KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 02/08/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 020812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD VOTED TUESDAY TO RESTORE A YEARLY STIPEND TO PSYCHOLOGISTS, SOCIAL WORKERS, SPEECH PATHOLOGISTS AND AUDIOLOGISTS. THE BOARD ALSO PLANS TO LOOK FOR FUNDS TO RESTORE SOME OR ALL OF A 15 PERCENT CUT TO EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. THE CUTS WERE MADE IN APRIL AS PART OF AN EFFORT TO MAKE UP A PROJECTED SHORTFALL OF MORE THAN $5 MILLION. THE BOARD APPEARS READY TO REINSTATE THE EXTRACURRICULAR FUNDS CUT OUT OF THE BUDGET. SCHOOLS WERE LEFT TO THEIR OWN DEVICES TO FIND WAYS TO REIMBURSE THE DISTRICT TO MAKE UP FOR THE CUT. HOWEVER, SEVERAL MONTHS INTO THAT PLAN, SUPERINTENDENT GARY L. JONES SAID, "THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO DO IT."

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL YESTERDAY AWARDED A CONSULTING CONTRACT TO ALEXANDRIA ARCHITECTURE FIRM BARRON, HEINBERG & BROCATO FOR IMPROVEMENTS AT THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL. THE FIRM WAS ONE OF FOUR THAT SUBMITTED PROPOSALS TO THE CITY FOR ROOF REPLACEMENT, WATER INTRUSION REMEDIES AND OTHER DEFERRED MAINTENANCE, INCLUDING THE CONSTRUCTION OF ELEVATORS, AT THE FULTON HOTEL.

ON HIS PUSH FOR SWEEPING CHANGE TO THE WAY LOUISIANA EDUCATES ITS STUDENTS, REPUBLICAN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS AN UNLIKELY ALLY IN DEMOCRATIC U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU. THOUGH THE TWO HAVE NOT TYPICALLY BEEN PARTNERS IN POLITICS, BOTH LEADERS SUPPORT THE EXPANSION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS, CHANGES TO THE TEACHER JOB PROTECTION SYSTEM CALLED TENURE AND THE INCREASE OF CHOICES FOR PARENTS SEEKING TO GET THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF FAILING SCHOOLS. IN HER SUPPORT FOR SOME OF JINDAL'S IDEAS, LANDRIEU IS BUCKING THE TRADITIONAL PRO-DEMOCRAT TEACHER UNIONS. BUT DIVISIONS REMAIN. LANDRIEU SAYS JINDAL'S FOCUSING TOO HEAVILY ON CREATING A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT FUNNELS STATE TAXPAYER MONEY INTO PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION. AND SHE WANTS MORE SPENDING ON SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION, AN ISSUE JINDAL HASN'T RAISED.

SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ARE MEETING WITH THE STATE'S NEW PUBLIC EDUCATION LEADER, JOHN WHITE, TO DISCUSS GOVERNOR JINDAL'S EDUCATION REFORM PLANS. LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS PRESIDENT MICHAEL FAULK SAYS THEY HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL TO EXPAND VOUCHERS STATEWIDE FOR STUDENTS WHO ATTEND STRUGGLING PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE GOVERNOR IS ALSO PUSHING CHANGES TO THE STATE'S PRE-K PROGRAMS. JINDAL WANTS TO EXPAND PRE-K AND ASSIGN LETTER GRADES TO PROGRAMS BASED ON KINDERGARTEN READINESS. FAULK SAYS THEY APPLAUD THIS IDEA, BECAUSE STRONG PRE-K PROGRAMS BENEFIT K-THROUGH-12 SCHOOLS..

A $365 MILLION EXPANSION OF NUSTAR ENERGY LP'S CRUDE OIL TERMINAL ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IS EXPECTED TO CREATE 32 NEW JOBS IN ST. JAMES PARISH. THE COMPANY AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID TUESDAY THAT THE NEW JOBS WILL PAY AN AVERAGE OF $98,000 ANNUALLY WITH BENEFITS. THE TEXAS-BASED COMPANY ALSO WILL KEEP 23 EXISTING JOBS AT ITS ST. JAMES TANK FARM. WORK ON THE EXPANSION, TO INCREASE NUSTAR'S TANK STORAGE CAPACITY FROM 8 MILLION BARRELS TO 11 MILLION BARRELS, IS EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED IN 2016.

