KSYL Local News Archives for 2012-08

News For Friday 08/31/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 083112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A HOME INVASION WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN ALEXANDRIA HAS LEFT TWO CATHOLIC PRIEST INJURED AND FIVE PEOPLE IN CUSTODY. ALEXANDRIA POLICE SPOKESPERSON SGT. BRUCE FAIRBANKS, SAYS OFFICERS ARRIVED AT THE RECTORY OF ST. RITA CATHOLIC CHURCH SHORTLY BEFORE NINE O'CLOCK. BOTH PRIESTS WERE TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE THEY WERE TREATED FOR HEIR INJURIES AND LATER RELEASED IN GOOD CONDITION. FAIRBANKS SAYS OFFICERS WERE ABLE TO BREAK THE CASE SHORTLY AFTER EVENTS UNFOLDED. SGT. FAIRBANKS SPECULATES IT WAS A RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AND SO FAR POLICE ARE STILL TRYING TO FIND A MOTIVE.

IT'S OFFICIAL. THE LSU VS. NORTH TEXAS FOOTBALL GAME IN TIGER STADIUM WILL BE PLAYED AS SCHEDULED AT 6 P.M. ON SATURDAY NIGHT. OFFICIALS MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY AFTER AN ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPACT OF HURRICANE ISAAC WAS MADE. AD JOE ALLEVA SAYS OPTIONS ARE LIMITED AS FAR AS OPPORTUNITIES TO PLAY THIS GAME AND THERE WAS MINIMAL DAMAGE TO THE STADIUM, SO THEY ARE PROCEEDING WITH THE SEASON OPENER ON SATURDAY NIGHT.

AS FEARED, FLOODING FROM ISAAC IS PLAGUING MANY PARTS OF SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA. A MANDATORY EVACUATION IS ORDERED FOR ALL RESIDENTS ALONG THE TANGIPAHOA RIVER, DUE TO THE THREATENED FAILURE OF A DAM UP-RIVER AT PERCY QUIN STATE PARK NEAR MCCOMB, MISSISSIPPI. AN ESTIMATED 50-TO-60-THOUSAND PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED BY THIS ORDER. SHELTERS HAVE BEEN SET UP IN HIGH AND DRY PARTS OF TANGIPAHOA PARISH FOR THE EVACUEES. YESTERDAY OFFICIALS IN MISSISSIPPI TRIED A CONTROLLED RELEASE IN THE HOPES OF RELIEVING PRESSURE ON THE DAM.. A MANDATORY EVACUATION HAS BEEN CALLED FOR THE ENTIRE TOWN OF KENTWOOD, IN NORTHERN TANGIPAHOA.

ALSO YESTERDAY, OFFICIALS UNDERTOOK A CONTROLLED BREACH OF THE PARISH
LEVEE NEAR BRAITHWAITE, IN PLAQUEMINES PARISH, WHERE OVERTOPPING DURING ISAAC'S STORM SURGE FLOODED HUNDREDS OF HOMES. OFFICIALS SAY THE LEVEE MUST BE BREACHED TO ALLOW THE WATER TO DRAIN BACK OUT OF THE AREA. THE LEVEE IS NOT PART OF THE FEDERAL LEVEE SYSTEM.

MORE THAN 40 PERCENT OF LOUISIANA WAS WITHOUT POWER BECAUSE OF HURRICANE ISAAC, NOW DOWNGRADED TO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION. THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION SAYS 871,000 HOMES AND BUSINESSES AROUND THE STATE — ABOUT 41 PERCENT OF ALL CUSTOMERS WERE AT ONE POINT WITHOUT POWER. NEARLY ALL CUSTOMERS WERE WITHOUT POWER IN PLAQUEMINES AND ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISHES, ACCORDING TO THE PSC STATISTICS. ELEVEN OTHER PARISHES HAD THREE-QUARTERS OF HOMES AND BUSINESSES OR MORE WITH POWER OUTAGES.

BP AMERICA HAS ANNOUNCED IT WILL DONATE $1 MILLION TO SUPPORT DISASTER RELIEF EFFORTS IN LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI FOLLOWING HURRICANE ISAAC. SPOKESPERSON BRENT CLANTON SAYS THE DONATION WILL BE MADE TO THE AMERICAN RED CROSS AND THE SALVATION ARMY AND DIVIDED EQUALLY BETWEEN THE TWO STATES.

ONE OF THE MORE BIZARRE EFFECTS OF HURRICANE ISAAC'S LANDFALL IN LOUISIANA; THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER ACTUALLY FLOWED BACKWARDS FOR SOME TIME. ALEX DEMAS, WITH THE U.S GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, SAYS THE RIVER'S LOW LEVEL AND SLOW CURRENT REVERSED FOR A SHORT TIME, WHEN ISAAC CAME ASHORE. DEMAS SAYS THE RIVER FLOWED IN REVERSE AS FAR NORTH AS BELLE CHASSE FOR ABOUT 24 HOURS, AS HURRICANE ISAAC WAS PUSHING STORM SURGE UPRIVER. THE RIVER'S LEVEL ROSE TEN FEET DURING THAT TIME. DEMAS SAYS THE PHENOMENON IS UNUSUAL, BUT NOT COMPLETELY UNHEARD-OF. THE MISSISSIPPI FLOWED BACKWARDS IN 2005 DUE TO WIND AND SURGE FROM HURRICANE KATRINA.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUARTERBACK DREW BREES USED A TWITTER POST TO EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR THE CITY AFTER ISAAC LASHED THE AREA WITH HIGH WIND AND FLOODING RAIN. IN A POST THURSDAY AFTERNOON, BREES SAID: "WE ARE ABOUT TO TAKE THE FIELD IN TENNESSEE, BUT OUR HEARTS ARE WITH NEW ORLEANS AND ITS RESIDENTS. MAY GOD WATCH OVER US ALL." THE SAINTS WERE SCHEDULED TO PLAY THE TENNESSEE TITANS IN A PRESEASON GAME THURSDAY. BREES HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN RECOVERY IN NEW ORLEANS AND HIS "REBUILDING DREAMS" CAMPAIGN RAISED MORE THAN $2 MILLION FOR PLAYGROUNDS, ATHLETIC FIELDS AND SCHOOLS.






News For Thursday 083012


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 083012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ISAAC HAS BEGUN MOVING INTO CENTRAL LOUISIANA, BRINGING WITH IT THE THREAT OF HEAVY RAIN AND FLASH FLOODS. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS IT APPEARS THE STATE HAS SEEN THE WORST ISAAC HAD TO OFFER. LINGERING RAINS FROM ISAAC ARE EXPECTED THROUGH TOMORROW IN ALMOST ALL AREAS IN ITS PATH. KEIM SAYS ISAAC IS FORECAST TO DUMP PLENTY OF RAIN ON THE ALEXANDRIA AREA, AS IT MOVES NORTHWEST TOWARD SHREVEPORT & BOSSIER. HE SAYS ISAAC IS STEADILY LOSING INTENSITY AS IT MOVES. IT IS EXPECTED THE STORM WILL BE DOWNGRADED TO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION LATER TODAY.

AS TROPICAL STORM ISAAC MAKES ITS WAY THROUGH THE NORTHERN HALF OF THE STATE TODAY, ALEXANDRIA POLICE CHIEF LOREN LAMPERT SAYS THEY ARE EXPECTING UP TO TEN INCHES OF RAIN AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS. LAMPERT SAYS WE HAVE AN ADDITIONAL 10 TO 15-THOUSAND PEOPLE IN ALEXANDRIA AS A RESULT OF THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE EVACUATED TO OUR CITY.

ALL NON-ESSENTIAL CITY SERVICES ARE CLOSED TODAY. NO TRASH PICKUP IN THE CITY.. ATRANS BUSSES ARE RUNNING. BUT, MAY BE SUSPENDED IT WINDS EXCEED 40 MPH.

IN PINEVILLE NO RASH PICKUP TODAY OR FRIDAY. TRASH NORMALLY SCHEDULED THOSE DAYS WILL BE PICKED UP ON SATURDAY.

SCHOOLS IN RAPIDES, AVOYELLES, CONCORDIA, GRANT, WINN AND LASALLE PARISH ARE CLOSED TODAY. NATCHITOCHES PARISH SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED TODAY AND TOMORROW. ALSO CLOSED LSUA, LSUE AND NORTH WESTERN. LC IS CLOSED UNTIL NEXT TUESDAY. EVANGELINE PARISH SCHOOLS ARE OPEN TODAY.

THE STATE SENT SCORES OF BUSES AND DOZENS OF HIGH-WATER VEHICLES TO HELP EVACUATE ABOUT 3,000 PEOPLE FROM ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH AFTER TROPICAL STORM ISAAC PUSHED WATER FROM LAKES PONTCHARTRAIN AND MAUREPAS INTO PARTS OF LAPLACE. RISING WATER CLOSED OFF ALL MAIN THOROUGHFARES INTO THE PARISH, WHICH IS ABOUT 30 MILES WEST OF NEW ORLEANS. MANY OF THOSE EVACUEES ARE NOW AT THE STATE SHELTER NEXT TO LSUA. WORKERS AT THE FACILITY REPORT MANY OF THE EVACUEES NEED DRY CLOTHING. DONATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED THROUGH OUT THE DAY AT THE FACILITY.

FEDERAL AID HAS BEEN MADE AVAILABLE TO LOUISIANA TO HELP PAY FOR STATE AND LOCAL RECOVERY EFFORTS IN THE AREA AFFECTED BY HURRICANE ISAAC, NOW A TROPICAL STORM, BEGINNING AUG. 26 AND CONTINUING. THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY SAID WEDNESDAY THAT FEDERAL FUNDING IS AVAILABLE TO STATE, TRIBAL AND ELIGIBLE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND CERTAIN PRIVATE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS ON A COST-SHARING BASIS FOR EMERGENCY WORK. RAPIDES PARISH IS ON THE LIST OF ELIGIBLE PARISHES.

CLECO CORP. OF PINEVILLE REPORTS MORE THAN 95,000 CUSTOMERS WITHOUT POWER IN ITS LOUISIANA SERVICE AREA AS OF 6 THIS MORNING. THE UTILITY REMINDS CUSTOMERS TO AVOID DOWNED OR SAGGING POWER LINES. REPORT THEM TO CLECO OR CALL 911.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS WAIVED CLEAN GASOLINE REQUIREMENTS FOR LOUISIANA, TO HELP GET NEEDED GASOLINE TO AREAS HIT HARD BY ISAAC. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY SPOKESMAN RODNEY MALLETT SAYS THE FEDS REQUIRE MOST SOUTHERN PARISHES TO USE A BLEND OF GAS THAT BURNS CLEANER. DEQ HAS ASKED TO TEMPORARILY SIDESTEP THAT REQUIREMENT.

PLANNING ON TRAVELING OUT OF THE AREA TODAY? YOU MAY WANT TO CALL 511 THE LOUISIANA TRAVELER INFORMATION SYSTEM TO GET THE LATEST ROAD UPDATES. THE SERVICE IS FREE AND AVAILABLE ON MOST PHONE SYSTEMS.

PURPLE AND GOLD FANS ARE ITCHING FOR THE LSU FOOTBALL SEASON TO BEGIN ON SATURDAY, BUT SCHOOL OFFICIALS ARE STILL WAITING TO SEE WHAT TYPE OF POST-STORM IMPACT THE AREA SUSTAINED TO DUE ISAAC. LSU ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS THEY'RE GOING MAKE A DECISION ON THE GAME BASED ON PAST STORM EXPERIENCES. VINCENT SAYS RIGHT NOW THERE IS NO CHANGE IN THE STATUS OF SATURDAY'S FOOTBALL GAME VERSUS NORTH TEXAS. HE SAYS THEY'LL LOOK AT THINGS LIKE HOW MANY HOTEL ROOMS ARE AVAILABLE AND HOW MANY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES WILL BE AVAILABLE THAT MAKE LSU GAMES HAPPEN. VINCENT SAYS THEY'LL ALSO LOOK AT SITUATIONS THE MIGHT IMPACT THE GAME ITSELF.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR'S OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION HAS CITED PLAINS GAS SOLUTIONS LLC IN EUNICE FOLLOWING A FEBRUARY EXPLOSION AND FIRE THAT LEFT A WORKER SEVERELY BURNED. OSHA WEDNESDAY ISSUED ONE WILLFUL AND SEVEN SERIOUS VIOLATIONS AGAINST THE COMPANY, WHICH PRODUCES LIQUID NATURAL GAS THROUGH A CRYOGENIC PROCESS. PROPOSED PENALTIES TOTAL $111, 000.
OSHA SAYS CRYOGENIC LIQUIDS WERE IMPROPERLY ROUTED, AS PART OF A RE-STARTING PROCESS, THROUGH EQUIPMENT NOT RATED TO WITHSTAND EXTREME COLD TEMPERATURES. THAT RESULTED IN THE EXPLOSION AND FIRE.





News For Wednesday 08/29/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 082912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

HURRICANE ISAAC HAS COME ASHORE NOT ONCE BUT TWICE IN THE PAST 24 HOURS, THE FIRST TIME LAST NIGHT AROUND SUPPER TIME AND AGAIN EARLY THIS MORNING. THE STORM THEN STALLED AND SAT AT THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER FOR SEVERAL HOURS. THE STORM HAS BEGIN TO MOVE AGAIN AN A NW DIRECTION. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE AT 80 MILES PER HOUR. FORECASTERS with the NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IN MIAMI SAY THE EXPECT THE STORM WILL STILL HAVE HURRICANE FORCE WINDS AS IT MOVES THROUGH CENTRAL LOUISIANA LATER THIS AFTERNOON. THE STORM WILL ALSO BE A MAJOR RAIN EVENT, WITH THE POTENTIAL OF DROPPING UP TO 7 INCHES OF RAIN.

AUTHORITIES SAY STORM SURGE DRIVEN BY HURRICANE ISAAC HAS OVERTOPPED A LEVEE IN A THINLY POPULATED PART OF PLAQUEMINES PARISH, SOUTH OF NEW ORLEANS.
PARISH SPOKESMAN CAITLIN CAMPBELL SAID AN 18-MILE STRETCH FROM THE ST. BERNARD PARISH LINE AT BRAITHWAITE SOUTH TO WHITE DITCH WAS TAKING WATER AND HOMES WERE FLOODING. AN EVACUATION ORDER HAD BEEN ISSUED AS ISAAC APPROACHED. SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES FROM ST. BERNARD AND PLAQUEMINES PARISHES WERE GOING HOUSE-TO-HOUSE GETTING RESIDENTS WHO'D REMAINED IN THE AREA TO MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND.

BECAUSE OF HURRICANE ISAAC, ALL SCHOOLS IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA, ACADIANA AND THE CAJUN PRAIRIE ARE CLOSED. THAT GOES FOR LSUA,, LSUE, LC, AND NORTH WESTERN. MOST WILL BE CLOSED TOMORROW AS WELL. STATE GOVERNMENT OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED THROUGHOUT LOUISIANA ON WEDNESDAY. COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER SAID OFFICIALS ARE WATCHING THE PROGRESS OF THE STORM AND MAY MAKE FURTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUT OFFICE CLOSINGS.

TOWN OF BALL: SANDBAGS CAN BE PICKED UP AT THE TOWN'S UTILITY OFFICE. LIMIT OF 6 SANDBAGS PER EXTERIOR DOOR.

CITY OF PINEVILLE:
AT THE PUBLIC WORKS CITY BARN, LOCATED AT 405 SANDERS STREET. FOLLOW THE ASSEMBLY LINE NEAR THE CITY GAS PUMPS, AND SHOW PROOF OF RESIDENCY, AND THE SANDBAGS WILL BE LOADED INTO YOUR VEHICLE.

CITY OF ALEXANDRIA: BRINGHURST PARK, FRANK O. HUNTER PARK, CHEATHAM PARK, AND THE JOHNNY DOWNS COMPLEX, BEGINNING TUESDAY MORNING, AUGUST 28TH. *NOTE: A READY-MADE SANDBAG LOCATION WILL BE OPEN AT THE ALEXANDRIA CONSOLIDATED CITY COMPOUND, 2021 INDUSTRIAL PARK ROAD (OFF HIGHWAY 1 NORTH) FOR THE ELDERLY AND INFIRMED ONLY.

WOODWORTH: THE TOWN OF WOODWORTH HAS SAND AND SAND BAGS AT WOODWORTH FIRE STATION #1, 9059 HWY 165 S. IT IS A FILL-YOUR-OWN LOCATION.

AVOYELLES PARISH: RESIDENTS CAN PICK-UP READY-MADE SANDBAGS AT THREE LOCATIONS IN AVOYELLES PARISH: MARKSVILLE CITY HALL, MANSURA CITY HALL AND THE
BUNKIE CITY YARD.

VERNON PARISH: SANDBAGS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE PUBLIC WORKS YARD, AT 201 REDTOWN ROAD.


CLOSURES…

THE RAPIDES PARISH COURTHOUSE WILL BE CLOSED ON WEDNESDAY, AUG. 29.

RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED AUG. 29, SAYS OLIVER OVERTON.

THE ELDERLY MEAL SITE IN AVOYELLES, CATAHOULA, CONCORDIA, GRANT, LASALLE, RAPIDES AND WINN PARISHES WILL BE CLOSED WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY.

RAPIDES COUNCIL ON AGING, INC. WILL BE CLOSED WEDNESDAY, AUG. 29 AND THURSDAY, AUG. 30. ALL SERVICES WILL RESUME ON FRIDAY, AUG. 31. ALL HOME DELIVERED MEALS WILL BE DELIVERED ON FRIDAY, AUG. 31.

ALL LOCATIONS OF THE RAPIDES PARISH LIBRARY WILL BE CLOSED ALL DAY AUG. 29 AND 30, 2012. ALL LIBRARY LOCATIONS HOPE TO OPEN AT THEIR REGULARLY SCHEDULED TIMES ON FRIDAY, AUG. 31. THE RAPIDES PARISH LIBRARY WEBSITE IS WWW.RPL.ORG.

A PUBLIC MEETING PLANNED FOR WEDNESDAY, AUG. 29 AT 7 P.M. FOR THE LOUISIANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION MEDICAL ADVISORY COUNCIL HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS IS CURRENTLY CLOSING THE INNER HARBOR

News For Tuesday 08/28/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 082812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FORECASTERS SAY ISAAC IS ON THE VERGE OF BECOMING A HURRICANE AS IT BEARS DOWN ON THE NORTHERN GULF COAST. THE U.S. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER SAID AT 5 A.M. EDT ON TUESDAY THAT ISAAC WAS STILL A TROPICAL STORM BUT WAS LIKELY TO BECOME A HURRICANE DURING THE DAY AS IT GAINED STRENGTH OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO.
ISAAC IS EXPECTED TO MAKE LANDFALL OVER SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA, POSSIBLY THE NEW ORLEANS AREA, EITHER LATE TONIGHT OR EARLY WEDNESDAY. THE CENTER OF THE STORM WAS LOCATED ABOUT 125 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. IT HAS TOP SUSTAINED WINDS OF 70 MPH AND IS MOVING TO THE NORTHWEST AT 12 MPH.

ISAAC IS STILL ON A FORECAST TRACK TO HIT LOUISIANA'S COAST SOME TIME LATER TODAY, PROBABLY AS A CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS ISAAC'S FORECAST PATH IS A LONG A SLOW TRIP ACROSS THE STATE. KEIM SAYS COASTAL STORM SURGES FROM ISAAC COULD BE UP TO 15 FEET, BUT AREAS INLAND COULD SEE LONG AND STEADY PERIODS OF HEAVY RAIN, PRODUCING FLASH FLOODING.

CLECO IS SENDING A MESSAGE TO ITS 281,000 CUSTOMERS THAT THEY ARE PREPARED FOR HURRICANE ISAAC'S LANDFALL. SPOKESPERSON ROBBYN COOPER SAYS PLANS ARE FINALIZED. COOPER SAYS, TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE, UNPLUG SENSITIVE ELECTRIC APPLIANCES LIKE COMPUTERS AND TELEVISIONS TO PROTECT THEM IN THE EVENT OF AN UNPREDICTABLE VOLTAGE FLUCTUATION. SHE SAYS IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE STORM BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN PICKING UP DEBRIS AND NEVER TOUCH A DOWNED POWERLINE. IF YOU SEE A DOWNED LINE, CALL CLECO AT 1-800-622-6537. THAT PHONE NUMBER IS ON THE CENLA BROADCASTING WEBSITE.

AS ISAAC KNOCKS OUT POWER ACROSS THE STATE, MANY RESIDENT WILL TURN TO PORTABLE GENERATORS TO RUN THEIR HOMES. STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS THESE GENERATORS CAN BE LIFE SAVERS, BUT THEY CAN ALSO BE DEADLY. BROWNING SAYS BE SURE TO RUN THE UNITS OUTSIDE WHERE THERE IS PLENTY OF VENTILATION. ALSO, BE SURE THE UNIT IS OFF AND TOTALLY COOLED DOWN BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO REFILL THE FUEL TANK.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA HAS DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA AS THAT STATE PREPARES FOR TROPICAL STORM ISAAC. THE WHITE HOUSE SAID OBAMA INFORMED LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL OF THE EMERGENCY DECLARATION IN A PHONE CALL MONDAY. THE DECLARATION MAKES FEDERAL FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR EMERGENCY ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE STORM. OBAMA ALSO SPOKE WITH ALABAMA GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY, MISSISSIPPI GOV. PHIL BRYANT AND NEW ORLEANS MAYOR MITCH. OBAMA HAS ASKED THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY TO COORDINATE DISASTER RELIEF EFFORTS WITH STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS ALONG THE GULF COAST.

NEW ORLEANS RESIDENTS SCRAMBLED MONDAY TO STOCKPILE FOOD, FUEL AND OTHER SUPPLIES AS THEY PREPARED TO RIDE OUT A STORM THAT WAS DUE TO ARRIVE ON THE SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY OF HURRICANE KATRINA. NEW ORLEANS MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU SAID THE CITY IS READY TO FACE ISAAC. HE URGED ABOUT 900 RESIDENTS WHO LIVE OUTSIDE LEVEE PROTECTION IN EASTERN NEW ORLEANS TO EVACUATE, BUT HE RULED OUT A MANDATORY EVACUATION OF THE CITY INSIDE THE LEVEE SYSTEM.

AS OF YESTERDAY AFTERNOON YOU COULDN’T FLY OUT OF THE BIG EASY. SEVERAL AIRLINES CANCELLED ALL OF THEIR NEW ORLEANS FLIGHTS IN ANTICIPATION OF HURRICANE WINDS AND RAIN FROM ISAAC. AMERICAN AIRLINES, SOUTHWEST AND UNITED ARE ALL SUSPENDING OPERATIONS IN THE CITY MONDAY. THE MOVE COMES AFTER LARGE CANCELLATIONS IN SOUTHERN FLORIDA SUNDAY DUE TO TROPICAL STORM ISAAC.

THE CITY OF PINEVILLE WILL MAKE SANDBAGS AVAILABLE TO ITS CITIZENS BEGINNING AT 8:00AM, TUESDAY, AUGUST 28TH. SANDBAGS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE PUBLIC WORKS CITY BARN, LOCATED AT 405 SANDERS STREET. SIMPLY FOLLOW THE ASSEMBLE LINE NEAR THE CITY GAS PUMPS, ALONG WITH SHOWING YOUR PROOF OF RESIDENCY, AND THE SANDBAGS WILL BE LOADED INTO YOUR VEHICLE.

RAPIDES PARISH SUPT. OF SCHOOLS DR. GARY JONES TENDERED HIS RESIGNATION MONDAY. JONES SAYS HE FELT LIKE IT WAS TIME FOR THE BOARD TO GET ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF UNIFYING AND DOING WHAT’S IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE KIDS. JONES’ CONTRACT WAS SET TO EXPIRE IN DECEMBER AFTER THE SCHOOL BOARD’S 5-4 VOTE TO NOT EXTEND JONES’ CONTRACT IN MAY. JONES SAID HE’D BEEN LOOKING FOR ANOTHER JOB . IN EDUCATION HERE IN CENLA. WORD IS HE HAS FOUND ONE. HOWEVER, THE SUPERINTENDENT SAYS HE CAN NOT DISCLOSE WHERE, UNTIL CONTRACT DETAILS HAVE BEEN WORKED OUT. HE DOES SAY THOUGH, HE PLANS TO START HIS NEW JOB AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. SUPT. JONES LAST DAY WILL BE THIS FRIDAY.

STATE GOVERNMENT OFFICES ACROSS 22 PARISHES ARE SHUT DOWN TODAY AND TOMORROW BECAUSE OF ISAAC. COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER ON MONDAY ANNOUNCED THE CLOSURES, WHICH COVER PARISHES IN THE TROPICAL STORM WARNING, HURRICANE WATCH AND HURRICANE WARNING AREAS. AS OF LAST CHECK, NONE WERE HERE IN CENLA.

