KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 08/15/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 081512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

PINEVILLE CITY COUNCIL HELD THE LINE ON TUESDAY, VOTING TO ROLL FORWARD THE PROPERTY TAX RATE FROM LAST YEAR. THE MILLAGE WAS 15.85 AND WILL REMAIN SO FOR THE 2012-13 FISCAL YEAR. MAYOR CLARENCE FIELDS POINTED OUT THAT IN 2000 THE CITY'S TAX RATE WAS MORE THAN 20 MILLS. HE SAID HE IS PROUD OF THE FACT THAT THE CITY HAS BEEN ABLE TO REDUCE THE MILLAGE FOR ITS PROPERTY OWNERS OVER THE YEARS.
COUNCILMAN TOM BOUCHIE, REPRESENTING DISTRICT 4, WAS ELECTED AS MAYOR PRO-TEMPORE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 2012-13. AS MAYOR PRO TEMPORE, BOUCHIE WOULD STEP INTO THE MAYOR'S SHOES IF HE IS ABSENT FOR ANY REASON.

LIVESTOCK EXHIBITS ARE A POPULAR PART OF FARM COUNTRY FAIRS, BUT THEY'RE COMING WITH A WARNING THIS YEAR: DON'T PET THE PIGS. AND WASH YOUR HANDS WELL AFTER EXHIBITING SWINE. LOUISIANA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN IS RELAYING WORD FROM THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION. IT SAYS HUMAN CASES OF SWINE FLU ARE ON THE RISE. IT’S BELIEVED, MOST OF THE PATIENTS WERE CHILDREN WHO PROBABLY WERE INFECTED WHILE RAISING, DISPLAYING OR VISITING PIGS AT THE FAIRS. THE CDC SAYS THE H3N2V VIRUS MAY SPREAD MORE EASILY TO HUMANS THAN IS USUAL FOR SWINE FLU VIRUSES. SO FAR, NONE OF THE REPORTED CASES HAVE BEEN IN LOUISIANA.

SIX NEW PRIVATE SCHOOLS WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL OCTOBER TO FIND OUT IF THEY CAN GET STATE APPROVAL TO PARTICIPATE IN A VOUCHER PROGRAM, BUT 377 OTHER PREVIOUSLY APPROVED PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS GOT ONE-YEAR RENEWALS.
THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ON TUESDAY HELD BACK STATE APPROVAL FROM SIX NEW SCHOOLS THAT BOARD PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE BELIEVES MAY HAVE ONLY BEEN FORMED TO TAKE TO ADVANTAGE OF THE NEW VOUCHER PROGRAM.
DASTUGUE SAID SHE WANTS THE BOARD STAFF TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SCHOOLS TO ASSURE THAT THEY MEET THE STANDARDS OF GOOD SCHOOLS AND COMPLY WITH A CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT THAT THEIR CURRICULUM BE AT LEAST AS GOOD AS WHAT'S USED IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON HAS MET WITH NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL IN NEW YORK TO DISCUSS MATTERS CONCERNING BOTH THE TEAM AND THE LEAGUE. WHILE THE NFL AND THE SAINTS ARE PROVIDING VERY FEW DETAILS, SAINTS SPOKESMAN GREG BENSEL SAYS THE MEETING WAS PRODUCTIVE AND THAT BENSON LOOKS FORWARD TO MANY MORE DISCUSSIONS WITH THE COMMISSIONER. THE MEETING COMES AMID THE BACKDROP OF LAWSUITS FILED BY CURRENT AND FORMER SAINTS PLAYERS WHO'VE CHALLENGED THE FINDINGS OF THE NFL'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION. BENSON ALSO HAS HIRED THE FIRM OF FORMER FBI DIRECTOR LOUIS FREEH TO INVESTIGATE THE ACCURACY OF THE LEAGUE'S BOUNTY PROBE.

IT'S DECISION-TIME FOR ANYONE STILL ON THE FENCE ABOUT JUMPING INTO A RACE FOR LOUISIANA'S NOV. 6 ELECTION. CANDIDATES MUST FILE PAPERWORK AND PAY THEIR FEES THIS WEEK IF THEY WANT TO RUN FOR THE LIST OF STATE AND LOCAL OFFICES ON THE FALL BALLOT, AS THE OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PERIOD STARTS WEDNESDAY MORNING AND RUNS THROUGH FRIDAY AT 5 P.M. AFTER THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE, TOP OF THE BALLOT AROUND THE STATE WILL BE LOUISIANA'S SIX U.S. HOUSE SEATS. HOWEVER, MOST POLITICAL PUNDITS BELIEVE MOST WILL GO UNCHALLENGED.

