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Damage from feral hogs cost Louisiana farmers an estimated 74-million dollars in 2013. That's according to research conducted by LSU AgCenter Economist Shaun Tanger, who says the hogs caused 53-million in damage to Louisiana crops.


"Then we also have an additional 21.3 million in damage for what we call non-production losses," Tanger said.
 
The additional 21-million in non-production losses includes replanting costs and damage to pastures and levees.
 
In July, Tanger put the losses at 30-million dollars, but after gathering more data, he's increased the estimate to 74-million dollars. 
 
Tanger says since the feral hog population continues to grow, so will the amount of damage. 
 
"You can see this thing run away really quick and the numbers continue to escalate," Tanger said.
 
The LSU AgCenter estimates Louisiana's feral hog population at a half-million, with heavier concentrations in the south-central and northeastern regions of the state. He says this study is based on a survey of Louisiana farmers, so it doesn't account for damage to non-farm land. 
 
"If it's that large for farmers, than what's the number if we include all acres in the state," Tanger said. 
 
 
 

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A state judge has held the City of New Orleans in contempt of court over their dispute with firefighters over back pay.  Judge Kern Reese threatened Mayor Mitch Landrieu with house arrest if the city doesn't come up with a reasonable plan to pay the back wages within the next week.  


Landrieu says he's willing to accept the sentence.
 
"Before I layoff firefighters, police, and city employees, I am prepared to stay under house arrest for the next two years of my term."

The New Orleans Firefighters Union claims the city owes them $75 million in back wages plus $67 million in interest.  Union President Nick Felton says no one should be arrested and it's time to make this right for the city.  Landrieu says paying that huge amount of money at one time would cripple the city.

"I will not be part of, voluntarily, basically financially decimating this city after the last ten years of one of the most miraculous recoveries in the United States of America."

Previously, the city reportedly offered to pay $15 million up front and the remaining balance over the next 30 years, but that offer was rejected.  Landrieu says they will continue to try to work with firefighters to work out the issue.  He says Reese's ruling undermines the US Constitution and plans to appeal.

"I think unfortunately and respectfully that he's legally wrong.  That's what courts of appeal are for and we're certainly going to take this up to the fourth circuit and, if necessary, to the Supreme Court." 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff's office says four workers at Renewable Energy Group, or REG, sustained injuries as a result of an explosion Thursday night at the bio-diesel plant in Geismar. Sheriff Jeff Wiley says an initial investigation revealed a hydrogen line under maintenance had become pressurized.


"There was an REG employee and three contract employees in close proximity to some kind of pipe rupture," says Wiley.

Wiley says one of the employees has been released from the hospital, one is in good condition, one is in serious and the other is in critical. 

He says they believe the rupture released hydrogen which then ignited causing the explosion.

"That was mitigated fairly quickly," says Wiley. "Then the issue was taking care of the burn victims."
 

Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:REGI) issued the following statement regarding a fire at the Company’s Geismar, LA biorefinery:

At approximately 12 a.m. central, a fire occurred at our Geismar biorefinery. Emergency crews quickly responded to contain the fire and it was declared completely extinguished at 4:20 a.m. All employees on site have been accounted for. Four people-one REG employee and three contractors-were injured and are being treated at Baton Rouge General Hospital. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.


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With the start of another LSU football season, the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner, Billy Cannon, has released a book that tells stories of his childhood, his accomplishments on the field and his time in jail. The book is called “Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run.” During an appearance on the Jim Engster Show, Cannon talked about why he finally agreed to a tell all book written by Charles deGravelles.

“I wanted it told with no cover up, with no sugar coating and just tell it as it was, and he said that’s the only way I’ll do the book.”

Many of Cannon’s stories are told in the biography, even ones he didn’t tell his children. He gave details about growing up in Baton Rouge and why he considered himself a “thug” during his time at Istrouma High.

“One year I didn’t go to school very much. I played a lot of hooky and I had a friend that had a motorcycle and we rode motorcycles and didn’t go to school very much, and I did fail.”

Cannon reveals memories of his time playing at LSU and getting married while still on the team. He also gives insight to his two and a half years in federal prison for his part in a counterfeiting money scheme and how that time changed him for the rest of his life.