ASCENSION PARISH HAS BEEN CHOSEN AS THE SITE FOR AN AVALON RARE METALS INC. PLANT THAT WILL REFINE ELEMENTS USED IN TELEVISIONS AND HYBRID VEHICLES, IF THE COMPANY DECIDES TO BUILD THE $300 MILLION FACILITY. THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCED MONDAY THAT AVALON CHOSE THE GEISMAR SITE FOR ITS POSSIBLE REFINERY, WITH A FINAL DECISION PLANNED FOR 2013. IF BUILT, LED SAYS THE PLAN WOULD CREATE 175 NEW JOBS. THE PLANT WOULD REFINE 10 RARE EARTH ELEMENTS USED IN ITEMS LIKE FLAT-SCREEN TVS AND THE HIGH-STRENGTH MAGNETS ESSENTIAL TO HYBRID AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES. AVALON IS DOING A FEASIBILITY STUDY ON THE PLANT, SET TO BE COMPLETE IN MID-2013.




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News For Thursday 08/23/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 082312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TROPICAL STORM ISAAC CONTINUES TO MOVE ALONG WITH THE CURRENT TRACK OF THE STORM HEADING TOWARDS SOUTHERN FLORIDA. THE OFFICIAL NATIONAL HURRICANE FORECAST HAS ISAAC AS A CATEGORY ONE HURRICANE NEAR THE FLORIDA KEYS ON MONDAY MORNING.

TROPICAL STORM ISAAC COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR NEXT WEEK'S NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONVENTION IN TAMPA. THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER SAYS ISAAC COULD MOVE THROUGH THE TAMPA AREA ON MONDAY OR TUESDAY. GOVERNOR JINDAL IS SET TO SPEAK AT THE CONVENTION ON TUESDAY NIGHT. JINDAL IS CONFIDENT STATE AND CITY OFFICIALS HAVE A PLAN IN PLACE. JINDAL SAYS ORGANIZERS OF THE CONVENTION AND TAMPA MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN UNDERSTAND SAFETY WILL COME BEFORE POLITICS.

LOCAL DEVELOPER MICHAEL JENKINS, ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES M. ROY AND OTHERS SIGNED A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING YESTERDAY FOR THE PURCHASE OF THE HOTEL BENTLEY. LATER IN THE DAY, AN ORDINANCE WAS INTRODUCED TO THE CITY COUNCIL TO CREATE A COOPERATIVE ENDEAVOR AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY AND JENKINS' COMPANY, BENTLEY LLC. THE ORDINANCE, IF PASSED NEXT MONTH, WILL ALLOW JENKINS TO MOVE TOWARD TRANSFUSING THE HISTORIC HOTEL WITH LIFE-SAVING MONEY.

AUTHORITIES REOPENED THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO SOME BOAT TRAFFIC WEDNESDAY, HOURS AFTER FREEING A BARGE THAT RAN AGROUND IN DANGEROUSLY LOW WATERS CAUSED BY AN EXTENSIVE DROUGHT. A TRICKLE OF BARGES HAD BEGUN HEADING NORTH AS OF LATE AFTERNOON, BUT CLEARING ALL 33 NORTHBOUND TOWS AND 72 SOUTHBOUND BARGES IS, ACCORDING TO THE COAST GUARD, GOING TO BE A SLOW PROCESS.

IT WAS A NIGHTMARE DRIVING IN BATON ROUGE YESTERDAY DUE TO AN OVERNIGHT CRASH OF AN 18 WHEELER CARRYING FLAMMABLE ISOBUTANE. THE TANKER TRUCK SPRUNG A LEAK IN THE CRASH, SPILLING PART OF THE VOLATILE PAYLOAD ON THE ROADWAY, CLOSING I-10 ALL DAY. TRAFFIC JAMS, ACCORDING TO LOCAL OFFICIALS WERE THE WORST SEEN SINCE THE EVACUATION FOR HURRICANE GUSTAV. STATE POLICE ARE EXPECTING EVERYTHING TO BE BACK TO NORMAL TODAY.

THE UNTHINKABLE HAS HAPPENED AGAIN. SHREVEPORT POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF AN INFANT WHOSE BODY WAS FOUND IN A CAR PARKED IN A LOT OUTSIDE LSU HOSPITAL. AUTHORITIES SAY THE CHILD’S PARENT REPORTED THE DEATH TO POLICE JUST AFTER 4 P.M. WEDNESDAY. IT WAS NOT IMMEDIATELY KNOWN HOW LONG THE VEHICLE WAS PARKED THERE. THE TEMP AT THE TIME POLICE ARRIVED WAS 93 DEGREES. WE’RE TOLD THE MAN WAS EMPLOYED AT THE HOSPITAL.

ACCORDING TO NEW NUMBERS FROM THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, THE RECENT WEST NILE VIRUS OUTBREAK IS THE LARGEST EVER IN THE UNITED STATES. THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS IS WARNING LOUISIANA RESIDENTS TO "FIGHT THE BITE." STATE HEALTH OFFICER DR. JIMMY GUIDRY SAYS WE'RE MOVING INTO THE PEAK OF MOSQUITO SEASON. GUIDRY SAYS IN ADDITION TO USING BUG SPRAY WHEN YOU'RE OUTSIDE, YOU SHOULD ALSO AVOID GOING OUT DURING PEAK MOSQUITO TIMES LIKE EARLY MORNING AND DUSK. HE SAYS THERE'S MORE MOSQUITOES THIS YEAR WHICH IS WHY WE ARE SEEING THE NUMBER OF CASES RISE. GUIDRY SAYS SO FAR THIS YEAR SIX PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM WEST NILE IN LOUISIANA WHICH ARE THE FIRST FATALITIES FROM THIS INFECTION SINCE 2008.

THE OWNER OF A HOUMA-BASED TOWING COMPANY AGREED TO A $170,000 SETTLEMENT WITH THE FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION FOR FUNNELING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO THE CAMPAIGNS OF LOUISIANA SENS. MARY LANDRIEU AND DAVID VITTER ABOVE THE LEGAL LIMIT. ACCORDING TO THE SETTLEMENT, CENAC MADE $15,000 IN CONTRIBUTIONS TO VITTER'S CAMPAIGN IN THE NAMES OF OTHERS IN FEBRUARY 2008, THEN $25,300 IN CONTRIBUTIONS TO LANDRIEU'S CAMPAIGN IN THE NAMES OF OTHERS IN APRIL 2008, TO SIDESTEP THE CAP ON CAMPAIGN GIVING. A PERSON IS LIMITED TO $2,300 IN CONTRIBUTIONS TO A CANDIDATE FOR A FEDERAL OFFICE FOR THE PRIMARY AND GENERAL ELECTIONS.
LANDRIEU'S CAMPAIGN DONATED THE MONEY TO THE U.S. TREASURY WHEN CAMPAIGN OFFICIALS QUESTIONED THE LEGALITY OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS. A SPOKESMAN FOR VITTER, LUKE BOLAR SAID THE FEC SETTLEMENT PROVED VITTER'S CAMPAIGN DID NOTHING WRONG.

OFFICIALS SAY A MAN WHO LOCKED HIMSELF IN AN AIRPLANE COCKPIT HAS VOLUNTARILY SURRENDERED TO LAW ENFORCEMENT. BATON ROUGE METROPOLITAN AIRPORT SPOKESMAN JIM CALDWELL SAID WEDNESDAY THAT A TICKETED PASSENGER, FORCED HIS WAY PAST TWO AMERICAN EAGLE AGENTS ONTO A PLANE AROUND NOON. HE RAN DOWN THE JET WAY AND LOCKED HIMSELF IN THE COCKPIT. CALDWELL SAID POLICE RESPONDED IMMEDIATELY AND CUT THE EXTERNAL POWER SOURCE TO THE PLANE SO ALESSI COULDN'T START THE AIRCRAFT. HE SAYS THE FLIGHT, WHICH WAS HEADED TO DALLAS/FORT WORTH, WAS CANCELED.

PRESONUS (PRE-SON US) AUDIO ELECTRONICS INC. SAYS IT WILL BUILD A NEW $8 MILLION RESEARCH FACILITY IN BATON ROUGE AND MOVE ITS HEADQUARTERS THERE. THE COMPANY SAID WEDNESDAY IT EXPECTS THE EXPANSION TO CREATE 65 NEW JOBS WITH AN AVERAGE SALARY OF $80,000 WITHIN THREE YEARS. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID THE "HOME GROWN 'MADE-IN-LOUISIANA'" COMPANY WAS STARTED IN A GARAGE 20 YEARS AGO AND NOW EMPLOYS MORE THAN 130 PEOPLE WORLDWIDE. JINDAL SAID THE COMPANY WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE STATE'S DIGITAL MEDIA TAX CREDITS.

A VERY POPULAR PROFESSOR AT LSU-SHREVEPORT, WHO WAS LAID OFF SHORTLY AFTER EXPRESSING HIS SUPPORT OF A MERGER BETWEEN L-S-U-S AND LOUISIANA TECH, HAS FOUND A NEW JOB. WAYNE HOGUE WILL WORK FOR LOUISIANA TECH AND HE STARTS SEPTEMBER 1ST. THE THREE-TIME LSU-S PROFESSOR OF THE YEAR SAYS HE'S GLAD TO FIND NEW EMPLOYMENT. HOGUE'S NEW POSITION AT LOUISIANA TECH WILL ALLOW HIM TO WORK WITH THE SCHOOL'S ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT TO ASSESS THE NEEDS OF PROGRAMS IN THE SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY AREA AND ALSO PERFORM MARKETING DUTIES IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA. HOGUE SAYS HE'LL MISS LSU-S AND HE'S VERY APPRECIATIVE OF THE SUPPORT HE'S RECEIVED FROM THE STUDENTS.

PURPLE AND GOLD FANS MAKING THEIR WAY DOWN THE HILL NEXT SATURDAY FOR THE FIRST GAME OF THE 2012 LSU FOOTBALL SEASON WILL NOTICE MAJOR CHANGES TO TIGER STADIUM. LSU ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS A SIGN SPELLING “TIGER STADIUM” WILL BE ILLUMINATED IN 10-FOOT TALL LETTERS JUST BELOW THE WEST UPPER DECK. VINCENT SAYS THERE IS A NEW OUTDOOR LIGHTING SYSTEM AS WELL. VINCENT SAYS MOTORISTS CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER BRIDGE IN BATON ROUGE WILL CLEARLY BE ABLE TO SEE THE PURPLE AND GOLD LIGHTS ON DEATH VALLEY AT NIGHT. VINCENT SAYS THE RENOVATIONS TO TIGER STADIUM ARE PRIVATELY FUNDED THROUGH THE TIGER ATHLETIC FOUNDATION.

THE RAJIN CAJUN FOOTBALL TEAM WILL CARRY THE MEMORY OF MICKEY SHUNICK WITH THEM ONTO THE FIELD THIS SEASON. U-L LAFAYETTE PLAYERS WILL WEAR A DECAL OF A GIRL ON A BIKE WITH THE NAME MICKEY ON THEIR HELMETS. DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, FOOTBALL, TROY WINGERTER, SAYS ONCE THE DETAILS HER STRUGGLE WERE REVEALED THE TEAM WAS INSPIRED BY HER COURAGE. SHUNICK WAS A STUDENT AT U-L LAFAYETTE UNTIL SHE WAS KIDNAPPED AND KILLED MAY 19TH, A FEW DAY SHORT OF HER BIRTHDAY.

THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS DESIGNATED OFFENSIVE LINE COACH AARON KROMER AS THE INTERIM HEAD COACH FOR THE FIRST SIX REGULAR-SEASON GAMES, WHEN ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOE VITT WILL HAVE TO SERVE HIS SUSPENSION IN CONNECTION WITH THE NFL'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION. THE 45-YEAR-OLD KROMER IS IN HIS FIFTH SEASON WITH THE SAINTS AND ALSO SERVES AS RUNNING GAME COORDINATOR.




News For Wednesday 08/22/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 082212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD MAY HIRE A LIAISON FROM AN INDEPENDENT FIRM TO ASSIST IN THE SEARCH FOR A REPLACEMENT FOR SUPERINTENDENT GARY JONES. BOARD MEMBER JANET DIXON LED THE CHARGE TO HIRE AN OUTSIDE FIRM. BOARD MEMBERS STEPHEN CHAPMAN AND STEVE BERRY VOLUNTEERED TO BE LIAISONS AND WORK CLOSELY WITH DIXON TO MEET THE TIMELINE ALREADY ESTABLISHED BY THE BOARD. BUT, DIXON REFUSED THE OFFER SAYING SHE APPRECIATED THE OFFER BUT THAT IT WAS TOO LATE. DIXON, SOUNDING MORE LIKE THE BOARD PRESIDENT, WENT ON TO SAY THE GESTURE WOULD HAVE BEEN HONORABLE SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS AGO WHEN THE BOARD STARTED EXPERIENCING THE BOTTLENECKS AND PUSHBACK IN THE SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH. BUT NOW SHE SAYS IT’S TIME FOR THE BOARD AND THE COMMUNITY TO TURN THE PAGE AND HIRE A NEW SUPERINTENDENT. THE IDEA GOES TO THE FULL BOARD FOR DISCUSSION AT IT NEXT MEETING SEPT. 4.

PROPERTY OWNERS IN ALEXANDRIA WILL NOT SEE AN INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES AND SOME MAY EVEN SEE A SLIGHT DECREASE AS THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL VOTED TUESDAY NOT TO RAISE THE TAX RATE. THE CURRENT RATE IS 20.23 MILLS. ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES M. ROY TOLD THE COUNCIL HE AND HIS STAFF RECOMMENDED STAYING AT THE CURRENT RATE, DESPITE ACTING CITY FINANCE DIRECTOR DAVID JOHNSON'S OPINION THAT THE MILLAGE BE RAISED TO 20.5. A .27 MILLAGE INCREASE, JOHNSON BELIEVES, WOULD MAKE UP REVENUE LOST IN PROPERTY TAX COLLECTIONS BASED ON REDUCED PROPERTY VALUES.

TROPICAL STORM ISAAC HAS FORMED IN THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC, BECOMING THE NINTH NAMED STORM OF THE 2012 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON. THE TROPICAL STORM IS EXPECTED TO GATHER STRENGTH AND BECOME A HURRICANE AS EARLY AS THURSDAY MORNING. THE STORM IS JUST ARRIVING IN THE LEEWARD ISLANDS AND THE U.S. IS IN THE ZONE OF CONCERN. EVERYONE FROM THE GULF COAST TO FLORIDA TO THE CAROLINAS SHOULD BE VIGILANT AS THE HURRICANE SERVICE TRACKS ISAAC'S PROGRESS AND POSSIBLE IMPACTS ON THE U.S.

OFFICIALS SAY A 42-YEAR-OLD CATAHOULA PARISH MAN SUSPECTED IN THE SHOOTING DEATHS OF THREE PEOPLE NEAR LARTO IS IN CUSTODY. ACCORDING TO CATAHOULA PARISH SHERIFF JAMES KELLY LEE JOHN PONTHIEUX JR. WAS ARRESTED ABOUT 21 HOURS AFTER THE THREE BODIES WERE FOUND. THE VICTIMS, ALL SHOT TO DEATH, WERE IDENTIFIED AS 45-YEAR-OLD JOHN ELLARD JR. AND HIS WIFE, 51-YEAR-OLD EDRIS ELLARD, BOTH OF MONTEREY, AND 74-YEAR-OLD ANNIE BELL ADAMS OF LARTO. KELLY SAID HIS OFFICE GOT A CALL SHORTLY BEFORE 3 A.M. MONDAY ABOUT A DISTURBANCE AT A HOME. KELLY SAID PONTHIEUX BECAME A SUSPECT BECAUSE HE LEFT THE SCENE AND HAD BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A PARTICIPANT IN THE FIGHT BY ADAMS' DAUGHTER.

ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH SHERIFF MIKE TREGRE SAYS TWO DEPUTIES REMAIN HOSPITALIZED WHILE RECOVERING FROM SHOOTINGS THAT KILLED TWO OTHER DEPUTIES.
HE SAYS 33-YEAR-OLD DEPUTY MICHAEL SCOTT BOYINGTON UNDERWENT SCHEDULED SURGERY TUESDAY, AND BOTH HE AND 30-YEAR-OLD DEPUTY JASON TRICHE CONTINUE TO IMPROVE. TREGRE SAYS DOCTORS DON'T YET KNOW WHEN EITHER WILL BE RELEASED.

DESPITE EFFORTS TO SHRINK THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA'S GOVERNING BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS, THE TOTAL OF SUCH PANELS IS HIGHER NOW THAN WHEN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TOOK OFFICE IN 2008, ACCORDING TO A REVIEW BY THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE RELEASED THIS WEEK. THE AUDITOR'S REPORT SAYS AS OF JUNE 2012, THE STATE HAD 492 BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS CREATED BY LAW OR EXECUTIVE ORDER. THAT COMPARES TO 484 SUCH PANELS IN 2008. THE HIGH POINT WAS IN 2004, WHEN 513 BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS WERE ON THE BOOKS. AT LEAST 277 OF THOSE PANELS PAY PER DIEMS, SALARIES OR TRAVEL FOR BOARD MEMBERS, COSTS THAT TOTALED NEARLY $5 MILLION IN THE 2011 FISCAL YEAR AND WERE BUDGETED FOR EVEN MORE IN THE JUST-ENDED 2012 BUDGET.

THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM BOARD HAS APPROVED A $762-MILLION BUDGET THAT REFLECTS A 5-PERCENT REDUCTION FROM LAST YEAR'S SUM. UL SYSTEM PRESIDENT RANDY MOFFETT SAYS THAT'S A CUT OF ABOUT $38-MILLION FROM THE 2011-12 SCHOOL YEAR. HE SAYS THAT WILL CERTAINLY MEAN LAYOFFS. DR. MOFFETT SAYS THE NINE-CAMPUS UL SYSTEM, WHICH NOW INCLUDES THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS, HAS ALREADY HAD TO MAKE REDUCTIONS TO COPE WITH PREVIOUS BUDGET CUTS...AND EVEN THOUGH UL HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO RAISE TUITIONS AND FEES, DUE TO THE LOUISIANA GRAD ACT OF 2010, MOFFETT SAYS ENROLLMENTS ARE DOWN SYSTEM WIDE. HE SAYS THE TUITION INCREASES CANNOT KEEP UP WITH THE STATE'S CUTS.

THE LAFAYETTE PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE CONFIRMS THE REMAINS OF SLAIN ULL STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK HAVE BEEN RELEASED TO HER FAMILY FOR BURIAL. THE SHUNICKS PLAN A PRIVATE FUNERAL SERVICE, AND A PUBLIC MEMORIAL...BUT NO DATE HAS BEEN SET. MICKEY WAS ABDUCTED AND MURDERED IN MID-MAY BY BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE, WHO IS NOW SERVING LIFE IN ANGOLA FOR THE MURDERS OF MICKEY AND LISA PATE BACK IN 1999.

A NEW REPORT BY THE NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU SAYS IN 2011 LOUISIANA CAR THIEVES PREFERRED HOME GROWN PICKUPS. NATIONALLY, HONDA ACCORDS AND CIVICS RANK ONE AND TWO. NICB SPOKESPERSON FRANK SCAFIDI (SKA-FEE-DEE) SAYS IN LOUISIANA FULL SIZE FORD PICKUPS WERE TOPS ON THE STOLEN VEHICLE LISTS FOLLOWED BY PICKUPS MADE BY CHEVROLET AND DODGE. SCAFIDI SAYS THE NATIONAL TREND IN CAR THEFTS HAS BEEN GOING DOWN SINCE IT REACHED A PEAK IN 2003. HE CREDITS NEW ANTI-THEFT TECHNOLOGY THAT'S AVAILABLE IN NEW MODEL CARS.

THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS IS BEING GRANTED MEMBERSHIP TO THE SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE, MARKING ANOTHER MAJOR STEP FOR AN ATHLETICS PROGRAM THAT HAS STRUGGLED TO STAY AFLOAT SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA. LEAGUE AND SCHOOL OFFICIALS HAVE SCHEDULED AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT THURSDAY.

MORE THAN $2.5 MILLION IN UNCASHED STATE INCOME TAX REFUNDS ARE SCHEDULED TO BE DEPOSITED INTO THE STATE TREASURY ON FRIDAY. THE MONEY WILL BECOME UNCLAIMED PROPERTY, JOINING MORE THAN $500 MILLION IN PAYCHECKS, APARTMENT DEPOSITS, GIFT CERTIFICATES, MUTUAL FUNDS AND STOCKS AS WELL AS OIL AND GAS ROYALTIES CURRENTLY HELD BY STATE GOVERNMENT BECAUSE NO ONE HAS STEPPED FORWARD TO CLAIM THEM. ONCE THE MONEY BECOMES UNCLAIMED PROPERTY, IT CANNOT BE SPENT BY STATE GOVERNMENT ON HOSPITALS, ROADS AND OTHER PUBLIC EXPENSES. INSTEAD, IT SITS IN THE TREASURY UNTIL IT IS CLAIMED. STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY SAID HE RETURNED $27 MILLION TO CITIZENS LAST YEAR. AT THE SAME TIME, HE SAID, HIS OFFICE RECEIVED $73 MILLION IN UNCLAIMED PROPERTY.

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY LOW WATER LEVELS THAT ARE RESTRICTING SHIPPING TRAFFIC, FORCING HARBOR CLOSURES AND CAUSING BARGES TO RUN AGROUND ON THE ECONOMICALLY VITAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE INTO OCTOBER. MEANWHILE, MORE THAN 100 TOW BOATS AND BARGES REMAIN BACKED UP NEAR GREENVILLE, MISS. DUE TO THE LOW RIVER. THE U.S. COAST GUARD OPENED AN 11-MILE STRETCH OF RIVER THAT HAD BEEN CLOSED NEAR GREENVILLE, REPLACING IT WITH A 5-MILE ZONE WHERE ONLY LIGHTER VESSELS CAN PASS.

LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS SAID TUESDAY THEY ARE TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO SURMOUNT THE STATE'S ONGOING BUDGET WOES AND BOOST PENSION PAYMENTS TO RETIRED STATE WORKERS AND TEACHERS, THOUSANDS OF WHOM RECEIVE BENEFITS BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL. THE SENATE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE HAS PLANNED SEVERAL HEARINGS TO TALK ABOUT COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENTS FOR RETIREES. LAWMAKERS ARE HOPING TO REACH A CONSENSUS ON LEGISLATION THAT COULD PAY MORE TO RETIRED PUBLIC SCHOOL WORKERS AND STATE EMPLOYEES WHO RELY ON STATE PENSIONS THAT HAVEN'T BEEN ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION IN SEVERAL YEARS.

IBERIA PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAID A WOMAN FOUGHT OFF A ROBBERY ATTEMPT AT A BARBECUE RESTAURANT BY CLUBBING HER ATTACKER WITH A POT. DEPUTIES SAID THEY RESPONDED TO A REPORT OF AN ARMED ROBBERY AT POP'S BARBECUE IN NEW IBERIA MONDAY AFTERNOON. THE UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM TOLD INVESTIGATORS SHE WAS WORKING INSIDE THE RESTAURANT WHEN THE SUSPECT CONFRONTED HER WITH A KNIFE. FEARFUL FOR HER LIFE, SHE GRABBED A POT ON A NEARBY COUNTER AND REPEATEDLY STRUCK THE SUSPECT. DEPUTIES ARE SEARCHING FOR A TEENAGE SUSPECT WHO THEY SAY MAY HAVE SUSTAINED NOTICEABLE INJURIES FROM THE BEATING.

STATE POLICE SAY A THREE MONTH LONG NARCOTICS INVESTIGATION HAS NABBED 21 GUNS AND 56 MARIJUANA PLANTS FROM A SINGLE HOME IN SLIDELL. STATE POLICE SAID ALL IN ALL THEY CONFISCATED $360,000 WORTH OF MARIJUANA FROM INSIDE THE HOME. A MAN AND A WOMAN WERE TAKEN INTO CUSTODY WHERE THEY EACH FACE A HOST OF CHARGES.

THE STATE OFFICE OF ALCOHOL & TOBACCO CONTROL SAYS AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION OF SUSPECTED PAYROLL FRAUD HAS LED TO THE DEMOTION OF TWO OF ITS AGENTS AND THE RESIGNATION OF A THIRD. ATC COMMISSIONER TROY HEBERT SAYS TIME AND LOCATION REPORTS GATHERED FROM GPS DEVICES ON THE AGENTS' COMPANY VEHICLES REVEALED UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR. THE AGENTS OFTEN LEFT HOME FOR WORK LATE, LEFT WORK EARLY OR DIDN'T GO TO WORK AT ALL. HEBERT SAYS HE'S DEDICATED TO ASSURING THAT ATC USES TAXPAYER DOLLARS WISELY. HE SAYS SOME 40 ATC VEHICLES HAVE BEEN FITTED WITH GPS TRACKERS, BUT JUST THREE EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN CAUGHT SO FAR.

TWENTY-TWO STATE APPEALS COURT JUDGESHIPS ARE ON THE NOV. 6 BALLOT, BUT VOTERS WILL ONLY MAKE CHOICES IN FIVE OF THOSE RACES. MORE THAN THREE-QUARTERS OF THE JOBS WERE HANDED TO CANDIDATES WHEN THEY ATTRACTED NO OPPOSITION AS THE QUALIFYING PERIOD CLOSED LAST WEEK.

