News for Friday 121313
By Dave Graichen
Rainy weather in the forecast for this evening has postponed the Pineville Christmas parade. The parade, instead of tonight, will kick off at 7pm on Monday evening. The route will remain the same, starting by Huey P. Long and traveling towards Louisiana College on Main street.
Christmas parades are scheduled for Saturday in Cenla, including Pollock at 10 a.m.; Cheneyville at 11 a.m.; Boyce at 2 p.m.; Ball at 2 p.m.; and Bunkie at 4 p.m. The Cottonport parade is set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday. And don’t forget the Holiday Safari of lights at the Alexandria Zoo, Tonight and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Last but not least, the Christmas Festival Of Lights Continue in Natchitoches.
The Gillis Long Bridge connecting Alexandria and Pineville reopened to traffic yesterday after being closed in September. State Department of Transportation Spokesperson Deidra Druilet (Drool-yet) says during the construction, the structure was repaired and the sidewalks were widened. The bridge still closed to pedestrian traffic for the next few weeks. There is a free pedestrian and cyclist shuttle service running from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week and during holidays.
An excessive amount of unexcused absences in school has led to the arrest of almost 100 East Baton Rouge Parish parents. According to officials, charges of improper supervision of a minor were made against parents over a two-day round-up, conducted by local law enforcement. There were almost 150 truancy cases reported by the Family Youth Service Center.
Louisiana State Police and State Highway Safety Commission announce the annual holiday "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign kicks off today. LSP Sgt. Nick Manale says they be working with local law enforcement agencies around the state to make sure that motorists are making the right decisions. He says during the 2012 Christmas and New Year's Holiday period, 12 people were killed and more than 1300 were injured in highway crashes in Louisiana.
A Shreveport lawmaker feels Christmas and Hanukkah should be celebrated in public schools, without restriction or punishment, and says he'll file legislation to that effect. Representative Alan
Seabaugh says he will introduce that bill in the spring, so it can be fully in effect for next year.
There's now assistance available for farmers and ranchers in recovery from last summer's drought in 20 Louisiana parishes. Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain adds that seven parishes will also be eligible for disaster assistance loans as well. The help covers mostly northern, western and central Louisiana Parishes. For info go to ldaf.la.gov
The Jindal administration announced Thursday afternoon that a tax amnesty program generated $435 million, far more than legislators expected. The program offered taxpayers an incentive for settling tax disputes or clearing back taxes. Interest was reduced. Penalties were waived. Legislators expected the program to produce at least $200 million for health care expenses in the state operating budget. Instead, it brought in more than double that amount.
A DeRidder man has been booked into the Leesville City Jail, accused of robbing City Savings Bank on Monday. 26 year old Michael Lee Jones was arrested Wednesday after an investigation into the armed robbery of the Leesville bank that happened late Monday. Jones was charged with armed robbery. Bond was set at $200,000. The investigation continues.
A new report from the group "Human Rights Watch" says law enforcement and public policy are contributing to the state's HIV epidemic. Megan McLemore, with HRW, authored the report, which says cops arrest people and take their condoms and clean needles. She says Louisiana should adopt clean-needle exchange programs form intravenous drug addicts, like those already in place in several other major U.S. cities.
The State Fire Marshal's office says a structure fire in Lincoln Parish claimed the life of a 58 year old man from Ruston. They say it appears Robert Nelson had helped his 76 year old mother out of
the home then went back inside to attempt to extinguish the blaze, but was never seen alive again. It is not believed there was a working smoke alarm in the home.
Loggers in Beauregard Parish found something you don't see every day: An adult bald eagle sitting in between sitting between a row of pine trees. It turns out the female eagle was injured, so the workers contacted the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, who in turn transported the bird to the Heckhaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The adult eagle is expected to recover.