KSYL Local News

News For Friday 6/1/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 060112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD TOOK THE FIRST STEP THURSDAY TOWARD FINDING A NEW SUPERINTENDENT. AT A SPECIAL MEETING THURSDAY, THE BOARD APPOINTED AN ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO BRING RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE FULL BOARD ABOUT THE SHAPE THE PROCESS TO REPLACE GARY L. JONES SHOULD TAKE. THE BOARD VOTED 5-4 LAST MONTH TO NOT RENEW THE CONTRACT OF JONES, WHO HAS BEEN SUPERINTENDENT SINCE 2003. HIS CONTRACT RUNS THROUGH DECEMBER 31.

LOUISIANA COLLEGE IS PREPARING TO WELCOME HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD TO ITS CAMPUS IN PINEVILLE STARTING THIS FALL. OFFICIALS WITH LC AND PARTNER HORIZON ENGLISH ANNOUNCED THURSDAY THE CREATION OF LOUISIANA COLLEGIATE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY, A DUAL-ENROLLMENT INSTITUTION WHERE HIGH SCHOOL JUNIORS AND SENIORS CAN FINISH THEIR SECONDARY EDUCATION WHILE EARNING COLLEGE CREDIT FROM LC. THREE STUDENTS WHO WERE PARTICIPATING IN DUAL ENROLLMENT AT LC WILL BE THE FIRST OFFICIAL GRADUATES THIS MONTH. THE FIRST FULL CLASS OF STUDENTS WILL ENTER FOR THE 2012-13 SCHOOL YEAR. SCHOOL OFFICIALS EXPECT ABOUT 50 LOCAL STUDENTS AND 8-10 INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS.

THE LOUISIANA BLACK ALLIANCE FOR EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS HAS SCHEDULED MEETINGS IN JUNE TO DISCUSS WITH LOW-INCOME PARENTS THE NEW SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM. THE MEETING IN ALEXANDRIA HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR 5 P.M. THIS MONDAY JUNE 4 AT THE RESOURCE CENTER ON BROADWAY. THE OUTREACH INITIATIVE COINCIDES WITH THE APPLICATION PERIOD FOR THE STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE PROGRAM. THE APPLICATION PERIOD STARTED MAY 22 AND CONTINUES THROUGH THE END OF THE MONTH.

PROPOSALS FOR THREE DEGREES AT LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY AT ALEXANDRIA WILL BE CONSIDERED JUNE 8 WHEN LSU SYSTEMS BOARD OFFICIALS MEET. BOARD MEMBERS WILL CONSIDER LETTERS OF INTENT TO SET UP A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN RADIOLOGIC TECHNOLOGY, A BACHELOR OF ARTS IN CHEMISTRY AND A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENCE. MORE THAN 200 STUDENTS ARE ENROLLED IN LSU-ALEXANDRIA’S ALLIED HEALTH PROGRAMS, WHICH HAVE PRODUCED 250 GRADUATES SINCE 1999, ACCORDING TO THE UNIVERSITY. BOARD MEMBERS ALSO WILL GET AN UPDATE ON THE EFFECTS OF PROPOSED STATE BUDGET CUTS.

DESPITE ALREADY HAVING TWO NAMED STORMS OCCUR, TODAY MARKS THE OFFICIAL START OF THE 2012 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON. STATE EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KEVIN DAVIS SAYS THE TWO RECENT EARLY NAMED STORMS--ALBERTO AND BERYL--SERVE TO REMIND US TO HAVE A STORM PLAN IN PLACE, WITH THE CRITICAL SUPPLIES NEEDED TO EVACUATE READY. FEDERAL STORM FORECASTERS PREDICT NEARLY-NORMAL ACTIVITY; WITH 9-TO-15 NAMED STORMS, 4-TO-8 OF THEM HURRICANES...1-TO-3 OF THOSE BEING MAJOR STORMS.

