KSYL Local News


News for Friday 073115

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office announces one of their own deputies has been arrested for indecent behavior with a juvenile and computer sex solicitation. Twenty-five-year-old John Roy Griffith of Pineville was taken into custody at his home by State Police investigators. He’s worked as a communications officer at the sheriff’s office for nearly two years.

 

Work has begun preparing the land for the 109-room Fairfield Inn & Suites, located on South MacArthur Drive in front of the former McKesson Building. It’s one of several hotels being built or renovated that will update and increase local lodging options. The Fairfield Inn will cater to guests staying between one and three nights and have an average room rate of about $140. It will include function and meeting space designed to lure 100- to 200-person events.

 

According to a new poll released Wednesday, Governor Bobby Jindal is still not in the top 10 of support for Republican Presidential candidates. The numbers show Jindal tied for 11th place in the field with former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

 

Sweltering heat continue to impact Louisiana. Much of the state was under a Heat Advisory teach day this week. Danielle Manning, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says a weak cold front will move across the state as we approach the weekend. She says the main impact from this front will drop humidity levels across the state. Manning says this cold front won’t bring afternoon high temperatures down very much. Perhaps a degree or two.

 

An Alexandria man allegedly using a 13th Street apartment complex as a hub to sell meth was arrested Wednesday after the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office received "numerous complaints from the public. Some of the information received by agents included tips that 30-year-old Terrelle Love allegedly was selling meth. Love was charged with possession with intent to distribute. He later was released on a $10,000 bond.

 

The night sky will light up tonight with what’s known as a blue moon. LSU Astronomy Professor Brad Schaeffer says the moon will not look blue, but it’s referred as a “blue moon” because it’s the second time in a calendar month that there’s been a full moon. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the phenomenon only occurs once every three years. Schaeffer says there’s really no scientific reason why it’s called a blue moon.

 

The Slidell Police Department says a group of organized criminals were busted for stealing nearly half a million dollars at businesses with ATMs and check cashing outlets over the past year. Authorities say two suspects were arrested after trying to steal 12 grand from a business in Slidell. The two have been  charged with burglary and cops say there could be more people involved.

 

Baton Rouge Police say a Morgan City man wanted for a Lafayette shooting death, was killed during a shootout with police and US Marshals Wednwsday. Thirty-seven year-old Lawrence Blackburn -who was accused of killing 18 year-old Dravin Stevenson – was found hiding in a Baton Rouge apartment complex, where the gunfire erupted.

 

It’s not too late for the Who Dat nation to head to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia where the Saints are holding training camp. Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau Spokesperson Kristi Godby says in small town West Virginia, they don’t have an NFL team so they’re welcoming the Saints with open arms for a second straight year. Godby says last year they received many Louisiana visitors and expect to see more this year as training camp continues through August 20th.

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News for Thursday 073015

By Dave Graichen

 

The state police reports 38 year old Jeremy Drake of Oakdale was killed yesterday morning when the vehicle he was driving left La 1152 and struck a tree. Drake was not wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene. A female passenger, 36-year-old Tabitha Johnson Irvine, also of Oakdale was seriously injured in the crash. The State Police suspect Drake was impaired.

 

An Alexandria man died late Tuesday night when he lost control of his car and hit a tree. 32 year old Joshua Marquis was pronounced dead at the scene of the wreck, which happened around 10:50 p.m. on Bayou Rapides Road, west of of Vandenburg Drive. The wreck is still under investigation.

 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended its filing deadline for Louisiana policyholders impacted by recent Red River flooding. FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program normally requires homeowners to file a Proof of Loss form to claim damages within 60 days of a flood. The agency has authorized an additional 180-day extension during which a policyholder may submit the form.

 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to 5th district congressman Ralph Abraham and his family. Marlene Abraham of West Monroe, the mother of the congressman died Tuesday. In lieu of flowers Abraham is asking donations be made to Pilots for Patients, a charity organization he’s involved with that flies sick patients with financial needs to specialty hospitals. Marlene Abraham was 83.

 

East Baton Rouge District Attorney District Attorney Hillar Moore says it’s likely the criminal charges against LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings could be dropped. Moore says he’s waiting on some paperwork to decide. Jennings and two other football players were arrested in an alleged break-in last month. Moore says the victim is not seeking to pursue charges. LSU Coach Les Miles says the status of the players fully depends on the schedule of the DA.

 

Lt. Clay Higgins of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office and his CrimeStoppers videos continue to grow in popularity and even got a mention on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. In the latest video, Higgins aka “The Cajun John Wayne” calls out someone who robbed a local supermarket. The video has over 1.3 million views on YouTube. Lt. Higgins tells us they are very close to catching the perpetrator.

 

Lafayette Strong: Unite.Honor.Heal, a community gathering to reflect on those lost and injured in The Grand movie theater shooting, will take place tonight at Blackham Coliseum. Lafayette Government Spokesperson Cyrda Wingerter (Sid-ruh Wing-er-ter) says they are expecting a big crowd. Wingerter says there will be music, artistic opportunities to create prayer flags, and recognition of people involved, including those caring for victims after the tragedy. She says they want the gathering to portray the culture and spirit of Lafayette.

 

According to a new report from the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 45% of the private sector workforce in Louisiana cannot earn paid sick days. Spokeswoman Vicky Shabo says when people can’t take paid time away from work, they often jeopardize their job or their ability to make ends meet. Shabo says for a typical family in the United States without paid sick days, 3.5 days lost to illness are equal to the family’s entire monthly grocery budget. She says about 90 percent of workers in restaurants cannot earn a single paid sick day. The National Federation of Independent Business opposes any kind of mandate which would require employers to offer paid sick time.

 

Good Housekeeping magazine has named Natchitoches as one of the 50 Most Beautiful Small Towns in America. The publication selected one town from each state to make up their list. Samantha Bonnette, Public Relations Director for the city of Natchitoches, says they are excited to be part of this list. Natchitoches was recently named Best Southern Small Town by readers of USA Today and 10Best-dot-com. Bonnette says they are proud to be on this list that features some real high quality small towns across the country. Other small towns on the list include Breckenridge, Colorado, Sedona, Arizona, and Cooperstown, New York.

 

Louisiana State Police Gaming Troopers announce the arrest of two Houston residents for allegedly cheating at casinos in Lake Charles. Sgt. James Anderson says the message is, if you cheat you will be caught. The two men have been charged with cheating and swindling.

 

In Terrebonne Parish, a total of eight law enforcement officers have been placed on administrative leave after killing a 45-year-old man following a car chase on Monday. State Police says Jean Falgout-who was a theft suspect-reportedly weilded a gun and pointed it at officers after he attempted to flee, before he was shot multiple times after the stop. Initial investigation shows that the gun was a pellet gun.

 

After going seven and nine last season, the Saints are ready to turn the page as they begin training camp today. The roster has been overhauled since the last time New Orleans played a game and that includes the release of the team’s top pass rusher Junior Galette. General Manager Mickey Loomis believes all the changes made will result in more wins this season. Coach Sean Payton says they wish Galette well and it was not an easy decision to let him go….

 

The LSU football team is a week away from starting fall camp. Coach Les Miles believes he’ll get better play from the quarterback position, as he expects a battle between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris for the starter’s role.

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News for Wednesday 072915

By Dave Graichen

 

A Deville woman is facing a charge of filing a false police report after she alleged that four men in a car had knocked her down Tuesday morning and had kidnapped her 2-year-old child. 24 year old Ashley Michelle Ballard made the report shortly before noon, which sent Rapides Parish Sheriff ’s deputies scrambling to search the area for the vehicle that Ballard described. Detectives joined the case a short time later and realized the story was not adding up. Ballard was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on the misdemeanor charge. Her bond was set at $250. However, an investigation is continuing,

 

The Louisiana GOP is officially endorsing Jeff Landry for Attorney General rather than the Republican incumbent, Buddy Caldwell. Party Chairman Roger Villere says they approved of Landry’s performance in Congress and feel comfortable he is right for the AG’s office. In a statement released by Caldwell, the two-term A-G says the state GOP party has never endorsed him before, so it might be bad luck to get it this time.

 

The July campaign finance report shows that Republican David Vitter has more campaign dollars on hand than his three gubernatorial opponents combined. Vitter’s campaign reports more than $5 million in cash on hand for this fall’s election. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this clearly shows Vitter’s advantages over the rest of the field. Republicans Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle report $1.8 million and $1 million in cash on hand respectively, while Democrat John Bel Edwards reports $1.1 million.

 

The most recent campaign finance figures for the Lt. Governor’s race shows Republican John Young leading the field with over $2.2 million in cash on hand. Fellow Republican Billy Nungesser is not far behind with more than $1.6 million. Democrat Kip Holden reports $68,000 cash on hand, while Republican Elbert Guillory of Opelousas owes his campaign nearly $4,000.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal’s Presidential campaign says he’s back on the road after taking a break from touring to help Lafayette recover from the Grand Theater shooting last week. The 2016 hopeful is traveling to New York for a round of media interviews.

 

In a recent study by WalletHub, Louisiana ranks near the bottom in the nation when it comes to the quality of its school systems. The state came in at No. 47 overall with low data rankings in School System Quality at No. 43 on the list and School Safety at 44. The study also ranked Louisiana 48th in both math and reading test scores.

 

The House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to pass a bill by Rep. Ralph Abraham that would provide cost-of-living increases in veterans’ benefits. The bill is the first for the Louisiana Republican freshman. Abraham is chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. Under Abraham’s bill, money for veterans’ benefits such as housing, food and other living expenses would increase based on Social Security’s annual cost-of-living-adjustment, which was 1.7 percent last year.

 

State health officials have found another water system in Louisiana that contains a deadly brain eating amoeba. The department of health and hospitals says the presence of the amoeba was found during surveillance testing of a water system that serves 18-hundred residents near Donaldsonville in Ascension Parish. The same deadly amoeba was also located in St. Bernard Parish last week. The state says the water is safe to drink, but take precautions to keep it from going up your nose.

 

In the last three days, there have been three officer involved shootings in the state, with the latest Monday afternoon in Houma. During a traffic stop, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputies recognized the 45 year-old man as someone wanted for theft, and when he emerged from his vehicle with a gun pointed at them, and they were forced to take lethal action.

 

Two southwest Louisiana men have been accused of stealing about 10 thousand dollars in alligator eggs. Twenty-four year-old Christopher Trahan of Lake Charles and 47 year-old Paul Cannick of Grand Chenier were cited for illegal possession of alligator eggs and not following refuge rules and regulations.

 

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office says a 34-year-old man who claimed to be a youth mentor is under arrest for having sex with a juvenile. Apparently Jeremy Tyrone Sims began having sex with the girl several years ago when she was 14 after convincing the family that he was her youth mentor. He’s booked with molestation of a juvenile.

 

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested an 81-year-old man for allegedly raping a child in the 1980s. Authorities have charged the man with Aggravated Rape. Sheriff’s Office spokesman Brennan Matherne says a woman claimed she was victimized as a child about 30 years ago when she was under the age of 10.

 

The Humane Society of Louisiana issues a statewide heat advisory for pets after learning of a dog fatality in Franklin Parish. Director Jeff Dorson says during the hot summer months they start to receive a lot of calls from around the state regarding people not taking proper care of their pets, especially dogs and leaving them out in the heat.

 

Training camp begins today for the Saints who are required to report to the team’s facility in West Virginia. The team is ready to put behind last season’s disappointing 7-and-9 campaign. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says the Saints spent the offseason trying to improve their offensive and defensive lines.

 

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News for Tuesday 072815

By Dave Graichen

 

Today, the Louisiana Republican Party is expected to announce their endorsement of former Congressman Jeff Landry in this year’s Attorney General’s race. Landry is seeking to unseat current AG and fellow Republican Buddy Caldwell. LaPolitics-dot-com Publisher Jeremy Alford says Caldwell has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way in recent years. He says Caldwell received a lot of criticism among Republicans for offering encouraging words to former Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in her unsuccessful bid for re-election last year.

 

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s top executive responded Monday to the Jindal administration’s questions about fetal tissue handling at its abortion clinic operations. “Some Planned Parenthood affiliates may help patients who wish to donate fetal tissue, just like other health care providers do. But, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast President Melaney Linton said the organization does not currently have a fetal tissue donation program in Texas, nor is one planned at the group’s proposed clinic in New Orleans. Gov. Bobby Jindal launched a state investigation earlier this month into the operations of Planned Parenthood, based on reports alleging sale of fetal body parts from abortions.  Linton answered a series of questions asked by the state health agency as a part of that probe.

 

The movie theater where three people were killed and nine others were injured has been turned back to the owners. Lafayette Police announce they are done with its onsite investigation. It’s unclear when the theater will be re-opened to the public. Authorities also announce they’ve found a journal type book in John Houser’s hotel room and that has been turned over to a specialist to be analyzed.

 

In light of last week’s shooting at the Lafayette movie theater, some people are asking whether or not metal detectors should be placed beyond ticket offices. Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton says she would craft such legislation if she’s re-elected in the fall. She says standing in line a little longer is a small price to pay. The National Association of Theater Owners have declined to comment when asked about the prospect of setting up metal detectors in the wake of the Lafayette shooting.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal made it very clear Sunday on Face The Nation that if any protestors from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church would picket the funerals of the Lafayette theater victims today-as they had threatened to do-they would be arrested. 21 year-old Mayci Breaux’s service was held yesterday in Franklin while 33 year-old Jillian Johnson had her memorial service in Lafayette. No protesters showed up.

 

The Department of Health and Hospitals has established resources for residents who are having a hard time dealing with the Lafayette movie theater shooting and need someone to talk to. Brad Farmer is with the Acadiana Area Human Services District. He says people can reach out to professionals if you think you need help. Farmer says they are also offering information to parents on how to speak to their children about such an event. Farmer says their 24-hour-crisis line is toll free at 1-877-655-8241

 

A Baton Rouge woman faces charges after she allegedly threatened to shoot someone inside a movie theater over the weekend. East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks says 27-year-old Gaynell Haydel verbalized her threats near the ticket booth at the Cinemark Perkins Rowe theater. Hicks says Haydel was charged with terrorizing, disturbing the peace and resisting an officer.

 

The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office reports a 22-year-old man reported missing on Saturday morning later was found dead after the golf cart he was driving hit a fence post and rolled. The body of Justin David Wyatt was found around noon. He had been reported missing around 8 a.m.

 

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office says they’ve arrested 15 suspects for their alleged involvement in a somewhat organized heroin ring. Deputies say 12 people remain at large and the group is believed to be responsible for distributing large amounts of heroin in the west part of the northshore parish. The multi-jurisdiction investigation dubbed Operation Fishnet has been going on for 14 months and has just come to an end. Anyone with information on the suspects at large is urged to contact authorities.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal remains in the low single digits in a CNN national poll of support for candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination,  outside the top-10 ranking needed to potentially help qualify him for the nationally televised prime-time debate on Fox News Aug. 6. Meanwhile, a poll by NBC and Marist College of Republican voters in Iowa put Jindal at 1 percent, less than the 8 percent reported by his campaign last week in an internal poll, and less than the 4 percent reported last week by Monmouth University in its poll. In the CNN/ORC poll, Jindal’s 2 percent score puts him in a tie for 12th

 

The USDA has cited a UL-Lafayette research facility in New Iberia for both the injury and death of two different monkeys and for also allowing monkeys to escape their cages. According to the government report, a monkey was electrocuted to death in 2013, another primate’s leg was broken due to improper handling. Co-founder of Stop Animal Exploitation Now Michel Budkie says UL Lafayette was fined 38-thousand dollars in 2011 after three young rhesus monkeys died of negligence. He says the USDA is not done investigating the facility and these new citations might mean a higher fine added against the center.

 

Gas prices continue to go down. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.44 which is a Nickle lower than a week ago.

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News for Monday 072715

By Dave Graichen

 

A single vehicle crash Friday afternoon killed a child that wasn’t properly restrained in a car seat. 31-year-old Marquita Batiste of Alexandria overturned her SUV after she tried to pass a vehicle while entering a curve on England Drive just before Billie Bayou. 4-year-old Amaria Lachney was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at a local hospital . Bastiste is charged with reckless operation of a vehicle, negligent homicide, negligent injuring, no seat belt, and no child restraint.

 

The funeral for Mayci Marie Breaux, 21, one of the two women killed by a gunman at a Lafayette movie theater last week, will be held Today in Franklin. Breaux was with her fiancé, Matthew Rodriguez, at the Grand 16 Theatre in Lafayette to watch a movie when a gunman killed her and another woman. Nine others were injured.

 

The Lafayette theater shooting is sparking arguments over gun control once again and whether more laws are needed to prevent such tragedies. Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarman says we need stronger gun. He says the entire gun industry needs serious reform. Wade Duty with the Louisiana Gun Association says piling on additional gun laws would not have altered this man’s behavior. Duty says the best immediate response to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

 

Louisiana Attorney General Bubby Caldwell wants to assemble a team of health professionals to help identify unstable and violent persons and communicate that information with law enforcement. Caldwell says he’s tired of seeing mass shootings like the one that happened last week in Lafayette. Caldwell says we need to start pulling our resources together. He says we need to learn from these tragedies and then find a solution. There’s evidence the Lafayette movie theater gunman John Houser suffered from mental issues.

 

College football analyst Phil Steele believes the LSU Tigers will be one the surprise teams in the upcoming season. Steele says LSU’s defense will be fast and one of the best in the country and he likes the offensive line. Steele says quarterback is the biggest question mark on LSU’s team.

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News for Friday 072415

By Dave Graichen

 

A man wielding a handgun entered a movie theater and started shooting. when it was all over, three people were dead, including the gunman, and nine others injured. It happened at a theater in Lafayette. The violence started about 20 minutes into a screening of the comedy "Trainwreck." Police say the shooter - identified only as a 58-year-old white man - was sitting in the rear of the theater, when he shot two people sitting directly in front of him.  (Click Here For The CBS Report)

 

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has sent a letter to Governor Bobby Jindal asking that he reimburse taxpayers for the cost of having State Police provide security for him during his out-of-state campaign travels. It’s unlikely Jindal will follow through with Dardenne’s request. A spokesperson for the governor says the safety of the governor shouldn’t be used as a political issue.

 

Louisiana’s gubernatorial primary election is three months from today and things have been relatively quiet on the campaign front. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says although the campaigns are definitely working behind the scenes, he’s surprised by the lack of visible activity. He says, at this point in the race, Republican US Senator David Vitter and Democratic State Representative John Bel Edwards seem poised to make the runoff.

 

The State Department of Health and Hospitals has once again confirmed the presence of a brain eating ameba in the St. Bernard Parish Water System. Spokeswoman Olivia Hwang (WONG) says the water is safe to drink, but they urge residents to avoid getting water in their noses. She says getting an infection is extremely rare. DHH is requesting a 60-day chlorine burn to eliminate amoebas from the system.

 

A report from the transportation research group TRIP, says Louisiana motorists pay about 514-dollars extra per year for car upkeep due to poor road conditions. Associate director of research, Carolyn Kelly, hopes this study serves as a wake-up call so the public and elected officials can make transportation funding a top priority.

 

It wasn’t the verdict that many wanted. The man accused of shooting a freshman student in Lafayette has been re-sentenced. Seth Fontenot was originally charged with first degree murder in the death of 15 year-old Austin Rivault, but the jury returned verdicts for a lesser charge. Yesterday, the judge reduced Fontenot’s previous 3 year sentence to 13 months at hard labor instead.

 

Three jockeys at Evangeline Downs have been arrested for taking part in a race fixing scheme. Forty-six year-old Joseph Patin Jr. and his brother, 51-year-old Billy; as well as 24-year-old LeSean Conyers allegedly engaged in questionable riding tactics in a race June 19th, and the two brothers face charges for using an illegal shocking device during two races on July 4th.

 

A single-vehicle crash in Richland Parish has claimed the life of a 96-year-old Delhi man. State Police Trooper Michael Reichardt says James Coleman was driving his truck south of Delhi when he lost control of the vehicle, ran off the road, and flipped his vehicle.. Reichardt, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Gas prices dipped again from the day before. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is $2.48.

 

The Louisiana Democratic Party hosts its biggest fundraiser of the year on Saturday night at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner is expected to bring together more than 1,000 contributors and supporters of the Democratic party. Party spokesperson Beau Tidwell says Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will be there as well as other big names. Tidwell says the event will include video addresses from Hillary Clinton, who is the front-runner to receive the Democratic presidential nomination. He says former three-term Senator Mary Landrieu will also be honored at the dinner.

 

Emergency crews from throughout the state say they’ve responded to hundreds of calls about children locked in cars this summer. Curt Monte with the Baton Rouge Fire Department says the heat index has reached triple digits in recent weeks and leaving your kid in a car comes with potentially deadly consequences. Monte says in East Baton Rouge Parish alone, since May 1st, there were over 80 calls made about children who were alone in a vehicle.

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News for Thursday 072315

By Dave Graichen

 

A plant that has sat idle in Grant Parish will be transformed into a $265 million  ammonia plant. A Lithuanian based company is making the investment which will create  85 new direct jobs and generate over 500 construction jobs. The project in Pollock will create 85 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $55,000. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2016 and it’ll take just over two years to complete.

 

Some scary moments Tuesday in Natchitoches Parish when a private bridge collapsed near Derry. A dump truck loaded with dirt dropped some 20 to 25 feet and landed on it’s roof. The driver of the truck was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

 

The summer heat these days in Louisiana has been brutal. State Climatologist Barry Keim says in Shreveport the last 5 days have had maximum temperatures of 96 degrees or greater, and even 99 on Tuesday. Keim says the cause of these runs of extremely warm weather is a dome of high pressure that’s sitting over the southeastern United States.

 

Sabine Parish authorities say they are treating the death of an eight month old child as a homicide. Kayla Lewis died Tuesday afternoon and Coroner Ron Rivers says a preliminary autopsy result shows there was blunt force trauma to the child’s face. At this time, no charges have been filed.

 

According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, oil and gas jobs in Louisiana continued their decline in June, dropping to the lowest level in almost 10 years. Mining and logging jobs, where many oil and gas jobs are classified, fell by another 300 last month, bringing the total number of jobs lost this year to 6,000. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, says these jobs are some of the best jobs in the state. He says the lower price of crude oil is the leading factor.

 

A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more teenage girls are using the morning after pill. The report indicates about 1 in 5 teens girls have used the morning after pill, when ten years ago it was 1 in 12. Health officials are hopeful the increased use will help reduce Louisiana’s high teen pregnancy rate. However, health officials say the pill should not be used as primary contraception.

 

Today, Seth Fontenot will be re-sentenced on his manslaughter and aggravated battery conviction in a 2013 shooting that killed 15-year-old Austin Rivault and injured two others. In July, Fontenot was sentenced to 3 years at hard labor with all but 13 months suspended. The state filed a motion for re-sentencing after Judge Ed Rubin handed down his decision. State law prevents a judge from suspending the sentence of someone convicted of a crime of violence. Prosecutors want Judge Rubin to sentence Fontenot to at least 10 years in prison while Fontenot’s attorneys want a lighter sentence of 13 months.

 

The Tabasco Sauce Factory in Iberia Parish is set to open a new restaurant, museum and expanded tours at their  Visitors Center on Avery Island. Vice President of Administration  Cecil Hymel says visitors will now be able to see parts of the plant never seen before. Hymel says the new restaurant called “1868″, will open around August 10th and offer a variety of Louisiana foods incorporated with each of the 7 different flavor Tabasco pepper sauces.

 

Two Alabama men claim they were fired from Turner Industries this week for refusing to remove the Confederate battle flag from their vehicles. Turner, which has corporate headquarters in Baton Rouge, is one of the nation’s largest construction management companies. Phillip Sims told the TV station he doesn’t normally drive to work with the flag on his truck, but he was running late on Monday, and didn’t take the time to remove it. That’s when a supervisor at the Decatur, Ala., plant told him to remove the flag or be fired. He said he refused to remove it, on principle, and was fired. A second employee who asked not to be identified told the station the same thing happened to him. Company officials have refused to comment on the matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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News for Wednesday 072215

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to six-point-four percent in June based on the latest labor statistics. Louisiana Workforce Commission executive director Curt Eysink says the data also shows the Bayou State adding 13,400 jobs over the last 12 months. Payrolls rose by 5,000 from May to June but Eysink admits Oil and gas jobs in Louisiana have continued to plummet, sinking to the lowest level in almost a decade.

 

The political news website Politico reports that Governor Bobby Jindal is still not polling high enough to be included in the first Republican televised debate. They are basing their prediction on a recent Washington Post/ABC poll where Jindal received just two-percent of the vote. Fox News will host the first debate on August 6th and only the top 10 contenders based on an average of recent polls will be invited.

 

The State Police are blaming a bad adhesive on some vehicle inspection stickers as the reason some are just fall off.  Master Trooper Scott Moreau says the good news is the peeling stickers should almost be out of circulation. Moreau says motorists who have peeling stickers and want them replaced, should return to the station where they had their vehicle inspected for a replacement.

 

According to  the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speed accounted for at least 27 percent of traffic deaths, killing 193, in Louisiana in 2013.  State Police Sgt. Nick Manale says the data found that young male drivers out of all age groups were most likely to be speeding at the time of fatal crashes. 34 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2013 were also speeding.

 

A spokesperson for the Louisiana National Guard says they are still putting a policy in place so they can follow Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive order that allows guardsmen to be armed at military facilities. Colonel Pete Schneider says Louisiana’s major National Guard bases have full-time force protection personnel, but their armories and recruiting offices do not have this type of security. Governor Jindal issued the executive order last Friday after a gunman fatally shot four Marines and a sailor at two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Schneider says unit commanders will determine which guardsmen will be armed once they arrive at a National Guard facility

 

With the first day of school on August the 6th, a group of Tangipahoa Parish parents say it’s too hot for their kids to get on school buses, without air conditioning, in the hottest part of the day, and they are presenting a petition to the school board to delay the first day of school until after Labor Day. School officials are saying there is not time to change the scheduled opening of school in less than 2 weeks.

 

A former Iberia Parish Sheriff’s deputy faces a day in jail for punching a man who was under arrest in September 2013 after the Sugar Cane Festival in New Iberia. Twenty-nine-year-old Cody Laperouse must also perform 200 hours of community service, take anger management classes and pay a $2,000 fine.

 

Gas prices are down in Louisiana four cents from this time last week. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.49

 

The lifestyle digital publication PureWow has named Thibodaux as one of the 12 cutest small towns in America. The article says the picks were based on places with loads of charm, festivals and quaint locations. Also on the PureWow list are places like Levenworth, Washington, Carmel-By-The-Sea, California, Charlottesville, Virginia and Fayetteville Arkansas.

 

In an effort to re-establish the Alligator Snapping Turtles , the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has released some juvenile turtles into the Calcasieu River Basin. LDWF Natural Heritage Program Manager, Amity Bass, says this is the culmination of three years of work. She says the turtle is a Species of Concern, and they want to keep it off the endangered list.

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News for Tuesday 072115

By Dave Graichen

 

According to a report from the Annie E Casey Foundation, more children in Louisiana are living in poverty than during the Great Recession. The 2015 Kids Count Data Book shows 28% of children here are living in disadvantaged families, up from 25% in 2008. Anthony Recasner, CEO of Agenda for Children, says the same report indicates the percentage of children without health insurance is going down and the percentage of high school kids graduating on time is going up. But Recasner says Louisiana ranks 48th overall for child well-being.

 

We’re seeing gas prices at the pump continue to fall in Louisiana. Gregg Laskosi with GasBuddy.com says this is great news for consumers right now because the statewide average is now $2.48 per gallon for regular gasoline, a 4 cent drop since last week. Laskosi says we’re already seeing stations in the state with prices as low as $2.14.  He expects prices per gallon in September to be under two dollars and drop even more throughout the winter months.

 

US Senator David Vitter announces he has raised $1.3 million in the second quarter and has more than $5 million in cash on hand for his gubernatorial campaign. The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, a political action committee supporting Vitter, also announces they have more than $4 million available. The other gubernatorial candidates have yet to announce their second quarter fundraising totals.

 

A new survey of likely Iowa caucus goers shows Governor Bobby Jindal is gaining momentum. The Monmouth University poll gives Jindal a 59 percent favorable rating, 5th highest among Republican presidential candidates and 4 percent of the respondents said they would support Jindal if the presidential caucus was held today. Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson says many people are responding warmly to Jindal on his “Believe Again Tour.” Just yesterday a Fox News poll showed the governor with less than 1% of the vote.

 

LSU’s Athletic Department announces they’ve transferred ten million dollars over to the main campus, which will be used on academic and research initiatives. That’s about three million dollars more than what university leaders were expecting. Going forward, the athletic department has agreed to give the university at least seven-point two million dollars every year.

 

A letter written by Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is asking President Obama and the Louisiana Congressional delegation to include Monroe and the Louisiana Delta in the ConnectHome program-which provided free or low-cost high-speed internet to low income families. Campbell says–per capita–the Monroe area has the poorest people living in the US.

 

State Police are looking for the driver of a vehicle responsible for hitting a teenager on the side of the road in Albany. The 14-year-old was last reported to be in critical condition. Trooper Bryan Lee says the suspect vehicle was trying to pass another one when it struck the teen in Livingston Parish. State Police is asking the public for assistance in locating the pickup truck.

 

The Shreveport Police Department says a 10-year-old boy who is believed to have accidentally shot himself last week has died. Corporal Marcus Hines says the child gained access to the gun in his home on July 17th. Hines says the matter is under investigation but at this point it appears the incident is a tragic accident.

 

A former teacher and basketball coach from Elton High School in Jefferson Davis Parish was sentenced to 7 years in prison today with credit for time served. 36-year-old Justin Fruge pleaded guilty to one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile in March following his January arrest. Fruge was facing numerous charges of sexual misconduct, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge after parents of the victims requested the charges be reduced so the juveniles wouldn’t have to testify.

 

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu travels to the Vatican with other mayors, governors, and UN Representatives to meet with Pope Francis to discuss global issues.  Topics will range from climate change, human trafficking, and sustainable development.  Political Analyst Clancy Dubos says this is part of the Pope’s effort to engage and motivate political and community leaders around the world. The mayor’s office says Landrieu will offer remarks about the challenges New Orleans has faced and how the city has become a model for resilience and sustainability.

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News for Monday 072015
By Dave Graichen

Authorities are investigating a motorcycle crash that claimed the life of 26 year old Tony Seal of Dry Creek Saturday night. The accident occurred on LA 26 In Allen Parish. Police suspect excessive speed and alcohol consumption as contributing factors to the crash.

State police report early Saturday morning a single vehicle crash killed a pedestrian from Forest Hill, LA. Troopers responded to the crash around 5:00 a.m., which occurred on Interstate 49 south of Alexandria.  The crash involved an unknown vehicle and a pedestrian, identified as 23 year old Rigoberto Luna. Prior to the crash, Luna was operating a vehicle southbound on Interstate 49 and had stopped on the shoulder.  For unknown reasons, Luna entered the southbound lane and was struck by an unknown vehicle who then sped off.  Luna was pronounced dead at the scene.

The privatization deal for LSU’s Shreveport and Monroe hospitals seems to be imploding. Maybe that was inevitable when university leaders agreed to a contract filled with blank pages or when they chose a manager with no experience running a patient care facility. The hospital manager, the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, has one more week to devise a plan for correcting LSU’s complaints about its oversight of the facilities or the university system will seek to remove the manager, claiming breach of contract. LSU clearly wants a new hospital operator. Gov. Bobby Jindal agrees. So do several of the candidates running for governor in this fall’s election. But the research foundation is fighting efforts for its ouster.

For a sixth straight year, Louisiana ranks number one among southern states in the number of major business projects per capita according to Southern Business and Development magazine. State Economic Development Secretary Steven Grissom says the state has done so well in this ranking because Louisiana offers a strong business climate for companies looking to invest. Louisiana ranks among the top 10 states in the US in five national business climate rankings.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has confirmed three new cases of the West Nile virus last week, the first cases of the year. Two cases were confirmed in the southwest and central Louisiana region and one in the Baton Rouge area. Last year, there were 62 cases of West Nile in Louisiana. Officials ask residents to take precautions against mosquitoes in order to avoid contracting the virus.

Governor Jindal has signed an executive order allowing the Louisiana National Guard to arm guards protecting military facilities. It states that the Guard is permitted to give military guards the means to protect themselves in order to preserve the lives, property, and the security of themselves and others subject to the threat of an attack. This executive order comes after four Marines and a Navy officer were killed in a shooting at a military recruitment center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

A recent Fox News poll on the Republican presidential field shows Governor Bobby Jindal polling at less than one-percent. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says the Jindal campaign has enough money available to get in the game, but these poll numbers could have a serious effect on fundraising efforts going forward. Cross says this is obviously not good news for Jindal.