IF YOU THINK GASOLINE PRICES ARE HIGHER ACROSS OUR STATE, YOU'RE RIGHT. TRIPLE-A SAYS THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR IS $3.52. THAT'S JUST ABOUT 35 CENTS A GALLON MORE THAN WE WERE PAYING JUST A MONTH AGO.

LOUISIANA LOTTERY OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED THAT TONIGHT'S POWERBALL PRIZE HAS BEEN BUMPED UP AGAIN. THEY SAY THE ESTIMATED JACKPOT FOR WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S DRAWING IS NOW $320 MILLION.

AFTER BEING PASSED OVER FOR THE NUMBER TWO SPOT ON THE GOP TICKET THIS FALL GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL IS BACK ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL FOR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL MITT ROMNEY. SO FAR JINDAL HAS VISITED COLORADO, ILLINOIS, UTAH, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA AND FLORIDA IN SUPPORT OF THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SAYS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN INCOME TAX REFUNDS IS HEADED TO UNCLAIMED PROPERTY, IF THAT MONEY ISN'T CLAIMED BY TAXPAYERS BEFORE NEXT FRIDAY. SPOKESPERSON BYRON HENDERSON SAYS ABOUT 7400 TAXPAYERS HAVE INCOME TAX REFUND CHECKS GREATER THAN $50 DATED BEFORE JUNE 30TH, 2011 THAT HAVE NOT YET BEEN CASHED. HENDERSON SAYS EVEN IF YOU DON'T MEET THE AUGUST 24TH DEADLINE, IT'S STILL YOUR MONEY, YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO CLAIM IT FROM THE STATE TREASURER'S UNCLAIMED PROPERTY DIVISION. HE SAYS THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF UNCLAIMED REFUNDS IS ABOUT $4.4 MILLION...:

STATE AGENCIES SAY THEY'VE ASKED THE COMPANY OWNING A NATURAL GAS PIPELINE THAT WAS BENT BY AN EXPANDING SINKHOLE IN ASSUMPTION PARISH FOR AN UPDATED RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN ON A NEARBY BUTANE STORAGE CAVERN. CROSSTEX ENERGY LP OF DALLAS OWNS A STORAGE CAVERN 1,600 FEET FROM THE SITE OF A SINKHOLE NEAR BAYOU CORNE. THE CAVERN HOUSES 940,000 BARRELS OF BUTANE.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS GOTTEN INVOLVED IN THE FEDERAL COURT CASE OVER WHO WILL BE THE NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT. A MOTION BY JINDAL'S EXECUTIVE COUNSEL SAYS THE GOVERNOR BELIEVES IT IS AN ISSUE FOR THE STATE TO DECIDE. THE NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND FILED A BRIEF SUPPORTING JUSTICE BERNETTE JOHNSON, WHO WENT TO FEDERAL COURT TO MAKE SURE HER FELLOW JUSTICES DON'T DENY HER THE CHIEF JUSTICE POSITION NEXT YEAR WHEN CURRENT COURT LEADER KITTY KIMBALL RETIRES. LOUISIANA'S CONSTITUTION SAYS THE LONGEST-SERVING JUSTICE MUST BECOME CHIEF JUSTICE. WHEN VOTERS ELECTED HER IN 1994, JOHNSON AT FIRST FILLED AN APPEAL COURT SEAT BUT WAS ASSIGNED TO SERVE ON THE SUPREME COURT FULL-TIME UNDER TERMS OF A CIVIL RIGHTS LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT. SOME ARGUE THAT JUSTICE JEFFERY VICTORY, WHO HAS SERVED SINCE 1995, HAS SERVED LONGER THAN JOHNSON. JINDAL IS NOT TAKING A POSITION ON WHO SHOULD BE CHIEF JUSTICE, ONLY THAT IT IS A MATTER FOR THE STATE TO DECIDE.

LOCKPORT'S THREE-TERM MAYOR HAS DIED OF CANCER. MAYOR RICHARD CHAMPAGNE DIED ABOUT 6 A.M. TUESDAY AT HIS HOME, WHERE HOSPICE WORKERS HAD BEEN CARING FOR HIM OVER THE PAST FOUR DAYS. CHAMPAGNE WAS ON THE JOB RIGH UP UNTIL LAST WEEK. CHAMPAGNE WAS 79.

