KSYL Local News

News For Monday 051611


NEWS FOR MONDAY 051611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IN A CITY THAT IS STILL STRUGGLING TO BALANCE IT’S BUDGET COMES WORD TODAY IN THE TOWN TALK, THAT APPROXIMATELY ONE IN FIVE RESIDENTIAL UTILITY ACCOUNTS IN THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IS CARRYING AN AMOUNT THAT IS MORE THAN 30 DAYS PAST DUE.
A TOWN TALK INVESTIGATION INTO OVERDUE ACCOUNTS SHOWS THAT THERE ARE MORE THAN 3,500 RESIDENTIAL ACCOUNTS THAT CARRY LATE BALANCES AS WELL AS MORE THAN 160 OVERDUE COMMERCIAL ACCOUNTS. THAT BOILS DOWN TO $2.1 MILLION IN OVERDUE UTILITY BILLS.

AUTHORITIES OPENED SEVEN BAYS ON THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY ON SUNDAY AS PEOPLE ALREADY SURROUNDED BY WATER PRAYED FOR THE LEVEES TO HOLD WHILE OTHERS IN THE PATH OF THE SLOW-MOVING FLOOD PACKED THEIR POSSESSIONS. THE SPILLWAY IN POINTE COUPEE PARISH OPERATES AS A SAFETY VALVE BY DIVERTING WATER FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER NORTH OF BATON ROUGE TO THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN, WHERE IT THEN FLOWS INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THE SPILLWAY WAS OPENED IN NEARLY FOUR DECADES. LOW-LYING AREAS OF ST. LANDRY PARISH SOUTH OF U.S. HIGHWAY 190 HAVE BEEN PUT UNDER A MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER. ABOUT 25,000 PEOPLE AND 11,000 STRUCTURES COULD BE AFFECTED BY THE FLOODING.

A HIGHWAY BRIDGE OVER THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER THAT WAS STRUCK BY TWO RUNAWAY BARGES HAS BEEN RE-OPENED AFTER INSPECTORS GAVE IT A SAFETY CHECK. THE U.S. HIGHWAY 190 BRIDGE AT BATON ROUGE WAS OPENED AROUND JUST A FEW HOURS AFTER THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON ACCIDENT. TWENTY-FIVE BARGES UNDER TOW ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER BROKE LOOSE NORTH OF THE BRIDGE. WHAT CAUSED THE BARGES TO BREAK LOOSE WAS NOT CLEAR. COAST GUARD PETTY OFFICER CASEY RANEL SAID THEY ALL HAVE BEEN CONTAINED AND NO INJURIES WERE REPORTED.

RESIDENTS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER WILL BE WATCHING FOR THE EXPECTED CREST AT GREENVILLE ON MONDAY, WHERE OFFICIALS ARE INSISTING THEY EXPECT THE EXTENSIVE LEVEE SYSTEM TO DO ITS JOB. THE RIVER WAS PROJECTED TO CREST AT 65 FEET IN GREENVILLE. DOWNRIVER, THE PROJECTED CRESTS ARE 57.5 FEET IN VICKSBURG ON THURSDAY AND 63.5 FEET IN NATCHEZ ON SATURDAY. ABOUT 180 NATIONAL GUARDSMEN ARE ASSISTING COUNTY AND STATE AGENCIES IN IN RIVER COUNTIES.

A LARGE CROWD, SEVERAL THOUSAND PEOPLE, WERE ON HAND SATURDAY FOR THE ALEXANDRIA MUSEUM OF ART'S FIRST LOUISIANA DRAGON BOAT RACES. THE RACE WAS A FUNDRAISER FOR THE MUSEUM AND WAS HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MUSEUM'S SECOND SATURDAY MARKET MUSEUM. THE TEAM FROM PREMIER ATHLETIC CLUB WON THE COMPETITION. C3, THE TEAM FROM CHRISTUS ST. FRANCES CABRINI HOSPITAL, TOOK SECOND PLACE AND HIXSON HEAT, REPRESENTING HIXSON AUTOPLEX, WON THIRD PLACE. SATURDAY'S EVENT HAD 33 TEAMS. TEAMS CONSISTED OF 20 PADDLERS, A DRUMMER AND A HELMSMAN. EACH PARTICIPANT PAID $100 TO ENTER.

