KSYL Local News Archives for 2012-02

News For Wednesday 02/29/2012


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 022912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR LONGTIME BROADCASTER AND SPORTSMAN LES GOLMON WILL BE HELD TODAY IN ALEXANDRIA. GOLMON WORE MANY HATS IN HIS LIFETIME. HE WAS GENERAL MANAGER OF KALB TV FOR MANY YEARS UNTIL 2009 WHEN HE RETIRED. DURING HIS TIME AT KALB TV , HE SERVED AS PRESIDENT OF THE LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS, WHICH AWARDED HIM THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD IN 2003. LES WAS ALSO WELL KNOW IN THE WORLD OF PROFESSIONAL FISHERMAN AND EVEN HOST AN OUTDOORS TV SHOW. VISITATION IS SET FOR NOON TO 2 P.M. TODAY WITH A MEMORIAL SERVICE TO FOLLOW IN CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH IN ALEXANDRIA.

LOUISIANA IS TESTING ITS ABILITY TO DISTRIBUTE LARGE QUANTITIES OF MEDICINE DURING A HEALTH CRISIS, LIKE A FLU PANDEMIC, HURRICANE OR TERRORIST ATTACK. STATE HEALTH OFFICER DOCTOR JIMMY GUIDRY SAYS THE EXERCISE COVERS EVERYTHING FROM REQUESTING MEDICINES FROM THE C-D-C TO HOW IT WOULD BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE PUBLIC IN AN ORGANIZED MANNER. THE STATEWIDE EXERCISE CONTINUES THROUGH THURSDAY.

THE PINEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT WILL BE PRESENT THE THIRD SESSION OF ITS CITIZENS ACADEMY ON TUESDAY, MARCH 6, AT THE TUDOR COMMUNITY CENTER, 344 BRAGG ST.
CLASSES WILL BE HELD TUESDAY AND THURSDAY FROM 6 TO 8 P.M., WITH ONE SATURDAY CLASS AT A LOCAL SHOOTING RANGE. TOPICS TO BE COVERED INCLUDED USE OF FORCE, FIREARM SAFETY AND TRAFFIC INVESTIGATION. APPLICANTS WILL BE SUBJECT TO A BACKGROUND CHECK. FOR DETAILS, CALL CAPT. DARRIN LUNEAU AT (318) 487-6559. DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FROM WWW.PINEVILLE.NET.

LSU IS MOVING AHEAD WITH PLANS TO EXPAND THE SOUTH END ZONE OF TIGER STADIUM. ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS THE PROPOSED ADDITION WOULD INCLUDE FOUR-THOUSAND CLUB SEATS AND A 15-HUNDRED SEAT UPPER DECK. VINCENT SAYS PRIVATE FUNDS WOULD PAY FOR THE EXPANSION AND THEY MIGHT BE ABLE COMPLETE IT FOR THE 2014 SEASON.

A COMMITTEE OF THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF REGENTS HAS APPROVED THE MERGER OF LOUISIANA TECH AND LSU-SHREVEPORT. REGENTS CHAIRMAN BOB LEVY OF RUSTON SAYS HE SEES NO REASON THE BOARD WOULD NOT APPROVE THE MERGER TO SEND TO THE LEGISLATURE FOR FINAL APPROVAL. THE GOAL OF THE MERGER WOULD BE TO PROVIDE BETTER EDUCATIONAL SERVICES TO PEOPLE IN THE SHREVEPORT AREA.

THIS WEEK MARKS THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE DATE THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT ISSUED THE FIRST PERMIT FOR A NEW DEEPWATER WELL UNDER NEW SAFETY RULES FOLLOWING THE BP OIL SPILL. LOUISIANA MID-CONTINENT OIL AND GAS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT CHRIS JOHN SAYS THE RIG COUNT IN THE GULF IS ALMOST EQUAL TO THE NUMBER OF RIGS WORKING IN THE AREA PRIOR TO THE DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER. HE SAYS PROGRESS HAS NOT COME WITHOUT SOME FRUSTRATION, BUT THE GULF IS STILL PRODUCING A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE NATION'S OIL AND GAS.

A NEW STATE LAWMAKER IS REVIVING AN ANNUAL DEBATE OVER WHETHER LOUISIANA SHOULD MANDATE DRUG TESTING FOR WELFARE RECIPIENTS. REP. SHERMAN MACK, A REPUBLICAN FROM LIVINGSTON BEGINNING HIS FIRST TERM IN OFFICE, HAS PROPOSED THE MEASURE FOR THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT BEGINS MARCH 12. MACK'S BILL WOULD REQUIRE 20 PERCENT OF ADULTS WHO RECEIVE AID THROUGH THE FAMILY INDEPENDENCE TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM BE DRUG-TESTED. PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS TO MANDATE SUCH TESTING HAVE REPEATEDLY FAILED TO WIN APPROVAL FROM LAWMAKERS. SUPPORTERS SAY THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE WELFARE CHECKS PAY FOR FAMILY NEEDS, NOT DRUGS. OPPONENTS SAY THE PROPOSAL UNFAIRLY TARGETS POOR MOTHERS WITH NO PROOF THEY ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE ON DRUGS THAN OTHERS WHO RECEIVE AID THROUGH THE STATE.

A BATON ROUGE SENATOR PROPOSES LEGISLATION TO MAKE IT ILLEGAL FOR DRIVE-THROUGH DAIQUIRI SHOPS TO USE LIDS THAT CAN BE PUNCTURED BY A STRAW. REPUBLICAN DAN CLAITOR SAYS MANY DRIVE-THROUGH DAIQUIRI CUSTOMERS PUT A STRAW IN THEIR DRINK AND DRIVE TO THEIR DESTINATION. HE SAYS THIS SHOULD BE A VIOLATION OF THE STATE'S OPEN CONTAINER LAW. CLAITOR SAYS HE FILED THIS EXACT BILL TWO YEARS AGO AND IT DIDN'T GET OUT OF COMMITTEE. HE SAYS HE HAS NO IDEA WHY ANYONE WOULD OPPOSE IT. BUT, HE SAYS HE WILL, TRY AND TRY AGAIN TO GET IT PASSED.

JURORS WHO HAVE LISTENED TO WEEKS OF TESTIMONY IN THE FRAUD TRIAL OF FORMER TEXAS TYCOON R. ALLEN STANFORD SOON WILL DECIDE WHETHER HE IS A MASTER CON MAN WHO STOLE $7 BILLION FROM INVESTORS OR THE VICTIM OF AN UNSCRUPULOUS BUSINESS PARTNER AND OVERZEALOUS PROSECUTORS. PROSECUTORS AND DEFENSE ATTORNEYS WERE SET TO MAKE THEIR FINAL PITCH TO JURORS DURING CLOSING ARGUMENTS WEDNESDAY AT STANFORD'S TRIAL IN HOUSTON. PROSECUTORS SAY STANFORD BILKED INVESTORS OUT OF MORE THAN $7 BILLION THROUGH THE SALES OF CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT FROM HIS CARIBBEAN BANK. STANFORD'S ATTORNEYS CLAIM HIS EX-CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER WAS BEHIND THE ALLEGED FRAUD AND THAT THE FINANCIER'S BUSINESS EMPIRE WAS LEGITIMATE. IF CONVICTED, THE ONE-TIME BILLIONAIRE COULD BE SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 20 YEARS IN PRISON.

POLICE IN NEW ORLEANS HAVE ARRESTED A SUSPECT IN THE JANUARY DEATH OF A MAN WHO WAS SHOT WHEN HE TRIED TO STOP A CARJACKING. POLICE ARRESTED A 17-YEAR-OLD SUSPECT IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEATH OF 44-YEAR-OLD HARRY "MIKE" AINSWORTH. AINSWORTH WAS FATALLY SHOT JAN. 25. HE HAD BEEN TAKING HIS TWO SONS TO A SCHOOL BUS IN NEW ORLEANS' ALGIERS NEIGHBORHOOD WHEN HE RUSHED TO HELP A WOMAN WHO WAS BEING CARJACKED. HE DIED IN FRONT OF HIS CHILDREN.

THE UNSOLVED SLAYINGS OF EIGHT WOMEN IN JEFFERSON DAVIS PARISH WILL BE THE SUBJECT OF AN UPCOMING EPISODE OF INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY'S NEW "DARK MINDS" TELEVISION SERIES. THE EPISODE TITLED "BRUTAL BAYOU" AIRS AT 9 P.M. WEDNESDAY AND WILL EXPLORE THE KILLINGS THAT OCCURRED IN AND AROUND JENNINGS FROM MAY 2005 THROUGH AUGUST 2009. THE FIRST OF THE EIGHT SLAYINGS WAS DISCOVERED IN MAY 2005. SINCE THEN, SEVEN OTHER WOMEN, RANGING IN AGE FROM 17 TO 29, HAVE BEEN FOUND DUMPED IN EITHER CANALS OR ALONG ROADWAYS. THE KILLINGS ARE BELIEVED TO BE THE WORK OF A SERIAL KILLER.

CLEMENT INDUSTRIES, A MINDEN-BASED MANUFACTURER OF INDUSTRIAL TRAILERS, SAID TUESDAY THAT IT WILL HIRE 25 NEW EMPLOYEES TO CUT THROUGH A SIX-MONTH BACKLOG OF ORDERS. CLEMENT SAID IT IS PROJECTING A 20 PERCENT SALES GROWTH IN 2012, FOLLOWING A 90 PERCENT INCREASE IN 2011. THE COMPANY SAID IT WILL HIRE ADDITIONAL WELDERS AND WELDER TRAINEES WITH THE GOAL OF CUTTING ITS CURRENT BACKLOG BY HALF. IT CURRENTLY EMPLOYS 83.

GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS THERE ARE STEPS PRESIDENT OBAMA CAN TAKE TO CURB THE RISING COST OF GASOLINE. THE PRICE AT THE PUMP IS UP NEARLY 30-CENTS IN THE LAST MONTH AND THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE IS ABOUT 40-CENTS SHY OF A NEW RECORD. JINDAL SAYS THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY NEEDS TO BE ASSURED THERE WILL BE A PREDICTABLE ENVIRONMENT TO PRODUCE ENERGY. JINDAL SAYS THE PRESIDENT ALSO NEEDS TO STOP PROPOSING NEW TAXES ON ENERGY PRODUCTION. JINDAL SAYS THE PRICE OF GAS IS BASED ON FUTURE RISKS. HE SAYS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION COULD CREATE A BETTER ENVIRONMENT FOR ENERGY PRODUCTION BY INCREASING THE LEASING ACTIVITY ONSHORE AND OFFSHORE.

A SHREVEPORT COUPLE FACES CHARGES IN THE ABUSE OF A 9-MONTH-OLD GIRL. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS JOSEPH OUZTS AND ASHLEY BAILEY, BOTH 20, WERE ARRESTED AFTER THE BABY WAS TAKEN TO A HOSPITAL WITH TWO BLACK EYES AND BRUISES ON HER FOREHEAD AND TOP OF HER HEAD AUTHORITIES SAY THEY LATER LEARNED THE BABY HAD BEEN PLACED IN AN INFANT SWING, WHERE SHE SLEPT ALL NIGHT WITHOUT BEING CHECKED ON.

FEDERAL PROSECUTORS SAY THE SON OF A FATHER-SON TEAM RUNNING A WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITY HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO ILLEGALLY DISCHARGING POLLUTANTS.
U.S. ATTORNEY STEPHANIE A. FINLEY SAYS 28-YEAR-OLD CODY TUMA PLEADED GUILTY TUESDAY TO DISCHARGING UNTREATED WASTEWATER INTO THE RED RIVER WITHOUT A PERMIT IN VIOLATION OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT. FEDERAL PROSECUTORS SAY JOHN TUMA, CODY TUMA'S FATHER, STILL FACES CHARGES AS WELL. HIS TRIAL HAS BEEN SET FOR MARCH 12. THE TUMAS RAN THE ARKLA DISPOSAL SERVICES INC. FACILITY IN SHREVEPORT WHICH TREATED INDUSTRIAL AND OILFIELD WASTEWATER. CODY TUMA FACES ONE YEAR IN PRISON OR A FINE OF NOT MORE THAN $100,000.







News For Tuesday 02/28/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 022812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

LOCAL AUTHORITIES HAVE ARRESTED A PINEVILLE MAN AFTER A RAID YESTERDAY UNCOVERED A METH LAB IN FULL OPERATION. 43 YEAR OLD WILLIAM K. MCNEELY HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH CREATING AND OPERATING A CLANDESTINE LAB, POSSESSION AND MANUFACTURE OF A CONTROLLED DANGEROUS SUBSTANCE, AND POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA.

A BILL THAT'S SET FOR DEBATE IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION WOULD REQUIRE A SEX OFFENDER TO PROVIDE NOTIFICATION ON SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITES OF THEIR STATUS AS A SEX OFFENDER. BOSSIER CITY REPRESENTATIVE JEFF THOMPSON SAYS SEX OFFENDERS ALREADY HAVE TO INFORM THEIR NEIGHBORS OF THEIR STATUS, AND THIS IS AN EXTENSION OF THAT. HE SAYS THE NOTIFICATIONS WOULD HAVE TO BE PLACED ON ANY NETWORKING WEBSITE. THOMPSON SAYS HIS LEGISLATION IS IN RESPONSE TO A PREVIOUS SEX OFFENDER INTERNET RESTRICTION LAW THROWN OUT FOR BEING TOO BROAD.

THE EAST BATON ROUGE SHERIFF'S OFFICE RESPONDED TO A CALL REGARDING A GUN THAT WAS BROUGHT TO GLASGOW MIDDLE SCHOOL. AN ANONYMOUS STUDENT REPORTED THE GUN TO ADMINISTRATION YESTERDAY MORNING. AUTHORITIES SAY AT 15-YEAR-OLD 8TH GRADER NOW FACES CHARGES OF CARRYING A FIREARM ON SCHOOL PROPERTY.

INVESTIGATORS SAY A MAN HAS DIED FROM A SELF INFLICTED GUNSHOT WOUND YESTERDAY IN THE PARKING LOT OF THE SULPHUR POST OFFICE. POLICE SAY THEY BELIEVE THE MAN LEFT A NOTE. THE MATTER IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

LOOKING FOR A WAY TO INCREASE CLASS ATTENDANCE, A RESOLUTION BEFORE THE LSU FAULTY SENATE WOULD GIVE PROFESSORS GREATER LEEWAY IN DETERMINING FINAL GRADES BASED ON STUDENT PARTICIPATION. LSU FACULTY SENATE PRESIDENT, KEVIN COPE, SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO CREATE A CULTURE THAT PROMOTES SUCCESS. COPE SAYS THE CURRENT ATMOSPHERE IS CREATING AN ATTITUDE THAT EVERYTHING CAN BE DOWNLOADED OR DONE ON LINE RATHER THAN SHOWING UP FOR CLASS.

LOUISIANA OFFICIALS ARE ABOUT TO SUBMIT THEIR REQUEST FOR EXEMPTIONS FROM THE FEDERAL "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT." THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS ALLOWING STATES TO SEEK WAIVERS FROM THE 2002 ACT'S REQUIREMENTS IF THEY TAKE STEPS DESIGNED TO BETTER PREPARE AND TEST STUDENTS. THE UPDATED WAIVER REQUEST STILL CALLS FOR LESSENING BUREAUCRATIC REQUIREMENTS ON SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS AND SIMPLIFYING LOUISIANA'S LETTER GRADE SYSTEM FOR EVALUATING SCHOOLS. THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL CALLED FOR EVALUATIONS OF SCHOOLS BASED SOLELY ON STUDENT PERFORMANCE. AMONG THE TWEAKS: DROPOUT RATES WOULD ALSO BE A FACTOR IN EVALUATIONS.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA MONDAY URGED THE NATION'S GOVERNORS TO INVEST MORE STATE RESOURCES IN EDUCATION, SAYING A HIGHLY SKILLED WORKFORCE IS CRUCIAL FOR THE U.S. TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE WITH OTHER COUNTRIES. OBAMA MADE HIS PITCH AT A WHITE HOUSE MEETING WITH GOVERNORS IN WASHINGTON AS PART OF THE ANNUAL WINTER MEETING OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION. THE PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA HOSTED A BLACK TIE DINNER WITH THE GOVERNORS SUNDAY NIGHT.
OBAMA SAID AT MONDAY'S SESSION THAT HE SYMPATHIZED WITH GOVERNORS WHOSE STATE BUDGETS HAVE BEEN BADLY SQUEEZED DURING THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN. BUT HE SAID THAT WAS NO REASON TO TRIM RESOURCES FROM SCHOOLS.

STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY HAS A SUGGESTION FOR STATE OFFICIALS CONTEMPLATING GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S SWEEPING SCHOOL REFORM PROGRAM, SPEND A DAY AS A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER. KENNEDY, WHO HAS BEEN A VOLUNTEER SUBSTITUTE IN SEVERAL GRADES FOR YEARS, SAYS BEING A TEACHER TODAY IS A LOT HARDER THAN JUST A FEW YEARS AGO. KENNEDY SAYS HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE EVERY PUBLIC OFFICIAL VOLUNTEER TO SUBSTITUTE TEACH AT LEAST ONE DAY EVERY YEAR. HE SAYS ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO WILL SHAPE PUBLIC EDUCATION POLICY OWE IT TO THE STUDENTS TO FIND OUT WHAT ITS LIKE TO BE IN SCHOOL TODAY.

THE BOARD OF REGENTS HEARS A REPORT TODAY RECOMMENDING THE MERGER OF LSU SHREVEPORT AND LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY. THE MERGER WOULD CEMENT TECH'S POSITION AS THE SECOND LARGEST UNIVERSITY IN LOUISIANA, SECOND ONLY TO LSU.

CHENIERE ENERGY PARTNERS WILL RECEIVE $2 BILLION IN FINANCING FROM BLACKSTONE GROUP TO FUND THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NATURAL GAS EXPORT FACILITY IN SOUTHERN LOUISIANA. THE FACILITY WAS BUILT TO IMPORT NATURAL GAS, BUT A HUGE INCREASE IN PRODUCTION OF NATURAL GAS FROM SHALE FORMATIONS UNDER SEVERAL STATES HAS CREATED A GLUT OF NATURAL GAS IN THE U.S. NOW CHENIERE AND OTHERS ARE HOPING TO EXPORT NATURAL GAS TO MARKETS THAT PAY PRICES UP TO 5 TIMES HIGHER THAN IN THE U.S. CHENIERE HAS LINED UP CUSTOMERS AND RECEIVED APPROVAL FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, BUT IT IS STILL AWAITING APPROVAL FROM THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION. SOME LAWMAKERS, ENVIRONMENTALISTS AND INDUSTRIAL CUSTOMERS OPPOSE THE PLAN. THEY SAY IT WILL RAISE NATURAL GAS PRICES IN THE U.S.

MOONBOT STUDIOS OUT OF SHREVEPORT HAS WON AN OSCAR IN THE BEST SHORT ANIMATION FILM CATEGORY FOR THE FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE. DIRECTORS WILLIAM JOYCE AND BRANDON OLDENBURG ACCEPTED THE GOLDEN STATUE DURING LAST NIGHT'S ACADEMY AWARDS AND AFTERWARD ON THE THANK YOU CAM, THEY DEDICATED THE HONOR TO STORM VICTIMS IN LOUISIANA. THE FILM WAS INSPIRED BY JOYCE'S PERSONAL EXPERIENCES FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA.

OFFICIALS IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA ARE CALLING THE 2012 BASSMASTERS CLASSIC A HUGE SUCCESS. NEARLY 94-THOUSAND PEOPLE ATTENDED THE SUPERBOWL OF BASS FISHING, WHICH WRAPPED UP SUNDAY. CHRIS JAY--WITH THE SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CONVENTION AND TOURIST BUREAU—SAYS PEOPLE FROM AL LOVER THE WORLD WERE IN TOWN FOR THE EVENT. CHRIS LANE FROM ALABAMA WAS THE BIG WINNER.

IT’S A CASE OF OVERLY FRISKY SENIORS. SEVERAL FEMALES AT LOUISIANA'S RETIREMENT HOME FOR RESEARCH CHIMPANZEES ARE ON BIRTH CONTROL BECAUSE ONE IN THEIR GROUP GAVE BIRTH AND ANOTHER IS PREGNANT. CHIMP HAVEN'S DIRECTOR, LINDA BRENT, SAYS IT WAS A SURPRISE , ALL MALES GET VASECTOMIES. DNA TESTING WILL DETERMINE WHO’S THE DADDY. AS OF RIGHT NOW, THE MAMAS ARE MUM.. THE SANCTUARY CARES FOR 132 ANIMALS IN 18 GROUPS.

CONSTRUCTION ON BOSSIER CITY'S NEWEST RIVERBOAT CASINO IS UNDER WAY. CASINO DEVELOPER WILLIAM TROTTER SAYS CREWS SHOULD FINISH THE DIRT WORK IN THREE MONTHS, AND CONSTRUCTION ON THE HOTEL AND CASINO BARGE WILL BEGIN. HERE’S A TWIST, INSTEAD OF PHYSICALLY BEING SET IN THE RED RIVER, AS THE EXISTING RIVERBOAT CASINOS ARE, MARGARITAVILLE'S RIVERBOAT CASINO WOULD SIT ON A FOOTBALL FIELD-SIZE SWIMMING POOL CONTAINING WATER PUMPED FROM THE RED RIVER.

THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION WILL ONCE AGAIN HAVE BILLS THAT TAKE AIM AT TRAFFIC CAMERAS THAT ISSUE TICKETS. NEW ORLEANS SENATOR J.P MORRELL HAS TWO PIECES OF LEGISLATION. ONE BILL WOULD PROHIBIT AN UNPAID TRAFFIC TICKET FROM A CAMERA GOING TO A COLLECTION AGENCY. MORRELL SAYS THIS HAPPENS TO INDIVIDUALS WHO LEASE THEIR VEHICLE. MORRELL ALSO HAS A BILL IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT WOULD ALLOW DRIVERS TO APPEAL A TRAFFIC CAMERA TICKET AT NO COST TO AN APPELLATE JUDGE.


THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS SAYS IT WILL SPEND $6 MILLION TO OPEN A NEW HOMELESS CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS. THE HOMELESS CENTER WILL BE IN THE FIRST FLOOR OF AN ADDITION TO A DOWNTOWN VA HOSPITAL. THE CENTER WILL BE A PLACE WHERE VETERANS AND HOMELESS CITIZENS CAN GET HELP FINDING HOUSING AND HEALTH CARE SERVICES. THE VA SAYS IT WILL WORK WITH OTHER FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL, AND COMMUNITY AGENCIES ON THE PROJECT.

LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS AFTER IT STARTED SERVICE AT LAFAYETTE REGIONAL AIRPORT, ALLEGIANT AIR HAS LEFT. SUNDAY WAS ITS LAST DAY OF SERVICE. OFFICIALS WITH THE AIRLINE ANNOUNCED IN LATE JANUARY THAT THE AIRLINE WOULD BE LEAVING, AND WOULD REFUND CUSTOMERS WHO ALREADY HAD PAID FOR RESERVATIONS AFTER FEB. 26.
THE LOW-COST AIRLINE BEGAN TWICE-WEEKLY DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM LAFAYETTE TO LAS VEGAS ON NOV. 3 OF LAST YEAR. THE LAFAYETTE-TO-VEGAS FLIGHTS WERE POPULAR, AVERAGING ABOUT 80 PERCENT OCCUPANCY. PAUL GUILBEAU, CHAIRMAN OF THE LAFAYETTE AIRPORT COMMISSION, SAID THE AIRPORT WOULD LOOK FOR OTHER WAYS TO PROVIDE THAT SERVICE.



News For Monday 02/27/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 022712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

STATE HIGHWAY OFFICIALS ARE ADVISING MOTORISTS ABOUT ALTERNATING LEFT AND RIGHT LANE CLOSURES ALONG INTERSTATE 49 NORTH BETWEEN MACARTHUR DRIVE INTERCHANGE AND AIRBASE ROAD IN ALEXANDRIA, BEGINNING TODAY. THE LANE CLOSURES ARE NECESSARY TO ALLOW WORKERS TO REPLACE OVERHEAD SIGNS. THE CLOSURES COULD LAST SEVERAL WEEKS.

