KSYL Local News

News For Monday 01/16/2012


NEWS FOR MONDAY 011612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THE CURRENT FLU SEASON HAS BEEN MILD. DR. FRANK WELCH IS THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HOSPITALS INFLUENZA EXPERT. HE SAYS THERE HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN RELATIVELY FEW REPORTED FLU CASES ACROSS THE STATE SO FAR. WELCH SAYS THE ONE PREDICTABLE THING ABOUT FLU IS THAT IT'S UNPREDICTABLE AND THE FLU SEASON IS FAR FROM OVER.

STATE OFFICES IN LOUISIANA ARE CLOSED ON MONDAY IN OBSERVANCE OF THE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY HOLIDAY. FEDERAL OFFICES, LOCAL SCHOOLS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS ALSO WILL BE CLOSED FOR THE DAY, THOUGH MANY BUSINESSES WILL BE OPEN. U.S. FINANCIAL MARKETS AND MANY BANKS ALSO WILL BE CLOSED.

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY IS AN OFF TODAY FOR MANY LOUISIANA RESIDENTS, BUT STATE OFFICIALS ARE URGING CITIZENS TO GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY IN HONOR OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF VOLUNTEER LOUISIANA, JANET PACE, SAYS A LIST OF PROJECTS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH, CAN BE FOUND AT VOLUNTEER LOUISIANA-DOT-GOV. PACE SAYS THERE ARE MANY SERVICE PROJECTS THAT ARE TAKING PLACE TODAY AND OTHERS THAT ARE YEAR ROUND.

FORMER LOUISIANA SENATE PRESIDENT SAMMY NUNEZ, A CHAMPION OF VARIOUS CAUSES AND AN ALLY OF EDWIN EDWARDS WHO SERVED IN THE LEGISLATURE FROM 1964 UNTIL HE WAS SWEPT OUT OF OFFICE IN AN ANTI-INCUMBENT WAVE THREE DECADES LATER, HAS DIED. HE WAS 81. HIS WIFE, CYNTHIA NUNEZ, SAID NUNEZ HAD PARKINSON'S DISEASE AND WAS HOSPITALIZED MORE THAN A MONTH AGO WITH PNEUMONIA. HE DIED SUNDAY OF COMPLICATIONS

STATE ELECTION OFFICIALS WANT TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR VOTERS TO REQUEST ABSENTEE BALLOTS. A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD ALLOW ELECTRONIC APPLICATIONS VIA THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S WEBSITE IS HEADED TO THE 2012 LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE FOR APPROVAL. THE IDEA IS INCLUDED IN A PROPOSED OMNIBUS BILL THAT SEEKS MORE THAN THREE DOZEN CHANGES TO THE STATE LAWS GOVERNING ELECTIONS DEALING WITH SUCH THINGS AS A NEW DATE OF A MAJOR ELECTION, DEAD VOTER ELECTION CHALLENGES, TIMING OF SPECIAL MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS AND SHORTENING OF BALLOT PROPOSITION LANGUAGE.

TWO PEOPLE DIED IN IBERVILLE PARISH EARLY SUNDAY WHEN THEIR UTILITY TERRAIN VEHICLE VEERED INTO A DITCH AND CRASHED INTO AN EMBANKMENT. THE DRIVER OF THE VEHICLE, MATTHEW VERRET SURVIVED THE CRASH, BUT IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION. THE TWO PASSENGERS, 18 YEAR OLD BROOKLYN LANDRY, AND 27 YEAR OLD BRENDAN LANDRY DIED FROM THEIR INJURIES. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED AT 3AM ON SUNDAY. TROOPERS DO NOT SUSPECT VERRET WAS IMPAIRED.

A NEW IBERIA MOTORCYCLIST DIED SATURDAY WHEN AN ALLEGED DRUNKEN DRIVER RAN A STOP SIGN AND HIT HIM. STATE POLICE ARRESTED TINA TAYLOR, 43, OF CHURCH POINT, ON A COUNT OF VEHICULAR HOMICIDE IN THE DEATH OF 35-YEAR-OLD TONY GUERRERO.