ACCORDING TO STATE EDUCATION OFFICIALS, LOUISIANA'S DROPOUT RATE HAS FALLEN FOR THE THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR. THE FIGURES SHOW THE DROPOUT RATE THE LAST TWO YEARS FELL 36-PERCENT IN GRADES SEVEN THROUGH 12. THAT MEANS 52-HUNDRED MORE STUDENTS STAYED IN SCHOOL. BESE PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE GAVE CREDIT FOR THE IMPROVEMENT TO A NUMBER OF NEW STATE INITIATIVES, INCLUDING SUCCESS IN DEVELOPING NINTH GRADE ACADEMIES, WHICH WORK WITH HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMEN TO DEVELOP A FOUR-YEAR PLAN. SHE SAYS AN EMPHASIS ON A STRONGER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STUDENT AND SCHOOL COUNSELOR HAS ALSO HELPED.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WILL CLOSE FOUR OF ITS FARM SERVICE AGENCY OFFICES IN LOUISIANA, ONE BEING IN GRANT PARISH, AS A RESULT OF BUDGET CUTS. THE FARM SERVICE AGENCY MAKES LOANS TO FARMERS WHO CAN'T BORROW FROM BANKS. THE OFFICES TO CLOSE INCLUDE LIVINGSTON-EAST BATON ROUGE, LAFAYETTE, GRANT AND BOSSIER PARISHES. THE ST. MARY PARISH OFFICE WAS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED FOR CLOSURE BUT NOW WILL REMAIN OPEN.

SAINTS ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOE VITT AND DREW BREES HAVE SPOKEN ABOUT PREPARATIONS FOR TRAINING CAMP, AND VITT SAID HE EXPECTS THE STAR QUARTERBACK TO BE BACK WITH THE TEAM BY THEN. WHEN ASKED WHY HE'S CONFIDENT BREES WILL BE BACK FROM HIS CONTRACT HOLDOUT, VITT CRACKED, "WHAT ELSE IS HE GOING TO DO? HE CAN'T SING OR DANCE." NEW ORLEANS GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS HAS SAID HIS TOP PRIORITY IS TO COME UP WITH A CONTRACT THAT SATISFIES BREES, BUT THAT THE CLUB HAS TO BE CAREFUL TO AVOID RUSHING INTO A DEAL THAT WILL AFFECT TEAM SIGNIFICANTLY FOR YEARS TO COME.

SENATORS HAVE BACKED HOUSE BILL #1, A $25.6 BILLION STATE OPERATING BUDGET FOR NEXT YEAR THAT CONTAINS HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS MORE THAN THE SPENDING PLANS PASSED BY THE HOUSE. FEW CHANGES WERE MADE THURSDAY, AND THE SENATE DEBATE CONTAINED NONE OF THE RANCOR THAT MARKED THE ONGOING HOUSE DISPUTE OVER THE 2012-13 BUDGET. THE BUDGET BILL HEADS BACK TO THE HOUSE, WHERE THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HOPES TO DRUM UP ENOUGH VOTES TO BACK THE SENATE VERSION.

THE SENATE HAS ALSO PASSED HOUSE BILL 2, THE CAPITOL OUTLAY PLAN FOR STATE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, ROAD IMPROVEMENTS AND FACILITIES MAINTENANCE FOR THE NEXT YEAR. THAT BILL PASSED WITH 36 YEAS AND 3 NAYS. IT TOO RETURNS TO THE HOUSE FOR AMENDMENT CONCURRENCE.

LOUISIANA VOTERS WILL BE ASKED ON THE NOVEMBER BALLOT WHETHER THEY WANT TO OFFER A 10-YEAR LOCAL PROPERTY TAX BREAK, THAT IS CURRENTLY GIVEN TO MANUFACTURERS, TO A LONGER LIST OF BUSINESSES. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WITH A UNANIMOUS HOUSE VOTE. IF APPROVED BY VOTERS IN THE STATEWIDE ELECTION, PARISHES WOULD BE ABLE TO OFFER THE TAX BREAKS TO DIGITAL MEDIA BUSINESSES, DATA CENTERS, CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FIRMS. THE BUSINESSES WOULD HAVE TO MAKE A CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN LOUISIANA GREATER THAN $25 MILLION AND CREATE AT LEAST 50 NEW JOBS.