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy and David Vitter introduce the National Disaster Relief Tax Act that would give tax relief to victims of natural disasters that have taken place in recent years. Cassidy says this will greatly help those affected by the Red River flooding, because the President did not approval individual assistance for those victims. Cassidy says the legislation would give disaster victims a break on their taxes and they can use that money to help in their recovery .

According to The Hill, a Washington, DC newspaper, Louisiana’s congressional “Clout Index” has fallen from 4th to 30th now that Mary Landrieu is no longer a member of the Louisiana delegation. LaPolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says if not for Metarie Congressman Steve Scalise’s election to majority whip, the third most powerful position in the US House, the ranking would have been worse. Going forward, Alford says the state’s “Clout Index” could drop further because of US Senator David Vitter’s quest to become governor. He says if Vitter wins the governorship, it would negatively affect Louisiana’s influence in Washington.

Egg prices at the store are getting even higher. State Agriculture Commissioner and Chair of the Louisiana Egg Commission Mike Strain says the big increase is because of avian flu. He says egg prices have gone up 90 percent since May.Strain says the last case of bird flu was detected on June 17th and there have been 227 farms affected. He says more than 48 million birds were infected and those that died have yet to be replaced. Strain says egg prices will remain high until farmers can properly sterilize their facilities to reintroduce hens. He says there is concerned we might see the virus return in September.

 

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News for Friday 071715

By Dave Graichen

 

It all looks official, but it is anything but official. Phone scammers who call people and tell them there is an outstanding warrant for their arrest. When in fact there isn’t and they are not the police. The scammers try to get the victims to pay fee to make it all go away. The RPSO says they calls even look official with the Caller ID showing the call is coming from the sheriff’s department. Again, if you should get such a call remember it is not an official call. Hang up and call authorities.. By The Way, the scammers also use the same routine claiming they are with the IRS.

 

Three people are under arrest in connection with the case of an accused murder suspect who escaped from the women’s prison in Avoyelles on July 11th. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tommy Carline says Melissa Hayes was discovered by members of the US Marshal’s Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force in Marrero. Twenty-two-year-old Shemesha Bordley and 19-year-old Michael Jones, both of Alexandria, were each charged with 2 counts of accessory after the fact.

 

A convicted sex offender has been arrested on multiple charges, including two counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, Alexandria Police reported. The suspect, 21 year old Mark Anthony Leduff II of Alexandria, was arrested Wednesday. In addition to the two counts of carnal knowledge, Leduff is charged with failure to register as a sex offender, computer sex solicitation, resisting an officer and battery on an officer.

 

The chairman of the Republican Legislative Delegation is providing an avenue for residents to provide suggestions on how to improve Louisiana. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says the effort is called “Take Back Louisiana.” Harris says this is an attempt to engage voters before the 2016 legislative session. Harris says the initial Facebook page is up now, with a website being launched at the end of the month. He says the goal of this initiative is to correct the state’s structural issues, focusing on the budget, education, transportation, and state’s rights. Harris says tax reform is at the top of the list

 

The state Department of Education reports that a record number of nearly 25,000 high school seniors earned a score of 18 or higher on the ACT, allowing grads to attend college without having to take remedial courses. Education Superintendent John White says the number of African American students earning college-going scores has increased by more than 2,000 since 2012. Louisiana’s average composite score has increased by .2 from last year and is now at 19.4.

 

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association announces it has finalized a four-year agreement with the officials association, which means high school sporting events will go on as scheduled this fall. LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine says this is an agreement that needed to be done and he’s happy they were able to take the final step. This agreement prevents a threatened work stoppage by Louisiana High School Officials Association referees.

 

On a 4-2 vote, the Lake Charles City Council voted down a resolution requesting the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury remove the South’s Defenders Monument at the Calcasieu Courthouse. Opponents of Councilwoman Mary Morris’ measure say removing the monument will take away their heritage. But Morris says this monument represents the darkest time in African-American history. The resolution requested the monument be removed from the courthouse and placed in a museum.

 

Camping World, the nation’s number one retailer of RV’s, RV accessories, and RV-related services, has picked up the title sponsorship of the Independence Bowl. Independence Bowl Chairman Kyle McInnis says this agreement means the I-Bowl has a solid partner for several years. McInnis says the sponsorship will last through the 2019 game.

 

AT SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, LSU Coach Les Miles expressed plenty of optimism about the upcoming season, saying they want to start and finish strong. As far as the suspended players, including quarterback Anthony Jennings, Miles expects them to return.

 

The state Office of Group Benefits says the Louisiana state workers’ health insurance program is now taking applications for coverage for same-sex spouses and their dependents. They say same-sex couples married before June 26th have until August 11th to apply for coverage. Those married on or after June 26th must apply within 30 days after their marriage.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal announces he’ll visit all 99 counties in Iowa as part of his “Believe Again” presidential campaign. Jindal started the tour last night in Waterloo. LSU Political Science professor Robert Hogan says many candidates use this strategy to get more name recognition. The tour means that Jindal will not spend much time in Louisiana.

 

An Opelousas man is one of 70 around the world accused of taking part in an online forum that authorities said enabled its exclusive group of users to buy, sell, trade and share information and tools used to intrude on electronic devices. Federal authorities on Tuesday arrested 28 year old Rory Guidry on a count of computer fraud.

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News for Thursday 071615

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor Bobby Jindal is now asking the Inspector General to get involved in an investigation into allegations that Planned Parenthood is selling body parts from aborted fetuses. Jindal has made a request to I-G Stephen Street’s office to investigate whether Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which is currently building an abortion clinic in New Orleans, is involved in the illegal harvesting and trafficking of human body parts.

 

A group of pro-life Louisiana lawmakers announce plans to craft “Abortion Pill Reversal” legislation for the 2016 session. West Monroe Representative Frank Hoffman says the proposal would likely require clinics to make patients aware of the reversal pill. Hoffman says if a woman goes into a clinic and takes the abortion pill, she should be aware that a reversal exists should she change her mind.

 

A federal jury in Lafayette on Tuesday deliberated about 40 minutes before finding 60 year old Bradley Smith of Ville Platte, guilty of two counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of receiving child pornography. Evidence admitted at trial revealed that law enforcement officials detected Smith using an Internet file sharing program to download child pornography.  A forensic examination of his computer turned up a total of 40 movies and 1,100 images of child pornography. Some of the material including  very young children. Smith faces up to  30 years in prison. Sentencing is set for Sept. 24.

 

Gas prices are slowly falling in Louisiana as the statewide average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.53. That’s according to the American Automobile Association. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says this is about a nickel cheaper than last month.

 

The President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association has concerns that the Iran nuclear deal will negatively impact oil producers in Louisiana and the United States. Don Briggs says the agreement will allow Iran to export crude oil into an already flooded market. He says with crude oil prices currently in the mid-$50 a barrel range, the addition of Iran’s oil to the marketplace will continue to suppress prices, perhaps for the next two years.

 

According to financial reports filed Wednesday by federal regulators, Governor Bobby Jindal raised about $579,000 in his first week as a Republican presidential candidate. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this is not a very strong first step for the governor.

He says $579,000 puts Jindal near the bottom of the Republican field. However, the Washington Examiner reports that Jindal also has almost $9 million in his corner thanks to supportive outside groups like the Believe Again Super PAC and America Next.

 

An internal investigation finds that Department of Children and Family Services staff members did not violate criminal laws in the case of a 15-year-old Baton Rouge boy found in poor living conditions and weighing only 47 pounds. Family members and lawmakers criticized the state agency for not doing enough to help the special needs child.  One of the recommendations in the report calls for legislation that creates a felony offense when a third party misrepresents facts to a DCFS employee during a child protection investigation.

 

The Steve Gleason Act is heading to President Obama’s desk for his signature. The legislation is named after former Saints player Steve Gleason, who has A-L-S. The measure will make speech generating devices more accessible to people who battle this disease that impacts the brain’s ability to control muscle movement.  Gleason pushed this legislation after he learned that Medicare funding for these type of devices was significantly scaled back. 

 

Louisiana Tech announces a record for donations made to  LTAC, which is the organization that helps fund the school’s athletic programs. The school says  during the 2014-2015 fiscal year, 1.1 million dollars was donated to LTAC and the athletic department received another 1.5 million dollars in unrestricted donations. Previous donations have helped Tech build a 22 million dollar athletic complex, that will open in August.

 

State Police announce the arrest of nine people for filing fraudulent insurance claims and keeping the money received. Sgt. James Anderson says the Kemper Home Service Group contacted them concerned that some of their employees in the Lake Charles area were filing false claims. A majority of the fake claims were for lightning damage losses to electrical appliances. The fraudulent claims totaled over $55,000. Anderson says the nine arrested face various charges.

 

It’s the first expansion for Zatarain’s in almost 50 years, and it’s a big one in Gretna, with almost 200 employees on hand to celebrate the completion of construction that has tripled the size of the facility. The 80 thousand square foot growth will have 10 new manufacturing lines by the end of next year.

 

The New Orleans Police Department says a man with a gun who was allegedly trying to rob a customer at a gas station had the tables turned onto him and was shot by the customer. Cops say the gunman wanted to rob the business and a customer but was stopped when he took a bullet by the customer. The robbery suspect was taken to a hospital and authorities say he will be booked upon release.

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News for Wednesday 071515

By Dave Graichen

 

The Huey P. Long Medical Center building in Pineville is now officially on the National Register of Historic Places. The addition of the 76-year-old building to the National Register was announced Tuesday by officials of the Historical Association of Central Louisiana. While being part of the National Register doesn't guarantee the building won't be torn down, it will reduce the likelihood and will increase the chances the building could find new life.

 

Authorities investigating a complaint about child neglect searched a Simmesport residence and found evidence, in addition to the neglect,  of multiple sex crimes against children authorities arrested 61 year old  Donnie Dibble Sr of Simmesport. Also arrested were the parents of three minor children. They were charged with cruelty to juveniles and five counts of criminal neglect. Investigators allege the children’s parents did not provide the necessary medical care and did not provide an educational program for their five juvenile children.

 

The Louisiana Association of Business and industry has come out with their report card on lawmakers, and it shows 94 legislators received an “F.” For those that didn’t pass, the LABI says all of them voted for 600 million dollars in taxes on business. They say many of those lawmakers are up for re-election, and that voting record will have an impact on the fall elections.

 

Louisiana has moved past Alabama for the third highest average combined state and local sales tax. That’s according to the Tax Foundation, who puts together a report every July on sales tax rates. Economist Scott Drenkard says Louisiana ranks high on their list, because it has the highest average local tax rate in the country. Drenkard says Louisiana’s average combined state and local sales tax rate is 9.01 percent,

 

Republicans in Louisiana’s Congressional delegation don’t like the Iran nuclear deal that the president has agreed to. Essentially this would mean that in exchange for limits on nuclear activities, Iran gets billions in relief from international sanctions. If Congress rejects the deal, it’s not likely the republicans will have the required two-thirds vote to override the veto President Obama has promised.

 

Shreveport Police have a man in custody accused of stabbing his teenage nephew to death. Cpl. Marcus Hines says officers learned that 15-year-old Willie Latin III was stabbed following a physical altercation inside his home. He says Latin was transported to a local hospital where he died a short time later.

 

In Jeff Davis Parish, 2 people are dead, including a 3 year-old child, following an early morning  single vehicle crash on I-10 two miles west of Lacassine.  State police say none of the occupants in the vehicle were restrained. Neither of the dead were restrained in the crash.

 

The controversy over the Confederate flag and monuments has spilled over to whether the “Rebels” mascot is appropriate for West Monroe High School. A Facebook page has been started calling for a new nickname for West Monroe High.

 

The Baton Rouge hosted Miss USA Pageant which was clouded in controversy over its ties to Donald Trump, essentially tanked in the ratings. The event was dropped by NBC and fewer than 1 million people tuned in to watch the pageant on the Reelz network, an 83% drop from last year’s show.

 

St. John Parish Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested a couple who allegedly used their 5 year-old son to break into a Laplace residence through an AC window accordion, then unlocking the door. Twenty-seven year-old Casey Ramsey and 33-year-old Anthony Wilson were charged for burglarizing his parents’ home, simple criminal damage to property and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.

 

Louisiana’s most popular summer-blooming tree, the crepe myrtle, is blooming later and less than normal this year due to the spring’s unusual weather conditions which included lots of rain. LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings says these trees like sunshine, above average temperatures, and dry conditions. Something they didn’t get during the spring.

 

Defensive coordinator John Chavis’ move from LSU to Texas A&M was a topic for discussion when Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin appeared at SEC Media Days. Sumlin admitted he went after Chavis after his LSU defenses kept Aggie offenses in check. Chavis takes over a defense that ranked 102nd in the country last season in total defense. The “Chief” will return to Baton Rouge on November 28th, when LSU hosts A&M.

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News for Tuesday 071415

By Dave Graichen

 

State Police say it was a deadly weekend on the highways. There were six fatal crashes including 4 that involved motorcycles.

 

The state police report 27 year old Joshua Laborde of Arnaudville was killed Sunday afternoon in a single-vehicle accident on La. Highway 29 near the Cottonport-Long Bridge area of Avoyelles Parish. Laborde lost control of his vehicle, left the roadway and struck some trees.  Laborde, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pronounced dead at the scene,

 

The Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s office is investigation a possible murder/suicide which took place over the weekend. Officers found Scott and Rhonda White deceased in a home in Ruston. Few details are being released.

 

The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s office says cops are searching for a woman being held on double homicide charges who escaped from prison over the weekend. Sheriff Doug Anderson says Melissa Hayes could be headed back to Alexandria.

 

The Smoking Cessation Trust saw its highest monthly enrollment in June with over 2,000 Louisianians signing up for its free quit smoking program. CEO Mike Rogers attributes the jump to the state’s 50-cent tax increase for a pack of cigarettes. For more information you can log on to smoke-free-LA-dot-org.

 

The director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is confident local governments will receive assistance from the federal government as a result of flooding from the Red River. Kevin Davis says the aid would be for public assistance, which includes public works, fire department and police officers in areas around the Red River who worked overtime during the disaster last month.  He says he is unsure if individuals affected by the flood will qualify to receive assistance.

 

The Lake Charles Police Department says two unidentified officers are on administrative leave after a burglary suspect shot himself twice in the foot inside a squad car. Lt. Kevin Kirkum says 18-year-old Stacy Lamb of Lake Charles was arrested after a burglary attempt at a local business, and apparently found the gun in an police equipment bag left on the back seat. He shot himself twice in the foot. Kirkum says criminal and internal investigations are underway.

 

Following a four hour plus meeting Sunday, High School sports officials have reached a tentative agreement that will prevent a work stoppage by referees this fall. Louisiana High School Officials Association President Paul LaRosa says they are holding off on releasing any information, until they can speak with their officials.

 

The price tag of the damage to Louisiana crops from Feral hogs as at least 30 million dollars, according to the LSU AgCenter 2013 study. The damages range from the rooting up and eating crops, to damage of farm equipment, and the potential to spread fatal diseases to livestock.

 

The NBC reality show, Running Wild made its return last night. Promoters with the show say they will feature an episode later in the season in which Saints Quarterback Drew Brees apparently jumps on the back of a crocodile. The show features celebrities spending 48 hours in the wild. A promotional video says “Watch a Super Bowl MVP wrestle a crocodile. This is going to end up as dinner one way or another.

 

In an effort to raise additional funds, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is looking into selling advertising on its properties. LDWF spokesman Bo Boehringer says legislation passed in this year’s legislative session allows the department to take advantage of this revenue stream opportunity. The state Department of Transportation receives $250,000 annually from State Farm Insurance for ads placed on their Motorist Assistance Program vehicles. Boehringer says the ads will be tastefully done and people shouldn’t expect to see ads pop up in middle of wildlife areas.

 

According to a recent study by WalletHub, Louisiana is the 10th least energy expensive state, but we use the most electricity in the country. Spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez says in these hot summer months, utility bills are through the roof. Gonzalez says The Bayou State placed 4th in the country for the price of electricity, but 51st in total consumption per housing unit. The numbers show that, on average, Louisianians pay $284 a month total on energy, that includes gas for your car.

 

The LSU football team will have two tough conference games in the month of September. On September 12th, the Tigers will visit Mississippi State and then on the 19th, they’ll host Auburn at 2:30

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News for Monday 071315

By Dave Graichen

 

The new Miss USA Olivia Jordan is the first woman from Oklahoma to win the top title.

During the pageant, Jordan said race relations are the next hot-button issue that the United States needs to tackle. She also said she would like to see African American abolitionist and former slave Harriet Tubman on the $10 bill. The pageant was held last night in Baton Rouge.  

 

A public hearing will be held Tuesday evening during the Alexandria City Council meeting to discuss the possibility of moving the Murray Street Post Office out of the federal courthouse  to a yet to be decided location. After Tuesday's meeting, the public will have 30 days to submit written comments about the proposed relocation of the downtown post office. That meeting begins tomorrow at 5pm.

 

Mississippi-based Triumph Campaigns conducted an automated survey on the governor’s race. Based on 16-hundred responses, Republican David Vitter received 31-percent, Democrat John Bel Edwards had 30-percent and Republican Scott Angelle had 14-percent.

Republican Jay Dardenne received 11-percent in this poll.

 

A republican presidential nomination poll conducted by an Iowa TV station places Governor Bobby Jindal in 13th with 2 percent from likely caucus goers . Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leads with 18 percent. The Iowa caucuses on February 1st are the first of the contests for the 2016 Presidential election.

 

A Baton Rouge man shot his teenage girlfriend, her mother, a friend and then turned the gun on himself early Sunday, leaving three people dead, including himself, and one seriously injured — all while a 1-year-old baby was in the apartment. The Baton Rouge PD says the incident arose from a family argument. But, no other information was released.

 

Community colleges in Louisiana are raising tuition by 10-percent for the upcoming school year. The increase is allowed under the GRAD Act, which allows campuses to increase tuition higher than five-percent, if certain goals are met. Community college leaders say the tuition hike brings two-year schools in line with others in the Southeast.

 

The Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association will no longer pursue a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the cap that was placed on the film tax incentive program. LFEA president Will French says instead of engaging in a legal battle, they believe their efforts are better served working with state agencies to make sure the film industry can still thrive.

 

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services makes policy changes after a 15-year-old Baton Rouge boy was found in a home weighing just 47 pounds and covered with insect bites. DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier says they are adding medical experts to case examinations with special needs children.The mother of the 15-year-old child is behind bars on a 115-thousand dollar bond.

 

A 12-year-old and two teenagers in Lafourche Parish have been charged with criminal mischief for lying about a kidnapping. Sheriff deputies say the three claimed that 21-year-old Kaleb Bruce grabbed the 12-year-old off the street and put a duffel bag over his face. The 12-year-old was able to escape and Bruce was arrested. But the three individuals eventually changed their story and were taken into custody, while Bruce was released after spending several days in jail.

 

A teenager from Benton, who bragged on social media about stealing 16 street signs from specific Bossier Parish neighborhoods, can now add one more address to the places he’s visited-the Bossier Maximum Security Facility. Seventeen year-old Chase Grubbs has been charged with 16 counts of theft.

 

Starting today, the eastbound side of the Mississippi River Bridge in Natchez, Mississippi and Vidalia will see lane closures for the placement of concrete barriers. State Department of Transportation Spokesperson Rodney Mallet says starting on July 20th, the westbound side of the bridge will be closed for seven weeks.

 

SEC football media days get underway today in Hoover, Alabama, which is the unofficial start to the college football season. Hundreds of reporters attend this event to hear from SEC coaches and players.

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News for Friday 071015

By Dave Graichen

 

The Numbers are now official..The US Army has announced a soldier reduction of 388 at Fort Polk. It’s part of a troop reduction of 40-thousand that’s impacting Army bases across the country. Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese is glad the Army spared major cuts to the base. Reese says their main focus now is to prevent future reductions.

 

The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office says a man shot and killed his 7-year-old daughter, then turned the gun on himself in an apparent murder/suicide. Sheriff Doug Anderson says they got a 911 call around 8:50pm Wednesday evening in reference to two bodies lying in a field in the Vick area. Anderson says they determined that 28-year-old Ryan Recktenwald killed his young daughter and then killed himself. He says they have no idea what caused this man to do such a thing.

 

The investigation continues in Zachary following a discovery of the body of a sex offender. Authorities found 47-year-old Robert Noce had been stabbed, strangled and stuffed in a plastic drum at his home. A 21-year-old man and 17-year-old woman-have been charged in his murder. The woman is listed in court documents as one of Noce’s victims.

 

Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush is scheduled to visit the Ruston area this weekend for a fundraiser, hosted by Bush-family supporter James Davison. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley Bush’s visit means that Governor Bobby Jindal does not hold the support of many Louisiana residents, including prominent Republican supporters.

 

The Retired State Employees Association is trying to put some political pressure on legislators to override Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto of a cost-of-living raise for retirees.

The association circulated a message pointing out that many of the legislators are up for re-election and adding that support for a veto session should be the litmus test at the voting booth this fall. About 130,000 retirees were affected by Jindal’s veto to increase, by an average of $30, monthly benefit checks.

 

The Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s office says a man has died after he tried to steal copper from a utility pole. Spokesman Chris Ivey says 51-year-old Jesse Jones III of Reeves was electrocuted while trying to yank down copper wire from poles near US Highway 165.

Jones was pronounced dead and three others were arrested on theft charges.

 

Despite all the controversy surrounding Donald Trump, his Miss USA pageant goes on as scheduled this Sunday night in Baton Rouge. It won’t be shown on NBC as previously scheduled but it will be shown on the Reelz network and locally in Baton Rouge. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says the 51 contestants are focused on their performance in the pageant and are putting the controversy behind them. Organizers say ticket sales for the event have been sluggish.

 

Country music superstar Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood arrive today to start the first of four World Tour shows in New Orleans this weekend. New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson Kristian Sonnier says this tour should bring in large numbers of  visitors in what is typically a slow month for tourism in the city.

 

The executive committee of the Louisiana High School Officials Association meets on Sunday as referees plan to strike, jeopardizing the upcoming high school football and volleyball seasons. The association’s president Paul LaRosa says officials are looking for a pay increase, but that’s not the only reason why they are upset. LaRosa says they want signed contracts with individual schools that stipulate referee pay and other conditions, including security at games. He says refs are tired of promises of more pay, which is why a work stoppage maybe necessary.

 

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News for Thursday 070915

By Dave Graichen

 

An official announcement from the US Army is expected today, but 5th District US Representative Ralph Abraham has learned Fort Polk will lose 358 soldiers from its Vernon Parish military base, as part of a plan to cut 40-thousand troops nationwide. Abraham says Fort Polk did not get hit as hard as others, as one base will lose three-thousand troops. 81 hundred troops are currently stationed at Fort Polk.

 

The RPSO reports Two people were taken to a local hospital on Wednesday afternoon after their private aircraft crashed in Glenmora off of East River Road. So far, the people onboard  the plane have not been identified and their condition has not been released. Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration are expected in the area today to probe the crash.

 

A former central Louisiana police chief has been arrested for the murder of his wife. Avoyelles Parish Sheriff Doug Anderson says they collected evidence to charge Charles Mayeaux Junior with second-degree murder and aggravated arson in the death of Shelly St. Romain Mayeaux, who was found inside her burned home on March 21st. Charles Mayeaux is a former police chief of Evergreen. Mayeaux is being held on a 350-thousand dollar bond.

 

The mother of a Baton Rouge teenager was arrested Wednesday after officers found her son severely malnourished. 49-year-old Rose Holland is charged with 2nd degree cruelty to a juvenile and drug charges. The 15 year-old victim only weighed 47 pounds.

 

The University of Louisiana System has approved tuition and fee increases at their four-year universities. The highest increase is at UL Lafayette, 20-percent, while Nicholls State’s tuition hike is less than two percent . U-L System President Doctor Sandra Woodley says UL Lafayette’s was allowed to raise its tuition because of the GRAD Act legislation approved in 2010, which gave campuses more autonomy if it met certain goals. She says the school’s 2014-15 tuition was also well below the Southern Regional Average.

 

The National Right to Life convention begins a three day conference in New Orleans today that will feature Republican presidential hopefuls including Governor Bobby Jindal who will make an appearance tonight. Rick Perry and Rick Santorum will also be at the forum. Organizers say Delegates from all 50 states come together to celebrate a festival of life and feature speakers to educate individuals of the Right to Life movement.

 

The Lafayette man who could have received up to forty years in prison for manslaughter in the shooting death of 15 year-old Austin Rivault in 2012, has received a sentence of 13 months in prison. Twenty-one year-old Seth Fontenot ended up shooting a total of three teens-including Rivault, whom he thought were breaking into his truck. The Lafayette Parish DA says he will appeal the sentence.

 

The search continues for those individuals who attacked a State Police Trooper on June 30th in Rapides Parish. The officer was hit with an unknown object in the head during the traffic stop and gunshots were exchanged between the Trooper and a passenger in the vehicle. LSP spokesperson Scott Moreau says anyone with information is urged to call State Police.

 

The FBI is looking for people in Louisiana and other states who were victims in a “sextortion” case. FBI New Orleans Special Agent Mike Anderson says 31-year-old Lucas Michael Chansler of Florida used social networking sites to convince teenage girls to perform sexual acts on camera. Chansler is currently serving 105 years in federal prison, but there are still unidentified victims and they should contact the FBI.

 

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of Angola in a case dealing with air conditioning on death row. The appeals court ruled that the State Pen does not have to install air conditioning for death row inmates. The 5th circuit said a federal judge went too far when he ordered the prison to maintain heat indexes on death row at or below 88 degrees.

 

A proposal has been made in Lafayette to create a bike loop around the city and call it the Mickey Shunick Memorial Bike Loop. Shunick, a UL-Lafayette co-ed, was abducted and killed in 2012 while riding her bike. A stretch of the proposed bike loop would include a stretch where Shunick was riding when her bicycle when she was struck by her admitted killer Brandon Lavergne.

 

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News for Wednesday 070815

By Dave Graichen

 

An announcement is expected later this week on whether Fort Polk will see a reduction in troops. The Vernon Parish military base is one of 30 bases nationwide that faces cuts as a result of a mandate that requires the Army to reduce its force by 40-thousand.

 

The mother of a third-grade girl has filed a civil lawsuit against the Rapides Parish School Board, alleging that the child was locked on a bus last fall for a full school day after the driver failed to check the seats.  The suit claims the 8-year-old girl fell asleep on the bus while on the way to J.B. Nachman Elementary School in Alexandria only to wake up all alone in a locked bus. The child was not discovered until the bus driver returned in the afternoon.

 

Cenla broadcasting notes the passing of Joe Tucker Robison, who founded Crest Industries and built it into one of Central Louisiana’s biggest companies. Robison started his first company out of the trunk of his car nearly six decades ago. Today, Pineville-based Crest and its subsidiaries employ about 600 people. Joe Robison, dead at 86.

 

The APD reports Three Alexandria men are facing charges after shots were fired Monday morning at a man who had been robbed hours earlier. Police say the man, who was a local vendor, who was robbed at gunpoint earlier in the day. The suspects were able to elude police at the time. However, about two hours later, officers were sent to the 4700 block of Lee Street after receiving a report of shots fired. . The robbery victim said he and a coworker were riding around the area, looking for his property, when someone fired at their vehicle. The vehicle was hit, but no one was injured. Police did capture the suspects this time and all three were charged.

 

New Orleans Police arrest one of their own as part of the investigation into the fatal shooting of officer Daryle Holloway. Chief Michael Harrison says suspended officer Wardell Johnson did a lazy job of processing the evidence from a domestic shooting against suspected cop killer Travis Boys and that includes the pat down of the suspect. Harrison says they are still unsure how Boys got the gun that he allegedly used to kill Holloway on June 20th all while handcuffed in the back seat of the cruiser.

 

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon warns residents that the top two months for vehicle thefts are July and August. Donelon advises drivers not to leave their windows down even in the southern Louisiana heat, especially with valuables in sight.

 

The Louisiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity is running a radio ad that directs voters to a website that highlights the lawmakers who voted to increase taxes and fees to balance this fiscal year’s budget. Director of the anti-tax group, The website is louisiana-scorecard-dot-com

Several lawmakers who voted for the tax increases say it was necessary to prevent huge cuts to higher education and health care.

 

U.S. Senator David Vitter has sent a letter to President Obama requesting a federal disaster declaration as a result of heavy flooding along the Red River. That historic flooding caused $17 million of estimated damage. The individual parish requests are for Caddo, Bossier, Grant, Natchitoches, and Red River parishes.

 

The mother of a two year old child, who died after falling out of the window of a moving vehicle in Acadia Parish, was arrested yesterday. State Police Trooper Brooks David says 32-year-old Amber Watson of Church Point was booked on charges of child desertion and no child restraint. Watson’s bond was set at 25-hundred dollars.

 

An Iberville Parish grand jury formally charged a teacher at MSA-West Academy in Plaquemine on sex charges against students. Thirty year-old Keavin Keith had lab results showing he fathered a child with one of the victims.

 

The National Right to Life convention this week in New Orleans will also feature a Republican presidential candidate debate on Friday but Governor Bobby Jindal won’t be there. His office says there is a scheduling conflict but that the Governor would be there as keynote speaker Thursday night on opening day.

 

Louisiana hunters are now allowed to carry any firearm of their choice during bow hunting season. In the past, hunters were only allowed to carry a 22 caliber pistol loaded with rat shot that could only kill small pests. Port Allen Senator Rick Ward  says he believes this law will be beneficial to keeping hunters safe from more aggressive animals.

 

Rapides Regional Trauma Center and Louisiana State Police Troop E will hold their monthly child passenger safety seat check-up event on Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the center’s Medical Terrace, 211 Fourth St. in Alexandria. No appointment is needed for the free event, and it will happen regardless of weather conditions.

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News for Tuesday 070715

By Dave Graichen

 

The announcement of Army cuts that could significantly affect Fort Polk and the surrounding communities is expected Thursday. Army officials are under a mandate to cut at least 40,000 troops and other personnel. If the brigade stationed at Fort Polk is eliminated, the base would lose more than half its military population, which stakeholders say would have a significant impact on the Central Louisiana economy and a devastating impact on Vernon Parish.

 

An annual statewide survey from LSU finds that consumer confidence has fallen below the national average for the first time in recent years. Michael Henderson, research director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, says the Louisiana Consumer Sentiment Index fell by six points from the end of the third quarter of 2014 to the end of the first quarter this year. He says the main culprit is the drop in oil prices.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that allows gun safety education to be taught in elementary public schools. The measure lets Louisiana’s schools provide age appropriate classroom instruction regarding firearm accident prevention and safety. Author of the legislation, Erath Rep. Blake Miguez, says the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Programs is like teaching kids “stop, drop, and roll” when on fire. The material, which can start being taught this fall, must be integrated into an existing course of study and specify that the purpose of the instruction is to promote protecting children.

 

Same-sex couples who want to change their last name on their driver’s license to reflect the same name as their spouse can do so starting today. State Police Lieutenant JB Slaton says the Office of Motor Vehicles had to upgrade their computers. Slaton says couples who wish to change their name, must bring a certified marriage license, along with social security records.

 

State Police and the Office of Motor Vehicles are getting the word out that you can renew your driver’s license every six years instead of four. Lt. JB Slaton says it will cost an additional four dollars for the extra two years, but hopefully it will lead to shorter lines at the DMV, with drivers having to go less often to renew their license.

 

The State Department of Agriculture has been put in charge of establishing the regulations for the legal dispensing of medical marijuana and Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says one of the big questions is how much they will need. The legislature has said medical marijuana will only be available to those suffering from glaucoma, cancer and a severe form of cerebral palsy. Strain says they also have questions on the development of the seed that will be used for medical marijuana.  Strain says they will have an estimate of when the product will be completed once the production facility is built and when the volume of marijuana is decided.

 

An agreement between the United States and Iran over that country’s nuclear program will likely lead to another downturn in oil prices. That’s according to the Executive Director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies. who says a nuclear deal will result in Iran putting billions of barrels of its oil on the market. The market is already reacting to a possible deal as oil prices fell eight-percent yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

 

If Louisiana Senator David Vitter is successful in his bid for governor, Lafayette Representative Charles Boustany says he is prepping a campaign to seek Vitter’s seat. The National Journal reports Boustany has hired an experienced Senate Campaign manager, and has told supporters quote-”you cannot wait to make your plans.”

 

A 14-year-old was arrested in Bossier City after detectives discovered the juvenile could be responsible for the stabbing death of a 91-year-old woman he was believed to be robbing. The teen was charged with first degree murder in the death of Ludella Scott and was transferred to the Wade Juvenile Detention Center.

