KSYL Local News Archives for 2012-07

News For Tuesday 07/31/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 073112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

RAPIDES PARISH SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS GARY JONES ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY TEN RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOLS, INCLUDING EIGHT ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, HAVE BEEN DESIGNATED AS FAILING BY THE STATE. JONES SAID A SCHOOL IS DESIGNATED AS FAILING IF IT DID NOT RECEIVE A BASELINE PERFORMANCE SCHOOL OF AT LEAST 75. STUDENTS ZONED FOR THOSE 10 HAVE THE CHOICE OF ATTENDING ANOTHER SCHOOL IN THE SCHOOL CHOICE PLAN THE SCHOOL BOARD APPROVED LAST WEEK. THOSE IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH FIFTH GRADE CAN ATTEND CARTER C. RAYMOND ELEMENTARY OR MARTIN PARK. SIXTH-GRADERS CAN GO TO CARTER C. RAYMOND OR ALEXANDRIA MIDDLE MAGNET SCHOOL.

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL VOTED MONDAY EVENING TO ALLOW DEVELOPER DAVID STRANGE TO BUILD A MULTI-USE COMPLEX ON AN EMPTY LOT ON LOWER THIRD STREET THAT WAS ONCE THE HOME OF THE HODGES STOCKYARD. THE VOTE WAS 5-2 WITH COUNCIL MEMBERS ROOSEVELT JOHNSON AND ED LARVADAIN III VOTING AGAINST MOVING FORWARD WITH WHAT WILL BE THE GATES AT RIVERCHASE AND RIVERCHASE COMMONS.

ALEXANDRIA POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING AN ARMED ROBBERY AT THE DOLLAR GENERAL STORE ON MACARTHUR DRIVE SUNDAY AFTERNOON. EMPLOYEES TOLD POLICE THAT A SUSPECT, ARMED WITH A HANDGUN, ENTERED THE STORE SHORTLY BEFORE 3 IN THE AFTERNOON AND DEMANDED MONEY. THE SUSPECT LEFT WITH AN UNDETERMINED AMOUNT OF CASH.

POLICE IN PINEVILLE SAY THEY'VE ARRESTED A MAN WANTED FOR SEXUAL TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN. 38-YEAR-OLD LAVELLE DAVIS WAS BUSTED FOR ALLEGEDLY FORCING TWO JUVENILES INTO INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL CONTACT.

TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE STATE FOR THE PAST FEW DAYS HAVE ALL BEEN IN THE UPPER NINETY'S WITH SOME HITTING TRIPLE DIGITS. A HIGH PRESSURE AREA, STRETCHING ACROSS MUCH OF THE SOUTH CENTRAL UNITED STATES, HAS TRAPPED THE STATE IN A CYCLE OF HIGH HEAT AND HIGH HUMIDITY. SOUTH LOUISIANA HAS RECEIVED PLENTY OF RAIN IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS AND ISN'T IN MUCH DANGER OF SLIPPING BACK INTO DROUGHT BUT NORTH LOUISIANA IS STILL RUNNING BEHIND ON RAIN AND THE HIGH HEAT IS BAKING THE MOISTURE RIGHT OUT OF THE GROUND.

NEARLY 20 ADDITIONAL CASES OF WEST NILE VIRUS HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED BY THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS. THE NEW CASES WERE REPORTED FROM HERE IN RAPIDES PARISH TO CADDO, CONCORDIA, EAST BATON ROUGE, JEFFERSON, LAFOURCHE, LIVINGSTON, ORLEANS, OUACHITA, AND ST. TAMMANY
PARISHES. AG COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE NUMBERS ARE GROWING
FAST AND ARE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. STRAIN SAYS CITIZENS SHOULD TAKE ALL THE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AND THEIR LOVED ONES FROM BEING BITTEN BY A MOSQUITO.

CONTRARY TO WHAT IS TAUGHT IN PUBLIC SCHOOL SCIENCE CLASSES, LOUISIANA'S NEW VOUCHER PROGRAM WILL BE TEACHING STUDENTS CREATIONISM. RELIGIOUS PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS WILL BE EDUCATING TAXPAYER-SUBSIDIZED STUDENTS CREATIONIST VIEWS. CRITICS DON'T FEEL THAT'S APPROPRIATE. BUT, SUPPORTERS SAY, BOTH VIEWS CAN BE TAUGHT EFFECTIVELY. SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE SAYS ANNUAL SCIENCE TESTS WILL DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT STUDENTS ARE GETTING THE APPROPRIATE SCIENCE EDUCATION.

DEPUTIES IN ST. LANDRY PARISH SAYS THEY'VE ARRESTED A MAN WHO WAS ON DRUGS WHEN HE HIT AND KILLED A PEDESTRIAN IN EARLY JUNE. ROUTINE TOXICOLOGY TESTS ON 28-YEAR-OLD MICHAEL J. STELLY SHOW HE WAS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF AMPHETAMINES AND METHAMPHETAMINE WHEN HE HIT SHERMAN BOONE, WHO WAS OUT FOR HIS DAILY MORNING WALK ON JUNE 8TH. STELLY IS CHARGED WITH VEHICULAR HOMICIDE, OPERATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE, SPEEDING AND OTHER CHARGES.

A NEW ORLEANS CONGRESSMAN IS ASKING GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TO RECONSIDER HIS POSITION AGAINST EXPANDING LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID PROGRAM, AS ALLOWED UNDER THE FEDERAL HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL. DEMOCRATIC U.S. REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND SENT THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR A LETTER MONDAY SAYING AS MANY AS 400,000 LOUISIANA RESIDENTS WOULD BE ELIGIBLE TO GET INSURANCE UNDER THE MEDICAID EXPANSION.
RICHMOND SAYS LOW-INCOME FAMILIES WOULDN'T HAVE A VIABLE PLAN FOR GETTING COVERAGE WITHOUT THE EXPANSION, WHICH COVERS ADULTS UP TO 133 PERCENT OF THE POVERTY LEVEL. JINDAL HAS DESCRIBED THE PROGRAM AS TOO COSTLY FOR LOUISIANA AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AND HE'S CALLED IT AN INAPPROPRIATE EXPANSION OF GOVERNMENT.

A PLANNED MAINTENANCE FACILITY FOR MILITARY VEHICLES AT A NORTH LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD TRAINING SITE IS FORECAST TO CREATE 350 NEW JOBS. TIBURON ASSOCIATES INC. AND THE STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCED THE PLANS FOR THE FACILITY AT YESTERDAY. THE STATE OFFERED TIBURON A LOAN OF $500,000 THAT'S FORGIVABLE IF THE COMPANY MEETS PAYROLL COMMITMENTS. THE STATE SAYS TIBURON PLANS TO HIRE 40 EMPLOYEES IN AUGUST AS IT BEGINS OPERATIONS WITH THE RECONDITIONING OF HEAVY-DUTY TRAILERS FROM THE RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT. TIBURON'S EMPLOYMENT WILL REACH 100 BY THE END OF 2012 AND IT WILL INCREASE ITS JOBS AT CAMP MINDEN TO 350 IN THE NEXT THREE TO FIVE YEARS.

BATON ROUGE-BASED SHAW GROUP IS BEING PURCHASED BY TEXAS BASED CB & I IN A CASH AND STOCK DEAL. THE GOING PRICE IS ESTIMATED TO BE AROUND THREE-BILLION DOLLARS. NO EMPLOYEES ARE EXPECTED TO LOOSE THEIR JOBS IN THE SALE. CB&I HAS INDICATED THAT SHAW WILL BE A SUBSIDIARY AND REMAIN HEADQUARTERED IN BATON ROUGE. THE COMBINED COMPANY WILL HAVE NEARLY 50-THOUSAND EMPLOYEES WORLDWIDE.

ALMOST A DOZEN RACEHORSES IN LOUISIANA HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR A POWERFUL PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUG. THE STATE RACING COMMISSION HAS LAUNCHED A FULL INVESTIGATION INTO THE PROBLEM. THE DRUG IN QUESTION IS A PAIN KILLER CALLED DERMORPHIN THAT LETS HORSES RUN FASTER, WITHOUT FEELING PAIN.

A LOUISIANA SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT HAS TOLD A MAINE CITY TO KEEP AN UNMARKED POLICE CRUISER THAT WAS DRIVEN 1,800 MILES BY A JAIL ESCAPEE. POLICE SAY 43-YEAR-OLD BENJAMIN GOTTKE, A JAIL KITCHEN WORKER, DROVE THE 2002 FORD CROWN VICTORIA TO THE CANADIAN BORDER AFTER ESCAPING FROM THE TENSAS PARISH DETENTION CENTER IN WATERPROOF, LA. HE WAS ARRESTED EARLIER THIS MONTH AFTER SPEEDING AWAY FROM A BORDER CROSSING AND ABANDONING THE VEHICLE IN HOULTON. HOULTON POLICE CHIEF BUTCH ASSELIN SAYS THEY’LL KEEP THE CAR. IT HAS NEARLY 170,000 MILES ON IT BUT APPEARS TO BE, ACCORDING TO THE CHIEF, IN GOOD CONDITION. GOTTKE IS CHARGED IN MAINE AS BEING A FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE AND RESISTING ARREST. AN EXTRADITION HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR AUG. 7.

LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ACROSS THE STATE ARE STARTING A NEW CRACKDOWN ON DRIVERS WITH DIRTY OR OBSCURED PLATES AND ANYONE FITTING THAT DESCRIPTION IS SUBJECT TO GETTING PULLED OVER AND ISSUED A TICKET. STATE POLICE TROOPER NICK MANALE SAYS THE AGGRESSIVE ENFORCEMENT IS IN RESPONSE TO NUMEROUS MOTORIST COMPLAINTS REGARDING LICENSE PLATES THAT ARE NOT READABLE. HE SAYS WHEN A TAG IS OBSCURED IT IMPAIRS ACCURATE REPORTING BY DRIVERS WHO ARE ATTEMPTING TO AID POLICE WITH VITAL INFORMATION. HE SAYS MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE PUTTING BRACKETS OR COVERS OVER THEIR PLATES. BUT, IF THAT IN ANY WAY OBSCURES THE PLATE, YOU WILL BE PULLED OVER.



News For Monday 07/30/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 073012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

LSU HOSPITALS AROUND THE STATE TODAY (JULY 30) WILL START IMPLEMENTING REDUCTIONS IN SERVICES AND PROGRAM CLOSURES, INCLUDING A 35 PERCENT REDUCTION IN ACUTE-CARE BEDS AT PINEVILLE'S HUEY P. LONG HOSPITAL. LSU HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE NEGOTIATING WITH PRIVATE HOSPITALS TO ASSUME AT LEAST SOME OPERATIONS IN AN EFFORT TO HANDLE A $329 MILLION CUT IN FUNDING. SOME OF THE LARGER PATIENT IMPACT IS AT THE W.O. MOSS MEDICAL CENTER IN LAKE CHARLES AND LALLIE KEMP IN INDEPENDENCE, WHERE DOCTORS, NURSES AND NON-MEDICAL STAFF REDUCTIONS ARE ORDERED, CLINICS ARE TO BE REDUCED OR CLOSED AND SURGERIES ARE ELIMINATED. (TEN BEDS ARE TO BE KEPT OPEN FOR PATIENTS WHO NEED HOSPITALIZATION. THE PLAN CALLS FOR E.A CONWAY MEDICAL CENTER IN MONROE TO IMPLEMENT A PHASE-OUT OF ITS OBSTETRICS DEPARTMENT IN THE NEXT SIX MONTHS). (SYSTEM WIDE, DOCTORS WILL ACCEPT LESS TO TREAT PATIENTS AND PATIENTS WILL PAY MORE FOR THE SERVICES THEY RECEIVE.

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL'S FINANCE AND LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HELD A SECOND PUBLIC MEETING FRIDAY ABOUT THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORMER HODGES STOCKYARD PROPERTY ON LOWER THIRD STREET. THE SOMETIMES HEATED MEETING LASTED TWO HOURS. THE CITY COUNCIL MEETS AT 5 P.M. TODAY TO VOTE ON THE MATTER.
THE DEVELOPMENT, PROPOSED BY DAVID STRANGE WITH THIRD STREET PARTNERS AND NEW HORIZONS DEVELOPMENT OF MISSISSIPPI, WOULD INCLUDE 32 MODERATE-INCOME TOWNHOUSES IN 16 BUILDINGS, A GREEN SPACE, WALKING TRAIL, A SHOPPING STRIP FRONTING THIRD STREET, A SHELL FOR A FUTURE GROCERY STORE AT THIRD AND GREEN OAKS STREETS AND A LAW ENFORCEMENT SUBSTATION. ONE OF THE MAIN STICKING POINT WITH RESIDENTS IS THE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT PART OF THE PLAN. MANY ARE QUESTIONING IF IT COULD BE SUCCESSFUL.

STATE POLICE SAY TWO TEENAGERS DIED SATURDAY IN A SINGLE VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 923 IN CATAHOULA PARISH. STATE POLICE SAY THE DRIVER OF THE PICKUP TRUCK APPARENTLY LOST CONTROL, RAN OFF THE ROAD AND HIT A CULVERT AND A TREE BEFORE BECOMING ENGULFED IN FLAMES. STATE POLICE IDENTIFIED THE VICTIMS AS 18-YEAR-OLD LOGAN D. MILLS OF JONESVILLE AND 14-YEAR-OLD BRITTANY WHITE OF HARRISONBURG. AN UNIDENTIFIED JUVENILE WAS INJURED IN THE ACCIDENT.

UNEMPLOYMENT APPEARS TO BE ON A DOWNWARD TREND IN LOUISIANA. STATE WORKFORCE COMMISSION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CURT EYSINK (I-SINK) SAYS FIGURES LEADING UP TO JULY 21ST ARE ENCOURAGING. EYSINK SAYS 3,080 PEOPLE FILED FIRST-TIME JOBLESS CLAIMS FOR THE ENDING JULY 21ST; DOWN FROM 3,675 THE PREVIOUS WEEK. WHAT'S MORE, HE SAYS, THE NUMBER WAS WELL OVER 4-THOUSAND FOR THE SAME WEEK LAST YEAR. ONGOING UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS ARE LOWER AS WELL, COMPARED WITH THE NUMBER RECEIVING WEEKLY BENEFITS THIS TIME LAST YEAR

NEARLY TWO-THIRDS OF THE DOCTORS WORKING IN LOUISIANA'S PRISONS HAVE BEEN DISCIPLINED BY THE STATE MEDICAL BOARD FOR ISSUES RANGING FROM PEDOPHILIA TO SUBSTANCE ABUSE. THE NEWSPAPER REPORTED THE LOUISIANA STATE PENITENTIARY AT ANGOLA IS A COMMON DESTINATION FOR TROUBLED PHYSICIANS. ONE FORMER NEW ORLEANS PHYSICIAN ACCUSED OF "UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT" WITH FEMALE PATIENTS NOW PRACTICES AT THE ALL-MALE FACILITY. THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS ALSO EMPLOYS A NUMBER OF CONTRACT PHYSICIANS, MOST OF WHOM DO NOT HAVE DISCIPLINARY RECORDS.

PUBLISHERS OF THE NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE ARE STILL UNDER PRESSURE FOR THEIR DECISION TO STOP PUBLISHING A DAILY PAPER. SO FAR A U.S. SENATOR AND ONE OF THE STATE'S RICHEST MEN HAVE SENT LETTERS ASKING OWNER STEVE NEWHOUSE TO RECONSIDER THAT PLAN...BUT IS ANYONE LISTENING? NEW ORLEANS POLITICAL ANALYST CLANCY DUBOS SAYS HE DOESN’T THINK SO. WITHIN WEEKS, THE PICAYUNE WILL CEASE DAILY PRINT; MOVING TO JUST THREE WEEKLY PRINT EDITIONS. SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON SENT A LETTER ASKING NEWHOUSE TO EITHER REVERSE THAT DECISION OR SELL THE TIMES-PICAYUNE TO HIM. LATE LAST WEEK, SENATOR DAVID VITTER JUMPED IN THE FRAY, WITH HIS OWN LETTER URGING THE TIMES-PICAYUNE TO DO AN ABOUT-FACE. DUBOS SAYS VITTER SAW A PARADE FORMING ON THE ISSUE AND RAN TO THE FRONT, "PRETENDING TO LEAD IT". HE DOUBTS THAT WILL SWAY NEWHOUSE'S PLANS FOR HIS FAMILY'S NEWSPAPER...:

NOT ANOTHER LOUISIANA REALITY SERIES…. OH BUT YES.. SPIKE TV IS DEBUTING A NEW LOUISIANA-BASED REALITY SHOW, WHERE TEAMS OF HUNTERS PIT THEMSELVES AGAINST A DANGEROUS, INVASIVE, FOREIGN SPECIES. THE PROGRAM, CALLED RAT BASTARDS, FOLLOWS SIX HUNTERS AS THEY TRACK DOWN AND KILL NUTRIA. MOST OF THE HUNTERS ARE FROM ST. LANDRY PARISH BUT MOST OF THE SERIES IS FILMED IN LAFOURCHE PARISH WHERE THE HUNTERS WORK TO CLEAR NUTRIA FROM PRIVATE LAND. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER ALEX EASTBURG SAYS ITS HOW THE HUNTERS, WHO CALL THEMSELVES CAJUN COMMANDOS, GO ABOUT THEIR JOB THAT MAKES THE SHOW SO ENTERTAINING. THE SERIES PREMIERS TUESDAY NIGHT AT 9:30 ON SPIKE TV.

THE NATCHITOCHES REGIONAL AIRPORT WILL HOLD A GRAND OPENING THURSDAY FOR A NEW FLIGHT SCHOOL TO BE OPERATED BY FLIGHT ACADEMY OF NEW ORLEANS.
AIRPORT MANAGER LARRY COOPER SAYS THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION APPROVED SCHOOL WILL BE IN THE HANGAR FORMERLY OCCUPIED BY NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY. FOUNDED IN 2003, FANO WILL TRAIN PROFESSIONALS FOR ALL TYPES OF PILOT JOBS, INCLUDING CORPORATE JETS AND AIRLINES AND FOR BUSINESS OR PERSONAL USE.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ARE TELLING MOTORISTS TO CLEAN OFF THEIR DIRTY LICENSE PLATES. STATE POLICE SAY IN A NEWS RELEASE THE MOTORISTS CAUGHT WITH THEIR LICENSE PLATES OBSCURED IN ANY WAY, INCLUDING BY DIRT, MUD OR FRAMES THAT COVER PART OF THE PLATE, COULD BE TICKETED. LOUISIANA LAW REQUIRES VEHICLE LICENSE PLATES BE CLEARLY DISPLAYED, AS WELL AS ILLUMINATED AT NIGHT BY LICENSE PLATE LIGHTS. COL. MICHAEL EDMONSON, STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT, SAYS CLEAN LICENSE PLATES CAN HELP CITIZENS MORE EASILY REPORT RECKLESS OR IMPAIRED DRIVERS, AS WELL AS VEHICLES INVOLVED IN CRIMINAL ACTS.

THIS YEAR MARKS THE 125TH ANNIVERSARY OF AGRICULTURE RESEARCH IN THE NATION. IN 1887, CONGRESS PASSED THE HATCH ACT WHICH PROVIDED FEDERAL FUNDING TO SUPPORT AG EXPERIMENT STATIONS AT LAND-GRANT COLLEGES. DR. JOHN RUSSIN, DIRECTOR OF THE LSU EXPERIMENT STATIONS SAYS AGRICULTURE EXPERIMENT STATIONS SPAN THE ENTIRE STATE. RUSSIN SAYS LOUISIANA'S CROPS INCLUDE RICE, SUGARCANE, COTTON, SOYBEANS, CORN AND SWEET POTATOES AND IN ALL, AGRICULTURE CONTRIBUTES MORE THAN $26 BILLION YEARLY TO THE STATE'S ECONOMY.

THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS MAY BE PRACTICING WITHOUT THEIR HEAD COACH THIS SEASON, BUT HE'S STILL WATCHING THEM. A GIANT BANNER FEATURING A PICTURE OF A PURSED LIPPED SEAN PAYTON WITH THE CAPTION "DO YOUR JOB" HANGS IN THE SAINTS INDOOR TRAINING FACILITY. INTERIM COACH JOE VITT SAYS THE PICTURE, WAS TAKEN DURING THE 2009 SUPERBOWL AGAINST THE COLTS. VITT SAYS AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, ALL OF THE COACHES AND PLAYERS HAVE GOTTEN "THAT LOOK" FROM COACH PAYTON. HE SAYS IT'S A LIPS PURSED, EYES SQUINTED GLARE THAT LOOKS RIGHT THROUGH THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD. VITT SAYS THE "DO YOUR JOB" MESSAGE IS WHAT PAYTON LEFT THE TEAM WITH IN APRIL BEFORE HE HAD TO LEAVE TO SERVE HIS ONE YEAR SUSPENSION.




News For Friday 07/27/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 072712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A YET TO BE IDENTIFIED 39 YEAR OLD POLLOCK WOMAN DROWNED IN THE RED RIVER YESTERDAY JUST SOUTH OF THE PURPLE HEART BRIDGE. THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT REPORTS THE WOMAN, WHO WAS ON AN OUTING WITH FAMILY, DOVE INTO THE WATER AND NEVER RESURFACED. DIVERS FOUND HER BODY ABOUT 2 HOURS LATER.

HERE IS SOMETHING YOU MAY NOT HAVE KNOW. IF YOU LIVE IN ALEXANDRIA OR HAVE A BUSINESS HERE AND YOU HAVE A FIRE AND BURGLARY ALARM SYSTEMS, YOU HAVE TO REGISTER WITH THE ALEXANDRIA POLICE DEPARTMENT. IF YOU DON’T REGISTER, THERE’S A $100 FINE. THOSE WITH ALARM SYSTEMS CAN GO TO WWW.ALEXANDRIALAPOLICE.ORG TO OBTAIN A REGISTRATION FORM. THERE IS A ONETIME REGISTRATION FEE OF $25, WHICH ISN'T DUE UNTIL JANUARY 2013 BUT CAN BE PAID NOW. POLICE SAY THEY ARE TRYING TO ELIMINATE FALSE ALARMS. SOMETHING THEY PLAN ON CHARGING FOR SOON AS WELL.

THE MAN ACCUSED OF THE KIDNAP AND MURDER OF 22-YEAR-OLD LAFAYETTE CO-ED MICKEY SHUNICK IS SCHEDULED IN COURT AGAIN TODAY. BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE
HAS A PRELIMINARY HEARING ON THOSE CHARGES AND THE 1999 MURDER OF LISA PATE. LEGAL ANALYST TIM MECHE SAYS HE DOUBT ANYTHING MAJOR WILL OCCUR TODAY. LAFAYETTE PARISH D.A. MIKE HARSON FEELS THAT THE GRAND JURY INDICTMENT AGAINST LAVERGNE NEGATES THE NEED FOR TODAY'S PRELIMINARY HEARING. MECHE SAYS THESE HEARINGS ARE USUALLY TO DETERMINE IF THE DEFENDANT CAN BE HELD IN CUSTODY PENDING TRIAL.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AND HORNETS OWNER TOM BENSON HAS MADE AN OFFER TO BUY THE NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE. THE NEWSPAPER ANNOUNCED LAST MONTH IT WAS CEASING DAILY PUBLICATION IN AUGUST; GOING TO JUST THREE EDITIONS WEEKLY. IN A LETTER TO TIMES PICAYUNE OWNER STEVE NEWHOUSE, BENSON SAYS IT'S IMPORTANT FOR THE CITY TO HAVE A STRONG DAILY PAPER. NO DOLLAR FIGURES HAVE BEEN MENTIONED. NEWHOUSE EXPRESSED THANKS FOR BENSON'S INTEREST, BUT NOTHING ELSE.

US SENATOR DAVID VITTER HAS SENT A LETTER TO THE OWNERS OF THE TIMES PICAYUNE URGING THEM TO SELL THE PAPER. IN THE LETTER TO ADVANCE PUBLICATIONS AND THE NEWHOUSE FAMILY, VITTER SAYS THE DECISION TO ONLY PRINT THE TIMES PICAYUNE THREE TIMES A WEEK IS A BAD ONE. VITTER SAYS HE IS DISGUSTED BY THE ENTIRE SITUATION.

THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD IS GETTING IT'S FIRST-EVER WOMAN GENERAL. IN CEREMONIES AT THE JACKSON BARRACKS MUSEUM IN NEW ORLEANS, COLONEL JOANNE SHERIDAN, THE GUARD'S ASSISTANT ADJUTANT GENERAL OF THE ARMY, WILL BE GIVEN THE RANK OF BRIGADIER GENERAL. SHERIDAN BEGAN HER MILITARY CAREER IN 1983, IN THE ROTC, AND WORKED HER WAY UP THROUGH THE RANKS.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM CAN CONTINUE ON TRACK, AFTER A STATE APPEALS COURT DENIED A BID BY TEACHER UNIONS AND SCHOOL BOARDS TO BLOCK ITS START NEXT MONTH AS THEY CHALLENGE WHETHER THE PROGRAM IS CONSTITUTIONAL.
IN A 2-1 DECISION A THREE-JUDGE PANEL OF THE 1ST CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEAL IN BATON ROUGE UPHELD A LOWER RULING THAT IT COULDN'T STOP TAXPAYER-SUBSIDIZED STUDENTS FROM ATTENDING PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS. THE DECISION COMES AS A LAWYER FOR THE LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS, ONE OF THE TEACHER UNIONS SEEKING TO STOP THE PROGRAM, SENT A LETTER TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS ACCEPTING VOUCHER STUDENTS, SAYING THE SCHOOLS COULD END UP IN COURT FOR TAKING TAXPAYER MONEY WHILE THE CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE IS PENDING.

