KSYL Local News

News For Tuesday 08/23/16


News for Tuesday 082316

By Dave Graichen

 

Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy on Monday signed an executive order that could lead to the city taking possession of the vacant Weiss & Goldring building. The city would also secure the building and begin conducting environmental assessments on the property. There’s just one hitch, the executive order is contingent upon the mayor receiving assurance,  from the building’s  owner Teddy Price,  that the donation of the building to the city is “irrevocable.” The City Council two weeks ago passed a resolution giving Roy the authority to continue negotiations about the donation of the building.

 

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Louisiana today. According to the White House the President will get a first-hand look at the devastating flooding, hear from local officials and tell the people of Louisiana that the American people will be with them as they rebuild.

 

Here are the latest numbers on the Great Flood of 2016. Over 28-hundred people remain in shelters, an estimated 60-thousand homes damaged, over 106-thousand people have registered for federal disaster aid and there’s 40 state highways still closed.

 

Entergy announces power has been restored to all the homes in flood ravages southern part of the state that can safely receive it. They say about 2-thousand customers are still without power because of extensive flood damage to their homes. Overall, over 32-thousand Entergy customers were affected by the historic flooding.

 

Vermilion parish is beginning to enter the recovery phase of their flood relief efforts. Emergency Preparedness director, Rebecca Broussard says some homes in Vermilion Parish had water up to the roof, and several roads are still underwater. She says usually flooding in Vermilion is the result of storm surge from hurricanes, but that’s not the case this time. She says 11-hundred homes in the parish flooded.

 

The Humane Society of Louisiana is partnering with animal shelters around the country to help rescue and find homes for animals that were left behind when the flood waters rose. H-S-L Executive Director, Jeff Dorson, says they are still doing animal rescues in Livingston parish. 

Dorson says they are looking for people who want to volunteer or shelter animals. He says people can find out more and make monetary donations at HumaneLA.org.

 

The Amite River, which contributed to much of the flooding in southeast Louisiana, has finally fallen below flood stage. Freddie Zeigler, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says the Amite is still above flood stage at French Settlement in Livingston Parish, but that should change by sunset tonight. Zeigler says unfortunately the flood threat is not over yet, as backwater remains a problem in some areas.

 

It’s estimated it will take at least one year to recover from the historic floods. That’s according to LSU Economist Jim Richardson who says Livingston Parish, which was the hardest hit, will need a while to get back to some kind of normalcy. He expects big box companies should be back on their feet quickly, but it could take smaller businesses longer.

 

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says help is still needed to get the muck out of flood victims homes. Mike Steele with GOHSEP says volunteers can sign up at volunteer-louisiana-dot-gov. He says the damage from this flood is similar to what was seen after Hurricane Katrina.

 

State officals estimate about 60-thousand homes were flooded and many displaced residents are looking for new places to live. Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors president Tiffany Palmer says there aren’t many homes left, especially when it comes to apartments.

Palmer says she doesn’t expect people to flee the area completely, but many will look for homes in areas that did not flood.

 

Homes and vehicles were not the only things lost in the recent flood, as the LSU AgCenter reports hundreds of thousands of acres of crops were lost. Kurt Guidry with the AgCenter says the total value of crops lost is about $110 million.

 

Congressman Garret Graves says once Congress returns next month, first order of business is to address the unmet needs of the property owners whose homes were flooded and didn’t have flood insurance. He says in order for our community to recover there needs to be an assistance package to help those affected. Graves says if these flood victims end up owing more on their house than it’s worth, they could eventually be on a government poverty program.

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News For Monday 08/22/16


News for Monday 082216

By Dave Graichen

 

The total value of all the homes lost in the flood in the Baton Rouge area could be up to $21 billion. That’s according to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s preliminary analysis of flood damage, which estimates 31% of homes in the 9 parish region are in flooded areas. BRAC CEO Adam Knapp says the preliminary data demonstrates just how devastating this flood is.

The analysis also found 87-percent of homes in Livingston parish are in areas that flooded.

 

The governor’s office says 102-thousand people have registered with FEMA for disaster assistance. And FEMA has provided 30-million dollars in aid for homeowners who suffered flood damage. Governor Edwards says FEMA has agreed to pay for hotel rooms for those storm victims who are living in their cars, hotels, their workplace or shelters.

 

The Department of Children and Family Services has begun distributing disaster food stamp cards in eight parishes. Those parishes are East Feliciana, Iberia, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tangipahoa and Vermilion. State officials are advising residents to pre-register at D-C-F-S-dot-la-dot-gov-slash-preregister.

 

Volunteers from around the country have come to Louisiana to offer assistance to flood victims trying to rebuild their homes. Samaritan’s Purse, a volunteer group out of North Carolina, has set up disaster relief units in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Spokesperson Todd Taylor says if you are in need of help or want to donate your time, visit Samartianspurse.org  Taylor says the organization will be in Baton Rouge for 12 weeks and 10 weeks in Lafayette and they need more volunteers. He says currently, the group is focusing on cleanup.

 

Today the city of Walker begins putting together its lawsuit against the state for the construction of I-12. City officials believe the concrete wall that separates the east and west bound lanes worsened the flooding in the city. Mayor Rick Ramsey says when the interstate was widened to six lanes, the median was taken out and replaced with a concrete wall.

Ramsey says areas that have never flooded before took on three to five feet of water. He says he believes without that wall, the flooding wouldn’t have been nearly as bad. He says they were prepared for a major flood, but not this.

 

The National Guard is distributing water, MREs and other necessary supplies for the flood victims. Sgt. First Class Travis Jenkins says this effort it to make sure people affected can get through to the next phase of their recovery. He says all the Guardsmen are happy to help those in need.

 

State officials hope to get more financial help from the federal government to pay for flood relief efforts throughout south Louisiana. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the state has already spent at least $12.5 million, and that number is expected to grow exponentially. He says right now the feds will reimburse Louisiana for 75-percent of that, but he hopes for more federal dollars. The 75-percent reimbursement comes automatically with the declaration of a federal disaster area. Dardenne says it will take an act of Congress to get to the 90-10 split.

 

Frustrations are growing in Walker in Livingston Parish over the lack of federal resources to help those affected by the historic flooding. Mayor Rick Ramsey says they’ve been told by FEMA that no temporary housing will be brought in for residents. He says FEMA will try to expedite disaster payments to victims, but that isn’t enough.  Ramsey says his most recent update states there is no intention of bringing in FEMA trailers or providing temporary housing.

 

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump met with flood victims and local officials in both East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parishes Friday. Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser was with Trump and Nungesser hopes Trump’s visit can help raise awareness around the nation that many are suffering. President Barack Obama plans to visit Baton Rouge tomorrow.

 

 

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News For Friday 08/19/16


News for Friday 081916

By Dave Graichen

 

The Department of Children and Family Services says as of this morning, there are a little over 4-thousand flood victims still in shelters. Deputy Secretary Terri Ricks says some flood victims went back home once the water receded and the power came back on. She says they are working on a plan for housing those who have nowhere else to go. Ricks says the governor and FEMA are working to locate housing for displaced residents for the near and distant future.

 

Thousands of south Louisiana residents lost everything in the flood, and the Salvation Army is taking donations to help the people who were affected. Capt. Brett Meredith is the Commander of the Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge. He says every donation helps. Meredith says 100% of donations go to the flood victims. All monetary donations can be made by texting STORM to 51555.

 

There are no plans for President Barack Obama to cut his New England vacation short to see the devastation in Louisiana first hand. It’s caused many Louisiana residents to wonder if Mr. Obama is concerned about the flooding disaster. Governor Edwards says more than 900 FEMA personnel are on the ground and hundreds more are expected. He says the President has done everything federal law permits him to do to help Louisiana. Plus Edwards says if the President came to the state this week, it would cause a disruption in traffic, hamper recovery and relief efforts, and law enforcement officers would have to leave their posts to help with security.

 

CNN is reporting that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will travel to Baton Rouge sometime today to tour damage from catastrophic flooding.

 

More than 85-thousand flood victims have registered for federal aid. FEMA spokesperson Maria Padron says in the next few days FEMA will open disaster recovery centers where flood victims can come ask questions. She says the amount of money a victim receives is determined on a case by case basis. She says the average payment is about 2-thousand dollars.

 

Unfortunately, it could be a while before the hardest hit flood victims have power in their homes again. As of Thursday night, seven-thousand customers are without power and utility crews are working to re-energize lines.  Entergy spokesperson, Kacee Kirschvink (Kursh-vink), says when water is involved, it’s a tedious process to reconnect power safely. Kirschvink says customers who received floodwaters in their homes or business may have to make repairs to their electrical system before power can be restored. At one point Entergy had over 32-thousand customers without power.