 

A 36-year-old man faces vehicular homicide charges after the utility terrain vehicle he was driving flipped over and killed a 12-year-old passenger. The incident happened in St. Helena Parish on July fourth.

 

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating an apparent accidental shooting which claimed the life of an unidentified woman. Cops say they were told by the victim’s estranged husband that the two were handling a firearm when it discharged by mistake and struck the woman. She was dead when deputies arrived. The investigation is ongoing.

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News for Monday 070615

By Dave Graichen

 

Even before officially joining the presidential race, Gov. Bobby, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate Jindal spent far less time in Louisiana than his predecessors. Since announcing June 24 that he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Jindal has been in Louisiana only one day. The governor’s office says He’ll be governing Louisiana by cellphone. So far this year, he has spent four days out of every 10 somewhere other than in Louisiana, which is about the same rate he was gone in 2014.

 

Gubernatorial candidate Democrat Amite Representative John Bel Edwards begins his first statewide tour today. He’ll be in Amite this afternoon, New Orleans this evening, covers Acadiana tomorrow then continues to hit every corner of the state through Sunday, July 12th. UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Edwards needs to get his name out there. The planned tour includes 25 cities across Louisiana as well as impromptu stops across the state.

 

There will be as many as 7 of 8 BESE board members who will be on the ballot for an upcoming fall election, and the president has yet to decide whether or not he will run. Chas Roemer has been a strong supporter of Common Core, and his decision will loom large for the curriculum’s acceptance in the future. The BESE Board has endorsed the testing in the past, but that could change with those 8 seats up for grabs in the October 24th election.

 

As the new school year is quickly approaching, The Department of Health and Hospitals is reminding parents to get their children vaccinated as required by law. DHH Immunization Medical Director Dr. Frank Welch says now is the perfect time to prevent diseases like measles, mumps, the flu and whooping cough. Welch says getting updated shots is so important because it protects not only your children from missing school but the community, as well. He says children first entering school need proof they’ve had vaccinations for polio, mumps and measles, hepatitis, chickenpox and diphtheria. When entering middle school, students are required to have the meningitis vaccine and Tdap, once again.

 

The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says it will use the announced BP settlement money to ensure Louisiana will remain Sportsman’s Paradise for years to come. The agreement means the state will receive at least $6.8 billion for damages associated with the 2010 oil spill. LDWF Secretary Robert Barham says details of the complex settlement will be worked through over the next 60 days.

 

If you’re planning to take a dip in the water over the summer, DHH is reminding everyone to avoid salt or brackish water – if you have an open wound. The reason is a flesh-eating bacteria. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there are about 5 to 15 Louisiana cases every year, so if you happen to notice an infected area of your skin after a swim, seek medical attention right away.

 

A bill which gives protection to victims of domestic violence has been signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. The bill by Baton Rouge Senator Sharon Weston Broome will help with safe housing for victims, and give landlords the power to evict any abusers.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill which will now double the fines for littering in Louisiana. Keep Louisiana Beautiful Executive Director Susan Russell says they support anything that increases the enforcement effort. The new law increases first offense littering from $75 to $150.

 

As the European Union works to reduce carbon emissions by moving from coal-fired power plants to renewable fuel sources, countries are increasingly looking to the United States’ southern forests for part of the answer. Wood pellet mills are sprouting up across the South, including one in Bastrop, turning trees into fuel that is then shipped overseas. The production of wood pellets, which are then transported from transit centers like the one that recently started operation in Port Allen, rose from 2.8 million tons in 2008 to 19.9 million tons in 2013, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It’s expected that number could get as high as 25.9 million tons by 2020.

 

Secretary of State Tom Schedler announces a major overhaul of the state’s geauxBIZ-dot-com website. The website was launched in 2009 as a way for people to easily find information necessary to start and maintain a business. Schedler says this upgrade to the site means doing business in Louisiana just got easier. The new website allows business owners to complete the legal steps necessary to start a business in one visit to the site. Schedler says this is all about improving the business climate in the state.

 

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News for Thursday 070215

By Dave Graichen

 

A Justice of the Peace in Grant Parish has resigned because her religion does not believe same-sex couples should be married. Patricia Gunter took the position in February, knowing she would resign if this came into law. Gunter says she decided to leave because she would no longer be able to perform the duties of the job due to her religious beliefs.

 

Retired Gen. Russel Honore' said Wednesday he won't run for governor of Louisiana, leaving the field likely set for the fall race. Honore's decision leaves three Republicans, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and U.S. Sen. David Vitter and lone Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards as the only announced candidates for the Oct. 24 race.

 

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the Supreme Court decision which allows same sex couples to be married will be a fairly easy transition on the insurance, since Louisiana changed the law to accommodate groups providing coverage, to offer insurance benefits for domestic partners. The only thing left to adjust is the paperwork.

 

The Bunkie Record reported Wednesday, An industrial project that was expected to transform the economy of Avoyelles Parish looks to be in serious doubt. Gulf Coast Spinning Company, which was expected to build a cotton spinning plant that would employ more than 300 people at the Bunkie Industrial Park, is now, according to several sources,  considering another site. Construction at the industrial park halted several months ago, and according to the report in the Record, the company is planning on moving Phase I of the project to a vacant General Motors plant in Shreveport, with a potential Phase II in Bunkie down the line if the initial phase goes well.

 

On a positive note, Plastipak Packaging has announced a $9 million expansion that will add 20 jobs to its manufacturing facility in Pineville. The Pineville plant, which was built in 2003 and supplies the nearby Procter & Gamble mill, already employs 205 people. Work will begin this fall and will be completed by March of next year.

 

The Louisiana Chemical Association filed a lawsuit challenging a measure passed in the last session which would impose a 1 percent sales tax on business utilities and natural gas. HCR 8 is a temporary suspension of a 1 cent sales tax exemption on services expected to hit chemical plants hardest. The measure, which went into effect Wednesday, raises more than 100 million dollars and was enacted to balance the state’s budget.

 

As many travelers hit the road today,  they’ll be seeing the lowest gas prices for the Independence Day holiday in years. Gregg Laskoski with GasBuddy.com says when drivers pull up to the pump, they’ll be paying about 95 cents a gallon less than last year. Laskoski says we’ll see a steady decrease from now until the end of the summer as long as we are without any weather event that could disrupt the pattern. He says the prices are going down because of the decline in the of crude oil.

 

After getting some backing from Britney Spears mom, Lynne, gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards is offering a rather entertaining incentive for people to contribute $50 to his campaign. By doing that, supporters are entered to win a trip for two to Las Vegas for the Britney Spears concert at Planet Hollywood; including airfare, hotel and backstage passes. The winner will be announced September 8.

 

A recent CNN presidential poll shows that Governor Bobby Jindal’s popularity has risen since he formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. The survey shows the governor going from one-percent to two-percent, with Jindal ranked 12th out of the 14 announced Republican candidates.  Before you get excited, keep in mind the margin of error is + or – 5%.

 

First, it was a cancellation by NBC, now the Donald Trump fall-out continues following his derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants. Rapper Flo Rida (flow RIDE duh), and Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith will not be attending the Miss USA Pageant in Baton Rouge July 12th. Macy’s Department Stores have also cut ties with the billionaire, and his menswear clothing line.

 

Star forward Anthony Davis has verbally agreed to a $145 million dollar contract with the New Orleans Pelicans’ over five years. The deal goes into effect for the 2016-2017 season.

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News for Wednesday 070115

By Dave Graichen

 

State Police say a trooper who conducted a traffic stop in Rapides Parish was injured and shot at during an altercation with the driver. Authorities say the trooper was hit in the head with an unknown object and they are looking for the individuals who were involved. State Police say they were in a 90s model Chevrolet Caprice with a gray paint job or primer color.

 

A pack of cigarettes will cost you an extra 50 cents today as the state’s new tax of cigarettes goes into effect. The state legislature approved a law that raises the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 36 cents to 86 cents. The legislature also increased taxes on e-cigarettes and vapor products.

 

The State Fire Marshall’s office reports Six Allen Parish residents, including three volunteer firefighters, have been charged in connection with arson fires in May and early June in Oakdale. The fires hit both residential and commercial buildings. Other suspicious fires in the town remain under investigation. More arrests are possible.

 

The civilian labor force in Louisiana set a record in May, growing by over 91 hundred jobs over the month and by 68,168 over the year. According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission those employed in the state grew to 2 million, 65 thousand, 471.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal says he will not back down from religious liberty. Jindal made the statement in reaction to a lawsuit filed by the Louisiana ACLU and others who are challenging an executive order signed by the governor back in May that seeks to protect those who oppose same-sex marriage. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman says this order goes beyond the scope of a governor’s constitutional power, because it creates a class of citizens who are protected, which only the legislature can do.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law legislation that reduces the penalties for simple marijuana possession. Under the new law, a first offense of simple possession of less than 14 grams of marijuana would face up to 15 days in jail. A second conviction drops from a felony to a misdemeanor. The legislation drops the maximum sentence from 20 years in prison, which was the highest in the country, to eight.

 

Wal-Mart has apologized for making a cake at its Slidell store with the ISIS flag on it after denying a man’s request to design one with the Confederate flag. Chuck Netzhammer originally ordered a “Heritage Not Hate” Confederate flag cake, but the bakery did not honor the request. He then ordered a cake with an ISIS logo. That request was met. A spokesman for Wal-Mart told ABC News that the store associate did not know what the design meant and it was a misunderstanding.

 

The American Automobile Association projects nearly 42 million Americans will travel for the 4th of July holiday, the most since 2007. AAA Spokesperson Don Redman says the fact that Independence Day falls on a weekend helps but that’s not the only reason people are out on the road. Redman says the statewide average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.55, which is significantly cheaper than it’s been in the past 5 years and that certainly helps the family budget.

 

A Baton Rouge City Councilman is upset over the Capitol City losing out in international television exposure as a result of NBC’s decision not to broadcast the Miss USA Pageant. Last year the pageant, which was held in Baton Rouge for the first time, was shown in 70 countries. As a guest on a Baton Rouge Talkshow, Councilman John Delgado says the broadcast was a big infomercial for the city. NBC decided not to air the pageant after Miss Universe owner Donald Trump made controversial comments regarding Mexican immigrants.  Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says the state office of tourism is also withholding a 50-thousand dollar payment to the pageant, if the event goes untelevised.

 

The Orlanes Parish District Attorney says he wants the death penalty for a man who they believe killed a NOPD officer while handcuffed in the squad car. 33-year-old Travis Boys is indicted for first degree murder in the death of 45-year-old Officer Daryle Holloway on June 20th. Boys is being held without bond.

 

The Shreveport Police Department says a woman is under arrest after alerting authorities that a child was missing, when it turns out the 17 month old was never removed from a vehicle at the residence. They say 22-year-old Macy Bates was arrested and charged with a single count of child desertion for allegedly leaving the child inside the car and also a charge of DWI after driving around the neighborhood impaired in search of the child.

 

The NBA free agency period begins today. The New Orleans Pelicans are not expected to make major additions to their roster. But the biggest priority is to get All star forward Anthony Davis to sign a five-year, 143-million dollar extension. The team hopes the hiring of head coach Alvin Gentry will convince Davis to sign that extension.

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News for Tuesday 063015

By Dave Graichen

 

Many parishes have started issuing same-sex marriage licenses Monday, after holding off on doing so on Friday, when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. The Clerks of Court Association has given local officials the go-ahead to issue the licenses as soon as they are ready. Rapides Parish is expected to issue its first same-sex marriage license today.

 

It has been a while since both of our US Senators had offices in Alexandria. Tomorrow,  U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy will officially open his Central Louisiana Regional Office. The Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon tomorrow at 3600 Jackson St., Suite #115A. The public is invited.

 

The US Supreme Court rules a controversial drug called midazolam can be used for lethal injections. Last week, a federal judge in Baton Rouge put on hold any execution in Louisiana until July of 2016, to give the state time to determine how they will carry out a death sentence.

 

A Shreveport man who was stuck on death row for three decades before new evidence revealed he was innocent, has died at the age of 65. Glen Ford was released in March of last year, and was battling stage 4 lung cancer. Ford was held in solitary confinement at Angola, and had been the longest-serving death-row inmate in the US, until he was exonerated.

 

The Louisiana Board of Ethics has dropped a complaint filed against former Rapides Parish School Board member Janet Dixon regarding allegations that Dixon as a school board member made motions and voted for actions that economically benefited her current employer. The board decided to close this case for lack of evidence.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into two law two pieces of legislation dealing with marijuana. One of the measures sets up the framework so that Louisiana can legally dispense medical marijuana. But officials say it will be another two years before medicinal marijuana is available to Louisiana residents. The governor also signed into law a bill that reduces pot possession penalties.

 

The National Weather Service expects the Red River in Shreveport to crest at 31-feet today. Hydrologist CS Ross says the impact from flood waters this time will be minimal as the Red should fall below flood stage on July 2nd, but remain high through the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Ross says the projected 31-foot crest is six feet lower than the crest in mid-June.

 

NBC is pulling the plug on the national broadcast of the Miss USA Pagent on July 12th in Baton Rouge; in essence telling the billionaire media mogul Donald Trump, he’s fired. This action will also terminate the Miss Universe pageant, following derogatory comments Trump made about Latinos. In a statement, the network said that “NBC Universal is ending its business relationship with Trump.”

 

An associate professor at LSU has been fired after using foul language and telling sexually-themed jokes to students. Teresa Buchanan was terminated, even after a five faculty member committee in March recommended she keep her job. She says she will fight the termination in court. LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin Cole points out if foul language is the cause, they ought to deal with other areas of LSU.

 

Amite Representative and candidate for Governor Democrat John Bel Edwards said in a statement he would not want to keep John White as the state’s Superintendent if elected. Edwards says White isn’t qualified to be a principal at a middle school. White’s office responds saying politics should stay out of the classroom.

 

According to a study by Estately.com, Louisiana comes in number 5 for the states with the most couch potatoes per capita.  Lead blogger Ryan Nickum says they came up with this ranking by calculating 8 different factors, including hours per day watching TV and Laz-E-Boy retailers per capita.

 

The National College Baseball Hall of Fame announces LSU coach Paul Mainieri is the winner of the 2015 Skip Bertman National Coach of the Year Award. Mainieri led the Tigers to the College World Series this past season and helped LSU win a nation’s best 54 games. Mainieri will be honored at the Hall of Fame’s annual Night of Champions celebration in Lubbock.

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News for Monday 062915

By Dave Graichen

 

The state police report a Saturday night single vehicle crash claimed the life of 48 year old Bryan Chauvin of Boyce. The accident occurred during a thunder storm on Interstate 49 near the Natchitoches/Rapides Parish line.  Chauvin’s vehicle was southbound on Interstate 49 when it began hydroplaning.  The vehicle then exited the left side of the roadway and collided with several trees. Chauvin was wearing his seat belt, but received serious injuries.  He was transported to a local hospital and was later pronounced dead.

 

Some are saying it was a miracle no one was killed. A church bus from Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville crashed Friday on I-10 in Florida. Authorities say 20 people were taken to hospitals, but none of the injuries were considered life threatening. All made it home safe and sound Saturday night to a large crowd of family and friends.

 

Despite a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Louisiana is still not recognizing same-sex marriages. The Jindal Administration has said they are waiting on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on a case involving Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban. Clerks of Court are holding off on issuing marriage licenses until a 25-day period concludes where Supreme Court decisions can be challenged. State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says the decision has no mandate or order from the highest court that makes the decision final.  Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that states must recognize same-sex marriage, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will likely move forward with its case on gay marriage. The ruling by the appeals court will most likely be a formality

 

The US Supreme Court’s ruling allowing gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry, has upset some conservatives here in Louisiana. Gene Mills, with the Louisiana Family Forum, says the Supreme Court has stripped all Americans of the freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. Mills says the Supreme Court has created a litigation rich environment, because there will be churches who will seek to stand by their religious belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

 

According to a UCLA Williams Institute study, same sex marriages in Louisiana could mean a 28 million dollar boost to the economy over the next three years. Study author Lee Badgett says many small businesses will thrive if this estimate proves true. Badgett says there are about 4,000 gay couples living in Louisiana and it is expected that half will get married within the next three years. Badgett says this will also increase the amount of jobs available in the wedding fields.

 

It is now illegal in Louisiana to post or share nude images of people on the internet without their consent. Governor Bobby Jindal signed Kenner Representative Julie Stokes’ “revenge porn” bill into law. So now, violators of the law could face up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal says his presidential campaign raised half a million dollars at its first major fundraiser held in Baton Rouge on Saturday. The 44 year old Jindal formally launched his campaign for the Republican nomination for president Last Wednesday.

 

According to 24-7 sports, LSU football’s 2016 recruiting class is ranked number one in the country. With national signing day still several months away, the Tigers have 17 verbal commitments, including two five-star prospects.

 

A report by Yahoo says Louisiana has the second most lightning strikes a year in the country.  Louisiana trails Florida but is just ahead of Mississippi. State Climatologist Barry Keim says we average about 827,000 strikes a year and lightning has caused 142 fatalities since 1959, or about 2.5 deaths a year. According to State Farm, Louisiana ranks 4th in the nation for lightning claims. In 2014, State Farm paid 6.5 million for more than 13-hundred insurance claims related to lightning strikes in Louisiana.

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News for Friday 062615

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish DA’s Office reports a former teacher arrested in February after being accused of having sex with an underage student was indicted Thursday by a grand jury.

28 year old Donald Gene Parker III was indicted on two counts of obstruction of justice, two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, one count of pornography with juveniles and one count of computer-aided solicitation of a minor. Parker had been a teacher at Glenmora High School, but was removed after the allegations.

 

48-year-old Sean Marcantel of Alexandria is facing charges related to burglaries at two Masonic Drive businesses during May and June. The RPSO reports the burglaries were reported at Busby Marine and South Circle Storage, all involving nautical equipment stolen from boats at both locations. Marcantel was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with five counts of simple burglary and five counts of criminal trespassing.

 

The Natchitoches Police Department is seeking information on who might have stolen laptops worth $25,000 from the Natchitoches Parish School Board office over last weekend. Sometime between Friday and Sunday, a suspect or suspects broke into the office on Royal Street in Natchitoches, taking 25 laptops. The black laptops were various brands, yet all of them had the word "METHODS" written across their tops. Anyone with information about the theft can call the Natchitoches Police Department.

 

State utility regulators have unanimously approved a one-time refund for Cleco customers. But, don’t spend it all at once.. The Louisiana Public Service Commission voted Wednesday for a $1.64 million refund. An average customer, using 1,500 kwh per month, can expect a refund of about $3.50 on their September bill. The refund is the result of overcharges found through an audit.

 

The 65th Annual Louisiana Peach Festival begins today in Ruston and they are hoping to  make a little history. Festival Organizer Brandon Sutherland says they plan to set a Guinness World Record for the largest peach cobbler. Sutherland says it’ll take over 800 pounds of peaches to create the cobbler. He says businesses all over Ruston donated ingredients and materials to achieve the goal. Festival goers will be able to get a taste of the cobbler for free.

 

The Louisiana Democratic Party says Thursday’s Supreme Court decision means 138-thousand Louisiana residents will continue to receive federal subsidies that help pay for their health insurance. On a six to three vote, the nation’s highest court rejected an attempt by opponents of the Affordable Care Act that said the federal tax credits available here in Louisiana and dozens of other states were not legal. 6.4 million people nationwide were at risk of losing their health insurance subsidies because their state did not set up its own exchange.

 

Two events benefiting Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign, that involve big names like Tom Benson, Les Miles, and Sean Payton, will take place in Baton Rouge Saturday. First there will be a fundraising event at a local hotel, hosted by Benson, shipbuilder Boysie Bollinger, former Congressman Bob Livingston and others. The second is an invitation only event at the Governor’s Mansion featuring honorary hosts LSU head football coach Les Miles and Saints head coach Sean Payton.

 

A Calcasieu Parish man wanted for the murder of his estranged wife, is now on the FBI’s most wanted fugitive list. Forty-seven-year-old Joe Matthew Constance has not been seen since he shot and killed Mary Duhon in 2011. Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso says he believes the FBI reward money will help.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has signed the co-called revenge porn bill to protect people from having their private or nude images to be made public without their consent. This bill was included in the Governor’s 2015 Legislative Package, and the new law would criminalize this distribution of private image in public, including social media.

 

Monsanto announces possible plans to make a 1 billion dollar expansion to their Luling plant. The addition would produce a new product line to help with the growth of soybeans, cotton and corn. St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre says the plant would create 95 direct, 450 indirect, and 1,000 construction jobs.

 

The St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office says a teenager is dead after his tractor rolled off a bridge and landed on top of him. They say 17-year-old Zachary Henry of Amite was driving over a narrow wooden bridge when the tractor veered too close to the side of the bridge and broke the planks. The tractor rolled off the bridge and landed on top of Henry in a ditch. Henry was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

As temperatures continue to rise this summer it’s a good idea to remember your pets require special care to avoid heatstroke. The LSU Veterinary School says they have already seen two fatal cases of heatstroke this month. Associate professor and veterinarian Dr. Kirk Ryan dogs can’t tolerate scorching temperatures and extreme exercise. Ryan says puppies, kittens, older dogs and cats and animals with short snouts or muzzles such as pugs and bulldogs are at increased risk. He says one of the most important things you can do is always make sure your pet has plenty of water.

 

Saints Quarterback Drew Brees tells ESPN that he’s convinced he’ll win a another Super Bowl. Brees says that’s what keeps him going. He also said again that he would like to play until he’s 45. Brees came in at number 30 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2015. That’s a 24 spot drop from last year.

 

The bird pooping problem at Alex Box Stadium is about to be over, as work crews are installing special netting to the bottom of the grandstands overhang that should offer protection. The construction should be complete in time for fall practice. Speaking of LSU baseball, former shortstop Alex Bregman is now a Houston Astro, agreeing to terms and a signing bonus expected to be about 6 million dollars.

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News For Thursday 062515

By Dave Graichen

 

The state police report A Pineville man died early Wednesday in a crash in LaSalle Parish. Troopers say 24 year old Joseph Burgener was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected when he lost control of his sports-utility vehicle and ran off La. Highway 500, flipping the vehicle several times. Burgener was pronounced dead at the scene. Routine toxicology tests are pending, and the crash remains under investigation.

 

A utility trailer disconnected from a truck and hit another truck head-on Tuesday morning in Evangeline Parish, causing the death of a 43-year-old Ville Platte man. James Erwin was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Police say Erwin was not wearing a seatbelt.

 

Yesterday afternoon Governor Bobby Jindal  made it official–he will be running for President. The Governor  made in the announcement via Twitter and on BobbyJindal-dot-com. Jindal becomes the 13th announced Republican candidate for the nomination. Today, he has national interviews scheduled with Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and CNBC, along with New Hampshire speeches.

 

There are many people who do not think Governor Bobby Jindal has much of a chance to win the Republican Presidential nomination, but ULM Political Science Professor John Sutherlin says Jindal can emerge as one of the favorites.  Jindal is the 13th announced Republican candidate but he can distinguish himself by telling American voters that as Governor he didn’t raise taxes , he reduced the size of the budget and reformed ethic laws. Sutherlin says if Jindal is competitive  in the Iowa caucus and in the New Hampshire primary that could lead to a really good showing in South Carolina. He says Jindal has a history of being a good campaigner.

 

The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s office says three people are dead, after a fatal domestic situation. Spokeswoman Ginny Higgins says they received a call from one of the victims, 72-year-old Leola Blanchard, who advised that she’d been shot by her husband, 58-year-old Clifford Blanchard. Higgins says Clifford Blanchard apparently also shot and killed his 3-year-old granddaughter, before being fatally shot by his son, Scott. He also was shot, but is expected to recover.

 

The National Weather Service says, due to rains from Tropical Storm Bill, northwest Louisiana should be aware that the Red River will crest again next week. But Marty Mayeaux with the NWS in Shreveport says it won’t be as bad as the flooding we saw earlier this month. Mayeaux says the Red will crest at 32 and a half feet on July 1st which is about 4 and a half feet lower than the June 9th crest and will mostly affect low lying areas and some farm land.

 

State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announces the arrest of 36 suspected child predators as a result of a multi-agency effort to protect children. “Operation Broken Heart” was a two month initiative between the AG’s Cyber Crime Unit and other law enforcement across the state.

 

A Baton Rouge rapper with an up-and-coming career was one of two men found shot dead Tuesday in Bogalusa. Shannen Hudson, a 31-year-old musician known as Young Ready, and more recently as Racked Up Ready,  was discovered dead of at least one gunshot wound. He was found alongside another man also shot to death, 28 year old Jare Stevenson of Baton Rouge.

 

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News for Wednesday 062415

By Dave Graichen

 

Thibodaux Representative Dee Richard is pleased Governor Jindal signed his legislation, which gives state lawmakers approval over state consulting contracts in excess of 40-thousand dollars. The measure was vetoed by the Governor last year. Richard expects up to one-third of state contracts will be up for review. Richard says this law will put an end to wasteful contracts in state government, or at least the ones over $40,000.

 

Yesterday we reported Lt Governor Jay Dardenne had learned Disney-ABC has placed a moratorium on new film production in Louisiana because of changes made to the film tax credit program. He says the new law’s $180 million cap on credits redeemed is too low and movie producers are obviously displeased. However, US Senator David Vitter, who like Dardenne, is running for governor, issued his own press release Monday saying he spoke with a Vice President with Disney who confirmed the company has not imposed a moratorium. The VP did say the issue needs to be reconsidered by the next governor.

 

The Louisiana NAACP is asking Governor Bobby Jindal to put a halt to the sale of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans license plate. The Office of Motor Vehicles says 160 of these specialty plates are on Louisiana roads and the plate does feature a confederate flag.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential announcement is slated to happen this afternoon at 4pm at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. It’s expected that Jindal will announce he’s seeking the Republican Nomination. UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says even though Jindal’s polling low, he’s likely of the mind that you can’t win if you don’t run.

 

Governor Jindal signs legislation into law that attempts to help law enforcement on college campuses investigate accusations of sexual assault. Both measures are sponsored by New Orleans Senator J.P. Morrell. He says one of the bills requires the board of regents to develop a uniform sexual assault policy that colleges must file when there is a report of sexual assault.

Morrell says the second bill will train college and university police officers on how to investigate a sexual assault case.

 

According to the consumer website Nerdwallet, Louisianians pay the highest percentage of their annual salary for insurance in the country. Nerdwallet found that a Louisianan pays 7,300 dollars a year for homeowners, health, life and auto insurance. Researcher Jeffery Chu says that’s about 18 percent of our median yearly earnings.

 

There’s a break down in talks between the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and referees over how much they should be paid. The Louisiana High School Officials Association wants a raise prior to start of the 2015 school year, but L-H-S-A-A  director Eddie Bonine says an increase in pay can’t take effect, until it’s voted on by school principals in January. The Louisiana High School Officials Association says they’ve only received two pay raises over the last 25 years and they are seeking a pay increase in all sports.

 

Charges are pending against a Church Point mother, after her two-year-old child, fell out of the front seat passenger window, while she was driving in Acadia Parish. The State Police do not suspect impairment on the part of the 32 year-old driver, but it’s obvious the child was not properly restrained.

 

Shreveport Police say a one year old child has died after a large dresser tipped over and fell on top of her. Corporal Marcus Hines says it appears the little girl was playing with two other siblings while the mother was sleeping.

 

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark is still searching for the cause of death of a man shot with Taser guns by two Baton Rouge police officers. Clark says in the preliminary autopsy of Kevin Bajoie, he found other physical evidence along with wounds connected to the Tasers following the police altercation.

 

LSU right-hander Alex Lange has been named to the Baseball America magazine first-team Freshman All-America squad. Lange posted a 12-0 record in 2015 with a 1.97 ERA in 114 innings for the Tigers.

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News for Tuesday 062315

By Dave Graichen

 

A Woodworth man who helped a woman who'd run out of gas later found out that the woman allegedly had stolen and cashed several of his personal checks. The woman, 31-year-old Trista Nicole Goleman of Elmer, was arrested on Monday and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.

 

Authorities say a body found in Toledo Bend Lake is that of 32 year-old Joshua Justis of  DeRidder. The man’s body was pulled from the lake just south of Many close to a private pier Sunday morning. Police say the body appeared to have been in the water for several days.  Sabine Parish Deputy Coroner Ron Rivers says there were no signs of foul play but investigation is ongoing.  The body was sent to University Health in Shreveport for an autopsy.

 

Figures released today by the Commerce Department show personal income in Louisiana grew at a 0.8 percent annual rate for the first quarter of this year. The Bayou State trails the national growth rate and ranks 35th among states after a negative performance in oil and gas extraction.

 

Sad news involving former Nicholls State baseball standout Darryl Hamilton. The Baton Rouge native was found dead in suburban Houston in an apparent murder-suicide. Authorities believe a 44-year-old woman shot Hamilton numerous times, before turning the gun on herself. Hamilton played 13 seasons in the big leagues. He was 50-years-old.

 

The new IBM technology center in Baton Rouge was supposed to cut the ribbon Monday  but they cancelled the ceremony reportedly because of  Governor Bobby Jindal’s religious freedom executive order. Company executives wrote a letter to the governor saying the matter goes against what IBM stands for, equal rights and opportunity for everyone and discrimination for no one

 

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says he has learned Disney-ABC has placed a moratorium on sending new projects to Louisiana, because of the 180 million dollar cap in tax credits for the film industry. The law was passed by the legislature, and signed by Governor Bobby Jindal.

 

The next Voice of the Tigers is Georgia Southern’s play-by-play man Chris Blair. Jim Hawthorne will retire following the 2015-16 men’s basketball season. Blair says when he applied for Hawthorne’s job, he never imagined he would be the one selected. Blair will begin calling games at LSU starting with the 2016 LSU baseball season and his title will be Director of Radio Broadcasting.

 

The wetter than average weather we’ve had for the past few months that kept our temperatures lower than average- is leaving. Now that summer is officially here, State Climatologist Barry Keim says the state is entering more seasonal weather. Hot and humid… This week we should see heat indices exceed 100..

 

The New Orleans Police Department says the suspect wanted in the killing of NOPD officer Daryle Holloway is being held with no bond. 33-year-old Travis Boys was arrested Sunday after being spotted trying to board a bus in the Lower 9th Ward. Boys is accused of killing Holloway early Saturday morning, as the victim was transporting the man to the Orleans Parish Prison. The big question is, where did he get the gun he used to kill the officer?

 

During an introductory press conference, new Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry says he wants to see a parade down Canal Street in New Orleans after the team wins its first NBA title. Gentry says the pieces are in place to do that. Gentry says he’s bringing an up tempo style of basketball to New Orleans and all-star Anthony Davis will be a big part of what they do. Gentry is 60-years-old and this will be fifth his opportunity to be a head coach in the NBA.

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News for Monday 062215

By Dave Graichen

 

Even with more people finding jobs in Louisiana, the unemployment rate stayed relatively flat for May at 6.6 percent for the third month in a row. The Bayou State has the sixth highest jobless rate in the nation. The national unemployment rate average is 5.5 percent.

 

A federal trial begins today challenging Louisiana’s law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of where the procedure is performed. Opponents of the measure say that abortion is a safe procedure and admitting privileges to a nearby hospital are not needed. The plaintiffs claim the law will shut down all but one abortion clinic in the state and that would create an undue hardship for women seeking an abortion.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal vetoes legislation that would have put control costs on the TOPS Scholarship program. Under the proposed law, TOPS recipients next year would have 100-percent of tuition costs paid for, but the amount of the award would not automatically go up when tuition rises. Supporters say the bill is needed so the state can afford TOPS in future years, but Jindal says the legislation violates a promise that TOPS will cover a student’s tuition.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has signed the 24.5 billion dollar budget and a package of tax bills sent over from the legislature, including a 50-cent increase on a pack of cigarettes. Jindal says it is a balanced budget that will protect higher ed and health care. There were several line item vetoes, including one that would have prevented State Police from paying for his security detail on campaign trips.

 

Despite objections from Hollywood South and several lawmakers in New Orleans, Governor Bobby Jindal signs into law legislation that caps the film tax credit program at 180-million dollars. Mae Chapman owns a casting company in Lafayette and fears the cap will decrease movie production in this state, which means less opportunity to work for those in the industry. Chapman doesn’t understand why Jindal and the legislature would want to restrict an industry that creates thousands of jobs. She says some will have to look to other states to find jobs.

 

With Governor Jindal expected to announce he’s running for president on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin and Deputy Communications Director Shannon Dirmann will be joining his national campaign team. LA Politics dot-com’s Jeremy Alford says one of the most important goals for his staff is to get Jindal in presidential debates. LaPolitics.com also reports one of Jindal’s most trusted political advisors, Timmy Teepell will serve as manager of the national campaign.

