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102,000 expected in Tiger Stadium Saturday night for Ole Miss game

Michelle Southern reporting.
Saturday will be the biggest day of the season on the LSU campus as 3rd ranked, undefeated Ole Miss comes to town. It's also Homecoming and university officials are urging fans to arrive early and attend ESPN's College Gameday. 

Parking Director Adam Smith says it'll help everyone if you plan to come to campus earlier than you normally would.
"If you want to up it by a couple hours, it'll be more convenient for you," said Smith. "Even if you're a season permit parking holder, there's going to be a lot more traffic on campus than normal."

Kickoff for the LSU-Ole Miss game is scheduled for 6:15pm and the game will be televised on ESPN. Activities will start early as the GameDay crew will be live from the parade grounds starting at 8am. Smith says, some fans are finding this inconvenient, but the post-game plan will be the same with a southbound contraflow planned on Nicholson.

"We're going to still force traffic in a certain area because it's better for the mass group that we're dealing with for the most efficient traffic flow," said Smith.

Smith says you can get live traffic and parking updates online at lsusports.net/parking. The game is sold out as a record crowd of over 102,000 fans are expected for the contest between the SEC West Division rivals. Smith says that's a lot of people to be in one place so he requests the purple and gold nation to be patient.

"We do hope that everything works out well and we're confident in our plan," said Smith. "But we do realize there will be folks being sent out of their way."

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New Orleans-area man being monitored for Ebola

The Department of Health and Hospitals is monitoring a New Orleans-area man for signs of the Ebola virus. State Health Officer, Dr. Jimmy Guidry, says the Centers for Disease Control informed them about a man who had recently traveled to one of the Ebola-infected countries. 
Guidry says DHH immediately followed up with the man.
"And he really had no exposure to any Ebola patients, but he agreed to work with us and monitor him for 21 days to make sure he doesn't come down with any symptoms."
The man is considered to be low risk for Ebola since he had no contact with any Ebola patients while abroad.  Guidry says the CDC leaves it up to state health officials and the individual whether or not the individual will remain confined to their home during the 21-day Ebola monitoring period.

"So far, we've had two individuals reported, one in the Capital Region and one in the New Orleans Region, and both have agreed to stay home for the 21 days."

He says as we learn more facts about Ebola, some of the fear associated with the virus is subsiding.  Guidry says there are no cases of Ebola in Louisiana and he feels comfortable that medical personnel are prepared if a case should develop in the state.

"But we are training and preparing for when that day comes.  Hopefully, people will not start panicking and overreacting.  Because there is a high risk time, and that's usually at the end of the disease, not the beginning."

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Early voting going well so far

Michelle Southern reporting.
We're now about halfway through the early voting period for the November 4th election and Secretary Of State Tom Schedler says there's been good participation among voters. He says so far the number of early votes is at 75% of what the state saw two years ago for the Presidential election. 

Schedler says overall participation looks good.
"I've always said I was tilting toward the high side of 50," said Schedler. "I still say that but it may break into 51-52 at least from early voting so far."

Schedler asks voters to visit the Public Affairs Research Council website at parlouisiana.org to study the constitutional amendments so you're not trying to figure out what they mean in the booth. He says he hopes he's wrong with his 50% voter turnout prediction.

"I wanted it to be higher and it should be higher," said Schedler. "I want it to be closer to 60-65 to show the nation we mean business in Louisiana."

The voting locations will be closed on Sunday and the last day to early vote will be Tuesday. Saturday will by far be the biggest day of the early voting period so you can expect long lines at the polls and Schedler encourages voters do take an important step to help move things a long.

"I can not emphasize it enough," said Schelder. "Check your GeauxVote app for an accurate ballot to that date."

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Federal officials warn consumers about fake contact lenses for Halloween

Michelle Southern reporting.
With Halloween a week away you might be thinking about getting decorative contact lenses as part of your costume, but federal officials are sending out a warning. ICE Homeland Security Investigations spokesman Bryan Cox says it's important for people to understand that contact lenses are regulated as a medical device.

"Gas stations, party stores," said Cox. "If you buy from these unauthorized locations you're really putting your eye safety into your own hands."

Cox says under federal law, contact lenses can not be sold without a prescription.

"So any location that you see that's offering to see you a contact lense without a prescription is not going to be legal," said Cox.

