KSYL Local News

News For Tuesday 05/10/11


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 051011
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE IN AN EFFORT TO SETTLE A STALEMATE THAT HAS HELD UP PASSAGE OF A NEW BUDGET FOR THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA. ALL INVOLVED PARTIES MEET YESTERDAY. AFTER THE MEETING MAYOR JACQUES ROY SAID HE AND THE COUNCIL LEADERSHIP AGREED ON "A LOT OF SIGNIFICANT COMPROMISE" IN THE MEETING, ALTHOUGH THERE REMAIN AREAS WHERE THE TWO SIDES AREN'T IN AGREEMENT. THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR BEGAN ON THE FIRST OF THIS MONTH AND WITH NO NEW BUDGET IN PLACE, THE CITY HAS BEEN FORCED TO OPERATE ON A TEMPORARY BUDGET THAT WILL USE HALF OF LAST YEAR'S EXPENSES.

A HABITUAL OFFENDER WILL MOST LIKELY SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE BEHIND BARS. 33 YEAR OLD CAROL WAYNE CROOKS JR WAS CONVICTED IN JUNE 2010 ON TWO-COUNTS OF SECOND-DEGREE KIDNAPPING, TWO COUNTS OF FALSE IMPRISONMENT WITH A WEAPON, ONE COUNT OF AGGRAVATED BURGLARY, ONE COUNT OF ARMED ROBBERY AND ONE COUNT OF POSSESSION OF A FIREARM BY A FELON. IN AUGUST OF LAST YEAR JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER FOUND CROOKS TO BE A THIRD-FELONY OFFENDER AND SENTENCED HIM TO 66 YEARS IN PRISON AT HARD LABOR. YESTERDAY AN APPELLATE COURT HAS UPHELD THAT SENTENCE.

THE IMPENDING OPENING OF THE MORGANZA HOLDS DIRE CONSEQUENCES FOR FARMERS IN THE PATH TO THE WATER. COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE MIKE STRAIN SAYS LOUISIANA CAN EXPECT TO HAVE BETWEEN 50-THOUSAND TO 100- THOUSAND FARMING ACRES IMPACTED BY THE FLOOD. SOME OF THE CROP DAMAGE WILL COME DIRECTLY FROM THE RELEASE OF WATER INTO THE SPILLWAY. SOME AREAS WILL SEE BACKWATER FLOODING AS THE RISING RIVER BLOCKS TRIBUTARIES. STRAIN SAYS THEY ARE TAKING EARLY STEPS TO SECURE ASSISTANCE FOR FARMERS THROUGH A NUMBER OF STATE AND FEDERAL PROGRAMS.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS PROPERTY OWNERS THAT ARE IN THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM ARE COVERED FOR POSSIBLE LOSSES FROM OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY. THE SPILLWAY WILL LIKELY OPEN SOMETIME BETWEEN THIS SATURDAY AND NEXT TUESDAY. DONELON SAYS FLOODING IS POSSIBLE IN 7 PARISHES.
DONELON SAYS, FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE FLOOD INSURANCE, IT'S NOW TOO LATE TO ENROLL IN THE NFIP AND BE COVERED FOR THIS IMPENDING EVENT. DONELON SAYS FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE IS COST EFFECTIVE, AND ONE'S ONLY RECOURSE FOR RECOVERING FLOOD LOSSES. MOST HOMEOWNERS' POLICIES DO NOT COVER FLOOD.

EVEN WITH THE THREAT OF FLOODING FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, MOST OF THE STATE IS STILL IN CONDITIONS OF DROUGHT. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE SWELLING RIVER IS THE RESULT OF TORRENTIAL RAINS THAT FELL FAR NORTH OF LOUISIANA. HOWEVER, HE SAYS, OUR STATE HAS HAD FAR TOO LITTLE RAINFALL.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PUSH TO DEDICATE A STREAM OF TOBACCO SETTLEMENT FUNDING TO HELP COVER COSTS FOR THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM KNOWN AS TOPS WON APPROVAL MONDAY FROM THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE, DESPITE COMPLAINTS THE MEASURE WOULD STRIP FUTURE DOLLARS FOR HEALTH SERVICES. THE 6-2 VOTE SENDS THE MEASURE (SENATE BILL 53) TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE. IF APPROVED BY THE FULL HOUSE AND SENATE IN A TWO-THIRDS VOTE, THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ALSO WOULD REQUIRE APPROVAL FROM VOTERS IN THE FALL ELECTION.

THE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY BACKED A PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 200) TO RENAME THE NEW JOHN JAMES AUDUBON BRIDGE NORTH OF BATON ROUGE AFTER TWO LOUISIANA GENERALS WHO WERE COMMANDANTS OF THE U.S. MARINE CORPS. THE BRIDGE, WHICH CROSSES THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER BETWEEN NEW ROADS AND ST. FRANCISVILLE, WOULD BE CALLED THE GENERALS JOHN A. LEJEUNE-ROBERT H. BARROW BRIDGE, UNDER THE MEASURE BY REP. TOM MCVEA, R-JACKSON. THE BILL HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

THE HOUSE VOTED 74-11 TO ALLOW TRUCK DRIVERS WITH LIMITED VISION OR WIDE LOADS TO HAUL NON-HAZARDOUS LOADS IN LOUISIANA, SIMILAR TO PROVISIONS ALLOWED IN 22 OTHER STATES. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 174) BY REP. HENRY BURNS, R-HAUGHTON, HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL ORDERED A PARTIAL FREEZE MONDAY ON STATE SPENDING FOR TRAVEL, SUPPLIES, CONTRACTS AND OTHER OPERATING SERVICES IN MOST STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES FOR THE REMAINING TWO MONTHS OF THE FISCAL YEAR.
JINDAL'S EXECUTIVE ORDER WAS ISSUED TO HELP FREE UP SOME MONEY IN STATE AGENCIES THAT COULD BE CARRIED OVER TO THE NEXT 2011-12 YEAR TO HELP LESSEN THE BLOW OF A MORE THAN $1 BILLION STATE BUDGET SHORTFALL.