BP CHIEF EXECUTIVE BOB DUDLEY SAID THE COMPANY IS ABLE TO FIGHT A LENGTHY COURT BATTLE OVER THE 2010 OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. DUDLEY, WHO TOOK CONTROL OF BP IN OCTOBER 2010 AFTER FORMER CHIEF EXECUTIVE TONY HAYWARD RESIGNED AMID CRITICISM OVER THE WAY HE HAD HANDLED THE OIL SPILL, TOLD SUNDAY TELEGRAPH NEWSPAPER THAT BP CAN CONTINUE TO FUNCTION EVEN IF THE COURT CASE THAT BEGINS IN NEW ORLEANS NEXT MONDAY CONTINUES FOR YEARS. BP HAS SET ASIDE $40 BILLION TO DEAL WITH FINES AND ASSOCIATED COSTS OF THE APRIL 20, 2010, BLOWOUT OF BP'S DEEPWATER MACONDO WELL WHICH KILLED 11 WORKERS AND INJURED 17.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON REPORTS THAT FROM 2006 THROUGH 2010, CAR THEFTS IN LOUISIANA HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY DECLINED. DONELON SAYS ACCORDING TO DATA FROM THE FBI, THE RATE OF MOTOR VEHICLE THEFTS IN THE STATE HAS DROPPED NEARLY 37% OVER THE FOUR YEAR PERIOD. HE SAYS THIS TREND IS BEING SEEN STATEWIDE. DONELON ATTRIBUTES THE CONTINUED DECLINE TO A NUMBER OF FACTORS INCLUDING NEW LAW ENFORCEMENT TECHNOLOGY SUCH AS THE LICENSE PLATE RECOGNITION SYSTEMS EQUIPPED ON POLICE CARS. DONELON SAYS THIS IS GREAT NEWS FOR ANYONE WITH COMPREHENSIVE AUTO INSURANCE SINCE CAR THEFT IS ONE OF SEVERAL DETERMINING FACTORS CONSIDERED BY INSURANCE COMPANIES WHEN SETTING AUTO INSURANCE PREMIUMS.

OUACHITA PARISH SHERIFF ROYCE TONEY WAS ARRESTED FRIDAY ON CHARGES OF CONSPIRACY, COMPUTER FRAUD, IDENTITY THEFT AND OBSTRUCTION. ACCORDING TO US ATTORNEY STEPHANIE FINLEY, SHERIFF TONEY AND ANOTHER OFFICER ALLEGEDLY CONSPIRED TO TRACK A THIRD PERSON'S ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS ONLINE, THEN TRIED TO DESTROY THE ELECTRONIC RECORDS TO COVER THAT UP. FINLEY SAYS THE INDICTMENT IS MERELY AN ACCUSATION AND ALL DEFENDANTS ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

FRIDAY FORMER WINN PARISH SHERIFF "BODIE" LITTLE WAS CONVICTED ON ALL COUNTS. LTTLE AND 10 OTHERS WERE INDICTED BY A FEDERAL GRAND JURY ON CHARGES RELATED TO THE ORGANIZED DISTRIBUTION OF MORE THAT 50 GRAMS OF METH. LITTLE FACES A MINIMUM OF 10 YEARS IN PRISON.

A THIBODAUX REPRESENTATIVE HAS PRE-FILED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD MAKE LAWMAKERS LEAVING OFFICE WAIT TWO YEARS BEFORE BEING EMPLOYED "TO ANY POSITION" OR "IN ANY CAPACITY" WITH THE STATE. REP. DEE RICHARD SAYS HE FILED THE BILL TO HELP BOOST PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN STATE GOVERNMENT. FORMER STATE REP. NOBLE ELLINGTON WAS RECENTLY NAMED CHIEF DEPUTY INSURANCE COMMISSIONER BY COMMISSIONER OF INSURANCE JIM DONELON. GOVERNOR JINDAL RECENTLY NAMED FORMER BOSSIER CITY REP. JANE SMITH DEPUTY SECRETARY OF REVENUE, AND THERE ARE OTHERS. RICHARD BELIEVES SUCH APPOINTMENTS MAKE STATE OFFICIALS "LOOK BAD".

THOUSANDS OF POOR AND DISABLED MEN STAND TO LOSE THEIR ONLY INCOME NEXT YEAR BECAUSE OF A CHANGE IN GOVERNMENT POLICY THAT WILL ALLOW STATES TO SEIZE EVERY DOLLAR OF FEDERAL BENEFITS FROM PEOPLE WHO OWE BACK CHILD SUPPORT. PREVIOUSLY, STATES COULD CAPTURE ONLY 65 PERCENT OF BENEFITS FROM PEOPLE WHO OPTED TO BE PAID BY PAPER CHECK. ADVOCATES ESTIMATE THAT 275,000 MEN COULD BE LEFT DESTITUTE AS A RESULT OF THE CHANGE. THE CONCERN IS AN UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT'S DECISION TO PAY ALL BENEFITS ELECTRONICALLY, INCLUDING SOCIAL SECURITY, DISABILITY AND VETERANS' BENEFITS, STARTING NEXT YEAR. A SEPARATE TREASURY DEPARTMENT RULE, IN PLACE SINCE LAST MAY IN A PRELIMINARY FORM, GUARANTEES STATES THE POWER TO FREEZE THE BANK ACCOUNTS OF PEOPLE WHO COLLECT FEDERAL BENEFITS AND OWE CHILD SUPPORT.

MORE THAN 650 LOUISIANA JUSTICES OF THE PEACE AND CONSTABLES ARE EXPECTED TO ATTEND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S ANNUAL TRAINING CONFERENCE TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY. ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL SAID THE COURSEWORK IS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE OFFICIALS WITH THE LATEST INFORMATION AFFECTING THEIR JURISDICTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES. THE PROGRAM WILL TAKE PLACE AT THE CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL IN BATON ROUGE.

THE WEST FELICIANA PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS AN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH PUBLIC DEFENDER TRIED TO SMUGGLE MARIJUANA INTO THE STATE PRISON IN ANGOLA.
NELVIL HOLLINGSWORTH, 62, OF ZACHARY, CHIEF OF THE HOMICIDE UNIT AT THE PUBLIC DEFENDER'S OFFICE, WAS BOOKED SATURDAY ON ONE COUNT OF BRINGING CONTRABAND INTO A PENAL INSTITUTION. HOLLINGSWORTH HAD 5.2 GRAMS OF MARIJUANA IN THE LINING OF HIS SPORT COAT.

STARTING APRIL 2, DISCOUNT BUS CARRIER MEGABUS PLANS TWO ROUTES A DAY BETWEEN NEW ORLEANS AND ATLANTA, WITH TWO STOPS IN ALABAMA. THE STAGECOACH GROUP PLC SUBSIDIARY OFFERS FARES STARTING AT $1 AND RISING AS BOOKINGS INCREASE AND THE TRAVEL DATE APPROACHES. SUNDAY MORNING, THE LOWEST FARES FOR APRIL 26 WERE $5 TO ATLANTA AND $8 TO NEW ORLEANS. DOUBLE-DECKER BUSES WILL LEAVE NEW ORLEANS AT 10 A.M. AND 9:30 P.M. THEY WILL LEAVE ATLANTA FOR NEW ORLEANS AT NOON AND 11:59 P.M. MEGABUS LAUNCHED IN THE UNITED KINGDOM IN 2003 AND FOUR YEARS AGO IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA. IT OPENED AN ATLANTA HUB IN NOVEMBER.

SPORTS..

THERE ARE SOME BIG CONCERNS WITH THE LSU BASEBALL PROGRAM AFTER THEY WERE DOMINATED BY APPALACHIAN STATE 11 TO 1 ON SUNDAY. THE MOUNTAINEERS ALSO WON ON SATURDAY 1 TO 0, TO TAKE THE THREE-GAME SERIES. COACH PAUL MAINIERI SAYS THE MOUNTAINEERS WERE THE BETTER TEAM THIS PAST WEEKEND. LSU HAD JUST SEVEN HITS IN THE FINAL TWO GAMES OF THE SERIES AND DIDN'T SCORE ON SUNDAY UNTIL THE BOTTOM OF THE 9TH, AFTER GETTING SHUTOUT ON SATURDAY.




News For Friday 02/24/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 022412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE LOUISIANA COLLEGE MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM IS POSTSEASON BOUND. LOUISIANA COLLEGE WILL FACE HARDIN-SIMMONS IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT IN BELTON, TEXAS. TIP-OFF IS AT 2:30 P.M. FRIDAY. IT WILL BE THE FIRST POSTSEASON APPEARANCE FOR THE WILDCATS SINCE 2008.

IF YOU THINK IT HAS BEEN UNSEASONABLY WARM OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS, YOU ARE RIGHT. AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE HIGH TEMPERATURE YESTERDAY IN ALEXANDRIA WAS 82 DEGREES, WHICH IS ONE DEGREE SHY OF THE RECORD HIGH FOR FEB. 23.THE RECORD OF 83 FOR THE DATE WAS SET IN 1980. WE WILL GET A BREAK FROM THE WARM TEMPS THIS WEEKEND AS A COOL FRONT MOVES ACROSS THE STATE KEEPING DAYTIME HIGHS IN THE 60’S.

IN A SPEECH YESTERDAY TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FORMER GOVERNOR BUDDY ROEMER MADE HIS CASE FOR DROPPING OUT OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND RUNNING FOR
PRESIDENT AS AN INDEPENDENT. ROEMER SAYS HE WILL PURSUE THE NOMINATION OF THE AMERICAN'S ELECT UNITY TICKET, GIVING HIM ACCESS TO THE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT IN ALL FIFTY STATES. HE SAYS HE WILL ALSO SEEK TO FORM A COALITION WITH OTHER INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTIES, INCLUDING THE REFORM PARTY. ROEMER'S NEXT GOAL IS TO MAKE A FIFTEEN PERCENT SHOWING IN THE NATIONAL POLITICAL POLLS MAKING HIM ELIGIBLE FOR ANY PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES.

THE U.S POSTAL SERVICE HAS DECIDED TO CONSOLIDATE ALL OF IT'S MAIL PROCESSING OPERATIONS IN SOUTH LOUISIANA TO THE PROCESSING AND DISTRIBUTION CENTER IN BATON ROUGE. MCKINNEY BOYD, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE, SAYS THE MOVE IS AN EFFORT TO SAVE MONEY. IF THE CONSOLIDATION TAKES PLACE, THE PROCESSING CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS WOULD CLOSE COMPLETELY AND THE CENTER IN LAFAYETTE WOULD ONLY HANDLE INCOMING MAIL. BOYD SAYS THEY HOPE TO SAVE MONEY THROUGH GREATER EFFICIENCY. THE POSTAL SERVICE HAS SEEN A SHARP DROP IN REVENUES BECAUSE OF A 25-PERCENT DROP IN FIRST CLASS MAIL VOLUME SINCE 2006.

A MEMBER OF THE GOVERNOR'S TASK FORCE ON DWI AND VEHICULAR HOMICIDE SAYS EVERYONE CONVICTED OF DRUNK DRIVING SHOULD HAVE TO SPEND SOME TIME IN JAIL. KAPLAN STATE SENATOR JONATHAN PERRY SAYS CURRENT LAW REQUIRES 10 DAYS TO 6 MONTHS IN JAIL FOR 1ST-OFFENSE DWI, BUT JUDGES HAVE ABUNDANT LEEWAY WITH SENTENCING. PERRY SAYS THE STATE ISN'T MAKING ENOUGH PROGRESS IN REDUCING ALCOHOL-RELATED TRAFFIC DEATHS AND INJURIES. HE SAYS HE INTENDS TO FILE A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE AT LEAST SOME JAIL TIME FOR EVEN FIRST-OFFENSE DWI'S.

THE 42ND ANNUAL BASSMASTER CLASSIC GETS UNDERWAY TODAY IN SHREVEPORT-
BOSSIER CITY TODAY. MIKE WOOD, WITH THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES, SAYS BEST OF THE BEST IN BASS FISHING WILL COMPETE AGAINST EACH OTHER. WOOD SAYS IT'S THE THIRD TIME IN FOUR YEARS THE SUPERBOWL FOR BASS FISHING IS IN LOUISIANA. THE BASSMASTER CLASSIC RUNS THROUGH SUNDAY ON THE RED RIVER.

THE STAFF OF SHREVEPORT'S MOONBOT STUDIO ARE COUNTING DOWN THE HOURS TO OSCAR SUNDAY. THE STUDIO'S FIRST EVER ANIMATION PROJECT IS A NOMINEE IN THE BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM CATEGORY. JOE BLUHM IS THE LEAD ARTIST ON "THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE". HE SAYS IT'S HUGE JUST TO BE NOMINATED...:

A DRUG CHECKPOINT RUSE IN DESOTO PARISH NETS 29 ARRESTS IN ONE DAY. WEEKS AGO A FEDERAL COURT RULED THE CHECKPOINT STINGS WERE LEGAL. AUTHORITIES NOW REPORT, LAST FRIDAY, LAWMEN PLACED A SIGN ON I-49 ALERTING MOTORISTS TO A DRUG CHECKPOINT AHEAD, THEN WATCHED TO SEE WHO GOT OFF AT THE NEXT EXIT, WHO TRIED TO TURN AROUND AND WHO THREW ANYTHING FROM THEIR VEHICLE.

STATE POLICE ARREST A CONCORDIA PARISH WOMAN FOR ALLEGEDLY TRYING TO EXTORT MONEY FROM HER PARENTS. 25-YEAR-OLD TANYA FISHER TOLD HER FOLKS SHE'D BE KILLED IF THEY DIDN'T WIRE $350 TO A BUSINESS IN SULPHUR. SHE WAS LOCATED IN A HOTEL IN WESTLAKE, IN CALCASIEU PARISH, AND BOOKED WITH EXTORTION, RESISTING ARREST AND SOME DRUG CHARGES. A CONVICTION COULD GET THE WOMAN UP TO 16 YEARS IN PRISON.

A SHREVEPORT MAN IS CHARGED WITH 2ND-DEGREE MURDER FOR THE DEATH OF HIS ONE YEAR OLD SON. THE BOY DIED A WEEK AGO, WHEN RESCUE WORKERS FOUND HIM UNCONSCIOUS AND UNRESPONSIVE IN HIS HOME. BASED ON THE INVESTIGATION, OFFICERS CHARGED 23-YEAR-OLD RODRICUS CRAWFORD WITH CAUSING THE CHILD'S DEATH. CRAWFORD WAS ALREADY IN THE CADDO PARISH JAIL ON UNRELATED CHARGES.

INVESTIGATORS HOPE A SAFE FOUND IN LIVINGSTON PARISH WILL PROVIDE CLUES TO HELP THEM SOLVE A BRUTAL DOUBLE MURDER IN GONZALES. 74-YEAR-OLD IRWIN MARCHAND AND 50-YEAR-OLD DOUGLAS DOOLEY WERE FOUND IN THEIR HOME WITH THEIR THROATS SLASHED IN AN APPARENT BREAK IN. ASCENSION CHIEF DEPUTY TONY BACALA SAYS A SAFE WAS ALSO MISSING. BACALA SAYS IRWIN'S 72-YEAR OLD WIFE, SHIRLEY, CONTINUES TO FIGHT FOR HER LIFE.

STATE DISTRICT JUDGE MIKE CANADAY HAS SENTENCED A 47-YEAR-OLD VINTON MAN TO 20 YEARS IN PRISON FOR FOURTH-OFFENSE DRUNKEN DRIVING. NEIL PAUL ELLIS PLEADED GUILTY WEDNESDAY TO DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED ON NOV. 24, 2011, WHEN HE RAN HIS VEHICLE INTO A DITCH. ELLIS ALSO ADMITTED TO VIOLATING THE PROBATION HE RECEIVED FOR A MAY 9, 2004, DWI CONVICTION. HE WAS PREVIOUSLY CONVICTED OF DRUNKEN DRIVING IN APRIL OF 2000, AND SEPT. OF 1999. HE WAS FIRST ARRESTED FOR DWI WAS IN SEPT. OF 84. CANADAY SENTENCED ELLIS TO 10 YEARS FOR THE PROBATION VIOLATION AND 10 YEARS FOR THE NEW CONVICTION.

A HOUMA MAN HAS COME UP WITH A CREATIVE WAY TO RAISE MONEY TO FIGHT BREAST CANCER --- A PRACTICAL JOKE. WAYNE BUNCH SAYS FOR A MINIMUM DONATION OF $25, HE'LL PLANT 25 OR MORE PLASTIC PINK FLAMINGOS IN A NEIGHBORS YARD WITH A SIGN TELLING THEM THE BIRDS WILL BE REMOVED, FOR A $25 DONATION. HE SAYS THE MONEY HE COLLECTS WILL BE DONATED FOR A TEAM WALKING IN THE SUSAN G KOMEN RACE FOR THE CURE.

THE JEFFERSON DAVIS PARISH POLICE JURY HAS AGREED TO ENDORSE THE USE OF STATE INCENTIVES TO SUPPORT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS FOR A RUM DISTILLERY UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN LACASSINE. LOUISIANA SPIRITS IS SEEKING A $305,000 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM GRANT FROM THE STATE TO HELP FUND INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS AT THE FACILITY'S 23-ACRE SITE. NEEDS INCLUDES WATER, SEWER AND A STREET EXTENSION.

OFFICERS FROM THE NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT, JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES AND LOUISIANA STATE POLICE ARE SAID TO HAVE FOILED A ROBBERY AND MURDER-FOR-HIRE SCHEME THIS WEEK, AND ARRESTED THE PLOT'S ALLEGED MASTERMIND.
A THURSDAY. POLICE SAY THE PLOT CENTERED ON A NEW ORLEANS BUSINESS MAN, WHO OWNED SEVERAL RETAIL STORES. THE SAFE IN ONE OF THE MAN'S BUSINESSES. SOMETIMES CONTAINED BETWEEN $150,000 AND $200,000. THE PLAN WAS TO STEAL THE MONEY AND KILL THE BUSINESSMAN.

News For Thursday 02/23/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 022312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

POWER PROVIDER CLECO CORP. HAS POSTED A 49 PERCENT INCREASE IN FOURTH QUARTER PROFIT. FOR THE OCTOBER-THROUGH-DECEMBER PERIOD, PINEVILLE-BASED CLECO SAID WEDNESDAY THAT IT EARNED $30.6 MILLION, OR 51 CENTS PER SHARE. IN THE FOURTH QUARTER OF 2010, CLECO EARNED $20.6 MILLION, OR 34 CENTS PER SHARE.

FORMER GOV. "BUDDY" ROEMER IS GIVING UP HIS ATTEMPT TO WIN THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION FOR PRESIDENT. BUT HE'S NOT GIVING UP HIS BID FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, INSTEAD TRYING TO RUN AS AN INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE. ROEMER SAID HE WILL MAKE A FORMAL ANNOUNCEMENT THURSDAY IN CALIFORNIA. THE 68-YEAR-OLD FORMER CONGRESSMAN WHO BARELY REGISTERED IN POLLING ON THE GOP RACE SAID HE WILL TRY TO BECOME THE NOMINEE OF AMERICANS ELECT. THE NONPARTISAN GROUP IS PUSHING FOR A THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATE TO RUN AGAINST PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AND THE EVENTUAL GOP NOMINEE. ALSO, ROEMER SAID HE'LL SEEK THE NOMINATION OF THE REFORM PARTY.

21 PEACE OFFICERS RECEIVED AWARDS YESTERDAY FROM THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD PROGRAM. CERTIFICATES OF APPRECIATION WERE GIVEN TO OFFICERS OF THE ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENTS; THE RAPIDES, LASALLE AND SABINE PARISH SHERIFFS' DEPARTMENTS; STATE POLICE AND A NORTH LOUISIANA CRIME LAB. THE CEREMONY WAS HELD IN THE ALEXANDRIA PUBLIC SAFETY COMPLEX'S COMMUNITY ROOM. CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU TO ALL INVOLVED.

WINNFIELD POLICE CHIEF JOHNNIE RAY CARPENTER WILL BE HONORED DURING A PARADE SATURDAY IN WINNFIELD. WHILE THAT, IN AND OF ITSELF, ISN’T UNUSUAL, THE FACT THAT THIS IT’S HAPPENING SHORTLY AFTER THE CHIEF HAS BEEN RELEASED FROM JAIL IS. THE PARADE WILL BE PART OF A BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION AND WILL, ACCORDING TO SOME, HELP SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. IN JULY, CARPENTER WAS SENTENCED TO SIX MONTHS IN PRISON FOR HIS ROLE IN IMPEDING FEDERAL OFFICERS WHO WERE TRYING TO ARREST A FUGITIVE IN 2009. HE BEGAN SERVING THE SENTENCE IN AUGUST.

LOUISIANA'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT IS OFFERING NEARLY $103 MILLION TO SETTLE DISPUTES OVER ITS HANDLING OF CLAIMS AFTER HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA MORE THAN SIX YEARS AGO. THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORP. AGREED TO THE LATEST OFFER WEDNESDAY, BUMPING UP ITS PREVIOUS SETTLEMENT PROPOSAL OF $80 MILLION. INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS HE DOESN'T THINK PLAINTIFFS' LAWYERS WILL AGREE TO THE NEW CITIZENS' OFFER BECAUSE IT INCLUDES A $25 MILLION CAP ON ATTORNEYS' FEES. STATE COURTS HAVE RULED CITIZENS MOVED TOO SLOWLY ON HANDLING CLAIMS FOR THE 2005 STORMS. A JUDGMENT AGAINST THE COMPANY HAS GROWN TO NEARLY $104 MILLION WITH INTEREST.
THE SETTLEMENT PROPOSED WEDNESDAY WOULD COVER THAT CLASS-ACTION JUDGMENT AND A SECOND SET OF CITIZENS CUSTOMERS WHO HAVE PENDING CLAIMS.

INDEPENDENT PETROLEUM PRODUCER STONE ENERGY CORP. NEARLY DOUBLED ITS FOURTH QUARTER PROFIT ON SHARPLY HIGHER OIL PRICES THAN A YEAR AGO. LAFAYETTE-BASED STONE SAID WEDNESDAY THAT IT EARNED $45.5 MILLION, OR 93 CENTS PER SHARE, DURING THE QUARTER THAT ENDED DEC. 31. THAT'S UP FROM $23.8 MILLION, OR 49 CENTS PER SHARE, A YEAR AGO. REVENUE ROSE TO $221.8 MILLION FROM $170 MILLION.

A NEW REPORT CONDUCTED BY LSU FINDS THE NUMBER OF UNINSURED CHILDREN IN LOUISIANA CONTINUED TO DECLINE WHILE THE NUMBER OF ADULTS WITHOUT INSURANCE ROSE OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS. THE 2011 LOUISIANA HEALTH INSURANCE SURVEY, RELEASED TUESDAY, FOUND 16,190 FEWER UNINSURED CHILDREN THAN IN 2009 — BRINGING THE PERCENTAGE OF UNINSURED CHILDREN DOWN TO 3.5 PERCENT STATEWIDE. MEANWHILE, THE NUMBER OF UNINSURED ADULTS AGE 19 TO 64 HAS INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY IN THE PAST TWO YEARS. BASED ON SURVEY RESULTS, THE PERCENTAGE OF UNINSURED ADULTS JUMPED FROM 20.1 PERCENT IN 2009 TO 22.7 PERCENT IN 2011.

COPS IN SHREVEPORT ARE INVESTIGATING A CAR FOUND YESTERDAY MORNING IN THE RED RIVER. IT WAS DISCOVERED BY A CONSTRUCTION CREW WORKING ON THE RIVERFRONT. OFFICERS NOW WANT TO KNOW WHO THE LIGHT-COLORED OLDSMOBILE BELONGS TO, AND HOW IT GOT THERE.

LOUISIANA WILL REINSTATE AND PAY ABOUT $36,600 IN BACK WAGES TO A WOMAN FIRED AFTER MISSING WORK BECAUSE OF A SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEM. THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES ILLEGALLY KEPT THE WOMAN FROM RETURNING TO WORK AFTER AN EARLIER MEDICAL ABSENCE, CUTTING HER HOURS BELOW THE NUMBER REQUIRED TO GET UP TO 12 WEEKS OF UNPAID LEAVE UNDER THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT.

THE CADDO PARISH COMMISSION HAS VOTED TO REMOVE THE "PAJAMA PANTS" ORDINANCE FROM THE REGULAR AGENDA, AND ONE COMMISSIONER EVEN WORE HER PJ'S TO THE MEETING IN PROTEST. JOYCE BOWMAN SAYS THE IDEA OF MAKING IT ILLEGAL FOR SOMEONE TO WEAR PAJAMA PANTS IN PUBLIC, IS CRAZY. THE COMMISSION VOTED THE MEASURE DOWN ON AN 8-4 VOTE, BUT MICHAEL WILLIAMS WHO PROPOSED THE ORDINANCE SAYS HE'S NOT GOING TO GIVE UP. BOWMAN CALLS THE NATIONWIDE ATTENTION THIS MATTER HAS GOTTEN, EMBARRASSING.

