KSYL Local News

News For Tuesday 05/31/11


Good Morning!
NEWS FOR TUESDAY 053111
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AFCO INDUSTRIES, HERE IN ALEXANDRIA, IS WORKING ON THE BIGGEST ORDER IT'S EVER RECEIVED - 1.6 MILLION POUNDS OF ALUMINUM PARTS FOR A SOLAR ENERGY PROJECT IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA. THE EMPLOYEE-OWNED COMPANY IS MAKING 73,000 PIECES FOR ALTERNATIVE ENERGY FIRM BELECTRIC.

A DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER TO GOVERNOR JINDAL'S RE-ELECTION BID HAS SURFACED--FROM AN UNLIKELY SOURCE. TARA HOLLIS, A CLAIBORNE PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER, SAYS SHE WILL RUN AGAINST JINDAL. HOLLIS IS 33, WITH NO EXPERIENCE IN PUBLIC OFFICE. SHE SAYS SHE'S UNHAPPY WITH THE DIRECTION LOUISIANA IS GOING. HOLLIS SAYS, FROM HER PERSPECTIVE AS A TEACHER, SHE'S SEEN THE RESULTS OF THE GOVERNOR'S POLICIES FIRST-HAND. SHE SAYS SHE'S DEEPLY CONCERNED FOR THE FUTURE OF LOUISIANA'S SCHOOLS. HOLLIS SAYS CUTS TO EDUCATION AND OTHER KEY PROGRAMS ARE COSTING 169,000 LOUISIANA FAMILIES THEIR JOBS. SHE SAYS PUTTING THESE PEOPLE ON PUBLIC
ASSISTANCE IS NO WAY TO MOVE THE STATE FORWARD.

THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE SPENT MEMORIAL DAY WORKING ON THE PROPOSED $25-BILLION STATE BUDGET FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR. GOVERNOR JINDAL'S COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER WAS BEFORE THE PANEL SEEKING TO RESTORE CUTS MADE IN THE HOUSE. HE SAYS THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET WAS CRAFTED TO MAKE LITTLE IMPACT ON CRUCIAL STATE SERVICES. RAINWATER SAYS AGENCY CUTS AND CURTAILMENTS OF SERVICES WERE MADE THOUGHTFULLY BY THE ADMINISTRATION; AIMING AT MAXIMUM DOLLAR EFFICIENCY WITH MINIMUM LOSS OF SERVICE. RAINWATER SAYS LOUISIANA MUST DOWNSIZE GOVERNMENT TO SAVE.

COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN MIKE MICHOT, OF LAFAYETTE, SAYS $200-MILLION WAS CUT FROM THE STATE BUDGET AGAINST THE GOVERNOR'S WISHES, AND HIS COMMITTEE WILL LOOK INTO RESTORING THOSE CUTS. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE CUTS MADE BY HOUSE MEMBERS WILL HURT PUBLIC SAFETY, HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND EDUCATION.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION WANTS LAWMAKERS TO LEAVE A $125 MILLION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND ALONE, RATHER THAN USE TWO-THIRDS OF IT TO PLUG GAPS IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. THE HOUSE PROPOSED TO STRIP NEARLY $82 MILLION FROM THE MEGA-PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FUND THAT IS USED TO ATTRACT MANUFACTURING FACILITIES AND OTHER BIG-TICKET PROJECTS THAT CREATE OVER 500 JOBS OR OFFER AT LEAST $500 MILLION IN NEW INVESTMENT IN THE STATE. THOSE DOLLARS WOULD BE USED TO PAY FOR OTHER STATE SERVICES, UNDER THE HOUSE BUDGET. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY, STEPHEN MORET, SAYS IF THE MONEY ISN'T AVAILABLE, LOUISIANA WILL BE DROPPED FROM CONSIDERATION FOR UP TO 15 PROJECTS. MORET TOLD THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE ON MONDAY THAT THE STATE WILL LOSE CREDIBILITY IF THOSE DOLLARS DISAPPEAR.

