KSYL Local News

News For Monday 10/24/11


NEWS FOR MONDAY 102411
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

INCUMBENT SHERIFF CHUCK WAGNER AND HIS PREDECESSOR, WILLIAM EARL HILTON, WILL FACE OFF AGAIN IN THE NOV. 19 RUNOFF ELECTION HILTON RECEIVED A TOTAL OF 272 VOTES MORE THAN WAGNER. BUT, NEITHER MAN WAS ABLE TO GET THE MAJORITY NEEDED TO WIN THE RACE OUT RIGHT. THE SPOILER IN THE RACE, MARK BADEN, AS A THIRD CANDIDATE, HE PULLED ENOUGH VOTED TO KEEP WAGNER OR HILTON FROM WINNING OUTRIGHT. EARLY VOTING FOR THE RUNOFF WILL BE NOV. 5-12.

RICK DUCOTE, THE FORMER CHIEF DEPUTY IN THE ASSESSOR’S OFFICE , DEFEATED BRODIE PAUL WITH NEARLY 70 PERCENT OF THE VOTE TO WIN THE RAPIDES ASSESSOR’S RACE.

DISTRICT 27 REP. CHRIS HAZEL WAS A BIG WINNER OVER THE WEEKEND. WINNING RE-ELECTION OVER RANDY WIGGINS BY GRABBING 61 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. DURING THE CAMPAIGN, HAZEL’S PEOPLE ACCUSED RANDY WIGGINS OF BEING A CAREER POLITICIAN. UPON ENTERING HIS SECOND TERM HAZEL WILL ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING WIGGINS NEVER DID, A SECOND TERM.

IN THE RAPIDES CLERK OF COURT RACE, ROBIN L. HOOTER HELD A LARGE LEAD BUT NOT ENOUGH TO AVOID A RUNOFF. HOOTER, TOOK 45.53 PERCENT OF THE VOTE IN SATURDAY’S PRIMARY. SHE WILL RUN OFF AGAINST LINDA “LIN” DYESS STEWART, WHO FINISHED SECOND WITH 30.59 PERCENT.

IN THE ALEXANDRIA CITY MARSHAL’S RACE TERENCE GRINES, PLACED FIRST BUT FACES A RUNOFF. GRINES FINISHED FIRST IN SATURDAY’S PRIMARY WITH 46.28 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. IN THE RUNOFF, HE WILL FACE T.A. MESSINA, WHO EDGED THIRD-PLACE JEROME HOPEWELL BY 89 VOTES. MESSINA FINISHED WITH 27.13 PERCENT TO HOPEWELL’S 26.59 PERCENT.

IT WAS WHAT THEY CALL A SQUEAKER.. STATE REP. RICK GALLOT OF RUSTON BEAT TWO OPPONENTS BY A WIDE-ENOUGH MARGIN TO WIN OUTRIGHT THE ELECTION FOR SENATE DISTRICT 29, A NEW MAJORITY-MINORITY DISTRICT THAT COVERS PARTS OF SEVEN PARISHES INCLUDING RAPIDES. IF GALLOT HAD RECEIVED 71 FEWER VOTES, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN FORCED INTO A RUNOFF.

SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER NOTCHED A RAZOR-THIN VICTORY OVER HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER IN HIS BID TO KEEP AN OFFICE HE HAS HELD FOR LESS THAN A YEAR.
TUCKER REFUSED TO CONCEDE DEFEAT AND WILL WAIT FOR THE VOTES TO BE OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE.

VOTERS AGREED SATURDAY TO RENEW A 4-CENT SALES TAX ON CIGARETTES AND TO DEDICATE AN ANNUAL STREAM OF TOBACCO SETTLEMENT MONEY TO THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM CALLED TOPS. LAWMAKERS CONNECTED THE TWO TO GET AROUND A VETO FROM GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, WHO OPPOSED THE TAX RENEWAL BUT PRESSED HARD FOR THE TOPS FUNDING BALLOT INITIATIVE. BACKERS SAID THE AMENDMENT WILL SOLIDIFY FUNDING FOR THE TOPS PROGRAM ENSURING THAT AT LEAST A PORTION OF IT WILL BE PROTECTED FROM ANY POSSIBILITY OF BUDGET CUTS. OPPONENTS SAID IT WILL STRIP FUTURE DOLLARS PLANNED FOR HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND OTHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS. THE MEASURE TAKES A SLICE OF TOBACCO SETTLEMENT MONEY CURRENTLY SET TO BE DIVIDED BETWEEN HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION TRUST FUNDS, ABOUT $40 MILLION PER YEAR, AND DEDICATES IT TO TOPS, A PROGRAM THAT COSTS ABOUT $150 MILLION.

THE STATE'S WORKFORCE COMMISSION SAYS LOUISIANA'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS AT ITS LOWEST PERCENTAGE IN OVER TWO YEARS. THE COMMISSION'S LABOR ANALYST, PATTY GRANIER, SAYS THEY RECORDED AN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OF SIX POINT-NINE PERCENT IN THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER. THE STATE ADDED 47,100 PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS OVER THE LAST YEAR. GRANIER SAYS THEY ARE OPTIMISTIC THE STATE'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WILL
CONTINUE TO GO DOWN. THE STATE'S RATE OF 6.9 PERCENT WAS THE 13TH LOWEST IN THE NATION AND THIRD LOWEST IN THE SOUTHERN REGION.

