Central Louisiana saw some of the worst flooding we’ve seen in years yesterday as for hours the clouds just opened up. A foot of water in the roads in many areas of town was the norm. In some cases there was a lot more. Several homes and businesses around the south traffic circle had water in their buildings. Tim Humphrey, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Lake Charles, said a gauge south of Alexandria International Airport recorded 6.4 inches of rain. That amount varied a lot depending upon where you happened to be. Forecasters say we could see more rain anytime throughout the weekend.
The Rapides Parish Police Jury has voted unanimously to renew its contract with the Acadian Ambulance service through Oct. 31, 2019. The renewal is in the form of two two-year terms, for a total of four years. Under the contract Acadian will continue to provide exclusive emergency and non-emergency ambulance services in the Parish.
The chairwoman of the Louisiana House Transportation Committee said Thursday that she is sponsoring a one-cent state sales tax hike for roads and bridges that would raise $675 million per year. State Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, said the increase, which faces massive political hurdles, is needed to tackle Louisiana’s $12 billion backlog of transportation needs. The tax hike would raise about $7 billion over 10 years.
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Department is calling Thursday morning’s shooting of a deputy directing traffic at a school crossing, an ambush. 36-year-old Corporal Burt Hazeltine is in stable, but guarded condition. Captain Pat Yoes says when other deputies arrived, the suspect dropped the gun and surrendered. The 56 year old suspect reportedly got angry at the deputy over being held up in school traffic.
With lawmakers facing a one-point-six billion dollar budget deficit, Governor Bobby Jindal stands behind his efforts to cut government spending instead of raising taxes. Jindal says it has led to a strong job market and growing economy. Jindal made those comments during a wide-ranging discussion with reporters at the state capitol. The governor was also asked about how many out-of-state trips he plans to take during the legislative session. The governor did not give a number. As far as a plan to deal with the state’s budget shortfall, Jindal says those conversations are ongoing.
The state House and Senate did not meet Thursday and they are off today as well, but that’s not stopping the debate over a so-called religious freedom bill. Governor Jindal says the bill will not lead to discrimination of same sex couples, instead it protects businesses from being punished by the state for their religious belief in traditional marriage. The governor says, passing the bill this legislative session it one of his top priorities.
Louisiana’s health advocacy groups see an opportunity this legislative session to get a long-sought cigarette tax hike in a state that has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country. As lawmakers look to raise new money to plug a $1.6 billion budget hole, at least 10 tobacco tax measures have been filed for debate.
The number of Formosan subterranean termites are rising in Louisiana and homeowners should take precautions against them. LSU AgCenter Entomologist Gregg Henderson says these termites build shelter tubes as they move up a home’s foundation. He says if you think your home may have termites, you should get an inspection.
The LSU football team completes spring practice on Saturday with the annual spring game. The scrimmage will give quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris another opportunity to show whether they should be the starting quarterback next season.
Louisiana Tech will hold its spring game on Saturday. The coaching staff has divided the team into two squads and Coach Skip Holtz says Saturday is like a final exam, especially for the younger players on the roster.
BESE unanimously approves a process that will be used to review the state’s controversial Common Core academic standards. President Chas Roemer says the goal is to improve current standards where necessary instead of rewriting them. Roemer says the public will have the opportunity to review and provide input on every standard, and all related meetings will be open to all. He says this is not about being pro or anti-Common Core, it’s about finding out what should be expected of children who are learning.
State Police report, a Jonesville man and woman died late Tuesday night in a crash that may have been caused by excessive speed. A 4-year-old child survived the crash.
Over 100 college students gathered on the steps of the state capitol yesterday to rally against proposed budget cuts to public universities. Nearly all of Louisiana’s colleges were represented and many held up signs that said “No Funding, No Future”. UNO student David Teagle says these cuts equate to the theft of the future of Louisiana.
The results of a six-month study of wait times at veterans medical facilities were mixed for the Alexandria Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the medical center was below the national average, but three of the four clinics it operates beat the average. The Associated Press gathered data on wait times at nearly 1,000 Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities from September through February. It concluded that, despite major reforms and billions of dollars spent, the number of veterans facing long waits for care has not significantly dropped.
Governor Bobby Jindal and Dallas-based Monster Moto announce the company will establish a headquarters and manufacturing facility in Ruston. The project includes a $4 million investment to build a 100,000 square foot facility at the former site of Ruston’s municipal airport. Monster Moto manufactures minibikes, go-carts, and other youth oriented vehicles. Construction on the facility will begin in June and operations are expected to begin by the end of the year. Monster Moto’s move will create 287 direct jobs for north Louisiana over the next decade.
The ACLU of Louisiana is calling on the candidates for Governor to address the state’s massive incarceration problem. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says the all of the gubernatorial candidates are talking about more about fixing the state’s budget problem, and overlooking a serious crisis. Esman says we are the world’s incarceration leader, jailing more people per capita than any place on the planet.
The Natchitoches Police Department says the assistant principal at Frankie Ray Jackson Senior Technical Center is under arrest for allegedly paddling a teacher. Captain Chris Payne says they got the complaint in February that a female teacher at the school. 64-year-old Hugo Vogel of Goldonna was arrested this week for simple battery and was later released on $303 bond. Motive for the alleged battery is unclear.
As we look ahead to the 2016 presidential election, how big of a roll will social media play? Both Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz used Twitter to announce they were running and Senator Marco Rubio’s announcement was shared thousands of times on Facebook. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says social media is great to get out positive feel-good messages, but it’s also effective in spreading negative messages as well. He says you’ll see a combination of both as the presidential race gets going…
Sinkholes will now be recognized as threats in the state’s updated hazard mitigation plan. Louisiana is working on the five year plan which must be in place to receive federal money after natural and manmade disasters. This is the first time the state is going to map salt domes and their surrounding 1 mil radius in each parish. Authorities believe a failed salt dome caused a nearly 30 acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish in 2012.
Oceana has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in an attempt to protect sea turtles from shrimp trawl nets. The suit alleges that the Endangered Species Act is being violated as 53,000 endangered sea turtles are allowed to be killed every year in the Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery off the Louisiana coast.
A transgender Lake Charles man has filed a federal sex discrimination lawsuit against his former employer. 21-year-old Tristan Broussard alleges he was fired from Tower Loan last year when it was discovered he used to be a woman. The suit alleges that during a review of Broussard’s employment paperwork, it was noticed that his driver’s license listed his sex as female. After the company’s vice president found out, Broussard was terminated.
The New Orleans Pelicans are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 as they defeated the defending NBA champion, San Antonio Spurs, 108-103.
A Louisiana music legend has left us. Percy Sledge passed away at his Baton Rouge home early Tuesday morning, after a battle with cancer. The man who recorded “When A Man Loves A Woman” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Louisiana Music Hall in 2007. Percy Sledge was 73.
Alexandria utility customers from 1995 to 2005 may finally get the long-proposed rebates from the city’s settlement of a lawsuit against Cleco. The amount of the potential rebates, which most likely will be in the form of lower utility bills, is undetermined, but it would involve more than $6.5 million, with more than 70 percent of that going to big corporate and government customers. That means the amount of the total rebates available for residential customers would be less than 30 percent.
Today is tax day and even though many have already settled up with Uncle Sam, there are still millions who have yet to file and are waiting till the last minute. If you’re filing electronically it must be done by midnight. But Bill Potter, a CPA in Baton Rouge, says if you don’t think you’re gonna make it then you can file an extension. If you make less than $60,000 a year you can log on to irs.gov and choose from several different commercial software companies that let you file your taxes for free. Potter says one of the most common mistakes people make is getting their social security number wrong. He says it’s also important to report ALL your income.
State legislators are weeks away from settling on a solution to Louisiana’s huge budget deficit, but on Tuesday, they said one thing is clear: They don’t expect much help from Gov. Bobby Jindal in solving the problem. Lawmaker after lawmaker, Democrats and Republicans alike, expressed disappointment that Jindal in his 21-minute address kicking off the 2015 legislative session on Monday didn’t offer more substantive ideas to help close a $1.6 billion deficit projected for the upcoming year. Several of them noted that Jindal ended his speech by wishing them good luck, as if, said state Sen. Robert Adley “the problem is in our laps, and we need to solve it.”
Louisianians who depend on state health for health care services are urging lawmakers not to cut services that Governor Bobby Jindal has on the chopping block to cut for next year’s budget. Some parents of disabled children made their case to the House Appropriations Committee for budget changes.
Louisiana college students will rally at the state capitol this afternoon to express their concerns about a potential 600-million dollar cut in state funding to public colleges and universities. Stephanie Travis, who chairs the council of student body presidents, says she started at Southeastern Louisiana in 2009 and has seen how previous budget cuts have impacted the Hammond campus. Lawmakers are looking at how they can preserve higher education, but finding ways to raise revenue to prevent drastic cuts will be difficult. Travis says raising tuition on students is NOT the answer.
Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson took to the House floor Tuesday to try and clear up some of the misconceptions of his so-called religious freedom bill. Johnson says his bill does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians. He says it’s only an attempt to safe guard religious freedom. But state representative John Bel Edwards says the legislation is vaguely written. Johnson plans to change the language in his bill, when it gets its first hearing in the House Civil Law committee.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush endorses US Senator David Vitter in this year’s governor’s race. Bush will appear with Vitter today at a fundraising event in New Orleans. Vitter has also picked up endorsements from presidential hopefuls Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
The Miss USA Pageant announces they will be returning to Louisiana for the July 12th, 2015 live broadcast from the Baton Rouge River Center at 7 pm on NBC. Last year, the pageant attracted about 5.5 million viewers and created over two and a half million dollars in hotel revenue.
If the Pelicans win tonight against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs they are in the Western Conference playoffs for the first time since 2011. Pelicans head coach Monty Williams says the players are embracing the situation before them.
It’s going to be an extremely wet week in Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry Keim says there is a 80 percent or higher chance for rain through Friday. He says you can expect waves of gulf moisture to produce downpours.
The Rapides Parish Police Jury wants to ensure the needed public infrastructure is in place to accommodate the aluminum alloy plant to be built at the old International Paper Mill near Pineville. The Police Jury on Monday voted unanimously to authorize jury President Richard Billings to take actions to facilitate the ASA plant locating in Rapides Parish. The assistance would come in the form of “grant applications and other legislatively created financing opportunities” to help ASA with its public infrastructure needs related to roads, water, sewer, rail and port access .
The two month long legislative session is now underway in Baton Rouge. Governor Bobby Jindal delivered his opening remarks. Many are saying this has the potential to be one of the most challenging sessions in decades as lawmakers deal with a $1.6 billion dollar budget deficit.
There were three priorities laid out yesterday by Governor Bobby Jindal to both houses of the legislature on the opening day of the legislative session yesterday. At the top of the list was balancing the budget without a tax increase. He also said he would work to do away with Common Core, then he mentioned his full support of the Religious Freedom Bill from Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson
Education is going to be a huge topic this legislative session. One of the bills seeks to add more quality substitute teachers because of the shortage. Ville Platte Representative Bernard LeBas says HB 43 would raise the salary cap to 50 percent of benefits for retired teachers to sub because it’s currently just 25%. He says the whole idea is to offer our students the best possible education.
Today and tomorrow members of the public will have a chance to lobby before the House Appropriations Committee about what they would like to see funded in next fiscal year’s budget. Because of a $1.6 billion dollar shortfall, money is tight and several government services are facing massive cuts.
The House Democratic Caucus says Medicaid expansion and state funding for higher ed are their top priorities in this legislative session. Baton Rouge Representative Ted James, says democrats will not approve a budget for next fiscal year, if the legislature doesn’t pass a bill that allows the state to receive federal dollars so more low-income residents can receive Medicaid. There’s talk about giving public colleges more autonomy to raise tuition or passing additional fees on students. James says the democratic party opposes both efforts. Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, state representative John Bel Edwards, says there’s enough democrats in the legislature that can prevent the passing of bills that raise college tuition costs for students.
It was a tough first day of session for a Covington lawmaker. Representative Paul Hollis was driving his Audi A8 through a parking lot at the Capitol when a new security system on the grounds went off and two upright structures shot up and through the front of the car. Hollis said he hit his windshield and his airbag also deployed.
Two law enforcement officers have been arrested on racketeering charges in a case where they allegedly planted drugs on an individual. A spokesman with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office says State Trooper Corey Jackson and Lafayette Parish Deputy Jason Kinch were arrested. The case involved over $100,000 in cash payments to a number of people including the two officers. Warrants for co-conspirators have been issued.
While the rest of nation has experienced a slight increase in the price of gas, Louisiana average prices are staying about the same. According to GasBuddy.com, the average price for regular gasoline in $2.17 a gallon. The projections still predict summertime gas levels to approach the lows of 2009.
Alexandria police have arrested 64 year old Robert Charles Lee Jr., after he was involved in a Saturday night hit and run accident on Broadway. Lee charged with third-offense DWI, reckless operation, hit and run, having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle and the illegal carrying of a weapon.
State Police graduated 58 brand new troopers Friday from Cadet Class #93. Sergent Nick Manale says the cadets have trained in crash investigations, emergency vehicle operations, impaired driving detection, and traffic incident management. He says the addition of these graduates puts the number of troopers statewide at about 1000.
State Police say a single vehicle crash in Rapides Parish has taken the life of a Dry Prong man. Authorities say 31-year-old Donald Johnson lost control of his vehicle and exited the roadway where the vehicle began overturning. Johnson, who was unrestrained at the time of the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene. This crash remains under investigation.
What is expected to be a very difficult legislative session begins today in Baton Rouge. Lawmakers will have until June 11th to approve a spending plan that takes into account a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall. Senate President John Alario says legislators are looking at ways to generate more state revenue. There are several bills that seek to increase the tax on tobacco products, but for the governor to approve them, there has to be a tax cut somewhere else to offset new revenue. Alario says it will take several weeks before lawmakers can agree on a plan.
Governor Bobby Jindal will provide the opening address as the legislative session gets underway today. The question is how involved will the governor be as lawmakers grapple with a $1.6 billion budget deficit? Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says it’s important for Jindal to be active this session. He doesn’t think the legislative session will stop Jindal from traveling outside the state pursuing his presidential hopes. However, Pinsonat says you can’t run for president when the state you’re supposed to be running is a disaster.
Even though the massive budget deficit will by far be the biggest issue lawmakers will be dealing with this session, there are still many other issues on the agenda as well. LaPolitics.com publisher Jeremy Alford says Common Core will be one of the major items that will distract from the budget. Alford says even with the budget issues and the complicated tax situations on the table, lawmakers will still find time to touch that third rail of Louisiana politics.
One of the bills set to be discussed during the 2015 legislative session would raise the base pay for severs from $2.13 per hour to at least minimum wage. Monroe Representative Marcus Hunter says whether you get good tips or not, $2.13 an hour is deplorable pay for any worker
Hunter says he doesn’t want to continue to see hard working people who are committed to serving their businesses go home with less than minimum wage.
The fourth ranked LSU baseball took two of three from Auburn this past weekend. The Tigers lost for just the sixth time all season on Saturday, but rebounded with a six-to-two win on Sunday to avoid their first two-game losing streak of the season.
Louisiana is about to get really wet as thunderstorms cloud the forecast for the next several days. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a slow moving cold front is pushing through the state today and looks to be hanging around into at least Monday. Keim says as far as rain totals go, the state can expect at least two inches with higher totals in isolated areas.
The Colorado State University forecast team is predicting the 2015 Hurricane season will be below average and about 45 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2014′s tropical cyclone activity was about 75 percent average. The lead author of the report is Dr. Phil Klotzbach who says if the forecast holds true, it would be the third quiet Gulf hurricane season in a row.
State Rep. Lance Harris will again seek to create a regional port for Rapides Parish. Harris says he will file a bill for a regional port authority, which would include the Port of Alexandria.
Last year, Harris’ bill to expand the territorial limits of the Port of Alexandria to all of Rapides Parish died in committee. But he says they have a very good chance to work it out this year.( A Louisiana Economic Development report shows a regional port is needed and the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance support that concept.) The Port of Alexandria currently handles about 120,000 tons of cargo a year, but it is running out of land for development.
Plans are moving forward to sell the remainder of the state Tobacco settlement money .
If the Legislature approves, the state would raise $300 million from the sale of the settlement sometime before June 30; another $300 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1; and the remaining amount for $150 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016. But, the state won’t be the only one coming into some quick onetime cash if the plan is approved. Lawyers, financial advisors and underwriters will get paid $1.29 million for their efforts.
State Treasurer John Kennedy announces he’ll seek re-election this fall ending long-time speculation that he’d run for governor or attorney general. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this is a good move on Kennedy’s part. Stockley says many people believe Kennedy has his eye on the US Senate seat that could come open if David Vitter becomes Governor.
Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is very concerned about how some universities will be able to operate if lawmakers are not able to come up with a funding solution to the state’s one-point-six billion dollar budget deficit. Rallo says higher ed is facing a potential cut of about 600-million dollars in state funds. Over the next several weeks lawmakers will discuss ways to generate revenue so that the cuts to higher ed are minimal.
Real estate millionaire Robert Durst entered a not guilty plea to a couple of weapons charges in a New Orleans court Thursday. The weapons arrest has kept Durst in Louisiana, although he had waived his extradition to Los Angeles, where he is charged with the 2000 shooting death of 55 year-old Susan Berman.
The 32-year-old Destrehan teacher accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student has reached a plea deal with the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s office. Under the terms of the deal, Shelley Dufrense avoids jail time, but she’ll have to complete 90 days of treatment at a mental health facility. Dufrense also faces charges out of Jefferson Parish, along with another former teacher, where an alleged threesome took place with the same 16-year-old student.
New Orleans Representative Joseph Bouie files legislation that would transfer regulation of cable and satellite companies to the Public Service Commission. He says currently the Secretary of State’s office is responsible for the certification and regulation of cable and video entities. Bouie says he’s heard many complaints and concerns from people who feel like cable and satellite companies aren’t held to the same rules as their other utilities.
Republican Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson says he plans to amend the religious freedom bill he has filed amid public concerns but gay rights advocacy groups want the legislation pulled altogether. Johnson says he’ll remove a paragraph in the bill that some believed gave businesses the right to deny benefits to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs. Gay rights groups feel this bill legalizes discrimination and are banding together in opposition to Johnson’s legislation
The streets of Ponchatoula will be packed this weekend as the 44th annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival gets underway today. 2015 Festival Chairman Donald Lanier says this is the largest free festival in Louisiana. Strawberries are the focal point of the festival, which runs through Sunday, but there is lots more for people to enjoy. Live music will be featured all weekend long. Of course food is always an attraction plus carnival rides and a parade tomorrow morning.
The LSU Tigers put their six-game winning streak on the line tonight when they host Auburn to begin a weekend set with the War Eagles. Tonight’s game is set to begin at 7 PM, but the forecast doesn’t look good for the weekend as there’s an 80 to 90-percent chance of rain each day.
It has been a long time coming, but, it appears the renovation of the Rapides Parish Coliseum will begin in about two weeks. The Police Jury on Wednesday unanimously approved an agreement with the city of Alexandria, allowing the Coliseum renovation work to begin. The City Council unanimously signed off on the deal on Tuesday. It’s expected work should be completed in about two years.
State Police is investigating an Iberia Parish crash which claimed the life of a Jeanerette Police officer. Master Trooper Brooks David says 22-year-old Juandre Gilliam was conducting a traffic stop when the suspect fled. Detectives determined the cop crashed his car in the chase and it overturned. The officer was pronounced dead at the scene. There are two suspects, one a juvenile, and charges are pending in the tragedy.
House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Karen St. Germain of Pierre Part files a bill that would increase Louisiana’s gasoline tax by 4 cents a gallon. The funds, about $120 million per year, would be dedicated to the state’s roads and bridges on a local level. The measure was also submitted by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley of Benton. Dollars raised by the increased tax would go to the Parish Transportation Fund which finances local projects.
Republican US Senator David Vitter has picked up another endorsement for his campaign for Louisiana governor Wednesday. Fifth district Congressman Ralph Abraham announced that he is throwing his support to the Senator, saying Vitter has released a clear plan to stabilize the budget through spending and tax reform.
With just a few days left before the start of the legislative session, the head of Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is concerned about a proposal to eliminate refunds businesses receive for paying an inventory tax to local governments. LABI president Stephen Waguespack says you’ll see companies leaving the state if it happens. As a way to soften cuts to higher ed and health care, the Jindal administration has proposed scaling back inventory tax refunds. But Waguespack believes there’s other solutions, including eliminating the inventory tax all together.
There is a bill filed for the upcoming legislative session that would essentially make playing fantasy football online for money legal. Right now in Louisiana, “play-for-cash” computer fantasy football would violate state gambling laws. The measure is by Metairie Representative Joe Lopinto who says there are numerous states which create gambling exceptions for fantasy football.
The National Hurricane Museum and Science Center in Lake Charles has taken another big step toward opening, as the Stream family has made a pledge of one million dollars toward the project. The total amount contributed so far is about 40 million dollars, and Gray Stream says they’re about 15 million dollars away from the goal.
Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden sort-of already spilled the beans Yesterday at a press conference, but it looks like the Miss USA pageant is officially once again coming to the Capitol City. The Baton Rouge Metro Council unanimously approved funding for the event in 2015 Wednesday afternoon.
An Orleans Parish grand jury has indicted millionaire murder suspect Robert Durst on gun charges in Louisiana. Durst’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, has been attempting to get Durst extradited to California to face murder charges there. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this indictment means Durst won’t be going to California any time soon. Durst is charged for the 2000 shooting death of Susan Berman.