THE HIGH COST OF LABOR IS TRANSLATING INTO FEWER JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR TEENS IN THE BAYOU STATE. PELICAN INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY PRESIDENT KEVIN KANE SAYS DATA FROM THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU REVEAL AN ALARMING TREND. LOUISIANA TEENS WITH LESS THAN A HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION HAVE SEEN THEIR UNEMPLOYMENT RATE SKYROCKET FROM JUST OVER 13% IN 2006, TO OVER 34% THIS YEAR. KANE SAYS, FACED WITH FISCAL RESTRAINTS, MANY EMPLOYERS SEEK TO HIRE WORKERS WITH SOME PREVIOUS JOB TRAINING. KANE SAYS INCREASES IN THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE ARE LARGELY THE REASON WHY FEWER TEENS ARE FINDING JOBS. HE SAYS BETWEEN 2006 AND THIS YEAR, THE MINIMUM WAGE HAS GONE FROM $5.15 TO $7.25, AND THAT AFFECTS BUSINESS'S BOTTOM LINE.

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SAYS CAPITAL ONE HAS AGREED TO PAY $12 MILLION TO RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS THE BANK VIOLATED SPECIAL PROTECTIONS IN FEDERAL LAW FOR MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY. THE GOVERNMENT SAYS CAPITAL ONE WRONGFULLY FORECLOSED ON SOME HOMES AND IMPROPERLY REPOSSESSED SOME CARS. IN ADDITION, THE GOVERNMENT SAYS THE BANK OBTAINED WRONGFUL COURT JUDGMENTS AGAINST SOME SERVICE MEMBERS AND IMPROPERLY DENIED INTEREST RATE RELIEF ON SOME CREDIT CARD AND CAR LOANS. IN A SETTLEMENT UNDER THE SERVICE MEMBERS CIVIL RELIEF ACT, CAPITAL ONE WILL PAY AT LEAST $125,000 TO EACH SERVICE MEMBER WHOSE HOME WAS UNLAWFULLY FORECLOSED UPON AND AT LEAST $10,000 TO EACH SERVICE MEMBER WHOSE VEHICLE WAS UNLAWFULLY REPOSSESSED.

A HEARING IN FEDERAL COURT FOR SUSPENDED SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA WRAPPED UP THURSDAY WITHOUT AN IMMEDIATE DECISION ABOUT WHETHER HE CAN TEMPORARILY RETURN TO WORK. VILMA IS TRYING TO PERSUADE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE GINGER BERRIGAN TO IMPOSE A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER WHILE HIS LAWSUIT AGAINST NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL PROCEEDS. BERRIGAN DID NOT SAY WHEN SHE WOULD RULE BUT HAS EXPRESSED AN INTEREST IN A QUICK RESOLUTION. VILMA, FORMER TEAMMATES AND NEW ORLEANS ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOE VITT TESTIFIED THURSDAY THAT VILMA NEVER PUT UP CASH FOR TACKLES THAT INJURED OPPONENTS.

A CANADIAN-BASED METHANOL PRODUCER WILL RELOCATE A PRODUCTION PLANT IN CHILE TO GEISMAR, IN ASCENSION PARISH. THE NEW FACILITY WILL BRING HUNDREDS OF JOBS WITH GOOD SALARIES. ASCENSION PARISH PRESIDENT TOMMY MARTINEZ SAYS HE'S EXCITED AT METHANEX'S DECISION, AND HE LOOKS FORWARD TO MAKING MORE SUCH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS IN THE FUTURE. HE SAYS ASCENSION IS THE 69TH FASTEST-GROWING REGION IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY.

ALLSTATE INSURANCE, THE STATE'S SECOND-BIGGEST PROPERTY INSURANCE CARRIER, IS REQUESTING A RATE INCREASE APPROVAL FROM STATE AUTHORITIES. ALLSTATE SEEKS AN 11-PERCENT RATE HIKE FROM ABOUT 144-THOUSAND HOMEOWNERS. ALLSTATE INDEMNITY WANTS A 6% INCREASE FROM IT'S 73-THOUSAND LOUISIANA CUSTOMERS. STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON HAS MADE NO DECISION YET ON THE RATE INCREASE REQUEST.

THE USDA SAYS CONSUMERS CAN EXPECT HIGHER PRICES FOR FOOD NEXT YEAR, LARGELY DUE TO DROUGHT ACROSS THE MIDWEST. DRY CONDITIONS ARE SEVERELY HURTING CROPS EVEN BEFORE THEY CAN BE HARVESTED. LOUISIANA AG COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE DROP IN PRODUCTION WILL HAVE A RIPPLE EFFECT ON PRODUCTS USING THOSE CROPS AS INGREDIENTS.

COMEDIAN RUSSELL BRAND HAS BEEN ORDERED BY A NEW ORLEANS JUDGE TO 20 HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE AND A $500 FINE, FOR A MARCH INCIDENT IN WHICH HE THREW A PHOTOGRAPHER'S IPHONE THROUGH THE WINDOW OF A LAWYERS' OFFICE IN DOWNTOWN NEW ORLEANS.

News For Thursday 07/26/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 072612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

METHANEX CORP., A MAJOR PRODUCER OF THE ALTERNATIVE FUEL METHANOL, ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY THAT IT IS MOVING AN IDLE PLANT IN CHILE TO LOUISIANA, CREATING 130 NEW JOBS FOR THE STATE. THE VANCOUVER-BASED COMPANY SAID IT WOULD SPEND $550 MILLION TO BUILD ON A 225-ACRE SITE IN ASCENSION PARISH, ABOUT 20 MILES FROM BATON ROUGE. SALARIES AT THE PLANT WILL AVERAGE MORE THAN $56,000 PLUS BENEFITS.
ACCORDING TO GOVERNOR JINDAL, "METHANEX CHOSE LOUISIANA BECAUSE OF OUR WORLD CLASS INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE CHEMICAL AND ENERGY INDUSTRIES AND OUR STATE'S STRONG BUSINESS CLIMATE". THE STATE IS GIVING METHANEX $5.3 MILLION AS PART OF AN INCENTIVE PACKAGE. THE COMPANY ALSO WILL GET STATE AND LOCAL TAX BREAKS. JINDAL'S OFFICE SAID CONSTRUCTION IS EXPECTED TO BE FINISHED IN LATE 2014. HIRING IS SET TO BEGIN BEFORE THE END OF THIS YEAR.

NINE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS THAT WILL TAKE IN TAXPAYER-FUNDED VOUCHER STUDENTS FOR THE UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR WILL MORE THAN DOUBLE THEIR ENROLLMENTS WITH THE SUBSIDIZED STUDENTS, RECEIVING ABOUT $3.6 MILLION IN PAYMENTS FROM THE STATE.
INCLUDED IN THAT LIST IS THE NEW LIVING WORD SCHOOL, WHICH GRABBED EARLY ATTENTION WITH LAWMAKERS BECAUSE OF QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RUSTON CHURCH-AFFILIATED SCHOOL'S CAPABILITY TO HANDLE THE STUDENTS. THE SCHOOL HAD NOT CLASS ROOMS OR TEACHERS. IT OFFERED MORE SPACES FOR VOUCHER STUDENTS THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE STATE, WILLING TO ACCEPT 315 CHILDREN. HOWEVER IN THE END THE SCHOOL WAS APPROVED FOR 165 CHILDREN IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH SIXTH GRADE. THE SCHOOL HAD 122 STUDENTS IN THE PAST YEAR, WITH LIMITED FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT AND MUCH OF ITS INSTRUCTION USING DVDS RATHER THAN TEACHERS.

STUDENTS IN RAPIDES PARISH WILL HAVE A CHOICE OF SCHOOLS THIS YEAR IF THEY ATTEND A LOW-PERFORMING SCHOOL AFTER THE SCHOOL BOARD APPROVED A SCHOOL CHOICE PLAN AT A SPECIAL MEETING TUESDAY. SUPERINTENDENT GARY JONES SAID HE'D HOPED THE STATE'S LIST OF LOW-PERFORMING SCHOOLS WOULD BE RELEASED BEFORE THE 5:30 P.M. MEETING, BUT IT WAS NOT. STUDENTS AT THESE SCHOOLS MUST BE GIVEN THE CHOICE OF SWITCHING TO MORE THAN ONE OTHER SCHOOL THAT HAS A HIGHER PERFORMANCE SCORE THAN THEIR CURRENT SCHOOL. THE BOARD WILL NOTIFY PARENTS OF STUDENTS AT THE SCHOOLS GIVEN CHOICE ONCE THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RELEASES THE LIST. THE SCHOOL BOARD WILL PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION.

FOR TEN YEARS LOUISIANA WAS RANKED 49TH IN THE COUNTRY IN CHILD-WELL BEING. BUT THIS YEAR, THE ANNUAL REPORT BY THE ANNE E. CASEY FOUNDATION MOVED THE BAYOU STATE UP TWO SPOTS TO NUMBER 47. EXPERTS SAY WHILE LOUISIANA HAS MADE PROGRESS IN IMPROVING A CHILD'S WELL-BEING, A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN LIVE IN POVERTY WHICH COULD KEEP LOUISIANA NEAR THE BOTTOM IN THIS ANNUAL RANKING.

SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA GOES BEFORE A FEDERAL JUDGE TODAY SEEKING A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER TO STOP HIS YEAR-LONG SUSPENSION IMPOSED BY THE NFL FOR HIS ROLE IN THE PAY-FOR-PERFORMANCE PROGRAM. THE HEARING COMES THREE DAYS AFTER A SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE WHERE A JUDGE FAILED TO RESOLVE THE TWO SIDES' ISSUES.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS HEADING TO IOWA TO TOUT REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY. JINDAL SPOKESMAN KYLE PLOTKIN SAID THE LOUISIANA GOVERNOR WILL TRAVEL TO IOWA ON THURSDAY FOR THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN EVENTS. THE APPEARANCES ARE CERTAIN TO CONTINUE SPECULATION THAT JINDAL IS A CONTENDER TO BE ROMNEY'S PICK FOR A RUNNING MATE. JINDAL WILL BE ONE OF SEVERAL ROMNEY SURROGATES ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL THIS WEEK WHILE THE FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR IS TRAVELING THROUGH ENGLAND, ISRAEL AND POLAND.

LOUISIANA COLLEGE PRESIDENT JOE AGUILLARD SAID HE WILL DEFY THE GOVERNMENT'S HEALTH-CARE MANDATE TO PROVIDE BIRTH CONTROL TO EMPLOYEES EVEN IF THE SCHOOL'S LAWSUIT IS UNSUCCESSFUL. AS AN EMPLOYER OF MORE THAN 50 FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES, LOUISIANA COLLEGE WOULD BE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR "ALL FDA-APPROVED CONTRACEPTIVES" AT NO COST TO THE EMPLOYEE, ACCORDING TO THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. MICHAEL JOHNSON, DEAN OF LC'S LAW SCHOOL, WHO IS REPRESENTING THE SCHOOL SAYS, THE COLLEGE CURRENTLY PROVIDES COVERAGE FOR STANDARD CONTRACEPTION, SUCH AS BIRTH CONTROL, BUT "NOTHING TO CROSS THE LINE TO END A LIFE,".

LONGTIME CRITICS OF NEW ORLEANS POLICE EXPRESSED SKEPTICISM WEDNESDAY THAT A NEW FEDERALLY BACKED PLAN TO OVERHAUL THE POLICE DEPARTMENT WOULD REDUCE AND ELIMINATE DECADES OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, BRUTALITY AND QUESTIONABLE USE OF FORCE. A U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ASSURED THEM THAT THE DEPARTMENT IS DEDICATED TO MAKING SURE THAT IT DOES.THE 124-PAGE PLAN AWAITING APPROVAL FROM A FEDERAL JUDGE SPELLS OUT A SERIES OF STRICT REQUIREMENTS FOR OVERHAULING THE POLICE DEPARTMENT'S POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR USE OF FORCE, TRAINING, INTERROGATIONS, SEARCHES AND ARRESTS, RECRUITMENT AND SUPERVISION.

PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT INC. PLANS TO OPEN ITS NEW $368 MILLION BATON ROUGE CASINO, CALLED L'AUBERGE BATON ROUGE, ON AUG. 29. THE COMPANY WILL NEED TO GET APPROVAL FROM THE LOUISIANA GAMING CONTROL BOARD FOR THE OPENING DATE, BUT THAT IS CONSIDERED A FORMALITY SINCE PINNACLE OFFICIALS HAVE REPEATEDLY TOLD REGULATORS THEY WANT TO HAVE THE CASINO AND HOTEL PROJECT READY FOR VISITORS BY LABOR DAY WEEKEND. THE GRAND OPENING, ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY, IS SLATED TO INCLUDE ENTERTAINMENT AND FIREWORKS.

EMPLOYEES OF STOCKY'S PIZZERIA IN HAUGHTON THINK THEY MAY HAVE A GHOST. SECURITY VIDEO FROM JULY 13TH & 14TH, SHOWS SEVERAL ITEMS FLYING OFF A SHELF ONTO THE FLOOR--SEEMINGLY OF THEIR OWN VOLITION. ONE OBJECT FALLS TO THE FLOOR JUST MINUTES AFTER AN EMPLOYEE PICKED IT UP OFF THE FLOOR AND PUT IT ON A SHELF. OTHERS VIDEO SHOWS ITEMS HITTING THE FLOOR WHILE THE PLACE WAS EMPTY.

THERE'S A WEEK LEFT IN THE LSU FOOTBALL PROGRAM'S OFFSEASON AND LES MILES ADMITS HIS TEAM STILL HAS "SCARS" FROM LOSING TO ALABAMA IN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. MILES HOPES THE 21 TO NOTING DEFEAT TO THE CRIMSON TIDE WILL MOTIVATE HIS TEAM THROUGHOUT THE UPCOMING SEASON.



News For Wednesday 07/25/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 072512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT REPORTS A 47-YEAR-OLD ALEXANDRIA MAN HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH THREE COUNTS OF AGGRAVATED RAPE AND ONE COUNT OF AGGRAVATED INCEST. TONY PENNYWELL WAS CHARGED AFTER HE WAS FOUND AT A RESIDENCE IN PINEVILLE. ALSO AT THE RESIDENCE WAS 29 YEAR OLD DATHAN JOHNSON, 29, OF PINEVILLE, WHO WAS FOUND IN BED WITH A JUVENILE, ACCORDING TO DEPUTIES. JOHNSON WAS CHARGED WITH THREE COUNTS OF AGGRAVATED INCEST. BOTH ARE BEING HELD PENDING LARGE BAIL AMOUNTS.

AMERITAS TECHNOLOGIES SAID TUESDAY IT WILL OPEN AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CENTER IN BATON ROUGE, A MOVE THEY EXPECT WILL CREATE AT LEAST 300 DIRECT JOBS WITH AN AVERAGE PAY OF $63,000. THE STARTUP COMPANY'S CEO, BRIAN KEANE, SAID AMERITAS WILL RECEIVE A STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GRANT OF $125,000 PER YEAR OVER A 10-YEAR PERIOD TO OFFSET LEASING COSTS AT THE CHASE TOWER IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA. THE COMPANY WILL ALSO GET TAX BREAKS THROUGH THE STATE'S QUALITY JOBS AND DIGITAL INTERACTIVE MEDIA AND SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES. AMERITAS WILL START HIRING IN SEPTEMBER AND OPEN BY OCTOBER AND THAT THE COMPANY EXPECTS TO REACH THE 300 MARK ON STAFFING BY 2016.

BESE APPROVES AN ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN FOR THE 119 PRIVATE SCHOOLS RECEIVING STATE FUNDING TO EDUCATE FORMER PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS. UNDER THE PLAN, SCHOOLS IN THE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT REACH CERTAIN ENROLLMENT STANDARDS, COULD LOSE THEIR PUBLIC FUNDING, IF THEIR VOUCHER STUDENTS DO NOT PERFORM WELL ON STATE TESTS. THE ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN FOR VOUCHER SCHOOLS WAS APPROVED BY BESE ON A NINE TO TWO VOTE.

ACCORDING TO A LIST RELEASED YESTERDAY BY THE STATE BOARD OF ED, BEAU VER CHRISTIAN ACADEMY IN DERIDDER, INITIALLY APPROVED FOR 119 VOUCHER SEATS, WAS ELIMINATED FROM THE LOUISIANA SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM, WHILE FOUR OTHER CENTRAL LOUISIANA SCHOOLS WILL RECEIVE VOUCHERS. ST. FRANCES CABRINI SCHOOL IN ALEXANDRIA WAS AWARDED THE 41 SEATS IT REQUESTED. HOLY SAVIOR MENARD CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, ALSO IN ALEXANDRIA, APPLIED FOR 55 SEATS AND WAS AWARDED 17. CENLA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY IN ALEXANDRIA APPLIED FOR 72 SEATS AND 29 WILL BE FILLED. . ST. MARY'S ASSUMPTION SCHOOL IN COTTONPORT APPLIED FOR SIX SEATS AND WILL FILL "LESS THAN 10.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID TUESDAY HE'S CONFIDENT LSU'S NETWORK OF PUBLIC HOSPITALS AND CLINICS WILL SAFEGUARD HEALTH CARE SERVICES, DESPITE CUTS THAT STRIP A QUARTER OF THE SYSTEM'S FUNDING. LAWMAKERS HAVE SAID THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW THE UNIVERSITY-RUN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM CAN SHRINK ITS BUDGET BY $329 MILLION THIS YEAR WITHOUT SHUTTING FACILITIES THAT TAKE CARE OF THE POOR AND UNINSURED.
WHEN ASKED ABOUT THE FEAR OVER THE REDUCTIONS, JINDAL REPLIED, "LSU IS WELL ON THEIR WAY TO PRESENTING A PLAN THAT'S GOING TO PROTECT CRITICAL SERVICES."

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S OFFICE HAS CHANGED ITS POLICY AND STARTED NOTIFYING LOUISIANA'S SECOND-HIGHEST RANKING OFFICIAL WHEN THE GOVERNOR HEADS OUT OF STATE. UNDER THE LOUISIANA CONSTITUTION, LT. GOV. JAY DARDENNE IS TECHNICALLY THE GOVERNOR WHEN JINDAL LEAVES LOUISIANA. BUT UNTIL RECENTLY, DARDENNE NEVER KNEW WHEN JINDAL WAS GONE.

THE DAILY ADVERTISER REPORTS LAFAYETTE PARISH DA MIKE HARSON PLANS TO TRY THE MURDERS OF MIKEY SHUNICK AND LISA PATE AT THE SAME TIME. 33-YEAR-OLD BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE OF SWORDS WAS INDICTED IN THE FIRST-DEGREE MURDER OF SHUNICK AND PATE. HARSON ALSO TELLS THE DAILY ADVERTISER THAT IT COULD TAKE TWO TO THREE YEARS TO BRING LAVERGNE TO TRIAL.

THE ADVOCATE NEWSPAPER SAYS IT WILL EXPAND INTO THE NEW ORLEANS MARKET WITH A SPECIALIZED PRINT EDITION. RICHARD MANSHIP, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CAPITAL CITY PRESS, SAYS THE ADVOCATE IS LAYING THE GROUNDWORK TO REACH INTO THE MARKET FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TIMES-PICAYUNE THAT THE NEWSPAPER WILL REDUCE PUBLICATION TO THREE DAYS A WEEK THIS FALL WHILE BEEFING UP ITS ONLINE REPORT. MANSHIP SAID THE ADVOCATE WILL ADD STAFF TO SUPPLY THIS COVERAGE OF THE AREA, BUT DID NOT PROVIDE SPECIFIC NUMBERS. THE TIMES-PICAYUNE, WHICH IS OWNED BY ADVANCE PUBLICATIONS INC., ANNOUNCED PLANS IN JUNE TO CONVERT THE 175-YEAR-OLD NEW ORLEANS DAILY TO A 24-HOUR DIGITAL NEWS OPERATION WITH A PRINT EDITION ONLY ON WEDNESDAYS, FRIDAYS AND SUNDAYS. THE NEWSPAPER ALSO SAID IT WILL REDUCE NEWS STAFF.

THE ST. MARY PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS A 36-YEAR-OLD MAN TRIED TO KILL HIS PARENTS. ERIC VINING OF FRANKLIN WAS BOOKED ON TWO COUNTS OF ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AFTER HIS PARENTS WERE FOUND IN THEIR HOME WITH STAB WOUNDS AND THEIR THROATS SLASHED. THE SHERIFF SAYS VINING'S PARENTS ARE IN STABLE CONDITION AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

ATTENTION NEW DRIVERS --- STARTING AUGUST 1ST, NEW TRAINING REQUIREMENTS FOR FIRST TIME DRIVERS GOES INTO EFFECT. CAPT. DOUG CAIN WITH LOUISIANA STATE POLICE SAYS THE NEW LAW MEANS MORE CLASSROOM TRAINING HOURS AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, INCREASED BEHIND-THE-WHEEL INSTRUCTION. CAIN SAYS THE NEW LAW REQUIRES 17 YEAR OLDS TO ATTEND A 38 HOUR DRIVERS ED COURSE VERSUS THE PREVIOUS SIX HOUR. HE SAYS IT ALSO REQUIRES NEW DRIVERS 18 YEARS AND OLDER TO HAVE 8 HOURS OF BEHIND-THE-WHEEL TRAINING IN ADDITION TO THE 6 HOURS OF CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION.

A TEENAGE GIRL HAS HAS BEEN BOOKED INTO A JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER FOR CALLING IN A BOMB THREAT TO A DOLLAR GENERAL STORE IN LAKE CHARLES. CALCASIEU PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESWOMAN KIM MYERS SAYS THE TEEN HAD NO CONNECTION TO ANYONE IN THE STORE, SHE TOLD DETECTIVES SHE CALLED IN THE THREAT SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE WAS BORED.

LAWYERS FOR THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT CLAIM ONE OF ITS JUSTICES IS ASKING A FEDERAL JUDGE TO IMPERMISSIBLY INTERFERE WITH THE AUTHORITY OF THE STATE'S HIGHEST COURT TO DECIDE WHO SHOULD BE ITS NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE. IN A COURT FILING TUESDAY, THE STATE SUPREME COURT'S ATTORNEYS ARGUE THAT U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE SUSIE MORGAN DOESN'T HAVE JURISDICTION OVER THE CLAIMS BROUGHT BY JUSTICE BERNETTE JOHNSON. JOHNSON'S FEDERAL LAWSUIT SEEKS TO BLOCK HER COLLEAGUES FROM DEBATING AND VOTING ON WHETHER SHE OR JUSTICE JEFFREY VICTORY IS LEGALLY ENTITLED TO SUCCEED CHIEF JUSTICE CATHERINE "KITTY" KIMBALL WHEN SHE RETIRES NEXT YEAR. JOHNSON ARGUES SHE IS NEXT IN LINE FOR THE JOB UNDER THE TERMS OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION BECAUSE SHE QUALIFIES AS THE COURT'S LONGEST-SERVING JUSTICE. VICTORY ALSO STAKES A CLAIM TO THAT DISTINCTION.

A COURT-SUPERVISED AGREEMENT ANNOUNCED TUESDAY TO OVERHAUL THE NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT WILL REQUIRE THE TROUBLED AGENCY TO IMPLEMENT THE MOST SWEEPING POLICE REFORMS EVER NEGOTIATED BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER JOINED MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU IN ANNOUNCING THE SIGNING OF A FEDERAL CONSENT DECREE DESIGNED TO CLEAN UP A POLICE FORCE THAT HAS BEEN PLAGUED BY DECADES OF CORRUPTION AND MISMANAGEMENT. THE DEPARTMENT CAME UNDER RENEWED SCRUTINY FOLLOWING A STRING OF POLICE SHOOTINGS IN THE CHAOTIC AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE KATRINA IN 2005.

NICHOLLS STATE HAS THE GO AHEAD TO BEGIN WORK ON A LARGER CAMPUS FOR THE CHEF JOHN FOLSE CULINARY INSTITUTE. THE STATE BOND COMMISSION AUTHORIZED EIGHT-POINT-ONE MILLION DOLLARS FOR CONSTRUCTION. ACCORDING TO A SCHOOL OFFICIAL, THE NEW BUILDING WILL MAKE THE INSTITUTE A SCHOOL WITH NATIONAL APPEAL. HE SAYS THE NEW FACILITY WILL BOAST MORE KITCHEN AND CLASSROOM SPACE AND UPDATED EQUIPMENT.

News For Tuesday 07/24/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 072412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

PRIVATE SCHOOLS WHO TAKE PART IN THE STATE'S NEW TUITION VOUCHERS PROGRAM WILL BE HELD TO THE SAME BASIC ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS AS PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THAT'S ACCORDING TO A NEW PLAN PROPOSED BY EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WHITE. WHITE WILL ASK BESE TO APPROVE THE PLAN TOMORROW. THE PLANS ANSWERS CRITICS OF THE SCHOOL VOUCHERS LAW, WHO COMPLAINED PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS WOULD BENEFIT FROM TAXPAYER DOLLARS AND NOT BE HELD TO ANY STANDARD. THE VOUCHER PLAN IS AN EXPANDED VERSION OF A PROGRAM STARTED IN NEW ORLEANS IN 2008. IT OFFERS PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION TO POORER STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS WITH A FAILING GRADE.

THE LSU ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES IT'S MAKING A $4 MILLION-DOLLAR DONATION TO ASSIST THE UNIVERSITY WITH BUDGET ISSUES. SENIOR ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT AT LSU IS IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO HELP SUPPORT ACADEMICS AT THE UNIVERSITY. VINCENT SAYS LSU IS ONE OF THE ONLY INSTITUTIONS IN THE COUNTRY THAT DOES NOT USE STATE TAX DOLLARS OR STUDENT FEES TO OPERATE ITS ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT. LSU CHANCELLOR MIKE MARTIN SENT A LETTER TO FACULTY AND STAFF STATING THAT THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO AVOID LAYOFFS AND BUDGET REDUCTIONS IN LARGE PART BECAUSE OF THE HELP FROM THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT. VINCENT SAYS THIS IS THE LARGEST TRANSFER OF MONEY FROM ATHLETICS TO ACADEMICS IN SCHOOL HISTORY.

LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS BRISTLED MONDAY ABOUT GETTING FEW DETAILS AND NO ABILITY TO DECIDE THE $523 MILLION IN BUDGET CUTS GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION HAS MADE TO HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS, LARGELY TO LSU'S SAFETY NET HEALTH CARE FACILITIES. SEVERAL COMPLAINED THE GOVERNOR'S TOP LEADERS WEREN'T EXPLAINING THE GRAVITY OF THE SLASHING AND THE IMPLICATIONS ON THE LSU NETWORK OF PUBLIC HOSPITALS AND CLINICS THAT CARE FOR THE POOR AND UNINSURED IN A STATE WHERE ONE IN FIVE RESIDENTS HAVE NO HEALTH INSURANCE. THE CUTS ARE TIED TO A DROP IN LOUISIANA'S FEDERAL MEDICAID FUNDING THAT WAS PASSED IN CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION AFTER THE STATE'S 2012-13 BUDGET WAS ALREADY CRAFTED. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION LEVIED TWO-THIRDS OF THE CUTS ON THE LSU SAFETY-NET HOSPITAL SYSTEM, WHICH WILL LOSE $329 MILLION, OR ONE-QUARTER OF ITS ENTIRE BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGAN JULY 1.

A 14-MEMBER REVENUE STUDY COMMISSION, PACKED WITH LEGISLATIVE LEADERS, OPENED ITS REVIEW OF THE LOUISIANA'S TAX BREAKS MONDAY WITH A CRASH COURSE ON HOW MANY TAX BREAKS EXIST, WHICH ONES ARE TRACKED FOR PERFORMANCE AND HOW THEY AFFECT STATE INCOME ESTIMATES. LAWMAKERS WERE TOLD AMONG THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAX BREAKS ON LOUISIANA'S BOOKS, MANY HAVE LITTLE OVERSIGHT AND SOME EVEN GIVE CHECKS TO PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES THAT OWE NO TAXES IN THE STATE. THE STUDY COMMISSION WILL RECOMMEND REDUCING OR ELIMINATING TAX BREAKS DEEMED TO BE LOW-PERFORMING OR ANTIQUATED. SUGGESTIONS ARE DUE TO BE COMPILED BY FEB. 1, WITH ANY LEGISLATION STEMMING FROM THE REVIEW TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE REGULAR SESSION THAT BEGINS TWO MONTHS LATER.

LOUISIANA'S ELECTRICITY BILLS ARE AMONG THE LOWEST IN THE COUNTRY. ACCORDING TO THE U-S ENERGY INFORMATION AGENCY, THE STATE HAS THE THIRD LOWEST OVERALL BILLS IN THE COUNTRY, BASED ON THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THIS YEAR. JIMMY FIELD, WITH THE LOUISIANA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION SAYS LOW NATURAL GAS PRICES ARE KEEPING UTILITY BILLS DOWN. EVEN THOUGH THE U-S ENERGY INFORMATION AGENCY'S REPORT IS POSITIVE FOR LOUISIANA, COMMISSIONER FOSTER CAMPBELL STILL SAYS THE PRICE OF ELECTRICITY IS TOO HIGH IN LOUISIANA.

LOUISIANA'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT ON MONDAY PAID A $104 MILLION JUDGMENT THAT WILL BENEFIT MORE THAN 18,500 POLICYHOLDERS WHO SUED OVER SLOW ADJUSTMENT OF CLAIMS AFTER HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA STRUCK IN 2005. PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY FRED HERMAN SAID ELIGIBLE PLAINTIFFS WILL RECEIVE THEIR SHARE OF THE MONEY FROM LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORP. IN THREE TO SIX MONTHS. A STATE JUDGE STILL HAS TO DECIDE HOW MUCH OF THE AWARD SHOULD PAY FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS. CITIZENS CEO RICHARD ROBERTSON SAID THE COMPANY STILL HAS ABOUT $100 MILLION TO $110 MILLION IN CASH RESERVES TO CONTINUE PAYING CLAIMS "FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE." BUT A CATASTROPHIC STORM THIS YEAR COULD FORCE CITIZENS TO IMPOSE AN ASSESSMENT ON POLICYHOLDERS TO REPLENISH ITS CASH RESERVES.

GAS PRICES, THAT HAD BEEN ON A STEADY DOWNWARD SPIRAL SINCE APRIL, HAVE SHOT UP AGAIN. THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR REGULAR GAS HAS GONE UP NEARLY A DIME TO AROUND $3.27. AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS THE CURRENT SPIKE IN PRICES IS ALL TIED TO A JUMP IN THE PRICE OF CRUDE OIL. REDMAN SAYS THE GLOBAL SPOT PRICE FOR CRUDE OIL IS ONE OF THE MOST VOLATILE, NEWS-DRIVEN COMMODITY MARKETS. HE SAYS THE CURRENT JUMP IN THE PRICE OF OIL IS DRIVEN BY NEWS COMING OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST.

THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT IS GIVING ITS JUSTICES AN EXTRA MONTH TO WEIGH IN ON A DEBATE OVER NAMING THE COURT'S NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE. CHIEF JUSTICE CATHERINE "KITTY" KIMBALL HAD SET A JULY 31 DEADLINE FOR THE JUSTICES TO FILE BRIEFS ON WHICH COLLEAGUE IS THE "OLDEST IN POINT OF SERVICE" UNDER TERMS OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION. KIMBALL AMENDED HER ORDER ON FRIDAY TO MOVE THE DEADLINE TO AUG. 31. JUSTICE BERNETTE JOHNSON SUED EARLIER THIS MONTH IN FEDERAL COURT TO BLOCK HER COLLEAGUES FROM DEBATING WHETHER SHE IS ENTITLED TO SUCCEED KIMBALL WHEN SHE RETIRES NEXT YEAR. JUSTICE JEFFREY VICTORY ALSO STAKES A CLAIM TO BEING THE COURT'S LONGEST-SERVING JUSTICE. THE MONTH-LONG DELAY GIVES U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE SUSIE MORGAN MORE TIME TO HEAR ARGUMENTS AND RULE IN JOHNSON'S CASE. ON MONDAY, MORGAN SCHEDULED AN AUG. 16 HEARING FOR THE JUSTICE'S SUIT.

DENZEL WASHINGTON AND MARK WAHLBERG ARE FILMING A MOVIE IN DOWNTOWN AMITE THIS WEEK. THE MOVIE "2 GUNS" IS ABOUT A DEA AGENT AND AN UNDERCOVER NAVAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICE WHO ARE INVESTIGATING EACH OTHER. 2 GUNS WILL BE THE FIRST TIME WASHINGTON AND WAHLBERG HAVE EVER BEEN PAIRED TOGETHER IN A FILM THAT IS SLATED TO HIT THEATERS SOME TIME NEXT YEAR.

NOW THAT THE PENALTIES HAVE BEEN HANDED DOWN BY THE NCAA ONTO PENN STATE, INCLUDING THE LOSS OF ALL WINS BETWEEN 1998-2011, THAT MEANS GRAMBLING'S EDDIE ROBINSON IS THE ALL TIME WINNINGEST COACH OF ALL TIME IN DIVISION 1. THE NCAA TOOK AWAY 111 WINS FROM PENN STATE WHICH MEANS JOE PATERNO NO LONGER HAS A TOTAL OF 409 WINS AND ROBINSON NOW LEADS WITH 408 WINS.

SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA AND DEFENSIVE END WILL SMITH MET MONDAY WITH NFL LAWYERS AND A FEDERAL MAGISTRATE, BUT THE CLOSED-DOOR SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE DIDN'T RESOLVE LAWSUITS SPAWNED BY THE PLAYERS' SUSPENSIONS FOLLOWING THE LEAGUE'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION. VILMA AND HIS ATTORNEYS EMERGED FROM THE THREE-HOUR-LONG CONFERENCE WITH U.S. MAGISTRATE DANIEL KNOWLES III WITHOUT COMMENTING ON WHETHER PROGRESS WAS MADE TOWARD RESOLUTION OF THE CASE. THE MEETING WAS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. IN A COURT FILING LATER MONDAY, KNOWLES SAID A SETTLEMENT CAN'T BE REACHED "AT THIS TIME." BUT HE INSTRUCTED THE PARTIES TO CONTACT HIM "AT ANY STAGE OF THE PROCEEDING IF AN ADDITIONAL SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE WOULD BE BENEFICIAL."

IBERIA PARISH SHERIFF INVESTIGATORS ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHO'S RESPONSIBLE FOR A SHOOTING THAT TOOK PLACE AT A BAR THAT LEFT ONE PERSON DEAD AND TWO OTHERS WOUNDED. CAPTAIN RYAN TURNER SAYS AN ARGUMENT STARTED INSIDE THE MON AMI TAVERN IN JEANERETTE AND IT ESCALATED TO THE PARKING LOT. TURNER SAYS THERE WERE MANY PEOPLE INVOLVED AND THEY ARE NOT RULING OUR MORE THAN TWO SUSPECTS.

News For Monday 07/23/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 072312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

BUSINESS FACILITIES MAGAZINE HAS RAISED ITS RANKING FOR LOUISIANA AS A PLACE TO DO BUSINESS. THE TRADE PUBLICATION PLACED THE STATE FIFTH IN ITS TOP 10 LIST. A YEAR AGO, LOUISIANA WAS RANKED SEVENTH. THE RANKING REPRESENTS MEASURES OF THE STATE'S CLIMATE FOR INVESTMENT AND JOB CREATION. THE MAGAZINE PRAISED LOUISIANA'S WORKFORCE TRAINING PROGRAMS AND STATE-SPONSORED BUSINESS INCENTIVES.

REPEATED ROUNDS OF BUDGET SHORTFALLS THAT STRIPPED DOLLARS FROM PUBLIC COLLEGES AND HEALTH CARE SERVICES HAVE PROMPTED LAWMAKERS TO TAKE AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE LONG LIST OF TAX BREAKS THAT SIPHON BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM LOUISIANA'S TREASURY EACH YEAR. A 14-MEMBER STUDY PANEL OF LEGISLATIVE LEADERS LAUNCHES A SIX-MONTH REVIEW TODAY OF THE $4.4 BILLION IN TAX EXEMPTIONS, REBATES AND CREDITS ON THE BOOKS, WITH AN EYE TO DETERMINING IF LOUISIANA GETS ENOUGH BENEFITS FROM THE GIVEAWAYS TO JUSTIFY THE COST OF THEM.

BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA WAS CHOSEN FRIDAY BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION TO TAKE OVER THE JOB OF MANAGING A STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH CARE PLAN. THE COMPANY OUTBID HUMANA AND UNITED HEALTHCARE FOR WORK THAT BEGINS JAN. 31.THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION SAID IT WOULD LAY OFF 177 OF THE 327 EMPLOYEES IN THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENTAL BENEFITS AS A RESULT, ENDING THE LONG-STANDING PRACTICE OF STATE EMPLOYEES HANDLING HEALTH PLANS FOR STATE WORKERS, RETIREES AND DEPENDENTS. NEITHER THE LAYOFFS NOR THE CONTRACT CAN OCCUR WITHOUT THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION'S APPROVAL.

WHILE UNEMPLOYMENT ROSE IN OVER HALF OF THE STATES BETWEEN MAY AND JUNE, LOUISIANA ENJOYED THE SECOND-LARGEST PERCENTAGE INCREASE IN EMPLOYMENT, ACCORDING TO THE U-S BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS. LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION SPOKESPERSON TOM GUARISCO SAYS THE STATE HAS SEEN OUTSTANDING GROWTH IN THE LAST YEAR. THE STATE SAW A 2.8-PERCENT RISE IN EMPLOYMENT. ONLY NORTH DAKOTA ADDED A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF JOBS THAN LOUISIANA.

LOUISIANA'S NEW STATEWIDE SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM PROMISES PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION, BUT PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS LIKELY WILL HAVE TO GIVE UP SOME SERVICES IF THEY ACCEPT PUBLICLY FUNDED VOUCHERS TO ATTEND MOST PARTICIPATING PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS. NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THE STATE'S VOUCHER PROGRAM AREN'T REQUIRED TO PROVIDE THE SAME SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. PARENTS WILL BE ASKED TO SIGN STATEMENTS RELINQUISHING THOSE OPTIONS FOR THEIR CHILDREN. IN THE STATE'S LIST OF APPROVED SCHOOLS FOR THE LOUISIANA SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM, NO SCHOOL NORTH OF ALEXANDRIA INDICATES IT WILL PROVIDE SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SAID PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS CANNOT DENY ADMISSION TO ASSIGNED STUDENTS, BUT BECAUSE THEY DO NOT RECEIVE FEDERAL FUNDING FROM THE INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT, THE SCHOOLS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO OFFER SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES.

IT WAS A TRAGIC WEEKEND ON LAKE CHARLES IN CALCASIEU PARISH AS TWO PEOPLE APPARENTLY DROWNED AFTER THEIR BOAT CAPSIZED ON FRIDAY NIGHT. THE BODY OF 42-YEAR-OLD WILLIAM DRUILET JUNIOR OF LAKE CHARLES WAS FOUND SATURDAY AND 25-YEAR-OLD CHRISTOPHER ROLLINS OF WESTLAKE'S BODY WAS RECOVERED SUNDAY MORNING. WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES OFFICIALS SAY A STORM BLEW IN WHILE THEY WERE ON LAKE CHARLES FRIDAY NIGHT. THE TWO MEN WERE IN A 16-FOOT JON BOAT AND THE CHOPPY WATER LED TO THEIR BOAT OVERTURNING.

THE IDEA OF CREATING A STATEWIDE DWI TRACKING SYSTEM IS GAINING STEAM AGAIN.
PROSECUTORS, MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING LOUISIANA AND OTHERS SAY A COMPUTER SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS AUTHORITIES TO MORE EASILY VERIFY PREVIOUS DWI CONVICTIONS AND SENTENCES ACROSS THE STATE'S MANY COURT JURISDICTIONS WOULD BE A STRONG WEAPON AGAINST REPEAT DRUNKEN-DRIVING OFFENDERS. HOWEVER PROSECUTORS AND ANTI-DRUNKEN-DRIVING ACTIVISTS SAY OTHER FACTORS, SUCH AS UNEVEN ENFORCEMENT OF DWI SENTENCING LAWS BY JUDGES AND THE SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE OF DRIVING AFTER DRINKING, PLAY ROLES IN THE PROBLEM OF REPEAT OFFENDERS. ALCOHOL-RELATED CRASHES CLAIMED 291 LIVES IN LOUISIANA IN 2011.

EMPLOYEES AT CONAGRA FOODS' LAMB WESTON SWEET POTATO PROCESSING PLANT NEAR DELHI WILL DECIDE NEXT WEEK WHETHER TO UNIONIZE. WORKERS WILL VOTE WEDNESDAY IN AN ELECTION ADMINISTERED BY THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD TO DETERMINE WHETHER THEY WILL JOIN THE UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION. CONAGRA SAYS IT DOESN'T WANT A MIDDLEMAN BETWEEN MANAGERS AND EMPLOYEES. UNION ORGANIZER RONALD HOWINGTON SAYS A UNION WOULD PROTECT WORKERS FROM UNFAIR TREATMENT. HE CLAIMS HE WAS FIRED RECENTLY BECAUSE OF HIS UNION ADVOCACY. THE PLANT EMPLOYS 275 WORKERS WITH AN AVERAGE ANNUAL WAGE OF $34,000 TO $35,000, ACCORDING TO THE COMPANY AND THE STATE. THE STATE LURED THE PLANT WITH AN INCENTIVE PACKAGE WORTH UP TO $37.5 MILLION.

LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM PRESIDENT GENE MILLS SUGGESTED FRIDAY THAT THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAFAYETTE IS DRIFTING "INTO SEXUAL POLITICS. THE SCHOOL'S LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER STUDIES MINOR, WHICH BEGAN IN THE SPRING, DREW THE IRE OF THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM LAST WEEK AS GOING AGAINST "LOUISIANA VALUES." MILLS' EMAIL SAYS ULL PRESIDENT JOSEPH SAVOIE IS "FOOLING WITH FIRE" BY ALLOWING HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS TO INFLUENCE UNIVERSITY DECISION MAKING. UNIVERSITY OFFICIALS SAY THE MINOR WAS CREATED USING EXISTING CLASSES AND DOES NOT COST EXTRA MONEY.

THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM WOULD LIKE TO NAME A NEW PRESIDENT BY THE END OF AUGUST, WHICH IS WHEN CURRENT SYSTEM PRESIDENT RANDY MOFFETT IS SET TO RETIRE. U-L SYSTEM BOARD CHAIR WAYNE PARKER SAYS ADVERTISEMENTS ARE APPEARING ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN THE HOPES OF ATTRACTING A NUMBER OF QUALITY CANDIDATES. PARKER AND FOUR OTHERS ON THE U-L SYSTEM BOARD WILL SERVE ON THE APPLICATION REVIEW COMMITTEE. HE SAYS THE U-L SYSTEM WEBSITE WILL PROVIDE THE PUBLIC WITH ALL OF THE DETAILS ON THE SEARCH.

LOUISIANA'S HEALTH DEPARTMENT SAYS FOUR NEW CASES OF WEST NILE VIRUS BRING THIS YEAR'S TOTAL TO 14. IT SAYS THE NEW CASES INCLUDE THE YEAR'S THIRD NERVOUS SYSTEM INFECTION, THE INFECTION'S MOST DANGEROUS FORM. THAT PATIENT IS IN ST. TAMMANY PARISH; EARLIER NEUROINVASIVE CASES WERE REPORTED HERE IN RAPIDES AND VERNON PARISHES. PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM MOSQUITO BITS IS THE BEST WAY TO AVOID CONTRACTING WEST NILE VIRUS.

WALGREENS AND EXPRESS SCRIPTS REACH AN AGREEMENT WHICH WILL ALLOW LOUISIANA BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD MEMBERS TO GET PRESCRIPTIONS FILLED AT WALGREENS, WITHOUT PAYING OUT OF NETWORK COSTS. BLUE CROSS SPOKESPERSON ROBIN MAYHALL SAYS WALGREENS WILL ONCE AGAIN BECOME A A MEMBER OF THE EXPRESS SCRIPTS NETWORK SEPTEMBER 15TH. THE LAST CONTRACT BETWEEN EXPRESS SCRIPTS AND WALGREENS EXPIRED DECEMBER 31ST, WHICH FORCED THOUSANDS OF BLUE CROSS AND HMO LOUISIANA MEMBERS TO USE A DIFFERENT PHARMACY TO AVOID OUT-OF-NETWORK COSTS.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS RULED A DECADES-OLD DESEGREGATION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE ST. MARTIN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD REMAINS OPEN DESPITE A LACK OF COURT ACTIVITY IN THE CASE SINCE THE 1970S. THE DECISION DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM WILL SEE ANY OPERATIONAL CHANGES, BUT IT LEAVES OPENS THE DOOR FOR POSSIBLE SCRUTINY BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND OTHERS. THE SCHOOL BOARD MAINTAINED THE DESEGREGATION SUIT WAS DISMISSED IN 1974. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND ATTORNEYS FOR THE NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND ARGUED THE CASE WAS NEVER TECHNICALLY CLOSED.

NICHOLLS STATE UNIVERSITY AND THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA ARE LAYING OFF EMPLOYEES. LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, THOUGH, SAYS IT WILL CUT ITS BUDGET WITHOUT FIRING EMPLOYEES. THE STATE'S PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ARE ABSORBING A FIFTH ROUND OF BUDGET CUTS SINCE 2008. IN THE NEW BUDGET, HIGHER EDUCATION WAS CUT BY $66 MILLION, BRINGING TOTAL CUTS SINCE 2008 TO $420 MILLION.

IBERIA PARISH DETECTIVES SAY AN ARGUMENT AT A TAVERN LED TO THE SHOOTING DEATH OF ONE PERSON EARLY SUNDAY MORNING. SHERIFF LOUIS ACKAL SAYS TWO OTHER PEOPLE WERE INJURED OUTSIDE THE MON AMI TAVERN ON STATE HIGHWAY 90 AT ABOUT 2 A.M. DETECTIVES SAY AN ARGUMENT INSIDE THE TAVERN ESCALATED AFTER THE SUSPECTS AND VICTIMS MOVED OUTSIDE INTO THE TAVERN'S PARKING LOT. DETECTIVES ARE LOOKING FOR TWO SUSPECTS AND POSSIBLY MORE.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUARTERBACK DREW BREES DEFENDED TEAMMATE JONATHAN VILMA IN A COURT DOCUMENT FILED SATURDAY TO SUPPORT VILMA'S FIGHT AGAINST THE NFL OVER HIS SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION. THE AFFIDAVIT WAS ENTERED IN NEW ORLEANS FEDERAL COURT AS EVIDENCE FOR VILMA'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE 2012 SUSPENSION IMPOSED BY NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL, FOR THE LINEBACKER'S ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN A PROGRAM OFFERING BONUSES TO PLAYERS WHO INJURE OPPONENTS. VILMA HAS SUED GOODELL, CLAIMING DEFAMATION. BREES ALSO SWEARS THAT HE WASN'T AWARE OF ANY BOUNTY PROGRAM.





BUSINESS FACILITIES MAGAZINE HAS RAISED ITS RANKING FOR LOUISIANA AS A PLACE TO DO BUSINESS. THE TRADE PUBLICATION PLACED THE STATE FIFTH IN ITS TOP 10 LIST. A YEAR AGO, LOUISIANA WAS RANKED SEVENTH. THE RANKING REPRESENTS MEASURES OF THE STATE'S CLIMATE FOR INVESTMENT AND JOB CREATION. THE MAGAZINE PRAISED LOUISIANA'S WORKFORCE TRAINING PROGRAMS AND STATE-SPONSORED BUSINESS INCENTIVES.

REPEATED ROUNDS OF BUDGET SHORTFALLS THAT STRIPPED DOLLARS FROM PUBLIC COLLEGES AND HEALTH CARE SERVICES HAVE PROMPTED LAWMAKERS TO TAKE AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE LONG LIST OF TAX BREAKS THAT SIPHON BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM LOUISIANA'S TREASURY EACH YEAR. A 14-MEMBER STUDY PANEL OF LEGISLATIVE LEADERS LAUNCHES A SIX-MONTH REVIEW TODAY OF THE $4.4 BILLION IN TAX EXEMPTIONS, REBATES AND CREDITS ON THE BOOKS, WITH AN EYE TO DETERMINING IF LOUISIANA GETS ENOUGH BENEFITS FROM THE GIVEAWAYS TO JUSTIFY THE COST OF THEM.

BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA WAS CHOSEN FRIDAY BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION TO TAKE OVER THE JOB OF MANAGING A STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH CARE PLAN. THE COMPANY OUTBID HUMANA AND UNITED HEALTHCARE FOR WORK THAT BEGINS JAN. 31.THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION SAID IT WOULD LAY OFF 177 OF THE 327 EMPLOYEES IN THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENTAL BENEFITS AS A RESULT, ENDING THE LONG-STANDING PRACTICE OF STATE EMPLOYEES HANDLING HEALTH PLANS FOR STATE WORKERS, RETIREES AND DEPENDENTS. NEITHER THE LAYOFFS NOR THE CONTRACT CAN OCCUR WITHOUT THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION'S APPROVAL.

WHILE UNEMPLOYMENT ROSE IN OVER HALF OF THE STATES BETWEEN MAY AND JUNE, LOUISIANA ENJOYED THE SECOND-LARGEST PERCENTAGE INCREASE IN EMPLOYMENT, ACCORDING TO THE U-S BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS. LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION SPOKESPERSON TOM GUARISCO SAYS THE STATE HAS SEEN OUTSTANDING GROWTH IN THE LAST YEAR. THE STATE SAW A 2.8-PERCENT RISE IN EMPLOYMENT. ONLY NORTH DAKOTA ADDED A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF JOBS THAN LOUISIANA.

IT WAS A TRAGIC WEEKEND ON LAKE CHARLES IN CALCASIEU PARISH AS TWO PEOPLE APPARENTLY DROWNED AFTER THEIR BOAT CAPSIZED ON FRIDAY NIGHT. THE BODY OF 42-YEAR-OLD WILLIAM DRUILET JUNIOR OF LAKE CHARLES WAS FOUND SATURDAY AND 25-YEAR-OLD CHRISTOPHER ROLLINS OF WESTLAKE'S BODY WAS RECOVERED SUNDAY MORNING. WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES OFFICIALS SAY A STORM BLEW IN WHILE THEY WERE ON LAKE CHARLES FRIDAY NIGHT. THE TWO MEN WERE IN A 16-FOOT JON BOAT AND THE CHOPPY WATER LED TO THEIR BOAT OVERTURNING.

THE IDEA OF CREATING A STATEWIDE DWI TRACKING SYSTEM IS GAINING STEAM AGAIN.
PROSECUTORS, MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING LOUISIANA AND OTHERS SAY A COMPUTER SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS AUTHORITIES TO MORE EASILY VERIFY PREVIOUS DWI CONVICTIONS AND SENTENCES ACROSS THE STATE'S MANY COURT JURISDICTIONS WOULD BE A STRONG WEAPON AGAINST REPEAT DRUNKEN-DRIVING OFFENDERS. HOWEVER PROSECUTORS AND ANTI-DRUNKEN-DRIVING ACTIVISTS SAY OTHER FACTORS, SUCH AS UNEVEN ENFORCEMENT OF DWI SENTENCING LAWS BY JUDGES AND THE SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE OF DRIVING AFTER DRINKING, PLAY ROLES IN THE PROBLEM OF REPEAT OFFENDERS. ALCOHOL-RELATED CRASHES CLAIMED 291 LIVES IN LOUISIANA IN 2011.

EMPLOYEES AT CONAGRA FOODS' LAMB WESTON SWEET POTATO PROCESSING PLANT NEAR DELHI WILL DECIDE NEXT WEEK WHETHER TO UNIONIZE. WORKERS WILL VOTE WEDNESDAY IN AN ELECTION ADMINISTERED BY THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD TO DETERMINE WHETHER THEY WILL JOIN THE UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION. CONAGRA SAYS IT DOESN'T WANT A MIDDLEMAN BETWEEN MANAGERS AND EMPLOYEES. UNION ORGANIZER RONALD HOWINGTON SAYS A UNION WOULD PROTECT WORKERS FROM UNFAIR TREATMENT. HE CLAIMS HE WAS FIRED RECENTLY BECAUSE OF HIS UNION ADVOCACY. THE PLANT EMPLOYS 275 WORKERS WITH AN AVERAGE ANNUAL WAGE OF $34,000 TO $35,000, ACCORDING TO THE COMPANY AND THE STATE. THE STATE LURED THE PLANT WITH AN INCENTIVE PACKAGE WORTH UP TO $37.5 MILLION.

LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM PRESIDENT GENE MILLS SUGGESTED FRIDAY THAT THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAFAYETTE IS DRIFTING "INTO SEXUAL POLITICS. THE SCHOOL'S LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER STUDIES MINOR, WHICH BEGAN IN THE SPRING, DREW THE IRE OF THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM LAST WEEK AS GOING AGAINST "LOUISIANA VALUES." MILLS' EMAIL SAYS ULL PRESIDENT JOSEPH SAVOIE IS "FOOLING WITH FIRE" BY ALLOWING HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS TO INFLUENCE UNIVERSITY DECISION MAKING. UNIVERSITY OFFICIALS SAY THE MINOR WAS CREATED USING EXISTING CLASSES AND DOES NOT COST EXTRA MONEY.

THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM WOULD LIKE TO NAME A NEW PRESIDENT BY THE END OF AUGUST, WHICH IS WHEN CURRENT SYSTEM PRESIDENT RANDY MOFFETT IS SET TO RETIRE. U-L SYSTEM BOARD CHAIR WAYNE PARKER SAYS ADVERTISEMENTS ARE APPEARING ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN THE HOPES OF ATTRACTING A NUMBER OF QUALITY CANDIDATES. PARKER AND FOUR OTHERS ON THE U-L SYSTEM BOARD WILL SERVE ON THE APPLICATION REVIEW COMMITTEE. HE SAYS THE U-L SYSTEM WEBSITE WILL PROVIDE THE PUBLIC WITH ALL OF THE DETAILS ON THE SEARCH.

LOUISIANA'S HEALTH DEPARTMENT SAYS FOUR NEW CASES OF WEST NILE VIRUS BRING THIS YEAR'S TOTAL TO 14. IT SAYS THE NEW CASES INCLUDE THE YEAR'S THIRD NERVOUS SYSTEM INFECTION, THE INFECTION'S MOST DANGEROUS FORM. THAT PATIENT IS IN ST. TAMMANY PARISH; EARLIER NEUROINVASIVE CASES WERE REPORTED HERE IN RAPIDES AND VERNON PARISHES. PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM MOSQUITO BITS IS THE BEST WAY TO AVOID CONTRACTING WEST NILE VIRUS.

WALGREENS AND EXPRESS SCRIPTS REACH AN AGREEMENT WHICH WILL ALLOW LOUISIANA BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD MEMBERS TO GET PRESCRIPTIONS FILLED AT WALGREENS, WITHOUT PAYING OUT OF NETWORK COSTS. BLUE CROSS SPOKESPERSON ROBIN MAYHALL SAYS WALGREENS WILL ONCE AGAIN BECOME A A MEMBER OF THE EXPRESS SCRIPTS NETWORK SEPTEMBER 15TH. THE LAST CONTRACT BETWEEN EXPRESS SCRIPTS AND WALGREENS EXPIRED DECEMBER 31ST, WHICH FORCED THOUSANDS OF BLUE CROSS AND HMO LOUISIANA MEMBERS TO USE A DIFFERENT PHARMACY TO AVOID OUT-OF-NETWORK COSTS.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS RULED A DECADES-OLD DESEGREGATION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE ST. MARTIN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD REMAINS OPEN DESPITE A LACK OF COURT ACTIVITY IN THE CASE SINCE THE 1970S. THE DECISION DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM WILL SEE ANY OPERATIONAL CHANGES, BUT IT LEAVES OPENS THE DOOR FOR POSSIBLE SCRUTINY BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND OTHERS. THE SCHOOL BOARD MAINTAINED THE DESEGREGATION SUIT WAS DISMISSED IN 1974. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND ATTORNEYS FOR THE NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND ARGUED THE CASE WAS NEVER TECHNICALLY CLOSED.

NICHOLLS STATE UNIVERSITY AND THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA ARE LAYING OFF EMPLOYEES. LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, THOUGH, SAYS IT WILL CUT ITS BUDGET WITHOUT FIRING EMPLOYEES. THE STATE'S PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ARE ABSORBING A FIFTH ROUND OF BUDGET CUTS SINCE 2008. IN THE NEW BUDGET, HIGHER EDUCATION WAS CUT BY $66 MILLION, BRINGING TOTAL CUTS SINCE 2008 TO $420 MILLION.

IBERIA PARISH DETECTIVES SAY AN ARGUMENT AT A TAVERN LED TO THE SHOOTING DEATH OF ONE PERSON EARLY SUNDAY MORNING. SHERIFF LOUIS ACKAL SAYS TWO OTHER PEOPLE WERE INJURED OUTSIDE THE MON AMI TAVERN ON STATE HIGHWAY 90 AT ABOUT 2 A.M. DETECTIVES SAY AN ARGUMENT INSIDE THE TAVERN ESCALATED AFTER THE SUSPECTS AND VICTIMS MOVED OUTSIDE INTO THE TAVERN'S PARKING LOT. DETECTIVES ARE LOOKING FOR TWO SUSPECTS AND POSSIBLY MORE.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUARTERBACK DREW BREES DEFENDED TEAMMATE JONATHAN VILMA IN A COURT DOCUMENT FILED SATURDAY TO SUPPORT VILMA'S FIGHT AGAINST THE NFL OVER HIS SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION. THE AFFIDAVIT WAS ENTERED IN NEW ORLEANS FEDERAL COURT AS EVIDENCE FOR VILMA'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE 2012 SUSPENSION IMPOSED BY NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL, FOR THE LINEBACKER'S ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN A PROGRAM OFFERING BONUSES TO PLAYERS WHO INJURE OPPONENTS. VILMA HAS SUED GOODELL, CLAIMING DEFAMATION. BREES ALSO SWEARS THAT HE WASN'T AWARE OF ANY BOUNTY PROGRAM.


News For Friday 07/20/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 072012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A FEDERAL JUDGE THURSDAY AWARDED TWO ATTORNEYS IN THE ALEXANDRIA-CLECO COURT FIGHT A TOTAL OF $2 MILLION, BUT RULED ALEXANDRIA ATTORNEY BRIDGETT BROWN WILL GET NOTHING. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL IN A LONG-AWAITED RULING SAID THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA SHOULD PAY BATON ROUGE ATTORNEY CRAIG DAVIDSON $1.3 MILLION, AND THAT DISBARRED ATTORNEY JOHN SHARP, ALSO FROM BATON ROUGE, SHOULD GET $700,000. .JUDGE DRELL WAS BLUNT IN HIS ASSESSMENT THAT ATTORNEY BRIDGET BROWN SHOULD GET NOTHING. THE JUDGE SAYING CITY ATTORNEY CHARLES "CHUCK" JOHNSON HAD GOOD REASONS TO FIRE BROWN EARLY ON IN THE CITY'S LEGAL FIGHT WITH CLECO, AND THAT SHE CONTRIBUTED NEXT TO NOTHING AS AN ATTORNEY. IT’S EXPECTED THE CITY WILL PAY THE ATTORNEYS AND CLOSE THE BOOKS ON THE MATTER.

THE TERREBONNE PARISH MAN ARRESTED THIS WEEK FOR ASSISTING HIS WIFE'S SUICIDE BACK IN MAY HAS, HIMSELF, COMMITTED SUICIDE. DEPUTIES SAYS 69-YEAR-OLD CHARLES FANGUY, OF BAYOU BLUE, HAD JUST POSTED BAIL YESTERDAY FOR A CHARGE OF ASSISTING IN A SUICIDE. HE WAS FOUND TODAY ON THE SIDE OF A LOCAL ROAD; DEAD FROM A SELF-INFLICTED GUNSHOT. FANGUY WAS ACCUSED OF HELPING HIS WIFE BETTY TO KILL HERSELF IN MID-MAY..

THE CLAIBORNE PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS A 7-YEAR-OLD CHILD IS DEAD AFTER BEING SHOT WEDNESDAY NIGHT BY ANOTHER CHILD; A 12-YEAR-OLD. SHERIFF KEN BAILEY SAYS THE OLDER CHILD WAS SHOOTING AT TURTLES WITH A .22 RIFLE IN THE BACKYARD NEAR THE TOWN OF ATHENS. WHEN HE LAID THE RIFLE DOWN IT WENT OFF--HITTING THE SMALLER CHILD IN THE HEAD. BAILEY SAYS THE CASE IS CLOSED AS THE INCIDENT IS BEING RULED AN ACCIDENT.

A FRESHMAN STUDENT AT DUTCHTOWN HIGH SCHOOL, IN ASCENSION PARISH, COLLAPSED AND DIED THURSDAY IN THE SCHOOL GYM. HE'S BEEN IDENTIFIED AS JAMES COBB--CALLED BURKE BY FRIENDS AND FAMILY. SCHOOL OFFICIALS SAY HE'D FINISHED FOOTBALL PRACTICE AND WAS PLAYING BASKETBALL WITH SOME OTHER STUDENTS, WHEN HE SUDDENLY COLLAPSED. HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT A NEARBY HOSPITAL. THE CAUSE OF DEATH HAS YET TO BE DETERMINED.

THE ALEXANDRIA POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR TIPS FROM THE PUBLIC THAT COULD LEAD TO THE ARREST OF THE PERSON OR PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF AN ALEXANDRIA MAN. DEMETRIUS MCGHEE WAS FOUND DEAD IN THE 500 BLOCK OF BROWN'S BEND ROAD ON JULY 11. HIS BODY WAS FOUND IN A VEHICLE, DISCOVERED BY A PASSING MOTORIST. ANYONE WITH INFORMATION IS ASKED TO CALL THE CRIMESTOPPERS LINE OR THE APD. A REWARD IS BEING OFFERED.

THE EVANGELINE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAS CALLED A SPECIAL ELECTION FOR NOV. 6 TO REPLACE SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER DAN HOFFPAUIR, WHO DIED TUESDAY AFTER A LENGTHY ILLNESS. HOFFPAUIR, WHO WAS 73, HELD THE MAMOU AREA BOARD SEAT FOR 24 YEARS AND OPERATED A WESTERN AUTO STORE IN MAMOU FOR 28 YEARS. THE SCHOOL BOARD HAS CALLED A SPECIAL MEETING AT 6 P.M. TUESDAY TO APPOINT AN INTERIM MEMBER UNTIL THE ELECTION.

LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT WILLIAM JENKINS WENT BEFORE A JOINT PANEL OF STATE HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS TO DISCUSS CUTS TO LSU HOSPITALS. THE CUTS ARE DUE TO A FEDERAL REDUCTION IN MEDICAID MATCHING FUNDS FOR LOUISIANA OF OVER $850-MILLION. HEALTH & HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN SAYS ANY ADDITIONAL CUTS NEEDED WOULD FALL PRIMARILY ON LSU HOSPITALS. DR. JENKINS SAYS, AT THIS TIME, NO ONE IS DISCUSSING SHUTTERING LSU HOSPITALS OR CLINICS...DESPITE WHAT "WORD ON THE STREET" MAY BE.

THE STATE BOND COMMISSION GAVE UNANIMOUS APPROVAL THURSDAY TO A $75-MILLION BORROWING PLAN FOR ANOTHER BIG EXPANSION OF TIGER STADIUM IN BATON ROUGE. THE PLAN WILL PUSH SEATING CAPACITY TO NEARLY 100-THOUSAND, AND INCLUDE 60 NEW SUITES.

A POPULAR BUSINESS PROFESSOR AT LSU-SHREVEPORT SAYS HE WAS SACKED IN RETALIATION FOR SUPPORTING THE PROPOSED MERGER OF LSUS AND LA TECH IN RUSTON. THAT INITIATIVE FAILED, BUT PROFESSOR WAYNE HOGUE SAYS HIS POSITION MADE HIM UNPOPULAR WITH ADMINISTRATORS AND COLLEAGUES. HOGUE WAS VOTED "PROFESSOR OF THE YEAR" FOR THE PAST THREE CONSECUTIVE YEARS AT LSUS. HE WAS INFORMED HIS CONTRACT WON'T BE RENEWED FOR NEXT YEAR. THE PROFESSOR HAS ALREADY HAD SEVERAL JOB OFFERS.

THE LSU FOOTBALL TEAM HAS BEEN PICKED TO REPEAT AS CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS IN A POLL OF MEDIA ATTENDING SEC MEDIA DAYS. THE TIGERS GOT 139 FIRST PLACE VOTES OF A POSSIBLE 222, FINISHING AHEAD OF ALABAMA, AND ARKANSAS IN THE WESTERN DIVISION AND GEORGIA IN THE EAST.

DETECTIVES WITH THE OUACHITA PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE ARE INVESTIGATING WHAT THEY BELIEVE TO BE A MURDER-SUICIDE. THE BODIES WERE DISCOVERED WHEN EMERGENCY OFFICIALS RESPONDED TO A HOUSE FIRE EARLY WEDNESDAY. IT IS THE SECOND REPORTED MURDER-SUICIDE IN OUACHITA PARISH THIS SUMMER. ANOTHER HAPPENED IN JUNE AT A FAST-FOOD RESTAURANT.

THE STAR OF THE A&E REALITY TV SHOW "BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR" HAS PLEAD NOT GUILTY TO DRUG CHARGES. WILLIAM BRETHERTON AND HIS WIFE WERE ARRESTED WITH ONE COUNT EACH OF POSSESSION OF SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA AND POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. EACH HAVE ENTERED PLEAS OF NOT GUILTY IN STATE DISTRICT COURT IN BOSSIER PARISH.

THE CITY OF GRAMBLING FILES A REQUEST WITH THE NCAA ASKING THE GOVERNING BODY TO VACATE SOME OF JOE PATERNO'S 409 DIVISION 1 VICTORIES. PATERNO'S LAST WIN AT PENN STATE MOVED HIM PAST LEGENDARY GRAMBLING COACH EDDIE ROBINSON ON THE ALL-TIME WINS LIST. GRAMBLING CITY ATTY PAMELA BREEDLOVE SAYS THE RECORD SHOULD BE HELD BY SOMEONE WITH HIGH CHARACTER. ROBINSON WON 408 GAMES DURING HIS 57-YEAR CAREER AT GRAMBLING STATE. GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY SAYS THE ARE NOT INVOLVED IN THE REQUEST TO VACATE SOME OF PATERNO'S VICTORIES.

MUCH OF THE U.S. IS SUFFERING UNDER DROUGHT AND NEAR-DROUGHT CONDITIONS, BUT NOT LOUISIANA. LACK OF SIGNIFICANT RAIN THREATENS CROPS AND LIVESTOCK ACROSS THE FRUITED PLAIN, BUT STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE STATE HAS RECEIVED ABUNDANT RAINFALL SO FAR THIS YEAR. KEIM SAYS A NUMBER OF PARISHES, ESPECIALLY IN WESTERN LOUISIANA, HAVE ALREADY RECORDED MORE RAINFALL SO FAR IN 2012, THAN FOR ALL OF 2011. HE SAYS VERNON PARISH AND THE LEESVILLE AREA ARE A PRIME EXAMPLE.

OUACHITA PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ARE INVESTIGATING THE THEFT OF ABOUT 10,000 WATER METERS BELONGING TO THE CITY OF MONROE. THE METERS WERE STOLEN FROM A WAREHOUSE AND ARE VALUED AT ABOUT $75,000. NO ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE SO FAR.









News For Thursday 07/19/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 071912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A LAFAYETTE PARISH GRAND JURY HAS BROUGHT TWO FIRST-DEGREE MURDER CHARGES AGAINST A MAN ARRESTED IN THE DISAPPEARANCE OF A LAFAYETTE COLLEGE STUDENT IN MAY. 33 YEAR OLD BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE WAS CHARGED WEDNESDAY NIGHT WITH BOTH THE MURDER OF MICKEY SHUNICK, WHO DISAPPEARED DAYS BEFORE HER 22ND BIRTHDAY, AND WITH THAT OF LISA MARIE PATE, A 35-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WHO WAS KILLED IN 1999. PATE WAS REPORTED MISSING IN JUNE 1999; HER BODY WAS FOUND THREE MONTHS LATER IN A FIELD IN ACADIA PARISH. THE 15TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE SAYS PROSECUTORS WILL ASK FOR THE DEATH PENALTY IN BOTH CASES.

EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS.. MEMBERS OF THE STATE'S PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION VOTED TO LET CLECO PUT REFUNDS ON ITS CUSTOMERS' SEPTEMBER BILLS. ROBBYN COOPER, SPOKESWOMAN FOR CLECO SAID THE COMPANY'S 280,000 CUSTOMERS WILL BE RECEIVING ABOUT $12 AS A CREDIT BECAUSE THE COMPANY EARNED MORE THAN A RETURN ON EQUITY CAP SET BY THE COMMISSION. COOPER SAID A TOTAL OF $5 MILLION WILL BE REFUNDED TO THEIR CUSTOMERS SOUTH OF SHREVEPORT, IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA AND PARTS OF THE COVINGTON AND SLIDELL AREA.

HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY HAS CALLED A SPECIAL JOINT APPROPRIATIONS AND HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE BRIEFING TODAY TO DISCUSS THE $859 MILLION CUT TO LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID PROGRAM. KLECKLEY SAYS DHH SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN HAS ALSO BEEN INVITED TO ATTEND TO ANSWER MEMBERS QUESTIONS ABOUT WHERE THE CUTS ARE BEING MADE. KLECKLEY SAYS MEMBERS WANT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT THESE CUTS WILL HAVE ON THE CITIZENS THEY REPRESENT.

AN ALEXANDRIA MAN WITH A SERIES OF CHARGES AND CONVICTIONS DATING TO 1995 PLEADED GUILTY THIS WEEK TO TWO FELONY COPPER THEFT CHARGES AND WAS SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS IN PRISON. 38-YEAR-OLD GREGORY GRANTHAM PLEADED GUILTY MONDAY TO TWO COUNTS OF THEFT. JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER SENTENCED GRANTHAM TO FIVE YEARS AT HARD LABOR IN THE FIRST CHARGE, AND 10 YEARS AT HARD LABOR FOR THE SECOND. THE JUDGE SAYS THE SENTENCES WILL RUN CONSECUTIVELY. ACCORDING TO COURT RECORDS, GRANTHAM HAS BEEN IN COURT ON 22 OCCASIONS SINCE 1995 FACING CHARGES.

NO ONE WAS INJURED IN THE ARMED ROBBERY OF THE MASONIC DRIVE CIRCLE K STORE HERE IN ALEXANDRIA. THE APD REPORTS THE ROBBERY OCCURRED SHORTLY BEFORE 4AM WEDNESDAY MORNING. THEIR INVESTIGATION CONTINUES.

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE WILL PAY UP TO $50,000 TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S FORMER EXECUTIVE COUNSEL TO DEFEND THE GOVERNOR'S SIGNATURE EDUCATION REVAMP IN COURT. A SPOKESWOMAN FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL SAYS FAIRCLOTH IS BEING PAID $195 AN HOUR, WITH A CAP OF $50,000. INSTEAD OF USING IN-HOUSE LAWYERS FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, GOVERNOR JINDAL SOUGHT OUT FAIRCLOTH. FAIRCLOTH IS DEFENDING THE STATE, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION IN LAWSUITS FILED BY UNIONS AND SCHOOL BOARDS AGAINST JINDAL'S NEW STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM.

THE LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS SPENT NEARLY $100,000 OVER THE LAST TWO MONTHS TO COMBAT RECALL PETITIONS AIMED AT GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY AND OTHER LAWMAKERS. BY COMPARISON, THE TEACHERS LEADING THE JINDAL AND KLECKLEY RECALL EFFORTS REPORT SPENDING ABOUT $2,100. THAT'S ACCORDING TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS REVIEWED BY THE ADVOCATE. THE DOCUMENTS SHOW THAT THE STATE GOP HAS BROUGHT IN JINDAL'S CAMPAIGN STRATEGY FIRM ONMESSAGE TO HELP OUT, PAYING IT $20,000. NEARLY $52,000 HAS BEEN SPENT TO SUPPORT KLECKLEY, LARGELY ON TELEVISION ADVERTISING.


REUTERS IS REPORTING GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL IS ONE OF THREE FINALISTS TO BE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY'S RUNNING MATE. OHIO SENATOR ROB PORTMAN AND FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY ARE ALSO ON THE SHORT LIST. JINDAL IS CURRENTLY CAMPAIGNING ON BEHALF OF ROMNEY IN OHIO.

A STATE REPRESENTATIVE FROM LAKE CHARLES IS WORKING TO FORM A COALITION TO CHANGE THE WAY THE BUDGET IS WRITTEN. REPRESENTATIVE BRETT GEYMANN SAYS THEIR GOAL IS TO ORGANIZE A MORE FORMAL GROUP, STARTING WITH THE 40 SO-CALLED FISCAL HAWKS IN THE LEGISLATURE AND ATTRACTING OTHER LAWMAKERS AND BUSINESS LEADERS TO HELP REFORM THE PROCESS. GEYMANN, AND HIS GROUP TRIED TO DROP ONE-TIME MONEY FROM THE CURRENT STATE BUDGET BUT THEIR EFFORTS WERE OPPOSED BY GOVERNOR JINDAL.

THE STATE LEGISLATURE'S TOP FINANCIAL ADVISER IS RETIRING AFTER 33 YEARS IN STATE GOVERNMENT. LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICER GORDON MONK SAID HIS LAST DAY WILL BE AUG. 8. THE 55 YEAR OLD MONK SAY A CONTENTIOUS LEGISLATIVE SESSION CONVINCED HIM IT WAS TIME TO GO. THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON THE BUDGET PLANS TO NAME A TEMPORARY REPLACEMENT ON MONDAY.

AN OAK GROVE TEENAGER IS IN CUSTODY ON A CHARGE OF ARSON IN THE CASE OF A FIRE THAT BURNED NEARLY 600 ACRES OF LAND IN WEST CARROLL PARISH. 19-YEAR-OLD STACY JAMES GEORGE FACES A MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF 10 YEARS IN PRISON IF HE'S CONVICTED. AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS LAST YEAR THE STATE HAD 2,150 FIRES AND NEARLY A THIRD WERE INTENTIONALLY SET. HE SAYS EVERY ARSON IS INVESTIGATED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW. FORTUNATELY THE JUNE 29TH FIRE NEAR THE COMMUNITY OF KILBOURNE DIDN'T RESULT IN ANY INJURIES.

IN DESOTO PARISH...THREE TEENAGERS WHO ARE INDICTED FOR ALLEGEDLY BEATING AND RAPING AN ELDERLY MANSFIELD WOMAN PLED NOT GUILTY YESTERDAY. A TRIAL DATE HAS BEEN SET FOR SEPTEMBER 17TH. THE ATTACK OCCURRED ON JUNE 19TH AS A 76-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WAS REMOVING ITEMS FROM HER VEHICLE.

NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY HAS NAMED MATTHEW FOWLER AS ITS NEW SPORTS INFORMATION DIRECTOR. A NEWS RELEASE FROM NSU SAYS FOWLER HAS BEEN ON THE SPORTS INFORMATION STAFF FOR MORE THAN FOUR YEARS. HE REPLACES FORMER ASSOCIATE SID MATTHEW BONNETTE, WHO HAS TAKEN OVER AS MEDIA RELATIONS DIRECTOR .

FORMER STATE SENATOR JON JOHNSON HAS PLEAD GUILTY TO STEALING FEMA MONEY, INTENDED TO HELP NON-PROFIT AGENCIES AFTER KATRINA, FOR HIS 2007 RUN FOR THE STATE SENATE. THE 66-YEAR-OLD JOHNSON FACES UP TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON AND A 250-THOUSAND DOLLAR FINE.

A FEDERAL JUDGE IN SHREVEPORT SENTENCES A SAILOR STATIONED AT FORT BLISS TO LIFE BEHIND BARS FOR HIS PART IN A GLOBAL NETWORK OF ONLINE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. 49-YEAR-OLD MASTER CHIEF ROBERT CUFF WAS A PART OF DREAMBOARD, AN ONLINE SIGHT WHERE MEMBERS SHARED IMAGES AND VIDEOS OF CHILDREN BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED. CUFF IS AMONG 42 PEOPLE CONVICTED IN THE CASE.

A 4-YEAR-OLD BOSSIER CITY GIRL HAS DIED FROM INJURIES SUSTAINED IN A DROWNING INCIDENT THAT KILLED HER TWIN SISTER. LITTLE AUBRIE SMITH AND HER SISTER ANGEL FELL INTO A BACKYARD SWIMMING POOL ON JUNE 24TH. ANGEL WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. AUBRIE WAS TAKEN TO A HOSPITAL, WHERE'S SHE'S BEEN RIGHT UP UNTIL HER PASSING TODAY AROUND NOON.

POLICE IN THE CAPITAL AREA WARN RESIDENTS OF SCAMMERS SEEKING VICTIMS IN A CON THAT INVOLVES ALLEGED GOVERNMENT HELP WITH YOUR UTILITY BILL. THE OBJECT IS TO GIVE SCAMMERS ACCESS TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, WHICH THEY EMPTY. LAWMEN SAY DON'T BE FOOLED.

POLICE IN HOUMA SAY THEY BUSTED A MAN FOR DWI, WHO WAS DRIVING A PILFERED ELECTRIC HANDICAP SCOOTER FROM WAL-MART. OFFICERS SAY THOMAS PHILLIPS WAS ALSO PULLING A WHEELCHAIR CONTAINING HIS BUDDY. PHILLIPS TOLD OFFICERS HE THOUGHT HE'D TAKE THE WAL-MART SCOOTER FOR A TEST DRIVE. HE REPORTEDLY BLEW A BREATHALYZER RESULT TWICE THE LEGAL LIMIT. HE'S CHARGED WITH DWI AND WITH THEFT OF THE SCOOTER CHAIR.