 

The state Department of Health reports 13 people have died as a result of the flooding. The latest death came in Livingston Parish. A 93-year-old woman who inhaled floodwater while she was being evacuated from Denham Springs contracted pneumonia and died at a hospital on Wednesday.

 

A 32-year-old man has been sentenced to 50year sentence after a jury found him guilty of attempted first degree murder of a Jennings police officer two years ago. George Lowdins was also sentenced to 20 years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The sentences are to run concurrent. Lowdins shot Sgt. Ricky Benoit in the neck at close range as Benoit and other officers were responding to a domestic disturbance in June 2014. The bullet hit the left side of Benoit’s neck and lodged in his back shoulder, shattering a vertebrae and paralyzing him.

 

Lake Charles police have started using their recently acquired body camera systems.

Police Chief Don Dixon says the department has 110 Watch-Guard body cameras, which officers will dock into a transfer station hard-wired into the department’s network.

Sgt. Tim Pruitt says video from all cameras is downloaded into the evidence library.

Dixon said the cameras are on loan from WatchGuard while the department waits for an upgraded model to become available.

 

Former Saints Safety Darren Sharper has been sentenced to 18 years in a federal prison for raping and drugging nine women. Sharper says, while in the courtroom that he made some ‘heinous decisions’. Legal Analyst Tim Meche says Sharper’s money was probably more help to him in this case than his Saints fame. Meche says Sharper got the deal of the century.

 

The LSU football team did not practice Thursday, which gave them an opportunity to visit flood victims at a Baton Rouge shelter. Coach Les Miles brought about 50 players to the Celtic Movie Studios, where hundreds of people are staying. Many players, including running back Leonard Fournette, signed autographs and took pictures with the evacuees.

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News For Thursday 08/18/16


News for Thursday 081816

By Dave Graichen

 

As many as 6,000 of flood victims are still staying in shelters and many more are taking refuge with family and friends. FEMA, the Governor and other agencies are working to develop a plan to house people currently and in the distant future. Governor John Bel Edwards says there’s a lot of information that needs to be gathered about the victims and their needs. But he says FEMA knows how to do this, so the state is, for now, following their lead.

 

Disaster food stamps will be available for flood victims, and pre-registration is underway at the Department of Children and Family services’ website. Sammy Guillory with DCFS says they hope to have registration sites open next week. Guillory says anyone who was affected by the flood and does not receive regular SNAP benefits can apply.

 

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank says its warehouse was flooded and they lost a half million pounds of food. CEO Mike Manning says it’s difficult not to be able to feed people during these trying times.

 

According to the state fire marshal’s office, emergency workers discovered a man’s body in a flooded Denham Springs subdivision yesterday afternoon, which brings the flooding death toll to 12. The identity of the victim has not yet been confirmed, but investigators say the man appears to be in his 50s.

 

As the flood water rose, many people were fleeing to shelter. Celtic Media Studios in Baton Rouge opened their doors to thousands of people who were forced out of their homes after the devastating storm. Director of Studio Operations Patrick Mulhearn says Saturday night the population of Celtic was zero and Sunday afternoon the population was about 4-thousand people. He says there has been talk about Baton Rouge being divided but he’s never seen a more united community.

 

While flood waters are receding in some parishes, the Lake Arthur area in Jefferson Davis parish is still expecting more flooding this weekend and into next week. Johnathan Brazzell with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles says the Mermentau River is expected to crest at 11.5 feet by Friday, which would be the third highest crest the river has ever seen.

 

The massive flooding in south Louisiana now poses an increased risk for West Nile. That’s according to the State Medical Director for the Center of Community Preparedness, Dr. Frank Welch.  Welch says they are going to focus on mosquito control over the next few weeks. Also, he  says mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are not as prevalent in the flooded areas of the state, but the threat should not be ignored.

 

The water is leaving Livingston Parish for the most part, but what the flood left behind is catastrophic. Parish-wide, officials say at least 75% of homes were impacted with 2 to 8 feet of water, but that figure could easily grow as this is still very much an ongoing situation. Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry says people are coming from all over the US to help. There were between 15,000-20,000 rescues made during this event. Landry says more than 90% of homes in the Denham Springs were flooded. He says most businesses also took on water at unimaginable levels. Schools are closed in the parish til further notice.

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News For Wednesday 8/17/16


News for Wednesday 081716

By Dave Graichen

 

The APD reports the investigation is ongoing in the case of a man who was beaten and robbed in a Mac Arthur drive motel last week. 55-year-old Michael Butler of Lecompte later died of his injuries, but not before he was able to tell police what had happened. Butler told police a female had knocked on his door, and that he opened the door to briefly talk to her. While doing so, "two or three males entered and began beating him. Police have arrested 4 individuals, three of whom are juveniles, in connection with the incident. All four were charged with criminal conspiracy, second-degree robbery and first-degree murder.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says 40-thousand storm victims have signed up for government assistance through FEMA as result of the historic flood. 20 parishes have now been declared federal disaster areas are eligible for this aid, but more may be added in the coming days. To register for aid visit disaster-assistance-dot-gov.

 

The state registrar for vital records says eleven people have died as a result of the severe flooding, including one fatality here in Rapides Parish. Five of the flood-related deaths have occurred in East Baton Rouge Parish. Coroner Doctor Beau Clark says the deaths are labeled as accidental drownings. The latest victim to be identified from Baton Rouge is Bill Borne, who was a successful businessman in the health care industry.

 

Livingston parish Sheriff’s deputies have arrested several people on looting charges, and they are reportedly working to keep looters away from homes and businesses. Parish President Layton Ricks says this is the worst flooding Livingston parish has ever seen. Curfews are in effect for Livingston, East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes from 10pm until 6 am.

 

The Attorney General’s Office is working to make sure flood victims are protected from price gougers and scammers. A-G Jeff Landry says they’ve opened up their consumer protection hotline so people can report scams, and he says they’ve teamed up with the online donation website, GoFundMe, to make sure contributions are really going to flood victims. Finally, Landry advises storm victims to make sure all contractors for home repairs are licensed in Louisiana. He says there is a list on the state licensing board’s website.

 

About 75-percent of Louisianans do not have flood insurance, which is bad news for the thousands of homeowners who lost everything in the flood. Michael Barry with the Insurance Information Institute says FEMA assistance will be available for flood victims who live in a parish that are part of the federal disaster declaration, but it will may not be enough to cover the cost to rebuild. Barry says the typical FEMA direct assistance payments are around $10-thousand, depending on the disaster. However, Barry says there is good news for motorists whose cars were damaged in the flood, if they have comprehensive coverage they are covered.

 

In the wake of the deadly floods in south Louisiana, many residents are coming together to lend one another a helping hand. Volunteer Louisiana Executive Director, Judd Jeansonne, says if anyone wants to volunteer, the best thing they can do is be patient because too many volunteers at once creates a so-called disaster after the disaster. He says many areas are still in the emergency response phase doing search and rescues. Jeansonne says people who want to help, can register at VolunteerLouisiana.gov because more volunteers will be needed, when we move into the recovery phase. So far about 1,000 people have registered to volunteer through their website.

 

Acadia Parish is among the 20 parishes declared a federal disaster area after the devastating floods plagued southern Louisiana. Director of the Acadia Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Lee Hebert says right now they have extensive flooding and they are not in the clear yet. Hebert says because they are a very rural community, Acadia only has one open shelter but many flood victims are staying with family and friends. He says they’re praying the waters go down because so many residents have lost everything.

 

Many flood victims are returning to their homes and finding devastating damage. LSU AgCenter Housing Specialist Claudette Reichel says residents should make a personal shopping trip before going home to buy protective gear and cleaning supplies.

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News For Tuesday 08/16/16


News for Tuesday 081616

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor John Bel Edwards spent time in Acadiana on Monday as he continues to assess the damage from the second historic flood Louisiana has seen this year. Edwards says he is touring the affected areas of the state with his cabinet members, as well as the FEMA liaison to the White House. He says seeing the damage first hand could help more parishes be declared federal disaster areas. He says they are trying to transition from the response phase to the recovery phase.

 

Tangipahoa, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes have so far been declared federal disaster areas. Flood victims can register their damage online or at disasterassistance-dot-gov.

 

Officials are expecting to find that up to 70 percent of the more than 50,000 homes in Livingston Parish will have been damaged by floodwaters.

 

Southwestern parts of the state have also experienced severe flooding. Donald Jones with the National Weather Service says Lafayette, New Iberia and the Lake Arthur area are having the biggest problems. He says more rain is expected this week, which could worsen the situation.