The $30 million dollar expansion of Abita Brewing Company is now complete. This will more than double their old production output, and give them more National exposure, becoming a Founding Brewery Partner of Enjoy Beer Inc. which is an enterprise created to provide resources to top independent craft brewers on a national scale.
LSU defensive back Jalen Mills will not have to go to trial on his simple battery case after accepting a one-year pretrial diversion program to resolve the charge. Prosecutors say included in the program is that Mills has to perform 30 hours of community service and can’t get arrested or do drugs. The charge stemmed from a woman who claimed Mills punched her last May.
Blue Bell Creameries has expanded its recall of products they tested positive for Listeria. That recall includes Louisiana and 21 other states.
The Alexandria City Council have given it’s final approval to an agreement clearing the way for the Rapides Parish Coliseum renovation project to begin. In anticipation of that decision the city issued a building permit to the Rapides Parish Police Jury for the $22.9 million renovation project. The Police Jury is expected to sign off on the agreement today.
Area lawmakers will discuss the upcoming legislative session in a forum set for Thursday in Pineville. The public is invited to the forum that will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. Central Louisiana legislators will talk about the session and answer questions from a panel made up of representatives of The Town Talk, KALB-TV and KLAX-TV. The legislative session begins Monday.
An Alexandria man has been charged after allegedly firing shots at bystanders after an argument on Monday. The APD reports 23 Quentavis Woodard was arrested shortly after the incident in the 2400 block of Harris Street Monday night. Woodard was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with being a principal to attempted second- degree murder. No one was injured in the shooting.
Louisiana public support for same-sex marriage is lagging behind the national average, but a recent LSU Public Policy Research Poll shows the gap between support and opposition is shrinking. A large majority of older Louisianians are opposed, while almost 60 percent of adults under 30 support it.
The 2015 Louisiana Survey finds that state residents support the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, but not personal use. LSU Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says 52-percent of residents oppose the personal use of marijuana, but the difference between support and opposition is shrinking. 68-percent of 18 to 29 year olds support legalizing marijuana for personal use while 68-percent of residents 65 and older oppose it.
Five major health advocacy groups are teaming up to launch a campaign in support of a bill to raise the state’s tax on cigarettes by $1.18 a pack. The American Heart Association is part of the “Invest in a Healthy Louisiana” campaign and its spokesperson Stasha Rhodes says it’s time to bring the state’s tax on cigarettes to the national average, which is a $1.54 a pack.
Bogalusa Representative Harold Ritchie is sponsoring a bill to do just that.
A bill to criminalize so-called ‘revenge porn” will be debated in the upcoming legislative session. Kenner representative Julie Stokes says she wants to ensure that people who spread private pictures without permission are held accountable.
Louisiana education superintendent John White tells lawmakers he needs more money so the state can provide standardized tests next school year. White says the budget, as it currently exists, will prevent students from taking the A-C-T or an assessment test like PARCC. The Jindal administration has said White will have to decide what to cut from his budget. White says Louisiana will violate state and federal law if it doesn’t have a standardized test.
According to a report from the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana agriculture as a whole contributed $12.7 billion dollars to the state’s economy in 2014. The summary indicates net value for all sectors was up 7.6 percent, or $900 million dollars, from 2013. It’s the third year in a row Louisiana farmers broke records in the value of their commodities.
The Department of Health and Hospitals has cut the ribbon on a new public health laboratory that will be used to test water, screen for genetic disorders and help the state respond to public health threats such as Ebola. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says this is a ultra-modern lab with all of the latest technology. Kliebert says the new lab site allows the state to better identify food outbreaks, test infectious disease samples and any number of other public health concerns.
Four underage college students from Louisiana were issued summons’ in Alabama when busted hauling a trailer full of alcohol to Gulf Shores for spring break. Mobile County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Paul Burch says deputies noticed a trailer traveling on Interstate 10 with an expired tag. Burch says deputies found over 100 18-packs of beer.
Another piece of Louisiana is being sold. Bruce Foods in New Iberia has sold it’s Original Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce to Georgia-based Southeastern Mills Inc. They say the purchase includes all of the property related to Bruce’s hot sauce business. Under the terms of the deal Southeastern Mills will keep current workers and the plant in New Iberia.
A new twist today in the Darren Sharper case Tuesday, as a New Orleans judge delayed the arraignment until the federal drug charges are resolved. That move means the previous plea deal for the former Saints star on drug and rape charges, is likely to change. Legal analyst Chick Foret says the Orleans Parish DA may not like, what many refer to as, a sweetheart deal.
A high school in Monroe which previously told a gay female student that she was not allowed to wear a tuxedo to prom has now reversed it’s decision. The change of heart came after Carroll High School and Claudetteia Love’s story got national attention.
An agreement that would enable the Rapides Parish Coliseum renovation project to begin is up for a vote this evening by the Alexandria City Council. The Police Jury needs clear ownership of certain property for parking in order to get an unconditional building permit from the city for the $22.9 million renovation project. The Police Jury has called a special meeting for 8:30 tomorrow to discuss the agreement.
Alexandria mayor Jacques Roy held a briefing Monday to go over the proposed 2015-16 fiscal year budget for the city. Under the plan City employees would receive a pay raise of close to 3 percent. A public hearing will be held at tonight’s City Council meeting, and council members will meet at least three times over the next two weeks to hammer out details. The new budget takes effect May 1.
According to the United States Public Interest Research Group, federal data from 2014 indicates that over 1,800 bridges in Louisiana need repairs. The Federal Highway Administration lists 1,837 bridges in Louisiana as “structurally deficient”. Louisiana Department of Transportation spokesman Rodney Mallett says a “structurally deficient” designation doesn’t mean a bridge is unsafe. It means the bridge has at least one component that needs repair or replacement. The state faces a $12 billion backlog in delayed road and bridge maintenance projects.
The state Department of Education says Louisiana’s four-year high school graduation rate was at a record high in 2014 and increased for the fourth straight year. Superintendent John White says about 75% of students who entered 9th grade, graduated in 2014 which is a 1.1% increase over the prior year. White says this increase is a great sign for our state and a true testament to the hard work and devotion of teachers, principals and families. He says in the class of 2014, nearly 1600 more students graduated than did in the class of 2013 and nearly 3,440 more students than in 2011.
Governor Bobby Jindal made an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press to talk about the religious freedom debate that’s created a national controversy. Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson has filed a religious freedom bill in Louisiana. Jindal says this issue is about business owners that don’t want to have to choose between their religious beliefs and being able to operate their businesses. Johnson’s proposed bill would permit private businesses to deny the same benefits to same-sex couples as other married couples based on a religious objection.
The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association says a study they commissioned found that movies made here created up to $4 billion dollars in economic output in 2013. The report by HR&A Advisors says over 33,000 jobs and over $1.2 billion in personal income can be attributed to the state’s film tax credits. The report also pointed out the movie industry attracts tourists to the state. Based on a survey of nearly 1400 recent visitors to Louisiana, 14.5% said they were spurred to visit Louisiana because of a television show or movie that was filmed here.
Funeral services will be held today for Loreauvile Mayor Albert Broussard. Broussard was killed in a car crash Friday night when a vehicle crossed the center line and struck the vehicle he was riding in head on. Broussard served as Alderman for 24 years and was serving his third term as mayor at the time of his death. He was also a 1st Lieutenant in the Louisiana National Guard.
Even though it’s been common knowledge that Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is running for governor, he made it official Monday. He says Louisiana is in horrible financial shape right now and he plans to go to work on budget matters from day one. Dardenne says his office will work to end the practice of using one-time money to pay for ongoing expenses. The LT. Governor is scheduled to make a campaign stop in Alexandria today.
Republican US Senator David Vitter begins to unveil his plan on leading Louisiana into the future as governor. Vitter calls the plan “Together, Louisiana Strong”. He has released the first two chapters; one dealing with staying in touch with Louisiana citizens while governor and the second focusing on stabilizing the budget through spending and tax reform. Vitter says he would immediately call a special legislative session to deal exclusively with the budget crisis, if elected. His entire plan can be seen on his website.
Former NFL star and Saints safety Darren Sharper entered a not guilty plea Monday afternoon in US District Court in New Orleans. Sharper faces federal charges that he drugged women to rape them. It’s expected Sharper will issue a guilty plea at a later date. He’ll also appear in state court today on similar charges. Sharper has already pleaded guilty or no contest on related charges in three other state and faces a nine-year prison sentence.
There’s somebody on Craigslist who is selling what appears to be an authentic 2009 Saints Superbowl ring. The ad says the ring is currently owned by a former Saints player and is in perfect condition, but it does not say who is selling the jewelry other than its location being in Atlanta, Georgia. The asking price is $45,000.
Shreveport Police are looking for a 19-year-old man accused of firing a gun into a crowd gathered at a park, killing a 13-year-old boy. Witnesses told authorities a man was asked to leave the park after pulling a gun during an argument. They say, as he was driving off, he stopped and fired into the crowd. Keandre Broadway was shot and died later at a local hospital.
LSU’s Austin Bain has been named SEC Co-Freshman of the week. Bain was outstanding out of the pen on Saturday as he pitched 6.2 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a career-high nine strikeouts in a win over Alabama. LSU hosts UNO tonight.
The Pelicans, who are fighting to get into the NBA Playoffs, will host Golden State tonight. The Warriors have the best record in the NBA and we don’t want to sound negative but,
New Orleans has lost 11 straight games to Golden State.
The investigation into the death of a Pineville man on Thursday of last week by a Rapides Parish Sheriff’s deputy continues. Over the weekend, the RPSO ID’d the man as 27 year old Aaron Rutledge, a Louisiana National Guard Recruiter who served overseas as a combat medic in 2013-14. Rutledge, who friends described as a great guy, was shot and killed after he aimed a gun at an RPSO deputy, during a domestic disturbance call.
A fire early Saturday morning on main street in Pineville claimed the life of a 68-year-old man.
Fire officials report the building where the fire occurred, had three apartments, two of which were occupied. Two men in one apartment escaped without injury. But, Robert Rivers' body was found in one of the other apartments after the fire was extinguished. Rivers, who was physically-handicapped, had been battling illness for a prolonged period of time.
The religious freedom debate which made national headlines in Indiana and Arkansas is coming to Louisiana. Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson has filed a bill that would prevent state government from penalizing a business or person for decisions made based on their religious views about marriage. Jeremy Alford, of la-politics-dot-com, says the big question is, with the state facing a huge budget deficit and the common core issue, will legislators even be willing to debate this issue.
Lt Governor Jay Dardenne begins a statewide tour today to officially announce that he’s running for Governor. Dardenne will begin in Baton Rouge and Lafayette today, tomorrow he’ll visit Alexandria and Lake Charles. Wednesday it’s New Orleans then Thursday Monroe and Shreveport. Recent polls have shown Dardenne a distant third in the race behind the leading Republican David Vitter then the Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards.
Data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, shows Louisiana’s personal income for the fourth quarter in 2014 grew by just 0.6 percent, which is last in the country. But LSU economist Loren Scott says a reason for the low growth is because Louisiana did not accept federal dollars to expand its Medicaid program. Scott says there’s fewer federal dollars flowing into the state to assist low-income or unemployed workers and that’s what led to the ranking.
What is expected to be a very difficult legislative session begins a week from today as state lawmakers will try to come up with a fiscal plan to avoid large budget cuts to health care and higher education. Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert has been appointed as Governor Jindal’s legislative liaison. Hebert is familiar with the legislature as he’s served in the House and the Senate prior to becoming A-T-C Commissioner. He says while the state’s budget problems are difficult, he believes every crisis is an opportunity.
Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper is scheduled for arraignment today in federal court and tomorrow in state court. The 39-year-old, who is accused of drugging and raping women in four states, struck a “global” plea deal to resolve all of the charges. It’s been reported that Sharper will get 20 years in Louisiana, but will serve just nine under the multi- state deal.
Haughton Representative Henry Burns, who has filed a bill that would require bar and restaurant patrons to have a designated driver, is now saying he will not try to seek approval of his measure in this session. Burns says he filed the legislation after hearing from families who have lost loved one as a result of drunk drivers, but he hasn’t figured out how the legislation could be enforced.
A Baton Rouge woman is accused of leaving her three small children at home alone in squalid living conditions. After receiving an anonymous tip, police on Saturday found the children, ages 1, 3 and 5. The 3-year-old child had swollen eyes and was covered in welts, police said. It’s unclear how those injuries happened. The apartment also had no beds or electricity, and had feces and urine on the floors
The LSU Tigers spent Easter Sunday relaxing after a long, but successful series in Hoover, Alabama. The Tigers completed a sweep of the Crimson Tide on Saturday with a 6-4 victory in 13 innings. It was the fourth extra-inning game for the Tigers in their last six SEC contests.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a man is behind bars on felony stalking charges after allegedly continuously harassing a female victim. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the woman told cops that 47-year-old Christopher Charles Lammons of Alexandria would not leave her alone. Carnline says a warrant was obtained for Lammons’ arrest as well as a search warrant for his residence for additional evidence. A new law that went into effect last year, “Gwen’s Law”, mandates that he stay in jail without bond .
Authorities yesterday arrested an Avoyelles Parish corrections officer after she was accused of making a stop while transporting prisoners to let one of the inmates buy drugs. 47 year old Michelle George faces charges of malfeasance in office, assisting escape and obstruction of justice.
It was one of those traffic accidents that looked a lot worse than it actually was.. Three people suffered minor injuries Wednesday afternoon in Pineville shortly after noon at the intersection of highway 71 and Claiborne street. Pineville PD report a juvenile driving a PT Cruiser tried to turn onto Claiborne, but crashed into a passenger van, causing it to overturned and land on its roof. All those involved in the crash were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The wreck remains under investigation.
The prison population in Louisiana is going down for the first time in years. Secretary of Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc told the House Appropriations Committee that from 2006-2009 the state added about 1200 new prisoners a year, and at the pace, there would have been about 44,000 inmates at the end of 2014 instead of closing the year with about 38,000.
The River Waterway Commission announced yesterday Public boat ramps in Rapides and Avoyelles parishes have reopened. Still, the commission is advising boaters to use caution when launching into the current and to be highly aware of obstacles, such as trees and sandbars, while navigating the Red River.
Opelousas Senator Elbert Guillory files a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if life begins at conception. Guillory says his proposed change to the constitution would give unborn children the same legal rights that all other people enjoy Guillory says the constitutional amendment will also make abortions automatically illegal, if Roe versus Wade is overturned. The legislation is referred to as “personhood” but similar proposals have failed to pass in other states.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating a Donaldsonville shooting Wednesday Morning , where a 9 year-old boy was shot while sleeping in his bed. Authorities say the house was hit multiple times. The little boy has been released from the hospital. Police say so far, no suspects.
The New Orleans Police Department says they’ve arrested a suspect in the killing of a Dominos pizza delivery driver. They say 24-year-old Michael Portis is believed to be responsible for the fatal shooting of 36-year-old Michael Price who was a married father of three. There was a $15,000 reward being offered in the case and cops say it was multiple tips to Crime stoppers which help lead detectives to Portis.
A former Elton High School teacher and basketball coach has pleaded guilty to having inappropriate sexual relationships with students. 35-year-old Justin Fruge pleaded guilty to one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Fruge faces up to ten years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for July 20.
The Louisiana SPCA is encouraging folks to celebrate Easter responsibly and think before you buy live bunnies and chicks as pets. Spokeswoman Destinie (Destiny) Hammond says hundreds of rabbits are turned in to local shelters or released into the wild shortly after the Easter holiday. Hammond says when it comes to Easter bunnies, they encourage you to go chocolate.
The LSU baseball team begins a three-game series tonight against Alabama. The series will NOT be played in Tuscaloosa, because of ongoing renovations with Alabama’s ball park. So the games will be played just outside of Birmingham at the same ball park where the SEC Tournament is held.
While flirting with a run for president in 2016, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has made another shuffle among his upper staff, just days before the start of the last legislative session of his final term in office. Leaving the governor’s office are Deputy Chief of Staff Taylor Teepell and Legislative Affairs director Matt Parker. The Des Moines Register reports that Teepell and Parker are relocating to Iowa to help build a team there if Jindal runs for president. Jindal has said he won’t announce a run until after the legislative session ends in June.
As Governor Bobby Jindal travels across the country to increase face time for a potential run at the White House, the expenses for his State Police Security detail have gone up. Colonel Mike Edmonson says the price tag for his agency is $2.2 million dollars on travel expenses.
The four candidates looking to be Louisiana’s next governor met yesterday for a forum that was hosted by Louisiana small business leaders. All four candidates were not shy about criticizing Governor Bobby Jindal and his use of the Americans for Tax Reform to help with the state’s budget problems. All candidates said they oppose Jindal’s proposal to scale back the corporate inventory tax.
A poll conducted by LSU finds Louisiana residents oppose education standards that are called Common Core, but support the concept. Doctor Michael Henderson, director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, says when citizens were asked if they support Common Core, only 39-percent said yes. Henderson says when they didn’t use the term “Common Core” and asked residents if they support higher academic standards that allows Louisiana to compare student achievement with other states 67-percent support it. Henderson says the political fighting over Common Core shows that it has tainted the Common Core brand.
Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue files legislation that he says will control the cost of the TOPS scholarship program. Donahue says under his bill a baseline would be set on how much a student receives for tuition and that dollar amount will not go up in future years, unless the legislature votes to change it. Every year the cost of the TOPS program for the state grows by the millions, because of rising tuition costs at public colleges. Donahue under his bill the TOPS award stays the same for a student through their college career, even if tuition goes up.
According to gasbuddy-dot-com, the statewide average for a gallon of regular gas is $2.19 cents a gallon. That’s two cents less than a week ago.
Indiana is taking a lot of heat for its new “religious freedom” law. Sarah Jane Brady, with the Forum for Equality, hopes Louisiana can learn from Indiana when they push a law in the upcoming session that protects against discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. In the past, lawmakers have shot down bills to protect the L-G-B-T community.
Baton Rouge representative Dalton Honore files a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would require all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. He says there have been recent incidents around the country where body cameras would have answered a lot of questions. Honore feels that a body camera is a great tool in keeping everyone honest.
Honore’s bill does not provide additional funding for law enforcement to purchase the body cameras.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana alleges that a principal at an Elementary school in Shreveport, engaged in unlawful religious coercion by using God, prayer, and Christianity in school publications. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman say they recently learned of a newsletter the principal sent home to parents ahead of standardized testing. In a response, Caddo Parish Public Schools say they are investigating and taking steps to ensure school employees are not violating the Constitution.
An $8,500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot a bald eagle in Caddo Parish. Officials says the bald eagle had wounds to its chest and left wing and because of the severity of the injuries, the eagle was euthanized.
It’s the peak of crawfish harvest season and the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office is increasing patrols around crawfish ponds to deter thieves from stealing crawfish. Lt. Clay Higgins says deputies have been guarding ponds annually since 2011. He says a thief could get two years of hard labor for stealing just a few sacks of crawfish.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office says an Opelousas woman is under arrest on charges of improper sexual contact with juveniles. Authorities were alerted to 35-year-old Francesca Spears after the parents of a teenage boy she was contacting reported her sending inappropriate sexual messages to him. An investigation found that two other juveniles were involved.
The Grant Parish Sheriff's Office is asking the public to donate used bicycles. The bikes will be taken to the "bike shop" at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola to be completely refurbished and will be given to children of Grant Parish at Christmas during the annual Sheriff's Toys for Kids program. The bikes are being accepted through May 15 at the Sheriff's Office in Colfax.
Tonight, Investigation Discovery’s documentary style show “Web of Lies” will feature the story of the kidnapping, murder, and arrest of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom’s killer. Bloxom’s body was found in a shallow pool of water in Stonewall in March of 2010. DeSoto Parish Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle says the show can bring to light how vulnerable our children are and how predators operate. Brian Horn, a previously convicted sex offender, was sentenced to death for Justin’s murder last year.
A lawsuit filed by some state lawmakers seeking to kill Common Core in public schools was thrown out by a Baton Rouge judge Monday. Judge Tim Kelley said the plaintiffs filed the case too late. Governor Bobby Jindal said he was disappointed, and indicated he would support appeal efforts, which those lawmakers will likely file. Several lawmakers have stated they will work to repeal Common Core in the upcoming legislative session.
An ordinance regulating bingo activity in the city of Alexandria is scheduled to be introduced at next week's council meeting. The city has had a moratorium on bingo expansion for about eight years, but the City Council has lifted the moratorium at least twice. That moratorium has been by resolution, not by ordinance. This Legislation would permanently block expansion of bingo in the city.
Town Hall meeting is taking place tonight in the town of Ball. Mayor Neil Kavanagh says with the announced plans of American Specialty Alloys' to build a $2.4 billion aluminum-manufacturing complex, the town needs to be prepared for the challenges and opportunities that facilities 1,500 plus employees that will create. The meeting is set for 6:30 tonight in the Ball Community Center.
An audit, released yesterday by the State Legislative Auditors office cited the village of Forest Hill with 22 violations, including four that violated the Louisiana Constitution. The report also pointed out problems with payroll and utilities. The Forest Hill audit, which covers the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014, cited three separate instances where a clerk made personal charges on the village's credit card. It also found that a clerk made an additional payment to herself "in excess of her authorized wage. The audit does note that the village was reimbursed for the charges and excess payment.
The Louisiana Democratic Party endorses Amite Representative John Bel Edwards as its candidate in Louisiana’s governor’s race. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says the endorsement will keep other major Democratic candidates, like Mitch Landrieu, from jumping into the race.
