News For Tuesday 112613
by Dave Graichen
An ironic tragedy in Rapides Parish, as a local fireman died Sunday, when his own house caught fire. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says Dustin Bordelon was likely asleep when the fire started, but it appears something was left on the stove and that caused the blaze. Bordelon died at a nearby hospital. Browning says its a tragic time for the Bordelon family and for all the firefighters, who've lost a comrade. Browning says it appears there were no working smoke detectors in Bordelon's home.
Gas prices have jumped 14-cents in the past week, according to gasbuddy.com. They have the statewide average for a gallon of regular gasoline at around $3.15. Gasbuddy's senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan says several refineries along the gulf coast had unexpected maintenance issues and that's led to a higher price at the pump. But DeHaan says this sudden jump in gas prices shouldn't last long. Prices should begin to drop next week.
Louisiana is seeing the beginnings of a construction boom that may last through 2016 and beyond. Figures from the Associated General Contractors of America shows Louisiana had an 8.3% increase in construction jobs over the past 12 months; the 3rd-highest in the nation. LSU economist Dr. Loren Scott says the boom is just beginning. He says low natural gas costs are driving a boom in expansion of chemical plants - mostly across the southern parishes and river
regions that should last into 2017 or 2018.
Related news: Sasol officials announced Monday that Technip, of Paris France, has been awarded the front-end engineering design contract for the company's gas-to-liquids complex near Lake Charles. Once complete, Sasol's GTL complex is expected to produce more than 96,000 barrels of diesel fuels and chemicals each day.
The state Bond Commission has approved a funding plan to build the final segments of I-49 North, and begin work on upgrading US 90 into a new I-49 South. State Treasurer John Kennedy says the plan is to sell up to $100-million in bonds, by using money in the state's unclaimed property fund. Kennedy says the unclaimed property dollars will be used as collateral for the bond sales, which will begin almost immediately. He says the plan calls for $80-million to be invested in completing I-49 North, and $20-million as an initial investment in I-49 South, between Lafayette and New Orleans
The Louisiana Department of Revenue says the tax amnesty period that ended on Friday reached the goal of collecting 200-million dollars in unpaid taxes. Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield says they are still processing all of the paperwork from those taxpayers, so a final number is not known.
A report from the Legislative Auditor's office suggests the state has done a poor job of overseeing the Women Infants & Children food benefits program. The report says the Office of Public Health, who administers WIC, didn't verify grocery prices charged through the program, overpaid for food, didn't follow regulations governing the program and more. WIC costs taxpayers $126-million a year.
Police in New Orleans seek a hit & run driver that knocked a woman and a toddler off the I-10 High Rise Bridge over the Industrial Canal. 29-year-old Danielle Rhone and her 2-year-old nephew were passengers in a sedan that broke down on the bridge Sunday. A chain reaction crash hit them, tossing them over the bridge railing. Police seek a white Chevy Suburban with damage on the passenger side and a Ford pickup truck, both of which fled the scene.
A Legislative Auditor's report shows the state hasn't sought to collect thousands of unpaid tolls for crossing the Highway 1 bridge on the way to Grand Isle. An audit released today said nearly
300,000 images taken of license plates for people who apparently didn't pay the toll on La. Highway 1 in Leeville remained unbilled when the last fiscal year ended, June 30.
Louisiana Lottery officials say one ticket, sold in Kenner, in Jefferson Parish, won the $475-thousand jackpot in Saturday's Louisiana Lotto drawing. The Lotto jackpot will reset to a
quarter-million bucks for Wednesday night's drawing. There was no Powerball winner Saturday night. That jackpot will be $60-million for Wednesday.
Another argument against riding in pickup truck beds. An 18-year-old man was killed over the weekend, when he was tossed from a moving pickup, as it turned from a side road onto U.S. 61 near Gonzales, in Ascension Parish. State Police say Eric Martin was thrown out into oncoming traffic and hit by another pickup truck. They say the driver was unable to avoid him.