 

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is optimistic those with flood insurance, who sustained damage from this recent round of flooding will see financial relief soon. Donelon says insurance companies moved quickly last March, when Louisiana saw extensive flooding. Donelon says those without flood insurance can receive federal aid, if the parish they live in has been declared a federal disaster area. So far, only four parishes have been designated, but Donelon says more will be added to the list

 

Entergy says about 14-thousand customers are without power in The Southern part of the state. . The utility company says they have a crew of 500 to help get the lights turned back on, but floodwaters are continuing to prevent them from restoring power to about 12,500 customers

 

The Louisiana Department of Health is warning people about the risks of wading through flood waters that could possibly be contaminated. Spokesperson Bob Johanessen says sewage, dangerous contaminants and other debris could cause health problems. Johanessen says also be aware of venomous snakes or other dangerous animals that could be in the water that flowed out of its banks

 

There are over 11-thousand who are in shelters in Louisiana, over 5000 in Baton Rouge alone,  as a result of the flooding. That’s according to the state Department of Children and Family Services. And more individuals continue to show up at these shelters, especially the one at the Baton Rouge River Center.

 

St. John’s United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge is just one of many impromptu shelters that have been set up across south Louisiana in the wake of historic floods. Rev. Dr. Jay Hogwood says St. John’s takes up donations for their Shepherd’s Market, which is usually used to feed the needy in the community. He says as of late, it’s been a vital resource to provide meals for people who, for now, are calling St. John’s home.

 

The Town Talk Reports Renovation of the Rapides Parish Coliseum is on pace, but officials plan to hold off for about a year before renovating the inside of the Coliseum’s Exhibition Hall.  The new Coliseum Executive Director Richard Karamatic said holding off for about a year before reopening Exhibition Hall will give him time to get feedback from promoters and others to help him determine how to configure the inside of the facility to best accommodate the events that will take place there. The Coliseum itself is set to reopen by the end of the year.

 

A report from the Legislative Auditor’s office released yesterday claims that Former Louisiana prison official Tonia Cain directed subordinates to alter or shred records related to concessions sales at Avoyelles Correctional Center, apparently to hide the fact that more than $30,000 in cash was missing. The report found Cain, who was the prison’s business manager and wife of former Avoyelles Warden Nate Cain, was the only employee to regularly obtain and/or count cash collections and she did so alone. The report has been turned over to the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s office.

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News For Monday 08/15/16


News for Monday 081516

By Dave Graichen

 

South Louisiana is grappling with one of the most catastrophic flood events in the state’s history, and the situation is ongoing. The Bayou State has dealt with a few significant weather events this year, but this one is shattering records beyond measure. Governor John Bel Edwards says, because residents did not anticipate their homes flooding.. the search and rescue operations have been inundated..

 

Edwards says more than 20,000 people had been rescued over the weekend, and over 500 pets.  Many have said that one of the greatest challenges of this situation, is how unpredictable the weather and the water has been. Edwards says volunteers and first responders have been working around the clock to make these rescues, and many others are stepping up as well…:

 

The great flood of 2016 wiped out places that had never seen water before. Interstate 12 had to be closed between Baton Rouge and Hammond. State Police Col Mike Edmonson says officers were with people who got stranded on the interstate, but many refused to leave their cars. He says troopers tried to reach people to bring them food and water, but it’s been a major challenge…:

 

As of Sunday afternoon, four people had reportedly been confirmed dead from being washed away by the raging waters and strong current. GOHSEP Director Col. James Waskom says this rescue effort is not limited to Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa…:

 

Louisiana National Guard Major General Glenn Curtis says this has been a life and death operation. He says about 1700 guardsmen are mobilized in the affected area across south Louisiana.

 

The weekend flooding hit close to home when woman drowned Sunday afternoon after  she attempted to drive through a flooded road in Hineston. According to the RPSO, the vehicle was swept away by the water. The woman and her young child were able to escape the vehicle before it sank. The child survived by cling to a tree and was rescued by two local residents. The woman was not so lucky. Her body was found a short time later.

 

After days of torrential downpours and massive flooding across much of southeastern Louisiana, many people are expected to file claims on their flood insurance policies. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the first thing people need to do is contact their agent.  Donelon says people should also do what they can to minimize the damage to their home. If there are any costs involved in doing so, people need to save those receipts as well.

 

Today we enter what forecasters say is the heart of hurricane season. State climatologist Barry Keim says this period runs from about mid-August until early October. He says this period is when most of the worst hurricanes have hit Louisiana. Keim says conditions over the Gulf are right to produce some strong storms. He says that’s why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upped their forecast for this year’s hurricane season.

 

State Superintendent of Education John White is proposing a plan to lawmakers that would allow the voucher students that were placed on a waiting list, to go ahead and enroll in the nonpublic school. He says the schools would agree to accept a small payment of $100 from the state per child for the year.  White says the money the state would pay for these students’ vouchers is essentially the same if the child attended a public school. White says they will know by August 22nd whether or not the private schools who participate in the voucher program will agree to this plan, but he expects most will.

 

The Drug Enforcement Administration announces marijuana will remain a Schedule I drug under federal law, which begs the question as to what will happen in Louisiana and the 24 other states that legalized medical marijuana. Parks Senator Fred Mills authored Louisiana’s medical marijuana legislation, and he says he’s not worried because they planned for this when they wrote the bill. Mills says this ruling should not affect Louisiana’s ability to dispense medical cannabis to the patients who need it. But he says he is still not pleased with the feds’ decision.

 

Many Louisianans are feeling the wrath of upper respiratory infections even in the dog days of summer. Lake Charles Memorial Hospital Infection Preventionist Bridget Redlich attributes this to the increase to the pollen and mold count during the summer months.. Redlich says it’s easy to confuse an upper respiratory infection with allergies but there is a difference. If conditions worsen, if you run a fever or if symptoms don’t seem to want to do away, see a professional.

 

Bassmaster Magazine has named Caddo Lake and Lake Bistineau in the top 25 lakes for bass fishing in the country. Toledo Bend has been ranked number one by the magazine for the last two years. LDWF Fisheries Biologist Manger Jeff Sibley says a panel of people review the sights and tournament data then come up with a formula to rank the lakes. Caddo Lake comes in a number 7 and Lake Bistineau ranks number 16.

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News For Friday 08/12/16


News for Friday 081216

By Dave Graichen

 

Grass cutters made a gruesome discovery Thursday morning when they discovered a body on the levee near industrial park road. The APD says the unidentified body was that of a man. But, that is the only information available right now. The remains were turned over to the Rapides Parish Coroner's Office for an autopsy and other testing.

 

A flash flood watch is in effect for over 40 Louisiana parishes through Saturday. The National Weather Service says flooding will be a concern on rivers and in low lying areas and areas with poor drainage. Rain totals are expected to reach up to 10 inches in some areas.

 

NOAA released an updated Atlantic hurricane outlook and predicts this still will be the strongest since 2012. Lead Seasonal hurricane forecaster Dr. Gerry Bell says there is a lot of activity ahead for this season. He says it’s time to prepare since we’re entering peak hurricane season. He says we’re now expecting a 70-percent change of 12 to 17 named storms, 5 to 8 of those are expected to become hurricanes and 2 to 4 of those are expected to become major hurricanes.

 

Enrollment in the expanded Medicaid program is exceeding the goals set by the Louisiana Department of Health extremely fast. LDH Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee says they’re at about 73% of the aim to get 375,000 people enrolled by next June. She hopes this will lead to better health outcomes in Louisiana. Gee says people can still enroll at healthy.la.gov.

 

Flames could be seen for miles Thursday morning coming from the Motiva Oil Refinery in St. James Parish. It is not known yet what caused the fire, but forecasters say there was lightning in the area at the time. Jywanna Octave with the St. James OEP says it was a scary situation, but all workers were able to safely evacuate.

 

State Police report an Olla man has been charged after investigators determined he had been racing with another driver who was killed in a 2 vehicle crash back in June. 24 year old Dannen Poole was charged with hit and run and drag racing on a public road in connection with the crash that killed 28 year old Joshua Proffer of Olla. Poole was booked into the LaSalle Parish Correctional Center.

 

A new study from WalletHub finds that Louisiana is the third worst state for underprivileged children. Jill Gonzales with WalletHub says Louisiana ranks 31st for the number of maltreated children, and 49th for the number of children living in poverty. According to the report, Louisiana ranks 47th for infant mortality. Gonzales says the state also came in 48th for the number of children in single parent homes.

 

Louisiana ranks in the top ten lowest gas prices in the country, according to AAA. Spokesperson Don Redman says we are seeing a slight uptick in gas prices because of what AAA expects to be record high demand. Redman says refineries have done a good job keeping up with the demand, which contributes to the lower prices. But he says we’ve also seen cheaper than average crude oil, and that also keeps prices down at the pump. He expects gas prices to stay below average into September and October.

