KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 01/04/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 010412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE GILLIS LONG OR JACKSON STREET BRIDGE BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE HAS REOPENED TO TRAFFIC AFTER BEING CLOSED SUNDAY AFTERNOON, FOR WHAT IS BEING DESCRIBED AS A MECHANICAL LIFT FAILURE.

A FORMER NATCHITOCHES BUSINESSMAN WHO WORKED FOR A NEW ORLEANS ART DEALER HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO MORE THAN TWO YEARS IN PRISON FOR HIS ROLE IN A PLOT TO SELL FORGED PAINTINGS HE CLAIMED TO BE THE WORK OF A RENOWNED LOUISIANA FOLK ARTIST. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL IN ALEXANDRIA ON TUESDAY SENTENCED 64-YEAR-OLD ROBERT E. LUCKY JR., OF NEW ORLEANS, TO 25 MONTHS IN PRISON AND ORDERED HIM TO PERFORM 200 HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE AND PAY NEARLY $327,000 IN RESTITUTION. LUCKY PLEADED GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF MAIL FRAUD. HE WAS CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING WITH A BATON ROUGE COUPLE TO SELL FAKE CLEMENTINE HUNTER PAINTINGS TO UNSUSPECTING ART COLLECTORS.

A SINGLE VEHICLE FATAL CRASH IS BEING INVESTIGATED BY LOUISIANA STATE POLICE IN EVANGELINE PARISH. TROOPERS SAY A TRUCK DRIVEN BY 43-YEAR-OLD MITCHELL FONTENOT OF VILLE PLATTE FAILED TO MAKE A LEFT TURN ON LA 29 AND STRUCK A DITCH BEFORE OVERTURNING SEVERAL TIMES. FONTENOT WAS RESTRAINED BUT DIED AT THE SCENE AS A RESULT OF HIS INJURIES. HIS PASSENGER, A 48-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, WAS NOT RESTRAINED AND ALSO DIED AT THE SCENE.

THE LATEST STUDY PANEL LOOKING AT HOW BEST TO GOVERN LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC COLLEGES IS RECOMMENDING AGAINST CONSOLIDATING ALL COLLEGE MANAGEMENT INTO A SINGLE BOARD. INSTEAD, THE GOVERNANCE COMMISSION SUGGESTED GIVING THE BOARD OF REGENTS MORE POWER OVER THE FOUR INDIVIDUAL UNIVERSITY SYSTEM BOARDS AND THE STATE DOLLARS ALLOCATED TO THEM. THE PROPOSALS ARE AMONG 21 SUGGESTIONS IN A FINAL REPORT ADOPTED BY THE COMMISSION TUESDAY, MOST OF WHICH WOULD NEED LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL TO BE ENACTED. THE STUDY COMMISSION SAYS THAT THERE IS NO DIRECT LINK BETWEEN THE TYPE OF COLLEGE GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE AND IMPROVED PERFORMANCE, AND THAT THE CONSOLIDATION INTO A SINGLE BOARD COULD BE COSTLY. ITS REPORT RECOMMENDS THAT LAWMAKERS CLARIFY THE POWER OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS TO ESTABLISH ITS AUTHORITY OVER THE OTHER MANAGEMENT BOARDS.

A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT WILL REVIEW A JUDGE'S DECISION TO TEMPORARILY BLOCK THE STATE OF TEXAS FROM ENFORCING A LAW REQUIRING DOCTORS TO SHOW SONOGRAMS TO PATIENTS AND DESCRIBE THE IMAGES BEFORE AN ABORTION. IN AUGUST, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE SAM SPARKS IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, RULED THAT SEVERAL PROVISIONS OF THE LAW VIOLATED THE FREE-SPEECH RIGHTS OF ABORTION-PERFORMING DOCTORS. A THREE-JUDGE PANEL OF THE 5TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR ARGUMENTS TODAY ON THE STATE'S REQUEST TO LIFT A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION ISSUED BY SPARKS. A GROUP OF MEDICAL PROVIDERS IS CHALLENGING THE LAW, WHICH ALSO REQUIRES DOCTORS TO DESCRIBE THE FETAL HEARTBEAT TO A PATIENT BEFORE PERFORMING AN ABORTION. THE STATE ARGUES ITS INTEREST IN PROTECTING "FETAL LIFE AFTER VIABILITY" TRUMPS ANY FREE-SPEECH CLAIMS. THE COURTS DECISION COULD HAVE AN EFFECT OF A SIMILAR LAW HERE IN LOUISIANA.

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY IS CONSIDERED A MOTION TO DISPLAY THE SLOGAN "IN GOD WE TRUST" IN ITS MEETING ROOM DURING COMMITTEE MEETINGS. THE ISSUE WAS BROUGHT UP BY OUT GOING JUROR JAMIE FLOYD. FLOYD ALSO MADE AN ATTEMPT LAST YEAR TO DISPLAY THE 10 COMMANDMENTS AT THE PARISH COURT HOUSE. THE JURY, IN THE END, VOTED THE IDEA DOWN. WHEN ASKED FOR AN OPINION ON THE MATTER OF THE SLOGAN, LEGAL COUNSEL TOM WELLS SAID HIS OPINION WAS THE SAME AS WHEN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ISSUE CAME UP, THAT IT COULD SUBJECT THE PARISH TO LAWSUITS.
THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAS SOME NEW BLOOD AT THE HELM. THE BOARD ELECTED NEW OFFICERS AT ITS FIRST MEETING OF THE YEAR YESTERDAY. WILTON BARRIOS WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT, TAKING OVER FOR 2011 PRESIDENT STEVE BERRY. JANET DIXON WAS ELECTED VICE PRESIDENT, SUCCEEDING STEPHEN CHAPMAN IN THAT ROLE.