 

A one million dollar federal grant has been given to aid veterans and the unemployed in central and north Louisiana in joining the workforce. Louisiana Workforce Commission spokesperson Aaron Caffarel says grant will target the areas of Alexandria, Monroe, and Shreveport.

 

Baton Rouge based Explosive Service International signs a 19-million dollar contract with the Louisiana National Guard which allows them to begin the process of disposing of 15 million pounds of M-6 propellant from Camp Minden in Webster Parish. Guard Spokesman Colonel Pete Schneider says it’s unsure of the exact date of when the disposal will begin.

 

LSU Quarterback Anthony Jennings and two other players are charged with unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling. Police say the players went to an on-campus apartment to retrieve items that were taken from Jennings. Jennings, cornerback Dwayne Thomas and defensive lineman Maquedius Bain have been suspended indefinitely from the team.

 

The Toledo Bend Reservoir is named by Bassmaster as the number 1 bass fishery in the country for 2015. Director of the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission Linda Curtis-Sparks says this is a great honor and she believes this will lead to an influx of out of state anglers to the reservoir.

 

Cleco has launched an energy saving program which pays customers $50 for getting rid of outdated refrigerators and freezers. Spokeswoman Robbyn Cooper says this will also help people save money on their power bills. Cooper says many households have an additional refrigerator or freezer outside of the home to store food and drinks, but many of the units are older and require as much as three times more energy to operate than newer models.

Customers will receive a $50 check within 4-6 weeks after the unit is hauled away. To learn more about this new program, visit cleco.com.

 

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News for Friday 061915

By Dave Graichen

 

The season is over for the LSU Baseball team that as they lost to Texas Christian University, 8-4, and was eliminated from the College World Series last night.

 

The remnants of Tropical Storm Bill continue to dump significant amounts of rain in Texas, Oklahoma. State  officials have been told that another flood event is predicted for the Red River. The National weather service says it’s expected that the Red will crest again in the next seven to ten days in the Shreveport Bossier area and a short time later in Cenla. How much the Red River will rise will depend on how much and where rain falls in the coming days.

 

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is asking FEMA to give homeowners impacted by Red River floodwaters in northwest and central Louisiana more time to file a claim. The National Flood Insurance Program requires homeowners to file within 60 days of a flood but Donelon says many will need longer than that to collect the forms they need.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has lost an appeal of his Common Core lawsuit, that would allow the suspension on the testing contracts of the curriculum. A three judge panel called the move by Jindal “unconstitutional interference.” Parents and educators sued, and the testing still took place this past spring. Jindal says he will appeal.

 

A bill that would require all public high school students to pass the US Citizenship exam is awaiting Governor Bobby Jindal’s signature. Louisiana would be the 8th state to enact such legislation. Under the new law, civics courses in the state will have to contain curriculum on the same subject matter that is taught to immigrants seeking to become citizens. The student then has to pass the naturalization test to graduate.

 

A civil district court judge in New Orleans denies a petition from the estranged heirs of Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson that claimed the 87-year-old is mentally unfit to run his professional sports teams. It’s a victory for Benson. But Legal analyst Tim Meche says the real court battle is over Benson’s trust funds, and whether he can get them changed so that his wife Gayle can assume ownership of the teams when he dies. Renee Benson and Rita and Ryan LeBlanc say they will do whatever it takes to assure their father and grandfather and the teams are protected.

 

The US Supreme Court has ruled 5 to 4 to barred Louisiana from executing a man convicted of the 1993 killing an off-duty Baton Rouge Police officer because his mental disability prohibits capital punishment. Kevan Brumfield was convicted in the shooting death of Cpl. Betty Smothers. The ruling establishes that an IQ of 75 qualifies as mentally retarded, which would protect a prisoner from the death penalty. As a result of the decision from the high court, many other convictions in Louisiana could be re-evaluated.

 

With Father’s Day Sunday, a WalletHub-dot-com study finds Louisiana near the bottom of the list of the best places for working dads to live. The state is at number 47, for the lowest cost for child care, but with the 3rd worst for day care quality. Big negative, we die at a younger age than do residents of the other 49 states.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal announced Thursday that Netchex will be building a new headquarters facility in Mandeville investing $5.3 million to lease the space for 2 years followed by the completion of a new building. The expansion retains 86 jobs and creates 240 new direct jobs with an average salary of $43,800 plus benefits.

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News for Thursday 061815

By Dave Graichen

 

The Red River in Bossier/Shreveport is now below flood stage for the first time in several weeks. Mario Valverde with the National Weather Service, says the river has fallen below 30 feet, which is flood stage. He says hopefully the rain from Tropical Storm Bill will not lead to another significant flood event on the Red River. But, it is too early to tell at this point.

 

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana announced Wednesday Mike Frawley has resigned, effective immediately, as the general manager of the Paragon Casino Resort.  Chris Barbry Sr. has been appointed as interim general manager. Barbry says they are working to find a long-term solution with a proven gaming management company, rather than a small independent team, to operate the Casino.

 

St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputies have identified a Eunice man found dead Sunday as 31-year-old Jordy Bellard. Investigators arrested 34year-old Kenneth Prather, of Branch, in the shooting death. Prather was booked Sunday on counts of second- degree murder and possession of narcotics. A 31-year-old Church Point woman, who was not identified, was also shot in the arm in the shooting and treated and released from an area hospital.

 

Motorists are dealing with rising gas prices here in the heart of vacation season. The Louisiana statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.59 which is up 17 cents from this time last month. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says supply of crude is going down and there was concern that Tropical Storm Bill could also impact the production in some refineries.

He expects we’ll see another decline near the end of summer.

 

Senior left-hander Zac Person will start on the mound tonight when LSU takes on TCU in a College World Series elimination game. It will be second start of the season for the Eunice native, who has been LSU’s best southpaw out of the bullpen. Coach Paul Mainieri says he’s going with Person, because the Horned Frogs’ line-up features a lot of left-handed hitters at the top of the order. Shortstop Alex Bregman is expected to hit in the lead-off spot again.

 

At a gubernatorial candidate forum in New Orleans Wednesday, three candidates said that changes to the state tax structure and reworking the state construction budget is critical to deal with future budget short falls. Republicans Jay Dardenne, Scott Angelle and Democrat John Bel Edwards were in attendance, while the front runner David Vitter was in Washington for a Senate vote.

 

At least three lawmakers are urging Governor Bobby Jindal to veto legislation that would cap the state’s film tax credit at $180 million. New Orleans Representative Walt Leger says it would hurt the industry, and could create lawsuits based on who would and would not receive credits. If there is a veto, Leger says it won’t be that difficult to find the money to make it up.

 

Law enforcement could soon have a new tool to catch uninsured motorists. Legislation waiting to be signed by Governor Jindal will allow police cars to have equipment to take a snap shot of a person’s license plate. Pete Adams, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association says the photo of the license plate will only be used to catch uninsured motorists, track down stolen vehicles and help authorities in emergency situations.  He says the goal is to reduce the number of uninsured motorists…

 

Despite a politically tough year, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave State Superintendent of Education John White a positive job review.  BESE president Chas Roemer says the board valued how White handled the controversy over Common Core. White received a score of 3.3 out of four and it’s the highest score he’s received since taking over as the state’s top public school education leader. White was graded on his leadership and management style and data from the classroom.

 

The state Department of Health and Hospitals says they will be testing beach water along the Louisiana coast to ensure that it’s safe. DHH Beach Monitoring Program Director Ryan Farlow says they are collecting samples at 24 beach sites to determine the level of a disease causing waterborne bacteria that could make you sick. He says you log on to their website, dhh.louisiana.gov, to check on any location’s current status

 

These folks won’t get the parent of the year award. Kenner Police arrest a New Orleans couple after they allegedly left their disabled 24-year-old daughter alone in a van while they gambled at a casino. Officers responded to a call from a concerned citizen. Both have been charged with cruelty to the infirm. The daughter was not injured.

 

All of the rain that’s hit southwest Louisiana is making things tough on the rice crop. LSU AgCenter extension agent Barrett Courville says wet conditions are very conducive to the development of leaf blast disease and other problems with the rice crop. He says almost half of the soybean crop in Southwest Louisiana is a total loss.

 

 

 

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News for Thursday 061815

By Dave Graichen

 

The Red River in Bossier/Shreveport is now below flood stage for the first time in several weeks. Mario Valverde with the National Weather Service, says the river has fallen below 30 feet, which is flood stage. He says hopefully the rain from Tropical Storm Bill will not lead to another significant flood event on the Red River. But, it is too early to tell at this point.

 

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana announced Wednesday Mike Frawley has resigned, effective immediately, as the general manager of the Paragon Casino Resort.  Chris Barbry Sr. has been appointed as interim general manager. Barbry says they are working to find a long-term solution with a proven gaming management company, rather than a small independent team, to operate the Casino.

 

St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputies have identified a Eunice man found dead Sunday as 31-year-old Jordy Bellard. Investigators arrested 34year-old Kenneth Prather, of Branch, in the shooting death. Prather was booked Sunday on counts of second- degree murder and possession of narcotics. A 31-year-old Church Point woman, who was not identified, was also shot in the arm in the shooting and treated and released from an area hospital.

 

Motorists are dealing with rising gas prices here in the heart of vacation season. The Louisiana statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.59 which is up 17 cents from this time last month. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says supply of crude is going down and there was concern that Tropical Storm Bill could also impact the production in some refineries.

He expects we’ll see another decline near the end of summer.

 

Senior left-hander Zac Person will start on the mound tonight when LSU takes on TCU in a College World Series elimination game. It will be second start of the season for the Eunice native, who has been LSU’s best southpaw out of the bullpen. Coach Paul Mainieri says he’s going with Person, because the Horned Frogs’ line-up features a lot of left-handed hitters at the top of the order. Shortstop Alex Bregman is expected to hit in the lead-off spot again.

 

At a gubernatorial candidate forum in New Orleans Wednesday, three candidates said that changes to the state tax structure and reworking the state construction budget is critical to deal with future budget short falls. Republicans Jay Dardenne, Scott Angelle and Democrat John Bel Edwards were in attendance, while the front runner David Vitter was in Washington for a Senate vote.

 

At least three lawmakers are urging Governor Bobby Jindal to veto legislation that would cap the state’s film tax credit at $180 million. New Orleans Representative Walt Leger says it would hurt the industry, and could create lawsuits based on who would and would not receive credits. If there is a veto, Leger says it won’t be that difficult to find the money to make it up.

 

Law enforcement could soon have a new tool to catch uninsured motorists. Legislation waiting to be signed by Governor Jindal will allow police cars to have equipment to take a snap shot of a person’s license plate. Pete Adams, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association says the photo of the license plate will only be used to catch uninsured motorists, track down stolen vehicles and help authorities in emergency situations.  He says the goal is to reduce the number of uninsured motorists…

 

Despite a politically tough year, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave State Superintendent of Education John White a positive job review.  BESE president Chas Roemer says the board valued how White handled the controversy over Common Core. White received a score of 3.3 out of four and it’s the highest score he’s received since taking over as the state’s top public school education leader. White was graded on his leadership and management style and data from the classroom.

 

The state Department of Health and Hospitals says they will be testing beach water along the Louisiana coast to ensure that it’s safe. DHH Beach Monitoring Program Director Ryan Farlow says they are collecting samples at 24 beach sites to determine the level of a disease causing waterborne bacteria that could make you sick. He says you log on to their website, dhh.louisiana.gov, to check on any location’s current status

 

These folks won’t get the parent of the year award. Kenner Police arrest a New Orleans couple after they allegedly left their disabled 24-year-old daughter alone in a van while they gambled at a casino. Officers responded to a call from a concerned citizen. Both have been charged with cruelty to the infirm. The daughter was not injured.

 

All of the rain that’s hit southwest Louisiana is making things tough on the rice crop. LSU AgCenter extension agent Barrett Courville says wet conditions are very conducive to the development of leaf blast disease and other problems with the rice crop. He says almost half of the soybean crop in Southwest Louisiana is a total loss.

 

 

 

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News for Wednesday 061715

By Dave Graichen

 

The LSU baseball team avoided elimination in the College World Series by beating Cal State Fullerton 5-3. The Tigers fell behind 3-0, but LSU finally got the bats going in the third inning as they scored four runs. The Tigers will play again Thursday night against TCU.

 

Yesterday afternoon The Pineville Police Department received a report of a jumper from the Gillis Long Bridge. When police arrived at the scene they found 32 year old Jimmy Harris Of  Pineville being helped out of the water by people on the Riverfront Drive area under the bridge.

Witnesses on the scene stated that Harris jumped off of the walkway between the river’s edge and the first pillar of the bridge. Harris was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

 

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for seven counties in southeastern Texas as the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill makes its way inland. National Hurricane Center Senior Hurricane Specialist Jack Beven says that Tropical Depression Bill will be a serious rain maker over a widespread area. Rain fall amounts could be upwards of 12 inches across Texas and Oklahoma. That would bring rivers like the red above flood stage very quickly. With that water eventually making it’s way into Louisiana.

 

Speaking of the red river.. water levels remain high.. as of last night at 7, the red was holding at 36 ft. that’s 4 feet above flood stage. The river is expected to drop to about 35.8 feet by Thursday morning.

 

A Grant Parish sheriff’s deputy arrested a Pineville man after a traffic stop on highway 1204. 39 year old Christopher Vidrine was stopped for improper backing, but the deputy also found meth, marijuana, digital scales, a smoking pipe and a metal spoon used to liquefy drugs. Vidrine was arrested and was charged.

 

For the first time ever, LSU Student government has released a Higher Education Report Card, which graded lawmakers on their record for higher education in the just completed session. There were a lot more A’s, B’s, and C’s than there were D’s and F’s, and Student Body President Andrew Mahtook says they were generally pleased. He says moving forward, they hope to establish a full time student lobbying commission.

 

There are now eleven Republicans running in next November’s election. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for president Monday, and shortly after, it was Donald Trump. U-L-M Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says, with the name recognition of those two, it will an uphill climb for Governor Bobby Jindal, if he announces next week.

 

As Tropical Storm Bill moves toward Northeast Texas and Southern Oklahoma, officials are very concerned for more heavy rain for an already swollen Red River. Right now, FEMA teams are determining if the area around Shreveport and Bossier qualifies for federal assistance resulting from this recent flooding of the Red, checking for building structural damage.

 

Though far lower than last summer, the gas prices in Louisiana have been steadily rising over the past 7 days. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.58 which is up a nickel from this time last week.

 

The Food and Drug Administration orders food companies to phase out artificial trans fats from foods. Doctor Catherine Champagne, a registered dietitian with LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center says this is great news. The FDA says the removal of trans fat will prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks. Champagne says restaurants have also taken steps to remove trans-fat from their foods. She says trans-fat helps food have a longer shelf life, but it should taste the same with or without it.

 

Baton Rouge Republican Congressman Garret Graves is pushing legislation to improve Red Snapper access in the Gulf of Mexico for recreational, commercial and charter industries. Two different bills are moving through Congress right now. Graves says one bill improves the science used to manage Red Snapper resources  and the second bill deals with making sure commercial and recreational fisherman have greater access to Red Snapper. Graves believes making the season longer helps to maintain Louisiana’s reputation as the sportsman’s paradise.

 

Lafayette has been named one of the top All American vacation spots for 2015 by the Travel Channel. President and CEO of Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission Ben Berthelot says the city has also been named the happiest in the country by The Wall Street Journal as well as a getting a  few other notable titles. The Travel Channel says Lafayette is filled with many cultural influences especially with their Cajun flair.

 

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News for Tuesday 061615

By Dave Graichen

 

The National Hurricane Center is tracking Tropical Storm Bill. Tropical Storm Bill currently has winds at 50 mph with higher gust. The primary threat from Tropical Storm Bill will be the heavy rainfall which will cause flash flooding. Rainfall amounts are expected to be 4 to 8 inches in eastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma with isolated amounts of 12 inches possible in eastern Texas

 

The Gulf of Mexico’s first tropical system of the season is expected to bring periods of heavy rain to western parts of Louisiana and possibly present more flooding concerns along the Red River. State Climatologist Barry Keim says landfall is expected today in Texas hitting Louisiana with even more rain for the western part of the state. Keim says Tropical storm Bill will move through Texas and into Oklahoma dropping more rain at the source of the Red River flooding. Some areas of the state could see 1 to 2 inches of rain from the system.

 

Forecasters with the National Weather Service are saying the Red River will remain at a high level throughout this summer. The river crested last night at about 36 ft and should slowly start to fall.

 

Grant Parish Sheriff Steven McCain credits deputy Wayne Walker for noticing a crack in a temporary levee that eventually gave way flooding Colfax Mudfest Recreational Park over the weekend. McCain says over 110 people had to be rescued as it was incredible to see how fast the water moved in. He says there are still dozens of vehicles stranded in the area.

 

The LSU baseball team will look to avoid elimination today in the College World Series when they face Cal State Fullerton at 2pm. The Tigers are coming off a disastrous performance Sunday. But shortstop Alex Bregman says they are focused on winning. LSU has not lost back to back games this season. You can hear that game this afternoon beginning with the pre-show at 1:30 on 970 KSYL.

 

Former NFL player Darren Sharper pleaded guilty today in an Orleans Parish courtroom to two counts of forcible rape and one count of simple rape as part of a so called global arrangement.

Sharper has admitted to raping at least nine women in four states.

 

Lavelle Davis, a Pineville man who has been jailed since 2012 on multiple sex-related charges, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of forcible rape. Davis will serve 33 years on each count, and the sentences will be served consecutively. The sentences will be served at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. Davis was among six men accused in 2012 of charges including aggravated rape, aggravated incest, forcible rape and more.

 

State Police say two people have been arrested in connection with a March fatal hit and run in St. Mary Parish. 33-year-old Kista Sedotal of Jeanerette was struck twice and killed while walking along LA 182.

 

The Baton Rouge Police Department has made an arrest in connection with a hit and run crash which claimed the life of an LSU student nearly a year ago. They say the suspect, 36-year-old Janneh Trench, was located in Georgia by US marshals and will be charged with negligent homicide, felony hit and run, reckless operation, obstruction. Investigators believe Trench hit Eric Fabre with his vehicle then attempted to destroy the evidence.

 

The mayor of Springfield, in Livingston Paris, has pleaded guilty to criminal mischief for his participation in a ticket fixing scheme. As part of a plea deal, state judge Bruce Bennett ordered Mayor Charles Martin to resign, pay $550 in fees and fines, and enter into 2 years of probation.

 

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee doesn’t see Governor Bobby Jindal vetoing the film tax credit legislation that caps the amount of credits redeemed to 180-million dollars a year. Lafayette Representative Joel Robideaux says if the governor vetoes the bill, it will lead to a 70-million dollar cut to higher education and health care. Hollywood South is also concerned the legislation will chase movie production away.

 

Blaze Starr, the flame-haired Bourbon Street stripper who exploded into public consciousness in 1959 when she carried on a boisterous, public affair with Gov. Earl K. Long, died Monday at her home in rural West Virginia, not far from where she grew up. Starr was 83.

 

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News for Monday 061515

By Dave Graichen

 

Some scary moments at Mudfest near Colfax early Sunday morning  shortly after 1am when Water from the Red River breeched a private levee flooding the area. Deputies from the Grant Parish Sheriff's Office, agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana State Police and the Louisiana Army National Guard all responded to evacuate people from a small island of land still above the water. According to the state police, by 10 a.m., 113 people had been removed with the help of boats and helicopters. Several vehicles were lost to the flood waters including a cruiser from the sheriff’s department.

 

The LSU Tigers played their worst game of the season in a 10-3 loss to TCU on Sunday in the College World Series. The Bayou Bengals committed four errors, two of them by starting pitcher Jared Poche, who misfired on two throws to first base in the fourth inning that started the rout for TCU. The loss sends LSU into an elimination game on Tuesday afternoon.

 

With the legislative session now complete Governor Bobby Jindal said over the weekend  he’s glad for what he’s been able to accomplish in the legislature with a balanced budget. The governor does say that he is disappointed that he was unable to repeal the state’s income tax.

 

Higher education is appreciative lawmakers found enough funding to prevent deep budget cuts to public universities and colleges. But Higher Ed Commissioner Joe Rallo says long-term funding for colleges is still not guaranteed. Rallo says even though higher ed avoided significant cuts this year, the amount of state funding going to colleges and universities has decreased substantially during Governor Jindal’s second term in office.

 

After the death of a 22-month old child in the care of two unlicensed day care workers, the state department of education is now posting a list of unlicensed day care centers on its website. Education Superintendent John White says he will also recommend to BESE to increase funding so that low-income families can afford licensed day care centers. You can find the list at www-dot-louisianabelieves-dot-com under “early childhood”.

 

It now appears that one of the Louisiana Guardsmen killed in a training mission helicopter crash off the coast of Florida, will be allowed to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Secretary of the Army John McHugh says he approved the exception to the burial of 26 year-old Thomas Florich, who was originally denied because he was officially listed as inactive.

 

The state legislature passed a measure capping the amount of the state’s film tax credit program at 180-million dollars, but some believe the bill is unconstitutional. Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association President Will French says the legislation doesn’t address the issuing of film tax credits, but the redemption of those credits. He says the problem comes when one film tax credit is honored and another is not. French says it’s unconstitutional for the state to treat tax payers differently and by denying a tax credit that was honored for someone else.

 

After assessing the Red River flooding in the Shreveport area, US Senator Bill Cassidy says he’ll look into why NOAA’s earlier crest predictions were off. Cassidy says the federal agency’s prediction of a 34-feet crest resulted in an unpleasant surprise when the eventual crest came in at 37-feet. Cassidy says he’ll also push for federal assistance once the request for help is formally made the state level.

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News for Friday 061215

By Dave Graichen

 

The Red River has crested in the Shreveport area and now it’s moving toward Alexandria. Jonathan Brazzell, with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, says residents can expect waters to continue to rise for the next few days. Brazzell says the Red is predicted to crest at 38 feet late Sunday night or early Monday morning and that crest could last a day or so before it begins receding. Brazzell  the biggest issue facing residents is backwater flooding and he estimates that about 100 homes are at risk of flooding in the Alexandria area.

 

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has damage assessment teams in northwest Louisiana, gathering information on the amount of damage from the Red River flooding. GOHSEP deputy director Mark Riley says the data is needed in a request for a federal disaster declaration. More than 300 homes were affected in the Shreveport area.

 

The 2015 Legislative Session is in the books and an agreement was reached on next year’s $24 billion dollar budget that would prevent deep cuts to higher education and health care. One of the ways the House and Senate came together to balance the budget was to agree to a 50 cent increase on the state’s cigarette tax. Tax breaks were also minimized as were business subsidies.

 

Lawmakers approved the SAVE tax credit, which is needed to prevent Governor Bobby Jindal from vetoing revenue generating bills. Amite Representative John Bel Edwards called the legislation a gimmick and only proposed to help Jindal’s presidential ambitions. The vote was 30-9 in support in the Senate, and 59-43 in the House. The measure essentially paves the way for next fiscal year’s $24 billion dollar budget to be signed by Governor Jindal.

 

The US House votes to repeal a law requiring country of origin labels on beef, pork, and poultry. Richland Parish Congressman Ralph Abraham says it’s projected that Louisiana could face $1.3 billion dollars in new tariffs on exports if Congress doesn’t pass the legislation, and he says lawmakers in Washington are left with very few choices. The World Trade  Organization has ruled that the required labels discriminate against Mexican and Canadian meat imports. Abraham says the regulatory burden put on both countries is leading to them to impose retaliatory tariffs on Louisiana and the US. The measure now heads to the US Senate.

 

The State House rejected a resolution yesterday that asked Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to drop his appeal of a federal judge’s order to release the last of the Angola three. Albert Woodfox has been in solitary for over 40 years for killing a prison guard, but his last two convictions were overturned. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith says it’s time to drop this. Her fellow lawmakers did not agree.. The resolution failed 65-18

 

The Central Louisiana Technical Community College's acting chancellor will take on that role permanently after a unanimous selection by the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) Board of Supervisors on Wednesday. Jimmy Sawtelle has served as acting chancellor since early December 2014.

 

 

A major story line for this College World Series will be whether we’ll see an increase in home runs in Omaha this year. Last time there were only three long balls. This season college baseball is using a flat-seam ball, but Coach Paul Mainieri still doesn’t expect to see many home runs in the spacious TD Ameritrade Park. LSU is searching for its seventh national championship and first since 2009. Mainieri says the team is ready for a long stay in Omaha

 

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News for Thursday 061115

By Dave Graichen

 

After remaining high but steady for more than a week, the Red River should continue to rise more than 3 feet within a few days as it heads for its crest of about 38 feet late on Sunday. The river has been around 32 to 32.5 feet lately, and the date on which it was expected to crest has been pushed back several times because water from farther north has been slower to arrive than anticipated. But that's changing, and officials say some Rapides Parish residents may begin to notice water in places it hasn't been before.

 

A bill to make an expanded port in Alexandria a reality sailed through the Legislature Wednesday. House Bill 830 increases the territorial limits of the newly named Central Louisiana Regional Port to all of Rapides Parish. The port’s current footprint holds little potential for expansion, with only about two additional acres available. By moving to an expanded model, the port can offer services to industry that wants to locate along the Red River anywhere in Rapides Parish.

 

Lawmakers have until 6 PM Thursday to approve a budget for next fiscal year and pass revenue generating bills that would stave off large cuts to higher education and health care. The SAVE tax credit could be used to offset tax increases and satisfy Jindal’s demand for a revenue neutral budget. But House members call the legislation a gimmick. Jeremy Alford of la-politics-dot-com, no one at the State Capitol knows how this session will wind up…

 

Governor Bobby Jindal is expected to sign the three bill compromise passed by the legislature related to Common Core. Going forward, four panels-mostly made up of teachers-will review the curriculum. The Council for a Better Louisiana supports Common Core-and their president Barry Erwin is pleased with the compromise. A key component of the legislation is that the next governor will have the ability to reject any proposed changes to Common Core.

 

Another bill heading to the governor’s desk is one that doubles the fine for littering. A first-offense for simple littering will go up from 75 to 150-dollars and subsequent offenses will increase from 500 to one-thousand dollars. The additional revenue will go towards the retirement system of the law enforcement agency that writes the litter ticket.

 

Some new Gross Domestic Product numbers from the Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reveal Louisiana’s economy is lagging behind the national average for growth. The national rate is 2.2 percent; while Louisiana’s is 1.9 percent. The state’s mining sector – which includes oil and natural gas- shrank, which helped to contribute to the lower numbers.

 

New Orleans Police say a man is dead after his truck crashed through a fifth or sixth level barracade and window of a parking garage, then fell to the street below. Authorities say it was nothing short of a miracle that nobody else was hurt.

 

The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office suspect strong winds associated with a Tuesday storm was a factor in a freak accident that killed a teenager from Opelousas. A large oak tree blew over on top of her car as she was backing out of the driveway, killing 17 year-old Gabrielle Lajack at the scene.

 

A day after the session ends, Governor Bobby Jindal will reportedly be traveling to attend a prayer rally this weekend in South Carolina. The Charleston reports Jindal is going to participate in their version of “The Response” on Saturday — similar to the prayer rally held at LSU in January.

 

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s office says 4 people described as gangsters have been arrested in the brutal murder of a 15-year-old boy last year. Sheriff Jeff Wiley says 18-year-old Tyrell Williams, 21-year-old Marcus Ester and two juveniles are charged with 1st degree murder in the death of Brandon Augusta. He believes all 5 were under the influence of synthetic marijuana when a fight took place

 

The LSU baseball team leaves for Omaha today and the fans won’t be far behind as preparations begin for the Tigers 17th College World Series appearance. LSU will play TCU on Sunday at 2pm. There are four SEC teams going to the CWS this year all bringing huge fan bases.

 

 

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News for Wednesday 061015

By Dave Graichen

 

More on that shooting Monday afternoon at a Jackson Street tattoo parlor. The APD reports  43-year-old Daymein Boyd of Alexandria, the owner of Sacred Art  is under arrest on murder charges accused of killing 42-year-old John Williams after the two got into a heated argument. Boyd was charged with second-degree murder, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a synthetic pot.

 

More than 1,700 sandbags have been distributed throughout Grant Parish, and residents in the Nantachie Lake area have been warned that the lake level still is expected to rise. The Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office says sandbagging operations will continue today through Saturday at the Nantachie Fire Station from 8 to 11 a.m. each day. Filled bags also will be available to the Grant Parish Civic Center;  the Bynum Fire Station; and the District 5 Volunteer Fire Department, on Walker Ferry Road in Pollock.

 

A Baton Rouge federal judge has ordered the unconditional release of 68-year-old Albert Woodfox, the last member of the Angola 3. He’s spent over 40 years in solitary for the 1972 killing of an Angola prison guard. But Woodfox is not a free man yet. The 5th Circuit Court Court of appeals has granted a stay requested by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, that will keep Woodfox in jail for at least the next couple of days.

 

The state legislature has only two more days left to reach a compromise on the budget. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says all eyes are on the House, who refuses to go along with a tax break that really doesn’t do anything.  As of now, the House does not support a Jindal backed tax credit that allows him to keep his no-tax pledge. Pinsonat says without the tax credit, Jindal will veto several revenue generating bills, putting higher ed and health care at risk. By law, the legislative session must end on Thursday at 6 PM.

 

The state House has sent legislation that would raise the tax on cigarettes to a conference committee to work out the differences between the two chambers. The House passed the measure raising the tax to 68 cents per pack.

 

A three bill compromise over common Core has won final passage in the House, and are their way to the governor’s desk. By a 99-0 vote, the motion will have on-going public and legislative reviews of the education standards. One of the approved bills will place limits on Louisiana usage of the material.

 

Getting final legislative approval Tuesday was a bill that would give domestic violence abuse victims special housing protections such as breaking a lease to escape an abuser. Supporters say woman who are abused need more safe guarding when it comes to escaping a violent situation.

 

According to a report from Fuelfix.com, gas prices won’t go any higher this year and motorists will enjoy the lowest gas prices in years for the summer. The current statewide average stands at $2.53 a gallon. Let’s hope they’re right.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal turns 44 years old today and the question is what does the future hold for him? Jindal is finishing his second term as governor and a possible presidential campaign is ahead of him. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says the governor is at a crossroads, career-wise. He says if Jindal’s presidential aspirations don’t pan out in 2016, he still has some good career prospects. Cross says it’s possible Jindal could be appointed to a cabinet post, be an ambassador, take a major position at a think tank, or even wind up on television. He says Jindal has a really strong upside for future job opportunities.

 

The Sterlington Police Department says they’ve arrested a man who allegedly set his pregnant girlfriend on fire during an argument over bills. Chief Barry Bonner says 23-year-old Darren Lambert is charged with aggravated domestic abuse. Bonner says the victim was transported to the burn center in Jackson, Mississippi with second and third degree burns all over her body. He says cops were told by family members that the victim was 9 weeks pregnant.

 

LSU will leave tomorrow for Omaha as they’ll make their 17th trip to the College World Series. There are a handful of guys who were on the team that went to the C-W-S in 2013. But a vast majority of the players will make their first trip. LSU will play TCU on Sunday at 2 PM.

 

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News for Tuesday 060915

By Dave Graichen

 

The Red River reached it’s anticipated crest Monday morning in Shreveport at  36.82 feet.  The weather service says relief is still weeks away. Officials say at least 300 homes have been affected by flood waters.

 

A state of emergency has been declared by the Rapides Parish Police Jury because of the flood threat from the swollen Red River and its tributaries. At 9 a.m. Monday, the Red River stage at Alexandria was at 33.8 feet.  The National Weather Service  is projecting a crest of 38.0 feet on Sunday evening before the water level starts falling. The parts of Rapides Parish most affected by flooding are the Rigolette area, Palmer Chapel Road area and Wardville

 

The APD reports one man is dead after a Monday afternoon shooting at an Alexandria tattoo parlor. The shooting took place shortly after 4:30pm at Scared Art on Jackson Street after what an altercation. Police say one person was in custody. No other information is being released at this time.

 

A bill that passed the legislature Monday authorizes the future transfer of the Central State Hospital property to a rejuvenated development district. It’s Senate Bill 217 lays the groundwork to move quickly on development of the property when Central moves. Central, which has been in it’s current location since 1906, is slated to move to a new facility adjacent to Pinecrest Supports and Services Center in Pineville. There is still no firm timetable for the move, which was announced in 2012.

 

A higher education tax credit designed to provide an offset to revenue generating bills receives a cold shoulder from House members. The legislation is called the SAVE act and the Jindal administration is pushing it. The measure was pulled but without it Jindal is expected to veto revenue generating bills that restore higher ed and healthcare cuts.