 

An officer involved shooting in Plaquemine left one suspect critically wounded. Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi says the suspect approached the deputies, and when he got close to them, he pulled out a gun. Stassi says the suspect was critically wounded and transported to a hospital in Baton Rouge. He says none of the deputies were injured.

 

The Department of Children and Family Services is launching an initiative to improve foster care. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says moving foster kids from one home to another can be traumatizing to that child. She hopes the new Quality Parenting Initiative will help DCFS reduce the number of placement changes and keep more siblings together.

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News For Thursday 08/11/16


News for Thursday 081116

By Dave Graichen

 

The Saints will take on the New England Patriots tonight in their first preseason game of the 2016 season. The contest will be held in Gillette Stadium and kick off is at 6:30. You can hear that game in Cenla on 96.9 KZMZ

 

The Natchitoches Police Department is investigating a two-vehicle fatal crash that claimed the life of Jimmy D. Long Sr. a leader in state government for nearly a half-century. They say the crash occurred when Long apparently didn’t see oncoming traffic as he pulled out of a private driveway. Long’s 32-year tenure in the legislature was one of the longest in the state’s history. Funeral services for Long will be at 2 p.m. Friday in First Baptist Church in Natchitoches. Visitation is this evening from 5 to 8 at the church.

 

One Marksville deputy city marshal charged with murder in the death of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis wants to find out if prosecutors used hypnosis on any of their witnesses. Norris Greenhouse Jr’s attorney, George Higgins, filed a motion to discover if polygraph tests or sodium pentothal were used. Legal Analyst Tim Meche says typically professional law enforcement organizations do not use hypnosis but less experienced and knowledgeable agencies sometimes do. Meche says he’s unsure if the witnesses could’ve been hypnotized, but it was completely appropriate for Greenhouse’s attorney to file the motion.

 

The city of Alexandria is getting closer to taking possession of the former Weiss & Goldring building downtown. The property is being donated to the city by the current owner Teddy Price, but city officials say there are still a lot of details to be worked out.

 

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says there will be fewer construction projects in Louisiana for the next couple of years because of budget limitations. He also says they didn’t want to add to the financial burdens colleges are already facing, so they did not include new campus projects in this year’s construction bill. He says the bond commission only allows the state to borrow 6% of what funds the Revenue Estimating Conference says the state has.

 

Candiate for US Senate Troy Hebert is suing Southern Media and Opinion Research pollster Bernie Pinsonat for listing him as a Republican rather than an Independent in a poll. Hebert says he is not seeking damages in the suit, but it would be up to the judge to decide whether or not to award him any money in this case. Pinsonat says identifying Hebert as an Independent wouldn’t have helped his numbers.

 

A crash with a fire truck sent six people in Baton Rouge to the hospital. The fire truck was t-boned while trying to get to a vehicle wreck with its sirens and lights on. The three people in the vehicle, as well as, three in the fire truck were knocked unconscious. The fire truck driver suffered the most serious injuries.

 

State Senator Troy Brown reportedly says he will not step down from the legislature despite calls from other state leaders, including Governor John Bel Edwards, to resign over his two domestic abuse arrests. Brown has been suspended from the four committees he serves on, but UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says it will take a recall election to remove him from office.

 

Think you’re getting sick or have a broken arm? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana’s smartphone app now has a symptom checker. The symptom checker, which is available to both members and non-members,  will give the user a list of symptoms, images, and give a self-care advice section. There’s also an area within the symptom checker to direct the user on the best method to obtain help. The Blue Cross Blue Shield app is available in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

 

Police in Abbeville say they are interviewing suspects in the case of the nurse who was allegedly kidnapped and abducted  Wednesday morning. They say the woman was held at gunpoint and was demanded she reveal information about a doctor, possibly for the purposes of extortion. Police say the investigation into this incident, the exact motive and the number of suspects is an ongoing.

 

State Superintendent of Education John While got a positive job evaluation Wednesday by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, but will remain on his month-to-month deal. It’s reported White was given a 3.2 on a 4 point scale which he called “effective proficient.”

 

The Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales is asking Bayou Country Superfest promoters to consider moving to their venue, which is owned by the Ascension Parish government. Parish President Kenny Mattassa said in a statement they believe the future is bright with possibilities at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center, including an ability to host the Memorial Weekend BCS.

 

More and more travelers are choosing New Orleans as their vacation destination. Kristian Sonnier with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau says the Big Easy is now the second most popular destination for international travelers, behind New York City. But he says the number of international visitors is growing much faster in New Orleans. Sonnier says New Orleans was also ranked at the top of the list for food and music travel destinations by two prestigious lifestyle magazines.

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News For Monday 08/08/16


News for Monday 080816

By Dave Graichen

 

The National Hurricane Center is monitoring a low-pressure system in the Atlantic, just off the Bahamas. The system has a chance of developing over the next five days if it remains over the water.

 

There’ll never be another. New Orleans music legend Pete Fountain died over the weekend.  Fountain had faced health problems in recent years, including undergoing heart surgery and suffering a stroke. Fountain retired from his 60 year jazz career in 2014. Pete Fountain was 86.

 

The city of Natchitoches and its mayor are being sued for not allowing the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Louisiana to display confederate flags while marching in last year’s Christmas parade. Thomas Taylor, the Louisiana division’s former commander, says flag-carrying members have participated in the parade for decades without causing any problems.

 

LSU says they won’t be able to host Bayou Country Superfest at Tiger Stadium for the next couple of years due to renovations that need to be made during the off season. Visit Baton Rouge President Paul Arrigo says it’s disappointing, but they are glad LSU was nice enough to allow BCS to be held there for the past several years. BCS Producer Quint Davis says they are exploring alternative locations to hold the festival.

 

LSU research indicates feral hogs are contaminating some central Louisiana water bodies. Dr. Michael Kaller with the LSU School of Renewable Resources says these hogs, like other wildlife, are putting pathogens into the water through their waste. Kaller says they looked at bodies of water between Alexandria and Natchitoches. He says these pathogens can pose serious health risks if someone ingests them, but he says some can also be absorbed through the skin. Kaller says these hogs have always been in the area, but not in such high numbers. He says population control is needed to keep contamination levels down.

 

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is leading in the national polls over Donald Trump, so could that affect the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana? University of Louisiana at Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross doesn’t think it will have much impact, because there are many highly qualified GOP candidates on the ballot. But Cross expects Republican candidates will stay away from supporting Trump, if he continues to drop in the polls.

 

Former four-term governor Edwin Edwards says he is well on his way to becoming the oldest governor of Louisiana, as he just turned 89-years-old on Sunday. Edwards’s youngest son Eli just turned 3, and he says it’s given him a chance to be a better father than he was to his first four children. Edwards is still moving around quite well for someone who is pushing 90.. But Edwards says he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon, and he believes he’ll live to see 100. Former-governor Jimmy Davis lived to be 102.

 

Police say 42-year-old Franklinton man was killed over the weekend when a an oncoming vehicle turned directly in his path. The motorcyclist was transported to a local hospital where he later died.

 

Lafayette Metro Narcotics and the Sheriff’s Office are warning the public about a dangerous drug believed to be responsible for over 13 deaths in Acadiana. Lafayette Police Corporal Paul Mouton says the drug’s name is Fentanyl and it’s a potent synthetic opioid that’s similar to Heroin. Mouton says Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin so when it’s used in the same manner it can be deadly. He says if you know someone who is a drug user, you need to get them help before they purchase Fentanyl.

 

A former Assistant Administrator at a war veteran’s home in Monroe has been arrested after stealing thousands of dollars from a patient there. Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street says 51-year-old Tommy Shoemaker has been booked on counts of exploiting persons with infirmities and theft of an aged or disabled person.

 

The Louisiana Department of Health has confirmed four more Zika cases in Louisiana. Officials say like the other cases in Louisiana, these people also traveled to South America. This brings the total number of travel-related cases in Louisiana to 19. Local transmission has still not occurred in the Bayou State.

 

There are three Louisiana natives representing the United States at the Summer Olympics in Rio. Baton Rouge native Seimone Augustus seeks her third gold medal with the women’s basketball team. Shreveport weightlifter Kendrick Farris is making his second Olympic games appearance and Baton Rouge’s Meghan O’ Leary is a rower.

 

Louisiana Tech starting quarterback Ryan Higgins was booked on DWI charges early Friday morning. The Bulldogs began Fall Camp on Sunday. No word yet as to whether or nor Higgins was allowed to hit the field.

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News For Friday 08/05/16


News for Friday 080516

By Dave Graichen

 

Authorities in Grant Parish are investigating the death of a Montgomery woman whose body was found lying in a ditch Thursday. Sheriff Steve McCain says 37 year old Amanda Thompson was found alongside Whispering Pines Road by a passing motorist. McCain says an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

 

A Texas man was arrested early Thursday morning after a routine traffic stop in Woodworth. Police say they found 39 pounds of Marijuana , 1,038 doses of suspected Ecstasy and seven suspected hydrocodone tablets. The officer also found more than $1,100 in cash in the vehicles trunk. The driver of the vehicle and a passenger were booked into the Rapides parish detention center.  