HUNDREDS OF SOLDIERS FROM THE PATRIOT BRIGADE BASED AT FORT POLK ARE RETURNING TO LOUISIANA AFTER A YEARLONG DEPLOYMENT TO AFGHANISTAN. FORT POLK SPOKESWOMAN KIM REISCHLING SAYS IT'S AMONG THE LAST BIG GROUPS FROM THE 4TH BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION TO RETURN. THEY'RE EXPECTED AT ALEXANDRIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TUESDAY AFTERNOON.

THE DROUGHT IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA IS RAISING CONCERNS ABOUT WATER LEVELS IN THE CANE RIVER. CANE RIVER PATROL OFFICER BETTY FULLER SAID THE RIVER IS AT HOLDING AT A GOOD OXYGEN LEVEL BUT WATER DEPTH IS TROUBLING. FROM THE NATCHITOCHES NATIONAL FISH HATCHERY HEADING NORTH, THE CANE RIVER LAKE IS ONLY 1 FOOT DEEP WITH SOME POCKETS OF DEEPER WATER. THE CANE RIVER WATERWAY COMMISSION IS STUDYING THE SITUATION TO DETERMINE A COURSE OF ACTION, SHE SAID.
AMONG PROPOSALS IS TO RESTRICT IRRIGATION ON THE CANE.

THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION IS PREDICTING ANOTHER LA NINA WINTER. LA NINA IS CAUSED BY COOLER THAN NORMAL WATER TEMPERATURES IN THE EASTERN PACIFIC AND HAS FAR REACHING EFFECTS ON PATTERNS. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THIS IS NOT GOOD NEW FOR LARGE PORTIONS OF LOUISIANA STILL DEALING WITH DROUGHT CONDITIONS. EVEN WITH SPRING FLOODING ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND A MAJOR RAIN EVENT LIKE TROPICAL STORM LEE, MUCH OF THE STATE IS STILL RUNNING FAR BEHIND NORMAL RAINFALL TOTALS FOR THE YEAR. KEIM SAYS THE REASONS FOR OUR EXTENDED DROUGHT CAN BE TRACED BACK TO LA NINA CONDITIONS THAT BEGAN LAST WINTER.

SHREVEPORT POLICE HAVE MADE AN ARREST IN THE CASE OF A MISSING 2-YEAR-OLD CHILD WHO WAS FOUND DEAD IN A STORAGE ROOM AT HIS MOTHER'S HOUSE. SHREVEPORT POLICE SAY THE INVESTIGATION BEGAN WHEN THE MOTHER FILED A MISSING PERSON'S REPORT FOR HER SON. AUTHORITIES SAY THE TODDLER WAS FOUND DEAD BY POLICE DURING A WELFARE SEARCH OF THE HOME. POLICE DETERMINED THAT THE CHILD WAS LAST SEEN IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MOTHER’S LIVE IN BOYFRIEND. HE HAS NOW BEEN CHARGED WITH THE MURDER. AT THIS POINT, POLICE ARE NOT SURE WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED. AN AUTOPSY WILL DETERMINE THE CAUSE OF DEATH.

ONLY ABOUT A THIRD OF LOUISIANA'S VOTERS BOTHERED TO CAST VOTES IN THE ELECTION TO CHOOSE THEIR STATE LEADERS FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. UNOFFICIAL FIGURES FROM THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE PEG VOTER TURNOUT AT LESS THAN 36 PERCENT FEWER PEOPLE THAN SEVERAL ELECTIONS LEADERS PREDICTED. ONE MILLION OF LOUISIANA'S 2.8 MILLION REGISTERED VOTERS WENT TO THE POLLS, THE FEWEST NUMBER OF VOTERS TO CAST BALLOTS IN A GOVERNOR'S RACE SINCE LOUISIANA SWITCHED TO THE OPEN PRIMARY SYSTEM IN 1975.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WON A DECISIVE VICTORY TO EARN A SECOND TERM AS THE STATE'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE. POLITICAL ANALYST BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS IN THE NEXT FOUR YEARS THE GOVERNOR WILL FACE SOME OF THE SAME CHALLENGES HE'S FACED IN THE LAST TWO YEARS, BEGINNING WITH CUTTING THE RED INK IN THE STATE BUDGET. JINDAL SAYS OVERHAULING PUBLIC EDUCATION WILL BE ANOTHER TOP PRIORITY FOR THE GOVERNOR. PINSONAT SAYS THE BIGGEST AND MOST HEATED BATTLES IN THIS ELECTION WERE NOT FOR THE TOP SPOTS IN THE STATE GOVERNMENT, BUT FOR SEATS ON THE
BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION. HE SAYS WE CAN LOOK FOR A
FIGHT FOR CONTROL OF EDUCATION, BETWEEN ESTABLISHED EDUCATORS AND THE
GOVERNOR AND HIS SUPPORTERS.

U-S SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU AND SEVERAL LOUISIANA ENERGY-RELATED BUSINESSES ARE IN ISRAEL TO MEET WITH KEY COMPANIES IN ISRAELI ENERGY SECTORS. LANDRIEU SAYS THE TRADE MISSION IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR COMPANIES IN THE STATE TO MEET WITH ISRAELI OIL AND GAS EXECUTIVES. LANDRIEU, WHO IS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATIONAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, SAYS LOUISIANA AND ISRAEL CAN FIND MANY WAYS TO COLLABORATE. SHE SAYS NEARLY 18 TRILLION CUBIC FEET OF NATURAL GAS HAS BEEN DISCOVERED IN ISRAEL.


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