KSYL Local News

News For Thursday 01/19/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 011912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NO WORD YET AS TO WHAT THE COMPANY IS, BUT, AN INTERNATIONAL COMPANY WHO IS CONSIDERING A LOCATION IN ALEXANDRIA IS HOLDING A JOB FAIR FRIDAY.
THE FAIR WILL BE FROM 10 A.M. TO 6 P.M. FRIDAY IN THE RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM'S EXHIBITION HALL ON COLISEUM BLVD. THE COMPANY, WHICH HOPES TO HIRE SEVERAL HUNDRED EMPLOYEES, IS EVALUATING CANDIDATES FOR THREE DIFFERENT POSITIONS, CUSTOMER SERVICE CONSULTANT, HELP DESK TECHNICAL SUPPORT AND MORTGAGE UNDERWRITER. FOR MORE INFORMATION, INCLUDING DETAILED JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS, OR TO SUBMIT A RÉSUMÉ, VISIT WWW.JOBSINALEX.COM.

STATE POLICE REPORT AN ON-DUTY CALCASIEU PARISH DEPUTY WAS KILLED YESTERDAY, IN A HEAD-ON CRASH IN SULPHUR. 41-YEAR-OLD DEPUTY RANDALL LEE BENOIT WAS NORTHBOUND ON STATE HIGHWAY 1256, WHEN A SOUTHBOUND CAR CROSSED THE CENTER LINE AND HIT HIM. HIS PATROL CAR WAS THEN REAR-ENDED BY ANOTHER NORTHBOUND VEHICLE. FOR WHATEVER REASON, BENOIT WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT, AND SUSTAINED SEVERE INJURIES IN THE CRASH. HE DIED LATER AT A NEARBY HOSPITAL. STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING AND TOXICOLOGY TESTS ARE ORDERED ON ALL DRIVERS INVOLVED.

THE GREATER ALEXANDRIA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OR GAEDA HAS HANDED OUT MORE THAN $136,000 IN GRANTS TO SEVERAL LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS. THE BIGGEST OF THOSE GRANTS WAS AWARDED TO THE PORT OF ALEXANDRIA, WHICH RECEIVED $100,000 TOWARD ITS EXPANSION EFFORTS. THE GAEDA BOARD ALSO PASSED GRANTS OF $16,600 FOR ARTISTS' WORKSHOPS AT RIVER OAKS SQUARE ARTS CENTER; $10,000 (FOR TWO YEARS) TO THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE; AND $5,000 EACH TO A NSU FRATERNITY TO SPONSOR THE 12TH ANNUAL GOLDEN EXPLOSION STEP SHOW TO BE HELD APRIL 21 AT THE RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM, AND TO THE FRIENDS OF THE ALEXANDRIA MUSEUM OF ART TO SPONSOR THE 2012 LOUISIANA DRAGON BOAT RACES TO BE HELD MAY 12 ON THE RED RIVER.

A PINEVILLE ROOFING CONTRACTOR HAS PLEADED GUILTY IN 9TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT TO TWO COUNTS OF ILLEGALLY DISPOSING WASTE BY BURNING ASBESTOS-LADEN SHINGLES AND OTHER MATERIALS IN DEVILLE. THE STATE DEQ ACCUSED 62 YEAR OLD WALTER SMITH THE OWNER OF RAPIDES ROOFING AND HOME REPAIR, OF INSTRUCTING HIS EMPLOYEES TO BURN THE DISCARDED SHINGLES AT PROPERTY HE OWNS IN DEVILLE ON TWO DIFFERENT OCCASIONS. JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER SENTENCED SMITH TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON AT HARD LABOR, WHICH WAS SUSPENDED, AND THREE YEARS PROBATION. YEAGER ALSO ORDERED SMITH TO PAY A $3,000 FINE, $2,000 TO DEQ FOR THE COST OF THE INVESTIGATION AND $1,000 TO THE DA'S OFFICE FOR THE COST OF PROSECUTION. SMITH WAS ALSO ORDERED TO PUBLISH A PUBLIC APOLOGY IN THE TOWN TALK.

