News for Friday 121412
By Dave Graichen
An investigation by the Alexandria-Pineville Narcotic Task Force netted 14 arrests of people who either sold or bought synthetic marijuana or drug paraphernalia from a store in the 3100 block of Masonic Drive in Alexandria. Two store clerks and 12 customers were arrested, and more than $500,000 worth of guns, assets and cash were seized.
A memorial service was held yesterday for Ricky Isaac, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's office deputy who died in a single-vehicle crash last weekend. Sheriff Victor Jones says Isaac, who is a former Northwestern football player, is survived by his pregnant wife who is a former Lady Demon. He said they'd been married less than two years. Issac was killed during a rainstorm when his car hydroplaned and left the road then crashed into some trees.
Law enforcement officials say a school bus crashed Wednesday evening in Alexandria and several young children were sent to the hospital. They say a pickup truck ran a stop sign at the intersection of I-49 and Rapides State Road and collided with the bus. All children were taken to local hospitals for precautionary reason and no injuries were reported. The driver of the truck has been cited for failure to yield.
The state could lose $140-million or more in tobacco settlement money, which would affect the free college tuition program known as TOPS. First Assistant Attorney General Trey Phillips says tobacco companies contend that Louisiana hasn't met its part of the deal by failing to regulate off-brand cigarette companies. An arbitration panel will hear Big Tobacco's complaints and render a decision. Proceeds from the tobacco settlement fund a big portion of the TOPS scholarships.
For a fifth straight year, the state will need to cut the budget during the middle of the fiscal year. It's the result of the Revenue Estimating Conference, who lowered income projections for this fiscal year by 129-million dollars. The Jindal administration is expected to unveil a budget cutting plan at today’s joint budget committee meeting. Public colleges and health care will take a brunt of the cuts. Manfred Dix, the chief economist for the governor's office, says next fiscal year's budget picture is also bleak, with an income drop of about 200-million dollars .
Gas prices are on a steady decline. The American Automobile Association says the price of gas has fallen 13-cents over the last month to a statewide average of $3.12 for a gallon of regular. AAA Fuel analyst Don Redman says it's not a surprise to see gas prices fall during the holidays. And he says we should continue to see this drop for the rest of the year.
BP has sent a Remote Operated Vehicle down to the shut-in Macondo well in the Gulf , to determine if any oil is still leaking from it. State Coastal Affairs Director Garrett Graves says another sheen of oil was spotted in November--near the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and subsequent oil spill. Graves says oil collected at the surface matches the characteristics of the light, sweet crude that gushed from BP's well for months after the rig disaster. He says the state asked the Coast Guard to make BP explore that area, to determine where the latest reported sheen is coming from.
Governor Jindal and local leaders announce a $100-million industrial investment in Bastrop, in Morehouse Parish. West Monroe Rep. Mike Walsworth says Drax Biomass International plans to eventually employ 45 or more in a wood-processing plant. The plant will use northeast Louisiana timber to make wood pellets or chips that will be shipped overseas to use as a renewable energy source. Walsworth says with the deal in place, construction should start soon. Walworth says the plant could be up and running by late in 2013 or very early in 2014.
State Police is handling the investigation into a fatal shooting of an armed robbery suspect by a federal deputy. Troop E spokesperson Scott Moreau says the shooting occurred yesterday in Marskville when members of the U-S Marshal's Violent Offender Task Force attempted to serve an arrest warrant on 51-year-old Larane Pierce. Moreau says an investigation into whether the shooting is justified is ongoing.
A Carencro strip club raided last week by federal agents for drug and prostitution offenses has now lost its liquor license for at least a month - possibly more. State Alcohol & Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert issued the order yesterday. On December 5th, agents raided Desperado's Nightclub. Owner James Panos and several employee were arrested on several charges.
Lafayette Parish Sheriff's deputies say a Carencro man tried to kill his own father with a samurai sword. Sheriff's Captain Kip Judice says 32-year-old Albert Prejean attacked his dad during an argument. He says not only did the 63-year-old victim sustain series defensive wounds, Prejean managed to slice his own thigh in the sword scuffle. Judice says once Prejean is released from the hospital, he'll be charged with attempted second-degree murder.
The firing of a Shreveport TV weather reporter is getting national attention. Rhonda Lee was fired for violating a station social media policy, for replying to a viewer's Facebook critique of her short-cropped hair. Lee says she was unaware of any such policy. Some national media outlets are speculating her termination could have been racially motivated. Lee is African-American.