NEARLY $8.4 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDS HAS BEEN SET ASIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA VETERANS CEMETERY IN SLIDELL. U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU SAYS THE MONEY WILL COVER THE CONSTRUCTION OF A MAIN ENTRANCE, AN ADMINISTRATION BUILDING, A MAINTENANCE FACILITY, ROADS AND OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE CEMETERY WHICH WILL COVER 21 ACRES. LANDRIEU SAID TUESDAY THAT AFTER SACRIFICING TO DEFEND AND PROTECT AMERICA, LOUISIANA MILITARY VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES SHOULDN'T HAVE TO TRAVEL HUNDREDS OF MILES FOR CEMETERY SERVICES OR TO VISIT THE GRAVES OF THEIR LOVED ONES. THE CLOSEST NATIONAL CEMETERY IN SOUTH LOUISIANA IS LOCATED IN BATON ROUGE, WHILE THE CLOSEST STATE CEMETERY IS IN NEWTON, MISS., ABOUT 186 MILES FROM SLIDELL. THE GRANT WAS AWARDED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

News For Tuesday 08/21/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 082112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT STARTED IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF MONDAY, A CALL TO THE CATAHOULA PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE THAT PEOPLE WERE FIGHTING INSIDE A RESIDENCE IN LARTO. WHEN DEPUTIES GOT TO THE HOUSE THEY FOUND THREE BODIES. ALL HAD BEEN SHOT TO DEATH. THE VICTIMS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED BY THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT AS 74 YEAR OLD ANNIE BELL ADAMS OF JONESVILLE, 51 YEAR OLD EDRIS ELLARD OF MONTEREY AND 45 YEAR OLD JOHN ELLARD JR. OF MONTEREY. CATAHOULA SHERIFF JAMES KELLY SAYS THEY ARE LOOKING FOR 41-YEAR-OLD LEE JOHN PONTHIEUX IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEATHS. PONTHIEUX IS DESCRIBED AS WHITE 6 FEET 1 INCH TALL, 190 POUNDS WITH LONG BROWN HAIR. HE WAS LAST SEEN HE WAS WEARING BLUE JEANS AND A GRAY T-SHIRT. ANYONE WITH INFORMATION IS ASKED TO CALL LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAS HIRED A NEW REVENUE SECRETARY TO TAKE THE PLACE OF CYNTHIA BRIDGES WHO RECENTLY RESIGNED. HOWEVER THERE IS CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE HIRING. TIM BARFIELD, A FORMER AID TO THE GOVERNOR, WILL BE MAKING TWICE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY HIS PREDECESSOR MADE. TO JUSTIFY THE INCREASE IN PAY, BARFIELD WILL ADD EXECUTIVE COUNSEL TO HIS JOB DESCRIPTION. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION CREATED THE COUNSEL POSITION TO CIRCUMVENT LIMITATIONS THAT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED BARFIELD FROM BEING PAID MORE THAN HIS PREDECESSOR. AT $250,000, BARFIELD'S SALARY BECOMES ONE OF THE GOVERNOR'S HIGHEST-PAID CABINET SECRETARIES.

AN LSU AGCENTER ECONOMIST SAYS BE PREPARED TO SEE PRICES AT THE GROCERY STORE GOING UP, BECAUSE OF A SIGNIFICANT DROUGHT THAT'S IMPACTED MOST THE COUNTRY. KURT GUIDRY SAYS PREDICTIONS OF A DISMAL HARVEST FOR CORN AND SOYBEANS, MEANS HIGHER FOOD PRICES. GUIDRY SAYS THE LAST TIME THE U-S HAD A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN CONSUMER FOOD PRICES WAS IN 2008. HE SAYS PRICES ROSE ABOUT SIX-PERCENT INCREASE THAT YEAR AND HE ANTICIPATES A SIMILAR INCREASE. HOWEVER, HE SAYS ONE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NOW AND 2008 IS THAT CRUDE OIL PRICES ARE CURRENTLY HOLDING STEADY, WHILE THEY ROSE SIGNIFICANTLY IN 08.

AFTER SHOOTING UP FAST THE PAST COUPLE A MONTHS, IT LOOKS LIKE GAS PRICES ARE FINALLY STARTING TO LEVEL OFF. THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GAS IS $3.55 WHICH IS 30 CENTS HIGHER THAN IT WAS A MONTH AGO AND ABOUT 10 CENTS HIGHER THAN WE WERE PAYING AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR.

THE CLOSED SIGN IS OUT ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER NEAR GREENVILLE, MS DUE TO NEAR RECORD LOW WATER LEVELS. THE COAST GUARD SAYS THE AREA IS CURRENTLY BEING SURVEYED FOR DREDGING. 40 NORTHBOUND VESSELS AND 57 SOUTHBOUND VESSELS WERE STRANDED AND WAITING FOR PASSAGE MONDAY AFTERNOON. AS OF THIS MORNING, IT’S NOT CLEAR WHEN THE RIVER WILL RE-OPEN.

OFFICIALS SAY A BACTERIAL INFECTION THAT IS HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS FISH, IS WHAT KILLED 600 OR MORE FISH AT THE ALEXANDRIA ZOO. EARLIER THIS MONTH. THE SPREAD OF THE DISEASE LIKELY WAS CAUSED BY THE SUMMER HEAT, WHICH CAUSED THE WATER TEMPERATURE IN THE FISH POND TO RISE TO MORE THAN 80 DEGREES, COUPLED WITH A HEAVY RAINSTORM THAT PASSED THROUGH THE AREA. ZOO KEEPERS DISCOVERED THE PROBLEM AUG. 6. DOZENS OF FISH HAD ALREADY BEEN AFFECTED, AND WITHIN 48 HOURS THE ZOO HAD LOST ALL OF ITS KOI AND CARP POPULATION, ROUGHLY.

LOUISIANA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS NONE OF THE SALMONELLA-TAINTED CANTALOUPES THAT RECENTLY KILLED TWO PEOPLE AND SICKENED 141 NATIONWIDE HAVE BEEN TRACED TO LOUISIANA. THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION REPORTED THE SALMONELLA OUTBREAK IS LINKED TO CONTAMINATED CANTALOUPE GROWN IN SOUTHWESTERN INDIANA. THE OUTBREAK COMES A YEAR AFTER CANTALOUPES CONTAMINATED WITH LISTERIA FROM COLORADO KILLED AT LEAST 30 PEOPLE AND SICKENED 146. STRAIN SAID MONDAY THAT CONSUMERS SHOULD TAKE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS WHEN EATING ANY PRODUCE. HE RECOMMENDS USING A VEGETABLE BRUSH TO CLEAN THE MELONS AND ONCE THE SKIN IS OFF, WASH THE KNIFE BEFORE CUTTING THE FRUIT. AND HE SAYS ONCE THE FRUIT IS CUT, IT SHOULD BE CONSUMED WITHIN A DAY

KENNER POLICE REPORT A 5-YEAR-OLD GIRL'S BACK WAS GASHED AND BOTH OF HER ANKLES CUT WHEN HER FATHER USED HER AS A SHIELD FROM HER MOTHER'S KNIFE ATTACK. POLICE SAY THE WOUND IN THE GIRL’S BACK NEEDED 22 STAPLES, AND HER ANKLES NEEDED A TOTAL OF 11 STITCHES. 25 YEAR OLD KENISHA CAPLES AND 44 YEAR OLD MAURICE SPARKMAN WERE BOTH ARRESTED SUNDAY. POLICE SAY THE WOMAN THREW SEVERAL KNIVES AT LIVE IN BOY FRIEND AFTER HE GRABBED HER BY THE HAIR AND THREW HER TO THE GROUND. POLICE SAY THE MAN RAN UPSTAIRS, GRABBED THEIR DAUGHTER AND HELD HER BETWEEN THEM, THINKING THAT MIGHT STOP THE ATTACK. IT DIDN’T. INSTEAD, THE WOMAN ALLEGEDLY GRABBED A LARGER KNIFE AND BEGAN SWINGING IT AT THEM BOTH.

EDISON CHOUEST (SHWEST) IS PLANNING TO HIRE 250 TO 500 PEOPLE TO WORK AT ITS NEW LA SHIP FACILITY. THE COMPANY IS PLANNING A JOB RECRUITMENT FAIR ON SATURDAY FROM 9 A.M. TO 4 P.M. AT FLETCHER TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN HOUMA. QUALIFIED INDIVIDUALS MUST HAVE TWO TO FIVE YEARS OF SHIPYARD EXPERIENCE. CHOUEST OFFICIALS SAID THE COMPANY IS SEEKING PIPEFITTERS, SHIP FITTERS, ELECTRICIANS AND CARPENTERS. JEFF LYNN IS WITH LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT'S "FASTSTART" PROGRAM SAYS THE JOBS WILL START AT $15 AN HOUR AND GO UP FROM THERE.

FORMER IOWA STATE FORWARD CALVIN GODFREY'S PLANS TO TRANSFER TO LSU HAVE FALLEN THROUGH AFTER THE PLAYER WAS UNABLE TO MEET ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS.
THE 6-FOOT-8, 230-POUND GODFREY SPENT HIS FRESHMAN SEASON AT IOWA STATE BEFORE PLAYING AT HOWARD COLLEGE IN TEXAS LAST SEASON. HE WAS ONE OF NEW LSU COACH JOHNNY JONES' FIRST RECRUITS, BUT LSU OFFICIALS SAY IN A STATEMENT RELEASED MONDAY THAT GODFREY IS NOT ELIGIBLE TO ENROLL THIS SEMESTER AND HAS BEEN RELEASED FROM HIS LETTER OF INTENT. GODFREY AVERAGED 12.6 POINTS AND 7.0 REBOUNDS AT HOWARD LAST SEASON. HE PLAYED AT IOWA STATE IN 2010-11 BEFORE BEING DISMISSED FROM THE TEAM FOLLOWING AN ARREST FOR MARIJUANA POSSESSION. GODFREY HAD ALSO BEEN SUSPENDED EARLIER THAT SEASON FOR VIOLATING UNSPECIFIED TEAM POLICIES.



News For Monday 08/20/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 082012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FUNERALS WILL BE HELD THIS WEEK FOR THE TWO ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES GUNNED DOWN THURSDAY IN LAPLACE. DEPUTY JEREMY TRICHE WILL BE LAID TO REST TODAY, WHILE DEPUTY BRANDON NIELSEN ‘S FUNERAL IS WEDNESDAY. TWO OFFICERS WHO WERE ALSO SHOT, BUT SURVIVED, ARE STILL HOSPITALIZED. THEIR CONDITIONS HAVE NOT BEEN RELEASED.

BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE HAS SPENT HIS FIRST WEEKEND AT THE LOUISIANA STATE PENITENTIARY AS HE BEGINS A LIFE SENTENCE FOR THE MURDERS OF U-L LAFAYETTE STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK AND LISA PATE OF CHURCH POINT. ANGOLA WARDEN BURL CAIN SAYS LAVERGNE'S CELL IS IN A HIGH SECURITY AREA. LAVERGNE AGREED TO A PLEA DEAL ON FRIDAY IN ORDER TO AVOID THE DEATH PENALTY. CAIN SAYS LAVERGNE WILL HAVE LITTLE INTERACTION WITH THE OTHER PRISONERS AND HE'LL NEVER HAVE A CHANCE AT FREEDOM.

JEFFERSON PARISH AUTHORITIES REPORT A 22-YEAR-OLD MAN AND HIS 19-YEAR-OLD GIRLFRIEND WERE SHOT AND KILLED IN THEIR CAR WHILE THEIR 4-YEAR-OLD GIRL AND 4-MONTH-OLD BOY WERE IN THE BACK SEAT. WILLIE ODOM OF HARVEY AND SHAWNA GIROD OF AVONDALE WERE KILLED ABOUT 1 A.M. SATURDAY. INVESTIGATORS SAY MORE THAN A DOZEN BULLETS HIT THE CAR, BUT DID NOT HIT THE CHILDREN. AT THIS POINT, INVESTIGATORS DON'T KNOW WHY THE TWO WERE KILLED, AND THEY SAY THE HAVE NO SUSPECTS.

IN A WEEKEND HOME INVASION, ROBBERS SHOT AND ROBBED A MAN, THEN SET HIS HOUSE ON FIRE, BUT HE ESCAPED BY JUMPING FROM A WINDOW 14 FEET ABOVE GROUND. THE INCIDENT OCCURRED EARLY SUNDAY MORNING IN GRAND ISLE. POLICE REPORT, THE ROBBERS GOT $900, SHOT AND KILLED THE MAN'S DOG AND THEN TORCHED THE BUILDING.
THE VICTIM IN STABLE CONDITION AT UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS.

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL MITT ROMNEY HAS A FUNDRAISER IN METAIRIE TONIGHT. ROMNEY SUPPORTERS WILL HOLD A RECEPTION AND DINNER AT TWO PRIVATE HOMES. POLITICAL ANALYST CLANCY DUBOS SAYS THIS EVENT IS LESS ABOUT CARRYING LOUISIANA IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTION AND MORE ABOUT RAISING MONEY TO CAMPAIGN IN SWING STATES. THE RECEPTIONS WILL COSTS SUPPORTERS FIVE TO TEN-THOUSAND DOLLARS A COUPLE, WHILE THE DINNER IS 50-THOUSAND DOLLARS A PLATE. GOVERNOR JINDAL AND SENATOR VITTER ARE LISTED AS HONORARY HOSTS. DUBOS SAYS THESE ARE THE ONLY KINDS OF STOPS ROMNEY WILL LIKELY MAKE IN LOUISIANA BETWEEN NOW AND NOVEMBER.

THE 150 RESIDENCES THAT ARE AFFECTED BY AN EVACUATION ORDER SINCE AUGUST FOURTH, BECAUSE OF A LARGE SINKHOLE IN ASSUMPTION PARISH HAVE BEGUN RECEIVING FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FROM TEXAS BRINE. THE COMPANY OWNS THE CAVERN THAT IS THE LIKELY CAUSE OF THE SINKHOLE. COMPANY SPKS SONNY CRANCH SAYS THEY ARE TRYING TO PROVIDE WEEKLY HOUSING ASSISTANCE. CRANCH SAYS A CHECK IN THE AMOUNT OF $875 PER WEEK WILL BE ISSUED TO A REPRESENTATIVE OF EACH HOUSEHOLD IN THE AFFECTED AREA. HE SAYS THIS WILL CONTINUE AS LONG AS THE EVACUATION ORDER IS IN PLACE.

THE LOUISIANA LOTTERY CORP. SAYS AN EASY 5 TICKET BOUGHT IN ALEXANDRIA IS WORTH $197,130. IT WAS THE ONLY JACKPOT WON IN BIG-MONEY GAMES SOLD SATURDAY IN LOUISIANA. THAT MEANS WEDNESDAY'S ESTIMATED JACKPOT FOR EASY 5 FALLS TO $50,000. THE ESTIMATED POWERBALL JACKPOT RISES TO $50 MILLION.

CONSULTANTS HELPING LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY FIND A NEW SYSTEM PRESIDENT HAVE PRESENTED THREE POSSIBLE WAYS TO DEVELOP THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING TWO THAT WOULD CONSOLIDATE THE JOBS OF SYSTEM PRESIDENT AND CHANCELLOR OF THE FLAGSHIP BATON ROUGE CAMPUS. ONE WOULD GRADUALLY MERGE FACILITIES SUCH AS THE PENNINGTON BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER INTO THE BATON ROUGE UNIVERSITY WHILE OTHER CAMPUSES AND HOSPITALS STAY ON THEIR OWN. ANOTHER WOULD PUT OFF CHOOSING A NEW SYSTEM HEAD UNTIL THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CAN CONSOLIDATE THE SYSTEM. THE THIRD SCENARIO OUTLINED BY CONSULTANTS FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNING BOARDS OF UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES WOULD LEAVE THINGS AS THEY ARE.
WILLIAM JENKINS, WHO HAD SERVED AS BOTH PRESIDENT AND CHANCELLOR BEFORE HE RETIRED IN 2007, IS INTERIM PRESIDENT AND CHANCELLOR SINCE THE BOARD FIRED JOHN LOMBARDI IN LATE APRIL AND CHANCELLOR MICHAEL MARTIN LEFT TO BECOME HEAD OF THE COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM.

A DEMOCRAT IS IN THE RACE FOR LOUISIANA'S NEWLY REDRAWN 3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. LAKE CHARLES ATTORNEY RON RICHARD WILL CHALLENGE LAFAYETTE REPUBLICAN CHARLES BOUSTANY AND NEW IBERIA REPUBLICAN JEFF LANDRY.

THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS HAVE GIVEN COACH MONTY WILLIAMS A FOUR YEAR EXTENSION ON HIS CONTRACT. THE NEW DEAL COMES AS THE 40-YEAR-OLD WILLIAMS HEADS INTO THE FINAL YEAR OF THE FIRST HEAD COACHING CONTRACT HE SIGNED IN 2010. NEITHER THE TEAM OR WILLIAMS WOULD DISCLOSE THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT.

A 26-YEAR-OLD MAN HAS BEEN BOOKED WITH FIRST-DEGREE MURDER OF A 53-YEAR-OLD WHO DIED AFTER A HOLDUP, APPARENTLY FROM A HEART ATTACK. BRIAN WRIGHT OF BATON ROUGE WAS BOOKED SATURDAY WITH MURDER OF TERRANCE BOOKER, ALSO OF BATON ROUGE, WHO DIED AT A HOSPITAL SATURDAY AFTERNOON.

 

News For Friday 08/17/19


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 08/17/12
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AUTHORITIES ARE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT LED TO A SHOOTING THAT RESULTED IN TWO ST JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES KILLED AND TWO OTHERS BEING INJURED. SHERIFF MIKE TREGRE SAYS SLAIN OFFICER 34 YEAR OLD BRANDON NIELSEN IS SURVIVED BY HIS WIFE AND FIVE CHILDREN. ALSO KILLED IN THE SHOOTING, 27-YEAR-OLD DEPUTY JEREMY TRICHE. HE IS SURVIVED BY HIS WIFE AND 2-YEAR-OLD SON. THE INCIDENT STARTED THURSDAY MORNING WHEN A GUNMAN FOR UNKNOWN REASONS SHOT A DEPUTY WORKING AN OFF-DUTY JOB NEAR A REFINERY ON HIGHWAY 61 NEAR LAPLACE. A SECOND SHOOTING AT A NEARBY TRAILER PARK RESULTED IN THE DEATHS OF TWO DEPUTIES. STATE POLICE IS HANDLING THE INVESTIGATION.

THE ALEXANDRIA POLICE SAY FOUL PLAY IS NOT SUSPECTED IN THE DROWNING DEATH OF 24 YEAR OLD DOMINIC BRADFORD. BRADFORD’S BODY WAS PULLED FROM BAYOU RAPIDES WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. BRADFORD HAD BEEN THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB SINCE SEPTEMBER OF LAST YEAR. THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE DROWNING CONTINUES.

THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT REFUSED TO STOP THE LAUNCH OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM WHILE A LAWSUIT CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE PROGRAM WINDS THROUGH THE COURTS. THE HIGH COURT DENIED AN INJUNCTION REQUEST FROM TEACHER UNIONS AND SCHOOL BOARDS THAT CLAIM THE LAW CREATING THE VOUCHER PROGRAM AND THE SEPARATE FINANCING FORMULA THAT PAYS FOR IT ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL. A HEARING IS SET FOR OCTOBER.

COULD A TWO YEAR OLD CASE OF A MISSING TEENAGER FROM TEXAS BE CONNECTED TO THE MAN WHO IS ACCUSED OF MURDERING ULL STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK? A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR HIRED BY THE FAMILY OF ALI LOWITZER THINKS SO. MAC SANFORD SAYS LOWITZER VANISHED ON APRIL 26TH 2010 IN A COUNTY NEAR THE AREA WHERE BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE'S WHITE TRUCK WAS FOUND BURNED. THERE ARE OTHER CONNECTIONS. SANFORD SAYS LAVERGNE FREQUENTED THAT AREA OF TEXAS BECAUSE HE HAD FAMILY THERE. LAVERGNE IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN COURT TODAY FOR A HEARING RELATED TO THE MURDER CASES OF MICKEY SHUNICK AND LISA PATE.

GET READY FOR A WET BUT NOT SO-HOT WEEKEND IN LOUISIANA. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS A COLD FRONT WILL BE CROSSING THE STATE BRINGING WITH IT AN INCREASE IN THE CHANCE OF RAIN. KEIM SAYS THIS WEATHER PATTERN WILL ALSO USHER IN COOLER HIGH TEMPERATURES AND THEY SHOULD BE AROUND FOR THE NEXT FIVE TO SIX DAYS. KEIM IS OPTIMISTIC THIS WEATHER EVENT WILL BRING SOME MUCH NEEDED RAIN
TO THE PARISHES IN NORTH LOUISIANA THAT ARE STILL DEALING WITH DROUGHT CONDITIONS.

THE SAINTS ARE BACK IN THE SUPERDOME TONIGHT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THEIR PLAYOFF WIN OVER DETROIT LAST JANUARY. NEW ORLEANS WILL HOST JACKSONVILLE IN PRESEASON ACTION THE SAINTS ARE ONE-AND-ONE IN THE PRESEASON, WITH BOTH GAMES PLAYED ON THE ROAD. KICK-OFF TONIGHT IS AT 7 PM. YOU CAN HEAR THE GAME ON 96.9 KZMZ.

AS EXPERTS PREDICTED, A SINKHOLE FILLED WITH SLURRY WATER AND VEGETATION HAS BEEN SLOWING EXPANDING. ASSUMPTION PARISH OFFICIALS SAY THE SINKHOLE NEAR BAYOU CORNE GREW BY 50 FEET THURSDAY MORNING. TWO CLEANUP WORKERS IN A BOAT NEAR THE SITE ALMOST FELL IN AND HAD TO BE RESCUED BY AIRBOAT. THEIR BOAT, WHICH WAS TIED TO A TREE, WAS EVENTUALLY SWALLOWED BY THE MUCK. THERE WERE NO INJURIES REPORTED AND CLEANUP OPERATIONS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED. OFFICIALS SAY THE SINKHOLE MIGHT BE RELATED TO STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS WITHIN A BRINE CAVERN DRILLED INTO THE NAPOLEONVILLE SALT DOME. HOUSTON-BASED TEXAS BRINE CO., WHICH OWNS THE CAVERN, BEGAN SHIPPING IN EQUIPMENT FOR A RELIEF WELL WEDNESDAY.

THE STATE BOARD OF ETHICS HAS BEEN LOOKING AT REVISING HOW CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR OFFICE SPEND THEIR CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS. THE CAMPAIGN FINANCES RULES COMMITTEE SAID THURSDAY THEY'RE IN THE PROCESS OF REVIEWING A NEW SET OF RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING CAMPAIGN FINANCE RULES. ONCE A DRAFT OF RECOMMENDATIONS HAS BEEN COMPILED, THE COMMITTEE WILL PRESENT THE FULL ETHICS BOARD WITH THE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION. ON THE TABLE FOR CONSIDERATION ARE CAMPAIGN FUNDS USED BY CANDIDATES FOR SPORTS TICKETS, CLOTHING EXPENDITURES, AND TRAVEL EXPENSES.

AN OVERFLOW CROWD HEARD ATTORNEYS FOR THE ONLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN ON THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT ARGUE SHE SHOULD BE ITS NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE. JAMES WILLIAMS TOLD U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE SUSIE MORGAN THAT BERNETTE JOHNSON HAS SERVED LONGER THAN ANY OTHER JUSTICE, AND THAT'S WHAT THE STATE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES TO BE CHIEF JUSTICE. SUPPORTERS OF JUSTICE JEFFERY VICTORY SAY HE HAS LONGER SERVICE BECAUSE JOHNSON WAS FIRST ELECTED AS AN APPEAL COURT JUDGE ASSIGNED TO THE HIGH COURT. THEY WANT THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT TO SETTLE THE QUESTION.

AN ORGANIZATION REPRESENTING LOUISIANA'S RETIRED STATE EMPLOYEES ON THURSDAY CHALLENGED GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S NEW PENSION PLAN FOR FUTURE RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS. THE RETIRED STATE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION OF LOUISIANA CLAIMS THE LAW, PUSHED BY JINDAL AND PASSED EARLIER THIS YEAR, IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT DIDN'T GET TWO-THIRDS VOTE IN THE STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

IN A RELATED STORY, THE STATE OFFICE OF GROUP BENEFITS HAS REJECTED UNITED HEALTHCARE'S PROTEST CONCERNING THE HIRING OF BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA TO MANAGE STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS. UNITED HEALTHCARE'S NEXT REMEDY IS TO FILE AN APPEAL WITH COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER, WHO IS GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S CHIEF BUDGET ADVISER.

LOUISIANA'S TOP SCHOOL BOARD HAS TAPPED A SEATTLE EDUCATION OFFICIAL TO BE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DESPITE COMPLAINTS THAT OFFICIALS PASSED OVER QUALIFIED APPLICANTS FROM LOUISIANA. HEATHER COPE, AN OFFICIAL WITH THE LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS, WILL BE PAID $125,000 PER YEAR AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION. BESE SETS POLICIES FOR ABOUT 700,000 PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS STATEWIDE.

PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT INC. HAS RECEIVED APPROVAL FROM THE LOUISIANA GAMING CONTROL BOARD TO OPEN ITS NEW $368 MILLION BATON ROUGE CASINO ON AUG. 29, IF THE RIVERBOAT PASSES A SAFETY INSPECTION. L'AUBERGE BATON ROUGE WILL INCLUDE A 74,000 SQUARE FOOT CASINO WITH NEARLY 1,500 SLOT MACHINES AND 50 TABLE GAMES; A 12-STORY HOTEL; FOUR RESTAURANTS; A BAR OVERLOOKING THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER; AND OUTDOOR FESTIVAL GROUNDS.

A NEW EXECUTION DATE HAS YET TO BE SET FOR A FORMER RAGLEY MAN CONVICTED OF RAPING AND KILLING A 4-YEAR-OLD GIRL IN 2001. CONVICTED IN 2004 OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER IN THE STABBING DEATH OF MARY JEAN THIGPEN, JASON REEVES WAS SCHEDULED TO BE PUT TO DEATH ON WEDNESDAY. REEVES' DEATH WARRANT WAS SIGNED ON MAY 31 AND ANY POST-CONVICTION RELIEF WAS TO BE FILED WITHIN 30 DAYS. JUDGE MIKE CANADAY SAID THERE WAS A CHANGE IN REEVES' COUNSEL, AND THE STATE RECEIVED A CALL IN JUNE FROM HIS ATTORNEYS REQUESTING MORE TIME TO FILE. THE STAY OF EXECUTION WAS SIGNED ON JUNE 18. REEVES NOW HAS UNTIL SEPT. 11 TO FILE FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF.

AUTHORITIES ARE TRYING TO DETERMINE WHAT CAUSED A FIRE THAT KILLED A RICHLAND PARISH TEENAGER. STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS 17- YEAR-OLD ANGEL JOHNSTON WAS UNABLE TO ESCAPE DURING A RESIDENTIAL FIRE NEAR RAYVILLE YESTERDAY MORNING.

THE NFL ON THURSDAY PROVIDED A FEDERAL JUDGE WITH WHAT IT SAYS IS EVIDENCE COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL DID NOT IMPROPERLY PRE-JUDGE THE FOUR PLAYERS SUSPENDED IN THE BOUNTY INVESTIGATION. THE EVIDENCE INCLUDES A COPY OF A LETTER THE NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION SENT THE LEAGUE ON MARCH 7 ASKING GOODELL TO DELAY PUNISHMENT OF PLAYERS IMPLICATED IN THE BOUNTY PROBE. IT ALSO INCLUDES A SWORN DECLARATION FROM GOODELL IN WHICH HE STATES HE WAS PREPARED TO HAND DOWN PLAYER DISCIPLINE AT THE SAME TIME HE ANNOUNCED SUSPENSIONS FOR COACHES AND EXECUTIVES ON MARCH 21. GOODELL'S DECLARATION STATES HE HELD OFF AFTER VERBALLY AGREEING TO DO SO IN A PHONE CONVERSATION WITH UNION HEAD DEMAURICE SMITH. ATTORNEYS FOR VILMA, WHO HAS SUED SEPARATELY, AND NFLPA LAWYERS REPRESENTING THE THREE OTHER PUNISHED PLAYERS HAVE ARGUED GOODELL SHOWED IMPROPER BIAS WITH COMMENTS HE MADE BEFORE SENDING THE PLAYERS NOTICE OF THEIR SUSPENSIONS ON MAY 2. ATTORNEYS FOR THE PLAYERS HAVE BEEN GIVEN UNTIL THE END OF BUSINESS TODAY TO FILE THEIR OWN EVIDENCE AND BRIEFS ON THE MATTER.

News For Thursday 08/16/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 081612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AN EARLY MORNING CRASH INVOLVING AN ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE HAS LEFT A MAN DEAD IN CATAHOULA PARISH. STATE POLICE SAY 22-YEAR-OLD JAMES R. KEENE, OF CLAYTON, WAS KILLED IN THE ACCIDENT THAT HAPPENED SHORTLY AFTER 2 YESTERDAY MORNING. TROOPERS SAY KEENE WAS DRIVING AN ATV ON A PUBLIC ROADWAY WHEN HE LOST CONTROL AND OVERTURNED. KEENE WAS NOT WEARING A HELMET AND WAS EJECTED DURING THE CRASH. HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

AFTER ONE DAY OF QUALIFYING FOR THE NOVEMBER SIXTH ELECTION, REPUBLICAN RODNEY ALEXANDER IS THE ONLY SITTING CONGRESSMAN IN LOUISIANA WHO IS NOT FACING A CHALLENGER. QUALIFYING ENDS ON FRIDAY AT FIVE P-M, AND AT THIS POINT, THE US REPRESENTATIVE FROM QUITMAN IS NOT SURE IF HE'LL HAVE A CHALLENGER. ALEXANDER IS SEEKING HIS SIXTH TERM IN OFFICE.

THREE INCUMBENTS, FOR SEATS ON THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL, QUALIFIED WEDNESDAY FOR THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS. INCUMBENTS IN ALL OF LOUISIANA'S NEW SIX CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS ALSO QUALIFIED WEDNESDAY FOR THE NOV. 6 ELECTION.
COUNCIL INCUMBENTS ED LARVADAIN III (DISTRICT 1), CHUCK FOWLER (DISTRICT 5) AND ROOSEVELT JOHNSON (AT-LARGE) ALL FILED PAPERS TO RUN WEDNESDAY. ALICE HAMMOND ALSO FILED TO RUN IN DISTRICT 3, WHERE SHE IS EXPECTED TO OPPOSE INCUMBENT JERRY JONES JR. JONES DID NOT FILE TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION WEDNESDAY BUT IS EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE HIS INTENTION TO RUN TODAY. THE DEADLINE FOR QUALIFYING IS FRIDAY.

A CONTROVERSIAL CHURCH-RUN SCHOOL IN RUSTON IS DIVIDING ITS CHAPEL INTO FOUR CLASSROOMS AND USING THE SECOND FLOOR OF ITS GYMNASIUM TO HOLD 165 NEW STUDENTS WHO HAVE STATE TUITION VOUCHERS. THAT PLAN AND ONE FOR A BUILDING PLANNED TO HOLD EVEN MORE STUDENTS HAVE BEEN APPROVED BY THE STATE FIRE MARSHALL’S OFFICE. ANOTHER INSPECTION IS SCHEDULED AUG. 22 AT NEW LIVING WORD SCHOOL, TWO DAYS AFTER THE START OF SCHOOL. THE SCHOOL STILL PLANS TO PUT UP A NEW BUILDING, WHICH LIKELY WILL LET IT HOUSE ALL OF THE 315 STUDENTS IT WAS ORIGINALLY APPROVED FOR.

THE CDC RANKS LOUISIANA AS THE SECOND FATTEST STATE IN THE COUNTRY. THE GOVERNMENT SURVEY ESTIMATES 33-PERCENT OF ADULTS IN LOUISIANA ARE OBESE. SO WHY DOES LOUISIANA HAVE SUCH A HIGH PERCENTAGE OF OBESE ADULTS? DR. MELINDA SOTHERN, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT LSU HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER, SAYS A BIG PART OF THE PROBLEM IS THAT PEOPLE DON'T BELIEVE WHAT DOCTORS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF BEING OVERWEIGHT.. SOTHERN SAYS EDUCATING CHILDREN ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PHYSICALLY FIT AND EATING RIGHT WILL BE LOUISIANA'S BEST HOPE TO IMPROVE ITS OBESITY RATE...

A FEDERAL JUDGE IS SET TO HOLD A HEARING IN THE DISPUTE OVER WHO WILL TO BE THE NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE OF LOUISIANA'S SUPREME COURT. LOUISIANA'S CONSTITUTION SAYS THE LONGEST-SERVING OF THE SEVEN JUSTICES MUST GET THE TOP SPOT. BERNETTE JOHNSON HAS SERVED ON THE COURT SINCE 1994 BUT SUPPORTERS OF FELLOW JUSTICE JEFFREY VICTORY SAY JOHNSON'S FIRST YEARS SHOULDN'T COUNT. SHE WAS ELECTED FROM AN APPEALS COURT DISTRICT AND ASSIGNED TO THE HIGHER COURT UNDER A CIVIL RIGHTS LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT. VICTORY HAS SERVED SINCE 1995. JOHNSON, SUPPORTED BY THE U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, SEEKS TO RE-OPEN THE CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT AND BLOCK HER FELLOW JUSTICES FROM TAKING ACTIONS THAT COULD DENY HER THE CHIEF JUSTICE POSITION.

A LAFAYETTE PARISH JURY ON WEDNESDAY CONVICTED ONE OF TWO MEN ACCUSED IN THE FEBRUARY 2009 KILLING AND ARMED ROBBERY OF A LAFAYETTE CAB DRIVER.
THE JURY DELIBERATED FOR ABOUT 90 MINUTES BEFORE RETURNING A 10-2 GUILTY VERDICT FOR SECOND-DEGREE FELONY MURDER AGAINST 22-YEAR-OLD AARON FRANCOIS.
FRANCOIS AND 22 YEAR OLD KEVIN GILDHOUSE ARE BOTH CHARGED WITH ROBBING AND THEN FATALLY SHOOTING 33 YEAR OLD WALLY BADEAUX A CABDRIVER FOR DIXIE CAB CO., ON FEB. 23, 2009. GILDHOUSE IS SET TO STAND TRIAL IN OCTOBER.

TWO INMATES THAT ESCAPED FROM THE FRANKLIN PARISH DETENTION CENTER YESTERDAY AFTERNOON HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN FERRIDAY FOR RUNNING FROM A CONCORDIA PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTY ACCORDING TO POLICE. OFFICIALS SAY BOTH MEN, WHO ARE BROTHERS, WERE SERVING TIME FOR ARMED ROBBERY BEFORE ESCAPING. THEY SAY NOW EACH MAN WILL FACE ADDITIONAL CHARGES.

A RABID SAINTS FAN FLEW HIS PLANE OVER THE SAINTS' PRACTICE FIELD YESTERDAY MORNING TOWING A REE PAYTON BANNER. PHILIP MARSHALL SAYS HE PLANS TO KEEP UP HIS AIR CAMPAIGN AS LONG AS DONATIONS TO WHAT HE CALLS HE CAUSE KEEP COMING IN THROUGH HIS WEBSITE, FREEPAYTON-DOT-COM. HE SAYS WEDNESDAY’S FLIGHT COSTS ABOUT 15-HUNDRED DOLLARS AND COVERED THE NORTHSHORE, THE CAUSEWAY, DOWNTOWN AND SEVEN CIRCUITS OF THE PRACTICE FACILITY. MARSHALL CALLS THE CHARGES AGAINST PAYTON AND THE SAINTS RIDICULOUS.

CONSERVATIVE GOP CONGRESSMEN CHARLES BOUSTANY AND JEFF LANDRY WERE IN THE EARLY CROWD OF POLITICIANS WHO QUALIFIED TO RUN IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTION THIS MORNING. BOTH INCUMBENTS ARE RUNNING FOR THE RE-DRAWN THIRD DISTRICT SEAT. BOUSTANY SAYS MORGAN CITY AND NEW IBERIA ARE THE TWO MAIN CITIES ADDED TO THE DISTRICT HE WANTS TO REPRESENT. HE SAYS HE ALREADY HAS PLENTY OF NAME RECOGNITION IN THOSE AREAS. LANDRY BELIEVES AMERICAN VOTERS ARE READY FOR A CHANGE AWAY FROM OLD-SCHOOL POLITICIANS AND THAT'S THE WAY HE'LL GROW HIS NAME RECOGNITION.

STATE OFFICIALS ARE URGING THE COAST GUARD TO DO MORE TO KEEP OIL FROM THE 2010 BP DISASTER OFF OF LOUISIANA'S COASTLINE. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU EXPRESSED HER CONCERN IN A STRONGLY WORDED LETTER TO THE COAST GUARD. COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION AUTHORITY DIRECTOR GARRETT GRAVES SAYS THE COAST GUARD IS NOT HOLDING B-P ACCOUNTABLE. GRAVES SAYS ACCORDING TO THE LATEST COAST GUARD ESTIMATE, 200 MILES OF LOUISIANA'S COASTLINE IS IMPACTED BY OIL AND B-P IS NOT LIVING UP TO ITS PROMISE OF CLEANING UP THE GULF.

GOVERNMENT REGULATORS ARE FINALIZING SAFETY RULES FOR OFFSHORE DRILLING PUT IN PLACE AFTER THE BP OIL SPILL. THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT PUT EMERGENCY REGULATIONS IN PLACE AFTER THE DRILLING RIG EXPLOSION IN THE GULF OF MEXICO THAT KILLED 11 PEOPLE IN 2010. THOSE REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN FINE-TUNED TO CLARIFY WHETHER CERTAIN SAFETY MEASURES ARE SUGGESTED OR MANDATORY. THE SAFETY MEASURES ARE INTENDED TO MAKE SURE OIL FLOW CAN BE STOPPED IF THERE ARE PROBLEMS. THEY DEAL WITH THE DESIGN OF WELLS AND THE TESTING OF CEMENT AND BARRIERS USED TO SECURE THEM. THE RULES ALSO CALL FOR INDEPENDENT TESTING OF BLOWOUT PREVENTERS, WHICH FAILED IN THE 2010 DISASTER.

LAWMAKERS HAVE CHOSEN A ONE-TIME LEGISLATIVE STAFFER TO BE THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE'S TOP BUDGET ADVISER. JOHN CARPENTER WAS NAMED WEDNESDAY TO BE INTERIM LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICER BY A JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE, WHILE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS SEEK APPLICATIONS FROM CONTENDERS TO FILL THE POSITION PERMANENTLY.

LOUISIANA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAS DESIGNATED 11 NORTH LOUISIANA PARISHES AS DISASTER AREAS BECAUSE OF DROUGHT. HE SAYS HE WAS NOTIFIED WEDNESDAY THAT FOUR, MOREHOUSE, RICHLAND, UNION AND WEST CARROLL, ARE PRIMARY NATURAL DISASTER AREAS. THE OTHER SEVEN, CALDWELL, CLAIBORNE, EAST CARROLL, FRANKLIN, LINCOLN, MADISON AND OUACHITA, WERE NAMED BECAUSE THEY'RE ARE ADJACENT TO THE PRIMARY DISASTER AREA. FARMERS IN THOSE PARISHES ARE NOW ELIGIBLE FOR CONSIDERATION FOR LOW-INTEREST EMERGENCY LOANS AND OTHER AID FROM THE FARM SERVICE AGENCY.
THE USDA SAYS 63 PERCENT OF THE NATION'S HAY ACREAGE AND ABOUT 73 PERCENT OF CATTLE ACREAGE ARE IN AREAS EXPERIENCING DROUGHT. ABOUT 87 PERCENT OF THE U.S. CORN AND 85 PERCENT OF SOYBEANS ARE INCLUDED IN THE DROUGHT AREAS.


News For Wednesday 08/15/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 081512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

PINEVILLE CITY COUNCIL HELD THE LINE ON TUESDAY, VOTING TO ROLL FORWARD THE PROPERTY TAX RATE FROM LAST YEAR. THE MILLAGE WAS 15.85 AND WILL REMAIN SO FOR THE 2012-13 FISCAL YEAR. MAYOR CLARENCE FIELDS POINTED OUT THAT IN 2000 THE CITY'S TAX RATE WAS MORE THAN 20 MILLS. HE SAID HE IS PROUD OF THE FACT THAT THE CITY HAS BEEN ABLE TO REDUCE THE MILLAGE FOR ITS PROPERTY OWNERS OVER THE YEARS.
COUNCILMAN TOM BOUCHIE, REPRESENTING DISTRICT 4, WAS ELECTED AS MAYOR PRO-TEMPORE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 2012-13. AS MAYOR PRO TEMPORE, BOUCHIE WOULD STEP INTO THE MAYOR'S SHOES IF HE IS ABSENT FOR ANY REASON.

LIVESTOCK EXHIBITS ARE A POPULAR PART OF FARM COUNTRY FAIRS, BUT THEY'RE COMING WITH A WARNING THIS YEAR: DON'T PET THE PIGS. AND WASH YOUR HANDS WELL AFTER EXHIBITING SWINE. LOUISIANA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN IS RELAYING WORD FROM THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION. IT SAYS HUMAN CASES OF SWINE FLU ARE ON THE RISE. IT’S BELIEVED, MOST OF THE PATIENTS WERE CHILDREN WHO PROBABLY WERE INFECTED WHILE RAISING, DISPLAYING OR VISITING PIGS AT THE FAIRS. THE CDC SAYS THE H3N2V VIRUS MAY SPREAD MORE EASILY TO HUMANS THAN IS USUAL FOR SWINE FLU VIRUSES. SO FAR, NONE OF THE REPORTED CASES HAVE BEEN IN LOUISIANA.

SIX NEW PRIVATE SCHOOLS WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL OCTOBER TO FIND OUT IF THEY CAN GET STATE APPROVAL TO PARTICIPATE IN A VOUCHER PROGRAM, BUT 377 OTHER PREVIOUSLY APPROVED PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS GOT ONE-YEAR RENEWALS.
THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ON TUESDAY HELD BACK STATE APPROVAL FROM SIX NEW SCHOOLS THAT BOARD PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE BELIEVES MAY HAVE ONLY BEEN FORMED TO TAKE TO ADVANTAGE OF THE NEW VOUCHER PROGRAM.
DASTUGUE SAID SHE WANTS THE BOARD STAFF TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SCHOOLS TO ASSURE THAT THEY MEET THE STANDARDS OF GOOD SCHOOLS AND COMPLY WITH A CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT THAT THEIR CURRICULUM BE AT LEAST AS GOOD AS WHAT'S USED IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON HAS MET WITH NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL IN NEW YORK TO DISCUSS MATTERS CONCERNING BOTH THE TEAM AND THE LEAGUE. WHILE THE NFL AND THE SAINTS ARE PROVIDING VERY FEW DETAILS, SAINTS SPOKESMAN GREG BENSEL SAYS THE MEETING WAS PRODUCTIVE AND THAT BENSON LOOKS FORWARD TO MANY MORE DISCUSSIONS WITH THE COMMISSIONER. THE MEETING COMES AMID THE BACKDROP OF LAWSUITS FILED BY CURRENT AND FORMER SAINTS PLAYERS WHO'VE CHALLENGED THE FINDINGS OF THE NFL'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION. BENSON ALSO HAS HIRED THE FIRM OF FORMER FBI DIRECTOR LOUIS FREEH TO INVESTIGATE THE ACCURACY OF THE LEAGUE'S BOUNTY PROBE.

IT'S DECISION-TIME FOR ANYONE STILL ON THE FENCE ABOUT JUMPING INTO A RACE FOR LOUISIANA'S NOV. 6 ELECTION. CANDIDATES MUST FILE PAPERWORK AND PAY THEIR FEES THIS WEEK IF THEY WANT TO RUN FOR THE LIST OF STATE AND LOCAL OFFICES ON THE FALL BALLOT, AS THE OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PERIOD STARTS WEDNESDAY MORNING AND RUNS THROUGH FRIDAY AT 5 P.M. AFTER THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE, TOP OF THE BALLOT AROUND THE STATE WILL BE LOUISIANA'S SIX U.S. HOUSE SEATS. HOWEVER, MOST POLITICAL PUNDITS BELIEVE MOST WILL GO UNCHALLENGED.

IF YOU THINK GASOLINE PRICES ARE HIGHER ACROSS OUR STATE, YOU'RE RIGHT. TRIPLE-A SAYS THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR IS $3.52. THAT'S JUST ABOUT 35 CENTS A GALLON MORE THAN WE WERE PAYING JUST A MONTH AGO.

LOUISIANA LOTTERY OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED THAT TONIGHT'S POWERBALL PRIZE HAS BEEN BUMPED UP AGAIN. THEY SAY THE ESTIMATED JACKPOT FOR WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S DRAWING IS NOW $320 MILLION.

AFTER BEING PASSED OVER FOR THE NUMBER TWO SPOT ON THE GOP TICKET THIS FALL GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL IS BACK ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL FOR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL MITT ROMNEY. SO FAR JINDAL HAS VISITED COLORADO, ILLINOIS, UTAH, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA AND FLORIDA IN SUPPORT OF THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SAYS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN INCOME TAX REFUNDS IS HEADED TO UNCLAIMED PROPERTY, IF THAT MONEY ISN'T CLAIMED BY TAXPAYERS BEFORE NEXT FRIDAY. SPOKESPERSON BYRON HENDERSON SAYS ABOUT 7400 TAXPAYERS HAVE INCOME TAX REFUND CHECKS GREATER THAN $50 DATED BEFORE JUNE 30TH, 2011 THAT HAVE NOT YET BEEN CASHED. HENDERSON SAYS EVEN IF YOU DON'T MEET THE AUGUST 24TH DEADLINE, IT'S STILL YOUR MONEY, YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO CLAIM IT FROM THE STATE TREASURER'S UNCLAIMED PROPERTY DIVISION. HE SAYS THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF UNCLAIMED REFUNDS IS ABOUT $4.4 MILLION...:

STATE AGENCIES SAY THEY'VE ASKED THE COMPANY OWNING A NATURAL GAS PIPELINE THAT WAS BENT BY AN EXPANDING SINKHOLE IN ASSUMPTION PARISH FOR AN UPDATED RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN ON A NEARBY BUTANE STORAGE CAVERN. CROSSTEX ENERGY LP OF DALLAS OWNS A STORAGE CAVERN 1,600 FEET FROM THE SITE OF A SINKHOLE NEAR BAYOU CORNE. THE CAVERN HOUSES 940,000 BARRELS OF BUTANE.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS GOTTEN INVOLVED IN THE FEDERAL COURT CASE OVER WHO WILL BE THE NEXT CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT. A MOTION BY JINDAL'S EXECUTIVE COUNSEL SAYS THE GOVERNOR BELIEVES IT IS AN ISSUE FOR THE STATE TO DECIDE. THE NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND FILED A BRIEF SUPPORTING JUSTICE BERNETTE JOHNSON, WHO WENT TO FEDERAL COURT TO MAKE SURE HER FELLOW JUSTICES DON'T DENY HER THE CHIEF JUSTICE POSITION NEXT YEAR WHEN CURRENT COURT LEADER KITTY KIMBALL RETIRES. LOUISIANA'S CONSTITUTION SAYS THE LONGEST-SERVING JUSTICE MUST BECOME CHIEF JUSTICE. WHEN VOTERS ELECTED HER IN 1994, JOHNSON AT FIRST FILLED AN APPEAL COURT SEAT BUT WAS ASSIGNED TO SERVE ON THE SUPREME COURT FULL-TIME UNDER TERMS OF A CIVIL RIGHTS LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT. SOME ARGUE THAT JUSTICE JEFFERY VICTORY, WHO HAS SERVED SINCE 1995, HAS SERVED LONGER THAN JOHNSON. JINDAL IS NOT TAKING A POSITION ON WHO SHOULD BE CHIEF JUSTICE, ONLY THAT IT IS A MATTER FOR THE STATE TO DECIDE.

LOCKPORT'S THREE-TERM MAYOR HAS DIED OF CANCER. MAYOR RICHARD CHAMPAGNE DIED ABOUT 6 A.M. TUESDAY AT HIS HOME, WHERE HOSPICE WORKERS HAD BEEN CARING FOR HIM OVER THE PAST FOUR DAYS. CHAMPAGNE WAS ON THE JOB RIGH UP UNTIL LAST WEEK. CHAMPAGNE WAS 79.

A REPORT BY LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM HAS CONCLUDED MULTIPLE PARISHES HAVE SEEN A DECLINE IN THE NUMBER OF YOUTHS DETAINED OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. A STUDY FROM THE INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND JUSTICE REPORTED TUESDAY SOME PARISHES HAVE SEEN AS MUCH AS A 45 PERCENT DECREASE IN THE AVERAGE DAILY DETENTION POPULATIONS SINCE 2007. THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN DECREASES IN YOUTHS ON PAROLE SUPERVISION AND ON LOCAL AND STATE PROBATION SUPERVISION. THE STUDY CONCLUDES THAT THE DECREASES ARE THANKS TO NEEDS ASSESSMENT TOOLS HELPING PROBATION OFFICERS DEVELOP CASE PLANS SPECIFIC TO A PERSON'S INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. IT ALSO SAYS THAT THE DECREASES HAVE OCCURRED BECAUSE OF ALTERNATIVE-TO-DETENTION PROGRAMS AND DETENTION RISK SCREENING INSTRUMENTS.

THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA LOCAL FOOD INITIATIVE OF ALEXANDRIA HAS $1 MILLION, AND THE LIVE LIVELY LASALLE! PROGRAM OF LASALLE PARISH HAS $2 MILLION TO HELP RESIDENTS ADOPT HEALTHIER LIFESTYLES. THE FUNDING FOR THE PROJECTS COMES FROM CHALLENGE FOR A HEALTHIER LOUISIANA, A STATEWIDE CHALLENGE GRANT PROGRAM PIONEERED BY THE BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA FOUNDATION. THIS PROGRAM, THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN LOUISIANA, AIMS TO REDUCE LOUISIANA'S RISING OBESITY RATE BY PROVIDING FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIPS THAT PROMOTE HEALTHY EATING AND ACTIVE LIVING.