FORMER LOUISIANA GOV. CHARLES "BUDDY" ROEMER ENDED HIS LARGELY UNNOTICED PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN THURSDAY, AFTER ATTEMPTS TO COBBLE TOGETHER A THIRD PARTY CANDIDACY FELL APART. HE FIRST SOUGHT TO BECOME A GOP NOMINEE, BUT NEVER POLLED ABOVE SINGLE DIGITS AND WASN'T ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MAJOR TELEVISED DEBATES. WITH NO TRACTION AS A REPUBLICAN, ROEMER THEN SOUGHT TO GET THE NOMINATION OF AMERICANS ELECT, A NONPARTISAN GROUP PUSHING FOR A THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATE. BUT AMERICANS ELECT SHUT DOWN ITS EFFORTS RECENTLY, AFTER NO CANDIDATE MET THE BENCHMARKS FOR ITS NOMINATION PROCESS.

LOUISIANA'S ULTRASOUND REQUIREMENT FOR WOMEN SEEKING AN ABORTION WILL BE CHANGED, WITH THE SONOGRAM MANDATED 24 HOURS BEFORE THE PROCEDURE, RATHER THAN TWO HOURS. THE MEASURE WILL ALSO REQUIRE DOCTORS TO OFFER WOMEN THE ABILITY TO HEAR THE FETAL HEARTBEAT BEFORE AN ABORTION, ADDING NEW MANDATES TO THE SONOGRAM REQUIREMENT PASSED BY LAWMAKERS LAST YEAR. NO ONE SPOKE IN OPPOSITION TO THE IDEA ON THE SENATE FLOOR THURSDAY. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SUPPORTS THE BILL.

A SENATE COMMITTEE GRILLED EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WHITE ABOUT A RUSTON PRIVATE SCHOOL APPROVED FOR OVER 300 TUITION VOUCHERS, DESPITE REPORTEDLY HAVING NO CLASSROOMS, COMPUTERS OR TEACHERS. SENATE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MEMBERS WANTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE 315 VOUCHERS APPROVED FOR THE NEW LIVING WORD SCHOOL IN RUSTON AND ITS HEAD, REVEREND JERRY BALDWIN. LAWMAKERS WANTED TO KNOW WHY VOUCHERS WERE APPROVED WITHOUT APPARENT DUE DILIGENCE. A MONROE NEWSPAPER REPORTS ITS VISIT TO THE SCHOOL REVEALED NO STAFF, COMPUTERS NOR FACILITIES TO ACCOMMODATE THE INFLUX OF STATE SPONSORED PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS AUTHORIZED BY DOE. WHITE SAYS ONSITE INSPECTIONS WILL BE DONE, BEFORE THE SCHOOL GETS ANY STATE SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS.

LAWMAKERS ARE ONE STEP FROM GIVING FINAL PASSAGE TO A BILL THAT WOULD PROHIBIT LOUISIANA'S REVENUE DEPARTMENT FROM REQUIRING CERTAIN PEOPLE TO GET THEIR TAX REFUNDS ON DEBIT CARDS. THIS YEAR, TAXPAYERS WHO DIDN'T GET THEIR REFUNDS THROUGH DIRECT DEPOSIT INTO A BANK ACCOUNT FOUND THEIR PAPER CHECKS REPLACED WITH A PRE-PAID CHASE VISA CARD. REVENUE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS SAID DOING AWAY WITH THE CHECKS SAVES MONEY. BUT LAWMAKERS SAID THEY RECEIVED COMPLAINTS FROM PEOPLE WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE THE CARDS OR HAVE BEEN CHARGED FEES WHEN THEY DO.

THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE'S BUDGET WILL GROW BY ABOUT $3 MILLION NEXT YEAR, UNDER SPENDING PLANS THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WITH A UNANIMOUS SENATE VOTE. THE $93 MILLION BILL TO FINANCE LEGISLATIVE AGENCIES (HOUSE BILL 1044) INCLUDES A $2 MILLION INCREASE TO NEXT YEAR'S OPERATING EXPENSES FOR THE LOUISIANA SENATE, WHILE THE HOUSE OPERATING BUDGET REMAINS FLAT. ATTEMPTS TO CUT LEGISLATIVE SPENDING BY A BLOC OF HOUSE REPUBLICANS FELL FAR SHORT OF THE SUPPORT NEEDED TO MAKE THE REDUCTIONS.

A PACKAGE OF MEASURES ATTEMPTING TO LESSEN LEAD CONTAMINATION IN PLAYGROUNDS, DAY CARE CENTERS AND SCHOOLS AROUND LOUISIANA RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE WITH NEAR-UNANIMOUS SENATE VOTES THURSDAY. THE BILLS HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WILL REQUIRE THAT NEW DAY CARES, PRESCHOOLS AND CERTAIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL FACILITIES AROUND LOUISIANA BE INSPECTED FOR POSSIBLE LEAD CONTAMINATION. THE RESULTS OF THE INSPECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ONLINE FOR PUBLIC VIEWING.

A 40-YEAR-OLD MOTHER AND HER 5-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER DIED AFTER THEY WERE TRAPPED INSIDE THEIR BURNING KENNER HOME. THE FATHER IS BEING TREATED FOR SMOKE INHALATION. THE NAMES OF THE VICTIMS HAVE NOT BEEN RELEASED. THE ONE-ALARM FIRE BROKE OUT JUST AFTER 3 A.M. THURSDAY. FIRE OFFICIALS SAY THAT A MAN AND WOMAN WERE ABLE TO ESCAPE THE HOUSE AFTER PUSHING THEIR TWO SONS THROUGH A WINDOW.
WHEN THE WOMAN RAN BACK INSIDE TO SAVE THE DAUGHTER, BOTH BECAME TRAPPED BY THE FLAMES AND SMOKE. THE CAUSE OF THE FIRE IS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

DRIVERS USING TWO-LANE, 55-MPH U.S. HIGHWAY 71 AS A TO-AND-FROM TO ARKANSAS COULD BE CRUISING ALONG THE NEW INTERSTATE 49 NORTH AS SOON AS NEXT YEAR.
CONSTRUCTION IS COMPLETE IN FOUR OF 11 SEGMENTS OF THE HIGHWAY, SHORT OF SIGNS AND STRIPING. FIVE SEGMENTS ARE UNDER CONSTRUCTION, AND TWO ARE SCHEDULED TO GO OUT FOR BIDS IN 2012 AND 2013. SUSAN STAFFORD, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER FOR THE STATE D.O.T.D. SAYS THE ENTIRE CORRIDOR SHOULD BE COMPLETE BY 2016.

FIVE PEOPLE, INCLUDING TWO CHILDREN, WERE KILLED WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN A HEAD-ON COLLISION WITH A PICKUP TRUCK ON A RURAL ROAD IN EAST FELICIANA PARISH. THE BATON ROUGE FAMILY WAS RETURNING HOME FROM CHURCH WHEN A TRUCK DRIVEN BY 30-YEAR-OLD BRETT GERALD OF GREENSBURG CROSSED INTO THEIR LANE ON HIGHWAY 67. TWO TEENAGE PASSENGERS WERE HOSPITALIZED WITH LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES. GERALD IS SUSPECTED OF DRIVING IMPAIRED AND IS IN THE EAST FELICIANA PARISH JAIL.

POST-SEASON BASEBALL RETURNS TO ALEX BOX STADIUM TODAY AS BATON ROUGE SERVES AS A HOST SITE FOR THE NCAA TOURNAMENT. THE FIRST GAME OF THE DAY IS AT TWO O' CLOCK, OREGON STATE VERSUS BELMONT STATE. A LARGE CROWD IS EXPECTED FOR TONIGHT'S GAME BETWEEN LSU AND U-L MONROE. HERE IT TONIGHT ON 970 KSYL BEGINNING AT 6:30P









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