Cox says these are unregulated and poorly constructed lenses sold without a medical doctor's signature and pose serious held risks to consumers.

"If you put counterfeit contact lenses in your eyes you don't know what chemicals are in that and it could do really horrible damage to your eyesight," said Cox.

(Image by Ray Wewerka via Flickr)
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Gubernatorial primary one year away

We are now one year away from the gubernatorial primary election in Louisiana.  Republicans Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, as well as Democrat State Representative John Bel Edwards have announced their intent to run for Governor.  

UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says, at this point, Vitter is the front runner.
"Based on the last election he took part in, getting six out of ten votes, indicates that he's probably going to be very, very strong." 

The biggest question mark at this point in the Governor's race is whether or not Democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will join the field.  Cross says Landrieu will probably wait until after the holiday season to make up his mind.

"There may be a good chance that he'll sit this one out.  He'll say I'm looking at the odds and they're not that great.  My sister's just been involved in a statewide campaign.  People could have some burn-out on the name 'Landrieu'."

He says it's not surprising that this race is laying dormant since we're in the middle of Senate and Congressional races across the state.  Cross says you should really see the gubernatorial race kick off after Mardi Gras.

"It's not only the gubernatorial race here in Louisiana, but nearly every other statewide and legislative position is up for grabs.  So, there's going to be a lot of election stuff going on.  But I expect it to hold off until, probably, mid-March." 

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Kenny Henderson is out as LHSAA Executive Director

Kenny Henderson is out as executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Henderson has led the LHSAA, which governs high school athletics, since 2007. His contract was set to expire next summer, but past-president of the LHSAA, Todd Guice, says both sides felt now was the time for a change.

"We felt for the association and Mr. Henderson to sever our relationship," Guice said. "We appreciate Kenny's dedicated service to the association and we look forward to the future."
Guice would not say why Henderson will not serve the remainder of his contract. There's been unrest within the LHSAA about the recent split of public and private school football playoffs, but Guice says that one issue is not the reason for Henderson's departure. 
'It's certainly an issue the new executive director will have to deal with, hopefully carry us into the situation where we can work out some of the differences that we have remaining with that topic." 
The search for Henderson's replacement has already started. Guice will chair a committee that will seek out qualified candidates.
"We're looking for a great leader and a great communicator," Guice said.  
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Former Sorrento Mayor charged with 40 counts of possessing child porn

Michelle Southern reporting.
The controversial former Mayor of Sorrento was placed under arrest on Thursday after officials say they found child pornography inside his residence. Attorney General Criminal division director Kurt Wall says they obtained a search warrant for the home of 41-year-old Wilson Longanecker Jr.

"And upon executing that search warrant, it resulted in his arrest on 40 counts of possessing child pornography and one count of obstruction of justice," said Wall.

Wall says this was a joint law enforcement effort by the AG's Cyber Crime Unit, Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, Homeland Security and State Police. He says Longanecker is charged with 40 counts of possessing pornography involving juveniles and obstruction of justice.

"The obstruction of justice charge is related to the fact that he attempted to hide evidence in this case," said Wall.

Longanecker, who was elected mayor of Sorrento in 2011 and served until 2013, caused controversy when he was in office for taking extended leaves of absence and not being in contact with council members. Wall says the search of Longanecker's home last several hours.

"We took some electronics from his resident which will be additionally examined by our analysts," Wall said.

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Boyce man booked with 3rd DWI on lawnmower

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's office says a man is under arrest for DWI number three after cops caught him driving drunk on his lawnmower. Major Mark Wood says one of the deputies spotted 67-year-old Ralph Carroll of Boyce riding a red lawnmower on state Highway 121 attempting to elude law enforcement by driving into the woods.

"They finally got him stopped when he drove to his residence," said Wood. "Made contact with him and the deputy could smell a strong odor of alcohol."

Carroll is charged with third offense DWI, operating an unsafe vehicle and having no driver's license on his person.

"Once we got him to the courthouse he agreed agreed to blow into the breathalyzer, and he was way above the...well he was drunk," Wood said.

The suspect was then charged with his third DWI. Wood says Carroll received a citation for riding his lawnmower on a state highway last week.

