KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 08/22/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 082212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD MAY HIRE A LIAISON FROM AN INDEPENDENT FIRM TO ASSIST IN THE SEARCH FOR A REPLACEMENT FOR SUPERINTENDENT GARY JONES. BOARD MEMBER JANET DIXON LED THE CHARGE TO HIRE AN OUTSIDE FIRM. BOARD MEMBERS STEPHEN CHAPMAN AND STEVE BERRY VOLUNTEERED TO BE LIAISONS AND WORK CLOSELY WITH DIXON TO MEET THE TIMELINE ALREADY ESTABLISHED BY THE BOARD. BUT, DIXON REFUSED THE OFFER SAYING SHE APPRECIATED THE OFFER BUT THAT IT WAS TOO LATE. DIXON, SOUNDING MORE LIKE THE BOARD PRESIDENT, WENT ON TO SAY THE GESTURE WOULD HAVE BEEN HONORABLE SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS AGO WHEN THE BOARD STARTED EXPERIENCING THE BOTTLENECKS AND PUSHBACK IN THE SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH. BUT NOW SHE SAYS IT’S TIME FOR THE BOARD AND THE COMMUNITY TO TURN THE PAGE AND HIRE A NEW SUPERINTENDENT. THE IDEA GOES TO THE FULL BOARD FOR DISCUSSION AT IT NEXT MEETING SEPT. 4.

PROPERTY OWNERS IN ALEXANDRIA WILL NOT SEE AN INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES AND SOME MAY EVEN SEE A SLIGHT DECREASE AS THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL VOTED TUESDAY NOT TO RAISE THE TAX RATE. THE CURRENT RATE IS 20.23 MILLS. ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES M. ROY TOLD THE COUNCIL HE AND HIS STAFF RECOMMENDED STAYING AT THE CURRENT RATE, DESPITE ACTING CITY FINANCE DIRECTOR DAVID JOHNSON'S OPINION THAT THE MILLAGE BE RAISED TO 20.5. A .27 MILLAGE INCREASE, JOHNSON BELIEVES, WOULD MAKE UP REVENUE LOST IN PROPERTY TAX COLLECTIONS BASED ON REDUCED PROPERTY VALUES.

TROPICAL STORM ISAAC HAS FORMED IN THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC, BECOMING THE NINTH NAMED STORM OF THE 2012 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON. THE TROPICAL STORM IS EXPECTED TO GATHER STRENGTH AND BECOME A HURRICANE AS EARLY AS THURSDAY MORNING. THE STORM IS JUST ARRIVING IN THE LEEWARD ISLANDS AND THE U.S. IS IN THE ZONE OF CONCERN. EVERYONE FROM THE GULF COAST TO FLORIDA TO THE CAROLINAS SHOULD BE VIGILANT AS THE HURRICANE SERVICE TRACKS ISAAC'S PROGRESS AND POSSIBLE IMPACTS ON THE U.S.

OFFICIALS SAY A 42-YEAR-OLD CATAHOULA PARISH MAN SUSPECTED IN THE SHOOTING DEATHS OF THREE PEOPLE NEAR LARTO IS IN CUSTODY. ACCORDING TO CATAHOULA PARISH SHERIFF JAMES KELLY LEE JOHN PONTHIEUX JR. WAS ARRESTED ABOUT 21 HOURS AFTER THE THREE BODIES WERE FOUND. THE VICTIMS, ALL SHOT TO DEATH, WERE IDENTIFIED AS 45-YEAR-OLD JOHN ELLARD JR. AND HIS WIFE, 51-YEAR-OLD EDRIS ELLARD, BOTH OF MONTEREY, AND 74-YEAR-OLD ANNIE BELL ADAMS OF LARTO. KELLY SAID HIS OFFICE GOT A CALL SHORTLY BEFORE 3 A.M. MONDAY ABOUT A DISTURBANCE AT A HOME. KELLY SAID PONTHIEUX BECAME A SUSPECT BECAUSE HE LEFT THE SCENE AND HAD BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A PARTICIPANT IN THE FIGHT BY ADAMS' DAUGHTER.

ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH SHERIFF MIKE TREGRE SAYS TWO DEPUTIES REMAIN HOSPITALIZED WHILE RECOVERING FROM SHOOTINGS THAT KILLED TWO OTHER DEPUTIES.
HE SAYS 33-YEAR-OLD DEPUTY MICHAEL SCOTT BOYINGTON UNDERWENT SCHEDULED SURGERY TUESDAY, AND BOTH HE AND 30-YEAR-OLD DEPUTY JASON TRICHE CONTINUE TO IMPROVE. TREGRE SAYS DOCTORS DON'T YET KNOW WHEN EITHER WILL BE RELEASED.