A Lafayette legislator proposes a bill that would require state high school students to pass a test equal to the civics portion of the US Naturalization Test. Senator Page Cortez says 92-percent of immigrants pass the naturalization test, while studies have shown that less than 4-percent of US born high school students are capable of getting a passing grade. Cortez says his bill ultimately makes this test a requirement for graduation
State Police say two people are dead, including a 5-year-old, after a fatal crash in Lafayette Parish yesterday morning just north of Carencro. Authorities say the child was unrestrained at the time of the crash. There are reports of other injuries that occurred in the crash, but no details have been released. The investigation is continuing.
Authorities are investigating a fatal boat wreck on the Pearl River in St. Tammany Parish. The accident killed a 41 year-old man from Folsom. Three children onboard survived because they were wearing life vests, including one 4 year-old who got stuck under the boat. Another passenger, a 31 year old woman, is still missing.
Sea turtles, dolphins, fish and birds are still suffering from the BP oil spill that occurred nearly five years ago, according to a report from the National Wildlife Federation. Ryan Fikes, lead author, says comprehensive modeling estimates that 32-percent of the laughing gulls in the northern gulf died as a result of the oil spill. He says the exposure to oil has also been shown to cause abnormal development in many species of fish.
An early morning mobile home fire yesterday in Caddo Parish has claimed the life of a husband and wife. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says fire investigators did find the remains of smoke alarms in the trailer. However, it is not known if they were working at the time of the blaze. Fifty-three-year-old Richard Fowler and his wife, 54-year-old Wanda were pronounced dead at the scene. Browning says the investigation is in its initial stages.
Louisiana State Police Special Victims’ Unit detectives, along with the FBI and Bossier City Police have arrested a Bossier man on child porn charges. Sixty year-old Robert Childs is charged with some 300 counts of possession of child porn and 3 counts of distribution. If convicted, Childs could face up to 120 years in prison.
Louisiana has set another employment record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also in February, the unemployment rate decreased for the second month in a row to 6.7 percent. The private sector added over 29 thousand jobs. That’s good news for employers and job seekers.
12 tax referendums passed in Cenla over the weekend. Most one by a rather large margin. In the town of Many, the only referendum to lose, a school tax, did so by only one vote.
The Many School District No. 34 referendum in Sabine Parish was for a 10-year renewal of a 7.23-mill property tax that raises about $247,700 a year for building, maintaining and operating schools in the district. In that election only 5.4% of the eligible voters cast a ballot.
State Police say a three-vehicle crash in St. Landry Parish killed one person and injured several others. The wreck occurred on US 190 near Interstate 49 when a vehicle attempted to cross both lanes of US 190 to gain access to the entrance ramp to I-49. A passenger in that vehicle, 55-year-old Harold Richard of Opelousas was killed. Investigators say alcohol contributed to the crash.
All smiles in southwest Louisiana, as Sasol has started construction on an eight-point-one billion dollar ethane cracker complex near Westlake. The project is expected to create an estimated five-thousand construction jobs and the facility should be completed in 2018.
A proposal to be sponsored by New Orleans Representative Walt Leger would use Gulf oil spill money for possible long-term financing for Louisiana colleges. Leger feels a trust fund should be set up for colleges from recovery money received from the 2010 disaste. The state is expected to receive billions of dollars from BP to pay for economic damage caused by the spill. Legislators have already dedicated the first $1 billion of that money. Leger’s proposal would target money above that.
Under what leaders are calling a “doomsday scenario,” Louisiana’s public universities and colleges would get about $123 million in state funding to split among their campuses next year, about an 82 percent cut from their current funding level. That’s the budget the state Board of Regents has instructed college leaders to start preparing for, though officials are hoping that the funding outlook will improve dramatically during the legislative session. To put that worst-case scenario into perspective, the state would spend about $600 per student on direct campus funding. It would spend an additional $267 million on the TOPS program.
5th district Congressman Ralph Abraham, who is also a physician from Richland Parish, used his medical expertise to help a man, who nearly passed out during a flight. Abraham says this is the fourth time, since he launched his Congressional campaign that he’s had to provide medical attention to a person he met in public. The young man is a former marine, who was flying back home to Texas.
Louisiana’s roads and bridges are beset by dwindling dollars, pressing needs and the lack of any sweeping solutions on the horizon. Even amid a $12.3 billion backlog of transportation infrastructure projects, nearly $91 million, roughly equal to 3 cents of the state’s 20-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, is set to be diverted to the State Police and other services. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, recently said “We are spending gasoline tax revenue on everything but highways”. Officials at the state Department of Transportation and Development are scrambling to avoid the loss of federal dollars because of the state’s revenue problems.
Three young children were rescued after a boat capsized on the Pearl River Saturday, but the operator of the boat died and search and rescue crews were still searching for the children’s mother as of late Sunday afternoon.
The state department of agriculture and forestry will put traps out to track the invasive asian bug called the Emerald Ash Borer. The beetle was discovered recently in Webster Parish and it kills ash trees. Commissioner Mike Strain says the traps will be placed in high risk areas along the interstate, welcome centers and the Mississippi River delta. Strain says the beetle, which is difficult to eradicate, is often transported into an area by infested firewood.
When the polls come out later today, it’s likely the LSU Tigers will no longer be ranked number one after a wild series to the Wildcats of Kenutcky. LSU could not hold on to a three-run lead in the eighth and ended up losing to Kentucky 12-10 in 11 innings yesterday. It’s the first weekend series the Tigers have lost this year as they fall to 5-and-4 in SEC play.
Track star Lolo Jones headlined a five member class that was inducted into the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction Friday night. Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn and Former LSU Associate Athletic Director Herb Vincent were also inductees.
Demographer Elliot Stonecipher says Louisiana could be in jeopardy of losing another Congressional seat if the state doesn’t see more growth in population. Stonecipher is making that statement based on new Census figures, which shows the state’s population has only increased two-point-six percent since 2010. Louisiana saw it’s Congressional delegation shrink from seven to six members as a result of the 2010 Census. Stonecipher says the data suggests to him that Louisiana still has an out-migration problem.
Congratulations to a Cenla Landmark Harlow’s Donuts and Bakery in Pineville, They are celebrating their 30th anniversary today. Harlow’s originally opened in1972. But, Roy Burr purchased the business from the original owner, Frank Dyson, in 1985. Today some of their great treats will be priced as they were back in “85
A grand jury returned a “no true bill” in the case of a Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputy shooting and killing a 14-year-old last September. The teenager had a BB gun, when the deputy came in contact with the child at an abandon house. Carlos Lazarus is the First Assistant DA in Terrebonne. He says they showed the jury pictures of the weapon the juvenile was holding and a real .45-caliber pistol and they are identical. But, the story is not over yet, the FBI is also investigating the case.
A Lafayette man who called in a bomb threat that shut down UL-Lafayette last summer has pleaded guilty in federal court to the crime. Devin Haywood faces up to 10 years for that, and up to 20 years for trying to rob a bank during the police search for the bomb.
State Police and the FBI have arrested a man and woman and rescued a 17-year-old girl in connection with a sex trafficking case. Spokesperson Melissa Matey says the victim was being against her will and forced to perform commercial sexual acts in the French Quarter area through online ads. A 21 year old woman and 36 year old man are being charged with trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said a woman kidnapped from East Baton Rouge was found in the wreckage of a crash which claimed the life of her captor Thursday morning. They say the woman was airlifted to the hospital after the wreck. Deputies said the woman told them she was kidnapped Wednesday night. Authorities say the investigation into the incident is in it’s early stages.
An 11-year-old boy has missed more than two weeks of school because his hair is too long according to Rapides Parish School Board policy. Ashton Bodiford’s hair falls past the middle of his back. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman, who is not involved in this case, says it’s time for courts to recognize that students should be able to have a greater range of appearances. Esman says courts have ruled that schools are within their rights to have appearance policies like this.
A student at Buckeye High School has started an online petition to replace the district school uniform policy with a casual dress code in Rapides Parish. 14 year old Eighth-grader Brandon Richardson created the "Uniform Policy Removal" petition March 18 on the Change.org website. In about a week his petition has received more than 580 signatures.
Well there was somebody in Louisiana who could have been a Powerball millionaire, but they missed their chance. The Match 5 winning ticket was sold in Minden for the September 27th drawing, but no one came forward to claim the prize by the Thursday deadline. Louisiana Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the $1 million will go back into winnings.
Shreveport’s Independence Bowl finds itself, once again, without a sponsor. Duck Commander, who was the title sponsor of last year’s game, will not return as the title sponsor this year. Last year’s game was played under a letter of intent between Duck Commander and the Independence Bowl and not a contract.
A man from LaPlace has developed an app to keep teenagers from texting and driving. Mike Watson says Text Guardian is tied to the GPS device on cellular devices and parents can set to a certain speed. Watson says if somebody tries to call or text a teen while Text Guardian is activated, they will get a message back right away saying that the person will get back to you when it is safe to do so. He says it’s completely free and the difference between this and some other anti-driving-and-texting apps is that Text Guardian can not be removed. Right now Text Guardian is only available on Android devices but should be on iOS soon.
Turkey season opens tomorrow and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries predicts a bumper crop for hunters. Wild Turkey and Resident Small Game Leader, Jimmy Stafford, says there should be some carryover this season after bad weather lead to a poor hunting last year.
The number one ranked LSU baseball team opens up a three-game series tonight against Kentucky, with first pitch set for seven P-M at the Box. The Wilcats are 2-and-4 in league play, but Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says they are one of the better hitting teams in the conference.
The public memorial period to pay respects to National Guardsman David Strother continues today in the Alexandria Riverfront Center from noon to 4 At 4 a memorial service will be held, followed by a graveside ceremony in Alexandria Memorial Gardens. Strother, a resident of Alexandria was killed March 10 along with 10 other soldiers in a military helicopter crash in Florida. The family requests memorials be made to the Mojo 69 Memorial Fund, giveforward.com
The Jindal administration’s experiment in privatizing Louisiana’s charity hospitals is running into some troubled financial waters. The House Appropriations Committee learned Wednesday that $332 million of the funding to keep the hospitals operating at a stand-still level relies on the uncertain legislative approval of some tax law changes. Committee chairman Rep. Jim Fannin said there should be no assumption that the dollars will materialize. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health agency budget proposal is already $142 million shy of the funding the private partners say is needed for operations in the fiscal year that begins July 1st. The bulk of the additional funding request is associated with the opening of the state-of-the-art $1 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans. Its opening has been delayed until Aug. 1.
A Lafayette jury convicted Seth Fontenot of manslaughter on Wednesday rather than the first-degree murder charge prosecutors were seeking in the shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault. Fontenot was also convicted of two counts of aggravated battery for the wounding of two teens who were with Rivault in a pickup truck the night of the shooting. It took the Jury less than two hours to reach a verdict.
An American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows that distraction in teen crashes is worse than previously thought. The study found that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. AAA spokesman Don Redman says the two leading causes of distraction are other passengers and cell phones. Redman says parents should sit down with their teen drivers and talk about the dangers of using their cell phones while behind the wheel. He also suggests that parents restrict the number of passengers their teen drivers are allowed to drive around.
A leak in one of the 97 igloos storing the 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden in Webster Parish has resulted in the recommendation of the emergency destruction of its contents. Military officials says the moisture build up creates a chemical reaction the could cause the M6 to “auto-ignite”. An evaluation team, led by the Louisiana National Guard, is still reviewing the bids that were submitted to dispose of the propellant. Their decision is expected any day.
A total of 46 Beau Chene (SHEN) High School Students have been suspended after an investigation into a pupil who is accused of changing grades. St. Landry school superintendent Edward Brown says the scheme began unraveling after one pupil became suspicious. He says the investigation is ongoing.
A legislator wants to make it a law that a designated driver be present at certain locations that sell alcohol. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says he at least wants to get a dialogue started about the importance of having someone present who hasn’t been drinking at establishments which sell alcohol. Burns is still working on the final details, but believes that it should be illegal to sell alcohol to a designated driver.
Governor Bobby Jindal is keeping active for a potential run at the White House, and on the stationary bike. The Governor was spotted in a high-end gym in mid-town Manhattan Wednesday, and told reporters that he likes to start with some cardio then rotate through the weights. New York Magazine calls him Governor Bobby GYMdal.
A cell phone video has emerged showing a group of young men beheading a live goat. The graphic 12 second video shows one man beheading the goat with a machete sword over a child’s swimming pool, while the others cheered. The Louisiana SPCA is offering a three thousand dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this felony crime.
The Strawberry Festival Board and the Kiwanis Club of Ponchatoula have apologized for the controversial 2015 poster and they say they will not sell it at the event. The NAACP called for both boards to have a more diverse membership which they agreed to make an effort to do. The Kiwanis Club will continue to sell the posters (in house) until the festival begins.
LSU Sophomore forward Jarell Martin announced Wednesday that he’s leaving the Tigers to enter the N-B-A draft. The six-foot-ten forward from Baton Rouge averaged nearly 17 points and nine rebounds this past season. Martin is glad that he played a role in getting the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament, but it’s now time to move on.
Fellow LSU forward Jordan Mickey might also leave for the NBA, but he says as of now he’s still considering his options. And Tigers assistant coach Eric Musselman was named today as the new head coach at Nevada.
A very touching scene yesterday as Hundreds of people, many of them holding American flags, lined the streets as a motorcade accompanying a white hearse passed carrying the body of National Guardsman David Strother. A public memorial will be held from noon to 9 p.m. today and a public funeral service will be held at 4 p.m. Tomorrow. Both will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Strother, was one of 11 soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during a training mission on March 10.
Now here’s something you don’t see every day.. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office says two elephants were used to keep an 18-wheeler from overturning on I-49. Deputies say a truck carrying elephants from New Orleans to Dallas got stuck in the mud, when deputies arrived on the scene Tuesday, they were surprised to find the elephants on the side of the truck that was starting to tip over. The 18-wheeler was eventually pulled out of the mud and no citations were issued, and the elephants were uninjured.
It has been a long time coming, a contract has finally been awarded to build a new VA clinic in Lafayette. While Republican Congressman Charles Boustany – who got the legislative authorization to build new clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles – says it’s great news for Lafayette, he says the VA is dragging its feet though when it comes to construction of the Lake Charles clinic.
A Winsboro woman has been sentenced go to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Twenty-four year-old LaSasha Allen placed her 20-month-old daughter, unrestrained, in the passenger’s seat of her vehicle. Authorities say she opened the car door while rounding a curve, allowing her daughter to fall out. Franklin Parish District Attorney Mack Lancaster says Allen showed no remorse.
The 2015 Louisiana Survey reveals that 83-percent of Louisianians want the state’s budget deficit to be resolved through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says of those preferring a combination, 59-percent would rather see the focus mostly on the side of spending cuts. The way the Louisiana Constitution is written, higher education and health care will take the brunt of budget cuts. Henderson says that is not what the public wants. Most surveyed said they would like to see more spent in that area. When it comes to raising revenue, Henderson says the public seems to behind a hike in the so-called “sin taxes”: alcohol, tobacco, and gaming
A new study conducted for the state by LSU economist Dr. Loren Scott shows the film tax credit program created nearly 13-thousand jobs, but cost Louisiana 171-million dollars last fiscal year. And Scott adds that many of the jobs produced do not benefit Louisiana. The state’s film tax credit program is expected to face changes in the upcoming legislative session.
The financial planning website Bankrate.com lists Louisiana as the fifth worst place to retire. Bankrate’s research analyst Chris Kahn says Louisiana scores low when it comes to its crime rate, health care services and weather. Kahn says retirees in Louisiana do not face a huge tax burden, which is good, but the state has the second highest crime rate in the nation, which does NOT make the bayou state a dream retirement spot.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana has cut the rate of Tuberculosis cases by more than half from 2010 to 2014. DHH’s Charles DeGraw says they have also reduced the percentage of TB cases with HIV infection from 10% in 2010 to 4 percent in 2014.
A man who was tree-sitting in City Park in New Orleans to block the construction of an upscale golf course, has fallen out of a large Cyprus tree. It is believed the man, who is identified as Lloyd Boover, may have broken an ankle and his nose from the fall. Authorities reportedly patrolled his protest, and continuously shined a spotlight on him at night. Boover is expected to be charged with trespassing.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a Bossier City man is accused of stealing from his employer and selling the items on eBay. They say 60-year-old Michael Thompson returned about $2300 worth of stolen construction items to his company but said everything else had been sold on the online auction site. He is charged with theft.
A former school board candidate in south Louisiana has been charged with felony sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl whom he used to coach in basketball. Lawrence McLeary with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office says the juvenile told her doctor that she was assaulted by 34-year-old Philip Ziegler of Central about a year and a half ago.
The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Branch is meeting this morning with the Mayor of Ponchatoula and other leaders to discuss the controversial Strawberry Festival poster. They believe the painting is racist and want the Kiwanas Club to stop selling it. In a prepared statement, Mayor Bob Zabbia says because negative feelings about the poster go against the purpose of the Strawberry Festival, which has brought the community together for decades, he would recommend that Kiwanis reevaluate their decision to sell the poster.
U-L-M men’s basketball will host Vermont tonight at seven P-M in the semifinals of the C-B-I tournament. The Warhawks started the tournament by beating Eastern Michigan and then rallying on the road to defeat Mercer by 20.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reports that LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey is leaning towards entering the NBA draft. Mickey was a first-team ALL SEC selection this past season as he led the league in rebounding and he’s also the top shot blocker in the country.
The recent ISIS online hit list that are targeting military personnel, has 25 names on a list of 100 that are current and/or past personnel from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport-Bossier. The threat was released by an ISIS hacking division, and because of that source, the Pentagon is asking the those concerned to adjust their online settings for social media accounts.
The State Police have arrested 33 year old arrested Angelle Temple of Marksville, LA, after an audit of the State motor vehicle office where she worked came up short. The audit determined Temple manipulated the OMV computer system on over 30 separate occasions in the beginning of 2014. Auditors reported customers paid the fines/fees, but Temple's cash drawer did not reflect payment for any of these transactions. The total amount Temple defrauded the state, in Rapides Parish, totaled over $5,500.00.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but Governor Bobby Jindal says he will wait until the legislative session ends in June before announcing whether he will enter the race. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Cruz, Rick Santorum and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will all have some impact on a Jindal candidacy because of their similar politics. He says it’s smart for Jindal to wait until after the session to start a campaign.
LSU President and Chancellor F King Alexander says 2,000 classes will be cancelled and every LSU employee will have to be furloughed if the legislature doesn’t restore the massive cut to higher education that’s proposed in Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget. Alexander says the proposed budget for next fiscal year will only provide LSU with 30-million dollars in state funding, a reduction of 110-million dollars from this fiscal year. He says students and alumni need to speak up loudly against this type of cut
It looks like the price at the pump will continue to make our wallets happy. The American Automobile Association reports a gallon of regular on average statewide is $2.22. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says even the US Department of Energy predicts the national average won’t get above $2.50 for the entire year. Redman says the falling price at the pump can, in part, be attributed to a robust supply.
Today, a grand jury will consider the case against a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed 14-year-old Cameron Tillman last September. The Sheriff’s Department says Deputy Preston Norman fired in self-defense after Tillman appeared to be holding a gun. The grand jury will hear evidence and testimony, possibly from Norman, himself. Relatives and others who were at the abandoned house with the boy say he was not holding a weapon.
Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper has made a “global” plea deal with prosecutors in 4 states where he is accused of drugging and raping women and sentencing started today. He’ll reportedly serve 9 years behind bars. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this type of plea deal means Sharper has agreed to one punishment for all charges. He says this is a good move on the part of Sharper who could get life on a conviction and it’s also smart on the victim side because rapes are hard to prove without a reasonable doubt.
The millionaire accused of killing a female friend in California 15 years ago will be staying put in Louisiana. Seventy-one year-old Robert Durst was in court Monday for a bond hearing on weapons charges, a week after he was discovered at a New Orleans hotel under a fake name, with a gun, passport and a large amount of cash. He had been sent to a prison’s mental health unit, as jail officials said he was a suicide risk.
A son is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound after cops say he was shot by his father when there was no more orange juice in their Baton Rouge home. They say 58-year-old Eldrige Dukes got into a huge fight with his son when he discovered the orange juice was gone and began to chase him around the house with a gun and firing several times eventually striking the teen in the butt. Dukes is charged with attempted manslaughter and illegal use of a dangerous weapon. The son is going to be okay.
A 30-year-old Baton Rouge heroin user will spend at least 6 years in prison on charges related to the death of his girlfriend from a fatal overdose. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore says Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin.
Moore says the evidence showed that Eirick purchased the heroin earlier in the day, and he and Leah Hitchinson shot each other up. He says since the Eirick supplied Hitchinson with the heroin that lead to her death, he was charged.
The number one ranked LSU baseball team will resume its rivalry with Tulane tonight in New Orleans. The Fighting Tigers are 21-and-3 overall, while the Green Wave are 17-and-7
State police report a two vehicle accident late Saturday night claimed the life of a 16 year old driver from Florian and injured another teen from Many. The accident occurred shortly before midnight when a pickup driven by Kelby Pilcher crossed the center line of highway 118 and struck another pickup head on. Pilcher was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene. 18 year old Michael Fair, the driver of the vehicle that was struck, was wearing a seatbelt and survived the crash with serious injuries. Routine toxicology tests are pending. The crash remains under investigation.
An Opelousas man died early Sunday in a crash on La. 749 in St. Landry Parish. The state police report 38 year old Herbert Rideau was driving north near Opelousas about 1:30 a.m. when his pickup truck ran off the right side of the road and struck a parked 18-wheeler. Rideau was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology tests are pending and the crash remains under investigation.