ST. TAMMANY PARISH DEPUTIES SAY A PEARL RIVER WOMAN CONCEALED THE BIRTH OF HER BABY FROM HER FAMILY, THEN ABANDONED THE CHILD IN A BACKYARD, AND WENT OFF TO WORK. 35-YEAR-OLD KIMBERLY LEE'S BABY WAS FOUND BY HER TWO OLDER KIDS, WHO CALLED 911. THE INFANT IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION. LEE WILL FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES INCLUDING SECOND DEGREE CRUELTY TO A JUVENILE AND CHILD DESERTION.

A RESPECTED FORMER STATE REPRESENTATIVE FROM LAFAYETTE, ERNIE ALEXANDER, HAS PASSED AWAY, AFTER FIGHTING A LONG BATTLE WITH CANCER. ALEXANDER WAS WELL KNOWN IN THE ACADIANA AREA AND SERVED IN THE LEGISLATURE FROM 2000-2008. HE INHERITED THE HOUSE SEAT WHEN MIKE MICHOT JOINED THE SENATE. MICHOT SAYS ALEXANDER WAS A GREAT LEADER. MOST HOW KNEW HIM WOULD AGREE, A GREAT GUY AS WELL.

A GROUP OF LOUISIANA CIVIL ENGINEERS HAS PUT OUT ITS FIRST-EVER REPORT CARD GRADING THE STATE OF LOUISIANA'S ROADS, BRIDGES, LEVEES, DAMS AND OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE. THE SCORES ARE LOW. THE STATE CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS SPENT 18 MONTHS STUDYING DATA, COVERING NINE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES. LOUISIANA'S ROADS RECEIVED A "D'' AND ITS BRIDGES RECEIVED A "D+." THE HIGHEST GRADE WENT TO DAMS, MOST OF WHICH ARE PRIVATELY-OWNED AND MAINTAINED. THEY RECEIVED A "B-." KAM MOVASSAGHI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PROJECT TEAM AND A FORMER STATE TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY, SAYS THE GROUP ISN'T MAKING FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS, BUT IS ASKING THE GOVERNOR AND LAWMAKERS TO DEVISE A PLANNING PROCESS FOR HOW TO REPAIR AND MAINTAIN THE STATE'S CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE.

A DAY AFTER UNVEILING BIG PLANS FOR CHANGING PUBLIC EDUCATION IN LOUISIANA, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HIT THE ROAD TO PROMOTE THE PLAN. JINDAL VISITED STUDENTS AT A CHARTER SCHOOL IN NEW ORLEANS ON WEDNESDAY. AND HE HELD A NEWS CONFERENCE TO TOUT HIS PROPOSALS, WHICH INCLUDE A PLAN TO MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR TEACHERS TO EARN TENURE; A PLAN TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR INDEPENDENT CHARTER ORGANIZATIONS TO OPEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS; AND A PROPOSAL TO EXPAND A NEW ORLEANS PROGRAM THAT LETS LOW-INCOME FAMILIES USE STATE MONEY FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION IF THEIR CHILDREN ATTEND FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE STATE'S LARGEST TEACHER UNIONS AND OTHER CRITICS SAY THE JINDAL PLANS WILL UNDERMINE TEACHER MORALE AND TAKE NEEDED MONEY AWAY FROM PUBLIC EDUCATION

THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT, WHICH OVERSEES SCHOOLS TAKEN OVER BY THE STATE FOR POOR PERFORMANCE, HAS A NEW SUPERINTENDENT. PATRICK DOBARD'S HIRING TO LEAD THE RSD WAS APPROVED WEDNESDAY BY THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION. HE'LL GET AN ANNUAL PAY PACKAGE OF $246,600, UNDER A FOUR-YEAR CONTRACT THAT TAKES EFFECT IMMEDIATELY. DOBARD, WHO HAD BEEN A TOP RSD DEPUTY, WAS CHOSEN FOR THE JOB BY NEW STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE, WHO HAD LED THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT UNTIL LAST WEEK WHEN HE WAS APPOINTED BY BESE TO BE STATE EDUCATION CHIEF. DOBARD'S APPOINTMENT ALSO WAS BACKED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT OVERSEES 96 SCHOOLS AND MORE THAN 30,000 STUDENTS AROUND THE STATE, MOST OF THEM IN NEW ORLEANS.

