KSYL Local News Archives for 2011-07

News For Friday 072911


NEWS FOR MONDAY 072911
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

CLECO CUSTOMERS WILL BE GETTING AN AVERAGE OF 21-DOLLARS REFUNDED ON THE BILLS FOR AUGUST. CLECO'S ARRANGEMENT WITH THE LOUISIANA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CALLS FOR THE REFUND AFTER A BIG JUMP IN THEIR REVENUES LAST YEAR. THE AMOUNT OF THE REFUND WILL DEPEND ON YOUR ENERGY USAGE.

AS KIDS GET READY TO HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL, THE RAPIDES PARISH HEALTH UNIT IS HOSTING A BACK TO SCHOOL VACCINATION BLITZ TODAY. THE EVENT IS BEING HELD AT THE RAPIDES PARISH HEALTH UNIT ON COLISEUM BLVD. IN ALEXANDRIA FROM 8:30 A.M. TO NOON. IMMUNIZATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN ATTENDING DAY-CARE CENTERS AND HEAD START CENTERS AND FOR CHILDREN GOING INTO THE SIXTH GRADE. TODAY’S EVENT FEATURES NO OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES TO PARTICIPANTS.

BACK IN APRIL, THE ALEXANDRIA HOUSING AUTHORITY UNVEILED A NEW THE 64-UNIT, MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR LOW INCOME APARTMENT COMPLEX. IT WAS EXPECTED THEN RESIDENTS WOULD BE ALLOWED TO MOVE INTO THEIR NEW HOMES SHORTLY THERE AFTER. BUT THE COMPLEX HAS SAT VACANT SINCE THEN AS AHA OFFICIALS HAVE WAITED FOR A CHECK FROM HUD TO PAY VENDORS AND HELP RELOCATE RESIDENTS. TODAY AHA OFFICIALS WILL SUBMIT A REPORT TO HUD ON ALL OF THE EXPENSES AT LEGACY HEIGHTS. THE QUESTION FOR MANY IS, WHAT TOOK SO LONG. IT’S HOPED HUD WILL, UPON RECEIVING THE REPORT, RELEASE THE FUNDS.

48 YEAR OLD JOHNNY MATHIS OF LECOMPTE PLEADED GUILTY IN APRIL TO FIRING THREE SHOTS AT THE HOME OF HIS NEIGHBORS AND THEN SETTING FIRE TO THEIR HOUSE. THE JUNE 15, 2008, INCIDENT SENT THREE ILLEGAL RESIDENTS FROM MEXICO FLEEING FROM THEIR HOME AS THEY THEN WATCHED IT BURN. YESTERDAY, MATHIS WAS SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS IN PRISON. HIS ATTORNEY SAID THE SENTENCE WAS THE BEST THEY COULD HOPE FOR. MATHIS, AS YOU MAY SUSPECT, WAS DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE INCIDENT.

TWO OFFICERS AT THE NATCHITOCHES PARISH DETENTION CENTER HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF PROVIDING ILLEGAL DRUGS TO INMATES. 23-YEAR-OLD DEMETRUS LEWIS AND 33-YEAR-OLD GARY FONTENOT ARE PART-TIME EMPLOYEES AT THE JAIL. AUTHORITIES ACCUSED THEM OF SMUGGLING NARCOTICS AND CONTRABAND TO PRISONERS. LEWIS HAS BEEN BOOKED WITH CONSPIRING TO INTRODUCE CONTRABAND INTO A DETENTION CENTER, POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE, POSSESSION OF ECSTASY WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE AND POSSESSION OF HYDROCODONE. FONTENOT HAS BEEN BOOKED WITH CONSPIRING TO INTRODUCE CONTRABAND INTO THE JAIL. EACH WAS HELD IN THE PARISH JAIL, PENDING BOND. BOTH MEN HAVE BEEN FIRED.

SPECIALTY BAG MAKER RONPAK INC. SAID THURSDAY THAT IT WILL SPEND $16.8 MILLION TO BUILD A MANUFACTURING PLANT AT THE PORT OF SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER, CREATING 175 JOBS. THE PROJECT WILL BE THE THIRD MANUFACTURING PLANT FOR RONPAK, WHICH IS BASED IN SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID LOUISIANA WON A SITE SELECTION COMPETITION WITH THREE OTHER STATES. UNDER A DEAL WITH THE STATE, RONPAK WILL RECEIVE A $3.55 MILLION PERFORMANCE-BASED GRANT FOR EQUIPMENT PURCHASES AS THE COMPANY MEETS PAYROLL TARGETS. THE COMPANY ALSO IS ELIGIBLE FOR REBATES FOR CREATING NEW JOBS AND STATE-SUPPORTED TRAINING FOR ITS WORKERS. HIRING IS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN IN SEPTEMBER WITH PLANT COMPLETION SCHEDULED FOR THE END OF 2012.

A HIGH PRESSURE RIDGE ACROSS THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO COMBINED WITH OTHER WEATHER FACTORS IS PUSHING TROPICAL STORM DON AWAY FROM LOUISIANA AND TOWARD A LANDFALL SOMEWHERE ON THE TEXAS COAST EARLY THIS WEEKEND. COASTAL AREAS OF LOUISIANA, PARTICULARLY IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA, MAY SEE SOME EFFECTS FROM THE STORM. FORECASTERS SAY IT COULD BE A RAIN MAKER.

SHELL AND EXXON ARE EVACUATING RIGS IN THE GULF IN ANTICIPATION OF TROPICAL STORM DON. AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS THERE MAY BE SOME LOCALIZED FLUCTUATIONS IN THE PRICE OF GAS. BUT, HE DOESN’T EXPECT THAT.

THE BATTLE OVER RAISING THE DEBT CEILING CONTINUES AS THE AUGUST SECOND DEADLINE LOOMS OVER CAPITOL HILL. METAIRIE CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE SAYS UNTIL DEMOCRATS ARE READY TO CONFRONT THE SPENDING PROBLEM AND WORK TOWARD A BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION HE DOESN'T SEE AN END TO THE CRISIS. US SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU WAS A MEMBER OF THE GANG OF SIX; THE BIPARTISAN GROUP THAT OFFERED A PLAN THAT HAD SUPPORT FROM MEMBERS OF BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES. SHE BACKS A PLAN THAT CALLS FOR A MORE BALANCED APPROACH TO REDUCE THE DEBT BY AS MUCH A 4-TRILLION DOLLARS. IT APPEARS NOW, THAT PLAN MAY BE DEAD.

A STATE WIDE PUSH IS ON TO CUT HOUSE FIRE DEATHS, BY GETTING WORKING SMOKE DETECTORS INTO AS MANY LOUISIANA HOMES AS POSSIBLE. STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS "OPERATION SAVE A LIFE" WAS BORN OUT OF NECESSITY. BROWNING SAYS "OPERATION SAVE A LIFE" PROMOTES THE USE OF SMOKE DETECTORS WITH THE NEW TEN-YEAR LITHIUM POWER PACK. BROWNING SAYS A SERIES OF EVENTS WILL BE HELD SATURDAY AT HOME DEPOT STORES ACROSS THE STATE, WHERE LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS WILL ANSWER QUESTIONS, PROVIDE INSTALLATION TIPS AND MORE. MORE INFO IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT "SFM.DPS.LOUISIANA.GOV"

POLITICAL POLLSTER BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS IF FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS WAS ABLE TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR THIS FALL HE WOULD HAVE NO LACK OF SUPPORT. PINSONAT OF SOUTHERN MEDIA AND OPINION RESEARCH HAS NOT CONDUCTED A POLL ON THE QUESTION OF AN EDWARDS VS. JINDAL CONTEST HE SAYS HE HAS ENCOUNTERED PLENTY OF PRO EDWARDS SENTIMENT. HE SAYS MR. EDWARDS CAN DRAW A BIGGER CROWD THAN JINDAL.

AS THE SAINTS REPORT TO TRAINING CAMP, THEY’RE DOING SO WITHOUT REGGIE BUSH WHO WAS TRADED TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS. BUSH HAS AGREED TO A TWO YEAR DEAL WITH HIS NEW TEAM. BUSH WAS SET TO MAKE NEARLY 12-MILLION DOLLARS THIS YEAR WITH THE SAINTS AND TRADING THE FORMER U-S-C STAR WILL GIVE THE SAINTS THE MONEY THEY NEED TO SIGN SOME OF THEIR OTHER FREE AGENTS.

ELLE MAGAZINE HAS RELEASED "THE LOVELIEST CELEBRITY NATIVE OF EACH STATE" AND FOR LOUISIANA, REESE WITHERSPOON WAS SELECTED. ACCORDING TO WIKIPEDIA, WITHERSPOON WAS BORN AT THE FORMER SOUTHERN BAPTIST HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS.

News For Thursday 072811


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 072811
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TROPICAL STORM DON CONTINUES TO SLOWLY CHURN WESTWARD INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER FORECASTER RICHARD PASCH SAYS DON IS EXPECTED TO KEEP TRACKING WEST AND NORTHWEST, WITH LITTLE PROBABILITY OF HITTING LOUISIANA'S COAST. DON'S CURRENT "CONE OF PROBABILITY" TAKES IT ASHORE SOMEWHERE ALONG THE TEXAS COAST. PASCH SAYS DON IS NOT PREDICTED TO GROW MUCH STRONGER. PASCH SAYS DON SHOULD MAKE LANDFALL SOMETIME LATE FRIDAY OR EARLY SATURDAY MORNING.

WITH A TROPICAL STORM APPROACHING, ROYAL DUTCH SHELL SAYS IT HAS EVACUATED ABOUT 70 NON-ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL FROM PRODUCTION AND DRILLING OPERATIONS IN THE EXTREME SOUTHWEST GULF OF MEXICO.

72 YEAR OLD MILTON DAIGRE OF ALEXANDRIA WAS KILLED YESTERDAY MORNING IN A ONE VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON THE SOUTH TRAFFIC CIRCLE. DETAILS ARE STILL SKETCHY AS TO THE CAUSE OF THE WRECK. THE APD SAYS THEY ARE STILL INVESTIGATING. MILTON DAIGRE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

AFTER AN OFFICIAL RIBBON CUTTING AT 5:30 THIS AFTERNOON, COPELAND’S RESTAURANT IN ALEXANDRIA WILL REOPEN IT’S DOORS AFTER ALMOST A YEAR. COPELAND'S FIRST OPENED IN MARCH 2005, BUT FRANCHISE OWNER DAVID PUGH CLOSED IT NEARLY A YEAR AGO IN AUGUST. HOWEVER, WHEN IT REOPENS TONIGHT, IT WILL BE UNDER CORPORATE OWNERSHIP. THE BUILDING, LOCATED BY THE SOUTH TRAFFIC CIRCLE, HAS BEEN COMPLETELY RENOVATED.

RECENTLY RELEASED DATA FROM THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION LISTS SIX CENLA SCHOOLS, ONE FROM AVOYELLES PARISH, ONE FROM NATCHITOCHES PARISH AND FOUR FROM RAPIDES PARISH, AS ACADEMICALLY UNACCEPTABLE. THE STATE ALSO RELEASED ITS ANNUAL ACADEMIC WATCH LIST, WHICH NAMES 16 CENLA SCHOOLS.
THIS YEAR, SCHOOLS WERE UNDER GREATER PRESSURE TO PERFORM DUE TO A HIGHER STANDARD FOR SCHOOL PERFORMANCE SCORES, WHICH INCREASED FROM 60 POINTS TO 65. STATE OFFICIALS POINTED TO THE FIVE-POINT BOOST IN THE MINIMUM STANDARDS AS THE REASON MORE LOUISIANA SCHOOLS MADE THIS YEAR'S LISTS. NEXT YEAR, REQUIRED MINIMUM SCORES WILL RISE TO 75 POINTS.

WINNFIELD POLICE CHIEF JOHNNIE RAY CARPENTER HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO SIX MONTHS IN PRISON FOR INTERFERING WITH THE ARREST OF A WOMAN WANTED FOR BANK FRAUD IN WASHINGTON STATE. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE JAMES D. KIRK ON WEDNESDAY ALSO SENTENCED CARPENTER TO ONE YEAR OF SUPERVISED RELEASE AND IMPOSED A $4,000 FINE. CARPENTER WAS CONVICTED IN FEDERAL COURT IN APRIL ON A MISDEMEANOR CHARGE OF OBSTRUCTING THE ARREST OF A FUGITIVE. FEDERAL OFFICERS WERE MAKING AN ARREST IN WINNFIELD IN AUGUST 2009 WHEN CARPENTER INCITED A CROWD OF PEOPLE AGAINST THEM.

THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION REPORTED WEDNESDAY THAT ANNUAL JOB GROWTH IN LOUISIANA SLOWED A BIT IN JUNE, BUT THE STATE STILL POSTED ITS LARGEST NUMBER OF PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS SINCE DECEMBER 2008. THE STATE HAD 11,600 MORE NON-FARM JOBS LAST MONTH THAN IN JUNE 2010. THE LARGEST GAINERS INCLUDED PRIVATE EDUCATION AND HEALTH SERVICES, LEISURE-HOSPITALITY, TRADE, TRANSPORTATION AND UTILITIES AND THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR THE PETROLEUM SECTOR HAS BEEN LARGELY STAGNANT OVER THE PAST YEAR. ON THE OTHER HAND, CONSTRUCTION, WHICH HAS BEEN HIT BY THE NATIONAL HOUSING MELTDOWN, HAS DROPPED 2,700 JOBS.

RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ARRESTED 21 YEAR OLD ANDRE BATISTE YESTERDAY AFTER THEY FOUND HE WAS IN POSSESSION OF A POUND OF MARIJUANA, FOUR GRAMS OF COCAINE AND THREE HANDGUNS. BATISTE WAS CHARGED WITH TWO COUNTS OF DRUG POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE, THREE COUNTS OF DRUG POSSESSION, DRUG POSSESSION IN A SCHOOL ZONE AND ILLEGAL CARRYING OF A WEAPON WITH DRUGS. THE ARREST CAME AFTER DEPUTIES RECEIVED A TIP TO SEARCH BATISTE'S RESIDENCE.

ACCORDING TO POLICE IN LAFAYETTE, TWO PEOPLE WERE FOUND DEAD IN A HOUSE IN THEIR CITY YESTERDAY MORNING. CORPORAL PAUL MOUTON SAID A FRIEND OF THE TWO VICTIMS FOUND THE BODIES. THE AGES AND NAMES OF THE VICTIMS--ONE MALE, ONE
FEMALE--HAVE NOT BEEN RELEASED YET, PENDING NOTIFICATION OF NEXT OF KIN. MOUTON CALLED THE DEATHS--QUOTE--"VERY SUSPICIOUS IN NATURE."

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HELPED BREAK GROUND YESTERDAY ON THE NEW LOUISIANA DIGITAL MEDIA CENTER AT LSU IN BATON ROUGE. THE 94-THOUSAND SQUARE FOOT FACILITY WILL HOUSE THE UNIVERSITY'S CENTER FOR COMPUTER TECH AND ELECTRONIC ARTS' DIGITAL MEDIA TEST CENTER. THE GOVERNOR SAYS IT'S THE START OF A NEW ERA OF TECH-RELATED BUSINESS HERE IN LOUISIANA.

A YEAR AFTER THE DEEPWATER HORIZON EXPLOSION AND THE BP OIL SPILL, THREE OF LOUISIANA'S PREMIER FISHING RODEOS ARE MAKING A COMEBACK THIS WEEKEND. STATE WILDLIFE & FISHERIES ASSISTANT SECRETARY RANDY PAUSINA SAYS THE RETURN OF THESE EVENTS IS GREAT NEWS FOR THE STATE. THE GRAND ISLE TARPON RODEO AND THE FAUX PAS (FOH PAH) RODEO IN VENICE BOTH START TODAY, AND THE WEST DELTA KINGFISH INVITATIONAL KICKS OFF FRIDAY AT THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI. PAUSINA SAYS THE ECONOMIC BENEFIT OF EVEN JUST ONE EVENT IS A MAJOR BOON TO THE PARISH AND THE
STATE.

LOUISIANA'S UTILITY REGULATORS THREW THEIR SUPPORT WEDNESDAY BEHIND A NATIONAL PROPOSAL FOR AT&T TO BUY T-MOBILE USA FOR $39 BILLION. IT WOULD GIVE AT&T 43 PERCENT OF THE STATE'S WIRELESS MARKET. THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION VOTED 4-1 TO BACK THE MERGER IDEA, WHICH IS AWAITING FEDERAL CONSIDERATION.

FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS AND TRINA SCOTT WILL BE MARRIED TOMORROW BY THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT, KITTY KIMBALL. THE FORMER CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND HIS FINANCE WILL TIE THE KNOT SOMEPLACE IN NEW ORLEANS ON FRIDAY, THE DAY BEFORE EDWARDS' 84TH BIRTHDAY.

CABLE TV VIEWERS GET TO SEE A DIFFERENT SIDE OF ANGOLA STATE PRISON TONIGHT, AS THE DOCUMENTARY "SERVING LIFE" AIRS ON OWN, THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK. ANGOLA WARDEN BURL CAIN SAYS THE FILM FOCUSES ON THE PRISON'S HOSPICE PROGRAM FOR TERMINALLY ILL & DYING INMATES. LISA COHEN'S FILM FOLLOWS A GROUP OF INMATE HOSPICE CARE WORKERS, AS THEY TRY TO EASE INMATES THROUGH THE END OF LIFE. CAIN SAYS ANGOLA STARTED THE COUNTRY'S FIRST PRISON HOSPICE YEARS AGO, AS A MONEY-SAVING EFFORT.


News For Wednesday 07/27/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 072711
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE IS CONSIDERING THE CLOSURE OF 51 OFFICES IN LOUISIANA.
THE AGENCY'S LIST RELEASED TUESDAY INCLUDES TWO IN ALEXANDRIA , THE SOUTH PARK AND DOWNTOWN BRANCHES, TWO BRANCHES IN NEW ORLEANS AND ONE EACH IN BATON ROUGE, LAFAYETTE AND LAKE CHARLES. THE REST OF THE CLOSURES WOULD HIT SMALLER COMMUNITIES. THE FINANCIALLY-TROUBLED POSTAL SERVICE ANNOUNCED THAT IT WILL STUDY 3,653 LOCAL OFFICES, BRANCHES AND STATIONS FOR POSSIBLE CLOSING. BUT MANY OF THOSE MAY BE REPLACED BY VILLAGE POST OFFICES IN WHICH POSTAL SERVICES ARE OFFERED IN LOCAL STORES, LIBRARIES OR GOVERNMENT OFFICES. BEING ON THE STUDY LIST DOES NOT MEAN NECESSARILY THAT A POST OFFICE WILL CLOSE.

THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CONSIDERED FAILING , OR "ACADEMICALLY UNACCEPTABLE", UNDER THE STATE'S ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM JUMPED FROM 48 LAST YEAR TO 135 THIS YEAR. BUT THAT NUMBER DOESN'T MEAN THE SCHOOLS ARE GETTING WORSE. THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT SAID TUESDAY THAT, OVERALL, SCHOOLS IMPROVED THEIR PERFORMANCE SCORES. HOWEVER, THE HIGHER NUMBER OF FAILING SCHOOLS IS DUE TO HIGHER PERFORMANCE STANDARDS THAT TOOK EFFECT THIS YEAR.
ALSO, THIS YEAR'S FIGURES INCLUDE "ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS" THAT SERVE STUDENTS WITH ACADEMIC OR BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS. THOSE SCHOOLS WERE NOT INCLUDED IN LAST YEAR'S RANKINGS.

STATE LAWMAKERS WON'T BE RETURNING TO THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL NEXT WEEK TO TRY TO OVERRIDE GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S VETOES. HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT, AS EXPECTED, A MAJORITY OF HOUSE MEMBERS VOTED TO SCRAP THE AUG. 2 VETO SESSION THAT WAS AUTOMATICALLY SET WHEN JINDAL REJECTED BILLS FROM THE RECENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION. A SENATE SPOKESWOMAN SAYS SENATORS ALSO VOTED AGAINST THE SESSION. LAWMAKERS HAVE NEVER HELD A VETO SESSION SINCE THE CURRENT STATE CONSTITUTION WAS ENACTED NEARLY 40 YEARS AGO. GOVERNOR JINDAL REJECTED 18 BILLS IN THE RECENT SESSION. ALL THOSE VETOES WILL STAND.

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS KEEPING ITS EYE ON A TROPICAL WAVE SOUTH OF CUBA THAT'S BECOMING BETTER ORGANIZED. COMPUTER MODELS HAVE THE DISTURBANCE CROSSING THE TIP OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA AND HEADING TOWARDS THE TEXAS-MEXICO BORDER.

ABBEVILLE POLICE SAY THEY'VE POSITIVELY ID'D THE REMAINS OF A MAN FOUND INSIDE THE CHIMNEY OF THE BANK OF ABBEVILLE WEEKS AGO. POLICE SAY THE SKELETAL REMAINS ARE THOSE OF JOHN SCHEXNIDER, WHO WAS LAST SEEN IN JANUARY OF 1984. SCHEXNIDER HAD A HISTORY OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY, BUT OFFICERS SAY IT WAS UNKNOWN IF HE WAS TRYING TO ROB THE BANK WHEN HE GOT STUCK IN THE CHIMNEY 27 YEARS AGO.

TIES BETWEEN OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS COMPANIES AND THE AGENCY THAT REGULATES THEM PERSIST, NEARLY A YEAR AFTER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCED AN OVERHAUL OF ETHICS RULES TO DETER SUCH COZY RELATIONSHIPS, DOCUMENTS OBTAINED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SHOW. ABOUT 1 OF EVERY 5 EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IN OFFSHORE INSPECTIONS IN THE GULF OF MEXICO HAS BEEN RECUSED FROM SOME DUTIES BECAUSE THEY COULD COME IN CONTACT WITH A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND WORKING FOR A COMPANY THEY REGULATE.

THE LOUISIANA CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED PERSONS IS URGING CONGRESS NOT TO USE SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE AS BARGAINING CHIPS IN THE FIGHT OVER THE DEBT CEILING. BRENDA HATFIELD, STATE VOLUNTEER PRESIDENT FOR AARP SAYS TALKS OF CUTS TO BOTH PROGRAMS HAVE HER MEMBERS UPSET. HATFIELD SAYS NEARLY 800-THOUSAND LOUISIANA CITIZENS RELY ON SOCIAL SECURITY. FOR MANY IT IS THEIR ONLY MEANS OF SUPPORT. SHE SAYS 677- THOUSAND RESIDENTS ARE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES. SHE SAYS THESE ARE PROGRAMS THAT HER MEMBERS HAVE PAID INTO, MOST FOR THEIR ENTIRE LIVES. HATFIELD SAYS HER ORGANIZATION IS MADE UP OF PEOPLE FROM ALL POLITICAL BELIEFS SO THEIR STANCE IS NOT BASED ON A POLITICAL AGENDA.

AN LSU AGCENTER NUTRITIONIST APPLAUDS MCDONALD'S DECISION TO SERVE A FRUIT OR VEGETABLE WITH EVERY HAPPY MEAL SOLD IN THE UNITED STATES. THE FAST FOOD CHAIN IS ALSO REDUCING THE SERVING SIZE OF ITS FRIES IN A HAPPY MEAL. DR. BETH REAMES SAYS THIS IS A GREAT MOVE BY MCDONALDS. REAMES SAYS THE ADDITION OF APPLE SLICES TO THE HAPPY MEAL WILL HOPEFULLY PROMOTE HEALTHY EATING AMONG MORE CHILDREN. REAMES SAYS MCDONALD'S CHANGE TO THE HAPPY MEAL WILL LIKELY CONVINCE
OTHER RESTAURANTS AND EVEN PARENTS TO PROVIDE CHILDREN WITH HEALTHIER
FOOD OPTIONS.


SPORTS..

THE SAINTS WILL REPORT TO TRAINING CAMP TOMORROW AND THEN HIT THE PRACTICE FIELD ON FRIDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE PLAYOFF LOSS TO SEATTLE. NEW ORLEANS WILL NOT HAVE ITS FULL TEAM UNTIL AUGUST 4TH. THAT'S BECAUSE FREE AGENTS WHO SIGN, CAN'T PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE UNTIL THEN. DREW BREES HOPES THE SAINTS SIGN A MAJORITY OF THEIR FREE AGENTS. BREES SAYS YOUNG PLAYERS WILL HAVE THE MOST DIFFICULT ADJUSTMENT TO MAKE ONCE TRAINING CAMP STARTS. BREES IS ENTERING THE FINAL YEAR OF HIS CONTRACT, BUT THE FRANCHISE Q-B SAYS A NEW CONTRACT IS NOT A PRIORITY RIGHT NOW.

LSU ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JOE ALLEVA SAYS HE'S STAYING AT LSU DESPITE OVERTURES FROM TENNESSEE. IN A STATEMENT RELEASED BY THE UNIVERSITY, ALLEVA SAYS HE DID NOT PURSUE THE VACANCY AT TENNESSEE AND IS HAPPY WITH THE SUPPORT HE IS RECEIVING FROM LSU CHANCELLOR MICHAEL MARTIN AND THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS.
EARLIER ON TUESDAY, LSU OFFICIALS SAID MARTIN WAS AWARE OF TENNESSEE'S INTEREST IN ALLEVA AND THAT HE CUT SHORT A TRIP TO NEW MEXICO AND TRAVELED BACK TO BATON ROUGE TO DEAL WITH THE MATTER. ALLEVA HAS BEEN LSU'S ATHLETIC DIRECTOR SINCE APRIL 2008, WHEN HE LEFT THE SAME JOB AT DUKE.


 

News For Tuesday 072611


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 072611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

CONGRATULATIONS TO DEBORAH RANDOLPH. THE CENLA CHAMBER'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS VOTED MONDAY TO MAKE HER THE NEW CHAMBER PRESIDENT, SUCCEEDING ELTON PODY, WHO SPENT 20 YEARS AS THE LEADER OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. PODY DIED FROM CANCER IN MARCH. RANDOLPH SAID SHE WAS “EXTREMELY HONORED AND GRATEFUL” TO BE CHOSEN PRESIDENT. RANDOLPH SAYS SHE WILL LOOK TO BUILD UPON THE YEARS OF SERVICE AND PROGRESS MADE UNDER PODY'S LEADERSHIP.

THE 50-YEAR-OLD OK ALLEN IS BEING REPLACED WITH TWO NEW SPANS ACROSS THE RED RIVER THAT WILL ADD TWO NEW LANES WHEN COMPLETED IN 2014. DOTD ENGINEER ADMINISTRATOR NICK VERRET RECOMMENDS AVOIDING THE CONGESTION AND DELAYS BY USING THE JACKSON STREET BRIDGE OR THE PURPLE HEART BRIDGE AS ALTERNATE ROUTES. PLANS WERE TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF LANES LEADING UP TO THE BRIDGE BEGINNING TODAY. HOWEVER, THAT HAS BEEN POSTPONED A DAY OR TWO DUE TO RECENT RAINS.

THE LONGEST WORK STOPPAGE IN NFL HISTORY IS OVER. PLAYERS AND OWNERS OFFICIALLY REACHED AN AGREEMENT YESTERDAY MORNING. STARTING TODAY TEAMS WILL BE ABLE TO SIGN THEIR OWN FREE AGENTS, DRAFT PICKS, UNDRAFTED ROOKIE FREE AGENTS AND MAKE TRADES. THE SAINTS WILL REPORTEDLY OPEN TRAINING CAMP ON THURSDAY.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS THE RETURN OF THE N-F-L IS GOOD NEWS FOR THE STATE'S ECONOMY. IF THE LOCKOUT WOULD HAVE LASTED PAST THIS WEEK, PRESEASON GAMES WOULD HAVE BEEN CANCELLED AND THE THREAT OF A SHORTENED REGULAR SEASON WOULD HAVE EXISTED. BUT JINDAL SAYS HE'S LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, GLAD THAT NFL FOOTBALL WILL BE PLAYED IN THE DOME.