THERE HAVE BEEN STARTUP PROBLEMS IN THE FIRST PHASE OF A PRIVATIZED "BAYOU HEALTH" CARE SYSTEM FOR LOUISIANA'S POOR AND UNINSURED. ONLY ABOUT 12 PERCENT OF ELIGIBLE MEDICAID RECIPIENTS IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA HAVE ENROLLED WITH ONE OF FIVE PRIVATE HEALTH PLANS SCHEDULED TO TAKE OVER THEIR CARE IN FEBRUARY.
BEGINNING MONDAY, THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION WILL START ASSIGNING THE REMAINING QUARTER-MILLION UNSIGNED PARTICIPANTS TO ONE OF THE COMPANIES. DOCTORS, HOSPITALS AND OTHER HEALTH-CARE PROVIDERS HAVE RAISED SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NEW PROGRAM THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS HAS HELD DAILY CONFERENCE CALLS WITH THEM. CALLERS COMPLAIN OF LONG WAIT TIMES WHEN PHONING FOR INFORMATION

HEALTH OFFICIALS AND NONPROFIT GROUPS HAVE SETTLED A LAWSUIT OVER THE LONG-TERM PERSONAL CARE SERVICES PART OF LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID PROGRAM. THE ADVOCACY CENTER AND AARP FOUNDATION LITIGATION CONTENDED THAT A 32-HOUR LIMIT ON IN-HOME PERSONAL CARE WOULD FORCE SOME PEOPLE INTO NURSING HOMES. THEY SAID THAT VIOLATED THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT. IN A NEWS RELEASE, THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT SAYS PEOPLE WHO WERE GETTING MORE THAN 32 HOURS OF CARE WHEN THE CAP WAS ADOPTED IN SEPTEMBER 2010, AND NOW ARE APPROVED FOR FEWER HOURS, CAN GET SPED-UP ACCESS TO A WAIVER PROGRAM. SLOTS WILL GO TO PEOPLE WHO CAN SHOW THEY NEED MORE IN-HOME CARE TO STAY OUT OF A NURSING HOME.

MARCUS HUNTER HAS BEEN CLEARED BY ATTORNEY BUDDY CALDWELL TO SERVE IN THE LOUISIANA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. CALDWELL ISSUED AN OPINION LAST WEEK, SAYING HIS INVESTIGATION SHOWED HUNTER MET RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS. HUNTER, A MONROE DEMOCRAT, NARROWLY WON ELECTION IN NOVEMBER. CALDWELL SAID HIS INVESTIGATORS MADE TWO UNANNOUNCED VISITS TO HUNTER'S RESIDENCE IN MONROE AND FOUND HUNTER WAS LIVING THERE. IT WAS THE SECOND TIME A CHALLENGE TO HUNTER'S RESIDENCY HAS FAILED. THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE HAD FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST HUNTER ON BEHALF OF A COMPLAINANT AFTER HUNTER QUALIFIED TO RUN FOR THE OFFICE. A STATE DISTRICT JUDGE DISMISSED THE CASE IN SEPTEMBER, SAYING THE COMPLAINANT WASN'T A REGISTERED VOTER.

A LONG ANTICIPATED PLANT THAT WILL PRODUCE DOOR PARTS IS BACK ON TRACK FOR WINN PARISH. JELD-WEN INC. ANNOUNCED FRIDAY THAT THE PLANT BETWEEN WINNFIELD AND JONESBORO WILL OPEN BY THE END OF 2012. THE $120 MILLION FACILITY WILL EMPLOY 75 PEOPLE AN ANNUAL PAYROLL EXCEEDING $2.5 MILLION. THE PROJECT IS EXPECTED TO GENERATE AN ADDITIONAL 117 INDIRECT JOBS. THE PLANS FOR THE PROJECT WERE ORIGINALLY ANNOUNCED IN 2006, BUT IT WAS PUT ON HOLD IN 2007 DUE TO ECONOMIC CONDITIONS, PARTICULARLY IN THE HOUSING MARKET.