“I made a mistake and took the short way out. Would I be the same person I am today if I didn’t do all of those things? Probably not. Life is for living, and I’ve lived a good one.”

 
 
 

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A waitress at a Baton Rouge restaurant showed her gratitude to the Baton Rouge Police Department by buying three officers lunch.  Lt. Johnny Dunham says Officers Brandon Blust, Dustin Conde, and Fred Thornton were surprised when they went to pay the bill.


"They noticed that the waitress had written on the check:  Thank ya'll for what you for us every day.  Have a safe and blessed day.  I figured the least I could do is buy lunch."

Dunham says this gesture not only touched the three officers, but the entire BRPD.  When the officers went to thank the waitress, Crystal Gordon, she said she was upset about how police officers have been targeted lately.

"The officers told me she broke down in tears when she did the gesture and I think they were all very touched and felt like it was a wonderful act of generosity and kindness."

Dunham says he posted a photo of the check on the BRPD Facebook page and it has already garnered over 30,000 likes and almost 9,000 shares.  He adds that the officers did leave Crystal a sizable tip.  Dunham says it's nice to be reminded that there are people out there who side with law enforcement.

"We know there are a lot of good people that support the police, especially in Baton Rouge.  Baton Rouge is a great city to live and work in and the people in Baton Rouge are really wonderful." 

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The Annual Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival takes place this weekend in Morgan City, but this year there's not much to celebrate in either industry.  LSU Economist Dr. Loren Scott says both industries are really suffering this year.


"The shrimp folks are struggling because of lower priced shrimp being imported from other countries and, of course, the oil and gas industry in that sector is really down because of the low oil prices."

But Scott says there are indicators for a recovery in the oil and gas industry over the next couple of years.  He believes there are conditions that are going to get the price of oil back up...

"If it gets back up into the $60 - $65 range, then I think you'll see a recovery in the Gulf of Mexico, but it probably won't happen until well into 2016."

He doesn't think the outlook for shrimp industry is very bright.  On average, Louisiana shrimpers are receiving about $1.30 a pound for their catch, compared to $4.70 last year, because of a huge increase of imported shrimp.  Scott says there are more shrimp buyers than shrimp sellers and buyers like the low prices...

"Buyers are always a very powerful group of folks and they are the larger, so I think they're going to win the game at the very end." 

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LSU football starts this weekend and there are a few traffic changes for fans to know about. LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette says contraflow after the games will no longer be used on Nicholson Drive, but they plan to utilize Burbank Drive more, which is a four-lane road, to help fans exit campus.

“We left like last year with contraflow it had more of a stop and go effect. I think anybody that sits in traffic realizes that if you’re moving you feel okay about it, but it’s that stop and go effect that frustrates you.”

Bonnette says street parking is not allowed on Nicholson or Burbank due to safety concerns. But he says public parking will be allowed this year at University Recreation Fields along River Road.

“Those will be used for SEC games when we’ll know that we’ll have many more cars on campus but all in all, I’d say probably the number of parking spots we have on campus is about the same from last year.”

Bonnette says people need to understand, traffic isn’t going to go away but they’re trying to manage it to the best of their ability. He advises fans to enjoy the beautiful campus and tailgates and try to cooperate the best you can when leaving campus.

“After the game, just be patient and know that we’re working as best we can to get people home as best we can in a safe and efficient manner.”

 
 
 

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The number of people out on the road this Labor Day weekend is expected to increase over last year’s Labor Day holiday. American Automobile Association spokesperson Don Redman projects about 35 million Americans will be out traveling this weekend as the last hurrah of the summer months.

“I think people are going to use it to their advantage and spend some time usually, traditionally this kind of the holiday where they’ll do the last run to the beach, to the water park, campground, those types of things. It’s really a favorite outdoor weekend.”

Redman says gas prices haven't been this low for a Labor Day holiday since 2004. He says the average gas price in Louisiana is $2.16 for a gallon of regular gasoline, a dollar lower than last year, and that’s also spurring a lot of families to take vacations.

“We’re saving upwards to $150 a month, that otherwise was going into the gas tank and so they’ve been able to do other things. It’s really been no doubt played a big role in people being able to go out and travel in big numbers.”