WASHINGTON, A SMALL TOWN ALONG INTERSTATE 49 THAT DEPENDS ON SPEEDING FINES TO SUPPORT ITS BUDGET, HAS DECIDED NOT TO COMPLY WITH A 2009 STATE LAW AIMED AT REDUCING SPEED TRAPS, ACCORDING TO A STATE AUDIT RELEASED LAST WEEK.
INSTEAD, THE ST. LANDRY PARISH TOWN OF 964 RESIDENTS KEPT ABOUT $200,000 IN SPEEDING FINES THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE TO THE STATE. THE 2009 LAW, SPONSORED BY STATE REP. HOLLIS DOWNS, R-RUSTON, REMOVED THE ECONOMIC INCENTIVE FOR SOME ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY ON INTERSTATES BY REQUIRING MANY SMALL AND MIDSIZE TOWNS TO FORFEIT TO THE STATE ANY FINES FOR SPEEDS OF LESS THAN 10 MILES OVER THE LIMIT. THE ESTIMATED $200,000 IN FINES THE TOWN KEPT AMOUNTED TO ABOUT 17 PERCENT OF ITS ANNUAL REVENUE OF $1.2 MILLION.


LOUISIANA CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATES ARE CALLING ON THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE TO ENSURE PROPER DREDGING OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER SHIP CHANNEL, AFTER SPRING FLOOD WATERS RECEDE. METAIRIE CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE SAYS THE SWOLLEN RIVER IS NOW LOADED WITH SEDIMENTS THAT WILL BUILD UP ON THE RIVER. IN A LETTER ADDRESSED TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, AND THE U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, SCALISE SAYS A SECOND DISASTER, AN ECONOMIC ONE WAITS TO FOLLOW THE SPRING FLOODS.

LOUISIANA'S SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS SAYS HE'S GLAD TO HAVE NEEDED DOLLARS THAT WERE CUT FROM HIS BUDGET RESTORED. SECRETARY LANE CARSON SAYS $883-THOUSAND STRIPPED FROM HIS DEPARTMENT IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET, BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, WAS RESTORED ON THE HOUSE FLOOR. CARSON SAYS IF THE FUNDS HADN'T BEEN RESTORED, IT WOULD HAVE MEANT CLOSING OVER 20 VETERANS SERVICES OFFICES, CANCELLING CEREMONIES AND MORE.

LOUISIANA IS AHEAD OF NATIONAL AVERAGES WHEN IT COMES TO HOMEOWNERSHIP. U.S. CENSUS DATA SHOWS THAT 67% OF OCCUPIED HOUSES IN LOUISIANA ARE OWNED BY THEIR RESIDENTS. THAT'S HIGHER THAN THE NATIONAL AVERAGE OF UNDER 65%. LSU SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR TROY BLANCARD HAS CRUNCHED THE CENSUS NUMBERS. HE SAYS REAL ESTATE AND LAND PRICES IN OUR STATE TEND TO BE LOWER THAN OTHER STATES. THAT SAME DATA SHOWS LOUISIANA'S MEDIAN AGE IS YOUNGER THAN THE NATION'S; 36-YEARS-OLD. LSU SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR TROY BLANCHARD SAYS THIS ISN'T NECESSARILY GOOD NEWS. HE SAYS STATISTICALLY, LOUISIANANS DON'T LIVE AS LONG OTHER FOLKS.

HOMEOWNERS AND OTHERS IN ST. MARTIN PARISH ARE BEING ALLOWED TO RETURN TO THEIR HOMES, NOW THAT IT APPEARS THAT FLOODING FROM THE OPENING OF THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY WON'T BE AS BAD AS ONCE THOUGHT. SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON MAJOR GINNY HIGGIONS SAYS FLOOD WATERS HAVE IMPACTED A FEW HOMES IN BUTTE-LAROSE AND HAPPY TOWN.

ONE PERSON IS CONFIRMED DEAD AND ANOTHER INJURED IN A NATURAL GAS WELL BLOWOUT IN RED RIVER PARISH. THE EXPLOSION HAPPENED SATURDAY NIGHT; JUST OFF HIGHWAY 1 IN RED RIVER. THE FACILITY HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN WHILE AN INVESTIGATION OF THE BLOWOUT TAKES PLACE. NO EVACUATIONS WERE NECESSARY.