NOTICES OF IMPENDING LAYOFFS HAVE GONE OUT TO EMPLOYEES OF SEVEN LSU PUBLIC HOSPITALS AS SYSTEM EXECUTIVES PREPARE TO IMPLEMENT $29 MILLION IN JINDAL ADMINISTRATION BUDGET CUTS. THE NOTICE FROM HOSPITAL SYSTEM CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER ROXANE TOWNSEND SAYS THE LAYOFFS WOULD BE EFFECTIVE MARCH 5. THE NOTICES ARE GENERAL IN NATURE AND DO NOT SPECIFIC HOW MANY JOBS AT EACH FACILITY ARE ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK. HOWEVER, LSU SYSTEM VICE PRESIDENT FRED CERISE SAID "IT'S GOING TO BE IN THE HUNDREDS ACROSS THE SYSTEM."

"RAGIN CAJUNS" IS THE LATEST REALITY T-V SHOW TAPED IN LOUISIANA TO REACH CABLE TELEVISION. THE SHOW THAT FOLLOWS SIX LOUISIANA SHRIMPERMEN DEBUTED TUESDAY NIGHT ON THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL. BUT DO THESE SHOWS GIVE LOUISIANA A BAD IMAGE? LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE DOESN'T THINK SO AND HE BELIEVES THE VIEWING AUDIENCE IS SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW NOT EVERYONE IN LOUISIANA HAS A THICK ACCENT AND WORKS IN THE BAYOU. HE SAYS REALITY SHOW PRODUCERS TARGET LOUISIANA BECAUSE OF THE INTERESTING LIFESTYLES HERE AND THE FILM PRODUCTION TAX CREDITS OFFERED BY THE BAYOU STATE.

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS WILL BE GETTING $55 MILLION IN EMERGENCY FUNDS TO PAY FOR DREDGING THE SILTING MISSISSIPPI RIVER — A SUM THAT WILL HELP THE CORPS MAINTAIN THE RIVER'S CHANNEL TO DEPTHS SHIPS NEED TO SAFELY MOVE UP AND DOWN THE WATERWAY. RACHEL RODI, A CORPS SPOKESWOMAN, SAYS THE MONEY INCREASES THE CORPS' ABILITY TO DREDGE THE RIVER AND "EASES CONCERNS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR." THE CORPS HAD ABOUT $70 MILLION THIS YEAR FOR DREDGING. WITH THE NEW FUNDS, THE CORPS WILL HAVE MORE THAN $120 MILLION, WHICH IS MORE THAN THE CORPS HAS GOTTEN IN YEARS PAST FOR DREDGING.

THE STATE WILL DISMISS CHARGES AGAINST AN ALLEN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER WHO WAS ACCUSED OF STEALING MONEY FROM COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT IF HE AGREES TO RESIGN HIS BOARD SEAT AND REPAY THE CASINO. KEITH WELCH OF OAKDALE WAS TO STAND TRIAL ON FELONY AND MISDEMEANOR THEFT CHARGES TUESDAY. HE PLEADED NOT GUILTY LAST APRIL. KURT WALL OF THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE SAID TUESDAY THAT WELCH ENTERED A PRETRIAL. UNDER THE AGREEMENT, WELCH MUST RESIGN FROM THE SCHOOL BOARD BY APRIL 1. WALL SAID WELCH MUST ALSO PAY THE STATE $2,000, WHICH WILL BE DISBURSED TO THE CASINO TO COVER ITS LOSSES. STATE POLICE SAID WELCH TOOK MONEY FROM SEVERAL MACHINES WHILE EMPLOYED AS A KIOSK DROP TEAM MANAGER.

FORMER LSU FOOTBALL STAR AND SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC DIRECTOR GREG LAFLEUR HAS BEEN ACQUITTED OF SOLICITING PROSTITUTION. LAFLEUR WAS ARRESTED LAST APRIL IN HOUSTON DURING THE FINAL FOUR WEEKEND. LAFLEUR'S ATTORNEY, JED SILVERMAN, SAYS HIS INVESTIGATION UNCOVERED THAT THE HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, TRYING TO MEET A QUOTA, OVER STEPPED THEIR BOUNDS. HE SAYS THIS WAS CLEAR TO THE SIX-MAN JURY. AFTER LAFLEUR'S ARREST, HE WAS TERMINATED BY SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR. SILVERMAN SAYS LAFLEUR'S REPUTATION HAS BEEN DESTROYED AND IT'S UNFORTUNATE SOUTHERN DID NOT PRESUME LAFLEUR'S INNOCENCE WITHOUT CONDUCTING A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION. LAFLEUR HAS FILED A WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST SOUTHERN.





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