TERREBONNE PARISH AUTHORITIES SAY THEY RAIDED A HOUMA HOUSE LAST WEEKEND AND FOUND NEARLY $500,000 WORTH OF MARIJUANA INSIDE. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE REPORTS THAT A 58-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS ARRESTED IN THE RAID, WHICH ENDED A FOUR-MONTH INVESTIGATION.

A LAFAYETTE BUSINESSWOMAN HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH WIRE FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING. FEDERAL AUTHORITIES TELL THE ADVOCATE (HTTP://BIT.LY/PTGJ46) CATHERINE ROMERO IS ACCUSED OF DEFRAUDING INVESTORS OUT OF MORE THAN $1.2 MILLION IN A SCHEME INVOLVING PLANS TO MANUFACTURE GOODS CREATED FROM ALLIGATOR HIDES FROM 2007 TO 2008. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY JOHN LUKE WALKER SAID THE GOVERNMENT IS ALSO SEEKING A FORFEITURE OF THE FUNDS.

TERREBONE PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ALONG WITH STATE AND FEDERAL AUTHORITIES UNCOVER A CHANCE OF WEAPONS, PHONY LAW-ENFORCEMENT I-D BADGES AND FAKE BOMBS INSIDE A HOUMA APARTMENT. CAPTAIN DAWN FORET WITH THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SAYS 61-YEAR-OLD MICHAEL HEBERT HAD ILLEGALLY ACQUIRED 19 FIREARMS AND THOUSANDS OF ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION. SHE SAYS HEBERT IS A FELON WHO CAN LEGALLY NOT POSSESS FIREARMS AFTER BEING CONVICTED IN 1990 FOR POSSESSION AND TRANSFER OF A MACHINE GUN AND WIRE FRAUD.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL HAS NAMED A NEW DIRECTOR FOR THE DIVISION OF HIS OFFICE THAT OVERSEES LEGAL GAMBLING IN THE STATE. A NEWS RELEASE FROM CALDWELL'S OFFICE SAYS CLIFFORD R. STRIDER III IS A 1979 GRADUATE OF THE LAW SCHOOL AT LSU AND HAS 33 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN LITIGATION AND SUPERVISION.

U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU IS ASKING THE COAST GUARD TO FORCE BP PLC TO CLEAN UP OIL AND EQUIPMENT USED IN THE RESPONSE BURIED IN THE WATERS AND MUD ALONG THE COAST. IN A LETTER, LANDRIEU ASKED THE COAST GUARD TO FIGURE OUT WHERE OIL REMAINS ALONG THE COAST, BOTH IN REMOTE MARSHES AND UNDER THE WATER ALONG THE COAST AND TO MAKE SURE LARGE MATS OF BURIED OIL FROM THE 2010 BP SPILL ARE REMOVED. STATE OFFICIALS SAY THERE ARE METHODS FOR REMOVING THE MATS OF OIL BUT THE COAST GUARD HAS NOT SAID WHETHER IT WILL REQUIRE BP TO REMOVE THEM.
LANDRIEU ALSO ASKED THAT ANCHORS USED TO KEEP OIL BOOM IN PLACE ARE REMOVED. SHE SAYS ABOUT 20 BOATERS HAVE COLLIDED WITH THEM.

News For Tuesday 08/14/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 081412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

LOW WATER LEVELS ARE A PROBLEM AGAIN ON THE CANE RIVER. THAT HAS FORCED THE WATERWAY COMMISSION TO CLOSE THE LAKE TO BOAT TRAFFIC. DURING THE PERIOD OF THE CLOSURE, ONLY NON-POWER BOATS AND BOATS WITH ELECTRIC TROLLING MOTORS WILL BE ALLOWED.

SAYING THE DECISION WAS A HARD ONE TO MAKE, MEMBERS OF THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE MADE THEIR CHOICE FOR THE DESIGN OF THE NEW RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM. THE JURY CHOSE A PROPOSAL FROM BARRON HEINBERG & BROCATO OVER ONE FROM ALLIANCE DESIGN GROUP. VOTERS WILL DECIDE IN NOVEMBER WHETHER TO APPROVE A $23 MILLION BOND ISSUE, BACKED BY A 2.5 MILL PROPERTY TAX, THAT SUPPORTERS SAY WILL TRANSFORM THE COLISEUM FROM AN AGING FACILITY ON A DOWNWARD SPIRAL TO ONE THAT CAN COMPETE AND WIN AGAINST ARENAS IN SIMILAR MARKETS. THE JURY ALSO IS ASKING VOTERS TO APPROVE AN ADDITIONAL ONE MILL PROPERTY TAX TO FUND THE COLISEUM'S OPERATIONS OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS

A REPORT BY ESPN SAYS DISMISSED TYRANN MATHIEU IS "HEARTBROKEN" AND WANTS TO STAY AT LSU AND POSSIBLY PLAY FOOTBALL AGAIN AS A TIGER IN 2013. BUT, LSU'S COMPLIANCE OFFICER BO BAHNSEN IS QUOTED BY GANNETT NEWSPAPERS AS SAYING TYRANN MATHIEU IS PERMANENTLY INELIGIBLE TO PLAY FOOTBALL AT LSU. MATHIEU WAS KICKED OFF THE TEAM FOR FAILING MULTIPLE DRUG TESTS. BUT NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS MATHIEU IS CONSIDERING ATTENDING LSU AS A REGULAR STUDENT DURING THE UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR. BUT VINCENT WOULD NOT SPECULATE ON MATHIEU'S FOOTBALL FUTURE.

STATE POLICE COL. MIKE EDMONSON SAYS HIS INVESTIGATORS HAVE FOUND NO EVIDENCE THAT THE SAINTS OR GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS RIGGED SUPERDOME WIRING SO THEY COULD EAVESDROP ON OPPOSING COACHES' RADIO COMMUNICATIONS. EDMONSON SAYS INVESTIGATORS HAVE RUN AN EXTENSIVE PROBE IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE FBI SINCE ALLEGATIONS SURFACED IN APRIL.

A NEW CDC SURVEY SHOWS 12 STATES NOW HAVE VERY HIGH OBESITY RATES AND AS YOU MAY SUSPECT, LOUISIANA IS HIGH ON THAT LIST. OVERALL, MORE THAN A THIRD OF ADULTS ARE OBESE BUT RATES VARY BY STATE. THE LATEST FIGURES ARE BASED ON A 2011 TELEPHONE SURVEY THAT ASKED ADULTS THEIR HEIGHT AND WEIGHT. FOR THE FIRST TIME, HOUSEHOLDS WITH ONLY CELL PHONES WERE INCLUDED. STATE RATES REMAINED ABOUT THE SAME ALTHOUGH STATES WITH VERY HIGH RATES WENT FROM NINE STATES TO 12. AT LEAST 30 PERCENT OF ADULTS ARE OBESE HERE IN LOUISIANA AND IN ALABAMA, ARKANSAS, INDIANA, KENTUCKY, MICHIGAN, MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI, OKLAHOMA, SOUTH CAROLINA, TEXAS AND WEST VIRGINIA. COLORADO WAS LOWEST, AT JUST UNDER 21 PERCENT, AND MISSISSIPPI WAS HIGHEST AT NEARLY 36 PERCENT.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF LOUISIANA WON'T ENDORSE CANDIDATES IN THE NOV. 6 ELECTION FOR RACES THAT HAVE TWO OR MORE GOP CONTENDERS SEEKING THE SAME OFFICE. THAT INCLUDES THE MOST HIGH-PROFILE REPUBLICAN BATTLE IN LOUISIANA: THE RACE BETWEEN U.S. REP. CHARLES BOUSTANY OF LAFAYETTE AND U.S. REP. JEFF LANDRY OF NEW IBERIA. THE TWO MEN WERE FORCED INTO THE SAME DISTRICT WHEN LOUISIANA LOST A CONGRESSIONAL SEAT. STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN ROGER VILLERE SAYS THAT PARTY OFFICIALS LIKE BOTH BOUSTANY AND LANDRY AND WON'T GET INVOLVED IN THAT RACE OR OTHERS WITH AT LEAST TWO REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES.

THE COMPANY WHOSE SALT CAVERN MAY BE THE CAUSE OF THE GIANT SINKHOLE IN BAYOU CORNE IN ASSUMPTION PARISH, HAS HIRED A LOCAL DRILLING COMPANY TO EXAMINE THE CAVERN. ASSUMPTION PARISH SHERIFF MIKE WAGUESPACK SAYS LAFAYETTE'S RICHLAND DRILLING WILL BE BROUGHT IN TO START WORKING ABOUT A THOUSAND FEET SOUTHEAST OF THE SINKHOLE. THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES BELIEVES THE SALT CAVERN MAY ALSO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR GAS BUBBLES SPOTTED IN BAYOU CORNE LAST MONTH.

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE IS ASKING FOR AN ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OPINION ABOUT WHETHER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL CAN CLOSE A STATE-RUN MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY IN ST. TAMMANY PARISH WITHOUT LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL. SEN. JACK DONAHUE, A REPUBLICAN FROM MANDEVILLE, SAYS CLOSING SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA HOSPITAL IN A PARISH THAT HAS ONE OF THE STATE'S HIGHEST SUICIDE RATES IS UNWISE. HE'S PUSHING TO KEEP THE FACILITY OPEN. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION DECIDED TO CLOSE THE FACILITY AND SHIFT PATIENTS TO OTHER PUBLIC AND PRIVATE HEALTH CARE FACILITIES IN THE AREA TO SAVE MONEY, AFTER LOUISIANA'S FEDERAL MEDICAID FUNDING WAS CUT. PARISH OFFICIALS ARE SEEKING ALTERNATIVE FUNDING TO KEEP THE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL OPERATING.

A MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH THE THEFT OF COPPER FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT OFFICE IN LAKE CHARLES. STATE POLICE REPORT 42-YEAR-OLD BRADLEY EDWARDS WAS CAUGHT STEELING ABOUT A THOUSAND FEET OF COPPER WIRE WORTH APPROXIMATELY FIVE-THOUSAND DOLLARS, FROM OUT OF THE BACK OF D.O.T.D. TRUCKS. IF CONVICTED EDWARDS FACES UP TO 23 YEARS IN PRISON AND A 65-HUNDRED DOLLAR FINE.

THE ST. MARY PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS THE 36-YEAR-OLD MAN ACCUSED OF TRYING TO KILL HIS PARENTS HAS DIED IN JAIL. ERIC VINING WAS FACING TWO COUNTS OF ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER. HE WAS ARRESTED ON JULY 23RD. INVESTIGATORS SAYS VINING CUT HIS PARENT'S THROATS WITH A KNIFE. SHERIFF MARK HEBERT SAYS THE PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE IS PERFORMING AN AUTOPSY TO DETERMINE HOW VINING DIED. VINING'S PARENT BOTH SURVIVED THE ATTACK

News For Monday 08/13/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 081312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AS A PART OF LOUISIANA'S CELEBRATION OF ITS 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF STATEHOOD, LPB PREMIERES A NEW DOCUMENTARY TONIGHT. "LOUISIANA: 200 YEARS OF STATEHOOD" PRODUCER TIKA LAUDUN (TICK-UH LOW-DN) SAYS THE SPECIAL COVERS A LOT OF GROUND IN JUST 60 MINUTES. LAUDUN SAYS THE PROGRAM IS NARRATED BY HARRY CONNICK JR. AND TRACES THE MAJOR EVENTS OVER THE PAST 200 YEARS IN LOUISIANA. THE DOCUMENTARY AIRS TONIGHT AT 7, ON LPB. IT WILL REPEAT WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT 8:30.

THERE'S NO LONGER ANY SPECULATION OVER WHETHER GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WOULD BE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY'S RUNNING MATE. THAT HONOR GOES TO WISCONSIN CONGRESSMAN PAUL RYAN. LSU POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR ROBERT HOGAN SAYS ROMNEY'S SELECTION OF RYAN ENERGIZES THE REPUBLICAN PARTY'S CONSERVATIVE BASE. IN A STATEMENT RELEASED BY JINDAL, HE CALLED CONGRESSMAN RYAN A GOOD FRIEND AND ONE OF THE SMARTEST GUYS HE SERVED WITH IN THE U-S HOUSE. THE GOVERNOR SAYS REPRESENTATIVE RYAN HAS THE COURAGE OF HIS CONVICTIONS, WHICH IS WHAT THE COUNTRY NEEDS. HOGAN SAYS JINDAL WILL REMAIN ACTIVE IN ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN.

THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN PARTY IS SUPPORTING THE LOUISIANA STATE PARTY OVER SUPPORTERS OF RON PAUL IN A DISPUTE OVER THE DELEGATION TO REPRESENT THE STATE AT THE NATIONAL CONVENTION IN TAMPA. THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE'S COMMITTEE ON CONTESTS AFFIRMED STATE PARTY CHAIRMAN ROGER VILLERE'S CONDUCT OF THE STATE CONVENTION IN SHREVEPORT, IT RELEASED ITS DECISION LATE FRIDAY IN WASHINGTON, D.C. PAUL'S SUPPORTERS CONTEND THAT THE STATE PARTY MADE ILLEGAL LAST-MINUTE RULE CHANGES TO THWART A RON PAUL MAJORITY ELECTED IN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CAUCUSES IN APRIL.

UNITED HEALTHCARE WANTS GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION TO REVERSE THE MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR HIRING OF BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA TO MANAGE STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS. IN A 15-PAGE PROTEST RELEASED LAST WEEK, UNITED HEALTHCARE ACCUSED THE OFFICE OF GROUP BENEFITS, WHICH HELPED REVIEW THE PROPOSALS, OF PRODUCING A FLAWED ANALYSIS, USING OBJECTIONABLE SCORING AND "BENDING OVER BACKWARDS" FOR BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD. MEANWHILE, A LEGISLATOR IS SEEKING STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL'S INPUT ON WHETHER OUTSOURCING PLAN, WHICH SHIFTS DUTIES HANDLED BY STATE WORKERS TO A PRIVATE COMPANY, REQUIRES LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE APPROVAL, COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER SAID NO FURTHER LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL IS NEEDED.

STUDENTS WHO ACCEPT A TUTION VOUCHER AS PART OF THE STATE'S NEW VOUCHER PROGRAM WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PLAY VARSITY SPORTS THIS YEAR. LOUISIANA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION COMMISSIONER KENNY HENDERSON SAYS THEY'RE TREATED LIKE ANY OTHER STUDENT, WHO TRANSFERS FROM ONE SCHOOL TO ANOTHER AND THEIR HOME ADDRESS DOESN'T CHANGE. HENDERSON ANTICIPATES LHSAA MEMBERS WILL HOLD A VOTE IN JANUARY WHETHER TO CHANGE ELIGIBILITY RULES FOR VOUCHER STUDENTS. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HAS SAID HE HOPES THE LHSAA RECONSIDERS ITS ELIGIBILITY RULE FOR VOUCHER STUDENTS. BUT HENDERSON SAYS AS OF NOW THEY'LL HAVE TO SIT OUT A YEAR.

THE NUMBER OF WEST NILE VIRUS CASES CONTINUES TO INCREASE IN LOUISIANA AS HEALTH OFFICIALS REPORT ANOTHER 15 CASES OF THE MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASE.
SO FAR THIS YEAR, 68 CASES OF WEST NILE INCLUDING SIX DEATHS HAVE BEEN REPORTED. AND STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY MORE THAN HALF OF THE CASES HAVE BEEN THE MORE SERIOUS NEUROINVASIVE STRAIN OF THE DISEASE. THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT SAID 37 CASES OF NEUROINVASIVE WEST NILE VIRUS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED, THE HIGHEST IN SIX YEARS.

A CALCASIEU PARISH GRAND JURY HAS INDICTED A FORMER PRIEST ON CHARGES ACCUSING HIM OF SEXUALLY ABUSING THREE BOYS BETWEEN JULY 1, 1986, AND JULY 1, 1991. 56 YEAR OLD MARK BROUSSARD, A FORMER PRIEST AT OUR LADY QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND AT ST. HENRY CATHOLIC CHURCHES, WAS CHARGED LATE LAST WEEK. THE TEN CHARGES IN THE INDICTMENT WERE THE FIRST BROUGHT BEFORE A GRAND JURY. INITIALLY, HE WAS BOOKED ON 224 COUNTS. BROUSSARD IS BEING HELD AT THE CALCASIEU CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN LIEU OF $3.4 MILLION BOND.

LOUISIANA'S HEALTH AGENCY MUST SAVE $56 MILLION ON DRUGS FOR MEDICAID PATIENTS TO HELP BALANCE THE STATE BUDGET, BUT DOESN'T YET HAVE A FINAL PLAN FOR DOING THAT. THE CHANGES WILL TAKE EFFECT OCT. 1, AND EMERGENCY RULES WILL BE PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER. LEGISLATORS, PHARMACY INTERESTS AND OTHERS SAY THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND WHAT THEY CALL A RUSH TO MAKE CHANGES. CONSUMER GROUPS WORRY ABOUT RESTRICTED DRUG ACCESS.

DREDGING OPERATIONS ARE UNDERWAY AT THE LAKE PROVIDENCE PORT IN EAST CARROLL PARISH. THE PORT HAS BEEN CLOSED TO BARGE TRAFFIC, BECAUSE OF SAND BUILD UP. A DREDGE CALLED THE BUTCHER ARRIVED YESTERDAY TO UNCLOG THE PORT CHANNEL. U-S REPRESENTATIVE RODNEY ALEXANDER OF QUITMAN SAYS AREA FARMERS ARE WORRIED THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SHIP THEIR CROPS. THE COMBINATION OF FLOODING ALONG THE RIVER LAST YEAR AND LOW LEVELS THIS YEAR HAS SAND AND SILT THAT'S CREATED AN OBSTACLE FOR SHIPS.



 

News For Friday 08/10/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 081012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

LAFAYETTE POLICE SAY A BODY FOUND THIS WEEK IS THAT OF MICHAELA "MICKEY" SHUNICK, A COLLEGE STUDENT MISSING SINCE MAY. A TWO SENTENCE NEWS RELEASE THURSDAY SAID THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER COMMENT ON THE INVESTIGATION AT THIS TIME.
SHUNICK WAS LAST SEEN RIDING HER BICYCLE FROM A FRIEND'S HOUSE EARLY MAY 19.
HER DECOMPOSED REMAINS WERE FOUND TUESDAY IN EVANGELINE PARISH.

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY WILL DECIDE WHICH ARCHITECTURAL FIRM WILL WORK ON A PROPOSED $23 MILLION RENOVATION AND UPGRADE OF THE RAPIDES COLISEUM.
THE JURY'S COLISEUM STUDY COMMITTEE MET WEDNESDAY AND WAS SUPPOSED TO MAKE A RECOMMENDATION TO THE JURY. INSTEAD, A MEETING HAS BEEN CALLED FOR MONDAY WHERE THE TWO FIRMS UNDER CONSIDERATION WILL MAKE DESIGN PRESENTATIONS TO THE FULL JURY. REPRESENTATIVES FROM BOTH FIRMS EXPRESSED CONFIDENCE THAT THE COLISEUM CAN BE TRANSFORMED FROM AN OUTDATED FACILITY TO ONE THAT CAN COMPETE WITH NEWER ARENAS IN THE STATE.

THERE ARE NEW QUESTIONS WHETHER THE NEW LIVING WORD SCHOOL IN RUSTON WILL HAVE ENOUGH CLASSROOM SPACE TO ACCEPT 165 VOUCHER STUDENTS. THE SCHOOL PLANNED TO CONSTRUCT CLASSROOMS ABOVE THE GYM AND THE CHURCH SANCTUARY, BUT STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS THEY HAVE YET TO SEE THOSE PLANS AND SCHOOL IS SET TO START IN 10 DAYS. THERE'S BEEN A CONCERN AMONG AREA LAWMAKERS WHETHER NEW LIVING WORD HAD THE CLASSROOM TO ACCEPT OVER 100 VOUCHER STUDENTS. BROWNING SAYS AS SOON AS THEY GET CONSTRUCTION PLANS, THEY'LL PERFORM A SITE REVIEW. DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE MARSHAL HAS NOT EVEN SEEN ANY PLANS YET, THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RELEASED A STATEMENT THAT SAYS THE SCHOOL HAS VERIFIED THAT IT HAS ALL REQUIRED PERMITS.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY SAYS SAMPLES TAKEN FROM THE SLURRY HOLE IN ASSUMPTION PARISH SHOWS NO SIGNS OF HARMFUL LEVELS OF RADIATION. THE SAMPLING WAS A PRECAUTION, BECAUSE THE SINKHOLE IS NEAR AREAS THAT WERE USED FOR OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION. DEQ SPOKESPERSON RODNEY MALLETT SAYS SCIENTIST FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES ARE STILL TRYING TO
FIGURE OUT THE CAUSE OF THE 400 FOOT WIDE SINK HOLE THAT HAS DEVOURED TREES AND CAUSED PIPELINES IN THE AREA TO BE SHUT DOWN. THE HOLE SITS ABOVE A SALT DOME USED TO STORE NATURAL GAS.

LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY AT ALEXANDRIA HAS TAKEN OVER OPERATION OF THE LEARNING CENTER OF RAPIDES PARISH. THE LEARNING CENTER PARTNERS WITH COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TO OFFER CLASSES AND DEGREE PROGRAMS AT THE CENTER LOCATED AT ENGLAND AIRPARK. THIS FALL, THE LEARNING CENTER WILL PARTNER WITH BOSSIER PARISH COMMUNITY COLLEGE, CENTRAL LOUISIANA TECHNICAL COLLEGE, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY AT EUNICE, NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY, TEXAS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY AND UPPER IOWA UNIVERSITY. LSUA WILL COORDINATE THE COURSE OFFERINGS AND CONTRACT WITH THE CENTER'S PARTNER INSTITUTIONS. LSUA ALSO PLANS TO EXPAND PROGRAM OFFERINGS BY WORKING WITH OTHER PROSPECTIVE PARTNER INSTITUTIONS.

LOUISIANA'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT IS TRYING TO NEGOTIATE SETTLEMENTS ON TWO REMAINING CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS TIED TO THE COMPANY'S HANDLING OF CLAIMS AFTER HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA. POLICYHOLDERS SUED OVER SLOW DEALING WITH CLAIMS AFTER THE HURRICANES STRUCK IN 2005. WORD IS, ONE LAWSUIT INVOLVES ABOUT 12,000 TO 14,000 POLICYHOLDERS, WHILE THE OTHER IS NEARLY 26,000 CLAIMANTS. THE MOVE TO SETTLE TWO OUTSTANDING LAWSUITS COMES AFTER CITIZENS PAID A $104 MILLION JUDGMENT IN JULY THAT WILL BENEFIT MORE THAN 18,500 POLICYHOLDERS WHO SUED OVER SLOW ADJUSTMENT OF CLAIMS AFTER THE HURRICANES.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S FORMER NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY, WHO RESIGNED FROM HIS CABINET POSITION THIS WEEK, IS RUNNING FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION. SCOTT ANGELLE, A REPUBLICAN FROM BREAUX BRIDGE, ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY THURSDAY, A DAY AFTER HE LEFT THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES. THE MOVE CONFIRMS MONTHS OF SPECULATION THAT ANGELLE WAS EYEING THE RACE. ANGELLE JOINS TWO OTHER GOP CONTENDERS FOR THE VACANT SEAT: REP. ERICH PONTI, A BATON ROUGE CONTRACTOR, AND ED ROY, A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR AND FORMER TV AND RADIO WEATHERMAN. THE MEN ARE VYING FOR THE PSC SEAT LEFT OPEN BY RETIRING COMMISSIONER JIMMY FIELD. THE DISTRICT COVERS MUCH OF SOUTH CENTRAL LOUISIANA. THE ELECTION IS NOV. 6. A SPOKESWOMAN SAYS JINDAL HASN'T DECIDED IF HE WILL ENDORSE A CANDIDATE.

LOUISIANA'S TOP SCHOOL BOARD IS DELAYING ITS FIRST FORMAL JOB EVALUATION OF STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE. PENNY DASTUGUE, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION, SAID THE CHANGE OF PLANS DOES NOT REFLECT ANY CONTROVERSY. WHITE'S EVALUATION WAS ON BESE'S AGENDA FOR NEXT WEEK. DASTUGUE SAYS THE PANEL OPTED TO INSTEAD DELAY THE JOB REVIEW UNTIL JANUARY, WHEN WHITE WILL REACH HIS ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY RATHER THAN ASSESSING HIS WORK AFTER JUST SEVEN MONTHS. WHITE, WHO IS PAID $275,000 PER YEAR, IS IN CHARGE OF RECOMMENDING AND CARRYING OUT POLICIES THAT AFFECT ABOUT 700,000 PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS STATEWIDE.

THE A&E REALITY SHOW "CAJUN JUSTICE" MAY NOT BE RETURNING AFTER THE SEASON FINALE AIRS NEXT WEEK. THE SHOW, WHICH FOLLOWS THE TERREBONNE PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE, IS AIRING ITS FINAL EPISODE OF THE SEASON AUG. 16. THE SHOW WAS TAPED WHEN VERNON BOURGEOIS WAS SHERIFF. BOURGEOIS DID NOT SEEK A SECOND TERM AND WAS REPLACED THIS SUMMER BY JERRY LARPENTER, WHO SAYS HE DOESN'T WANT TO SEE THE SHOW RETURN. LEAPENTER SAYS HE THINKS THE SHOW IS RIDICULOUS AND DISRESPECTFUL TO THE PEOPLE OF TERREBONNE PARISH.