A 29-YEAR-OLD WINNFIELD MAN WAS FOUND HANGED IN A CELL INSIDE THE WINNFIELD CITY JAIL IN AN APPARENT SUICIDE. WINNFIELD POLICE SAID MONDAY THAT ANDY JONES WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD SUNDAY NIGHT BY WINN PARISH CORONER RANDOLPH WILLIAMS.
POLICE SAY JONES HAD RETURNED TO HIS CELL AFTER WATCHING TELEVISION, AND WAS LATER FOUND HANGING IN THE CELL. JONES HAD BEEN IN THE JAIL ON CHARGES OF THEFT AND AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL DAMAGE OF PROPERTY.

TWO PINEVILLE MOTHERS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY DUCT TAPING THEIR CHILDREN AFTER POSTING THEIR PICTURES ON FACEBOOK. LT. DARRELL BASCO WITH THE PINEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT SAYS THE PHOTO'S CAPTION WAS, HIS IS HOW WE BABYSIT OUR CHILDREN. BASCO SAYS THE FACT THAT THESE PICTURES WERE POSTED ON FACEBOOK MADE THE CASE AN EASY ONE TO SOLVE. 29-YEAR-OLD JAYA CLAGGETT AND 26-YEAR-OLD LEQUANDA BROWN WERE BOOKED ON ONE COUNT EACH OF CRUELTY TO A JUVENILE.

THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE IS EXPECTED TO HEAR LEGISLATION TODAY THAT WOULD TRIPLE THE COST OF PERSONAL AND COMMERCIAL LICENSE TAG FEES. RUSTON REPRESENTATIVE HOLLIS DOWNS SAYS THE HIGHER FEES WOULD BE USED TO PAY FOR OVER 40 HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS DESIGNED TO ALLEVIATE CONGESTION IN METRO AREAS. DOWNS THE HIGHER FEES WOULD GENERATE AN ADDITIONAL 200-MILLION DOLLARS. HE SAYS IT WOULD FUND 42 HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS AT AN ESTIMATED COST OF THREE BILLION DOLLARS. DOWNS SAYS HE'S RECEIVED MIXED REACTION FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE ON HIS PROPOSAL. HIS LEGISLATION IS A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, SO IT WILL TAKE A TWO-THIRDS VOTE OF THE LEGISLATURE AND IT WOULD BE ON THE OCTOBER BALLOT FOR VOTER APPROVAL. DOWNS SAYS IF LOUISIANA RESIDENTS WANT BETTER ROADS THEY'LL HAVE TO PAY FOR IT...

OPPONENTS OF A PROPOSED MERGER OF SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AT NEW ORLEANS WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS HAVE LOST ANOTHER BID TO STALL THE CONSOLIDATION EFFORT. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE BACKED THE MERGER BILL IN A 17-4 VOTE, OVER CRITICISM THAT FINANCIAL QUESTIONS REMAIN UNANSWERED. HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER, THE SPONSOR OF THE MERGER BILL, SAYS THE ANALYSIS MIGHT BE TOO HIGH. AND HE SAYS THE BENEFITS OUT WEIGH THE PRICE TAG.

STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE FATAL SHOOTING OF A FRANKLINTON MAN WHO ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED ATTACKS OF THE ELDERLY. FRANKLINTON POLICE CAPTAIN JUSTIN BROWN SAYS 38-YEAR-OLD PHILLIP MORRIS GARRETT HAD A PREVIOUS CRIMINAL HISTORY. HE SAYS THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE WAS APPROPRIATE.

TAX BREAK PROPOSALS ARE IN A HOLDING PATTERN IN THE HOUSE. WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN, REP. HUNTER GREENE OF BATON ROUGE, SAYS HE DOESN'T INTEND TO TAKE A VOTE ON ANY OF THE MEASURES UNTIL THE STATE'S INCOME FORECASTING PANEL UPDATES ITS REVENUE ESTIMATES LATER THIS MONTH. SO, INSTEAD GREENE IS HOLDING TESTIMONY ON THE TAX BREAK IDEAS AND KEEPING THEM IN A SORT OF HOLDING PEN AT THE COMMITTEE LEVEL, TAKING NO ACTION FOR NOW. THE MOVE COMES AS THE STATE IS GRAPPLING WITH A $1.6 BILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL NEXT YEAR. LAWMAKERS ARE WEIGHING WHETHER THEY'D BE WILLING TO MAKE DEEPER CUTS TO STATE AGENCIES TO PAY FOR TAX BREAK PROPOSALS, WHICH INCLUDE ITEMS LIKE INCENTIVES FOR BARGE AND TOWING COMPANIES, HISTORIC RENOVATIONS, DIGITAL MEDIA PRODUCERS AND HOMEOWNERS.

God Bless America!

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