THE LSU BASEBALL TIGERS ARE ALL DONE FOR THIS YEAR. NCAA COLLEGE BASEBALL TOURNAMENT BRACKETS WERE RELEASED TODAY, AND LSU IS NOT IN THE 64. THE TIGERS ALSO FAILED TO MAKE THE SEC TOURNAMENT THIS YEAR. THEY TRIED, THOUGH. A LATE-SEASON RALLY SAW THE TIGERS WIN 12 OF THEIR LAST 15 GAMES.

THERE WAS A BIG TURNOUT FOR THE SECOND ANNUAL BAYOU COUNTRY SUPERFEST AT TIGER STADIUM OVER THE WEEKEND. BUT ATTENDANCE WAS DOWN OVER LAST YEAR. OVER 75,000 FANS SHOWED UP TO SEE AND HEAR THEIR FAVORITE COUNTRY ARTISTS. LAST YEAR 85,000 FANS ATTENDED THE TWO DAY EVENT.

LOUISIANA'S PROLONGED DROUGHT CONDITIONS ARE MAKING A NEGATIVE ECONOMIC IMPACT ON FARMERS. LSU AGCENTER ECONOMIST DR. KURT GUIDRY SAYS PRODUCTION COSTS ARE ALREADY HIGH FOR THOSE WHO GROW GOODS IN IRRIGATED FIELDS. HE SAYS PUMPING ALL THAT WATER ADDS UP FAST. 2011 IS ALREADY ON RECORD BOOKS IN LOUISIANA FOR BEING THE DRIEST ON RECORD (SO FAR) SINCE 1895. GUIDRY SAYS THE NEGATIVE IMPACTS ON YIELDS WILL JUST GET GREATER AS THE DROUGHT WEARS ON. HE SAYS CATTLE PRODUCERS ARE ALSO LOOKING AT PROBABLE DROUGHT-RELATED LOSSES, AS DRIED-OUT PASTURES MEAN VERY LITTLE FOR THEIR LIVESTOCK TO GRAZE ON.

AUTHORITIES SAY A LAROSE WOMAN IS FREE ON BOND AFTER BEING ACCUSED OF THROWING A SCHOOL ID MACHINE AT A TEACHER, HITTING HER IN THE CHEST AND ARM.
THE COURIER REPORTS THE 25-YEAR-OLD LINDSEY JELKS WAS CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED BATTERY OF A SCHOOL TEACHER, FELONY CRIMINAL DAMAGE TO PROPERTY AND INTERFERING WITH THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS. THE ALLEGED ATTACK OCCURRED THURSDAY WHEN THE WOMAN TRIED TO PICK HER CHILDREN UP EARLY FROM SCHOOL. DEPUTIES SAY THE WOMAN ALLEGEDLY BECAME UPSET BECAUSE THE CHILDREN WEREN'T BROUGHT TO HER AS QUICKLY AS SHE WANTED.

THE STATE WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES COMMISSION IS EXPECTED TO SET A DATE TO OPEN COMMERCIAL OYSTER HARVESTING IN SABINE LAKE WHEN IT MEETS ON THURSDAY. THE PANEL ALSO WILL HEAR A REPORT ON PLANS FOR REEF-BUILDING PROGRAMS IN INLAND AND OFFSHORE AREAS ALONG THE LOUISIANA COAST.

POINTING TO TORNADOES AND FLOODS THAT HAVE RAVAGED THE MIDSECTION OF THE NATION, U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU IS LEADING THE CHARGE IN CONGRESS FOR UP TO $5 BILLION TO PAY FOR THE DAMAGE AND PAST DISASTERS. THE FORMER CHAIRWOMAN OF THE SENATE DISASTER RECOVERY SUBCOMMITTEE ALSO IS EXPRESSING FRUSTRATION AND CONCERN OVER HOW DISASTER MONEY IS BEING DOLED OUT BY THE GOVERNMENT.
IN FEBRUARY, LANDRIEU KICKED OFF HER CAMPAIGN TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THE NATION’S DISASTER RELIEF FUND BY SENDING A LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, ASKING THAT A THEN-$1.5 BILLION DEFICIT BE CLOSED. THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS BUDGETED $1.8 BILLION NEXT YEAR FOR THE DISASTER FUND, WHICH LANDRIEU SAID IS $3 BILLION LOWER THAN IS NEEDED.




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