A FEDERAL RANKING BY STATE RATES LOUISIANA SECOND BEST IN THE NATION FOR NEW JOBS CREATED OVER A FIVE-YEAR PERIOD. THE U.S. BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS SAYS THE NUMBER OF JOBS IN OUR STATE ROSE BY 56-THOUSAND BETWEEN JUNE 2006 AND LAST MONTH. LSU ECONOMIST DR. LOREN SCOTT SAYS OUR STATE WEATHERED THE RECESSION BETTER THAN MOST. SCOTT SAYS THE JOBS OUTLOOK FOR LOUISIANA'S FUTURE IS GOOD. HE SAYS THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT HAS DONE A GOOD JOB OF ENTICING BUSINESSES TO LOCATE HERE, OR EXPAND THEIR CURRENT OPERATIONS.

GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS SHREVEPORT-BASED MUSIC MOUNTAIN WATER COMPANY WILL INVEST OVER $9-MILLION EXPANDING FACILITIES TO MAKE IT'S OWN PLASTIC BOTTLES TO PACKAGE IT'S PRODUCT. THE COMPANY'S PLANS WILL MEAN RETAINING OVER 70 EXISTING JOBS AND CREATING ABOUT 25 NEW ONES. MUSIC MOUNTAIN CURRENTLY BUYS BOTTLES FROM AN OUTSIDE SOURCE FOR ITS BOTTLED WATER.

HAVE RECENT RAINS IN LOUISIANA MADE A DENT IN THE STATE'S RECORD DROUGHT? STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS - IN A WORD - "NO". THIS YEAR HAS BEEN THE WORST DROUGHT ON RECORD IN LOUISIANA GOING BACK TO 1895, WHEN RECORDS-KEEPING BEGAN. KEIM SAYS DESPITE SOME SOAKING RAINS IN RECENT WEEKS, DROUGHT CONDITIONS PERSIST. KEIM SAYS THE STATE IS, OVERALL, BEHIND ON RAINFALL BY OVER 12 INCHES. HE SAYS THE DROUGHT IS MUCH WORSE IN NORTHERN LOUISIANA THAN IN SOUTHERN PARISHES.

NEW ORLEANS' TOP TOURISM OFFICIAL HAS BEEN NAMED TO LSU'S GOVERNING BOARD BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. JINDAL'S OFFICE ANNOUNCED MONDAY THAT STEPHEN PERRY, PRESIDENT OF THE NEW ORLEANS METROPOLITAN CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU, HAS BEEN APPOINTED TO THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. PERRY WAS CHIEF OF STAFF FOR FORMER GOV. MIKE FOSTER, A GOVERNOR WHO STARTED JINDAL'S POLITICAL CAREER BY APPOINTING HIM TO JOBS AS HEALTH CARE SECRETARY AND LEADER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. PERRY REPLACES ANN DUPLESSIS, A FORMER STATE SENATOR AND DEPUTY NEW ORLEANS MAYOR, WHO FAILED TO GAIN SENATE CONFIRMATION FOR THE SEAT.

AN EMPLOYEE AT LOUIS ARMSTRONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN NEW ORLEANS WAS ACCIDENTALLY SHOT YESTERDAY, WHEN A HUNTING RIFLE WENT OFF AS IT WAS BEING BAGGAGE CHECKED. JEFFERSON PARISH DEPUTIES SAY THE BULLET RICOCHETED OFF A COUNTER AND FRAGMENTED; PART OF THE BULLET STRIKING THE WORKER'S LEG. THE WOUND IS NON-CRITICAL. THE RIFLE'S OWNER IS CHARGED WITH NEGLIGENT INJURY.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL REPORTS HE HAS $8.8-MILLION IN CAMPAIGN CASH ON-HAND. IN A CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT FILED ON MONDAY, HIS ONLY DECLARED CHALLENGER, HAYNESVILLE SCHOOLTEACHER TARA HOLLIS REPORTS $953 IN THE BANK. IN THE LT. GOVERNOR’S RACE, THE REPORTS SHOW INCUMBENT LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE'S CAMPAIGN HAS ROUGHLY A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS IN THE BANK, WHILE HIS REPUBLICAN CHALLENGER, BILLY NUNGESSER JR., HAS OVER A MILLION.

THERE’S BEEN YET ANOTHER MURDER SUICIDE. THIS TIME IN SHREVEPORT. SHREVEPORT POLICE SAY IT APPEARS THAT 40-YEAR-OLD RYAN DOUGLAS SHOT HIS 49-YEAR-OLD WIFE CAROLYN SEVERAL TIMES EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING, BEFORE GOING INTO ANOTHER ROOM AND SHOOTING HIMSELF. A THREE-YEAR-OLD BOY--BELIEVED TO BE THE COUPLE'S GRANDCHILD--WAS IN THE HOME AT THE TIME. HE'S BEEN RELEASED TO RELATIVES.

THE N-F-L IS BACK AND SOME MIGHT SAY IT'S BETTER THAN EVER. A NEW TEN-YEAR COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WAS FINALIZED BETWEEN THE PLAYERS AND OWNERS. EVEN THOUGH THE LOCKOUT LASTED FOR OVER FOUR MONTHS, NFL ANALYST MIKE DETILLIER SAYS THE LENGTHY WORK STOPPAGE WILL NOT HURT THE GAME.

IN A MAJOR PRODUCTION AND MARKETING MOVE ABITA BEER ANNOUNCES IT WILL BEGIN OFFERING THREE OF ITS FLAGSHIP BREWS IN CANS FOR THE FIRST TIME. THE NEW CANS WILL BE OFFERED IN SIX AND 12 PACKS AND ARE EXPECTED TO BE AVAILABLE IN STORE EARLY IN 2012.

A NINE-YEAR-OLD BOY HAS DROWNED AT KENNER'S DRIFTWOOD COUNTRY CLUB POOL THAT HAD BEEN CLOSED BECAUSE OF THE RAIN. KENNER POLICE SAY THE BOY AND A FRIEND CLIMBED OVER A 20-FOOT CAST-IRON AND BRICK GATE AT THE PRIVATE CLUB MONDAY ONTO A ROOF OF A SMALL BUILDING, FROM WHICH THEY JUMPED INTO THE POOL. AT SOME POINT, THE VICTIM WENT UNDER WATER AND NEVER RESURFACED. POLICE SAY THE OTHER CHILD CLIMBED BACK OVER THE FENCE TO GET HELP.

JUST OVER $400,000 IN LOST MONEY HAS BEEN RETURNED TO NEW ORLEANS-AREA RESIDENTS FROM THE STATE TREASURY. THE AGENCY HELD AN UNCLAIMED PROPERTY DAY SATURDAY IN METAIRIE. STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY SAYS OVER 5,000 PEOPLE ATTENDED. KENNEDY SAYS ONE PERSON CLAIMED $98,000, WHILE ANOTHER CLAIMED $36,000. UNCLAIMED PROPERTY CLAIMS NORMALLY AVERAGE $200 TO $400 EACH.
THE MONEY INCLUDES FUNDS FROM UNCLAIMED BANK ACCOUNTS, PAYROLL CHECKS, CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSITS, STOCKS AND DIVIDENDS, INSURANCE PROCEEDS, PETROLEUM ROYALTY PAYMENTS AND UTILITY DEPOSITS.




News For Monday 072511


NEWS FOR MONDAY 072511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

STATE D.O.T.D. OFFICIALS ARE ASKING DRIVERS WHO USE THE O.K. ALLEN BRIDGE BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE. TO BEGIN TAKING ANOTHER ROUT STARTING TOMORROW. CONSTRUCTION ON THE BRIDGE THAT WILL REPLACE THE O.K. ALLEN AND ITS APPROACHES WILL REDUCE U.S. HIGHWAY 165 ON THE ALEXANDRIA SIDE FROM FOUR LANES TO TWO IN THE AREA APPROACHING THE BRIDGE FOR ABOUT ONE YEAR. OFFICIALS SAY, YOU CAN WITHOUT A DOUBT, EXPECT SOME LONG BACK UPS.

THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD'S INSPECTOR GENERAL IS RETIRING AFTER 31 YEARS IN THE ARMY AND THREE YEARS IN HIS CURRENT POSITION. COL. JAMES F. BOWIE WILL FORMALLY RETIRE JULY 31. HIS RETIREMENT CEREMONY WAS HELD LAST WEEK AT CAMP BEAUREGARD IN PINEVILLE. THOUGH HE'S LEAVING THE ARMY, HE'LL STILL BE CONNECTED TO THE MILITARY. BOWIE RECENTLY WAS NAMED SENIOR ARMY INSTRUCTOR FOR THE JUNIOR RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS AT MCKINLEY HIGH SCHOOL IN BATON ROUGE. THAT JOB STARTS WITH THE FALL SEMESTER. BOWIE IS A NATIVE OF COLFAX.

CANDIDATES PLANNING TO RUN IN FALL ELECTIONS MUST FILE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS TODAY. THOSE FILINGS COULD GIVE AN EARLY INDICATION OF WHO'S IN, AND HOW WELL-FUNDED THEY ARE. AIDES CLOSE TO GOVERNOR JINDAL REPORT HE HAS NEARLY $9-MILLION IN CAMPAIGN FUNDS AVAILABLE. SO FAR, ONLY HAYNESVILLE TEACHER TARA HOLLIS HAS ANNOUNCED A CHALLENGE. THERE'S TALK HOWEVER THAT DEMOCRATIC LIVONIA SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX IS MULLING OVER RUNNING AGAINST JINDAL.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS MAKING 24-HOUR TRAFFIC AND ROADWAY CONDITIONS INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON YOUR WIRELESS DEVICE. DOTD SPOKESPERSON AMBER LEACH SAYS THE WEBSITE "511LA.ORG" HAS BEEN OPTIMIZED FOR BROWSING ON SMALL-SCREEN DEVICES, LIKE CELL PHONES. LEACH SAYS THE DOTD 511 TRAVELER INFORMATION WEBSITE IN NOT A SMARTPHONE "APP", BUT YOU USE IT VIA YOUR CELLPHONE OR WIRELESS DEVICE WEB BROWSING FEATURE. WITH IT, MOTORISTS CAN ACCESS ROUND-THE-CLOCK, REAL-TIME TRAFFIC AND ROAD CONDITION UPDATES. SHE SAY YOU CAN ALSO ACCESS ANY AND ALL DOTD TRAFFIC CAMERAS. LEACH SAYS THE SERVICE IS DESIGNED TO HELP LOUISIANA MOTORISTS GET WHERE THEY'RE GOING SAFELY AND MORE QUICKLY.

POLICE IN WELSH SAY A 20-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS SHOT AND KILLED WHILE HIS GIRLFRIEND AND THREE YOUNG CHILDREN SLEPT IN THE HOUSE. A POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL SAYS THAT LORENZO HORNE WAS SHOT ONCE EACH IN THE HEAD AND STOMACH, AND TWICE IN THE CHEST, ABOUT 2:30 A.M. SATURDAY. HE SAYS NOBODY ELSE WAS HURT. POLICE BELIEVE THE SHOOTER MAY HAVE WALKED IN THROUGH AN UNLOCKED DOOR. INVESTIGATORS DON'T KNOW OF A MOTIVE. IT'S THE SECOND FATAL SHOOTING THIS YEAR IN WELCH.

AN AUDIT SUGGESTS THE TOWN OF WASHINGTON OWES STATE GOVERNMENT MORE THAN $200,000 FROM SPEEDING TICKETS ISSUED BY POLICE OFFICERS ON INTERSTATE 49. STATE LAW REQUIRES FINES COLLECTED BY LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT FROM MOTORISTS EXCEEDING THE SPEED LIMIT BY LESS THAN 10 MILES PER HOUR ON AN INTERSTATE HIGHWAY TO BE TURNED OVER TO THE STATE TREASURY. THE LAW APPLIES ONLY TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS WITHOUT A HOME RULE CHARTER. WASHINGTON MAYOR JOSEPH PITRE SAYS THAT IF HIS TOWN HAS TO REMIT SPEEDING TICKET REVENUES TO THE STATE, HE WANTS OTHER ST. LANDRY PARISH GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES THAT PROFITED FROM THEM TO GIVE BACK THEIR REVENUES, TOO. THE AUDIT FOUND WASHINGTON SHOULD HAVE SENT TO THE STATE TREASURY $220,130 IN FINES COLLECTED BETWEEN AUG. 15, 2009, AND JUNE 30, 2010. THE WASHINGTON TOWN COUNCIL CAN LEGALLY KEEP FINES COLLECTED SINCE NOVEMBER 2010, WHEN IT ADOPTED A HOME RULE CHARTER. THE STATE IS LOOKING TO COLLECT THE QUALIFYING FINES IMPOSED BETWEEN THE DAY THE LAW WENT INTO EFFECT AND THE CHARTER'S ADOPTION.

A SOUTH BOSSIER CITY HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION HAS SUED TO FORCE A FAMILY TO REMOVE A FRONT YARD SIGN SUPPORTING THEIR SON'S MILITARY SERVICE BECAUSE IT VIOLATED SUBDIVISION COVENANTS. THE TIMES REPORTS THAT THE GARDENS OF SOUTHGATE FILED THE SUIT THIS MONTH AGAINST TIMOTHY AND JODI BURR, WHO HAVE LIVED IN THE SUBDIVISION SINCE 2006. THE BURRS PLACED A LARGE MULTI-COLORED BANNER WITH A PICTURE OF THEIR 20-YEAR-OLD SON, MARINE CORPS LANCE CPL. COREY BURR, AND THE PHRASE "OUR SON DEFENDS OUR FREEDOM" IN JANUARY AFTER COREY BURR WAS DEPLOYED TO AFGHANISTAN. JODI BURR SAYS HER FAMILY WILL FIGHT THE SUIT AND DO NOT INTEND TO REMOVE THE SIGN. AN ATTORNEY REPRESENTING THE ASSOCIATION, DECLINED TO COMMENT. THE BURRS CONTEND SIGNS SUPPORTING A SCHOOL OR TEAM ARE VISIBLE THROUGHOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

LOUISIANA IS WORKING WITH THE US INTERIOR DEPARTMENT TO HAVE THE POVERTY POINT STATE HISTORICAL SITE PLACED ON THE WORLD HERITAGE SITE LIST. POVERTY POINT IS A COMPLEX OF EARTHEN MOUNDS, CONCENTRIC RIDGES AND A LARGE PLAZA BUILT OVER THREE THOUSAND YEARS AGO IN WEST CARROLL PARISH. LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE SAYS THE SITE COULD BE RECOGNIZED BY 2013.

DUE TO STATE BUDGET CUTBACKS, THE OFFICE OF STATE PARKS IS CHANGING ITS OPERATING HOURS TO FIVE DAYS PER WEEK AT STATE HISTORIC SITES. STATE PARK ASSISTANT SECRETARY STUART JOHNSON SAYS EFFECTIVE AUGUST 1ST, SITES WILL BE OPEN WEDNESDAYS THROUGH SUNDAYS FROM 9AM-5PM. HE SAYS THE DAYS WERE CHOSEN BASED ON VISITATION FIGURES, BUT ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.






News For Friday 072211


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 072211
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AN ENERGY RESEARCH GROUP PREDICTED THAT AN INCREASE IN DRILLING ACTIVITY IN THE GULF OF MEXICO COULD CREATE 230,000 JOBS AND ADD $44 BILLION TO THE ECONOMY NEXT YEAR. IHS ON THURSDAY SAID THAT THE U.S. WOULD PRODUCE MORE JOBS, MORE TAX REVENUE AND ANOTHER 411,000 BARRELS OF OIL PER DAY IF THE INDUSTRY WAS ALLOWED TO OPERATE AT FULL SPEED IN THE GULF. THE GOVERNMENT ESSENTIALLY SHUT DOWN OFFSHORE DRILLING FOR SEVERAL MONTHS LAST YEAR AFTER BP'S MASSIVE OIL SPILL WHILE IT PUT NEW SAFETY REGULATIONS IN PLACE.

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU HAS CO-AUTHORED A BIPARTISAN BILL THAT WOULD DEDICATE A MAJORITY OF ANY FEDERAL FINES PAID BY BP FOR THE 2010 OIL SPILL TO RESTORING THE GULF COAST. LANDRIEU, A DEMOCRAT, SAYS SHE CO-WROTE THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION WITH ALABAMA REPUBLICAN SENATOR RICHARD SHELBY. LANDRIEU SAYS BP COULD FACE FINES FOR VIOLATING THE FEDERAL CLEAN WATER ACT OF ANYWHERE FROM $5-BILLION TO $20-BILLION. SHE SAYS THE BILL WILL ESTABLISH A GULF COAST ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION COUNCIL, TO DIRECT THE SPENDING OF MOST OF THE FUNDS. CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE, OF METAIRIE, HAS FILED SIMILAR BILLS IN THE U.S. HOUSE.

A LONG LIST OF CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS APPROVED THURSDAY BY THE STATE BOND COMMISSION CONTAINS ONLY OLD ON-GOING WORK AND NOTHING NEW. ," JERRY JONES OF THE OFFICE OF FACILITY PLANNING AND CONTROL TOLD THE STATE BOND COMMISSION YESTERDAY SOME OF THE MONEY IS PART OF A $2.5 BILLION BACKLOG DATING BACK TO 2005. SOMETHING THE STATE HAS BEEN WORKING ON FOR YEARS. JONES WENT ON TO SAY IN SOME CASES, THE PROJECT MAY HAVE EVEN BEEN COMPLETED AND THE STATE HADN’T SOLD BONDS ON IT."

A COMPANY THAT MANAGES EMERGENCY MEDICINE SERVICES FOR HOSPITALS SAYS IT WILL SPEND $19 MILLION TO EXPAND ITS LAFAYETTE HEADQUARTERS, CREATING 600 NEW JOBS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS IN AN ECONOMIC SECTOR THAT IS ONE OF THE FASTEST-GROWING IN LOUISIANA. SCHUMACHER GROUP ALSO SAID THURSDAY IT WILL RETAIN 389 CURRENT JOBS IN LAFAYETTE. THE COMPANY EMPLOYS ABOUT 1,200 PEOPLE AND HAS CONTRACTS WITH ABOUT 2,500 DOCTORS AND 180 HOSPITALS IN 24 STATES. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID THAT SCHUMACHER WILL GET UP TO $9 MILLION FROM A STATE FUND FOR MAJOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS. THE COMPANY ALSO WILL GET REBATES FOR CREATING HIGH-PAYING JOBS, ALONG WITH CREDITS FROM THE STATE'S SOFTWARE TAX CREDIT PROGRAM. THE COMPANY PLANS TO COMPLETE THE EXPANSION IN 2014.

RAND MCNALLY HAS NAMED LAFAYETTE THE BEST CITY FOR FOOD IN ITS “BEST OF THE ROAD” COMPETITION. THE AWARD, ANNOUNCED THURSDAY, MEANS LAFAYETTE WILL BE FEATURED IN TODAY’S EDITION OF USA TODAY, IN THE 2013 RAND MCNALLY ROAD ATLAS, AND ON THE WEBSITE HTTP://WWW.BESTOFTHEROAD.COM. LAFAYETTE BEAT OUT FIVE OTHER AMERICAN CITIES IN THE “BEST FOR FOOD” CATEGORY. LAFAYETTE WAS THE ONLY CITY IN LOUISIANA NOMINATED.

ONE INDICATION OF A RECOVERING ECONOMY IS A STEADY RISE IN CASINO REVENUES ACROSS THE STATE. DONNA JACKSON WITH THE AUDIT SECTION OF THE LOUISIANA STATE POLICE REPORTED THAT LOUISIANA'S 13 RIVERBOAT CASINOS TOOK IN OVER 137-MILLION DOLLARS. SHE SAYS THAT'S A SIZABLE INCREASE FROM A YEAR AGO. HARRAH'S LAND-BASED CASINO IN NEW ORLEANS SAW A SIMILAR INCREASE IN BUSINESS FROM A YEAR AGO, GENERATING OVER FOUR-MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE STATE.

THE CABLE TV PHENOMENON KNOWN AS "SWAMP PEOPLE" WRAPPED UP ITS SECOND SEASON LAST NIGHT. THE REALITY SHOW FOLLOWS THE EXPLOITS OF CAJUN GATOR HUNTERS IN THE MARSHES OF SOUTH LOUISIANA. "SWAMP PEOPLE" IS EASILY THE HISTORY CHANNEL'S HIGHEST-RATED PROGRAM, AND HAS EVEN INSPIRED A LOUISIANA LOTTERY SCRATCH-OFF GAME CALLED "CHOOT 'EM!"

BOSSIER CITY DA SCHUYLER MARVIN HAS DROPPED MURDER CHARGES AGAINST 30-YEAR-OLD GERALD NEEDHAM. NEEDHAM WAS BEING HELD AS A SUSPECT IN A TRIPLE SHOOTING AT AN APPLIANCE STORE IN BOSSIER STORE. NEEDHAM'S ATTORNEY RANDAL FISH SAYS THE BIG BREAK IN THE CASE CAME WHEN DETECTIVES WERE INVESTIGATING AN ARMED ROBBERY WITH THE SAME M.O. THAT OCCURRED WHILE NEEDHAM WAS BEHIND BARS.

LOUISIANA IS WORKING WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PUT THE POVERTY POINT STATE HISTORIC SITE IN NORTHEAST LOUISIANA ON THE WORLD HERITAGE SITE LIST.
LT. GOV. JAY DARDENNE SAID THURSDAY THAT THE OFFICE OF STATE PARKS AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR HOPE TO COMPLETE THE APPLICATION BY 2013.

SHREVEPORT POLICE SAYS CHARGES ARE UNLIKELY AGAINST A MAN WHO SHOT TWO MEN LAST NIGHT IN A CASINO PARKING GARAGE. SPD SPOKESMAN BILL GOODIN SAYS INVESTIGATORS HAVE INTERROGATED THE ALLEGED SHOOTER WHO TURNED HIMSELF IN. GOODIN SAYS DETAILS OF THE CASE ARE STILL EMERGING BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THE MAN WAS DEFENDING HIMSELF FROM THE OTHER TWO. THOSE MEN--20-YEAR-OLD RYAN CALDWELL AND AN UN-NAMED JUVENILE--ARE AT THE LSU SHREVEPORT HOSPITAL WITH LIFE-THREATENING GUNSHOT WOUNDS.

A STANDING-ROOM ONLY CROWD FILLED THE MAIN CHAPEL AT THE LOUISIANA STATE PENITENTIARY TO WATCH "SERVING LIFE," LISA R. COHEN'S DOCUMENTARY ON THE HOSPICE PROGRAM AT THE PRISON. BY THE TIME THE MOVIE, WHICH FOLLOWS FOUR NEW HOSPICE CARE WORKERS AND THE DYING INMATES THEY CARE FOR, FINISHED SEVERAL SOUNDS OF CRYING FILLED THE LARGE AUDITORIUM. AND, WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT UP, MANY PRISONERS WERE STILL WIPING THEIR EYES. THE MOVIE, NARRATED BY ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR FOREST WHITTAKER, WILL BE AIRED ON THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK ON JULY 28. BUT ON THURSDAY, IT BELONGED TO THE MEN AT ANGOLA, MANY OF WHOM WILL END UP IN THE PRISON'S HOSPICE PROGRAM THEMSELVES. MORE THAN 90 PERCENT OF THOSE INCARCERATED IN THE PENITENTIARY WILL DIE THERE.

THE SEARCH FOR A NEW LEADER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS HAS STARTED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM, WHICH IS TAKING OVER MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY FOR THE SCHOOL. THE UL SYSTEM BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ANNOUNCED THE SEARCH PLANS THURSDAY.

AN ORDER OF MONKS AND ANYONE ELSE CAN SELL CASKETS IN LOUISIANA WITHOUT HAVING A STATE FUNERAL HOME LICENSE, A FEDERAL JUDGE RULED THURSDAY.
ACTING ON A SUIT FILED BY THE MONKS OF ST. JOSEPH ABBEY IN ST. TAMMANY PARISH IN AUGUST, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE STANWOOD DUVAL SAID "THERE IS NO RATIONAL BASIS" FOR THE LICENSING REQUIREMENT TO BE APPLIED TO THOSE ONLY WANTING TO SELL CASKETS, SUCH AS THE 38 MONKS. THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF EMBALMERS AND FUNERAL DIRECTORS HAD BLOCKED THE MONKS FROM SELLING CASKETS WITH SIMPLE WHITE CLOTH INTERIORS FOR $1,500 TO $2,000, SAYING THE ABBEY HAD NEITHER A FUNERAL DIRECTOR'S LICENSE NOR A FUNERAL HOME LICENSE AS REQUIRED BY STATE LAW. BUT THE JUDGE SAID "THE SOLE REASON FOR THESE LAWS IS THE ECONOMIC PROTECTION OF THE FUNERAL INDUSTRY" AND THAT THE MONKS' CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS WERE BEING VIOLATED BY THE BAN.

A RETIRED ARCHITECTURE PROFESSOR WHO WAS LSU'S FIRST BLACK FACULTY MEMBER HAS DIED OF CANCER. JULIAN WHITE WAS 73 YEARS OLD. LSU ANNOUNCED THURSDAY THAT WHITE DIED THIS WEEK. WHITE TAUGHT AT SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AND TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY BEFORE JOINING LSU'S FACULTY IN 1971. HE RETIRED FROM THE UNIVERSITY IN 2003.





News For Thursday 072111


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 072111
DAVE GRAICHEN

AN ALEXANDRIA POLICE OFFICER ON WEDNESDAY SHOT AND WOUNDED A MAN ON POST OAK BOULEVARD WHO WAS CARRYING A GUN AND FIRED A SHOT IN THE AIR. 42 YEAR OLD SHEL RANDAL BOHANNON WAS TRANSPORTED TO RAPIDES REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER WITH MODERATE TO SEVERE INJURIES. STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE INCIDENT. POLICE SAY THE SHOOTING OCCURRED AROUND 1:20 P.M. IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD BEHIND SUPER 1 FOODS ON MACARTHUR DRIVE.

RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL DISTRICT OFFICIALS ARE CONSIDERING THE CREATION OF A NEW COMMITTEE DESIGNED TO HANDLE COMPLAINTS ABOUT ILLICIT SPORTS RECRUITING ACTIVITIES THAT MAY VIOLATE ITS OPEN ENROLLMENT POLICY. THE TOPIC OF ILLEGAL RECRUITING WAS FIRST BROUGHT UP BY BOARD MEMBER WILTON BARRIOS JR., WHO HAS SAID HE IS AWARE OF ILLEGAL RECRUITING INSTANCES IN THE DISTRICT. HE HAD BEEN URGING THE BOARD TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE. IT APPEARS NOW THEY WILL.

VISITATION FOR SGT. CHRISTOPHER. SODERLUND, WHO WAS KILLED JULY 9 IN AFGHANISTAN, WILL BE TODAY FROM 5 TO 9 P.M. AT CROSSROADS NEW LIFE TABERNACLE IN DEVILLE.
FUNERAL SERVICES FOR SODERLUND, 23, WILL BE FRIDAY AT 10 A.M. AT CROSSROADS NEW LIFE TABERNACLE. BURIAL WILL BE IN FOREST LAWN MEMORIAL PARK WITH MILITARY HONORS.

FORMER LOUISIANA GOV. BUDDY ROEMER IS KICKING OFF HIS LONGSHOT PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, WHERE HE IS TAKING UP TEMPORARY RESIDENCE IN ADVANCE OF THE STATE'S FIRST-IN-THE-NATION PRIMARY. ROEMER WILL ANNOUNCE HIS CANDIDACY TODAY AT DARTMOUTH COLLEGE. A DEMOCRAT-TURNED-REPUBLICAN, ROEMER SERVED AS LOUISIANA GOVERNOR FROM 1988 AND 1992. IN BEDFORD WEDNESDAY, HE TOLD A GROUP OF BUSINESS LEADERS THAT HE ACCEPTS THE FACT THAT NO ONE KNOWS WHO HE IS AND ARGUED THAT AMERICA NEEDS A NEW KIND OF LEADER.

