Louisiana Public Broadcasting will air a special tonight about the life of LSU's Leonard Fournette, one of the nation's most heavily recruited football prospects out of St. Aug. "Road to Stardom: The Leonard Fournette Story" is produced and directed by Kenny Chenier.
He says the program documents Fournette's early days growing up in the 7th Ward of New Orleans.
"From becoming this amazing young athlete and becoming widely recognized at the age of 14 and appearing in Sports Illustrated," said Chenier. "And also getting a Division I scholarship offer after appearing in his first high school football game."
Chenier says it's very obvious to most people what Fournette is capable of on the football field, but the Tiger running back is so much more -- inside and out.
"This kid is very very special," said Chenier. "He's probably the most grounded and humble teenager that I've ever seen."
LSU Coach Les Miles has used Michael Jordan's name when describing Fournette's desire to be great. Chenier says they interview Miles in the documentary and also LSU recruiting coordinator and running back coach Frank Wilson.
"So it really gets in depth into why they were interested in this young man," said Chenier. "And what they thought about Leonard Fournette the football player and Leonard Fornette the man."
The American Automobile Association says more people are traveling for the Labor Day Holiday than since the recession. AAA spokesman Don Redman says 34.7 million people are projected to journey 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend.
"I mean these are numbers we haven't seen since 2008," said Redman. "So it's really an indication that it looks like we're getting past the great recession."
The Labor Day Holiday travel period is defined as Thursday August 28th to Monday September 1st.
Redman says nearly 86 percent of travelers will celebrate the holiday with a final summer road trip.
He says another significant bullet point from the 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast is that more people are using the credit cards for the trip.
"It's an indication that people are feeling more confident in their personal finances that they can start assuming some debt," said Redman.
Redman says automobile travel will increase by 1.4 percent this year with 29.7 million travelers hitting the road. He says another boost to the travelers confidence is likely related to the low price at the pump.
"We're looking at a statewide average almost 17 cents cheaper than it was this time last year," said Redman.
Governor Jindal has filed a lawsuit against the federal government alleging the Obama administration violated the Constitution by using federal grant money to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards. Jindal says Common Core is the latest effort by the feds to have Washington D-C in control of everything.
"The federal government in Washington is out of control and now they want to run our schools."
Jindal says the Constitution and federal laws leave it up to the states to control education content, but through Common Core the federal government can dictate curriculum.
"The know-it-alls in Washington think they know better than Louisiana parents, kinda like with Obamacare, when they tried to put the IRS in charge of our health care."
Jindal, a one-time supporter of Common Core, has taken steps this year to keep the new math and english standards out of Louisiana. US Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said Jindal's actions are about politics, not education
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says they have some serious problems with a swamp tour operation out of Hammond. PETA council Brittany Peet says they received the complaints from a visitor to Harvey Kliebert's Turtle & Alligator Farm & Tours. She says the animals there are living in deplorable conditions.
"At Kliebert's alligators, crocodiles and turtles are all packed into these small murky pools by the hundreds or even thousands where they have to fight for food and for space," said Peet.
Peet says reptiles are rarely seen suffering in the wild but when they are held in captivity it can take years for them to die from stress, malnutrition and infection. She also says they have a problem with Kliebert's putting their employees at risk.
"By encouraging or requiring them to hand feed alligators and even tempt the animals to bite their hands for these tours," said Peet.
Peet says they've filed a complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to investigate reports of employees being required to taunt the animals.
She says they've also filed a complaint with Child Protective Services regarding the manager's 6-year-old son who is allowed to wrangle alligators.
"And he's already apparently been bitten," said Peet. "So we're calling on a local investigation into this child's welfare in light of this extremely reckless conduct."
Kliebert's has yet to respond to our request for comment.
Natchitoches Central High Principal Bill Gordy says it was a random act of violence that led to the death of 18-year-old Johnquaries Smith. Smith died yesterday from the head injury he sustained during a fight with another student at school. Gordy says the two students had no interaction prior to their altercation.
"They walked up to each other face-to-face," Gordy said. "Then after about two to three seconds, the young man hit him."
The 16-year-old who punched Smith has been charged with manslaughter. He's been identified as Timothy Ray Robinson and prosecutors plan to charge him as an adult. Gordy says they don't know much about him, because he just started at NCHS.
Gordy describes Smith as a nice young man, who he spoke to frequently and was a member of the football team.
"I always found Johnquaries to be a polite young man, I can't say enough good things about Johnquaries."
The American Heart Association has released a statement saying the use of electronic cigarettes may help some people quit smoking. The recommendation is for the use of e-cigarettes as a last resort with several notes of caution.
Associate Dean for Research at LSU, Dr. Ed Trapido, says he'll go along with that for now.
"Until we know more about the effects of e-cigarettes and really understand what's in them, how they're regulated, I'll agree with that statement."
The recommendation was written by a group of scientists, physicians, and researchers after studying the latest information available on e-cigarettes. It's emphasized that e-cigarettes should be used as a last resort to help quit smoking. Trapido says there are several proven cessation methods that one should try first.
"From quit lines, to support groups, to nicotine patches, to medication like Chantix that have been shown to be effective at reducing cigarette dependence."