ACCORDING TO AAA THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GAS HAS TOPPED THE THREE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENT MARK. AAA SPOKESPERSON MIKE RIGHT SAYS WE'VE SEEN A STEADY RISE SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR AND THE INCREASE SHOWS NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN. RIGHT SAYS WE ARE ALREADY SEEING THE HIGHEST MONTHLY AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF GAS FOR ANY JANUARY AND FEBRUARY ON RECORD. HE SAYS AS WE GET INTO THE PEAK DRIVING MONTHS HE EXPECTS TO AVERAGE PRICE TO REACH AN ALL TIME HIGH.

TWO NATCHITOCHES POLICE OFFICERS WILL BE FEATURED ON THE TELEVISION REALITY SHOW THIS SUNDAY. POLICE OFFICERS JONATHAN ROBERTS AND FLOYD EVANS WILL MAKE THEIR TELEVISION DEBUT ON THE SHOW, WHICH IS FEATURED ON THE ANIMAL PLANET CHANNEL. BOTH OFFICERS, MEMBERS OF NATCHITOCHES' SWAT TEAM, WERE INVITED BY PRODUCERS OF THE SHOW TO TRY FISHING BY HAND IN TENNESSEE. THEIR EXPERIENCE IS DOCUMENTED IN AN EPISODE KNOWN AS "HILLBILLY HANDFISHIN': PUTTING THE CUFFS ON A CATFISH." ACCORDING TO THE ANIMAL PLANET WEBSITE, THE SHOW PROVIDES "THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME FOR FISH-OUT-OF-WATER ADVENTURE SEEKERS." PARTICIPANTS JOIN TWO HOSTS AS THEY TEACH "EVERYDAY FOLKS" HOW TO CATCH MASSIVE CATFISH WITH THEIR HANDS AND FEET.





News For Wednesday 02/22/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 022212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCILMAN JERRY W. JONES JR. DEFENDED HIMSELF YESTERDAY AFTERNOON AGAINST AN ETHICS COMPLAINT THAT WAS FILED AGAINST HIM EARLIER THIS MONTH. THE COMPLAINT, FILED BY ALEXANDRIA ATTORNEY GREG AYMOND ON BEHALF OF TWO CITIZENS ALLEGES THAT JONES UNETHICALLY VOTED IN FAVOR OF A RESOLUTION THAT APPLIED TO HIMSELF. IN ADDITION, THE COMPLAINANTS ALLEGE THAT JONES, WHO WAS APPOINTED TO THE DISTRICT 3 COUNCIL SEAT ON DEC. 13, HAD AN UNETHICAL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WITH CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT HARRY SILVER. JONES SAID HE HAD MADE NO DEALS WITH SILVER, WHO VOTED IN FAVOR OF JONES BEING NAMED TO REPLACE JONATHAN GOINS AS DISTRICT 3 COUNCILMAN. GOINS RESIGNED FROM THE COUNCIL ON DEC. 3 OF LAST YEAR. AFTER JOINING THE COUNCIL, JONES VOTED TO ELECT SILVER AS COUNCIL PRESIDENT.

FORMER WINN PARISH SHERIFF JAMES EDWARD "BUDDY" JORDAN HAS DIED.JORDAN DIED TUESDAY AT HIS HOME IN WINNFIELD. JORDAN SERVED AS SHERIFF FROM 1992 TO 2008. HE HAD SERVED AS CHIEF DEPUTY UNDER SHERIFF DAN PAGE FROM 1976-1988. HE ALSO RETIRED FROM THE LOUISIANA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD AFTER 22 YEARS OF SERVICE. FUNERAL SERVICES ARE SET FOR 2 P.M. FRIDAY, AT FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF WINNFIELD. BUDDY JORDAN WAS 69

TODAY IS THE DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE AND BE ABLE TO CAST A BALLOT IN THE STATE'S MARCH 24TH PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY. THE SAME DEADLINE APPLIES IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION. MOST REGISTRARS OFFICES CLOSE AT 4:30..

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL IS THROWING HIS SUPPORT BEHIND LEGISLATION THAT WILL RAISE $325-MILLION TO FIX RURAL ROADS AND HIGHWAYS THAT HAVEN'T SEEN ANY KIND OF MAINTENANCE IN DECADES. THE PLAN WOULD FINANCE A BOND SALE WITH A SPECIAL RURAL HIGHWAYS FUND, TO RAISE THE $325-MILLION FOR THE ROAD PROJECTS.

A NEW SURVEY BY AAA SHOWS MOTORISTS FEEL GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO SPEND MORE ON HIGHWAY UPKEEP, BUT THEY DON'T WANT TOLL ROADS TO PAY FOR IT. LOUISIANA AAA'S DON REDMAN SAYS THE IDEA OF MAKING A PUBLIC ROAD INTO A TOLLWAY, AS A HIGHWAY FUNDING SOURCE, IS PRETTY UNPOPULAR. 82% OPPOSE THE IDEA. THOUGH THEY'RE OPPOSED TO TOLL ROADS, REDMAN SAYS 70% OF SURVEY RESPONDENTS FEEL MORE MONEY NEEDS TO BE INVESTED IN LOUISIANA'S HIGHWAYS. SURPRISINGLY THEY FAVOR PAYING A BIT MORE AT THE PUMP.

GASOLINE CONTINUES TO RISE FOR LOUISIANA DRIVERS. LOUISIANA AA'S WEBSITE REPORTS THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRICE OF REGULAR IS $3.50 TODAY; UP ALMOST A PENNY FROM YESTERDAY...UP A NICKEL FROM A WEEK AGO...UP 20 CENTS FROM A MONTH AGO. .AND UP 47 CENTS FROM A YEAR AGO.

A NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER PRE-FILES A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW POLITICAL "ROBOCALLS" TO BE ADDED TO THE "DO NOT CALL LIST." REPRESENTATIVE CAMERON HENRY SAYS MANY PEOPLE HAVE ASKED HIM WHY THEY KEEP GETTING NUMEROUS POLITICAL CALLS AROUND ELECTION TIME WHEN THEY ARE ON THE DO NOT CALL LIST. HENRY SAYS HE CAN'T IMAGINE ANYONE OPPOSING HIS LEGISLATION. HE SAYS POLITICIANS WOULDN'T BE BANNED FROM USING THE ROBOCALL SERVICE TO CAMPAIGN, BUT THE CALLS WOULDN'T COME TO PEOPLE ON THE "DO NOT CALL LIST." THE BILL WILL BE DEBATED DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT BEGINS IN MARCH

STATE POLICE SAY A SULPHUR MAN WAS ARRESTED TWICE MONDAY FOR DWI--BOTH TIMES WHILE HE HAD KIDS IN THE CAR. LSP SPOKESMAN SGT. JAMES ANDERSON SAYS 23-YEAR-OLD ZACH PARKER WAS PULLED OVER BY SULPHUR POLICE, BUT NOT TAKEN INTO CUSTODY. LATER HE WAS INVOLVED IN A CAR CRASH IN MOSS BLUFF. ANDERSON SAYS HE'S NOT SURE WHAT HAPPENED DURING PARKER'S FIRST ARREST. SULPHUR PD HAS NO COMMENT ON THE MATTER.

AUTHORITIES SAY TWO CHILDREN WERE KILLED WHEN THE CAR THEY WERE IN WENT OFF THE ROAD AND INTO A BAYOU IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA. LOUISIANA STATE POLICE SAY THE DRIVER AND TWO OTHER CHILDREN IN THE CAR WERE ABLE TO SWIM TO SAFETY IN THE CRASH THAT HAPPENED SHORTLY BEFORE 10 P.M. TUESDAY IN ASCENSION PARISH.
SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES WHO ARRIVED AT THE SCENE JUMPED INTO THE BAYOU AND TRIED TO SAVE THE TWO CHILDREN WHO WERE TRAPPED BUT THEY WERE UNABLE TO GET INTO THE CAR. EVENTUALLY, RESCUE DIVERS PULLED THE TWO CHILDREN — AGES 9 AND 7 — FROM THE CAR, BUT THEY DID NOT SURVIVE. THE CRASH REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION, BUT AUTHORITIES SAY THEY DON'T THINK THE DRIVER WAS IMPAIRED.

A WEST MONROE MAN IS APPEALING HIS SIX-MONTH PRISON SENTENCE FOR HIS ROLE IN A HATE CRIME AT A SCHOOL. A COURT FILING TUESDAY BY 30-YEAR-OLD TONY L. JOHNSON'S ATTORNEY ASKS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE ROBERT JAMES IN MONROE TO REVIEW THE FEB. 7 SENTENCE HANDED DOWN BY U.S. MAGISTRATE KAREN HAYES. JOHNSON IS ONE OF THREE MEN WHO PLEADED GUILTY LAST YEAR TO TYING A NOOSE AROUND A DEAD RACCOON'S NECK AND HANGING IT FROM A FLAGPOLE OUTSIDE BEEKMAN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL IN MOREHOUSE PARISH IN 2007. FEDERAL PROSECUTORS SAID THE MEN WERE ANGRY THAT THE SCHOOL'S NEW BUSING POLICY HAD INCREASED THE NUMBER OF BLACK STUDENTS.
HAYES ALSO SENTENCED JAMES LEE WALLIS JR. TO EIGHT MONTHS IN PRISON AND SENTENCED HIS BROTHER, BRIAN WALLIS, TO FIVE MONTHS IN PRISON.

FOLLOWING A THREE-MONTH INVESTIGATION, 44 YEAR OLD WENDELL MASON OF OPELOUSAS WAS BOOKED INTO THE OPELOUSAS CITY JAIL ON CHARGES OF 58 COUNTS OF THEFT AND 53 COUNTS OF FELONY THEFT. ACCORDING TO DETAILS OF THE INVESTIGATION, MASON ALLEGEDLY RECEIVED APPROXIMATELY $120,000 OVER A THREE-YEAR PERIOD FROM THE UNIDENTIFIED OPELOUSAS MAN. MASON HAD CONVINCED THE VICTIM TO INVEST IN AND HELP ESTABLISH A CRAWFISH COMPANY, ACCORDING TO POLICE. AFTER NEARLY TWO YEARS, NO CRAWFISH. THE INVESTIGATION SHOWED THE MASON HAD DEPOSITED THE MONEY INTO HIS PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNT.



News For Tuesday 02/21/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 022112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR SPOTS TO HIT TODAY FOR MARDI GRAS IN LOUISIANA IS LAFAYETTE. LAFAYETTE CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GERALD BREAUX SAYS PARADES IN LAFAYETTE START AT 10 THIS MORNING AND WILL ROLL UNTIL LATE AFTERNOON. HE SAYS LAFAYETTE PARADES ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR FAMILY FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT. CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATES ARE THAT 500,000 PEOPLE WILL ATTEND MARDI GRAS IN LAFAYETTE.

AFTER TORRENTIAL RAINS OVER THE WEEKEND AND A THREAT OF RAIN FOR FAT TUESDAY THE FORECAST IS NOW CALLING FOR A PICTURE PERFECT MARDI GRAS. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE RAIN WE EXPECTED FOR TODAY HAS BEEN MOVED BACK AT LEAST A DAY TO ASH WEDNESDAY. HE SAYS FOR MARDI GRAS WE WILL ENJOY BEAUTIFUL WEATHER ACROSS ALL OF SOUTH LOUISIANA.

LOUISIANA COLLEGE WILL CHALLENGE THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S HEALTH CARE REFORM'S PROVISIONS FOR CONTRACEPTION IN FEDERAL COURT. MIKE JOHNSON IS DEAN OF LOUISIANA COLLEGE'S PRESSLER LAW SCHOOL. HE SAYS THE LAW COVERS ABORTION-INDUCING DRUGS OR THE MORNING AFTER PILL, STERILIZATION AND CONTRACEPTIVES AT NO COST TO THE EMPLOYEES. JOHNSON SAYS FEDERAL COURT PAPERS HAVE BEEN FILED ELECTRONICALLY TO CHALLENGE THE CONTRACEPTION MANDATE AS A VIOLATION OF FREEDOM OF WORSHIP, AND AN INFRINGEMENT ON CONSTITUTIONAL FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS.

JERRY JONES JR., THE NEW DISTRICT 3 COUNCILMAN FOR THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA, IS FACING A COMPLAINT OF ETHICS VIOLATIONS. JULES GREEN, A DISTRICT 4 RESIDENT, AND GAYLE UNDERWOOD, WHO LIVES IN DISTRICT 5, FILED THE COMPLAINT. GREEN SAID MONDAY THAT HE WANTED TO WAIT UNTIL TODAY TO COMMENT ON THE COMPLAINT. BUT, HE DID SAY "IT STEMS FROM HIS TOTAL APPOINTMENT." THE COUNCIL'S FINANCE AND LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO DISCUSS THE COMPLAINT AT 3:30 P.M. TODAY.

JURY SELECTION BEGINS TODAY IN SHREVEPORT IN THE CASE OF FORMER WINN PARISH SHERIFF A.D. "BODIE" LITTLE. LITTLE WAS ARRESTED LAST AUGUST AT HIS WINNFIELD HOME AFTER HE AND 10 OTHER PEOPLE WERE INDICTED BY A FEDERAL GRAND JURY OF CHARGES RELATED TO THE ORGANIZED DISTRIBUTION OF MORE THAN 50 GRAMS OF METHAMPHETAMINE IN THE WINN PARISH AND SHREVEPORT AREAS. ALL OF THE DEFENDANTS EXCEPT LITTLE HAVE REACHED PLEA DEALS AND HAVE AGREED TO TESTIFY IF NEEDED AGAINST LITTLE, WHO HAS PLEADED NOT GUILTY TO THE CHARGES.

ST. MARTINVILLE AUTHORITIES HAVE ARRESTED TO PEOPLE IN CONNECTION WITH A KIDNAPPING LAST WEEK BUT ARE STILL SEARCHING FOR A THIRD SUSPECT IN THE CASE.
POLICE REPORT THE THREE MEN WENT TO A HOUSE LAST WEEK AND ASSAULTED A MAN WHO LIVED THERE. THEY THEN KIDNAPPED THE VICTIM AND HIS GIRLFRIEND, APPARENTLY OVER A DEBT THAT WAS OWED. THE TWO VICTIMS SUSTAINED MINOR INJURIES IN THE INCIDENT.

MOEX OFFSHORE IS THE FIRST COMPANY INVOLVED IN THE DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER TO SETTLE WITH LOUISIANA. MOEX IS A MINORITY PARTNER IN B-P'S WELL BLOWOUT THAT CAUSED THE NATION'S WORST OIL SPILL. GARRET GRAVES, DIRECTOR OF COASTAL AFFAIRS, SAYS HALF OF THE 13-POINT-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS WILL GO TOWARDS REPAIRING THE COAST THAT WAS IMPACTED BY THE SPILL, THE OTHER HALF WILL GO TOWARDS LAND ACQUISITION THAT WILL HELP PRESERVE THE COAST. GRAVES SAYS FOUR COMPANIES, INCLUDING B-P AND TRANSOCEAN HAVE BEEN DESIGNATED AS RESPONSIBLE PARTIES. HE SAYS THE STATE IS STILL TRYING TO WORK OUT SETTLEMENTS WITH THOSE COMPANIES. THAT WILL EVENTUALLY BRING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO THE STATE. THERE IS SPECULATION B-P WILL SETTLE ITS SUIT THIS WEEK WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE FIVE GULF COAST STATES IMPACTED BY THE SPILL.

THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS PASSED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD MEAN ABOUT $2-BILLION MORE IN FUNDING FOR LOUISIANA'S COASTAL RESTORATION AND PROTECTION. IT WAS BACK IN 2006 THAT SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU AND THEN-CONGRESSMAN BOBBY JINDAL PUSHED A BILL THROUGH TO GET LOUISIANA, AND OTHER GULF STATES, A FAIR SHARE OF OFFSHORE ROYALTIES. HOWEVER THAT LAW SET AN ANNUAL CAP OF $500-MILLION. NEW IBERIA CONGRESSMAN JEFF LANDRY SAYS HIS LEGISLATION RAISES THAT CAP TO $750-MILLION. LANDRY HOPES FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT FROM SENATORS LANDRIEU AND VITTER AS THE BILL MOVES THROUGH THE U.S. SENATE.

CRIME STOPPERS IS OFFERING A $5,000 REWARD FOR INFORMATION IN A CASE IN WHICH HOME INVADERS SLIT THE THROATS OF A COUPLE IN THEIR 70S AND THE WOMAN'S 50-YEAR-OLD SON, KILLING BOTH MEN AND LEAVING THE WOMAN CRITICALLY INJURED.THE REWARD IS FOR INFORMATION THAT LEADS TO AN ARREST AND CONVICTION. DEPUTIES WERE SENT TO THE HOUSE LATE SATURDAY BECAUSE RELATIVES HAD BEEN UNABLE TO REACH THE FAMILY BY PHONE, AND BROKE IN WHEN NOBODY ANSWERED THE DOOR. THEY FOUND 72 YEAR OLD SHIRLEY MARCHAND STILL ALIVE AND THE BODIES OF HER SON, DOUGLAS DOOLEY, AND HUSBAND, ROBERT IRWIN MARCHAND. THEIR THROATS HAD BEEN CUT AND THEY APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN BLUDGEONED. AUTHORITIES SAY A COIN COLLECTION WORTH $500,000 WAS LIKE THE MOTIVE IN THE ROBBERY AND ATTACK.

STATE POLICE REPORT A EUNICE MAN HAS DIED IN HEAD-ON COLLISION ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 13. TROOPERS SAID THE WRECK HAPPENED EARLY MONDAY WHEN 24-YEAR-OLD TOMMY DORE OF CHURCH POINT COLLIDED WITH TRUCK DRIVEN BY 21-YEAR-OLD ADAM MEAUX OF EUNICE. POLICE SAID DORE CROSSED THE CENTERLINE AND STRUCK MEAUX'S VEHICLE HEAD ON. MEAUX DIED AT AN AREA HOSPITAL. DORE WAS TAKEN TO A HOSPITAL WITH MINOR INJURIES.

SOUTHERN BAPTISTS FIRST CONSIDERED CHANGING THEIR NAME IN 1903. LEADERS HAVE SERIOUSLY PROPOSED IT AT LEAST 13 TIMES SINCE THEN. NOW, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION PRESIDENT BRYANT WRIGHT HOPES A COMPROMISE OF SORTS COULD PUT THE ISSUE TO REST BY ADDING THE MONIKER "GREAT COMMISSION BAPTISTS."
A TASK FORCE FORMED BY THE NATION'S LARGEST PROTESTANT DENOMINATION RECOMMENDED TO CHURCH LEADERS ON MONDAY THAT THEY SHOULD NOT COMPLETELY CHANGE ITS NAME. RATHER, THEY SAY THE "GREAT COMMISSION" NAME GIVES AN OFFICIAL OPTION TO THOSE WHO MIGHT NOT EMBRACE THE "SOUTHERN" NAME AND IDENTITY.
THE TASK FORCE RULED OUT A COMPLETE LEGAL NAME CHANGE, SAYING IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO COSTLY AND DIFFICULT, AMONG OTHER REASONS.

SHREVEPORT POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A SUNDAY MORNING HOMICIDE. OFFICERS SAY 26-YEAR-OLD ANTHONY CRAIN WAS FOUND LYING IN THE STREET OF A QUIET NEIGHBORHOOD; SHOT MULTIPLE TIMES.

LAKE CHARLES POLICE BUST SEVEN PEOPLE; ALL FOR ALLEGEDLY RUNNING A METH LAB OUT OF A LOCAL HOME. THE THREE WOMEN AND FOUR MEN ARE ALL BETWEEN 21 AND 39 YEARS OF AGE. THEY'RE ALL CHARGED WITH RUNNING A CLANDESTINE DRUG LAB.

RESEARCHERS AT LSU HEALTH SHREVEPORT WILL SHARE A 2.5 MILLION-DOLLAR NIH GRANT WITH THEIR PARTNERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS FOR A FIVE YEAR STUDY TO SEE IF A COMMON COLD VIRUS COULD BE USED TO CURE COLON CANCER. DR. MICHAEL MATHIS, DIRECTOR OF GENE THERAPY AT LSU HEALTH SAYS THE GOAL IS TO INSERT A SUICIDE GENE INTO CANCER CELLS.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID MONDAY HE WANTS TO BORROW MONEY TO GENERATE $325 MILLION IN REPAIRS TO RURAL ROADS ACROSS LOUISIANA. JINDAL SAID THE PLAN, WHICH WOULD REQUIRE BONDS TO BE ISSUED, WOULD PAY FOR RESURFACING AND OTHER IMPROVEMENTS ON NEARLY 1,000 MILES OF ROADS THAT ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL MATCHING DOLLARS.

News For Monday 02/20/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 022012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY ANNOUNCED FRIDAY THAT WORK ON BOLTON AVENUE, PART OF THE CITY’S SPARC PROGRAM, IS SLATED TO GET UNDER WAY SOON. THE WORK INCLUDES A $2.5 MILLION STREETSCAPE PROJECT ON BOLTON AVENUE, THE DEMOLITION OF NEGLECTED STRUCTURES, PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC PROPERTIES, CONSTRUCTION OF A BUS DEPOT, NEW SIDEWALKS AND LANDSCAPING. THE MAYOR SAYS THE PROJECT IS LIKELY TO START IN LESS THAN TWO MONTHS. NO WORD AS TO HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE TO COMPLETE THE JOB.

HEREIN ALEXANDRIA, THE WEATHER WAS HELD A MIXED BAG OF TRICKS FOR MARDI GRAS REVELERS. SATURDAY’S CHILDREN’S PARADE, AFTER BEING POSTPONED TIL 2PM, WAS OFFICIALLY CANCELLED DUE TO A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS MOVING ACROSS THE STATE. HOWEVER, WEATHER FOR SUNDAY’S CREW PARADE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN BETTER. LARGE CROWDS TURNED OUT TO ENJOY THE SHOW. POLICE SAY THE CROWD SAY WELL BEHAVED AND THERE WERE NO REPORTS OF ANY MAJOR PROBLEMS.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS SET A MAY 16 HEARING ON THE EVANGELINE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD’S REQUEST TO END FEDERAL OVERSIGHT IN THE PARISH’S DECADES-OLD DESEGREGATION CASE. ATTORNEYS FOR THE SCHOOL BOARD FILED A MOTION LAST WEEK SEEKING “UNITARY STATUS.” THE MAIN STICKING POINT IN RECENT YEARS HAD BEEN THE POOR CONDITION OF VILLE PLATTE HIGH SCHOOL, WHICH HAS A PREDOMINANTLY BLACK STUDENT POPULATION. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AT ONE TIME SUGGESTED POSSIBLY CLOSING VILLE PLATTE HIGH AND SENDING THE STUDENTS TO OTHER SCHOOLS IN THE PARISH. THE SCHOOL BOARD OPTED INSTEAD FOR A MAGNET PROGRAM AND ADVANCED PLACEMENT CLASSES AT VILLE PLATTE HIGH AND HAS UNDERTAKEN AN EXTENSIVE RENOVATION PROGRAM AT THE SCHOOL, SPENDING OVER $6 MILLION TO UPGRADE THE FACILITY.

WEDNESDAY IS THE LAST DAY TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN THE MARCH 24 ELECTION. EARLY VOTING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN MARCH 10-17. TO REGISTER, VOTERS ARE REQUIRED TO PRESENT A PICTURE IDENTIFICATION. LOCAL ISSUES AND THE PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY ARE ON THE MARCH BALLOT. RUNOFFS, IF NEEDED, WILL BE HELD APRIL 21.

GENERAL ELECTRIC ANNOUNCES THE OPENING OF AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS THAT WILL EMPLOY HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE. THE COMPANY SAYS THE I-T JOBS WOULD PAY UP TO $100,000. THE CENTER IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN OPERATING IN MID-2012.

THE US HOUSE APPROVES LEGISLATION THAT WOULD SEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO LOUISIANA. THE MONEY WOULD COME FROM FINES IMPOSED AGAINST BP FOR THE 2010 OIL SPILL AS A RESULT OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT. REPUBLICAN SENATOR DAVID VITTER SAYS THIS WAS AN IMPORTANT STEP AND NOW THE GOAL IS TO GET TO THE PRESIDENT'S DESK FOR HIS SIGNATURE. THE LEGISLATION SAYS 80% OF BP FINES WOULD GO TOWARDS RESTORING THE ECOSYSTEM, WILDLIFE HABITATS, BEACHES AND OTHER ECONOMIC HARM THAT WAS CAUSED BY THE OIL SPILL.