A TERREBONNE PARISH MAN IS BEHIND BARS FOR ALLEGEDLY HELPING HIS WIFE TO COMMIT SUICIDE. AUTHORITIES SAY BETTY FANGUY (FON-GIE) DIED ON MAY 17TH IN HER HOME, FROM AN OVERDOSE OF PRESCRIPTION PILLS AND ALCOHOL AND NOW HER HUSBAND, 69 YEAR-OLD CHARLES FANGUY HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH CRIMINAL ASSISTANCE TO SUICIDE. OFFICIALS SAY THE WOMAN REPORTEDLY HAD NUMEROUS MEDICAL ISSUES AND HAD PLED WITH HER HUSBAND TO HELP HER END HER LIFE.






News For Wednesday 07/18/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 071812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AS PROMISED, RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF WILLIAM HILTON YESTERDAY REOPENED FOUR SHERIFF’S SUBSTATIONS. HILTON SAID FOUR DISPATCHERS, FOUR PATROLLING DEPUTIES AND TWO DETECTIVES WILL MAN SUBSTATIONS IN GLENMORA, TIOGA, DEVILLE AND BOYCE 24 HOURS A DAY, WITH RESIDENTS ABLE TO CALL THE STATION NEAREST THEM FOR FASTER RESPONSE. THE SHERIFF ALSO ANNOUNCED THAT HE AND ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY HAVE BEEN IN TALKS ABOUT CONSTRUCTING A NEW SUBSTATION ON LOWER THIRD STREET. HE ALSO SAID THERE IS A REAL POSSIBILITY OF YET ANOTHER SUB STATION IN THE KOLIN AREA IN THE NOT TO DISTANT FUTURE.

THE MAN ACCUSED OF KIDNAPPING AND MURDER IN THE CASE OF MISSING LAFAYETTE COLLEGE STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK WILL HAVE HIS CASE REVIEWED BY A GRAND JURY TODAY. BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE WILL NOT BE IN ATTENDANCE, WHILE THE JURY DECIDES IF THE EVIDENCE COLLECTED IS ENOUGH TO FORMALLY CHARGE HIM WITH THE CRIME. MICKEY HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE MAY 19TH. SO FAR ONLY HER BICYCLE HAS BEEN FOUND.

A 14-YEAR-OLD VIDALIA TEEN HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH KILLING HIS STEPFATHER. CONCORDIA PARISH DEPUTIES ARE WITHHOLDING THE BOY'S NAME. HE'S ACCUSED OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER IN THE DEATH OF 37-YEAR-OLD TERRY WATSON...AND HAS BEEN TAKEN TO A YOUTH DETENTIONCENTER NEAR BATON ROUGE. DEPUTIES ARE NOW SEEKING THE MURDER WEAPON.

A PINEVILLE WOMAN HAS DIED IN A TWO-CAR ACCIDENT IN CATAHOULA PARISH. STATE POLICE SAY IT HAPPENED MONDAY NIGHT ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 8 WHEN 50-YEAR-OLD LESLIE COTTON APPARENTLY LOST CONTROL OF THE 1989 FORD MUSTANG SHE WAS DRIVING. THE CAR CROSSED THE CENTER LINE AND COLLIDED WITH A NISSAN PICKUP DRIVEN BY AN 18-YEAR-OLD, KALUB HOLLEY, FROM AIMWELL. COTTON WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. HOLLEY WAS HOSPITALIZED WITH SERIOUS INJURIES.

EVEN AFTER ANNOUNCING $523 MILLION IN HEALTH CARE CUTS, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION HAS SLASHED ONLY TWO-THIRDS OF THE SPENDING NEEDED TO CLOSE THE ENTIRE GAP IN LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID BUDGET. THE ADMINISTRATION IS BANKING ON BETTER-THAN-EXPECTED REVENUE PROJECTIONS TO CLOSE THE REMAINING BUDGET HOLE.
IF THAT DOESN'T PAN OUT IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS, MORE REDUCTIONS ARE ON THE HORIZON. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCED $523 MILLION IN CUTS LAST WEEK, LARGELY TO THE LSU PUBLIC HOSPITAL SYSTEM THAT CARES FOR LOUISIANA'S POOR AND UNINSURED. BUT THE ESTIMATED GAP IN MEDICAID FINANCING WAS $859 MILLION. ANOTHER $94 MILLION IN STATE FUNDING WILL BE NEEDED TO DRAW DOWN THE FEDERAL MATCHING DOLLARS TO FILL THE REMAINING BUDGET HOLE.

AN OCT. 15 DATE HAS BEEN SET FOR ARGUMENTS IN A LAWSUIT BY TEACHER UNIONS AND LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM. JUDGE TIM KELLEY CHOSE THE HEARING DATE TUESDAY IN A MEETING WITH LAWYERS FOR BOTH SIDES IN THE CASE. ATTORNEYS FOR TWO STATEWIDE TEACHER UNIONS AND DOZENS OF LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS SAY THE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT WILL USE TAX DOLLARS TO SEND CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND OTHER NEW EDUCATION FUNDING PLANS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

JONATHAN VILMA'S HEARING AS HE ATTEMPTS TO DELAY OR OVERTURN HIS SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION HAS BEEN MOVED UP A WEEK TO JULY 26. A U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE IN LOUISIANA GRANTED VILMA'S MOTION TUESDAY, ALTHOUGH VILMA SOUGHT A HEARING FOR THURSDAY. THE SAINTS OPEN TRAINING CAMP NEXT TUESDAY. ON MONDAY, VILMA'S ATTORNEYS ASKED JUDGE HELEN G. BERRIGAN TO HEAR THEIR REQUEST FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER BEFORE THE SAINTS' TRAINING CAMP OPENS.
VILMA WAS SUSPENDED BY COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL FOR HIS ROLE IN THE TEAM'S BOUNTY PROGRAM. HE ALSO HAS SUED GOODELL FOR DEFAMATION.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGET OFFICE IS REFUSING TO RELEASE MOST OF ITS RECORDS INVOLVING THE STATE'S ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLE TAX CREDIT, CLAIMING THOSE CAN BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL UNDER AN EXEMPTION IN PUBLIC RECORDS LAW. A LAWYER FOR THE DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION SAID RECORDS SOUGHT BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ARE BEING KEPT FROM PUBLIC VIEW AS PART OF AN EXEMPTION INVOLVING THE GOVERNOR'S "DELIBERATIVE PROCESS." THOSE DOCUMENTS BEING SHIELDED INCLUDE ITEMS INVOLVING A CONTROVERSIAL RULING, SUBSEQUENTLY RESCINDED BY JINDAL, OVER WHAT VEHICLES WOULD QUALIFY FOR THE TAX CREDIT PROGRAM. SINCE TAKING OFFICE IN 2008, JINDAL HAS REFUSED EFFORTS TO OPEN MORE OF HIS RECORDS TO PUBLIC VIEW, SUCCESSFULLY DEFEATING REPEATED ATTEMPTS BY LAWMAKERS TO LIMIT THE PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION GIVEN TO THE GOVERNOR.

THE COMMISSIONER OF THE OFFICE OF MOTOR VEHICLES IS LEAVING THE JOB IN AUGUST. NICK GAUTRAUX REPORTEDLY SAYS HE'S PLANNING A CAERRE IN CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNMENTAL WORK THAT WILL KEEP HIM CLOSER TO HIS FAMILY IN YOUNGSVILLE. GUTRAUX TOOK THE POSITION IN DECEMBER 2010 AND HIS LAST DAY WILL BE AUGUST 5TH.

THE HEAD OF THE STATE'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY SAYS DISTRICT THREE MAY BE A RACE THAT HAS NO DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE. STATE PARTY CHAIRWOMAN KAREN CARTER PETERSON SAYS THE STATE DEMOCRATS ARE REBUILDING, AND MAY NOT FIELD CANDIDATES FOR ALL CONGRESSIONAL RACES THIS FALL. SHE DIDN'T SPECIFY WHICH DISTRICTS, HOWEVER. THE STATE'S ONLY DEMOCRAT CONGRESSMAN IS CEDRIC RICHMOND IN NEW ORLEANS' DISTRICT TWO.

THE SCHOOL BUS COMPANY THAT TRANSPORTS MOST PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS IN NEW ORLEANS HAS LAID OFF ITS DRIVERS IN A DISPUTE OVER $7.2 MILLION IN UNPAID BILLS.
BLAINE KRAGE, A SPOKESMAN FOR DURHAM SCHOOL SERVICES, TOLD THE TIMES-PICAYUNE TUESDAY THAT THE COMPANY HAS SENT TERMINATION LETTERS TO 142 DRIVERS AND 55 BUS MONITORS TELLING THEM "WE WILL NOT NEED THEIR SERVICES THIS UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR." KRAGE SAYS THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT OWES DRUHAM $7.2 MILLION, OR MORE THAN HALF THE VALUE OF ITS ONE-YEAR CONTRACT, WHICH ENDED JUNE 30. HE SAYS SOME OF THE CHARGES DATE BACK TO 2011.

News For Tuesday 07/17/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 071712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

DEPUTIES IN CONCORDIA PARISH ARREST A JUVENILE IN CONNECTION WITH THE MURDER OF A VIDALIA MAN. THE VICTIM IS IDENTIFIED AS TERRY WATSON; WHO DIED OF A GUNSHOT WOUND. CONCORDIA SHERIFF'S CHIEF DEPUTY DAVID HEDRICK SAYS THEY CANNOT RELEASE MANY DETAILS, BUT THEY CAN CONFIRM THE JUVENILE HAS BEEN TAKEN INTO CUSTODY.

THE HEAD OF THE LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY, STATE SEN. KAREN CARTER PETERSON SAYS GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S DECISION TO REFUSE EXPANSION OF THE STATE'S MEDICAID PROGRAM UNDER THE RECENTLY UPHELD FEDERAL HEALTH CARE LAW IS AKIN TO HIM SIGNING A DEATH WARRANT FOR COMMUNITY HOSPITALS. THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SAID FRIDAY IT WILL HAVE TO CUT $329 MILLION FROM THE PUBLIC HEALTH CARE SYSTEM RUN BY LSU. PETERSON SAYS JINDAL HAS FAILED IN HIS DUTY AS GOVERNOR BY IGNORING THE SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS THE LAW WILL BRING TO THE STATE'S UNINSURED CITIZENS AS HE INSTEAD COURTS MITT ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN TRAIL AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

DEEP-POCKETED REPUBLICANS HAD LUNCH IN BATON ROUGE YESTERDAY WITH
GOP PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY. THE EVENT WAS OPEN TO THOSE WHO GAVE $50-THOUSAND OR MORE TO ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN. GOVERNOR BOBBY WAS IN ATTENDANCE. THE GOVERNOR IS RUMORED TO BE ON ROMNEY'S SHORT LIST OF VP RUNNING MATES CHOICES, BUT THE GOVERNOR CONTINUES TO SAY HE HAS THE JOB HE WANTS.

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY COULD NAME HIS RUNNING MATE BY THE END OF THE WEEK, A TOP ADVISER SAID MONDAY. THE ANNOUNCEMENT, IF IT HAPPENS ACCORDING TO THE ADVISER'S TIMETABLE, WOULD COME SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TRADITIONALLY REVEAL THEIR PICKS FOR THE SECOND SLOT ON THE TICKET. OUTSIDE A BATON ROUGE FUNDRAISER ON MONDAY, SENIOR ADVISER ERIC FEHRNSTROM SAID ROMNEY HADN'T FINALIZED HIS DECISION BUT THAT AN ANNOUNCEMENT COULD COME WITHIN DAYS.

A BROKEN LOCK ON COTILE LAKE IS SENDING WATER INTO BAYOU RAPIDES. THE LOCK TRANSPORTS WATER TO THE BAYOU FOR FARMERS TO IRRIGATE, BUT A STEM BROKE WHEN THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY TRIED TO CLOSE IT ABOUT A WEEK AGO. THE POLICE JURY IS WAITING ON A COST ESTIMATE FOR THE PART. THEY SAY IT COULD BE ABOUT SIX WEEKS BEFORE THE LOCK IS REPAIRED

YOU HEAR OF THIS ALL THE TIME IN PLACES LIKE FLORIDA, BUT NOT USUALLY IN ALEXANDRIA. FOUR PEOPLE WERE TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL YESTERDAY AFTER MINIVAN THEY WERE RIDING IN HIT A DEEP SINKHOLE ON ELLIOTT STREET AT THE INTERSECTION WITH OLIVE STREET. OFFICERS SAID NONE OF THE PASSENGERS, ALL FEMALE, APPEARED TO HAVE LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES.

THE LOUISIANA BALLOONING FOUNDATION HAS CANCELED ITS 2012 LOUISIANA HOT AIR BALLOON CHAMPIONSHIP AND FESTIVAL THAT WAS SCHEDULED FOR THE FIRST WEEKEND IN AUGUST IN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH. LINDA WUNSTEL, THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOUISIANA BALLOONING FOUNDATION’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS, SAID THE EVENT WAS CANCELED IN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH BECAUSE OF FUNDING ISSUES.

SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA IS ASKING A FEDERAL JUDGE FOR A HEARING THURSDAY ON HIS BID TO BLOCK HIS SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION STEMMING FROM THE NFL'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION. IN A COURT FILING MONDAY, VILMA'S ATTORNEYS ASK U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE HELEN "GINGER" BERRIGAN TO HEAR THEIR REQUEST FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER BEFORE THE SAINTS' TRAINING CAMP OPENS ON JULY 23. BERRIGAN DIDN'T IMMEDIATELY RULE ON VILMA'S HEARING REQUEST. VILMA HAS SAID HIS SUSPENSION IS WITHOUT MERIT AND HAS ACCUSED NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL OF DAMAGING HIS REPUTATION AND IRREPARABLY HARMING HIS CAREER. VILMA WANTS TO ATTEND TRAINING CAMP SO HE CAN CONTINUE RECEIVING TREATMENT FOR A KNEE INJURY.

A TEXAS-BASED ORGANIZATION THAT HELPS SEARCH FOR MISSING PEOPLE HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE SEARCH FOR A MISSING LAFAYETTE COLLEGE STUDENT WHO IS FEARED DEAD. TEXAS EQUUSEARCH CAME TO ACADIANA LAST WEEK TO ASSIST LOCAL AUTHORITIES WITH THE SEARCH FOR MICKEY SHUNICK. TIM MILLER, DIRECTOR OF THE HOUSTON-BASED NONPROFIT, SAID LAFAYETTE POLICE CONTACTED HIM AFTER ARRESTING BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE. LAVERGNE HAS BEEN BOOKED WITH FIRST-DEGREE MURDER AND AGGRAVATED KIDNAPPING IN THE SHUNICK CASE. NO BODY HAS BEEN FOUND AND POLICE HAVE NOT REVEALED THE REASONS THEY NOW BELIEVE SHUNICK IS DEAD. THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAFAYETTE STUDENT HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE MAY 19.

THERE SEEMS TO BE MORE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE POPULAR BAYOU COUNTRY SUPERFEST. BATON ROUGE MAYOR PRESIDENT KIP HOLDEN ISN'T SAYING WHO GOT 30 TICKETS TO A LUXURY SUITE AT THE COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL IN MAY. THE TICKETS WORTH ABOUT $9000 WERE PROVIDED TO THE MAYOR'S OFFICE IN RETURN FOR SUBSIDIZING THE SHOW. FESTIVAL PROMOTERS ARE ALSO NOT DISCLOSING HOW MANY TICKETS WERE SOLD OR HOW MUCH REVENUE WAS EARNED.

THE 81-YEAR-OLD STATE CAPITOL IS GETTING A 15-MILLION FACE LIFE. CEILINGS, WALLS AND FLOORS ARE BEING REMOVED AHEAD OF EXTENSIVE WORK TO UNDO YEARS OF AGE, USE AND THE ELEMENTS. CAPITOL FACILITIES DIRECTOR, PAT PICKENS, SAYS MOST OF THE WORK IS GOING INTO UPDATING THE CENTRAL AIR SYSTEMS WHICH ARE MORE THAN 50 YEARS OLD.

THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER FERRY AT WHITE CASTLE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR REPAIRS AND IS EXPECTED TO REOPEN SOMETIME NEXT MONTH, BUT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SAYS THEY ARE PLANNING TO SHUT DOWN THE FERRY, FOR GOOD, BY THE END OF THE YEAR. DOTD SPOKESPERSON LAUREN LEE SAYS THE AGENCY MADE THE DECISION TO SHUTTER THE FERRY PERMANENTLY BASED PURELY ON RIDERSHIP AND COST OF OPERATION, AS EFFORTS TO STREAMLINE THE STATE BUDGET CONTINUES. LEE SAYS THE ONE-DOLLAR ROUND TRIP FARE PAYS FOR LESS THEN TWO-PERCENT OF THE COST PER VEHICLE TO RUN THE FERRY

A MONROE MAN WAS ARRESTED AFTER LEAVING HIS 5-MONTH-OLD BABY IN HIS PARKED CAR, WHILE HE WENT INTO WAL-MART. SURVEILLANCE VIDEO SHOWS THE CHILD WAS ALONE FOR OVER 17MINUTES YESTERDAY AFTERNOON, WITH TEMPERATURES AROUND 91 DEGREES. 22-YEAR-OLD JOE GRIFFITH, THE DAD, IS CHARGED WITH CHILD DESERTION.

DEPUTIES IN ST. MARTIN PARISH CONFIRM THAT THE MALE BODY FOUND SUNDAY IN ST. MARTINVILLE IS THAT OF 18-YEAR-OLD DYLAN BOUDREAUX, WHO WENT MISSING LAST WEEK. THE TEEN REPORTEDLY POSTED A GOODBYE ON HIS FACEBOOK PAGE BEFORE VANISHING. AN AUTOPSY IS ORDERED TO DETERMINE HOW BOUDREAUX DIED.

A WOMAN FROM SLIDELL IS BEHIND BARS TODAY FACING A CHARGE OF SECOND DEGREE MURDER FOR KILLING HER SON'S GIRLFRIEND. POLICE SAY 54-YEAR-OLD JOAN HARTMAN CONFESSED TO KILLING THE 27-YEAR-OLD WOMAN. A RELEASE SAYS DEPUTIES WERE DISPATCHED TO A RESIDENCE WHERE THEY DISCOVERED THE VICTIM LYING STABBED TO DEATH ON THE FLOOR AND HARTMAN STANDING OVER HER YELLING.

SPIRIT AIRLINES IS STARTING SERVICE TO NEW ORLEANS, OFFERING DAILY NON-STOP FLIGHTS BETWEEN LOUIS ARMSTRONG NEW ORLEANS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AND DALLAS/FORT WORTH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. NEW ORLEANS INTERNATIONAL SAYS THE LOW-COST CARRIER PLANS TO START THE FLIGHTS ON JAN. 24. INITIALLY, THE PLANNED FLIGHT SCHEDULE CALLS FOR ONE ROUND TRIP BETWEEN NEW ORLEANS AND DALLAS DAILY.

A 23-YEAR-OLD HOUMA MAN WILL SPEND LIFE IN PRISON AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO SHOOTING AND KILLING THREE PEOPLE IN 2009. JACOBBY LEE PLEADED GUILTY MONDAY TO THREE COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER, EACH OF WHICH CARRIES A MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCE WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE. AUTHORITIES SAY LEE PLEADED GUILTY IN EXCHANGE FOR A LIFE SENTENCE RATHER THAN FACE A TRIAL AND POTENTIALLY THE DEATH PENALTY.

BOSSIER CITY POLICE HAVE ARRESTED A 32-YEAR-OLD BOSSIER CITY MAN ON CHARGES OF AGGRAVATED RAPE IN CONNECTION WITH THE ALLEGED MOLESTATION OF A 1-YEAR-OLD BOY. ZACHARY KEITH JORDAN WAS ARRESTED SUNDAY FOLLOWING AN INVESTIGATION BY DETECTIVES. THE INCIDENT ALLEGEDLY HAPPENED AT JORDAN'S RESIDENCE WHILE HE AND OTHERS WERE BABYSITTING THE BOY SATURDAY NIGHT.


SPORTS..

LSU'S SEASON OPENER AGAINST NORTH TEXAS ON SEPTEMBER 1ST IN TIGER STADIUM WILL KICK OFF AT 6PM AND WILL BE TELEVISED ON ESPNU. THE SEC ALSO ANNOUNCED THAT LSU'S GAME ON SEPTEMBER 8TH AGAINST WASHINGTON WILL BE TELEVISED ON ESPN AND WILL KICKOFF AT 6PM.



News For Monday 07/16/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 071612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

JINDAL ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS WILL MAKE DEEPS CUTS IMMEDIATELY TO LSU-RUN HEALTH FACILITIES AND ELIMINATE OVER 320 JOBS TO COPE WITH AN $859-MILLION REDUCTION IN FEDERAL MATCHING FUNDS FOR STATE HEALTH CARE FOR THE POOR. STATE FUNDING FOR LSU HOSPITALS WILL BE REDUCED BY OVER $316-MILLION. CUTS WILL ALSO COME TO BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES. CUTS WILL ALSO BE MADE TO SERVICES FOR THE AGING, CITIZENS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES AND MORE. DETAILS OF THE PLANNED CUTS ARE ONLINE AT "DHH.LOUISIANA.GOV.

A SURVEY BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHOWS MOST LOUISIANA SCHOOLS LACK THE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY TO TAKE PART IN THE NEW COMMON CORE CURRICULUM, WHICH BEGINS IN TWO YEARS. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CHIEF OF STAFF, NICK BOLT, SAYS A SHORTAGE OF STATE AND LOCAL EDUCATION DOLLARS PRESENTS A CHALLENGE FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT NEED TO BUY HUNDREDS AND EVEN THOUSANDS OF COMPUTERS IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS. THE REPORT SAYS THAT ONLY FIVE SCHOOL SYSTEMS CURRENTLY MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS. THE REPORT ALSO SAYS THAT OF THE MORE THAN 197-THOUSAND COMPUTERS IN LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, ONLY 39-PERCENT ARE TECHNICALLY ADEQUATE. BOLT AGREES, GETTING ALL THE STATE'S SCHOOLS READY IS A FORMIDABLE TASK.

PRESUMPTIVE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY WILL BE IN LOUISIANA TODAY FOR A FUNDRAISER IN BATON ROUGE. ROMNEY WILL APPEAR AT A LUNCHEON. BUT BEFORE YOU TREK DOWN TO BATON ROUGE, THE EVENT IS BY INVITE ONLY AND ONLY FOR SUPPORTERS WHO CONTRIBUTED 50-THOUSAND DOLLARS TO HIS PRESIDENTIAL BID. PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL ALSO VISIT LOUISIANA THIS MONTH. MR. OBAMA WILL SPEAK AT THE NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE'S CONFERENCE ON JULY 25TH IN NEW ORLEANS.

LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL DOESN'T NOTIFY LOUISIANA'S SECOND-RANKING OFFICIAL WHEN HE TRAVELS OUT OF STATE, EVEN THOUGH, ACCORDING TO THE STATE CONSTITUTION THE LT. GOV. TECHNICALLY BECOMES GOVERNOR WHENEVER JINDAL LEAVES. THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR HAS BEEN OUT-OF-STATE MORE THAN 25 PERCENT OF THE TIME SINCE MAY, CAMPAIGNING FOR MITT ROMNEY, RAISING MONEY FOR GOP CAUSES AND CANDIDATES AND PARTICIPATING IN CONFERENCES. DARDENNE SAYS HOWEVER SINCE HIS ELECTION TO THE LT. GOVERNOR’S OFFICE IN 2010, HE'S NEVER ONCE RECEIVED ANY NOTIFICATION THAT JINDAL WAS TRAVELING OUT OF STATE. PREVIOUS GOVERNORS KATHLEEN BLANCO AND MIKE FOSTER SAID THEY TOLD THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR WHEN THEY LEFT THE STATE WHILE IN OFFICE. FORMER GOV. BLANCO SAID, "IT'S JUST GOOD FOR THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR TO HAVE THAT CONSCIOUS LEVEL OF AWARENESS. FORMER GOVERNOR FOSTER SAY HE TOLD THE LT. GOVERNOR SIMPLY AS A COURTESY.

DREW BREES TOOK SOME TIME OUT OF HIS SUNDAY TO SIGN AUTOGRAPHS ON ITEMS RANGING FROM A BLACK JERSEY HANDED TO HIM BY A FAN TO A $100 MILLION CONTRACT HANDED TO HIM BY THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS. THE STAR QUARTERBACK, WHO HAD AGREED VERBALLY TO HIS HISTORIC DEAL FRIDAY, VISITED TEAM HEADQUARTERS TO TAKE A PHYSICAL AND PUT PEN TO PAPER ON THE FIVE-YEAR CONTRACT THAT GIVES HIM THE HIGHEST AVERAGE ANNUAL PAY ($20 MILLION) IN NFL HISTORY. BREES THEN GRABBED A SANDWICH TO GO AT A JIMMY JOHN'S SANDWICH SHOP HE OWNS, WHERE HE POSED FOR PHOTOS, SHOOK HANDS AND SIGNED AUTOGRAPHS FOR STAR-STRUCK FANS BEFORE HOPPING IN A WHITE SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE AND HEADING FOR THE AIRPORT. LOOKING SATISFIED AND RELAXED IN A BLACK T-SHIRT WITH NOLALOVE PRINTED ACROSS THE FRONT, THE CLEAN-CUT BREES SAID HE WAS EAGER TO REJOIN HIS TEAMMATES.

AUTHORITIES IN TERREBONNE PARISH ARE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THIEVES WHO'VE STRUCK SEVERAL POWER SUBSTATIONS IN SEARCH OF COPPER. POLICE REPORT SOMEONE HAS BEEN CUTTING THROUGH FENCES SURROUNDING THE SUBSTATIONS AND STEALING COPPER GROUND WIRES, PROBABLY FOR SALE AS SCRAP. THE THEFTS BEGAN IN MAY, SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAID. SO FAR, FOUR SUBSTATIONS IN AND AROUND THE HOUMA AREA HAVE BEEN HIT. LAST AUGUST, A HOUMA MAN WAS ELECTROCUTED AT A SUBSTATION WHILE TRYING TO STEAL GROUND WIRES.

