News for Friday 011813
By Dave Graichen
Inspectors taking the first-ever inventory of flood control systems overseen by the federal government have found hundreds of structures at risk of failing and endangering people and property in 37 states, including throughout Central Louisiana. Some of the Cenla levee problem locations cited are in Pineville, Natchitoches, Sicily Island covering Catahoula and Franklin parishes, the Larto-Jonesville area of Catahoula and LaSalle parishes and more. Two levees do not have ratings; the remainder all are classified as “minimally acceptable.”
The state's top school board has approved changes to how Louisiana teachers are evaluated. One of the changes will result in more educators receiving a highly effective rating, which is important
for a teacher who is trying to achieve tenure. BESE President Chas Roemer says they wanted to reward more teachers for doing a good Job.
A legislative committee heard yesterday ways public schools are protecting themselves in the wake of the mass shooting in Connecticut last month. State Superintendent of Education John White says state law requires every school to have a crisis management plan, but those plans can be enhanced. The issue of whether teachers should be armed with guns was brought up during the discussion. Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan says security guards should handle firearms and teachers should worry about educating. Law enforcement officials from around the state agreed Tuesday that it's only a matter of time before a gunman decides to start shooting on a Louisiana school campus.
Shreveport Rep. Barbara Norton says she intends to file legislation that would require armed guards at all public elementary schools. She made the announcement today at a meeting of the House Homeland
Security Committee on the topic of school safety.
A coalition of gun rights and conservative groups has designated Saturday as "Gun Appreciation Day." Organizer Larry Ward says tomorrow will be a day where Americans can show their support for gun ownership. Ward says the Obama administration is trampling on the Constitutional rights of Americans with its gun control policies. He says Saturday will allow second-amendment supporters to protest the President's assault on gun rights. Meanwhile, gun sales are through the roof.
It's being reported that CenturyLink plans to boost its corporate headquarters in Monroe and break ground as early as next month on a 250,000-square foot expansion. The company says the CenturyLink Technology Center of Excellence will include research and development labs, network operations centers and office and meeting space. The state will put up close to $15 million of the $30 million expansion cost.
An assistant district attorney and his secretary pleaded guilty Thursday in an ongoing federal probe of bribery in the local court system. The pleas come after 15th Judicial District Attorney Mike Harson’s longtime secretary and office administrator, Barna Haynes, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy on Monday in an investigation of bribes paid for favorable treatment, mainly in DWI cases. On Thursday, Greg Williams, an assistant district attorney in Harson’s office, and Williams’ secretary, Denease Curry, both pleaded guilty in the investigation.
The city of Ville Platte and the American Civil Liberties Union have signed an agreement ending the ACLU’s lawsuit against a pedestrians-only curfew. The city has agreed that any future curfew will be the least restrictive needed to meet a “compelling need.” It did not admit liability but will pay the ACLU nearly $16,900 in attorneys’ fees and costs. A rash of break-ins and burglaries prompted the curfew, adopted in February 2011. The ACLU says about 134 people were cited, arrested, fined or jailed before the curfew was suspended in October, after the suit was filed.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office says an Arnaudville Elementary school teacher was arrested and charged with six counts of "exhibition of material harmful to minors. Deputies say Brandon
Levier admitted to showing R rated movies to his students. They say a parent complained that her child came home and told her the teacher showed a movie with a naked woman in it and cuss words. The movies shown were Ted and Hangover.
The Livingston Parish man accused of stabbing his wife last October, and cutting her unborn child from her womb, says he was under the influence of synthetic marijuana at the time. 31-year-old Jeffrey
Reynolds told a judge Thursday he deeply regrets what he did, and hopes the state will take steps to eradicate the designer drug. Reynolds' wife survived the gruesome attack, the baby did not. He's still
being held in custody awaiting his trial.
The lineup for the 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is out. Among top headliners this year, Billy Joel, the Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, Fleetwood Mac and dozens more. Tickets are now on sale at "nojazzfest.com" and at ticketmaster. .
A new debt refinancing plan for the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District includes a $108 million payment to get out of a loan agreement that became too costly. The $108 million termination charge is part of a $361 million bond refinancing approved by the State Bond Commission on Thursday. State treasurer John Kenney said, the state in the end, got a good deal and that the agreement got the state out of one of the worst deals he has ever seen. The initial borrowing was done to put what is now called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome back into commerce following Hurricane Katrina and included money for renovations, improvements and working capital. Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s administration initiated the borrowing plan which was opposed by Bond Commission staff. The commission approved it anyway.
Crime Stoppers is seeking help to find the driver of a truck that backed into Tunk's Restaurant off La. Highway 28 West on Wednesday, causing damage to the building and its air conditioning unit, according to a release. The driver was in a black Ford dually pickup truck, and the incident happened around 10:30 p.m. The total amount of damage done hasn't been determined. Anyone with information can call Detective R. Rollins at (318) 473-6727 or Crime Stoppers at (318) 443-7867.