WHY HAS LOUISIANA HAD SUCH A MARKED INCREASE IN BOATING FATALITIES THIS YEAR? THERE HAVE BEEN 30 WATERWAY DEATHS SO FAR THIS YEAR, COMPARED WITH A TOTAL OF 21 FOR ALL OF 2010. STATE WILDLIFE & FISHERIES SPOKESMAN ADAM EINCK SAYS PERHAPS BOATERS AND THEIR PASSENGERS HAVE GROWN COMPLACENT ABOUT SAFETY. HE SAYS ALL THE SAFETY RULES OF THE HIGHWAY APPLY ON WATERWAYS...PLUS ALL PASSENGERS MUST WEAR LIFE JACKETS WHILE THE BOAT IS IN MOTION.

THE MAN ACCUSED OF MURDERING A HAMMOND PRIEST EARLIER THIS MONTH MAY HAVE BEEN ON THE STREETS DUE TO A SNAFU BY MISSISSIPPI'S CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT. AUTHORITIES SAY 31-YEAR-OLD JEREMY MANIERI FAILED TO REPORT TO A PROBATION OFFICER RELATED TO HIS 2006 CONVICTION FOR CHILD MOLESTATION. THAT COULD HAVE SENT HIM BACK TO JAIL, BUT IT WAS UNREPORTED. MANIERI IS ALLEGED TO HAVE KILLED REV. EDWARD EVERETT IN WAVELAND, MISSISSIPPI.

THE HURRICANE SEASON'S THIRD NAMED STORM HAS FORMED IN THE ATLANTIC, BUT--RELAX--IT SHOULD POSE NO THREAT TO THE GULF OR TO LOUISIANA. TROPICAL STORM CINDY IS WAY OUT AT SEA, PACKING 40 MILE AN HOUR WINDS, BUT IS TRACKING TO THE NORTHEAST AND FARTHER INTO OPEN WATER.

FORMER GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO WILL MAKE HER FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE THIS WEEKEND SINCE BEING DIAGNOSED WITH AND TREATED FOR A RARE EYE CANCER.
BLANCO IS SCHEDULED TO RECEIVE A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FROM THE LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY AT ITS ANNUAL JEFFERSON-JACKSON DINNER ON SATURDAY.
THE DEMOCRATIC FORMER GOVERNOR ANNOUNCED LAST MONTH THAT SHE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER, CALLED CHOROIDAL MELANOMA, WHICH AFFECTS ABOUT SIX IN ONE MILLION PEOPLE. SHE SAID HER PROGNOSIS WAS GOOD FOR RECOVERY.

LOUISIANA'S FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITY IS COLLABORATING WITH A MICROBREWERY TO LAUNCH ITS OWN BEER, WITH SALES PLANNED TO START DURING THE FALL FOOTBALL SEASON.
THE LSU-LICENSED BLONDE ALE, PRODUCED BY BATON ROUGE-BASED TIN ROOF BREWING CO., WILL BE OFFERED ON DRAUGHT AND IN CANS AND WILL BE TIED INTO A FOOD SCIENCE TRAINING PROGRAM TO TEACH STUDENTS ABOUT FERMENTATION.

STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL STEPHEN STREET SAYS A NEW ORLEANS AREA CHURCH AND ITS PASTOR WASTED OR MISSPENT OVER $160-THOUSAND IN POST-KATRINA RECOVERY GRANTS. STREET SAYS A QUARTER-MILLION DOLLAR GRANT TO CONVERT A WAREHOUSE INTO HOUSING FOR RECOVERING DRUG ADDICTS WAS NEVER USED FOR THAT PURPOSE. HE SAYS THE BUILDING IS STILL UNINHABITABLE. STREET SAYS ELDER JOHN PIERRE, OF THE LIVING WITNESS CHURCH OF GOD, CO-MINGLED THE GRANT DOLLARS WITH CHURCH FUNDS. HE SAYS MUCH WAS SPENT ON DAY-TO-DAY EXPENSES, BUT PIERRE ALSO WROTE HIMSELF CHECKS TOTALING OVER $32-THOUSAND. THE CHURCH AND PASTOR PIERRE DENY ANY WRONGDOING. STREET SAYS THE CHURCH ALSO FAILED TO REPORT OVER $90-THOUSAND IN TAXABLE INCOME.

WEST MONROE POLICE HAVE BUSTED A SHOPLIFTING OPERATION THAT NETTED THE THIEVES OVER $2000 IN STOLEN GOODS IN JUST A COUPLE DAYS. OFFICERS REPORT AN SUV REGISTERED TO 40-YEAR-OLD MICHELLE BLADE ON MONROE CONTAINED FOUR SHOPPING CARTS FULL OF MERCHANDISE; ALLEGEDLY TAKEN FROM A WAL-MART AND A NEARBY STAGE STORE.

THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS WILL SOON CHOOSE A PRIVATE COMPANY TO MANAGE ITS UPCOMING COORDINATION OF SERVICES PROVIDED BY VARIOUS STATE AGENCIES TO AT-RISK CHILDREN. THE LOUISIANA BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PARTNERSHIP WILL PULL TOGETHER PROGRAMS FROM THE JUVENILE JUSTICE, SOCIAL SERVICES, HEALTH AND EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS. IT IS PLANNED FOR LAUNCH IN FEBRUARY. THE NEW PROGRAM WILL ALLOW MORE TYPES OF PROVIDERS AND SERVICES UNDER MEDICAID, AS LONG AS THE TREATMENTS ARE PROVEN TO WORK.

THE 45-STORY PLAZA TOWER IN NEW ORLEANS IS ON THE AUCTION BLOCK WITH A MINIMUM BID OF $250,000. A JOINT VENTURE PUTTING THE LONG-EMPTY BUILDING FOR SALE, SAYS THE SKYSCRAPER HAS A GUTTED INTERIOR SHELL AND POSSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS HAVE BEEN FIXED. THE PLAZA TOWER WAS BUILT IN 1964. IT ALSO HAS AN EIGHT-STORY PARKING GARAGE AND A 30,000-SQUARE-FOOT ANNEX. THE BUILDING IS THE THIRD-TALLEST IN BOTH NEW ORLEANS AND LOUISIANA.


News For Wednesday 072011


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 072011
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

DISTRICT 25 STATE REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS ROY ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY HE ISN'T RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION THIS FALL. ROY, A DEMOCRAT, IN OFFICE SINCE 2008, CALLED HIS TIME IN THE LEGISLATURE AN INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE, BUT SAYS THE CONSTANT TRAVEL HAS KEPT HIM AWAY FROM HIS FAMILY AND LAW PRACTICE. IN A STATEMENT, HE SAID, "HE DIDN’T WANT TO LOOK BACK IN A FEW YEARS AND REGRET MISSING SOME OF A FATHER'S MOST CHERISHED MEMORIES BECAUSE HE WAS IN BATON ROUGE ATTENDING A SUB-COMMITTEE HEARING." THE LAWMAKER, WHOSE TERM ENDS IN JANUARY, SAYS HE'LL STAY INVOLVED IN PUBLIC SERVICE, BUT AT A LOCAL LEVEL.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE REPORTS 22 YEAR OLD ALEXANDER MACIVER OF BALL, HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND IS FACING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES. MACIVER WAS CHARGED WITH PORNOGRAPHY INVOLVING JUVENILES AFTER AUTHORITIES DISCOVERED THAT HE DISTRIBUTED CHILD PORNOGRAPHY THROUGH THE INTERNET. THE ARREST FOLLOWED A JOINT INVESTIGATION WITH THE RAPIDES SHERIFF'S DETECTIVES DIVISION AND THE U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT. MACIVER IS BEING HELD IN THE RAPIDES PARISH JAIL, AND NO BOND HAS BEEN SET.

GOVERNOR JINDAL ANNOUNCES A $6-BILLION PROJECT TO BUILD ONE OF THE NATION'S FIRST NATURAL GAS LIQUEFACTION PLANTS...IN CAMERON PARISH. JINDAL SAYS CHENIERE ENERGY WILL EXPAND ITS EXISTING SABINE PASS TERMINAL TO PRODUCE LNG AND SHIP IT WORLDWIDE. THE GOVERNOR SAYS CHENIERE'S HUGE EXPANSION WILL MEAN THOUSANDS OF CONSTRUCTION JOBS, PLUS CREATE 148 NEW JOBS; WITH PAY AND BENEFITS TOTALING ABOUT $100K A YEAR. HE SAYS CONSTRUCTION AT CHENIERE WILL BEGIN EARLY NEXT YEAR.

THE PRICES WE PAY FOR GASOLINE IN LOUISIANA CONTINUE TO SLOWLY RISE. LOUISIANA AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS BLAME AN INTERNATIONALLY WEAK U.S. DOLLAR, AND THE ONGOING DEBT-CEILING DISAGREEMENT IN WASHINGTON DC. HE SAYS THOSE TWO FACTORS HAVE HAD CRUDE OIL AND RETAIL PUMP PRICES ON A ROLLER COASTER. THERE ARE ALREADY OVER 7 STATES WHERE GAS IS OVER $4 A GALLON. THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR REGULAR GAS IS $3.58. UP A PENNY FROM MONDAY, AND UP A NICKEL IN 7 DAYS.

WITH THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR FAST APPROACHING, THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS IS REMINDING PARENTS TO MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD'S SHOTS ARE UP TO DATE. WELCH SAYS STATE LAW REQUIRES THAT CHILDREN 4 YEARS OR OLDER WHO ARE ENTERING SCHOOL OR DAY-CARE PROGRAMS IN LOUISIANA FOR THE FIRST TIME, MUST HAVE THE PROPER VACCINATIONS. HE SAYS THERE ARE OPTIONS FOR FAMILIES WHO DON'T HAVE THE MEANS TO SEE A PERSONAL PEDIATRICIAN. STEP ONE, CONTACT YOUR PARISH HEALTH UNIT.

POLICE HAVE ARRESTED A 52-YEAR-OLD LAFAYETTE MAN SUSPECTED IN THE MONDAY MORNING BANK ROBBERY AND BOMB THREAT AT A REGIONS BANK BRANCH. LAFAYETTE POLICE ARRESTED MICHAEL A. MENARD AT HIS HOME MONDAY NIGHT AFTER CONDUCTING SURVEILLANCE AT THE HOME FOR SEVERAL HOURS. A DETECTIVE RECOGNIZED MENARD FROM PHOTOS TAKEN AT THE BANK MONDAY.

THE NUMBER OF DWI ARREST IN LOUISIANA HAS RISEN SHARPLY OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS. IN 2010 LAW ENFORCEMENT MADE 31,065 DWI ARREST, AN AN INCREASE OF OVER 5-THOUSAND FROM 2005. LT. COL. JOHN LEBLANC, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE LOUISIANA HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSION CREDITS A GREATER EMPHASIS ON ENFORCEMENT. MONEY PROVIDED BY THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION IS BEING USED AS GRANTS TO PAY OFFICERS OVERTIME TO FOCUS ON DWI AND SEATBELT ENFORCEMENT, ESPECIALLY ON HEAVILY TRAVELED HOLIDAYS. HERE IS AN INTERESTING FACT, WHILE REPEAT OFFENDERS ARE A PROBLEM, THE VAST MAJORITY OF ALL DWI DRIVERS INVOLVED IN FATAL CRASHES HAD NO PRIOR ARREST FOR DWI.

A FEDERAL AUDIT IS CHARGING LOUISIANA'S HEALTH DEPARTMENT WITH MISMANAGING A $50 MILLION POST-HURRICANE KATRINA GRANT INTENDED TO RESTORE HEALTH CARE ACCESS TO THE NEW ORLEANS REGION. THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES RECOMMENDS THAT THE STATE PAY BACK $13.6 MILLION OF THE MONEY PAID TO DOCTORS AND OTHER MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS AS INCENTIVES TO PRACTICE IN AND AROUND THE CITY.

LOUISIANA IS NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET, NEARLY 15-MONTHS AFTER THE B-P RIG EXPLOSION AND OIL SPILL AND LOUISIANA STILL HAS 265 MILES OF STATE SHORELINE REMAINS OILED. THAT'S ACCORDING TO GARRET GRAVES, DIRECTOR OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF COASTAL ACTIVITIES, WHO SAYS ABOUT 40 MILES OF THE STATE'S SHORELINE IS EITHER MODERATE OR HEAVILY OILED. GRAVES SAYS OIL CONTINUES TO BUBBLE UP FROM THE GROUND ALONG LOUISIANA'S COAST. THE LONG-TERM IMPACT OF LAST YEAR'S OIL SPILL REMAINS AN UNKNOWN. GRAVES SAYS HE EXPECTS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S ASSESSMENT TO TAKE 10 TO 15 YEARS.

THE THIRD ANNUAL BAYOU COUNTRY SUPERFEST HAS COMMITTED TO RETURN TO L-S-U'S TIGER STADIUM MAY 26TH AND 27TH OF 2012. AFTER THE BATON ROUGE METRO COUNCIL REMOVED A 300-THOUSAND DOLLAR SUBSIDY FOR THE FESTIVAL FROM MAYOR KIP HOLDEN'S BUDGET LAST DECEMBER. LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE SAYS THE COUNCIL AND THE OFFICE OF TOURISM CAME UP WITH A PLAN B. THE CITY AND PARISH WILL USE PART OF IT’S BP OIL SPILL MONEY TO HELP FUND THE EVENT. DARDENNE SAYS THE CONCERT IS AN ECONOMIC WINDFALL THAT FAR EXCEEDS ANY INVESTMENT BY THE CITY/PARISH. HE SAYS AS LONG AS THE FESTIVAL DRAWS THE QUALITY OF PERFORMERS ITS HAS FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS IT SHOULD CONTINUE TO FLOURISH.

A MAN HAS BEEN KILLED AND A WOMAN IS INJURED IN BOSSIER CITY AS THE RESULT OF A BOATING ACCIDENT MONDAY NIGHT ON THE RED RIVER. BOSSIER CITY POLICE SPOKESPERSON MARK NATALE SAYS THE WOMAN MADE CONTACT WITH A MAN WHO WAS JOGGING ALONG THE LEVEE AND HE CALLED 911.THE WOMAN SUFFERED SEVERE TRAUMA TO HER FACE, BUT HER INJURIES WERE NON-LIFE THREATENING. THE MAN WHO WAS DECEASED WAS FOUND NEAR A JETTY. INVESTIGATORS BELIEVE THE BOAT STRUCK A
JETTY AS IT WAS TRAVELING DOWN THE RIVER.

SEARCH TEAMS HAVE FOUND THE BODY OF A GIRL WHO WAS THROWN INTO SHELL BEACH BAYOU BY A BOAT COLLISION LAST WEEKEND. THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES SAYS THE BODY OF 12-YEAR-OLD SAMANTHA VINTURELLA OF MANDEVILLE WAS FOUND TUESDAY.

SPORTS..

THE NCAA PLACES THE LSU FOOTBALL PROGRAM ON ONE-YEAR PROBATION AND AND IMPOSES RECRUITING RESTRICTIONS AS A RESULT OF MAJOR VIOLATIONS THAT OCCURRED BETWEEN FORMER ASSISTANT COACH DJ MCCARTHY AND 2009 SIGNEE AKIEM HICKS. CHAIRMAN OF THE NCAA COMMITTEE ON INFRACTIONS, DENNIS THOMAS, ANNOUNCED THE VIOLATIONS DURING A TELECONFERENCE. THOMAS SAYS THE NCAA ALSO ACCEPTED LSU'S SELF-IMPOSED PENALTIES, WHICH INCLUDED THE LOSS OF TWO SCHOLARSHIP LAST FOOTBALL SEASON AND THE ABILITY TO ONLY SIGN 23 PLAYERS LAST FEBRUARY. HE ALSO APPLAUDED LSU FOR BEING PROACTIVE BY NOT ALLOWING HICKS TO PLAY. MCCARTHY ALSO RESIGNED AFTER THE 2009 SEASON.


News For Tuesday 07/19/11


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 071911
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

RECENTLY, THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA CITY SPENT ABOUT $2.4 MILLION ON CONSTRUCTION AND RENOVATION PROJECTS AT NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS IN THE CITY. YESTERDAY, LOCAL OFFICIALS AND DIGNITARIES GOT A CHANCE TO SEE THE FINISHED RESULTS. RIDING AROUND IN THE SPIRIT OF ALEXANDRIA TROLLEY BUS, TOUR PARTICIPANTS MADE STOPS AT HARMON, HDQ UNITY, MARTIN, SANDY BAYOU AND CITY PARK. THE IMPROVEMENTS ARE VERY OBVIOUS TO THE EYE, WALKING TRAILS, MATCHING PAVILIONS AND RESTROOMS, MATCHING LIGHT FIXTURES, BENCHES, PICNIC TABLES, TRASH CANS AND FENCING. THE CITY PLANS TO SPEND ANOTHER $2 MILLION IN RENOVATIONS TO HUNTER PARK LATER THIS YEAR.

THE TOWN OF BUNKIE WILL BE GETTING A MAJOR ECONOMIC SHOT IN THE ARM WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW JUVENILE THERAPEUTIC SECURE CENTER. THE $20 MILLION FACILITY WILL BE LOCATED ON BORDELON ROAD ON THE SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN, WITH THE FACILITY OPENING WITHIN TWO TO THREE YEARS. ONCE COMPLETED, THE FACILITY WILL BE ABLE TO HOUSE 72 YOUTHS WHO ARE IN NEED OF INTENSIVE THERAPY IN A SECURE ENVIRONMENT. THE FACILITY WILL EMPLOY 85 TO 90 PEOPLE, WITH AN AVERAGE SALARY OF ABOUT $50,000. THE TOWN WILL DONATE 25 ACRES OF LAND FOR THE FACILITY AND PUT UP $1.5 MILLION FOR IMPROVEMENTS.

A BANK ROBBERY SHUT DOWN A SECTION OF LAFAYETTE YESTERDAY FOR ABOUT THREE HOURS. POLICE SAY A MIDDLE AGED WHITE MAN ENTERED A REGIONS BANK OFFICE SHORTLY BEFORE NOON AND STOLE AN UNDETERMINED AMOUNT OF CASH. HE LEFT BEHIND A PACKAGE AND ELUDED TO THE FACT THAT IT MAY BE A BOMB. THE AREA WAS CLEARED AND THE HAZ MAT UNIT WAS CALLED IN. IN THE END, IT WAS NOT A BOMB AND BUSINESS RETURNED TO NORMAL SHORTLY BEFORE THREE.

BEGINNING NEXT YEAR, TRUCKS OPERATING AT THE ST. LANDRY PARISH LANDFILL WILL BE ABLE TO REFUEL WITH A NATURAL ENERGY SOURCE FROM THE GARBAGE MOUNDS. THE $700,000 PROJECT INVOLVES CLEANING AND COMPRESSING ON SITE THE METHANE GAS EMITTED FROM THE SOLID WASTE AND MAKING THE GAS SUITABLE FOR VEHICLE FUEL.
THE PARISH’S SOLID WASTE COMMISSION ON MONDAY UNANIMOUSLY AGREED TO ACCEPT A $224,000 GRANT FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AS “SEED MONEY” FOR THE PROJECT. THE REMAINDER OF THE COSTS COULD BE RECOVERED BY OBTAINING $300,000 IN STATE TAX CREDITS AND A $30,000 IN FEDERAL TAX CREDITS. THE PROJECT SHOULD SAVE ABOUT $48,600 PER YEAR IN FUEL COSTS.

THE STATE PLANS TO LIFT THE STATEWIDE OUTDOOR BAN ON BURNING THIS THURSDAY. STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS THE BAN WAS ISSUED IN RESPONSE TO EXTREME DRY CONDITIONS IN THE STATE, BUT THE RAIN HAS REDUCED THE RISK OF WILDFIRES. BROWNING SAYS THE BAN IS BEING LIFTED SUBJECT TO LOCAL REGULATIONS, BECAUSE THERE ARE STILL SOME ARES IN THE STATE THAT ARE VERY DRY.

A JUDGE HANDED A STATE TEACHERS UNION A VICTORY MONDAY IN THE GROUP'S CHALLENGE OF A LAW PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TO LET PUBLIC SCHOOLS WAIVE CERTAIN REGULATIONS, DECLARING THE LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL ON MULTIPLE FRONTS.
STATE DISTRICT JUDGE MIKE CALDWELL SIDED WITH THE LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS WHO FILED THE LAWSUIT LAST YEAR AFTER JINDAL SIGNED THE BILL.
THE UNIONS CLAIMED THE WAIVER LAW IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT DELEGATES LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY TO THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION AND BECAUSE IT CARVES OUT SPECIAL EXEMPTIONS FOR INDIVIDUAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE JUDGE AGREED. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE IS SEEKING AN APPEAL.

IN PREPARATION FOR HIS RUN FOR PRESIDENT, FORMER GOVERNOR BUDDY ROEMER HAS MOVED TO NEW HAMPSHIRE. MR. ROEMER SAYS THE MOVE IS JUST TEMPORARY, SO HE CAN MAKE OPTIMAL USE OF HIS CAMPAIGN TIME--GETTING TO KNOW THE PEOPLE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. MR. ROEMER SAYS HE'LL HAVE TO SPEND A GREAT DEAL OF TIME MAKING HIMSELF KNOWN TO NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTERS BEFORE THE FEBRUARY 14TH PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY. THE SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY IS SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 21ST, AND THE IOWA CAUCUSES ARE FEBRUARY 6TH.

A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL HAS SOME HARSH WORDS CONCERNING THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS. GARRET GRAVES, DIRECTOR OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF COASTAL ACTIVITIES, SAYS THE CORPS IS NOT DOING ENOUGH WHEN IT COMES TO PREVENTING COASTAL EROSION AND IF NOTHING CHANGES, MANY LOUISIANA COASTAL PARISHES WILL BE UNDERWATER IN THE NEXT CENTURY. GRAVES HOPES A NEW GULF COAST ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION TASK FORCE, WHICH WAS FORMED AFTER LAST YEAR'S B-P OIL SPILL, WILL BE MORE PROACTIVE IN THE STATE'S BATTLE AGAINST COASTAL LAND LOSS. HE SAYS THE CORPS MOVES WAY TOO SLOWLY WHEN IT COMES TO WETLAND PROJECTS.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE ANNOUNCES A NEW CAMPAIGN CALLED "ALL WE NEED IS U" THAT ENCOURAGES LOUISIANA CITIZENS TO VOLUNTEER. DARDENNE SAYS THE STATEWIDE CAMPAIGN IS DESIGNED TO REKINDLE THE SPIRIT OF SERVICE AND VOLUNTEERISM AMONG PEOPLE IN LOUISIANA. THE CAMPAIGN FEATURES A WEBSITE,
WWW-DOT-VOLUNTEERLOUISIANA-DOT-GOV, THROUGH THAT SITE, YOU WILL BE MATCH TO VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE STATE...:

RALPH TYSON, THE CHIEF JUDGE AND FIRST BLACK JUDGE APPOINTED TO THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT OF LOUISIANA'S MIDDLE DISTRICT, DIED MONDAY. HE WAS 62 YEARS OLD. IN ITS ANNOUNCEMENT OF HIS DEATH, THE BATON ROUGE-BASED FEDERAL COURT DESCRIBED TYSON AS "A WONDERFUL PERSON, A DEDICATED PUBLIC SERVANT AND A WONDERFUL LEADER AND FRIEND TO ALL OF US." BORN IN BATON ROUGE, TYSON WAS NOMINATED TO THE COURT IN 1998 BY THEN-PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON AND SERVED AS THE MIDDLE DISTRICT'S CHIEF JUDGE SINCE 2005.

BOSSIER PARISH SHERIFF LARRY DEEN SAYS A PARISH PARK RANGER IS RECOVERING AFTER ACCIDENTALLY SHOOTING HIMSELF IN THE LEG, CAUSING A SEVERE INJURY.
HE SAID MONDAY THAT DAN WOLFE IS ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE WITH PAY WHILE THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE MAKES A ROUTINE INVESTIGATION. WOLFE WORKS AT CYPRESS BLACK BAYOU RECREATION PARK IN BENTON. DEEN SAYS WOLFE'S GUN WENT OFF BY ACCIDENT SUNDAY AT THE PARK. DEPUTIES ARE INVESTIGATING BECAUSE RANGERS AT THE PARK ARE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS COMMISSIONED THROUGH THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE.

SPORTS..

IN TWO OF THE STRONGEST SIGNS YET THAT THE LOCKOUT MIGHT BE NEARING AN END, THE NFL HAS TOLD CLUB EXECUTIVES THEY COULD LEARN THE DETAILS OF
THE NEW LABOR CONTRACT AS EARLY AS THURSDAY, AND THE PLAYERS
ASSOCIATION HAS CALLED ON ITS LEADERSHIP FOR A POTENTIAL VOTE. THE TWO SIDES ONCE AGAIN MET FOR HOURS YESTERDAY IN NEW YORK TO TRY TO CLOSE THE DEAL THAT WOULD RESOLVE THE FIRST WORK STOPPAGE SINCE 1987. TALKS ARE SCHEDULED TO CONTINUE TODAY.

REGGIE BUSH'S FAMILY HAS TAKEN BACK A COPY OF HIS 2005 HEISMAN TROPHY FROM A SPORTS MUSEUM IN SAN DIEGO. BUSH RELINQUISHED HIS TITLE AS HEISMAN WINNER AFTER AN NCAA PROBE LAST YEAR CONCLUDED THAT HE AND HIS FAMILY ACCEPTED IMPROPER BENEFITS WHILE BUSH WAS STILL PLAYING FOR USC.

LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE TIGHT END LADARIUS GREEN HAS BEEN TABBED AS A PRESEASON FIRST TEAM ALL-SUN BELT CONFERENCE SELECTION. THE HONOR EXTENDS THE LONG LIST OF PRESEASON ACCOLADES FOR GREEN WHO WAS NAMED TO THE 2011 JOHN MACKEY AWARD WATCH LIST EARLIER THIS MONTH.

THE U-L-M WARHAWKS FOOTBALL TEAM IS PICKED TO FINISH NEAR THE TOP OF THE SUN BELT CONFERENCE STANDINGS THIS YEAR. U-L-M TIED WITH MIDDLE TENNESSEE FOR THE HIGHEST AMOUNT OF POINTS IN A POLL OF LEAGUE COACHES. WARHAWKS COACH TODD BERRY SAYS HE HAS NO PROBLEM WITH THE HIGH EXPECTATIONS. THE WARHAWKS PERFORMED BETTER THAN EXPECTED IN BERRY'S FIRST SEASON AS HEAD COACH. THE 2010 TEAM WAS 5-AND-7 OVERALL, 4-AND-4 IN THE SUN BELT.

NORTHWESTERN STATE JUNIOR LINEBACKER DEREK ROSE HAS BEEN NAMED TO THE BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD WATCH LIST. THE AWARD GOES TO THE BEST PLAYER ON DEFENSE AMONG F-C-S SCHOOLS. THE NEW ORLEANS NATIVE LED THE SOUTHLAND IN TACKLES LAST SEASON.

ESPN SAYS THE WOMEN'S WORLD CUP FINAL HAS EARNED THE HIGHEST TELEVISION RATING FOR ANY SOCCER GAME ON IT'S NETWORK. THE RATING FOR THE GAME SUNDAY WHEN JAPAN WON IN A PENALTY SHOOTOUT HAD A 7.4 FAST NATIONAL RATING. THE PREVIOUS HIGH WAS 4.0 FOR LAST YEAR'S US-ALGERIA MEN'S WORLD CUP MATCH.







News For Monday 07/18/11 Second Edition


NEWS FOR MONDAY 071811
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE IS LIFTING A STATEWIDE BURN BAN ON JULY 21ST. THE BAN WAS ORDERED ON JUNE 1ST IN RESPONSE TO EXTREMELY DRY CONDITIONS AND RISK OF WILDFIRES. AT THE TIME LOUISIANA WAS EXPERIENCING AN AVERAGE OF 300 FIRES PER MONTH LOSING NEARLY
4-THOUSAND ACRES.

