KSYL Local News

News For Thursday 05/12/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 051211
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AN ARTICLE IN TODAY’S TOWN TALK REPORTS, UNLESS A CITY BUDGET IS APPROVED SOON, THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA WILL IMPLEMENT A "SIX-WEEK REDUCTION PLAN" THAT BEGINS WITH CLOSING PARKS AND COMMUNITY CENTERS AND RESULTS IN MASSIVE LAYOFFS OF CITY WORKERS. A BUDGET MEETING HELD EARLIER THIS WEEK BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY AND THE CITY COUNCIL'S LEADERSHIP TEAM WAS HAILED AS TREMENDOUS PROGRESS, BUT STILL NO BUDGET HAS BEEN FINALIZED. BECAUSE THE ADMINISTRATION AND COUNCIL COULDN'T COME TO TERMS ON A 2011-12 BUDGET BEFORE THE FISCAL YEAR BEGAN ON MAY 1, THE CITY IS OPERATING UNDER A BUDGET USING 50 PERCENT OF LAST YEAR'S REVENUE. IF A NEW BUDGET ISN'T PASSED SOON, THE CITY WILL BE FORCED TO MAKE CUTS TO LIVE WITHIN THAT GREATLY REDUCED INTERIM BUDGET.

IN PINEVILLE, THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINS ON JULY 1ST. MAYOR CLARENCE FIELDS SAID HE AND HIS STAFF MEMBERS RECENTLY FINISHED MEETING WITH ALL 19 CITY DEPARTMENTS AND COMPLETED THE CITY'S PRELIMINARY BUDGET PROCESS ON MAY 2. ACCORDING TO THE MAYOR, FINANCE DIRECTOR MARK ROBERTS AND SOME OF THE STAFF MEMBERS ARE WORKING TO PUT TOGETHER A PRESENTATION FOR THE FINANCE COMMITTEE. THAT MEETING IS SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 7TH.

IT WAS A TERRIBLE WAY TO GO, 28 YEAR OLD KRISTAL MITCHELL OF BOYCE WAS KILLED EARLY YESTERDAY AFTERNOON WHEN HER VEHICLE LEFT HIGHWAY 112, STRUCK A TREE AND BURST INTO FLAMES. AUTHORITIES SAY MITCHELL WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

ANOTHER DOCKSIDE CASINO AT VICKSBURG HAS BEEN CLOSED IN THE FACE OF RISING WATER ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. MISSISSIPPI GAMING COMMISSION DEPUTY DIRECTOR ALLEN GODFREY SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THE COMMISSION ORDERED THE RAINBOW CASINO TO CLOSE IMMEDIATELY. ON MONDAY, REGULATORS SHUTTERED THE DIAMOND JACK CASINO. GODFREY SAID AUTHORITIES ARE MONITORING THE RIVER AS TWO CASINOS AT VICKSBURG STILL REMAIN OPEN. VICKSBURG HAS A FIFTH CASINO, BUT IT HAS BEEN CLOSED FOR SOME TIME FOR REMODELING. SEVENTEEN OF THE 19 CASINOS ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER HAVE BEEN CLOSED BECAUSE OF FLOODING. THE CASINOS BRING GOVERNMENTS ABOUT $12 MILLION TO $13 MILLION IN GAMBLING TAXES PER MONTH AND EMPLOY ABOUT 13,000 WORKERS.

SATURDAY COULD BE DAY THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS DECIDES WHEN TO OPEN THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY. LT. COL. MARK JERNIGAN SAID WEDNESDAY THAT IF THE FLOW RATE OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER CONTINUES TO CLIMB AS EXPECTED, IT SHOULD REACH THE 1.5 MILLION CUBIC FEET PER SECOND RATE AT RED RIVER LANDING THAT THE CORPS HAS SET AS THE LEVEL THAT WOULD "TRIGGER" OPENING THE FLOODGATES.