 

The state House did not advance a senate approved constitutional amendment that would have made it easier for Louisiana’s public colleges and universities to raise tuition. The legislature has to sign off on any tuition change at the state’s higher education institutions. The measure passed 33-4 on the Senate side but failed in the House 51-47.

 

The state senate approves legislation that prohibits State Police from paying trooper security costs when Governor Bobby Jindal travels for campaign purposes. The head of the state democratic party, New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson, says State Police should not be using it’s own resources to support a governor’s presidential campaign. Peterson’s amendment passed on a 29-5 vote. Jindal’s office responded saying it’s a shame the leader of the Democratic Party wouldn’t want a Republican Governor to have protection.

 

A measure which would mean dramatic decreases in Louisiana’s tough pot poession penalties is headed to Governor Bobby Jindal’s desk. Metairie Representative Joe Lopinto says right now the sentence for one gram of marijuana and 60 pounds is the same which makes no sense HB 149 is a compromise between lawmakers who have tried to reform marijuana sentencing and law enforcement lobby groups.

 

It appears that Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany is considering a run for the US Senate if Senator David Vitter is elected governor this year. Boustany says that could be an option after this year’s statewide election, but right now he’s focusing on the job at hand. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross thinks it’s a really strong possibility that Boustany would vie for Vitter’s seat. Cross says other potential candidates could include Minden Congressman John Fleming and state Treasurer John Kennedy.

 

According to a new report, abortions in Louisiana have jumped in number since 2010, while nearly everywhere else they’ve gone down. But Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Ben Clapper says numbers of out of state women coming here to have an abortion are dramatically increasing. Louisiana was recently honored by Americans United for Life as the top state taking steps to reduce access to abortion, but the study indicates the number of women ending pregnancies here is up 12 percent between 2010 and 2014.

 

On a day that a Monroe home was occupied by 7 people, the state fire marshal’s office say a blaze claimed the lives of three who were trapped inside by burglar bars. Three others were able to escape and they believe another person left the house earlier Sunday morning. The house was known by neighbors and police to be a drug flop house.

 

Sports

 

The LSU Tigers are headed back to the College World Series as they defeated UL Lafayette six to three to clinch a Super Regional series victory over the Ragin Cajuns. Who LSU will play in its first game in the College World Series will be determined tonight. They’ll face either Texas A-and-M or TCU.

 

The Houston Astros selected LSU shortstop Alex Bregman with the second overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft. Bregman says it’s a dream come true to hear the MLB Commissioner call his name. Bregman was taken after Arizona picked Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the number one overall selection.

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News for Monday 060815

By Dave Graichen

 

The red river continues to rise, Sunday the stage was 33.5 feet.  Minor flooding is occurring and moderate flooding is forecast. Flood stage is 32.0 feet. However, the NWS Forecasts the river will continue rising to near 38.0 feet by Next Sunday June 14 then begin falling.  The Weather Service on Sunday revised the Red River's crest in Shreveport projection to 37 feet, up from the previous projection of 36.5 feet. It is expected to crest in Shreveport / Bossier today.

 

The LSU Tigers are headed back to the College World Series as they defeated UL Lafayette six to three to clinch a Super Regional series victory over the Ragin Cajuns. This is LSU’s 17th trip to the College World Series and first since 2013.

 

The state senate has been busy passing bills. The upper chamber approved a key Common Core comprise legislation that sets up a review process of the academic standards. The Senate also approved a 72-cent tax increase on a pack of cigarette, which is much higher than what the House approved. And the Senate has agreed to raise title fees when you purchase a vehicle by 50-dollars.

 

The Louisiana House could vote on a resolution to hold a veto override session. Governor Jindal said he’ll veto revenue generating bills, if the legislature doesn’t pass a tax offset, so he can keep his “no tax” pledge. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris, chairs the House Republican Legislative Delegation, and he says there’s a desire in the House for an override session, if it gets to that point. So far house members have yet to support a higher education tax credit that is needed to provide the offset Jindal needs to sign the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax measures the legislature is poised to approve.

 

With a few days left in the legislative session, it looks like Louisiana businesses are the big losers. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says business lobbyist groups are not happy the legislature is pushing to reduce hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits and rebates many companies enjoy. Pinsonat says legislators who voted to take away some of the tax exemptions from businesses, will not get the endorsement of the Louisiana Association of Business Industry in the fall election.

 

The state Senate voted to increase the cigarette tax by 72 cents which would bring it up to $1.08 and match the Southern regional average. Lawmakers are trying to raise revenue to plug the budget hole and prevent massive cuts to higher ed and health care. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell authored the amendment to raise the tax higher than the House approved 32 cent cigarette tax increase. It’s not likely the lower chamber will go along with what the Senate approved. The session ends Thursday.

 

The Louisiana Legislature is on its way to sending marijuana reform proposals to Governor Bobby Jindal who gives every indication he will sign them. One bill drastically reduces the penalties for pot possession under 14 grams and another allows for the dispensing of medical marijuana.

 

Two day care workers In Baton Rouge are booked with homicide charges accused in the death of a 22 month old little girl they allegedly forgot and left inside a vehicle. Apparently the owner of the unlicensed daycare told employee to lie to cops about where the child was found. They are both booked with negligent homicide and Newman also faces an obstruction of justice charge. Authorities believe the child was left inside the hot car for about 2 hours on a day when the heat index in Baton Rouge was 96 degrees.

 

With a $600,000 annual salary, LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander ranks in the top 10 percent of public university presidents in the nation in base pay. The Chronicle of Higher Education released its annual national report on college presidents’ pay on Sunday. According to the Chronicle’s analysis, Presidents made, on average, nearly 3.8 times more than their average full-time professors. According to the data, Alexander was by far the highest-paid public higher-education leader in Louisiana.

 

If opinion polls of Republican voters are to be believed, Gov. Bobby Jindal faces long odds in his all-but-official quest for the 2016 Republican nomination. Jindal, who has formed an exploratory committee and disclosed last week that he’ll make a formal announcement June 24 in New Orleans, consistently rates near the bottom of the crowded Republican field in the surveys, registering in the low single digits. Jindal belittles those results and points to his success in rising from obscurity to lead the open-primary field in the 2003 governor’s race. He lost the runoff, but his strong showing launched his political career.

 

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News for Friday 060515

By Dave Graichen

 

Pilot error is the investigation ruling from the crash of a Black Hawk Helicopter off the coast of Florida in March that killed 11, including 4 from the Louisiana National Guard. Colonel Pete Schneider says the pilots failed to transition from visual to instrument flight in heavy fog. He says 30 percent of all aviation crashes are due to spatial disorientation.

 

The Red River is still rising in North Louisiana, and is now expected to crest at 35.5 feet Saturday in Shreveport. That’s five and a half feet above flood stage, and the National Weather Service says the waters are beginning to affect some areas of Shreveport right now. Sandbags will be distributed today and over the weekend in Grant parish. But, the good news in Cenla is, although we are still looking at some flooding of low lying areas, water in many area streams and rivers is going down. The red should still crest on Monday in Cenla.

 

Willie Larkin was selected as the next Grambling State University president Thursday by the University of Louisiana System Board. UL System President Sandra Woodley said the system has searched for GSU’s next president for almost a year. She believes they’ve found the right person for the job.

 

The senate and now the house has approved legislation that paves way for people who suffer from cancer, glaucoma and a severe form of cerebral palsy to receive medical marijuana legally in Louisiana. The bill passed on a vote of 70-29 in the House. The bill establishes where medical marijuana will be dispensed and where it will be grown and who will handle the production of the medicine. The legislation heads back to the Senate for final approval and then to the governor, who has indicated he’ll sign it.

 

Officials with the “Hollywood South” movie industry are apprehensive about changes made by the Senate Finance Committee to a bill that reforms the film tax credit program. The committee lowered the cap for film tax credits from $200 million to $180 million. Louisiana film industry consultant, Sherri McConnell, says this causes concern about projects already in the pipeline, as well as the future growth of the industry. She says this is not promising legislation for the film industry on many levels.

 

There’s a week left in the legislative session and there’s great uncertainty over whether the legislature can pass a budget that will NOT be vetoed by Governor Bobby Jindal. Jeremy Alford, with la-politics-dot-com, says the legislature is struggling with putting together a spending plan that’s revenue neutral, which the governor has requested. He says if Jindal does veto the budget, we could see an override veto session.

 

A woman from Lafayette is under arrest for 2nd degree murder, after a man discovered a dead baby’s body in a box from a storage unit he purchased. Lafayette Police say fifty-seven year-old Rebecca Landry confessed to the crime, saying the infant died in 2001. Landry is being booked into the Lafayette Parish Jail.

 

Legislation that would put spending restrictions on the TOPS scholarship program is headed to Governor Bobby Jindal’s desk. The Governor’s office is not saying whether or not the measure will get the veto pen although they have expressed objection to major changes to the TOPS scholarship program in the past.

 

Tickets to the Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood shows in New Orleans go on sale this morning at 10am. The couple will be performing in Louisiana for the first time in 18 years on Friday July 10th and Saturday July 11th at the Smoothie King Center. General manager Alan Freeman says they expect tickets to go fast. The tickets, including fees, are $74.98 each and all seats are sold best available.

 

An accident near Forest Hill Thursday  sent two people to the hospital with moderate injuries. The accident happened on highway 112 at Whaley  Police report a passenger in one vehicle and the driver of the other were hospitalized.

 

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News for Thursday 060415

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says they’ve made nine arrests of people they believe are involved in a very complex residential burglary case targeting firearms and electronics. Lt. Tommy Carnline says they’ve been investigating several daytime residential burglaries since mid April. He says it all came together this week and they were able to make the nine arrests on various ranging charges. Carnline says the suspects were all connected in a stolen item for drugs scheme.

 

Viewing for Former Bunkie Police Chief Mary Fanara will be held this evening from 5 to 10p and tomorrow morning from 8 to 9:35a  at the Hixson-Ducote Funeral Home in Bunkie

Fanara died Tuesday in her home after a long battle with breast cancer. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday at St. Anthony Catholic Church. Mary Fanara was only 58.

 

The Rapides Parish School Board has modified the dress code in the student handbook to accommodate children with longer hair. It will replace a section separated into rules for boys and girls in the current handbook. “Students’ hair must be groomed in such a manner that it will not draw undue attention,” the first rule states. “Only naturally occurring hair colors are allowed (black, brunette, auburn or blond) natural or dyed.”

 

A Senate bill considered a complicated higher-ed tax credit helping the budget become revenue neutral fails in House committee Wednesday. Some say the measure would be a way the Governor wouldn’t veto the budget.  The vote was 10-9 to kill the proposal. But State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield says lawmakers will now have to look at other options to produce a revenue neutral budget. The Governor’s Office statement says there’s still time to get a balanced budget done which doesn’t raise taxes, but protects higher ed and healthcare.

 

A Common Core comprise bill that establishes a process to review the controversial education standards receives approval from the Senate education committee. The measure heads to the full senate for final legislative approval.

 

Legislation that would ease pot possession penalties in Louisiana is just a step away from Governor Bobby Jindal’s desk for his signature. The Senate Wednesday approved a House Bill that would make possession of less than 14 grams of marijuana punishable by a max $300 fine and 15 days in jail. Jindal has already said he’d sign the bill.

 

The Senate Finance Committee approves a bill that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes 64 cents which is 32 cents higher than what the House agreed to. The measure was one of eight revenue generating bills that passed the panel and now head to the full Senate.

 

The Louisiana Congressional delegation is requesting the Army reverse its decision to deny an Arlington National Cemetery burial for Louisiana National Guard Sergeant Thomas Florich. Florich was on a training mission on a helicopter off the coast of Florida in March that crashed and killed 11. The Army said Florich was not listed as “active duty,” so he was ineligible to be buried there. That 5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham -who says he is optimistic the army will change their mind.

 

An off-duty deputy with the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office was arrested last night after State Troopers found about 18 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle. Twenty-eight year-old Derek Nothnagel was booked on possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and use and sale of drug paraphernalia; along with other charges.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal says he will make a “major announcement” regarding the 2016 presidential race on June 24th in New Orleans. Most political insiders say it would be a surprise if Jindal announced he was NOT going to seek the Republican Presidential nomination.

 

The State Department of Agriculture and Forestry says the national egg shortage has caused the price to nearly double over the past couple of months. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says an avian flu virus came into America from Asian migratory birds and we’ve lost about 44 million birds so far. Strain says many suppliers have had to go up on their egg prices, but officials are taking steps to get the situation under control. He says they are trying to develop a vaccine for this type of influenza. Strain says the price of shell eggs at the grocery store has gone from about $1.19 in late April to about $2.03 today as a national average.

 

 

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News for Wednesday 060315

By Dave Graichen

 

An ordinance capping the number of bingo sites in Alexandria was approved Tuesday by the Alexandria City Council. While the ordinance caps the number of bingo venues, additional nonprofit operators could begin a bingo operation in one of the existing halls if there is availability. The ordinance passed in a 4-2 vote, with one abstention.

 

The state House approves legislation that puts spending controls on the TOPS scholarship program. The Senate bill locks in the amount of the award at the 2015-2016 level. Instead of an automatic increase when tuition goes up, TOPS payments would need legislative approval to be increased. The measure faces a veto threat from Governor Bobby Jindal, who has opposed major changes to the TOPS program.

 

Public university leaders are pushing the state legislature to approve a higher education tax credit that’s having trouble getting support in the Louisiana House. University of Louisiana system President Sandra Woodley says the legislation is needed to prevent deep cuts to four and two year colleges. The legislation, which has been called the SAVE fund, is facing push back from House members. They say its a complicated and only offered, so Governor Jindal doesn’t break his Americans for Tax Reform no-new-taxes pledge.

 

The House has approved eleven measures that raises revenue to prevent cuts to higher ed, but for Governor Bobby Jindal to sign them, there needs to be a tax cut, which is where the so-called SAVE Fund comes in. Board of Regents President Roy O’Martin says if legislators want to protect higher ed, they need to approve it. Some opposing lawmakers call it a “shell-game”

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy is concerned some of the 11 revenue generating bills approved by the state House were not passed constitutionally. They would raise approximately $615 million dollars to help deal with the current budget crisis. Five of those bills passed with a simple majority from the House, which Kennedy says makes them unconstitutional.

The five bills in question are all related to scaling back tax exemptions and credits.

 

Headed to the Governor’s desk is a bill that would outlaw revenge porn. The house gave final approval Tuesday to a proposal that would make it a crime to share a sexual picture of someone without their permission with the intent of causing emotional harm.

 

Legislation that would mean rape victims wouldn’t have to pay for hospital medical exams after an attack has gotten full legislative approval and is headed to Governor Bobby Jindal’s desk for his signature. A measure would use money from unclaimed gambling winnings to pay for the hospital bills. Jindal is expected to sign off on the legislation.

 

New terminology is now being used in Louisiana to identify crimes of sexual assault. The bill by Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges will change “simple rape,” “forcible rape” and “aggravated rape” to third, second and first-degree rape. The measure passed the House by an 89 to nothing vote

 

There will be national TV coverage for the first LSU-UL Lafayette Super Regional game at Alex Box Stadium. ESPN 2 will carry the Saturday game at 7pm, and Tiger Rag Assistant Editor James Moran says it speaks volumes about the quality of the match-up and excitement under the lights.

 

Hollywood South has spread it wings out to Vermillion Parish, as an HBO film crew is shooting a new series in Kaplan. Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission Director, Allison Miller, says the series “Quarry” to air on Cinemax will bring a nice boost to the local economy…

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is now offering hunting and fishing licenses in an electronic form that can be both saved on a portable device or printed from home. Director of Licensing Michelle Rayburn says this new option to the traditional license went on sale June first, creating an easier way for people to get or renew their license. Those purchasing their license through the department’s website can pay with credit card or check. Rayburn says those who prefer the traditional waterproof license can still purchase one by visiting any license vendor or calling their toll-free number

 

After receiving Senate approval, the Steve Gleason Act has passed the US House Ways and Means Committee. The measure would make speech generating devices and other technology more accessible for patients with ALS and other diseases so they can live more independent lives. Team Gleason Associate Executive Director Clare Durrett says Medicare changes last year created the necessity for this legislation. The legislation now heads to the full House for a vote.

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News for Tuesday 060215

By Dave Graichen

 

The LSU Baseball team and U-L Lafayette took care of business Monday afternoon in the NCAA tournament; both advancing to the Super-Regionals. The Tigers defeated UNC Wilmington 2 to nothing, while the Ragin’ Cajuns beat Rice 5-2 at the Houston Regionals. This sets the stage for a huge game between the two South Louisiana powerhouses this weekend at Alex Box Stadium.

 

The National Weather Service says floodwaters draining from Texas and Oklahoma continue to cause rising waters in the Red River in Louisiana. The NWS in Shreveport says the river is above 30 feet for the first time since 1990 in Shreveport. The Red is expected to crest there Saturday at 34 feet. The NWS in Lake Charles says the Red River is expected to crest at close to 38 feet next Monday in Alexandria. That will put the river in a moderate flood category.

 

There are 10 days left in the 2015 legislative session and lawmakers do not appear to be close to balancing the state’s budget. Legislators are tackling a $1.6 billion budget deficit for next fiscal year. La-Politics-dot-com Publisher Jeremy Alford says lawmakers have serious doubts about being able to produce a revenue-neutral budget as required by Governor Bobby Jindal.

 

John Purvis of Alexandria pleaded guilty Monday in a case where a man's burned body was found in a Wardville house back in March 2013. Sentencing Purvis will be on June 30. Purvis was facing a charge of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. He was indicted in June 2013 after the body of 27 year old Jonathan Sartin was found inside the burned house.

 

A bill that would give certain protections to victims of domestic violence when it comes to their housing passes a House committee Monday. Under the measure, a victim could break a lease to escape a violent situation and the landlord could evict an abuser. The Senate approved measure now heads to the full House for further consideration.

 

State lawmakers are choosing side arms over book bags. There’s a bill moving through the legislature that would put a hold on Louisiana’s sales tax Holidays as a way to plug the budget hole, at least temporarily. That would include the just passed Hurricane Preparedness tax holiday and the back to school holiday. But Senators did not want to temporarily suspend the one in September for firearms. The committee voted 7-2 to remove the gun sales tax holiday from the suspension legislation. We do have our priorities.

 

A recent Gallup Poll shows Louisiana has the third highest obesity rate in the country. At 33-percent, that tops the national average of nearly 28-percent. Pennington Biomedical Research Center Assistant Professor, Dr. Amanda Staiano (sty-AH-no), says the combination of rich food and sedentary lifestyles contribute to the problem. The City of Baton Rouge is listed as the most obese city in the nation with a rate of nearly 36 percent. Louisiana spends almost 3 billion dollars on medical costs that are directly related to our high obesity rate.

 

The Colorado State University Forecast team predicts 8 named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season which officially began yesterday.  This is well below-average and they say it’s driven by the likely formation of a strong El Nino.

 

Nobody won the Mega Millions jackpot on Friday so tonight’s drawing is worth an estimated $253 million.

 

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control announces the start of the agency’s annual summer crackdown on underage sales. ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says this is the third year they will increase compliance checks statewide during summer months. Hebert says during last summer’s crackdown, agents conducted over 6500 compliance and issued nearly 900 citations from underage sales. He says they will be going into businesses with people who are underage trying to buy alcohol or tobacco.

 

The Grambling State Presidential search has been narrowed to 5 candidates who begin public interviews today. University spokeswoman Tracy Wright says they will narrow this list down to two on Thursday.

 

Starting this month, anyone who buys a saltwater fishing license could win a number of different prizes, including the grand prize of a 22 foot bay boat and trailer. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Assistant Secretary of Fisheries Randy Pausina says License to Win is a way they are working to gather a very accurate database with angler contact information. He says they will be holding monthly drawings for an ice chest and a host of gift cards.

 

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News for Monday 060115

By Dave Graichen

 

The City of Alexandria has issued a boil advisory for part of the city bounded by Texas Avenue, Masonic Drive, MacArthur Drive/Highway 71 and Jackson Street between Texas and MacArthur. Some E. coli bacteria were found in the water supply on May 28. Residents in the afflicted area are encouraged until further notice to not drink the water without first boiling it.

 

Central Louisiana residents opened their hearts over the weekend and pledged over $421,000   during the 28th annual Children’s Miracle Network telethon. The event was broadcast live on channel 31 from the Christus Cabrini Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal issues an emergency declaration so the state can prepare for potential flooding in northwest and central Louisiana as a result of the rising Red River. Officials say the Red River is expected to crest at 34 feet on June 6th in Bossier and a few days later here in Cenla.

 

The Red and Calcasieu rivers keep rising The Red River in Alexandria, according to the NWS should reach it’s flood stage of 32 feet today and continue to rise to near 38 feet by June 8.

 

Meanwhile, the flood stage for the Calcasieu River is 12 feet and it was already at 13.6 feet Sunday and expected to rise to near 14 feet by early Tuesday morning before falling.

 

Today is the start of the 2015 Hurricane Season and even though forecasters are calling for a below average season, state officials are urging you to get prepared for a storm now. Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness spokesman Mike Steele says their message every year is “Get a Game Plan. A list of hurricane supplies, evacuation information and other critical information can be found on the website http://www.getagameplan.org

 

The House Ways and Means Committee hears a Senate-bill today that is needed for the legislature to reach a revenue-neutral budget. The measure is called the SAVE tax credit, and it will provide colleges with a tax credit for raising fees on students. Many democrats oppose the measure as the head of the party, Senator Karen Peterson, says all the bill does is help make it look like they are not raising taxes.  Peterson implies that all this proposal does is help the governor’s personal ambitions.

 

State lawmakers are looking at increasing title fees by  50-dollars when a person purchases a new or used vehicle. Senate Transportation Chairman Robert Adley supports the effort. Adley says the additional revenue will go towards State Police operations, so they can stop taking money away from a fund designed to pay for road and bridge work. Currently, residents pay a title fee of $18.50. Adley says it hasn’t been adjusted since the 1980s and a fee increase can keep State Police from receiving money out of the Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for road repairs

 

The trial to determine whether Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson is competent to make important decisions regarding his franchises begins today in New Orleans. Benson’s heirs are asking that the 87-year-old be declared mentally unfit to manage his affairs. Legal analyst Tim Meche says the court will use reports from doctors who evaluated Benson. Benson previously announced he was going to leave ownership of the teams to his wife instead of his daughter and grandchildren. His lawyer maintains that decision was in the best interest of the sports franchises. Last week a judge ruled that the proceedings will be closed to the public.

 

The US Army agrees to pick up the tab on the burning of the 15-million pounds of M6 propellant improperly stored at Camp Minden in Webster Parish. The Department of Justice says that will pay the $28 million needed to dispose of the materials. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds says this means the project can finally get up and going.

 

Former Saints safety Darren Sharper pleads guilty to drug and rape charges Friday in New Orleans federal court. The 39-year-old Sharper pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to distribute drugs with the intent to commit rape. Legal analyst Chick Foret says Sharper’s “global” plea deal with prosecutors in four states looks to be unfolding in his favor. The deal is tied to a 9 year sentence. Sharper is scheduled for sentencing on August 20th.

 

In response to complaints about Governor Bobby Jindal using his office to send an email calling Senator Rand Paul unsuited to be Commander in Chief, the state Inspector General advised the Governor to use a different method in the future. In the statement, Stephen Street said Jindal could have avoided the complaints by using a private email or non-public website.

 

The New Orleans Pelicans named 60-year-old coaching veteran Alvin Gentry as their new head coach over the weekend. This will be Gentry’s fifth time as a head coach in the NBA.  Gentry will not assume his role as head coach of the Pelicans, until after the NBA Finals. He’ll spend the next couple of weeks trying to help Golden State win a championship.

 

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News for Friday 052915

By Dave Graichen

 

The National Weather Service predicts that the Red River could reach its highest level in 25 years. NWS predicts it will crest at 33 feet, the highest since a 34.5 foot crest in 1990. Meteorologist Mario Valverde says the Red River is expected to crest in the Shreveport area sometime around June 5th and in Alexandria a couple days later.

 

This afternoon the LSU baseball team will play Lehigh to open up NCAA Regional play. The Moutain Hawks are the Patriot League Tournament champs but the bring a 25-and-29 losing record into Baton Rouge. Airtime 2:30 on 970 KSYL

UL Lafayette will take on Rice this afternoon in the opening contest of the Houston Regional

 

A father has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office and Alexandria's utility department, alleging that a prisoner working for the city on a work crew wasn't properly supervised when he escaped and later shot and killed his daughter last summer. The bodies of McKennedy  Armstead and Johnnie Kite were found inside a Colfax home the afternoon of his escape.  Officials said that Armstead shot and killed the 33-year-old woman and then took his own life.

 

The water boil advisory that went into effect last week in downtown Pineville has been lifted. The boil advisory was issued last Thursday as a precaution after a fire hydrant was hit by a vehicle, causing a drop in pressure.

 

Tax returns for 5,700 people are still waiting to be reviewed because of the identity verification process the Louisiana Department of Revenue has implemented to crack down on tax fraud.

Kizzy Payton, who serves as press secretary for the department, said the process could delay refunds for people asked to verify their identity by several months.

 

The Louisiana Supreme Court has denied an appeal in the case of a 2009 traffic stop in Woodworth. The town had appealed a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision from March that sent the case back to trial court to determine how much in court costs the town would have to pay to Patricia Parker, an Alexandria woman who was stopped on her way to work in January 2009 and eventually was arrested and spent 25 days in jail.

 

The House did not agree to raise the state sales tax by a penny for road and bridge projects in Louisiana. The measure needed 70 votes to pass but the vote was 50 yeas and 46 nays. The state is currently facing a backlog of $12 billion in road and bridge needs. Governor Bobby Jindal though has promised to veto any bills which raise taxes.

 

Louisiana’s motorists could be hit with $79 million in fee hikes if budget-balancing proposals under consideration by state legislators become law. Senators have attached a $60 million annual fee increase on two House bills that would have drivers paying $50 more in title fees when they buy a car. Also being discussed in the Senate as a possible add-on to legislation is a nearly $40 hike to the cost of a driver’s license, to raise $19 million a year. Supporters say the changes would cover the costs of providing services, noting the fees haven’t been raised in decades. Whether lawmakers are willing to boost drivers’ costs in an election year remains unclear, with only two weeks remaining in the legislative session.

 

State police say the Click it or Ticket campaign continues this weekend after five unrestrained motorists were killed last weekend in highway crashes. State police spokesperson Dustin Dwight says more than 400 tickets were issued for seat belt violations over the weekend, unfortunately that wasn’t enough to prevent fatalities. The campaign will continue until the end of the month.

 

A recent poll shows Governor Bobby Jindal is less popular than President Barack Obama in Louisiana. But Jindal says that’s because he’s made some tough choices, which includes cutting state government spending and implementing important reforms like the statewide school voucher program. Jindal says he’ll announce after the legislative session on whether he’ll run for President. The governor says if he does run, he’ll let the voters know that he’s not afraid to make big changes.

 

Cops in the LaFourche Parish town of Golden Meadow say they’ve arrested a woman accused of stealing over $12,000 from a non-profit children’s baseball league. 35-year-old Renee Serigny (sehrn-YAY’) was booked with two counts of felony theft . Chief Reggie Pitre says that money was supposed to go towards their Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken league’s account for things like supplies and uniforms from registration fees.

 

There’s a report that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries indicate a young black bear has been spotted in woods in West Monroe. They believe he could have come down the bayou of the Ouachita River which is a little high right now. Agents are using live culvert bear traps with donuts to attract the bear and hopefully capture him to place in a more suitable habitat.

 

The LSU softball team is off to a good start at the Women's College World Series as the Tigers defeated Auburn 6-1 on Thursday afternoon.

 

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News for Thursday 052815

By Dave Graichen

 

NOAA announced today the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane forecast will see between 6-11 tropical storms, 3-6 hurricanes and either zero-two major strength hurricanes. NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan says driving the impact this year is the El Nino which has developed in the Pacific Ocean and has the effect of suppressing hurricane activity in the Atlantic. Hurricane season officially runs June 1 through Nov. 30.

 

Two bills that are key components to a Common Core compromise made it off the House Floor Wednesday. The votes were nearly unanimous. One of the bills lets the public and others review the English and math standards, which could result in changes to Common Core curriculum that the next governor would have to approve. The other proposal seeks to control the state’s participation in tests associated with Common Core. The legislation will next head to the Senate, which is expected to go along with the bills.

 

Political blogger CB Forgotston says Governor Bobby Jindal violated the state constitution with a press release through the governor’s office that criticizes Presidential candidate Rand Paul. Jindal’s statement, which is on letterhead used by the governor’s office, says Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief. Forgotston says the state constitution makes it clear that you can’t do that. Forgotston says he’s filed a complaint with Louisiana Inspector General.

 

 

The Senate approved medical marijuana legislation received a green light from a House Committee Wednesday. The bill would allow pot to be dispensed in Louisiana to patients with certain ailments. Louisiana Sheriff’s Association executive director, Michael Ranatza, says they’ve dropped their opposition after the bill tightened up. The legislation now heads to the House floor.

 

A bill that would prohibit hospitals from billing rape victims for their medical exams is one step closer to final passage. New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno’s legislation cleared the Senate in a unanimous vote. The measure now goes back to the House to consider Senate amendments.

 

Legislation prohibiting what is known as revenge porn is close to final passage. Kenner Representative Julie Stokes’ measure has cleared the House and now has unanimous approval from the Senate. Baton Rouge Senator Sharon Weston Broome says this would make it a crime to share a nude image of someone on the internet without their permission. The bill now heads back to the House to approve Senate amendments.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agent who was shot in the back last week remains in serious condition. LDWF Secretary Robert Barham says doctors were able to remove the bullet from Sgt. Scott Bullitt, but he still can’t use his legs. The suspected shooter, Luke Hust, has been charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder in the incident. Barham says Hust has confessed to the shooting

 

One of country music’s biggest stars ever is coming to New Orleans. Garth Brooks will play his first concerts in the state in nearly two decades. His world tour with wife Trisha Yearwood will stop at the Smoothie King Center Friday, July 10th and Saturday, July 11th. Tickets go sale Friday, June 5th at 10am. There is an 8 ticket limit.

 

An FBI agent involved shooting in Bossier City has left a kidnapping suspect dead. Authorities say 9-year-old Caitlyn Williams was allegedly kidnapped in Texas by her uncle, 24-year-old Jesse Williams over the weekend. The pair were tracked to a motel room in Bossier City. When agents encountered Jesse, a struggle ensued and shots were fired. Jesse was fatally shot. An FBI agent was also shot and is expected to make a full recovery.

 

In an effort to increase its international profile and boost enrollment numbers, Nicholls State University has signed an educational partnership with Galliano-based offshore giant Edison Chouest that will allow their employees and family members earn a degree from the school. University President Bruce Murphy says the deal will waive out-of-state and international fees for students connected to Chouest. The company  has approximately 14,000 employees in over a dozen countries worldwide.

 

 

Figures released by USA Today show that LSU athletics generated an estimated $133.7 million during the 2013-14 school year. They say that’s the 6th highest among all universities in the nation and second to Alabama in the SEC.

 

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announce that LSU play-by-play announcer Jim Hawthorne will be this year’s recipient of the NFF Chris Schenkel Award. It’s presented annually to people who have had long, distinguished careers in broadcasting college football.

 

The LSU softball team will take on SEC rival Auburn this afternoon in Oklahoma City in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series. It’s the fourth ever WCWS appearance for LSU.

 

Louisiana has its first female head football coach in history and she’ll be coaching a deaf squad. Susan Gremillion will be taking over the team at the Louisiana School for the Deaf from her husband Darren. The War Eagles are an eight-man football team and they went 7-2 last year.

 

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News for Wednesday 052715

By Dave Graichen

 

The current maximum prison sentence for multiple marijuana possession offenders here in the state is 20-years, which is one of the toughest penalties in the nation. Two bills are moving through the legislature that seek to reduce prison times for repeat marijuana possession offenders. Similar efforts had failed in the past, but New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says this time around, the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and the Louisiana District Attorney Association do not oppose the legislation. Morrell’s bill reduces mandatory jail time to 8 years.

 

Parks Senator Fred Mills will present his medical marijuana bill before the House Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday. The measure cleared the full Senate on a 22-13 vote. He says medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since a law was passed back in 1991.

A similar bill by Mills failed to pass committee last year. Mills says he’s worked with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association to make the bill more acceptable to lawmakers.

 

Tuesday, Governor Bobby Jindal announced the total number of bills signed for the 2015 Regular Legislative Session which ends June 11th is 18.

 

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle announces he’ll be touring north Louisiana beginning this week. According to a release, the tour will travel through 27 parishes meeting with local officials, business owners, educators and other residents. Recent polls have shown the Public Service Commissioner Angelle trailing the other three major candidates Democratic Representative John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and the leader, US Senator David Vitter.