 

The ADP reports an Alexandria man has become the third person to be charged in a string of residential burglaries in the city. 20 year old Austin Byrd was arrested on Wednesday and booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. That after an investigation linked Byrd to the burglaries.

 

The state department of education says there was a five-percent increase in the number of students who achieved “mastery” scores on standardized tests that were taken this past spring. But education superintendent John White says there’s still a wide gap between the percentage of black and white students who are achieving the Mastery level.  White says the test scores also show more work needs to be done to get students ready for college.

 

The Colorado State Hurricane Forecast team predicts we’ll see 10 named storms and four hurricanes for the remainder of the hurricane season. Doctor Phil Klotzbach says there is a 29-percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall on the Gulf Coast. Klotzbach says expect tropical storm activity to pick up in the next couple of weeks.

 

The body of a pilot and a helicopter that crashed in the Atchafalaya Basin were found this Thursday morning by search crews. The identity of the pilot has not been released, but t is believed he was the only person on board,. The wreckage was found in Iberia Parish and the chopper is owned by Texas-based Gulf Coast Helicopters Incorporated.

 

The new school year is getting underway, as some kids are already back in the classroom and others will be soon. Dr. Frank Welch with the state Department of Health says parents can get their children vaccinated at their pediatrician’s office or family doctor or at a parish health unit.

Welch says vaccinating children protects them and others from getting dangerous and potentially life threatening diseases, like measles, flu, mumps, whooping cough and pneumonia. He says despite contrary reports, vaccines are safe and help keep others safe.

 

Today and tomorrow it’s the state’s annual sales tax holiday. Instead of a five-percent sales tax, customers will pay 3-percent on most purchases. In years past, the state sales tax was completely exempted, but the legislature changed it, because of budget difficulties. Many stores will be offering specials of their own as well.. And a correction to a story we had yesterday. The 2nd amendment tax holiday in September will also be limited to  2% reduction in state sales tax.

 

Public school students will learn more about money and finances in school this year, thanks to a bill by Minden Representative Gene Reynolds. He says students used to be required to learn financial literacy in school, but teachers have gotten away from it in the past few years. He says this new law seeks to change that. Reynolds says the law does not establish a class just for financial literacy but allows teachers to incorporate it into their lessons.

 

Authorities are working to ID the remains of a woman who was burned. Chief Deputy Mike Haley, with the Washington Parish Sheriff’s office, says 41-year-old Joey Mixon has been charged with murder in the woman’s brutal death. Haley says they know Mixon knew the victim and got into an argument with her, but there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. Officials believe the victim is from St. Tammany Parish.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards announced today the state plans on investing more than 20-million dollars to address the congestion that takes place every day at the Washington Street exit on I-10 in Baton Rouge.  The governor says it’s the only area in the country where the interstate goes down to one lane.

 

Medicaid will now cover mosquito repellant for pregnant women in an effort to fight against the Zika virus. The program allows doctors to prescribe mosquito repellant for women who are on Medicaid, and the pregnancy approved repellants are covered. The Department of Health urges women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant to always use mosquito repellant, because Zika can cause a baby to be born with serious birth defects.

 

A former assistant administrator for the Northeast Louisiana War Veterans Home is facing charges amid allegations he was stealing from an infirm resident. 51-year-old Thomas Shoemaker is charged with exploitation of the infirmed and theft of the assets of an aged person or disabled person. The victim suffered from several ailments including dementia. Shoemaker is accused of, among other things, using the victims ATM card without permission.

 

Chefs from around the country will compete in New Orleans tomorrow for the title of King of American Seafood. Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, Karen Profita, says the 13th annual Great American Seafood Cook-off will take place in front of a live audience at the Ernest Morial Convention Center at 11:30. She says eleven chefs will work up their best seafood dish.

 

The Saints have brought in several veteran players in the hopes of improving a defense that’s been one of the worst in the NFL the last two seasons. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley signed a one-year contract for three million dollars in the offseason and he’s expected to help defend the run and eat up space in the middle of the field. Coach Sean Payton expects Fairley to have a big role on this team.

 

LSU’s defense will use fall camp to learn a new defense that’s being installed by first-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Last year, the Tigers were guilty of several blown coverages that allowed to big plays from their opponents. LSU is ranked sixth in the preseason coaches’ poll.

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News For Thursday 08/04/16


News for Thursday 080416

By Dave Graichen

 

In some restaurants, it is best you don’t see what goes on behind the scenes in the Kitchen. That’s where the state Department of Health and Hospitals comes in.. More than a dozen restaurants in Alexandria and Pineville have racked up at least 20 health violations between 2013 and 2016. One of those is Sake Sushi, which the Department of Health forced to close last week.  A complete list of restaurant inspections can be found at eatsafe.louisiana.gov a list of the restaurants that racked up the most violations here in Alexandria / Pineville can be found in today’s Towntalk

 

The APD reports an arrest has been made in connection with a shooting on Monroe Street Monday. 30 year old Tony Price was captured on Tuesday and booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Price charged with attempted second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. But, this isn’t Price’s first time at the rodeo. Price also was charged back in late April after he and another man allegedly fired shots at a house on 11th Street.

 

The State Department of Transportation has received a $60 million federal FASTLANE grant to widen and repave Interstate 10 between the I-49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin. DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson believes widening the road to three lanes in both directions will help to alleviate congestion.  Wilson says this federal grant frees up state dollars to be used for other highway improvements.

 

The mother of a five-year-old boy who was fatally shot in the head by his nine-year-old brother has been charged with child desertion. Colonel John Fortunado with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says 29-year-old Generra Brown was caring for a neighbor across the street, when the two boys were playing in a closet and came across a handgun. The five-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Human remains found in the Grand Canyon are believed to be those of a Louisiana woman who’s been missing since April. Rangers located the remains near the South Rim and believe the body is that of 22-year-old Diana Zacarias of Natchitoches. Officials say she arrived at the canyon the day before she was reported missing, but the National Park Service was unable to locate her after several days of searching.

 

Louisiana has received $400-thousand from the Centers for Disease Control to fight the Zika virus. Dr. Frank Welch with the Department of Health says it will be used to educate both OBGYNs and at-risk pregnant women about the virus, and help them learn about what medical action needs to be taken if a woman gets Zika.

 

Wednesday marked the four-year anniversary of the Bayou Corne Sinkhole. Assumption Parish Emergency Preparedness Director John Boudreaux says it all started with strange bubbles of water coming up from beneath the surface to a massive sinkhole that forced numerous families  to move elsewhere. Boudreaux says about 15 individuals still live in the area.

 

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser announces that international travel to Louisiana has increased 36% over the past year. He says that puts Louisiana second only to Michigan for annual growth. He says international tourism has huge benefits for the state. Nungesser says New Orleans saw a 37% increase during the same time period and this is the third consecutive year of double digit growth in international visitors. He credits Louisiana’s great food and culture and its people for the big increase in tourists from outside of the United States.

 

The LSU football team hits the practice field Today for the first of several practices leading up to the season opener against Wisconsin on September 3rd. Coach Les Miles knows he has a lot of talent on this squad and wants to see it play out over the next month.

LSU is considered one of the favorites to win the Southeastern Conference and play in the College Football Playoff.

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News For Wednesday 8/03/16


News for Wednesday 080316

By Dave Graichen

 

Tropical Storm Earl has formed in the Caribbean Sea, the first Atlantic basin named storm since late June. Earl will track toward Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where strong winds and heavy rainfall will be threats late Wednesday into Thursday. Current indications are that the chance of a direct impact on the U.S. from Earl is low. The storm already claimed 6 lives in the Dominican Republic.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards has faced a lot of different issues in his first 8 months in office and a new poll shows almost half of the voters approve of the job he’s doing. UNO Pollster Ed Chervenak says an approval rating near 50-percent isn’t bad for a Democrat in a red state.

During his first year in office, the governor has had to tackle a huge budget deficit, historic flooding and police shootings.

 

There have been 27 shooting deaths in Shreveport this year. Corporal Marcus Hines says the latest victim is a 15-year-old, who was found dead inside a home from a gunshot wound to the head. Police say they have few leads  and witnesses aren’t cooperating. A $1,000 reward is being offered for information on this crime.

 

A Lafayette man has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend. Lafayette Police Cpl. Paul Mouton says investigators have determined 33-year-old Jonathan Aubrey went to the home of 37-year-old Sheree Patin Williams on Sunday and killed her. Mouton says Williams had obtained a Protective Order against Aubrey earlier in the year and it was still in effect when she died. He says a witness put Aubrey at the residence.