Police are investigating the case of a man who walked into the New Orleans airport wielding a machete and slashing at TSA officers while spraying them with bug spray before being shot several times. The Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office say a TSA officer and traveler sustained non-life threatening injuries apparently from bullets fired at the suspect by a sheriff’s deputy. The man, 62-year-old Richard White of Kenner, died from his injuries.
According to state officials, Louisiana casinos brought in $224.1 million dollars last month which is 6.8 percent higher than February the year before. Casino Association Executive Director Wade Duty says while the revenues are up, this isn’t an accurate year-to-year comparison because of the mid-December opening of the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.
He says the big gains can also be attributed to lower gas prices as more out of state gamblers head in.
The state Department of Transportation and Development is taking part in National Work Zone Awareness Week which runs through Friday. DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett says this is about bringing attention to the fact that safety should be a top priority through road construction areas. Mallett says since 2013 in Louisiana there’s been about 580 people who have lost their lives in work zones. Mallett says drivers face fines, fees and other consequences if they’re caught speeding in a work zone or driving without their headlights on.
Former New Orleans Saints Safety Darren Sharper has cut a deal on charges he drugged and raped women in four states. The Orleans DA office says details of the deal have not been made public. A news release says Sharper is also pleading guilty to charges in three other states and federal charges.
Parks Senator Fred Mills is sponsoring legislation this session that looks at ways to change the way public school teachers are evaluated. Currently educator effectiveness is determined by students’ standardized test results. Mills says his bill seeks to make a teacher’s job performance more accurately measured. He says this measure would take things back to the way they used to be when it comes to checking out how a teacher is doing. Mills says the proposed law would not completely remove the use of test scores as a factor in deciding teacher effectiveness.
A Shreveport lawmaker feels the state legislature should look at different options in trying to shrink the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit. Democratic Representative Patrick Williams it’s clear that the state needs to generate additional revenue. The House Ways and Means Committee member says a hike on cigarette and alcohol taxes is one way the state can raise funds quickly. Williams also feels that lawmakers should take a closer look at tax incentives offered by the state to shrink the budget gap. He says some of these are not paying dividends back to the state.
Sentencing is scheduled today for a Baton Rouge man who allegedly shot his girlfriend up with a fatal injection of heroin in 2013. 31-year-old Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and heroin distribution in the death of 31-year old Leah Hutchinson. Eirick was originally charged with second degree murder in this case, but pleaded to the lesser charge of negligent homicide in October.
The 2015 Poncatoula Strawberry Festival Poster is being called racist by some, and beautiful by others. The Tangipahoa NAACP says the painting, depicting faceless black children carrying a basket of strawberries, is offensive and they are calling for it to stop being sold immediately. Strawberry Festival spokesperson Shelley Matherne says the depiction is meant to build a bridge between cultures.
LSU won it’s series with Arkansas over the weekend with anxiety-filled 7-4 rubber match win.
The Tigers won a three-game Southeastern Conference series after losing the opening game for just the second time in five years, and they grabbed a 10th series win over the Razorbacks in the last 11 tries.
The “Dunkin Dogs” of Louisiana Tech will face Texas A&M tonight in the second round of the NIT. Bulldogs Coach Michael White says his program doesn’t have many opportunities to beat a team from a major conference, so they need to take advantage of it when it comes. Tech enters the game with a 26-8 record, while the Aggies are 21-11 and beat Montana in the opening round of the NIT.
The Pelicans are now three games back of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after completing an 0-for-3 road trip with a 107-100 loss to the Clippers.
The Spring Equinox occurs later today at precisely 5:45pm our time, marking the end of winter and the very beginning of Spring. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the Bayou State has been getting a lot of rain over the past few weeks and it’s setting the stage for what we can expect this spring. He says the good news is that the Climate Prediction Center says we should have normal temperatures throughout the season
State Treasurer John Kennedy says the Jindal Administration is considering selling the Louisiana Lottery as a way to help plug the state’s massive budget hole. The Administration is denying this. But, Kennedy says he has reports from CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs which essentially say that selling the Louisiana Lottery would provide significant general fund relief. He says these documents are irrefutable evidence that these discussions are ongoing
LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab says more and more Louisianians are starting to say that the state is headed in the right direction. In the results of their 2015 Louisiana survey, Director Michael Henderson also says 26-percent of citizens say the state business climate is better than it was a year ago. He says public confidence in state government to effectively deal with the most pressing issues has increased for the first time in five years.
State Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret tells lawmakers it’s time to reign in the state’s film tax credit program. Moret says the state’s film program has created an estimated ten-thousand jobs and brought positive attention to the state, but it only produces 20-cents in revenue for every dollar of tax credit. Moret also suggests tighter controls on who is getting the tax credits as there have been recent reports of fraud in the program. But he says the most important thing is limiting the program’s benefits so the state has a greater control of how much they are spending on it.
A survey by MarblePort Polling on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican David Vitter leading the field with 34-percent of the vote. Democrat John Bel Edwards is close behind with 31-percent, followed by Republicans Jay Dardenne with 14-percent and Scott Angelle with 7-percent. The automated survey polled just over 1000 Louisiana residents.
Spring is in the air and crawfish season is in full swing in Louisiana. Gulf Seafood Institute Chairman Harlon Pearce says they expected a substantial change in the price of the mudbugs once we got those crazy early March winter temperatures out of the way and you’ll certainly see it this weekend. Pearce says you could easily see boiled crawfish this weekend at about $3.50 a pound
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the Jindal Administration’s budget for next fiscal year doesn’t fund a presidential preference primary for Louisiana in 2016. It would cost three and a half million dollars and Schedler says he’s telling lawmakers that unless they command another way, the state intends to move forward. A spokesperson from the Division of Administration says they have spoken with Schedler and they will work with his office to come up with a funding solution so that the state can have a Presidential Primary next year.
According to the Louisiana National Guard, they have received a total of 10 bids from companies to destroy about 75 hundred tons of M6 artillery propellant near Camp Minden. An evaluation team is being formed with a dialog committee, after some residents spoke out against the open burning method. The Guard says they may consider other methods.
An appeals court judge has thrown out the sentence of former Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson and ordered a re-sentencing. Thompson was convicted in 2013 on three counts of malfeasance in office. The court ruled that Thompson’s sentence of six years in prison, combined with having to pay restitution of almost $52,000, was excessive. It is unknown when the re-sentencing will take place.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says an 85-year-old man is booked with vehicular homicide charges for allegedly running over his long time female companion in a driveway. They say when deputies responded to medical emergency in DeQuincy they found 56-year-old Mary Franklin laying near the driveway and she was pronounced dead at the scene. It was determined she was run over by James Abdalla Jr. He is in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on $60,000 bond.
LifeShare Blood Center reports Donations of O negative blood are being sought to meet a critical need. Donors of all blood types are necessary and welcome, but the immediate need is for more O negative donors. Blood donations of blood may be made at the LifeShare Donation Center on North Mall Drive in Alexandria.
The IRS says there are about 22,000 people in Louisiana who did not file a tax return in 2011 which amounts to potential refunds of up to $21.4 million dollars. Spokeswoman Lea (Lee) Crusberg says tax payers only have until April 15th of this year to file their 2011 return to get their refund or else the money will go into the US Treasury. Crusberg says the average potential refund in Louisiana is $693.
Just as some 316-thousand students are taking the Common Core tests this week, Governor Bobby Jindal announces a plan to remove Common Core from Louisiana’s public schools and replace it with a plan and test developed by Louisiana teachers and parents. Jindal says the plan will be presented to lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session next month.
State Superintendent John White is moving forward with plans to have Louisiana educators review and tweak the Common Core academic standards, despite Gov. Bobby Jindal’s intent to support legislation to throw them out altogether. White reviewed preliminary plans with educators, superintendents and other stakeholders Wednesday morning, just hours before Jindal’s statements. They will be discussed with superintendents from across the state on Thursday.
There’s a new state-wide poll that shows 56-percent of Louisiana residents support an increase in the state’s cigarette tax. That same poll also revealed Governor Bobby Jindal with a 28 percent positive rating.
While drivers enjoy low gas prices, the plummeting price of crude is starting to take its toll on the oil industry, with layoffs happening here in Louisiana. In the past few months, about a thousand oil industry jobs have been lost, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. State officials say they are optimistic that the losses will be temporary.
The drop in the price of oil was seen in a new lease sales yesterday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Regulators report only 195 bids for new oil and gas leasing were placed off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That’s the lowest amount since 1986, when there were only 129 bids offered.
State Police say a former detective with the Ville Platte Police Department has been arrested on multiple charges. Authorities say Nathanial Savoy, who also owns a roofing business, was allegedly spotted on surveillance video stealing roofing materials from a local business. To add insult to injury, he was reportedly in a police unit when the crime was committed.
New Orleans Senator JP Morrell files a bill that would allow public students in Orleans Parish to be surveyed about what type of behaviors they are involved in — including sexual behavior. He says results of such a review would help with coming up with a sex ed class that would actually be effective. Baton Rouge Representative Pat Smith introduced similar legislation last year but it failed after a massive push-back from the Louisiana Family Forum. Morrell says opponents believe that by addressing sexual education you are making kids promiscuous.
Lobbyists can spend more wining and dining legislators and others they seek to influence beginning later this year as the cap increases yet again, but not by much. The Louisiana Board of Ethics is scheduled Friday to start the legal process to allow $60 to be spent per occasion effective July 1. The current per event limit is $58. The amount has been steadily rising since the Legislature implemented a $50 spending cap in 2008 as part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ethics package. The new law allowed the spending cap to increase with the consumer price index, or CPI. The provision has resulted in a 20 percent increase over five years.
Ninth-seeded LSU faces 8th seeded North Carolina State tonight in the NCAA Tournament. The oddsmakers have the Wolfpack as a two-point favorite.
We missed an important birthday yesterday.. The Town Talk was founded on March 17, 1883. That made the paper a young 132 years old. To give you an example of how different life was back then, an article in the March 18th Paper described how Hoodlums damaged several women’s dresses by stretching a tarred rope across a dark street. The women returning from church damaged their dresses when they rubbed up against it. The suggestion for punishment if caught, The boys should be tarred and feathered. We’ve come a long way, or have we? A belated Happy Birthday to the Town Talk.
It didn’t take long, Rapides Parish police jurors on Tuesday gave their stamp of approval to an agreement with the city of Alexandria that could pave the way for Coliseum renovations to begin. Police jurors met in executive session for 37 minutes Tuesday morning before the unanimous vote to go along with the terms of a proposed Alexandria City Council ordinance.
The ordinance was introduced by the City Council on Monday and is expected to come up for a council vote in early April.
Latest employment numbers show that there were 7500 less people working in January than in December, ending a long streak of monthly employment gains. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says even though there was the typical job drop that you see in January, we’re still employing far more people this year than we were this time last year. At 7 percent the unemployment rate for January ranked as the third highest among states.
Residents will soon have to pay more for flood insurance. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the increases are the result of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that were passed by Congress last year. He says the premium hikes for primary residences are capped at 18-percent each year. However, premium increases for second residences, commercial, and rental properties are capped at 25-percent per year. In addition to the rate increases, property owners will have to pay a surcharge, $25 per year for your primary residence and $250 for businesses, rentals, or secondary residences. Donelon says these changes are complicated, so you may want to get some advice.
Governor Bobby Jindal is looking at selling the remainder of a multi-billion dollar settlement from tobacco manufacturers to help the state’s budget problems. The Jindal administration says it could be used finance the TOP’s scholarship program for the next seven to eight years, but State Treasurer John Kennedy doesn’t like this idea. Kennedy says the Jindal administration has raided all other pots of money and this is the last one left. Despite Kennedy’s concerns, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation, voted to begin the process of selling the tobacco settlement.
State Police say a truck driver from Alabama died when he was run over by a trooper who was looking for him in Madison Parish. Sgt. James Anderson says they received a report early Tuesday morning that an 18-wheeler was stuck in the lane of travel on US Highway 65. Anderson says 47-year-old David Watford of Cottonwood, Alabama was walking in the middle of the road wearing blue jeans and a camouflage shirt when he was struck and killed by the trooper. The investigation continues.
An 81-year-old Korean War veteran died in a mobile home fire in Arnaudville Tuesday morning. The state Fire Marshal’s office has identified the victim as Robert Kaltenbach. Investigators say the fire started near a desk right next to an overloaded power outlet.
A State Police investigation into criminal activity at Jackson Parish Hospital has led to the arrest of four people, three of whom were hospital employees. Sgt. James Anderson says investigators discovered cases of illegal drug distribution and payroll fraud at the hospital.
Calcasieu, Jackson, and Central School systems lead the state in the percentage of opt-outs during Monday’s first day of statewide PARCC testing. Jackson had an opt-out rate of 13-percent, followed by 12-percent for Calcasieu and eight-percent for Central. Central School Superintendent Michael Faulk says 153 students in the district did not participate. Faulk believes social media has something to do with the number of opt-outs. He says they began a Facebook page to try to deal with the false information about the tests spreading on the site.
The Mayor of Dequincy says he’s not concerned about a fake news site once again targeting the city with an article claiming they’ve passed some ridiculous law. This time “The News Examiner” says polygamy is now legal in DeQuincy. Other articles in the past have claimed that the city was being attacked by gay zombies on bath salts and that officials had banned twerking. The Mayor says he would like to invite the man who is writing these stories to visit the Calcasieu Parish town and see what it really has to offer.
The Louisiana national guard made it official yesterday releasing the names of the four guardsmen killed March 10 when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed into Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola, Florida, during a training exercise. The Guardsmen killed are: 37 year old Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin Jr, 44 year old Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother, 40 year old Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron and 26 year old Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich. Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard said, while announcing the names, that the Guardsmen represent the best of us and their names will forever be etched on our hearts and in our minds.
Today is the big day. Motorists who commute between Alexandria and Pineville and take the O.K. Allen Bridge will be redirected to begin utilizing the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge starting this morning at 10am. Deidra Druilhet with the state Department of Transportation says
only the northbound span of the new bridge has been completed and it will be used for the two-way traffic while the O.K. Allen Bridge is torn down. Over 20,000 motorists cross the Red River over the O.K. Allen Bridge on a daily basis. The southbound span is expected to be ready by mid-2016.
An ordinance introduced Monday by the Alexandria City Council is intended to settle the Rapides Parish Coliseum property dispute with the Police Jury. The deal includes the Police Jury paying the city $1.1 million as part of a land swap. The agreement would give the parish control of the parking lot at the Coliseum. The parking lot has been the center of a dispute between the city and the parish. Resolution of the dispute is needed to clear the way for the $22.9 million renovation of the Coliseum to begin.
The APD reports a North MacArthur drive homeowner chased a burglar who had just robbed his home Saturday leading police directly to the robbers Enterprise Road home. Police arrested 38 James Robertson and booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Robertson has been charged with simple burglary.
State Superintendent of Education John White says after the first day of PARCC testing, concerns that there would be widespread non-participation did not bear out. He says preliminary findings show more than 320,000 students took the test associated Common Core which is about 99% participation. White says half of the 1% of non-participants came from Calcasieu Parish. He also says Red River, Jackson and Central Community had a high number of students who didn’t test.
The state’s economic development secretary Stephen Moret will leave his job in May and take over as the president and CEO of the LSU foundation, which is LSU’s top fundraising organization. Moret is an LSU grad and has severed as Governor Bobby Jindal’s LED secretary since 2008.
A Washington Post article refers to Governor Bobby Jindal as one of the great mysteries of the early 2016 presidential campaign. They said that not long ago, Jindal was considered a fresh new face in the Republican Party, but his star has since fallen. The Post says, for the first time in Jindal’s political career, he appears to be lost. They say the governor looks like he’s trying to be every politician at once. According to The Post, Jindal is polling at around two-percent in national Republican polls.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office says a toddler from Slidell is in the hospital after being run over apparently by a family member who then left the scene. They say 44-year-old Derrick Populus eventually admitted he struck the child with a vehicle in the driveway then drove off. He is booked with felony hit-and-run. The child’s condition appears to be improving.
Shreveport Representative Barbra Norton has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would make it illegal to supply a child 12 or under with an Uzi sub-machine gun. She says kids are not big enough to handle such a large weapon in a safe manner. Norton says she realizes that some parents want to teach their children how to shoot guns for hunting or for general safety reasons, but she sees no reason for kids to ever have a machine gun.
Jury selection begins today in Lafayette in the first-degree murder trial of Seth Fontenot, accused of a 2013 shooting that killed 15-year old Austin Rivault and injured two others. Fontenot claims he fired to scare the teens, who he thought were breaking into his truck, not to hurt them.
The LSU men’s basketball team leaves today for Pittsburgh, where they’ll play North Carolina State on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers bring a 22-and-10 record to the Big Dance and needs to win six straight games to win a national championship.
The new Baseball America Poll is out and LSU is still on top now for the second straight week. The Tigers went 3-1 on the week losing once in a 14-inning game against ole Miss. They’re joined in the top 10 with four other SEC teams, Florida, Vandy, Texas A&M and South Carolina.
Louisiana Tech hosts Central Michigan tonight in the N-I-T. It’s the second straight year the Bulldogs will get to host a postseason game. But this year Tech is coming off a disappointing loss in the Conference USA tournament. Central Michigan was the regular season Mid-American Conference West Division champions this season and they boast a record of 23-and-8.
Early Sunday afternoon, a Texas couple were killed in Hineston, when their motorcycle struck a vehicle that turned directly into their path. The accident occurred when 62 year old Larry Callahan made a left turn off of highway 121. The driver of the motorcycle attempted to stop in time but was unable to do so. Callahan was not injured, however he was charged with improper turning.
Funeral services will be held today for former Rapides Parish Police Juror Stephen Bordelon who passed away Friday. Bordelon is known for his service to the city of Pineville in several capacities including the fire department and city council, as well as his tenure on the Rapides Parish Police Jury. Visitation will be at Hixson Brothers in Pineville this morning at 9 a.m. until the service at 11 a.m. Stephen Bordelon was 75
Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order calling for the flags at all state buildings to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the military members who lost their lives in the Black Hawk crash last week. The order is through this Friday at sunset.
Students in third through eighth grades will begin taking the controversial tests tied to Common Core today. This is the first time PARCC will be administered in Louisiana. State Department of Education Superintendent John White says this is about getting a basic description of what kids should be able to do at the end of each grade level. There are many people who oppose Common Core arguing that it’s too complex but White says it’s time that we stop teaching math with memorization.
A special enrollment period began Sunday on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace giving some, who didn’t realized they would be penalized on their taxes for not being covered, a second chance of obtaining health insurance. This special enrollment period will go through April 30.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals announces a new initiative aimed at reducing c-section rates among Louisiana mothers. DHH Secretary Kathy Kleibert says “Go the Full 40″ is a voluntary pledge by hospitals to end non-medically indicated induced pregnancies. Kleibert says about 50% of babies in Louisiana are born before 40 weeks gestation.
The bird flu has made a recent appearance in Arkansas, along with confirmations in some mid-western and northwestern states. Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says a poultry quarantine will keep any live poultry products from entering Louisiana from an area that’s been affected. The good news is, this disease is not normally contracted by humans.
Proposed legislation will be presented to lawmakers that will provide funds to pay for sexual assault victim care with expired winning casino tickets. New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno says, under the proposed law, hospitals would not bill victims -and- those who come forward aren’t limited to 72 hours to report an incident in order for the services to be provided at no charge. You can expect the casinos to fight this legislation. Currently, casinos and tracks are allowed to keep expired winnings as earnings.
The four candidates for governor met last Friday in a forum to discuss Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. As you may suspect, all said they support it. The Louisiana gubernatorial election will take place on October 24.
Richard J. “Dick” Brennan Sr., a restaurateur who with his family owned and managed some of New Orleans most celebrated dining establishments, died Saturday at his home in New Orleans. Along with his siblings, he was instrumental in the transformation of Commander’s Palace into the definitive modern Creole restaurant of its generation, beginning in the 1970s. Dick Brennan Sr was 84.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it is reported that nearly 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 are not getting tested as recommended. Last year alone, more than 50,000 people died of colorectal cancer in the United States.
For the first time since 2009, the LSU Tigers are in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Bayou Bengals are a nine-seed and they’ll face North Carolina State on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Coach Johnny Jones says the goal all season long was to get an invite to the Big Dance.
Eglin Air Force Base officials say the wreckage of the Army helicopter that crashed Tuesday night over the Florida Panhandle has been found. Eglin Col. Monte Cannon says the wreckage was located in about 25 feet of water. The search has gone from a search and rescue to now just a rescue mission. The Coast Guard announced Thursday afternoon nine of the 11 victims have been found, including two from Louisiana. Pineville native David Strother a chief warrant officer, is one of those who lost his life. Strother is being remembered as someone who made the "ultimate sacrifice" for his country.
Alexandria PD report that foul play is not suspected in the death of a man whose body was found under a bridge on North 3rd street Wednesday morning. The man's body was sent for an autopsy and other forensic testing. The man's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
They’ve made progress. But, there’s more work to do. S.A.C.S The Southern Association Of Colleges and Schools, visited the Louisiana College Campus on Wednesday. The good news, Louisiana College is in compliance with five of the six standards that led to it being placed on probation last year. A standard citing “external influence” remains unresolved. SACS placed the school on probation in June, six months after the agency reaffirmed its accreditation. LC had been on warning with SACS for two years prior.
Lt Governor hopeful Kip Holden is finding himself involved in a scandal as a 2011 lawsuit has surfaced claiming the Baton Rouge mayor repeatedly sexually harassed a woman who was in Louisiana on business. The lawsuit does not name Holden as a defendant and it’s actually targeted at her former employer. A poll was released this week showing Holden in good position to make the run-off in the lieutenant governor’s race. Holden denies the accusations, saying both he and his wife know the truth on this one.
