.
5th District Congressman Vance McAllister apparently does not have the support of the “Duck Dynasty” family as he seeks re-election this fall. Phil Robertson reportedly took some jabs at McAllister at a couple of events over the weekend. LaPolitics-dot-com’s publisher Jeremy Alford says Robertson’s first jab came at a Lake Charles fundraiser for his nephew, Zach Dasher, who is challenging McAllister. He says Robertson continued his criticism of McAllister the following night at a speaking engagement in Bossier City. Alford says Phil Robertson never technically endorsed McAllister, although his son Willie did appear in a commercial for McAllister last year. He says there is no question that the Robertsons and McAllister are on two different sides of the fence.
A Slidell police officer remains in critical condition after he was possibly driving drunk in a crash that killed his passenger. State Police Trooper Greg Marchand says the single vehicle wreck occurred early Sunday morning and 31-year-old John Cole, who was not working at the time, was at the wheel. A 31-year-old passenger in Cole’s vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. Marchand says impairment is suspected on Cole’s part as bottles of alcohol were found in the vehicle. He says a blood sample from Cole was collected for a toxicological analysis.
After two games, LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings is ranked second in the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency. Jennings has thrown for 427 yards and five touchdowns and Coach Les Miles likes how the sophomore is managing the game. The Tigers host ULM this Saturday night.
The Saints will look to rebound from a tough season opening loss to Atlanta when they visit Cleveland this Sunday. New Orleans Coach Sean Payton says it’s important the players do not allow this loss to linger. The Saints defense allowed 568 total yards to the Falcons, the second most in Black and Gold history.
News For Monday 9/08/14
News for Monday 090814
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana Health Officials have confirmed two more West Nile Virus deaths in Northwest Louisiana, and another in the Baton Rouge area. The Department of Health and Hospitals says that brings the number of deaths in the state to four so far this year, and 19 additional cases reported this past week, bringing the yearly case total to 80.
A Baton Rouge judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Senator Mary Landrieu’s residency, and whether she can legally run for Senate. The suit, filed by Covington Representative Paul Hollis, says he’ll revisit the issue if Landrieu wins.
Meanwhile, there are new numbers from a Rasmussen poll that shows Landrieu is trailing Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy by 3 percentage points. As for Tea Party candidate Rob Maness, LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says the poll show little support for him.
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin begins his prison sentence today. Nagin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his conviction on bribery and money laundering charges. Loyola University Criminal Justice Professor and former Bureau of Prisons official, Robert English says Nagin will report to the Texarkana Federal Correctional Institution to serve his time. The judge in this case recommended Nagin serve his time at the Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution, but the final decision rests with the Bureau of Prisons. English says the BOP does this to make it easier for the family to come visit the inmate. The Texarkana facility is closer to Nagin’s current home in the Dallas suburb of Frisco.
One year from today candidates will officially be able to qualify for the 2015 Governor’s Race. So far, Republicans Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and US Senator David Vitter have declared candidacy. Other potentials Republicans include State Treasurer John Kennedy and PCS Commissioner Scott Angelle. UL-Lafayette Political Science professor Pearson Cross says Vitter is a solid favorite, however. The only announced democrat so far is state representative John Bel Edwards. Cross says if the Amite lawmaker gets a lot of support, it would put him in the runoff with Vitter.
Supporters of gay marriage in Louisiana have filed an appeal with the US Fifth Circuit of Appeals regarding the ruling last week by federal judge Martin Feldman who upheld Louisiana’s ban on same sex marriages. But Tulane constitutional law professor Keith Werhan says the US Supreme Court will likely rule on this issue, before the federal appeals court in New Orleans has a chance. Werhan says the US Supreme Court is set to begin a new session in October and ruling on same sex marriages will likely come in 2015.
The California Legislature approved a bill that would more than triple the funding for California’s film and TV tax credit program. What impact will this have on “Hollywood South”? Executive Director of Louisiana Entertainment, Chris Stelly, doesn’t think it will have much impact. The measure would boost funding for California’s film incentives to $330 million a year for five years. California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign that legislation into law. Stelly says California’s move speaks highly of what Louisiana has done over the last several years.
Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Deputies are calling it a “cartel like” marijuana grow in the Village of Tangipahoa, finding a combination of 250 pounds of processed marijuana, and 320 massive marijuana plants, which according to authorities, looked like Christmas trees. Four arrests were made.
LSU is a top-10 team. The Tigers are No. 9 in the coaches poll and No. 10 in the Associated Press top 25, both released Sunday. LSU, 12th in each poll last week, has its first top-10 ranking since last October – before a loss at Ole Miss. The Tigers followed a comeback victory over Wisconsin in the season opener by beating Sam Houston State 56-0 on Saturday night.
One of the bigger upsets this past weekend in college football happened in Lafayette as Louisiana Tech trounced the Ragin Cajuns 48-20. The Bulldogs had 533 total yards and they were led by quarterback Cody Sokol, who threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns.
Saints defense crumbles and the Falcons were there to take advantage of it . The Falcons, needing only a field goal to win, kicked a 52-yarder by Matt Bryant to defeat the Saints, 37-34, in extra time.
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