A TAX BREAK PASSED BY LAWMAKERS FOUR YEARS AGO TO SPUR INVESTMENT IN SOLAR ENERGY HAS BECOME A MORE COSTLY DEAL FOR THE STATE THAN EXPECTED, SIPHONING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM LOUISIANA'S COFFERS ABOVE WHAT HAD BEEN ESTIMATED.
WHEN LAWMAKERS PASSED THE WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS TAX CREDIT IN 2007, FISCAL ANALYSTS SAID THEY EXPECTED LOST STATE TAX INCOME TO BE LESS THAN $500,000 A YEAR. BUT IN FOUR YEARS OF THE TAX BREAK, THE STATE HAS SHELLED OUT $37 MILLION FOR THE TAX CREDIT, MORE THAN 18 TIMES THE MAXIMUM ESTIMATE, ACCORDING TO DATA PROVIDED TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE. THE BULK OF THE CREDITS HAVE GONE TO A FEW THOUSAND INDIVIDUALS. SUPPORTERS OF THE TAX BREAK SAY IT ENCOURAGES CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENT AND HAS HELPED CREATE NEW JOBS ACROSS LOUISIANA IN THE SOLAR INDUSTRY, PROVIDING SALES AND INCOME TAX REVENUE THAT FAR OUTWEIGH THE COST OF THE CREDIT.

U.S. FORECASTERS ARE RAISING THEIR ESTIMATE OF POTENTIAL STORMS IN THE REMAINDER OF THE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON, WHICH ENTERS ITS PEAK PERIOD THIS MONTH. THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION RELEASED ITS UPDATED FORECAST THURSDAY. FORECASTERS SAY WIND PATTERNS CONDUCIVE TO STORM FORMATION AND WARMER-THAN-NORMAL SEA TEMPERATURES MEAN CHANCES ARE HIGHER FOR AN ABOVE-NORMAL ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON. NOAA FORECASTERS SAY THEY EXPECT A TOTAL OF 12 TO 17 TROPICAL STORMS, WITH AS MANY AS FIVE TO EIGHT HURRICANES, FOR THE SEASON FROM JUNE 1 TO NOV. 30. TWO TO THREE OF STORMS COULD BECOME MAJOR HURRICANES. SO FAR THIS YEAR THERE HAVE BEEN FOUR TROPICAL STORMS AND TWO HURRICANES.

THE IBERIA PARISH COUNCIL HAS VOTED 7-6 TO END DISCUSSION OF A PROPOSED CONSOLIDATION OF GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND SERVICES PARISH-WIDE. A MAJORITY VOTE OF EIGHT COUNCIL MEMBERS WAS NEEDED WEDNESDAY TO MOVE FORWARD COUNCILMAN DAVID DITCH'S RESOLUTION TO DISCUSS LEGISLATION THAT COULD CREATE A UNIFIED MUNICIPAL-PARISH GOVERNMENT.

RESEARCHERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS HAVE BEEN GIVEN A $1.2- MILLION GRANT TO STUDY THE EFFECTS THE GULF OIL SPILL MAY HAVE HAD ON CRAB AND SHRIMP POPULATIONS. TEAM LEADER DR. MARTIN O'CONNELL SAYS THE GRANT IS FROM THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF OCEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT (BOEM). HE SAYS MANY SCHOOLS - UNO INCLUDED - HAVE ALREADY BEEN STUDIES ON THEIR OWN.








News For Thursday 08/09/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 080912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA ATTORNEY BRIDGETT BROWN HAS FILED A NOTICE IN FEDERAL COURT THAT SHE WILL APPEAL A U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE'S RULING THAT AWARDED HER NO MONEY IN THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA'S YEARS-LONG LEGAL FIGHT WITH CLECO CORP. BROWN FILED THE NOTICE THIS WEEK. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL LAST MONTH AWARDED A TOTAL OF $2 MILLION TO TWO BATON ROUGE ATTORNEYS, BUT RULED THAT BROWN SHOULD RECEIVE NOTHING. DRELL WROTE THAT BROWN DID NOTHING TO BRING THE CASE TO A CONCLUSION.

AN LSU FORENSICS LABORATORY HAS THE REMAINS THAT ARE BELIEVED TO BE OF MISSING U-L LAFAYETTE STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK. LAFAYETTE AUTHORITIES FEEL CERTAIN THAT SHUNICK'S BODY WAS FOUND YESTERDAY AT A OLD PUBLIC CEMETARY IN EVANGELINE PARISH. LAFAYETTE POLICE CORPORAL PAUL MOUTON SAYS IT COULD TAKE UP TO THREE DAYS FOR THE IDENTIFICATION PROCESS TO BE COMPLETED. JAIL RECORDS INDICATE THE MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING SHUNICK, BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE, WAS LET OUT OF PRISON FOR SEVERAL HOURS BEFORE THE REMAINS WERE FOUND. BUT AUTHORITIES ARE NOT SAYING IF LAVERGNE LED THEM TO THE BODY.

ACCORDING TO THE NOAA JULY WAS OFFICIALLY THE HOTTEST MONTH EVER IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS WHILE MUCH OF THE COUNTRY WAS BAKING IN A DROUGHT, LOUISIANA RECEIVED ALMOST DAILY AFTERNOON SHOWERS AND THUNDER SHOWERS AND THAT MADE JULY JUST ANOTHER AVERAGE MONTH FOR THE STATE. KEIM SAYS THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN JULY WAS 82-POINT ONE DEGREES. NOAA SAYS THE AVERAGE FOR THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES WAS 77 POINT SIX DEGREES. NOAA SAYS DROUGHT COVERS NEARLY 63-PERCENT OF THE CONTIGUOUS STATES. KEIM SAYS SOME AREAS OF NORTH LOUISIANA ARE DEALING WITH DROUGHT BUT SOUTH LOUISIANA IS IN GOOD SHAPE.

NEWSWEEK RANKS LOUISIANA TECH AMONG THE TOP 25 MOST AFFORDABLE COLLEGES IN THE COUNTRY. TECH RANKED 13TH IN THE NATION FOR IN-STATE STUDENTS AND 25TH FOR OUT-OF-STATE STUDENTS. UNIVERSITY SPOKESPERSON DAVE GUERIN SAYS THE UNIVERSITY IS VERY HAPPY WITH THE NATIONAL HONORS. GUERIN SAYS HARD ECONOMIC TIMES ARE HITTING POTENTIAL STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES. HE SAYS THE CHALLENGE IS TO MAKE COLLEGE AFFORDABLE WHILE MAINTAINING HIGH ACADEMIC STANDARDS.

THE ALLEN PARISH POLICE JURY HAS AGREED TO LEASE MORE OF THE FORMER ARIZONA CHEMICAL PROPERTY IN OAKDALE TO A TEXAS-BASED COMPANY FOR A $100 MILLION REFINERY. THE COMPANY, VIRTUAL ENGINEERING OPERATIONS OF KINGSWOOD, TEXAS, PLANS TO A BUILD REFINERY TO PROCESS 20,000 BARRELS A DAY OF CRUDE TO PRODUCE DIESEL FUEL FOR FARMERS, JET FUEL AND HEATING OIL. THE COMPANY HOPES TO INCREASE ITS PRODUCTION TO 40,000 BARRELS A DAY IN THE FUTURE WITH CONSTRUCTION OF A PIPELINE. CONSTRUCTION ON THE FACILITY IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN IN THE NEXT TWO TO THREE MONTHS.

YESTERDAY WAS A TOUGH DAY FOR FORMER LSU TRACK STAR LOLO JONES. SHE FELL SHORT OF HER DREAM OF WINNING AN OLYMPIC MEDAL IN THE 100 METER HURDLES AFTER FINISHING FOURTH. THE RACE CAME JUST THREE DAYS AFTER A NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE WAS CRITICAL OF JONES, CLAIMING JONES BECAME A POPULAR FIGURE AT THE GAMES BECAUSE OF HER LOOKS RATHER THAN HER PERFORMANCE. JONES TOLD THE NBC TODAY SHOW IT WAS HEARTBREAKING TO HEAR THIS FROM AMERICAN JOURNALIST.

AN ESCAPED INMATE IN EVANGELINE PARISH, WHO GOT AWAY FROM A DEPUTY TRANSPORTING HIM ON TUESDAY, IS BACK BEHIND BARS. STATE POLICE SAY 28-YEAR-OLD KYLE DORE SEIZED THE INITIATIVE DURING A GASOLINE STOP, AND HOTWIRED THE PICKUP HE WAS BEING TRANSPORTED IN, WHILE THE DEPUTY WAS INSIDE PAYING FOR THE GAS. HE WAS CAUGHT YESTERDAY SOUTH OF ABBEVILLE. DORE WAS SERVING TIME FOR TRYING TO RUN OVER A COP WITH HIS CAR.

A LOUISIANA CHARTER SCHOOL IS CHANGING A POLICY WHEN IT COMES TO STUDENTS WHO ARE EITHER PREGNANT OR SUSPECTED OF BEING SO. ACCORDING TO A SCHOOL OFFICIAL, NO ONE AT DELHI CHARTER SCHOOL IN RURAL NORTHEAST LOUISIANA REALIZED THERE WAS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THE POLICY UNTIL THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION'S STATE CHAPTER THREATENED TO SUE. THE SCHOOL REQUIRED STUDENTS WHO WERE SUSPECTED OF BEING PREGNANT TO TAKE A PREGNANCY TEST. IF THEY REFUSED, OR TESTED POSITIVE, THEY HAD TO BE HOME-SCHOOLED.

AFTER JUST BEING APPOINTED TO THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ON TUESDAY, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY, SCOTT ANGELLE, HAS RESIGNED FROM THE JOB THAT HE'S HELD FOR MORE THAN EIGHT YEARS. JINDAL'S OFFICE ANNOUNCED ANGELLE'S DECISION WEDNESDAY WITHOUT OFFERING ANY EXPLANATION FOR THE DEPARTURE. BUT THE ANNOUNCEMENT COMES AMID SPECULATION THAT ANGELLE, WHO HAS BEEN A MEMBER OF THE GOVERNOR'S INNER CIRCLE OF ADVISERS, IS CONSIDERING A BID FOR A VACANT SEAT ON THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION IN THIS FALL'S ELECTION.
THE GOVERNOR APPOINTED STEPHEN CHUSTZ, AN ASSISTANT SECRETARY TO ANGELLE, TO LEAD THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AS ITS INTERIM SECRETARY. ANGELLE HAD BEEN DNR SECRETARY SINCE 2004, WHEN HE WAS NAMED TO THE JOB BY THEN-GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS AGAIN HITTING THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL FOR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY, THIS TIME IN COLORADO. ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCED THAT JINDAL IS AMONG SEVERAL GOP OFFICIALS TOURING COLORADO ON THURSDAY WITH THE "ROMNEY BUS."

LOUISIANA'S EDUCATION CHIEF HAS REFUSED TO PROVIDE RECORDS FROM THE DELIBERATIONS OVER HOW SCHOOLS WERE CHOSEN TO PARTICIPATE IN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S NEW STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM, WHICH IS USING TAX DOLLARS TO SEND STUDENTS TO PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS. THE DEPARTMENT IS CLAIMING "A DELIBERATIVE PROCESS PRIVILEGE" CITED IN TWO COURT RULINGS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EDUCATION ISSUES, BUT INVOLVE LEGAL BATTLES OVER WHAT RECORDS SHOULD BE AVAILABLE TO THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE. THROUGH A SPOKESMAN, SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE SAID WEDNESDAY THAT HE'LL RELEASE THE DOCUMENTS IN SEPTEMBER, AFTER VOUCHER ENROLLMENT IS SET IN A SEPT. 1 STUDENT COUNT. ANY RELEASE BEFORE THAT, WHITE CLAIMS, COULD CREATE CONFUSION FOR PARENTS.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE COL. MIKE EDMONSON SAYS HE STILL HAS AN INVESTIGATOR WORKING WITH THE FBI ON WIRETAPPING ALLEGATIONS INVOLVING THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS, BUT ADDS THAT NO EVIDENCE HAS BEEN TURNED OVER TO FEDERAL PROSECUTORS AT THIS TIME. AUTHORITIES HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THE CASE SINCE APRIL, WHEN ESPN, CITING ANONYMOUS SOURCES, SAID SUPERDOME WIRING WAS RIGGED SO SAINTS GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS COULD LISTEN TO OPPOSING TEAMS' RADIO COMMUNICATIONS DURING GAMES. LOOMIS AND THE SAINTS HAVE DENIED THOSE ALLEGATIONS, AND THE SAINTS HAVE HIRED THE FIRM OF FORMER FBI DIRECTOR LOUIS FREEH TO DO ITS OWN INVESTIGATION.

A NATCHITOCHES MAN HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO THE MAXIMUM TIME IN PRISON AFTER PLEADING GUILTY IN APRIL TO CHARGES HE RECEIVED CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. OSCAR STAMPER WAS SENTENCED TUESDAY TO 40 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON BY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL IN ALEXANDRIA. THE 61-YEAR-OLD STAMPER ALSO WAS SENTENCED TO A LIFETIME OF SUPERVISED RELEASE SHOULD HE EVER BE RELEASED FROM PRISON.

News For Wednesday 08/08/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 080812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

LAFAYETTE POLICE SAY THEY BELIEVE THEY'VE FOUND THE BODY OF MISSING UL- LAFAYETTE STUDENT MICKEY SHUNICK. MICKEY VANISHED ON MAY 19TH. LAFAYETTE POLICE CHIEF JIM CRAFT SAYS THEY FEEL THE REMAINS ARE MICKEY'S, BUT THEY ARE NOT 100% SURE. HE SAYS FORENSICS WILL DETERMINE THAT. MOUTON SAYS THE BODY WAS FOUND OFF STATE HIGHWAY 35 IN EVANGELINE PARISH TUESDAY AFTERNOON. BRANDON SCOTT LAVERGNE IS CHARGED WITH MICKEY'S KIDNAP AND MURDER AND THE MURDER OF LISA PATE OF CHURCH POINT BACK IN 1999. HE'S PLEADED NOT GUILTY.

A DIVIDED ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL VOTED TUESDAY TO ALLOW CITY ATTORNEY CHUCK JOHNSON TO SETTLE A JUDGMENT WITH BATON ROUGE ATTORNEYS JOHN SHARP AND CRAIG DAVIDSON FOR THEIR WORK ON THE CITY'S LAWSUIT AGAINST CLECO. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL RULED LAST MONTH THAT THE CITY SHOULD PAY $1.3 MILLION TO DAVIDSON AND $700,000 TO SHARP, WHO SINCE HAS BEEN DISBARRED. AN ORDINANCE ALLOWING THE CITY TO SETTLE WITH THE TWO ATTORNEYS PASSED BY A 4-3 VOTE.

TWO ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS YESTERDAY PITCHED THEIR VISION OF A TRANSFORMED RAPIDES PARISH COLISEUM TO THE COLISEUM AUTHORITY AND MEMBERS OF THE POLICE JURY. BOTH PLANS CALL FOR, AMONG OTHER THINGS, ADDING ABOUT 1,500 SEATS AND NEW SKYBOXES; BUILDING A NEW EXTERIOR; REDOING THE PARKING AREA AND ADDING SPACES; INSTALLING NEW SOUND, LIGHTING AND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS; REFURBISHING MEETING AREAS AND DRESSING ROOMS; AND ADDING AMENITIES SUCH AS A LARGER STAGE AND A REMOVABLE BASKETBALL FLOOR. VOTERS WILL DECIDE THIS FALL IF THEY WANT TO PICK UP THE $23 MILLION TAB TO COMPLETELY RENOVATE THE NEARLY 50-YEAR-OLD FACILITY.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD MET IN EXECUTIVE SESSION FOR AN HOUR TUESDAY TO DISCUSS THREATENED LITIGATION REGARDING THE BUCKEYE CANNING CENTER.
THE CENTER'S ONE WORKER FILED A GRIEVANCE AGAINST DISTRICT C BOARD MEMBER JULIE MCCONATHY, CLAIMING SHE IS ILLEGALLY TRYING TO REMOVE HIM FROM HIS JOB OF 20 YEARS. SCHOOL OFFICIALS ARE AWAITING THE FINDINGS OF THE STATE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE, WHO ALONG WITH A PRIVATE AUDITOR LOOKED INTO THE FACILITY. THE CANNING CENTER WAS USED TO TEACH STUDENTS HOW TO BUTCHER AND PRESERVE MEAT AND PROVIDE THEM WITH HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE. BUT, NOW THAT STUDENTS ARE NO LONGER BEING TAUGHT THERE, SOME ARE QUESTIONING THE EXPENSE.

A NEAR RECORD BREAKING YEAR FOR LOUISIANA LOTTERY TICKET SALES IS GOOD NEWS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION. LOUISIANA LOTTERY SPOKESPERSON, KIM CHOPIN, SAYS REVENUE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT ENDED JUNE 30TH SOARED PAST $400-MILLION FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1993. CHOPIN SAYS STATE LAW REQUIRES 35-PERCENT OF LOTTERY PROCEEDS IS TRANSFERRED TO THE STATE TREASURY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

LOUISIANA HAS SPENT MORE THAN $1 BILLION OVER THE PAST DECADE TO ATTRACT MOVIE PRODUCTIONS TO THE STATE, BUT HASN'T RECEIVED MUCH IN RETURN BESIDES THE PRESTIGE OF HOSTING BIG-NAME HOLLYWOOD ACTORS, THAT ACCORDING TO A REPORT RELEASED TUESDAY. THE LOUISIANA BUDGET PROJECT SUGGESTS STATE LAWMAKERS SHOULD PUT TIGHTER LIMITS ON THE GENEROUS FILM TAX BREAK PROGRAM, LESSENING THE CREDITS OFFERED AND CAPPING THE AMOUNT OF MONEY IT CAN COST THE STATE EACH YEAR. AFTER YEARS IN THE FILM BUSINESS, LOUISIANA HAS ABOUT 2,500 DIRECT JOBS IN THE INDUSTRY, ACCORDING TO FEDERAL LABOR STATISTICS CITED BY THE REPORT. TAXPAYERS SHELLED OUT ON AVERAGE MORE THAN $60,000 FOR EACH OF THOSE JOBS.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS TAPPED ONE OF HIS CABINET SECRETARIES TO ALSO BE ON THE GOVERNING BOARD FOR LSU. JINDAL'S OFFICE ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY SCOTT ANGELLE WAS THE GOVERNOR'S NEWEST APPOINTMENT TO THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. ANGELLE, FROM BREAUX BRIDGE, IS A MEMBER OF JINDAL'S CLOSEST CIRCLE OF ADVISERS. IN ADDITION TO HIS CABINET POST, ANGELLE IS THE GOVERNOR'S CHIEF LEGISLATIVE LOBBYIST AND THE ADMINISTRATION'S LIAISON FOR FEDERAL OIL AND GAS PERMITTING ISSUES.

STATE POLICE ARE ASSISTING THE US MARSHAL'S VIOLENT OFFENDER TASK FORCE AND THE EVANGELINE PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE WITH A SEARCH FOR AN ESCAPED INMATE. THEY SAY 28-YEAR-OLD KYLE DORE WAS BEING TRANSPORTED BY THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE WHEN HE HOT-WIRED THE TRUCK AFTER THE OFFICER STOPPED TO GET GAS. DORE IS DESCRIBED AS A 5'11 WHITE MALE, 175 POUNDS.

ITS ESTIMATED PARENTS WILL SPEND AN AVERAGE OF 688 DOLLARS ON BACK-TO-SCHOOL COMPARED TO 603 DOLLARS LAST YEAR. RETAIL ANALYST JIM RUTLEDGE SAYS THERE ARE TWO REASONS FOR THE INCREASE IN SPENDING. ONE IS A RISE IN PRICES BROUGHT ON BY THE HIGHER COSTS OF OIL. HE SAYS THE OTHER IS MORE MONEY IN THE POCKETS OF PARENTS.

A STATE JUDGE STRUCK DOWN A 2010 AMENDMENT TO THE STATE CONSTITUTION THAT REQUIRES CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS WHO WISH TO GIVE UP THEIR RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL AND INSTEAD BE TRIED BY A JUDGE, TO DO SO AT LEAST 45 DAYS PRIOR TO TRIAL. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE MIKE ERWIN STATED IN A WRITTEN DECISION MONDAY THAT HAVING A BENCH TRIAL OR JURY TRIAL RESTS WITH THE DEFENDANT. ERWIN SAID BY ALLOWING THE STATE TO 'FORCE' A DECISION BY THE DEFENDANT 45 DAYS PRIOR TO THE TRIAL, DENIES THE DEFENDANT HIS TRUE RIGHT TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A BENCH OR JURY TRIAL.

A MAN FROM SHREVEPORT LED POLICE ON A SHORT CHASE BEFORE HE PARKED HIS CAR AT THE CADDO CORRECTIONAL CENTER AND RAN INSIDE THE JAIL. 40-YEAR-OLD BOBBY PARKS WAS THEN ARRESTED AND TRANSPORTED TO CITY JAIL. OFFICIALS SAY PARKS IS WANTED ON THREE FELONY WARRANTS.

BATON ROUGE POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR SEVERAL SUSPECTS IN THE ROBBERY AND SHOOTING TUESDAY MORNING OF THE DRIVER OF AN 18-WHEELER. THE DRIVER WAS MAKING A FUEL DELIVERY AT A GAS STATION WHEN THE INCIDENT TOOK PLACE. THE DRIVER IS LISTED IN SERIOUS CONDITION.

THE TOWN CLERK OF THE CADDO PARISH TOWN OF IDA IS UNDER ARREST FOR STEALING. SHERIFF'S SPOKESPERSON CINDY CHADWICK SAYS 71-YEAR-OLD HAYWOOD WILLIAMSON HANDLED THE TOWN'S CHECK BOOKS, AND ALLEGEDLY WROTE HIMSELF CHECKS THAT WEREN'T RECORDED IN THE LEDGER. HE WAS ALSO THE ONLY EMPLOYEE OF THE TOWN WATER DEPARTMENT, AND GOT TWO PAYCHECKS.

A DERIDDER MAN IS CHARGED WITH OBSCENITY FOR ALLEGEDLY EXPOSING HIMSELF INSIDE A LOCAL RESTAURANT. VERNON PARISH ARREST RECORDS SHOW 42-YEAR-OLD SAMUEL BLACKMON FACES THREE OBSCENITY COUNTS. HIS BOND IS SET AT $75-THOUSAND. THE COMPLAINT CAME FROM TWO WOMEN IN THE EATERY WHO WITNESSED HIS BEHAVIOR AND EVEN TOOK A CELL PHONE CAM SHOT AS PROOF.

THE LAKE CHARLES POLICE DEPARTMENT HAS CONCLUDED THAT A JULY 2ND INCIDENT IN WHICH AN OFFICER SHOT A FAMILY DOG WILL RESULT IN NO DISCIPLINARY ACTION. THEY SAY AN INVESTIGATION WHICH INCLUDED WITNESS STATEMENTS BOTH FROM ENFORCEMENT AND CIVILIANS FOUND THAT THE OFFICER WHO WAS ATTACKED BY THE DOG THAT HE SHOT AND KILLED, DID NOT VIOLATE ANY POLICE DEPARTMENT POLICIES.

AN ATTORNEY CLAIMS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY BREACHED THE CONTRACT OF THEN ATHLETIC DIRECTOR GREG LAFLEUR WHEN IT ANNOUNCED, THREE DAYS AFTER HIS ARREST ON A MISDEMEANOR PROSTITUTION CHARGE, THAT LAFLEUR HAD BEEN FIRED. A HOUSTON JURY ACQUITTED LAFLEUR ON THE CHARGE EARLIER THIS YEAR. LAFLEUR WAS ARRESTED APRIL 3, 2011, AND ON APRIL 6, 2011, SOUTHERN ANNOUNCED THAT HE HAD BEEN TERMINATED. LAFLEUR ATTORNEY SCOTT WILSON ARGUED MONDAY TO STATE DISTRICT JUDGE TODD HERNANDEZ THAT SOUTHERN BREACHED LAFLEUR'S CONTRACT BECAUSE THE UNIVERSITY HAD NO CAUSE TO FIRE HIM.

FEDERAL LAWYERS ARE PREPARING TO DEFEND THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S MOVES TO SHUT DOWN OFFSHORE DRILLING IN THE WAKE OF BP'S OIL 2010 OIL SPILL BEFORE AN APPELLATE PANEL ON WEDNESDAY. THE 5TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS WAS SCHEDULED TO HEAR AN APPEAL BY THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT CHALLENGING A CONTEMPT OF COURT FINDING U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE MARTIN FELDMAN ISSUED IN FEBRUARY 2011. FELDMAN CHIDED THE DEPARTMENT FOR ITS "DISMISSIVE CONDUCT."