According to a report by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, Louisiana has the highest estimated percentage of unemployed youth in the country. The study also found that New Orleans is third in the nation for the percentage of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who aren’t working or in school.
Bogalusa Representative Harold Ritchie files a bill that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to the national average. The governor has proposed an increase in the state’s cigarette tax to the southern regional average, but Ritchie believes the tax on cigarettes should be higher. Ritchie’s bill would raise the tax from 36-cents to a $1.54 per pack. It will be considered during the legislative session that begins April 13th. The Jindal administration says they will support an increase in tobacco taxes, but only if it’s accompanied with a tax break.
More police presence in New Orleans, as State Police have redeployed additional troopers to patrol the Crescent City. This comes courtesy of $2.5 million dollars raised by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, based on the needs of NOPD and requests from business leaders. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says this will not take away any patrol efforts for the rest of the state.
Louisiana Tech is under somewhat of a microscope after a claim comes up accusing their Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity of racist chanting in 2010 — similar to the now-closed Oklahoma Chapter. Tech says there is no evidence of this. Tech says they are investigating the matter.
The United Steelworkers union has reached an agreement with Shell that could soon lead to the end of a six-week strike that has affected 12 U.S. refineries, including two in Louisiana.
The union and Royal Dutch Shell have been negotiating a contract that would serve as a blueprint for agreements with other refiners.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating a school bus crash and a driver that is suspected of being under the influence when the accident took place. They say no there were no major injuries of students on the bus. The driver, 50-year-old John Harvey Bernard, was issued a careless operation citation and is still under investigation pending results from a blood alcohol test.
Governor Bobby Jindal announces legislation will once again be brought up this session that would protect sexual assault victims and ensure that they are not charged by hospitals for medical services associated with assault claims. The Stand and Support Survivors Bill is sponsored by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno.
A new Centers for Disease Control study shows that two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer in the US survive five years or more. The cancer survivor estimates are based on cases of invasive cancers reported during 2011. Associate Dean for Research at LSU’s School of Public Health, Ed Trapido, says these numbers show a remarkable amount of progress.
Among the most common types of cancer, the study reports a five-year-survival rate of 97-percent for prostate cancer and 88-percent for breast cancer.
The New Orleans Saints did another trade Thursday to clear some salary cap room, saving the team $3.6 million. Two time Pro-Bowler guard Ben Grubbs was traded to Kansas City in exchange for a 5th round pick. The move allowed the Black and Gold to sign cornerback Brandon Browner from the New England Patriots.
According to a new research by the LSU economics department, LSU is the number 32 most disliked team in the country. LSU is behind some other SEC schools-Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The most disliked team in the nation is Boise State.
The LSU Tigers begin SEC play tonight against Ole Miss as the number one ranked team in the country according to Baseball America. Coach Paul Mainieri says his team earned that number one ranking, by playing solid baseball. Jared Poche will be tonight’s starting pitcher.
The investigation continues today in the Army helicopter crash that killed all 11 servicemen on board during a training mission Tuesday night in the Florida Panhandle. Of the 11, four were Louisiana National Guard soldiers based out of Hammond. David Strother Of Pineville was one of four Louisiana National Guardsmen serving as crew members. The other seven servicemen were Marines based out of Fort LaJeune in North Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Walt Green announced yesterday a licensed clinical social worker has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for her role in a health care fraud scheme involving two companies that operated in the Alexandria area. 50 year old Carla Clark of Pineville, also was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson to pay more than $413,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
State Police announce that during a crackdown of insurance fraud throughout Louisiana, several arrests have been made of people who have tried to abuse the system various ways. LSP Spokesman Dustin Dwight says insurance fraud is a problem that affects all citizens here who pay some of the highest premiums in the country. This latest round of arrests include people who are accused of faking car accidents, filing fraudulent medical bills from injuries they’ve claimed to have received in vehicle crashes.
Work is progressing on several million dollars of improvements to pave the way for construction of a Cool Planet Energy Systems plant at the Port of Alexandria. The larger portion of the improvements began a few weeks ago, though rain has robbed contractors of many of those days. The $6.4 million project includes construction of roads, fire-suppressant equipment and an operations center for the plant, which will manufacture gasoline and agriculture-boosting biochar out of wood chips. On Wednesday, the port’s board of commissioners approved advertising for an additional $1.8 million in infrastructure improvements related to the project.
An autopsy performed on the US Deputy Marshal who was fatally injured Tuesday as a result of a shoot-out with a suspect, died because of a shot to the neck. Twenty-seven year-old Josie Wells was serving a warrant for a double homicide suspect in Scotlandville when he was shot. The suspect, Jamie Croom, succumbed to his injuries Yesterday. Wells leaves behind a wife and a baby on the way.
Payscale-dot-com ranks Louisiana Tech number one in the state in overall Return of Investment for both in-state and out-of-state students. University spokesman Dave Guerin says this is a great accomplishment and it shows Louisiana Tech provides students with marketable skills to go into a company and make an impact. This is the second straight year that Tech has received the top ranking in Louisiana.
State Treasurer John Kennedy wants the Jindal administration to rethink the sale of the rest of the state’s tobacco settlement to generate cash to fill a budget hole. Kennedy said yesterday It’s the same bad fiscal policy that’s created the current $1.6 billion “structural deficit” in the state budget. The administration proposes sale of the remaining portion of a 1998 tobacco settlement in order to generate $750 million for spending.
State education officials announced yesterday, while about 320,000 public school students will take Common Core tests starting Monday, they will also face a second round of the exams May 4-8. The second phase, like the questions next week, will focus on what students know about math, reading and writing. Common Core and its assessments have been a hot topic of debate for the past 18 months, and the tests had to overcome a court challenge from Gov. Bobby Jindal before they won final clearance.
The video of a 7-year-old girl’s tearful reaction to New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham getting traded to Seattle, has gone viral. The child, Lexia Woods, was obviously devastated after her mother, Ashley Ann Woods, told her the news with the video camera rolling. Lexia is doing much better today.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in an overnight home invasion in New Iberia, where two male victims inside the home were shot. Sheriff Louis Ackal says the victims were transported to the hospital; the two suspects wore ski masks, and are still at large.
The gas price keeps rising. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.26 up a penny in the past 24 hours.
Louisiana Tech men’s basketball begins play tonight in the Conference USA tonight. The Bulldogs won the regular season title and a conference tournament championship will give them an automatic berth in the Big Dance.
New Louisiana College president Rick Brewer is on the Pineville campus this week even though he doesn’t officially begin until April 7th. Brewer will meet with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools who placed the institution on academic probation. Brewer says he took the job, because he believes the private Baptist College has a great future. Brewer says he plans to turn things around for LC and make it a place students, faculty and alumni can be proud of again. Brewer says it’s time to change the dial at LC and that’s what he plans to do slowly, but surely.
Alexandria police have identified one victim of the Friday wreck that killed two people and injured two others. 18 year old Darius Jones and a 15year-old juvenile both died in the wreck in the 3200 block of North Bolton Avenue. Other sources and a death notice published Sunday in The Town Talk identified the 15-year-old as Kashayla Jones, a freshman at Alexandria Senior High School. The APD reports the wreck still is under investigation. One person died at the scene of the wreck, and three others were taken to local hospitals. The second person died later, according to police. The two other passengers remain hospitalized
Lin Dyess Stewert was appointed Monday by the Police Jury to become registrar of voters on July 1st when the current registrar retires. The unusual twist to the story is, when Joanell Wilson retires, her successor will be the daughter of the man she succeeded. Wilson has worked for registrar’s office since January 1968. She became registrar in July 1988, succeeding B.G. Dyess, Stewart’s father.
In what has all the makings for a TV reality show, it appears the City of Alexandria will appeal a ruling made Monday by the 9 Judicial court having to do with the ongoing squabble between the city and the police jury over the issue of the Rapides parish coliseum parking lot. Judge George Metoyer on Monday ruled against the city of Alexandria when he refused to grant an exception about proper jurisdiction in the case. The city believes that Metoyer doesn’t have the jurisdiction to hear the property dispute between the two public bodies. The Judge, disagrees.
The Kiwanis Club of Pineville is hosting its annual Pancake Day fundraiser from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. today in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The club is offering pancakes, sausage, milk and coffee for $6 per person. Children 5 and under can eat free with an adult meal purchased. Takeout orders are available. Pancake Day raises funds so that the Kiwanis Club of Pineville can support various charitable causes and organizations, including the Key Clubs of Pineville and Tioga high schools.
A state audit looking at the “Road Home” program finds that $939 million was given out to homeowners who did not comply with the rules of the program. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says “Road Home” was set up following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to help homeowners repair and reoccupy their homes. Purpera says it’s possible the federal government will ask the state to return the money that was not used appropriately, but he says the feds also understand the complexity of the program. The audit shows the $939 million in noncompliant funds is just the tip of the iceberg.
A new poll on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican US Senator David Vitter leading with 35% followed by Democratic Amite Representative John Bel Edwards at 33%. The survey by Triumph Campaigns shows Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne third with 15% and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle with 7%. 11% of those polled remain undecided.
Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil has filed a Constitutional Amendment for the 2015 session which would give colleges control of raising their own fees. Foil says currently our state constitution does not allow colleges the autonomy to raise their fees — it has to be approved by two-thirds vote of the members of each house. He says if this constitutional amendment passes, colleges would have the option to raise fees in certain areas as they see fit for the students.
A republican lawmaker describes Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal as “insane” in a letter to supporters. Monroe Representative Jay Morris says the Americans for Tax Reform has okayed the Jindal administration’s plan, but it’s not the best way to handle a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall next fiscal year. Morris says the Americans for Tax Reform, which is an anti-tax group, has said its okay to scale back the inventory tax credit, but they do not approve of capping the state’s film tax credits. Morris says it’s hard to say what the final budget will look like. He suspects there will be a combination of cuts to state government and measures to raise revenue that are supported by the ATR.
Central Casting Louisiana is looking for people with oil rig, merchant marine, and Coast Guard experience to work on the upcoming feature film, “Deepwater Horizon”. Director of Casting, Adam Hochfeld (HOCK-feld), says the movie will tell the story of the rig workers on the platform when the explosion took place back in 2010 and the subsequent rescue of those workers. Those interested can e-mail their information, including work experience, to deepwater-at-centralcasting-dot-com. The film will star Mark Wahlberg.
Trilby Lundberg, who monitors gas prices across the country, says Baton Rouge has the lowest national average gas price in the country at $2.16. Gas-buddy-dot-com’s Gregg Laskoski says Louisiana’s statewide average of $2.24, ranks in the top ten for lowest gas prices in the nation. The lowest statewide average in the country is Wyoming and South Carolina at $2.14 a gallon. Laskoski says gas prices have been rising since the start of February and he expects that trend to continue.
The New Orleans Saints have released linebacker Curtis Lofton. The move saves a reported $9.25 million dollars. Lofton was picked up by the Black and Gold as a free agent in 2012. The NFL salary cap deadline is today. Teams will be able to sign free agents starting at 3pm.
The NFL free-agency period begins today. Teams will be able to sign free agents to their roster beginning at 3PM. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says the Saints will be looking to improve the team on both sides of the ball. He says they need to address a couple of issues going into the 2015 season. Although the Saints are dealing with salary cap issues, Detillier says that won’t stop the team from getting the players they need.
No one is playing better basketball than U-L Lafayette heading into this week’s Sun Belt Tournament in New Orleans. The Ragin Cajuns have won six straight to raise their overall record to 19-and-12. U-L Lafayette will play either U-T Arlington or Texas State in the semi-finals on Friday at Lakefront Arena. The Cajuns won the Sun Belt Tourney and earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament last year.
And now there are three. Rapides Parish Assistant District Attorney Monique Metoyer has been fired. After 23 years on the job, she was told Friday she was no longer needed. Since Phillip Terrell was been sworn in as DA, two other DA’s have lost their jobs, Daphne Robinson, a 19 year veteran and Jerry Deason.
The APD now reports 2 people lost their lives as a result of a single vehicle accident on North Bolton Ave late Friday afternoon. Police also report two other people received moderate to severe injuries in the crash.
A Baton Rouge lawmaker will file a bill for the upcoming legislative session that seeks to let citizens vote on whether or not marijuana should be legal in Louisiana for recreational use. Representative Dalton Honore is also bringing back his medical marijuana bill which failed last year. He says people should be able to vote on the recreational pot law. Recreational marijuana for adult use is legal in Oregon, Washington D.C., Colorado, Alaska and Washington. Honore says he hopes other lawmakers will get on board with letting people decide whether or not marijuana for recreational use should be legal here. The legislative session begins April 13th.
This school year, the Ascension Parish School Board turned the work of hiring substitute teachers to Kelly Educational Staffing, a division of the national employment agency.
The motivation for the School Board was the difficulty, both financially and time-wise, of meeting requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which calls for providing health insurance for employees who work more than 30 hours a week, which substitute teachers sometimes do.
The move is saving the School Board $358,000 a year, with other benefits being the recruitment and training of substitute teachers that Kelly Services provides.
With the beginning of Daylight Saving Time over the weekend, everyone lost an hour of sleep. But State Police says that’s no excuse to drive fatigued. Sgt. Nick Manale says they often see accidents that were caused by sleepy drivers, so if you do feel yourself becoming fatigued while driving, Manale suggests pulling over and getting a breath of fresh air, stepping out of the car, or getting something to drink as ways you can revive yourself. Manale says sleepy driving can be as dangerous as impaired or distracted driving.
Lafayette has been named as one of the top 20 hardest working cities in the US by the personal finance site badcredit-dot-org. Editor Steven Richmond says about 350 cities were ranked on four separate categories for this report, the percentage of population over age 16 in the workforce, average commute times, percentage of households with children, and average number of hours worked each week. He says this list represents some of the busiest, hardest working, and most workaholic populations in the US.
The vote by the board of trustees was unanimous and Rick Brewer is the new president at Louisiana College. Brewer is currently vice president of student affairs and athletics at Charleston (S.C.) Southern University. He succeeds Joe Aguillard, president of the college from January 2005 until the board voted in April of last year to approve an agreement to for his removal. Brewer will take office April 7.
BESE rejects a proposal to waive penalties against schools who have students that opt out from taking the Common Core exam. In a 7-to-4 vote, BESE agreed with Superintendent of Education John White, who says let’s wait and see how many opt outs there are first. A zero score will be given for each student who doesn’t take the test, which could lower a school’s performance score. Before the vote, BESE members heard from frustrated parents and educators who are upset over the new academic standards and the tests tied to them.
A former LSU football tight end for the Tigers 2003 national championship team was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday for his role in shooting up a Port Allen truck stop casino more than three years ago. 32 year old Demetri Robinson pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder in the Sept. 2011, shooting at the Cajun Circus Casino. Robinson shot a cashier then fired shots at two other employees after he was asked to leave the casino.
Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Thursday that he is pushing two pieces of legislation that aim to help veterans and military students earn college degrees in Louisiana. One would establish the “Governor’s Veterans Friendly Campus Designation” for colleges that implement a list of support measures for student veterans. The other bill Jindal’s backing would help streamline the transfer of credits to Louisiana colleges from accredited schools that contract with the Department of Defense to teach on military bases around the world. Both bills will be debated in the upcoming legislative session.
Acadia Parish authorities are searching for a Church Point attorney who is accused of allegedly stealing more than 435 thousand dollars from clients who had hired him as their lawyer. Malcolm Brasseaux is nowhere to be found. Anyone with information is asked to call the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has cited a New Iberia man for allegedly killing a Louisiana Black bear in St. Mary Parish. Agents say 52-year-old Richard Picard Junior was hog hunting and Picard claims he mistakenly identified the black bear as a wild hog. Picard faces hundreds of dollars in fines and possible jail time as well.
Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is planning to hold regular meetings with various stakeholders from across the state during the upcoming legislative session. The new “Commissioner’s Roundtable” initiative has been planned as a way to keep business and industry leaders, faculty, staff and others outside of Baton Rouge engaged in legislative issues related that will impact higher ed throughout the session. Rallo, who took on the job in January, set out on a statewide listening tour earlier this year. He has since met with more than 1,000 people across 45 parishes.
Due to the threat of Icy weather, Schools in Rapides, Grant, LaSalle, Catahoula and Avoyelles parishes are closed today. Catholic schools in Rapides and Avoyelles parishes also will be closed. Also closed LSUA and Central Louisiana Technical Community College. The Alexandria, Jena & Avoyelles campuses and Northwestern State University - Alexandria campus.
Louisiana State Offices are closed in: Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, & Rapides parishes.
The Louisiana College Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting today, at which time they are expected to announce their selection of a new President. Board Chairman Tommy French announced February the 17 that one candidate would appear before the full board at the special meeting. However, members of the board have refused to reveal the name the candidate prior to their vote.
The Country Cares For Kids St. Jude’s Radiothon is today on 100.3 KRRV call 1-800-573-5425 to become a partner in hope.
The APD reports Two juveniles a, 15 and a 16 year old, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kendrick Hayes, who was found early Sunday in the City Park area.. The department has asked Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office that both juveniles be tried as adults.
Sources say the New Orleans Saints have released running back Pierre Thomas from the team. The 30-year-old will save the Black and Gold $1.735 million dollars against the salary cap. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says it’s a heart breaking move, but not really a surprise.
New Orleans needs to continue to move or lay-off some players by March 10th to get below the salary cap.
Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that EPIC Piping would be making a $45.3 million dollar capital investment in Livingston Parish to establish an advanced facility and corporate headquarters. The project is to create 560 new direct jobs with an average daily salary of $56,600 plus benefits.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet today and one of them items on the agenda is the question of what to do about Common Core Opt-Outs. Some families who oppose the education standards have said they won’t let their child take the PARCC test. BESE member Jane Smith seeks to delay consequences for schools who have students who opt out. Smith says students who opt-out of taking the Common Core test won’t be punished but it’s the school that would get a zero for that student towards its performance score.
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and a deputy in Victor White III’s death by White’s mother. White died from a gunshot wound while handcuffed in the backseat of the deputy’s squad car. The Iberia Sheriff’s Department claims White shot himself.
The roller-coaster ride of a season continued for the LSU men’s basketball team on Wednesday night at a most unfortunate time. Facing a team it crushed by 18 points on the road just 2½ weeks earlier, LSU had an opportunity to solidify its spot in the NCAA tournament field on its home floor against Tennessee. However Tennessee rolled to an easy 78-63 victory. LSU will try to rebound on Saturday in the regular-season finale against Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Get ready for a big change in the weather. State climatologist Barry Keim says high temperatures today will be in the 70s and tomorrow they’ll be back in the 30s and 40s as a result of a strong cold front. This front has the potential to produce another round of winter precipitation. Keim says the northern half of the state could see freezing rain during the overnight hours.
Now all we can do is wait and see.. Army officials were in Leesville Tuesday to hear concerns about a potential downsizing that could remove up to 6,500 troops, more than half the personnel at Ft. Polk. At the listening session in Leesville, and concurrent events in Alexandria and Lake Charles, Strong community support was evident. The Army is evaluating ways to reduce its strength by as many as 70,000 troops. Fort Polk is one of 30 bases that is being considered for personnel reductions to achieve that.
The price of gas keeps going up. The state wide average is now $2.22 which is almost a dime more than this time last week. The Energy Department says there is a major increase in crude oil and the US is running out of room to store it. Some say this could mean another huge drop in the price we’re paying for gas at the pump in Louisiana.
Authorities in Vernon Parish report A Pitkin man is facing several charges after he allegedly had sexual contact with a 10-year-old. A complaint was made on Tuesday, and detectives conducted a forensic interview with the victim, who said that Robert L. Fortenberry III had touched her inappropriately. The 37 year old Fortenberry admitted to the incident during the interview with detectives.
The state Department of Revenue announces that tax refunds are now being issued. Spokeswoman Kizzie Payton says there was a slight delay this year due to the increase in fraudulent tax returns across the nation. She says, thus far, over 763,000 tax returns have been filed and about 244,000 have been processed.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry plans to fight Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to repeal the inventory tax credit. Such a move would save the state an estimated $380 million to help the budget crisis. But LABI Vice President, Jim Patterson, says the vast majority of states do not have inventory taxes, so if the refund went away businesses could decide to shift inventories to states that do not have such a tax and those warehouse jobs would be lost.
State Treasurer John Kennedy sees pros and cons to Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal. The governor has proposed scaling back certain tax credits and cut spending in other areas to address a $1.6 billion revenue shortfall. Kennedy says some of the proposed reductions in spending make sense, especially in the area of consulting contracts. Kennedy says the proposed budget looks to reduce 60-percent of the deficit by repealing tax credits and 40-percent by reducing spending. However, Kennedy does question the proposal of closing all health clinics in New Orleans, which will affect about 57,000 people.
Louisiana has built a $1.1 billion medical teaching hospital in New Orleans, but the manager of the soon-to-be-opened University Medical Center says Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget leaves it millions short of the operating cash it needs. Altogether, private operators of the state-owned hospitals previously run by LSU asked for $142 million more than Jindal proposed to spend on them in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nearly $88 million of that was for the hospital in New Orleans, which will shift services from an interim facility to the larger, new hospital this summer.
An early morning fire yesterday claimed the life of a 73-year-old woman in Opelousas. Firefighters responded to a wood frame dwelling around 4am, which they found fully engulfed in flames. The state fire Marshal’s office is still working to determine the cause of the blaze.
A Campti man died Monday after fell to his death after his safety harness became entangled in machinery at the International Paper-Red River. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office reports 42 year old David Long was pronounced dead at the scene.
Shreveport Police Department is investigating a overnight home invasion, where one of the suspects was shot and killed. Corporal Marcus Hines says they believe two men wearing masks, and entered the home with guns. Further evidence indicated there may have been illegal drugs present. Police say there were children inside the home, but they were not injured.