THE NAVY HAS PROPOSED DECOMMISSIONING A SQUADRON AT THE AIR STATION IN BELLE CHASSE AS PART OF ITS PLANS TO MEET PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S BUDGET CUTS.
THAT WOULD ELIMINATE THE ONLY NAVAL AVIATION UNIT DEDICATED TO FIGHTING DRUG SMUGGLERS. UNDER THE 2013 SPENDING PLAN RELEASED LAST MONDAY, THE NAVY RESERVE'S CARRIER AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING SQUADRON 77 WOULD CEASE TO EXIST SEPT. 30.WITH ABOUT 7,000 ACTIVE DUTY AND RESERVE NAVY, MARINE CORPS, AIR NATIONAL GUARD, ARMY RESERVE AND COAST GUARD PERSONNEL, THE NAVAL AIR STATION-JOINT RESERVE BASE IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE STATE'S TOP EMPLOYERS.

DRIVER'S CAUGHT WITHOUT MINIMUM CAR INSURANCE MORE THAN ONCE COULD HAVE THEIR VEHICLE "BOOTED" RATHER THAN IMPOUNDED, UNDER A BILL PROPOSED BY NORTHWESTERN LOUISIANA LAWMAKER. REP. HENRY BURNS, OF HAUGHTON. BURNS SAYS HIS INTENT IS THAT THE BOOT COULD BE A LOWER COST ALTERNATIVE TO TOWING AND IMPOUNDING A VEHICLE, AFTER A MOTORISTS 2ND OFFENSE OPERATING WITHOUT INSURANCE OFFENSE. BURNS SAYS THE UNINSURED DRIVE UP THE COST OF INSURANCE FOR ALL OF US.

THE STATE HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS LEADER IS PREDICTING GOVERNOR JINDAL WILL HAVE A TOUGH TIME GETTING LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL ON CHANGING THE AGE WHEN STATE EMPLOYEES CAN COLLECT BENEFITS. JINDAL WANTS TO RAISE CURRENT STATE EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT AGE TO 67 FOR THOSE NOT YET 55. AMITE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BEL EDWARDS CALLS THE PROPOSAL MEAN SPIRITED. JINDAL IS CALLING FOR CHANGES TO THE STATE'S RETIREMENT SYSTEM, BECAUSE LOUISIANA IS 18.5 BILLION DOLLARS SHORT IN WHAT'S NEEDED TO PAY FOR FUTURE BENEFITS. EDWARDS IS ALSO PREDICTING A DIFFICULT TIME IN THE LEGISLATURE FOR JINDAL'S PROPOSAL TO FORCE SOME STATE EMPLOYEES TO PAY MORE TOWARDS THEIR RETIREMENT. THESE PROPOSALS WILL BE DEBATED WHEN THE LEGISLATURE MEETS NEXT MONTH.

A SURVEY OF AAA MEMBERS IN LOUISIANA AND TWO NEIGHBOR STATES SHOWS STRONG OPPOSITION TO PROPOSALS TO ALLOW BIG RIGS TO GET BIGGER, LONGER AND HEAVIER. SUCH A PROPOSAL IS BEING DISCUSSED IN CONGRESS RIGHT NOW. LOUISIANA AAA'S DON REDMAN SAYS 93% OF MEMBERS ARE DEAD SET AGAINST IT. THE PROPOSAL WOULD LET TRACTOR-TRAILER RIGS INCREASE THEIR MAXIMUM WEIGHT FROM 80-THOUSAND POUNDS TO 97-THOUSAND. IT WOULD ALSO LIFT A BAN ON LONGER, MULTI-TRAILER RIG CONFIGURATIONS ON INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS. REDMAN SAYS AAA MEMBERS SEE THAT AS A DANGEROUS IDEA. REDMAN SAYS THE STRONG MAJORITY OF THOSE POLLED THINK BIG RIGS ARE BIG ENOUGH.

POLICE SAY ONE MAN WAS KILLED IN A SHOOTING AT A MARDI GRAS PARADE IN PLAQUEMINE
PLAQUEMINE POLICE CAPT. KENNY SAYS POLICE HAVE A SUSPECT, BUT AT THIS TIME NO MOTIVE.

A CELL PHONE VIDEO OF A FIGHT AFTER A WEST BATON ROUGE MARDI GRAS PARADE LEADS TO AN ARREST AND CHARGE OF MANSLAUGHTER. AUTHORITIES ARRESTED 25-YEAR OLD CHARLES BURTON FOR THE BEATING DEATH OF 26-YEAR OLD ROBERT CROWE. THE VIDEO SHOWS CROWE AND BURTON FIGHTING WITH BURTON ON TOP OF CROWE DELIVERING SEVERAL BLOWS TO HIS HEAD. INVESTIGATORS SAY CROWE WAS INVOLVED IN THREE FIGHTS THAT NIGHT. THEY BELIEVE HE PASSED OUT ON HIS WALK HOME. AN AUTOPSY REPORT SHOWS HE DIED FROM BRAIN HEMORRHAGING.

ASCENSION PARISH OFFICIALS SAYS A $500,000 COIN COLLECTION IS THE LIKELY REASON HOME INVADERS KILLED A 74-YEAR-OLD MAN AND HIS 50-YEAR-OLD STEPSON, LEAVING THE OLDER MAN'S WIFE CRITICALLY INJURED. DEPUTIES SAY THE TWO MEN WERE DEAD WHEN THEY ARRIVED, THEIR THROATS CUT. IT APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN BLUDGEONED AS WELL. POLICE SAY THE SAFE THAT HELD THE COIN COLLECTION IS MISSING.

FORMER LSU FOOTBALL PLAYERS JARRETT LEE AND T-BOB HEBERT WILL SERVE AS THE GRAND MARSHALS FOR TONIGHT'S KREWE OF ZEUS PARADE IN METAIRIE. KREWE SPOKESPERSON WAYNE VIZZINI SAYS THEY ASKED JARRETT AND T-BOB AFTER THE BCS TITLE GAME AND BOTH AGREED. VIZZINI SAYS THE PARADE IS SCHEDULED TO ROLL TONIGHT AT 6:30. HE SAYS THEIR PARADE ALWAYS ROLLS ON LUNDI GRAS AND PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE STATE COME OUT IN FULL FORCE TO CELEBRATE THE DAY BEFORE FAT TUESDAY.

News For Friday 02/17/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 021712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ACCOLADES AND FOND REMEMBRANCES ARE COMING IN FROM ACROSS THE STATE FOR FORMER STATE REPRESENTATIVE ISRAEL BO CURTIS. CURTIS DIED YESTERDAY MORNING. CURTIS WAS A TEACHER AND COACH WHO BECAME THE FIRST BLACK STATE LEGISLATOR FROM ALEXANDRIA SINCE RECONSTRUCTION WHEN HE WAS ELECTED IN NOVEMBER 1991 TO SERVE DISTRICT 26. HE SERVED THAT DISTRICT FOR 16 YEARS BEFORE BEING TERM-LIMITED FROM SEEKING A FIFTH TERM IN 2007. PRIOR TO HIS ELECTION TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE, CURTIS SERVED THREE TERMS ON THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD. ISRAEL BO CURTIS WAS 79.

WITH MARDI GRAS WEEKEND UPON US, THE FORECAST IS AGAIN CALLING FOR RAIN. THE BULK OF THE BAD WEATHER WILL BE TODAY AND SATURDAY. WITH SUNSHINE RETURNING TO THE AREA SUNDAY. IT’S HOPES THE RAIN WILL HOLD OFF LONG ENOUGH FOR SOME OF OUR FAVORITE EVENTS TO BE HELD. THE COLLEGE CHEERLEADERS AND CLASSIC CARS PARADE WILL TAKE PLACE TODAY AT 4:30 P.M. IN DOWNTOWN ALEXANDRIA, FOLLOWED BY A TASTE OF MARDI GRAS HELD AT 7 P.M. AT THE ALEXANDRIA RIVERFRONT CENTER. THE CHILDREN'S MARDI GRAS PARADE IS SCHEDULED TO START AT 10:45 A.M. SATURDAY IN DOWNTOWN ALEXANDRIA. FOLLOWING THE CHILDREN'S PARADE, A KING CAKE PARTY WILL BE HELD AT 2 P.M. AT THE ALEXANDRIA ZOO. THEN, ON SUNDAY, THE ALEXANDRIA KREWE PARADE WILL START AT 2 P.M.

AN ALEXANDRIA LAWMAKER HAS FILED A BILL THAT WOULD, BASICALLY, ALLOW EMPLOYERS TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST EMPLOYEES WHO SMOKE CIGARETTES. REP. HERB DIXON SAYS HIS BILL IS ALL ABOUT HEALTHY WORKPLACES AND LOWER HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS FOR EMPLOYERS. CURRENT LAW SAYS EMPLOYERS MAY NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST WORKERS IN MATTERS OF FIRING, COMPENSATION, PROMOTION OR PERSONNEL ACTION DUE TO A SMOKING HABIT--SO LONG AS THE SMOKER COMPLIES WITH STATE LAW AND POLICY ON SMOKING. DIXON SAYS HIS BILL REPEALS ALL OF THAT.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS THROWN OUT A LOUISIANA LAW THAT BANS CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS FROM FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES, CALLING IT AN UNREASONABLE RESTRICTION ON CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED SPEECH. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID HE WOULD APPEAL THE DECISION, WHICH HE DESCRIBED AS PUTTING SEX OFFENDERS' RIGHTS ABOVE THOSE OF POTENTIAL VICTIMS. THE LAW, WHICH TOOK EFFECT IN AUGUST, MADE IT A CRIME FOR ANYONE CONVICTED OF A SEX OFFENSE AGAINST A MINOR OR OF VIDEO VOYEURISM TO USE NETWORKING WEBSITES, CHAT ROOMS AND PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKS.

A GRASSY PLOT ON A PINEY STRETCH OF LA. HIGHWAY 467 NEAR FORT POLK IN VERNON PARISH WILL BE THE FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR VETERANS OF ALL BRANCHES OF THE U.S. MILITARY. STATE LEADERS, MILITARY OFFICIALS, VETERANS AND RESIDENTS GATHERED WEDNESDAY TO MARK THE OPENING OF CENTRAL LOUISIANA VETERANS CEMETERY.
BURIALS IN THE 204-ACRE CEMETERY ARE SLATED TO BEGIN IN DAYS. THE CEMETERY WAS PAID FOR WITH FEDERAL MONEY, BUT IT WILL BE OPERATED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA IS COMING TO BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE TO SAY THANK YOU TO THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO KEEP THE AIRCRAFT USED FOR LONG-RANGE BOMBING IN TOP CONDITION. PANETTA WILL PRESENT MEDALS ON FRIDAY TO AIRMEN WHO HAVE SERVED IN AFGHANISTAN AND OTHER OVERSEAS LOCATIONS. HE ALSO WILL GET BRIEFINGS FROM TOP OFFICIALS OF AIR FORCE GLOBAL STRIKE COMMAND, WHICH IS IN CHARGE OF THE NATION'S NUCLEAR ARSENAL — BOTH LAND-BASED NUCLEAR MISSILES AND LONG-RANGE NUCLEAR BOMBERS. THE COMMAND IS HEADQUARTERED AT BARKSDALE.
U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU WILL INTRODUCE PANETTA AT BARKSDALE. ON SATURDAY, SHE WILL VISIT FORT POLK.


A HIGHER EDUCATION CONSULTANT HAS RECOMMENDED CONSOLIDATING LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY AND LSU-SHREVEPORT TO IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO THE UNDERSERVED IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA. THE REPORT, BY VIRGINIA-BASED EVA KLEIN & ASSOCIATES, LTD., WAS PRESENTED THURSDAY IN SHREVEPORT. THE STUDY WAS COMMISSIONED BY A GROUP OF SHREVEPORT AND BOSSIER CITY AREA CIVIC AND BUSINESS LEADERS AND THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF REGENTS. EVA KLEIN RECOMMENDS THE TWO UNIVERSITIES BE MERGED AS A SINGLE LOUISIANA TECH, WITH A RUSTON CAMPUS AND A SHREVEPORT CAMPUS. THE UNIVERSITY WOULD BE PART OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. THE TWO CAMPUSES ARE ABOUT 70 MILES APART.

SHREVEPORT POLICE AND THE CADDO PARISH CORONER ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF A ONE-YEAR-OLD BOY. FIREFIGHTERS WERE CALLED TO THE HOME YESTERDAY MORNING TO FIND THE CHILD UNCONSCIOUS AND NOT BREATHING. HE WAS RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL, WHERE HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD. NO CHARGES HAVE BEEN FILED, AS THE INVESTIGATION HAS JUST BEGUN. HOWEVER SPD REPORTS THE CHILD'S FATHER DOES HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD, AND TWO OUTSTANDING WARRANTS ON DRUG CHARGES. HE WAS TAKEN IN FOR THOSE.

A GRISLY SCENE THURSDAY MORNING ON STATE HIGHWAY 30 SOUTH OF THE LSU CAMPUS, AFTER TWO BIG RIGS PLOWED INTO A SMALL HERD OF COWS THAT HAD GOTTEN ONTO THE ROADWAY. ABOUT 70 CATTLE GOT LOOSE FROM A PEN AT THE LSU AG CENTER. 17 COWS WERE KILLED IN THE CRASH. ONE OF THE TRUCKS WAS CARRYING HAZARDOUS MATERIAL AND OVER TURNED--BRINGING HAZMAT TO THE SCENE FOR HOURS.

A 35-YEAR-OLD SCOTT MAN PLEADED GUILTY TO ONE COCAINE CONSPIRACY CHARGE AND GOT NEARLY 16 YEARS IN PRISON. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE RICHARD HAIK SENTENCED JESSIE ALFRED TO 15 YEARS AND NINE MONTHS ON ONE COUNT OF CONSPIRACY TO POSSESS AND DISTRIBUTE COCAINE AND COCAINE BASE. IT SAYS THE PLEA WAS THE RESULT OF A 10-YEAR DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION INVESTIGATION CALLED "OPERATION SMACKDOWN."
INVESTIGATORS SAY ALFRED ALLEGEDLY DISTRIBUTED BETWEEN 220 AND 330 POUNDS OF COCAINE FOR A LAFAYETTE-BASED DRUG GROUP CALLED THE WINTERS ORGANIZATION.

A CONVENIENCE STORE OWNER IN NEW IBERIA, AND HIS MANAGER, HAVE BEEN ARRESTED & CHARGED WITH SELLING SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA, WHICH IS SOLD LABELED AS INCENSE OR POTPOURRI. IBERIA SHERIFF'S NARCOTICS AGENTS BUSTED THE TWO AFTER A MONTH-LONG UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION.

WORKERS AT CHIMP HAVEN IN KEITHVILLE WERE SURPRISED ON VALENTINES DAY MORNING TO FIND ONE OF THE FEMALE CHIMPS, FLORA, HAD GIVEN BIRTH. THAT'S UNUSUAL BECAUSE MALE CHIMPS ARE STERILIZED WHEN THEY ARRIVE AT CHIMP HAVEN. STAFF SAY THEY'LL DO DNA TESTS TO DETERMINE WHO'S VASECTOMY DIDN'T TAKE...BECAUSE FLORA'S NOT TALKING.

TWO YEARS AFTER NEARLY COLLAPSING INTO FINANCIAL RUIN, GENERAL MOTORS HAS RECORDED ITS HIGHEST PROFIT EVER IN 2011 AT $7.6 BILLION. BOB ISREAL IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE LOUISIANA AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION. HE SAYS AUTOMAKERS SCALED DOWN THE NUMBER OF CARS PRODUCED, RESTRUCTURED RETIREMENT FUNDING AND ALSO CHANGED UP THE CARS THEMSELVES. DESPITE G-M'S RECORD PROFIT, THE U-S AUTO MAKER STILL PLANS ON CLOSING ITS FACILITY IN SHREVEPORT LATER THIS YEAR.

ASCENSION PARISH OFFICIALS SAY, A MAN WHO DOVE THROUGH A WINDOW AND FOUGHT DEPUTIES WITH A FLOOR FAN DIED AFTER BEING HIT TWICE WITH STUN GUNS. IT ALL HAPPENED DURING A CALL TO A DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE. 30 YEAR OLD CHARMIN BENNETT OF DONALDSONVILLE DIED ON THE WAY TO THE HOSPITAL. AUTHORITIES SAY BENNETT HAD A NUMBER OF PAST ARRESTS, INCLUDING ALLEGATIONS OF ATTEMPTED RAPE, BURGLARY, DISTURBING THE PEACE, RESISTING ARREST AND THEFT. AN AUTOPSY WILL DETERMINE THE PRECISE CAUSE OF DEATH.

WITH LOUISIANA'S STATE-LICENSED CASINOS FACING THE PROSPECT OF RAPIDLY INCREASING COMPETITION FROM WITHIN AND OUTSIDE THE STATE, LAST MONTH'S WINNINGS FELL 3.5 PERCENT FROM JANUARY 2011. THE TALLY FOR THE 13 GAMBLING RIVERBOATS, HARRAH'S LAND CASINO IN NEW ORLEANS AND THE FOUR RACE TRACK CASINOS TOTALED $185.6 MILLION IN JANUARY. GAMBLERS LOST $191.3 MILLION THE PREVIOUS JANUARY AND $189.7 MILLION IN JANUARY 2010. THE BOATS WON $126.4 MILLION, HARRAH'S WON $26.9 MILLION AND THE TRACK CASINOS TOOK IN $32.3 MILLION.



News For Thursday 02/16/2012


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 021612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

LOUISIANA RANKS THIRD FOR THE HIGHEST SALES TAX IN THE NATION. THAT'S ACCORDING TO A REPORT PUBLISHED BY WASHINGTON-BASED TAX FOUNDATION. TENNESSEE HAS THE HIGHEST SALES TAXES. ARIZONA IS RANKED NUMBER TWO AHEAD OF LOUISIANA. STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY SAYS THESE RANKINGS SUGGEST LOUISIANA HAS ENOUGH MONEY AND CAN CUT TAXES.

A NEW REPORT ON PUBLIC CORRUPTION SHOWS LOUISIANA HAS THE NATION'S HIGHEST PER CAPITA CONVICTION RATE FOR CORRUPTION CASES. THE REPORT WAS DONE BY THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF GOVERNMENT & PUBLIC AFFAIRS, USING DATA FROM THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. LOUISIANA RACKED UP MORE CORRUPTIONS CONVICTIONS--FOR ITS POPULATION, THAN ANY OTHER STATE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS HE'D LIKE TO CHANGE THE STATE'S TOPS PROGRAM TO ALLOW SOLDIERS WHO RE-ENLIST TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR POPULAR SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM WHEN THEY LEAVE THE MILITARY. UNDER CURRENT LAW, STUDENTS WHO IMMEDIATELY ENTER SERVICE AFTER THEY GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL ARE ELIGIBLE FOR TOPS FOR FIVE YEARS, BUT IT DOESN'T ALLOW A VETERAN TO RE-ENLIST AND RECEIVE TOPS AFTER A SECOND ROUND OF SERVICE. JINDAL'S PROPOSED CHANGE WOULD ALLOW A VETERAN TO GET TOPS AS LONG AS THEY ENROLL IN COLLEGE WITHIN A YEAR OF COMPLETING
SERVICE.

RESIDENTS IN FOREST HILL, FROM RANDOLPH ROAD TO INTERSTATE 49, ARE UNDER A WATER BOIL ADVISORY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. A WATER MAIN BREAK IS THE CULPRIT. AGAIN, THAT’S RESIDENTS OF FOREST HILL WHO LIVE ANYWHERE FROM RANDOLPH ROAD TO INTERSTATE 49, BOIL YOUR WATER BEFORE YOU USE IT.

YOU HEAR OF BOMB THREATS BEING CALLED IN ALL THE TIME TO COURT HOUSES, SCHOOLS AND OTHER PUBLIC PLACES. BUT, TO THE SALVATION ARMY? ALEXANDRIA POLICE HAVE ARRESTED 25 YEAR OLD BRANDON ORTEGO OF BUNKIE AFTER HE ALLEGEDLY CALLED IN A BOMB THREAT TO THE LOCAL SALVATION ARMY CENTER. IT HAPPENED LATE TUESDAY AFTERNOON. THE FACILITY WAS CHECKED TOP TO BOTTOM AND NO DEVICE WAS FOUND. ORTEGO HAS BEEN BOOKED INTO THE PARISH DETENTION CENTER.

PINEVILLE POLICE OFFICERS ARE SEARCHING FOR A JUVENILE WHO RAN AWAY FROM CAMP BEAUREGARD. 16 YEAR OLD DALTON BAKER, A YOUTH CHALLENGE PROGRAM STUDENT, WAS LAST SEEN ON JAN. 27 WEARING A GRAY SWEAT SUIT. IF ANYONE HAS INFORMATION ON THE BOY’S WHEREABOUTS IS ASKED TO CALL THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE.

A POLICE OFFICER IN ABBEVILLE HAS BEEN FIRED FOR HIS INVOLVEMENT IN A SHOOTING LAST DECEMBER. THE CITY COUNCIL VOTED TO TERMINATE WILLIAM PROCTOR FOR OPENING FIRE ON A VEHICLE THAT REFUSED TO PULL OVER. A GRAND JURY HAS FOUND THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO INDICT PROCTOR IN THE INCIDENT.

STATE AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS CONFIRM THE LAST SO-CALLED FEMA TRAILER HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM NEW ORLEANS. THE MOBILE HOME AND CAMPER TRAILER UNITS DOTTED THE CITYSCAPE IN THE WAKE OF HURRICANE KATRINA IN 2005. PAT FORBES, WITH THE STATE OFFICE OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, SAYS THE FEMA TRAILER ERA IS COMING TO A CLOSE AND IT'S A SYMBOLIC MILESTONE FOR NEW ORLEANS RECOVERY. FORBES IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OCD'S DISASTER RECOVERY UNIT. HE
SAYS 230 OF THE TEMPORARY SHELTERS HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE CITY
IN THE LAST 14 MONTHS, AND THERE ARE ONLY 6 REMAINING IN THE ENTIRE STATE.

READY FOR YOUR CLOSE UP?? A MOVIE STARING TOM CRUISE AND MORGAN FREEMAN THAT'S SET TO FILM IN THE NEW ORLEANS AND BATON ROUGE AREAS, IS LOOKING FOR ADULT EXTRAS. THE CASTING COMPANY SAYS ANYONE INTERESTED CAN SEND A PHOTO TO UTCPCASTING@GMAIL.COM.

A TRAGIC OVERNIGHT FIRE IN HOLDEN HAS CLAIMED THE LIFE OF A MOTHER AND HER DAUGHTER. STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS THE FAMILY WOKE UP TO SMOKE IN THE TRAILER AND FATHER BARELY ESCAPED WITH THREE OTHER CHILDREN. HE SAYS THEY ARE STILL TRYING TO DETERMINE HOW THE FIRE STARTED. BROWNING SAYS ONE OF THE CHILDREN ESCAPED BY "CRAWLING LOW IN SMOKE", A LESSON SHE LEARNED IN SCHOOL. IN CASE YOU ARE WONDERING, BROWNING SAYS THERE WERE NO WORKING SMOKE DETECTORS IN THE HOME.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS NEARLY $4 MILLION IN HIS CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT, EVEN AFTER WRAPPING UP HIS ELECTION COSTS AND TALLYING MUCH OF HIS INAUGURATION CEREMONY SPENDING, ACCORDING TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS FILED WEDNESDAY. THE GOVERNOR HAS NO ANNOUNCED POLITICAL PLANS FOR USING THE CASH. HE'S BARRED FROM A THIRD CONSECUTIVE TERM AS GOVERNOR AND HAS SAID HIS ONLY PLANS CURRENTLY ARE TO FINISH HIS TERM, WHICH RUNS UNTIL 2016. THE MONEY COULD BE USED FOR DONATIONS TO OTHER CAMPAIGNS, CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS AND CONTINUING POLITICAL CONSULTING, ADVERTISING AND MAILER EXPENSES.

A PROPOSED $185 MILLION CONTRACT WITH A FIRM TO HANDLE LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID CLAIMS PROCESSING HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S HEALTH AGENCY. STATE HEALTH AGENCY OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR MONTHS FOR THE U.S. CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES TO AGREE TO LOUISIANA'S DEAL WITH CNSI, THE MARYLAND COMPANY THAT WON THE BID. CNSI AT ONE TIME EMPLOYED BRUCE GREENSTEIN, THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY THAT WOULD OVERSEE THE WORK CONTRACTED BY THE STATE. THE GOVERNOR STILL HAS TO SIGN OFF ON THE DEAL. THAT IS EXPECTED IN THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.