A MAN IS DEAD FOLLOWING A SHOOTING INVOLVING A LAFAYETTE DEPUTY MARSHAL.
THE SHOOTING HAPPENED TUESDAY JUST BEFORE 3 P.M. INVESTIGATORS SAY THE CITY MARSHAL'S OFFICE WAS ASSISTING LAFAYETTE POLICE IN A FOOT PURSUIT OF 20-YEAR-OLD DEVANTE BROWN, OF LAFAYETTE. BROWN WAS A SUSPECT IN AN ALLEGED NARCOTICS TRANSACTION. OFFICIALS SAY DURING THE PURSUIT, THE SUSPECT FIRED AT THE DEPUTY, WHO RETURNED FIRE, STRIKING THE SUSPECT SEVERAL TIMES. THE SUSPECT WAS TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE LATER DIED. THE MARSHAL WAS NOT INJURED DURING THE EXCHANGE OF GUNFIRE. THE CITY MARSHAL'S OFFICE HAS ASKED LOUISIANA STATE POLICE TO INVESTIGATE.



News For Tuesday 08/07/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 080712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA'S CITY ATTORNEY HAS ISSUED THE ENGLAND AUTHORITY LETTERS REQUESTING ALL CORRESPONDENCE AND DOCUMENTS, INCLUDING EMAILS, BETWEEN THE AUTHORITY AND CLECO CORP. CONCERNING A RECENTLY EXTENDED LEASE AGREEMENT. CLECO AND THE ENGLAND AUTHORITY, WHICH MANAGES ENGLAND AIRPARK AND ALEXANDRIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, WERE IN THE 18TH YEAR OF A 20-YEAR CONTRACT WHERE CLECO MANAGES ELECTRICITY SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION WITHIN THE ECONOMIC DISTRICT. THE NEW AGREEMENT EXTENDED THE CONTRACT FOR ANOTHER 25 YEARS. THE CITY, WHICH PURCHASES IS POWER FROM CLECO, HAD PUT IN A BID TO SUPPLY THE POWER AND DISTRIBUTION. THAT WAS SHOT DOWN BY A 9 TO 1 VOTE BY THE AUTHORITY TO EXTEND THE CLECO CONTRACT.

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY ADJUSTED MILLAGE RATES IN THE PARISH AT A SPECIAL MEETING MONDAY. EVERY FOUR YEARS, PROPERTY VALUES ARE REASSESSED. MILLAGE RATES HAVE TO BE ADJUSTED ACCORDINGLY TO KEEP THE TAX REVENUE BASED OFF THOSE RATES THE SAME. IN THE FOUR DISTRICTS WHERE PROPERTY VALUES INCREASED, AFTER LOWERING THE MILLAGE RATES AS LEGALLY REQUIRED, THE JURY VOTED TO RETURN THE RATES TO THE PREVIOUS LEVEL.

IF LSU LEADERS CAN'T FIND NEW, PERMANENT FINANCING SOURCES OR WAYS TO CUT ANNUAL SPENDING FOR THE UNIVERSITY'S PUBLIC HOSPITAL SYSTEM, INTERNAL MEMOS OFFER A GLIMPSE OF THE IMPLICATIONS FROM THE SYSTEM'S SHRINKING BUDGET: SEVERE DAMAGE TO HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND MEDICAL TRAINING PROGRAMS. UNIVERSITY OFFICIALS ARE WEIGHING LONG-TERM IDEAS FOR COPING WITH DWINDLING STATE FUNDS, AFTER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION DECIDED TO LEVY MUCH OF AN ONGOING FEDERAL MEDICAID CUT ON THE LSU-RUN NETWORK OF HOSPITALS AND OUTPATIENT CLINICS. BEFORE THEY COBBLED TOGETHER A TEMPORARY FIX, LSU HEALTH CARE LEADERS GRAPPLED WITH HOW TO STRIP MORE THAN $300 MILLION IN ANNUAL FUNDING , A QUARTER OF THE HOSPITAL SYSTEM'S FINANCING, FROM ITS BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGAN JULY 1.

THE ACLU OF LOUISIANA HAS ISSUED A LETTER TO DELHI CHARTER SCHOOL ASKING THEY REVERSE ITS POLICY THAT REQUIRES FEMALE STUDENTS WHO ARE SUSPECTED OF BEING PREGNANT TO SUBMIT A PREGNANCY TEST. THE ACLU SAYS THE POLICY STATES IF A STUDENT IS PREGNANT, SHE HAS TO DO HER CLASS WORK FROM HOME. THEY SAY THIS IS SEX DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE A MAN EXPECTING A CHILD WOULD NOT BE SUBJECTED TO SIMILAR ACTION.

DURING A WEEKEND CEREMONY IN ERATH, FORMER LOUISIANA GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS TOLD THE CROWD THAT HE AND HIS WIFE, 32-YEAR-OLD TRINA SCOTT EDWARDS, ARE GOING TO TRY FOR A BABY. EDWARDS SAYS THAT IT'S SOMETHING HE AND HIS YOUNG WIFE HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING FOR QUITE SOME TIME. EDWARDS, WHO IS 85-YEARS-OLD TODAY, SAYS THEIR HOME LIFE WILL SOON BE SHOWN TO A NATIONAL AUDIENCE. WORD IS, THEY'VE HAD CAMERAS FOLLOWING THEIR EVERY MOVE, FILMING FOR A REALITY TV SHOW.

ESPN REPORTS THE NFL HAS OFFERED SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA A REDUCED SUSPENSION FOR HIS ROLE IN THE BOUNTYGATE SCANDAL. THE RUMORED OFFER IS TO REDUCE IT FROM A ONE-YEAR SUSPENSION TO 8 GAMES, IF VILMA DROPS HIS CIVIL SUIT AGAINST COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODDELL. AN NFL SPOKESMAN SAYS THE STORY OF AN OFFERED DEAL FOR VILMA IS INACCURATE, AND NO SUCH OFFER HAS BEEN MADE.

ACCORDING TO AAA, THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE COST OF GAS IS UP TO $3.44; AN INCREASE OF OVER 32-CENTS IN THE PAST MONTH. LOUISIANA AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS JUST 5 WEEKS AGO, SOME STATIONS WERE SELLING GAS AT LESS THAN THREE BUCKS. REDMAN ADVISES WE BUDGET FOR ABOUT $3.50 A GALLON FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.

POLICE IN PINEVILLE SAY THEY'VE BUSTED TWO ACCUSED RAPISTS. 25-YEAR-OLD RAY FERRELL AND 29-YEAR-OLD ELDRIC WOODS ARE KNOWN ASSOCIATES OF LAVELLE DAVIS WHO FACES A LONG LIST OF CHARGES FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN.

A 27-YEAR-OLD CHILD SITTER HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF LEAVING A TWO-YEAR-OLD GIRL INSIDE A PARKED VEHICLE WITH THE WINDOWS AND DOORS CLOSED FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR AND A HALF SATURDAY. POLICE WERE CALLED AFTER A WITNESS AND HOTEL SECURITY SAW THE CHILD SCREAMING INSIDE THE CAR. POLICE SAID THE CHILD CONTINUOUSLY ASKED FOR FOOD AND WATER ONCE SHE WAS REMOVED FROM THE CAR. THE WOMAN WAS BOOKED WITH CHILD DESERTION AND CRUELTY TO A JUVENILE BY BATON ROUGE POLICE OVER THE WEEKEND.

PEOPLE LIVING NEAR A LARGE SINKHOLE THAT SWALLOWED TREES AND FORCED EVACUATIONS WILL BE BRIEFED TUESDAY BY OFFICIALS. ON MONDAY OFFICIALS SAID THE SINKHOLE MEASURED 381 FEET DEEP AND 372 FEET IN DIAMETER. OFFICIALS ALSO ANNOUNCED THAT TESTS FOUND DIESEL AND OIL ON THE SURFACE OF THE POND OF MUCK THAT'S FORMED ATOP A SALT DOME WHERE NATURAL GAS IS STORED. EXPERTS ARE TRYING TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE OCCURRENCE WAS NATURAL OR MANMADE. ABOUT 150 HOMES AND SEVERAL BUSINESSES WERE ORDERED TO EVACUATE AFTER A STATE OF EMERGENCY WAS DECLARED.

AN IBERVILLE PARISH JURY SAYS ACADIAN AMBULANCE SERVICE OWES $117 MILLION TO A WOMAN LEFT PARALYZED AND BRAIN-DAMAGED WHEN THE AMBULANCE SHE WAS IN CRASHED INTO A SUGAR-CANE TRUCK ON THE WAY TO A HOSPITAL IN DECEMBER 2010.
COMPANY VICE PRESIDENT ALLYSON PHARR SAYS ACADIAN TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WRECK BUT WILL APPEAL OTHER ISSUES IN THE VERDICT HANDED UP LAST WEEK FOR WHITLEY LACEY AND THE BABY BORN BY CESAREAN SECTION WHILE LACEY WAS IN A COMA. AN ATTORNEY FOR LACEY SAYS THE 22-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WAS IN A COMA FOR THREE MONTHS, AND COULD NOT TALK WHEN SHE REGAINED CONSCIOUSNESS. HE SAYS SHE HAS REGAINED SOME SPEECH BUT HAS A LONG WAY TO GO, AND CAN MOVE ONLY ONE ARM.

THE LOUISIANA FARM BUREAU RADIO NETWORK IS MERGING WITH THE LOUISIANA RADIO NETWORK'S AGRINEWS DIVISION. LOUISIANA FARM BUREAU AGRINEWS RADIO NETWORK WILL HAVE A COMBINED 42 AFFILIATES IN LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI. LRN LAUNCHED THE LOUISIANA AGRINEWS NETWORK IN 1976, OFFERING SEVERAL DAILY AGRICULTURE REPORTS FOR THE STATE'S FARMERS AND PRODUCED IN COOPERATION WITH THE FARM BUREAU. IN 1998 THE FARM BUREAU BEGAN THE LOUISIANA FARM BUREAU RADIO NETWORK WITH 22 AFFILIATES STATEWIDE. IN 2008 BOTH ORGANIZATIONS BEGAN SHARING FARM NEWS AND COMMODITIES PRICES. RONNIE ANDERSON, PRESIDENT OF THE LOUISIANA FARM BUREAU, SAID MERGING THE NETWORKS REPRESENTS THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP. TALKRADIO 970 KSYL IS A LONG TIME AFFILIATE OF THE LOUISIANA RADIO NETWORK.

News For Monday 08/06/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 080612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

HOMECOMING HEROES.. THE 209TH MILITARY POLICE COMPANY HAS COME HOME TO FORT POLK AFTER A YEAR IN AFGHANISTAN. COMMAND INFORMATION OFFICER, KIM REISCHLING SAYS THE 209TH'S MISSION WAS TO TRAIN THE AFGHANISTAN NATIONAL POLICE, MENTORING THEM INTO A PROFESSIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIT. THE 209TH WAS THE FIRST UNIT TO DEPLOY FROM FORT POLK WHEN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR BEGAN IN 2001. SOME MEMBERS HAVE SERVED UPWARDS OF THREE DEPLOYMENTS. REISCHLING SAYS EVERY UNIT FROM THE BASE HAS SERVED. (((THIS IS THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR ON TERROR THAT ALL UNITS AT FT. POLK HAVE BEEN AT HOME.)))

THE BRONZE BUSTS WERE IMPRESSIVE. WILLIE ROAF WAS MAGNANIMOUS. AND DREW BREES? SAME AS ALWAYS. IT ADDED UP TO A GREAT WEEKEND FOR A TEAM THAT REALLY NEEDED ONE ABOUT NOW. BREES PRODUCED A TOUCHDOWN ON HIS ONLY SERIES IN THE HALL OF FAME GAME SUNDAY NIGHT, LEADING THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS TO A 17-10 VICTORY OVER THE ARIZONA CARDINALS.

HURRICANE FORECASTERS AT COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY PREDICT "SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE" STORM ACTIVITY FOR THE REST OF THE 2012 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON. CSU RESEARCHER DR. PHIL KLOTZBACH SAYS THEY'VE DOWNGRADED THE NUMBER OF HURRICANES EXPECTED BETWEEN NOW AND NOVEMBER 30TH. THE PREDICTION NOW IS FOR 10 STORMS, FIVE OR THOSE BECOMING HURRICANES & TWO CATEGORY 3 OR BETTER STORMS. THAT IS SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE. KLOTZBACH SAYS THE EXPECTED DEVELOPMENT OF A WEAK EL NINO IN THE PACIFIC WILL PROBABLY LESSEN THE CHANCES OF HURRICANE DEVELOPMENT. COOLER SEAS SURFACE TEMPERATURES ALSO PLAY A PART IN THE CSU TEAM'S SLIGHT DOWNGRADE FOR THE REST OF THIS SEASON.

A STATE BY-STATE RANKING OF CAR INSURANCE COSTS LISTS LOUISIANA AMONG THE MOST EXPENSIVE. THE WEBSITE "CARINSURANCEQUOTES.COM" RANKS THE BAYOU STATE 2ND HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY. JEFF ALBRIGHT IS CEO OF THE INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTS OF LOUISIANA. HE SAYS IT'S BECAUSE WE TEND TO FILE SO MANY ACCIDENT INJURY CLAIMS. HOW MANY YOU SAY, IN LOUISIANA, ABOUT 43% OF ALL AUTO ACCIDENTS INCLUDE INJURY CLAIMS, COMPARED WITH A 24% NATIONAL AVERAGE. ALBRIGHT SAYS MOST PARISHES FALL AT OR NEAR THAT NATIONAL AVERAGE, BUT ONE AREA SEEMS TO BE MORE PRONE TO CLAIMS AND LAWSUITS--LIFTING THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE AUTO COVERAGE COST MUCH HIGHER. THAT AREA, NEW ORLEANS..

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT A DEADLY WEST NILE SEASON. TWO PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM THE MOSQUITO BORNE DISEASE THIS YEAR. IT'S THE FIRST RECORDED HUMAN DEATHS OF THE VIRUS IN LOUISIANA SINCE 2008. DHH STATE EPIDEMIOLOGIST, DR. RAOULT RATARD, SAYS THE WARM WEATHER EARLIER THIS YEAR COULD BE TO BLAME FOR THE RESURGENCE. D-H-H SAYS THEY'VE REPORTED 53 HUMAN WEST NILE INFECTIONS, 29 OF THOSE CASES ARE THE MORE SERIOUS FORM OF THE DISEASE. IT'S THE LARGEST OUTBREAK OF WEST NILE IN NEARLY TEN YEARS. RATARD SAYS UNFORTUNATELY WE COULD SEE MORE FATALITIES THIS YEAR. RATARD SAYS LOCAL MOSQUITO CONTROL PROGRAMS DO A GOOD JOB, BUT IT’S UP TO YOU TO KEEP MOSQUITOS FROM BITING YOU.

OFFICIALS HAVE CLOSED A FOUR-MILE SECTION OF HIGHWAY NEAR AN ACRE OF SWAMPLAND THAT LIQUEFIED INTO SOUPY MUCK, TOPPLING TALL BALD CYPRESS TREES AND BENDING A 400-FOOT-LONG SECTION OF A NATURAL GAS PIPELINE TOWARD THE AREA.
LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 70 CROSSES OVER THREE NATURAL GAS PIPELINES IN THAT AREA.
AUTHORITIES SAY ABOUT 150 HOMES AND SEVERAL BUSINESSES WILL REMAIN UNDER MANDATORY EVACUATION, AND A SHELTER REMAINS OPEN. RESIDENTS WERE TOLD TO LEAVE FRIDAY AS THE AREA OF SLURRY EXPANDED TO ABOUT THREE-QUARTERS OF AN ACRE. IT EXPANDED AGAIN SATURDAY AFTERNOON.

THE COMPANY PLANNING A 141-MILE PIPELINE FROM NORCO TO COLLINS, MISS., HOPES TO BEGIN THE FIRST STAGE OF WORK SOON IN LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN. COMPANY SPOKESMAN ALLEN FORE SAYS THE PROJECT HAS ALL THE STATE PERMITS NEEDED, BUT IS WAITING ON ONE FROM THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS. HE SAYS THEY HOPED TO BEGIN CONSTRUCTION BY AUG. 13, HOWEVER, CORPS SPOKESMAN KEN HOLDER SAYS THE CORPS PROBABLY WON'T RULE ON THE PERMIT FOR FOUR TO SIX WEEKS.

THE PROCESS TO FIND A LOCATION FOR A LARGER CLINIC FOR VETERANS IN LAFAYETTE IS OFFICIALLY UNDER WAY. THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS WILL HOLD A PRE-BID CONFERENCE FOR INTERESTED DEVELOPERS TUESDAY MORNING. THE DEPARTMENT WANTS TO LEASE MORE THAN 29,000 SQUARE FEET OF SPACE FOR AN OUTPATIENT CLINIC. NEW CONSTRUCTION IS ALSO AN OPTION, ACCORDING TO THE NOTICE. THE SEARCH FOR THE SITE BEGAN IN 2010 AND LOCAL VETERANS WERE HOPEFUL A DEAL WITH DEVELOPERS WOULD BE SIGNED QUICKLY. BUT A TECHNICAL ERROR IN PAPERWORK SET THE LAFAYETTE PROJECT AND SELECTION OF A NEW CLINIC SITE FOR LAKE CHARLES BACK BY AT LEAST A YEAR. INITIAL OFFERS ARE DUE BY 4 P.M. ON AUG. 31.

A POLL PAID FOR BY CONGRESSMAN CHARLES BOUSTANY SHOWS HE HAS A LARGE LEAD OVER FELLOW U-S REPRESENTATIVE JEFF LANDRY. THE SURVEY OF FOUR- HUNDRED REGISTERED VOTERS GIVES BOUSTANY A 61 TO 23 PERCENT LEAD IN A HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCH-UP WITH LANDRY. BOUSTANY AND LANDRY ARE RUNNING AGAINST EACH OTHER TO REPRESENT THE STATE'S NEW THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, WHICH COVERS LAKE CHARLES, LAFAYETTE AND NEW IBERIA.

STATE POLICE SAY A 24-YEAR-OLD LAFAYETTE MAN DIED WHEN HIS CAR CROSSED THE U.S. HIGHWAY 90 MEDIAN AND HIT AN SUV AND ANOTHER CAR. TROOPER STEPHEN HAMMONS SAYS BRET LEGNON DIED SUNDAY MORNING IN LAFAYETTE. HE SAYS THE OTHER DRIVERS WERE TAKEN TO A HOSPITAL WITH MINOR INJURIES.

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SAYS THE HISTORIC FLOOD OF 2011 DUMPED MORE SEDIMENT THAN USUAL IN THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND RIVERS IN ARKANSAS AND LOUISIANA. AND THIS YEAR'S EXTREME LOW WATER AND LOW FLOW ARE LEAVING IT THERE.
THE CORPS' VICKSBURG OFFICE SAYS THAT'S ALSO MAKING NORMAL DREDGING VERY DIFFICULT, BUT DREDGES FROM THREE COMPANIES ARE AT WORK ON THE MISSISSIPPI, OUACHITA-BLACK AND RED RIVER SYSTEMS. WORK IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN TODAY.






News For Friday 08/03/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 080312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TROPICAL STORM ERNESTO HAS FORMED IN THE ATLANTIC AND IS SPEEDING TOWARD A CHAIN OF SMALL, POPULAR VACATION ISLANDS IN THE CARIBBEAN. THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IN MIAMI SAYS THE STORM IS HEADED WEST AT ABOUT 22 MPH TOWARD THE CARIBBEAN. TROPICAL STORM WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT FOR THE ISLANDS OF BARBADOS, DOMINICA, ST. LUCIA, ST. VINCENT, MARTINIQUE, GUADELOUPE AND THE GRENADINES. THE STORM’S MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE RAPIDLY GAINING STRENGTH AND WERE AT 50 MPH. FORECASTERS SAY THE STORM IS EXPECTED TO STRENGTHEN FURTHER. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS IT'S STILL TOO EARLY TO KNOW IF THE SYSTEM WILL IMPACT LOUISIANA, BUT IT'S ALWAYS GOOD TO BE PREPARED FOR IT.

A PROPOSAL BY A PRIVATE INVESTOR TO BUY AND RENOVATE THE CLOSED HOTEL BENTLEY IN DOWNTOWN ALEXANDRIA WILL REQUIRE AN AGREEMENT WITH THE CITY TO PROVIDE PARKING FOR HOTEL GUESTS AND RESIDENTS OF CONDOMINIUMS PLANNED FOR PART OF THE PROPERTY. MAYOR ROY SAYS THE CITY AND ALEXANDRIA INVESTOR MICHAEL JENKINS HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING AN AGREEMENT REGARDING PARKING AND ARE IN THE FINAL STAGES OF HELPING TO MAKE THAT PARKING DEAL HAPPEN. THE NEGOTIATIONS INCLUDE SOME SHARED USE OF THE TWO NEARBY CITY LOTS -- NEXT TO THE ALEXANDRIA MUSEUM OF ART AND THE TOP OF THE CITY PARKING STRUCTURE ACROSS FROM THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL.

ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY CONFIRMED YESTERDAY THAT BRINGHURST FIELD WILL BE CLOSED IN THE COMING WEEKS DUE TO STRUCTURAL ISSUES. THE ALEXANDRIA ACES WILL BE ABLE TO FINISH THEIR SEASON USING THE REMAINING SEATING FOR FANS, BUT AFTER THAT THE PARK WILL BE SHUT DOWN WHILE THE CITY, ACCORDING TO THE MAYOR, WEIGHS ITS OPTIONS. THE ACES’ LAST SCHEDULED GAME IS AT HOME SATURDAY, AUG. 11, AGAINST THE ACADIANA CANE CUTTERS. ONE OPTION WOULD BE FOR THE CITY TO REPAIR THE DECAYING SUPERSTRUCTURE AT BRINGHURST, BUT, MAYOR ROY SAYS THAT MAY BE TOO COSTLY. ANOTHER OPTION BEING BANTERED AROUND, WOULD BE FOR THE CITY TO BUILD A PARK ON THE SITE. IN DOING SO, THE CITY WOULD BE SAYING GOODBYE TO ANOTHER BIG PIECE OF HISTORY.

IN THE USA TODAY PRE-SEASON COACHES POLL, LSU IS PICKED TO BE THE FAVORITE TO WIN, JUST BEATING ALABAMA BY FOUR POINTS. FIVE SEC TEAMS MADE THE TOP 10. IN ADDITION TO THE TIGERS AND CRIMSON TIDE, GEORGIA CAME IN AT #6, SOUTH CAROLINA CAME IN A #9 AND ARKANSAS MADE #10.

LOUISIANA'S ANNUAL SALES TAX HOLIDAY WEEKEND STARTS TODAY AND ENDS SATURDAY AT MIDNIGHT. BYRON HENDERSON, WITH THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, SAYS ALMOST ALL RETAIL ITEMS WILL BE EXEMPT FROM THE 4% STATE SALES TAX. HE SAYS THE FIRST $2500 OF ANY SINGLE ITEM PURCHASED WILL BE STATE SALES TAX EXEMPT. THE HOLIDAY DOES NOT APPLY TO MOTOR VEHICLE SALES, RESTAURANT MEALS, HOTEL ROOMS, AND A LIST OF TAXABLE SERVICES.

THE LAFAYETTE PD AND A FORMER OFFICER ARE BEING SUED OVER AN ALLEGED SEXUAL BATTERY THAT HAPPENED LAST FALL. THE PLAINTIFF SAYS THEN-CORPORAL JACKIE HAGAN INSISTED ON DRIVING HER HOME, AFTER SHE WITNESSED AN ASSAULT IN DOWNTOWN LAFAYETTE. WHEN THEY ARRIVED, SHE SAYS HE BEGAN FORCIBLY KISSING HER AND GROPING HER BODY. INVESTIGATORS FOUND HAGAN'S DNA ON THE WOMAN'S BRA, WHICH LED TO HIS ARREST. HE WAS THEN DISMISSED FROM THE LPD.

A NEW LSU POLL INDICATES THAT MANY FIRST-TIME VOTERS THAT HELPED PUT BARACK OBAMA IN THE WHITE HOUSE 4 YEARS AGO MAY SIT OUT THE 2012 ELECTION. LSU'S DR. KIRBY GOIDEL HEADED THE POLL, AND SAYS THE ANNUAL LOUISIANA SURVEY ASKED THOSE WHO VOTED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 2008 THEIR LEVEL OF INTEREST THIS FALL. HE SAYS IT WASN'T GOOD NEWS FOR THE PRESIDENT. GOIDEL SAYS A CERTAIN NUMBER OF VOTERS ARE DISAPPOINTED THAT MR. OBAMA'S FIRST TERM DIDN'T DELIVER THE "HOPE AND CHANGE" PROMISED.


ST. LANDRY PARISH DEPUTIES SAYS A DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE CALL IN EUNICE LED TO THE ARREST OF A LOCAL MAN FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER. OFFICERS ALLEGE THAT BREEZIE JAMES MARTEL TRIED TO KILL THE FEMALE VICTIM AND HER TWO CHILDREN WITH A KNIFE. THEY RAN FROM THE HOME, BUT HE CHASED AFTER THEM IN HIS CAR. MARTEL HAS BEEN CAUGHT AND BOOKED. NO BOND IS SET AS YET.