"That's his means of transportation, he'll drive to the store or whatever," Wood says. "He's been seen before, he's been warned before and sometimes he refuses to cooperate and comply with the law."

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State Fair of Louisiana is underway

The 108th State Fair of Louisiana gets underway today in Shreveport.  The fair runs through November 9th, while being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  

General Manager Chris Giordano says the weather forecast is great this year's fair.
"Looks like we'll have some big crowds in here, over 60 carnival rides, a lot of great fair food, and games."

Giordano says this year's fair also features live music from Wayne Toups, Frank Foster, and many more.  He says there are lots of great family attractions that are free with your gate admission to the fair, including a bear show and a high-dive show.  

"We've got an attraction called 'Cowboy Boot Camp', which is for the little tykes.  It has many different activities teaching little kids how to be a cowboy."

He says there will also be several street performers at this year's fair, including a man who rides a unicycle while swallowing a sword and jumping a burning jump rope.  Giordano hopes to see big crowds at this year's State Fair.  

"We normally attract between 400- and 450-thousand people each year.  If the weather is right we'll be hitting the 450 mark, I hope."

For more information go to www.statefairoflouisiana.com. 
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2.9 million people registered to vote in November 4th election

2.9 million people are registered to vote in the November fourth election. There's about 93,000 more voters who are registered as "no party" than six years ago when Senator Mary Landrieu defeated republican John Kennedy. Political Analyst Elliot Stonecipher says these voters are an "X" factor going into the election. 

"These are people who are very disaffective with both the Democrat and Republican party," Stonecipher said. "I don't know what that means for the upcoming election."  
The Secretary of State's office reports an increase of 7,000 black registered voters prior to the October sixth deadline. This brings the total number of black voters to 919,000, which democrats see as a positive for Landrieu's re-election efforts. But Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says the big question is how many will vote. 
"Will the black turnout be huge in Louisiana and give Mary Landrieu a lift?" Pinsonat said. "It's possible, but not likely."
The number of white registered voters in Louisiana is 1.8 million and Pinsonat says while the black vote is important to Landrieu's re-election chances, white voters are more critical.  
"She can't win this election, unless she does much better with white voters than she's presently doing," Pinsonat said.  
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Price of flights for the Holidays skyrocketing

Michelle Southern reporting.
If you're planning to fly for the Holidays this year prepare to go a little deeper into your wallet. According to Expedia.com, Thanksgiving flights are up 17 percent from last year and Christmas flights have gone up 2 percent.

Travel expert Dale Irvin says airlines are finding it's more profitable to fly less with more people. 
"So we're finding that there are fewer flights in general," said Irvin. "But if you've flown lately you've probably noticed there are very few empty seats sitting out there."

Irvin says over 20 million people are expected to fly from now through December. He says if you want to travel by air cheap you should book a flight with one of the "uber-discount airlines."

"By that I mean, you pay for everything. They call it a-la-carte pricing," says Irvin. "It's typically a lower based fare, but you pay even to carry-on. You pay for drinks on board, you pay to pick your seat."

Discount airlines Frontier, Jet Blue and Spirit fly out of New Orleans and there's one called Allegiant Airlines in Shreveport. Irvin also says that it's usually cheaper to travel on the exact Holiday.

"Usually there are better fares available on Thanksgiving Day itself, then it'll also be cheaper if you fly back on the Saturday after or into early the next week," said Irvin.

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More Americans buying costumes this Halloween

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation shows a record number of Americans will buy Halloween costumes this year.  NRF Senior Director of Media Relations, Kathy Grannis, says Halloween has become much more than a child's holiday.

She says adults are really getting into the holiday.
"Throwing parties and dressing up in costumes, themselves.  We think that part of that growth among young adults, and even adults and parents, has helped propel the popularity of Halloween." 

The survey says more than two-thirds of Americans will buy costumes this year and the average person will spend $77.52 for the holiday.  Grannis says people are spending money on more than just costumes and candy.

"Even activities like going to a haunted house or a corn maze - spending on Halloween is a lot more than simply getting dressed up to go trick-or-treating."

She says Americans will spend a total of $7.4 billion this Halloween.  Grannis says popular kid's costumes will be Disney Frozen characters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and super heroes.  She says adults will keep it more traditional.