THE STATE'S ANNUAL SALES TAX HOLIDAY IS SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 5TH THRU THE 6TH JUST IN TIME FOR BACK TO SCHOOLS SHOPPING. ITEMS PURCHASED THESE DAYS ARE EXEMPT FROM THE STATE'S 4 PERCENT SALES TAX UP TO THE FIRST $2500 OF EACH ELIGIBLE ITEM. MORE INFORMATION IS ONLINE AT REVENUE-DOT-LOUISIANA-DOT-GOV.

STATE POLICE REPORT 78 YEAR OLD LAVERNE POWELL OF LEESVILLE WAS KILLED LAST NIGHT IN A SINGLE VEHICLE CRASH ON HIGHWAY 8 IN VERNON PARISH. STATE POLICE SAY POWELL WAS A PASSENGER IN A VEHICLE BRING DRIVEN BY 59 YEAR OLD A.J. TURNER OF LEESVILLE. TROOPERS SAY TURNER LOST CONTROL AND EXITED THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROADWAY AND COLLIDED WITH SEVERAL TREES AND OVERTURNED. TURNER WAS NOT WEARING HIS SEATBELT AND IS SUSPECTED OF DRINKING ALCOHOL. HE WAS TRANSPORTED TO LSU MEDICAL CENTER IN SHREVEPORT FOR TREATMENT. . POWELL WAS NOT WEARING HER SEATBELT AND WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD.

IT WAS FOR MANY A NO-BRAINER, VOTERS IN PINEVILLE SATURDAY OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVED CONTINUING A TAX TO PAY THE SALARIES OF PINEVILLE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES. WITH ALL 17 PRECINCTS REPORTING, THE TAX PASSED BY A TALLY OF 428 YES VOTES, OR 91 PERCENT, TO 43 NOT VOTES, OR 9 PERCENT. THE TAX IS A 10-YEAR, 10-MILL PROPERTY TAX.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT AWARDED $45,447,354 FRIDAY TO 102 PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITIES IN LOUISIANA, INCLUDING $1,174,866 TO THE FINANCIALLY STRAPPED ALEXANDRIA HOUSING AUTHORITY. THE FUNDS ARE DESIGNATED FOR LARGE-SCALE IMPROVEMENTS TO PUBLIC HOUSING UNITS.

TROPICAL STORM BRET IS GROWING STRONGER AS IT SWIRLS IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN NEAR THE NORTHERN BAHAMAS. AUTHORITIES IN THE BAHAMAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WARNING EARLY MONDAY FOR GRAND BAHAMA AND THE ABACO ISLANDS, MEANING TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE NEXT FEW HOURS. TROPICAL STORM BRET ISN'T EXPECTED TO APPROACH THE U.S.

THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA STATE EMPLOYEES IS THE LOWEST IT HAS BEEN IN 20 YEARS.
AND THAT NUMBER IS EXPECTED TO GO LOWER. REPUBLICAN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S NEW STATE BUDGET IS BUILT ON FURTHER REDUCING WORKFORCE NUMBERS OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS. ACCORDING TO STATE CIVIL SERVICE RECORDS, THERE ARE 80,806 STATE EMPLOYEES TODAY. THAT’S DOWN FROM A 20-YEAR HIGH OF 93,601 IN 2004 DURING THE LAST YEAR OF REPUBLICAN GOV. MIKE FOSTER’S SECOND TERM. TODAY’S STATE EMPLOYEE WORKFORCE IS ABOUT 1,000 LESS THAN WHAT IT WAS IN 1991 AS REPUBLICAN GOV. BUDDY ROEMER LEFT OFFICE

WITH THREE MONTHS LEFT BEFORE THE OCTOBER ELECTION THERE IS SPECULATION THAT THE DEMOCRATS MAY HAVE A CHALLENGER TO BOBBY JINDAL. LIVONIA SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX TELLS LAPOLITICS WEEKLY THAT HE'S CONSIDERING A POSSIBLE RUN FOR GOVERNOR. MARIONNEAUX REPORTS HAVING MEETINGS WITH SUPPORTERS IN JUNE WHO WERE INTERESTED IN FINDING A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE. HE SAYS THERE WERE PROMISES OF FINANCIAL BACKING IF HE WOULD CONSIDER MAKING A RUN.

THE STATE OF LOUISIANA WAS NAMED THE STATE OF THE YEAR IN THE SOUTH BY SOUTHERN BUSINESS AND DEVELOPMENT MAGAZINE FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW. THIS YEAR LOUISIANA IS ALONE IN FIRST PLACE AFTER TYING WITH TENNESSEE THE LAST TWO YEARS. TWO AREAS IN PARTICULAR WERE SITED FOR PRODUCING ECONOMIC BOOMS. LAKE CHARLES FOR EXPANSION OF THEIR CHEMICAL AND LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS INDUSTRIES AND NEW ORLEANS THAT HAS SEEN A REBIRTH OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AFTER THE DEVASTATION OF KATRINA.

HUGE CROWDS GATHERED IN BATON ROUGE THIS WEEKEND FOR FIRST OF FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS' SEVERAL BOOK TOUR STOPS AROUND THE STATE. FANS OF THE SILVER FOX STOOD IN LINE FOR HOURS TO HAVE THEIR BOOK SIGNED BY EDWARDS AND AUTHOR, LEO HONEYCUTT. EDWARDS WAS CONVICTED AND SENTENCED TO A 10-YEAR TERM IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR CORRUPTING THE STATE'S GAMING LICENSE PROCESS. EDWARDS MAINTAINS HIS INNOCENCE, AND MANY AUTOGRAPH SEEKERS AGREE WITH MOST BELIEVING HE SHOULD BE GOVERNOR AGAIN.

THE LSU AG CENTER WILL LIKELY NEED TO DECLARE A FINANCIAL EMERGENCY. THAT WILL ALLOW THE INSTITUTION TO CUT TENURED FACULTY, ELIMINATE RESEARCH PROGRAMS AND REDUCE COMMUNITY OUTREACH SERVICES. CHANCELLOR BILL RICHARDSON SAYS THEY CAN NO LONGER OPERATE AT THEIR CURRENT LEVEL. RICHARDSON SAYS DRASTIC STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN, BECAUSE THE AG CENTER HAS ENDURED 26-MILLION DOLLARS IN DIRECT AND INDIRECT BUDGET CUTS OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS. RICHARDSON SAYS ITS TOO EARLY TO TELL HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE LAID OFF AND WHAT PROGRAMS WILL BE CUT.

LOUISIANA VOTERS WILL HAVE FIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS TO VOTE "YES" OR "NO" ON DURING THE FALL ELECTIONS. COUNCIL FOR A BETTER LOUISIANA PRESIDENT BARRY ERWIN SAYS THE MOST HIGH-PROFILE AMENDMENT IS THE ONE THAT RENEWS A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX AND DEDICATES MORE MONEY FOR THE TOPS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM. THE OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS DEAL WITH THE RAINY DAY FUND, PUBLIC RETIREMENT SYSTEMS AND PROHIBITING ANY NEW TAX FROM BEING IMPOSED ON THE SALE OR TRANSFER OF REAL ESTATE. ERWIN SAYS THAT AMENDMENT WILL APPEAR BY ITSELF ON THE NOVEMBER 19TH BALLOT.

TWO YEARS OF NEGOTIATIONS AND TENS OF THOUSAND OF DOLLARS IN FEES TO LAWYERS AND CONSULTANTS HAVE RESULTED IN NO RATE REDUCTION FOR OPELOUSAS ELECTRIC RATE-PAYERS. IN A SPECIAL MEETING THURSDAY, THE OPELOUSAS BOARD OF ALDERMEN VOTED UNANIMOUSLY TO APPROVE A 10-YEAR EXTENSION TO CLECO CORP.'S CONTRACT TO SUPPLY POWER TO THE CITY. THE CITY WILL BE PAID A $1.2 MILLION "SIGNING BONUS" BY CLECO. CLECO ALSO WILL INCREASE ITS LEASE PAYMENT TO THE CITY BY NEARLY 20 PERCENT, THAT’S A $28,000 PER-MONTH BOOST. WHILE CLECO OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE VERY EXCITED TO CONTINUE TO BE A PART OF OPELOUSAS FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS, OPELOUSAS OFFICIALS ARE NOT SO THRILLED. MAYOR DONALD CRAVINS, WHO HAD LED THE FIGHT TO FIND A NEW SUPPLIER FOR THE CITY, SAY THE BOTTOM LINE IS THEY COULD NOT FIND ONE. GIVEN THE LACK OF OTHER PARTICIPANTS, THE CITY DID THE BEST THEY COULD DO."

POLICE HAVE ARRESTED A LAFAYETTE CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE ON ALLEGATIONS OF SECRETLY TAPING AND PHOTOGRAPHING PEOPLE IN A RESTROOM AT A GOVERNMENT OFFICE. POLICE REPORT THAT 38-YEAR-OLD JEFFERY LARCADE WORKED AS A PLANNER IN THE PLANNING AND ZONING DEPARTMENT. HE WAS BOOKED FRIDAY WITH VIDEO VOYEURISM AND JAILED IN LIEU OF $10,000 BOND. POLICE SPOKESMAN PAUL MOUTON SAID POLICE DON'T KNOW HOW MANY VICTIMS THERE WERE AND THE CASE REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

THE CITY OF MONROE IS HOPING THAT A NEW DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE BANKS OF THE OUACHITA RIVER WILL BRING THOUSANDS OF VISITORS TO THE DOWNTOWN AREA.
THE PROPOSED RIVERMARKET WILL FEATURE KIOSKS ON THE CURRENT RIVER WALK NEAR THE PARISH COURTHOUSE. THE FRENCH-TYPE MARKET IS EXPECTED TO HOUSE VENDORS WHO CAN RENT SPACE AND SELL GOODS SUCH AS VEGETABLES AND ARTS AND CRAFTS.
THE PRICE TAG IS $1 MILLION, INCLUDING $490,000 IN CAPITAL OUTLAY FUNDS. THE CITY HAS AGREED TO MATCH $350,000 AND THE MONROE-WEST MONROE CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU ADDED ABOUT $132,000.

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE CAME TO HOLY GHOST CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SATURDAY FOR THE FUNERAL MASS FOR THE MURDERED 70-YEAR-OLD PRIEST WHO HAD LED THE CHURCH FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS. ALTHOUGH PEOPLE WERE SHOCKED BY THE REV. EDWARD EVERITT'S DEATH , THEY FOCUSED SATURDAY ON HIS LIFE.

TEXAS A&M OCEANOGRAPHERS SAY THEY EXPECT THE 3,800-SQUARE-MILE "DEAD ZONE" IN THE GULF OF MEXICO TO EXPAND BECAUSE OF FLOODWATERS FLOWING FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. THE ZONE IS NOW THE SIZE OF RHODE ISLAND AND DELAWARE COMBINED. IT'S WHERE THE GULF WATERS OFF THE SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI COASTS CONTAIN LOW OXYGEN LEVELS, OFTEN LEADING TO DIE-OFFS OF MARINE LIFE. AUM OCEANOGRAPHY PROFESSOR STEVE DIMARCO TELLS THE EAGLE OF SCIENTISTS WITH THE LOUISIANA UNIVERSITIES MARTINE CONSORTIUM PREDICT THE DEAD ZONE TO EXPAND TO MORE THAN 9,400 SQUARE MILES THIS YEAR.

SPORTS..

JAPAN IS THE FIRST ASIAN NATION TO WIN A WOMEN'S WORLD CUP AFTER STUNNING THE UNITED STATES YESTERDAY 3-1. THIS WAS JAPAN'S FIRST APPEARANCE IN THE FINAL OF A MAJOR TOURNAMENT, AND THEY HADN'T BEATEN THE AMERICANS IN THEIR FIRST 25 MEETINGS. THE WIN WAS THE RESULT OF A PENALTY SHOOTOUT AFTER BOTH SIDES WERE LEVEL AT 2-2 AFTER EXTRA TIME.

NFL OWNERS AND PLAYERS STILL HAVEN'T REACHED A FULL AGREEMENT AFTER EXTENSIVE TALKS CONTINUED OVER THE WEEKEND. SOURCES SAY PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE AND NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION HEAD DEMAURICE SMITH EXPECTS TO SPEAK WITH NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL POSSIBLY IN PERSON, WHILE BOTH SIDES' LEGAL AND FINANCIAL TEAMS CONTINUE WORKING.

THE SUN BELT MEDIA DAYS GET UNDERWAY TODAY. U-L-M COACH TODD BERRY WILL ADDRESS REPORTERS TODAY AND TOMORROW ITS NEW U-L LAFAYETTE FOOTBALL COACH MARK HUDSPETH. U-L-L INTERIM ATHLETIC DIRECTOR SCOTT FARMER SAYS HUDSPETH HAS YET TO WIN A GAME YET, BUT RAGIN CAJUN FANS SEEM TO BE THRILLED WITH THEIR NEW COACH. U-L-L KICKS OFF THE SEASON ON SEPTEMBER THIRD AT OKLAHOMA STATE.

NIKKI CALDWELL, THE NEW LSU WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH, HAS A FIVE YEAR CONTRACT THAT GUARANTEES HER AT LEAST $700,000 A YEAR. THE SALARY COULD TOP $1.2 MILLION WITH BONUSES TIED TO TEAM PERFORMANCE. THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS APPROVED THE CONTRACT FRIDAY.

A HOUSE OWNED BY FORMER NEW ORLEANS SAINTS RUNNING BACK DEUCE MCALLISTER IN LULING IS SCHEDULED TO BE AUCTIONED BY THE ST. CHARLES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE ON JULY 27TH. THE SCHEDULED SALE STEMS FROM A WRIT OF SEIZURE RESULTING FROM A SUIT BY WHITNEY NATIONAL BANK AGAINST MCALLISTER.







News For Monday 07/18/11


NEWS FOR MONDAY 071811
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT WAS FOR MANY A NO-BRAINER, VOTERS IN PINEVILLE SATURDAY OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVED CONTINUING A TAX TO PAY THE SALARIES OF PINEVILLE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES. WITH ALL 17 PRECINCTS REPORTING, THE TAX PASSED BY A TALLY OF 428 YES VOTES, OR 91 PERCENT, TO 43 NOT VOTES, OR 9 PERCENT. THE TAX IS A 10-YEAR, 10-MILL PROPERTY TAX.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT AWARDED $45,447,354 FRIDAY TO 102 PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITIES IN LOUISIANA, INCLUDING $1,174,866 TO THE FINANCIALLY STRAPPED ALEXANDRIA HOUSING AUTHORITY. THE FUNDS ARE DESIGNATED FOR LARGE-SCALE IMPROVEMENTS TO PUBLIC HOUSING UNITS.

TROPICAL STORM BRET IS GROWING STRONGER AS IT SWIRLS IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN NEAR THE NORTHERN BAHAMAS. AUTHORITIES IN THE BAHAMAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WARNING EARLY MONDAY FOR GRAND BAHAMA AND THE ABACO ISLANDS, MEANING TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE NEXT FEW HOURS. TROPICAL STORM BRET ISN'T EXPECTED TO APPROACH THE U.S.

THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA STATE EMPLOYEES IS THE LOWEST IT HAS BEEN IN 20 YEARS.
AND THAT NUMBER IS EXPECTED TO GO LOWER. REPUBLICAN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S NEW STATE BUDGET IS BUILT ON FURTHER REDUCING WORKFORCE NUMBERS OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS. ACCORDING TO STATE CIVIL SERVICE RECORDS, THERE ARE 80,806 STATE EMPLOYEES TODAY. THAT’S DOWN FROM A 20-YEAR HIGH OF 93,601 IN 2004 DURING THE LAST YEAR OF REPUBLICAN GOV. MIKE FOSTER’S SECOND TERM. TODAY’S STATE EMPLOYEE WORKFORCE IS ABOUT 1,000 LESS THAN WHAT IT WAS IN 1991 AS REPUBLICAN GOV. BUDDY ROEMER LEFT OFFICE

WITH THREE MONTHS LEFT BEFORE THE OCTOBER ELECTION THERE IS SPECULATION THAT THE DEMOCRATS MAY HAVE A CHALLENGER TO BOBBY JINDAL. LIVONIA SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX TELLS LAPOLITICS WEEKLY THAT HE'S CONSIDERING A POSSIBLE RUN FOR GOVERNOR. MARIONNEAUX REPORTS HAVING MEETINGS WITH SUPPORTERS IN JUNE WHO WERE INTERESTED IN FINDING A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE. HE SAYS THERE WERE PROMISES OF FINANCIAL BACKING IF HE WOULD CONSIDER MAKING A RUN.

THE STATE OF LOUISIANA WAS NAMED THE STATE OF THE YEAR IN THE SOUTH BY SOUTHERN BUSINESS AND DEVELOPMENT MAGAZINE FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW. THIS YEAR LOUISIANA IS ALONE IN FIRST PLACE AFTER TYING WITH TENNESSEE THE LAST TWO YEARS. TWO AREAS IN PARTICULAR WERE SITED FOR PRODUCING ECONOMIC BOOMS. LAKE CHARLES FOR EXPANSION OF THEIR CHEMICAL AND LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS INDUSTRIES AND NEW ORLEANS THAT HAS SEEN A REBIRTH OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AFTER THE DEVASTATION OF KATRINA.

HUGE CROWDS GATHERED IN BATON ROUGE THIS WEEKEND FOR FIRST OF FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS' SEVERAL BOOK TOUR STOPS AROUND THE STATE. FANS OF THE SILVER FOX STOOD IN LINE FOR HOURS TO HAVE THEIR BOOK SIGNED BY EDWARDS AND AUTHOR, LEO HONEYCUTT. EDWARDS WAS CONVICTED AND SENTENCED TO A 10-YEAR TERM IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR CORRUPTING THE STATE'S GAMING LICENSE PROCESS. EDWARDS MAINTAINS HIS INNOCENCE, AND MANY AUTOGRAPH SEEKERS AGREE WITH MOST BELIEVING HE SHOULD BE GOVERNOR AGAIN.

THE LSU AG CENTER WILL LIKELY NEED TO DECLARE A FINANCIAL EMERGENCY. THAT WILL ALLOW THE INSTITUTION TO CUT TENURED FACULTY, ELIMINATE RESEARCH PROGRAMS AND REDUCE COMMUNITY OUTREACH SERVICES. CHANCELLOR BILL RICHARDSON SAYS THEY CAN NO LONGER OPERATE AT THEIR CURRENT LEVEL. RICHARDSON SAYS DRASTIC STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN, BECAUSE THE AG CENTER HAS ENDURED 26-MILLION DOLLARS IN DIRECT AND INDIRECT BUDGET CUTS OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS. RICHARDSON SAYS ITS TOO EARLY TO TELL HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE LAID OFF AND WHAT PROGRAMS WILL BE CUT.

LOUISIANA VOTERS WILL HAVE FIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS TO VOTE "YES" OR "NO" ON DURING THE FALL ELECTIONS. COUNCIL FOR A BETTER LOUISIANA PRESIDENT BARRY ERWIN SAYS THE MOST HIGH-PROFILE AMENDMENT IS THE ONE THAT RENEWS A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX AND DEDICATES MORE MONEY FOR THE TOPS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM. THE OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS DEAL WITH THE RAINY DAY FUND, PUBLIC RETIREMENT SYSTEMS AND PROHIBITING ANY NEW TAX FROM BEING IMPOSED ON THE SALE OR TRANSFER OF REAL ESTATE. ERWIN SAYS THAT AMENDMENT WILL APPEAR BY ITSELF ON THE NOVEMBER 19TH BALLOT.

TWO YEARS OF NEGOTIATIONS AND TENS OF THOUSAND OF DOLLARS IN FEES TO LAWYERS AND CONSULTANTS HAVE RESULTED IN NO RATE REDUCTION FOR OPELOUSAS ELECTRIC RATE-PAYERS. IN A SPECIAL MEETING THURSDAY, THE OPELOUSAS BOARD OF ALDERMEN VOTED UNANIMOUSLY TO APPROVE A 10-YEAR EXTENSION TO CLECO CORP.'S CONTRACT TO SUPPLY POWER TO THE CITY. THE CITY WILL BE PAID A $1.2 MILLION "SIGNING BONUS" BY CLECO. CLECO ALSO WILL INCREASE ITS LEASE PAYMENT TO THE CITY BY NEARLY 20 PERCENT, THAT’S A $28,000 PER-MONTH BOOST. WHILE CLECO OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE VERY EXCITED TO CONTINUE TO BE A PART OF OPELOUSAS FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS, OPELOUSAS OFFICIALS ARE NOT SO THRILLED. MAYOR DONALD CRAVINS, WHO HAD LED THE FIGHT TO FIND A NEW SUPPLIER FOR THE CITY, SAY THE BOTTOM LINE IS THEY COULD NOT FIND ONE. GIVEN THE LACK OF OTHER PARTICIPANTS, THE CITY DID THE BEST THEY COULD DO."

POLICE HAVE ARRESTED A LAFAYETTE CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE ON ALLEGATIONS OF SECRETLY TAPING AND PHOTOGRAPHING PEOPLE IN A RESTROOM AT A GOVERNMENT OFFICE. POLICE REPORT THAT 38-YEAR-OLD JEFFERY LARCADE WORKED AS A PLANNER IN THE PLANNING AND ZONING DEPARTMENT. HE WAS BOOKED FRIDAY WITH VIDEO VOYEURISM AND JAILED IN LIEU OF $10,000 BOND. POLICE SPOKESMAN PAUL MOUTON SAID POLICE DON'T KNOW HOW MANY VICTIMS THERE WERE AND THE CASE REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

THE CITY OF MONROE IS HOPING THAT A NEW DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE BANKS OF THE OUACHITA RIVER WILL BRING THOUSANDS OF VISITORS TO THE DOWNTOWN AREA.
THE PROPOSED RIVERMARKET WILL FEATURE KIOSKS ON THE CURRENT RIVER WALK NEAR THE PARISH COURTHOUSE. THE FRENCH-TYPE MARKET IS EXPECTED TO HOUSE VENDORS WHO CAN RENT SPACE AND SELL GOODS SUCH AS VEGETABLES AND ARTS AND CRAFTS.
THE PRICE TAG IS $1 MILLION, INCLUDING $490,000 IN CAPITAL OUTLAY FUNDS. THE CITY HAS AGREED TO MATCH $350,000 AND THE MONROE-WEST MONROE CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU ADDED ABOUT $132,000.

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE CAME TO HOLY GHOST CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SATURDAY FOR THE FUNERAL MASS FOR THE MURDERED 70-YEAR-OLD PRIEST WHO HAD LED THE CHURCH FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS. ALTHOUGH PEOPLE WERE SHOCKED BY THE REV. EDWARD EVERITT'S DEATH , THEY FOCUSED SATURDAY ON HIS LIFE.

TEXAS A&M OCEANOGRAPHERS SAY THEY EXPECT THE 3,800-SQUARE-MILE "DEAD ZONE" IN THE GULF OF MEXICO TO EXPAND BECAUSE OF FLOODWATERS FLOWING FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. THE ZONE IS NOW THE SIZE OF RHODE ISLAND AND DELAWARE COMBINED. IT'S WHERE THE GULF WATERS OFF THE SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI COASTS CONTAIN LOW OXYGEN LEVELS, OFTEN LEADING TO DIE-OFFS OF MARINE LIFE. AUM OCEANOGRAPHY PROFESSOR STEVE DIMARCO TELLS THE EAGLE OF SCIENTISTS WITH THE LOUISIANA UNIVERSITIES MARTINE CONSORTIUM PREDICT THE DEAD ZONE TO EXPAND TO MORE THAN 9,400 SQUARE MILES THIS YEAR.






News For Friday 071511


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 071511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A NUMBER OF ALEXANDRIA BAR OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES SHOWED UP YESTERDAY TO GIVE THEIR POINT OF VIEW TO THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL REGARDING A PROPOSED SMOKING BAN IN CITY BARS. ALL IN ATTENDANCE SAID THEY DO NOT WANT TO SEE SMOKING DISAPPEAR FROM THEIR ESTABLISHMENTS. THE NEW ORDINANCE WOULD EXPAND THE CITY'S CURRENT SMOKING BAN OF RESTAURANTS AND MOST WORKPLACES IN THE CITY TO INCLUDE BARS AND GAMING ESTABLISHMENTS SUCH AS BINGO HALLS. IN ADDITION, ALL HOTELS WOULD BE REQUIRED TO BE COMPLETELY SMOKE-FREE, WHILE SMOKING WOULD BE BANNED AT NURSING HOMES AND WITHIN 50 FEET OF ALL PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES. THE NEW ORDINANCE WILL BE INTRODUCED AT THE NEXT COUNCIL MEETING ON JULY 26, CITY ATTORNEY CHUCK JOHNSON SAID. IT WILL BE VOTED ON FOR FINAL ADOPTION THE FOLLOWING MEETING, SCHEDULED FOR AUG. 9.

MORE LEGAL TROUBLES FOR FORMER LEESVILLE POLICE CHIEF BOBBY HICKMAN. THE FBI AND LEESVILLE POLICE RECOVERED CITY PROPERTY IN HICKMAN'S HOME. THE SAME DAY HICKMAN WAS ARRESTED BY THE FBI. POLICE FOUND NUMEROUS ITEMS IDENTIFIED AS PROPERTY OF THE LEESVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT, INCLUDING ASSAULT RIFLE PURCHASED BY THE CITY BUT NEVER RECORDED IN CITY RECORDS, AN ILLEGALLY SAWED OFF SHOTGUN, RADIOS FROM THE 911 CENTER, AMMUNITION, A POLICE CAR LICENSE PLATE. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT AND AN I-PHONE. FORMER LEESVILLE OFFICER CHARLIE LOPEZ PLEADED GUILTY IN NOVEMBER TO TWO DRUG CHARGES AND ALSO MADE ALLEGATIONS THAT HE PROVIDED DRUGS TO HICKMAN. HICKMAN WAS PLACED ON LEAVE BY THE CITY, AND WAS DISMISSED EARLIER THIS YEAR.

BARETT BYRD BECAME THE FIRST CANDIDATE TO ANNOUNCE HIS INTENTION TO SEEK THE DISTRICT 25 SEAT IN THE LOUISIANA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. BYRD, A 52-YEAR-OLD REPUBLICAN WHO LIVES IN WOODWORTH, SPENT NEARLY 30 YEARS IN THE U.S. MARINES, WHERE HE ROSE TO THE RANK OF COLONEL BEFORE RETIRING IN 2006. WHILE MAKING HIS ANNOUNCEMENT TO SEEK THE DISTRICT 25 SEAT CURRENTLY HELD BY ALEXANDRIA DEMOCRAT CHRIS ROY JR., BYRD SAID HE CHOSE TO RUN BECAUSE OF HIS DESIRE TO BRING CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES OF LIMITED GOVERNMENT AND FISCAL CONSTRAINT TO THE LEGISLATURE.

THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS BEING HIT BY FORECLOSURE ACTIONS IS ON THE RISE WITH THE MAJORITY OF THOSE EITHER LOSING THEIR HOMES OR FACING A FORECLOSURE SALE. REALTYTRAC SAYS THAT DURING THE SECOND QUARTER, 5,626 PROPERTIES WERE TARGETED BY SOME FORECLOSURE-RELATED ACTION. THOSE RANGE FROM AN INITIAL DEFAULT NOTICE TO OUTRIGHT REPOSSESSION BY A LENDER.
THAT'S UP 6.7 PERCENT FROM THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2011 AND UP 15.2 PERCENT FROM THE SECOND QUARTER OF 2010. LOUISIANA RANKED 26TH IN THE REALTYTRAC COUNT AMONG THE STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IN FORECLOSURE-RELATED ACTIONS DURING THE SECOND QUARTER.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HAS SIGNED A SERIES OF BILLS THAT ATTEMPTS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM SEX OFFENDERS AND ELDERLY AND DISABLED FROM PHYSICAL ABUSE. JINDAL SAYS HOUSE BILL 86 WILL PUT HARSHER PENALTIES ON THOSE WHO SEXUALLY ABUSE THE ELDERLY OR DISABLED. JINDAL SAYS HOUSE BILL 131 PLACES STRICTER PENALTIES ON SEX OFFENDERS WHO FAIL TO CARRY "SEX OFFENDER" IDENTIFICATION. FINALLY, HOUSE BILL 94 TRANSFERS THE STATE'S MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN INFORMATION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, TO THE STATE POLICE.

