KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 10/05/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 100511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE VOTE WAS UNANIMOUS, THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL ON TUESDAY PASSED AN AMENDED VERSION OF AN EXPANDED SMOKING ORDINANCE THAT WILL PREVENT SMOKING AT BARS AND GAMING ESTABLISHMENTS IN CITY LIMITS, AS WELL AS WITHIN 25 FEET OF CITY PROPERTY AND ATHLETIC ARENAS AND BALLPARKS. ONE MAJOR CHANGE FROM THE ORIGINAL ORDINANCE, SMOKERS CAN CONTINUE TO LIGHT UP IN HOTEL AND MOTEL ROOMS IN THE CITY. THE ORDINANCE WILL GO INTO EFFECT JAN. 2ND OF NEXT YEAR.

THOUGH THE OFFICIAL GRAND OPENING WILL BE LATER THIS MONTH, THE DOORS OF THE NEW ALEXANDRIA BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OPENED YESTERDAY. CLUB OFFICIALS HAVE ENTERED INTO AN INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT WITH THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL DISTRICT THAT ALLOWS THE CLUB TO OPERATE AT THE OLD HADNOT-HAYES ELEMENTARY BUILDING ON LINCOLN ROAD IN ALEXANDRIA. ON IT’S FIRST DAY YESTERDAY 19 CHILDREN SHOWED UP. THAT NUMBER IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE IN THE COMING DAYS.

A NEW STUDY BY THE TAX FOUNDATION SHOWS LOUISIANA HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST COMBINED SALES TAX RATES IN THE NATION. TAX FOUNDATION ANALYST SCOTT DRENKARD SAYS LOUISIANA'S STATE SALES TAX IS AMONG THE LOWEST. BUT, HE SAYS, ITS CITY AND PARISH TAXES THAT PUSH THE COMBINED RATE TO 8.84-PERCENT.

STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF A 37-YEAR-OLD OPELOUSAS MAN WHO WAS FOUND LYING ON LA HIGHWAY 182 IN ST. LANDRY PARISH EARLY THIS MORNING. HENRY BOBB WAS FOUND SEVERELY INJURED AND WAS TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE LATER DIED. POLICE HE WAS THE VICTIM OF A HIT-AND-RUN.

ALEXANDRIA POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A SINGLE CAR ACCIDENT THAT CLAIMED THE LIFE OF A 56-YEAR-OLD WOMAN AUTHORITIES REPORT DEBRA JONES OF ALEXANDRIA WAS THE ONLY OCCUPANT OF A CAR THAT LEFT THE ROAD MONDAY NIGHT AND STRUCK THE PORCH OF A HOUSE. INVESTIGATORS SAY JONES WAS TAKEN TO A NEARBY HOSPITAL AND LATER PRONOUNCED DEAD.

THE WIFE OF EDWIN EDWARDS IS FURIOUS OVER RECEIVING A LETTER FROM US SENATOR DAVID VITTER THAT SAYS HE DOES NOT SUPPORT A PRESIDENTIAL PARDON FOR THE FORMER GOVERNOR. TRINA SCOTT EDWARDS SAYS SHE'S SUPPORTING AN ONLINE CAMPAIGN ASKING THE PRESIDENT TO PARDON HER HUSBAND, AND SHE RECEIVED THE EMAIL FROM VITTER. IN THE EMAIL, VITTER SAYS HE DOESN'T THINK A PARDON FOR GOVERNOR EDWARDS WOULD BE APPROPRIATE SINCE HE WAS CONVICTED FOR A CRIME THAT OCCURRED WHILE HE WAS IN OFFICE. MRS. EDWARDS SAYS SHE'S UPSET BECAUSE SHE NEVER ASKED FOR VITTER'S SUPPORT IN THE FIRST PLACE. VITTER'S OFFICE DECLINED ANY COMMENT.

THE U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL SAYS DRUNK DRIVING IS DOWN NATIONWIDE; HITTING A TWO DECADE LOW LAST YEAR. THE CDC'S TELEPHONE SURVEY SHOWS THAT IMPAIRED DRIVING IS DOWN ABOUT 30% OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. LOUISIANA HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSIONER JOHN LEBLANC SAYS OUR STATE HAS SEEN SIMILAR REDUCTIONS. THE CDC SURVEY SHOWS THAT 1 IN 50 ADULTS ADMITTED TO DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED AT LEAST ONCE IN THE PAST 30 DAYS. BASED ON THAT, THE CDC ESTIMATES 112-MILLION DWI EPISODES LAST YEAR; DOWN FROM 161-MILLION IN 2006. LEBLANC SAYS, DESPITE THE REDUCTIONS, WE STILL HAVE FAR TOO MANY DRIVING AFTER DRINKING.

THIS WEEK, LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS RECEIVE LETTER GRADES INSTEAD OF GIVING THEM. SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN GETTING PERFORMANCE SCORES FOR YEARS UNDER AN ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN ADOPTED IN THE 1990S. AND SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN AWARDED A CERTAIN NUMBER OF "STARS" BASED ON THEIR SCORES. BUT BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION MEMBERS VOTED LAST DECEMBER TO ADOPT THE LETTER GRADE SYSTEM — THE IDEA BEING THAT PARENTS CAN MORE EASILY GAUGE HOW A SCHOOL IS DOING IF IT GETS AN A, B, C ,D OR F. THE GRADES ARE TO BE ISSUED THIS WEEK, POSSIBLY AS EARLY AS TODAY.

