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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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LSU AgCenter launches statewide healthy living campaign

Michelle Southern reporting.
The LSU Ag Center has launched a statewide billboard campaign urging people to engage in a more healthy lifestyle. Diane Sasser is the AgCenter director of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Educational Program. She says the first message that will be promoted is to eat more fruits and vegetables.

"Increasing fruits and vegetables contributes to good health," said Sasser. "Then in our next quarter we'll be promoting physical activity."

Sasser says this effort also includes banners and posters that will be displayed in schools, stores and parish extension offices. She says the campaign will run for about a year and a half.

Sasser says they will also be spreading messages about increasing activities together as a family.

"And having family meals together because the family that prepares meals together and does physical activity together tends to thrive more," said Sasser.

Sasser says by displaying these simple suggestions in places that people will see easily and frequently, the hope is that they will absorb the information and starting thinking about their own health habits.

"It introduces this teachable moment," said Sasser. "We want everyone to live a lot longer."

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Boustany files legislation to help south Louisiana vets receive health care

Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany files legislation that would give  south Louisiana veterans the option to receive health care from a non V-A provider. Boustany says the federal government pay for the care.

"This is about access for high quality care. This is about not having veterans wait on the V-A bureaucracy and it's about giving them the finest care available." 
Boustany says he filed the legislation because the Lafayette V-A clinic has admitted to crowded conditions and access problems for primary and mental care. He says the situation is not much better in Lake Charles. 
There's another bill that would authorize new V-A clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. But Boustany says our veterans in those areas shouldn't have to wait for the new clinics to open, so he wants to give them the option to receive care from non V-A provider. 


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LSP investigating officer involved shooting in Calcasieu Parish

State Police detectives are investigating a shooting that involved a Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's deputy. L-S-P Sergeant James Anderson says the shooting happened Tuesday night as a sheriff's deputy was attempting to perform a traffic stop in Lake Charles on a 33-year-old woman from Sulphur, who was not cooperating.
"They were able to box that vehicle in," Anderson said. "That subject then apparently tried to run over one of the sheriff's deputy and that sheriff's deputy fired his weapon in an effort to protect himself." 
Anderson says Dargin was shot in the face. 
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office says Dargin was taken to a local hospital and her condition is unknown. She faces numerous charges, including attempted first degree murder of a police officer.

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Baton Rouge school administrator accused of sexting a former teen student

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Baton Rouge Police Department says an assistant principal of a middle school is accused of exchanging naked pictures with a 15-year-old former student. Corporal L'Jean McKneely says the victim's mother contacted police after finding her daughter's Facebook account.

"And she was looking at inappropriate pictures and was exchanging them with a particular individual," said McKneely.

McKneely says 42-year-old Edwin Chastang, who works as an administrator at Southeast Middle in Baton Rouge, was named the suspect.

He says the mother contacted police about the crime and an official investigation was launched.

"We got the photos from the 15-year-old and talked to Chastang yesterday," said McKneely. "That's when he was arrested."

Chastang is charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile and computer aided solicitation of a minor.

McNeely says the teen girl had her phone taken away so she would use her mother's phone in the middle of the night to access Facebook.

"The mom was actually going through her own phone and saw that her daughter did have her Facebook account logged in and that's when the pictures were discovered," McKneely said.

Chastang has reportedly been suspended from work with pay.

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Louisiana gets low ranking in child well-being

Michelle Southern reporting.
According to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Louisiana ranks No. 47 in the nation for overall well-being of children. The report was published in the 25th edition of the Kids Count Data book and study co-author Laura Speer says they took into account economic status, education, health, family and community.

"Some of the places where Louisiana is lagging behind other stats is in the education domain," said Speer.

Speer says Louisiana lags the nation in 4th and 8th grade reading and math scores and also has a poor graduation rate. She says they found that 28% of students don't graduate on time compared to the national rate of 19%.

Speer says the lowest ranking in their report is for family and community where Louisiana ranked 48th overall.

"48% of children living in Louisiana are living in a single-parent family," said Speer. "What that means is that there are less resources coming in to the household."

Speer says Louisiana's best ranking was at No. 42 and that was in the health category with indicators including percentage of low-birth weight babies and percentage of children without health insurance.

She says another factor hurting Louisiana's score is the fact that we have one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation.

"That means that the teen is less likely to finish high school which would make it harder for her to get a job and support her child," said Speer.

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Governor's office responds to new suit

The governor's office has responded to the latest legal action over the Common Core debate. A lawsuit filed Tuesday claims Bobby Jindal overstepped his authority when he canceled the testing contract for the Common Core. Jindal's legal counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, says the suit has no legal basis.

"This particular lawsuit was really just a jump into the courts. Number one, prematurely, number two, without any legal basis."
A collection of concerned parents and teachers were behind this latest filing. The suit claims the governor does not have the constitutional authority to dictate education policy. but Faircloth says there is no question as to whether Jindal has the authority to influence policy in this case.
"The governor has the authority, as the chief executive officer of the state, he has a constitutional obligation to utilize the full power of his office to apply state law. This can influence a great deal of policy on a great deal of subject matters."
The lawsuit is seeking to reverse the Jinal administration's decision to use the Division of Administration to cancel a vendor contract to supply Common Core testing. Faircloth says allegations the Jindal miss used his authority are unfounded...
"It's only a lawsuit if a public official acts unlawfully. There is nothing unlawful about what the governor is doing here."

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Robert Bond sentenced to 40 years

A 40 year prison sentence has been given to a Bossier City man accused of killing his estranged wife and discarding her remains last November.  In a plea deal, Robert Bond plead guilty to manslaughter instead of going to trial on second-degree murder charges. 

Bossier Parish District Attorney Schuyler Marvin says his office is happy with the sentence.
"I know his family was kind of torn apart by all of this.  But they were very appreciative of our office and the job the police officers did and even stated so in court.  So I think justice was served."

46-year-old Annie Bond's charred remains were found in northern Webster Parish on November 18th.  Mr. Bond received the maximum sentence for a manslaughter charge.  Marvin says one of Robert and Annie's sons, Alex, spoke at the sentencing hearing.  He says the young man's speech to the judge was touching.
"He said, you know, I've lost my mother.  I know I'm losing my father, today.  So, I'm torn.  He has to be punished.  I know that.  He knows that.  So, it was a very personal, emotional talk for him."
Robert Bond spoke at his sentencing hearing and asked the 60 or so family members in attendance to forgive him for what he'd done.  Marvin says he and the family are glad this has come to a conclusion.  He says he's happy that this case was resolved so quickly and cannot praise the work of local law enforcement enough.
"The police did an excellent job in recovering Mrs. Bond's remains and having those analyzed and confirming it to be hers.  Some cases take a lot longer than that just for that scientific part of it.  So we were very happy with the time of the police."
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Suit filed agaisnt Jindal in Defense of Common Core

A group of parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards filed a lawsuit today against Governor Jindal. They claim the governor violated his legal authority by using executive orders and contract suspensions to keep schools from using Common Core. New Orleans Representative Walt Leger supports this legal action.
"The governor's actions now are problematic, because they create chaos in our schools. School is beginning very shortly and i hope this legal action can allow for some clarity"
This pro Common Core lawsuit comes one day after a separate suit, which challenged whether BESE followed state law when it adopted the controversial education standards.

Navis Hill is a parent of a public school student and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed today. Hill says Jindal is playing political games and because of that her fourth grader is preparing for a school year, not knowing what standardized test he'll take.
"It's very frustrating to deviate from the plan in the middle of his elementary education."

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