LOUISIANA'S BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION COMES TO THE SMALL SCREEN THIS DECEMBER. LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE, IN COLLABORATION WITH LOUISIANA MUSICAL LEGEND HARRY CONNICK JR. AND LOUISIANA PUBLIC BROADCASTING IS PRODUCING A MUSICAL & CULTURAL SPECIAL. DARDENNE SAYS THE SPECIAL WILL PROMOTE THE BEST LOUISIANA HAS TO OFFER. THE LPB SPECIAL WILL FEATURE CONNICK ,AS THE HOST, ALONG OTHER MUSICAL LEGENDS FROM LOUISIANA IN GENRES LIKE COUNTRY, JAZZ, BLUES, CAJUN AND ZYDECO. ONCE THE SPECIAL AIRS ON LPB, IT WILL BE OFFERED TO PUBLIC BROADCASTING STATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. DARDENNE HOPES THE STATIONS WILL AIR THE SHOW AND HELP DRAW MORE TOURIST TO THE STATE. THE SHOW IS BEING PRODUCED WITH FUNDS FROM BP.




Friday 07/13/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 071312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

INVESTIGATORS CHECKED OUT A TIP THURSDAY ABOUT POSSIBLE GRAVE SITES ROUGHLY TWO MILES FROM THE HOME OF A MAN BOOKED WITH MURDER OF A MISSING LAFAYETTE COLLEGE STUDENT, BUT FOUND NOTHING. ST. LANDRY PARISH SHERIFF BOBBY GUIDROZ SAID A FARMER CALLED ABOUT THREE PILES OF DIRT NEAR HIS FIELDS. CADAVER DOGS WERE BROUGHT IN, BUT ALL THREE SITES WERE RULED OUT AS GRAVES. THE AREA WAS ABOUT TWO MILES FROM THE LAWTELL HOME OF BRANDON LAVERGNE, WHO HAS BEEN BOOKED WITH AGGRAVATED KIDNAPPING AND FIRST-DEGREE MURDER OF MICKEY SHUNICK. THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAFAYETTE STUDENT HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE MAY 19.

U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL HAS RULED THAT AN ALEXANDRIA LAW FORBIDDING FORTUNETELLERS FROM WORKING IN THE CITY IS A VIOLATION OF FIRST AMENDMENT FREE SPEECH RIGHTS. JUDGE DRELL CONCURRED WITH A RECOMMENDATION IN JUNE BY U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE JAMES D. KIRK THAT SAID ALEXANDRIA'S 2011 BAN OF RACHEL ADAMS' SHOP ON JACKSON STREET EXTENSION WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. KIRK LAST MONTH RECOMMENDED THAT DRELL MOW DOWN THE ALEXANDRIA LAW THAT BANS PALMISTRY, CARD READING, FORTUNE TELLING AND OTHER OTHERWORLDLY COMMUNICATIONS. IT APPEARS, THE CITY WILL NOT FIGHT THE RULING.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE HAS IDENTIFIED A BODY FOUND THURSDAY IN COTILE LAKE AS 63-YEAR-OLD CHARLES LEE THOMPSON OF ALEXANDRIA. THOMPSON WAS REPORTED MISSING SHORTLY AFTER 6 WEDNESDAY EVENING. SEARCHERS COMBED THE AREA UNTIL MIDNIGHT WITH NO LUCK. BUT, THOMPSON’S BODY WAS FOUND SHORTLY AFTER THE SEARCH RESUMED ON THURSDAY MORNING. DEPUTIES BELIEVE THOMPSON MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED PROBLEMS WITH THE MOTOR ON THE BOAT.

ALEXANDRIA POLICE REPORT THE CASE OF A BODY FOUND IN A VEHICLE WEDNESDAY ON BROWN'S BEND ROAD HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS A HOMICIDE. POLICE HAVE IDENTIFIED THE VICTIM AS 29-YEAR-OLD DEMETRIUS MCGEE OF ALEXANDRIA. THE CAUSE OF DEATH HAS NOT BEEN DETERMINED, PENDING AN AUTOPSY AND FORENSIC TESTS. MCGEE'S BODY WAS DISCOVERED WEDNESDAY MORNING BY A PASSING MOTORIST ON BROWN'S BEND ROAD, NEAR NORTH MACARTHUR DRIVE.

AS STATE OFFICIALS LOOK TO BEEF UP THE COLLECTION OF HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN DEBTS OWED TO AGENCIES ACROSS LOUISIANA GOVERNMENT, ONE PROPOSAL WOULD AUCTION OFF SOME OF THE PAST-DUE ACCOUNTS. LOUISIANA HAS NO CENTRALIZED COLLECTION AGENCY TO HANDLE ALL STATE GOVERNMENT DEBTS. LAWMAKERS IN THE RECENTLY-ENDED REGULAR SESSION AUTHORIZED THE CREATION OF A TWO-YEAR PILOT PROGRAM THAT WOULD LET THE STATE SELL OR AUCTION OFF A CERTAIN SLICE OF LONG-TERM DELINQUENT ACCOUNTS FOR UPFRONT CASH TO COMPANIES THAT BELIEVE THEY CAN COLLECT SOME OF THE MONEY OWED.

AN ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS REPORT ISSUED THURSDAY CONFIRMED THAT DEBRIS WAS BURIED IN A LEVEE BUILT AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA, BUT THE AGENCY SAID THE DEBRIS DOES NOT POSE A DANGER TO THE STABILITY OF THE 3.5-MILE LEVEE. LAST YEAR THE CORPS CONVENED A SO-CALLED "TIGER TEAM" OF SPECIALISTS AFTER THE LOCAL LEVEE AUTHORITY COMPLAINED ABOUT FINDING DEBRIS IN LEVEES BEING BUILT AROUND THE WEST BANK. LOCAL INSPECTORS REPORTED FINDING TREE TRUNKS, A SHOPPING CART, CHUNKS OF CONCRETE AND BRICKS IN LEVEE WORK.

THE LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES ARE EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITY OF A JOINT TRAINING ACADEMY AS A WAY TO RECRUIT NEW OFFICERS AND REDUCE AGENCY COSTS. STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT MIKE EDMONSON SAYS THAT NO DATE HAS BEEN SET FOR A POSSIBLE CLASS. BOTH AGENCIES HAVEN'T HELD TRAINING ACADEMIES BECAUSE OF THE STATE'S BUDGET TROUBLES. THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES HAS NOT HAD A CADET CLASS IN TWO YEARS, THE STATE POLICE SINCE 2009.

A BATON ROUGE PASTOR HAS BEEN ARRESTED, ACCUSED OF SETTING FIRE TO HER HOME IN ZACHARY FOR THE INSURANCE MONEY. AUTHORITIES ARRESTED BRIDGETT STEB AND HER SISTER LUCILLE BROWN IN CONNECTION WITH THE MONDAY FIRE. STEIB AND HER HUSBAND ARE PASTORS AT THE MINISTRY OF LOVE IN BATON ROUGE. INVESTIGATORS SAY MORE ARRESTS COULD FOLLOW.

CONGRESSMAN JEFF LANDRY OF NEW IBERIA IS ASKING UL LAFAYETTE PRESIDENT DR. JOSEPH SAVOIE TO DROP THE NEW MINOR IN LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER STUDIES. IN A LETTER TO SAVOIE, LANDRY REASON FOR THE REQUEST IS ORIGINAL, HE SAYS HE'S CONCERNED THE MINOR WILL LIMIT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES. LANDRY SAYS THE COUNTRY IS STILL STRUGGLING WITH HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT AND HIGHER EDUCATION'S MISSION SHOULD BE ENSURING STUDENTS HAVE THE TOOLS NECESSARY TO COMPETE IN THE 21ST CENTURY ECONOMY.

VIOLATING THE CITY OF THIBODAUX'S SAGGY PANTS ORDINANCE HELPED LAND A TEEN IN JAIL. OFFICERS STOPPED THE 16-YEAR-OLD FOR VIOLATING THE ORDINANCE, BUT THEN FOUND SEVERAL BAGS OF MARIJUANA AND A STOLEN HANDGUN ON HIM. THE BOY IS NOW IN CUSTODY.

OIL GIANT BP HAS AGREED TO PAY AN ADDITIONAL $13 MILLION TO SETTLE CHARGES OF FAILING TO FIX SAFETY VIOLATIONS AT ITS TEXAS CITY OIL REFINERY AFTER A 2005 EXPLOSION KILLED 15 WORKERS. THE SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCED THURSDAY IS THE LATEST MOVE TOWARD RESOLVING HUNDREDS OF VIOLATIONS AT THE PLANT ALLEGED BY THE FEDERAL OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION. BP HAD ALREADY PAID $50 MILLION IN 2010 TO SETTLE SOME OF THE OSHA VIOLATIONS. THE GOVERNMENT HAD BEEN SEEKING A TOTAL OF $80 MILLION IN PENALTIES, THE LARGEST FINE IN ITS HISTORY.

A FORMER NEW ORLEANS PASTOR WAS SENTENCED THURSDAY TO 10 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR STEALING NEARLY $1 MILLION IN DISASTER LOAN PAYMENTS MEANT TO REBUILD HIS CHURCH AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA. 41 YEAR OLD TORIS YOUNG APOLOGIZED FOR HIS "MISTAKES" AND "BAD CHOICES" BEFORE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER HANDED DOWN A SENTENCE THAT WAS ROUGHLY TWICE THAT RECOMMENDED UNDER FEDERAL SENTENCING GUIDELINES. BARBIER ALSO ORDERED YOUNG TO PAY OVER $900,000 IN RESTITUTION TO THE S.B.A.

FROM THE “HOW WILL THE SURVIVE IN THE REAL WORLD DEPARTMENT” THE DAUGHTER OF ALABAMA FOOTBALL COACH NICK SABAN IS BEING SUED BY A SORORITY SISTER OVER A POST ON FACEBOOK. THE LAWSUIT CLAIMS THAT KRISTEN SABAN WAS PLAYING A DRINKING GAME WITH SARAH GRIMES WHEN THE TWO FOUGHT BECAUSE SABAN MADE A POST ON FACEBOOK SAYING THAT NOBODY LIKE GRIMES. APPARENTLY THE POST LED GRIMES TO NEED NASAL SURGERY AND SEEK PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP AND SABAN TO TAKE ANGER MANAGEMENT CLASSES.

News For Thursday 07/12/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 071212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES BY ALEXANDRIA POLICE INTO WHAT IS BEING DESCRIBED AS A SUSPICIOUS DEATH. THE BODY OF A MALE WAS FOUND IN A CAR ON BROWN’S BEND ROAD YESTERDAY MORNING. THE BODY INITIALLY SPOTTED BY A PASSING MOTORIST WHO CALLED AUTHORITIES. AN AUTOPSY HAS BEEN ORDERED TO DETERMINE THE CAUSE OF DEATH. THE VICTIM'S IDENTITY ALSO HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED, PENDING NOTIFICATION OF NEXT OF KIN.

THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT HAS RECEIVED MORE THAN 10,000 APPLICATIONS FOR LOUISIANA'S STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM SET TO START IN AUGUST THAT WILL USE TAXPAYER MONEY TO SEND STUDENTS TO PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS. ABOUT 1,700 OF THE APPLICANTS ARE IN AN EXISTING NEW ORLEANS VOUCHER PROGRAM. THE OTHERS WILL BE VYING FOR SLOTS AVAILABLE TO NEW STUDENTS UNDER THE STATEWIDE PROGRAM. VOUCHER SEATS WILL BE DOLED OUT AMONG STUDENTS THROUGH A LOTTERY PROCESS NEXT WEEK. SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE ALSO ANNOUNCED THE CRITERIA FOR SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING IN THE PROGRAM, INCLUDING INCREASED SCRUTINY FOR SCHOOLS THAT ARE SEEKING TO MORE THAN DOUBLE THEIR ENROLLMENT BY ADDING VOUCHER STUDENTS.

IN WHAT IS BECOMING AN ANNUAL RITUAL, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS AGAIN ISSUED A PARTIAL HIRING FREEZE ON EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCIES IN STATE GOVERNMENT. THE HIRING FREEZE COVERS THE 2012-13 FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGAN JULY 1. FOR MOST AGENCIES, COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER WILL SET A NUMBER OF VACANT POSITIONS THAT THE OFFICES CAN'T FILL. IF THEY WANT TO ADD NEW WORKERS WHO WILL SHRINK THE NUMBER OF VACANCIES BELOW THAT BENCHMARK, THE AGENCIES WILL NEED RAINWATER'S PERMISSION. THE MOVE IS SIMILAR TO WHAT JINDAL HAS DONE IN PRIOR FISCAL YEARS, TRYING TO CONTROL STATE GOVERNMENT COSTS. THE GOAL LISTED IN THE EXECUTIVE ORDER IS TO SAVE $13 MILLION IN THE STATE'S GENERAL FUND.

FORMER GOVERNOR MIKE FOSTER TURNED 82 YESTERDAY. FOSTER SERVED AS THE 53RD GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA FROM 1996-2004. FOSTER, WHO WAS BORN IN FRANKLIN, CURRENTLY LIVES IN A PLANTATION HOME THERE. WHEN ASKED YESTERDAY WHAT HE PLANED TO DO ON HIS BIRTHDAY, HE REPLIED, "AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE". FOSTER, WHO IS A VERY YOUNG 82, SAYS HE STILL RIDES HIS MOTORCYCLE FROM TIME-TO-TIME, AND HE ENJOYS FLYING HIS PLANE AND HELICOPTER.

MORE AND MORE PONDS AND WATERWAYS IN THE STATE ARE TESTING POSITIVE FOR MOSQUITOES CARRYING WEST NILE VIRUS. STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS URGE YOU TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO AVOID SKEETER BITES AND DON'T LET WATER STAND ANYWHERE ON YOUR PROPERTY, WHERE THE BUGS CAN BREED.

STATE HOSPITAL LEADERS SAY GOVERNOR JINDAL'S DECISION AGAINST EXPANDING LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID PROGRAM UNDER THE FEDERAL HEALTH LAW, COMBINED WITH A PROVISION THAT SHRINKS UNINSURED CARE DOLLARS, COULD LEAVE STATE HOSPITALS WITH FAR LESS MONEY TO CARE FOR RESIDENTS WITHOUT PRIVATE INSURANCE. THE LOUISIANA HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION SAYS THE SITUATION COULD LEAD SOME LSU-RUN PUBLIC HOSPITALS AND SMALL RURAL HOSPITALS TO THE EDGE OF CLOSURE AND GIVE THEM LITTLE WAY TO RECOUP MONEY THEY SPEND TO CARE FOR UNINSURED PATIENTS.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU HAS WADED INTO A DEBATE OVER NAMING THE NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT AND ENDORSED JUSTICE BERNETTE JOHNSON FOR THE JOB. LANDRIEU SAYS THERE IS "NO QUESTION" JOHNSON HAS THE RIGHT TO SUCCEED CHIEF JUSTICE CATHERINE KIMBALL BECAUSE SHE WILL BE THE COURT'S LONGEST-SERVING MEMBER ONCE KIMBALL RETIRES NEXT YEAR. JOHNSON SUED LAST WEEK TO BLOCK HER COLLEAGUES FROM DEBATING AND VOTING ON WHETHER SHE IS ENTITLED TO THE POSITION. JUSTICE JEFFREY VICTORY ALSO HAS STAKED A CLAIM TO BEING THE COURT'S LONGEST-SERVING JUSTICE. THE DEBATE HINGES ON WHETHER JOHNSON'S FIRST FEW YEARS OF SERVICE COUNT TOWARD HER SENIORITY BECAUSE SHE TECHNICALLY FILLED AN APPEALS COURT SEAT WHEN SHE JOINED THE SUPREME COURT IN 1994.

STATE FARM INSURANCE SAYS THEY ARE DROPPING THEIR SPONSORSHIP OF THE ANNUAL BAYOU CLASSIC FOOTBALL GAME BETWEEN SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AND GRAMBLING. STATE FARM ANNOUNCED THEY ARE DROPPING THEIR TITLE SPONSORSHIP OF THE GAME BUT WILL CONTINUE TO BE THE PRESENTING SPONSOR OF THE BAYOU CLASSIC THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE AND THEY WILL RUN ADVERTISEMENTS DURING THE GAME BUT AFTER THIS YEAR THEY WILL NOT RENEW THEIR AGREEMENT WITH THE CLASSIC. THIS YEARS GAME IS SCHEDULED FOR NOVEMBER 24TH IN THE MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME.

THE MONROE CITY COUNCIL REJECTS A PROPOSED ORDINANCE THAT WOULD HAVE BANNED INDIVIDUALS FROM WEARING SAGGY PANTS WITHIN CITY LIMITS. COUNCIL CHAIRMAN JAY MARX INTRODUCED THE PROPOSED LAW, SO THEY CAN DEBATE THE ISSUE, BUT HE KNEW IT WOULDN'T PASS. MARX SAYS THEY'VE RECEIVED COMPLAINTS ABOUT YOUNG MEN AND TEENS WEARING PANTS BELOW THEIR WAISTLINE, EXPOSING THEIR UNDERWEAR. HE
SAYS HE UNDERSTANDS PEOPLE DON'T LIKE IT BUT IT'S NOTHING SOME HE FEELS SHOULD BE CRIMINALIZED. OPPONENTS OF THE ORDINANCE SAID IT WOULD LEAD TO NEGATIVE RACIAL STEREOTYPING AND PROFILING.

ALMOST A DOZEN RACEHORSES IN THE STATE HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR A POWERFUL PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUG. THAT DRUG IS DERMORPHIN; ABOUT 40 TIMES MORE POWERFUL THAN MORPHINE. IT LETS HORSES RUN FASTER WITHOUT FEELING PAIN. THE STATE RACING COMMISSION PLANS A MEETING LATER THIS MONTH TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM.

THE MANNING PASSING ACADEMY GETS UNDERWAY TODAY IN THIBODAUX. THIS IS THE SEVENTH YEAR THE FOOTBALL CAMP FEATURING ARCHIE, PEYTON AND ELI MANNING WILL BE HELD ON THE CAMPUS OF NICHOLLS STATE. COLONELS SPORTS INFORMATION DIRECTOR CLYDE VERDIN (VER-DAN) SAYS ABOUT 850 CAMPERS ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE FOUR-DAY EVENT.












News For Wednesday 07/11/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 071112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

STATE POLICE SAY AN 11-YEAR-OLD GIRL IS DEAD, AFTER A SINGLE VEHICLE CRASH ON STATE HIGHWAY 104 TODAY. TROOPERS SAYS 44-YEAR-OLD JULIE BANKS, OF MAMOU, WAS DRIVING, WHEN SHE LOST CONTROL OF HER PICKUP, RAN OFF THE ROAD AND INTO A TREE. BANKS AND TWO KIDS IN THE VEHICLE WERE NOT SERIOUSLY HURT, BUT 11-YEAR-OLD ALYSSA GUILLORY, OF VILLE PLATTE, WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. ALL WERE PROPERLY RESTRAINED. ROUTINE BLOOD TOX TESTS HAVE BEEN ORDERED FOR THE DRIVER.

STATE POLICE SAY A 64-YEAR-OLD PINEVILLE MAN DIED IN A GRANT PARISH CRASH. THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED AROUND 3:20 P.M. MONDAY ON ROCK HILL ROAD NEAR U.S. HIGHWAY 71. TROOPERS SAY A PICKUP DRIVEN BY JAMES A. LEWIS RAN OFF THE ROAD AND HIT A TREE. LEWIS, WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IS ONE STEP CLOSER TO BUILDING IT’S OWN PIPELINE TO SUPPLY THE CITY WITH NATURAL GAS. MIKE MARCOTTE, DIRECTOR OF THE ALEXANDRIA UTILITY DEPARTMENT, ADDRESSED CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SAYING HE FELT IT WAS THE JOB OF THE CITY TO DO ALL IT CAN TO SAVE RESIDENTS MONEY ON THEIR UTILITY BILLS. THE COUNCIL AGREED AND INSTRUCTED MARCOTTE TO BEGIN NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE GOAL OF BUILDING A PIPELINE THAT WOULD ALLOW THE CITY TO PURCHASE IT’S NATURAL GAS DIRECTLY FROM THE SUPPLIER, RATHER THAN THROUGH A MIDDLEMAN. THE COST OF THE PROJECT, BETWEEN 7 AND $8 MILLION.

A BATON ROUGE JUDGE REFUSED TUESDAY TO PREVENT THE START OF A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT WILL USE TAX DOLLARS TO SEND CHILDREN TO PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS. THE DECISION BY JUDGE TIM KELLEY MEANS THE PROGRAM PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WILL BEGIN IN AUGUST, WHILE A LAWSUIT BY TEACHER UNIONS AND LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS OVER THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE VOUCHER PROGRAM CONTINUES TO WIND ITS WAY THROUGH THE COURT.

HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN SAID HE EXPECTS TO ANNOUNCE BY FRIDAY HOW HE'LL DIVVY UP $859 MILLION IN CUTS ACROSS LOUISIANA'S MEDICAID PROGRAM FOR THE POOR, ELDERLY AND DISABLED. "TO US, THE CLOCK IS TICKING. WE HAVE 355 DAYS LEFT IN THIS FISCAL YEAR. THE QUICKER WE MOVE TO IMPLEMENTATION, THE GREATER THE NUMBER OF DAYS WE HAVE TO SPREAD THE CUTS ACROSS THE YEAR," GREENSTEIN SAID TUESDAY. THE CUT IS TIED TO A CONGRESSIONAL REDUCTION IN LOUISIANA'S FEDERAL MEDICAID FINANCING RATE.

OFFICIALS SAY A GRAND JURY NEXT WEEK WILL CONSIDER THE CASE INVOLVING THE MAN ACCUSED OF KIDNAPPING AND MURDERING COLLEGE STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK.
LAFAYETTE PARISH DA’S OFFICE SAYS THAT BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE'S CASE WILL BE CONSIDERED BY A GRAND JURY JULY 18. LAVERGNE WAS ARRESTED LAST THURSDAY AND IS BEING HELD WITHOUT BAIL. SHUNICK, A STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE, VANISHED MAY 19 WHILE RIDING HOME FROM A FRIENDS HOUSE ON HER BIKE. INVESTIGATORS SAY THE WHITE PICKUP TRUCK LINKED TO HER DISAPPEARANCE IS REGISTERED TO LAVERGNE. THEY SAY THAT THEY CAN PLACE LAVERGNE IN AND AROUND THE LOCATION WHERE HER BIKE WAS LATER FOUND.

THE COUNTRY'S THIRD-BIGGEST TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY, MONROE-BASED CENTURYLINK, PLANS TO START BUILDING A NEW FACILITY EARLY NEXT YEAR. THE COMPANY SAYS THE NEW BUILDING WILL BE AROUND 225-THOUSAND SQUARE FEET, AND WILL ACCOMODATE ALL CURRENT EMPLOYEES AND ABOUT 600-TO-800 NEW HIRES. CENTURYLINK SAYS THESE WILL BE QUALITY JOBS, WITH GOOD PAY AND BENEFITS.

A JULY LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO CONSIDER OVERTURNING GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S VETOES HAS BEEN CANCELED. SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN ALARIO AND HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT ENOUGH WRITTEN DECLARATIONS WERE SUBMITTED BY LAWMAKERS TO SCRAP THE JULY 14 VETO SESSION. THE LOUISIANA SENATE WAS THE DECIDING CHAMBER. THE VETO SESSION WAS AUTOMATICALLY SET WHEN JINDAL REJECTED 21 BILLS FROM THE REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION AND USED HIS LINE-ITEM VETO ON THE $25.6 BILLION BUDGET. IT TAKES A MAJORITY WRITTEN VOTE OF EITHER THE HOUSE OR SENATE TO CANCEL THE SESSION.

LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE CATHERINE "KITTY" KIMBALL SAYS THE STATE'S CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT PROHIBITS HER FROM MEETING WITH A GROUP OF COMMUNITY LEADERS TO DISCUSS THEIR CONCERNS ABOUT THE COURT'S IMPENDING DEBATE OVER NAMING KIMBALL'S SUCCESSOR. SEVERAL SUPPORTERS OF JUSTICE BERNETTE JOHNSON, WHO SUED LAST WEEK TO BLOCK HER COLLEAGUES FROM DEBATING AND VOTING ON WHETHER SHE IS ENTITLED TO BECOME THE NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE, HAD ASKED TO MEET THIS WEEK WITH KIMBALL. IN A LETTER DATED MONDAY, KIMBALL THANKED JOHNSON'S SUPPORTERS FOR THEIR LETTER OUTLINING THEIR CONCERNS BUT SAID SHE MUST REFRAIN FROM MAKING ANY PUBLIC COMMENTS ABOUT PENDING LITIGATION. FOURTEEN PEOPLE SIGNED THE LETTER REQUESTING A MEETING WITH KIMBALL, INCLUDING STATE SEN. EDWIN MURRAY; THE REV. FRED LUTER, WHO WAS ELECTED LAST MONTH AS THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION; AND DR. C.S. GORDON, JR., PRESIDENT OF THE LOUISIANA MISSIONARY BAPTIST STATE CONVENTION.

GAS PRICES, THAT HAD BEEN ON A STEADY DOWNWARD SLIDE LEADING UP TO THE FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY, HAVE TAKEN A SHARP TURN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN LAYS THE BLAME ON THE RISING PRICE OF CRUDE OIL, WHICH HAS RISEN OVER TEN DOLLARS A BARREL IN RECENT WEEKS. HE CALLS THE SUDDEN TURNAROUND A BIT SHOCKING. PUMP PRICES AT SOME STATIONS HAVE GONE UP AS MUCH AS A DIME IN LESS THAN A WEEK.