LESS THAN A DAY AFTER INITIATING A POLICY OF PUTTING SIGNS ON HOUSES INVESTIGATED FOR DRUGS AS A RESULT OF A CRIMESTOPPERS TIP, NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT RONAL SERPAS RETHOUGHT THE IDEA AND CANCELED IT. THE PLACARDS THAT WERE TO BE PLACED ON HOUSES READ, "THE NOPD HAS SERVED A NARCOTICS-RELATED WARRANT OR CHECKED THIS RESIDENCE AS A RESULT OF A CRIMESTOPPERS HOTLINE CITIZEN'S TIP." SERPAS SAYS THE PLACARDS INITIATIVE WAS PUT IN PLACE WHEN HE OVERSAW THE NASHVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT, AND IT WORKED WELL THERE. BUT CRITICS ARGUED THE PROPOSED CRIME-FIGHTING TOOL MIGHT TARGET INNOCENT PEOPLE.
ON WEDNESDAY, SERPAS SAID HE WOULD LOOK FOR OTHER WAYS TO NOTIFY NEIGHBORHOODS OF EFFORTS TO GET RID OF DRUGS.

PROSECUTORS HAVE RESTED THEIR CASE IN THE FRAUD TRIAL OF JAILED TEXAS TYCOON R. ALLEN STANFORD. THE FINAL WITNESS FOR PROSECUTORS WRAPPED UP HIS TESTIMONY IN HOUSTON FEDERAL COURT WEDNESDAY. PROSECUTORS SPENT THREE WEEKS PRESENTING MORE THAN A DOZEN WITNESSES IN SUPPORT OF THEIR CLAIMS STANFORD BILKED INVESTORS OUT OF MORE THAN $7 BILLION IN A PONZI SCHEME CENTERED ON THE SALES OF CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT FROM HIS CARIBBEAN BANK ON THE ISLAND NATION OF ANTIGUA.
STANFORD'S DEFENSE ATTORNEYS BEGAN PRESENTING THEIR CASE LATE YESTERDAY.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS HAS REACHED A SETTLEMENT RESOLVING JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CLAIMS THAT THE DEPARTMENT FAILED TO PROPERLY RESPOND TO AN EMPLOYEE'S COMPLAINTS THAT A SUPERVISOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTED HER. THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FILED WEDNESDAY IN THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA CALLS FOR THE DEPARTMENT TO MODIFY ITS POLICIES AND TRAINING FOR PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE. THE AGREEMENT ALSO RESOLVES A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION.



News For Wednesday 02/15/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 021512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA BUSINESSMAN KEN MORAN THE OWNER OF COWBOY TOWN, COULD LOSE THAT PROPERTY AND OTHERS HE PUT UP FOR COLLATERAL ON LOANS OF MORE THAN $6.2 MILLION FROM 2002 TO 2010. KEN MORAN AND THE COMPANIES HE OWNED ARE BEING SUED IN 9TH DISTRICT COURT IN ALEXANDRIA BY WHITNEY BANK, WHICH LOANED MORAN THE MONEY. IN A BIDDING BATTLE IN U.S. BANKRUPTCY COURT IN ALEXANDRIA WITH ANOTHER POTENTIAL BUYER, MORAN PAID $2.9 MILLION FOR COWBOY TOWN IN 2004. THIS YEAR, MORAN COULD LOSE THE ARENA ON ALMOST 28 ACRES OFF INTERSTATE 49 NORTH OF ALEXANDRIA AND OTHER PROPERTY ALONG AND NEAR BROADWAY AVENUE THAT HE PLEDGED AS COLLATERAL WHEN HE SIGNED PROMISSORY NOTES FOR THE LOANS.

A COUPLE FROM THE TOWN OF BOYCE IS A MILLION BUCKS RICHER, AFTER WINNING THE POWERBALL'S MATCH FIVE. KIMBERLY CHOPIN FROM THE LOUISIANA LOTTERY SAYS MARY AND MIKE ROBERTS WON A MILLION DOLLARS FOR MATCHING FIVE NUMBERS ON THEIR POWERBALL TICKET. CHOPIN SAYS MIKE IS A CONSTRUCTION WORKER AND HE AND HIS WIFE PLAN TO MOVE TO SHREVEPORT TO BE CLOSER TO THEIR FAMILY. CHOPIN SAYS THE ROBERTS' PURCHASED THE WINNING TICKET FROM THE SUPER ONE FOODS IN ALEXANDRIA.

THE MOTHER OF A WOODWORTH WOMAN WHO DIED LAST YEAR HAS FILED A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT AGAINST DONALD PICKNEY, WHO IS SUSPECTED OF HOLDING HIS WIFE CHANDA PICKNEY HOSTAGE FOR DAYS AND KILLING HER. THE SUIT FILED BY CHANDA PICKNEY'S MOTHER, BERNADELL WHITE, ALSO SEEKS TO COLLECT FROM TWO INSURANCE COMPANIES WHO HELD CHANDA'S LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES.

UNION PACIFIC CORP. SAYS IT WILL SPEND $200 MILLION TO EXPAND ITS OPERATIONS IN SOUTH LOUISIANA TO MEET EXPECTED HIGHER CUSTOMER DEMAND FROM PETROCHEMICAL PLANTS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. THE PLANS CALL FOR THE HIRING OF 225 NEW EMPLOYEES. THE EXPANSION ANNOUNCED TUESDAY INCLUDES A NEW SUPPORT YARD IN ST. JAMES PARISH, AN ADDITIONAL 29 MILES OF TRACK FROM LIVONIA TO ADDIS AND MORE SLOTS TO ASSEMBLE TRAINS IN LIVONIA. UNION PACIFIC SAID AT THE PEAK OF CONSTRUCTION IN JUNE, 1,500 CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYEES WILL BE NEEDED.

LOUISIANA'S CATHOLIC SCHOOLS COULD TAKE IN ONLY A SLIVER OF STUDENTS WHO WOULD BE ELIGIBLE UNDER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S VOUCHER PROPOSAL, A REALITY THAT WOULD LIMIT HOW MUCH CHOICE PARENTS COULD TRULY GET AS THE GOVERNOR PITCHES THE IDEA AS AN ANSWER FOR IMPROVING THE STATE'S TROUBLED EDUCATION SYSTEM.
AS MANY AS 380,000 STUDENTS WOULD MEET THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS UNDER JINDAL'S PLANS TO USE STATE TAX DOLLARS TO SEND CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS. BUT UNDER AN INFORMAL TALLY, THE STATE'S CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, WHICH MAKE UP TWO-THIRDS OF STATE PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS, ESTIMATE THEY COULD FIT ABOUT 1,000 OF THOSE VOUCHER STUDENTS.

THE MAN WHO INVESTIGATORS SAY WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR AN ACCIDENT ON INTERSTATE 10 THAT LEFT FIVE PEOPLE DEAD HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED. A SPOKESMAN FOR LSU CONFIRMED TUESDAY THAT 30-YEAR-OLD RYAN GIBBS, A GRADUATE STUDENT, WAS BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE CAR THAT WAS DRIVING THE WRONG WAY ON THE INTERSTATE AND SLAMMED INTO ANOTHER CAR LAST FRIDAY. GIBBS AND THE FOUR PEOPLE IN THE OTHER VEHICLE WERE PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

THE OFFICE OF ALCOHOL TOBACCO CONTROL IS CRACKING DOWN ON BUSINESSES THAT CONTINUE TO SELL SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA BY SUSPENDING LIQUOR LICENSES. ATC COMMISSIONER TROY HEBERT SAYS THEY'RE WORKING WITH OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO FIND STORES THAT SELL ILLEGAL PRODUCTS. HE SAYS THEY ARE IMPLEMENTING A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY. HEBERT SAYS FOUR BUSINESSES HAVE ALREADY BEEN SERVED SUSPENSIONS AND THERE ARE MANY MORE TO COME ACROSS THE STATE.

STATE OFFICIALS RAISED COMPLAINTS TUESDAY ABOUT A PROPOSAL BEING CONSIDERED BY THE LOUISIANA SEAFOOD PROMOTION AND MARKETING BOARD TO BUY THE NAMING RIGHTS TO THE NEW ORLEANS ARENA, WHERE THE NBA'S HORNETS PLAY. HOUMA-AREA STATE SEN. NORBY CHABERT SAID SEVERAL SOUTH LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS THINK THE PROPOSAL IS A BAD IDEA. THE MONEY WOULD COME FROM $30 MILLION BP PLC GAVE TO MARKET LOUISIANA SEAFOOD AFTER THE GULF OIL SPILL IN 2010. WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES SECRETARY ROBERT BARHAM, WHO OVERSEES THE MONEY, TOLD A LEGISLATIVE PANEL THAT THE STATE WOULD HAVE TO REACH A LONG-TERM AGREEMENT WITH THE NBA TO KEEP THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS IN LOUISIANA BEFORE ANY NAMING RIGHTS DEAL WAS STRUCK.

A REVIVED AUTO RACING TRACK IN MONROE HAS RECLAIMED A NASCAR AFFILIATION.
NOW KNOWN AS REVOLUTION PARK, THE CONCRETE OVAL AT THE 55-ACRE, 4,000-SEAT COMPLEX IS THE ONLY NASCAR-AFFILIATED TRACK IN LOUISIANA. RACING BEGINS APRIL 21 WITH A GRAND OPENING EVENT SCHEDULED FOR MAY 5. DRIVERS WILL COMPETE IN THE NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES.

A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS ALMOST LANDED A SHREVEPORT MAN IN JAIL FOR BANK ROBBERY YESTERDAY. POLICE SAY AS THE MAN ENTERED THE BANK, HE JOKINGLY ASKED AN ARMORED CAR GUARD TO GIVE HIM ALL THAT MONEY. THE GUARD, NOT AMUSED, CALLED POLICE. AFTER SOME QUESTIONING, THE MAN WAS LET GO...MORE THE WISER.

THE TERREBONNE NAACP HAS ACCUSED THE NEW PRINCIPAL AT SOUTH TERREBONNE HIGH SCHOOL OF HARASSING TWO INTERRACIAL COUPLES. JEROME BOYKIN, PRESIDENT OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP'S HOUMA BRANCH, SAID PRINCIPAL DANE VOISIN CALLED TWO DIFFERENT PAIRS OF STUDENTS INTO HIS OFFICE LAST WEEK AND ENCOURAGED THEM TO BREAK OFF THEIR RELATIONSHIPS. BOYKIN SAID VOISIN CALLED A WHITE GIRL, A JUNIOR AT THE SCHOOL, TO HIS OFFICE AND TOLD HER IT WAS INAPPROPRIATE FOR HER TO DATE A STUDENT BECAUSE HE IS BLACK. NO COMMENT YET FROM THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.



News For Tuesday 02/14/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 021412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AFTER SAYING THEY WOULD, MEMBERS OF THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY HAS DECIDED NOT TO PROTEST THE CLOSURE OF AN INTERSECTION IN WOODWORTH, AFTER ALL.
JURORS VOTED IN COMMITTEE MEETINGS LAST WEEK IN FAVOR OF A RESOLUTION OBJECTING TO A D.O.T.D. DECISION TO CLOSE A CROSSOVER ON U.S. HIGHWAY 165 WHERE IT INTERSECTS WITH COULEE CROSSING ROAD. BUT, WHEN THE MOTION CAME UP FOR APPROVAL AT THE JURY'S MONTHLY MEETING YESTERDAY, THE JURY ADOPT A RESOLUTION "IN FAVOR OF SAFETY OVER CONVENIENCE," AND SUPPORT WHATEVER SOLUTION THE DOTD DEEMS THE SAFEST. DOTD OFFICIALS SAY THE CROSSOVER IS BEING CLOSED FOR SAFETY REASONS. TRAFFIC IN THE AREA IS EXPECTED TO RISE SIGNIFICANTLY BECAUSE OF NEARBY DORMON JUNIOR HIGH, WHICH WILL OPEN NEXT SCHOOL YEAR.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT HAS RELEASED THE IDENTITY OF A BODY THAT WAS FOUND LAST WEEK IN THE RED RIVER AS THAT OF 56 YEAR OLD FOSTER BONTON. THE GRUESOME DISCOVERY WAS MADE ON FEB. 9 BY AN EMPLOYEE AT THE OVERTON LOCK AND DAM NO. 2 NEAR THE POLAND COMMUNITY IN RAPIDES PARISH. SHERIFF CHUCK WAGNER SAID YESTERDAY THAT RPSO OFFICIALS ARE STILL INVESTIGATING HOW THE MAN’S BODY ENDED UP IN THE RIVER. HOWEVER, FOUL PLAY IS NOT SUSPECTED IN HIS DEATH.

A STATE LAWMAKER HAS FILED A BILL THAT WOULD GIVE THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS LEGAL AUTHORITY TO PULL DANGEROUS SYNTHETIC DRUGS OFF THE SHELVES. SENATOR FRED MILLS OF ST. MARTINVILLE SAYS IF A NEW DANGEROUS DRUG GOES ON THE MARKET, THE LEGISLATURE CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT WHILE OUT OF SESSION. HE SAYS HIS BILL FIXES THAT PROBLEM. MILLS SAYS IT'S NOT UNPRECEDENTED TO GIVE POWER SUCH AS THIS TO A STATE AGENCY BETWEEN SESSIONS.

LOUISIANA'S SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ARE ASKING THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION TO REQUIRE THAT PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS THAT ACCEPT STUDENTS WHO GET STATE AID ALSO RECEIVE AN ANNUAL LETTER GRADE LIKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS. IN ADDITION, MICHAEL FAULK, PRESIDENT OF THE LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS SAY STUDENTS WHO GET THE AID SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO TAKE THE SAME STATE SKILLS TESTS AS STUDENTS DO IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. BOTH REQUESTS STEM FROM GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSAL TO GREATLY EXPAND THE AID, WHICH JINDAL CALLS SCHOLARSHIPS AND WHICH OPPONENTS CALL VOUCHERS. UNDER THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN, LOW-INCOME STUDENTS ATTENDING A "C," ''D" OR "F'' SCHOOL, AS RATED BY THE STATE, WOULD HAVE THE OPTION OF GETTING THE AID. JINDAL SAYS THE CHANGE WOULD GIVE FAMILIES A WAY OUT OF FAILING CLASSROOMS.

A REPORT FROM THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE CONFIRMS WHAT GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS SAID MANY TIMES ABOUT HIS REDUCTIONS IN THE STATE WORKFORCE. NICOLE EDMONSON, WITH THE AUDITOR'S OFFICE, SAYS THE DECREASE IN STATE WORKERS FROM 2005 TO 2011 IS SIGNIFICANT, CLOSE TO 12-THOUSAND EMPLOYEES. THE AUDITOR'S REPORTS NUMBERS WERE ONLY SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FROM THOSE RELEASED LAST WEEK BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION. EDMONSON SAYS THE NUMBERS DIFFER BECAUSE THEY'RE FROM 2005-2011, WHEN THE GOVERNOR'S FIGURES ONLY LOOK AT HIS TIME IN OFFICE SINCE 2008. EDMONSON SAYS, HOWEVER, THAT WHILE THE NUMBER OF STATE WORKERS IS
DECREASING. THE AMOUNT SPENT PAYING THEM HAS GONE UP.

LOUISIANA'S LONGEST KNOWN MARRIED COUPLE FOR 2012 HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED BY THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GENE MILLS SAYS 101 YEAR-OLD NORMAN BURMAH AND 98-YEAR-OLD NORMA BURMAH OF MARKSVILLE HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 81 YEARS. HE SAYS THE TWO MET ON THE ROOF GARDEN DANCE HALL IN NEW ORLEANS. MILLS SAYS THE COUPLE LIVED IN NEW ORLEANS UNTIL 2005 WHEN THEY TRAGICALLY LOST THEIR HOME DURING HURRICANE KATRINA. HE SAYS THAT'S WHEN THE BURMAH'S MOVED TO MARKSVILLE. THE COUPLE WILL BE HONORED TODAY AT THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION DURING A SPECIAL CEREMONY THIS AFTERNOON.

A PRESCRIBED BURN IS UNDERWAY AT KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA AND THE U-S FOREST SERVICE'S GOAL IS TO BURN 130-THOUSAND ACRES. KISATCHIE SPOKESPERSON JIM CALDWELL SAYS INTENTIONALLY BURNING TREES AND BUSHES CAN LATER PREVENT OUT OF CONTROL WILD FIRES. CALDWELL SAYS THE PRESCRIBED BURNS WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THIS SPRING AND INTO THE EARLY SUMMER.

A THIBODAUX MAN REPORTED MISSING SATURDAY WAS FOUND YESTERDAY, INSIDE HIS PICKUP TRUCK, SUBMERGED IN A SWAMP. LAFOURCHE DEPUTIES SAY CHAD TABOR'S TRUCK APPARENTLY SKIDDED OFF THE ROADWAY AND INTO THE WATER. TABOR HAD NOT BEEN SEEN SINCE FRIDAY NIGHT. HIS JOB REPORTED HIM MISSING SATURDAY.

ANOTHER ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING IN BATON ROUGE. BRPD SPOKESMAN SGT. L'JEAN MCKNEELY SAYS SOME TEENS WERE PARTYING, AND GOOFING AROUND WITH A PISTOL SUNDAY AFTERNOON, AND WHEN ONE HANDED THE GUN TO ANOTHER, IT WENT OFF--STRIKING 19-YEAR-OLD DONTA YOUNG. YOUNG DIED FROM THE INJURIES. A 16-YEAR-OLD IS NOW IN CUSTODY, CHARGED WITH NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE.

THE SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA TOWN OF WELSH IS SEEKING HELP FROM STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL IN SOLVING THREE UNSOLVED MURDERS. THREE YOUNG MEN HAVE BEEN KILLED IN THE LAST YEAR, WHICH IS UNUSUAL FOR WELSH. POLICE CHIEF TOMMY CHAISSON WOULDN'T SAY THE MOTIVE FOR THESE KILLINGS, BUT HE SAYS THE JEFFERSON DAVIS PARISH TOWN HAS SEEN AN INCREASE IN VIOLENT CRIMES. HE SAYS HIS SMALL POLICE DEPARTMENT DOESN'T HAVE SUFFICIENT RESOURCES TO CONDUCT A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION INTO THESE MURDERS.

A FARMERVILLE HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER IS ARRESTED; ACCUSED OF HAVING A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A MALE STUDENT. 29-YEAR-OLD XAVIER FRAZIER FACES MULTIPLE CHARGES; HIS BOND SET AT $105-THOUSAND. POLICE SUSPECT FRAZIER HAD CONTACT WITH OTHER STUDENTS AS WELL, SO THEY'RE INVESTIGATING.

THE JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT SAYS THREE TEENAGE INMATES AT THE BRIDGE CITY CENTER FOR YOUTH TRAPPED AN EMPLOYEE INSIDE THEIR DORM, MANHANDLED HER AND THREATENING HER WITH RAPE. SHERIFF NEWELL NORMAND SAID MONDAY THE TEENS, AGES 14, 15 AND 16, WILL BE CHARGED WITH FALSE IMPRISONMENT, BATTERY ON A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER, CRIMINAL DAMAGE AND OBSCENITY. IN ADDITION, HE SAYS THEY WILL FACE FURTHER PUNISHMENT BY THE JUVENILE COURT SYSTEM.


News For Monday 02/13/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 021312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

STATE POLICE SAY A CAR HIT AND KILLED A PEDESTRIAN WEARING BLACK WHEN HE WALKED INTO LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 115 NEAR HESSMER IN AVOYELLES PARISH. THE DRIVER WAS NOT CITED, BUT THE ACCIDENT IS STILL BEING INVESTIGATED. TROOPER SCOTT MOREAU SAYS 76-YEAR-OLD WILBERT DUCOTE OF MANSURA WAS WEARING A BLACK SHIRT, BLACK PANTS AND BLACK SHOES. HE SAYS THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED ABOUT 6:40 P.M. SATURDAY NIGHT ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 115 NORTH OF LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 114.

CENTRAL LOUISIANA OFFICIALS ARE NOT HAPPY WITH GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S PLAN TO CLOSE ONE PRISON AND PRIVATIZE ANOTHER. THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSED BUDGET CALLS FOR THE CLOSING DABADIE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN PINEVILLE AND SELLING THE AVOYELLES PARISH PRISON TO A PRIVATE COMPANY. IF THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN IS APPROVED BY LAWMAKERS, OVER ONE-HUNDRED WORKERS AT DABADIE CORRECTIONAL CENTER WILL BE OUT OF THE JOB. PINEVILLE MAYOR CLARENCE FIELDS WONDERS WHERE THESE PEOPLE WILL FIND A JOB. MARKSVILLE STATE REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT JOHNSON SAY THE GOVERNOR IS TRYING TO BALANCE THE BUDGET ON THE BACKS ON STATE WORKERS. HE SAYS PRIVATIZING THE AVOYELLES PRISON WOULD LIKELY BE DETRIMENTAL TO THE NEARLY 300 PEOPLE WHO WORK THERE. JOHNSON WAS A VOCAL OPPONENT OF JINDAL'S UN-SUCCESSFUL PLANS TO SELL OR PRIVATIZE PRISONS LAST YEAR.

GOVERNOR JINDAL PROPOSES LEGISLATION HE SAYS WILL ENHANCE ETHICS ENFORCEMENT IN LOUISIANA. IN 2008, JINDAL AND THE STATE LEGISLATURE AGREED ON SEVERAL ETHICS REFORM MEASURES DESIGNED TO IMPROVE THE STATE'S IMAGE. ONE OF JINDAL'S PROPOSALS WOULD GIVE THE ETHICS BOARD THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPEAL CERTAIN CASES IT LOSES. THE GOVERNOR’S ETHIC REFORM PROPOSALS FOR THIS SESSION ALSO CLARIFY THE BOARD'S TIME LIMIT ON BRINGING CHARGES AGAINST A PUBLIC OFFICIAL AND THE AUTHORITY IT HAS FOR ASSESSING PENALTIES FOR LATE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS.

CONGRESSMAN BILL CASSIDY HAS FILED LEGISLATION TO ALLOW INVESTORS TAKEN IN BY R. ALLEN STANFORD'S ALLEGED PONZI SCHEME TO OPT OUT OF A FEDERAL LAWSUIT THAT WOULD GIVE THEM A ONE-TIME BUYOUT. CASSIDY SAYS HIS BILL WOULD ALLOW STANFORD INVESTORS OUT OF THE FEDERAL SUIT AND ENABLE THEM TO TAKE A $250-THOUSAND SETTLEMENT FROM THE SIPC.. THE SECURITIES INVESTMENT PROTECTION CORP. IS BEING SUED BY FEDERAL AUTHORITIES TO PAY UP TO HALF-MILLION DOLLARS TO STANFORD INVESTORS, BUT CASSIDY SAYS THAT COULD TAKE YEARS. HE SAYS HIS BILL WOULD ENABLE VICTIMS OF THE PONZI SCHEME TO RECOVER SOMETHING AND MOVE ON. HE SAYS IT WILL GIVE INDIVIDUALS A CHOICE AND DECISION TO MAKE

TWO MEN WHO HAD APPARENTLY BEEN SLEEPING ON THE TRACKS WERE STRUCK BY AN AMTRAK TRAIN EARLY SATURDAY MORNING. THE ST. TAMMANY SHERIFF'S OFFICE REPORTS ONE MAN IS DEAD, AND A SECOND SERIOUSLY INJURED. THE TWO MEN, BOTH IN THEIR 20S AND FROM THE SLIDELL AREA, APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN SLEEPING ON THE TRACKS WHEN A NORTHBOUND AMTRAK TRAIN STRUCK THEM JUST NORTH OF PEARL RIVER. THE TWO MEN APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN HUNTING AND CAMPING IN THE AREA.

A FORMER 15TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY SERVING AN 18 MONTH PRISON SENTENCE FOR FEDERAL TAX EVASION HAS BEEN DISBARRED. 51-YEAR-OLD JOSEPH JOHNSON PLEADED GUILTY TO ONE FELONY COUNT OF TAX EVASION IN 2010. A FEDERAL JUDGE IN JUNE SENTENCED JOHNSON TO SERVE 18 MONTHS IN PRISON AND ORDERED HIM TO PAY ABOUT $180,000 IN RESTITUTION.

