KSYL Local News

News For Friday 03/02/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 030212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

OUR STRING OF RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES IS COMING TO AN ABRUPT END TONIGHT. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS A POTENTIALLY VIOLENT COLD FRONT WILL PASS THROUGH THE STATE TONIGHT BRINGING THUNDER STORMS AND SOME SEVERE WEATHER. KEIM SAYS WEEKEND TEMPERATURES WILL BE MUCH MORE SPRING LIKE. KEIM SAYS WE CAN EXPECT A FEW HOURS OF HEAVY WEATHER IN THE OVERNIGHT HOURS. BUT, HE SAYS, THE ENTIRE STATE WILL ENJOY BEAUTIFUL, SEASONAL WEATHER FOR AS MUCH AS A WEEK AFTER THAT. THE SYSTEM THIS FRONT IS ASSOCIATED WITH IS THE SAME ONE THAT HAS BROUGHT A SERIES OF FATAL AND DESTRUCTIVE TORNADOES TO THE MIDWEST.

THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE ANNOUNCED THURSDAY THAT DOG-DEER HUNTING WILL BE PROHIBITED IN KISATCHIE STARTING WITH THE 2012-13 SEASON. FORESTRY OFFICIALS SAY THEY CONTINUE TO RECEIVE COMPLAINTS ABOUT DOG-DEER HUNTERS FROM ADJACENT LANDOWNERS AND OTHER RECREATION USERS. THE FOREST SERVICE MADE A SIMILAR ANNOUNCEMENT BACK IN 2010, BUT THAT DECISION WAS OVERTURNED. A NEW ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT WAS RELEASED IN DECEMBER, WHICH THE FOREST SERVICE SAID CORRECTED FLAWS IN THE PREVIOUS ASSESSMENTS AND INCLUDED NEW INFORMATION.

MORE THAN 100 FORMER AND RETIRED STATE EMPLOYEES GATHERED AT THE MAIN STREET COMMUNITY CENTER IN PINEVILLE YESTERDAY TO LEARN ABOUT THE MAJOR ISSUES THAT COULD AFFECT THEM IN THE UPCOMING STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. LOCAL AND STATE OFFICIALS, AS WELL AS LEADERS OF LASERS, THE RETIRED STATE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, TALKED ABOUT THE UPCOMING BATTLES AFFECTING BOTH CURRENT AND FORMER STATE EMPLOYEES. AMONG THE RETIREMENT ISSUES AND PROPOSALS BEING ADDRESSED DURING THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS A BILL THAT RAISES THE MINIMUM RETIREMENT AGE TO 67 AND ONE THAT INCREASES EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTION RATES BY 3 PERCENT.

THE MAYOR OF FOREST HILL HAS RESIGNED HIS JOB. IN A STATEMENT, SAM ECHOLS SAID HE HAS SUBMITTED A NOTARIZED LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. HE SAYS WHILE HE MADE HIS INTENTIONS TO RESIGN PUBLIC AT THE LAST VILLAGE COUNCIL MEETING IN JANUARY, HE DELAYED THE OFFICIAL RESIGNATION SO HE COULD COMPLETE SOME OUTSTANDING PROJECTS. ECHOLS SAYS EVEN THOUGH FOREST HILL IS A VILLAGE, THE TIME REQUIRED TO BE AN EFFECTIVE MAYOR REQUIRES MORE THAN HE CAN PROVIDE WITHOUT SACRIFICING HIS COMMITMENT TO HIS FAMILY AND MY EMPLOYER. ECHOLS WAS ELECTED IN OCTOBER 2010, WINNING A THREE-CANDIDATE PRIMARY WITH 62 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. HE SUCCEEDED FOUR-TERM MAYOR MARCIA YOUNG, WHO DID NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION. THE VILLAGE COUNCIL WILL APPOINT AN ACTING MAYOR, WHO WILL SERVE UNTIL A SPECIAL ELECTION IS HELD IN THE FALL FOR A MAYOR TO SERVE THE REMAINDER OF ECHOLS' TERM, A VILLAGE SPOKESPERSON SAID.