DESPITE EFFORTS TO SHRINK THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA'S GOVERNING BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS, THE TOTAL OF SUCH PANELS IS HIGHER NOW THAN WHEN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TOOK OFFICE IN 2008, ACCORDING TO A REVIEW BY THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE RELEASED THIS WEEK. THE AUDITOR'S REPORT SAYS AS OF JUNE 2012, THE STATE HAD 492 BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS CREATED BY LAW OR EXECUTIVE ORDER. THAT COMPARES TO 484 SUCH PANELS IN 2008. THE HIGH POINT WAS IN 2004, WHEN 513 BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS WERE ON THE BOOKS. AT LEAST 277 OF THOSE PANELS PAY PER DIEMS, SALARIES OR TRAVEL FOR BOARD MEMBERS, COSTS THAT TOTALED NEARLY $5 MILLION IN THE 2011 FISCAL YEAR AND WERE BUDGETED FOR EVEN MORE IN THE JUST-ENDED 2012 BUDGET.

THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM BOARD HAS APPROVED A $762-MILLION BUDGET THAT REFLECTS A 5-PERCENT REDUCTION FROM LAST YEAR'S SUM. UL SYSTEM PRESIDENT RANDY MOFFETT SAYS THAT'S A CUT OF ABOUT $38-MILLION FROM THE 2011-12 SCHOOL YEAR. HE SAYS THAT WILL CERTAINLY MEAN LAYOFFS. DR. MOFFETT SAYS THE NINE-CAMPUS UL SYSTEM, WHICH NOW INCLUDES THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS, HAS ALREADY HAD TO MAKE REDUCTIONS TO COPE WITH PREVIOUS BUDGET CUTS...AND EVEN THOUGH UL HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO RAISE TUITIONS AND FEES, DUE TO THE LOUISIANA GRAD ACT OF 2010, MOFFETT SAYS ENROLLMENTS ARE DOWN SYSTEM WIDE. HE SAYS THE TUITION INCREASES CANNOT KEEP UP WITH THE STATE'S CUTS.

THE LAFAYETTE PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE CONFIRMS THE REMAINS OF SLAIN ULL STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK HAVE BEEN RELEASED TO HER FAMILY FOR BURIAL. THE SHUNICKS PLAN A PRIVATE FUNERAL SERVICE, AND A PUBLIC MEMORIAL...BUT NO DATE HAS BEEN SET. MICKEY WAS ABDUCTED AND MURDERED IN MID-MAY BY BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE, WHO IS NOW SERVING LIFE IN ANGOLA FOR THE MURDERS OF MICKEY AND LISA PATE BACK IN 1999.

A NEW REPORT BY THE NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU SAYS IN 2011 LOUISIANA CAR THIEVES PREFERRED HOME GROWN PICKUPS. NATIONALLY, HONDA ACCORDS AND CIVICS RANK ONE AND TWO. NICB SPOKESPERSON FRANK SCAFIDI (SKA-FEE-DEE) SAYS IN LOUISIANA FULL SIZE FORD PICKUPS WERE TOPS ON THE STOLEN VEHICLE LISTS FOLLOWED BY PICKUPS MADE BY CHEVROLET AND DODGE. SCAFIDI SAYS THE NATIONAL TREND IN CAR THEFTS HAS BEEN GOING DOWN SINCE IT REACHED A PEAK IN 2003. HE CREDITS NEW ANTI-THEFT TECHNOLOGY THAT'S AVAILABLE IN NEW MODEL CARS.

THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS IS BEING GRANTED MEMBERSHIP TO THE SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE, MARKING ANOTHER MAJOR STEP FOR AN ATHLETICS PROGRAM THAT HAS STRUGGLED TO STAY AFLOAT SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA. LEAGUE AND SCHOOL OFFICIALS HAVE SCHEDULED AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT THURSDAY.

MORE THAN $2.5 MILLION IN UNCASHED STATE INCOME TAX REFUNDS ARE SCHEDULED TO BE DEPOSITED INTO THE STATE TREASURY ON FRIDAY. THE MONEY WILL BECOME UNCLAIMED PROPERTY, JOINING MORE THAN $500 MILLION IN PAYCHECKS, APARTMENT DEPOSITS, GIFT CERTIFICATES, MUTUAL FUNDS AND STOCKS AS WELL AS OIL AND GAS ROYALTIES CURRENTLY HELD BY STATE GOVERNMENT BECAUSE NO ONE HAS STEPPED FORWARD TO CLAIM THEM. ONCE THE MONEY BECOMES UNCLAIMED PROPERTY, IT CANNOT BE SPENT BY STATE GOVERNMENT ON HOSPITALS, ROADS AND OTHER PUBLIC EXPENSES. INSTEAD, IT SITS IN THE TREASURY UNTIL IT IS CLAIMED. STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY SAID HE RETURNED $27 MILLION TO CITIZENS LAST YEAR. AT THE SAME TIME, HE SAID, HIS OFFICE RECEIVED $73 MILLION IN UNCLAIMED PROPERTY.