Redman says there are a couple of service stations in Louisiana at around $1.97 per gallon but it will be another few weeks before the statewide average falls below two bucks.

“We’re talking that potentially by October, or sooner, prices in Louisiana averaging under two dollars a gallon.”

 
 
 

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The Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday is this weekend. Department of Revenue spokesperson Kizzy Payton says with hunting season beginning, many Louisiana sportsman are eager to buy new hunting supplies, free of state and local sales tax.

“They can pick up all types of all types of hunting supplies, including archery equipment, ATVs, safety gear and apparel.”

Payton says firearms and ammunition are also a part of this tax exemption. She says retailers across the state look forward to this holiday every single year.

“We’ve heard from several of them as they have been ramping up and getting ready for customers to come in. They’re excited about it, they say that they usually see a large influx of customers coming in.”

Payton says although many things are included, the exemption doesn’t apply to golf carts, go-carts, dirt bikes and other motor vehicles which can be legally driven on streets.

“If you have any questions about what many not fall into the exemption category, to visit our website at revenue.louisiana.gov and they can see a full listing of what actually falls into the criteria and what doesn’t.”

 
 
 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
Now that a federal judge has ruled against the NFL in the Tom Brady deflate-gate case, does this open up the door for Saints Coach Sean Payton to sue the league in order to recoup the money he lost when he was suspended without pay in 2012 for Bounty Gate?


Legal analyst Chick Foret says Brady's case was covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement that all players are involved in.

"Unfortunately for coaches and general managers in this situation, they're not covered by the collective bargaining agreement," says Foret. "So this really is totally irrelevant. That's the bad news for those folks."

Also suspended over the alleged Saints illegal pay for pain program was General Manager Mickey Loomis who was out 8 games, and Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt who was punished for 6 games. Foret says the good news for Payton is that he has the same agent that helped Brady, Don Yee.

Foret says, "I'm sure Sean called Don Yee today and said, 'Don how does this affect me? Do I have any alternatives here? Can I go back and try to recoup some of my money?'"

Payton did not earn any of his $7.5 million dollar salary when he was banned from the team for an entire season. 

Foret says it might be a long shot for Payton to get back that money, but not many people thought Brady would win either. He says U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman did not rule on whether or not Brady altered footballs.

"What he said was that Brady was deprived of due process," says Foret. "That Roger Gooddell and the NFL did not give Tom Brady proper notice."
 


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The first meeting of the task force studying the impact of illegal immigration was held today in Baton Rouge.  Task force chairperson Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges says ignoring the problem of illegal immigration effects the quality of life for everyone.  

Hodges says Louisiana is among the top 10 states that receive unaccompanied alien children and taxpayers are forced to pay for the cost of providing for every illegal immigrant under the age of 18.  She says it's difficult to know how much illegal immigrants are costing the state because most departments do not track that information.  Hodges says you can't fix what you can't identify.
 
"The purpose of this task force is to be able to identify how pervasive the problem is and the impact it is having on the taxpayers of Louisiana."

Hodges says another meeting is planned next month that will include the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Education giving updated data to the task force.  She says the task force will not solve the problem of illegal immigration.

"But what we are going to do is identify how pervasive this problem effects the budget of Louisiana and the economy of Louisiana." 

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Les Miles is hoping his youngest son will one day play for him at LSU. Tigers recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson has offered Ben Miles a scholarship to play at LSU. Miles is a fullback for the Catholic High Bears in Baton Rouge. And Miles says the scholarship offer is deserving.


"He went though the same process that everybody else went through and certainly, he is very humbled by it."

Miles had trouble convincing two of his other children to stay close to home for college. His daughter “Smacker” Miles is a swimmer at Texas and his son, Manny, is a walk-on at North Carolina. Miles hopes Ben will wear the purple and gold.
 
"I think we're taking a different tack than we took with Manny and Smacker Miles and I think we're on the right path here."

Ben Miles’ high school coach, Dale Weiner, is expecting big things from Miles as he enters his junior season. Coach Miles hopes one day he’ll be coaching his son.
 