NEW RULES ARE IN EFFECT FOR THE MULTISTATE POWERBALL GAME. LOUISIANA LOTTERY SPOKESPERSON KIM CHOPIN SAYS THE STARTING JACKPOT FOR THE POWERBALL GAME HAS DOUBLED FROM 20-MILLION TO 40-MILLION DOLLARS. ON THE DOWN SIDE, THE COST OF A TICKET HAS AS WELL, GOING FROM $1 TO $2 DOLLARS. NOBODY WON THE TOP PRIZE OVER THE WEEKEND, SO WEDNESDAY'S ESTIMATED JACKPOTS RISE TO $80 MILLION FOR THE MULTI-STATE POWERBALL DRAWING.


NEW DATA FROM BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INSURANCE COMMISSIONERS SHOWS THAT HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE PREMIUMS IN LOUISIANA REMAIN AMONG THE NATION'S HIGHEST, BUT ARE RISING MUCH MORE SLOWLY THAN THEY DID IN THE FIRST TWO YEARS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA. LOUISIANA REMAINS THE THIRD-MOST EXPENSIVE MARKET IN THE NATION FOR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE, BEHIND TEXAS AND FLORIDA.

THE ST. CHARLES PARISH'S EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER SAYS THERE WASN'T ANY CONNECTION BETWEEN AN OIL FIRE ON THE GROUNDS OF THE WATERFORD 1 AND 2 POWER PLANTS AND A POWER FAILURE THAT AFFECTED HUNDREDS OF HAHNVILLE HOMES AND BUSINESSES. NO ONE WAS HURT IN THE FIRE, WHICH WAS REPORTED ABOUT 8:30 SUNDAY MORNING. POWER WAS RESTORED TO THE AREA ABOUT AN HOUR LATER. ENTERGY SPOKESMAN CARL RHODE SAYS WATERFORD 1 AND 2 ARE POWERED BY FOSSIL FUEL, AND THE FIRE DID NOT AFFECT THE ADJACENT WATERFORD 3 NUCLEAR POWER PLANT.

WITH A LITTLE OVER TWO WEEKS TO GO, LAFAYETTE AND LOUISVILLE ARE NECK AND NECK IN SOUTHERN LIVING'S TASTIEST TOWNS IN THE SOUTH COMPETITION. SENIOR EDITOR PAULA DISBROWE SAYS VOTERS WILL DETERMINE WHICH OF THE 10 TOWNS WILL BE SELECTED AS THE TASTIEST IN THE SOUTH. SHE SAYS THE VOTING ENDS AT ON JANUARY 31ST AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN APRIL'S EDITION OF SOUTHERN LIVING. SO FAR, NEW ORLEANS IS AT A DISTANT THIRD PLACE FOLLOWED BY CHARLESTON IN FOURTH.

A LOUISIANA COMPANY THAT BILLS ITSELF AS THE WORLD'S LARGEST WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTOR OF SWIMMING POOL PRODUCTS IS BECOMING AN OLYMPIC-SIZE TARGET FOR PLAINTIFFS' LAWYERS FILING ANTITRUST LAWSUITS. IN NOVEMBER, POOL CORP. SETTLED CLAIMS BY THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION THAT THE COVINGTON-BASED COMPANY USED ITS "MONOPOLY POWER" TO ELIMINATE WOULD-BE RIVALS BY PRESSURING MANUFACTURERS NOT TO SELL THEIR PRODUCTS TO OTHER DISTRIBUTORS. THE SETTLEMENT, WHICH GOT FINAL FTC APPROVAL ON FRIDAY, HAS SPAWNED A BATCH OF LAWSUITS IN LOUISIANA, CALIFORNIA AND FLORIDA OVER ALLEGATIONS THE COMPANY'S TACTICS DROVE UP PRICES, STIFLED COMPETITION AND LIMITED CONSUMERS' CHOICES.
POOL CORP. DIDN'T PAY ANY MONEY OR ADMIT ANY WRONGDOING IN RESOLVING THE FTC'S COMPLAINT, BUT THAT HASN'T DETERRED PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEYS FROM PURSUING CLASS-ACTION CLAIMS AGAINST THE COMPANY AND TWO OF ITS SUBSIDIARIES.




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