News for Tuesday 081213
By Dave Graichen
It looks like the renovation of the Rapides parish Coliseum may soon be back on track. The Rapides Parish Police Jury turned the $23 million project over to Alliance Design Group LLC Monday. The jury voted to hire Alliance moments after terminating its contract with Barron, Heinberg & Brocato, which recently told the jury it could not complete its design for a renovated coliseum within the agreed upon budget. After hearing from BH&B two weeks ago, jury members met with Bill Tudor of Alliance who assured them his design will work within the construction budget.
The Washington Examiner reports some within the republican party want Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertston to run for US Representative Rodney Alexander's congressional seat. Alexander is stepping down and an election for his seat will be held in October. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says the odds of Willie Robertson running for Congress are low, but if he wants to get into politics, now would be a great time. The fourth season of Duck Dynasty debuts tomorrow night on A-and-E.
The Louisiana Lottery announces they've transferred over $160 million to the state treasury for K-12 public education after making more than $447.3 million in revenue for the fiscal year 2013. Spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin that's $26.2 million more than the state expected mostly due to the two record Powerball jackpots. Chopin says 35 percent of all Lottery proceeds in Louisiana is transferred to the state treasury and dedicated for K-12 public education. According to Chopin, no other lottery jurisdiction in the US contributes a greater percentage of revenue to its government.
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley calls on higher education leaders to come together and present the legislature with ways to adequately fund public colleges and universities. Since 2008, higher education has seen nearly a 700-million dollar cut in state funding, which has led to budget cuts on campuses. Kleckley says he's open to any ideas. However, Higher education leaders have been asking for greater control over tuition costs, but that idea has been rejected by the legislature. Kleckley says state lawmakers are not going to grant that request, unless they know graduation and retention rates will improve..
State police are investigating a crash on I-20 just east of Gibsland early yesterday morning. Bienville Parish authorities say a family of five where pulled over to the side of the road as the father helped the seven-year-old son out because he was not feeling well. It was at that moment an 18-wheeler drove off the road crashing into their van killing the boy, his dad, and the semi driver.
An ordinance is being considered by the Terrebonne Parish Council that would make it illegal for anyone to sleep in public. Officials there say they're getting a lot of complaints about parks becoming bedrooms for homeless people. But the executive director of the Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union Marjorie Esman says a law like this is no way to go about solving the problem. She says the parish should bring on new programs that would help assist people who don't have a place to live or a bed to sleep in. She calls such an ordinance bad public policy..
The crazy ants have finally been confirmed in Louisiana. In fact, the folks in north Baton Rouge around Central, Baker and Scotlandville have been inundated by the small, reddish brown insects. They're called crazy ants because they simply run around in patterns that make no sense. They form huge mounds with several queens. The good news if there is any good news is they don't sting, rarely bite and if they do, their bite isn't really felt by too many folks. And when you spray them, they die.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the mother of man who died after he was shocked with a Taser stun gun in 2010. The 28-year-old man was tased twice after he allegedly became uncooperative when approached for questioning about a suspected drug deal . the coroner’s report said he died from complications of bronchial asthma, but also found that “the stress resulting from the physical altercation with the police and the use of a Taser device were also contributing factors.
It's been a slight change, but the gas prices in Louisiana have been dropping over the past several days as the summer travel season winds down. Don Redman with the American Automobile Association says the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is about 5 cents less than it was this time last week and about 12 cents cheaper than it was at this time last year. He says they feel the drop will continue but that could change at a moment's notice if problems arise in the middle east.
The ongoing federal budget stalemate that led to the so-called “sequester” also could affect more than $1 billion in anticipated coastal restoration funds for Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states. The sequester, which began in March its across-the-board spending reductions, is holding back 5 percent of the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund and that increases to 7.2 percent beginning Oct. 1 for the 2014 fiscal year. The federal government is estimating setting aside $23 million in the fund for the upcoming fiscal year. But the concern is that if the sequester continues, well more than $1 billion could be halted from going to the affected Gulf Coast states once all of the BP civil penalties are determined. The next phase of the BP oil leak trial begins on Sept. 30, and the outcome could determine how much Louisiana and four other states get.