MONROE POLICE SAY A 13-YEAR-OLD TOOK A GUEST'S CAR KEYS, DROVE OFF AND HIT A 6-YEAR-OLD GIRL, THEN CRASHED INTO A PARKED CAR. THE GIRL IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AND THE BOY WAS BOOKED INTO JUVENILE DETENTION WEDNESDAY ON A CHARGE OF UNAUTHORIZED USE. POLICE SAY THE CAR BELONGED TO A FAMILY FRIEND WHO WAS STAYING AT THE HOUSE.

NICK GAUTREAUX, COMMISSIONER OF THE STATE OFFICE OF MOTOR VEHICLES SAYS RUMORS THAT HIS DEPARTMENT HAS STOPPED SENDING RENEWAL NOTICES TO LOUISIANA MOTORIST ARE NOT TRUE. HE DOES SAY THERE WAS A GLITCH IN A NEW SOFTWARE SYSTEM USED TO VERIFY ADDRESSES WHICH PREVENTED MANY MOTORIST FROM GETTING A RENEWAL NOTICE. GAUTREAUX SAYS THEY PUT A HOLD ON ANY NOTICES WHERE THE ADDRESS COULD NOT BE VERIFIED IN ORDER TO PROTECT LOUISIANA DRIVERS FROM POTENTIAL IDENTITY THEFT.

OAKDALE CITY COURT MARSHAL CHAD DOYLE HAS RESIGNED FROM OFFICE. ALLEN PARISH CLERK OF COURT GERALD HARRINGTON SAYS WAS NOTIFIED OF DOYLE'S RESIGNATION WEDNESDAY BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. THE 40-YEAR-OLD DOYLE WAS ARRESTED JUNE 23 BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE ON CHARGES OF FELONY THEFT AND MALFEASANCE IN OFFICE.

FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS AND HIS BIOGRAPHER LEO HONEYCUTT WILL EMBARK ON A STATEWIDE BOOK TOUR STARTING THIS WEEKEND IN BATON ROUGE. EDWARDS SAYS HE ALWAYS WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT HIS UNUSUAL YET SIGNIFICANT LIFE. HE SAYS HE WAS SURPRISED AT HOW MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT THE BOOK AND SHOWED A GENUINE INTEREST.

A FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST TESTIFIED THURSDAY AT THE TRIAL OF FIVE CURRENT OR FORMER NEW ORLEANS POLICE, THAT A TEENAGER GUNNED DOWN BY POLICE ON A BRIDGE AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA WAS SHOT AT LEAST THREE TIMES WHILE LYING FACE DOWN AFTER BEING FATALLY WOUNDED BY A SHOTGUN BLAST TO THE HEAD. THE TESTIMONY SUPPORTS PROSECUTORS' ALLEGATIONS THAT NEW ORLEANS POLICE SHOT UNARMED, WOUNDED PEOPLE WHO POSED NO THREAT TO OFFICERS AND WHO WERE SEEKING COVER BEHIND A CONCRETE BARRIER ON THE DANZIGER BRIDGE. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS SAY THE OFFICERS WERE SHOT AT BEFORE THEY RETURNED FIRE ON THE BRIDGE, WHERE THEY HAD RESPONDED TO A DISTRESS CALL LESS THAN A WEEK AFTER THE 2005 STORM. BUT JURORS ALSO HEARD THAT WHEN NO WEAPONS WERE FOUND ON ANY OF THE VICTIMS, POLICE ALLEGEDLY PLOTTED TO PLANT A GUN, FABRICATE WITNESSES AND FALSIFY REPORTS TO MAKE THE SHOOTINGS APPEARED JUSTIFIED.

ONE YEAR AFTER THE DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL WELL WAS CAPPED, THE FISHING INDUSTRY IN LOUISIANA IS STILL FAR FROM BACK TO NORMAL. DEAN BLANCHARD IS OWNER OF ONE OF THE LARGEST SHRIMPING BUSINESSES IN GRAND ISLE. HE SAYS IT'S BEEN AN EXTREMELY STRESSFUL YEAR. BLANCHARD SAYS IT'S BEEN A CHALLENGE TO SELL SHRIMP, BECAUSE OF PUBLIC PERCEPTION. HE FEELS IT'S ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE. HE SAYS HE'S HOPING FOR A HURRICANE TO FLUSH THE REMAINING SPILLED OIL OUT OF THE GULF...:

THE LSU AGCENTER HAS CUT MORE THAN A QUARTER OF ITS STAFF IN THE LAST THREE YEARS AND CLOSED SEVERAL RESEARCH STATIONS, BUT STILL FACES A BUDGET $3 MILLION IN THE RED. CHANCELLOR BILL RICHARDSON OUTLINES THE AGCENTER'S ONGOING FINANCIAL TROUBLES FRIDAY TO THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM'S GOVERNING BOARD. HE SAYS THE CENTER'S BUDGET IS DOWN 23 PERCENT SINCE 2008. THE AGCENTER RUNS RESEARCH PROGRAMS, EXTENSION SERVICES FOR FARMERS AND RANCHERS AND OUTREACH PROGRAMS AROUND LOUISIANA. IT FACES THE SHORTFALL IN SPITE OF SHUTTING THREE RESEARCH STATIONS THIS YEAR. UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES HAVE RAISED TUITION TO HELP FILL BUDGET GAPS. BUT THE AGCENTER DOESN'T HAVE STUDENTS, SO CAN'T USE THAT METHOD TO OFFSET CUTS.

LOUISIANA'S DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SAYS GROWING NUMBERS OF COYOTES IN NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND THE STATE BRING A GROWING DANGER OF RABIES.
STATE PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARIAN GARY A. BALSAMO SAYS PEOPLE SHOULDN'T TOUCH COYOTES, DEAD OR ALIVE, BECAUSE THEIR SALIVA COULD CARRY THE RABIES VIRUS.
HE SAYS DON'T LEAVE PET FOOD OUTSIDE, AND KEEP GARBAGE IN TIGHTLY SEALED CONTAINERS THAT CANNOT BE TIPPED OVER, BECAUSE PET FOOD AND GARBAGE, AND THE RODENTS THEY BRING, ATTRACT COYOTES. MORE ADVICE: DON'T LEAVE CHILDREN AND SMALL PETS OUTSIDE ON THEIR OWN; REPORT ANY COYOTE SIGHTING TO LOCAL ANIMAL CONTROL; AND IF A COYOTE IS AGGRESSIVE, CALL 911. BALSAMO SAYS ANYONE BITTEN OR SCRATCHED BY ANY WILD ANIMAL SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CHECK WITH A DOCTOR; FOR PETS, IMMEDIATELY CHECK WITH A VETERINARIAN.

CONTEMPORARY SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN CULTURES ARE THE FOCUS OF THIS YEAR'S NATCHITOCHES-NSU FOLK FESTIVAL. IT OPENS TODAY AT THE NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT UNION, AND WILL FEATURE INDIAN CRAFTS, STORYTELLING, SONGS, DANCES, GAMES AND DRUMMING, AND AN OUTDOOR EXHIBITION OF STICKBALL — ONE OF THE GAMES THAT EVOLVED INTO LACROSSE. AS USUAL, THE ANNUAL LOUISIANA STATE FIDDLE CHAMPIONSHIP AND A VARIETY OF OTHER MUSIC ALSO WILL BE PART OF THE FESTIVAL.

News For Thursday 071411


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 071411
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A PUBLIC MEETING IS SET FOR TODAY IN THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS TO DISCUSS THE PROS AND CONS OF EXPANDING THE CITY'S CURRENT SMOKING ORDINANCE. CONCERNED CITIZENS, AS WELL AS OWNERS OF ALL BUSINESSES WHO WOULD BE AFFECTED BY THE ORDINANCE CHANGE, HAVE BEEN INVITED TO ATTEND. ACCORDING TO CITY ATTORNEY CHUCK JOHNSON, NOT BE A VOTE TAKEN AT THIS MEETING. NO WORD AS TO WHEN AN ACTUAL VOTE WILL BE TAKEN.

THOUGH THEY WILL NOT BE GETTING A MONTHLY OPERATING FEE, IT APPEARS NOW THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA WILL PAY NOBLE HOSPITALITY INC. A "START-UP FEE" OF $15,000 AS WELL AS PROVIDE UTILITY INCENTIVES TO MANAGE THE DOWNTOWN ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL. IN EXCHANGE, THE CITY WILL RECEIVE A PROPERTY IMPROVEMENT PLAN AND 25 PERCENT OF THE PROFITS THAT NOBLE EARNS WHILE IT MANAGES THE PROPERTY. THE INITIAL AGREEMENT IS NOT LONG TERM, THE GROUP WILL MANAGE THE HOTEL BEGINNING FRIDAY AND THROUGH OCT. 31, WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF ITS CONTRACT BEING EXTENDED BY THREE MONTHS.

IT’S ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY, THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS WILL CONDUCT AN EXERCISE TODAY TO HELP EMERGENCY OFFICIALS PREPARE FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF AN EARTHQUAKE DISASTER. LOUISIANA'S EARTHQUAKE RISK STEMS FROM THE NEW MADRID FAULT, THE MOST SEISMICALLY ACTIVE AREA OF THE UNITED STATES EAST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. RISK TO LOUISIANA IS LOW, COMPARED TO OTHER SOUTHERN AND MIDWESTERN STATES

A HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE NORTHERN HALF OF THE STATE TODAY AS DAYTIME TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO HIT THE CENTURY MARK AND HEAT INDICIES COULD REACH 110-DEGREES. GARY CHATELIN WITH THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SHREVEPORT, SAYS THE DRY GROUND IS HELPING TO PRODUCE THE INTENSE HEAT. THE BOSSIER PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE IS INVESTIGATING A POSSIBLE HEAT DEATH. THE PERSON DIED ON TUESDAY WHEN THE TEMPERATURE REACHED 102-DEGREES IN BOSSIER CITY. CHATELIN SAYS THERE'S NO RELIEF IN SIGHT.

37 YEAR OLD ERIC DOUZART OF MONTGOMERY HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH THE THEFT OF COPPER AND OTHER METALS FROM BUSINESSES IN GRANT AND RAPIDES PARISHES. AUTHORITIES SAY DOUZART TRIED TO SELL MATERIALS. THE THEFTS OCCURRED BETWEEN JUNE 23 AND THIS PAST MONDAY. TOTAL COSTS TO REPAIR DAMAGE FROM THE THEFTS IS MORE THAN $20,000.

FLORIDA AUTHORITIES SAY THE MAN ACCUSED OF ROBBING AND KILLING A HAMMOND PRIEST, PLANNED TO USE THE STOLEN MONEY FOR A TRIP TO DISNEY WORLD WITH HIS FAMILY. POLK COUNTY SHERIFF GRADY JUDD SAYS WHEN THEY ARRESTED 31-YEAR-OLD JEREMY MAINERI TUESDAY, THEY RECOVERED THREE-DAY PASSES TO DISNEY, FATHER ED EVERITT'S WALLET, HIS PICKUP TRUCK AND A GUN. JUDD BELIEVES MANIERI TOOK FATHER ED EVERITT'S WALLET AND VEHICLE, KILLED HIM AND THEN WENT TO PICK UP HIS EX WIFE AND KIDS.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES HAS LAUNCHED A NEW TOLL-FREE NUMBER FOR THE PUBLIC TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT. SPOKESPERSON TREY WILLIAMS SAYS THE NUMBER IS 1-855-4LA-KIDS. WILLIAMS SAYS UNDER THE PREVIOUS SYSTEM, THERE WERE 25 REGIONAL NUMBERS AROUND THE STATE THAT CONCERNED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC HAD TO FIND TO MAKE A REPORT. WILLIAMS SAYS THE NEW SINGLE STATE-WIDE NUMBER WILL ALLOW CITIZENS TO REPORT TO A CENTRAL SYSTEM THAT WILL ENSURE EVERY CASE IS DEALT WITH PROMPTLY. AGAIN, THAT NUMBER IS 1-855-4LA-KIDS. YOU CAN ALSO FIND IT AT KSYL.COM

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL IS INSERTING HIMSELF INTO THE FALL ELECTIONS FOR STATE HOUSE AND SENATE SEATS. JINDAL HAS ASKED THE STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY TO ESTABLISH A VICTORY FUND WITH A GOAL OF RAISING OVER 2-MILLION DOLLARS TO HELP REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES. U-L MONROE POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR JOSHUA STOCKLEY SAYS ITS A GREAT IDEA. STOCKLEY SAYS THE GOVERNOR HAS A MIXED TRACK RECORD OF ENDORSING INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATES IN THE PAST. HE SAYS BACKING A FUND RAISING EFFORT TO HELP ALL REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES IS EASIER THAN PICKING PARTICULAR CANDIDATES TO BACK. ACCORDING TO THE PRESS RELEASE, JINDAL SAYS THE VICTORY FUND ALREADY HAS 700-THOUSAND DOLLARS.

THE LIVINGSTON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS INVESTIGATING A SUSPECTED MURDER/SUICIDE. LIVING PARISH SHERIFF'S CHIEF DEPUTY JASON ARD SAYS THEY ARE STILL IN THE PROCESS OF INVESTIGATING THE INCIDENT BUT SO FAR EVERYTHING POINTS TO ONE CONCLUSION. ARD SAYS HIS OFFICE IS NOT RELEASING ANY DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT AND THEY ARE WAITING ON THE RESULTS OF AN AUTOPSY. THIS APPEARS TO BE THE SECOND MURDER SUICIDE IN THE STATE THIS WEEK.

STATE FIRE MARSHALS FROM ALL ACROSS THE NATION WILL BE GATHERING IN NEW ORLEANS TODAY FOR THEIR ANNUAL MEETING. LOUISIANA FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS THE MEETING IS HELD EACH YEAR IN ORDER TO CONDUCT EDUCATIONAL AND TRAINING SESSIONS. BROWNING SAYS LOUISIANA WAS UNANIMOUSLY CHOSEN TO HOST THIS YEAR'S EVENT.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SIGNS A NEW PACKAGE OF LAWS CRIMINALIZING SO CALLED BATH SALTS AND SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA. A PREVIOUS VERSION OF THE LAW LET DRUG MAKERS CHANGE THEIR FORMULA AND PUT PRODUCT BACK ON THE STREET. GRETNA REPRESENTATIVE RICKY TEMPLET SAYS LEGISLATORS CONSULTED WITH EXPERTS TO MAKE SURE THAT LOOPHOLE IS CLOSED. THE LAW TAKES EFFECT TOMORROW.

AUTHORITIES IN JEFFERSON PARISH MEANWHILE ARE INVESTIGATING WHAT APPEARS TO BE A TRAGIC ACCIDENT INVOLVING A 10-YEAR OLD BOY. INVESTIGATORS FROM THE JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAY JACOB WILLIAMS APPARENTLY JUMPED ON THE TOP OF A SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE DRIVEN BY 34-YEAR OLD SHAUNTELLE MITCHELL. THE YOUNGSTER FELL OFF THE SUV, WAS RUSHED TO THE WEST JEFFERSON MEDICAL CENTER WHERE HE LATER DIED FROM HIS INJURIES.

THE HOUSTON TEXANS AND NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WILL NOT HOLD THREE JOINT PRACTICES LEADING UP TO THEIR AUG. 20 PRESEASON GAMES, WHILE THEY AWAIT THE END OF THE LOCKOUT. THE TEAMS HAVE PRACTICED TOGETHER IN THE PREVIOUS THREE TRAINING CAMPS, LEADING UP TO THEIR PRESEASON GAME. IT'S BECOME A POPULAR EVENT AMONG FANS IN THE CITIES, SEPARATED BY ONLY 350 MILES. LAST YEAR, THE TEAMS PRACTICED IN NEW ORLEANS BEFORE PLAYING AT THE SUPERDOME. THE LOCKOUT IS INTO ITS FOURTH MONTH. NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN PLAYERS AND OWNERS CONTINUED WEDNESDAY IN NEW YORK CITY.

CENTURYLINK OF MONROE EXPECTS TO CLOSE A DEAL FRIDAY TO BUY THE CLOUD COMPUTING COMPANY SAVVIS INC. FOR $2.5 MILLION AFTER SAVVIS SHAREHOLDERS AND THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION APPROVED THE MERGER THIS WEEK.
CLOUD COMPUTING SERVICES INVOLVES STORAGE OF DIGITAL INFORMATION AND LAUNCH OF SOFTWARE SERVICES OVER THE INTERNET INSTEAD OF THROUGH COMPUTER AND DATA CENTERS.

News For Wednesday 07/13/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 071311
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUED LOUISIANA ON TUESDAY FOR ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION ACT OF 1993. FEDERAL OFFICIALS ALLEGED IN THE SUIT THAT MOST PEOPLE RECEIVING FOOD STAMPS, DISABILITY PAYMENTS AND MEDICAID AREN’T ROUTINELY OFFERED VOTER REGISTRATION AT THEIR PROVIDER AGENCIES.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ATTORNEYS WROTE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE JAMES J. BRADY, OF BATON ROUGE, THAT THE LOUISIANA SECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS, AND DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES SHOULD BE ORDERED INTO COMPLIANCE. STATE OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW.

A BAZAAR TREND IS SURFACING ACROSS THE COUNTRY, DRIVERS THROWING KITTENS ONTO THE ROAD WHILE THEIR CAR IS IN MOTION AND IT’S HAPPENING RIGHT HERE AT HOME. LOUISIANA HUMANE SOCIETY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JEFF DORSON SAYS UNFORTUNATELY, THIS ISN'T UNCOMMON. DORSON BELIEVES THESE PEOPLE ARE DISTURBED INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE POSING A HUGE RISK TO OTHER MOTORISTS. NEW ORLEANS POLICE RECENTLY STOPPED A TRUCK AFTER CALLERS TO THE 911 CENTER REPORTED SEEING THEM DROP SEVERAL KITTENS ON THE CAUSEWAY. THE INCIDENT NEARLY CAUSED A TRAFFIC PILEUP.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SIGNS INTO LAW LEGISLATION THAT ALLOWS THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS TO TRANSFER FROM THE L-S-U SYSTEM TO THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. JINDAL SAYS THE GOVERNING BODIES OF THE TWO UNIVERSITY SYSTEMS HAVE ALREADY SET UP A 14-MEMBER TEAM THAT WILL MAKE SURE THE UNIVERSITY REMAINS ACCREDITED. THE LEGISLATION STARTED OUT AS A BILL TO MERGE U-N-O WITH SOUTHERN
UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS. BUT THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT FOR THAT
PROPOSAL TO PASS THE LEGISLATURE.

LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC COLLEGES WILL HAVE FREEDOM FROM CONTRACTING, PURCHASING AND BUDGETING RULES THAT GOVERN OTHER STATE AGENCIES, IF THEY MEET CERTAIN PERFORMANCE BENCHMARKS TO IMPROVE GRADUATION AND STUDENT RETENTION RATES.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SIGNED THE NEW PROVISIONS INTO LAW TUESDAY AT LSU, SURROUNDED BY LAWMAKERS, UNIVERSITY LEADERS AND BUSINESS EXECUTIVES WHO PUSHED THE BILL.

FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS MAKES HIS FIRST PUBLIC COMMENTS SINCE HIS RELEASE FROM FEDERAL PRISON WHILE ATTENDING A BANQUET IN BATON ROUGE. EDWARDS AND HIS BIOGRAPHER LEO HONEYCUTT WERE BEING HONORED BY THE LOUISIANA HISTORICAL FOUNDATION. EDWARDS SAYS IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK. EDWARDS ONLY WANTED TO TALK ABOUT HIS BIOGRAPHY AND IS EXPECTED TO MAKE MORE COMMENTS ABOUT HIS FUTURE PLANS AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ON JULY 30TH. HE SAYS THE BOOK OFFERS A LOOK INTO LOUISIANA'S PAST AND BY THE WAY, HE SAYS HE PLANS TO WRITE A SEQUEL TO HONEYCUTT'S BOOK.

LOUISIANA IS MOVING INTO THE HOTTEST TIME OF THE SUMMER AND THE DROUGHT IS ONLY MAKING IT WORSE. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THIS SUPER HOT PERIOD WILL LIKELY LAST THROUGH MID-AUGUST. KEIM SAYS THE HUMIDITY IS ADDING TO TRIPLE DIGIT HEAT INDEXES THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE STATE. HE SAYS DURING THESE HOT SUMMER MONTHS, IT'S IMPORTANT TO BE SMART AND STAY HYDRATED.

A 29-YEAR-OLD MOTHER AND HER THREE DAUGHTERS ,THE YOUNGEST 6 MONTHS OLD, WERE FOUND SHOT TO DEATH TUESDAY IN THEIR HOME IN A QUIET NEW ORLEANS SUBURB.
THE BODIES OF NADIA BRAXTON AND HER CHILDREN WERE ON ONE BED AND A GUN WAS AT THE FOOT OF THE BED, KENNER POLICE CHIEF STEVE CARAWAY SAID. UNLESS AN AUTOPSY CHANGES THE EVIDENCE, IT LOOKS AS THOUGH THE CASE IS A MURDER-SUICIDE

MARK BADEN MADE IT OFFICIAL YESTERDAY, THE PINEVILLE RESIDENT ANNOUNCED THAT HE IS ENTERING THE RACE FOR RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF. BADEN'S ENTRY MAKES IT A THREE-WAY RACE, SO FAR. INCUMBENT SHERIFF CHUCK WAGNER AND FORMER SHERIFF WILLIAM EARL HILTON HAVE ANNOUNCED THEIR CANDIDACIES. QUALIFYING FOR THE SHERIFF'S RACE WILL BE SEPT. 6-8. THE PRIMARY WILL BE HELD ON OCT. 22. A RUNOFF ELECTION, IF NECESSARY, WILL BE NOV. 19.

LOUISIANA HAS A NEW 24-HOUR HOTLINE FOR PEOPLE TO REPORT ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT. THE TOLL-FREE STATEWIDE NUMBER IS 1-855-4-LA-KIDS. THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES SAID TUESDAY THAT IT WILL REPLACE 25 REGIONAL AND PARISH PHONE NUMBERS IT HAS BEEN USING TO TAKE CHILD ABUSE REPORTS. CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES SECRETARY RUTH JOHNSON SAYS THE HOTLINE IS DESIGNED TO ENSURE A CENTRALIZED SYSTEM FOR REPORTING ALLEGATIONS AND FOR ENSURING THEY ARE HANDLED UNIFORMLY. THE OLD NUMBERS WILL BE FORWARDED TO THE NEW HOTLINE, WHICH WILL BE HANDLED BY TRAINED CHILD WELFARE WORKERS.

STUDENTS AT BUNKIE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WILL HAVE THEIR SUMMER BREAK CUT SHORT THIS YEAR AS CLASSES START FOR THE 2011/12 SCHOOL YEAR ON MONDAY. THE MONDAY START IS WELL AHEAD OF MOST SCHOOLS IN THE STATE. SCHOOL OFFICIALS SAY IT IS PART OF AN EFFORT TO IMPROVE THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF THE PUPILS. THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR WILL BEGIN AUG. 15 FOR OTHER AVOYELLES PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS.

A BATON ROUGE MAN IS BEHIND BARS ACCUSED OF BEATING HIS MOTHER AND FATHER WITH A HAMMER AND AUTHORITIES ALSO BELIEVE HE MAY HAVE SET HIS PARENTS HOME ON FIRE. BATON ROUGE POLICE SPOKESPERSON CPL. LJEAN MCKNEELY SAYS 28-YEAR-OLD JORDAN SMITH GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT WITH HIS MOTHER PRIOR TO THE INCIDENT. MCKNEELY SAYS SMITH'S PARENTS WERE BOTH TRANSPORTED TO AN AREA HOSPITAL WITH NON-LIFE THREATENING INJURIES. POLICE SAY SMITH HAS A DRUG PROBLEM.

PRICES FOR DAIRY PRODUCTS ARE RISING AT A STEEPER THAN EXPECTED RATE THIS YEAR. USDA RESEARCH ECONOMIST RICKY VOLPE SAYS ITS A SIMPLE MATTER OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND. VOLPE SAYS PRICES ARE EXPECTED TO RISE BETWEEN FIVE AND SIX PERCENT THIS YEAR.

A SUSPECT HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN THE CASE OF THE HAMMOND PRIEST WHO WAS DISCOVERED DEAD AT A SUMMER HOME IN MISSISSIPPI. WAVELAND POLICE CHIEF JAMES VARNELL SAYS 31-YEAR-OLD JEREMY MANIERI IS BEHIND BARS FOR THE DEATH OF 71-YEAR-OLD FATHER ED EVERITT. VARNELL SAYS THERE WERE SIGNS OF A STRUGGLE AND ROBBERY IN THE HOME, AND EVERITT'S CAR WAS MISSING. VARNELL SAYS, MANIERI, WHO IS A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER IN MISSISSIPPI, WAS APPREHENDED AT A HOTEL IN POLK COUNTY, FL. VARNELL SAYS MANIERI IS A MAINTENANCE WORKER ON THE GROUNDS OF THE RESORT WHERE EVERITT WAS STAYING.

MISSISSIPPI'S ATTORNEY GENERAL SAID TUESDAY HIS OFFICE IS SUING THE ADMINISTRATOR OF BP'S $20 BILLION OIL SPILL FUND TO GET ACCESS TO CLAIMS FILED BY COASTAL RESIDENTS. JIM HOOD SAID TUESDAY THAT HE HAS TRIED TO NEGOTIATE WITH THE FUND'S ADMINISTRATOR, WASHINGTON LAWYER KENNETH FEINBERG. HE SAYS HE'S SEEKING TO MAKE THE PROCESS MORE TRANSPARENT SO PEOPLE WILL KNOW IF FEINBERG IS LOOKING OUT FOR THE BEST INTERESTS OF OIL SPILL VICTIMS OR BP.

SPORTS..

FORMER LSU ALL-AMERICAN JERRY STOVALL IS GEARING UP TO RECEIVE THE ULTIMATE HONOR IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL. STOVALL WILL BECOME THE 12TH LSU PLAYER OR COACH TO BE ENSHRINED INTO THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME. CEREMONIES ARE SET FOR THIS WEEKEND IN SOUTH BEND, INDIANA. STOVALL SAYS THIS IS AN HONOR FOR ALL OF HIS FORMER COACHES AND TEAMMATES AS WELL.













News For Tuesday 071211


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 071211
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AAA SAYS GAS PRICES HAVE SHOT UP AN AVERAGE OF 12 CENTS IN THE LAST WEEK. AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN THE MARKET MIGHT STABILIZE SOON. REDMAN BELIEVES THE STATE WIDE AVERAGES WILL STAY BETWEEN 3.50 AND 3.75 FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SUMMER. HE SAYS, HOWEVER, THIS COULD CHANGE IF A HURRICANE ENTERS THE GULF OF MEXICO.

A STATE UTILITY REGULATOR SAYS A RULE IS KICKING IN THAT PREVENTS ELECTRIC UTILITIES FROM CUTTING OFF CUSTOMERS WHEN THE HEAT INDEX IS AT LEAST 105 DEGREES. PSC MEMBER FOSTER CAMPBELL SAYS HEAT INDEXES OF 105 TO 110 DEGREES ARE EXPECTED ACROSS MUCH OF THE STATE THROUGH THE WEEKEND. CAMPBELL SAYS THE 2007 PSC RULE REQUIRES CUSTOMERS EXTRA TIME TO BRING THEIR ACCOUNTS CURRENT.