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY LOW WATER LEVELS THAT ARE RESTRICTING SHIPPING TRAFFIC, FORCING HARBOR CLOSURES AND CAUSING BARGES TO RUN AGROUND ON THE ECONOMICALLY VITAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE INTO OCTOBER. MEANWHILE, MORE THAN 100 TOW BOATS AND BARGES REMAIN BACKED UP NEAR GREENVILLE, MISS. DUE TO THE LOW RIVER. THE U.S. COAST GUARD OPENED AN 11-MILE STRETCH OF RIVER THAT HAD BEEN CLOSED NEAR GREENVILLE, REPLACING IT WITH A 5-MILE ZONE WHERE ONLY LIGHTER VESSELS CAN PASS.

LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS SAID TUESDAY THEY ARE TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO SURMOUNT THE STATE'S ONGOING BUDGET WOES AND BOOST PENSION PAYMENTS TO RETIRED STATE WORKERS AND TEACHERS, THOUSANDS OF WHOM RECEIVE BENEFITS BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL. THE SENATE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE HAS PLANNED SEVERAL HEARINGS TO TALK ABOUT COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENTS FOR RETIREES. LAWMAKERS ARE HOPING TO REACH A CONSENSUS ON LEGISLATION THAT COULD PAY MORE TO RETIRED PUBLIC SCHOOL WORKERS AND STATE EMPLOYEES WHO RELY ON STATE PENSIONS THAT HAVEN'T BEEN ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION IN SEVERAL YEARS.

IBERIA PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAID A WOMAN FOUGHT OFF A ROBBERY ATTEMPT AT A BARBECUE RESTAURANT BY CLUBBING HER ATTACKER WITH A POT. DEPUTIES SAID THEY RESPONDED TO A REPORT OF AN ARMED ROBBERY AT POP'S BARBECUE IN NEW IBERIA MONDAY AFTERNOON. THE UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM TOLD INVESTIGATORS SHE WAS WORKING INSIDE THE RESTAURANT WHEN THE SUSPECT CONFRONTED HER WITH A KNIFE. FEARFUL FOR HER LIFE, SHE GRABBED A POT ON A NEARBY COUNTER AND REPEATEDLY STRUCK THE SUSPECT. DEPUTIES ARE SEARCHING FOR A TEENAGE SUSPECT WHO THEY SAY MAY HAVE SUSTAINED NOTICEABLE INJURIES FROM THE BEATING.

STATE POLICE SAY A THREE MONTH LONG NARCOTICS INVESTIGATION HAS NABBED 21 GUNS AND 56 MARIJUANA PLANTS FROM A SINGLE HOME IN SLIDELL. STATE POLICE SAID ALL IN ALL THEY CONFISCATED $360,000 WORTH OF MARIJUANA FROM INSIDE THE HOME. A MAN AND A WOMAN WERE TAKEN INTO CUSTODY WHERE THEY EACH FACE A HOST OF CHARGES.

THE STATE OFFICE OF ALCOHOL & TOBACCO CONTROL SAYS AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION OF SUSPECTED PAYROLL FRAUD HAS LED TO THE DEMOTION OF TWO OF ITS AGENTS AND THE RESIGNATION OF A THIRD. ATC COMMISSIONER TROY HEBERT SAYS TIME AND LOCATION REPORTS GATHERED FROM GPS DEVICES ON THE AGENTS' COMPANY VEHICLES REVEALED UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR. THE AGENTS OFTEN LEFT HOME FOR WORK LATE, LEFT WORK EARLY OR DIDN'T GO TO WORK AT ALL. HEBERT SAYS HE'S DEDICATED TO ASSURING THAT ATC USES TAXPAYER DOLLARS WISELY. HE SAYS SOME 40 ATC VEHICLES HAVE BEEN FITTED WITH GPS TRACKERS, BUT JUST THREE EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN CAUGHT SO FAR.

TWENTY-TWO STATE APPEALS COURT JUDGESHIPS ARE ON THE NOV. 6 BALLOT, BUT VOTERS WILL ONLY MAKE CHOICES IN FIVE OF THOSE RACES. MORE THAN THREE-QUARTERS OF THE JOBS WERE HANDED TO CANDIDATES WHEN THEY ATTRACTED NO OPPOSITION AS THE QUALIFYING PERIOD CLOSED LAST WEEK.

NEARLY $8.4 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDS HAS BEEN SET ASIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA VETERANS CEMETERY IN SLIDELL. U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU SAYS THE MONEY WILL COVER THE CONSTRUCTION OF A MAIN ENTRANCE, AN ADMINISTRATION BUILDING, A MAINTENANCE FACILITY, ROADS AND OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE CEMETERY WHICH WILL COVER 21 ACRES. LANDRIEU SAID TUESDAY THAT AFTER SACRIFICING TO DEFEND AND PROTECT AMERICA, LOUISIANA MILITARY VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES SHOULDN'T HAVE TO TRAVEL HUNDREDS OF MILES FOR CEMETERY SERVICES OR TO VISIT THE GRAVES OF THEIR LOVED ONES. THE CLOSEST NATIONAL CEMETERY IN SOUTH LOUISIANA IS LOCATED IN BATON ROUGE, WHILE THE CLOSEST STATE CEMETERY IS IN NEWTON, MISS., ABOUT 186 MILES FROM SLIDELL. THE GRANT WAS AWARDED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

God Bless America!

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