 

A bill that would ban sex selection abortions in Louisiana stalls in a Senate Judiciary Committee. The proposal by Houma Representative Lenar Whitney would penalize doctors who knowingly end a pregnancy because of sex preference. She says this is a problem in Asian communities where there is a preference for boys. Opponents say there’s no evidence to indicate this is a problem here in the states. The vote was 2-2 so the House approved measure will not go to the Senate floor for now.

 

Now that shrimp season is under way, local shrimpers are seeing prices at the dock take a nose dive. One shrimper says he’s getting 55-cents per pound for his catch, compared to $2 a year ago. The main reason, according to the Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, is the increase of imported shrimp. He says he’s hopeful the feds will step in to restrict the number of imports.

 

Former US Senator Mary Landrieu has landed a new job; joining a Washington DC lobbying firm called Van Ness Feldman. Landrieu will be that firm’s senior policy advisor on energy, natural resources and infrastructure issues.

 

With the severe weather rolling across the state the past several days, weather experts are pointing to El Nino as a major cause for the above average rainfall. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the state has averaged about six inches of rain over the last month, but some isolated areas have gotten more. Most areas of the state are expecting more rain through the end of the week.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal could be kept out of the first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential campaign. Fox News will host the debate in August and the network requires contenders to be in the top 10 in an average of five national polls leading up to the event. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says with Jindal in jeopardy of making the cut, he’ll try to get the attention of party activists.

 

 

 

For a fourth straight season, LSU is a national seed in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, which will get underway when the Tigers host Lehigh University on Friday. The other two teams in the Baton Rouge regional are UNC-Wilmington and Tulane. UL Lafayette has made it to the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season. The Ragin Cajuns received an automatic bid after winning the Sun Belt Tournament and the play Rice on Friday.

 

A football player for LSU is booked with felony domestic abuse for allegedly choking his fiance in the presence of children. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office Spokeswoman Casey Hicks say 22-year-old Jevonte Domond was arrested for felony domestic abuse battery by strangulation with minor children present. She says the woman claimed she was strangled by Domond to the point of almost completely blacking out…:(Hicks says the woman’s injuries were consistent with her story and there was also a witness who corroborated the claim.)

A spokesman from the team says Domond has been suspended.

 

The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and the Allstate Sugar Bowl have put in a bid to host the College Football Playoff National Championship game in 2019 or 2020. New Orleans is already competing to host the Super Bowls in those same years. Jay Cicero, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation President says it would be their hope to get both big games in the same year. It’s being reported as many as 9 cities are bidding to host the big game

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News for Friday 052215

By Dave Graichen

 

A four hour man hunt has led to the arrest of a man accused of shooting a Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agent last night.  The agent was shot in the back Thursday evening near the Wham Brake boat launch.32 year old Sgt. Scott Bullitt is reportedly in  in serious condition.

30 year old Luke Hust, from Monroe. It’s believed The officer was one of two who pulled over Hust under suspicion of DUI. It was when Sgt Bullitt was walking back to his vehicle that he was shot in the back.

 

Some of the worst flooding along the Red River in nearly two decades has closed all riverside recreation areas, including Fort Buhlow Recreation Area. It has also shut down all public boat launches on the river, closed two of the five locks and dams and has led to more restrictions on barge traffic. The Red River is at one of its highest levels in years, and flood warnings have been issued for the Red River at Alexandria, as well as the Calcasieu River near Glenmora.

 

Due to the threat of rain, The Little Walter Music Festival will take place indoors on Saturday. The festival will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Music begins at 11 a.m. and will continue until 11 p.m. The event had been scheduled for the Alexandria Levee Park Amphitheatre.

 

On a 65-37 vote, the state House approved a 24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year, sending the spending plan to the senate. As it stands now, the budget reduces funding for LSU’s medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport and the state’s public-private hospital partnerships are also underfunded.  House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin says some state agencies will also face cuts The Senate Finance Committee will take up the budget next week.

 

With all of the travel miles Governor Bobby Jindal is logging, state lawmakers in the House voted to have the governor’s office to pay for the State Police Security detail in his out-of-town travel, instead of State Police having to foot the bill. For next year’s budget, Jindal would be on the hook for the money, and have to make cuts within his own office.

 

A bill that would phase out most of the movement of state dollars from a fund for roads and bridges to State Police won approval Thursday in the Louisiana Senate Transportation Committee. The measure, House Bill 208, earlier won House approval 92-5. It next faces action in the Senate Finance Committee because of its impact on the state budget.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal’s religious freedom executive order is receiving strong criticism from democrats. The leader of the state democratic party, New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson, says she can’t believe Jindal would issue the order, when businesses and the tourism industry expressed concern the measure could alienate visitors or keep conventions away. Jindal’s controversial order prevents the executive branch of state government from taking adverse action against a person or a business for their belief in traditional marriage. The governor says it re-affirms our first amendment rights. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed his own executive order in response. The mayor says his executive order lets the nation know New Orleans is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity.

 

The former teacher of the year in Plaquemine who was arrested for allegedly having sex with three of his students, apparently fathered a child with one of the victim’s when she was 15-years-old.  30 year-old Keavin Keith was arrested Monday on 30 counts of prohibited sex with a student.

 

State Police say a fire yesterday at their data center has left Office of Motor Vehicles offices across the state unable process any transactions. Major Doug Cain says an electrical panel fire has disabled all automated systems at the Department of Public Safety, including OMV locations statewide. He says he hopeful they will be up and running sometime today.

 

An Acadia Parish woman has been arrested on charges in connection with the death of her newborn. The baby girl went into cardiac arrest after she was born at home, then died at the hospital. The toxicology report showed high levels of methamphetamine. The woman  faces second-degree murder charges.

 

In Houma cops are searching for a woman they believe spread thumbtacks all over the bed of her ex-boyfriend, then poured boiling water on top of him while he was sleeping. They say 36-year-old Lynette Joseph is wanted for questioning in the crime of aggravated 2nd degree battery. According to a news release, the victim suffered severe burns to his torso, right arm and face and had to be shipped to the burn center in Baton Rouge.

 

The Metropolitan Crime Commission has asked the state Attorney General’s office to investigate the sentence of the Destrehan High School teacher who had sex with one of her students. Shelley Dufresene admitted to the act in exchange for no jail time and not having to register as a sex offender. The MCC wants the AG’s office to look into whether St. Charles Parish DA Joel Chaisson committed any criminal violations with regards to the plea.

 

 

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News for Thursday 052115

By Dave Graichen

 

A Senate bill that will likely result in future TOPS students having to pay a portion of their tuition clears the House Education Committee. Under Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue’s legislation, the TOPS award will match 2016-17 tuition levels but the award will not automatically go up when tuition rises. Donahue says TOPS is unsustainable in its current form and this baseline will ensure its survival. The measure will now be debated on the House floor.

 

Legislation by Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater that would allow state colleges to raise fees for students passes the state House. Broadwater says a percentage of the revenues generated from additional fees would be set aside for needs based assistance.

 

A Senate committee has approved New Orleans Senator JP Morrell’s bill that would change a second-offense marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. It also allows a first-time offender to have their record expunged if they are not convicted for another marijuana violation within two years. He says there’s still significant penalties for 3 or more convictions. The bill heads to the full Senate.

 

The United Health Foundation ranks Louisiana 50th in the nation for Senior Health. That’s last according to the Annual America’s Health Rankings 2015 Senior Report. Katherine Palmier (palm-yay) is the Chief Medical Officer for the East Region of United Health Care. She says  while Louisiana is ranked as the least healthy state for older adults, Mississippi is Number 49 this year then Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Palmier says in Louisiana there is a high percentage of nursing home residents that are not receiving proper care. She also says a lot of Louisiana seniors struggle with food insecurity which means they wonder if they are going to have enough money to pay for their next meal.

 

New Orleans has been invited to bid to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls. The Big Easy last hosted the Super Bowl in 2013. Jay Cicero, President of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation says Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, and Los Angeles have also received invitations to bid on hosting the big game from the NFL. New Orleans lost out on hosting the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis and their new stadium last year. Cicero says with new stadiums proposed for Atlanta and Los Angeles, the competition will be stiff.

 

It will likely take a year before the Louisiana Black Bear is taken off the threatened species list, but federal officials are now recommending that delisting. After public input, they could open the door for regulated hunting of the black bear, but State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says that’s not happening anytime soon.

 

After about 3 hours of debate, the Lafayette City-Parish Council has rejected a smoking ban in bars. Supporters of the proposed ban–backed by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living–expressed health concerns for employees and musicians in clubs. Some opponents argued that decision should be left to club and bar owners. The vote was 5-4.

 

A recent study by NOAA shows a strong connection between the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill and a high number of dolphin deaths. Dr. Kathleen Colegrove is the study’s lead veterinary pathologist, and she says half of the mammals in Barateria Bay-which was heavily damaged–had the rare adrenal lesions.

 

A Loreauxville (Lora ville) teen-ager lost his life after he was playing in rain water and accidently fell into a drainage pipe in New Iberia. Rescuers pulled the body of 15 year-old John Michael Steine from the pipe. He was dead at the scene.

 

The American Automobile Association expects more Americans to travel this Memorial Day weekend than they have in the last 10 years. Spokesman Don Redman says they predict a 5-percent increase from last year in people who will travel for the holiday weekend. He says over 37 milion Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home for the holiday. Redman says if you plan to travel by car this weekend, you can expect to share the road with a lot of people. It’s expected that about 33-million people will be traveling by car. Most drivers can expect to pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in five years.

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News for Wednesday 052015

By Dave Graichen

 

An ordinance introduced Tuesday in Alexandria would block expansion of bingo halls and other charitable gaming sites in the city. A moratorium on bingo expansion in Alexandria has been in place for about eight years, but the City Council has lifted the moratorium at least twice. It is expected to come up for a vote in two weeks.

 

After a lengthy debate over Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson’s religious freedom bill, the House Civil Law Committee overwhelmingly voted to return the bill to the calendar, essentially killing it for the session. Johnson told the panel that his legislation is designed to protect business owners who have deep religious beliefs concerning traditional marriage.

Opposition to the legislation came from the business community and the head of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Stephen Perry called the bill radioactive. Lawmakers though could have stayed home for the day, After the vote, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order that will do the same thing as the bill. It’s expected lawsuits will follow. Jindal did just what he often criticizes President Barack Obama for doing. When Obama issued his executive order on immigration, for example, Jindal had this to say: “If the President wants to make the case that the law should be changed, he should go make the case to Congress and our people.”

 

A pro-Governor Bobby Jindal advocacy group has released a television ad in Iowa supporting his candidacy for president. The American Future Project says the ad will run on cable television in Iowa and online for one week. This ad, that positions Jindal as the conservative Republican’s leading voice in the battle over religious freedom, comes on the heels of the governor forming an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency.

 

A House bill that would allow elementary school students to be taught gun safety is headed to the Senate. The legislation is by Baton Rouge Representative Blake Miguez who says firearm accident prevention and safety would be something kids should learn at a young age . The measure passed on a 93-3 vote. In a somewhat ironic twist, A bid to require that sex education be taught to public school students in grades seven to 12 in New Orleans was crushed Tuesday in the Louisiana House. The vote was 33-59, which is 20 votes short of the minimum needed for final approval.

 

The LSU baseball team begins play this afternoon at 4:30 in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Coach Paul Mainieri says this week will get them ready for the NCAA Tournament.

LSU has won the last two SEC Tournaments and with Mainieri as the head coach, the Tigers won the SEC Tourney from 2008 through 2011. The coach says they go into this tournament  with very little pressure on them, since they know they’ll be a part of the NCAA Tournament.

 

House lawmakers balked at a proposal that would have let public colleges set their own tuition rates. House Bill 66 would have ended the need for legislative approval for tuition hikes. To stop the increases from hitting the state budget, the bill would have kept the TOPS free college tuition program from covering the additional costs. Only 45 lawmakers in the 105-member House bothered to cast a vote. It needed 53 votes to pass.

 

The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office has booked a 30-year-old teacher on 37 counts of inappropriate behavior with students. They say Keavin Keith’s charges include 30 counts of sex between student and teacher. Keith was named teacher of the year in 2013.

 

Legislation is headed to the Louisiana House floor that impose a new one-cent sales tax, with the monies from that revenue going toward the funding of 15 major transportation projects. If the bill makes it to the legislature, it is expected to be vetoed by Governor Bobby Jindal.

 

US Representative Steve Scalise of Metairie, the third highest ranking member in the US House, has endorsed US Senator David Vitter in his bid to become the next governor of Louisiana. This is the fifth endorsement the Senator has received from GOP members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. Vitter was previously endorsed by Senator Bill Cassidy and Representatives Ralph Abraham, Charles Boustany, and John Fleming.

 

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will make an important announcement at the Governor’s Mansion regarding the Louisiana black bear. It is expected that the black bear will be officially removed from the threatened species list. Secretary Robert Barham says the black bear was put on the threatened list nearly 25 years ago.

 

According to a recent survey by the LSU Public Policy Research lab, voters in Louisiana are still not tuned in to the upcoming Governor’s race. The numbers show only 25% of people here are following news about the election. All four candidates have favorable ratings.

 

 

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News for Tuesday 051915

By Dave Graichen

 

Public schools in Natchitoches Parish are closed today because of heavy rains in the parish on Monday that closed several roads and Cane River Lake. A state of emergency was declared in Natchitoches Parish by Parish President Rick Nowlin because of the flooding.

 

Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton will hold a press conference Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Best Western Inn & Suites On MacArthur Drive in Alexandria, to announce that he is running for reelection this fall. Two other candidates already have declared their intentions to run, Robert Dukes and William “Billy“ Burns Jr.

 

Eleven revenue generating bills previously approved by the House were also passed by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee. The measures raise an estimated 615-million dollars. The senate panel also agreed to increase Louisiana’s cigarette tax by 32-cents, to 68-cents for a pack of cigarettes. But New Orleans Senator JP Morrell indicated the proposed tax could go up even more as the bill moves through the legislative process. The bills head to the Senate Finance committee for more discussion.

 

Today the House Civil Law Committee will hear Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson’s controversial religious freedom bill. Johnson says HB 707 would prevent adverse treatment from the state of any person or entity on the basis of their religious views on marriage, while opponents say it legalizes discrimination. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat doesn’t think the outlook for this bill is good. The committee is also expected to hear a bill by New Orleans Representative Austin Badon that would protect someone from being fired from a job or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. Pinsonat feels this bill will be shot down as well.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has formed an exploratory committee to help him decide on whether or not to make a presidential run. He has been considering a run for several months and has stated he will make a final decision by the end of June.

 

Ruston Police say an 11-year-old boy died after being trapped in a car swept away during flash flooding yesterday.  He was apparently being driven to school by his grandmother who was able to escape the car along with another 7-year-old but the 11 year old did not make it out

 

Four arrests by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office have been made in connection of the death of a 54 year-old woman reported missing in April. Those arrested included her ex-husband who alleged planned the murder for hire scheme to kill his wife.

 

The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hears legislation today that seeks to expand offshore drilling and provides Louisiana with additional dollars from oil and gas produced in federal waters off the state’s coast. Recently elected Senator Bill Cassidy is the author of the bill that supporters say could create over 200-thousand jobs. Louisiana and three other gulf states currently receive hundreds of millions of dollars for hosting offshore energy production. But there’s a cap on how much the states can receive, Cassidy is calling for a raising of the cap with this bill. Cassidy’s bill would also allow for offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in 2017.

 

To recognize National Dog Bite Prevention Week, State Farm compiled claims data and found that Louisiana ranks 14th in the United States in a 2014 analysis of dog bite injury claims. The company says it paid out nearly $3 million dollars here for dog bite claims last year.

 

The Louisiana Senate approved Monday a measure that would allow some sheriff’s departments to automatically scan the license plates of drivers they pull over. Senate Bill 250, which supporters say will help police crackdown on uninsured motorists and car thieves, was approved on a 33-2 vote and now moves to the House for consideration.

 

There is a new coach on the reservation at Tioga.  He is Kevin Cook. Cook coached at Bunkie last year leading them to the playoffs and before that he was responsible for the turnaround of the Buckeye program. Tioga along with the Grant Cougars, will now be playing in the extremely competitive new District 2-4A, facing Neville, West Ouachita, Franklin Parish, and Bastrop. The search now begins for the Bunkie Program. Word is they will name a coach later this week.

 

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News For Monday 051815

By Dave Graichen

 

A deadly 3 car crash Friday has killed a husband and wife on I-49 near Bunkie. Their car reportedly rear-ended a wrecker truck, who had rear-ended another vehicle, which apparently had been struck by lightning. Austin and Destinee Jones of Covington were killed, while their 12 month baby in a car seat sustained minor injuries; same for the occupants in the other car. The wrecker driver was not injured.

 

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission begins a statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign today focusing on back seat passengers, pickup trucks, and low compliance areas. Their 2014 seat belt survey showed 84-percent of Louisiana motorists buckled up, the highest rate to date. Executive Director Lt. Col. John LeBlanc says this is a statewide campaign, but they will focus efforts in areas of the state where seat belt compliance is the lowest. Seat belt compliance was lowest in the here in the Alexandria area, 71-percent, followed by Monroe with a 75-percent.

 

Blue Bell announces layoffs of 1450 employees across the country following the listeria outbreaks. In Louisiana, they are planning 10 layoffs, and about 130 furloughs for disruption sites in Louisiana; including Slidell, Shreveport, Ruston, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge. Bluebell says the clean-up at the infected sites is taking longer than expected.

 

Alexandria Police arrest a man accused of throwing a baby up against the wall. Deputy Chief Cedric Green says they received a call from the baby’s mother saying 20-year-old Devontee Smith kicked in the back door of her residence and threatened her and the baby. Smith faces charges of domestic abuse battery, home invasion, simple assault, and theft of diapers and milk.

 

According to a recent statewide survey, almost two-thirds of voters (many of those-parents and graduates) are in favor of the TOPS scholarship program to remain fully funded. This, despite lawmakers efforts to put a cap on the awards. That’s a problem which leaves lawmakers with a bit of a dilemma, given the state budget crisis.

 

Hollywood South takes center stage in this summer’s blockbuster movie season, starting this weekend with opening of Pitch Perfect 2 filmed in Baton Rouge. Also scheduled is “American Ultra,” “Selfless” and “The Fantastic Four.  Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly, even with adjustments to the film tax credits being considered by the legislature to help ease the state budget deficit, he does not believe this would be a deterrent to film makers.

 

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee will discuss today the revenue generating bills that were approved by the House. The lower chamber passed 11 bills that would increase revenues by 615-million dollars. Word is the Senate leadership wants to raise even more revenue to offset a one-point-six billion dollar budget gap. The tax bills up for consideration in the Senate would reduce tax breaks businesses currently enjoy, there’s also legislation that scales back the film tax and solar tax credit programs and raises the cigarette tax to a higher amount than that already agreed upon by the House.

 

The Revenue Estimating Conference announces that $179 million has been found that can help budget issues for this fiscal year and next. They say $99.4 million would be used for this fiscal year and $79.3 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

 

The Department of Children and Family Services is recruiting Foster Families, especially those who can take larger sibling groups or children with special needs. DCFS Policy Advisor Kaaren Hebert says this month, more than 4300 children will be served by Louisiana’s foster care system and just 2,000 certified foster homes are available. She says that’s a huge deficit for their agency.

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New for Friday 051515

By Dave Graichen

 

State lawmakers Thursday decided residents in Rapides parish weren’t ready yet to vote for or against alcohol sales in the unincorporated area outside of Pineville. Senate Bill 112 by Sen. Rick Gallot did not get the necessary 20 votes to pass on the Senate floor. It received 16 votes for and 15 votes against, with eight senators absent. The other three senators who represent parts of Rapides Parish, Gerald Long, Bob Kostelka, and Neil Riser all voted against the bill.

 

If you haven’t gotten your state taxes done yet, this is the last day you can procrastinate. Today is the deadline for filing 2014 Louisiana individual income tax returns. The state department of revenue recommends electronic filing.

 

The bodies of a previously reported missing mother and her two children were found in a car in New Orleans East. NOPD says 25-year-old Michelle McCullum and her children, 5-year-old Caden and 3-year-old Cylie, were all found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

 

In a unanimous vote, the state House passed New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno’s bill that would ban hospitals from billing rape victims for their medical exams. The measure would permit health care providers to submit a claim to the victim’s insurance company for payment, but the victim would not be required to pay any share of the costs. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

 

The full House has approved legislation that will reduce the maximum penalty for those who are convicted multiple times for simple marijuana possession. Under the bill, a person convicted three times for having a small amount of pot, faces a maximum sentence of eight years, instead of 20 which is current law. The senate will debate the measure next.

 

One person is dead and another three injured after a pickup truck struck a school bus head-on in Beauregard Parish Thursday morning. State Police say the crash killed a passenger in the truck and injured both drivers. There were no children on the school bus at the time.

 

The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office has charged a substitute teacher on counts of producing and possessing child pornography and carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Lt. Bill Davis says 26-year-old Christopher Kerr of Bossier City used his position as a teacher to get access to children, and he used social media as well. Four girls between the ages of 13 and 16 have been identified, and there are at least 30 more that are unidentified.

 

The Louisiana House approves legislation that would prohibit gender based abortions. The bill’s author is Houma Representative Lenar Whitney. She says there have been no documented cases in Louisiana, but she cited an article from Forbes about pregnancies ending early in US Asian communities because the sex of the unborn child was a girl. The bill passed 84-2 and now heads to the Senate.

 

Former LSU Tiger Odell Beckham has been voted to be on the cover of the Maden NFL 16 video game. Beckham beat out Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski a in vote by the fans.

 

The Baton Rouge-shot “Pitch Perfect 2″ opens nationwide today and expectations that it will be as loved as the first one are high. The sequel will once again be set at the fictional Barden University but was filmed in and around LSU. Ashley Territo is a manager in the office charged with approving all film projects on campus. During filming, producers issued an open invitation casting call to fill in a concert crowd for one of the scenes and over 3000 people showed up so many Louisianians will be looking to see if they made the cut.

 

A new political action committee targets US Senator David Vitter’s attempt to become governor of Louisiana. Gumbo PAC has launched a website and released a video that takes a critical look at Vitter’s time in political office. Gumbo PAC Chairman Trey Ourso says their mission is to educate voters about Vitter’s record.  Ourso says some are concerned because Vitter has served in Congress since 1999 and is basically a “career Washington politician”.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announces that Safe Boating Week begins Saturday. In Louisiana, Safe Boating Week marks the start of the spring and summer boating season. LDWF spokesman Adam Einck says boaters can expect increased patrols and safe boating checks this weekend. Einck says these increased patrols are not designed to stop anyone from having fun, they just want to make sure everyone is safe on the water.

 

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News for Thursday 051415

By Dave Graichen

 

A deadly crash in Vernon parish last night claimed the life of a Leesville teen. State police report 15 year old Acadia Sanders lost control of the pickup she was driving and struck a tree on LA 465. Sanders, who was not wearing a seat belt was pronounced dead at the scene. An 18 year old passenger, Jon Stuckey, who was wearing a seatbelt survived the crash with moderate injuries. Troopers say the crash remains under investigation.

 

The Red River Waterway Commission announced yesterday that public boat launching ramps on the Red River are closed til further notice due to high water. These include the ramps in Rapides, Natchitoches, Grant, Avoyelles, Caddo, Bossier and Red River parishes. The commission says the boat launches will be re-opened as soon as conditions permit the public to utilize the ramps safely.

 

Supporters and opponents of Common Core have come together on legislation that puts a process in place that could lead to new public school education standards. Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann, an outspoken critic of Common Core, says the compromise legislation, which was approved by the House Education committee Wednesday, allows for more public input in developing academic standards. The plan calls for BESE to approve new education standards in March 2016, but the next governor could reject them. The Governor’s office says they don’t like the veto mechanism and also have concerns that BESE would set up a standard’s commission filled with Common Core Supporters.

 

In a narrow vote, the state Senate advances an equal pay bill to the House. According to recent Census data, Louisiana has the largest gender pay gap in the nation. The bill also lays out a course of legal action if a worker is not paid the same as another doing the same job. Opponents say this would set businesses up for hoards of litigation but New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson says this bill is about shrinking the gender pay gap, not promoting lawsuits. The bill passed the Senate on a 21-16 vote.

 

The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested a man accused of leaving his truck in the middle of the road then breaking into someone’s home and dancing naked under a water hose at another house. They say 27-year-old Tristan Yenzer of Alexandria was booked with unauthorized entry, aggravated obstruction of a roadway, theft of utilities and 2 counts of criminal trespassing.

 

Retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who gained fame in his no-nonsense approach to relief efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans, says he’s considering running for Governor. On a Baton Rouge Talk Show, Honore says if he does decide to run, he would do so under “No Party” and make an announcement before July 4th. He says he’d be in it to win it and even though it’s late in the game, raising money for a campaign would be no problem.

 

A bill that would ban someone from getting an abortion based on sex selection is scheduled for debate on the House Floor today. The measure by Houma Rep. Lenar Whitney made it out of committee without objection. Louisiana Right to Life says the use of abortion as a means of sex selection is a major social problem in a number of Asian countries where male children are widely preferred over females. However, opponents of the bill say, this isn’t China and the bill is just another roadblock being put in front of women who want an abortion in the state.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal’s approval rating in Louisiana is at an all-time low according to a new survey. Bernie Pinsonat conducts the Southern Media and Opinion Research Poll. He says they found Jindal got a 31.8% positive job performance rating from likely Louisiana voters.

Pinsonat says that rating is lower that President Barack Obama.

 

A Louisiana based oil company is set to drill near the site of the BP well blowout that killed 11 workers and caused the nation’s largest offshore oil spill. LLOG (log) Exploration Offshore has been approved to drill into the Macondo reservoir. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Professor Eric Smith, says this shouldn’t cause people to be concerned.  He says the BP blowout was the cause of human error and the reservoir is safe to drill.

 

The state house approves a bill that would let some motorists get an inspection sticker every five years. Currently the brake tags are $10 a year and drivers can get either a one or two year sticker. Stonewall Rep. Richard Burford says his bill would only apply to vehicles 7 years old or less. The vote was 58-33 and the measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

 

Senior Jared Foster is expected to start at second base tonight when the number one ranked LSU baseball team visits South Carolina. Foster, who was ruled academically ineligible last week, was reinstated after an “obscure” NCAA rule was uncovered that restored his eligibility.

 

 

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News for Wednesday 051315

By Dave Graichen

 

A bill to allow for an election on alcohol sales in the unincorporated area of District B around Pineville got Senate committee approval Tuesday. The committee advanced SB 112 to the full Senate without objection.

 

The debate legislation that would remove the controversial Common Core education standards from public schools and replace it with one developed by Louisiana residents hits committee Today. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris authors the bill and he says Common Core was implemented with little public input and now parents see it’s not good for our students. But, not everyone agrees.  Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, says ditching Common Core for another education curriculum is a wrong move for the state. The bill comes up in the House Education Committee.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy says the state needs far more oversight and transparency in state government contracts in light of a recent report by the state Legislative auditor. It indicates Louisiana has nearly 15,000 contracts worth about $21 billion with no real way to keep track of many of them. Kennedy says this is unacceptable. Kennedy says many of these contracts are wasteful spending and millions could be saved with better oversight.

 

A new statewide poll shows Republican Senator David Vitter is separating himself even more as the front-runner in the governor’s race. In a survey conducted by Southern Media and Opinion Research, 38-percent of respondents said they would vote for Vitter, his closest challenger is Democrat John Bel Edwards at 25-percent. Republican Jay Dardenne finished third in the poll as he received support from 17-percent of those surveyed, while Republican Scott Angelle got five-percent.

 

The Attorney General’s office says two former St. John the Baptist Parish Water Works employees were convicted Tuesday for covering up their failure to properly collect water samples from testing sites. The Department of Health and Hospitals later found a brain eating amoeba at those sites. Both were sentenced to one year in parish prison, with that sentence suspended, and 6 months’ probation.

 

A bill by Gonzales Representative Johnny Berthelot that would double littering fines is headed to the full Senate. The House bill advanced out of the Senate Environmental committee Tuesday. Berthelot says the additional revenue would go towards law enforcement retirement.

Under the measure, first offense fines for simple lit erring would go to $150 up from $75.

 

In a stunning move, the Pelicans announced the firing of head coach Monty Williams after five seasons, which included two trips to the playoffs. Jake Madison, a writer for a blog website called Bourbon Street Shots, says the move is surprising considering Owner Tom Benson recently wrote a letter expressing support for Williams, who just guided the Pels to the postseason. But Madison says general manager Dell Demps apparently wanted to go in another direction.

 

A stand-off Tuesday morning with Shreveport Police, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s deputies and some federal agents has ended with two people dead, and another injured. A woman was shot and killed at the residence, and the second victim was taken to University Hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. Officers later discovered the unidentified shooter was found dead inside the home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

 

The Champion Square image of Tracy Porter interception to seal the deal for the Saints Super Bowl win in 2010 is coming down. The issue is not with the former Port Allen High School star; the problem is Darren Sharper running behind him. With Sharper pleading guilty to sex crimes in three states, Saints officials say they say some images need to be “freshened up.”

 

 

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News for Tuesday 051215

By Dave Graichen

 

A 24-billion dollar budget that funds higher education at the same level as this year heads to the full House for a vote next week. The House Appropriations Committee has approved next fiscal year’s spending plan and Chairman Jim Fannin says revenue generating bills approved by the House last week will prevent any cuts to public colleges and universities. The House approved 615-million dollars in additional revenue last week, by raising the state’s cigarette tax and suspending or reducing tax benefits many businesses currently enjoy.

 

Legislative leaders in the state House of Representatives say they are committed to an override veto session if Governor Jindal vetoes the revenue generating bills they have passed.

Jindal has said consistently that he will not approve any tax hike unless there is a tax reduction elsewhere.

 

The Senate has advanced a bill that would let colleges raise their own tuition without legislative approval. The vote was 33-4 Monday and the authority would only come if another proposal which seeks to control the TOPS scholarship program also advances.

 

Dozens of Acadiana’s top employers will screen potential employees Tuesday at the annual LEDA Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cajundome Convention Center. Organized by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, the LEDA Job Fair is in its 20th year. The fair is free to attend and will offer free services to those seeking jobs.

 

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Vivian teenager accused of stabbing his parents. Authorities say 17-year-old Shane Alexander is charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder. Spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says Shane went into his parents’ bedroom around 3 o’clock Monday morning wielding a knife. 61-year-old LaDonna Alexander, was stabbed once in the chest and his father, 64-year-old Jerry Alexander was stabbed in the back and arm. Both survived the attack.

 

A high speed crash in St. Tammany Parish has claimed the life of one adult and one teen.  State Trooper Dustin Dwight says they first pulled the vehicle over, then conducted an impairment test with the driver. That’s when a 21 year-old passenger jumped into the driver’s seat and took off with a teen passenger in the back seat. Troopers combed the area looking for the boys and a short time later came upon the scene of a crash. It appears the driver of the car lost control and left the road striking some trees. Both boys were pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Two LSU students have developed a smart phone app that allows people to record and upload videos of police encounters and share it with media outlets. The Police Officer Watchdog Events Reporter, or POWER, app was developed by Wilborn Nobles and Elbis Bolton. Bolton says this app can be used to spread both negative and positive interactions with police. The  app would become a hub to share those videos with newsrooms nationwide. The POWER App is currently available for download for Android devices. Bolton says they are working on an iPhone version.

 

New Orleans Representative Austin Badon believes his anti-discrimination legislation has a decent chance of passing this year. House Bill 612 would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He says it needs to be realized that, across the board, all men and women are created equal.

 

The number one ranked LSU baseball team plays its final non-conference game of the season tonight as they visit the UNO Privateers. On paper this looks like a big mismatch as the Tigers 43-and-8 overall, while the Privateers are 14-and-36.

 

 

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News for Monday 051115

By Dave Graichen

 

The deputy secretary of the state Department of Economic Development is getting a promotion to the top spot. Governor Bobby Jindal announced Friday that Steven Grissom will succeed Secretary Stephen Moret who, as of today, is the  President and CEO of the LSU Foundation.

 

Across the border in Mississippi, authorities continue to investigate the shooting deaths of two Hattiesburg police officers Saturday night during, what the officers believed to be, a routine  traffic stop. Authorities say three suspects are in custody, including two who are charged with capital murder.

 

State lawmakers have about a month left to pass a budget for next fiscal year. The House has approved a package of bills that raises 664-million dollars that will go towards mitigating budget cuts to higher education and health care. Governor Bobby Jindal says he’s okay with legislation that puts a stop to “corporate welfare.” That’s cases where businesses receive more in tax benefits than they pay in taxes. But he says some of the tax bills passed in the House, like the cigarette tax, will need to be offset with a tax break somewhere else.