LEST YOU FORGET, WE ARE AT WAR, OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE GOING OUT OT THE FAMILY OF 23-YEAR-OLD ARMY SERGEANT CHRISTOPHER SODERLUND, OF PINEVILLE. THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT SAYING MONDAY THAT SODERLUND HAD DIED JULY 9. IN AFGHANISTAN. HE WAS WOUNDED WHEN HIS VEHICLE WAS ATTACKED BY ROCKET-PROPELLED GRENADE FIRE. CHRISTOPHER SODERLUND WAS ASSIGNED TO 2ND BATTALION, 30TH INFANTRY REGIMENT, 4TH BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION FROM FORT POLK.

A THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA’S PLANS FOR THE DOWNTOWN HOTELS CONTINUES TO UNRAVEL, THE CITY ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY, NOBLE HOSPITALITY INC. WILL ASSUME DAILY CONTROL OF OPERATIONS OF THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL ON FRIDAY. NOBLE PREVIOUSLY HAD MANAGED THE BANKRUPT HOTEL FROM SEPTEMBER 2009 UNTIL JULY 2010 AS CITY OFFICIALS TRANSITIONED INTO THE DOWNTOWN HOTELS INITIATIVE WITH HOSPITALITY INITIATIVES PARTNERSHIP TAKING CONTROL OF THE HOTEL. MAYOR ROY ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THE CITY ISN'T PAYING NOBLE ANY MANAGEMENT FEES, UNLIKE THE $9,000 PER MONTH AND $10,000 RETAINER FEE PAID TO THE COMPANY THE LAST TIME IT RAN THE HOTEL. INSTEAD, NOBLE WILL SHARE PROFITS WITH THE CITY, WHILE ALSO ASSUMING ALL OF THE OPERATIONAL EXPENSES. HOWEVER, THE CITY WILL PAY FOR ANY CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AT THE HOTEL.

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY VOTED MONDAY TO ALLOW CLECO TO CONTINUE OPERATING IN THE PARISH WITHOUT A FRANCHISE FEE FOR AN ADDITIONAL FIVE YEARS.
CLECO'S FRANCHISE AGREEMENT, WHICH WOULD HAVE EXPIRED IN NOVEMBER, INCLUDES NO FRANCHISE FEE. TYPICALLY, NEW FRANCHISES OR RENEWALS IN THE PARISH CARRY A 4 PERCENT FRANCHISE FEE, WHICH JURORS FELT WOULD HAVE BEEN PASSED ON TO CUSTOMERS.

VERNON PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY A 2-YEAR-OLD LEESVILLE BOY HAS DROWNED AT THE VERNON LAKE SPILLWAY PARK. AUTHORITIES ANSWERED A DISTRESS CALL LATE SUNDAY ABOUT THE CHILD, WHO WAS MISSING FROM THE LEESVILLE-AREA PARK. DAMARION BRYANT WAS DISCOVERED IN THE WATER CLOSE TO WHERE HE HAD BEEN PLAYING WITH OTHER CHILDREN. THE CHILD WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT A LEESVILLE HOSPITAL.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAYS THE STATE WILL SEEK APPROVAL FOR MORE THAN A HALF BILLION DOLLARS IN PROJECTS TO RESTORE COASTAL AREAS AND FISHERIES AFFECTED BY LAST YEAR'S HUGE BP OIL SPILL. THE MONEY WOULD COME FROM $1 BILLION THAT BP AGREED TO SPEND IN APRIL IN A PACT WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE FIVE GULF STATES AFFECTED BY THE OIL SPILL. JINDAL SAID MONDAY HE EXPECTS LOUISIANA TO GET THE BULK OF THAT MONEY BECAUSE THE STATE SUFFERED A DISPROPORTIONATE SHARE OF DAMAGE FROM THE SPILL. THE PROJECTS INCLUDE OYSTER HABITAT RESTORATION, FISH HATCHERIES AND BARRIER ISLAND RESTORATION PROJECTS.

IN THE THREE MONTHS SINCE THE SPEED LIMIT WAS RAISED ON PORTIONS OF I-49 THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION HAS RECEIVED NOTHING BUT POSITIVE FEEDBACK. DOTD SPOKESPERSON DUSTIN ANNISON EVEN THOUGH THE FEEDBACK HAS BEEN GOOD THERE ARE NO PLANS TO RAISE THE SPEED LIMIT TO 75 MILES PER HOUR ON OTHER LOUISIANA INTERSTATES.

A GAY RIGHTS ORGANIZATION IS SEEKING SUPREME COURT REVIEW OF THE CASE OF A GAY COUPLE WHO WANTED BOTH THEIR NAMES TO APPEAR ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF THE LOUISIANA CHILD THEY ADOPTED IN NEW YORK. EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE 5TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS RULED IN FAVOR OF A LOUISIANA REGISTRAR WHO INSISTED ONLY ONE FATHER'S NAME CAN GO ON THE CERTIFICATE. THE APPEALS COURT SAID THE REGISTRAR'S REFUSAL TO PLACE BOTH NAMES ON THE CERTIFICATE DOES NOT DENY LEGAL RECOGNITION OF THE NEW YORK ADOPTION BY BOTH MEN.

A NEW ORLEANS MAN HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF LEAVING A 7-YEAR-OLD CHILD IN A HOT CAR SO HE COULD GAMBLE AT A CASINO. THE JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF SAYS 26-YEAR-OLD IRONE HILTON WAS BOOKED WITH CHILD DESERTION AND CRUELTY TO A JUVENILE AND JAILED IN LIEU OF $21,000 BOND.

A ONE-CAR ACCIDENT ON LA. HIGHWAY 106 HAS CLAIMED THE LIFE OF A VILLE PLATTE TEEN.
17-YEAR-OLD JEANNINE SHAFER WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE OF THE CRASH ON LA 106. STATE POLICE SAY SHAFER WAS NOT WEARING HER SEATBELT, AND WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE.

A MANDEVILLE MAN CONVICTED FIVE TIMES OF DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON. AUTHORITIES SAY 40-YEAR-OLD CHRISTOPHER STIER WAS ON PROBATION FOR A FOURTH DWI CONVICTION WHEN OFFICERS FOUND HIM SLUMPED OVER IN THE FRONT SEAT OF HIS CAR AT A NEW ORLEANS AIRPORT PARKING GARAGE ON APRIL 1.KENNER POLICE SAID STIER'S VEHICLE HAD SIDE SWIPED A CAR IN A NEIGHBORING LANE NEAR THE AIRPORT AND HE KEPT DRIVING.

LSU AND WASHINGTON HAVE CHANGED THE DATE OF THEIR 2012 MEETING IN BATON ROUGE, MOVING THE GAME UP THREE WEEKS TO SEPT. 8. LSU OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED ON THE MOVE ON MONDAY, SAYING THE TEAMS MUTUALLY AGREED TO MOVE THE GAME TO THE SECOND WEEK OF THE 2012 SEASON. NOW LSU WILL MEET WASHINGTON ONE WEEK AFTER OPENING ITS 2012 SLATE IN TIGER STADIUM AGAINST NORTH TEXAS.

News For Monday 071111


NEWS FOR MONDAY 071111
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT IS STILL TOO EARLY TO TELL, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THE ECONOMY IS TAKING A TURN FOR THE BETTER IN CENLA. TAX COLLECTIONS ARE UP SUBSTANTIALLY FROM THIS TIME LAST YEAR. THROUGH JUNE, SALES TAX COLLECTIONS IN RAPIDES PARISH WERE UP 4.75 PERCENT THE SAME PERIOD IN 2010. LOCAL OFFICIALS SAY OVERALL COLLECTIONS IN THE PARISH HAVE BEEN HIGHER EVERY MONTH IN 2011 THAN THEY WERE IN THE SAME MONTH IN 2010.

18 YEAR OLD KURT LAMBRIGHT WAS KILLED SUNDAY MORNING IN A SINGLE-VEHICLE CRASH ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 113 IN VERNON PARISH. STATE POLICE SAY LAMBRIGHT LOST CONTROL OF HIS VEHICLE, WHICH ENTERED A DITCH AND BEGAN OVERTURNING. LAMBRIGHT, WHO WAS NOT WEARING HIS SEATBELT, WAS TRANSPORTED TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL, WHERE HE LATER WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD. A PASSENGER IN THE TRUCK WAS NOT INJURED.

LAWMAKERS ACROSS THE NATION ARE DRAFTING LEGISLATION IN RESPONSE TO THE CASEY ANTHONY CASE IN FLORIDA. HERE IN LOUISIANA, SLIDELL SENATOR A-G CROWE PLANS ON FILING LEGISLATION NEXT YEAR THAT WOULD MAKE IT A FELONY FOR FAILING TO REPORT THE DEATH OF A CHILD OR INTENTIONALLY GIVING FALSE INFORMATION TO POLICE REGARDING A MISSING CHILD. CROWE SAYS HIS LEGISLATION, WHICH WOULD BE HEARD NEXT YEAR, WOULD PUT IN PLACE SEVERE PENALTIES FOR ANYONE WHO FAILS TO REPORT WHAT THEY KNOW TO POLICE.

LESS THAN A DECADE AFTER ONE YEARLONG BICENTENNIAL BASH, LOUISIANA IS GEARING UP FOR ANOTHER. THE AGENCY THROWING THE STATEHOOD BASH SAYS IT'S ABOUT ONE-THIRD OF THE WAY TOWARD THE $1.9 MILLION NEEDED TO DO IT RIGHT. LOUISIANA BECAME THE 18TH STATE ON APRIL 30, 1812, EIGHT YEARS AND FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE, WHICH HAD A 200TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION THROUGH ALL OF 2003. THE STATEHOOD BICENTENNIAL IS EXPECTED TO OPEN IN SEPTEMBER AND RUN THROUGH THE END OF 2012. GET MORE INFORMATION YOU CAN LOG ON TO THEIR WEBSITE. THE WEBSITE IS: WWW-DOT-LOUISIANABICENTENNIAL2012-DOT-COM.

ONE OF LOUISIANA'S TWO ONLINE CHARTER SCHOOLS SAYS IT HAS 1,900 APPLICATIONS FOR 600 SPOTS. LOUISIANA CONNECTIONS ACADEMY PRINCIPAL CAROLINE WOOD SAYS THE SCHOOL WILL ASK THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION TO LET THE SCHOOL DOUBLE ITS ENROLLMENT. THE SCHOOL, PART OF A CHAIN HEADQUARTERED IN BALTIMORE, WAS CHARTERED FOR 500 STUDENTS, BUT WAS ALLOWED TO TAKE 600. THE LOUISIANA VIRTUAL CHARTER ACADEMY HAS 1,400 APPLICATIONS WITH ABOUT 80 PERCENT APPROVED FOR ENROLLMENT. ITS REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT, KAREN GHIDOTTI, SAYS THE SCHOOL CAN ACCEPT UP TO 1,320 STUDENTS. IT HAS NO PLANS TO ASK FOR AN INCREASE IN ENROLLMENT. BOTH CAN ENROLL STUDENTS FROM ANYWHERE IN THE STATE.

STATE POLICE SAY A 34-YEAR-OLD DENHAM SPRINGS MAN IS ACCUSED OF TEXTING WHILE DRIVING AND OF TWO HIT-AND-RUN WRECKS, ONE OF WHICH INJURED A 17-YEAR-OLD BOY. STATE POLICE SAID SUNDAY THAT ANDREW WILLIAMS WAS BOOKED LATE SATURDAY WITH NEGLIGENT INJURY AND RECKLESS DRIVING. THE LIVINGSTON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS WILLIAMS REMAINED JAILED SUNDAY IN LIEU OF $27,000 BOND. POLICE SAY DAMAGE TO WILLIAMS' PICKUP TRUCK WAS CONSISTENT WITH BOTH CRASHES

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES PROPOSES TO SPLIT NEXT YEAR'S TURKEY SEASON, SO THE SEASON WILL START A WEEK LATER IN NORTHERN LOUISIANA. SMALL GAME AND WILD TURKEY PROGRAM LEADER, JIMMY STAFFORD, SAYS HUNTERS IN NORTH LOUISIANA HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR A LATER START. STAFFORD SAYS WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES PROPOSES THE 2012 TURKEY SEASON WILL BEGIN MARCH 24TH IN SOUTH AND CENTRAL LOUISIANA AND MARCH 31ST IN IN THE NORTHERN PARISHES. HE SAYS A LATER START TO THE SEASON IN NORTH LOUISIANA SHOULD LEAD TO BETTER RESULTS.

DUE TO STATE BUDGET CUTBACKS, MOST STATE MUSEUMS ARE CUTTING THEIR HOURS OF OPERATION...AND SOME JOBS. SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER SAYS HE HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO CUT THE NUMBER OF DAYS PER WEEK THAT MANY MUSEUMS ARE OPEN. SCHEDLER SAYS DAYS AND HOURS WILL BE CUT BACK AT THE CHENNAULT AVIATION MUSEUM IN LAKE CHARLES, THE DELTA MUSIC MUSEUM, THE EDDIE ROBINSON MUSEUM AND SEVERAL OTHERS. HE SAYS, IN SOME CASES, THE PRIVATE SECTOR MAY BE ABLE TO STEP IN AND HELP.

DEMOCRAT TARA HOLLIS IS KICKING OFF A STATEWIDE LISTENING TOUR AS A PART OF HER CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR. AMONG OTHERS HOLLIS HAS A MEETING PLANED WITH GOVERNOR JINDAL. UL LAFAYETTE POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR PEARSON CROSS SAYS JINDAL'S WILLINGNESS TO MEET WITH HOLLIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO REACH OUT TO DISAFFECTED CONSTITUENTS. HOLLIS SAYS SHE HOPES TO MEET WITH ALL OF THE LIVING FORMER GOVERNORS AND HAS MEETINGS PLANNED WITH A NUMBER OF STATE LEGISLATORS. SHE IS ALSO MEETING WITH PUBLIC AFFAIRS ORGANIZATIONS SUCH A PAR, LABI AND BLUEPRINT LOUISIANA. CROSS SAYS, GIVEN HER LACK OF MONEY AND NAME RECOGNITION, A LISTENING TOUR IS A GOOD IDEA.

A 25-YEAR-OLD MAN SENT OUT OF A BOURBON STREET NIGHTCLUB EARLY SUNDAY FOR NOT WEARING A SHIRT SHOT A BOUNCER AND THEN SHOT AT A POLICEMAN, WHO KILLED HIM. IT WAS THE SECOND SHOOTING IN TWO DAYS WITHIN BLOCKS ON BOURBON STREET. THE BOUNCER IS LISTED IN GOOD CONDITION. THE SHOOTER WAS IDENTIFIED AS JUSTIN SCHAUBERT OF NEW IBERIA.

A TERREBONNE PARISH JUDGE SAYS CATHOLIC CHURCH OFFICIALS MUST GIVE A REPORT ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST A NOW RETIRED PRIEST TO THE LAWYER FOR A FORMER ALTAR BOY WHO IS SUING HIM. ATTORNEYS FOR THE DIOCESE OF HOUMA-THIBODAUX SAY THEY WILL APPEAL DISTRICT JUDGE TIMOTHY ELLENDER'S ORDER TO TURN OVER THE REPORT ABOUT ETTIENNE LEBLANC. TWENTY-EIGHT-YEAR-OLD JARED RIBARDI OF MORGAN CITY. ALLEGES THAT LEBLANC SEXUALLY ABUSED HIM FROM 1991 UNTIL 1997.

THREE SOUTH LOUISIANA INMATES OVERPOWERED A JAIL GUARD, CUT AND STABBED HIM WITH HOMEMADE KNIVES, AND HELD HIM HOSTAGE UNTIL A SWAT TEAM BROKE INTO THE CELL WHERE THEY HAD BARRICADED THEMSELVES. AN OFFICIAL WITH THE IBERIA PARISH SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT SAID THE INMATES, ALL FROM NEW IBERIA, RECEIVED MINOR INJURIES WHILE RESISTING ARREST, BUT THEY AND THE GUARD ALL WERE RELEASED AFTER TREATMENT AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. THE INCIDENT BEGAN ABOUT 5:30 A.M. SATURDAY AND WAS OVER BY 8AM.

AN 18-YEAR-OLD CHARGED WITH MURDERING SIX PEOPLE IN 14 MONTHS WILL BE TRIED FIRST FOR THE DEATH OF 33-YEAR-OLD RAPPER CHRIS "NUSSIE" JACKSON, WHO WAS SHOT IN THE HEAD IN 2009, THE EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY SAID. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE DON JOHNSON HAS SCHEDULED A HEARING JULY 20 FOR MICHAEL LOUDING IN THAT CASE. NO TRIAL DATES HAVE BEEN SET.

News For Friday 070811


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 070811
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A THREE VEHICLE CRASH YESTERDAY MORNING CLAIMED THE LIFE OF AN ELDERLY WOMAN FROM POLLOCK. TROOPERS SAY THE CRASH OCCURRED ON US HWY 165 AT AIRBASE ROAD AND CLAIMED THE LIFE OF 94 YEAR OLD JESSIE CARPENTER. THE DRIVER OF ONE OF THE OTHER VEHICLES RECEIVED MODERATE INJURIES.

SENTENCING IS SET FOR JULY 28 FOR 53-YEAR-OLD THOMAS STEVEN SANDERS, WHO PLEADED GUILTY TO THE KIDNAPPING AND MURDER OF A 12-YEAR-OLD LAS VEGAS GIRL. SANDERS PLEADED GUILTY JUNE 28 TO FEDERAL CHARGES IN THE DEATH OF LEXIS ROBERTS, WHOSE BODY WAS FOUND IN CATAHOULA PARISH LAST OCT. 8. SANDERS, WHO WAS LEGALLY DECLARED DEAD IN MISSISSIPPI IN 1994, HAD BEEN LIVING WITH ROBERTS AND HER MOTHER, SUELLEN ROBERTS, FOR SEVERAL MONTHS IN LAS VEGAS. SUELLEN ROBERTS' BODY WAS FOUND IN NORTHWESTERN ARIZONA LAST NOVEMBER AND IDENTIFIED IN DECEMBER.

A NEW REVIEW OF DISTRACTED DRIVING DATA BY THE GOVERNOR'S HIGHWAY SAFETY ASSOCIATION REVEALS SOME SURPRISING RESULTS. JAMIE AINSWORTH, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE LOUISIANA HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSION SAYS DRIVERS REPORT THEY ARE ON THEIR CELL PHONES ABOUT 66-PERCENT OF THE TIME, BUT SHE SAYS, SO FAR, ANTI-CELL PHONE LAWS HAVE NOT SHOWN TANGIBLE RESULTS. AINSWORTH SAYS ONLY ABOUT ONE PERCENT OF ALL FATAL CRASHES IN THE STATE INVOLVE THE USE OF CELL PHONES. SHE SAYS THAT FIGURE IS A FRACTION OF THE 25% OF ALL CRASHES WHERE SOME FORM OF DISTRACTION IS BELIEVED TO BE RESPONSIBLE.

LOUISIANA HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY A NEW STUDY RATING THE STATE THE 5TH MOST OBESE IN AMERICA IS UNFORTUNATE, BUT LIKELY RIGHT ON TARGET. STATE HEALTH OFFICER DR. JIMMY GUIDRY SAYS THE STUDY BY THE TRUST FOR AMERICA'S HEALTH CONFIRMS WHAT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HOSPITALS ALREADY KNEW--THAT THE SITUATION IS GETTING WORSE. THE REPORT SHOWS THAT 3 OF EVERY 10 LOUISIANA ADULTS ARE OVERWEIGHT TO THE POINT OF OBESITY. GUIDRY SAYS LOUISIANANS LOVE TO EAT GOOD FOOD AND, WHEN THAT COUPLES WITH TODAY'S MORE SEDENTARY LIFESTYLES, PEOPLE PACK ON UNHEALTHY POUNDS.

RETAIL GASOLINE PRICES ARE ON THE RISE AGAIN IN LOUISIANA. THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRICE FOR REGULAR GAS IS $3.44; UP 2-CENTS IN JUST ONE DAY. LOUISIANA AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS THE RECENT DIP IN PUMP APPEARS TO BE OVER. REDMAN SAYS INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS' POSITIVE OUTLOOK FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY IS DRIVING PART OF THE PRICE INCREASES AND HE SAYS THERE'S NO REASON TO THINK ANOTHER HEFTY DROP IN CRUDE OIL PRICES WILL TRIGGER DISCOUNTS AT THE FUEL PUMP ANYTIME SOON.

THE DRAWDOWN OF CATAHOULA LAKE, NORMALLY DONE DURING JUNE AND JULY, IS BEING EXTENDED INTO AUGUST THIS YEAR AS A RESULT OF HISTORIC FLOODING ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI AND ATCHAFALAYA RIVERS. THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES ANNOUNCED THE ALTERED WATER-LEVEL MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE LAKE, INCLUDING DRAWING THE LAKE DOWN A MONTH LATER THAN USUAL.

A WATER-SUPPLY EMERGENCY COULD BE AHEAD FOR MANY AND OTHER SABINE PARISH WATER CUSTOMERS BECAUSE OF THE DROUGHT-STARVED TOLEDO BEND RESERVOIR AND A LACK OF SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL. MANY MAYOR KEN FREEMAN IS CALLING FOR VOLUNTARY WATER CONSERVATION AS HE SEEKS A PARISHWIDE EMERGENCY DECLARATION FROM THE SABINE PARISH HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICE. ALDERMEN MET IN EMERGENCY SESSION THURSDAY TO PUT A TEMPORARY ORDINANCE IN PLACE TO EVENTUALLY ALLOW FOR FINES AND PUNISHMENT OF VIOLATORS IF MORE SEVERE RESTRICTIONS ARE ENACTED.

WE MENTIONED YESTERDAY THAT FORMER LOUISIANA GOVERNOR BUDDY ROEMER IS HOLDING A PUBLIC RALLY TOMORROW IN BOSSIER CITY WHERE IT'S EXPECTED HE'LL ANNOUNCE HIS PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATIONS. ULM POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR JOSHUA STOCKLEY SAYS HE DOESN'T FEEL LIKE ROEMER HAS MUCH OF A CHANCE AT RECEIVING THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION FOR PRESIDENT. ROEMER HAS SAID HE WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY DONATIONS MORE THAN $100 PER VOTER. STOCKLEY SAYS HE DOESN'T SEE HOW ROEMER CAN BUILD A SUCCESSFUL WARCHEST WITH SUCH SMALL DONATION CONTRIBUTIONS.

THE HEAD OF THE LOUISIANA AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION EXPECTS SOLID CAR SALES FOR THE SECOND HALF OF 2011. BOB ISRAEL SAYS HIGH GAS PRICES DURING THE SPRING AND THE DEVASTATING TSUNAMI IN JAPAN MADE IT DIFFICULT TO MOVE NEW VEHICLES OFF THE LOT, BUT HE EXPECTS AUTO SALES WILL ACCELERATE. ISRAEL SAYS JAPANESE IMPORTS CONTINUE TO SUFFER BECAUSE OF A LACK OF INVENTORY, BUT CAR SALES ARE GOING WELL FOR KOREAN IMPORTS AND DOMESTIC VEHICLES ARE ALSO DOING FINE. HE SAYS DOMESTICS ARE COMPETING WELL WITH IMPORTS.

GOVERNOR JINDAL WENT TO SHREVEPORT TODAY, TO SIGN LEGISLATION THAT SETS UP A FUNDING MECHANISM FOR THE COMPLETION OF I-49 NORTH TO ARKANSAS. THE BILL WAS SPONSORED BY REP. JANE SMITH, WHO SAYS MR. JINDAL'S SIGNATURE PUTS INTO MOTION THE FINAL LEG OF CONNECTING THE INTERSTATE TO OUR NORTHERN NEIGHBOR. SMITH'S HB370 WILL USE OVER $7-MILLION FROM THE STATE'S UNCLAIMED PROPERTY FUND TO LEVY THE SALE OF OVER $85-MILLION IN BONDS TO PAY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION.

TWO BILLS SIGNED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WILL LET TAXPAYERS DIRECT THEIR REFUND MONEY TO FOOD BANKS OR LOUISIANA'S BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS. THE FIRST MEASURE WILL ALLOW TAXPAYERS TO SIGN AWAY ALL OR PART OF THEIR REFUNDS TO THE LOUISIANA FOOD BANK ASSOCIATION TO HELP FINANCE OPERATIONS OF FINANCIALLY-STRAPPED FOOD BANKS AROUND THE STATE. THE SECOND MEASURE ALLOWS TAXPAYERS TO CHECK OFF A BOX DONATING ALL OR SOME OF THEIR REFUNDS TO THE LOUISIANA BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION, WHICH IS PLANNING STATE ACTIVITIES COMMEMORATING THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF LOUISIANA STATEHOOD, OR TO THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION.

LOUISIANA RESIDENTS WILL NO LONGER NEED A STATE LICENSE TO SHOOT OR TRAP WILD PIGS. THE NEW LAW, SPONSORED BY NEW ROADS REP. MAJOR THIBAUT, IS DESIGNED TO CONTROL THE POPULATION OF FERAL HOGS, WHICH HAVE DESTROYED CROPS, TORN UP GARDENS AND DAMAGED PROPERTY IN RURAL AND SUBURBAN AREAS. THE TIMES-PICAYUNE REPORTED THAT THE BILL, SIGNED INTO LAW BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, SAYS THE HOGS CAN BE TRAPPED OR SHOT ANY TIME AND WITH ANY TYPE OF WEAPON WITHOUT A LICENSE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES. THE LAW TAKES EFFECT AUG. 15.
THE ONLY RESTRICTION ON FERAL HOG HUNTING WILL BE THAT THE HUNTER MUST GIVE THE LOCAL SHERIFF'S OFFICE 24 HOURS' NOTICE OF THE HUNTING PLANS.

A LAFAYETTE MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER ARE ARRESTED AFTER POLICE RECEIVED REPORTS OF A LITTLE GIRL EATING OUT OF TRASH CANS. MOSS BLUFF RESIDENTS REPORTED SEEING THE CHILD DOING THAT ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS. THE GIRL AND HER SISTER TOLD STATE AND LOCAL INVESTIGATORS THEY HAD BEEN PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY ABUSED BY THEIR MOTHER, 56-YEAR-OLD VERNA A. KENNERSON. THE INVESTIGATION ALSO REVEALED KENNERSON'S MOTHER, 77-YEAR-OLD MARY KENNERSON, WHO LIVED WITH THE FAMILY, HAD KNOWLEDGE OF THE ALLEGED ABUSED AND FAILED TO
REPORT THE INCIDENTS.

ASCENSION PARISH DEPUTIES DIDN'T HAVE TO LOOK FAR FOR A SUSPECT IN A WEDNESDAY NIGHT MURDER. OFFICERS ARRIVED AT THE DONALDSONVILLE CRIME SCENE TO FIND THE ALLEGED SHOOTER, 32-YEAR-OLD JEREMY WASHINGTON HANGING AROUND THE CRIME SCENE; CARRYING A HANDGUN BELIEVED TO BE THE MURDER WEAPON. DEPUTIES SAY THE SHOOTING SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN A DRUG DEAL GONE BAD.

GS FINANCIAL CORP. SAYS ITS SHAREHOLDERS HAVE APPROVED OVERWHELMINGLY THE BANKING COMPANY'S $26.2 MILLION DEAL TO BE ACQUIRED BY HOME BANCORP INC. LAFAYETTE-BASED HOME BANCORP WILL GET GS FINANCIAL'S FIVE OFFICES IN THE NEW ORLEANS AREA, ALONG WITH A LOAN PRODUCTION OFFICE.

THE MANAGEMENT BOARD OVERSEEING PLANS TO BUILD A NEW ORLEANS PUBLIC MEDICAL CENTER ON THURSDAY WITHDREW ITS REQUEST FOR FEDERAL FINANCING TO BACK DEBT INVOLVED IN THE HOSPITAL CONSTRUCTION. THE WITHDRAWAL CAME AS LSU LEADERS SIGNALED A NEW, PHASED-IN APPROACH THAT COULD AVOID BORROWING ALTOGETHER.