CINDY ROUGEOU, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE LOUISIANA STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM SAID YESTERDAY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSED CHANGES TO BENEFITS FOR STATE WORKERS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, UNNECESSARILY HARSH AND UNFAIR TO EMPLOYEES VESTED IN THE SYSTEM AND THAT THE GOVERNOR IS TARGETING WORKERS WHO ARE BARRED FROM LOBBYING ON THEIR OWN BEHALF, THOSE LEAST ABLE TO SPEAK UP IN OPPOSITION. IN A THREE-PAGE WRITTEN RESPONSE TO THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSALS, ROUGEOU SAID THE CHANGES WOULD BREAK A PROMISE MADE TO EMPLOYEES WHEN THEY WERE HIRED ABOUT THE BENEFITS THEY WOULD RECEIVE. TO CHANGE PROVISIONS SUCH AS THOSE TARGETED WOULD VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RESTRICTION AGAINST IMPAIRING EXISTING BENEFITS. NO COMMENTS FROM THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WILL REVEAL HIS EXECUTIVE BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR THE STATE'S NEXT FISCAL YEAR TOMORROW. THE STATE IS LOOKING AT A REVENUE SHORTFALL OF NEARLY A $900-MILLION. SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JACK DONAHUE, OF MANDEVILLE, SAYS HE'S PREPARING FOR ANOTHER TOUGH BUDGET STRUGGLE IN THE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR. SENATOR DONAHUE SAYS STATE REVENUES HAVE COME UP SHY OF THE MARK AGAIN THIS YEAR, AND HE SAYS IT'S LARGELY BECAUSE CORPORATE TAX COLLECTIONS ARE DOWN.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S TOP BUDGET ADVISER HAS AGREED TO PARTICIPATE IN A YEAR-LONG PROGRAM FOR DWI OFFENDERS INSTEAD OF STANDING TRIAL FOR HIS RECENT DRUNKEN DRIVING CHARGE. COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER WAS ARRESTED DEC. 10 ON FIRST-OFFENSE DWI, RECKLESS OPERATION OF A VEHICLE AND FAILURE TO OBEY A STOP SIGN OR YIELD SIGN.

THREE MEN HAVE BEEN SENTENCED TO PRISON TERMS FOR TYING A NOOSE AROUND A DEAD RACCOON'S NECK AND HANGING IT FROM A FLAGPOLE TO INTIMIDATE BLACK STUDENTS AT A NORTH LOUISIANA SCHOOL. THE THREE MEN PLEADED GUILTY LAST YEAR TO CHARGES THEY HUNG THE DEAD RACCOON OUTSIDE BEEKMAN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL IN MOREHOUSE PARISH IN 2007 OUT OF ANGER ABOUT THE SCHOOL'S NEW BUSING POLICY, WHICH HAD INCREASED THE NUMBER OF BLACK STUDENTS.

AN ENGINEERING FIRM WITH AN OFFICE IN BATON ROUGE SAYS IT HAS RECEIVED A CONTRACT FROM METHANEX CORP., A MAJOR PRODUCER OF METHANOL, TO PROVIDE SERVICES IF METHANEX DECIDES TO MOVE ONE OF ITS IDLE PLANTS FROM CHILE TO LOUISIANA. JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP INC. ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT IT HAS A CONTRACT FROM METHANEX FOR ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION WORK AT THE 225-ACRE SITE IN GEISMAR. VANCOUVER-BASED METHANEX HAS SAID IT WOULD MAKE A FINAL DECISION ON WHETHER TO BRING THE PLANT TO LOUISIANA DURING THE THIRD QUARTER. PRODUCTION WOULD BEGIN IN THE SECOND HALF OF 2014. THE COMPANY HAS NOT SAID HOW MANY JOBS WOULD BE CREATED.

THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS HAS APPROVED MERGING THE LSU AGCENTER'S DEPARTMENT OF VETERINARY SCIENCE INTO ITS SCHOOL OF ANIMAL SCIENCES.
AGCENTER CHANCELLOR BILL RICHARDSON SAYS THE MERGER WILL STRENGTHEN RESEARCH AND EXTENSION PROGRAMS IN BOTH UNITS AND COMPLEMENT THEIR MOVE INTO A BUILDING UNDER CONSTRUCTION. RICHARDSON SAYS THERE'S SUBSTANTIAL OVERLAP BETWEEN THE UNITS, WITH ANIMAL SCIENCE CONSIDERING ALL ASPECTS OF ANIMAL SCIENCE AND VETERINARY SCIENCE FOCUSING ON DISEASES

THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE SAYS A RETIREMENT SYSTEM, WHICH PROVIDES BENEFITS FOR OFFICERS PATROLLING THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS, IS ON PACE TO RUN OUT OF MONEY AS EARLY AS 2020 UNLESS CHANGES ARE MADE TO THE PENSION FUND. THE REPORT FOUND THAT THE PENSION SYSTEM WAS ABOUT 56 PERCENT FUNDED AS OF FISCAL YEAR 2010, MEANING THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY THE TOTAL OBLIGATIONS OWED TO CURRENT RETIREES.

THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS ANOTHER FINANCIAL PROBLEM TO OVERCOME. A $240,000 EXPENSE THAT PREVIOUSLY WAS PAID FOR BY STATE OR FEDERAL FUNDING WAS NOT BUDGETED FOR THIS YEAR. THE SCHOOL SYSTEM RECENTLY DISCOVERED THAT THIS FISCAL YEAR'S BUDGET DID NOT ACCOUNT FOR SUMMER SCHOOL FOR FOURTH- AND EIGHTH-GRADERS WHO FAIL THE STATE STANDARDIZED LEAP TEST REQUIRED FOR PROMOTION TO THE NEXT GRADE.

THE ST. MARTIN PARISH DA'S OFFICE SAYS IT WILL SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY AGAINST HELLEN DUPIS AND TONIE DUPIS. BOTH ARE CHARGED WITH THE DEATH OF 83-YEAR OLD JESSIE MESSEX OF BREAUX BRIDGE. SHE WAS THE MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER OF THE TWO WOMEN. INVESTIGATORS SAY THE PAIR MOVED IN WITH MESSEX AFTER SHE HAD A STROKE. NO MOTIVE FOR THE APPARENT MURDER HAS BEEN RELEASED AS OF
YET.

FIVE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES HAVE AGREED TO PAY LOUISIANA A COMBINED $25-MILLION TO SETTLE CLAIMS THEY FUDGED ON DRUG PRICING TO INFLATE MEDICAID REIMBURSEMENTS. THE COMPANIES ARE GLAXOSMITHKLINE, SHERING-PLOUGH, ACTAVIS, BOEHRINGER INGELHAIM AND DEY PHARMACEUTICAL.

A COMMISSIONER IN CADDO PARISH WHO IS TRYING TO BAN THE WEARING OF PAJAMA PANTS IN PUBLIC IS MOVING FORWARD WITH THE ORDINANCE. MICHAEL WILLIAMS SAYS HE WOULD LIKE TO MEET WITH PARISH ATTORNEY CHARLES GRUBB TO WRITE THE ORDINANCE WITH SIMILAR LANGUAGE AS THE CITY OF SHREVEPORT'S "SAGGY PANTS POLICY". FELLOW CADDO COMMISSIONER JOHN ESCUDE SAYS HE CANNOT SUPPORT THE
BAN. HE SAYS HE'S ASHAMED THAT THIS ISSUE HAS GOTTEN NATIONAL ATTENTION.

IT'S BEEN ALMOST 48 HOURS NOW AND STATE POLICE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR A VEHICLE THAT WAS INVOLVED IN A FATAL ACCIDENT THAT KILLED A PEDESTRIAN IN WALKER. ST POLICE TROOPER RUSSELL GRAHAM SAYS A PICKUP TRUCK HIT A WHITE FORD EXPLORER FROM BEHIND WHEN IT WAS STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. THIS CAUSED THE TRUCK TO VEER AND RUN OVER AND KILL THE PEDESTRIAN AND SMASH INTO A HOUSE. THE WHITE FORD EXPLORER FLED THE SCENE.

IT WASN’T YOUR AVERAGE SCUFFLE. 12 TEENAGERS IN SHREVEPORT HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH FIGHTING ON A SCHOOL BUS. THE DRIVER JUST HAPPENED TO BE PASSING THE SHREVEPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT WHEN THE FIGHT BROKE OUT. SO SHE DID THE BEST THING SHE KNEW TO DO.. SHE PULLED INTO THE POLICE STATION PARKING LOT. IT TOOK TEN OFFICERS TO PUT STOP TO THE FIGHT
BETWEEN STUDENTS AT THE HAMILTON TERRACE LEARNING CENTER. SERGENT
BILL GOODIN SAYS THE CAUSE OF THE ALTERCATION IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

God Bless America!

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