LOUISIANA HAS SOLD $400 MILLION IN GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS, BORROWING THAT WILL PAY FOR ONGOING AND PLANNED STATE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. THE ONLINE AUCTION WAS HELD THURSDAY BY THE BOND COMMISSION. THE BONDS WERE AWARDED TO THE LOW BIDDER, J.P. MORGAN SECURITIES. THE STATE ISSUES BONDS TO INVESTORS TO GET UPFRONT CASH FOR PROJECTS, AND THEN PAYS THE DEBT WITH INTEREST OVER SEVERAL YEARS. TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY'S OFFICE SAYS THE $400 MILLION BOND SALE WILL PAY FOR 190 PROJECTS AROUND THE STATE. THE COMMISSION ALSO AGREED TO REFINANCE $49 MILLION IN EXISTING STATE DEBT FOR A LOWER INTEREST RATE THAT WILL SAVE THE STATE MORE THAN $5 MILLION OVER THE REPAYMENT OF THE BORROWING.

THE EARLY MORNING SHOOTING YESTERDAY NEAR CITY PARK IN NEW ORLEANS THAT LEFT
ONE MAN DEAD HAS LEFT TWO NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICERS RECOVERING FROM MULTIPLE GUNSHOT WOUNDS IN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL. BOTH OFFICERS ARE LISTED IN STABLE CONDITION, BUT BOTH FACE A LONG RECOVERY FOLLOWING SURGERY.

IT TOOK A FEW HOURS BUT BATON ROUGE POLICE HAVE ALREADY MADE AN ARREST IN AN EARLY MORNING SHOOTING. 41-YEAR-OLD MICHAEL JOSEPH HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED FIRST DEGREE MURDER OF A PEACE OFFICER. BRPD SPOKESPERSON DON KELLY SYS JOSEPH WAS QUICKLY DEVELOPED AS A SUSPECT IN THE CASE. THE PATROL OFFICER PULLED JOSEPH OVER ON FOR QUESTIONING WHEN THE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE. THE OFFICER WAS STRUCK IN THE CHEST BUT WAS UNHURT BECAUSE HE WAS WEARING HIS BULLET PROOF VEST.

WEST MONROE STATE REPRESENTATIVE FRANK HOFFMAN HAS OFFERED LEGISLATION IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT WOULD EXPAND ON THE CURRENT LOUISIANA SMOKE FREE AIR ACT BY BANNING SMOKING WITHIN 25 FEET OF ANY BUILDING THAT CURRENTLY PROHIBITS SMOKING. THERE HAVE BEEN ATTEMPTS IN RECENT YEARS TO EXPAND THE ACT TO BAN SMOKING IN BARS AND CASINOS. HOFFMAN SAYS THIS BILL WOULD NOT APPLY TO PLACES THAT CURRENTLY ALLOW SMOKING. HOFFMAN SAYS HE WANTS TO APPLY LAWS, ALREADY ON THE BOOKS IN A NUMBER OF LOUISIANA CITIES, STATEWIDE.

A BILL UP FOR DEBATE IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION WOULD CUT THE STATE INCOME TAX RATE FOR PEOPLE EARNING 50-THOUSAND DOLLARS OR MORE. THE BILL BY REPUBLICAN SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER STATE SENATOR BARROW PEACOCK WOULD CUT THE CURRENT RATE FROM 6 TO 4 PERCENT OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. PEACOCK SAYS LOUISIANA IS COMPETING WITH OTHER STATES FOR MORE BUSINESS. PEACOCK IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE OUTMIGRATION OF COLLEGE GRADUATES AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS FROM THE STATE IN RECENT YEARS. HE SAYS CUTTING THE TAX RATE BY 2-PERCENT WOULD MAKE THE STATE MORE COMPETITIVE AND GIVE MORE PEOPLE IN LOUISIANA MORE DISPOSABLE INCOME.

A FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE LOUISIANA GOVERNOR'S PROGRAM ON ABSTINENCE HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO NEARLY SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOLLOWING HER CONVICTION LAST YEAR ON TWO COUNTS OF MAIL FRAUD. U.S. ATTORNEY DONALD J. CAZAYOUX JR. SAID THURSDAY THAT U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE JAMES J. BRADY SENTENCED 64-YEAR-OLD GAIL RAY DIGNAM TO 70 MONTHS IN PRISON. HE ALSO ORDERED DIGNAM TO PAY RESTITUTION AND TO SERVE A YEAR OF SUPERVISED RELEASE AFTER COMPLETING THE PRISON TIME. DIGNAM'S INDICTMENT ALLEGED SHE SECRETLY DIRECTED ABOUT $9,000 IN GOVERNMENT FUNDS TO A SON AND ANOTHER UNIDENTIFIED PERSON.AS PART OF A FRAUDULENT SCHEME