 

The EPA has approved the Louisiana Military Department’s recommended incineration method of disposal of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. State Representative Gene Reynolds says this is a victory for the community who had strong objections to the original plan of the federal government to conduct an open burn to get rid of the explosives.

The method to be used will be a contained incineration burn method by the company Explosive Service International. The incinerator still needs to be built before the burn begins.

 

A bill headed to the House floor would provide free HIV tests for inmates being released from prison. Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox says before a person leaves a state jail for parole, they should be tested and if needed, treated as a way to help prevent AIDS from spreading further. Cox says Louisiana has the fourth highest number of men and women living with AIDS in the nation. Cox says that in 9 state prisons, about 3 percent of inmates are HIV positive.

 

Construction is underway to build a “lazy river” on the LSU campus in the shape of the letters L-S-U and some wonder if this is appropriate considering the potentially huge budget cuts facing the school. Student Body President, Andrew Mahtook, says the funding for this project is completely separate from any state appropriations. In 2011, students passed a resolution asking for a student recreation fee increase to expand the recreation center, which includes the building of the “lazy river.” Professor Kevin Cope, LSU Faculty Senate President, says this shows a flaw in how colleges prioritize funds.

 

New Orleans Police say an alligator is to blame for a fatal accident on I-10 Friday. Authorities say the gator was attempting to cross the interstate when it appears a van came to a complete stop after hitting the alligator. The van was then struck from behind by another vehicle. Police say the driver of that vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people were injured in the crash.

 

The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s office says a teacher is under arrest for allegedly telling one of his students to punch another one. They say 34-year-old Randy Louis of Baldwin, a teacher at the St. Mary Parish Alternative Program school, restrained a 9-year-old male student while instructing another student to strike him. Louis is charged of contributing to the delinquency of juveniles and simple battery.

 

The LSU baseball team swept the weekend series against Missouri and extended their SEC lead to a game and a half over Vanderbilt and two games over Texas A&M in the SEC West. Heading into the regular-season series finale at South Carolina next weekend, the Tigers control their own destiny, needing two wins at Carolina to lock up the SEC regular-season title ,no matter what the Commodores and Aggies do.   

 

LSU confirms senior second baseman Jared Foster is no longer going to play ball as he’s been ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. Foster is tied for the team lead with eight home runs. LSU now has the best team in the SEC after beating Missouri 8-3 last night.

 

Louisiana Tech men’s basketball coach Michael White has accepted the head coaching job at the University of Florida. “Bleed Tech Blue” Publisher Jonathan Ford believes there will be plenty of interest in the opening at Tech. In White’s four years leading the Bulldogs, he accumulated a 101-40 record.

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News for Friday 050815

By Dave Graichen  

 

Two juveniles and an adult have been indicted in connection to the case of a man found dead March 1 in the City Park area of Alexandria. Z’various Mason and Richard Ambush were arrested on March 5, both charged with first-degree murder in the death of 21year-old Kendrick  Hayes. At the time, their names were not released, Mason was 15 at the time of the shooting, while Ambush was 16. The Alexandria Police Department had requested that both be charged as adults. Also indicted in the case is Desmond  Harris. All three were indicted on a charge of second-degree murder.

 

The state police report  57-year-old William Powell of Hineston died Wednesday afternoon in a wreck that shut down La. Highway 112 for several hours.  Powell, who was not wearing a seat belt, was driving a 2015 Western Star dump truck loaded with gravel. It appears he lost control of the truck causing it to leave the roadway and over turn. Powell was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash is under investigation, and routine toxicology tests are pending.

 

The state House advances a package of bills to the Senate that would raise 670-million dollars that can be used to cover a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall. The legislation heading to the senate raises the tax on cigarettes and scales back tax programs. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says more work needs to be done to solve this budget crisis. Pinsonat says what the House did on Thursday is a good start, but even with these revenue generating bills heading to the senate, there’s still a big shortfall out there. The revenue generating bills passed in the House face an uncertain future in the Senate and may get vetoed by the governor if they make it through the legislative process.

 

The House approved a measure that would limit the amount of credits issued as part of the film tax program to $200 million dollars despite objections from lawmakers who thought the cap should be lower. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris tried to amend it to $150 million dollars saying that other $50 million needs to be used elsewhere. But the amendment failed with opponents saying the $150 million dollar cap would run the industry out of town. The bill now heads to the Senate.

 

Another bill that passed on the House Floor Thursday would double Louisiana’s littering fines. Gonzales Representative Johnny Berthelot’s bill would take a $75 first offense littering fine and make it $150 with $1,000 for subsequent offenses. After the 90-2 vote the bill now heads to the Senate.

 

Two bills that seek to control the wild hog population in Louisiana pass the House Natural Resources Committee. One of the bills would authorize a lifetime hunting license to shoot the hogs. The bills head to the Full House

 

34 people were busted by state police accused of committing insurance fraud. Sgt. Nick Manale says these people are charged with faking car accidents in order to collect the insurance money. He issues the warning that they aren’t the only ones watching for these cases as insurance companies are watching too. Manale says these insurance fraud cases affect insurance rates and policies across the state

 

Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins is now a Dallas Cowboy. The Baton Rouge product signed a three-year, 1.65 million dollar guaranteed contract, after not getting drafted. NFL teams were scared to select Collins, because he was wanted for questioning about the murder of a pregnant woman. Authorities have never called Collins a suspect in the murder of the woman and her child.

 

There’s buzz in New Orleans that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are moving as their home goes on the market. Realtors show the French Quarter property is going for $6.5 million dollars.

 

It appears that the first shot has been fired in Louisiana’s governor’s race. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne issued a statement calling US Senator David Vitter an absentee Senator after he missed a budget vote in the Senate. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says this is a sign of things to come. Dardenne says instead of casting a Senate vote, Vitter was in Louisiana having a beer with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in an effort to boost his gubernatorial bid.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has reportedly set a self-imposed deadline on when he’ll make a decision about whether or not to run for president. Jindal now says he’ll make an announcement at the end of June. Previously he said he would announce after the session ends June 11th.

 

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News for Thursday 050715

By Dave Graichen

 

Here in Alexandria, the parents of twins who were killed in a fire last December have been indicted on criminal charges. Andrea Aaron, the mother of the two-year-old twins, faces two counts of second degree murder and the father has been charged with two counts of accessory after the fact.

 

Today is decision making day for House leaders as they will vote on what changes to make when it comes to tax hikes and scaling back incentives in order to balance the state’s budget. LaPolitics-dot-com Publisher, Jeremy Alford, says this entire legislative session is about the budget and filling a $1.6 billion shortfall. He says today we’ll find out which way the budget will lean. Among the issues up for debate are repealing of tax breaks for businesses and an increase in the state’s cigarette tax.

 

Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore has decided to pull his bill from further discussion that would have put recreational marijuana legalization on an upcoming ballot for voters to decide. Honore says maybe in the future, Louisiana residents should have the option to decide, but not right now.

 

In the same committee room, New Orleans Representative Austin Badon’s bill to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession passed. Jill Trahan’s son is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for simple marijuana possession. Trahan wants lawmakers to really consider the penalties imposed on marijuana possession convictions. The vote was 10-4 and now heads to the House Floor.

 

Legislation that would legalize the sale of raw milk in Louisiana did not make it out of a Senate Committee. The bill’s author, Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur, says there are many who believe purchasing raw milk is a basic human right and not something for government to be involved in. But State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says it’s far too risky to consume raw milk and he testified in opposition.

 

A bill that would prohibit sex-selection abortions in Louisiana receives the approval of the House Health and Welfare Committee. Houma Representative Lenar Whitney says, even though there have been no known incidents here in Louisiana, in several Asian countries, abortions are performed when the mother finds out she’s having a girl. The bill heads to the House floor for more discussion.

 

Two bills that seek to control the wild hog population in Louisiana pass the House Natural Resources Committee. One measure would approve year-round hunting seasons on razorbacks and the other would create a lifetime hunting license for the animal. The bills now head to the Full House.

 

The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office says a man is under arrest for allegedly beating his pregnant girlfriend so badly, the unborn child’s heart stopped beating. Captain Dawn Foret says they received a complaint that 36-year-old Tyson Cheavis of Gibson repeatedly abused his 27-year-old pregnant girlfriend. Cheavis was arrested and charged with second degree feticide and two counts of second degree battery.

 

A man who applied to be a youth baseball coach in Bossier Parish ended up making off with nearly $3000 in payments from players and sponsors. Lt. Bill Davis says 25-year-old Robert Martin III is wanted for felony theft. Detectives believe Martin may have fled the area or the state. He says it’s obvious Martin had no intention of every coaching the children.

 

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested the former school bus driver who got into a crash on March 12th for operating while intoxicated. They say John Bernard was booked into jail on $40,000 bond. No students were seriously injured in the crash. Investigators say tests showed Bernard had a blood alcohol level of .04 percent at the time of the crash.

 

TMZ is reporting that former LSU Tiger La’el Collins told police that he was in New Orleans attending a Pelicans playoff game the night his former girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant, was murdered. Sources say his GPS records on his cell phone will back up his story. Authorities spoke with Collins on Monday.

 

 

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 News for Wednesday 050615

By Dave Graichen

 

The House committee on the budget needs some decisions by Monday on ways they plan to repair the state’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall. Thursday will be decision making day when it comes to House leaders asking what changes lawmakers want to make when it comes to tax hikes and scaling back incentives.

 

The legislation by Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore that would let voters decide whether or not recreational marijuana should be legal in Louisiana gets a hearing today. LSU Public Policy Polling Research Director Mike Henderson says they’ve surveyed residents and there seems to be a decline in opposition to pot for adult use over the past couple of years.

The bill will be heard in House Criminal Justice. The survey found support for legalization of marijuana for personal use is at 45 percent, lagging opposition at 52 percent.

 

Proposed tax increases to help fund repairs for state roads and bridges has been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. One bill would increase the state sales tax by one percent; the other was amended to have a ten cent increase of the tax for a gallon and gas. The bill’s author-Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain-says it’s time. The bills now head to the floor.

 

AARP rallied on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday saying 90 percent of Louisiana voters express they want to stay home as they age. Interim State Director, Denise Bottcher, says at-home care services are necessary for seniors to live outside of a nursing home. She says their survey shows that 83-percent of respondents support funding to provide more services for seniors living at home.

 

This is the last week Stephen Moret will be the Louisiana Economic Development Secretary before he begins his job as LSU Foundation President. He says one of the most rewarding things about the last 7 years for him is how much Louisiana’s business climate ranking has improved. Site Selection has rated Louisiana’s economic development efforts No. 2 in the nation in its ranking for Top Competitive States for 2014. Moret says the ranking is a tribute to the professional, diligent efforts of the outstanding staff at LED.  Moret says no LED Secretary successor has been named yet, but he believes it will be within in the next few days.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has announced he has new book coming out in entitled “American Will: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic.” Experts say Jindal needs to show relevance; especially since he will not even announce his intent to run until after the legislative session.

 

Baton Rouge Police say the missing two year old girl, whose mother was located murdered Saturday, has been found safe. Corporal L’Jean McKneely says the child was discovered alone. He says the child’s father will likely take custody, as he is not a suspect. That investigation is on-going.

 

A Slidell mother is arrested on second-degree murder charges as Slidell Police believe she discarded her baby inside a trash compactor. Chief Randy Smith says 22 year-old Antwonetta Jones gave birth to the child in a bathtub and within 12 hours, the child died. Smith says Jones lived with her mother, but no one knew she was pregnant.

 

Dow Chemical announces they will be reducing their workforce about 3 percent in preparation to have Olin Chemical take over a significant portion of Dow’s chlorine operations. Dow employs about 300 people in local facilities, but the company did not release details of the cuts at any specific locations.

 

There will be a homecoming celebration tonight in Abbeville for a local Top 6 finalist on NBC’s “The Voice”, Koryn Hawthorne. The aspiring young singer will ride in a homecoming parade at 5pm then put on a special concert in Magdalen Square downtown. Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza says Koryn has been singing in their community since she was a child and they couldn’t be more proud of her.

 

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News for Tuesday 050515

By Dave Graichen

 

The Louisiana Supreme Court has approved an agreement to place Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell Jr. on probation for five years in an attorney disciplinary proceeding.

The action comes following an investigation by the court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel into allegations that Terrell failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee, allowing the employee to commingle and convert client funds. Upon learning of the situation Terrell personally replaced all the funds that belonged to the third parties and fully cooperated with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

 

The state police report  27-year-old Jessica Short of Pineville was killed Sunday when the SUV she was driving left interstate 49 near Carencro and struck several trees. Short was critically injured and was transported to Lafayette General, where she later died. Police say impairment is not believed to have been a factor in the crash.

 

A judge on Monday refused to reduce the bail of a former Avoyelles Parish sheriff’s deputy accused of allowing an Assumption Parish prisoner to leave a jail transport van to buy drugs and then providing false information when the prisoner didn’t return. The Judge  said 47 year old Michelle George failed to understand the risk the incident posed to the community and to prisoners and refused to reduce her bail from $250,000 to $20,000.  

 

Legislation that aims to give tuition-setting authority to Louisiana colleges and universities is heading to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs signed off on Senate Bill 155 on Monday without opposition. The bill would ask Louisiana voters to decide by constitutional amendment whether college and university systems should have control over how much students pay to go to college or if that power should remain with the state Legislature. Currently, Louisiana is one of three states that lets state lawmakers set tuition and fee prices.

 

A bill that allows for the dispensing of medicinal marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions makes it off the Senate floor. New Iberia Senator Fred Mills says under the proposed law, medical marijuana could only be prescribed by a doctor for someone clinically diagnosed with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia (kwod-ruh-plee-jee-uh) or suffering symptoms from chemotherapy cancer treatment. The vote count was 22-13 and the measure now heads to the House.

 

Two different tax increases proposed by Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain to help fund road projects will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee today. The state currently has a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge projects. HB 777 would raise the state’s gas tax dependent on the price at the pump and HB 778 would increase the state’s sales tax by one percent. Revenue from both bills would pay for road and bridge projects.

 

A bill that would use funds from unclaimed gambling winnings to pay for rape victims forensic medical exams clears House appropriations. New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno says under her measure, money from expired winning tickets from casinos and race tracks would go into the crime victims reparations fund.  Wade Duty, of the Louisiana Casino Association, says while they don’t oppose the bill on its merits, they don’t approve of the funding mechanism. He says winning money is the property of the gaming establishment until the player cashes the ticket. The bill passed without opposition and now heads to the House floor.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy says he’s endorsing David Vitter for Governor because the US Senator respects tax payer dollars and has the ability to take on Louisiana’s fiscal challenges.

When asked if Kennedy was going to go after the US Senate seat if Vitter becomes Governor each said they are taking things one election at a time.

 

The House appropriations committee approves a plan that would allow the state to draw down federal money that can be used to expand Medicaid coverage. House speaker Chuck Kleckley says it would save $200 million for the state’s budget and is real money that can be put in the general fund. Since this measure is a concurrent resolution, Governor Jindal cannot veto the legislation, but it does need a two-thirds vote of both houses for passage.

 

According to a legislative auditor’s report released yesterday, Louisiana’s elderly and developmentally disabled wait longer than people in other states to get community-based services through Medicaid. As of October 2014, the auditor said 54,677 people remained on lists for the various Medicaid programs with wait times ranging from two-and-a-half to 10 years.

The auditor wrote that most applicants may never receive the home and community-based services they request.

 

Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins met with Baton Rouge police detectives Monday  as part of an investigation into the shooting death of a pregnant woman on April 24th. Collins meeting with detectives lasted about an hour and a half. Authorities insist Collins is still NOT a suspect in Brittany Mills’ homicide

 

Authorities in St. Tammany Parish are investigating a case of a deceased baby in a trash compactor at a Slidell apartment complex. The St. Tammany Parish Coroner is working with Police to determine the cause of death and the age of the baby. The investigation is ongoing.

 

Shreveport Police are investigating a fatal shooting that claimed the life of a four-year-old boy. Cpl. Marcus Hines says officers were called to a hotel room and found the boy, identified as Cameron Morris, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. Hines says the other child was 6 and they are working to determine who was responsible for watching the children.

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News for Monday 033015

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana has set another employment record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also in February, the unemployment rate decreased for the second month in a row to 6.7 percent. The private sector added over 29 thousand jobs. That’s good news for employers and job seekers.

 

12 tax referendums passed in Cenla over the weekend. Most one by a rather large margin. In  the town of Many, the only referendum to lose, a school tax, did so by only one vote.

The Many School District No. 34 referendum in Sabine Parish was for a 10-year renewal of a 7.23-mill property tax that raises about $247,700 a year for building, maintaining and operating schools in the district. In that election only 5.4% of the eligible voters cast a ballot.

 

State Police say a three-vehicle crash in St. Landry Parish killed one person and injured several others. The wreck occurred on US 190 near Interstate 49 when a vehicle attempted to cross both lanes of US 190 to gain access to the entrance ramp to I-49. A passenger in that vehicle, 55-year-old Harold Richard of Opelousas was killed. Investigators say alcohol contributed to the crash.

 

All smiles in southwest Louisiana, as Sasol has started construction on an eight-point-one billion dollar ethane cracker complex near Westlake. The project is expected to create an estimated five-thousand construction jobs and the facility should be completed in 2018.

 

A proposal to be sponsored by New Orleans Representative Walt Leger would use Gulf oil spill money for possible long-term financing for Louisiana colleges. Leger feels a trust fund should be set up for colleges from recovery money received from the 2010 disaste. The state is expected to receive billions of dollars from BP to pay for economic damage caused by the spill. Legislators have already dedicated the first $1 billion of that money. Leger’s proposal would target money above that.

 

Under what leaders are calling a “doomsday scenario,” Louisiana’s public universities and colleges would get about $123 million in state funding to split among their campuses next year,  about an 82 percent cut from their current funding level. That’s the budget the state Board of Regents has instructed college leaders to start preparing for, though officials are hoping that the funding outlook will improve dramatically during the legislative session.  To put that worst-case scenario into perspective, the state would spend about $600 per student on direct campus funding. It would spend an additional $267 million on the TOPS program.

 

5th district Congressman Ralph Abraham, who is also a physician from Richland Parish, used his medical expertise to help a man, who nearly passed out during a flight. Abraham says this is the fourth time, since he launched his Congressional campaign that he’s had to provide medical attention to a person he met in public. The young man is a former marine, who was flying back home to Texas.

 

Louisiana’s roads and bridges are beset by dwindling dollars, pressing needs and the lack of any sweeping solutions on the horizon. Even amid a $12.3 billion backlog of transportation infrastructure projects, nearly $91 million, roughly equal to 3 cents of the state’s 20-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, is set to be diverted to the State Police and other services. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, recently said “We are spending gasoline tax revenue on everything but highways”. Officials at the state Department of Transportation and Development are scrambling to avoid the loss of federal dollars because of the state’s revenue problems.

 

Three young children were rescued after a boat capsized on the Pearl River Saturday, but the operator of the boat died and search and rescue crews were still searching for the children’s mother as of late Sunday afternoon.

 

The state department of agriculture and forestry will put traps out to track the invasive asian bug called the Emerald Ash Borer. The beetle was discovered recently in Webster Parish and it kills ash trees. Commissioner Mike Strain says the traps will be placed in high risk areas along the interstate, welcome centers and the Mississippi River delta. Strain says the beetle, which is difficult to eradicate, is often transported into an area by infested firewood.

 

Sports..

 

When the polls come out later today, it’s likely the LSU Tigers will no longer be ranked number one after a wild series to the Wildcats of Kenutcky. LSU could not hold on to a three-run lead in the eighth and ended up losing to Kentucky 12-10 in 11 innings yesterday. It’s the first weekend series the Tigers have lost this year as they fall to 5-and-4 in SEC play.

 

Track star Lolo Jones headlined a five member class that was inducted into the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction Friday night. Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn and Former LSU Associate Athletic Director Herb Vincent were also  inductees.

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News for Friday 032715

By Dave Graichen

 

Demographer Elliot Stonecipher says Louisiana could be in jeopardy of losing another Congressional seat if the state doesn’t see more growth in population. Stonecipher is making that statement based on new Census figures, which shows the state’s population has only increased two-point-six percent since 2010. Louisiana saw it’s Congressional delegation shrink from seven to six members as a result of the 2010 Census. Stonecipher says the data suggests to him that Louisiana still has an out-migration problem.

 

Congratulations to a Cenla Landmark Harlow’s Donuts and Bakery in Pineville, They are celebrating their 30th anniversary today.  Harlow’s originally opened in1972. But, Roy Burr purchased the business from the original owner,  Frank Dyson,  in 1985. Today some of their great treats will be priced as they were back in “85

 

A grand jury returned a “no true bill” in the case of a Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputy shooting and killing a 14-year-old last September. The teenager had a BB gun, when the deputy came in contact with the child at an abandon house. Carlos Lazarus is the First Assistant DA in Terrebonne. He says they showed the jury pictures of the weapon the juvenile was holding and a real .45-caliber pistol and they are identical. But, the story is not over yet,  the FBI is also investigating the case.

 

A Lafayette man who called in a bomb threat that shut down UL-Lafayette last summer has pleaded guilty in federal court to the crime. Devin Haywood faces up to 10 years for that, and up to 20 years for trying to rob a bank during the police search for the bomb.

 

State Police and the FBI have arrested a man and woman and rescued a 17-year-old girl in connection with a sex trafficking case. Spokesperson Melissa Matey says the victim was being against her will and forced to perform commercial sexual acts in the French Quarter area through online ads. A 21 year old woman and 36 year old man are being charged with trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

 

The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said a woman kidnapped from East Baton Rouge was found in the wreckage of a crash which claimed the life of her captor Thursday morning. They say the woman was airlifted to the hospital after the wreck. Deputies said the woman told them she was kidnapped Wednesday night. Authorities say the investigation into the incident is in it’s early stages.

 

An 11-year-old boy has missed more than two weeks of school because his hair is too long according to Rapides Parish School Board policy. Ashton Bodiford’s hair falls past the middle of his back. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman, who is not involved in this case, says it’s time for courts to recognize that students should be able to have a greater range of appearances. Esman says courts have ruled that schools are within their rights to have appearance policies like this.

 

A student at Buckeye High School has started an online petition to replace the district school uniform policy with a casual dress code in Rapides Parish. 14 year old Eighth-grader Brandon Richardson created the "Uniform Policy Removal" petition March 18 on the Change.org website. In about a week his petition has received more than 580 signatures.

 

Well there was somebody in Louisiana who could have been a Powerball millionaire, but they missed their chance. The Match 5 winning ticket was sold in Minden for the September 27th drawing, but no one came forward to claim the prize by the Thursday deadline. Louisiana Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the $1 million will go back into winnings.

 

Shreveport’s Independence Bowl finds itself, once again, without a sponsor. Duck Commander, who was the title sponsor of last year’s game, will not return as the title sponsor this year. Last year’s game was played under a letter of intent between Duck Commander and the Independence Bowl and not a contract.

 

A man from LaPlace has developed an app to keep teenagers from texting and driving. Mike Watson says Text Guardian is tied to the GPS device on cellular devices and parents can set to a certain speed. Watson says if somebody tries to call or text a teen while Text Guardian is activated, they will get a message back right away saying that the person will get back to you when it is safe to do so. He says it’s completely free and the difference between this and some other anti-driving-and-texting apps is that Text Guardian can not be removed. Right now Text Guardian is only available on Android devices but should be on iOS soon.

 

Turkey season opens tomorrow and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries predicts a bumper crop for hunters. Wild Turkey and Resident Small Game Leader, Jimmy Stafford, says there should be some carryover this season after bad weather lead to a poor hunting last year.

 

The number one ranked LSU baseball team opens up a three-game series tonight against Kentucky, with first pitch set for seven P-M at the Box. The Wilcats are 2-and-4 in league play, but Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says they are one of the better hitting teams in the conference.

 

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News for Thursday 032615

By Dave Graichen

 

The public memorial period to pay respects to National Guardsman David Strother continues today in the Alexandria Riverfront Center from noon to 4  At 4 a memorial service will be held, followed by a graveside ceremony in Alexandria Memorial Gardens. Strother, a resident of Alexandria was killed March 10 along with 10 other soldiers in a military helicopter crash in Florida. The family requests memorials be made to the Mojo 69 Memorial Fund, giveforward.com

 

The Jindal administration’s experiment in privatizing Louisiana’s charity hospitals is running into some troubled financial waters. The House Appropriations Committee learned Wednesday that $332 million of the funding to keep the hospitals operating at a stand-still level relies on the uncertain legislative approval of some tax law changes. Committee chairman Rep. Jim Fannin said there should be no assumption that the dollars will materialize. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health agency budget proposal is already $142 million shy of the funding the private partners say is needed for operations in the fiscal year that begins July 1st. The bulk of the additional funding request is associated with the opening of the state-of-the-art $1 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans. Its opening has been delayed until Aug. 1.

 

A Lafayette jury convicted Seth Fontenot of manslaughter on Wednesday rather than the first-degree murder charge prosecutors were seeking in the shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault. Fontenot was also convicted of two counts of aggravated battery for the wounding of two teens who were with Rivault in a pickup truck the night of the shooting. It took the Jury less than two hours to reach a verdict.

 

An American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows that distraction in teen crashes is worse than previously thought. The study found that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. AAA spokesman Don Redman says the two leading causes of distraction are other passengers and cell phones. Redman says parents should sit down with their teen drivers and talk about the dangers of using their cell phones while behind the wheel. He also suggests that parents restrict the number of passengers their teen drivers are allowed to drive around.

 

A leak in one of the 97 igloos storing the 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden in Webster Parish has resulted in the recommendation of the emergency destruction of its contents. Military officials says the moisture build up creates a chemical reaction the could cause the M6 to “auto-ignite”. An evaluation team, led by the Louisiana National Guard, is still reviewing the bids that were submitted to dispose of the propellant. Their decision is expected any day.

 

A total of 46 Beau Chene (SHEN) High School Students have been suspended after an investigation into a pupil who is accused of changing grades. St. Landry school superintendent Edward Brown says the scheme began unraveling after one pupil became suspicious. He says the investigation is ongoing.

 

A legislator wants to make it a law that a designated driver be present at certain locations that sell alcohol. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says he at least wants to get a dialogue started about the importance of having someone present who hasn’t been drinking at establishments which sell alcohol. Burns is still working on the final details, but believes that it should be illegal to sell alcohol to a designated driver.  

 

Governor Bobby Jindal is keeping active for a potential run at the White House, and on the stationary bike. The Governor was spotted in a high-end gym in mid-town Manhattan Wednesday, and told reporters that he likes to start with some cardio then rotate through the weights. New York Magazine calls him Governor Bobby GYMdal.

 

A cell phone video has emerged showing a group of young men beheading a live goat. The graphic 12 second video shows one man beheading the goat with a machete sword over a child’s swimming pool, while the others cheered. The Louisiana SPCA is offering a three thousand dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this felony crime.

 

The Strawberry Festival Board and the Kiwanis Club of Ponchatoula have apologized for the controversial 2015 poster and they say they will not sell it at the event. The NAACP called for both boards to have a more diverse membership which they agreed to make an effort to do. The Kiwanis Club will continue to sell the posters (in house) until the festival begins.

 

 

Sports..

 

LSU Sophomore forward Jarell Martin announced Wednesday  that he’s leaving the Tigers to enter the N-B-A draft. The six-foot-ten forward from Baton Rouge averaged nearly 17 points and nine rebounds this past season. Martin is glad that he played a role in getting the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament, but it’s now time to move on.

 

Fellow LSU forward Jordan Mickey might also leave for the NBA, but he says as of now he’s still considering his options. And Tigers assistant coach Eric Musselman was named today as the new head coach at Nevada.

 

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News for Wednesday 032515

By Dave Graichen

 

A very touching scene yesterday as Hundreds of people, many of them holding American flags, lined the streets as a motorcade accompanying a white hearse passed carrying the body of National Guardsman David Strother. A public memorial will be held from noon to 9 p.m. today and a public funeral service will be held at 4 p.m. Tomorrow. Both will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Strother, was one of 11 soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during a training mission on March 10.

 

Now here’s something you don’t see every day.. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office says two elephants were used to keep an 18-wheeler from overturning on I-49. Deputies say a truck carrying elephants from New Orleans to Dallas got stuck in the mud, when deputies arrived on the scene Tuesday, they were surprised to find the elephants on the side of the truck that was starting to tip over. The 18-wheeler was eventually pulled out of the mud and no citations were issued, and the elephants were uninjured.

 

It has been a long time coming, a contract has finally been awarded to build a new VA clinic in Lafayette. While Republican Congressman Charles Boustany – who got the legislative authorization to build new clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles – says it’s great news for Lafayette, he says the VA is dragging its feet though when it comes to construction of the  Lake Charles clinic.

 

A Winsboro woman has been sentenced go to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Twenty-four year-old LaSasha  Allen placed her 20-month-old daughter, unrestrained, in the passenger’s seat of her vehicle. Authorities say she opened the car door while rounding a curve, allowing her daughter to fall out. Franklin Parish District Attorney Mack Lancaster says Allen showed no remorse.

 

The 2015 Louisiana Survey reveals that 83-percent of Louisianians want the state’s budget deficit to be resolved through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says of those preferring a combination, 59-percent would rather see the focus mostly on the side of spending cuts. The way the Louisiana Constitution is written, higher education and health care will take the brunt of budget cuts. Henderson says that is not what the public wants. Most surveyed said they would like to see more spent in that area. When it comes to raising revenue, Henderson says the public seems to behind a hike in the so-called “sin taxes”: alcohol, tobacco, and gaming

 

A new study conducted for the state by LSU economist Dr. Loren Scott shows the film tax credit program created nearly 13-thousand jobs, but cost Louisiana 171-million dollars last fiscal year. And Scott adds that many of the jobs produced do not benefit Louisiana. The state’s film tax credit program is expected to face changes in the upcoming legislative session.

 

The financial planning website Bankrate.com lists Louisiana as the fifth worst place to retire. Bankrate’s research analyst Chris Kahn says Louisiana scores low when it comes to its crime rate, health care services and weather. Kahn says retirees in Louisiana do not face a huge tax burden, which is good, but the state has the second highest crime rate in the nation, which does NOT make the bayou state a dream retirement spot.

 

The Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana has cut the rate of Tuberculosis cases by more than half from 2010 to 2014. DHH’s Charles DeGraw says they have also reduced the percentage of TB cases with HIV infection from 10% in 2010 to 4 percent in 2014.

 

A man who was tree-sitting in City Park in New Orleans to block the construction of an upscale golf course, has fallen out of a large Cyprus tree. It is believed the man, who is identified as Lloyd Boover, may have broken an ankle and his nose from the fall. Authorities reportedly patrolled his protest, and continuously shined a spotlight on him at night. Boover is expected to be charged with trespassing.

 

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a Bossier City man is accused of stealing from his employer and selling the items on eBay. They say 60-year-old Michael Thompson returned about $2300 worth of stolen construction items to his company but said everything else had been sold on the online auction site. He is charged with theft.

 

A former school board candidate in south Louisiana has been charged with felony sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl whom he used to coach in basketball. Lawrence McLeary with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office says the juvenile told her doctor that she was assaulted by 34-year-old Philip Ziegler of Central about a year and a half ago.

 

The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Branch is meeting this morning with the Mayor of Ponchatoula and other leaders to discuss the controversial Strawberry Festival poster. They believe the painting is racist and want the Kiwanas Club to stop selling it. In a prepared statement, Mayor Bob Zabbia says because negative feelings about the poster go against the purpose of the Strawberry Festival, which has brought the community together for decades, he would recommend that Kiwanis reevaluate their decision to sell the poster.

 

Sports..

 

U-L-M men’s basketball will host Vermont tonight at seven P-M in the semifinals of the C-B-I tournament. The Warhawks started the tournament by beating Eastern Michigan and then rallying on the road to defeat Mercer by 20.

 

ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reports that LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey is leaning towards entering the NBA draft. Mickey was a first-team ALL SEC selection this past season as he led the league in rebounding and he’s also the top shot blocker in the country.

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News for Tuesday 032415

By Dave Graichen

 

The recent ISIS online hit list that are targeting military personnel, has 25 names on a list of 100 that are current and/or past personnel from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport-Bossier. The threat was released by an ISIS hacking division, and because of that source, the Pentagon is asking the those concerned to adjust their online settings for social media accounts.

 

The State Police have arrested 33 year old  arrested Angelle Temple of Marksville, LA, after an audit of the State motor vehicle office where she worked came up short. The audit determined Temple manipulated the OMV computer system on over 30 separate occasions in the beginning of 2014.  Auditors reported customers paid the fines/fees, but Temple's cash drawer did not reflect payment for any of these transactions.  The total amount Temple defrauded the state, in Rapides Parish, totaled over $5,500.00. 

