News for Thursday 083013
By Dave Graichen
Labor Day Weekend gets underway today, and travel experts forecast an increase in the number of folks traveling for the holiday. Louisiana AAA's Don Redman says about 34-million Americans will travel 50 or more miles this weekend. He says that's a 4% increase over last year. Redman says the increase in holiday travel this year is largely due to increased consumer spending and a generally better economy.
Things are changing at the Alexander Fulton Hotel, or are they? New Orleans-based Windfeel Properties is taking over the city-owned property from Noble Hospitality, Inc., which had managed the hotel for more than two years. Noble Hospitality’s agreement with the city runs out Saturday at midnight. The terms of the agreement will be the same as the previous agreement with Noble. Under that agreement, the city does not pay a management fee but is responsible for capital improvements. The management company assumes operational costs of the facility.
Louisiana's Board of Regents launches an initiative to entice university graduates, who've left the state, to bring their skills and knowledge back home. Higher Education Commissioner Jim Purcell says Operation Recall will target over 40-thousand degreed grads via direct mailings and other methods - hoping to convince them to come back and help fill a growing need for their particular job skills.
Lafayette Police are investigating what could be a murder-suicide. Lafayette PD Corporal Nicole Benoit says officers responded to a burglary call, to find the body of a white female - apparently shot to death. They developed a person of interest in the case and tracked him to a second address. Where they found him dead as well. Police have confirmed the two victims were related. Their identities have not been released.
A state law that allows state government to grab casino winnings from parents behind on their child support has surpassed the $1 million mark. The Department of Children and Family Services says that it's collected $1.2-million from 969 noncustodial parents at casinos across Louisiana. The biggest single interception was over $23-thousand from the Amelia Belle near Morgan City last year. The collections make a small dent in the more than $1.3-billion owed by deadbeat parents.
A Lake Charles couple are behind bars for the alleged rape of a 9-year-old boy. Police say Ryan Garcia and Olivia O'Brien face charges of aggravated rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile,
for reportedly forcing the victim to engage in sex acts, then threatening him if he told anyone. Garcia is also a registered sex offender. Both are in jail pending large bail amounts.
LSU System President and Chancellor F. King Alexander wants to merge the LSU Agricultural Center’s administrative functions with the university’s College of Agriculture. The two entities operated jointly until a split in 1972. Alexander is expected to make the case for consolidation Sept. 6 at the LSU Board of Supervisors meeting where he will lay a nine-month phase-in for the idea, if approved by the board.
The clock is ticking down for dozens of community organizations caught in a disagreement with state Treasurer John Kennedy. Kennedy’s office released Thursday a list of organizations that he said failed to detail how they spent state dollars. He said he will submit noncompliant organizations’ names next week to the Office of Debt Recovery, which could demand repayment of state dollars.
The list of 29 groups includes organizations with ties to former or current state legislators.
According to a new report, the number of fatal accidents in Louisiana involving drunk drivers is going down. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission deputy director Kenneth Trull says the number of alcohol-related fatalities has dropped from 446 in 2007 to 297 in 2012. He says they attribute this good news to many factors mainly increased law enforcement presence.
In a highly unusual move, a judge ordered criminal background checks Thursday on the members of the grand jury that indicted accused murderer Seth Fontenot in the Feb. 10 death of one teen and wounding of two others after the defense questioned whether any of jurors had a felony record. Investigators will use the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database to identify felons who might have served on the Lafayette Parish grand jury that indicted Fontenot Feb. 21. State law bars people with a felony conviction from serving on a grand jury, and Fontenot’s indictment could be called into question if a felon served on the grand jury that heard his case earlier this year.