A REPORT BY LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM HAS CONCLUDED MULTIPLE PARISHES HAVE SEEN A DECLINE IN THE NUMBER OF YOUTHS DETAINED OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. A STUDY FROM THE INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND JUSTICE REPORTED TUESDAY SOME PARISHES HAVE SEEN AS MUCH AS A 45 PERCENT DECREASE IN THE AVERAGE DAILY DETENTION POPULATIONS SINCE 2007. THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN DECREASES IN YOUTHS ON PAROLE SUPERVISION AND ON LOCAL AND STATE PROBATION SUPERVISION. THE STUDY CONCLUDES THAT THE DECREASES ARE THANKS TO NEEDS ASSESSMENT TOOLS HELPING PROBATION OFFICERS DEVELOP CASE PLANS SPECIFIC TO A PERSON'S INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. IT ALSO SAYS THAT THE DECREASES HAVE OCCURRED BECAUSE OF ALTERNATIVE-TO-DETENTION PROGRAMS AND DETENTION RISK SCREENING INSTRUMENTS.

THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA LOCAL FOOD INITIATIVE OF ALEXANDRIA HAS $1 MILLION, AND THE LIVE LIVELY LASALLE! PROGRAM OF LASALLE PARISH HAS $2 MILLION TO HELP RESIDENTS ADOPT HEALTHIER LIFESTYLES. THE FUNDING FOR THE PROJECTS COMES FROM CHALLENGE FOR A HEALTHIER LOUISIANA, A STATEWIDE CHALLENGE GRANT PROGRAM PIONEERED BY THE BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA FOUNDATION. THIS PROGRAM, THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN LOUISIANA, AIMS TO REDUCE LOUISIANA'S RISING OBESITY RATE BY PROVIDING FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIPS THAT PROMOTE HEALTHY EATING AND ACTIVE LIVING.

TERREBONNE PARISH AUTHORITIES SAY THEY RAIDED A HOUMA HOUSE LAST WEEKEND AND FOUND NEARLY $500,000 WORTH OF MARIJUANA INSIDE. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE REPORTS THAT A 58-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS ARRESTED IN THE RAID, WHICH ENDED A FOUR-MONTH INVESTIGATION.

A LAFAYETTE BUSINESSWOMAN HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH WIRE FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING. FEDERAL AUTHORITIES TELL THE ADVOCATE (HTTP://BIT.LY/PTGJ46) CATHERINE ROMERO IS ACCUSED OF DEFRAUDING INVESTORS OUT OF MORE THAN $1.2 MILLION IN A SCHEME INVOLVING PLANS TO MANUFACTURE GOODS CREATED FROM ALLIGATOR HIDES FROM 2007 TO 2008. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY JOHN LUKE WALKER SAID THE GOVERNMENT IS ALSO SEEKING A FORFEITURE OF THE FUNDS.

TERREBONE PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ALONG WITH STATE AND FEDERAL AUTHORITIES UNCOVER A CHANCE OF WEAPONS, PHONY LAW-ENFORCEMENT I-D BADGES AND FAKE BOMBS INSIDE A HOUMA APARTMENT. CAPTAIN DAWN FORET WITH THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SAYS 61-YEAR-OLD MICHAEL HEBERT HAD ILLEGALLY ACQUIRED 19 FIREARMS AND THOUSANDS OF ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION. SHE SAYS HEBERT IS A FELON WHO CAN LEGALLY NOT POSSESS FIREARMS AFTER BEING CONVICTED IN 1990 FOR POSSESSION AND TRANSFER OF A MACHINE GUN AND WIRE FRAUD.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL HAS NAMED A NEW DIRECTOR FOR THE DIVISION OF HIS OFFICE THAT OVERSEES LEGAL GAMBLING IN THE STATE. A NEWS RELEASE FROM CALDWELL'S OFFICE SAYS CLIFFORD R. STRIDER III IS A 1979 GRADUATE OF THE LAW SCHOOL AT LSU AND HAS 33 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN LITIGATION AND SUPERVISION.

U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU IS ASKING THE COAST GUARD TO FORCE BP PLC TO CLEAN UP OIL AND EQUIPMENT USED IN THE RESPONSE BURIED IN THE WATERS AND MUD ALONG THE COAST. IN A LETTER, LANDRIEU ASKED THE COAST GUARD TO FIGURE OUT WHERE OIL REMAINS ALONG THE COAST, BOTH IN REMOTE MARSHES AND UNDER THE WATER ALONG THE COAST AND TO MAKE SURE LARGE MATS OF BURIED OIL FROM THE 2010 BP SPILL ARE REMOVED. STATE OFFICIALS SAY THERE ARE METHODS FOR REMOVING THE MATS OF OIL BUT THE COAST GUARD HAS NOT SAID WHETHER IT WILL REQUIRE BP TO REMOVE THEM.
LANDRIEU ALSO ASKED THAT ANCHORS USED TO KEEP OIL BOOM IN PLACE ARE REMOVED. SHE SAYS ABOUT 20 BOATERS HAVE COLLIDED WITH THEM.

God Bless America!

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