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS AGAIN ATTEMPTING TO BAN CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS FROM FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES, BACKING LEGISLATION THURSDAY THAT WOULD REWRITE A STATE LAW THAT LATER WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY A FEDERAL JUDGE. JINDAL SAID THE PROHIBITION IS AMONG ANTI-CRIME BILLS HE IS PUSHING IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT BEGINS MARCH 12. A FEDERAL JUDGE THREW OUT A LAW PASSED LAST YEAR THAT MADE IT A CRIME FOR ANYONE CONVICTED OF A SEX OFFENSE AGAINST A MINOR OR OF VIDEO VOYEURISM TO USE NETWORKING WEBSITES, CHAT ROOMS AND PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKS. THE JUDGE SAID THE LAW WAS TOO BROAD AND WOULD EFFECTIVELY BAN THOSE SEX OFFENDERS FROM THE INTERNET.

A NEW ORLEANS AREA LAWMAKER IS SPONSORING A PROPOSAL TO BOOST JUDGES' SALARIES ACROSS THE STATE FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS, TO GET THEM TO THE AVERAGE PAID TO THEIR COLLEAGUES ACROSS THE SOUTH. REP. JEFF ARNOLD, A DEMOCRAT, NOTES ON THE BILL THAT HE SPONSORED IT "BY REQUEST." IF THE MEASURE PASSED, LAWMAKERS WOULD NEED TO BACK A SEPARATE APPROPRIATION TO PAY FOR IT.

AMTRAK AND STATE TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS IN TEXAS HAVE AGREED TO STUDY THE FEASIBILITY OF PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE FROM SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY TO DALLAS-FORT WORTH. THE STUDY IS DESIGNED TO DETERMINE COSTS AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED FOR A CONVENTIONAL TRAIN SERVICE SPONSORED BY THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION. UNDER CONSIDERATION IS A SERVICE UNDER WHICH AMTRAK WOULD MAKE UP TO SEVEN STOPS BETWEEN DALLAS-FORT WORTH AND SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY DURING AS MANY AS TWO DAILY ROUNDTRIPS. THE RAIL SEGMENT BETWEEN MARSHALL, TEXAS, AND FORT WORTH IS SERVED NOW BY THE AMTRAK'S TEXAS EAGLE.
SHREVEPORT HAS NOT HAD PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE SINCE DECEMBER 1969 WHEN IT WAS DISCONTINUED PRIOR TO THE FORMATION OF AMTRAK.

AN ALABAMA MAN AWAITS SENTENCING, AFTER HIS CONVICTION THIS WEEK FOR A MURDER IN TERREBONNE PARISH 32 YEARS AGO. A JURY FOUND 55-YEAR-OLD RICKY BROWN GUILTY OF KILLING THEN-23-YEAR-OLD EDITH MCLEROY AND DUMPING HER BODY IN POND. TERREBONNE PARISH DA JOE WAITZ JR. SAYS, AFTER 30 YEARS IN THE COLD CASE FILE, DETECTIVES FINALLY GOT A BREAK IN THE CASE. AFTER A TWO-DAY TRIAL, IT TOOK TERREBONNE PARISH JURORS LESS THAN TWO HOURS TO RETURN WITH A GUILTY VERDICT FOR BROWN ON A CHARGE OF 2ND DEGREE MURDER. HE NOW FACES A MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCE FOR THE CRIME.

THE FIRST PILINGS ARE IN THE GROUND FOR THE $1.1 BILLION HOSPITAL PLANNED TO REPLACE CHARITY HOSPITAL, WHICH HAS SAT EMPTY SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA. TOM RISH, PROJECT MANAGER FOR THE STATE OFFICE OF PLANNING AND CONTROL TOLD THE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER'S BOARD ON THURSDAY THAT EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE A FEW MONTHS LATE IN STARTING THE PROJECT, CONSTRUCTION SHOULD STILL BE COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE.

A NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER WANTS TO GIVE THE GOVERNOR THE AUTHORITY TO CALL IN THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD TO HELP POLICE THE CITY, WHICH HAS SEEN CONTINUED MURDER RATES HIGHER THAN IN OTHER LARGE MUNICIPALITIES. REP. AUSTIN BADON, A DEMOCRAT WHO IS RUNNING FOR A NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL SEAT, IS PROPOSING TO LET THE GOVERNOR DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY TO ACTIVATE THE NATIONAL GUARD WHEN THE MURDER RATE IN A CITY OF 200,000 PEOPLE OR MORE IS 45 HOMICIDES PER 100,000 RESIDENTS OR HIGHER. NEW ORLEANS EXCEEDED THAT RATE IN 2010 AND 2011.

 

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