"Like witch and pirate, but of course thanks to pop culture references, from Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, we think there will be a lot of really great Hollywood and other pop culture references this Halloween, as well." 
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Partial solar eclipse will take place this evening

Michelle Southern reporting.
A partial solar eclipse will take place today as the new moon will obscure part of the sun. Louisiana Tech Astronomer Lee Sawyer says we should be able to see the maximum point of eclipse in The Bayou State before the sun goes down today.

"The eclipse is going to start just before 5 and the max will happen just before six," said Sawyer.

Sawyer says this is happening a few weeks after the total eclipse of the moon. He says the very best way to view today's partial eclipse is at an observing party or at a science museum but you should NOT look at the sun directly.

"Even dark glasses are not sufficient," said Sawyer. "You'll want to view the eclipse with a pinhole camera."

Sawyer says the partial eclipse will still be going on even after the sun sets in Louisiana around 6:30.

"We'll catch the beginning ant the maximum," said Sawyer. "But the sun will still look like a bite has been taken out of it as it goes down."
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92% of Louisiana teachers receive effective grade

The Louisiana Department of Education released a report today on the evaluation of public school teachers.  The report shows 92% of teachers received an "effective" grade. 

Superintendent John White says while we should be proud of teachers reaching that achievement, the inflation of highly effective scores outpaced the growth of student achievement scores.
"When we evaluate ourselves at a level that is more generous than we are evaluating our students, we are not doing our kids any favors."
Teacher "Compass" ratings are based equally on Student Growth Score and classroom  observations.  Individual school districts are responsible for rating their teachers.  White says schools and school districts that set a high bar when observing teachers see progress in both educators and students.
"This is a significant lesson from this year's report, because of its implications for what it means to use 'Compass' well and what it means to not use it well."
White says the most critical piece of information they received from this report is that schools who expect more of their teachers, will see an increase in student growth.
"Some places are taking it very seriously, they have high expectations when they observe their teachers.  Some places are not taking it as seriously.  And when you take it seriously and you have high expectations for classroom teaching, student learning goes up."
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Baton Rouge man who killed son's abductor in 1984 dies at 68

Michelle Southern reporting.
The man who killed his son's abductor at the Baton Rouge airport in March of 1984, Gary Plauche, died this week at the age of 68. Jeffrey Doucet was accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting Plauche's son Jody 30-years-ago -- and when the suspect was extradited back to Baton Rouge, Plauche was waiting at the airport then fired a shot.

The incident was caught on camera and Abram McGull was the news photographer.

"I'll never forget what he said when the police officer rushed him," said McGull. "The cops were shouting, 'Why Gary? Why?' and Gary said, 'If it was your son you'd have done the same thing too.'"

Plauche was sentenced to 5 years probation but did not get jail time. The news director of the television station at the time, John Spain, said he didn't think the public wasn't surprised that Plauche just received a suspended sentence.

"This was a high profile case, it was an emotional case and people questioned what they would do themselves in they were in the same position," said Spain. "Largley the public opinion at the time sided with Gary while not agreeing with what he'd done, they understood it."

The son, Jody who was 11 years old at the time, is now an advocate for child victims of sexual assault. McGull, who is a former federal prosecutor, says he found out the video of the incident is being used by the FBI and other law enforcement.

"They use it as a training video as what not to do when escorting a prisoner," said McGull. "I think a lot of security features have been upgraded since this incident."

His family said Plauche died from complications related to a stroke.

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Cold and flu season is here

Cold and flu season is upon us and people are looking for ways to avoid coming down with a seasonal bug.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over six-months of age to get a flu vaccine.

 Dr. Fred Lopez, with the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, says there is a reason for that recommendation.
"The vaccine is very effective at preventing flu infections and, in recent years, we've had good match between the vaccine and the flu strains that are prevalent in the communities in this country."
He says one you get the flu vaccine, don't expect it to work immediately.  Lopez says it takes a couple of weeks for your body to develop antibodies from the vaccine. 
"For two weeks, if you did come across someone who is sick with the flu, you could possibly get infected from them because your immunity hasn't developed, yet."
Lopez says once you receive a flu vaccine, you'll still want to take steps to avoid any infections this season.  He says washing your hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizers are good ways to keep the flu at bay.  But Lopez says you should not stop there. 
"Rest, good nutrition - two particularly helpful ways for you to prevent infection during the cold and flu season."
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In US Senate race is Maness taking votes from Cassidy?