AS THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER KEEPS RISING, GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS IS CLOSER TO OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY, IN POINTE COUPEE PARISH, TO LESSEN STRESS ON LEVEES. MR. JINDAL SAYS OPENING THE MORGANZA WILL MEAN VAST FLOODING IN RURAL AREAS, SO THE CORPS' COMMANDING GENERAL WON'T MAKE THAT CHOICE LIGHTLY. ENTERGY SAYS IT WILL HAVE TO CUT POWER TO ABOUT 3600 CUSTOMERS IN THE PATH OF RISING WATER, IF THE SPILLWAY IS OPENED.

WORK BEGAN WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON ON A LEVEE TO PROTECT THE SOUTHERN PART OF KROTZ SPRINGS, WHICH IS NOT CONTAINED WITHIN THE TOWN'S RING LEVEE. THE LEVEE, WHICH WILL INCORPORATE RECYCLED ASPHALT AND OTHER MATERIALS, REPLACES ONE THAT HAD BEEN BUILT DURING THE 1973 FLOOD, BUT HAD DETERIORATED OVER TIME.
MAYOR CARROL SNYDER SAYS THE GOAL IS TO REACH 28 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL. THE LEVEE WILL BE ABOUT 4 FEET HIGH IN SOME AREAS AND UP TO 10 FEET HIGH IN OTHERS, TO ACHIEVE THAT.

21 YEAR OLD DANNIE LEE LAFLEUR JR OF VILLE PLATTE HAS BEEN ARRESTED FOR THE MAY 6TH MURDER OF TUC-DO, DURING AN ARMED ROBBERY OF T.A.T. NAIL SALON ON WEST MAIN STREET, VILLE PLATTE. LAFLEUR WAS CHARGED WITH FIRST-DEGREE MURDER AND ARMED ROBBERY.

ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER OIL AND GAS REFINERIES ARE PREPARING FOR THE WORST. CHRIS JOHN IS PRESIDENT OF MID CONTINENT OIL AND GAS ASSOCIATION. HE SAYS RISING WATERS ARE A GROWING CONCERN FOR APPROXIMATELY TEN REFINERIES ALONG THE RIVER. JOHN SAYS THEY ARE MONITORING THE IMPACT ON REFINERIES CLOSELY SHOULD THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY OPEN. HE SAYS ROUGHLY ABOUT 15% OF THE REFINING CAPACITY IN THE COUNTRY IS ALONG THAT CORRIDOR OF THE RIVER.

THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS FACING FORECLOSURE IS ON THE RISE.
IRVINE, CALIF.-BASED REALTYTRAC SAYS THAT IN APRIL, FORECLOSURE-RELATED ACTIONS WERE TAKEN AGAINST 2,289 PROPERTIES. THOSE ACTIONS RANGED FROM AN INITIAL NOTICE OF DEFAULT TO OUTRIGHT REPOSSESSION BY A LENDER. LAST MONTH, 1,349 HOUSING UNITS WERE SCHEDULED FOR A FORECLOSURE SALE. LENDERS TOOK BACK 635. THE RATE OF FORECLOSURE ACTIONS, AFFECTING ONE IN EVERY 858 HOUSING UNITS, WAS UP 11.8 PERCENT FROM MARCH AND 23.8 PERCENT FROM APRIL 2010. THAT RANKED LOUISIANA 22ND IN THE NATION. REALTYTRAC SAID THAT NATIONAL FORECLOSURE ACTIONS DROPPED 9 PERCENT FROM MARCH AND 34 PERCENT FROM APRIL 2010 — MOSTLY BECAUSE OF LEGAL QUESTIONS ABOUT PAPERWORK.

THE U.S. HOUSE HAS PASSED LEGISLATION TO END THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S BLOCKAGE OF OFFSHORE DRILLING IN THE GULF. THE BILL IS CO-SPONSORED BY LAFAYETTE CONGRESSMAN CHARLES BOUSTANY WHO SAYS THE BILL WOULD MANDATE THAT THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT EITHER APPROVE OR DENY A DRILLING PERMIT WITHIN 30 DAYS OF APPLICATION. THE "PUTTING THE GULF BACK TO WORK ACT" IS PART OF PACKAGE OF REPUBLICAN-AUTHORED LEGISLATION DESIGNED TO LOWER GAS PRICES, CREATE JOBS AND INCREASE AMERICA'S ENERGY PRODUCTION. IT MOVES NOW TO THE U.S. SENATE. THE BILL ALSO ADDRESSES RIG SAFETY CONCERNS--REQUIRING SAFETY INSPECTIONS BY THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT.