Williams body was found Monday morning.

 

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark says his office’s autopsy report on the death of Alton Sterling has been sealed by a federal judge. Clark announced last month that Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, died of multiple gunshot wounds after a confrontation with two white police officers, but did not release any other information.

 

The US Coast Guard and other agencies are attempting to clean-up 42-hundred gallons of crude oil that spilled near the mouth of the Mississippi River. A well owned by Texas Petroleum Investment Company discharged the oil. A Coast Guard spokesperson says they are trying to collect as much oil as possible with skimmers.

 

A Luling man has been charged with three counts of attempted first degree murder after firing more than 40 shots into his estranged wife’s parent’s home. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne says 30-year-old William Canada shot his father-in-law in the chest but the bullet didn’t penetrate his chest cavity because it first went through a door and sofa. He says they’re searching Canada’s residence because they found a makeshift Molotov cocktail and an accelerant at the scene. Champagne says after Canada and his wife separated, he went into a depression.

 

Kids and parents are gearing up for the start of the new school year, and that means getting back in the school routine. LSU Health New Orleans Clinical Pediatrics professor, Dr. Cory Hebert, says if parents haven’t started getting their kids adjusted to a school sleep schedule, they should. He says it’s a good idea to avoid caffeine before bedtime, and parents can help their kids adjust to new bedtimes by going to bed the same time they do.

 

A Louisiana man is fighting to receive survivor benefits after his husband died. Marjorie Esman with the ACLU of Louisiana says William Conley passed away in February of 2015, and his husband Gerald Beem has been trying to get social security benefits ever since. Esman says the couple got married in California in 2014, before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide. She says even though gay marriage was not legal in Louisiana at the time, the marriage should still be recognized.  Gene Mills with the Louisiana Family Forum says he doesn’t see them winning this case, because gay marriages were not recognized in Louisiana at the time of his death.

 

Shreveport police are searching for a suspect who vandalized and broke into the office of State Representative Barbara Norton. Norton says the outside of her office was vandalized last week, then someone broke into it on Sunday. She says whoever broke in, also changed one of the locks at her office. This is the second time in less than a year that Norton’s office has been broken into. Norton says her office will remain closed until the damage to the office has been repaired and the investigation is complete.

 

The start of what could be a special football season for the LSU Tigers begins today as the players report for Fall Camp. The Bayou Bengals are coming off a 9-and-3 season. College football expert Phil Steele predicts LSU will be one of four playoff teams at the end of the regular season.

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News For Tuesday 08/02/16


News for Tuesday 080216

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana has the worst public schools in the country, according to a new report from the personal finance website WalletHub. Analyst Jill Gonzales says Louisiana ranked near the bottom in reading and math and ACT scores. Gonzales says Louisiana also ranked low on school safety, for the number of minors in detention facilities and reported bullying, but the state did even worse in the number of discipline incidents. In response to this report, the state department of education says public school students have made tremendous growth. The report showed the state also ranked 45th in dropout rates.

 

The APD reports two men have been arrested after a shooting incident in the city, that left one man shot in the leg, early yesterday morning. Arrested were 27 year old Terrance King of Alexandria and 21 year old  Damian Brinson of Pineville. King was charged with attempted first-degree murder. He is being held without bond. Brinson was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute. The investigation is ongoing.

 

The Louisiana Department of Revenue has issued a warning that scam artists are targeting some Louisiana taxpayers. LDR spokesperson Byron Henderson says these scammers try to convince people to reveal private financial information, which is called ‘phishing.’

Henderson says LDR will never call a taxpayer and ask for personal information.

 

US Senate candidate and former-KKK leader David Duke has an 82% disapproval rating, according to a University of New Orleans poll of about 600 likely voters. Duke entered the US Senate race on the final day of qualifing for the election. He’s one of 24 candidates in the race.

 

More endorsements were handed out in the US Senate race. The Jefferson Parish Republican Executive Committee says its backing Republican Congressman Charles Boustany. While Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy says he has the support from former GOP governor Mike Foster.

 

Over 400 new laws take effect in Louisiana yesterday.. One of the new laws calls on municipalities to post visible signs within 500 feet of red light camera intersections. Another, you must be 21 to be an exotic dancer in Louisiana and Drivers will now pay double what they used to for not wearing a seatbelt. The fine for a first offense has doubled from $25 to $50, and second offense fines have increased from $50 to $75. Currently, the seatbelt compliance rate in Louisiana is nearly 86%.

 

A boating fatality in LaFourche Parish claimed the life of a 5 year old boy. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the child, Ethan Hancock of Houma, was frogging with his father when a barge came up from behind them. The bothe dove into the water. But, the boy didn’t make it to shore. Authorities say they were both wearing life jackets.

 

The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office says a West Monroe man is dead after falling off the roof of a home that’s under construction in the St. Luke Area. Deputies believe 54-year-old Donavan Labbe fell 18 to 20 feet to his death.

 

About 48-thousand Louisiana residents will receive a check as a result of a $310 million settlement with the manufacturers of dynamic random access memory devices, or DRAM (dee-ram), for overcharging customers. Attorney General spokesperson Ruth Wisher says DRAM was used in electronic devices, like computers and gaming consoles, from 1998 to 2002. Louisiana and many other states filed a lawsuit in 2007 to get back the money consumers lost. Wisher says that lawsuit was settled and Attorney General Jeff Landry recently mailed checks to the people who made claims against the DRAM manufacturers. The average check, $56

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News For Monday 08/01/16


News for Monday 080116

By Dave Graichen

 

We note a sad passing today.. Jacqueline  Caplan the woman who was a driving force behind the arts in Central Louisiana for decades, succumbed to cancer after a third bout with it Saturday. The New Orleans native, Jacqueline Segall Caplan moved to Alexandria with her husband, Ed Caplan, to manage the family's business, Caplan's Men's Shop. The couple worked together at the business for more than 43 years.  Jacqueline Caplan was 81.

 

A 26-year-old mother and her five-year-old daughter were found shot to death in a residence in Thibodaux. LaFourche Parish Sheriff’s office spokesperson Brennan Matherne says investigators believe the mother, Nakesha Carrere shot Abigail Creamer and then turned the gun on herself. Matherne says investigators are still processing the evidence, but they are confident this was a murder-suicide. Matherne says Creamer’s father discovered the horrific scene and called 9-1-1 just before noon on Sunday….

 

The “Blue Lives Matter” law goes into effect today in Louisiana, and Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says his bill is now more important than ever after the attacks on police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas. Harris says crimes committed against first responders, because of the uniforms they wear are now classified as hate crimes, as a result of this new law.

Harris says because of this new law, people who target police officers and first responders will spend more time behind bars.

 

After three officers have been laid to rest following the attack on police in Baton Rouge, one deputy remains in the hospital in critical condition. Cpl. Nick Tullier was shot in the head and torso. He underwent surgery Friday in an attempt to close an abdominal incision.

 

As the new school year is right around the corner, about one in three students who thought they would receive a voucher to attend a private school are now on a waiting list. Over 400 young people who anticipated being placed in a private school have now been told a week before school starts, they won’t have a spot. The state cut the voucher program by 2.5 million dollars for the 2016-2017 school year because of Louisiana’s massive budget deficit.

 

Drug arrests have plummeted in Baton Rouge since the fatal officer-involved shooting of Alton Sterling. Crime analyst Jeff Asher says they saw similar occurrences in other cities that had police shootings, like Ferguson, Chicago, and Baltimore. Asher says the homicide rate also increased during the same time period, which raises the question as to what will happen in Baton Rouge. Asher says dealing with protests is a plausible explanation for the initial drop in narcotics enforcement, but it doesn’t explain why that drug arrest rate has stayed down.

 

There are four confirmed cases of Zika in Miami in people who did not travel out the country or have contact with someone who did. State Health Official Dr. Frank Welsh says this likely means we’re seeing Zika infected mosquitoes in the United States. He says Louisiana is prepared because there is a very real chance of local transmission of the Zika virus in the state. Welsh says Zika is such a mild illness in the vast majority of people that four out of five people who get the virus don’t even know they have it. Welsh says the biggest risk is when a pregnant woman contracts Zika because while the mother could experience no symptoms, the fetus is developing severe birth defects.

 

A new law goes into effect today that means strippers at clubs in Louisiana will have to be at least 21 years old. John Geiger is a bouncer at the Crazy Horse club in Port Allen. Geiger says this means dancers will have to perform other jobs in the clubs or go out of state. Geiger says he knows there are concerns about sex trafficking, but he says he’s never seen that happen at any of the clubs he’s worked at. He says the dancers are just trying to earn a living and in many cases pay their way through college. Geiger says they believe the law is unconstitutional because it infringes on a person’s right to work. He says they will pursue legal action.