THE FINAL GATE ON THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY IS BEING CLOSED THURSDAY BY THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS. AT THE HEIGHT OF THE THREAT OF FLOODING FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, 17 GATES WERE OPEN TO DIVERT HIGH WATER INTO THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER. THE CORPS STARTED OPENING THE FLOODWAY, LOCATED ABOUT 35 MILES NORTHWEST OF BATON ROUGE, ON MAY 15 FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1973.
THE CORPS SAYS SOME GATES HAD BEEN KEPT OPEN TO DRAIN THE STRUCTURE, WHICH ALLOWED CREWS TO INSPECT FOR DAMAGE.







News For Thursday 07/07/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 070711
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

CITY OF ALEXANDRIA OFFICIALS ARE WORKING TO FINALIZE PLANS FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL AT THE END OF NEXT WEEK. MAYOR JACQUES ROY SAID WEDNESDAY THAT CITY OFFICIALS "ARE IN COMPETITIVE DISCUSSIONS" WITH MULTIPLE FIRMS ABOUT THE FUTURE DIRECTION OF THE DOWNTOWN HOTELS INITIATIVE. ONE OF THOSE FIRMS, ACCORDING TO THE MAYOR, IS NOBLE HOSPITALITY. NOBEL RAN THE ALEXANDER FULTON FROM SEPTEMBER 2009 THROUGH JULY OF LAST YEAR. THE ORIGINAL PLAN WAS FOR ONE COMPANY TO PURCHASE BOTH HOTELS, THE FULTON AND THE BENTLEY. IT APPEARS NOW, THE CITY MAY BE RETHINKING THAT REQUIREMENT.

FORMER LOUISIANA GOV. BUDDY ROEMER, WHO HAS HIS SIGHTS SET ON THE PRESIDENCY IN 2012, WILL HOLD A PUBLIC RALLY SATURDAY IN BOSSIER CITY. IT IS EXPECTED ROEMER INTENDS TO ANNOUNCE HIS PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATIONS AT THE RALLY. THE 67-YEAR-OLD ROEMER SERVED AS GOVERNOR FROM 1988 TO 1992 AND PREVIOUSLY WAS IN THE U.S. HOUSE.

THIS COULD TURN OUT TO BE A BIG DEAL. A POSSIBLE CHANGE IN HOW COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS ARE CALCULATED FOR MILITARY RETIRED PAY MAY SOUND SMALL, AN AVERAGE 0.25 PERCENTAGE-POINT REDUCTION, BUT IT COULD RESULT IN BIG LIFETIME LOSSES. AN E-7 RETIRING THIS YEAR WITH 20 YEARS OF SERVICE WOULD, OVER 40 YEARS, RECEIVE $109,335 LESS IN RETIRED PAY, A 5.6 PERCENT LOSS. AN O-5 RETIRING THIS YEAR WITH 20 YEARS OF SERVICE WOULD RECEIVE $207,991 LESS OVER 40 YEARS, A 5.5 PERCENT DIFFERENCE. THE POTENTIAL COST-OF-LIVING CALCULATION CHANGE HAS BEEN UNDER DISCUSSION BY WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS AND CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AS PART OF A PACKAGE OF CUTS IN FEDERAL SPENDING, WITH TALKS UNDER WAY ON CAPITOL HILL AND AT THE WHITE HOUSE. IN ADDITION TO AFFECTING MILITARY PAY, IT WOULD APPLY TO FEDERAL CIVILIAN RETIRED PAY, SOCIAL SECURITY AND MOST LIKELY TO VETERANS DISABILITY AND SURVIVORS BENEFITS.

IF YOU DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO SEE ANY FIREWORKS ON THE FOURTH, YOU'LL GET ANOTHER CHANCE THIS WEEKEND IN NATCHITOCHES. CITY PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR COURTNEY HORNSBY SAYS THE FIREWORKS SHOW WILL BE AT 9 O'CLOCK TOMORROW NIGHT ON THE SOUTHERN END OF THE DOWNTOWN RIVERBANK. HORNSBY SAYS THE SHOW WILL FEATURE A TASTE OF WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT IN NATCHITOCHES HISTORIC DISTRICT DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON. THE BEST PLACE TO VIEW THE FIREWORKS SHOW, THEY SAY, RIGHT ON THE RIVERBANK.

CONGRESSMAN BILL CASSIDY AND FELLOW REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS HAVE SENT A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT, QUESTIONING HIS RELEASE OF 30-MILLION BARRELS OF OIL FROM THE STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE. CASSIDY UNDERSTANDS MR. OBAMA DID SO TO HELP RELIEVE HIGH GAS PRICES, BUT HE SAYS STRONGER DOMESTIC ENERGY POLICY WOULD HELP MORE. HOWEVER, SOME FEEL TAPPING THE SPR WAS A GOOD MOVE BY PRESIDENT OBAMA. LSU POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR DR. ROBERT HOGAN SAYS OBAMA RESPONDED TO THE WISHES OF THE PEOPLE IN RELEASING THE RESERVES, AND IT HAD THE DESIRED EFFECT. HOGAN SAYS THERE IS REALLY NOT A LOT A PRESIDENT CAN DO TO PRODUCE LOWER PRICES AT THE PUMP.

EFFORTS AIMED AT CUTTING THE COST OF LOUISIANA'S CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM AND LOWERING THE RATE RE-OFFENDERS ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE AFTER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL THIS WEEK SIGNED NEW LAWS DESIGNED AS BUILDING BLOCKS OF A BROADER SENTENCING REVAMP. THE LOUISIANA SENTENCING COMMISSION IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP MORE IDEAS FOR 2012. EXPERTS SAY THE EFFECTIVENESS OF LOCAL DRUG COURTS, THE HARSHNESS OF NARCOTICS LAWS AND CASE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO JUDGES MAY BE RIPE FOR REVIEW, AS LAWMAKERS CONTINUE TO LOOK FOR BUDGET CUTS.

AUTHORITIES SAY OAKDALE CITY MARSHAL CHAD DOYLE HAS BEEN BOOKED WITH FELONY THEFT AND MALFEASANCE. STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL STEPHEN STREET SAYS DOYLE WAS ARRESTED LATE LAST MONTH. HE IS ACCUSED OF MISAPPROPRIATING PUBLIC FUNDS FOR HIMSELF AND A WOMAN WHO IS NOT AN EMPLOYEE OF HIS OFFICE. HE IS ALSO ACCUSED OF SPENDING MONEY INTENDED AS PAYMENTS FOR COURT-ORDERED GARNISHMENTS TO COVER QUESTIONABLE OPERATING EXPENSES. DOYLE REMAINS CITY MARSHAL. IF HE IS CONVICTED OF A FELONY, HE MUST RESIGN FROM THE OFFICE.

POLICE SAY A 53-YEAR-OLD MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN AN ATTEMPT TO HIRE AN UNDERCOVER OFFICER POSING AS A HIT MAN TO KILL TWO EUNICE RESIDENTS. AUTHORITIES SAY CHARLES KEITH RUNNELS OF EUNICE WAS ARRESTED SATURDAY ON TWO COUNTS OF SOLICITATION FOR MURDER AFTER HE MET WITH AN UNDERCOVER LAFAYETTE CITY POLICE OFFICER BROUGHT IN BY THE EUNICE POLICE TO POSE AS A HIT MAN FRIDAY.
POLICE COULD NOT SAY WHY RUNNELS WANTED THE TWO PEOPLE DEAD OR HOW RUNNELS KNEW THE TWO PEOPLE. THEIR IDENTITIES WERE NOT GIVEN.

STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY CO., WHICH INSURES AROUND 30 PERCENT OF THE HOMES IN LOUISIANA, PLANS TO RAISE ITS HOMEOWNERS’ RATES AN AVERAGE OF 8.5 PERCENT STATEWIDE. STATE FARM’S FILING CONTAINS A NUMBER OF PROPOSED CHANGES, INCLUDING, USING CREDIT RATINGS AND THE LENGTH OF TIME A HOMEOWNER HAS INSURED THEIR VEHICLE WITH STATE FARM TO CALCULATE THE RATES FOR ALL POLICYHOLDERS. INTRODUCING AN OPTIONAL 4 PERCENT HURRICANE DEDUCTIBLE AND SPLITTING OUT THE PORTION OF THE PREMIUM THAT COVERS HURRICANE EXPOSURE FROM THE BASIC HOMEOWNER’S PREMIUM. THE INCREASE NEEDS APPROVAL FROM THE STATE INSURANCE COMMISSION.

THE LOUISIANA LOTTERY CORPORATION REPORTS THAT NOBODY WON THE MAJOR JACKPOTS IN THE LOUISIANA LOTTO AND MULTISTATE POWERBALL DRAWINGS WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE LOUISIANA LOTTO PRIZE WILL RISE TO AN ESTIMATED $375,000 FOR THE NEXT DRAWING, ON SATURDAY. THE POWERBALL PRIZE WILL RISE TO AN ESTIMATED $36 MILLION FOR SATURDAY. ALSO, THE LOTTERY SAYS, NO ONE WON THE $90,000 EASY 5 JACKPOT.

A METAIRIE MAN HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO HAVING COUNTERFEIT POSTAL MONEY ORDERS AND SECURITIES. THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE SAYS THAT 55-YEAR-OLD BRIAN KENT ENTERED HIS PLEA YESTERDAY. ACCORDING TO COURT DOCUMENTS, SINCE AT LEAST SEPTEMBER 2009, KENT HAS BEEN A PART OF AN INTERNATIONAL RING OF COUNTERFEITERS WHO DISTRIBUTE FAKE SECURITIES AND MONETARY DOCUMENTS, INCLUDING TRAVELER'S CHECKS, CASHIER'S CHECKS, AND MONEY ORDERS, TO PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES THROUGH A FRAUDULENT "MYSTERY SHOPPER" PROGRAM.

GOVERNOR JINDAL TRAVELED TO WEST MONROE YESTERDAY, TO SIGN NEW PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION INTO LAW. THE BILL'S AUTHOR IS WEST MONROE STATE REP. FRANK HOFFMAN. HOFFMAN SAYS HIS LEGISLATION REQUIRES SIGNS IN ABORTION CLINICS THAT LET WOMEN KNOW THEY CANNOT BE COERCED INTO HAVING AN ABORTION, AND THAT THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO THEM. THE GOVERNOR SIGNED THE BILL AT A LOCAL BAPTIST CHURCH.

FORMER LOUISIANA GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS IS A FREE MAN. HIS HOUSE ARREST OFFICIALLY ENDED YESTERDAY MORNING. EDWARDS WILL BE TURNING 84 IN AUGUST. THE FORMER GOVERNOR IS GOING TO HAVE A PARTY TO CELEBRATE IN NEW ORLEANS ON JULY 30TH. THERE'S ALSO TALK OF A REALITY TV SHOW EDWARDS'
ENGAGEMENT TO 32-YEAR-OLD TRINA SCOTT OF ALEXANDRIA. BY THE WAY, EDWARDS WILL BE ON PROBATION FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS.

THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS ARE PROMISING SEASON TICKET HOLDERS WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE NBA LOCKOUT THAT THEY CAN GET THEIR MONEY BACK, WITH INTEREST, IF THE WORK STOPPAGE WIPES OUT ANY GAMES NEXT SEASON. THE LOCKOUT COMES AT AN INOPPORTUNE TIME FOR THE FRANCHISE, WHICH CURRENTLY IS OWNED BY THE LEAGUE AND IS IN THE MIDST OF A SEASON TICKET DRIVE SEEN AS A KEY STEP TOWARD ATTRACTING NEW OWNERS WHO WOULD KEEP THE HORNETS IN LOUISIANA.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SAID WEDNESDAY THAT IT WOULD HAND OUT $62 MILLION TO 1,460 LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS TO SETTLE A LAWSUIT THAT ALLEGED A HURRICANE KATRINA REBUILDING PROGRAM WAS UNFAIR TO BLACKS AND LEFT MANY PEOPLE UNABLE TO REBUILD IN NEIGHBORHOODS LIKE THE LOWER 9TH WARD AFTER THE 2005 STORM. THE SUIT ALLEGED ROAD HOME DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BLACKS BECAUSE IT CALCULATED THE WORTH OF A HOME ON HOUSING VALUES PRIOR TO KATRINA'S ASSAULT ON THE GULF COAST. MANY BLACKS LIVED IN NEIGHBORHOODS SUCH AS THE LOWER 9TH WARD WHERE HOUSING VALUES WERE DEPRESSED BEFORE KATRINA AND THEREFORE DID NOT GET ENOUGH MONEY TO REBUILD AFTER THE STORM WHEN THE PRICE OF MATERIALS AND LABOR SKYROCKETED.

HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC. SAID WEDNESDAY THAT IT WILL INVEST $33 MILLION IN ITS BATON ROUGE PLANT TO PRODUCE A PROPELLANT FOR USE IN CLEANERS, INSULATION, WARNING SYSTEMS, MARINE NAVIGATION AND NOVELTY AEROSOLS. HONEYWELL PLANS TO BEGIN THE EXPANSION IN DECEMBER AND START PRODUCTION IN 2013. STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OFFICIALS SAID THE PRODUCTION WOULD ADD 11 EMPLOYEES TO THE PLANT'S 200-MEMBER WORKFORCE.

ASSUMPTION PARISH AUTHORITIES SAID A MAN SHOT AND KILLED HIS GIRLFRIEND WHILE THE WOMAN WAS HOLDING THE COUPLE'S 7-MONTH OLD BABY WEDNESDAY BEFORE TURNING THE SHOTGUN ON HIMSELF. SHERIFF MIKE WAGUESPACK SAID THE BABY WAS NOT HARMED. WAGUESPACK SAID THE MAN SHOT 26-YEAR-OLD GIRLFRIEND TO DEATH AND THEN SHOT HIMSELF IN THE FACE AND CHEST. HE LATER DIED FROM HIS WOUNDS.

A WHITE CASTLE MAN WHO KILLED HIS WIFE AND STEPDAUGHTER IN 2007 WAS SENTENCED WEDNESDAY TO SERVE THE REST OF HIS LIFE IN PRISON. 63 YEAR OLD ERVIN ALLEN SR. WAS CONVICTED MAY 11 OF TWO COUNTS OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER.

THE EVANGELINE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD ON WEDNESDAY APPROVED A CHANGE ORDER TO THE MAJOR RENOVATION PROJECT AT VILLE PLATTE HIGH SCHOOL. THE TOTAL PRICE TAG, ACCORDING TO ARCHITECT PERRY WATSON, WILL BE CLOSE TO $117.000. THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT CALLED FOR THE PROJECT TO COST THE SCHOOL BOARD $3 MILLION. WITH THE NEWEST CHANGE ORDER, THE RENOVATION PROJECT HAS INCREASED TO $3.3 MILLION.





 

News For Wednesday 07/06/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 070611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY, MEETING IN COMMITTEE YESTERDAY, VOTED 6-2 IN FAVOR OF A MOTION THAT WOULD EXTENDING CLECO’S RIGHT TO OPERATE IN THE PARISH FOR 6 MONTHS. THE MOTION WILL COME UP FOR THE OFFICIAL VOTE AT THE JURY'S REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING NEXT MONDAY. CLECO'S FRANCHISE AGREEMENT , WHICH DOES NOT INCLUDE A FRANCHISE FEE, ENDS IN NOVEMBER. NEW FRANCHISE AGREEMENTS IN THE PARISH NORMALLY CARRY A 4 PERCENT FEE. JURY PRESIDENT RICHARD BILLINGS, WHO AUTHORED THE MOTION, SAID THE DELAY IS TO GIVE NEW JURY MEMBERS ELECTED THIS FALL A CHANCE TO RESEARCH THE ISSUE BEFORE MAKING A DECISION.

THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION SAYS IT'S CRACKING DOWN ON PEOPLE WHO'RE UNLAWFULLY RECEIVING STATE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. LWC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CURT EYSINK (EYE-SINK) SAYS 24 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED; ACCUSED OF STEALING OVER A QUARTER-MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE STATE'S UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE TRUST FUND. EYSINK SAYS THE INVESTIGATION IS ABOUT TO GO STATEWIDE. HE SAYS MOST ALLEGED OFFENDERS CONTINUED TO TAKE WEEKLY BENEFITS LONG AFTER THEY'VE FOUND A PAYING JOB. HE SAYS THERE'S NO WAY TO DO THAT ACCIDENTALLY. THOSE CONVICTED COULD FACE UP TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HAS SIGNED INTO LAW A BILL ESTABLISHING A DEATH BENEFIT FOR FAMILIES OF LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS KILLED IN ACTION DURING THE WAR ON TERROR. THE NEW LAW PROVIDES FOR WIDOWS AND CHILDREN, AND PROVIDES FOR THOSE CRITICALLY WOUNDED IN SERVICE. THE LEGISLATION WAS SPONSORED BY NEW ORLEANS REP. NICK LORUSSO. IT PROVIDES A QUARTER-MILLION BENEFIT TO SURVIVORS OF GUARDSMEN (AND WOMAN) KILLED IN ACTION SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001. ALSO, UNDER THE NEW LAW, A $100-THOUSAND BENEFIT WILL ALSO BE PAID TO ANY GUARDSMAN WHO WAS PERMANENTLY DISABLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY IN AFGHANISTAN OR IRAQ.

MORE THAN 350 CAMPAIGN FINANCE CASES REMAIN STALLED BECAUSE OF A DISPUTE OVER THE STEPS REQUIRED TO LEVY AND ENFORCE COLLECTION ON DELINQUENT REPORTS AND THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS' AUTHORITY IN THE CASES. FRANK SIMONEAUX, ETHICS BOARD CHAIRMAN, IS BLAMING THE STALEMATE THAT HAS DEVELOPED ON A 2008 LAW PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. THE LAW LEFT THE ETHICS BOARD WITH INVESTIGATORY AND PROSECUTORIAL FUNCTIONS, BUT TRANSFERRED THE JUDICIAL FUNCTION TO THE NEWLY CREATED ETHICS ADJUDICATORY BOARD. HOW THAT CHANGE AFFECTED CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW ENFORCEMENT IS NOW AT ISSUE. SIMONEAUX SAID THE 2008 STATE LAW THAT TRANSFERRED JUDICIAL AUTHORITY TO THE EAB IS "SO UNCLEAR" THAT IT HAS LED TO ENFORCEMENT PROBLEMS. WITH NO ONE KNOWING WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY TO ENFORCE THE LAW.

A 27-YEAR-OLD SOLDIER FROM LOUISIANA HAS DIED FROM INJURIES SUFFERED WHILE SUPPORTING OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM IN AFGHANISTAN. THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SAID TUESDAY THAT STAFF SGT. MICHAEL J. GARCIA, OF BOSSIER CITY, DIED JULY 4TH IN LOGAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN, OF WOUNDS SUFFERED WHEN INSURGENTS ATTACKED HIS UNIT USING AN IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE. GARCIA WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 63RD ORDNANCE BATTALION, 52ND ORDNANCE GROUP, 20TH SUPPORT COMMAND AT FORT POLK.

CONCORDIA PARISH SHERIFF'S AUTHORITIES DISCOVERED THE BODY OF A MISSING FISHERMAN FROM POINTE COUPEE PARISH IN THE OLD RIVER EARLY TUESDAY MORNING.
THE BODY OF 44 YEAR OLD EWELL HENDERSON WAS FOUND NEAR A CONTROL STRUCTURE. HENDERSON HAD BEEN FISHING LATE FRIDAY WITH HIS WIFE AND TWO SONS WHEN A LOG APPARENTLY STRUCK THE FAMILY'S ALUMINUM BOAT. THE TWO BOYS AND THEIR MOTHER WERE ABLE TO MAKE IT TO SAFETY. THE DAD WAS NOT.

AS HIS HOUSE ARREST ENDS TODAY, LOUISIANA'S CHARISMATIC FORMER GOV. EDWIN EDWARDS ISN'T PLANNING FOR A QUIET RETIREMENT. INSTEAD, HE'S READYING FOR HIS THIRD WEDDING, A BOOK TOUR AND A GRAND 84TH BIRTHDAY AND COMING-OUT PARTY LATER THIS MONTH. HE'S EVEN IN TALKS FOR A POSSIBLE REALITY TV SHOW.
DESPITE SERVING EIGHT YEARS IN PRISON FOR A SCHEME TO RIG RIVERBOAT CASINO LICENSES, THE FOUR-TERM FORMER GOVERNOR WHO DOMINATED LOUISIANA'S POLITICAL SCENE FOR DECADES WILL EMERGE FROM HOME DETENTION WITH NO SIGNS HIS POPULARITY HAS EBBED.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY CENTER HAVE RELEASED RANKINGS SHOWING LSU-SHREVEPORT AS THE 15TH-RANKED UNIVERSITY WITH THE LOWEST PRICE FOR PUBLIC, FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES. THE DESIGNATION ALSO MAKES LSUS THE MOST AFFORDABLE COLLEGE IN LOUISIANA.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S VETO OF A RETIREMENT BILL HAS EFFECTIVELY KILLED THREE OTHER BILLS HE PREVIOUSLY SIGNED INTO LAW. THE THREE HOUSE BILLS ALLOWED RETIRED TEACHERS TO RETURN TO PART-TIME WORK AND CONTINUE PENSION BENEFITS.
NOW THAT CANNOT HAPPEN .EACH BILL HAD A CONDITION ATTACHED TO IT UNDER WHICH THE LEGISLATION COULD NOT BECOME EFFECTIVE UNLESS JINDAL SIGNED ANOTHER BILL, SENATE BILL 6. SB6 WAS AIMED AT PROTECTING ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION MEMBERS FROM INCREASED RETIREMENT COSTS IN THE EVENT HIGHER EDUCATION EMPLOYEES LEFT THE TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF LOUISIANA. THE LEGISLATION WOULD HAVE REQUIRED AGENCIES, SUCH AS LSU, TO COVER THE FINANCIAL COST TO THE SYSTEM IF THEY PULLED EMPLOYEES OUT OF IT. JINDAL VETOED SB6 FRIDAY, MAKING THE THREE HOUSE BILLS HE PREVIOUSLY SIGNED INTO LAW MOOT.

A LATE NIGHT FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY HOUSE FIRE HAS CLAIMED THE LIFE OF AN ELDERLY COUPLE IN CADDO PARISH. THE STATE FIRE MARSHALL SAYS THERE WERE SMOKE DETECTORS IN THE HOME. BUT, IT’S NOT KNOWN IF THEY WERE WORKING OF IF THE COUPLE, BOTH IN THEIR 80’S HEARD THEM. IN ANOTHER DEADLY BLAZE, A 51-YEAR-OLD LAFAYETTE WOMAN DIED OVER THE WEEKEND IN A FIRE AT HER HOME. THAT BLAZE IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

A DEADLY COMBINATION OF ALCOHOL AND NO SEATBELTS HAS RESULTED IN THE DEATH OF A DRY CREEK MAN. 59-YEAR-OLD JAMES JACKSON WAS A PASSENGER IN A PICKUP TRUCK DRIVEN BY 42-YEAR-OLD MARTIN LOREN SNYDER OF DERIDDER ON US 171 SOUTH OF DERIDDER IN BEAUREGARD PARISH. TROOPERS SAY JACKSON WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE AND SUFFERED SERIOUS INJURIES. HE WAS TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD. THE DRIVER FACES A LONG LIST OF CHARGES. STATE POLICE HAD HOPED FOR A FATALITY-FREE JULY 4TH WEEKEND, BUT THAT'S NOT HOW THINGS WORKED OUT. LSP SPOKESMAN LT. DOUG CAIN SAYS A HALF-DOZEN LOUISIANANS PERISHED ON STATE ROADWAYS OVER THE HOLIDAY.

REPRESENTATIVE MAC "BODI" WHITE, OF CENTRAL, ANNOUNCES PLANS TO RUN FOR THE NEW DISTRICT 6 SENATE SEAT. THE DISTRICT WAS CREATED IN THE REDISTRICTING SESSION THIS SPRING AND INCLUDES PARTS OF EAST BATON ROUGE LIVINGSTON, ST. HELENA AND TANGIPAHOA PARISHES.

ONE OF THE ARCHITECTS OF LOUISIANA'S SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM SAYS A STATE EDUCATION VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT LETS SOME NEW ORLEANS STUDENTS GO TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE NEEDS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS TO MAKE SURE THE MONEY DOESN'T PAY FOR STUDENTS TO GO FROM BAD PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS THAT ARE PERFORMING EVEN WORSE. LESLIE JACOBS SAID TUESDAY THAT AN ANALYSIS OF STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES BY "EDUCATE NOW!," A NEW ORLEANS-BASED NONPROFIT GROUP SHE FOUNDED, SHOWS THAT MANY STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE VOUCHER PROGRAM PERFORMED WORSE THAN THE STUDENTS IN THE STATE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT, WHICH OVERSEES MOST PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN NEW ORLEANS.

IT APPEARS THE 2011 ESSENCE FESTIVAL WAS A MAJOR SUCCESS THIS PAST WEEKEND. MORE THAN 422,000 PEOPLE TOOK PART IN FESTIVAL. FOR THREE DAYS, THOUSANDS GATHERED FOR NIGHTLY CONCERTS INSIDE THE LOUISIANA SUPERDOME AND FREE DAILY EMPOWERMENT AND COMMUNITY-BASED EVENTS AT THE CITY'S CONVENTION CENTER WHERE THE FESTIVAL CELEBRATED ITS 17TH ANNIVERSARY. CITYWIDE HOTEL OCCUPANCY WAS IN THE MID-90 PERCENT RANGE OR HIGHER THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND.

STATE REP. MICHAEL JACKSON OF BATON ROUGE HAS RETURNED TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, AFTER BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT THREE YEARS AGO IN A FAILED BID FOR CONGRESS. JACKSON SWITCHED BACK TO THE DEMOCRATS ON MAY 31, ACCORDING TO RECORDS FILED WITH THE LOUISIANA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. HE HAD BEEN AN INDEPENDENT SINCE 2008, WHEN HE LOST THE CONGRESSIONAL RACE. THE LAWMAKER'S MOVE BACK TO THE DEMOCRATS COMES BEFORE JACKSON PLANS TO RUN FOR THE STATE SENATE IN THIS FALL'S PRIMARY ELECTION. THE PARTY SWITCH LEAVES THE 105-MEMBER HOUSE WITH THREE INDEPENDENTS AND BOOSTS DEMOCRATIC RANKS TO 47 MEMBERS. REPUBLICANS HOLD A MAJORITY IN THE CHAMBER.





News For Tuesday 07/05/11 updated 7:30a


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 070511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

CLECO CORP.'S PURCHASE OF $609,000 WORTH OF LOUISIANA HISTORIC PRESERVATION TAX CREDITS WILL ALLOW THE CONTINUED CONSTRUCTION AT THE HISTORIC HEADQUARTERS OF THE CENLA AMERICAN RED CROSS. LEE ANN MURPHY WITH THE RED CROSS SAYS THEY PLAN TO BUILD OUT THE SECOND FLOOR AND PURCHASE AN ELEVATOR WITH THE FUNDS GENERATED FROM THE CREDITS. THE 1920S-ERA BUILDING ON BOLTON AVENUE IN ALEXANDRIA ONCE HOUSED THE COTTON BROTHERS BAKERY AND LATER THE MORGAN WALKER BUS LINE.

IT WILL BE AT THE MINIMUM AT LEASE ANOTHER YEAR BEFORE CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON THE SUGARHOUSE ROAD EXTENSION PROJECT IN SOUTH ALEXANDRIA. THE PROJECT HAS BEEN ON THE WAITING LIST FOR CLOSE TO FIFTY YEARS AND FOR A WHILE IT LOOKED LIKE THE PROJECT THAT WOULD CONNECT HIGHWAY 1 AND I-49 WAS FINALLY GOING TO COME TO LIFE. HOWEVER. LOUISIANA'S JUST-COMPLETED CAPITAL OUTLAY BILL KEEPS $6.7 MILLION IN STATE MONEY TO HELP PLAN AND BUILD THE EXTENSION AT PRIORITY 5 -- THE LOWEST PRIORITY. SO THE WAITING GAME WILL CONTINUE.