Michelle Southern reporting.
Is Rob Maness hurting fellow Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy’s campaign in the US-Senate race against Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu? There’s a new poll out by Real Clear Politics which found Landrieu ahead with 38 percent, Cassidy with 36 percent and Maness with 9%.

"I think if this were a Cassidy vs Landrieu election, the wins are certainly in favor of Republicans," says LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan. "If Maness weren't in the picture now, maybe Cassidy would have a clearer shot of winning outright."

Hogan says that while it may be true that Maness is taking votes away from Cassidy, the Congressman will need support from those ultra-conservative voters by addressing the policies that are most important to them.

"This is a smart strategy, in some ways, on the part of very conservative voters," said Hogan. "Run a candidate against a conservative to moderate candidate and maybe pull them to your side against issues you're concerned about."

Hogan says when it comes to the undecided voters so late in the campaign, they are the ones who are likely conservative but are influenced by Landrieu’s longtime incumbency.

"She has won the seat three times in the past, so you don't want to think this incumbent is vulnerable simply because of her party affiliation," said Hogan.

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Jindal defends his record as governor

Governor Bobby Jindal has 14 months left in office and he says he still has plenty of work to do in Louisiana, even though a presidential campaign could be on the horizon. During recent debates, candidates have been asked what grade they would give the governor, Jindal says it's too early to give himself a grade.

"The grade that I think is fair to give is incomplete, we still got more work to do, and we are going to continue to show up to work every day, to continue make more progress," Jindal said. 
So far republican candidates in the US Senate and the sixth district congressional races have given good but not great marks when asked to judge Jindal on a scale of 1 to 10. Democratic candidates gave low grades. Jindal defends his record, based on the record number of people who are working in the state today.  
"Are per capita income is now higher than its ever been before, our economy has grown almost as twice as fast as the national economy, since I've taken office."
Jindal has made it no secret that he is considering a potential Presidential run in 2016. The governor says he's not interested in running for his old job as a US Representative. 
"If I were to stay in politics it would involve 2016 running for President, there's no other elected office I would seek, I'm not interested in going back to the Congress or the Senate or any other elected position." 
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LWC: Louisiana job numbers continue to break records

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says we're getting closer and closer to the 2 million mark when it comes to the number of people who have jobs here. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says non-farm employment grew by 33,100 jobs over the year ending September 30th -- a new record with employment now exceeding 1.98 million.
"We have an unbroken, 4 year strong of job growth," said Eysink. "Year over year we've been growing for 4 straight years which is huge for us."

Eysink says we have more jobs than we've ever had, a bigger labor force than we've ever had and more people working than every before. He says construction is seeing the most growth with 11,000 jobs over the year ending September 30th. Eysink says the boom they've been saying is coming has already begun.

"We're not into it as heavily as we're gonna be as most projects haven't even started work yet," said Eysink. "Sasol, the biggest of them all, broke ground this week and that could potentially mean $22 billion by the time it's done."

Leisure and hospitality was second adding 9500 jobs. Eysink says another area of our economy that is seeing a lot of growth, adding 9200, is business and professional services. He says as all these construction projects continue to pop up in Louisiana, we're going to see more and more professional jobs.

"The ultimate benefit is exactly what the Governor has been talking about," said Eysink. "People who graduate with those degrees will no longer have to leave the state to find work because we'll have those jobs right here in Louisiana."

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ULM Basketball player charged with forcible rape

Michelle Southern reporting.
A freshman ULM basketball player is under arrest for allegedly raping a female student he'd arranged to meet online. University spokeswoman Donna Bernard says the alleged incident occurred Sunday night after they were told 18-year-old Roderick Taylor talked to the female student on a social media site.

"The two planned a meeting on campus and then they got into a car and drove to a parking lot where the alleged incident occurred," said Bernard.

Bernard says the alleged victim filed a report with the ULM Police Department the next morning.

"From that complaint and the interview with the player, forcible rape was the charge," said Bernard.

Bernard says ULM Athletic Director Brian Wickstrom made an announcement about Bernard's status on the team following the arrest.

"The suspect has been suspended indefinitely from the basketball team as of the time of the formal charge against him," said Bernard.


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