Agents with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control say a Ruston woman is under arrest accused of selling booze out of her personal residence. ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says 21-year-old Bryanna Jackson was taking money for cocktails at her apartment. Hebert says undercover agents went in one evening and were able to purchase two mixed drinks from the suspect. He says they discovered the illegal activity was going on from ads the woman was posting online.
The LSU men’s basketball team plays its final home game of the year tonight as they host the Tennessee Volunteers at six pm in the Maravich Center. These two teams met in Knoxville on Valentine’s Day and it was all LSU as they won by 18 points. LSU has won its last three and they are ten and six in league play.
As the military, once again, looks to reduce the number of troops at the Fort Polk Army base, the Army is holding a meeting tonight to listen to concerns about the potential effects a troop reduction could have on the area. Fort Polk Progress Chairman, Michael Reese, says the listening session is the final event in their evaluation process. He says they will host three events in Leesville, Lake Charles, and here in Alexandria. The listening sessions begin at 6 p.m., though people are encouraged to arrive early. The Alexandria session is at Alexandria Convention Hall (in City Hall). The military is considering troop reductions at 30 bases nationwide.
The RPSO reports an Alexandria man was killed Saturday evening when he was struck by a train while he was walking on railroad tracks in the Wardville area of Pineville The train was traveling north on the tracks between Louisiana College and the creosote plant when a pedestrian was spotted in the middle of the tracks. The engineer told deputies he sounded the horn and applied the emergency brake, but was unable to stop in time. Killed in the incident was 36 year old Brandon Iles.
It looks like north Louisiana is in for yet another winter weather event Wednesday night into Thursday. Meteorologist Davyon Hill with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says a cold front is moving through late this evening into tomorrow bringing some rain along with it and a massive temperature drop behind it. Hill says this line of a possible wintry mix is from Natchitoches to Monroe and northwest of that. Central Louisiana could get some freezing rain and as you go north the risk for sleet and possibly some snow gets higher.
Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo says Governor Jindal’s proposed budget is about 200-million dollars short of what’s needed to fully fund the state’s public college and universities. Rallo says if the funding situation doesn’t change, campus leaders will have to make some tough decisions. One possible solution is to close college campuses. Another option, the privatization of some public universities.
A straw poll conducted at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference showed Governor Bobby Jindal finishing in 12th place among Republican presidential hopefuls. Jindal received less than one percent of the ballots in that poll. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul won the poll, followed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon will be facing a newly announced challenger in this year’s re-election campaign. Matt Parker, a political newcomer who owns a car repair business in West Monroe announced his candidacy in an email to reporters Monday. Parker claims Donelon is taking campaign contributions from the insurance industry which could mean higher rates for customers.
It was a very close vote, but a New Orleans flood protection board has decided not to abandon their appeal of the dismissal of a lawsuit of coastal erosion. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-east filed the suit in 2013, seeking damages from oil and gas companies who built pipelines they contend caused the loss of coastal wetlands that were vital for hurricane protection.
Slidell Police has arrested a Baton Rouge man after he threw his 17 month-old baby daughter to the ground while fleeing officers during a shoplifting attempt. Twenty-four year-old Lamar Causey is facing numerous charges. Fortunately, the little girl had only minor injuries.
LSU sophomore guard Tim Quarterman is the SEC player of the week. Quarterman had a triple-double on over the weekend, the first one in LSU’s history since Shaquille O’ Neal did it in 1992.
LSU and its former defensive coordinator John Chavis are in a legal battle. The two sides filed lawsuits against each other. LSU claims Chavis owes a 400-thousand dollar contractual buyout for accepting a job with Texas A-and-M. Legal analyst Tim Meche says where the case will be heard, Texas or Baton Rouge, needs to be settled first. Chavis filed the first lawsuit in Texas, claiming he took the proper steps when he left LSU. LSU counter sued, seeking to dismiss Chavis’ suit and have the case heard in Baton Rouge.
APD detectives are investigating a homicide that occurred in the city over the weekend. Police found the body of 21 year old Kendrick Hayes of Alexandria about 2:45 a.m. Sunday after responding to a report of an unconscious male in the vicinity of City Park off of Masonic Drive. The death is being treated as a homicide. An autopsy is pending.
If at first you don’t succeed, try 86 more times. The APD reports an Alexandria man was arrested last week on a charge of attempted simple burglary and booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. While that is not unusual in and of itself, this arrest was the 87 arrest for 54 year old Jessie Swafford. At the time of the arrest, Swafford was out on bond in connection with a November felony theft charge, which is pending in 9th Judicial District Court.
The Jindal administration presented a proposed budget Friday that provides a starting point on how to prevent drastic cuts to health care and higher education, despite a one-point-six billion revenue shortfalll for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says they want lawmakers to scale back a dozen refundable tax credits which would save the state 526-million dollars. Even with a cap on certain tax credits, the cut in the proposed budget to higher ed is 211-million dollars. The potential drop in funding for health care services is 235-million dollars according to the proposed budget.
Republican gubernatorial candidate, US Senator David Vitter, is getting the endorsement of an ex-president. The Vitter campaign sent an e-mail to supporters announcing the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush. In his endorsement, Bush describes Vitter as an effective, conservative leader and urges people to contribute to his campaign. Vitter is the front runner in this year’s governor’s race, ahead of Republicans Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Democratic state Representative John Bel Edwards.
As the Louisiana filmed blockbuster “Focus” opened over the weekend, a group of lawmakers are looking at ways to improve the state’s film tax credits. Some have argued that the movie credits here are corrupt and too generous. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell, who is working on reform legislation, says he fully supports the program but it has major issues. Economic impact numbers revealed Focus filmed here for 43 days and spent over $8.3 million on local labor at in-state businesses and on location.
In two weeks, students will take Common Core exams and a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that will prohibit penalties if a student decided to opt out of the testing. Abbeville Representative Bob Hensgens’ bill would protect students, schools, and school systems from non-participation penalties. He says there is no law that levies penalties for not taking the tests, but that’s not what he’s hearing from school districts. Education Superintendent John White says they will address opt-outs when they see how many students actually opt-out of the exams.
The Jindal administration has said they are willing to scale back 526-million dollars in tax credits for businesses. As a way to help reduce cuts to higher education, The Jindal administration proposes higher fees to attend public college, but provides a tax credit to offset those costs, which would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax. The governor has highlighted 12 tax credits that could become non-refundable which would give the state more money to spend.
NBC’s hit show “The Voice” begins its second week of the new season tonight and Louisiana already has ties to three contestants who made it through the blind auditions. 22-year-old Rob Taylor, who was raised in Baton Rouge and now lives in Donaldsonville, gets to move on to the battle rounds which take place next month. Also vying to win a recording contract this season is Tonya Boyd-Cannon who’s from Jackson, Mississippi but currently lives in Chalmette. And Meghan Linsey who’s from The Big Easy but currently lives in Nashville.
A state Attorney General’s Office investigation has lead to the arrest of a former St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s deputy on multiple charges. They say 39-year-old Michael Barber of Breaux Bridge was booked into the St. Martin Parish jail on counts of malfeasance in office, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and attempted production of child pornography. Barber was a school resource officer at St. Martinville High.
The New Orleans Police Department has arrested a 13-year-old boy accused of raping three relatives on several occasions. They say the incidents happened over the last two years. The alleged victims include two girls, ages 13 and 11, and a 7-year-old boy.
In Baton Rouge, an eighth-grader is being hailed a hero after he quickly stopped a moving school bus after the driver was punched unconscious by another student. 14-year-old Tay’veon Slaughter quickly stopped the bus, preventing it from crashing, and called authorities after the bus driver was unresponsive. The 15-year-old alleged attacker was arrested and booked on numerous charges including second degree battery.
ULM officials will break ground today on a new end zone building at Malone Stadium. It’s the first new athletic facility built on campus in 1983 and it will feature a new locker room, a Hall of Fame area and new coaches’ offices. Coach Todd Berry says the project has been a long time coming for the program
Rapides schools Superintendent Nason "Tony" Authement announced schools are closed Monday and Tuesday due to predictions of freezing temperatures, rain and ice accumulation on roads. The Diocese of Alexandria has canceled school for Monday, which affects Holy Savior Menard Central High School, Our Lady of Prompt Succor School and St. Frances Cabrini Elementary in Rapides Parish and St. Joseph School in Plaucheville. Schools in Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches and Vernon parishes are closed Monday with decisions pending for Tuesday.
Also closed today all state offices in Central and North Louisiana. Louisiana State University and University Academy, Louisiana College in Pineville and all campuses of Northwestern State University are closed Monday.
Major economic news for Central Louisiana was announced Friday as local and state officials made it official that American Specialty Alloys plans to develop a $2.4 billion aluminum mill at the site of the former International Paper mill in Pineville. The plant, which will provide strong, lightweight metal for the automotive and aerospace industries, will create 1,450 new permanent jobs, including 850 direct ASA employees and 600 employees of corporate partners that will perform additional manufacturing and logistics functions on the mill campus. In addition, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project would result in 2,600 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 4,000 new jobs in Central Louisiana. ASA expects to break ground later this year, with a targeted completion date of all facilities in 2020. ASA estimates development of the aluminum mill will generate 2,000 construction jobs.
In the end it really was no race at all.. Jeff Hall won a landslide victory Saturday in a special election for the House District 26 seat. Hall, a retired Cleco executive, had 3,361 votes or 84.07 percent to defeat two other candidates, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
Daniel Williams, Alexandria's Community Services director, was second with 457 votes or 11.43 percent. Alice "Red" Hammond, a retired Air Force captain, had 180 votes or 4.5 percent
Alcohol is suspected in a traffic accident that claimed the life of one teen and left another in serious condition. The victim was identified by police as 18 year old Abigail Welch of Deridder. Welch was a passenger in a pickup driven by 19 year old Blake Shell of Singer, who was partially ejected, according to police. Neither teen was wearing a seatbelt.
The legislature’s joint budget committee approved a 103-million dollar cut to this fiscal year’s budget. But there were several complaints on how the cuts were handed down. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith expressed her frustration that the governor’s office only received a ten-thousand dollar cut in funding. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols pushed lawmakers to approve the governor’s plan, because if any proposed cuts are re-stored, it will lead to deeper cuts next fiscal year.
Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is the first 2015 gubernatorial candidate to begin advertising on television. LaPolitics.com’s Jeremy Alford says the commercials are part of the $200,000 buy. Alford says there are three commercials in rotation feature Angelle’s “Workhorse Not a Showhorse” line and in one of the ads he speaks in Cajun French. Alford says now we can expect to see gubernatorial ads non-stop between now and the fall, not only from candidates but also from super PACS.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon encourages taxpayers to file for an insurance rebate available to any person who pays for a homeowners, renters or business property insurance policy. Donelon says eligible taxpayers should check the box on their returns for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Assessment rebate. Donelon says if you have questions, go to the insurance department’s website or call his office.
A group of LSU students believe the legislature should approve a constitutional amendment that protects higher education from budget cuts. Higher ed and health care are not protected and they will likely take the brunt of next fiscal year’s budget cuts. So far the group has gathered over one-thousand signatures of LSU students.
It was another great weekend for Tiger Baseball. LSU rolled up 21 hits in 16-2 win over Boston College Saturday to sweep the series. This is the second sweep in as many weekends.
In a recent CBS News Poll, 67-percent of Republican respondents said they did not know enough about Governor Bobby Jindal to consider him for the Republican presidential nomination. The poll found that 18-percent of respondents would consider Jindal.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office announced the arrests of 19 people yesterday. According to Avoyelles parish sheriff Doug Anderson the operation was "part of an ongoing investigation targeting drug trafficking.
Tomorrow is election day in Rapides parish. Voters will choose from among three Alexandria Democrats on Saturday in a special election to fill the vacant House District 26 seat. The candidates are Jeff Hall, a retired Cleco executive; Alice “Red” Hammond, a retired Air Force captain; and Daniel Williams, Alexandria’s director of Community Services. The winner will fill the remainder of Herbert Dixon’s legislative term, which ends next January. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Saturday. The House District 26 race is the only election taking place Saturday in Rapides Parish.
The city just wants assurance the project will be completed. That was the response from Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy when asked about the ongoing dispute between the city and Rapides Parish Police Jury over the Rapides Parish Coliseum and the adjacent parking lot. The mayor addressing the Exchange club, went on to say the city is not holding up the process on the renovation project or the sale of the parking lot to the jury.
Former Governor Edwin says he done with politics, and now he’s talking about a career as a real estate broker. As a convicted felon, a majority of the Real Estate Commission members must approve Edwards’ application before he is tested for his license. The 86 year-old Edwards says he wants to work with friends to develop property along the I-10, 1-12 corridor.
A Kenner woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Saints linebacker Junior Gallette, claiming he was physically and emotionally abusive to her during their 2-year relationship. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this is not good for Gallette or the Saints. Sunseri says the results of the investigation could also determine if Gallette violated the NFL’s new Domestic Abuse Policy. The lawsuit also claims that other members of the team groped her while she was drugged.
The former pastor of President Barack Obama, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, spoke to students at Southern University on Thursday telling the audience that you shouldn’t seek help from the government but instead from the Lord. Wright says for too many years, blacks have looked to government for help and that’s the wrong place. Wright was Barack Obama’s minister until 2008 when controversial comments surfaced from a sermon he gave in 2003. Wright didn’t mention Mr. Obama during his speech, but defended his work as President.
The case of the man who was convicted of literally scaring a Lafayette woman to death after he broke into her home, then had the ruling overturned, will be reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. A jury found 40-year-old Willie Robertson guilty in 2013 of causing 86-year-old Irene Schoofs heart attack which killed her. The woman died in 1999 but the case wasn’t prosecuted until 13 years later.
The APD Reports, Homicide suspects, Mark Hayes and Melissa Hayes are in custody. U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force and APD Detectives learned that the suspects were returning to the Alexandria area. Both were arrested, without incident Wednesday afternoon. The two were booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. The brother and sister are key suspects in a double homicide in the city last Friday.
The US Department of Health and Human Services says over 184,000 people in Louisiana are signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. That is a growth of 82 thousand state-wide over last year. Nationwide that number is about 11.4 million Americans. These numbers are as of February 15th which was the deadline to sign up this year.
Louisiana taxpayers who quickly filed their state taxes and are eagerly waiting for their tax refunds will have to keep waiting. The state Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that it won’t start issuing refunds until the week of March 2. The department said it was taking “extra precautions to verify the filings” because of concerns about fraudulent tax returns that had been discovered around the country. Nearly 665,000 electronic returns have been filed with the state since Jan. 20, with no refunds issued so far.
The Secretary of State’s Office is bracing for a $930 thousand dollar mid-year budget reduction. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this one is the largest to hit historical sites. He says there will be dozens of layoffs, and hours of operation reductions are planned, as many museums and the Old State Capitol cut back.
A survey of Louisiana teachers finds 78-percent of them believe state-required standardized tests takes too much time away from classroom instruction. Louisiana Association of Educators president Debbie Meaux says teachers believe there’s an overemphasis on standardized testing in state’s school accountability system .Meaux believes students should only be required to take standardized tests once in elementary school, then again in middle school and one more time on the high school level. She says annual testing does not give teachers enough time to teach the concepts for mastery. Meaux says current amount of standardized tests is also driving younger teachers away.
Tom Benson intends to appeal a San Antonio court’s decision to oust him as steward of a Texas trust set up for his now-estranged daughter. Attorneys for the owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans have filed a notice of appeal with the Bexar County Probate Court in San Antonio. The notice does not give a specific reason for the appeal, which will be filed with the Texas 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio.
According to the latest campaign finance reports, U.S. Sen. David Vitter has more campaign funds than that of his fellow Republican governor’s race opponents combined. Vitter reported $3.5 million in cash on hand when 2015 began compared to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne at $1.55 million and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle at $1.43 million. Lagging behind is Democratic contender state Rep. John Bel Edwards who said he’s raised “over $1 million … since he first announced his candidacy.
A year after Congress amended the National Flood Insurance Program to prevent south Louisiana homeowners from getting hit with huge premium hikes, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is warning again about proposed changes to the program. Last month, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to the program, which would take into account projected sea level rises when determining the risk of future flooding for federal buildings. Cassidy says his concern is it could influence the bond market and other activities and that could come in a back-end way to influence the private market.
The State Department of Ag and Forestry says the severe insect pest Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB) has been detected in Louisiana. Commissioner Mike Strain says this pest attacks ash trees and has been confirmed in Webster Parish making Louisiana the 25th state to report the presence of this beetle. He says the EAB could be devastating to the trees. Strain says one of their biggest concerns with the EAB is that there is no effective eradication method.
New federal guidelines for an increase in guest worker wages could be hitting crawfish lovers in the pocketbook. Louisiana’s crawfish industry depends heavily on guest workers to perform jobs they cannot fill locally, and processors say the five dollar an hour raise to 12.35 an hour will result in a $3 per pound increase in the price of tail meat.
Alexandria police have issued warrants for a brother and sister in connection to Friday's double homicide. 29 year old Mark Hayes and 24 year old Melissa Hayes are considered armed and dangerous and are believed to be in the New Orleans area. The Alexandria victims, 25-year-old Richard Prenell and 18-year-old Kiasha Clovis, were found Friday afternoon in a 21st street apartment complex.
According to the Towntalk, Louisiana College's search for a permanent president to succeed Joe Aguillard might be nearing the end. The Rev. Tommy French, chairman of the LC Board of Trustees, has called a special meeting of the board for March 5 to "vet and vote on a candidate as president of the college. The private Baptist college in Pineville has conducted its search in secret. LC officials are not disclosing the name the candidate who will appear before the board.
Army officials announced Tuesday Fort Polk will gain an additional 700 soldiers as the Army realigns its brigade combat teams. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, will be deactivated next week but the soldiers in the unit will be remain at Fort Polk. The 4th BCT, with the additional 700 troops, will become the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in a reflagging ceremony on Feb. 24. The base could still face a cut of up to 6500 soldiers later this year.
Four people are facing charges in an early morning shooting Tuesday after a concert at the VFW on 3rd street in Alexandria. Police say four people were injured, two of whom required surgery. Detectives worked through the night, interviewing witnesses and serving search warrants. Several weapons were seized during the searches
A report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education shows the black male high school graduation rates in Louisiana trails whites’ by 16 points. For the 2012-13 school year, only 53-percent of black male students graduated compared to 69-percent of white males. Foundation President John Jackson says these numbers are reason for concern. He says the results of this study indicate a climate that doesn’t foster health living and learning environments for black males.
As people across the state head to their local places of worship to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, a Shreveport church is offering ashes to go. Christ United Methodist Church will offer “Drive By Ashes” to accommodate those who’s schedules won’t allow them to make their full church service. Associate Pastor Kelly Berne says this is an event has done well. The church began offering this service in 2011 and Berne expects over 100 people drive through today.
Today is the start of the Lenton season and many people will be totally giving up meat for the next 40 days or at least eating seafood only on Fridays. Gulf Seafood Institute chairman Harlon Pearce says the warmer things get, the better the supply will be of our Louisiana favorites. Pearce says fish is in excellent supply right now and this is the time of year that oysters are at their best
State Police say a third person has died from Monday’s truck versus train collision in DeSoto Parish. Trooper Matt Harris says the driver and the two passengers in the truck were the ones killed in the wreck. Harris says truck attempted to cross over a set of tracks that didn’t have a warning gate or lights. Harris says they believe the driver stopped, but began moving forward when it was already too late and they were hit.
Union Parish authorities have arrested a 23-year-old mother who allegedly left her eight-month-old son on his grandfather’s droop step wrapped in a blanket and in a car seat. Detectives say Keondra Ferguson left the child there, because she was depressed and there was no one to help her. Deputies believe the child was outside in mid-30 temperatures for an hour and a half. Ferguson was charged with child abandonment and the father is now taking care of the baby.
In Acadiana, several phone bomb threats were received on Fat Tuesday. The first two were called into the Walmart in Crowley, and Rayne Police are investigating another one made to a Pharmacy. Several law enforcement agencies are working together to find the person or persons responsible.
Abita Brewing Company announces their craft-brewed root beer is now available in cans. Abita President David Blossman says ever since they launched Abita beer in cans, people have been asking for their root beer to be in cans. Blossman says it’s the same great old-fashioned root beer they’ve been making for years, but now you can get it in portable, recyclable 12-pack aluminum cans. He says their root beer is unique in that it’s made with pure Louisiana cane sugar.
It’s the one that got away from the LSU football, as Calvary Baptist 5 star quarterback Shea Patterson from Shreveport announces he will be going across the border to play for the Ole Miss Rebels next year. For the last two seasons, Patterson threw for over 5 thousand yards, 72 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions.
The fourth ranked LSU baseball team looks to improve to 4-0 tonight when they host Nicholls State at 6:30. Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says Freshman right-hander Doug Norman will start on the mound for the Tigers, while the Colonels will counter with a senior. Mainieri says tonight’s game should be a good challenge for his team.
Now that a strong cold front has moved through, Canadian air has settled over Louisiana leaving us with another chilly Mardi Gras day. State Climatologist Barry Keim says southeast Louisiana should brace for temperatures today in the upper 30s this morning, then high temperatures this afternoon only in the upper 40s. Keim says if you’re headed to parades today anywhere in the state, make sure you bring a lot heavy coats, gloves and blankets.
The investigation continued yesterday into a Sunday night house fire in Pineville. Police Chief Eddie Laborde say when firefighters arrived shortly before 9:30 Sunday evening the home on Wildwood Drive was totally engulfed in flames. Although the home was badly damaged, the good news is, no one was injured.