THE FEDERAL PRISON IN POLLOCK REMAINED ON LOCKDOWN TUESDAY, AFTER SEVERAL INMATES WERE INJURED IN A FIGHT OVER THE WEEKEND. ONE INMATE REMAINED HOSPITALIZED TUESDAY FROM INJURIES SUFFERED IN THE FIGHT, WHICH BROKE OUT SHORTLY BEFORE NOON SATURDAY IN THE U.S. PENITENTIARY'S MAXIMUM-SECURITY AREA. ABOUT 15 PRISONERS WERE INVOLVED IN THE MELEE. WHAT CAUSED THE FIGHT IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

FORBE'S MAGAZINE HAS RATED LSU AMONG THE NATION'S BEST WHEN IT COMES TO THE BUSINESS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL. LSU SR. ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS LSU IS THE ONLY SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY RANKED IN THE TOP 10 ON BOTH FORBES' LIST OF "MOST VALUABLE TEAMS" AND "BEST TEAMS FOR MONEY." BY THE WAY, THE LSU TIGERS HEAD TO NEW ORLEANS THIS AFTERNOON TO CONTINUE PREPARATIONS FOR ALABAMA ON MONDAY NIGHT IN THE BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.

A RUM DISTILLERY IS BEING BUILT IN JEFFERSON DAVIS PARISH THAT WILL PRODUCE A LOUISIANA-MADE RUM OUT OF SUGAR CANE. THE COMPANY, LOUISIANA SPIRITS, WAS FOUNDED BY TREY LITEL WHO IS FROM THE LAKE CHARLES AREA. HE SAYS WITH LOUISIANA BEING THE FOURTH LARGEST PRODUCER OF SUGAR CANE IN THE UNITED STATES, MAKING RUM HERE SEEMED LIKE A NO BRAINER. LITEL SAYS THE DISTILLERY IS BEING BUILT IN LACASSINE JUST OFF I-10 IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA. HE SAYS THEY AREN'T RELEASING THE BRAND NAME JUST YET, BUT THEY HOPE TO HAVE THE RUM AVAILABLE MID-YEAR.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SPENT THE FINAL HOURS BEFORE THE IOWA CAUCUSES TUESDAY WITH REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER RICK PERRY IN A SERIES OF CAMPAIGN EVENTS THAT BOOST JINDAL'S NATIONAL PROFILE, EVEN IF THEY DO LITTLE FOR PERRY'S FLAGGING CANDIDACY. THE IOWA CAUCUSES WERE THE FIRST BALLOTS CAST OF THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL RACE AND WILL HELP DETERMINE WHICH REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE WILL BE THE PARTY NOMINEE TO CHALLENGE PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA. JINDAL TRAVELED TO THE STATE MONDAY AND CAMPAIGNED WITH THE GOVERNOR OF TEXAS AS PERRY MADE HIS LAST PITCH TO IOWA VOTERS.

BP IS REITERATING CLAIMS FIRST MADE LAST APRIL THAT IT IS ENTITLED TO PAYMENT FROM CONTRACTOR HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERVICES FOR EXPENSES AND LOST PROFITS RESULTING FROM THE 2010 DEEPWATER HORIZON OFFSHORE OIL WELL DISASTER.
BP'S LATEST FILING WAS MADE MONDAY IN FEDERAL COURT IN NEW ORLEANS, WHERE COMPLEX LITIGATION INVOLVING VARIOUS COMPANIES INVOLVED IN THE DISASTER IS PLAYING OUT. BP HAS ACCUSED HOUSTON-BASED HALLIBURTON OF BOTCHING THE CEMENT JOB MEANT TO SEAL THE WELL. HALLIBURTON SAYS BP IS TRYING TO SADDLE HALLIBURTON WITH FAR MORE THAN ITS SHARE OF THE LEGAL BURDEN.

SIX TEENAGERS WERE ARRESTED TUESDAY ON A VARIETY OF CHARGES STEMMING FROM WHAT LAFOURCHE PARISH AUTHORITIES DESCRIBED AS GANG-RELATED ACTIVITY THAT LED TO THE DEATH OF A 15-YEAR-OLD BOY. SHERIFF CRAIG WEBRE SAID THE TEENAGERS, ALL FROM THIBODAUX, WERE IN THE SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE AT THE TIME THE BOY WAS SHOT TO DEATH LATE MONDAY.

OFFICIALS ARE REPORTING A SHARP INCREASE IN AUTO SALES FOR 2011 AS THAT INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO REBOUND FROM A 30-YEAR-LOW IN 2009. BOB ISRAEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE STATE'S AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION SAYS ISRAEL SAYS THE PASSENGER CAR MARKET IS STRONGER THAN IT'S EVER BEEN. HE SAYS THEY SAW A 24-PERCENT INCREASE IN SALES IN 2011.

God Bless America!

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