LSU CALLS THE $34 MILLION SLASHED FROM ITS NETWORK OF PUBLIC HOSPITALS AND CLINICS FOR THE POOR AND UNINSURED A CONSEQUENCE OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S MIDYEAR BUDGET CUTS. JINDAL ADMINISTRATION LEADERS CALL THE DEEP REDUCTIONS THE RESULT OF SHODDY MANAGEMENT, OVERSPENDING AND POOR BOOKKEEPING BY LSU.
NO MATTER WHO IS RESPONSIBLE, PATIENTS ARE ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK, SET TO GET FEWER SERVICES AMID A BLAME-GAME. THOUSANDS CURRENTLY SERVED BY LSU WOULD BE SENT TO LOOK FOR CARE ELSEWHERE, AND HUNDREDS OF HOSPITAL WORKERS WOULD BE LAID OFF.

A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER ISSUED BY THE SIXTH DISTRICT COURT PREVENTED LAME-DUCK EAST CARROLL PARISH SHERIFF MARK SHUMATE FROM TURNING OVER THE MANAGEMENT OF THE RIVERBEND DETENTION CENTER TO EMERALD COMPANIES, A PRIVATE PRISON MANAGEMENT FIRM. THE ORDER CALLS FOR A HEARING ON THE MATTER ON FEB. 16 AT THE EAST CARROLL COURTHOUSE. SHERIFF-ELECT WYDETTE WILLIAMS ASKED THE COURT TO ISSUE THE ORDER BECAUSE HE FEARS THE CONTRACT WOULD FINANCIALLY GUT THE EAST CARROLL PARISH LAW ENFORCEMENT DISTRICT. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE CURRENTLY MANAGES RIVERBEND. WILLIAMS SAYS THE CONTRACT WOULD ELIMINATE MORE LOCAL JOBS AND PLACE HIS ABILITY TO PROVIDE QUALITY LAW ENFORCEMENT IN THE PARISH IN GRAVE JEOPARDY.

WITH WESTLAKE'S CASINO INCOME SETTING SAIL, CITY OFFICIALS ARE LOOKING TO JOIN OTHER CALCASIEU PARISH CITIES IN THE PARISHWIDE GAMBLING POOL. A BOSSIER CITY VENTURE BOUGHT THE ISLE OF CAPRI'S CROWN CASINO ON THURSDAY FOR $15 MILLION, NULLIFYING WESTLAKE'S $1.8 MILLION-A-YEAR CONTRACT WITH THE ISLE. THE ISLE'S OTHER LAKE CHARLES CASINO IS OUTSIDE WESTLAKE. MAYOR DAN CUPIT SAYS HE BELIEVES THE ISLE WILL MAKE THIS FISCAL YEAR'S PAYMENT, BUT HE DOESN'T KNOW ABOUT THE NEXT TWO YEARS. BOTH THE CITY AND CASINO OFFICIALS SAY THE NEXT STEP IS HAVING WESTLAKE JOIN THE CALCASIEU PARISH GAMING REVENUE DISTRICT. THAT AGENCY GETS REVENUE FROM RIVERBOAT CASINOS AND THE SLOT MACHINES AT DELTA DOWNS AND DIVIDES IT AMONG THE PARISH, SULPHUR, DEQUINCY, VINTON, IOWA AND LAKE CHARLES.

News For Friday 02/10/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 021012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION UNVEILED A 25-BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET YESTERDAY THAT CALLS FOR A REDUCTION IN THE STATE WORKFORCE, HIGHER RETIREMENT COSTS FOR STATE EMPLOYEES AND NO CUTS TO HIGER ED. COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER SAYS TO HELP CLOSE A 900-MILLION DOLLAR REVENUE SHORTFALL, THEY PROPOSE THE ELIMINATION 63-HUNDRED STATE JOBS. AND THIS HAS A FAMILIAR RING, THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET ALSO CALLS FOR THE CLOSURE OF THE DABADIE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN PINEVILLE, THE TRANSFER OF THE 330 LOW-RISK OFFENDERS AT DABADIE TO THE AVOYELLES CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN COTTONPORT AND THEN SALE OF THE AVOYELLES PARISH PRISON TO A PRIVATE COMPANY.

SEVERAL STATE LAWMAKERS ARE CONCERNED WITH THE NUMBER OF CONTINGENCY ITEMS IN THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET PROPOSAL. ITEMS THAT CALL FOR FUNDING TO BE AVAILABLE, ONLY IF SPECIFIC CHANGES ARE MADE. ANOTHER MAJOR CONCERN, THE USE OF ONE TIME MONEY, SOME $230 MILLION, TO PLUG BUDGET HOLES.

A MEMORIAL SERVICE TO HONOR LOUISIANA TECH RUNNING BACK TYRONE DUPLESSIS WILL BE HELD IN RUSTON THIS AFTERNOON IN RUSTON. TECH SPOKESMAN PATRICK WALSH SAYS THE THOMAS ASSEMBLY CENTER WILL BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC STARTING AT 4:30 THIS AFTERNOON FOR FANS, STUDENTS, FRIENDS AND TEAMMATES. DUPLESSIS DIED ON THURSDAY FEBRUARY 2ND IN HIS APARTMENT AND THE CAUSE OF DEATH IS NOT YET KNOWN.

THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD IS SCHEDULED TO WELCOME HOME SOLDIERS OF THE 204TH THEATER AIRFIELD OPERATIONS GROUP AT ESLER FIELD IN PINEVILLE TODAY.
MORE THAN 20 SOLDIERS FROM THE 204TH, BASED IN HAMMOND, WILL RETURN FROM THEIR 365-DAY DEPLOYMENT TO KUWAIT, WITH DETACHMENTS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. THE 204TH ALSO SUPPORTED THE SUCCESSFUL WITHDRAWAL OF ALL ARMY AVIATION FORCES FROM IRAQ.

LOUISIANA'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT HAS OFFERED TO SETTLE A DISPUTE OVER SLOW HANDLING OF HURRICANE CLAIMS FROM 2005 FOR UP TO $80 MILLION, WITH NO MORE THAN $25 MILLION OF THAT FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES. THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE INSURER OF LAST RESORT APPROVED THE OFFER ON THURSDAY. THE BOARD WAS TOLD THAT WOULD COVER ABOUT 25,000 POLICYHOLDERS WHO SAY CITIZENS DID NOT BEGIN ADJUSTING THEIR CLAIMS FOR HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA WITHIN 30 DAYS AS REQUIRED BY STATE LAW. CITIZENS HAS SAID THAT IT WAS TOTALLY OVERWHELMED IN STARTING THE CLAIMS ADJUSTMENT PROCESS AFTER KATRINA DEVASTATED THE NEW ORLEANS AREA WITH FLOODING IN AUGUST 2005 AND RITA FOLLOWED A MONTH LATER WITH FLOODING IN SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA.

THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION HAS AMENDED ITS COMPLAINT AGAINST VILLE PLATTE AND THE CITY'S LATE-NIGHT WALKING CURFEW. THE AMENDED COMPLAINT ALLEGES THAT WHILE THE CURFEW HAS BEEN SUSPENDED, THE DANGER HAS NOT PASSED. THE AMENDED COMPLAINT WAS FILED MONDAY. ARTHUR SAMPSON, PRESIDENT OF THE EVANGELINE CHAPTER OF THE NAACP AND THE PLAINTIFF IN THE CASE, SAYS HE REMAINS FEARFUL THAT THE CITY WILL REINSTATE THE CURFEW FOR THE SAME ARBITRARY AND IRRATIONAL REASONS AS IT INSTITUTED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. THE CITY ADOPTED THE CURFEW IN FEBRUARY 2011 IN RESPONSE TO A RASH OF BREAK-INS AND BURGLARIES.

AS EXPECTED FORMER LSU QUARTERBACK JORDAN JEFFERSON PLED NOT GUILTY YESTERDAY THROUGH HIS ATTORNEY ON A CHARGE OF SIMPLE BATTERY FOR HIS ALLEGED ROLE IN A OUTSIDE OF A BATON ROUGE BAR. JEFFERSON WAS NOT IN THE COURTROOM FOR THE HEARING BUT APPEARED ON AN ATLANTA RADIO STATION AND ONCE AGAIN DENIED ANY INVOLVEMENT IN THE INCIDENT. JEFFERSON'S NEXT COURT APPEARANCE WILL BE ON MAY 10TH. JEFFERSON SAYS PROOF THAT HE WAS NOT INVOLVED IN THE BAR FIGHT WILL COME OUT SOON ENOUGH. HE CALLS THE ENTIRE SITUATION A SCAM.

FORMER LSU RUNNING BACK CHARLES EDWARD SCOTT HAS PLEADED NOT GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF SEXUAL BATTERY OF AN 18-YEAR-OLD WOMAN LAST YEAR. SCOTT ENTERED THE PLEA THURSDAY. THE 23-YEAR-OLD SCOTT WAS ARRESTED IN NOVEMBER ON A COUNT OF SIMPLE RAPE.

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS IS SPENDING $22 MILLION FOR WORK ON ABOUT A DOZEN RIVERS AND PORTS IN LOUISIANA. THE MONEY WAS ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY BY THE AGENCY. THE BIGGEST CHUNKS GO TO DREDGING TWO RIVERS. OFFICIALS SAY $6.9 MILLION HAS BEEN SET ASIDE FOR THE CALCASIEU RIVER AND $9.1 MILLION FOR WORK ON THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER. THERE IS ALSO MONEY FOR DREDGING PARTS OF THE RED. U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, D-LA., SAID THE FUNDS WOULD KEEP VITAL WATERWAYS FROM SILTING IN.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM IS LOOKING FOR FESTIVAL FANATICS WHO WOULD BE PAID TO ATTEND FESTIVALS. JACQUES BERRY IS A SPOKESPERSON FOR THE LT. GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, HE SAYS BERRY PEOPLE LOVE TO READ ABOUT LOUISIANA FESTIVALS ON THEIR WEBSITE. HE SAYS THEY'RE LOOKING FOR OUTGOING PEOPLE WHO LOVE FESTIVAL LIFE THAT WOULD BE WILLING TO SPEND A DAY AT A FESTIVAL, TAKE PICTURES AND VIDEO AND WRITE A STORY ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE. HE SAYS THE "JOB" DOESN'T PAY MUCH, BUT IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN BECOMING A FESTIVAL FANATIC YOU CAN VISIT LOUISIANATRAVEL.COM.

A BATON ROUGE MAN IS UNDER ARREST IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEATH OF HIS FOUR YEAR-OLD SON. BRPD SPOKESMAN SGT. DON KELLY SAYS 26-YEAR-OLD SHAWN DEAN IS CHARGED WITH 2ND DEGREE CRUELTY TO A JUVENILE AND FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM. KELLY SAYS INVESTIGATORS DETERMINED DEAN IS THE ONE WHO LEFT THE HANDGUN IN THE HOME WHERE THE CHILD COULD FIND IT. HE SAYS DEAN WAS OUT ON AN ERRAND WHILE THE MOTHER AND ANOTHER CHILD WERE ASLEEP WHEN THE TODDLER FOUND THE GUN AND ACCIDENTALLY SHOT HIMSELF IN THE HEAD WITH IT. WHEN POLICE ARRIVED ON THE SCENE THE GUN WAS MISSING. IT WAS LATER FOUND IN A NEARBY FIELD. KELLY SAYS DEAN LIKELY HID THE GUN BECAUSE HE IS A CONVICTED FELON.

THE CADDO PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS LOOKING FOR A SUSPECT WHO SHOT AT TWO SCHOOL BUSES YESTERDAY MORNING WITH A BB GUN. SPOKESPERSON CINDY CHADWICK SAYS BOTH INCIDENTS HAPPENED IN KEITHVILLE AND THAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR A RED JEEP CHEROKEE WITH BLACK TRIM.

THOUSANDS OF BOWLERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD WILL BE IN THE CAPITAL CITY OVER THE NEXT FIVE MONTHS FOR THE BIGGEST BOWLING TOURNAMENT IN THE COUNTRY. MATT CANNIZZARO WITH THE UNITED STATES BOWLING CONGRESS OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP SAYS NEARLY 60,000 BOWLERS WILL BE COMPETING IN THE GAMES. CANNIZZARO SAYS ABOUT 500 BOWLERS A DAY WILL BE COMING INTO TOWN AND LEAVING TOWN, BUT WILL ONLY BE BOWLING FOR A FEW HOURS DURING THE DAY. HE SAYS OUTSIDE OF THAT TIME THEY'LL BE EATING ENJOYING WHAT LOUISIANA HAS TO OFFER. HE SAYS THE EVENT WILL RUN FROM 7AM- 2AM DAILY UNTIL JULY 10TH.

News For Thursday 02/09/2012


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 020912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

RED RIVER BANK ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THAT THEY WERE DONATING A MOBILE BANKING CENTER TO THE ALEXANDRIA POLICE DEPARTMENT TO USE AS A NEW MOBILE EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER. BLAKE CHATELAIN, PRESIDENT OF THE BANK, SAID THEY PURCHASED A NEW MOBILE UNIT SEVERAL MONTHS AGO TO REPLACE ITS ORIGINAL MOBILE BANKING CENTER. THE BANK THOUGHT ABOUT SELLING THE OLDER MOBILE CENTER, WHICH IS LESS THAN 10 YEARS OLD, BUT DECIDING TO DONATE IT TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT. MAYOR ROY AND POLICE CHIEF LOREN LAMPERT BOTH EXPRESSED THEIR APPRECIATION UPON RECEIVING THE DONATION YESTERDAY.

AN ALEXANDRIA WOMAN WAS ARRESTED ON MULTIPLE CHARGES, INCLUDING DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED, ON TUESDAY AFTER SHE WAS INVOLVED IN A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT ON COTTINGHAM EXPRESSWAY. 22 YEAR OLD RHEA BROWN WAS CHARGED WITH OPERATING A VEHICLE WHILE INTOXICATED, DRIVING UNDER SUSPENSION, RECKLESS OPERATION OF A VEHICLE, OPEN CONTAINER, NO PROOF OF INSURANCE AND NO PROOF OF REGISTRATION. THERE WERE NO REPORTED INJURIES IN THE ACCIDENT. BROWN'S BLOOD-ALCOHOL CONTENT WAS 0.15 PERCENT, NEARLY TWICE THE LEGAL LIMIT.

GOVERNOR JINDAL IS SCHEDULED TO REVEAL HIS PROPOSAL FOR BALANCING THE STATE BUDGET FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR TODAY; A BUDGET $900-MILLION IN THE RED. PUBLIC AFFAIRS RESEARCH COUNCIL PRESIDENT ROBERT TRAVIS SCOTT SAYS THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET PROPOSAL IS A DRAMATIC STARTING POINT OF A LONG DANCE BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND LAWMAKERS. IN RECENT YEARS, JINDAL AND LAWMAKERS HAVE BALANCED THE BUDGET BY USING ONE-TIME MONEY ON RECURRING EXPENDITURES. SCOTT SAYS HE EXPECTS JINDAL AND LEGISLATORS WILL TRY WHAT WORKED FOR THEM BEFORE.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGET PROPOSAL WOULD NOT CUT PUBLIC COLLEGES NEXT YEAR, AND WOULD GIVE THE SCHOOLS AN EXTRA $100 MILLION IF LAWMAKERS AGREE TO RAISE RETIREMENT COSTS FOR STATE WORKERS AND MAKE OTHER CHANGES TO THE STATE EMPLOYEE PENSION SYSTEM. STEPHEN WAGUESPACK SAID THE SPENDING PROPOSAL, BEING UNVEILED TO LAWMAKERS TODAY, WOULD KEEP HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING AT ITS CURRENT LEVEL IN THE YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THAT WOULD INCLUDE ALREADY APPROVED TUITION INCREASES SET TO TAKE EFFECT IN THE 2012-13 SCHOOL YEAR.

NONE OF THE TICKETS SOLD FOR THE POWERBALL GAME WEDNESDAY EVENING MATCHED ALL SIX NUMBERS DRAWN. THE PRIZE GOES TO AN ESTIMATED $310 MILLION FOR SATURDAY. TICKETS.

AN ARRAIGNMENT HEARING IS SCHEDULED TODAY FOR FORMER LSU QUARTERBACK JORDAN JEFFERSON, WHO IS FACING A SIMPLE BATTERY CHARGE RELATED TO A BRAWL OUTSIDE OF A BATON ROUGE BAR LAST AUGUST. JEFFERSON WAS ORIGINALLY CHARGED WITH 2ND-DEGREE BATTERY FOR HIS ALLEGED ROLE IN THE FIGHT. BUT HE WAS LATER INDICTED FOR SIMPLE BATTERY.

THE GOVERNING BOARD OF LOUISIANA'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT PLANS TO MEET TODAY TO DISCUSS A $100-MILLION-PLUS COURT JUDGMENT AGAINST THE COMPANY FOR TAKING TOO LONG TO BEGIN HANDLING CLAIMS FOR HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA.
STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAID THE PLAINTIFFS HAVE OFFERED TO SETTLE THE CASE, BUT HE COULDN'T DISCUSS DETAILS OF THE OFFER. LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORP. HAS BEEN ORDERED BY STATE COURTS TO PAY $5,000 EACH TO MORE THAN 18,000 POLICYHOLDERS FOR FAILING TO START ADJUSTING STORM CLAIMS WITHIN 30 DAYS AFTER THE STORMS. CITIZENS HAS ASKED THE U.S. SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW THE CASE.

AFTER A SLOW START TO THE CRAWFISH SEASON, THERE ARE SIGNS IT'S PICKING UP. LAST YEARS DROUGHT RESULTED IN FEWER AND SMALLER CRAWFISH IN JANUARY, BUT LSU AG CENTER AQUACULTURE SPECIALIST ROBERT ROMAIRE SAYS THE CATCH IS PICKING UP AS DEMAND RISES. ROMAIRE SAYS WARM WATER HELPS THE GROWTH OF CRAWFISH AND SINCE LOUISIANA SAW A WARMER THAN NORMAL JANUARY, IT'S MADE THE MUDBUGS MUCH BIGGER..

SEASON THREE OF THE POPULAR HISTORY CHANNEL SHOW SWAMP PEOPLE PREMIERES TONIGHT AT 8PM. THE SHOW FOLLOWS THE DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES OF SEVERAL CAJUNS, INCLUDING TROY LANDRY, WHO LIVE IN THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER BASIN SWAMP AND HUNT ALLIGATORS FOR A LIVING. LANDRY SAYS HE IS A TRUE CAJUN WHO TAKES PRIDE IN SHOWING OFF HIS FAMILY'S LONG HISTORY OF BEING SELF-SUFFICIENT AND GETTING EVERYTHING THEY NEED FROM THE LAND. HE SAYS HE IS HUMBLED BY THE NATIONAL ATTENTION HIS LIFESTYLE HAS RECEIVED. LANDRY BELIEVES SEASON THREE WILL BE THE BEST YET.

THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY THAT IT IS ROLLING OUT A PLAN TO WAIVE DEBTS FOR MANY VICTIMS OF HURRICANE KATRINA AND OTHER DISASTERS WHO MAY HAVE MISTAKENLY RECEIVED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN AID.
THE DEBTS, WHICH AVERAGE ABOUT $4,622 PER RECIPIENT, REPRESENT SLIGHTLY LESS THAN 5 PERCENT OF THE ROUGHLY $8 BILLION THAT FEMA DISTRIBUTED TO VICTIMS OF KATRINA AND OTHER 2005 STORMS. SOME OF THE OVERPAYMENTS WERE CAUSED BY FEMA EMPLOYEES' OWN MISTAKES. FEMA IS EXPECTED TO MAIL OUT ROUGHLY 90,000 LETTERS NEXT WEEK TO INFORM DISASTER VICTIMS THAT THEY MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR DEBT WAIVERS. THE RECIPIENTS WILL HAVE 60 DAYS TO RESPOND AND REQUEST A WAIVER.

BATON ROUGE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF A 4-YEAR-OLD CHILD. POLICE SPOKESMAN SGT. DON KELLY SAYS THE CHILD WAS SUFFERING FROM A GUNSHOT WOUND TO THE HEAD. HE WAS LATER PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. INITIAL REPORTS INDICATED THE CHILD FOUND THE GUN AT HIS HOME AND WAS PLAYING WITH IT WHEN IT DISCHARGED.

AN OPELOUSAS MAN HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINING DISABILITY INSURANCE BENEFITS FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION. FORTY-SIX-YEAR-OLD KEVIN V. LEDAY FACES A MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOLLOWING HIS GUILTY PLEA WEDNESDAY IN LAFAYETTE TO THEFT AND FRAUD CHARGES. FEDERAL PROSECUTORS SAY LEDAY EMBEZZLED NEARLY $42,000 AFTER CLAIMING IN 2002 THAT AN INJURY PREVENTED HIM FROM WORKING. PROSECUTORS SAY LEDAY DIDN'T NOTIFY THE AGENCY THAT HE RETURNED TO WORK IN 2006, AND HE KEPT RECEIVING THE PAYMENTS THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2010.

AN INADVERTENT OVERSIGHT BY A ST. FREDERICK HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT'S MOTHER LED TO HIS EXPULSION FROM THE SCHOOL AND ARREST. MONROE POLICE WERE CALLED TO THE SCHOOL TUESDAY IN REFERENCE TO A FIREARM BROUGHT TO SCHOOL BY A SEVENTH-GRADER IN HIS LUNCH BOX. AUTHORITIES SAY AFTER AN INVESTIGATION, IT WAS REVEALED THAT THE MOTHER PLACED THE HANDGUN IN THE LUNCH BOX SOME TIME AGO, AND THE STUDENT UNKNOWINGLY TOOK THE LUNCH BOX TO SCHOOL. SHE SAID THE MOTHER CLAIMS SHE FORGOT THE WEAPON WAS IN BOX. THE STUDENT, WHOSE NAME WAS NOT RELEASED BECAUSE OF HIS AGE, WAS BOOKED INTO JUVE ON A CHARGE OF ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF A HANDGUN ON SCHOOL GROUNDS.



News For Wednesday 02/08/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 020812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD VOTED TUESDAY TO RESTORE A YEARLY STIPEND TO PSYCHOLOGISTS, SOCIAL WORKERS, SPEECH PATHOLOGISTS AND AUDIOLOGISTS. THE BOARD ALSO PLANS TO LOOK FOR FUNDS TO RESTORE SOME OR ALL OF A 15 PERCENT CUT TO EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. THE CUTS WERE MADE IN APRIL AS PART OF AN EFFORT TO MAKE UP A PROJECTED SHORTFALL OF MORE THAN $5 MILLION. THE BOARD APPEARS READY TO REINSTATE THE EXTRACURRICULAR FUNDS CUT OUT OF THE BUDGET. SCHOOLS WERE LEFT TO THEIR OWN DEVICES TO FIND WAYS TO REIMBURSE THE DISTRICT TO MAKE UP FOR THE CUT. HOWEVER, SEVERAL MONTHS INTO THAT PLAN, SUPERINTENDENT GARY L. JONES SAID, "THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO DO IT."

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL YESTERDAY AWARDED A CONSULTING CONTRACT TO ALEXANDRIA ARCHITECTURE FIRM BARRON, HEINBERG & BROCATO FOR IMPROVEMENTS AT THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL. THE FIRM WAS ONE OF FOUR THAT SUBMITTED PROPOSALS TO THE CITY FOR ROOF REPLACEMENT, WATER INTRUSION REMEDIES AND OTHER DEFERRED MAINTENANCE, INCLUDING THE CONSTRUCTION OF ELEVATORS, AT THE FULTON HOTEL.

ON HIS PUSH FOR SWEEPING CHANGE TO THE WAY LOUISIANA EDUCATES ITS STUDENTS, REPUBLICAN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS AN UNLIKELY ALLY IN DEMOCRATIC U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU. THOUGH THE TWO HAVE NOT TYPICALLY BEEN PARTNERS IN POLITICS, BOTH LEADERS SUPPORT THE EXPANSION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS, CHANGES TO THE TEACHER JOB PROTECTION SYSTEM CALLED TENURE AND THE INCREASE OF CHOICES FOR PARENTS SEEKING TO GET THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF FAILING SCHOOLS. IN HER SUPPORT FOR SOME OF JINDAL'S IDEAS, LANDRIEU IS BUCKING THE TRADITIONAL PRO-DEMOCRAT TEACHER UNIONS. BUT DIVISIONS REMAIN. LANDRIEU SAYS JINDAL'S FOCUSING TOO HEAVILY ON CREATING A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT FUNNELS STATE TAXPAYER MONEY INTO PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION. AND SHE WANTS MORE SPENDING ON SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION, AN ISSUE JINDAL HASN'T RAISED.

SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ARE MEETING WITH THE STATE'S NEW PUBLIC EDUCATION LEADER, JOHN WHITE, TO DISCUSS GOVERNOR JINDAL'S EDUCATION REFORM PLANS. LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS PRESIDENT MICHAEL FAULK SAYS THEY HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL TO EXPAND VOUCHERS STATEWIDE FOR STUDENTS WHO ATTEND STRUGGLING PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE GOVERNOR IS ALSO PUSHING CHANGES TO THE STATE'S PRE-K PROGRAMS. JINDAL WANTS TO EXPAND PRE-K AND ASSIGN LETTER GRADES TO PROGRAMS BASED ON KINDERGARTEN READINESS. FAULK SAYS THEY APPLAUD THIS IDEA, BECAUSE STRONG PRE-K PROGRAMS BENEFIT K-THROUGH-12 SCHOOLS..

A $365 MILLION EXPANSION OF NUSTAR ENERGY LP'S CRUDE OIL TERMINAL ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IS EXPECTED TO CREATE 32 NEW JOBS IN ST. JAMES PARISH. THE COMPANY AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID TUESDAY THAT THE NEW JOBS WILL PAY AN AVERAGE OF $98,000 ANNUALLY WITH BENEFITS. THE TEXAS-BASED COMPANY ALSO WILL KEEP 23 EXISTING JOBS AT ITS ST. JAMES TANK FARM. WORK ON THE EXPANSION, TO INCREASE NUSTAR'S TANK STORAGE CAPACITY FROM 8 MILLION BARRELS TO 11 MILLION BARRELS, IS EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED IN 2016.

CINDY ROUGEOU, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE LOUISIANA STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM SAID YESTERDAY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSED CHANGES TO BENEFITS FOR STATE WORKERS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, UNNECESSARILY HARSH AND UNFAIR TO EMPLOYEES VESTED IN THE SYSTEM AND THAT THE GOVERNOR IS TARGETING WORKERS WHO ARE BARRED FROM LOBBYING ON THEIR OWN BEHALF, THOSE LEAST ABLE TO SPEAK UP IN OPPOSITION. IN A THREE-PAGE WRITTEN RESPONSE TO THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSALS, ROUGEOU SAID THE CHANGES WOULD BREAK A PROMISE MADE TO EMPLOYEES WHEN THEY WERE HIRED ABOUT THE BENEFITS THEY WOULD RECEIVE. TO CHANGE PROVISIONS SUCH AS THOSE TARGETED WOULD VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RESTRICTION AGAINST IMPAIRING EXISTING BENEFITS. NO COMMENTS FROM THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WILL REVEAL HIS EXECUTIVE BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR THE STATE'S NEXT FISCAL YEAR TOMORROW. THE STATE IS LOOKING AT A REVENUE SHORTFALL OF NEARLY A $900-MILLION. SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JACK DONAHUE, OF MANDEVILLE, SAYS HE'S PREPARING FOR ANOTHER TOUGH BUDGET STRUGGLE IN THE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR. SENATOR DONAHUE SAYS STATE REVENUES HAVE COME UP SHY OF THE MARK AGAIN THIS YEAR, AND HE SAYS IT'S LARGELY BECAUSE CORPORATE TAX COLLECTIONS ARE DOWN.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S TOP BUDGET ADVISER HAS AGREED TO PARTICIPATE IN A YEAR-LONG PROGRAM FOR DWI OFFENDERS INSTEAD OF STANDING TRIAL FOR HIS RECENT DRUNKEN DRIVING CHARGE. COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER WAS ARRESTED DEC. 10 ON FIRST-OFFENSE DWI, RECKLESS OPERATION OF A VEHICLE AND FAILURE TO OBEY A STOP SIGN OR YIELD SIGN.

THREE MEN HAVE BEEN SENTENCED TO PRISON TERMS FOR TYING A NOOSE AROUND A DEAD RACCOON'S NECK AND HANGING IT FROM A FLAGPOLE TO INTIMIDATE BLACK STUDENTS AT A NORTH LOUISIANA SCHOOL. THE THREE MEN PLEADED GUILTY LAST YEAR TO CHARGES THEY HUNG THE DEAD RACCOON OUTSIDE BEEKMAN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL IN MOREHOUSE PARISH IN 2007 OUT OF ANGER ABOUT THE SCHOOL'S NEW BUSING POLICY, WHICH HAD INCREASED THE NUMBER OF BLACK STUDENTS.

AN ENGINEERING FIRM WITH AN OFFICE IN BATON ROUGE SAYS IT HAS RECEIVED A CONTRACT FROM METHANEX CORP., A MAJOR PRODUCER OF METHANOL, TO PROVIDE SERVICES IF METHANEX DECIDES TO MOVE ONE OF ITS IDLE PLANTS FROM CHILE TO LOUISIANA. JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP INC. ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT IT HAS A CONTRACT FROM METHANEX FOR ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION WORK AT THE 225-ACRE SITE IN GEISMAR. VANCOUVER-BASED METHANEX HAS SAID IT WOULD MAKE A FINAL DECISION ON WHETHER TO BRING THE PLANT TO LOUISIANA DURING THE THIRD QUARTER. PRODUCTION WOULD BEGIN IN THE SECOND HALF OF 2014. THE COMPANY HAS NOT SAID HOW MANY JOBS WOULD BE CREATED.

THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS HAS APPROVED MERGING THE LSU AGCENTER'S DEPARTMENT OF VETERINARY SCIENCE INTO ITS SCHOOL OF ANIMAL SCIENCES.
AGCENTER CHANCELLOR BILL RICHARDSON SAYS THE MERGER WILL STRENGTHEN RESEARCH AND EXTENSION PROGRAMS IN BOTH UNITS AND COMPLEMENT THEIR MOVE INTO A BUILDING UNDER CONSTRUCTION. RICHARDSON SAYS THERE'S SUBSTANTIAL OVERLAP BETWEEN THE UNITS, WITH ANIMAL SCIENCE CONSIDERING ALL ASPECTS OF ANIMAL SCIENCE AND VETERINARY SCIENCE FOCUSING ON DISEASES

THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE SAYS A RETIREMENT SYSTEM, WHICH PROVIDES BENEFITS FOR OFFICERS PATROLLING THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS, IS ON PACE TO RUN OUT OF MONEY AS EARLY AS 2020 UNLESS CHANGES ARE MADE TO THE PENSION FUND. THE REPORT FOUND THAT THE PENSION SYSTEM WAS ABOUT 56 PERCENT FUNDED AS OF FISCAL YEAR 2010, MEANING THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY THE TOTAL OBLIGATIONS OWED TO CURRENT RETIREES.

THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS ANOTHER FINANCIAL PROBLEM TO OVERCOME. A $240,000 EXPENSE THAT PREVIOUSLY WAS PAID FOR BY STATE OR FEDERAL FUNDING WAS NOT BUDGETED FOR THIS YEAR. THE SCHOOL SYSTEM RECENTLY DISCOVERED THAT THIS FISCAL YEAR'S BUDGET DID NOT ACCOUNT FOR SUMMER SCHOOL FOR FOURTH- AND EIGHTH-GRADERS WHO FAIL THE STATE STANDARDIZED LEAP TEST REQUIRED FOR PROMOTION TO THE NEXT GRADE.

THE ST. MARTIN PARISH DA'S OFFICE SAYS IT WILL SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY AGAINST HELLEN DUPIS AND TONIE DUPIS. BOTH ARE CHARGED WITH THE DEATH OF 83-YEAR OLD JESSIE MESSEX OF BREAUX BRIDGE. SHE WAS THE MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER OF THE TWO WOMEN. INVESTIGATORS SAY THE PAIR MOVED IN WITH MESSEX AFTER SHE HAD A STROKE. NO MOTIVE FOR THE APPARENT MURDER HAS BEEN RELEASED AS OF
YET.

FIVE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES HAVE AGREED TO PAY LOUISIANA A COMBINED $25-MILLION TO SETTLE CLAIMS THEY FUDGED ON DRUG PRICING TO INFLATE MEDICAID REIMBURSEMENTS. THE COMPANIES ARE GLAXOSMITHKLINE, SHERING-PLOUGH, ACTAVIS, BOEHRINGER INGELHAIM AND DEY PHARMACEUTICAL.

A COMMISSIONER IN CADDO PARISH WHO IS TRYING TO BAN THE WEARING OF PAJAMA PANTS IN PUBLIC IS MOVING FORWARD WITH THE ORDINANCE. MICHAEL WILLIAMS SAYS HE WOULD LIKE TO MEET WITH PARISH ATTORNEY CHARLES GRUBB TO WRITE THE ORDINANCE WITH SIMILAR LANGUAGE AS THE CITY OF SHREVEPORT'S "SAGGY PANTS POLICY". FELLOW CADDO COMMISSIONER JOHN ESCUDE SAYS HE CANNOT SUPPORT THE
BAN. HE SAYS HE'S ASHAMED THAT THIS ISSUE HAS GOTTEN NATIONAL ATTENTION.

IT'S BEEN ALMOST 48 HOURS NOW AND STATE POLICE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR A VEHICLE THAT WAS INVOLVED IN A FATAL ACCIDENT THAT KILLED A PEDESTRIAN IN WALKER. ST POLICE TROOPER RUSSELL GRAHAM SAYS A PICKUP TRUCK HIT A WHITE FORD EXPLORER FROM BEHIND WHEN IT WAS STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. THIS CAUSED THE TRUCK TO VEER AND RUN OVER AND KILL THE PEDESTRIAN AND SMASH INTO A HOUSE. THE WHITE FORD EXPLORER FLED THE SCENE.

IT WASN’T YOUR AVERAGE SCUFFLE. 12 TEENAGERS IN SHREVEPORT HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH FIGHTING ON A SCHOOL BUS. THE DRIVER JUST HAPPENED TO BE PASSING THE SHREVEPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT WHEN THE FIGHT BROKE OUT. SO SHE DID THE BEST THING SHE KNEW TO DO.. SHE PULLED INTO THE POLICE STATION PARKING LOT. IT TOOK TEN OFFICERS TO PUT STOP TO THE FIGHT
BETWEEN STUDENTS AT THE HAMILTON TERRACE LEARNING CENTER. SERGENT
BILL GOODIN SAYS THE CAUSE OF THE ALTERCATION IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

News For Tuesday 02/07/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 020712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A MOTORCYCLIST WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED LAST NIGHT WHEN HE BROADSIDED A MINIVAN AT THE INTERSECTION OF JACKSON STREET EXT. AND VERSAILLES BLVD IN ALEXANDRIA. THE IDENTITY OF THE DRIVER HAS NOT RELEASED. THE MINIVAN TOOK SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE ON ITS PASSENGER SIDE. DEBRIS FROM THE MOTORCYCLE WAS STREWN ON JACKSON STREET EXTENSION, AND TRAFFIC WAS BACKED UP AS ALEXANDRIA POLICE OFFICERS WORKED TO CLEAR THE SCENE. IT IS UNKNOWN IF ANYONE IN THE MINIVAN WAS INJURED.

THE FATHER OF A 22-YEAR-OLD ALEXANDRIA MAN WHO DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY IN FEBRUARY OF LAST YEAR, HAS FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST A LONG LAUNDRY LIST OF LOCAL OFFICIALS. ROBERT RICKS DIED AFTER BEING TASERED. A CORONER'S REPORT AND A LOUISIANA STATE POLICE INVESTIGATIVE REPORT EXONERATED OFFICERS INVOLVED IN THE CASE, SAYING THAT RICKS DIED OF "EXCITED DELIRIUM" FROM HAVING A LETHAL AMOUNT OF COCAINE IN HIS SYSTEM. ACCORDING TO THE 16-PAGE LAWSUIT, LAWRENCE RICKS IS SEEKING DAMAGES FOR THE WRONGFUL DEATH, DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS AND NEGLIGENCE THAT HE ALLEGES LED TO HIS SON'S DEATH

9TH DISTRICT JUDGE HARRY RANDOW RULED MONDAY , ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY CAN REVIVE HIS DORMANT LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CITY COUNCIL,. THIS TIME, HOWEVER, THE MAYOR ISN'T AIMING AT A MAJORITY OF THE CITY COUNCIL. INSTEAD, THE SUIT FOCUSES ON JUST ONE COUNCILMAN, ROOSEVELT JOHNSON. THE ORIGINAL SUIT FILED BY ROY IN AUGUST 2007 SOUGHT TO BLOCK FIVE COUNCIL FROM HIRING ATTORNEYS FOR THE COUNCIL. JOHNSON IS THE ONLY REMAINING DEFENDANT WHO HASN'T BEEN DISMISSED FROM THAT SUIT. JOHNSON’S ATTORNEY, SAID THAT REVIVING THE OLD LAWSUIT AND FOCUSING ONLY ON JOHNSON "SMACKS OF POLITICS" BECAUSE JOHNSON IS UP FOR RE-ELECTION LATER THIS YEAR.

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY HAS DECIDED TO GET INVOLVED IN A D.O.T.D. DECISION TO CLOSE AN INTERSECTION IN WOODWORTH. JURORS VOTED IN COMMITTEE MONDAY TO APPROVE A RESOLUTION AGAINST A LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT'S DECISION TO CLOSE A CROSSOVER ON U.S. HIGHWAY 165 WHERE IT INTERSECTS WITH COULEE CROSSING ROAD. THE MOTION WAS PASSED WITHOUT OPPOSITION. THE RESOLUTION, AND OTHER MOTIONS PASSED MONDAY, WILL COME UP FOR OFFICIAL APPROVAL AT THE REGULAR POLICE JURY MEETING NEXT MONDAY.

GOVERNMENT RETIREMENT ISSUES WILL KEEP LAWMAKERS' BUSY DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT STARTS NEXT MONTH. LOUISIANA'S FOUR STATEWIDE RETIREMENT SYSTEMS ARE A COMBINED 18-POINT-5 BILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT. HOUSE RETIREMENT CHAIRMAN KEVIN PEARSON SAYS THE DOWNTURN IN THE ECONOMY CREATED A GAP BETWEEN MONEY ON HAND AND WHAT THE STATE MUST PAY OUT. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL IS PROPOSING A SERIES OF CHANGES TO THE PENSION PLAN THAT COVERS MANY STATE WORKERS. IT WOULD RESULT IN PUBLIC EMPLOYEES PAYING MORE INTO THEIR RETIREMENT, WOULD HAVE TO WORK LONGER AND END UP WITH SMALLER PENSION CHECKS

THE LOUISIANA HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSION BEGINS A PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN TODAY, ABOUT THE DANGERS OF OVER INDULGING AND GETTING BEHIND THE WHEEL DURING CARNIVAL SEASON. LHSC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR COL. JOHN LEBLANC SAYS MARDI GRAS IS ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS HOLIDAYS TO BE ON THE ROADS IN LOUISIANA. LEBLANC SAYS THAT AS WITH MOST HOLIDAYS IN LOUISIANA, THE LHSC HAS PROVIDED FUNDING GRANTS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES THROUGHOUT THE STATE TO INCREASE PATROLS IN AN EFFORT TO REMOVE DRUNK DRIVERS FROM THE ROADS THIS MARDI GRAS.

A RARE FEBRUARY TROPICAL DISTURBANCE HAS MOVED INTO THE SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO NEAR THE YUCATAN PENINSULA. JACK BEVAN WITH THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, SAYS THEY DON'T EXPECT THIS AREA OF LOW-PRESSURE TO DEVELOP INTO A NAMED STORM. BEVAN SAYS THE MAIN EFFECT OF THIS SYSTEM WILL BE SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS OVER SOUTHERN FLORIDA.

A LOUISIANA MAN HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO PARTICIPATING IN A PLOT TO SUBMIT MORE THAN $21 MILLION IN FRAUDULENT CLAIMS TO THE MEDICARE PROGRAM. FORTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD RODNEY TAYLOR FACES A MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF 15 YEARS IN PRISON FOLLOWING HIS GUILTY PLEA MONDAY IN BATON ROUGE TO CONSPIRACY CHARGES. FEDERAL PROSECUTORS SAY TAYLOR WORKED AS A RECRUITER FOR LOUISIANA-BASED COMPANIES THAT FRAUDULENTLY BILLED MEDICARE FOR UNNECESSARY MEDICAL EQUIPMENT BETWEEN 2004 AND 2009.

U.S. SEN. DAVID VITTER HEDGED MONDAY WHEN ASKED IF HE WAS CONSIDERING A RUN FOR LOUISIANA GOVERNOR IN THREE YEARS, SAYING HE HASN'T BEEN "FOCUSING ON THAT," BUT STOPPING SHORT OF DISCARDING THE POSSIBILITY OF A BID FOR THE JOB. SINCE GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WILL BE TERM-LIMITED AND UNABLE TO RUN AGAIN FOR GOVERNOR IN 2016, SPECULATION IS FLOURISHING ABOUT WHO MIGHT RUN TO REPLACE HIM.IN MORE IMMEDIATE POLITICAL RACES, VITTER DECLINED TO ENDORSE A GOP CONTENDER FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. HE SAID HE'LL SUPPORT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINEE, WHOEVER THAT IS, THOUGH HE ACKNOWLEDGED HIS FRIENDSHIP WITH FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SEN. RICK SANTORUM.

WITH VALENTINE'S DAY JUST A WEEK AWAY, THE DEADLINE IS APPROACHING TO NOMINATE LOUISIANA'S LONGEST MARRIED COUPLE. LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GENE MILLS SAYS HIS GROUP BESTOWS THE HONORS EACH YEAR. MILLS SAYS THERE ARE STILL TWO DAYS TO NOMINATE COUPLE WHO'VE BEEN HAPPILY MARRIED A LONG TIME. HE SAYS THE COUPLE PROCLAIMED LOUISIANA'S LONGEST-MARRIED COUPLE WILL BE HONORED AT A VALENTINE'S DAY EVENT AT THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION IN BATON ROUGE.
FOR INFORMATION CALL 800-606-6470.

THE 14-PARISH ATCHAFALAYA HERITAGE AREA IS GETTING NEW SIGNS TO LET PEOPLE KNOW WHEN THEY'VE TRAVELED INTO THE SPECIALLY-DESIGNATED REGION. LT. GOV. JAY DARDENNE, WHO OVERSEES TOURISM EFFORTS IN LOUISIANA, SAID MONDAY THAT 264 HIGHWAY SIGNS ARE BEING INSTALLED AROUND THE ATCHAFALAYA REGION.
THE MARKERS, PAID WITH $165,000 IN FEDERAL FUNDS, DEFINE THE BOUNDARIES OF THE HERITAGE AREA, WHICH WAS DESIGNATED BY CONGRESS AS ONE OF 49 NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS IN THE UNITED STATES. THE SIGN INSTALLATION WORK SHOULD BE FINISHED IN THE SPRING.







News For Monday 02/06/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 020612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

PINEVILLE POLICE SAY CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING APPARENTLY CAUSE THE DEATH OF 55-YEAR OLD EMMA HARPER AND HER 17-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER EBONY HARPER. POLICE SAY THEY WENT TO THE HOME SATURDAY AFTERNOON, AFTER A CALLER REPORTED THAT THE WOMEN WERE UNRESPONSIVE. INVESTIGATORS SAY A GENERATOR APPARENTLY WAS BEING USED INDOORS FOR ELECTRIC POWER, AND ITS EXHAUST FUMES WERE NOT VENTED TO THE OUTDOORS. THOUGH IT’S BELIEVED THE DEATHS WERE ACCIDENTAL, AUTHORITIES HAVE ORDERED AUTOPSIES ON BOTH WOMEN.

RECENT RAINS HAVE ELEVATED WATER LEVELS IN CANE RIVER LAKE, ALLOWING THE ENTIRE LAKE TO REOPEN TO BOATING TRAFFIC.  PARTS OF THE LAKE MUST BE CLOSED WHEN THE WATER LEVEL DROPS BELOW 96 FEET ABOVE MEAN SEA LEVEL. THE LEVEL DROPPED TO 93.4 FEET LAST SUMMER BECAUSE OF THE DROUGHT BUT THIS PAST WEEK WAS BACK UP ABOVE 96 FEET.

STATE POLICE REPORT A PEDESTRIAN WAS KILLED IN A HIT-AND-RUN SATURDAY ON LA. HIGHWAY 1 IN SIMMESPORT. TROOPERS SAY THE BODY OF 36 YEAR OLD LEVI JONES JR OF MARKSVILLE WAS FOUND IN THE SOUTH LANE OF LA. HIGHWAY 1 AFTER AN UNIDENTIFIED VEHICLE STRUCK HIM AROUND 3 P.M. JONES WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.
THE DRIVER OF THE VEHICLE JUST KEPT ON GOING..

A NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER PROPOSES A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO STRIP THE GOVERNOR'S POWER TO GRANT PARDONS. REP. AUSTIN BADON SAYS HE FILED HIS LEGISLATION AFTER PUBLIC OUTRAGE IN MISSISSIPPI THAT OUTGOING GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR PARDONED FOUR CONVICTED KILLERS. BADON'S BILL WOULD REQUIRE AMENDING THE STATE CONSTITUTION; SO IT WILL NEED TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY APPROVAL IN BOTH CHAMBERS, BEFORE GOING TO VOTERS ON A FALL BALLOT. BADON'S BILL HAS BEEN PRE-FILED FOR THE SPRING LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT STARTS MARCH 12TH.

A TEENAGER CONVICTED OF KILLING HIS PARENTS AT THEIR WESTERN OUACHITA PARISH HOME, HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON. SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD DALTON FLETCHER WAS SENTENCED FRIDAY IN THE BOSSIER PARISH COURTHOUSE TO TWO LIFE SENTENCES WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PROBATION, PAROLE OR SUSPENSION OF SENTENCE. FLETCHER WAS CONVICTED OF TWO COUNTS OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER IN DECEMBER FOR THE SHOOTING DEATHS JOHN AND TAMMY FLETCHER IN SEPTEMBER 2010. HE PLEADED NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY.

NOW THAT SUPER BOWL 46 IS IN THE BOOKS, THE PLANNING STEPS UP A NOTCH FOR SUPER BOWL 47 IN NEW ORLEANS. LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE SAYS 2002 WAS THE LAST TIME THE SUPER BOWL WAS PLAYED IN THE MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME AND THE KEY IS TO PUT ON A GREAT EVENT, SO THE N-F-L WILL WANT TO COME BACK IN A FEW MORE YEARS. DARDENNE SAYS THEY ESTIMATE NEXT YEAR'S SUPER BOWL WILL GIVE THE ECONOMY ABOUT A 450-MILLION DOLLAR BOOST. HE SAYS HOSTING THE GAME ALSO GIVES THE CITY AND STATE PUBLICITY YOU CAN'T PUT A DOLLAR-FIGURE ON.

STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS A MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED FOR A SERIES OF ARSON FIRES IN THE KAPLAN AREA. BROWNING SAYS A NINE MONTH LONG INVESTIGATION INTO SUSPICIOUS FIRES ENDED SATURDAY WITH THE ARREST OF 56-YEAR-OLD FELICIAN PRIMEAUX. BROWNING SAYS PRIMEAUX IS IN THE VERMILIAN PARISH JAIL, CHARGED WITH 12 COUNTS OF SIMPLE ARSON. THE BUILDINGS BURNED INCLUDE THE OLD KAPLAN RICE HOUSE AND OTHERS. BROWNING SAYS PRIMEAUX MAY HAVE CHOSEN EMPTY TARGETS, BUT HIS ALLEGED CRIMES STILL COULD HAVE HURT SOMEONE.

A LIVINGSTON PARISH STATE REPRESENTATIVE HAS PRE-FILED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD MAKE FAILURE TO REPORT A MISSING CHILD A CRIME. SHERMAN MACK SAYS HE DECIDED TO WRITE THE BILL BECAUSE OF THE CASEY ANTHONY TRIAL. HE SAYS HE FEELS THERE NEEDS TO BE A LOUISIANA LAW THAT STATES A "CARETAKER" MUST REPORT A MISSING CHILD TO PROPER AUTHORITIES WITHIN 24 HOURS.

