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Saints start training camp in West Virginia

White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, has rolled out the red carpet for the New Orleans Saints who begin training camp there today. The Black and Gold will spend the next three weeks getting ready for the upcoming season at the Greenbrier resort.

Kara Dense, with the Greenbrier Convention and Visitor's Bureau, says they were thrilled when the team bus rolled in.
"There were people on the streets with signs, balloons, and it was kind of a first opportunity for all the players come and visit with us and see how exited we are that they will be with us for the next few weeks."
For the past few seasons, the team has held training camps exclusively at their Meterie facility. Dense says this is a great chance for some out of town Saints fans to watch the team play.
The county, home to only 35 thousand people, isn't used to getting big name stars like Quarterback Drew Brees. Dense says the locals are eating it up.
"We were so excited. We were following Drew Brees on twitter last night and he ate at one of our local country kitchens in White (Sulfer) Springs. Wow, what great exposure for our area."
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International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo this weekend

The annual International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is underway and thousands of people are expected descend on coastal town to enjoy the festivities.  Anglers from across the area will compete to see who can catch the biggest fish in a number of categories. 

Property tax clerk for the town of Grand Isle, Bonnie Pizani, says there's a lot more going on than just fishing.
"They have events at the pavilion for children.  They have crab races.  They have craft venders, merchandise booths, and the awesome band line-up that we have this year."
The fishing rodeo began in 1928 and is informally referred to as the "Mardi Gras of Grand Isle."  Pizani says businesses across the island look forward to the economic boost the thousands of people who attend the event bring every year.
"The grocery store will be packed.  The marinas will be packed.  This is our big event of the year."
Grand Isle bills the rodeo, which runs through Saturday, as "the oldest fishing tournament in the United States".  Pizani says if you plan to attend, you may want to leave early as traffic tends to creep along Highway 1, the only road that accesses the island.  She says the locals get into the spirit of the rodeo, too.
"They'll pop out a pool in their front yard and they'll have little celebration parties at their camp in their front yard after getting in from their fishing and, hopefully, catching the big catch to put on the board."
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Wednesday storms in northwest Louisiana claim life of Shreveport woman

The National Weather Service in Shreveport says a bad storm that blew through northwest Louisiana last night left thousands without power and claimed the life of one person. Senior Meteorologist Jason Hansford says they saw 60-70 mile per hour winds which downed numerous trees and power lines.

"At one point during the peak of the power outages we had 70,000 people without power," said Hansford.

Hansford says as of early this morning there were still over 50,000 people who did not have power. He says one woman even lost her life.

"A 64-year-old female was struck by a very large tree limb that fell during the height of the storms there yesterday evening," Hansford said.

Hansford says the victim was walking down a street during the height of the storms when the winds really started picking up.

"So she turned around and was heading home, and at the same time a big gust of wind blew threw and downed the limb that fell on top of her," said Hansford. "Unfortunately she later succumbed to her injuries."

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The push is on to produce more oil workers in the Gulf

A commitment is in place to produce more workers for the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry. Higher education leaders, state officials and representatives from the oil industry have formed a long-term public-private partnership to come up with solutions to meet with workforce needs.
Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association President Chris John says about 40-percent of the workforce that's experienced in the Gulf of Mexico will retire in the next ten years. He says that's a concern, especially since deep water exploration and production is expected to increase.
"The biggest concern to our members is that we don't have the skilled workforce to handle the kinds of projects that were are doing out in the Gulf." 
John says this Memorandum of Understanding between the various entities will come together to form a curriculum so prospective gulf of mexico oil workers could be certified in two years.
"Once that person graduates and gets that certificate they almost certain to get a job at that point of time."

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Rate hikes coming for thousands who purchased insurance through the ACA

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says 60-percent of the Louisiana residents who purchased insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act face a double-digit rate hike next year. Donelon says that's based on paperwork filed by the federal government with the state's insurance department.

"The question then becomes does the premium increase make it unaffordable again for them, even after they qualify for the subsidy."

Donelon says 101-thousand Louisiana residents have health care through the individual marketplace and they anticipate the average rate increase to be about 12 to 13 percent. 
He says the double-digit rate hike is the result of a federal premium tax that's been placed on the policies and the rates have been capped for the elderly and least healthy. 
"That's going to drive up cost for young and healthy policy holders."

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Monroe couple charged with abusing their 7-week-old child

A man who is reportedly a teacher at Carroll High School and his wife are under arrested for allegedly repeatedly abusing their 7 week old infant. Monroe Assistant Police Chief Don Bartley says neither 29-year-old James Hall or his wife 27-year-old Emily Rae Hall could give an explanation as to why their baby was in the hospital with bleeding on the brain.

Bartley says doctors,who examined the child, told cops the 7-week-old had been abused. 

"After tests were performed, they advised the police department, the child had a history of abuse, based on the various stages of healing they observed on the brain." 

James and Emily were booked into the Ouachita Correctional facility each on $50,000 bond. Bartley says the infant remains in the hospital in critical condition. 
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Traps set for Emerald Ash Borer

Following a discovery in Arkansas, Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says the USDA is conducting trap surveys across the state to watch for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) beetles.  Strain says the EAB is an invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees.

"This particular insect will bore into the ash trees.  Ash trees are located mainly in urban areas. They are also found in our estuaries and our swamps and also on a lot of our land that's in CRP, the Conservation Reserve Program."
He says when the pest gets into an ash tree, it generally kills the tree in three to five years.  The EAB was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and is now present in 24 states.  Strain says the beetle is often transported into an area by infested firewood.
"We recommend that you don't move firewood any more than ten miles from where you buy it.  If you use it for camping, use all the firewood before you leave the campground or the forest.  Use it all, burn it all.  Don't leave any unused firewood."
He says the EAB has a distinctive look.
"It is a brilliant green little beetle.  It is about a half an inch long and about an eighth to a quarter inch wide.  It is a very, very noticeable beetle once you take a look."
For more information on the EAB go to www.emeraldashborer.info

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Black and Gold merch flying off shelves as Saints training camp gets underway

Michelle Southern reporting.
The New Orleans Saints report to football camp in West Virginia today and the Black and Gold nation is already stocking up on their gear for the mega-hyped 2014 season. Lauren "FleurtyGirl" LeBlanc is the owner of a popular Saints fan shop in New Orleans.

"This is the time of the year when we want our customers to walk into the stores and the black and gold just hits them in the face," said LeBlanc. "That's all they're coming in for."

The Saints begin pre-season play August 8th and the regular season begins less than a month later.

Many have said that this year's team could be better than the Black and Gold Superbowl team on paper, but LeBlanc says Saints fans will load up on swag before ANY season.

"Saints fans love this team and want to wear the colors of this team no matter what," said LeBlanc.

LeBlanc says even though the Saints aren't practicing in Metairie this year, it's not stopping the merchandise from flying off the shelves.

She says her regulars come in every year looking for the one shirt that's going to be their lucky shirt for the season.

"The fans want to feel like they are contributing to the success of the team," said LeBlanc. "It's funny how the wearables play into that."

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