The group's statement admits that much more research needs to be done as there is a lack of knowledge on the long-term health impact of e-cigarettes. Although he agrees with the AHA statement, Trapido says there is concern in the public health community.
"We're concerned that this is being viewed as an answer to quit smoking but, in fact, we don't have evidence to that."
The Department of Children and Family Services says they've collected more than $2 million dollars in casino winnings from parents who owe back child support. Deputy Assistant Secretary Lisa Andry says this is a huge milestone for the Casino Intercept Program which launched in September 2011.
"We certainly don't want non-custodial parents who owe money to be gambling," said Andry. "So this really is a great thing."
Andry says each collection made, whether large or small, is proof that this program is an essential tool for collecting what is owed to Louisiana's children.
"Some of these parents, mostly single moms, are getting the only collection they've ever seen," said Andry.
Andry says a total of 2 million fifty two thousand dollars was taken from 1,526 non-custodial parents who owed back child support. She says when someone wins over 1200, the casino has to cross check the winner with people who owe money in the DCFS database.
"And they put in the information and get a real time response of exactly what that person owes at that time," said Andry.
The 18-year-old Natchitoches Central High School student who was involved in an altercation with another student at school has died as a result of injuries he sustained. Johnquaries Smith passed away Tuesday morning.
Saints Quarterback Drew Brees is the father of a new baby girl. Brees says his wife Brittany gave birth their fourth child and their first girl last night. He says mom and child are doing just fine.
The familys first girl will be a little sister to brothers Baylen, Bowen, and Callen. Brees says the entire family is excited.
"We've obviously been talking about it for a long time, even going back to when Brittany first got pregnant, we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl, just asking if they want another brother or a little sister, and they all said baby sister. So they got their wish."
Brees is holding off on announcing the girl's name until its on the birth certificate. And he believes this will be the last addition to their immediate family.
"I think is four is a good number. Brit was looking at me during that delivery, hey this is the last one buddy."
According to the personal finance magazine Kiplinger, Louisiana is the third most tax friendly state in the nation. Senior Associate Editor Sandy Block says their rankings were based on rates for income, sales and gas taxes. She says a big boost for Louisiana is the fact that we have the lowest property taxes in the nation.
"That's a big help for a lot of people because up north in places like New York and New Jersey, property taxes can be 10 times what they are in Louisiana," said Block.
Block says property in Louisiana is assessed at 10 percent of its fair market value. She also says our gas tax is well below average at 20 cents a gallon. Block says as a result, Louisiana is a very tax friendly place for retirees.
"And in that tax map which will be coming out in a few weeks, additional issues will be addressed such as whether or not social security is taxed and Louisiana continues to well in all of those categories too," said Block.
Block says the most tax friendly state is Delaware followed by Wyoming, then Mississippi and Alabama are ranked just below Louisiana.
She says they have a tax map tool on their website, kiplinger.com, to help people make the most financially sound decision when considering a move to another state.
"This is a helpful tool to figure out just how much of your income would go to state and local taxes," said Block.
13th ranked LSU is just four days away from the season opener against 14th Wisconsin and it remains a mystery to the public who will be the starting quarterback for the Tigers. Coach Les Miles is staying tight lipped, but he says Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris will get a chance to play against the Badgers.
"We have guys that can play, but right now, they have not separated themselves," Miles said.
Miles says how Jennings and Harris perform during the games will determine how long they go with a two quarterback system.
"Well, right now, if there was one quarterback that gave us all the
advantages to play, then at some point in time, that guy would be our starter
after he determined that it was an advantage to his team to play him in all
situations from start to finish. That separation has not occurred."
Miles also doesn't anticipate the battle for starting quarterback to be a distraction for his team.
"I think the distraction is and can only be brought in by other
people. Because the only opinion that's worth a damn is that opinion
that's derived in our building. So that opinion will play those guys and
everybody in that building will understand that's the reason why."
Council for A Better Louisiana is partnering with Louisiana Public Broadcasting to present a US Senate debate on October 14th. Incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican challengers Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness will all participate.
CABL President Barry Erwin says this race is hugely important for the state.
"It's also important when you look at the map across the country in the US Senate and we're just really delighted to have this opportunity to kind of help voters find out more about where the candidates stand."
The debate will take place at Centenary College in Shreveport beginning at 7PM. It will be broadcast statewide on LPB television stations. Erwin says there are still working on the format of the debate, but there shouldn't be a shortage of topics.
"I think there's going to be a whole flavor of questions from things that are really local and have to do with things in the state, but also trying to understand what these candidates really feel and believe about some of these other international issues that also effect us here."
Erwin says there are several pressing issues important to the state tied to this election. He says it's important nationally because, potentially, the balance of power in the Senate could be determined by the outcome.
The Iberia Parish Coroner says the Iberia Parish man who died while he was in handcuffs was not killed by police. In a release, Coroner Carl Ditch says on March 2, 22-year-old Victor White III lost his life in the back seat of an Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office vehicle while his hands were bound.