 

A Terrebonne Parish island is disappearing, and one UL-Lafayette professor is working to preserve its history before it’s gone. Dr. Heather Stone says Isle de Jean Charles is home to the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe of Native Americans. In 1955, Isle de Jean Charles was about 22,000 acres and home to hundreds of people, but today it has shrunk to about 320 acres because of coastal erosion. The roughly 70 people who still live on the island will eventually relocate, thanks to a $48 million federal grant.

 

Police have located and arrested the father of a 4-month-old baby who was found dead at home in Lake Charles apparently from alcohol intoxication. The mother, 25-year-old Courtney Moore, was arrested at home shortly after the warrant was obtained. 40-year-old Larry Champ and Moore each face charges of 2nd Degree Murder.

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News For Friday 07/29/16


News for Friday 072916

By Dave Graichen

 

Hundreds gathered at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge to celebrate the lives and mourn the loss of Officer Matthew Gerald, Deputy Brad Garafola, and Cpl. Montrell Jackson. State and federal leaders spoke at the vigil saying the greatest moments often come after the darkest times. Governor John Bel Edwards says we have to uproot hate and violence and replace it with peace and love. Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the importance of community policing and addressed the struggle of doing so when law enforcement budgets get slashed year after year. The wives of the three fallen officers also spoke during the vigil ceremony.

 

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch meets today with the U.S. Attorney in Baton Rouge and other US Justice Department officials for a roundtable discussion.  Lynch is also scheduled to have a meeting  with law enforcement first responders.

 

State police report a Natchitoches woman was killed in a Wednesday afternoon accident on I-49. 33 year old Ayesha Davis was killed when the vehicle she was a passenger in had a tire blowout, causing the vehicle to overturn several times. Davis was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, 25 year old Samuel Darden of New Llano, received moderate injuries. Troopers say both were not wearing seatbelts. 

 

Bossier City Rep. Mike Johnson is hoping voters will support a proposed constitutional amendment on Nov. 8 that establishes a property tax exemption for the family members of a fallen first responder. He says with all the tragedies occurring in recent months, passing an amendment like this is the least we could do.

 

Another person has been arrested on felony charges accused of making threatening statements online, this time also towards US Senate candidate David Duke. State Police Sgt. Jared Sandifer says 22-year-old Anthony Moore said in a YouTube video that, “If David Duke becomes senator for Louisiana, bro, I am killing this man.” He says Moore, while being questioned, making the post. Sandifer says Moore also indicated in the videos that he was going to kill over the Alton Sterling shooting.

 

Louisiana’s film industry has taken a hit since lawmakers put a cap on the state’s film tax incentive program last year, but business agent for a New Orleans film workers union, Cory Parker, says things are looking up. He says some smaller productions are coming to the Bayou State again. Parker is optimistic that next year, legislators can pass legislation that will make the film tax credit program stronger and eliminate some of the concerns film makers.

 

Researchers at the LSU AgCenter have determined that mosquito pesticides do not pose a serious health risk to honeybees. Entomologist Kristen Healy says they performed a series of tests with various pesticides, and they kept coming to the same conclusion. The AgCenter received a grant from the EPA to research the effects of pesticides on honeybees, because there have been significant annual losses in the bee population the last few years.

 

Who Dat Nation is wondering if the Saints and its superstar quarterback Drew Brees will agree to a contract extension before the regular season starts, but Brees says it’s not on the top of his mind. Brees is entering the final year of a five-year, 100-million dollar contract. The veteran hopes he and the team can reach a new deal. But, Brees says he’s ending contract talks once the regular season starts, if he doesn’t have a new deal in place. The 37-year-old also believes he can play past the age of 40.

 

Lake Charles Police say a 4-month-old who died earlier this month had a .047 blood alcohol level in his system. Authorities have arrested the child’s mother, 25-year-old Danielle Morris and the search is on for the father, 40-year-old Larry Champ. The parents are facing second-degree murder charges.

 

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News For Thursday 07/27/16


News for Thursday 072816

By Dave Graichen

 

A memorial service honoring the three fallen Baton Rouge police officers will be held at 2pm today at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge. Vice President Joe Biden, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Governor John Bel Edwards will speak at the memorial. Hicks says this shows that their local, state, and federal counterparts are coming together in this community’s time of need.

 

Each of the families of the three fallen Baton Rouge police officers will receive 250 thousand dollars from the Law Enforcement Officers and Fireman’s Survivor’s Fund. AG Jeff Landry says each child of the officers will receive 15 thousand dollars and the chance to attend college in Louisiana tuition free. He says the families should be receiving lump sum checks in just a couple of weeks.

 

Louisiana ranks second for the number of police officers killed in the line of duty this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The report shows firearms related fatalities spiked 78% nationwide this year. In Louisiana, four of the officer deaths were by gunfire, two by vehicular assault, and one in a car accident.

 

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said the dialogue has to change about shootings involving police. Normand made the statement, after one of his deputies shot 17-year-old Tuesday night. The teen’s gun misfired when he attempted to shoot the officer after being caught attempting to steal some tire rims. Normand showed pictures from teen’s Facebook page showing him holding a gun and drugs and listed off highlights from the suspect’s rap sheet. Normand says that he keeps hearing that we need to develop trust between police and the public, but he says trust is a two way street. He says it’s bilateral, not unilateral.

 

We are starting to see more endorsements in the US Senate race. Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer is officially backing State Treasurer John Kennedy and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain has endorsed Congressman Charles Boustany. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says Strain being a current statewide elected official will be beneficial to Boustany.

 

A Breaux Bridge Catholic priest has been arrested on child porn charges after investigators allegedly found 500 images of child pornography on a computer that he uses. Trooper Brooks David says 50-year-old Felix David Broussard could spend a long time in jail, if convicted. The Diocese of Lafayette says Broussard was placed on administrative leave.

 

The ALS Association says the millions of dollars raised during the 2014 “Ice Bucket Challenge” helped scientists identify a gene that contributes to the disease. Kelly Viator, director of the Louisiana chapter of the ALS Association, says it shows small donations can make a big difference. Now that this gene has been connected to ALS, researchers can develop targeted therapy to treat it.

 

Natchitoches Police say no charges will be filed at this time regarding the shooting death of a 15-year-old. The teenager was shot several times in a parking lot on Sunday afternoon. Police say he was in possession of an AK-47 style weapon at the time of the shooting and the shooter, a 21-year-old man, told authorities he fired his weapon when he was approached by the 15 year-old who is now dead. The District Attorney’s office is reviewing the case.

 

Many Saints fans are expected to make their way to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where the Black and Gold are holding training camp.  The region was hit with devastating flooding about a month ago, but Kristy Godby with the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the area has recovered. Godby says the Greenbrier Hotel and all the hotels in nearby Lewisburg are open and ready to welcome fans. She says there’s lots of good food in the area and plenty to do after the practices. This is the third year the Saints have held their camp at the Greenbrier, and Godby says they expect this year to be bigger and better than the previous years.

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News For Wednesday 7/27/16


News for Wednesday 072716

By Dave Graichen

 

The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors has chosen former state legislator and attorney Rick Gallot as the new president at Grambling State. Gallot replaces Willie Larkins, who resigned nearly a month ago. Gallot says he’s looking forward to bringing a sense of community back to the university. He says the connections he made as a legislator could help the university tremendously.

 

Today at the Democratic National Convention, pro-life Democrats, will honor Governor John Bel Edwards with the Governor Casey Whole Life Leadership Award. Executive Director of Democrats for Life, Kristen Day, says Governor Casey was a pro-life governor of Pennsylvania who also advocated for women’s rights and higher minimum wage, so Governor Edwards was a clear choice for the award.

 

Tonight’s Powerball Jackpot is a whopping 422-million dollars. Louisiana Lottery Spokesperson Kim Chopin says this jackpot has been growing since May 7th when it was last hit at 430 million dollars, which was the 5th largest Powerball jackpot. The cash value for tonight’s grand prize is 291-million dollars.

 

Over a dozen Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Deputies went to Dallas Tuesday to deliver checks to help the families of the officers who were killed in the July 7 attack. Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Brennan Matherne says the money was raised in just one day, and they were humbled by the love and support from the community.

 

While members of the Louisiana National Guard were training in Slidell, someone broke into their vehicles at the facility in Franklinton. Franklinton Police Maj. Justin Brown says there aren’t security cameras there yet because the facility is still under construction. He says they will continue to investigate until the culprit is behind bars. Brown says 25 vehicles were broken into.