FIVE RAPIDES PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL BEGIN THE 2011-12 ACADEMIC YEAR IN AUGUST WITH NEW LEADERSHIP AT THE HELM. NEW PRINCIPALS ARE BEING APPOINTED AT BUCKEYE AND OAK HILL HIGH SCHOOLS, AND RUBY-WISE, LESSIE MOORE AND NORTH BAYOU RAPIDES ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.

POLICE IN NEW ORLEANS ARE LOOKING FOR A BLUE AND WHITE SUZUKI MOTORCYCLE AFTER THE DRIVER STRUCK AND KILLED A 3 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO WAS WATCHING FIREWORKS IN EASTERN NEW ORLEANS LAST NIGHT WITNESSES TOLD POLICE THE MOTORCYCLE DRIVER STOPPED AFTER THE ACCIDENT, TURNED AND LOOKED AT THE TODDLER, THEN FLED. THE IDENTITY OF THE CHILD HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED.

A MARKSVILLE MAN HAS BEEN KILLED IN A SINGLE-CAR CRASH IN AVOYELLES PARISH SATURDAY NIGHT. STATE POLICE REPORT 46-YEAR-OLD PATRICK M. COUNTEE WAS EJECTED FROM HIS VEHICLE AFTER CRASHING INTO A TREE WHILE DRIVING ALONG LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 1192 IN AVOYELLES PARISH. POLICE SAY COUNTEE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT AVOYELLES HOSPITAL IN MARKSVILLE. THE CRASH REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

A 20-YEAR-OLD MAN DIED IN A SINGLE-VEHICLE CRASH ON LA. HIGHWAY 14 NEAR HIGHWAY 717 WEST OF GUEYDAN. STATE POLICE SAY KELIAN SPELL OF GUEYDAN WAS DRIVING A TRUCK WEST ON LA. 14 SUNDAY WHEN HE VEERED OFF THE ROAD INTO A DITCH.
TROOPER SAY SPELL WAS THROWN FROM HIS VEHICLE AFTER IT FLIPPED IN THE DITCH.
HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE BY THE VERMILION PARISH CORONER.
THE CRASH REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

STATE POLICE SAY A 46-YEAR-OLD MORGAN CITY MAN DIED AFTER HE WAS THROWN FROM HIS SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE DURING A SINGLE-VEHICLE CRASH ON INTERSTATE 49 NORTH OF WASHINGTON IN ST. LANDRY PARISH. TROOPERS SAY THE CRASH OCCURRED ABOUT 9 A.M. MONDAY WHEN A TIRE ON DANIEL TURPIN'S 1995 NISSAN SUV APPARENTLY FAILED, CAUSING HIM TO RUN OFF THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD. TURPIN'S VEHICLE FLIPPED WHILE TRAVELING DOWN THE EMBANKMENT. TURPIN WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. THE CRASH REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

A WOULD BE HERO WAS KILLED OVER THE WEEKEND. AUTHORITIES SAY 47 YEAR OLD LOUIS MORALES DROWNED OFF A GRAND ISLE BEACH AFTER BEING DRAGGED OUT BY A STRONG CURRENT ON SUNDAY. WITNESSES TOLD AUTHORITIES, A YOUNG GIRL AND ANOTHER MAN WERE FISHING ON THE ROCKS WHEN THE GIRL FELL IN. BOTH MEN JUMPED IN TO RESCUE THE GIRL. THE OTHER MAN MADE IT OUT WITH HER, BUT MORALES WAS DRAGGED OFF BY THE CURRENT.

GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS SIGNED INTO LAW A BILL THAT RETURNS LOUISIANA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES TO THE MONTH OF MARCH. THE BILL WAS CO-SPONSORED BY CHALMETTE REP. NITA HUTTER AND SHREVEPORT REP. ALAN SEABAUGH. SEABAUGH SAYS THE BILL UNDOES CHANGES MADE A FEW YEARS BACK. LOUISIANA'S 2008 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES WERE HELD IN FEBRUARY. SEABAUGH SAYS BOTH PARTIES PENALIZED STATES THAT MOVED THEIR PRIMARIES EARLIER, BY LIMITING THEIR DELEGATES AT THE NATIONAL CONVENTIONS. STARTING IN 2012, PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES WILL BE HELD IN LATE MARCH.

A SURVEY IS UNDER WAY TO SEE HOW MOTORISTS WOULD FEEL ABOUT PAYING TOLLS TO HELP COMPLETE I-49 SOUTH FROM LAFAYETTE TO NEW ORLEANS. LAFAYETTE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT ROB GUIDRY IS ALSO ON THE EXPRESSWAY COMMISSION. HE SAYS HIS INFORMAL POLLING HAS INDICATED FOLKS ARE WILLING TO PAY TOLLS FOR BETTER ROADS. GUIDRY SAYS STATE FUNDING TO BUILD AN ELEVATED I-49, FROM I-10 TO THE
SOUTHEAST TOWARDS THE CRESCENT CITY, WON'T BE COMING ANY TIME SOON. HE SAYS CHARGING TOLLS TO USE I-49 COULD GENERATE THE REVENUE TO START CONSTRUCTION.
GUIDRY SAYS CONSULTANTS ARE CONDUCTING THE SURVEY, TO DETERMINE IF A TOLL ROAD WOULD BE AN ACCEPTABLE METHOD OF FUNDING I-49 SOUTH. HE SAYS THEIR REPORT IS DUE IN EARLY FALL.

MEMBERS OF A STATE TEACHERS' UNION SPENT THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND AT A NATIONAL EDUCATORS CONVENTION IN CHICAGO; DISCUSSING CHALLENGES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING AND TEACHER EVALUATIONS. LA ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS PRESIDENT JOYCE HAYNES SAYS PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN LOUISIANA ARE STRUGGLING TO KEEP UP WITH STATE REFORMS. HAYNES SAYS LAE MEMBERS ARE UPSET THAT--FOR THE THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR THE STATE HAS KEPT FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS STATIC. SHE SAYS COSTS HAVE GONE UP, WHILE BUDGETS REMAIN FLAT. SHE SAYS LAE TEACHERS RESENT NEW
EVALUATIONS THAT TIME STUDENTS' STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES AS HALF OF
TEACHERS' ANNUAL REVIEW. HAYNES SAYS GOOD TEACHERS WILL FACE TERMINATION BECAUSE SOME OF THEIR STUDENTS PERFORM POORLY ON THE ANNUAL STANDARDIZED TESTS.

STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS A LAPLACE HOUSE FIRE OVER THE JULY 4TH HOLIDAY WAS STARTED WHEN SOMEONE DELIBERATELY SHOT FIREWORKS INTO THE HOME.
BROWNING SAYS IT MAY HAVE BEEN INTENDED AS A SIMPLE PRANK, BUT SOMEONE COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN HURT OR KILLED. BROWNING SAYS 8 PEOPLE WERE IN THE HOME. SOME WERE TREATED FOR SMOKE INHALATION, BUT NO ONE WAS SERIOUSLY HURT.

SPORTS..

ACCORDING TO PUBLISHED REPORTS, THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE IS VERY GOOD WHEN IT COMES TO PAYING ITS ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACHES. LAST YEAR, THE SEC PAID ITS ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACHES AN AVERAGE OF JUST OVER 276-THOUSAND DOLLARS. TOPPING THE LIST IS AUBURN ASSISTANT GUS MALZAHN AT 1.3 MILLION DOLLARS. KIRBY SMART AT ALABAMA IS SECOND AT 850-THOUSAND DOLLARS. THE LOWEST PAID ASSISTANTS IN THE SEC WORK AT LSU: JOHN CHAVIS AND STEVE KRAGTHORPE BOTH EARN 700-THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR. FLORIDA, GEORGIA AND SOUTH CAROLINA EACH PAY THEIR HIGHEST PAID ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACHES MORE THAN LSU.

THE MOTHER OF FRESHMAN AUBURN FOOTBALL PLAYER QUAN BRAY HAS BEEN SHOT AND KILLED BY HER ESTRANGED BOYFRIEND. POLICE IN LAGRANGE, GEORGIA, SAY 37-YEAR OLD JEFFERY JONES IS CHARGED WITH THE SHOOTING DEATH OF 37-YEAR OLD TONYA BRAY. QUAN BRAY WAS ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT AFTER HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYERS IN THE COUNTRY BEFORE HE SIGNED WITH AUBURN. POLICE SAY THEY DON'T HAVE A MOTIVE, BUT THE COUPLE RECENTLY SPLIT UP AFTER NEARLY 20 YEARS OF BEING TOGETHER.


A GROUP OF RETIRED NFL PLAYERS WOULD LIKE TO BE MORE INVOLVED IN THE ONGOING DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE OWNERS AND PLAYERS UNION. THE GROUP HAS FILED A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT SAYING THEY HAVE BEEN EXCLUDED FROM THE ON GOING LABOR TALKS. PLAINTIFFS IN THE CASE INCLUDE HALL OF FAME PLAYERS MARCUS ALLEN, CARL ELLER AND FRANCO HARRIS. THEY'RE ASKING A COURT TO STOP THE MEDIATION TALKS AND DECLARE THE CURRENT PLAYERS CAN'T NEGOTIATE ON BEHALF OF RETIRED PLAYERS.

ROGER CLEMENS TRIAL ON CHARGES OF PERJURY, FALSE STATEMENTS AND OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS FOR TELLING A HOUSE COMMITTEE HE NEVER USED PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS DURING HIS 23-YEAR BASEBALL CAREER GETS UNDERWAY TOMORROW. THE RECORD SETTING PITCHER IS FACING PRISON TIME IF CONVICTED ON ANY OF THOSE CHARGES.

THE WIMBLEDON TENNIS TOURNAMENT WON'T BE BROADCAST ON NBC ANYMORE AFTER THAT NETWORK AND THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB END THEIR 43 YEAR ASSOCIATION.
SEEMS ESPN SIMPLY OUTBID THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY FOR THE RIGHTS TO TELEVISE THE GRAND SLAM TOURNAMENT. THIS IS JUST THE LATEST MAJOR SPORTING EVENT TO GO FROM A BROADCAST NETWORK TO A CABLE NETWORK. THE BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES FOOTBALL GAMES ARE ON ESPN AND THE NCAA'S FINAL FOUR WILL BE ON TBS IN ALTERNATING YEARS AS OF 2016.

IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ACTION FROM YESTERDAY, FIRST IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE....
TORONTO-9, BOSTON-7
MINNESOTA-7, TAMPA BAY-0
SEATTLE-2, OAKLAND-1
CLEVELAND-6, THE YANKEES-3
THE WHITE SOX-5, KANSAS CITY-4
TEXAS-13, BALTIMORE-4
THE ANGELS-5, DETROIT-1

OVER IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE...
WASHINGTON-5, THE CUBS-4 (10 INNINGS)
PITTSBURGH-5, HOUSTON-3
ARIZONA-8, MILWAUKEE-6
SAN DIEGO-5, SAN FRANCISCO-3
PHILADELPHIA-1, FLORIDA-0
ST. LOUIS-1, CINCINNATI-0
ATLANTA-4, COLORADO-1
THE METS-5, THE DODGERS-2

News For Tuesday 7/5/11


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 070511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

CLECO CORP.'S PURCHASE OF $609,000 WORTH OF LOUISIANA HISTORIC PRESERVATION TAX CREDITS WILL ALLOW THE CONTINUED CONSTRUCTION AT THE HISTORIC HEADQUARTERS OF THE CENLA AMERICAN RED CROSS. LEE ANN MURPHY WITH THE RED CROSS SAYS THEY PLAN TO BUILD OUT THE SECOND FLOOR AND PURCHASE AN ELEVATOR WITH THE FUNDS GENERATED FROM THE CREDITS. THE 1920S-ERA BUILDING ON BOLTON AVENUE IN ALEXANDRIA ONCE HOUSED THE COTTON BROTHERS BAKERY AND LATER THE MORGAN WALKER BUS LINE.

IT WILL BE AT THE MINIMUM AT LEASE ANOTHER YEAR BEFORE CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON THE SUGARHOUSE ROAD EXTENSION PROJECT IN SOUTH ALEXANDRIA. THE PROJECT HAS BEEN ON THE WAITING LIST FOR CLOSE TO FIFTY YEARS AND FOR A WHILE IT LOOKED LIKE THE PROJECT THAT WOULD CONNECT HIGHWAY 1 AND I-49 WAS FINALLY GOING TO COME TO LIFE. HOWEVER. LOUISIANA'S JUST-COMPLETED CAPITAL OUTLAY BILL KEEPS $6.7 MILLION IN STATE MONEY TO HELP PLAN AND BUILD THE EXTENSION AT PRIORITY 5 -- THE LOWEST PRIORITY. SO THE WAITING GAME WILL CONTINUE.

FIVE RAPIDES PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL BEGIN THE 2011-12 ACADEMIC YEAR IN AUGUST WITH NEW LEADERSHIP AT THE HELM. NEW PRINCIPALS ARE BEING APPOINTED AT BUCKEYE AND OAK HILL HIGH SCHOOLS, AND RUBY-WISE, LESSIE MOORE AND NORTH BAYOU RAPIDES ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS. THE NEW PRINCIPAL AT BUCKEYE HIGH WILL BE JONATHAN GARRETT, WHO LAST SCHOOL YEAR WAS APPOINTED AS PRINCIPAL OF RUBY-WISE ELEMENTARY. ALYSON JOHNSON, WHO MOST RECENTLY HEADED LESSIE MOORE ELEMENTARY IN PINEVILLE, WILL TAKE OVER AS PRINCIPAL OF NORTH BAYOU RAPIDES ELEMENTARY IN ALEXANDRIA. JACKIE TROTTIE, WHO WAS PRINCIPAL OF NORTH BAYOU RAPIDES, IS BEING TRANSFERRED TO THE POSITION OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT LIAISON TITLE I. EMILY WEATHERFORD, WHO WAS PRINCIPAL AT OAK HILL HIGH, IS MOVING TO THE POSITION OF SECONDARY SUPERVISOR OF ENGLISH AND SOCIAL STUDIES. PRINCIPALS HAVE NOT BEEN ANNOUNCED YET FOR OAK HILL HIGH AND LESSIE MOORE ELEMENTARY.

A MARKSVILLE MAN HAS BEEN KILLED IN A SINGLE-CAR CRASH IN AVOYELLES PARISH SATURDAY NIGHT. STATE POLICE REPORT 46-YEAR-OLD PATRICK M. COUNTEE WAS EJECTED FROM HIS VEHICLE AFTER CRASHING INTO A TREE WHILE DRIVING ALONG LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 1192 IN AVOYELLES PARISH. POLICE SAY COUNTEE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT AVOYELLES HOSPITAL IN MARKSVILLE. THE CRASH REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

A WOULD BE HERO WAS KILLED OVER THE WEEKEND. AUTHORITIES SAY 47 YEAR OLD LOUIS MORALES DROWNED OFF A GRAND ISLE BEACH AFTER BEING DRAGGED OUT BY A STRONG CURRENT ON SUNDAY. WITNESSES TOLD AUTHORITIES, A YOUNG GIRL AND ANOTHER MAN WERE FISHING ON THE ROCKS WHEN THE GIRL FELL IN. BOTH MEN JUMPED IN TO RESCUE THE GIRL. THE OTHER MAN MADE IT OUT WITH HER, BUT MORALES WAS DRAGGED OFF BY THE CURRENT.

GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS SIGNED INTO LAW A BILL THAT RETURNS LOUISIANA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES TO THE MONTH OF MARCH. THE BILL WAS CO-SPONSORED BY CHALMETTE REP. NITA HUTTER AND SHREVEPORT REP. ALAN SEABAUGH. SEABAUGH SAYS THE BILL UNDOES CHANGES MADE A FEW YEARS BACK. LOUISIANA'S 2008 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES WERE HELD IN FEBRUARY. SEABAUGH SAYS BOTH PARTIES PENALIZED STATES THAT MOVED THEIR PRIMARIES EARLIER, BY LIMITING THEIR DELEGATES AT THE NATIONAL CONVENTIONS. STARTING IN 2012, PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES WILL BE HELD IN LATE MARCH.

A SURVEY IS UNDER WAY TO SEE HOW MOTORISTS WOULD FEEL ABOUT PAYING TOLLS TO HELP COMPLETE I-49 SOUTH FROM LAFAYETTE TO NEW ORLEANS. LAFAYETTE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT ROB GUIDRY IS ALSO ON THE EXPRESSWAY COMMISSION. HE SAYS HIS INFORMAL POLLING HAS INDICATED FOLKS ARE WILLING TO PAY TOLLS FOR BETTER ROADS. GUIDRY SAYS STATE FUNDING TO BUILD AN ELEVATED I-49, FROM I-10 TO THE
SOUTHEAST TOWARDS THE CRESCENT CITY, WON'T BE COMING ANY TIME SOON. HE SAYS CHARGING TOLLS TO USE I-49 COULD GENERATE THE REVENUE TO START CONSTRUCTION.
GUIDRY SAYS CONSULTANTS ARE CONDUCTING THE SURVEY, TO DETERMINE IF A TOLL ROAD WOULD BE AN ACCEPTABLE METHOD OF FUNDING I-49 SOUTH. HE SAYS THEIR REPORT IS DUE IN EARLY FALL.

MEMBERS OF A STATE TEACHERS' UNION SPENT THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND AT A NATIONAL EDUCATORS CONVENTION IN CHICAGO; DISCUSSING CHALLENGES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING AND TEACHER EVALUATIONS. LA ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS PRESIDENT JOYCE HAYNES SAYS PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN LOUISIANA ARE STRUGGLING TO KEEP UP WITH STATE REFORMS. HAYNES SAYS LAE MEMBERS ARE UPSET THAT--FOR THE THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR THE STATE HAS KEPT FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS STATIC. SHE SAYS COSTS HAVE GONE UP, WHILE BUDGETS REMAIN FLAT. SHE SAYS LAE TEACHERS RESENT NEW
EVALUATIONS THAT TIME STUDENTS' STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES AS HALF OF
TEACHERS' ANNUAL REVIEW. HAYNES SAYS GOOD TEACHERS WILL FACE TERMINATION BECAUSE SOME OF THEIR STUDENTS PERFORM POORLY ON THE ANNUAL STANDARDIZED TESTS.

STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS A LAPLACE HOUSE FIRE OVER THE JULY 4TH HOLIDAY WAS STARTED WHEN SOMEONE DELIBERATELY SHOT FIREWORKS INTO THE HOME.
BROWNING SAYS IT MAY HAVE BEEN INTENDED AS A SIMPLE PRANK, BUT SOMEONE COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN HURT OR KILLED. BROWNING SAYS 8 PEOPLE WERE IN THE HOME. SOME WERE TREATED FOR SMOKE INHALATION, BUT NO ONE WAS SERIOUSLY HURT.

news For Friday 070111


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 070111
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A NEW FISCAL YEAR BUDGET TAKES EFFECT TODAY. THE GOVERNOR'S POINT MAN ON THE BUDGET, PAUL RAINWATER SAYS THE NEW SPENDING PLAN WILL CREATE A GOVERNMENT THAT IS LEANER, SMALLER AND MORE EFFICIENT. THE NEW BUDGET CALLS FOR REDUCING THE PAYROLL BY 4000 STATE JOBS. MOST WERE TAKEN CARE OF THROUGH ATTRITION BUT NEARLY 17-HUNDRED INVOLVED TRANSFERS AND TERMINATIONS. WHILE FUNDING FOR ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION STAYS THE SAME, CHANGES TO THE LA GRAD ACT WILL MEAN SOME NEW FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION.

MEMBERS OF THE PINEVILLE CITY COUNCIL GAVE THE GREEN LIGHT TO THEIR NEW CITY BUDGET YESTERDAY. THE BUDGET, WHICH STARTS TODAY, REQUIRED THE NEED TO DIP INTO THE CITY’S SURPLUS BANK ACCOUNT TO BE BALANCED. IT’S HOPED THE RECENT DROP OFF IN CITY TAX REVENUE WILL REVERSE IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

FORMER BALL MAYOR ROY HEBRON IS NOW BEHIND BARS AT THE FEDERAL PRISON CAMP IN PENSACOLA, FLORIDA. HE BEGAN A FOUR-YEAR SENTENCE THERE ON MONDAY. HEBRON PLEADED GUILTY EARLY THIS YEAR TO CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE U.S. GOVERNMENT AFTER A LONG FEDERAL INVESTIGATION INTO TOWN OF BALL ACTIVITIES FOLLOWING HURRICANE GUSTAV IN 2008.

MORE THAN 87 STATEWIDE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ARE TAKING PART IN A CRACKDOWN ON DWI DRIVING OVER THE 4TH OF JULY HOLIDAY WEEKEND. STATE POLICE SPOKESMAN LT. DOUG CAIN SAYS THIS KIND OF ENFORCEMENT HAS REDUCED DEATHS TO JUST 2 FOR EACH OF THE LAST TWO YEARS--COMPARED WITH 16 IN 2007. CAIN SAYS THE GOAL IS ZERO TRAFFIC DEATHS THIS YEAR.

GOVERNOR JINDAL ANNOUNCES ANOTHER BOON TO THE ECONOMY OF NORTHEAST LOUISIANA. THE GOVERNOR SAYS ANGUS CHEMICAL, A SUBSIDIARY OF DOW, PLANS A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR MODERNIZATION OF IT'S FACILITY IN OUACHITA PARISH. JINDAL SAYS ANGUS WILL INVEST NEARLY $11-MILLION IN THE UPGRADE. HE SAYS THE STATE'S FAIRLY NEW RETENTION AND MODERNIZATION TAX CREDIT HELPED TO MAKE ANGUS' GROWTH POSSIBLE. ANGUS EXPECTS TO HAVE IT'S EXPANSION COMPLETED BY NOVEMBER OF THIS YEAR, AND WILL NEED TO HIRE ABOUT 50 CONSTRUCTION WORKERS.

GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS SIGNED A BILL INTO LAW THAT WOULD GIVE SOME ELDERLY, NON-VIOLENT INMATES A CHANCE AT EARLY RELEASE FROM PRISON. BATON ROUGE REPRESENTATIVE PAT SMITH SAYS THIS BILL WILL SAVE THE STATE MONEY AS 47-PERCENT OF CURRENT STATE INMATES ARE NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS, OFTEN WITH LONG SENTENCES. SHE SAYS WHILE MAY NOT BE A SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS NOW, IT WILL END UP SAVING THE STATE MONEY DOWN THE ROAD.

ONLINE BETTING AND PHONE WAGERING FOR HORSE RACES WILL BE ALLOWED AT TRACKS AROUND LOUISIANA. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SIGNED THE BILL INTO LAW THURSDAY, ALLOWING A PRACTICE THAT WAS ALREADY AVAILABLE FOR THE FAIR GROUNDS RACE COURSE IN NEW ORLEANS.

THE NEW INTERIM DIRECTOR OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS BRING YEARS OF HANDS ON EXPERIENCE TO THE JOB. AS DEPUTY DIRECTOR PAT SANTOS WAS POINT MAN DURING HURRICANES GUSTAV AND IKE, AS WELL AS THE GULF OIL SPILL, THE SPRING FLOOD IN THE MISSISSIPPI AND WINTER SNOWSTORMS. HE SAYS IT'S THE GOVERNOR'S DECISION, OF COURSE, BUT HE'D CERTAINLY BE INTERESTED IN RUNNING GOHSEP FULL TIME.

A SLAIN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH CORONER'S OFFICER INVESTIGATOR HAD RESCRIPTION DRUGS AND DRIVER'S LICENSES AT HIS HOME THAT BELONGED TO PEOPLE WHOSE DEATHS HIS OFFICE HAD INVESTIGATED. EIGHT BOTTLES OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AND SEVERAL DRIVER'S LICENSES WERE FOUND IN DECEMBER DURING A SEARCH OF RAYMOND LEVIE'S APARTMENT. LEVIE SHARED THE APARTMENT WITH CANDACE JONES, THE 21-YEAR-OLD SISTER OF SHAWN JONES, THE MAN WHO SHOT LEVIE AND THEN SHOT HIMSELF AT A BUSY RESTAURANT ON JUNE 24, STONE SAID. POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE MOTIVE FOR THE SHOOTING.

THE PENDING DEBT CRISIS HAS LEAD THE US SENATE TO SKIP THE 4TH OF JULY BREAK AND STAY IN WASHINGTON. SENATOR DAVID VITTER WAS CRITICAL OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S RECENT NATIONAL ADDRESS ON THE DEBT. HE SAYS THE PRESIDENT WAS LONG ON RHETORIC AND SHORT ON LEADERSHIP. VITTER SAYS AS LONG AS THE SENATE IS STAYING PUT THEY NEED TO GET SOMETHING ACCOMPLISHED.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS BLOCKED A SIERRA CLUB REQUEST TO JOIN A LAWSUIT FILED BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AGAINST BP OVER LAST YEAR'S DISASTROUS GULF OIL SPILL. JUDGE SALLY SHUSHAN SAYS THE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP CAN FILE BRIEFS WITH THE COURT TO MAKE ITS POSITIONS KNOWN AND, IF THERE IS A SETTLEMENT, IT WOULD BE ALLOWED TO PRESENT PUBLIC COMMENT. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT HAD OBJECTED TO THE SIERRA CLUB'S MOTION TO INTERVENE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HAS SIGNED INTO LAW A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES TO REQUIRE CHILD SAFETY ALARMS BE EQUIPPED TO VEHICLES TRANSPORTING CHILDREN. THE BILL BY BATON ROUGE REP REGINA BARROW WILL TAKE EFFECT TODAY.

YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING. SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS HAVE SPOTTED TWO MEN SPOTTED STEALING MORE THAN 15-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN STEEL FROM A GONZALES INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. THE THIEVES TOOK STAINLESS STEEL PIPING AND FLAT PLATE STEEL FROM A BUSINESS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT DURING A THREE-DAY PERIOD IN LATE MAY. INVESTIGATORS HAVE IDENTIFIED ONE OF THE MEN.

THE 17TH ANNUAL ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL GETS UNDERWAY IN NEW ORLEANS TODAY. THE FESTIVAL IS HELD ANNUALLY OVER THE FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND AND NEW ORLEANS MULTICULTURAL TOURISM PRESIDENT TONI RICE SAYS THE LINEUP THIS YEAR IS MORE IMPRESSIVE THAN EVER. MORE THAN 400,000 PEOPLE ATTENDED THE FESTIVAL IN 2010 AND CITY OFFICIALS SAY THE POPULAR EVENT WILL REMAIN IN NEW ORLEANS AT LEAST THROUGH 2014. RICE SAYS ESSENCE FEST GOERS WILL GET TO EXPERIENCE THE EXTENSIVE INDOOR LOUISIANA SUPERDOME RENOVATIONS FOR THE FIRST TIME.

THE LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN CAUSEWAY IS NO LONGER THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER FOR LONGEST BRIDGE OVER WATER. CHINA HAS JUST OPENED A BRIDGE THAT IS 26 MILES LONG WHICH IS 2 AND A HALF MILES LONGER THAN THE CAUSEWAY.

THE U.S. AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT HAS DESIGNATED DESOTO AND RED RIVER PARISHES IN NORTHWESTERN LOUISIANA AS NATURAL DISASTER AREAS DUE TO TORNADOES IN LATE APRIL. THE AGENCY SAYS THE TWISTERS CAUSED SEVERE DAMAGE TO THE AREA'S BLUEBERRY CROP. FARMERS AND RANCHES IN NEARBY PARISHES ALSO QUALIFY FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE. THOSE PARISHES ARE BIENVILLE, BOSSIER, CADDO, NATCHITOCHES AND SABINE. FARMERS AND RANCHERS IN ALL OF THE PARISHES COULD QUALIFY FOR LOW-INTEREST FEDERAL EMERGENCY LOANS. THEY HAVE EIGHT MONTHS TO APPLY.

GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY HAS ANNOUNCED THE RESIGNATION OF ATHLETIC DIRECTOR LIN DAWSON. NO REASON WAS GIVEN FOR HIS RESIGNATION. GSU’S PRESIDENT HAS APPOINTED AARON JAMES TO SERVE AS INTERIM AD.

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