"I see a guy that's just pleased as he can be and recognizes the great strength that LSU has."
 
 
 

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A grand jury has indicted a man and his pregnant girlfriend in the death of a sex offender who repeatedly assaulted the woman throughout her childhood.  21-year-old Jace Crehan and 18-year-old Brittany Monk, both of Walker, face second degree murder charges in the death of 47-year-old Robert Noce of Zachary.  


Legal analyst Tim Meche says this is not a difficult case for prosecutors.
 
"Because you've been sexually abused, it doesn't give you the right to murder your perpetrator."

Noce's body was found inside a 55-gallon drum after he was stabbed and strangled.  Officials say Noce had just begun serving probation for sexually abusing Monk when he was killed.  Meche says doesn't think the judge will allow evidence of the abuse to be presented to the jury.

"It's going to be an uphill battle for the defense attorney to be able to present that type of evidence."

Authorities say Crehan admitted to the crime and placed Monk at the scene.  Meche says Monk will have to prove that the sexual abuse rendered her mentally insane at the time of the murder or that she feared for her life.

"If the abuse was ongoing and you're in imminent danger of it happening at that particular time and in order to prevent it you have to use violence, that's a different story." 

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Former state lawmaker and ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke plans to take legal action if New Orleans removes the Battle of Liberty Place monument. Its a 124-year-old structure that recognizes a group of prominent whites and ex-Confederates who fought against Louisiana’s biracial Reconstruction government. Duke made the comments as the french quarter commission voted to remove the monument.

 
"We believe that the heritage of New Orleans is at stake, the heritage of our state is at stake and the heritage of our country is at stake."

The Battle of Liberty Place monument is one of four monuments that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is seeking to remove. The New Orleans City council will have the final say. Duke says city leaders are trying to take away New Orleans heritage.
 
"The mayor and his council members want to destroy these monuments, they're no more than an ISIS kind of cultural terrorism."

There are residents who believe the Battle of Liberty Place represents racism and they say the monument was erected to support the institution of Jim Crow. Duke says if the city council votes to take it down, he’ll file suit to stop it.
 
"We have a right to preserve our heritage and our values the same way that African American people have a right to honor those they consider to be their leaders and their heroes."
 
 
 

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The Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers are teaming up to spotlight political candidates who support the best interest of public education.  Their "It's Time to Get it Right" campaign seeks to educate the public on the stands taken by candidates on important issues facing Louisiana's schools.  


LFT Public Relations Director Les Landon says the two organizations are usually competitive.
 
"But this is important enough that we are working together to try to get information to the voters about where these candidates really stand on education issues."

The campaign will promote recommended candidates in the governor's race, as well as elections for the state legislature and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.  LAE President Debbie Meaux says this campaign is an effort to help voters make an informed decision.

"We want to make sure that the citizens of our state not only listen to the lip service that is given by candidates, but that they know educators stand behind certain candidates."

A website has been set up to promote candidates at itstimelouisiana-dot-com.  They will also use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to get their message out.  Landon says this is a very important election for public schools and the children of Louisiana.
 
"We think it's time that people really start paying attention to what candidates for public office are saying about education." 

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A study out of the UC-San Francisco finds that a lack of sleep can determine your likelihood of catching a cold. Professor of Family Medicine at LSU New Orleans Dr. Herbert Muncie says if you get less than five to six hours of sleep, your immune system is effected which increases your chances of getting the virus. He says it’s very important to get at least seven hours each night.

“Allows our body to recuperate from whatever we’ve been doing during the day and sort of allow the immune system to be appropriately gauged to deal with the viruses and bacteria we come in contact with.”

Muncie says this study doesn’t necessarily mean the more sleep the better. He says if you’re sleeping more than nine hours then that might be a sign on another concern.

“So it looks like more than six is necessary but certainly when you start getting up past nine, it may be another indication of an issue going on. So that seven or eight probably is the sweet spot to be at.”

Muncie says it doesn’t matter your age, race or gender, we all need an adequate amount of sleep for our bodies to do its best. He says sleep is just as necessary to staying healthy as a good diet and exercising.

“It is probably equally, if not maybe even more important because we just don’t function well when we don’t get enough sleep.”

 
 
 

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