TODAY IS THE FINAL DAY TO FILE YOUR LOUISIANA TAX RETURN. TARA CUNNINGHAM WITH THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SAYS MANY TAXPAYERS FILE THEIR STATE RETURN WITH THEIR FEDERAL RETURN, BUT IF YOU DIDN'T, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO FILE OR EXTEND. TAXPAYERS ARE GETTING AN EXTRA DAY SINCE THE 15TH FELL ON A SUNDAY.
CUNNINGHAM SAYS THERE IS A FREE FILING PROGRAM ONLINE AT WWW-DOT-REVENUE-DOT-LOUISIANA-DOT-GOV.

WHITE DEMOCRATS ARE EXPECTED TO DECIDE THE FATE OF A PROPOSAL UP FOR A VOTE IN THE HOUSE TO MERGE HISTORICALLY BLACK SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AT NEW ORLEANS WITH THE LARGELY WHITE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS. REPUBLICANS BACK THE CONSOLIDATION PROPOSAL PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND SPONSORED BY HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER, BOTH MEMBERS OF THE GOP, WHILE BLACK DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS OPPOSE IT. PASSAGE OF THE BILL REQUIRES A TWO-THIRDS VOTE. TUCKER WILL NEED ALL 55 REPUBLICANS TO VOTE IN A BLOC AND WILL HAVE TO PICK UP 15 OTHER MEMBERS FROM AMONG DEMOCRATS AND INDEPENDENTS WHEN THE VOTE COMES UP TODAY. MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE'S BLACK CAUCUS SAY THEY ARE WORKING TO KEEP THEIR FELLOW DEMOCRATS WITH THEM.
THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE IS SET TO HEAR DEBATE TODAY ON WHETHER OR NOT TO INCREASE LOUISIANA'S TAX ON TOBACCO BY 70 CENTS. REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN ROGER VILLERE SAYS RAISING THE TAX ON CIGARETTES IS NOT THE ANSWER TO THE STATE'S BUDGET ISSUES. HE SAYS LOUISIANA HAS A SPENDING PROBLEM NOT A REVENUE PROBLEM. VILLERE SAYS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS AGAINST THE RAISING OF ANY NEW TAXES. HE SAYS TOBACCO IS A PRODUCT THAT ISN'T SO BAD IT'S ILLEGAL. ANDREW MUHL WITH THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY SAYS THIS INCREASE IN TAXES HAS 73% PUBLIC SUPPORT. HE SAYS THIS IS NOT A TAX ISSUE IT'S A HEALTHCARE ISSUE..:

AFTER RESEARCHING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A FOUR-DAY SCHOOL WEEK, THE WEST CARROLL SCHOOL BOARD HAS DECIDED AGAINST A SHORTENED WEEK FOR THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR. SUPERINTENDENT KENT DAVIS TELLS THE NEWS-STAR OF MONROE THAT THE BOARD HAD BEEN CHECKING INTO THE IDEA TO SAVE MONEY, BUT HE BELIEVES ANY COST SAVINGS TO THE DISTRICT WOULD NOT OUTWEIGH THE DISADVANTAGES. DAVID SAYS THERE WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN BIG TRANSPORTATION SAVINGS. AND THERE WERE WORRIES ABOUT STUDENT AND TEACHER BURNOUT WITH LONGER SCHOOL DAYS. IN NORTHEASTERN LOUISIANA, SCHOOLS IN BOTH CALDWELL AND UNION PARISHES HAVE ADOPTED A FOUR-DAY, TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY, SCHOOL WEEK. UNION IS ENDING ITS FIRST YEAR WITH THE REDUCED WEEK.

AFTER 83 YEARS, OUR LADY OF BLESSED SACRAMENT ACADEMY, A CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN SHREVEPORT, IS GETTING READY TO CLOSE ITS DOORS MAY 27. SHREVEPORT BISHOP MICHAEL DUCA SAID THE DIOCESE CONCLUDED THE SCHOOL IN THE ALLENDALE COMMUNITY MUST BE CLOSED FOR FINANCIAL REASONS. THE SCHOOL, WHICH SERVES PRE-K3 THROUGH KINDERGARTEN, HAS A CURRENT ENROLLMENT OF 153 STUDENTS.

MONROE OFFICIALS HAVE GOTTEN SOME GOOD FISCAL NEWS: THE CITY ENDED THE 2010-2011 FISCAL YEAR WITH A SURPLUS. THE EXACT AMOUNT OF THE SURPLUS WILL NOT BE DETERMINED UNTIL A FINAL AUDIT IS CONDUCTED IN THE FALL, BUT DAVID BARNES, DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION FOR THE CITY, SAYS IT'S ESTIMATED THAT IT WILL FALL BETWEEN $50,000 AND $250,000. MONROE'S FISCAL YEAR ENDED APRIL 30.




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