News For Wednesday 103112
By Dave Graichen
A record number of Louisiana voters have cast ballots in advance of the Nov. 6 election, as early voting wrapped up Tuesday. The Secretary of State's Office said more than 280,000 people, out of 2.9 million registered voters have voted for next week's election, which includes the presidential race, six congressional races, constitutional amendments, judgeships and local contests around the state. Meg Casper, spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said early voting turnout has been nearly 25 percent higher than it was for the last presidential election in 2008.
The Alexandria City Council at it’s regular meeting last night, voted to add $200,000 to the renovation budget for upgrades to Frank O. Hunter Park. The move allows the park's improvement project to move forward. Frank O. Hunter Park is on Willow Glen River Road and is one of the oldest parks in the city. It is one of six parks included as part of a master plan improvement project developed by Lose & Associates. The company, which was hired to study the city's parks, recommended in August 2009 that the city invest $60 million in its parks and recreation systems.
At a special meeting of the Rapides Parish School Board last night, members approved a $128,000 increases in cost for two ongoing repair projects in the district. The Board approved a $53,000 increase to the contract to re-roof Peabody Montessori Elementary, which followed the Oct. 16 approval of a $75,000 increase in the contract in the Pineville High School track project. Contractors in both cases found, upon the start of work, needed repairs were more extensive than anticipated.
State Police say an elderly man was struck and killed by an elderly motorist on state highway 121 in Vernon Parish early yesterday morning. Troopers say a 78-year-old woman driving a small SUV hit 88-year-old Eddard Morrison as he was sitting on the edge of the southbound lane. The woman drove on, apparently unaware she'd hit someone. She was located later. A toxicology test is pending and authorities say she may be charged with hit & run, vehicular homicide or both--pending the results of an investigation.
Former LSU Quarterback Jordan Jefferson is behind bars. Yesterday morning, a District Judge in Baton Rouge ruled that, due to his arrest last week on drug charges, he violated the terms of his bond related to a bar fight last year. Word is Jefferson may have to remain in jail until his next court hearing on December 12th.
The demand for tickets to Saturday night's LSU-Alabama game is just as high as last year's game in Tuscaloosa, which was dubbed as the "Game of the Century." That's according to Stubhub spokesperson Joellen Ferrar, who says two tickets fairly close to the field will likely cost you over one-thousand dollars. However, Ferrar says nosebleed seats are going for as little as 165-dollars. She expects strong sales leading up to kick-off.
State Police is reminding parents of trick or treaters to put safety first this evening. Captain Doug Cain says trick or treaters should bring a flashlight and wear reflective clothing if possible. He says you should also be mindful of adult to child ratio to make sure one adult is handling too large a group of children.
We should know later today if LSUA chancellor Dr. David Manuel will be Leaving Cenla To take the chancellor’s job at Drury university. Drury is expected to announce which of the two finalists for the job, Manuel being one of them, will get the position. It is believed Dr. Manuel will be the announced winner. LSUA has made no official announcement on the matter, other than say Manuel would be out of the office until Friday.
A Mansura man is facing a long list of charges after investigators from the Avoyelles parish sheriff’s department raided his home on a tip and found a marijuana farm inside. 50 year old Blaine Roy was arrested and charged with the manufacturing and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance. Deputies reportedly found a hydroponic system with growing tents, lighting, ventilation and watering systems. Investigators seized 36 suspected marijuana plants, along with several pounds of harvested marijuana valued at about $45 Grand. Deputies also seized 19 rifles, one semi-automatic handgun, an all-terrain vehicle and a boat.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has some good news, seat-belt use in Louisiana reached a record high of 79.3 percent this year. Officials believe this high number of motorists buckling up is contributing to the state's declining highway death rate. Preliminary crash statistics for 2011 indicate that Louisiana's highway death toll declined for the fourth year in a row. Lake Charles leads the state in seat belt use, followed by Lafayette, New Orleans and Houma.
It's official; Leucadia Corporation will locate a $2.5-billion gasification plant at the Port of Lake Charles. The plant will gasify petroleum coke, a refining by-product, to extract useful gases, like methanol, hydrogen and carbon dioxide for sale. Construction is set to get underway early next year, bringing over a thousand construction jobs and over 150 full-time jobs once complete.
A growing, 5.5-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish swamps gobbled up an another strip of land Tuesday. The 80-by-20-foot section on the eastern side of the sinkhole fell in, or sloughed off. So far, the growing sink hole has cost the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources more than $2-million for response efforts. And, there's no estimate of when emergency response needs in Assumption Parish will end. 150 families have been evacuated from their homes since August 3rd and it doesn’t look like they’ll be going home anytime soon.
Cruise ships are big business for Louisiana; bringing in millions in revenue and supporting thousands of jobs. Port of New Orleans president Gary LaGrange says cruise ship spending in our state topped $280-million in 2011. That figure is up 35% from 2010. To give you an idea of how big the industry has become to the state, The port of New Orleans over 730-thousand cruise ship passengers in 2011.