THE SAINTS HOME STADIUM IS NOW CALLED THE MERCEDES BENZ SUPERDOME. A TEN-YEAR AGREEMENT HAS BEEN REACHED BETWEEN THE SAINTS, THE STATE AND THE FOREIGN AUTO MANUFACTURER. OWNER TOM BENSON, MERCEDES BENZ OFFICIALS AND GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WERE ON HAND FOR THE AFTERNOON'S ANNOUNCEMENT INSIDE THE DOME. THE DOME WILL HOST SOME BIG EVENTS IN THE COMING MONTHS, LIKE THE B-C-S NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, THE FINAL FOUR AND THE SUPER BOWL IN 2013.

THE DEAL MADE TO GIVE MERCEDES BENZ NAMING RIGHTS TO THE LOUISIANA SUPERDOME WILL MEAN AN END TO ANNUAL SUBSIDIES PAID BY THE STATE TO THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS. SUPERDOME COMMISSION CHAIRMAN RON FORMAN SAYS THAT WAS ONE OF THE PURPOSES OF SELLING NAMING RIGHTS TO THE FACILITY. THE STATE CURRENTLY PAYS THE SAINTS ABOUT $20-MILLION ANNUALLY, IN ORDER TO KEEP THEM IN THE CRESCENT CITY. FORMAN SAYS THE DEAL WITH MERCEDES, COUPLED WITH RECENT RENOVATIONS TO THE DOME, WILL MAKE THOSE PAYMENTS UNNECESSARY.

A TERREBONNE PARISH WOMAN, WHO CLAIMED SHE WAS RAPED BY A SHERIFF'S DEPUTY, HAS RECANTED HER STORY. 27-YEAR-OLD ATHENA VIDRANO ADMITTED TO INVESTIGATORS SHE LIED ABOUT THE INCIDENT, AND THE EXTRA-MARITAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OFFICER WAS CONSENSUAL. SHE'S BEEN ARRESTED AND IS NOW CHARGED WITH CRIMINAL MISCHIEF.

A PARKING TICKET HAS BEEN ISSUED TO A DESOTO PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTY BECAUSE OF A PICTURE THAT WAS POSTED ON FACEBOOK. CHIEF DEPUTY PATRICK COBBS SAYS SOMEONE POSTED A PICTURE OF DEPUTY CLARENCE DAVIS' PATROL CAR PARKED IN A HANDICAPPED PARKING SPACE. COBBS SAYS DAVIS WAS FINED $300. HE SAYS SHERIFF RODNEY ARBUCKLE HIMSELF SAW THE PHOTOGRAPH ON FACEBOOK AND ISSUED THE CITATION.

IN-HOME HEALTH PROVIDERS WHO TAKE CARE OF LOUISIANA MEDICAID PATIENTS SAY THEY HAVE BEEN UNFAIRLY TARGETED BY HEALTH DEPARTMENT AUDITS THAT CLAIMED THEY OWED $4.2 MILLION IN OVERPAYMENTS AND FINES. NEARLY EVERY PROVIDER SANCTIONED BY THE AUDITS IS APPEALING THE DECISION. FORTY-ONE COMPANIES WERE REVIEWED BY AN ACCOUNTING FIRM. DHH OFFICIALS SAY THOSE REVIEWS TURNED UP INSUFFICIENT DOCUMENTATION FOR WORKER TRAINING, A LACK OF CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS ON EMPLOYEES, TIMESHEET DISCREPANCIES AND, IN ONE INSTANCE, OUTRIGHT FRAUD. THEY SAY HOME HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS HAVEN'T BEEN CHARGED THE PENALTIES YET AND CAN SHRINK THE MONEY OWED IF THEY CAN PROVIDE MISSING DOCUMENTATION.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS ORDERED FLAGS AT STATE BUILDINGS TO BE FLOWN AT HALF STAFF THURSDAY, THE DAY OF THE FUNERAL OF ARCHBISHOP PHILIP HANNAN. HANNAN DIED LAST WEEK AT AGE 98 AND WILL BE BURIED IN RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES AT ST. LOUIS CATHEDRAL ON THURSDAY.

A TASK FORCE APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYS COASTAL STATES MUST WORK TOGETHER TO RESTORE ELEMENTS OF THE GULF OF MEXICO THAT HAVE MADE IT A BACKBONE OF THE U.S. ECONOMY BEFORE THE ECOSYSTEM BECOMES SO DEGRADED AND POLLUTED IT IS NO LONGER HABITABLE FOR ANIMALS OR PEOPLE. THE REPORT IS FROM THE GULF COAST ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION TASK FORCE. EPA ADMINISTRATOR LISA JACKSON, WHO HEADS THE TASK FORCE, SAYS IT IS KEY TO RESTORE SEDIMENT AND STOP THE FLOW OF FERTILIZERS FROM THE MIDWEST INTO THE GULF. THE TASK FORCE IS ASKING CONGRESS TO DEDICATE "SIGNIFICANT PORTIONS" OF OIL SPILL PENALTIES TO RECOVERY EFFORTS.

God Bless America!

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