 

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but Governor Bobby Jindal says he will wait until the legislative session ends in June before announcing whether he will enter the race. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Cruz, Rick Santorum and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will all have some impact on a Jindal candidacy because of their similar politics.  He says it’s smart for Jindal to wait until after the session to start a campaign.

 

LSU President and Chancellor F King Alexander says 2,000 classes will be cancelled and every LSU employee will have to be furloughed if the legislature doesn’t restore the massive cut to higher education that’s proposed in Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget. Alexander says the proposed budget for next fiscal year will only provide LSU with 30-million dollars in state funding, a reduction of 110-million dollars from this fiscal year. He says students and alumni need to speak up loudly against this type of cut

 

It looks like the price at the pump will continue to make our wallets happy. The American Automobile Association reports a gallon of regular on average statewide is $2.22. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says even the US Department of Energy predicts the national average won’t get above $2.50 for the entire year. Redman says the falling price at the pump can, in part, be attributed to a robust supply.

 

Today, a grand jury will consider the case against a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed 14-year-old Cameron Tillman last September. The Sheriff’s Department says Deputy Preston Norman fired in self-defense after Tillman appeared to be holding a gun. The grand jury will hear evidence and testimony, possibly from Norman, himself. Relatives and others who were at the abandoned house with the boy say he was not holding a weapon.

 

Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper has made a “global” plea deal with prosecutors in 4 states where he is accused of drugging and raping women and sentencing started today. He’ll reportedly serve 9 years behind bars. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this type of plea deal means Sharper has agreed to one punishment for all charges. He says this is a good move on the part of Sharper who could get life on a conviction and it’s also smart on the victim side because rapes are hard to prove without a reasonable doubt.

 

The millionaire accused of killing a female friend in California 15 years ago will be staying put in Louisiana. Seventy-one year-old Robert Durst was in court Monday for a bond hearing on weapons charges, a week after he was discovered at a New Orleans hotel under a fake name, with a gun, passport and a large amount of cash. He had been sent to a prison’s mental health unit, as jail officials said he was a suicide risk.

 

A son is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound after cops say he was shot by his father when there was no more orange juice in their Baton Rouge home. They say 58-year-old Eldrige Dukes got into a huge fight with his son when he discovered the orange juice was gone and began to chase him around the house with a gun and firing several times eventually striking the teen in the butt. Dukes is charged with attempted manslaughter and illegal use of a dangerous weapon. The son is going to be okay.

 

A 30-year-old Baton Rouge heroin user will spend at least 6 years in prison on charges related to the death of his girlfriend from a fatal overdose. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore says Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin.

Moore says the evidence showed that Eirick purchased the heroin earlier in the day, and he and Leah Hitchinson shot each other up. He says since the Eirick supplied Hitchinson with the heroin that lead to her death, he was charged.

 

Sports..

 

The number one ranked LSU baseball team will resume its rivalry with Tulane tonight in New Orleans. The Fighting Tigers are 21-and-3 overall, while the Green Wave are 17-and-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

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News for Monday 032315

By Dave Graichen

 

State police report a two vehicle accident late Saturday night claimed the life of a 16 year old driver from Florian and injured another teen from Many. The accident occurred shortly before midnight when a pickup driven by Kelby Pilcher crossed the center line of highway 118 and struck another pickup head on. Pilcher was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene. 18 year old Michael Fair, the driver of the vehicle that was struck, was wearing a seatbelt and survived the crash with serious injuries. Routine toxicology tests are pending.  The crash remains under investigation.

 

An Opelousas man died early Sunday in a crash on La. 749 in St. Landry Parish. The state police report 38 year old Herbert Rideau was driving north near Opelousas about 1:30 a.m. when his pickup truck ran off the right side of the road and struck a parked 18-wheeler. Rideau was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology tests are pending and the crash remains under investigation.

 

Police are investigating the case of a man who walked into the New Orleans airport wielding a machete and slashing at TSA officers while spraying them with bug spray before being shot several times. The Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office say a TSA officer and traveler sustained non-life threatening injuries apparently from bullets fired at the suspect by a sheriff’s deputy. The man, 62-year-old Richard White of Kenner, died from his injuries.

 

According to state officials, Louisiana casinos brought in $224.1 million dollars last month which is 6.8 percent higher than February the year before. Casino Association Executive Director Wade Duty says while the revenues are up, this isn’t an accurate year-to-year comparison because of the mid-December opening of the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.

He says the big gains can also be attributed to lower gas prices as more out of state gamblers head in.

 

The state Department of Transportation and Development is taking part in National Work Zone Awareness Week which runs through Friday. DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett says this is about bringing attention to the fact that safety should be a top priority through road construction areas. Mallett says since 2013 in Louisiana there’s been about 580 people who have lost their lives in work zones. Mallett says drivers face fines, fees and other consequences if they’re caught speeding in a work zone or driving without their headlights on.

 

Former New Orleans Saints Safety Darren Sharper has cut a deal on charges he drugged and raped women in four states. The Orleans DA office says details of the deal have not been made public. A news release says Sharper is also pleading guilty to charges in three other states and federal charges.

 

Parks Senator Fred Mills is sponsoring legislation this session that looks at ways to change the way public school teachers are evaluated. Currently educator effectiveness is determined by students’ standardized test results. Mills says his bill seeks to make a teacher’s job performance more accurately measured.  He says this measure would take things back to the way they used to be when it comes to checking out how a teacher is doing. Mills says the proposed law would not completely remove the use of test scores as a factor in deciding teacher effectiveness.

 

A Shreveport lawmaker feels the state legislature should look at different options in trying to shrink the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit. Democratic Representative Patrick Williams it’s clear that the state needs to generate additional revenue. The House Ways and Means Committee member says a hike on cigarette and alcohol taxes is one way the state can raise funds quickly. Williams also feels that lawmakers should take a closer look at tax incentives offered by the state to shrink the budget gap. He says some of these are not paying dividends back to the state.

 

Sentencing is scheduled today for a Baton Rouge man who allegedly shot his girlfriend up with a fatal injection of heroin in 2013. 31-year-old Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and heroin distribution in the death of 31-year old Leah Hutchinson. Eirick was originally charged with second degree murder in this case, but pleaded to the lesser charge of negligent homicide in October.

 

The 2015 Poncatoula Strawberry Festival Poster is being called racist by some, and beautiful by others. The Tangipahoa NAACP says the painting, depicting faceless black children carrying a basket of strawberries, is offensive and they are calling for it to stop being sold immediately. Strawberry Festival spokesperson Shelley Matherne says the depiction is meant to build a bridge between cultures.

 

Sports..

 

LSU won it’s series with  Arkansas over the weekend with anxiety-filled 7-4 rubber match win.

The Tigers won a three-game Southeastern Conference series after losing the opening game for just the second time in five years, and they grabbed a 10th series win over the Razorbacks in the last 11 tries.

 

The “Dunkin Dogs” of Louisiana Tech will face Texas A&M tonight in the second round of the NIT.  Bulldogs Coach Michael White says his program doesn’t have many opportunities to beat a team from a major conference, so they need to take advantage of it when it comes. Tech enters the game with a 26-8 record, while the Aggies are 21-11 and beat Montana in the opening round of the NIT.

 

The Pelicans are now three games back of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after completing an 0-for-3 road trip with a 107-100 loss to the Clippers.

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News for Friday 032015

By Dave Graichen

 

The Spring Equinox occurs later today at precisely 5:45pm our time, marking the end of winter and the very beginning of Spring. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the Bayou State has been getting a lot of rain over the past few weeks and it’s setting the stage for what we can expect this spring. He says the good news is that the Climate Prediction Center says we should have normal temperatures throughout the season

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy says the Jindal Administration is considering selling the Louisiana Lottery as a way to help plug the state’s massive budget hole. The Administration is denying this. But, Kennedy says he has reports from CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs which essentially say that selling the Louisiana Lottery would provide significant general fund relief. He says these documents are irrefutable evidence that these discussions are ongoing

 

LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab says more and more Louisianians are starting to say that the state is headed in the right direction. In the results of their 2015 Louisiana survey, Director Michael Henderson also says 26-percent of citizens say the state business climate is better than it was a year ago. He says public confidence in state government to effectively deal with the most pressing issues has increased for the first time in five years.

 

State Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret tells lawmakers it’s time to reign in the state’s film tax credit program. Moret says the state’s film program has created an estimated ten-thousand jobs and brought positive attention to the state, but it only produces 20-cents in revenue for every dollar of tax credit. Moret also suggests tighter controls on who is getting the tax credits as there have been recent reports of fraud in the program. But he says the most important thing is limiting the program’s benefits so the state has a greater control of how much they are spending on it.

 

A survey by MarblePort Polling on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican David Vitter leading the field with 34-percent of the vote. Democrat John Bel Edwards is close behind with 31-percent, followed by Republicans Jay Dardenne with 14-percent and Scott Angelle with 7-percent. The automated survey polled just over 1000 Louisiana residents.

 

Spring is in the air and crawfish season is in full swing in Louisiana. Gulf Seafood Institute Chairman Harlon Pearce says they expected a substantial change in the price of the mudbugs once we got those crazy early March winter temperatures out of the way and you’ll certainly see it this weekend. Pearce says you could easily see boiled crawfish this weekend at about $3.50 a pound

 

Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the Jindal Administration’s budget for next fiscal year doesn’t fund a presidential preference primary for Louisiana in 2016. It would cost three and a half million dollars and Schedler says he’s telling lawmakers that unless they command another way, the state intends to move forward. A spokesperson from the Division of Administration says they have spoken with Schedler and they will work with his office to come up with a funding solution so that the state can have a Presidential Primary next year.

 

According to the Louisiana National Guard, they have received a total of 10 bids from companies to destroy about 75 hundred tons of M6 artillery propellant near Camp Minden. An evaluation team is being formed with a dialog committee, after some residents spoke out against the open burning method. The Guard says they may consider other methods.

 

An appeals court judge has thrown out the sentence of former Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson and ordered a re-sentencing. Thompson was convicted in 2013 on three counts of malfeasance in office. The court ruled that Thompson’s sentence of six years in prison, combined with having to pay restitution of almost $52,000, was excessive. It is unknown when the re-sentencing will take place.

 

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says an 85-year-old man is booked with vehicular homicide charges for allegedly running over his long time female companion in a driveway. They say when deputies responded to medical emergency in DeQuincy they found 56-year-old Mary Franklin laying near the driveway and she was pronounced dead at the scene. It was determined she was run over by James Abdalla Jr. He is in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on $60,000 bond.

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News for Thursday 031915

By Dave Graichen

 

LifeShare Blood Center reports Donations of O negative blood are being sought to meet a critical need. Donors of all blood types are necessary and welcome, but the immediate need is for more O negative donors. Blood donations of blood may be made at the LifeShare Donation Center on North Mall Drive in Alexandria.

 

The IRS says there are about 22,000 people in Louisiana who did not file a tax return in 2011 which amounts to potential refunds of up to $21.4 million dollars. Spokeswoman Lea (Lee) Crusberg says tax payers only have until April 15th of this year to file their 2011 return to get their refund or else the money will go into the US Treasury. Crusberg says the average potential refund in Louisiana is $693.

 

Just as some 316-thousand students are taking the Common Core tests this week, Governor Bobby Jindal announces a plan to remove Common Core from Louisiana’s public schools and replace it with a plan and test developed by Louisiana teachers and parents. Jindal says the plan will be presented to lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session next month.

 

State Superintendent John White is moving forward with plans to have Louisiana educators review and tweak the Common Core academic standards, despite Gov. Bobby Jindal’s intent to support legislation to throw them out altogether. White reviewed preliminary plans with educators, superintendents and other stakeholders Wednesday morning, just hours before Jindal’s statements. They will be discussed with superintendents from across the state on Thursday.

 

There’s a new state-wide poll that shows 56-percent of Louisiana residents support an increase in the state’s cigarette tax. That same poll also revealed Governor Bobby Jindal with a 28 percent positive rating.

 

While drivers enjoy low gas prices, the plummeting price of crude is starting to take its toll on the oil industry, with layoffs happening here in Louisiana. In the past few months, about a thousand oil industry jobs have been lost, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. State officials say they are optimistic that the losses will be temporary.

 

The drop in the price of oil was seen in a new lease sales yesterday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Regulators report only 195 bids for new oil and gas leasing were placed off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That’s the lowest amount since 1986, when there were only 129 bids offered.

 

State Police say a former detective with the Ville Platte Police Department has been arrested on multiple charges. Authorities say Nathanial Savoy, who also owns a roofing business, was allegedly spotted on surveillance video stealing roofing materials from a local business. To add insult to injury, he was reportedly in a police unit when the crime was committed.

 

New Orleans Senator JP Morrell files a bill that would allow public students in Orleans Parish to be surveyed about what type of behaviors they are involved in — including sexual behavior. He says results of such a review would help with coming up with a sex ed class that would actually be effective. Baton Rouge Representative Pat Smith introduced similar legislation last year but it failed after a massive push-back from the Louisiana Family Forum. Morrell says opponents believe that by addressing sexual education you are making kids promiscuous.

 

Lobbyists can spend more wining and dining legislators and others they seek to influence beginning later this year as the cap increases yet again, but not by much. The Louisiana Board of Ethics is scheduled Friday to start the legal process to allow $60 to be spent per occasion effective July 1. The current per event limit is $58. The amount has been steadily rising since the Legislature implemented a $50 spending cap in 2008 as part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ethics package. The new law allowed the spending cap to increase with the consumer price index, or CPI. The provision has resulted in a 20 percent increase over five years.

 

Sports..

 

Ninth-seeded LSU faces 8th seeded North Carolina State tonight in the NCAA Tournament. The oddsmakers have the Wolfpack as a two-point favorite.

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News for Wednesday 031814

By Dave Graichen

 

We missed an important birthday yesterday.. The Town Talk was founded on March 17, 1883. That made the paper a young 132 years old. To give you an example of how different life was back then, an article in the March 18th Paper described how Hoodlums damaged several women’s dresses by stretching a tarred rope across a dark street. The women returning from church damaged their dresses when they rubbed up against it.  The suggestion for punishment if caught, The boys should be tarred and feathered.  We’ve come a long way, or have we? A belated Happy Birthday to the Town Talk.

 

It didn’t take long, Rapides Parish police jurors on Tuesday gave their stamp of approval to an agreement with the city of Alexandria that could pave the way for Coliseum renovations to begin. Police jurors met in executive session for 37 minutes Tuesday morning before the unanimous vote to go along with the terms of a proposed Alexandria City Council ordinance.

The ordinance was introduced by the City Council on Monday and is expected to come up for a council vote in early April.

 

Latest employment numbers show that there were 7500 less people working in January than in December, ending a long streak of monthly employment gains. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says even though there was the typical job drop that you see in January, we’re still employing far more people this year than we were this time last year. At 7 percent the unemployment rate for January ranked as the third highest among states.

 

Residents will soon have to pay more for flood insurance. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the increases are the result of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that were passed by Congress last year.  He says the premium hikes for primary residences are capped at 18-percent each year. However,  premium increases for second residences, commercial, and rental properties are capped at 25-percent per year. In addition to the rate increases, property owners will have to pay a surcharge, $25 per year for your primary residence and $250 for businesses, rentals, or secondary residences. Donelon says these changes are complicated, so you may want to get some advice.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal is looking at selling the remainder of a multi-billion dollar settlement from tobacco manufacturers to help the state’s budget problems. The Jindal administration says it could be used finance the TOP’s scholarship program for the next seven to eight years, but State Treasurer John Kennedy doesn’t like this idea. Kennedy says the Jindal administration has raided all other pots of money and this is the last one left. Despite Kennedy’s concerns, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation, voted to begin the process of selling the tobacco settlement.

 

State Police say a truck driver from Alabama died when he was run over by a trooper who was looking for him in Madison Parish. Sgt. James Anderson says they received a report early Tuesday morning that an 18-wheeler was stuck in the lane of travel on US Highway 65. Anderson says 47-year-old David Watford of Cottonwood, Alabama was walking in the middle of the road wearing blue jeans and a camouflage shirt when he was struck and killed by the trooper. The investigation continues.

 

An 81-year-old Korean War veteran died in a mobile home fire in Arnaudville Tuesday  morning. The state Fire Marshal’s office has identified the victim as Robert Kaltenbach. Investigators say the fire started near a desk right next to an overloaded power outlet.

 

A State Police investigation into criminal activity at Jackson Parish Hospital has led to the arrest of four people, three of whom were hospital employees. Sgt. James Anderson says investigators discovered cases of illegal drug distribution and payroll fraud at the hospital.

 

Calcasieu, Jackson, and Central School systems lead the state in the percentage of opt-outs during Monday’s first day of statewide PARCC testing. Jackson had an opt-out rate of 13-percent, followed by 12-percent for Calcasieu and eight-percent for Central. Central School Superintendent Michael Faulk says 153 students in the district did not participate.  Faulk believes social media has something to do with the number of opt-outs. He says they began a Facebook page to try to deal with the false information about the tests spreading on the site.

 

The Mayor of Dequincy says he’s not concerned about a fake news site once again targeting the city with an article claiming they’ve passed some ridiculous law. This time “The News Examiner” says polygamy is now legal in DeQuincy. Other articles in the past have claimed that the city was being attacked by gay zombies on bath salts and that officials had banned twerking. The Mayor says he would like to invite the man who is writing these stories to visit the Calcasieu Parish town and see what it really has to offer.

 

 

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News for Tuesday 031715

By Dave Graichen

 

The Louisiana national guard made it official yesterday releasing the names  of the four guardsmen killed March 10 when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed into Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola, Florida, during a training exercise. The Guardsmen killed are:  37 year old Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin Jr, 44 year old Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother, 40 year old Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron and 26 year old Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich. Maj. Gen. Glenn  Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard said, while announcing the names, that the Guardsmen represent the best of us and their names will forever be etched on our hearts and in our minds.

 

Today is the big day. Motorists who commute between Alexandria and Pineville and take the O.K. Allen Bridge will be redirected to begin utilizing the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge starting this morning at 10am. Deidra Druilhet with the state Department of Transportation says

only the northbound span of the new bridge has been completed  and it will be used for the two-way traffic while the O.K. Allen Bridge is torn down. Over 20,000 motorists cross the Red River over the O.K. Allen Bridge on a daily basis. The southbound span is expected to be ready by mid-2016.

 

An ordinance introduced Monday by the Alexandria City Council is intended to settle the Rapides Parish Coliseum property dispute with the Police Jury. The deal includes the Police Jury paying the city $1.1 million as part of a land swap. The agreement would give the parish control of the parking lot at the Coliseum. The parking lot has been the center of a dispute between the city and the parish. Resolution of the dispute is needed to clear the way for the $22.9 million renovation of the Coliseum to begin.

 

The APD reports a North MacArthur drive homeowner chased a burglar who had just robbed his home Saturday leading police directly to the robbers Enterprise Road home. Police arrested 38 James Robertson and booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Robertson has been  charged with simple burglary.

 

State Superintendent of Education John White says after the first day of PARCC testing, concerns that there would be widespread non-participation did not bear out. He says preliminary findings show more than 320,000 students took the test associated Common Core which is about 99% participation. White says half of the 1% of non-participants came from Calcasieu Parish. He also says Red River, Jackson and Central Community had a high number of students who didn’t test.

 

The state’s economic development secretary Stephen Moret will leave his job in May and take over as the president and CEO of the LSU foundation, which is LSU’s top fundraising organization. Moret is an LSU grad and has severed as Governor Bobby Jindal’s LED secretary since 2008.

 

A Washington Post article refers to Governor Bobby Jindal as one of the great mysteries of the early 2016 presidential campaign. They said that not long ago, Jindal was considered a fresh new face in the Republican Party, but his star has since fallen. The Post says, for the first time in Jindal’s political career, he appears to be lost. They say the governor looks like he’s trying to be every politician at once. According to The Post, Jindal is polling at around two-percent in national Republican polls.

 

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office says a toddler from Slidell is in the hospital after being run over apparently by a family member who then left the scene. They say 44-year-old Derrick Populus eventually admitted he struck the child with a vehicle in the driveway then drove off. He is booked with felony hit-and-run. The child’s condition appears to be improving.

 

Shreveport Representative Barbra Norton has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would make it illegal to supply a child 12 or under with an Uzi sub-machine gun. She says kids are not big enough to handle such a large weapon in a safe manner. Norton says she realizes that some parents want to teach their children how to shoot guns for hunting or for general safety reasons, but she sees no reason for kids to ever have a machine gun.

 

Jury selection begins today in Lafayette in the first-degree murder trial of Seth Fontenot, accused of a 2013 shooting that killed 15-year old Austin Rivault and injured two others. Fontenot claims he fired to scare the teens, who he thought were breaking into his truck, not to hurt them.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU men’s basketball team leaves today for Pittsburgh, where they’ll play North Carolina State on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers bring a 22-and-10 record to the Big Dance and needs to win six straight games to win a national championship.

 

The new Baseball America Poll is out and LSU is still on top now for the second straight week. The Tigers went 3-1 on the week losing once in a 14-inning game against ole Miss. They’re joined in the top 10 with four other SEC teams, Florida, Vandy, Texas A&M and South Carolina.

 

Louisiana Tech hosts Central Michigan tonight in the N-I-T. It’s the second straight year the Bulldogs will get to host a postseason game. But this year Tech is coming off a disappointing loss in the Conference USA tournament. Central Michigan was the regular season Mid-American Conference West Division champions this season and they boast a record of 23-and-8.

 

 

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News for Monday 031615

By Dave Graichen

 

Early Sunday afternoon,  a Texas couple were killed in Hineston, when their motorcycle struck a vehicle that turned directly into their path. The accident occurred when 62 year old Larry Callahan made a left turn off of highway 121. The driver of the motorcycle attempted to stop in time but was unable to do so. Callahan was not injured, however he was charged with improper turning.

 

Funeral services will be held today for former Rapides Parish Police Juror Stephen Bordelon who passed away Friday. Bordelon is known for his service to the city of Pineville in several capacities including the fire department and city council, as well as his tenure on the Rapides Parish Police Jury. Visitation will be at Hixson Brothers in Pineville this morning at 9 a.m. until the service at 11 a.m. Stephen Bordelon was 75

 

Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order calling for the flags at all state buildings to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the military members who lost their lives in the Black Hawk crash last week. The order is through this Friday at sunset.

 

Students in third through eighth grades will begin taking the controversial tests tied to Common Core today. This is the first time PARCC will be administered in Louisiana. State Department of Education Superintendent John White says this is about getting a basic description of what kids should be able to do at the end of each grade level. There are many people who oppose Common Core arguing that it’s too complex but White says it’s time that we stop teaching math with memorization.

 

A special enrollment period began Sunday on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace giving some, who didn’t realized they would be penalized on their taxes for not being covered, a second chance of obtaining health insurance. This special enrollment period will go through April 30.

 

The state Department of Health and Hospitals announces a new initiative aimed at reducing c-section rates among Louisiana mothers. DHH Secretary Kathy Kleibert says “Go the Full 40″ is a voluntary pledge by hospitals to end non-medically indicated induced pregnancies. Kleibert says about 50% of babies in Louisiana are born before 40 weeks gestation.

 

The bird flu has made a recent appearance in Arkansas, along with confirmations in some mid-western and northwestern states. Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says  a poultry quarantine will keep any live poultry products from entering Louisiana from an area that’s been affected. The good news is, this disease is not normally contracted by humans.

 

Proposed legislation will be presented to lawmakers that will provide funds to pay for sexual assault victim care with expired winning casino tickets. New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno says, under the proposed law, hospitals would not bill victims -and- those who come forward aren’t limited to 72 hours to report an incident in order for the services to be provided at no charge. You can expect the casinos to fight this legislation. Currently, casinos and tracks are allowed to keep expired winnings as earnings.

 

The four candidates for governor met last Friday in a forum to discuss Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. As you may suspect, all said they support it. The Louisiana gubernatorial election will take place on October 24.

 

Richard J. “Dick” Brennan Sr., a restaurateur who with his family owned and managed some of New Orleans most celebrated dining establishments, died Saturday at his home in New Orleans. Along with his siblings, he was instrumental in the transformation of Commander’s Palace into the definitive modern Creole restaurant of its generation, beginning in the 1970s. Dick Brennan Sr was 84.

 

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it is reported that nearly 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 are not getting tested as recommended. Last year alone, more than 50,000 people died of colorectal cancer in the United States.

 

Sports..

 

For the first time since 2009, the LSU Tigers are in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Bayou Bengals are a nine-seed and they’ll face North Carolina State on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Coach Johnny Jones says the goal all season long was to get an invite to the Big Dance.

 

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News For Friday 031315

By Dave Graichen

 

Eglin Air Force Base officials say the wreckage of the Army helicopter that crashed Tuesday night over the Florida Panhandle has been found. Eglin Col. Monte Cannon says the wreckage was located in about 25 feet of water. The search has gone from a search and rescue to now just a rescue mission. The Coast Guard announced Thursday afternoon nine of the 11 victims have been found, including two from Louisiana. Pineville native David Strother a chief warrant officer, is one of those who lost his life. Strother is being remembered as someone who made the "ultimate sacrifice" for his country.

 

Alexandria PD report that foul play is not suspected in the death of a man whose body was found under a bridge on North 3rd street Wednesday morning. The man's body was sent for an autopsy and other forensic testing. The man's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

 

They’ve made progress. But, there’s more work to do. S.A.C.S The Southern Association Of Colleges and Schools, visited the Louisiana College Campus on Wednesday. The good news, Louisiana College is in compliance with five of the six standards that led to it being placed on probation last year. A standard citing “external influence” remains unresolved.  SACS placed the school on probation in June, six months after the agency reaffirmed its accreditation. LC had been on warning with SACS for two years prior.

 

Lt Governor hopeful Kip Holden is finding himself involved in a scandal as a 2011 lawsuit has surfaced claiming the Baton Rouge mayor repeatedly sexually harassed a woman who was in Louisiana on business. The lawsuit does not name Holden as a defendant and it’s actually targeted at her former employer. A poll was released this week showing Holden in good position to make the run-off in the lieutenant governor’s race. Holden denies the accusations, saying both he and his wife know the truth on this one.

 

According to a report by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, Louisiana has the highest estimated percentage of unemployed youth in the country. The study also found that New Orleans is third in the nation for the percentage of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who aren’t working or in school.

 

Bogalusa Representative Harold Ritchie files a bill that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to the national average. The governor has proposed an increase in the state’s cigarette tax to the southern regional average, but Ritchie believes the tax on cigarettes should be higher. Ritchie’s bill would raise the tax from 36-cents to a $1.54 per pack. It will be considered during the legislative session that begins April 13th. The Jindal administration says they will support an increase in tobacco taxes, but only if it’s accompanied with a tax break.

 

More police presence in New Orleans, as State Police have redeployed additional troopers to patrol the Crescent City. This comes courtesy of $2.5 million dollars raised by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, based on the needs of NOPD and requests from business leaders. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says this will not take away any patrol efforts for the rest of the state.

 

Louisiana Tech is under somewhat of a microscope after a claim comes up accusing their Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity of racist chanting in 2010 — similar to the now-closed Oklahoma Chapter. Tech says there is no evidence of this. Tech says they are investigating the matter.

 

The United Steelworkers union has reached an agreement with Shell that could soon lead to the end of a six-week strike that has affected 12 U.S. refineries,  including two in Louisiana.

 

The union and Royal Dutch Shell have been negotiating a contract that would serve as a blueprint for agreements with other refiners.

 

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating a school bus crash and a driver that is suspected of being under the influence when the accident took place. They say no there were no major injuries of students on the bus. The driver, 50-year-old John Harvey Bernard, was issued a careless operation citation and is still under investigation pending results from a blood alcohol  test.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal announces legislation will once again be brought up this session that would protect sexual assault victims and ensure that they are not charged by hospitals for medical services associated with assault claims. The Stand and Support Survivors Bill is sponsored by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno.

 

A new Centers for Disease Control study shows that two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer in the US survive five years or more. The cancer survivor estimates are based on cases of invasive cancers reported during 2011. Associate Dean for Research at LSU’s School of Public Health, Ed Trapido, says these numbers show a remarkable amount of progress.

Among the most common types of cancer, the study reports a five-year-survival rate of 97-percent for prostate cancer and 88-percent for breast cancer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sports..

 

The New Orleans Saints did another trade Thursday  to clear some salary cap room, saving the team $3.6 million. Two time Pro-Bowler guard Ben Grubbs was traded to Kansas City in exchange for a 5th round pick. The move allowed the Black and Gold to sign cornerback Brandon Browner from the New England Patriots.

 

According to a new research by the LSU economics department, LSU is the number 32 most disliked team in the country. LSU is behind some other SEC schools-Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The most disliked team in the nation is Boise State.

 

The LSU Tigers begin SEC play tonight against Ole Miss as the number one ranked team in the country according to Baseball America. Coach Paul Mainieri says his team earned that number one ranking, by playing solid baseball. Jared Poche will be tonight’s starting pitcher.

 

 

 

 

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The investigation continues today in the Army helicopter crash that killed all 11 servicemen on board during a training mission Tuesday night in the Florida Panhandle. Of the 11, four were Louisiana National Guard soldiers based out of Hammond.  David Strother Of Pineville was one of four Louisiana National Guardsmen serving as crew members. The other seven servicemen were Marines based out of Fort LaJeune in North Carolina.

 

U.S. Attorney Walt Green announced yesterday a licensed clinical social worker has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for her role in a health care fraud scheme involving two companies that operated in the Alexandria area. 50 year old Carla Clark of Pineville, also was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson to pay more than $413,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

 

State Police announce that during a crackdown of insurance fraud throughout Louisiana, several arrests have been made of people who have tried to abuse the system various ways. LSP Spokesman Dustin Dwight says insurance fraud is a problem that affects all citizens here who pay some of the highest premiums in the country. This latest round of arrests include people who are accused of faking car accidents, filing fraudulent medical bills from injuries they’ve claimed to have received in vehicle crashes.

 

Work is progressing on several million dollars of improvements to pave the way for construction of a Cool Planet Energy Systems plant at the Port of Alexandria. The larger portion of the improvements began a few weeks ago, though rain has robbed contractors of many of those days. The $6.4 million project includes construction of roads, fire-suppressant equipment and an operations center for the plant, which will manufacture gasoline and agriculture-boosting biochar out of wood chips. On Wednesday, the port’s board of commissioners approved advertising for an additional $1.8 million in infrastructure improvements related to the project.

 

An autopsy performed on the US Deputy Marshal who was fatally injured Tuesday as a result of a shoot-out with a suspect, died because of a shot to the neck. Twenty-seven year-old Josie Wells was serving a warrant for a double homicide suspect in Scotlandville  when he was shot. The suspect, Jamie Croom,  succumbed to his injuries Yesterday. Wells leaves behind a wife and a baby on the way.

 

Payscale-dot-com ranks Louisiana Tech number one in the state in overall Return of Investment for both in-state and out-of-state students. University spokesman Dave Guerin says this is a great accomplishment and it shows Louisiana Tech provides students with marketable skills to go into a company and make an impact. This is the second straight year that Tech has received the top ranking in Louisiana.

 

State Treasurer John Kennedy wants the Jindal administration to rethink the sale of the rest of the state’s tobacco settlement to generate cash to fill a budget hole. Kennedy said yesterday It’s the same bad fiscal policy that’s created the current $1.6 billion “structural deficit” in the state budget. The administration proposes sale of the remaining portion of a 1998 tobacco settlement in order to generate $750 million for spending.

 

State education officials announced yesterday, while about 320,000 public school students will take Common Core tests starting Monday, they will also face a second round of the exams May 4-8. The second phase, like the questions next week, will focus on what students know about math, reading and writing. Common Core and its assessments have been a hot topic of debate for the past 18 months, and the tests had to overcome a court challenge from Gov. Bobby Jindal before they won final clearance.

 

The video of a 7-year-old girl’s tearful reaction to New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham getting traded to Seattle, has gone viral. The child, Lexia Woods, was obviously devastated after her mother, Ashley Ann Woods, told her the news with the video camera rolling. Lexia is doing much better today.

 

The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in an overnight home invasion  in New Iberia, where two male victims inside the home were shot. Sheriff Louis Ackal says the victims were transported to the hospital; the two suspects wore ski masks, and are still at large.

 

The gas price keeps rising. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.26 up a penny in the past 24 hours.

 

Sports..

 

Louisiana Tech men’s basketball begins play tonight in the Conference USA tonight. The Bulldogs won the regular season title and a conference tournament championship will give them an automatic berth in the Big Dance.

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