 

It’s been a hot summer and it appears there’s no relief in sight. The Climate Prediction Center predicts above average temperatures for the next three months. State climatologist Barry Keim says the long-range prediction also calls for less rainfall from August to October. Keim says 2015 was the warmest on a record dating back the 1880s. But he says 2016 could be another record breaker

 

Oil prices have fallen to a three month low, and Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute says it’s because of an abundant supply. Smith says some companies jumped the gun and started drilling, expecting prices to rise, but the increase in supply pushed them back down. He says we’ve seen the number of oil rigs increase for the past three or four weeks in a row. He says eventually oil prices will reach 60-dollars a barrel, but there will be ups and downs along the way.

 

The owners of a used car dealership in Lafayette are facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing thousands of state tax dollars. Byron Henderson with the Louisiana Department of Revenue says owners of Lauco Auto Sales, Shawn Calvit and Michael Vilchez, underreported the sale price of more than 100 vehicles and pocketed the sales tax difference. He says the value of the cars sold was more than $1 million.

 

A man who was driving drunk and traveling over 100 miles per hour and involved in a fatal wreck on Mardi Gras Day in 2015 has plead guilty to vehicular homicide. 25-year-old Bryce Chapman faces up to 30 years in prison.  Lafayette prosecutor Daniel Landry says Chapman is a first time offender, but that likely won’t help his case. Lafayette Parish School system employee Carol Richard was killed in the wreck.

 

The Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office says a man drowned in a subdivision lake Tuesday  morning in Denham Springs while he was fishing with a juvenile. They say initial reports indicate the two were in the boat when it capsized. The juvenile was able to make it to safety but the adult male did not. The investigation continues, no foul play is suspected.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards said yesterday that he’ll be joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the vigil honoring the three fallen law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. The event is open to the public and will be held at the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge Thursday beginning at 11:30 am

 

The Saints report to training camp today as they look to avoid a third straight losing season. New Orleans defense has been among the worst in the NFL the last couple of seasons. Dennis Allen is the defensive coordinator this year, but NFL analyst Mike Detillier says the team lacks quality pass rushers on the roster. Detillier says one of the big camp battles will be along the offensive line.

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News For Tuesday 07/26/16


News for Tuesday 072616

By Dave Graichen

 

The final of the three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers slain in an ambush on cops was laid to rest yesterday. Over two-thousand people turned out for the funeral of BRPD’s Corporal Montrell Jackson who leaves behind a wife and baby boy, Mason. There will be another memorial service for the Baton Rouge officers on Thursday. We’ve learned Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be among the list of the speakers.

 

A father and his two sons drowned on the Sabine River near Merryville this past weekend. Beauregard Parish Sheriff Rick Mosely says the bodies of the both boys were pulled out of the river Sunday night. Mosely says a strong current pulled the two children under the water while they were swimming and the father died trying to rescue them.

 

Disabled veterans will see an increase in their compensation beginning next year thanks to a bill by Congressman Ralph Abraham that has just been signed into law. Abraham says the bill will adjust the amount of compensation veterans receive for disability, dependents, and clothing allowance, as well as compensation for surviving spouses. Abraham says the increase is tied to the social security increase, so we won’t know how much more money these vets will get until the end of November.

 

More students than ever have achieved ACT scores that allow them to go to college, according to State Superintendent John White, who says the state’s composite ACT score has increased nearly a half a point since 2013. He says over 25-thousand students in the Class of 2016 scored an 18 or higher on the ACT. White says he credits this to the 2012 “ACT for All” initiative that allows students to take the exam at no cost, which he says gives more students access to the test. He says they also saw a record number of students qualify for the TOPS scholarship.

 

The Alexandria Zoo's made a sad announcement over the weekend that their resident male black bear Mike died Friday. The 21-year-old had been receiving medical treatment for more than two years for chronic renal disease and while he seemed to be responding well to his treatment he recently took a turn for the worse. The Zoo said Mike's "decline in health prompted the decision to humanely euthanize him once all therapy options were exhausted.

 

Mitchell Casmere, the man suspected in the July 1 armed robbery of a Regions Bank branch in Alexandria was captured on Saturday in New Orleans. Authorities report the 55 year old Casmere was arrested by the New Orleans Police Department on the warrants for armed robbery and attempted first-degree murder from the Alexandria Police Department. He currently is being held in the New Orleans Parish Detention Center, awaiting extradition to Alexandria.

 

According to AAA, nationwide gas prices are at a 12 year low. Spokesperson Don Redman says the current statewide average for a gallon of regular gas is about $1.98. Redman says the price of oil is also down to around $40 a barrel. He says drivers could see prices at the pump go down even more before the end of the summer. Redman says abundant supply has driven prices down. He says refineries have kept up with the supply surprisingly well considering the high demand.

 

Lawmakers will likely consider a bill to increase the state’s gasoline tax, when they meet for the 2017 fiscal session. That’s according to Representative Kenny Havard, who serves as chair of the House Transportation Committee and sits on the newly-formed Transportation Taskforce. Havard says there are not enough funds to address the $12 billion backlog for transportation maintenance, much less new projects. Louisiana’s 20-cent gas tax ranks 41 in the nation.

 

After a nearly 4-hour meeting, the LHSAA Executive Committee decided Eddie Bonine will remain the executive director of the organization. Bonine referred to the LHSAA as a “proverbial dumpster fire” in a report to the N-F-H-S, which led to the special meeting that went into executive session. Before the meeting went behind closed doors, Bonine apologized for his dumpster fire comment. He also talked about his frustrations over not being able to come up with a solution to end the public-private playoff split.  Bonine says after the airing it out session, he believes the board is fully behind him.

 

LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye returns to New Iberia today after surviving a fatal wreck in Wisconsin. Delahoussaye was in Wisconsin to participate in the Kohl’s Kicking Camp. He was participant in the camp last week and was scheduled to serve as a camp counselor this week. Delahoussaye’s coach at New Iberia High, Rick Hutson says Delahoussaye has attended that camp since high school and he’s thankful his former player only suffered minor injuries.

 

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News For Monday 07/25/16


News for Monday 072516

By Dave Graichen

 

A Zwolle man was killed early Sunday morning when his Motorcycle left the roadway and struck a culvert. State police say 63 year old  Ralph C. Higginbotham Jr. was wearing a helmet but the impact was so great he died at the scene. Routine toxicology tests are pending. So far this year Troop E Troopers have investigated 31 fatal crashes resulting in 36 fatalities.

 

The funeral for fallen Baton Rouge Police Corporal Montrell Jackson will be held today. Jackson was a 10 year veteran of the BRPD and the father of a new baby boy. The 32 year old was gunned down along with two fellow officers in an ambush on police. Two weeks before he was killed on the job, he made a post on Facebook pleading for people not to let hate infect their hearts — in the aftermath of the death of Alton Sterling during a confrontation with cops.

 

A record 24 candidates will appear on the November ballot for the US Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter. One of those who will be on the ballot is Former KKK leader and state legislator David Duke. The Louisiana Republican Party denounces Duke’s candidacy, and Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party Roget Villere says they’ll do whatever they can to make sure he doesn’t get elected. Duke says being rejected by the party is the best endorsement he could get.

 

The Democratic National Convention begins today in Philadelphia with 59 Louisiana delegates in attendance. Michael McHale, from Lake Charles, is one of those delegates. He expects  this convention to be much different than last week’s Republican convention. McHale says Clinton is the most qualified candidate we’ve ever seen run for president in the US. He is confident that she can move the country forward.

 

Watch out what you say on Facebook. A man is behind bars for threatening Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator. Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says 25-year-old Michael Evans was arrested in California and she says the extradition process will begin to bring Evans back to Caddo parish. Evans, who is being charged with terrorism, had bond set at 10-million dollars.

 

Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves says law enforcement will receive $650,000 in federal funding to defray some of the costs incurred when they responded to the attack on police officers a little over a week ago.  Graves says when you consider the amount of overtime that officers worked, total costs for the police could reach $3-5 million dollars.

 

An 81-year-old man has been arrested for the alleged rape of a six-year-old child. Caddo Parish Sheriff deputies say James Dickens had sexual contact with a little girl on number of occasions while at his home. Dickens was arrested and booked into Caddo Correctional Center for first-degree rape.

 

Mandeville Police have arrested an owner of a snowball stand, who allegedly received sexual favors from his juvenile employees and in exchange he would give his victims cash and drugs. Authorities say 56-year-old Anthony Fortune conducted his indecent behavior for about two months.

 

The LHSAA Executive Committee has a special meeting this afternoon where the only item on the agenda is to discuss the comments made by executive director Eddie Bonine that referred to the LHSAA as a “proverbial dumpster fire.” Executive committee member and Doyle High School Principal Tommy Hodges says they’ll discuss the controversial statement in a report submitted to the NFHS. Hodges says to his knowledge they will not seek to buy out Bonine’s contract and was shocked by media reports that suggested that is the reason for today’s meeting. He says the objective is really to clear the air.

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