A STOMACH VIRUS OUTBREAK DELAYED THE DEPARTURE OF THE CRUISE SHIP "VOYAGER OF THE SEAS" FROM NEW ORLEANS IN ONE OF THREE OUTBREAKS OF ILLNESS ABOARD U.S.-BASED CRUISE SHIPS REPORTED OVER THE WEEKEND. THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION NOTIFIED LOUISIANA ON FRIDAY THAT A CRUISE SHIP MIGHT BE COMING IN WITH A NOROVIRUS OUTBREAK. STATE EPIDEMIOLOGIST RAOULT RATARD SAID SUNDAY, ABOUT 200 PASSENGERS ON THE NEW ORLEANS SHIP BECAME ILL FROM THE VIRUS, WHICH CAUSES VOMITING AND DIARRHEA AND SPREADS RAPIDLY IN CLOSE QUARTERS SUCH AS CRUISE SHIPS AND NURSING HOMES.

EARLY SUNDAY MORNING, SINGLE VEHICLE CRASH, CLAIMED THE LIFE OF A MONTEREY WOMAN. STATE POLICE SAY 46 YEAR OLD SHEILA FARRAR WAS KILLED WHEN HER VEHICLE LEFT HIGHWAY 129 IN CONCORDIA PARISH AND STRUCK A BRIDGE RAILING. FARRAR WAS NOT WEARING HER SEAT BELT AT THE TIME OF THE CRASH. ROUTINE TOXICOLOGY TESTS ARE PENDING. THE CRASH REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.




 

News For Thursday 02/02/2012


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 020212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE PLANS FOR A NEW CENTRAL STATE HOSPITAL IN PINEVILLE. STATE HEALTH & HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN SAYS THE EXISTING HOSPITAL IS OVER A HUNDRED YEARS OLD, AND AN UPGRADE IS LONG OVERDUE. GREENSTEIN SAYS THE FIRST PHASE OF THE PROJECT WILL BE CONSOLIDATING THE CURRENT CENTRAL HOSPITAL CAMPUS, AND ADJACENT PINECREST SUPPORTS & SERVICES CENTER, ALL INTO ONE COMPACT AREA IN THE FACILITIES NORTHWEST CORNER. CONSTRUCTION WILL START LATER THIS YEAR ON A NEW, STATE-OF-THE-ART MENTAL HEALTH HOSPITAL BUILDING THAT WILL EXIST IN TANDEM WITH THE EXISTING FACILITY. HE SAYS THE PROJECTED COST WILL BE AROUND $6-MILLION.

A STUDY RELEASED YESTERDAY SHOWS THE BAN ON SMOKING IN BARS AND GAMING ESTABLISHMENTS IN ALEXANDRIA HAS MADE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT ON AIR QUALITY IN THOSE VENUES. THE DATA COLLECTED IN THE STUDY WAS ANALYZED BY THE LSU HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER'S SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH IN NEW ORLEANS. THE STUDY SHOWED THAT AIR INSIDE THE FACILITIES IS NOW 36 TIMES CLEANER AND HAS SEEN A REDUCTION OF 97 PERCENT OF THE PARTICULATE MATTERS IN THE AIR. NO WORD IN THE REPORT AS TO WHAT EFFECT THE BAN HAD ON BUSINESS IN THOSE BARS.

LSU ECONOMIST LAUREN SCOTT WAS IN TOWN YESTERDAY ADDRESSING THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE LUNCHEON. SCOTT TOLD THE ASSEMBLED
BETTER TIMES ARE COMING FOR CENTRAL LOUISIANA. NOT ALL THE NEW WAS GOOD THOUGH, SCOTT DID SAY RECOVERY FROM THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN WILL BE SLOW ON A NATIONAL LEVEL.

FOUR MEN WERE CHARGED WITH THEFT AFTER THEY ALLEGEDLY STOLE SOME GUNS FROM A STORE IN PINEVILLE. ARRESTED WERE 21 YEAR OLD MATTHEW DAVIS OF ALEXANDRIA; 19 YEAR OLD STEVEN MITCHELL OF BOYCE; 22 YEAR OLD ERIC MOORE OF PINEVILLE; AND 20 YEAR OLD HERBERT BLANCHARD PINEVILLE. EACH WAS CHARGED WITH THEFT OF A FIREARM AND CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY. DAVIS WAS ALSO CHARGED WITH RESISTING AN OFFICER, AND MITCHELL WAS CHARGED WITH ILLEGAL USE OF A WEAPON.

LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID PROGRAM ON WEDNESDAY STARTED PROVIDING HEALTH CARE THROUGH PRIVATE MANAGED CARE NETWORKS IN NINE PARISHES AROUND NEW ORLEANS, THE FIRST STEP IN A SWEEPING REVAMP OF THE PROGRAM THAT PROVIDES CARE TO THE POOR. NEARLY 246,000 MEDICAID RECIPIENTS, MOSTLY CHILDREN, ACROSS SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA WERE SWITCHED TO THE MANAGED CARE NETWORKS IN THIS FIRST PHASE OF THE INSURANCE-BASED MODEL, CALLED BAYOU HEALTH. ONLY ABOUT A QUARTER OF THOSE SHIFTED TO THE NEW INSURANCE MODEL CHOSE HOW THEY WILL GET THAT CARE. THE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT HAD TO ASSIGN 73 PERCENT TO THEIR NEW HEALTH PLANS BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T SELECT THEIR OWN AMONG THE FIVE OPTIONS OFFERED.

STARTING THIS YEAR, LOUISIANANS CAN HELP FIGHT HUNGER WHILE FILING THEIR STATE INCOME TAXES, BY INCLUDING ON THEIR RETURNS A CONTRIBUTION TO THE LOUISIANA FOOD BANK ASSOCIATION. LFBA SPOKESPERSON CINDY GREENSTEIN SAYS IT'S NEW AND IT'S EASY TO DO. THE 2011 STATE TAX RETURN FORMS WILL HAVE A LINE ITEM THAT TAX FILERS CAN CHECK TO GIVE SOME OF THEIR TAX RETURN TO THE FOOD BANKS. SHE SAYS THAT MONEY WILL BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE MORE THAN 400 MEMBER AGENCIES IN LOUISIANA, SEEKING TO HELP THE NEEDY.

DIXIE ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORP. HAS ENTERED A 10-YEAR CONTRACT TO GET ITS POWER FROM CLECO POWER LLC STARTING IN APRIL 2014. DEMCO SERVES ABOUT 100,000 CUSTOMERS IN A SEVEN-PARISH BATON ROUGE AREA. GOING FORWARD, JOHN VRANIC, DEMCO'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND GENERAL MANAGER, SAID CLECO POWER'S PROPOSAL IS DEMCO'S BEST OPTION TO KEEP CUSTOMERS' COSTS DOWN AND SERVE THE UTILITY'S GROWING POWER NEEDS.

ALTHOUGH THE WATER IS STILL LOW AT TOLEDO BEND RESERVOIR, LOUISIANA'S OFFICE OF STATE PARKS SAYS IT HAS RISEN ENOUGH TO REOPEN THE BOAT LAUNCH AT NORTH TOLEDO BEND STATE PARK NEAR ZWOLLE. SPOKESWOMAN SHARON BROUSSARD SAYS THE LAUNCH REOPENED WEDNESDAY. SHE SAYS THE LAUNCH AT SOUTH TOLEDO BEND STATE PARK REMAINS CLOSED UNTIL THE SABINE RIVER AUTHORITY CAN DREDGE OUT BOAT LANES. BOTH LAUNCHES CLOSED IN JULY BECAUSE THE LAKE WAS EXTREMELY LOW.

NEW US CENSUS DATA SHOWS LOUISIANA AS HAVING ONE OF THE LARGEST POPULATIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN RESIDENTS IN THE NATION. THE DATA SHOWS NEARLY ONE-THIRD OF PEOPLE LIVING IN THE STATE IN 2010 IDENTIFY THEMSELVES AS BEING EITHER BLACK OR BLACK AND A COMBINATION OF ANOTHER RACE. LOUISIANA HAS THE SECOND-LARGEST PERCENTAGE OF BLACK PEOPLE FOLLOWED BY MISSISSIPPI. THE DATA ALSO SHOWS THERE'S BEEN AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE, BUT LOUISIANA REPUBLICANS STILL HOLD MORE VOTING POWER.

OPELOUSAS ATTORNEY MARION OVERTON WHITE IS SEEKING $1.6 MILLION IN LEGAL FEES FOR HIS WORK IN THE EVANGELINE PARISH DESEGREGATION CASE. THE ADVOCATE REPORTS (HTTP://BIT.LY/WDJMDN ) WHITE'S REQUEST COMES AS THE SCHOOL BOARD IS ANTICIPATING AN END TO THE 47-YEAR-OLD CASE. THE $1.6 MILLION REQUEST IN EVANGELINE PARISH FOLLOWS WHITE'S AGREEMENT LAST YEAR TO ACCEPT $800,000 IN NEIGHBORING ST. LANDRY PARISH. WHITE HAD INITIALLY SOUGHT NEARLY $10 MILLION IN LEGAL FEES FOR HIS WORK IN THE ST. LANDRY DESEGREGATION CASE BUT SETTLED FOR THE LESSER AMOUNT.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS A DECISION WON'T BE MADE UNTIL NEXT WEEK ON WHETHER THE STATE'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT WILL PURSUE A U.S. SUPREME COURT APPEAL OF A $93 MILLION JUDGMENT AGAINST THE COMPANY. CITIZENS WAS FOUND TO HAVE MOVED TOO SLOWLY IN DEALING WITH CLAIMS AFTER HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA. AT ISSUE IS WHETHER CITIZENS WILL PAY $350,000 TO A WASHINGTON-BASED LAW FIRM TO ASK THE SUPREME COURT TO CONSIDER AN APPLICATION FOR APPEAL OF THE JUDGMENT, WHICH HAS GROWN TO $104 MILLION WITH INTEREST. THE HIGH COURT REFUSED TO STALL PAYMENT OF THE JUDGMENT, EVEN IF CITIZENS TRIES THE FEDERAL APPEAL.

ACADIA PARISH AUTHORITIES ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF A 58-YEAR-OLD MAN WHOSE BODY WAS FOUND IN A DRAINAGE DITCH. DEPUTIES REPORT THE MAN'S BODY WAS FOUND TUESDAY MORNING OFF THE BASILE EUNICE HIGHWAY NEAR BASILE. DEPUTIES SAY FOUL PLAY IS NOT SUSPECTED IN THE MAN'S DEATH. THE BODY WAS TAKEN TO THE CALCASIEU PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE FOR AN AUTOPSY. THE MAN'S IDENTITY IS BEING WITHHELD PENDING NOTIFICATION OF FAMILY.

WILDLIFE OFFICIALS HAVE A MESSAGE FOR A COUPLE WHO FLED LOUISIANA WITH THEIR FOUR MONKEYS OUT OF FEAR THEIR ANIMALS WOULD BE CONFISCATED: COME HOME AND LET US INSPECT YOUR CAGES AND MONKEYS. JIM AND DONITA CLARK FLED THEIR HOME IN DERIDDER LAST OCTOBER AND HAVE BEEN LIVING WITH THEIR MONKEYS IN THEIR MOTOR HOME IN TEXAS. BO BOEHRINGER, A SPOKESMAN FOR THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES, INVITED THE CLARKS TO RETURN TO LOUISIANA AND UNDERGO AN INSPECTION, AS REQUIRED NOW FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS EXOTIC ANIMALS IN THEIR HOMES. HE ADDED THAT THE CLARKS HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR AS LONG AS THEIR MONKEYS ARE FOUND TO BE WELL TREATED AND THEIR CAGES SAFE.
BUT THE CLARKS REMAIN SKEPTICAL. THEY'RE LOOKING FOR A LAWYER.

A STATE LAWMAKER FILES TWO BILLS FOR THE MARCH LEGISLATIVE SESSION AIMED AT CRACKING DOWN ON CRIME. ONE OF NEW ORLEANS REP. JEROD BROSSETT'S BILLS WOULD MAKE FIRING A GUN WITHIN A THOUSAND FEET OF A SCHOOL A CRIME. THE OTHER SEEKS TO STIFFEN THE MINIMUM PENALTIES FOR THOSE FOUND GUILTY OF HOME INVASION CRIMES.

A NEW STUDY FINDS THAT LOUISIANA'S SECOND GULF OF MEXICO DEAD ZONE STRETCHES AT LEAST FROM THE CHANDELEUR SOUND OFF LOUISIANA TO ALABAMA'S DAUPHIN ISLAND — AND COULD BE BIGGER. THE LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN BASIN FOUNDATION SAYS IT COULD CHECK ONLY AS FAR AS DAUPHIN ISLAND LAST YEAR. OFFICIALS HOPE TO GET OTHER STATES TO EXTEND THE REACH OF STUDIES THAT WILL START LATER IN FEBRUARY.
IN 2010, SCIENTISTS FOUND A 250-SQUARE-MILE AREA WHERE OXYGEN LEVELS WERE TOO LOW TO SUPPORT LIFE IN THE CHANDELEUR SOUND. THE ONE FOUND LAST YEAR WAS MORE THAN 1,000 SQUARE MILES. FOUNDATION HEAD JOHN LOPEZ SAID WEDNESDAY THE AREA PROBABLY DIDN'T GROW — THE SCIENTISTS JUST LOOKED FARTHER.

ALLIGATOR HUNTERS, RACCOON WRANGLERS AND CRAWFISH CATCHERS IN LOUISIANA'S CRITTER-FILLED SWAMPS AND BAYOUS ARE INCREASINGLY COMMON ON TELEVISION.
SINCE THE INTRODUCTION OF THE HISTORY CHANNEL'S WILDLY POPULAR "SWAMP PEOPLE" IN 2010, ROUGHLY A DOZEN OTHER LOUISIANA-BASED REALITY SHOWS HAVE MADE THEIR TELEVISION DEBUTS, AMONG THEM THE TRAVEL CHANNEL'S "GIRLS, GUNS AND GATORS," CMT'S "CRAWFISH COWBOYS" AND THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL'S "RAGIN' CAJUNS."
THE REASON FOR THE RECENT BOOM IN LOUISIANA-BASED REALITY TV IS TWO-FOLD, SAID LOUISIANA LT. GOV. JAY DARDENNE. NOT ONLY DO REALITY SHOWS FILMED IN LOUISIANA TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE STATE'S TV AND FILM TAX CREDIT PROGRAM, BUT LOUISIANA HAS A RICH CULTURE THAT MAKES FOR GREAT ENTERTAINMENT. SOME FEAR THE REALITY SHOWS ARE ANYTHING BUT AND PUT THE STATE IN A POOR LIGHT.

POLICE IN EUNICE SAY A WOMAN ALLEGEDLY STABBED HER BOYFRIEND FOR TAKING TOO LONG TO FINISH YARD WORK. OFFICERS WERE CALLED TO A HOME, WHERE THEY FOUND A MALE VICTIM WITH A GASH TO HIS SHOULDER AND RECOVERED A KNIFE--PRESUMABLY USED IN THE ASSAULT.

A NATCHITOCHES PARISH MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF STEALING HORSE FEED, WELDING EQUIPMENT AND POWER TOOLS FROM A FARM SHED IN POINTE COUPEE PARISH. LOUISIANA AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN'S OFFICE SAYS 32-YEAR-OLD STEVEN LESLIE JONES WAS ARRESTED TUESDAY IN MORGANZA ON THEFT CHARGES AFTER A HIDDEN CAMERA CAPTURED FOOTAGE OF HIS TRUCK NEAR THE SHED. THE FARMER WHO OWNED THE STOLEN EQUIPMENT REPORTED THE THEFT TO THE LOCAL SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT LAST WEEK. AUTHORITIES RECOVERED ALL OF THE EQUIPMENT.



News For Wednesday 02/01/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 020112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TWO CENTRAL LOUISIANA TRUCK DRIVERS DIED IN VERNON PARISH YESTERDAY MORNING WHEN THEIR RIGS COLLIDED ON LA. HIGHWAY 28 AT LA. HIGHWAY 8. THE EAST AND WEST LANES OF LA. 28 NEAR THE CRASH SITE WERE CLOSED MOST OF THE DAY AFTER THE WRECK, BUT REOPENED JUST BEFORE 3 P.M., THIRTEEN HOURS AFTER THE CRASH OCCURRED. TROOPERS SAY 54 YEAR OLD HAROLD DURAND OF POLLOCK WAS DRIVING A LOGGING TRUCK ON HIGHWAY 8. AND FAILED TO STOP AT THE INTERSECTION OF HIGHWAY 28 WEST. HE THEN ENTERED THE HIGHWAY AND STRUCK ANOTHER 18 WHEELER BEING DRIVEN BY 29 YEAR OLD JOSEPH WINFORD OF DERIDDER. WINFORD DIED AT THE SCENE OF THE CRASH. DURAND DIED A SHORT TIME LATER AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

A GOOD CROWD SHOWED UP YESTERDAY FOR A MEETING IN PINEVILLE AIMED AT GETTING PUBLIC INPUT ON LOUISIANA'S HIGHWAY NEEDS. IN THE END THOUGH, MUCH OF THE MEETING WAS JUST LIP SERVICE TO FRUSTRATED RESIDENTS, BECAUSE THE STATE DOESN’T HAVE THE MONEY NECESSARY TO ADDRESS THEIR PROBLEMS. ACCORDING THE STATE D.O.T.D. THE STATE CURRENTLY HAS MORE THAN $12 BILLION IN HIGHWAY NEEDS AND ONLY $757 MILLION BUDGETED FOR THE 2012 / 2013 FISCAL YEAR.

35 YEAR OLD MARCUS HOWARD HAS BEEN INDICTED BY A RAPIDES PARISH GRAND JURY ON ONE COUNT OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AND ONE COUNT OF POSSESSION OF A FIREARM BY A CONVICTED FELON, IN CONNECTION WITH THE NOVEMBER SLAYING OF MICHAEL HUDSON BREW, WHO WAS SHOT TO DEATH IN HIS FOURTH STREET HOME IN ALEXANDRIA.
HOWARD IS ONE OF FIVE PARISH RESIDENTS INDICTED YESTERDAY. ALL FIVE ACCORDING TO THE PARISH DA’S OFFICE, CAREER FELONS.

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT HAS DENIED A REQUEST BY THE STATE'S INSURER OF LAST RESORT TO BLOCK A RAID ON ITS ASSETS TO PAY OFF A STATE COURT JUDGMENT.
JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA THREW OUT THE STATE'S LEGAL REQUEST TUESDAY AFTERNOON.
THE LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE BOARD ON TUESDAY HIRED A WASHINGTON, D.C., ATTORNEY TO APPEAL A LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT RULING THAT CALLS FOR CITIZENS TO PAY $93 MILLION, PLUS INTEREST, TO POLICYHOLDERS WHO SUED BECAUSE CITIZENS DID NOT MEET A DEADLINE FOR STARTING TO PROCESS CLAIMS AFTER HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA.

LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE IS OFF TO THE BIG APPLE. DARDENNE WILL HELP PROMOTE LOUISIANA TOURISM WITH THE HELP OF THE HISTORY CHANNEL, WHO CARRY "SWAMP PEOPLE". CHEF JOHN FOLSE WILL ALSO BE THERE, SERVING UP DELICIOUS LOOZIANA CUISINE.

JANUARY HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MILDEST, AND WARMEST IN RECENT HISTORY. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE PACIFIC LA NINA IS MOSTLY TO BLAME - OR THANK - FOR THAT. HE SAYS EVEN THOUGH THIS WINTER HAS BEEN WARMER THAN NORMAL, WE CAN STILL EXPECT SOME CHILLY DAYS IN FEBRUARY. KEIM SAYS USUALLY WE GET A LOT OF CANADIAN AIR IN JANUARY; THIS YEAR IT'S BEEN COMING IN MOSTLY FROM THE PACIFIC.

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE SOMEWHAT PUZZLED BY THE LOW NUMBERS OF REPORTED FLU CASES IN LOUISIANA THIS SEASON. DR. FRANK WELCH IS DIRECTOR OF IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HOSPITALS. HE SAYS THERE'S A "FLU INDEX" BY WHICH HEALTH OFFICIALS GRADE INFLUENZA SEASONS' SEVERITY...AND THIS YEAR IT'S VERY LOW. WHY MIGHT THIS BE? WELCH SAYS DHH IS NOT SURE, BUT HE THINKS IT MAY BE DUE TO EFFECTIVE FLU SHOT PUBLIC AWARENESS ADS ON RADIO AND TV.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HAS APPOINTED FORMER STATE LAWMAKER RICKEY HARDY, OF LAFAYETTE, TO THE PARDON BOARD -- ONE OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT BOARDS THAT PAYS ITS MEMBERS A SALARY; ABOUT $36K A YEAR. THE FIVE-MEMBER BOARD MAKES RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GOVERNOR ABOUT CLEMENCY APPLICATIONS.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF BELIEVES PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IS IN GOOD SHAPE TO BE REELECTED THIS NOVEMBER. TIMMY TEEPELL, WHO IS NOW A PARTNER WITH ON-MESSAGE, A NATIONAL POLITICAL FIRM, SAYS OBAMA WILL LIKELY WIN THE SAME BASE STATES THAT SENATOR JOHN KERRY WON EIGHT YEARS AGO, LEAVING HIM JUST A FEW ELECTORAL VOTES AWAY FROM RE-ELECTION. BUT TEEPELL SAYS A LIKELY OBAMA VICTORY COULD MEAN REPUBLICANS WILL DO WELL IN COMPETITIVE CONGRESSIONAL RACES. TEEPELL SAYS THE LACK OF OPTIMISM SHOWED BY VOTERS IN THEIR POLLING, SUGGESTS THAT THE G-O-P CAN TAKE CONTROL OF THE SENATE...

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH DEPUTIES ARE INVESTIGATING THE SHOOTING DEATHS OF TWO MEN--FOUND LYING IN THE ROAD IN THE CITY'S GLEN OAKS AREA. THE MEN HAVE NOT BEEN IDENTIFIED, AND SO FAR DETECTIVES HAVE NO SUSPECT OR MOTIVE IN THE KILLINGS. BATON ROUGE STILL RANKS IN THE TOP TEN US CITIES FOR ANNUAL MURDERS PER CAPITA.

THE FORMER SHREVEPORT CITY OFFICIAL CONVICTED LAST WEEK OF RAPE AND ABUSE OF OFFICE WILL BE SENTENCED TODAY. RICK SEATON COULD GET 45 YEARS IN PRISON. SEATON WAS FOUND GUILTY OF BRINGING AN 18 YEAR OLD WOMAN--DRUNK AND DISTRAUGHT OVER HER BOYFRIEND'S ARREST--TO CITY OFFICE'S WHERE HE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF HER CONDITION. THE INCIDENT HAPPENED ON THE DAY OF THE 2010 INDEPENDENCE BOWL.

A CRASH INVOLVING THREE PONCHATOULA HIGH TEENAGERS HAS LEFT THE DRIVER DEAD, AND THE TWO PASSENGERS INJURED. STATE POLICE SAY 17-YEAR-OLD KRISTINA BERNARD’S VEHICLE DRIFTED OFF OF I-12 AND CRASHED. AUTHORITIES BELIEVE DISTRACTED DRIVING MAY HAVE BEEN A FACTOR.

A FEDERAL JUDGE RULED TUESDAY THAT HALLIBURTON CAN AVOID PAYING MOST OF THE POLLUTION CLAIMS THAT RESULTED FROM THE CATASTROPHIC 2010 GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL BECAUSE IT WAS SHIELDED IN A CONTRACT WITH WELL-OWNER BP. STILL, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER SAID THAT HALLIBURTON IS NOT EXEMPT FROM PAYING PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND CIVIL PENALTIES THAT ARISE FROM THE APRIL 20, 2010, BLOWOUT OFF THE LOUISIANA COAST. THOSE PENALTIES COULD AMOUNT TO BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

IT'S BEEN THREE MONTHS SINCE IT HAPPENED LAST TIME, BUT A COUPLE IN OUACHITA PARISH HAS FOUND ANOTHER DEAD HORSE ROTTING NEAR THEIR PROPERTY. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS INVESTIGATING THE INCIDENT AND BELIEVE THEY HAVE A SUSPECT WHO THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO LOCATE. THE SAME COUPLE FOUND THREE DEAD HORSES ON ANOTHER NEIGHBOR'S LAND AROUND THANKSGIVING.

A 17-YEAR-OLD STUDENT AT A BATON ROUGE SCHOOL FOR GIFTED STUDENTS IS UNDER ARREST FOR MULTIPLE COUNTS OF IDENTITY THEFT. AUTHORITIES ALLEGE THAT AMELIA BUCKLES STOLE THE NAMES, BIRTH DATES AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS OF OVER A HUNDRED FELLOW STUDENTS; USING SOME TO FILE BOGUS FEDERAL TAX RETURNS AND GET REFUND CHECKS.

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