MONROE CITY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT KATHLEEN HARRIS WILL ASK A STATE JUDGE FRIDAY TO INVALIDATE A VOTE BY THE MONROE CITY SCHOOL BOARD THAT SUSPENDED LAST MONTH. HARRIS HAS ACCUSED THE BOARD OF VIOLATING THE STATE'S OPEN MEETINGS LAW TO PREPARE FOR ITS JUNE 26 MEETING, WHERE BOARD MEMBERS VOTED 5-2 TO SUSPEND HER WITH PAY FOR 30 DAYS WHILE THE BOARD CONDUCTS AN INVESTIGATION INTO DISTRICT OPERATIONS.





News For Tuesday 07/10/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 071012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IS CALLING FOR A CHANCE OF RAIN AT FIFTY-PERCENT OR BETTER OVER MOST OF THE STATE FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS. SPOKESPERSON FOR THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LAKE CHARLES, STEPHEN CARBONI, SAYS THE GOOD NEWS IS THE RAIN WILL GIVE THE STATE A BREAK FROM THE RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES WE'VE BEEN SUFFERING THROUGH FOR SEVERAL WEEKS. HE SAYS THERE IS AN ISOLATED THREAT OF SEVERE WEATHER WITH THIS SYSTEM.

ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY TOLD MEMBERS OF THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY LAST NIGHT THAT THE CITY IS WILLING TO WORK WITH THE PARISH TO IMPROVE THE RAPIDES COLISEUM. ROY SPOKE MONDAY TO THE JURY AT ITS MONTHLY MEETING ABOUT A REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS THE CITY SENT OUT ON JULY 3 FOR COMPANIES INTERESTED IN OPERATING VARIOUS MEETING SPACES AND OTHER VENUES IN THE AREA. INCLUDED IN THE RFP WAS THE COLISEUM AND ITS EXHIBITION HALL, OWNED BY THE PARISH. THE JURY TOOK NO ACTION RELATING TO THE RFP MONDAY.

THE TRIALS MONDAY FOR FOUR YOUNG RAPIDES PARISH MEN, INCLUDING TWO 16-YEAR-OLDS, ON MULTIPLE ATTEMPTED-MURDER CHARGES HAVE BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL OCTOBER. THE FOUR ARE ACCUSED OF RANDOMLY SHOOTING AT HOMES IN BOYCE AND AT VEHICLES ON INTERSTATE 49 AND LA. HIGHWAY 1 IN SEPTEMBER. NO ONE WAS INJURED IN THE SHOOTINGS. THE FOUR DEFENDANTS WILL REMAIN OUT OF JAIL ON BONDS. THE RAPIDES PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE AND ATTORNEYS FOR THE DEFENDANTS AGREED TO DELAYS.

GREYHOUND IS BACK IN TOWN. THE BUS COMPANY HAS FOUND A NEW LOCATION IN ALEXANDRIA AT THE QUICK WASH LAUNDROMAT, 1705 E. TEXAS AVE. GREYHOUND OFFICIALS SAID THEY WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE FOUR DAILY SCHEDULES.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM, RANDY MOFFETT, ANNOUNCED MONDAY THAT HE IS RETIRING FROM THE JOB HE'S HELD FOR FOUR YEARS. MOFFETT'S RETIREMENT THIS FALL COMES AFTER A TENURE MARKED BY REPEATED BUDGET CUTS THAT HAVE STRIPPED MORE THAN $426 MILLION IN ANNUAL STATE FINANCING FROM HIGHER EDUCATION IN LOUISIANA. THE UL SYSTEM HAS LOST NEARLY 46 PERCENT OF ITS STATE FUNDING SINCE 2008 AND HAS REPEATEDLY RAISED TUITION ON ITS STUDENTS TO FILL SOME OF THE GAP. THE CHAIRMAN OF THE UL SYSTEM GOVERNING BOARD, WAYNE PARKER, SAID THE BOARD WILL MOVE QUICKLY TO START THE PROCESS FOR CHOOSING MOFFETT'S SUCCESSOR. MOFFETT WILL HELP WITH THE SEARCH BEFORE HE LEAVES.

FATHER OF FORMER GOVERNOR BUDDY ROEMER, AND TOP AID TO EDWIN EDWARDS; CHARLES ROEMER HAS PASSED AWAY AT THE AGE OF 89. CHARLES ROEMER WAS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE IN STATE GOVERNMENT DURING EDWIN EDWARDS' FIRST
ADMINISTRATION IN THE EARLY TO MID SEVENTIES. ROEMER PASSES AWAY SUNDAY AFTER A 10-YEAR LONG BATTLE WITH ALZHEIMER'S.

THE SOUTH LOUISIANA-BASED HEALTH DRINK CHAIN SMOOTHIE KING IS BEING SOLD TO A SOUTH KOREAN BUSINESS. FOUNDED IN 1973, SMOOTHIE KING OPERATES OVER 600 LOCATIONS IN 32 STATES, THE CAYMAN ISLANDS AND IN SOUTH KOREA. VP OF MARKETING BOBBY WILLIAMS SAYS THE COMPANY IS BEING TAKEN OVER BY A LONGTIME SMOOTHIE KING FRANCHISEE.

SEVERAL BLACK LOUISIANA ELECTED OFFICIALS ON MONDAY ASKED THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION TO INTERVENE IN A DISPUTE OVER WHETHER STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE BERNETTE JOHNSON IS LEGALLY ENTITLED TO BECOME THE COURT'S NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE. A LETTER SENT TO THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT'S VOTING SECTION ACCUSES JOHNSON'S COLLEAGUES OF TRYING TO DILUTE THE RIGHTS OF BLACK VOTERS BY UNILATERALLY CREATING A NEW PROCESS FOR DECIDING WHICH JUSTICE HAS THE MOST SENIORITY AND IS THEREFORE ENTITLED TO THE POSITION. THE LETTER SAYS THE COURT SHOULD HAVE CONSULTED THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT BEFORE DECIDING TO DEBATE AND VOTE ON WHETHER JOHNSON, THE COURT'S ONLY BLACK JUSTICE, OR JUSTICE JEFFREY VICTORY SHOULD SUCCEED CHIEF JUSTICE CATHERINE "KITTY" KIMBALL, WHO RETIRES EARLY NEXT YEAR.

TWO PARENTS WITH CHILDREN IN A NEW ORLEANS VOUCHER PROGRAM AND TWO PRO-VOUCHER GROUPS ARE ASKING TO JOIN THE STATE IN FIGHTING A LAWSUIT THAT SEEKS TO BLOCK A STATEWIDE PROGRAM USING TAX DOLLARS TO SEND CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS. THE INTERVENTION PETITION WAS FILED IN BATON ROUGE DISTRICT COURT MONDAY FOR THE BLACK ALLIANCE FOR EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS, THE ALLIANCE FOR SCHOOL CHOICE AND THE NEW ORLEANS PARENTS. THEY ARE REPRESENTED BY THE INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE, A LAW FIRM THAT'S DEFENDED VOUCHER PROGRAMS IN OTHER STATES. TWO TEACHER UNIONS AND LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS WANT TO STOP THE VOUCHER PROGRAM PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, CALLING ITS PASSAGE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

A COMPANY THAT MAINTAINS VACANT PROPERTIES FOR MORTGAGE SERVICING FIRMS PLANS TO OPEN A PROCESSING CENTER IN RUSTON, ALONG INTERSTATE. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S OFFICE SAID MONDAY THAT MORTGAGE CONTRACTING SERVICES, OR MCS, WILL CREATE 90 NEW JOBS WITH THE PROJECT BY 2019. FORTY WORKERS WILL BE HIRED BY THE END OF 2013. AS PART OF THE INCENTIVES TO LURE THE COMPANY, LOUISIANA IS GIVING MCS A $250,000 FORGIVABLE LOAN AND HELP WITH WORKER TRAINING.

THE MOTHER OF THE MAN CHARGED WITH MURDERING MISSING UL-LAFAYETTE STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK HAS RELEASED A STATEMENT APOLOGIZING TO THE SHUNICK FAMILY. IN IT SHE OFFERS HER CONDOLENCES. HER SON 33-YEAR OLD BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE WAS ARRESTED THURSDAY AND CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED KIDNAPPING AND FIRST DEGREE MURDER OF SHUNICK WHO'S STILL MISSING.

NOW THAT AN ARREST HAS BEEN MADE IN THE CASE OF THE MISSING ULL CO-ED MICKEY SHUNICK, THE QUESTION REMAINS, "WHERE IS SHE?" LAFAYETTE POLICE SPOKESMAN CPL PAUL MOUTON SAYS PROMISING TIPS ARE POURING IN. BUT, MOUTON SAYS THIS IS A SEARCH AND RECOVERY EFFORT AT THIS POINT, BECAUSE THEY HAVE ENOUGH EVIDENCE THAT LEADS THEM TO BELIEVE MICKEY IS NO LONGER ALIVE.

ACCORDING TO A JUST RELEASED REPORT, THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY DIDN'T HAVE PROPER CONTROLS OVER A STATE PROGRAM MEANT TO KEEP TIRES FROM BEING DUMPED ILLEGALLY, ALLOWING OVERPAYMENTS. THE REPORT FROM THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE SAYS DEQ ALLOWS WASTE TIRE PROCESSORS TO WEIGH THEIR OWN TIRE SHIPMENTS, RATHER THAN CONFIRMING THE WEIGHT THROUGH A THIRD PARTY. THE PAYMENTS ARE BASED ON WEIGHT. THE PROGRAM PAID OUT $10.5 MILLION IN THE 2010-11 BUDGET YEAR AND $41 MILLION OVER FOUR YEARS FROM 2008-2011, ACCORDING TO THE AUDIT. FIVE WASTE TIRE PROCESSORS PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM.

ONE PERSON WAS KILLED IN A TWO-VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON U.S. HIGHWAY 165 IN FENTON.
AUTHORITIES REPORT THE VICTIM WAS A PASSENGER IN A CAR WHICH HIT AN 18-WHEELER SHORTLY AFTER 5 YESTERDAY MORNING. POLICE INVESTIGATORS BELIEVE THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED WHEN THE NORTHBOUND CAR VEERED LEFT, HITTING THE SOUTHBOUND 18-WHEELER.

TWO RESEARCHERS AT ULM HAVE RECEIVED A PATENT FOR A NEW DRUG DESIGNED TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF PROSTATE CANCER. THE PROFESSORS IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENCES DEPARTMENT SAY THE DRUG WAS DEVELOPED FROM A COMPOUND IN A RED SEA SPONGE.

WEST MONROE POLICE SAY A MAN ARRESTED ON HIS FOURTH DUI CHARGE HAS HAD HIS BOND SET TO $54,000. OFFICERS WERE CONDUCTING A SOBRIETY CHECKPOINT WHEN THEY SAY 29-YEAR-OLD DONALD ATKINS TURNED THE WRONG WAY ONTO THE ROAD. ARRESTING OFFICERS SAID THE MAN GAVE A FALSE NAME AND BIRTHDAY. HE WAS CHARGED WITH DWI-4, NO DRIVER'S LICENSE, DRIVING THE WRONG WAY AND RESISTING AN OFFICER.

THERE IS A VERY HAPPY MAN IN SLIDELL, WHO HIT THE LOTTO JACKPOT SATURDAY NIGHT FOR ONE-POINT SEVEN-MILLION DOLLARS. LOUISIANA LOTTERY SPOKESPERSON KIMBERLY CHOPIN SAYS THIS IS ACTUALLY THE SECOND TIME 29-YEAR-OLD EVAN BAUER WON THE LOTTERY IN LESS THAN A WEEK. CHOPIN SAYS BAUER TOLD THEM THE SECRET TO WINNING THE LOTTERY IS TO STICK TO THE SAME NUMBERS YOU ALWAYS PLAY. SHE SAYS THIS JACKPOT HAS BEEN ROLLING OVER SINCE MARCH 10TH AND IS THE LARGEST JACKPOT SINCE JUNE 2009. THE JACKPOT WILL NOW START OVER AGAIN AT 250-THOUSAND DOLLARS.










News For Monday 07/09/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 070912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A SAD PASSING.. RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE CHIEF DEPUTY DARRELL GUILLORY DIED SATURDAY, AFTER BATTLING CANCER. GUILLORY SERVED WITH LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AND ALSO SERVED FOUR YEARS WITH THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE. HE WAS BROUGHT IN TO SERVE AS CHIEF DEPUTY UNDER FORMER SHERIFF CHUCK WAGNER. FUNERAL SERVICES WILL BE HELD TODAY AT HORSESHOE DRIVE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN ALEXANDRIA. DARRELL GUILLORY WAS ONLY 62.

WINN IS FIRST, OTHER PARISHES ARE EXPECTED TO FOLLOW.. DRY AND HOT WEATHER HAS LED TO A BURN BAN BEING POSTED FOR WINN PARISH. THE BAN WILL STAY IN PLACE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. VIOLATORS MAY BE FINED $500, JAILED FOR SIX MONTHS OR BOTH.

ACADIA PARISH SHERIFF WAYNE MELANCON SAYS DEPUTIES ARE TRYING TO IDENTIFY A MAN WHOSE BODY WAS FOUND ON A HIGHWAY, WRAPPED IN A TARPAULIN. POLICE SAY A WOMAN REPORTED SEEING THE BUNDLE ABOUT SHORTLY BEFORE 5AM SATURDAY. NEAR THE RICHARD COMMUNITY. A NEWS RELEASE FROM THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS THE BODY WAS THAT OF A HISPANIC MAN ABOUT 25 TO 30 YEARS OLD, WITHOUT ANY IDENTIFICATION.
THE BODY WAS SENT TO THE CALCASIEU PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE FOR AUTOPSY. AUTHORITIES ARE ASKING ANYONE WITH INFORMATION TO PLEASE CALL IN A TIP.

AS HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS AWAIT THE STATE'S PLAN TO CUT $859 MILLION FROM THE MEDICAID PROGRAM OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS, MANY ARE WORRYING. SUPPORTED LIVING NETWORK EXECUTIVE BRUCE BLANEY WANTS THE LEGISLATURE TO CONVENE A SPECIAL SESSION TO REPEAL SOME TAX EXEMPTIONS, AS WELL AS TO TAP HEALTH CARE TRUST FUNDS. THE MEDICAID PROGRAM IS FUNDED BY A COMBINATION OF FEDERAL AND STATE MONEY, PAYING FOR HEALTH SERVICES FOR THE POOR, UNINSURED, DISABLED AND ELDERLY. THE CUTS MEAN AN 11 PERCENT REDUCTION FROM THE $7.7 BILLION MEDICAID BUDGET THAT HAD BEEN PLANNED FOR THE FISCAL YEAR.

LOUISIANA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS SHOW IMPROVED SCORES ON EVERY ONE OF THE STATE'S END-OF-COURSE EXAMS. DR. SCOTT NORTON IS ASSISTANT EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT, OVERSEEING SCHOOL & STUDENT PERFORMANCE. HE SAYS THE SCORES SHOW CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT OVER A TEN-YEAR PERIOD. NORTON SAYS "EXCELLENT OR GOOD" SCORES IN ALGEBRA ARE UP 20% SINCE 2008. ENGLISH SCORES UP 17%. GEOMETRY TEST SCORES ARE UP 16% OVERALL, AND BIOLOGY SCORES ARE UP NEARLY 9%. NORTON SAYS THE IMPROVEMENTS SHOW THAT PUBLIC EDUCATION IS MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND IMPROVING OUTCOMES FOR KIDS.

STATE POLICE SAY ONE DRUNK DRIVING STATISTIC HAS GONE DOWN IN LOUISIANA, WHILE ANOTHER KEEPS CLIMBING. LSP SUPERINTENDENT COLONEL MIKE EDMONSON SAYS DESPITE PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS, STIFF NEW PENALTIES IN LAW BOOKS AND BEEFED UP PATROLS...IMPAIRED DRIVING CONTINUES TO BE A BIG PROBLEM. EDMONSON SAYS TRAFFIC DEATHS RELATED TO ALCOHOL WERE DOWN FOR 2011, BUT INJURIES FROM ACCIDENTS OF THAT TYPE ARE ON THE RISE.

THE CITY OF ZACHARY HAS MADE FAMILY CIRCLE MAGAZINE'S 10 BEST TOWNS FOR FAMILIES LIST. ZACHARY HAS THE DISTINCTION OF BEING ONE OF ONLY TWO SOUTHERN CITIES, AND THE ONLY CITY FROM LOUISIANA ON THE LIST. THE MAGAZINE PICKED EXCLUSIVELY SMALL TOWNS FOR ITS TOP TEN LIST OF PERFECT PLACES TO CALL HOME. FAMILY CIRCLE CONSIDERED FACTORS LIKE AFFORDABLE HOUSING, GOOD NEIGHBORS, GREEN SPACES AND STRONG PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE LIST, WHICH APPEARS IN THE CURRENT AUGUST ISSUE OF FAMILY CIRCLE, INCLUDES PLACES LIKE BAY VILLAGE, OHIO, FISHERS, INDIANA AND FORT MILL, SOUTH CAROLINA.

THE RESTORE ACT WRITTEN INTO THE TRANSPORTATION BILL, JUST SIGNED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA, PROMISES A WINDFALL TO LOUISIANA'S EFFORTS AT COASTAL RESTORATION. CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE, WHO AUTHORED THE HOUSE VERSION OF THE RESTORE ACT, CALLS IT THE SINGLE MOST SIGNIFICANT ACTION TO RESTORE OUR COAST IN LOUISIANA HISTORY. SCALISE SAYS THE FINES LEVIED AGAINST B-P COULD BE ANYWHERE BETWEEN FIVE AND 20 BILLION DOLLARS WITH 80-PERCENT OF THAT GOING TO THE GULF STATES AND THE MAJORITY OF THAT GOING TO LOUISIANA. SCALISE SAYS THE FINAL AMOUNT OF THE FINES IS NOW IN THE HANDS OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. THE SENATE VERSION OF THE BILL WAS WRITTEN BY SENATOR LANDRIEU.

THE DIRECTOR OF A YOUTH PRISON IN BATON ROUGE IS ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE WHILE OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE HIS HIGH-SPEED CHASE AFTER A CAR HE THOUGHT CONTAINED TWO ESCAPED INMATES. JUVENILE JUSTICE SPOKESWOMAN JEREL GIARRUSSO SAYS DIRECTOR DAREN BROWN HEARD A RADIO REPORT THAT THE TWO ESCAPED INMATES MIGHT BE AT A BATON ROUGE ADDRESS. SHE SAYS BROWN HEADED THERE EVEN THOUGH HE WAS OFF DUTY. HE STARTED CHASING A CAR BUT IT DID NOT CONTAIN THE INMATES, WHO WERE 15 AND 18 YEARS OLD. THE TEENS WERE CAUGHT BY INVESTIGATORS SATURDAY NIGHT IN BATON ROUGE.

A MAMOU MAN DIED SATURDAY AFTER HIS PICKUP TRUCK HIT THE LEVEE OF A CRAWFISH POND. LOUISIANA STATE TROOPERS SAY 20-YEAR-OLD GARRETT DESHOTELS WAS NOT WEARING A SEAT BELT AND WAS EJECTED FROM THE TRUCK. HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT.

A NEW DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE PAN AM CRASH THAT KILLED 154 PEOPLE IN KENNER WILL BE RELEASED TODAY, THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CRASH. FLIGHT 759 CRASHED JUST AFTER TAKEOFF IN A BAD THUNDERSTORM FROM NEW ORLEANS' INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. IT KILLED ALL 146 PEOPLE ON BOARD AND EIGHT IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE IT CRASHED. IT ALSO INTENSIFIED WORK ALREADY IN PROGRESS TO LEARN ABOUT WIND SHEAR AND MICROBURSTS, SUDDEN DOWNWARD WINDS, LIKE THOSE THAT CAUSED THE CRASH. ROYD ANDERSON SPENT A YEAR WORKING ON THE FILM, TITLED "PAN AM FLIGHT 759." HE COLLECTED ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE OF THE CRASH SCENE AND INTERVIEWED FIRST RESPONDERS, WITNESSES, AND RELATIVES AND FRIENDS OF THE DEAD. IT WILL SHOW ON COX CABLE AND AROUND SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA.

CONSTRUCTION OF A $5 MILLION RUM DISTILLERY IN JEFFERSON DAVIS PARISH CONTINUES, WITH PRODUCTION EXPECTED TO START THIS FALL. TREY LITEL, PRESIDENT OF LOUISIANA SPIRITS, SAYS THAT SOME OF HIS COMPANY'S RUM IS EXPECTED TO BE AVAILABLE BY YEAR'S END. LITEL BRINGS 25 YEARS OF SALES AND MARKETING EXPERTISE, INCLUDING OVER 10 YEARS WITH BACARDI USA, TO THE JOB. THE FACILITY PLANS TO PRODUCE 200 GALLONS OF RUM A DAY USING LOCAL INGREDIENTS INCLUDING LOUISIANA SUGAR AND MOLASSES. HEAD DISTILLER JEFF MURPHY SAYS THE COMPANY PLANS TO SEEK A FARMER TO GROW ABOUT 5 ACRES OF SUGAR CANE ON THE PROPERTY. ACCORDING TO MURPHY, LOUISIANA PRODUCES MORE SUGAR CANE THAN ANYONE, YET PUERTO RICO PRODUCES THE MOST RUM. THAT’S SOMETHING THEY WANT TO CHANGE.

SHREVEPORT POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DISAPPEARANCE A 14,000 PILLS THEY SEIZED IN A 2011 DRUG BUST. POLICE REPORT AN AUDITOR DETERMINED THAT THE HYDROCODONE PAIN PILLS ARE MISSING. PART OF A TOTAL OF 26,000 PILLS THAT WERE TAKEN IN A NARCOTICS CASE, THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE STORED IN THE DEPARTMENT'S PROPERTY ROOM UNTIL THE CASE IS HEARD IN COURT. POLICE SAY THEY LEARNED ABOUT THE MISSING PILLS IN MAY. ONCE THE AUDITOR CONFIRMED THEY WERE GONE, A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION WAS LAUNCHED.

THE DEADLINE FOR QUARTERBACK DREW BREES TO SIGN A CONTRACT WITH THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS IS ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. MANY FANS IN THE WHO DAT NATION ARE GETTING NERVOUS, BUT NFL ANALYST MIKE DETILLIER IS CONFIDENT A DEAL WILL GET DONE. HE EVEN THINKS DETAILS WILL BE WORKED OUT THIS WEEK. THE ACTUAL DEADLINE IS JULY 16TH AT 3PM. BREES HAS GONE ON RADIO AND TELEVISION PROGRAMS AND SAID THAT HE'S BEEN FRUSTRATED WITH THE LACK OF COMMUNICATION TAKING PLACE.





News For Friday 07/06/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 070612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

POLICE IN LAFAYETTE SAY THEY HAVE MADE AN ARREST IN CONNECTION WITH THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LAFAYETTE COLLEGE STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK. A NEWS RELEASE FROM THE LAFAYETTE POLICE DEPARTMENT ON THURSDAY SAID AN ARREST HAS BEEN MADE BUT DID NOT SPECIFY THE CHARGE OR ANY OTHER DETAIL. CPL. PAUL MOUTON SAYS POLICE WON'T SAY ANYTHING MORE UNTIL A NEWS CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FRIDAY AFTERNOON. SHUNICK WAS LAST SEEN SHORTLY BEFORE 2 A.M. ON MAY 19, DAYS BEFORE HER 22ND BIRTHDAY. THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAFAYETTE STUDENT HAD LEFT A FRIEND'S HOUSE TO RIDE HER BICYCLE HOME.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS SENDING GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL TO OHIO AND PENNSYLVANIA TO REBUT PRESIDENT OBAMA ON ECONOMIC POLICIES, THE AUTO BAILOUTS AND THE HEALTH CARE REFORMS. MR. JINDAL WILL SPEAK IN A NUMBER OF THE SAME CITIES MR. OBAMA WILL BE HITTING OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. SOME FEEL THIS INDICATES THE GOVERNOR MAY HAVE A PLACE ON A MITT ROMNEY WHITE HOUSE TEAM.

A 23-YEAR-OLD MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED AFTER HIS CAR HIT A PEDESTRIAN, WHO THEN DIED FROM THE INJURIES. ALEXANDRIA POLICE REPORT ANDRE BAYONNE WAS BOOKED WITH FELONY HIT-AND-RUN AND NO DRIVER'S LICENSE AROUND 6:30 P.M. TUESDAY.
POLICE SAY 47-YEAR-OLD ROBERT FRAZIER WAS HIT EARLY MONDAY MORNING. HE WAS TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE DIED MONDAY NIGHT.

A LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SUED THURSDAY TO BLOCK HER COLLEAGUES FROM DEBATING AND VOTING ON WHETHER SHE IS LEGALLY ENTITLED TO BECOME THE COURT'S NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE, SETTING THE STAGE FOR A RACIALLY-TINGED POWER STRUGGLE INSIDE THE STATE'S HIGHEST COURT. JUSTICE BERNETTE JOHNSON'S FEDERAL LAWSUIT ARGUES SHE IS NEXT IN LINE FOR THE JOB UNDER THE TERMS OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION BECAUSE SHE QUALIFIES AS THE COURT'S LONGEST-SERVING JUSTICE. JUSTICE JEFFREY VICTORY OF SHREVEPORT ALSO HAS STAKED A CLAIM THAT DISTINCTION AND THE RIGHT TO SUCCEED CHIEF JUSTICE CATHERINE "KITTY" KIMBALL, WHO RETIRES NEXT YEAR. IF JOHNSON PREVAILS, THE NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT WOULD BE THE COURT'S FIRST BLACK CHIEF JUSTICE. CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS HAVE BEEN RALLYING SUPPORT FOR HER. VICTORY AND HIS ATTORNEY HAVE DECLINED TO PUBLICLY COMMENT ON THE SIMMERING DEBATE.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CHAIRMAN FOSTER CAMPBELL SAYS ENTERGY AND OTHER ELECTRICITY PROVIDERS ARE OVERCHARGING THEIR CUSTOMERS, AND HE WANTS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT. CAMPBELL SAYS INTEREST RATES ARE AT THEIR LOWEST IN YEARS, YET UTILITIES' PROFIT MARGINS HAVEN'T DROPPED TO COMPENSATE. HE SAYS THEY COULD REDUCE PROFITS BY 2-PERCENT, STILL MAKE A NICE PROFIT, AND GIVE THEIR CUSTOMERS A BREAK.