ONE OF THE 500+ LAWS THAT WENT INTO EFFECT ON WEDNESDAY REQUIRES PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO TEACH STUDENTS CELL PHONE SAFETY. DENHAM SPRINGS REP VALARIE HODGES SAYS SHE WAS INSPIRED TO WRITE THE LAW AFTER AN INCIDENT WITH HER DAUGHTER. SHE SAYS THE INSTRUCTION WILL INCLUDE SAFE USE OF SITES AND RISKS
ASSOCIATED WITH SHARING PERSONAL INFORMATION.

TWO NEW LAWS PERTAINING TO DRIVERS AND AUTO INSURANCE HAVE GONE INTO EFFECT IN LOUISIANA. STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS ONE REPEALS A 2010 LAW THAT PROHIBITED IMPOUNDING UNINSURED DRIVERS' VEHICLES ON A FIRST OFFENSE. DONELON SAYS LOUISIANA STILL HAS A LARGE NUMBER OF DRIVERS OPERATING WITHOUT INSURANCE, AND IT'S HOPED THE NEW LAW--AND THE THREAT OF LOSING ONE'S VEHICLE--WILL BE A STRONG DETERRENT TO PEOPLE EITHER LETTING THEIR INSURANCE EXPIRE OR HAVING NO INSURANCE AT ALL. THE OTHER NEW LAW ALLOWS MOTORISTS TO DISPLAY ELECTRONIC PROOF OF AUTO INSURANCE COVERAGE ON THEIR SMART PHONE.

THE OFFICIAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEL AT VICKSBURG IS JUST ONE FOOT, A NEW RECORD LOW FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR. REYNOLD MINSKY, PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTH LOUISIANA LEVEE DISTRICT BOARD SAYS THIS IS A SERIOUS SITUATION FOR FARMERS WHO WILL SOON SHIP THEIR GRAIN ON BARGES. LOW RIVER LEVELS HAVE CLOSED THE LAKE PROVIDENCE PORT WHICH LOUISIANA FARMERS DEPEND ON TO SHIP THEIR PRODUCT.

FORMER LOUISIANA TECH STANDOUT AND SAINTS GREAT WILLIE ROAF ENTERS THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME ON SATURDAY. ROAF WAS ONE OF THE BEST OFFENSIVE TACKLES IN NFL HISTORY. HE WAS VOTED TO 11 PRO BOWLS DURING A 13-YEAR CAREER WITH THE SAINTS AND KANSAS CITY.

FORMER OUACHITA PARISH SHERIFF ROYCE TONEY IS NOW BEING CHARGED WITH TWO COUNTS OF MAIL FRAUD IN ADDITION TO 21 OTHER CHARGES THAT HAVE BEEN BROUGHT AGAINST HIM BY FEDERAL PROSECUTORS. THE NEW 23-COUNT INDICTMENT CLAIMS TONEY KNOWINGLY DEVISED A SCHEME TO OBTAIN FUNDS FROM HIS CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT TO WHICH HE WAS NOT ENTITLED BECAUSE IT VIOLATES THE LOUISIANA CAMPAIGN FINANCE DISCLOSURE ACT. A FEDERAL GRAND JURY ORIGINALLY INDICTED TONEY FEB. 22 ON ONE COUNT OF CONSPIRACY, NINE COUNTS OF COMPUTER FRAUD, NINE COUNTS OF IDENTITY THEFT, ONE COUNT OF OBSTRUCTION OF A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION AND ONE COUNT OF OBSTRUCTION BY RETALIATING AGAINST A VICTIM.
TRIAL IS SCHEDULED FOR SEPT. 13.


News For Thursday 08/02/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 080212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT SEEMS HARD TO BELIEVE, BUT THE HISTORIC HOTEL BENTLEY IN DOWNTOWN ALEXANDRIA HAS BEEN CLOSED FOR CLOSE TO EIGHT YEARS. BUT, THERE’S GOOD NEWS, IT APPEARS THE BENTLEY WILL BE SOLD LATER THIS MONTH TO LOCAL DEVELOPER MICHAEL JENKINS. JENKINS INTENDS TO CONVERT THE SEVEN-STORY TOWER INTO UP TO 28 LUXURY CONDOMINIUMS. THE OLDER PORTION OF THE PROPERTY WILL REMAIN A HOTEL WITH 96 ROOMS AVAILABLE.

NINE CURRENT AND FORMER CLECO CORP. EMPLOYEES ARE SUING THE UTILITY AND ITS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER FOR AT LEAST $18 MILLION IN A LAWSUIT THAT CLAIMS CEO BRUCE WILLIAMSON MADE THREATS IN A SETTLEMENT LETTER TO THE EMPLOYEES IN A RELATED RACIAL DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT THAT IS ONGOING. THE FEDERAL LAWSUIT, FILED WEDNESDAY, CLAIMS WILLIAMSON AND CLECO COMPOSED THE LETTER “IN A WAY CALCULATED TO INTIMIDATE AND PUNISH THE PLAINTIFFS.” WILLIAMSON IN DECEMBER WROTE THE LETTER TO PLAINTIFFS WHO IN 2009 FILED A RACIAL DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE UTILITY. WILLIAMSON BYPASSED THE ATTORNEYS AND DIRECTLY OFFERED $10,000 AND ATTORNEY FEES TO EACH OF THE 12 PLAINTIFFS TO SETTLE THE CASE. NINE OF THE PLAINTIFFS IN THE FIRST SUIT FILED THE CIVIL COMPLAINT YESTERDAY.

ACCORDING TO A NEW STUDY BY THE GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY CENTER ON EDUCATION, LOUISIANA RANKS DEAD LAST IN THE NATION WHEN IT COMES TO HAVING JOBS AVAILABLE THAT A COLLEGE GRADUATE WOULD WANT. BUT LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION EXEC. DIR. CURT EYSINK SAYS THE STATE HAS MADE MARKED IMPROVEMENTS OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS TO REVERSE THIS TREND. THE REPORT SAYS THAT THAT FROM 2000 TO 2010, LOUISIANA LOST MORE THAN 3200 WORKERS WITH AT LEAST A BACHELOR'S DEGREE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 35 AND 64. EYSINK SAYS REPORTS LIKE THIS ARE INFLUENCED BY THE HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE OF OUR SCHOOLS AND THE NUMBER OF DROPOUTS WE'VE PRODUCED IN YEARS PAST.

A NEW LAW, AIMED AT BOOSTING PARTICIPATION IN PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCES GOES INTO EFFECT. WINFIELD SENATOR GERALD LONG SPONSORED THE NEW LAW. LONG SAYS IT OCCURRED TO HIM, DURING THE DEBATE ON SCHOOL REFORM, THAT TOO MUCH PRESSURE IS BEING PUT ON TEACHERS TO BE BOTH A TEACHER AND A PARENT. HE WROTE THE NEW LAW TO GIVE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND ADMINISTRATORS THE MEANS TO ENFORCE A TEACHERS REQUEST FOR A CONFERENCE. THE LAW EMPOWERS LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS TO PUNISH PARENTS OR GUARDIANS WHO FAIL TO MAKE THEIR PARENT-TEACHER MEETINGS.

A TROPICAL DEPRESSION IN THE MID-ATLANTIC IS HEADED IN THE GENERAL DIRECTION OF THE GULF OF MEXICO. THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER GIVES THE SYSTEM A GOOD CHANCE OF BECOMING A NAMED STORM WITHIN A FEW DAYS. WITH THAT IN MIND, STATE AGENCIES REPORT THEY'RE READY TO RESPOND TO A NATURAL DISASTER. KEVIN DAVIS IS DIRECTOR OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY & EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS. HE SAYS LOUISIANA CITIZENS MUST ALSO DO THEIR PART TO PREPARE AND HAVE A GAME PLAN. STATE AGENCIES REPORT PLENTY OF SHELTER SPACE HAS BEEN ARRANGED, EMERGENCY SUPPLIES ARE IN PLACE AND EVACUATION AND CONTRAFLOW PLANS ARE READY TO IMPLEMENT IF NECESSARY.

THE STATE'S CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION NARROWLY AGREED WEDNESDAY TO THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION'S HIRING OF A PRIVATE COMPANY TO MANAGE A STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN, A COST-CUTTING MOVE THAT WILL ELIMINATE 177 FULL-TIME GOVERNMENT JOBS. THE PANEL VOTED 3-2 TO ALLOW BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD TO RUN AN INSURANCE PLAN IN THE OFFICE OF GROUP BENEFITS THAT COVERS MORE THAN 62,000 EMPLOYEES, RETIREES AND THEIR DEPENDENTS. THE OUTSOURCING WILL TAKE EFFECT JAN. 1.

DOCTORS BELIEVE A THIBODAUX MAN ACCUSED OF DECAPITATING HIS DISABLED 7-YEAR-OLD SON NEARLY A YEAR AGO IS COMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL, COURT DOCUMENTS SHOW.
DOCTORS HAVE BEEN TREATING JEREMIAH WRIGHT, 31, AT THE FELICIANA FORENSIC FACILITY IN JACKSON FOR THE PAST NINE MONTHS. A COMPETENCY HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR SEPT. 21, DURING WHICH THE PROSECUTION AND DEFENSE WILL CALL ON EXPERT WITNESSES TO TESTIFY ABOUT WRIGHT'S MENTAL STATE. DOCTORS' RESULTS SHOW THAT WHILE HE WAS BEING TREATED, WRIGHT WAS EXAGGERATING ILLNESS TO AVOID TRIAL

SAD NEWS OUT OF LOUISIANA TECH TODAY. THE UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCED ITS LIVE MASCOT, TECH XX, HAS PASSED AWAY. IN A STATEMENT FROM DOCTOR PATRICK SEXTON, HE ADMITS ONE HIS EMPLOYEES LEFT THE ENGLISH BULLDOG OUTSIDE TOO LONG ON SUNDAY AND TECH 20 DIED AS A RESULT OF A HEAT STROKE. HE SAID AN EMPLOYEE TRIED TO COVER THE DEATH UP AND REPORTED THE DOG MISSING.

LOUISIANA IS WAITING TO HEAR IF REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY WILL CALL ON GOVERNOR JINDAL TO BE HIS RUNNING MATE. ROMNEY PLANS ON LETTING THE WORLD KNOW THROUGH A NEW SMARTPHONE APP CALLED MITT'S V-P. INSIDERS SAY THE DECISION COULD COME THIS WEEK.

A NEW ORLEANS TV STATION REPORTS THAT A PERSON IN TANGIPAHOA PARISH HAS DIED OF WEST NILE VIRUS. 79-YEAR-OLD RAYMOND STEVENS WAS A DAIRY FARMER AND WORKED OUTDOORS. HIS WIDOW TOLD THE TV STATION STEVENS' DOCTORS CONFIRMED NEUROINVASIVE WEST NILE AS CAUSE OF DEATH. THERE HAVE BEEN 33 REPORTED WEST NILE CASES STATEWIDE SO FAR.

JACK CALDWELL, WHO LED LOUISIANA'S DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES UNDER FORMER GOV. MIKE FOSTER, HAS DIED. CALDWELL DIED TUESDAY AT HIS DAUGHTER'S HOME IN NEW IBERIA. THE CAUSE OF DEATH HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED. JACK CALDWELL WAS 86.

A DISPUTE OVER LOUISIANA'S DELEGATES TO THIS MONTH'S REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION HAS SHIFTED TO THE NATIONAL GOP LEVEL. STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY LEADERS LINING UP BEHIND PRESUMED NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY AND SUPPORTERS OF U.S. REP. RON PAUL COULDN'T REACH AN AGREEMENT OVER DELEGATES BY THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT THEM TO THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE. DUELING CONVENTIONS IN SHREVEPORT BY THE TWO SIDES ELECTED SEPARATE DELEGATE SLATES IN JUNE, AND TWO SEPARATE, 46-MEMBER LISTS WERE SENT TO THE RNC.

A STATE JUDGE HAS RULED THAT FORMER SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM PRESIDENT RALPH SLAUGHTER MUST REPAY $275,000 TO THE SCHOOL'S PRIVATE FUNDRAISING ARM.
THE AMOUNT INCLUDES A $200,000 SALARY SUPPLEMENT FROM THE PRIVATE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM FOUNDATION THAT SLAUGHTER RECEIVED IN MARCH 2009, THE DAY THE PUBLIC SOUTHERN BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTED FOR SLAUGHTER TO VACATE HIS JOB WHEN HIS TWO-YEAR CONTRACT EXPIRED AT THE END OF JUNE 2009. THE OTHER $75,000 IS FOUNDATION MONEY THAT SLAUGHTER USED, TO AMONG OTHER THINGS, TO PAY ONE OF HIS ATTORNEYS AFTER HE SUED SOUTHERN OVER HIS DISMISSAL.

News For Wednesday 08/01/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 080112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FROM THE WHO’S WATCHING THE ASYLUM DEPARTMENT, THE GROUP CHARGED WITH FINDING A REPLACEMENT FOR RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT DR. GARY JONES, WHO’S CONTRACT HAS NOT BEEN RENEWED HAS AMENDED ITS TIMELINE. THE SEARCH COMMITTEE ADOPTED A TIMELINE IN JUNE, BUT IT WAS DELAYED DUE TO CONFUSION OVER WHO WAS TO PLACE THE AD. THE AMENDED TIMELINE MOVED DATES OF ADVERTISING FOR APPLICANTS TO AUG. 8-SEPT. 7. IT WAS PREVIOUSLY SET TO BEGIN JULY 17. THE NEW DATE TO OPEN APPLICATIONS IS SEPT. 18. IN A RELATED NOTE, THE SEARCH ADVISORY COMMITTEE WAS RENAMED TO PREVENT CONFUSION BETWEEN IT AND THE SEARCH COMMITTEE. BOARD MEMBER JANET DIXON ALSO VOICED AT A PREVIOUS MEETING THAT THE GROUP'S FIRST NAME DID NOT DEFINE THE GROUP'S ROLE IN THE SEARCH PROCESS.

HUNDREDS OF NEW LAWS PASSED IN THE MOST RECENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION HIT THE BOOKS TODAY (WEDNESDAY). THE HIGHLIGHTS: ABORTION IS BANNED 20 WEEKS AFTER FERTILIZATION, EXCEPT IN LIMITED MEDICAL CASES WHERE THE MOTHER'S LIFE IS IN DANGER. A WOMAN SEEKING AN ABORTION MUST GET AN ULTRASOUND 24 HOURS BEFORE THE PROCEDURE AND MUST BE OFFERED THE ABILITY TO HEAR THE FETAL HEARTBEAT. EVERYONE IN A SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE MUST WEAR A SEAT BELT. 17 YEAR OLDS, IN ORDER TO GET A DRIVERS LICENSE WILL NOW NEED THE SAME 38-HOUR DRIVER EDUCATION COURSE THAT HAS BEEN REQUIRED FOR 15- AND 16-YEAR-OLDS. THE SALE OF DOGS AND CATS IS BANNED FROM ROADSIDES, FLEA MARKETS, PUBLIC PARKS AND PUBLIC PLAYGROUNDS. AMERICAN HISTORY AND CIVICS COURSES IN LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS MUST INCLUDE INSTRUCTION ON THE NATION'S "FOUNDING PRINCIPLES." PEOPLE CONVICTED OF A SEX OFFENSE AGAINST A MINOR OR OF VIDEO VOYEURISM ARE PROHIBITED FROM WEBSITES LIKE FACEBOOK. PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO GET INSTRUCTION ABOUT CELL PHONE SAFETY. SEVERAL INACTIVE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS ARE ABOLISHED. THE STATE'S BOARD OF PAROLE IS ELIMINATED AND ITS DUTIES GIVEN TO THE PARDON BOARD. AND OH YES, LOUISIANA'S OFFICIAL BOAT IS THE PIROGUE.

THE NUMBER OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS CONSIDERED "UNACCEPTABLE" IS UP 33-PERCENT
THIS YEAR. THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SAYS THERE ARE 180 SCHOOLS
LISTED AS ACADEMICALLY UNACCEPTABLE, UP FROM 135 LAST YEAR. 10 OF THOSE SCHOOLS ARE HERE IN RAPIDES PARISH. BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE SAYS THE INCREASE IS THE RESULT OF A HIGHER STANDARD THAT'S IN PLACE THIS YEAR. SCHOOLS MUST ACHIEVE A MINIMUM SCORE OF 75 ON PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS IN ORDER TO AVOID BEING LABELED AS UNACCEPTABLE, WHICH IS UP FROM 65 LAST YEAR. UNACCEPTABLE SCHOOLS THAT FAIL TO SHOW IMPROVEMENT OVER A FOUR-YEAR PERIOD CAN BE TAKEN OVER BY THE STATE.

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE REMINDING PARENTS THEIR KIDS MUST HAVE REQUIRED IMMUNIZATIONS UP-TO-DATE BEFORE THE SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS. STATE DIRECTOR OF IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMS DR. FRANK WELCH SAYS KIDS MUST BE UPDATED ON SHOTS FOR MEASLES, MUMPS, POLIO, RUBELLA, HEPATITIS, CHICKEN POX AND DIPTHERIA. UNDER STATE LAW, CHILDREN 11 AND OLDER MUST HAVE PROOF THEIR IMMUNIZATIONS ARE UP-TO-DATE IN ORDER TO BE ADMITTED TO SCHOOL FOR THE FALL SEMESTER--WHICH BEGINS IN JUST DAYS. DR. WELCH SAYS YOUR PEDIATRICIAN OR PARISH HEALTH UNIT CAN HELP YOU GET IT TAKEN CARE OF.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS TRAVELING TO COLORADO TO MINGLE WITH OTHER PROMINENT REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS WHO ARE AMONG THOSE MENTIONED AS POTENTIAL RUNNING MATES FOR MITT ROMNEY. JINDAL IS SCHEDULED WEDNESDAY EVENING TO BE PART OF A SPEAKER SERIES WITH GOP GOVERNORS HOSTED BY THE ASPEN INSTITUTE, A NONPARTISAN EDUCATIONAL AND POLICY THINK TANK.

FEDERAL PROSECUTORS SAY AN 18-YEAR-OLD MEMBER OF THE COUSHATTA INDIAN TRIBE HAS PAID $250,000 IN RESTITUTION AFTER SETTING FIRE TO THE COUSHATTA CONVENIENCE STORE IN ELTON. THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE SAYS JORDAN HAWK JOHN OF KINDER HAD BEEN ORDERED TO PAY FOR THE FIRE DAMAGE AFTER PLEADING GUILTY IN JANUARY TO SIMPLE BURGLARY OF THE STORE IN DECEMBER 2011. THE MONEY WAS PAID FROM HIS TRUST ACCOUNT.

AUGUST IS TRADITIONALLY THE MONTH IN WHICH THE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS TO GET ACTIVE, AND THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS NOW WATCHING TWO LOW PRESSURE SYSTEMS APPROACHING FROM THE EAST. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS A TROPICAL WAVE OVER THE ISLAND OF HISPANIOLA HAS LITTLE CHANCE OF BECOMING A NAMED STORM. HOWEVERM KEIM SAYS A LOW PRESSURE WAVE THAT'S FARTHER OUT, IN THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC, HAS A 30% OF DEVELOPING INTO A NAMED STORM WITHIN THE NEXT 48 HOURS. STATE OFFICIALS MEET TODAY TO GO OVER READINESS PLANS FOR POSSIBLE HURRICANES, AT THE GOHSEP OFFICES IN BATON ROUGE.

HISTORY CHANNEL IS LOOKING FOR MORE CAJUN CHARACTERS TO FILL ITS HIT SHOW "SWAMP PEOPLE." ORIGINAL MEDIA PRODUCTIONS AND THE CASTING FIRM WILL HOLD A CASTING CALL FOR THE SHOW'S FOURTH SEASON IN LAFAYETTE ON SATURDAY FROM NOON TO 6 P.M. AT BOOTLEGGER'S BAR. CASTING DIRECTOR NOELLE CAIN SAYS SHE'S LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE A LEGACY OF HUNTING ALLIGATORS, THOSE WHO'VE BEEN DOING IT SINCE THEY WERE LITTLE. SHE ALSO SAYS SHE'S INTERESTED IN PEOPLE WHO CAN TELL A STORY. HUNTERS SEEKING A SPOT ON THE SHOW MUST BE LEGAL U.S. RESIDENTS, FULLY LICENSED AND HAVE AT LEAST 50 TAGS TO BE IN THE UPCOMING SEASON.

LOUISIANA HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST COMBINED SALES TAX RATES IN THE NATION LARGELY BECAUSE THE STATE HAS THE LARGEST AVERAGE LOCAL SALES TAXES. A TUESDAY REPORT FROM THE NONPARTISAN TAX FOUNDATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C., STATED THAT LOUISIANA HAS THE NATION’S HIGHEST AVERAGE LOCAL SALES TAX RATE AT 4.86 PERCENT.
BATON ROUGE HAS A 5 PERCENT LOCAL SALES TAX THAT GOES TOWARD THE PARISH AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS. LOUISIANA RANKS THIRD NATIONALLY IN COMBINED SALES TAXES WITH AN AVERAGE OF 8.86 PERCENT — 9 PERCENT IN BATON ROUGE — ONCE THE 4 PERCENT STATE SALES TAX IS ADDED. LOUISIANA TRAILS ONLY TENNESSEE AND ARIZONA IN COMBINED SALES TAXES.

CLECO CORP. SAYS ITS EARNINGS DROPPED FOR THE SECOND QUARTER FROM THE SAME PERIOD OF 2011, BUT THE PINEVILLE-BASED UTILITY RAISED ITS QUARTERLY DIVIDEND.
THE COMPANY SAID TUESDAY THAT IT EARNED $46.7 MILLION, OR 77 CENTS A SHARE, FOR THE QUARTER, COMPARED WITH $70.2 MILLION IN THE THE SAME PERIOD A YEAR AGO. PRESIDENT AND CEO BRUCE WILLIAMSON SAID MILDER WEATHER NEGATIVELY AFFECTED EARNINGS. CLECO'S BOARD ALSO INCREASED ITS QUARTERLY DIVIDEND BY 8 PERCENT, FROM 31.25 CENTS TO 33.75 CENTS PER SHARE. THE EARNINGS WERE REPORTED AFTER U.S. FINANCIAL MARKETS CLOSED. IN TRADING TUESDAY, CLECO SHARES CLOSED DOWN 51 CENTS AT $43.76. THE STOCK HAS TRADED AS HIGH AS $44.62 AND AS LOW AS $30.06 OVER THE PAST 52 WEEKS.

ENTERGY CORP.'S NET INCOME ROSE 16 PERCENT IN THE SECOND QUARTER AFTER THE POWER COMPANY RECEIVED FAVORABLE TAX TERMS ON FINANCING COSTS FOR FIXING DAMAGE TO LINES AND EQUIPMENT CAUSED BY HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA. THE INCREASE ALSO REFLECTED STRONGER SALES TO ENTERGY'S UTILITY CUSTOMERS.

THE TANGIPAHOA PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS LOOKING FOR AN 18-YEAR-OLD MAN THEY BELIEVE SHOT ONE PERSON WHO IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION, AND ANOTHER WHO DIED. THEY SAY THE SUSPECT, 18-YEAR-OLD BRANDON FRANCOIS OF HAMMOND IS WANTED FOR SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AND ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER. DETECTIVES BELIEVE THE SHOOTING MAY BE DRUG RELATED.

NEW ORLEANS POLICE HAVE REPORTEDLY ISSUED A WARRANT FOR THE ARREST OF ACTOR CUBA GOODING JR. THEY SAY HE IS WANTED ON A CHARGE OF BATTERY AFTER ALLEGEDLY PUSHING A FEMALE BARTENDER TWICE IN A FRENCH QUARTER BUSINESS EARLY TUESDAY MORNING. THE BARTENDER TOLD AUTHORITIES GOODING BECAME AGGRAVATED WHEN PEOPLE WERE ASKING HIM TO TAKE PHOTOS WITH THEM AND SHE TRIED TO INTERVENE.

THE REWARD FOR LOUISIANA TECH'S MISSING BULLDOG MASCOT, TECH 20, ALSO CALLED LT, HAS BEEN DOUBLED TO $2000. THE POOCH WENT MISSING SUNDAY, WHILE OUTSIDE DOING HIS BUSINESS. HE CARETAKER, DR. PATRICK SEXTON SAYS IT'S UNLIKELY THAT LT ROAMED OFF, BUT THERE'S NO EVIDENCE THAT HE WAS STOLEN EITHER. SEXTON HOPES SOMEONE WILL BRING THE DOG IN FOR THE REWARD.

IN A RATHER UNUSUAL THEFT INVESTIGATION, A 33-YEAR-OLD SHREVEPORT MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN THE THEFT OF HIS NEIGHBOR'S COCKATOO. DEPUTIES SAY THE OWNER NOTICED AN AD FOR A COCKATOO ON CRAIG'S LIST. SHE ARRANGED A MEETING WITH THE SELLER, AND CONTACTED THE CADDO SHERIFF'S OFFICE. AUTHORITIES DETERMINED THAT THE BIRD FOR SALE WAS IN FACT SUNNY. THE SELLER TOLD DETECTIVES HE HAD PURCHASED THE BIRD FOR $300 FROM ELVIS ROBINSON III. ELVIS IS NOW BEHIND BARS BOOKED ON FELONY THEFT.

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