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE WANTS GOVERNOR JINDAL TO APPEAR BEFORE HIS COMMITTEE AND EXPLAIN WHY HE HASN'T APPOINTED MORE WOMEN AND MINORITIES TO STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS. RUSTON REPRESENTATIVE RICK GALLOT, WHO IS BLACK, MADE THE REQUEST AS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE FORCED MORE MINORITIES ON BOARDS WAS DEBATED. THE LEGISLATION TO FORCE MORE DIVERSITY ON STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS FAILED TO PASS OUT OF THE HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE.

A PLANNED U-S FLAG BURNING DEMONSTRATION YESTERDAY AT LSU WAS THWARTED BY HUNDREDS OF ANGRY STUDENT. STUDENT ACTIVIST BENJAMIN HAAS FOUND HIMSELF SURROUNDED BY A LOUD MOB, THROWING THINGS AT HIM. HAAS REPORTEDLY GOT PERMISSION FROM LSU FOR THE PROTEST IN SUPPORT OF ANOTHER LSU STUDENT, WHO WAS ARRESTED LAST WEEK FOR CUTTING DOWN AN AMERICAN FLAG ON CAMPUS AND
BURNING IT. BUT, FAILED TO GET PERMISSION FROM THE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE TO BURN THE FLAG. CAN YOU SAY ARRESTED…

RISING WATER ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IS HAVING A SEVERE IMPACT ON COMMERCE MOVING THROUGH LOUISIANA'S PORTS. JOE ACCARDO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PORT ASSOCIATION OF LOUISIANA SAYS THAT EVEN WHEN THE WATER RECEDES THE FRESH SILT IN THE SHIPPING CHANNELS WILL NEED DREDGING.

THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE APPROVED A BILL BY METAIRIE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LABRUZZO CALLING FOR THE RANDOM DRUG TESTING OF SOME WELFARE RECIPIENTS. STATE OFFICE OF BEHAVIORAL HEALTH MEDICAL DIRECTOR ROCHELLE HEAD DUNHAM TESTIFIED THAT LABRUZZO'S BILL IS REDUNDANT AND QUESTIONED WHETHER IT WAS A GOOD USE OF TAXPAYERS DOLLARS. SHE SAYS THERE'S A DRUG SCREENING PROGRAM ALREADY IN PLACE TO IDENTIFY THOSE WELFARE APPLICANTS WHO MIGHT HAVE DRUG PROBLEMS.

ANOTHER HOUSE PANEL, APPROVED A BILL THAT WOULD PUT AN EMERGENCY BAN ON THE SALE OF BATH SALTS INTO LOUISIANA LAW. TERRYTOWN REPRESENTATIVE RICKY TEMPLET'S LEGISLATION ALSO BROADENS AN EXISTING LAW THAT PROHIBITS ADDITIONAL CHEMICALS TO BE USED TO MAKE SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA

THE RESIGNATION OF STATE EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT PAUL PASTOREK HAS SET A NUMBER OF CHANGES IN MOTION. PASTOREK'S LAST DAY IS FRIDAY. DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OLLIE TAYLOR WILL TAKE OVER AS INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT. BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE SAYS TAYLOR WILL HANDLE THE DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT UNTIL BESE NAMES PASTOREK'S SUCCESSOR.

BANCORPSOUTH INC. SAID TUESDAY THAT IT WILL CLOSE 23 BANK BRANCHES IN SIX STATES THIS SUMMER AS PART OF A PLAN TO CONSOLIDATE OPERATIONS. THE BRANCHES HAVEN'T SEEN ENOUGH GROWTH TO COVER THEIR OPERATING EXPENSES, THE COMPANY SAID. THE CONSOLIDATION PLAN IS PART OF BANCORPSOUTH'S INITIATIVE TO STREAMLINE ITS BRANCH BANKING OPERATIONS AND IMPROVE PRODUCTION.


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