The APD has released the names of two people who were found dead Friday in an Alexandria apartment complex on 21st Street. Alexandria police identified the pair as 25 year old Richard Prenell and 18 year old Kiasha Clovis, both of Alexandria. No other information has been released by the police who reported Friday the deaths were not from natural causes..
Louisiana State Police has increased their numbers in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and they’re making their presence known. Over 150 additional troopers are patrolling the French Quarter and the metro area, and so far, troopers have made over 140 arrests.
The question over which city “started” Mardi Gras, New Orleans or Mobile, Alabama, is coming up again this Fat Tuesday. Mobile Mayor Sandy Simpson is bragging that the Alabama destination is where the pre-Lenten celebrations originally began in the United States. The Big Easy Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy says the first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade was held in 1857, Mobile’s parades on Fat Tuesday did not begin until 1868 after the Civil War.
Hardy says the style of parade, floats and costumes and masks, did in fact start in Mobile, but they didn’t roll on Mardi Gras day until 11 years after New Orleans did.
IBM technology announces plans for a 400-job application development and innovation center in Monroe. Officials say IBM will provide software technology services to clients across the nation and partner with CenturyLink on research and product innovation initiatives. Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says this is huge for Northeast Louisiana. Mayo says this announcement is in addition to the 800+ jobs coming to the CenturyLink technology center which will open in March.
State Police say two people have died in a crash involving a truck and a train in DeSoto Parish. They say the vehicle was hit by the train and a third person is critically injured at the University Health Center in Shreveport. It is not known why the truck was on the tracks but the investigation is ongoing.
The LSU men’s basketball team is at Texas A-and-M looking to pick up another win on the road tonight.
It was a great day for a parade as thousands showed up yesterday for the 22nd Alexandria Mardi Gras Association’s Krewe Parade. The annual event wrapped up parade season in the Alexandria area. It was the 10th year for the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band to participate in the parade. Parade activities continue today and tomorrow across the state.
No new information yet in the case of two people, a male and a female, who were found dead Friday afternoon in an apartment building in the 700 block of 21st Street in Alexandria’s garden district. The APD is treating the case as a homicide. The identity, ages and cause of death are unavailable at this time, as the investigation is in its early stages.
It appears the peak of the flu season is behind us, but health officials say we can’t let our guard down. Doctor Frank Welch, with the state department of health and hospitals, says during the height of the flu season, over 500-thousand Louisiana residents were hit with the flu. He says the elderly have been hit especially hard this season.
Law enforcement are patrolling throughout the Mardi Gras holiday to discourage impaired driving and help reduce the number of crashes on Louisiana roadways. State Police spokeswoman, Melissa Matey, says if you’re going to partake in Carnival revelry, do it responsibly and have a designated driver. During last year’s five-day Mardi Gras holiday, there were 599 crashes which resulted in 13 deaths statewide. Over half of those deaths involved alcohol.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a New Orleans area levee board that claimed dozens of oil and gas companies should pay damages for destroying Louisiana’s coast. Judge Nannette Brown ruled that federal and state laws are not set up so that the levee authority could successfully file a suit against the energy industry.
Louisiana’s Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the mid-year budget cuts handed down by Governor Bobby Jindal are just not fair. He says most of the larger cuts hit departments managed by elected officials. The Department of Ag received mid-year cuts equivalent to $2.6 million dollars, while the governor’s office had a ten-thousand dollar cut to its budget. The Jindal administration is defending the way the cuts were handed down.
A Shreveport police officer has been arrested after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female in his office. The victim was at the police station so she can discuss with detectives harassing phone calls she received. The officer arrested has on the force for 15 years.
So far, The Louisiana Office of Alcohol And Tobacco Control says they’ve conducted over 600 alcohol and tobacco compliance checks across the state since February 2nd, finding 83 violations of business selling to underage customers. The A-T-C says they are continuing those checks throughout Mardi Gras
A Walker man is under arrest, accused of secretly recording himself having sex with his girlfriend, then posting it on social media after the couple broke up. Thirty-year-old Robert Howard reportedly had an argument with his girlfriend, when she told him to leave her apartment. Shortly after, she noticed that Howard posted to sex video to Facebook. Howard was arrested on charges of video voyeurism.
CC’s and Raising Cane’s, two prominent Louisiana-born businesses, made the 2014 Top 10 Excellent Fast-Food Chains list. The California based research firm Sandelman & Associates ranked Raising Cane’s number four and CC’s Coffee House number six in the Quick-Track Awards of Excellence for quick service chains.
The Bossier Sheriff’s Office is trying to figure out who is creating elaborate websites for schools purporting to be in the parish — but that actually don’t exist. Lt. Bill Davis says there are three websites with pictures of people, biographies of principals and teachers, enrollment information for schools listing Bossier City addresses. Davis says they are working with the Louisiana Department of Education to see if the people behind the sites are trying to defraud the federal government or the state via grant dollars.
Thursday Governor Bobby Jindal announced Metal plate Galvanizing will make a $9.7 million dollar capital investment to develop a plant in Jennings. The facility is expected to span 50,000 square feet and create 104 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $46,300 plus benefits.
State Police arrest two drug traffickers in Alexandria that were preparing to sell drugs to Mardi Gras revelers. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says authorities were alerted to suspicious activity of an aircraft at Alexandria International Airport. He says during their investigation, a K-9 alerted officers of possible drugs on the aircraft and a search began. He says troopers seized over 34 pounds of marijuana and over 550 grams of hashish. 37-year-old George Marshall of Gulf Shores, AL and 40-year-old John Marshall of Grass Valley, CA were taken into custody.
The Central Louisiana Technical and Community College is eliminating 24 positions and cutting two programs at the Leesville campus to make up a $1.3 million structural deficit across its seven campuses. Most of the cuts will take effect March 1, while some will come at the end of the semester.
A member of the “Angola 3″ is indicted for a third time in the 1972 murder of an Angola prison guard. Albert Woodfox’s case went before a West Feliciana Parish grand jury, because a federal appeals court overturned his last conviction on grand jury selection issues.
The National Highway Safety Administration reports that fewer drunk drivers are on the road, but drug use while driving is rising. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Col. John Leblanc says there have been an exceptional number of Louisiana drivers found to be under the influence of drugs. He says synthetic drugs have become a particularly bad problem and warns motorists that driving under the influence of narcotics is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
In the latest round of midyear budget cuts, Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking a deeper carving knife to the spending of his fellow statewide elected officials than to most agencies under his control, including his own office. The governor's office will come through the $61 million in slashing largely unscathed, taking a reduction of $10,000 — less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its budget. Departments overseen by the lieutenant governor, treasurer, insurance commissioner and agriculture commissioner are slated to take hits of 3 to 4 percent, more than nearly all departments managed by Jindal's cabinet secretaries. Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said the offices controlled by Louisiana's elected officials, excluding the governor, comprise less than 1 percent of the $25 billion state budget. But they're in line for 16 percent of the midyear budget cuts recommended by the governor.
Port Barre Police have arrested a 15 year-old student from Port Barre High School who threatened to use a gun on the school principal. Police Chief Deon Boudreaux says the teen had a bullet and a fake gun in his possession but, he thought it was the real deal. The student remains in police custody. They are hopeful the teenager can get some counseling help.
Next Wednesday is the deadline for the candidates for running governor to report by how much they raised during 2014. It’s expected Republican Senator David Vitter will report the most at around four-million dollars, and Lt Governor Jay Dardenne says he’s raised about half of that.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has fallen behind chief opponent Jeff Landry in fundraising for this fall’s election. Both Republican candidates in the Oct. 24 election filed their campaign finance report this week with the Board of Ethics. Landry, a former congressman, has more than three times the campaign cash reported by Caldwell. Caldwell’s report shows him ending the year with $302,000 in the bank. Landry reported having more than $1 million in his campaign account.
The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act comes to an end Sunday. Kara James, with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, says this year’s enrollment figures are a nearly 55-percent increase from last year. She says there have been several improvements to the HealthCare-dot-gov website to make it easier and faster for people to enroll. Although premiums in the marketplace have risen since last year’s open enrollment, James says financial assistance is available that can help many lower their monthly payment. She says nine out of ten Louisianians, who have selected coverage, were determined eligible for assistance to lower their monthly premium.
The price at the pump in Louisiana jumped another 2 cents overnight. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.08 according to the American Automobile Association.
Officials in New Orleans want people who are heading to The Big Easy for Mardi Gras over the next few days to know that the city is safer than ever. Convention and Visitors Bureau President Stephen Perry says State Police is bringing in 150 extra troopers into the city to help keep the Carnival crowd under control. Perry says they are trying to spread the word that Mardi Gras season is typically one of the most protected times of the year in New Orleans.
Perry says with the increased presence of state police combining forces with the NOPD, they are expecting this to be one of the safest Mardi Gras season’s in history.
The 2015 college baseball season begins tonight with the second ranked LSU Tigers hosting the Kansas Jayhawks at Alex Box Stadium. Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman believes this team has what it takes to get back to the College World Series.
Governor Bobby Jindal proposes reducing the size of tax credits in cases where a company or individual receives more money from the state than they owe as a way to balance next fiscal year’s budget. Jindal says two of his cabinet secretaries are looking at how this could help the state’s fiscal situation. The state faces a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall for next fiscal year. Jindal’s commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, will present a proposed spending plan to lawmakers on February 27th and despite this huge deficit, Jindal says increasing taxes are off the table.
The voice of the LSU Tigers, Jim Hawthorne, has announced he will retire next year. Hawthorne has been calling LSU sporting events for 35 years and plans to hang up the headphones and microphone following the 2015-16 basketball season. During his career, he’s been on the mic for LSU’s three Final four appearances, two national titles in football and all six of LSU’s national championships in baseball.
Unless you bought your Powerball ticket in North Carolina, Porto Rico or Texas, you didn’t win the big jackpot. The $564 million will be split 3 ways.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says a three year old child is dead after she accidentally shot herself with one of the family’s guns. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the father was cleaning his guns and suddenly had to leave for work. He says the dad called the mom and told her to put the guns away when she got home, but it was too late. No charges have been filed at this time.
The American Automobile Association says the price of gas in Louisiana is shooting up faster than the national average, but that’s because the pump price here was so low to begin with. We’re up 2 cents from yesterday to $2.06 according to AAA.
Planned Parenthood has filed an appeal regarding a Department of Health and Hospitals decision denying the group permission to perform abortions at a new facility currently under construction in New Orleans. Senior Counsel, Roger Evans, says the basis of the appeal is that DHH offered no basis in denying the application. The group says they currently see about 8,000 patients at their current health center in New Orleans. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says the organization did not meet the Facility Need Requirements specified by the state and their application was denied. A decision from an administrative law judge is expected in 4 to 7 months.
States in the south are snatching up more tickets than ever for the February 14th release of the movie “50 Shades of Grey” compared to the rest of the nation. According to Fandango, Louisiana and Alabama are buying twice as many pre-sale tickets than normal for the film, while Mississippi tops the list at 4 times their usual rate. The movie debuts here in Alexandria tonight. But, only showing late in the evening.
The US House has approved a bill that authorizes construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas. The measure now heads to President Barack Obama, who is expected to veto it over environmental concerns. Supporters say the pipeline would create thousands of jobs, without adding more greenhouse gasses into the air. Opponents say the high pressure pipeline could spring a massive leak and cause irreparable damage the water aquifers below it.
As we approach the February 15th deadline, the US Department of Health and Human Services announces since open enrollment began on November 15th, 157,900 people in Louisiana have selected plans or were re-enrolled through HealthCare.gov. With only three days left, officials are urging uninsured citizens to get signed up for coverage if you haven’t already.
Serious charges are facing a Houma man, after 4 new born puppies were found dead in a home, including one with a severed head. Police Chief Todd Duplantis says the live-in boyfriend of the woman who owned the puppies got into an argument with her, and when she left the residence to calm down, she returned, made the discovery, and called police. Fifty-two year-old Richie Kiffe (KEEF)was arrested on four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
A businessman whose testimony helped put former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in prison has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to fraud related to Nagin’s corruption case. Frank Fradella was sentenced today for making a $50,000 payoff to Nagin in exchange for favorable treatment of his business interests. Nagin is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
Local authorities continue to investigate an armed robbery of an armored vehicle yesterday morning at the highway 28 west Walmart in Alexandria. The APD reports several shots were fired during the robbery, but no one was injured. The robber got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. But, didn’t get far. He was involved in a crash just a short distance from the store and was disarmed and subdued by a retired state trooper, an additional off-duty LSP Trooper, a nearby citizen and an Alexandria Police Officer. The suspect was identified as 57 year old James Gilbert of Deville.
In the ongoing Benson family legal feud, New Orleans Judge Kern Reese has ordered that Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson undergo an examination. Benson will face three exams performed by three different doctors in what is called a standard assessment. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this ruling is not in Benson’s favor. This ruling comes on the heels of a Texas judge’s appointment of two men to oversee the Benson family trust. The standard assessment exams must be completed by March 15. Meche says, because of these recent rulings, Tom Benson is learning it’s not going to be easy to disinherit his heirs.
Tonight’s Powerball jackpot has reached a massive $485 million which is the third largest prize in the game’s history. The lump sum cash value for the drawing is worth $327 million according to Kimberly Chopin with the Louisiana Lottery. She says the odds of winning any prize on Powerball are one in 32, the odds of winning the jackpot are one in 175 million. This jackpot has been growing since November 29th.
Over a dozen Louisiana public school districts have passed resolutions that ask the state not to enforce penalties for students who decide not take to the Common Core standardized tests. Louisiana School Boards Association executive director Scott Richard says as it stands now, school systems will receive a “zero” for every student who opts out. Richard says if a school or school system has a large number of opt-outs, it will result in a lower school performance score or letter grade, as part of the state’s accountability system. Students will take the Common Core exams the week of March 16th. Richard says the uncertainty is not good for anyone.
When the legislative session begins in April, lawmakers will once again discuss whether or not to authorize the use of medical marijuana in Louisiana. Democrat Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore’s measure was defeated in the Senate last year. Honore says he’s bringing it back up due to the results of recent polls on the issue. State associations of sheriffs and district attorneys successfully blocked efforts to pass this legislation last year. Honore says their main concern is that this bill would legalize marijuana for recreational use and that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since 1991 for people with certain conditions. But rules for dispensaries were not set, so no prescriptions have been issued.
Halliburton announces plans to lay-off at least five thousand of its workers as a result of falling oil prices. The Houston-based oil field services company the cuts will impact all areas of Halliburton’s operations.
A big announcement yesterday that a Holiday Inn Express is coming to Pineville, and a new townhouse development may be as well. Pineville officials have been working on the hotel project for two years now, and they expect the company to break ground on the project in two months. The hotel, which will be located on U.S. 165 south of the Kmart, will have 81 rooms.
It has happened again, A 6-year-old girl who had fallen asleep on the way to her first grade class woke up on a parked and empty school bus. It happened yesterday morning in the garden district. A neighbor spotted the child and was able to get her out of the bus safely and contacted the child’s father. The name of the driver of the bus has not been announced. But Rapides parish school officials say the matter has been addressed.
Louisiana gas prices are shooting back up. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.04 up almost 15 cents from this time last week according to AAA.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a woman is in critical condition at a local hospital after they believe she fell out of the back of a truck her estranged husband was driving. 46-year-old Allen Wray and 48-year-old Sherri Wray were sitting on the back of a tailgate, when the husband told his wife to get in the cab. She refused; he drove off, causing her to fall. She’s in very critical condition.
Monroe Police say an officer has been fired because of racially offensive comments he made on social media about the Ferguson Missouri incident in which a black unarmed teen was shot by a white officer. Officials announced Monday that Officer Doug Lambert, who’s been on leave since November, is no longer with the department after an internal investigation. The Chief said the comments are not at all what the department stands for.
What does it mean for Louisiana now that a federal ruling has been issued in Alabama clearing the way for Clerk of Court offices to begin distributing marriage licenses for same sex couples? Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says all eyes right now are on the US Supreme court which is currently considering four cases that will soon be argued. Same sex marriages are against state law in Louisiana and recently federal district judge in New Orleans upheld that prohibition, a ruling which is currently under appeal.
The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Raceland man for his seventh DWI late last night on Highway 1 at a convenience store. Thirty year-old Jessi Joseph III was booked into the Lafourche Parish Detention Center with his first Louisiana DWI offense, to go with his six prior arrests on DUI in California.
Research from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans finds that a psychedelic drug prevents the development of allergic asthma in mice. Lead researcher Dr. Charles Nichols says the next step in their research is to see if the drug has a positive effect on mice who already have asthma. There are over 25 million people in the US known to have asthma.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating KKK fliers that are being left in some neighborhoods in the area. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the fliers have a picture of a hooded man on them and say “You can sleep well tonight knowing the Klan is awake.
Carnline says even though the flier doesn’t contain any threats, they are asking the FBI to investigate because the literature is ending up in the driveways of minorities which could be considered a hate crime.
The public is invited to a forum this evening in Pineville for candidates in the House District 26 race. The forum, sponsored by Pineville Concerned Citizens, is set for 6 to 8 p.m in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The three candidates Jeff Hall, Alice Hammond and Daniel Williams have been invited to participate. Early voting in the House District 26 race continues today through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Rapides Parish Registrar of Voters’ Office in the parish courthouse. The primary election is set for Feb. 21.
Twenty-seven Radio Shack locations in Louisiana are included on the company’s list of 1,750 stores it expects to close by the end of March as the electronics retailer seeks bankruptcy reorganization. The two Alexandria Stores, the North Mall Drive and Alexandria Mall locations are on the closure list.
Sunday night, a single vehicle crash killed a man from Effie. The state police reports the crash occurred around 7:30 p.m., on LA Hwy 1206, near the Deville Cutoff Road. 60 year old Jeffery Parker apparently lost control of his Jeep Wrangler and left the roadway causing the vehicle to overturn. Parker, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected. He was pronounced dead a short time later. The investigation continues.
The Jindal administration’s $3.5 million dollar mid-year budget cut to the state department of Tourism means lay-offs and reduced hours at state parks and museums. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says the size of this cut is disproportionate than what other agencies are experiencing. Dardenne says they’ve had to close three state historic sites and layoff 106 employees. He says no state parks will be closed due to the cut, but they will operate under reduced hours through the rest of the fiscal year. Also, swimming pools at state parks will not be open this year due to the budget cuts.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says efforts by the Republican establishment to conduct a “kinder, gentler” presidential nominating process in 2016 are misguided and designed to stifle conservative candidates. Jindal, who is considering a run for the White House, took aim Monday at the Republican National Committee’s decision to officially sanction no more than a dozen debates among Republican contenders. Jindal trails well behind the front-runners in opinion polls of potential Republican candidates and could be hampered by the RNC’s guidelines.
A 16-year-old is in jail and another dead after a shooting in Sabine Parish. Authorities say the teen suspect is charged with second degree murder for allegedly fatally shooting the victim in the head once. The motive is under investigation but cops believe the two had been arguing at the apartment complex outside of Many.
Sasol announces they’ve selected Louisiana-based construction contractors to begin work on its ethane cracker and derivatives project in Westlake. Spokesman Mike Hayes says these appointments reflect Sasol’s commitment to using Louisiana businesses on the project.
Hayes says construction of the complex will begin soon and they hope to launch commercial production in 2018. They predict the $8.1 billion dollar complex will create about 5,000 construction jobs.
LSU officials are reporting rather unpleasant scenarios, as the threat of state budget cuts are approaching. An internal report details layoffs, hundreds of classes on the chopping block, and academic programs eliminated. The Jindal administration is considering big cuts to higher education for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Governor Bobby Jindal stole a line from the late comedian Richard Pryor when he was asked about a portrait that shows him with a different skin tone. The picture went viral on social media last week. When asked about it in Washington D.C. Jindal said “You mean I’m not white,” which Pryor said in the movie See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Jindal added the controversy surrounding the portrait is silly.
Kenner Police say a Mississippi woman is under arrest for allegedly driving drunk then backing into the police car that pulled her over two times. 46 year-old Debra Lynn white was booked with DWI, reckless operation and aggravated flight from an officer.
Louisiana’s Longest Known Married couple for 2015 has been announced by the Louisiana Family Forum. Executive Director Gene Mills says Lawrence and Varrie Player of Benton celebrated 80 years of marriage last month. He says when they wed, he was 21 and she was 15.
The LSU men’s basketball team has a chance to hand top ranked Kentucky its first loss of the season tonight. The two teams will square off in the Maravich Center at six P-M Kentucky is 23-0 on the season, while LSU is 17-6
The Jindal administration proposes 61-million dollars in cuts to various state agencies and using 43-million dollars in stopgap funds to fill a 103-million dollar revenue shortfall for this fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the cuts will eliminate certain state contracts, plus museums and state parks will be impacted. Nichols says the joint legislative committee on the budget will have its opportunity to approve the governor’s revised budget plan at their meeting on February 20th
After five years of virtual freezes, state aid for public schools is up in the air again, another potential casualty of Louisiana’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall. The aid, which goes through a complex formula called the Minimum Foundation Program, is the lifeblood for a system used by about 720,000 students. Schools are getting $3.6 billion this year, which makes the assistance one of the state’s biggest expenditures. Educators say how schools fare this year is crucial, amid rising costs of retirement, health care and classroom technology.
The $17.7 billion long-term debt of Louisiana’s teacher and state employee pension plans just got larger. Known as “unfunded accrued liabilities,” the UAL for the state’s teachers’ and employees’ retirements has hit the $19.2 billion mark. It represents how far short the systems are from having the assets necessary to pay their long-term pension obligations, a debt for which the state’s taxpayers are ultimately responsible. The systems include more than 240,000 active and retiree members. State officials and legislators are aware of the increased debt but say it’s under control.