He says investigators and the pathologist determined that White was able to manipulate his gun to where the contact would was found. That means he says the manner of death was determined to be a suicide based on information gathered by the ongoing State Police investigation.
Troopers say authorities are still trying to determine how White was able to get the gun.
The popular Louisiana spice "Slap Ya Mama" has been told by the NFL they can't have virtual on-field ads during game telecasts anymore citing the fact it may send the wrong message. Cox Media sent a message to the Cajun spice company and said the matter was over domestic violence issues the NFL is facing.
"We were totally baffled and shocked by this being that they would make such an association," says Jack Walker whose mother owns Slap Your Mama. "We're all about being fun loving, family and friends and enjoying your life."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release that ALL virtual ads on the field will not be allowed during game telecasts saying some of the products and messages aren't consistent with league standards.
Walker says this would have been the third year they've run the same ad with Cox during Saints games.
"Everything has been fine in previous years then all of a sudden the NFL has an issue with it and decides they have to pull that spot," said Walker.
Walker says they have never had a problem with anyone associating the name of their brand with any type of domestic violence.
"I think it's a lack of understanding of our culture and the way we do things down here in the south," said Walker.
With election qualifying behind us, all eyes are turned toward November 4th. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat sees several races destined for a runoff election in December.
In the US Senate race, Pinsonat says the picture is pretty clear.
"Nobody's strong enough right now, neither Cassidy nor Landrieu, which are the two top candidates, have enough votes to push over the 50.1 percent. So we're looking at a runoff, almost certainly right now."
Pinsonat says a December runoff between Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy could determine control of the US Senate. He says the waters are a little cloudy when it comes to the 6th Congressional District race. Most pundits believe Edwin Edwards is a shoe-in for a December runoff. Pinsonat says beyond that, this race is really a toss up.
"We have three or four really well funded candidates, and who makes it into the runoff with Edwin Edwards is the big question right now. And there is no poll showing that anyone is that dominate."
Pinsonat thinks the 5th Congressional District election is wide open. He says incumbent Vance McAllister has lost a lot of his base and popularity due to the infamous kissing scandal earlier this year. Pinsonat says that plus the fact that he has some well funded challengers, makes this race difficult to call.
"I think you'll start seeing polls make sense probably in the next 10 days to two weeks as those new polls come out."
A state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital goes into a effect next Monday, but the Center for Reproductive Rights has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the law.
An attorney for the center, Julie Rikelman, says the courts have blocked similar laws around the country.
"We filed this lawsuit because, if it takes effect on September 1, it will either entirely eliminate or drastically restrict the access to legal abortion in Louisiana."
Rikelman says the law, which was passed by the legislature earlier this year, will close all five of the state's five abortion clinics. She says one of their arguments against the law is that the state didn't give abortion doctors enough time to obtain the privileges.
"And the application process at hospitals can be very lengthy. It can take months to even have an application for privileges considered."
But Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Ben Clapper disagrees and says abortion doctors had enough time to get admitting privileges.
"Therefore, they are taking the route of trying to stop this process through law, instead of doing what is necessary to get admitting privileges at a local hospital."
Clapper says Louisiana has the right to close a loophole in the current law, which allows for abortion facilities to operate at a lower standard, compared to other surgical facilities.
"It helps the woman and it helps to make sure that complications are taken care of easier, quicker, and more effective."
Today is the final day to qualify for the November 4th election and first in line was 5th Congressional District Rep. Vance McAllister. The Congressman came under fire earlier this year for being caught on tape kissing a married woman at his office and Governor Bobby Jindal called for his resignation.
McAllister says the Governor should be more worried about serving the state.
"He needs to do the job that he's got. The taxpayer dollars that I pay for him to work here in Louisiana," said McAllister. "He needs to serve Louisiana better. If he did that then I bet we'd all get up and support him on his next venture. Including me even though they're willing to eat me."
McAllister shrugged off the fact that Jindal and the Louisiana GOP don't support him. He says God has given him a second chance with his family and he hopes voters will continue to support him because he knows more about values now than every before.
"You can really tell someone what family values are when you have to figure out how to value your family when you almost lose them," said McAllister.
Mangham physician Dr. Ralph Abraham says he entered the 5th Congressional District race because he's concerned about the future.
"I'm worried about my children and my grandchildren," said Mangham. "There are so many things we have to correct."
Abraham says it's time to change the politics in Washington as right now Republicans and Democrats are so intent on destroying each other, that they are actually destroying this country.
"You have to negotiate now. You don't have to give your core principles up, you don't have to give your values up," said Abraham. "But for this country to move forward, we have got to get out of this deadlock that Congress is in."
On the final day to qualify for the US Senate race, republican and retired air force colonel, Rob Maness, signed up at the Secretary of State's office so his name will appear on the November fourth ballot.
"I'm just an American and Louisianian, and most of all a Christian, a dad, a husband, a grandfather that's worried about his country."
Democratic incumbent senator Mary Landrieu and republican Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy qualified for the US Senate race on Wednesday. But Maness says Louisiana voters are looking for someone who is not part of the Washington establishment.
"I'm an outsider, a non-politician that's never ran for office before. And one of us, and one of us is going to take that seat and that's what sets me apart."