THE MAN IN CHARGE OF LOUISIANA'S STUDENT, FACULTY AND SCHOOL TESTING AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAMS IS LEAVING BATON ROUGE FOR WASHINGTON, D.C.
STATE EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WHITE SAYS THAT SCOTT NORTON WILL BE WORKING FOR THE COUNCIL OF CHIEF STATE SCHOOL OFFICERS AS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE DIRECTOR FOR STANDARDS, ASSESSMENTS, AND ACCOUNTABILITY. NORTON HAS WORKED FOR THE DEPARTMENT FOR 18 YEARS. HIS LAST DAY AS ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT FOR STANDARDS, ASSESSMENTS, AND ACCOUNTABILITY WILL BE FRIDAY, JULY 13.

SUSPENDED SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA HAS AMENDED HIS LAWSUIT AGAINST NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL AND THE LEAGUE, ASKING A FEDERAL JUDGE IN NEW ORLEANS TO OVERTURN HIS SUSPENSION AND ISSUE A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION THAT WOULD ALLOW VILMA TO WORK WHILE THE CASE IS PENDING. VILMA'S LATEST LEGAL MANEUVER THURSDAY CAME SHORTLY AFTER GOODELL FILED A MOTION TO DISMISS VILMA'S DEFAMATION CLAIMS IN CONNECTION WITH THE LEAGUE'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION.
VILMA HAS SAID HIS SUSPENSION IS WITHOUT MERIT AND GOODELL HAS MADE FALSE PUBLIC COMMENTS THAT HAVE DAMAGED VILMA'S REPUTATION AND HURT HIS ABILITY TO MAKE A LIVING. VILMA WANTS AN IMMEDIATE INJUNCTION SO HE CAN CONTINUE REHABILITATING A KNEE INJURY AT SAINTS HEADQUARTERS.

AN AGREEMENT HAS BEEN REACHED BETWEEN THE LOUISIANA MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION AND TRAFFIC CAMERA OPPONENTS TO GIVE MOTORIST A CONSISTENT SET OF RULES AND A FAIR SHAKE IN COURT. KENNER STATE SENATOR DANNY MARTINI VOLUNTARILY SHELVED HIS ANTI-CAMERA BILLS LAST SESSION. HE SAYS IF THE MUNICIPALITIES DON'T LIVE UP TO THIS AGREEMENT HE'LL BE READY. THE AGREEMENT GIVES DRIVERS A CUSHION, ABOVE THE POSTED LIMIT, BEFORE A TICKET IS ISSUED. IT REQUIRES CONSISTENT CAUTION LIGHT TIMES AND A FAIR METHOD OF APPEAL. MARTINI SAYS HE WILL WAIT AND SEE AND THEN WRITE A NEW BILL TO MAKE THESE CONDITIONS STATE LAW. HE SAYS THE AGREEMENT SHOULD APPLY TO ANY NEW CITY WANTING TO USE THE CAMERAS.

PROFESSORS AND STUDENTS AT LOUISIANA TECH IN RUSTON HAVE BEEN CELEBRATING THEIR PART IN THE DISCOVERY OF THE SO-CALLED "GOD PARTICLE." DR. LEE SAWYER--CHAIRMAN OF THE PHYSICS DEPARTMENT AT TECH--SAYS A TEAM OF TECH SCIENTISTS WERE KEY TO CONFIRMING THE HIGGS BOSON PARTICLE.. BASICALLY THE GLUE THAT HOLDS ALL OF THE MATTER IN THE UNIVERSE TOGETHER. IN OTHER WORDS.. WHERE GRAVITY COMES FROM.

A BATON ROUGE MAN FACES ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES AFTER STABBING HIS TWO DOGS WITH A BARBEQUE FORK. ONE OF THE DOGS HE KILLED OUTRIGHT, THE OTHER WAS SEVERELY WOUNDED AND HAD TO BE EUTHANIZED. 23-YEAR-OLD DONNIE DAVIS TOLD OFFICERS HE STABBED THE DOGS BECAUSE HE COULD NO LONGER CARE
FOR THEM.

A KENNER MAN IS BEING TREATED FOR WHAT EMT’S CALLED SERIOUS AND GRUESOME INJURIES, AFTER A HOMEMADE "SPARKLER BOMB" WENT OFF IN HIS HANDS. 19-YEAR-OLD DAN DUZAC HAD DUCT TAPED 12-DOZEN SPARKLERS TOGETHER WITH A MAKESHIFT FUSE, WHICH DIDN'T WORK. THE RESULTING EXPLOSION BLEW OUT CAR WINDSHIELDS NEARBY. DUZAC IS IN SERIOUS CONDITION.
 

News For Thursday 07/05/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 070512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NOBODY WON THE MAJOR JACKPOTS IN THE LOUISIANA LOTTO AND MULTISTATE POWERBALL DRAWINGS WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE POWERBALL WILL RISE TO AN ESTIMATED $70 MILLION FOR SATURDAY.

RESIDENTS CELEBRATED MORE THAN AMERICA'S INDEPENDENCE WEDNESDAY AS GAS PRICES IN THE ALEXANDRIA METRO AREA DIPPED BELOW THE $3 MARK. (JUST BARELY, 299.9 A GAL) BUT, RECENT HIKES IN THE PRICE OF CRUDE OIL HAS RAISED SPECULATION THAT THE PRICE AT PUMP FOR MAY SOON BE HEADED UP AGAIN. SENIOR PETROLEUM ANALYST FOR GAS-BUDDY DOT-COM, PATRICK DEHAAN, SAYS THE SAME MARKET FORCES THAT FORCED THE PRICES OF GAS BELLOW THE THREE DOLLAR A GALLON MARK ARE CHANGING. EARLIER THIS YEAR GAS BUDDY PREDICTED PUMP PRICES TO HOVER SOMEWHERE IN THE THREE-FIFTY TO THREE-SEVENTY-FIVE RANGE THIS SUMMER. BUT SLUMPING OIL PRICES AND A SLOW GLOBAL ECONOMY CUT THE RISE SHORT. DEHAAN SAYS BY THE END OF SUMMER GAS MAY BE CLOSER TO THEIR ORIGINAL PREDICTION.

A STORY IN THE MONROE NEWS-STAR REVEALS THAT IN A SERIES OF E-MAILS SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE AND MEMBERS OF THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION CONCOCTED A SCHEME TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONS FAILURE TO INVESTIGATE SCHOOLS APPROVED FOR THE VOUCHER PROGRAM. THE STORY REVOLVES AROUND ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS DEVISED BY WHITE AS A PART OF THE SCHOOL VOUCHER APPROVAL PROCESS. ACCUSATIONS OF FAILURE WERE RAISED WHEN A CHURCH SCHOOL IN RUSTON, THAT DID NOT EVEN EXIST AT THE TIME, WAS APPROVED FOR OVER THREE-HUNDRED VOUCHERS. DURING THE DEBATE ON SCHOOL REFORM, LAWMAKERS CALLED FOR SOME SYSTEM OF ACCOUNTABILITY TO BE ENFORCED ON SCHOOLS THAT WERE APPROVED FOR STATE VOUCHERS. THE REPORT SAYS THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION DECEIVED THE LEGISLATURE AND THE PEOPLE IN ORDER TO GET ITS AGENDA PASSED.

THE LEADER OF THE CONCORDIA PARISH SCHOOL SYSTEM SAYS HE BACKS A LAWSUIT AGAINST LOUISIANA'S NEW PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION VOUCHER PROGRAM. PAUL NELSON, THE CONCORDIA SCHOOLS' INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT, WAS NOT ONBOARD WHEN THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD VOTED IN JUNE TO JOINED 33 OTHER SCHOOL BOARDS AND LOUISIANA'S TWO MAJOR TEACHER UNIONS IN THE LAWSUIT. NONETHELESS, NELSON SAYS HE SUPPORTS THE DECISION. NELSON SAYING THEY WILL BE TAKING MONEY DIRECTLY OUT OF OUR POCKETS AND GIVING IT TO A SCHOOL THAT COULD HAVE NO ACCOUNTABILITY. ARE WE ASSUMING A PRIVATE SCHOOL IS BETTER THAN A PUBLIC SCHOOL SIMPLY BECAUSE IT HAS ACADEMY IN ITS TITLE? "THERE'S NO REASON TO ASSUME A PRIVATE SCHOOL IS BETTER THAN A PUBLIC SCHOOL.

FACING BUDGET CONSTRAINTS, STATE OFFICIALS ARE MOVING AHEAD WITH A PLAN TO SHUT DOWN TWO PRISONS. THE FIRST TO GO WAS THE WADE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN THE CADDO PARISH COMMUNITY OF KEITHVILLE, WHICH CLOSED JULY 1. LATER THIS MONTH, THE DABADIE CORRECTIONAL CENTER AT PINEVILLE IN RAPIDES PARISH WILL SHUT DOWN. STATE LAWMAKERS WHO OPPOSED THE CLOSINGS COMPLAIN THAT MORE THAN 100 JOBS WILL BE LOST AT DABADIE ALONE. LOUISIANA INCARCERATES MORE PEOPLE PER CAPITA THAN ANY OTHER STATE, WITH ALMOST 40,000 PEOPLE BEHIND BARS IN 2010, 12 STATE RUN FACILITIES AND AN OPERATING BUDGET OVER $665 MILLION. STATE CORRECTIONS SECRETARY JIMMY LEBLANC SAID THE CLOSINGS ARE PART OF COST-CUTTING MOVES.

THE HEAD OF LOUISIANA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY BLASTS GOVERNOR JINDAL FOR REFUSING TO IMPLEMENT PROVISIONS OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR (AND STATE SENATOR) KAREN CARTER PETERSON SAYS CONGRESS HAS PASSED IT, AND NOW THE SUPREME COURT HAS UPHELD ITS VALIDITY. THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE HAS NO PLANS TO EXPAND MEDICAID OR SET UP A HEALTH CARE EXCHANGE, AS CALLED FOR IN THE NEW LAW. PETERSON SAYS, BY NOT COMPLYING WITH THE HEALTH CARE LAW, OVER 350-THOUSAND UNINSURED LOUISIANANS WILL REMAIN UNCOVERED AND AT RISK. HOWEVER, STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN ROGER VILLERE SAYS MR. JINDAL MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE, TO RESIST CHANGES THAT LOUISIANA SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILL SOON START OFFERING A NEW WAY TO WARN AMERICANS ABOUT SEVERE WEATHER IF THEY'RE IN THE PATH OF A DANGEROUS STORM. AMY STOREY IS WITH AN INDUSTRY TRADE GROUP THAT HELPED SET UP THE SYSTEM. SHE SAYS WHEN A WARNING IS ISSUED, SPECIAL TONED MESSAGE APPROVED BY FEMA WILL BE SENT TO CELL PHONES. NOTIFICATIONS LIKE APPROACHING TORNADOES, HURRICANES AND OTHER THREATS WILL BE SENT TO WIRELESS PROVIDERS TO SEND TO CUSTOMERS. SHE SAYS YOU DON'T HAVE TO SIGN UP TO RECEIVE THE ALERTS. YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY RECEIVE THEM. STOREY SAYS NOT EVERYONE IS IN FRONT OF A TV OR LISTENING TO A
RADIO WHEN AN IMMEDIATE THREAT TO THEM IS POSED, BUT SHE SAYS MOST PEOPLE HAVE THEIR CELL PHONE WITH THEM CONSTANTLY.

A LOUISIANA SHERIFF IS DECLARING WAR ON UNDERAGE DRINKING, AND ON THE VENDORS WHO MAKE THAT POSSIBLE. ST. LANDRY PARISH SHERIFF BOBBY GUIDROZ SAYS UNDERAGE DRINKING HAS BECOME A HUGE PROBLEM. THE SHERIFF SAYS HE'S DEPLOYING UNDERCOVER DEPUTIES AND UNDERAGE OPERATIVES. GUIDROZ SAYS MOST UNDERAGE DRINKING INVOLVES BINGE DRINKING THAT COULD LEAD TO INCREASED SEXUAL ACTIVITY, VIOLENT CRIME AND UNINTENDED INJURIES. HE SAYS THEIR MAIN CRACKDOWN FOCUS WILL BE ON RURAL AREAS WHERE THEY'VE BROUGHT IN OPERATIVES BEFORE. GUIDROZ SAYS HE'S RECEIVED NUMEROUS CALLS FROM CITIZENS WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT OUTLETS THAT SELL ALCOHOL TO PERSONS YOUNGER THAN 21.

AN ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP'S ANNUAL LOOK AT WATER QUALITY AT THE NATION'S VACATION BEACHES RATES LOUISIANA'S AMONG THE MOST CONTAMINATED. THE REPORT BY THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL SAYS 29 PERCENT OF WATER SAMPLES TAKEN AT LOUISIANA BEACHES SHOWED ELEVATED BACTERIAL LEVELS. THE NATIONAL AVERAGE IS 8 PERCENT. AN ANALYSIS OF THE REPORT BY THE TIMES-PICAYUNE SHOWS HIGH BACTERIA LEVELS WERE FOUND IN 44 PERCENT OF WATER SAMPLES COLLECTED AT FIVE CAMERON PARISH BEACHES. CAMERON PARISH WAS LISTED AMONG THE 15 WORST "REPEAT OFFENDERS" FOR PERSISTENT CONTAMINATION PROBLEMS FROM STORM WATER RUNOFF AND SEWAGE POLLUTION. THE NATIONAL STUDY WAS BASED ON BEACH WATER TESTING AT 3,000 LOCATIONS FOR BACTERIA FOUND IN HUMAN OR ANIMAL WASTE.

A BATON ROUGE BASED COMPANY HAS CREATED A DEVICE THAT WOULD STOP MOTORISTS BEHIND THE WHEEL FROM TEXTING WHILE THEIR CAR IS IN MOTION. THE DEVICE IS CALLED CELL CONTROL AND SPOKESPERSON TRACY ARDOIN SAYS IT'S ACTUALLY A TWO PART SOLUTION. SHE SAYS THERE'S AN APP FOR YOUR PHONE AND A HARDWARE DEVICE THAT PLUGS INTO YOUR CAR. ARDOIN SAYS IF THE DEVICE "TELLS" THE SOFTWARE ON YOUR PHONE THAT THE CAR IS IN MOTION, YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO ACCESS CERTAIN FUNCTIONS BASED ON HOW YOU SET IT UP. ARDOIN SAYS DISTRACTED DRIVING CAUSES MORE THAN 28% OF ALL ACCIDENTS AND IS THE LEADING KILLER OF TEENAGE DRIVERS. MORE INFORMATION ON THIS DEVICE CAN BE FOUND ON THEIR WEBSITE WHICH IS CELLCONTROL.COM.

AN ASCENSION PARISH COUPLE ARE FACING ANIMAL CRUELTY AND DOGFIGHTING CHARGES. SHERIFF JEFF WILEY SAYS, AFTER AN INVESTIGATION, A WARRANT WAS ISSUED FOR 24 YEAR-OLD BRITTANY WARD. HE SAYS A WARRANT IS ALSO OUT FOR WARD'S LIVE-IN BOYFRIEND, 28-YEAR-OLD JOSEPH DUNCAN. HE'S ACCUSED OF DOGFIGHTING, AGGRAVATED ANIMAL CRUELTY & MORE. WILEY SAYS ONE DOG WAS FOUND DEAD; ITS JAWS TAPED SHUT. WILEY SAYS THIS WAS APPARENTLY A PRACTICE KILL ANIMAL FOR THE FIGHTING DOGS.

LSU HAS BROUGHT TOGETHER SIX OF ITS SCHOOLS TO CREATE A NEW COLLEGE OF HUMAN SCIENCES & EDUCATION. TOGETHER, THE SCHOOLS THAT MAKE UP THE NEW COLLEGE OFFER 7 UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE PROGRAMS AND 18 GRADUATE PROGRAMS.
ON THE NEW COLLEGE'S WEBSITE, DEAN LAURA LINDSAY SAYS THE MOVE FOLLOWS A DECADE OF CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE NEED TO REALIGN LSU ACADEMIC PROGRAMS THAT FOCUS ON EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES. LSU SAYS THE NEW COLLEGE, WHICH OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED JULY 1, CONSISTS OF SIX SCHOOLS: THE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION; THE SCHOOL OF HUMAN RESOURCE EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT; THE SCHOOL OF KINESIOLOGY; THE SCHOOL OF LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE; THE SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK AND THE UNIVERSITY LABORATORY SCHOOL.

News For Monday 07/02/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 070212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

RETURNING RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF WILLIAM EARL HILTON TAKES OVER THE REINS TODAY. THE SHERIFF ON FRIDAY TOLD DEPUTIES THEIR JOBS ARE SAFE. HE ALSO INTRODUCED FORMER ALEXANDRIA POLICE CHIEF TOMMY CICARDO AS HIS CHIEF OF DETECTIVES. HILTON TOLD THE ASSEMBLED AT HIS SWEARING CEREMONY HE PLANS TO GET THE FORMER LOUISIANA YOUTH ACADEMY READY TO HOUSE 137 STATE PRISONERS NOW AT THE DABADIE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN PINEVILLE. ONCE THAT FACILITY CLOSES LATER THIS MONTH, HILTON SAYS THE STATE WILL PAY $23.49 PER PRISONER DAY TO HOUSE THE INMATES.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD IS CONSIDERING JOINING A LAWSUIT SEEKING TO UNDO LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S VOUCHER PROGRAM. THE LOUISIANA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION AND 34 SCHOOL BOARDS, INCLUDING CONCORDIA AND EVANGELINE IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA, FILED SUIT THURSDAY. THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAS CALLED A SPECIAL MEETING AT 5 P.M. TUESDAY.

CONSTRUCTION OF THE REPLACEMENT FOR THE OK ALLEN BRIDGE, CONNECTING ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE, IS, ACCORDING TO CONTRACTORS, 39% COMPLETE. THE REPLACEMENT OF THE AGING BRIDGE AND IT’S APPROACH ROADS, IS THE FINAL STEP IN THE WIDENING OF HIGHWAY 165 FROM I-10 OUTSIDE OF LAKE CHARLES TO I-20 AT MONROE. THE ENTIRE PROJECT IS SCHEDULED FOR COMPLETION IN EARLY 2014.

GOVERNOR JINDAL WENT ON NATIONAL TV OVER THE WEEKEND TO REITERATE LOUISIANA WILL NOT SET UP A HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE, WHICH IS REQUIRED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE LAW. THE EXCHANGES ARE DESIGNED TO HELP PEOPLE BUY HEALTH INSURANCE FROM A RANGE OF COMPANIES. AS A GUEST ON NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS" JINDAL SAYS THE ANSWER TO BETTER HEALTH CARE IS TO HELP PROVIDE BETTER JOBS, SO THAT PEOPLE CAN AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE.

A PRISON IN THE NORTH LOUISIANA TOWN OF KEITHVILLE HAS CLOSED IT’S DOORS, A VICTIM OF STATE BUDGET CUTS. THE FORCHT-WADE CORRECTIONAL CENTER HOUSED 500 INMATES AND EMPLOYED 139 EMPLOYEES. CORRECTIONS OFFICIALS SAY 64 OF THOSE WORKERS WERE TRANSFERRED TO DAVID WADE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN HOMER WHILE 69 OTHERS WERE LAID OFF. SIX OTHER WORKERS RETIRED. CLOSER TO HOME, THE DABADIE CORRECTIONS CENTER IN PINEVILLE WILL CLOSE BY JULY 27.

POLICE CONTINUE TO LOOK FOR A SUSPECT IN THE DEATH OF A 28 YEAR OLD NATCHITOCHES MAN OVER THE WEEKEND. THE N.P.D. ARRESTED 27 YEAR OLD CHRISTOPHER SHELTON OF PINEVILLE AND 22 YEAR OLD BRADLEY HINGLE OF BOGALUSA IN CONNECTION WITH THE MURDER OF BOBBY ATERBERRY SATURDAY. AN AUTOPSY CONFIRMED ATERBERRY HAD BEEN BEATEN TO DEATH. BOTH MEN, AT LAST CHECK, WERE BEING HELD IN THE NATCHITOCHES PARISH JAIL. BOTH MEN HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH 2ND DEGREE MURDER.

A NEW REPORT JUST RELEASED INDICATES, LOUISIANA’S PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IS DOING A LOT BETTER THAN MANY STATE OFFICIALS AND LAWMAKERS ARE WILLING TO ADMIT. ACCORDING TO THE REPORT FROM THE SOUTHERN REGIONAL EDUCATION BOARD, THE STATE’S PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM HAS MADE NOTABLE PROGRESS OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS. THE STATE'S GRADUATION RATE WAS UP 6% FROM 1999 THROUGH 2009. LOUISIANA'S GRADUATION RATE OUTPACES THE NATIONAL AVERAGE, WHICH INCREASED JUST 5% IN THE SAME PERIOD. GRADUATION RATES ARE UP, AND SO ARE ENROLLMENTS OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADS IN COLLEGE. ACT SCORES HAVE IMPROVED TO BE AT A PACE WITH SOUTHERN REGIONAL AVERAGES. THE REPORT ALSO SHOWS THAT, BETWEEN 2003 AND 2011, THE GAP IN ACHIEVEMENT BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE STUDENTS HAS NARROWED BY 9-PERCENT. . THE BOTTOM LINE OF THE REPORT, PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN LOUISIANA ARE GENERALLY DOING BETTER.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE SAYS TWO INMATES HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF BURNING A HOLE IN A WINDOW SO THEY COULD LOWER A STRING TO AN ACCOMPLICE ON THE STREET AND REEL UP DRUGS TO PRISONERS AND IN THE PROCESS STARTED A FIRE. THE INCIDENT, THAT TOOK PLACE LAST THURSDAY, CAUSED A MINIMAL AMOUNT OF DAMAGE AND FIREFIGHTERS WERE ABLE TO EXTINGUISH THE FIRE QUICKLY. THERE WERE NO INJURIES REPORTED.

THE COLORADO-BASED ALTERNATIVE-FUELS STARTUP THAT PLANS TO BUILD A MANUFACTURING FACILITY HERE IN RAPIDES PARISH SAYS IT WILL USE EXXONMOBIL'S METHANOL-TO-GASOLINE TECHNOLOGY AT THE SITE. SUNDROP FUELS INC. OF LONGMONT, COLORADO PLANS TO BUILD THE "GREEN GASOLINE" REFINERY AT RAPIDES STATION NORTH OF ALEXANDRIA ON I-49. GROUND BREAKING SHOULD TAKE PLACE LATE THIS YEAR, WITH THE PLANT BEGINNING PRODUCTION BY THE END OF 2014. THIS WILL BE ITS FIRST COMMERCIAL PLANT, DESIGNED TO PRODUCE UP TO 50 MILLION GALLONS OF RENEWABLE GASOLINE ANNUALLY.

AN ANNUAL REPORT BY THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL RANKS LOUISIANA'S BEACHES DEAD `LAST WITH THE MOST CONTAMINATION. THE ANNUAL BEACH QUALITY REPORT LOOKS AT 30 STATES WITH BEACHES, AND LOUISIANA MADE THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST. STATE HEALTH OFFICER DR. JIMMY GUIDRY SAYS BACTERIA COUNTS INDICATED THE WATER WAS CONTAMINATED WITH ANIMAL AND HUMAN WASTE. HOWEVER, GUIDRY SAYS MUCH OF THE CONTAMINATION ON LOUISIANA'S BEACHES CAN BE TRACKED TO THE DUMPING OF WATER FROM THE MISSISSIPPI. THERE WERE ONLY 12 OF THE 200 BEACHES EXAMINED THAT RECEIVED A PERFECT RATING...THREE FROM THE GULF COAST: TEXAS' SOUTH PADRE ISLAND AND TWO IN GULF SHORES, ALABAMA.

THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE SAYS MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED ON POSSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS THAT COULD RESULT FROM USING DISPERSANTS TO BREAK UP AN OIL SPILL, AS BP DID AFTER THE 2010 SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. TO COMBAT THE SPILL, BP WAS ALLOWED TO SPRAY DISPERSANTS ON THE GULF TO BREAK UP THE OIL. THE USE OF DISPERSANTS HAS BEEN CONTROVERSIAL. THE GAO REPORT SAID 1.84 MILLION GALLONS OF DISPERSANTS WERE USED AND 771,000 GALLONS WERE SPRAYED DEEP UNDERWATER AT THE WELLHEAD. YET, VERY LITTLE TESTING HAS BEEN DONE TO SEE WHAT, IF ANY, LASTING EFFECTS DOING SO MAY HAVE HAD ON THE ENVIRONMENT.

A 55-YEAR-OLD EUNICE MAN WAS AWARDED $124,715 IN DAMAGES AND RELATED COSTS BY A STATE JUDGE WHO FOUND THAT THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE AND EUNICE POLICE DEPARTMENT USED EXCESSIVE FORCE WHEN THEY ARRESTED HIM IN APRIL 2009.
JURNELL SMITH WAS ARRESTED AFTER HE DROVE PASSED POLICE OFFICERS INVESTIGATING A STABBING INCIDENT AT A CLUB IN EUNICE. THE JUDGE RULED THAT OFFICERS OVERREACTED WITH ONE TELLING SMITH TO STAY IN HIS CAR WHILE ANOTHER ONE ASKED HIM TO GET OUT OF THE CAR. SMITH SAID HE WAS PEPPER SPRAYED AND SHOCKED BY A STUN GUN WHEN HE REACHED OVER TO HIS RIGHT TO RELEASE HIS SEATBELT. SMITH WAS LATER ARRESTED ON COUNTS OF RESISTING AN OFFICER AND INTERFERING WITH THE DUTIES OF AN OFFICER. HE WAS LATER FOUND NOT GUILTY OF BOTH COUNTS IN EUNICE CITY COURT.





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