A judge in Texas is expected today to officially name the former mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger and estate lawyer Art Bayern as overseers of a trust that benefits Tom Benson’s heirs. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says Judge Tom Rickhoff will likely ask these two individuals to conduct an audit of the trust fund. Millions of dollars are in this trust, which was created for Renee Benson by her mother Shirley Benson, who passed away in 1980. Sunseri says assets inside that trust have been frozen by the courts. The battle over this trust fund is part of the larger feud concerning future ownership of the Saints and Pelicans.
According to a new report by InsuranceQuotes.com, car insurance premiums in Louisiana rise by an average of 30% after a single claim. Senior analysts Laura Adams says that’s the 15th lowest hike in the country. She says while 30% seems high, it falls well below the 41% claim hike which is the national average. Adams says many consumers underestimate the consequences of making claims because they can affect your rate for years.
A new CDC study shows that Americans who live in the southeast, between the ages of 30 and 74, are at a higher risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years than people in other parts of the country. Bruce Johnson, a heart attack survivor and heart health advocate, says the death rate from heart disease in Louisiana is particularly high. He says nearly 250 Louisianians, out of every 100,000 residents, die from cardiovascular disease per year. Among African-Americans, that figure rises to 266. Johnson says, for many, lifestyle changes can lead to better heart health. He says a lot of heart health issues have to do with lack of exercise and diet.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Louisiana has climbed back to over $2.00 a gallon. According to the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of regular in the Bayou State is $2.01. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it was expected that fuel prices would increase as we head into spring. Redman says the price of gas has increased about 10-percent over the last two weeks and he says you can expect to see the price continue to rise in the coming months. But Redman says the US Department of Energy is forecasting that gas prices will remain below $3.00 a gallon this year.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has written a letter to the St. Martinville Police Department regarding an apparent policy stating floats in their Mardi Gras parades can’t play rap music with obscene lyrics. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says people participating in the parade reportedly had agreed to some rules about music along the route that are unclear and not constitutionally enforceable. She says just because the police and the city council don’t like rap music it doesn’t mean they can ban it.
The City of Pineville is gearing up for their first Mardi Gras parade. Eleven floats and several marching bands will make their way down Main Street tonight. Mayor Clarence Field’s Chief of Staff, Rich Dupree, says there are a couple of distinctions that will make Pineville’s parade stand out. First of all this will be one of the few night parades in central Louisiana. Secondly, the parade will cross the Jackson Street bridge into Alexandria and end in time for the “Taste of Mardi Gras” event. The “Light the Night” parade will roll at 5:30PM.
As suspected, A body found by a pond in Eunice on Tuesday has been identified as a missing woman from Elton. Allen Parish authorities say 61-yearold Earthy Maye Griffin was reported missing by her husband Monday morning. She was last seen Sunday in Eunice when she was picked up by a couple from Elton who knew her. Hebert said the couple gave her a ride to a store in Eunice. Investigators say there were no immediate signs of trauma and that Foul play is not suspected. However, the investigation continues.
With 10 days before open enrollment ends, nearly 150,000 Louisianians have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Billy Justice, Director of Marketing for Vantage HealthPlan in Monroe, feels people are getting more knowledgeable about the health care marketplace. With only a week and a half left, Justice encourages people who are in need of health insurance to check out the marketplace. He says the plans come from private insurance companies and there are plenty of options for residents who need to sign up.
The Council for a Better Louisiana says it doesn’t make sense for kids to opt out from taking the assessment tests that are part of the Common Core education standards. CABL president Barry Erwin says the tests measure a student’s progress and that’s important considering the state spends over three billion dollars on public schools. Governor Jindal is calling on BESE to provide an alternate test for children who opt out.
A state appeals court this week declared unconstitutional a 2012 law that gave Louisiana school superintendents wide discretion in firing tenured teachers. The law, part of the state Legislature’s controversial public schools overhaul in 2012, was rewritten last year and no longer includes some of the provisions included in the courts decision. But that decision could bolster the arguments of tenured teachers challenging terminations from July 2012 to June 2014, the time between when the law was passed and when the Legislature tweaked it. It’s unclear how many tenured teachers fired during that time period would be affected by the appeals court ruling.
There’s been a surprise development in the ongoing Benson family feud as a judge in Texas has apparently decided to place a trust set up for Tom’s daughter Renee into the hands of the former San Antonio mayor, Phil Hardberger, and an attorney. Judge Tom Rickhoff is expected to make the official order on Monday. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this is a huge victory for Renee. Meche says now it’ll be up to Hardberger to make the decision on what will happen to some of Benson’s properties and it’s assumed that he won’t do what Tom Benson wanted.
Meche says Tom wanted Renee fired from various boards of companies owned by the trust, but now that probably won’t happen. He says the fact that Benson didn’t take the stand in the Texas hearing likely hurt his case.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana emphasized Thursday that it was not affected by a cyberattack and data breach that involved Anthem Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer. Anthem is one of 37 independent licensees of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a separate and independent plan from Anthem and all other Blue plans in the country. Hackers broke into Anthem’s database storing information for about 80 million people, gaining access to names, birthdates, email addresses, employment details, Social Security numbers, incomes and street addresses.
There will be plenty for Louisiana to be rooting for this Sunday during the 57th annual Grammy awards ceremony. There are at least a dozen locals who are nominated or who have ties to nominations on Music’s Biggest Night. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne will be hosting the “Only in Louisiana” luncheon in Los Angeles tomorrow to honor the Bayou State and its nominees.
The Grammy music awards ceremony will broadcast on CBS at 7pm on Sunday.
Abita Brewing Co. in Abita Springs has fired back at Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial which essentially says craft beer is for snobs. Other small brewers throughout the country are doing the same. Abita has posted a You Tube video and in it they say “We’re not a dog and pony show” — taking a jab at the popular Budweiser puppy/Clydesdale commercial. Blossman also says Budweiser suggests their beer is “brewed the hard way.” He says he has no idea what that means. He says brewing great beer is and should be fun.
Noranda Alumina in St. James Parish is asking the state department of environmental quality for permission to release mercury into the air, after learning they may have been doing so without a permit since they began operations in 1959. D-E-Q spokesperson Greg Langley says the refinery could be fined for releasing mercury without a permit. Langley says D-E-Q doesn’t monitor for mercury releases on a regular basis, so it needs to be determined how much mercury may have been released and for how long, before a potential fine is handed down.
More problems for the Rapides Parish Coliseum. A state appeals court has ruled that a former Rapides Parish Coliseum employee, Terri Clark Hunter, can proceed with a whistleblower lawsuit against the Coliseum Authority. Hunter sued the Coliseum Authority in 9th Judicial District Court in July of 2013, claiming she was fired because she refused to keep quiet about financial improprieties involving Coliseum operations. Ninth District Judge George C. Metoyer Jr. ruled in favor of the Coliseum Authority on technical grounds. On Wednesday, the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the 9th District ruling and remanded the case back to the 9th for further proceedings.
The RPSO has arrested a Lena man who allegedly tried to coax a minor via cellphone to meet him for sex. 24 year old Brandon Coutee is now is facing a charge of computer sex solicitation. Coutee was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on Wednesday where he remains on $100,000 bond.
A 34 year old Marksville man was arrested Tuesday by state police for the possession and distribution of child pornography. He was booked into the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center. LSP investigators have reason to believe that there may be local victims.
Alexandria police officers were doing a check Tuesday, along with U.S. Probation and Parole officers, at the home of 64year-old Paul Tyler. Tyler is a Tier 3 sex offender. That tier contains the most serious offenses like aggravated rape and forcible rape, and offenders must register for life. “During this check, evidence was obtained that indicated Tyler might be in possession of items that would violate the conditions of his parole. According to authorities, the evidence contained child pornography. Tyler was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. An investigation is continuing.
Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain is offering a retirement incentive in lieu of job layoffs as he tries to shrink employee payroll to cut budget expense. The retirement incentive is part of Strain’s plan to comply with Jindal administration-directed cuts required to balance the current and next year’s state budget. The state must cut $300 million in the current year because of lagging state revenues and $1.6 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1. So far, 34 employees have signed up to take advantage of the program.
Gas prices jumped 4 cents last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is up to $1.94 according to the American Automobile Association.
Law enforcement officials across the state are warning parents about a social media app that’s being used for cyberbullying. Yik Yak is an anonymous bulletin board where users can post comments that can be read by anyone within a 10 mile radius. Washington Parish Chief Deputy Mike Haley says some parents have called them reporting their children have been bullied through the Yik Yak app. He says there have been arrests at several colleges across the country due to threats made through Yik Yak. Haley says parents need to be aware of their children’s social media activities.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Lake Charles woman after the child she was babysitting was found wandering along a busy highway. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office says 23-year-old Jamie Jackson is charged with cruelty to a juvenile.
The Louisiana SPCA is on the hunt for the person or persons responsible for cutting off the head of a baby goat last week in an Orleans Parish park. Spokeswoman Alicia Haefele (Hay-Fa-Lee) says the owner of the animals believes an altercation with a group of teenagers could be at the root of the act, after they were told to leave the goats alone. The reward money has been increased to three thousand dollars…
The LSU Alumni Association is organizing a lobbying effort to protect LSU campuses from significant budget cuts. LSU Alumni Association President Cliff Vannoy says they are seeking volunteers that will be part of a group called Tiger Advocates, who will have lawmakers’ attention as they craft the budget. If you want to be a Tiger Advocate, go to the LSU Alumni website. Vannoy says volunteer advocates will be kept up to date on key legislation that will impact higher education and they’ll have a chance to make their voices heard.
The driver of the car that crashed head on into a school bus in Denham Springs on Tuesday is booked for DUI and other drug charges. Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard says 32-year-old Brandon Vince was behind the wheel when he crossed a center line and hit the bus full of children. Ard says at least 15 of the children on the bus were treated and released for minor to moderate injuries after the crash.
The state’s budget woes are causing difficulties in the search for a new president for Grambling State University. Possible job applicants are apparently worried about the state’s potential budget cuts to higher education. University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley says they received a letter from The Hollis Group, the search firm hired to recruit candidates, expressing the concerns. Woodley says they originally intended to introduce the new president in April. The search committee will meet with The Hollis Group later this month to discuss changing the timeline for finding a new president.
Bossier Parish Community College makes history as they sign a female player to a baseball scholarship. Sarah Hudek (Hoo-Deck) is a left handed pitcher and is the daughter of MLB All-Star John Hudek. Coach Aaron Vorachek says she will be one of the first girls ever to play baseball at the collegiate level. Vorachek says this is not a gimmick and he’s not concerned about the media attention this move is garnering. He says the 5-foot-10 Hudek is capable of throwing in the upper 70s to low 80 miles per hour which, as a left-hander, is acceptable for anyone at the collegiate level.
A Houston-based company announced plans Tuesday to invest $2 billion for a liquefaction facility and liquefied natural gas export terminal near Lake Charles. The Live Oak LNG project will create 100 new direct jobs at the liquefaction and export facility, with an average annual salary of $75,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project also will result in 385 new indirect jobs, for a total of 485 new permanent jobs in Calcasieu Parish and surrounding parishes. The plant is targeted to begin operations in late 2019.
The Louisiana Lottery says tonight’s $317 million dollar Powerball jackpot is the 11th biggest in the game’s history. Kimberly Chopin says their total sales from Powerball in its current run have been about $15.6 million dollars, which is good news since 35 cents of every dollar of sales from all of their games goes to the state to help fund public education. Tonight’s jackpot has a cash value of $220 million dollars.
Governor Jindal released a statement yesterday urging all parents to have their children vaccinated. A debate is underway nationally over whether it’s safe to have your child vaccinated against diseases. In Jindal’s statement, he says sciences supports them and he wouldn’t send his kids to a school that didn’t require vaccinations.
The death of a nine-month old baby from Alexandria in March of last year has resulted in the arrest of a Eunice mother and stepfather. Twenty-one year-old Michelle Cotten and 21 year-old Billy Dean Cotten were both charged with first degree murder, with a bond set for 1 million dollars each. The investigation is ongoing.
State officials announced yesterday Louisiana roadway fatalities dropped by 29 percent between 2007 and 2013. According to Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, over the past seven years we have made tremendous progress. In 2007, Louisiana suffered 993 traffic fatalities compared with 703 in 2013, a drop of almost 30 percent.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating the discovery of a body found floating in a body of water just off US 190 outside of Eunice. They reportedly believe it could be a woman who was reported missing from Allen Parish. We’ll have more on this as it develops.
The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a first-grade teacher for allegedly striking a student . Witnesses told authorities that 31-year-old Chanel Lemelle of Bains Lower Elementary in St. Francisville, berated, kicked, and slapped a student. Apparently video surveillance supported the claims. Lemelle is charged with cruelty to a juvenile.
We have some more cold temperatures on the way, how will that affect Louisiana’s crawfish crop heading into Mardi Gras? Long term it should be OK, according to LSU Aquaculture Specialist Dr. Greg Lutz. Short term, the cold weather may keep crawfish from crawling into the traps set by crawfish farmer, and that affects their cost. Bottom line, crawfish may be hard to find this weekend and if you can find them, plan to pay more.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services released the 2015 Louisiana Child Support Most Wanted poster. It features the names and photos of 14 non-custodial parents who owe nearly half a million dollars in past-due child support. You can view the poster online at dcfs.louisiana.gov and if you know the whereabouts of a person on it please contact authorities.
Qualifying for spring municipal elections begins Wednesday and runs through Friday at parish clerk of court offices in five Central Louisiana parishes. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the five area parishes, which are among 17 parishes statewide for which qualifying is taking place, are Avoyelles, Beauregard, Concordia, Grant and Natchitoches parishes.
One man is dead after a shootout with an off-duty Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputy Tuesday afternoon in what police are describing as a domestic situation. The deputy was at a home with his girlfriend when the woman’s ex-husband arrived at the house and tried to get inside. The two men got into a gunfight, and when it was over, the ex-husband was dead. State police are investigating and they say, at this point in the investigation, they have not confirmed the deputy killed the ex-husband.
It’s national signing day and the LSU Tigers are expected to bring in another Top Ten recruiting class in football. Mike Farrell, director of national recruiting with Rivals-dot-com, says LSU has four 5-star prospects, including two from Louisiana.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a teacher is under arrest accused of having sex with an underage student. They say 28-year-old Donald Gene Parker III apparently found out about the complaint against him and went to the home of the victim to beg them not to have him arrested. Detectives searched his home and found plenty of evidence to arrest him. Parker’s charges include pornography involving juveniles and indecent behavior with juveniles.
The APD believe they got their men. Three juveniles were arrested late last week, ending a three-month investigation into a rash of burglaries in the city. Police Chief Loren Lampert said the investigation revolved around about 30 burglaries in the north and southeast Alexandria. The unidentified juveniles were arrested on "multiple counts of burglary," and were taken to a juvenile facility.
No arraignment date has been set yet for an Oakdale woman accused in the death of a Lecompte woman and her unborn baby. But bond for Pamela Causey-Fregia has been set at $780,000. Causey-Fregia was charged Saturday with the first-degree murder of Victoria Perez and the first-degree feticide of Perez’s unborn child. Perez disappeared in March 2011 after a doctor’s appointment in Alexandria. Because of that tip, investigators interviewed one of Causey-Fregia’s minor children, who claimed their mother killed Perez. Allen parish sheriff Doug Hebert said investigators believe the woman intended to keep Perez’s child for herself, to use in a ruse to get her estranged husband to return to her.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says Louisiana is in danger of seeing a drop in its credit score. Moody’s Investors Service warned that the state’s recent reductions in revenue estimates are a “credit negative. Kennedy says Moody’s is one of the major credit rating agencies and they’ve essentially fired a warning shot at Louisiana saying that if we don’t get our financial house in order, they will downgrade us from stable to negative. Kennedy says the report pointed to Louisiana’s multiple fiscal challenges including the $330 million dollar revenue forecast drop, next year’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall, current mid-year budget cuts and more.
Louisiana would lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars from offshore oil and gas drilling under a proposal included by President Barack Obama in his budget rollout Monday.
The Democratic president’s $4 trillion blueprint for the 2016 fiscal year starting Oct. 1 would eliminate the sharing of revenue from drilling in federal waters with Louisiana and three other states along the Gulf of Mexico, as outlined in a 2006 law cited in December by former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu as the signature achievement of her 18 years in the Senate. US senator David Vitter says the bill has no chance of passage.
A new poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics show that Governor Bobby Jindal’s numbers have slipped among Iowa Republican voters. Jindal got two-percent of respondents when asked for their first choice in a presidential candidate. Jindal also received two-percent when respondents were asked for their second choice. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lead the poll with 16-percent, followed by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul with 15-percent. The poll also showed the governor’s unfavorable numbers rose to 20-percent.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose in Louisiana for the second week in a row according to Gasbuddy-dot-com. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says this might be the end of the four-month-long drop in prices at the pump. He says wholesale prices have increased by more than 20 cents a gallon, and those increases will, eventually, get passed on to consumers.
Lapolitics.com is reporting former 5th District Congressman Vance McAllister is considering a run for the US Senate next year. Apparently McAllister said if Congressman John Fleming of Minden is the only one who seeks the seat then he’d go up against him. However, several other top republicans, including state treasurer John Kennedy, have expressed an interest in running.
Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore wants to see Louisiana implement an air monitoring system, paid for by private companies. Honore, who was in charge of military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, now leads a coalition of environmental groups called the Green Army. Honore says the state has 150 chemical plants and no system in place to monitor what they put into the air. The Green Army proposes a series of sensors to be installed outside of chemical plants, monitoring the air quality. Honore says if something goes wrong, the sensors can notify nearby residents.
In case you didn’t know, Monday was groundhog day. In South Louisiana, we have the Cajun Groundhog Pierre C. Shadeaux, who by the way didn’t see one didn’t see one when he emerge from his home yesterday morning. That should mean a longer spring for the state. Daily Iberian publisher Will Chapman says, Pierre almost always gets it right. Almost is the key word.
Some sad news from Shreveport Police yesterday about the 7 year-old little girl hit on her bicycle by a drunk driver Saturday afternoon. Cpl Breck Scott says the child passed away from her injuries. Scott says the charges against 46 year-old Randy Presentine were upgraded to vehicular homicide along with having no insurance and driving without a license while under suspension.
The investigation continues into a deadly blaze in Avoyelles parish last week that left 4 people dead. Fire Marshall Butch Browning says a father, grandmother, son, and daughter all perished in the blaze. The victims’ ages range from 10 to 73-years-old. Browning says they believe the four victims were asleep at the time of the fire. He says the mother of the children was at work when the blaze broke out. Browning says the investigation is in its initial stages.
An early morning house fire destroyed one home, and damaged two neighboring homes on Cook Avenue in Alexandria Sunday morning. Fire officials say it appears a stove caught fire and the home became engulfed in flames. It took firefighters a little over an hour to get control of the fire. Good news is, no one was injured in the blaze.
Allen Parish authorities report the remains of a pregnant Lecompte woman missing since 2011 have been found, and the charges of an Oakdale woman arrested on Wednesday of last week in connection to the case have been upgraded. Pamela Fregia was charged Saturday with first-degree murder and first-degree feticide of Victoria Perez and her unborn baby. Lecompte Police first reported 20-year-old Perez missing in March of 2011 after she went to a doctor's appointment at Rapides Regional Medical Center and never came home.
Amid reports that some families are opting out from having their child take standardized tests that are part of Common Core, the chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer, is encouraging parents to have their child take the test in March. Roemer says the new standardized tests are more rigorous than previous ones, but it will help determine a student’s strength and weakness. Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order that calls on BESE to have an alternate test for those students who opt-out of the Common Core exam. But Roemer says Jindal doesn’t have the constitutional authority to do that and he accuses the governor of simply creating chaos.
Mitt Romney announces he’s decided not to run for president next year, so what could that mean for Governor Bobby Jindal? 2016 would have been Romney’s third run at the White House. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says Romney passed on Jindal as a vice presidential contender last time saying the two never really connected so him bowing out of the race also helps The Governor. Also, Cross says anytime one of the main candidates drops out of a presidential race, it’s a victory for all of the remaining contenders.
High school principals vote to keep the current split between public and private schools that exists with the football playoffs and allow the new executive director of the LHSAA, Eddie Bonine, develop solutions that could possibly bring the classes back together. Bonine says his first step will be to organize a committee to examine the issues that caused the split. Many principal Norman Booker authored proposals to divide the postseason between public and private schools in other sports, but it was voted down.
Many are waiting to see if democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will get in the governor’s race. Jeremy Alford, publisher of la-politics-dot-com, says Landrieu only has about 40-thousand dollars in campaign money in the bank, so if he’s getting in, he’ll need to make a decision soon. Alford says some Democratic operatives say Landrieu will pass on the governor’s race, so he can have a major influence on the presidential race. But, Alford says he’s also heard that Mayor Landrieu has yet to completely rule out a run for governor.
According to a report from Duke University, The South had the nation’s lowest five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS with 15 percent of people with HIV and 27 percent with AIDS dying within the first five years of their diagnosis. Louisiana was one of nine southern states with the poorest rates of survival. Younger, rural, African-American females who attributed their HIV infection to heterosexual sex were among the majority of patients with the worse survival rate. Louisiana had the lowest survival rates after a diagnosis, followed by Mississippi. In Louisiana, 19 percent of people diagnosed with HIV died within five years and one-third of people diagnosed with AIDS died within five years. The full article is in today’s Town Talk.
There is a new, free app for your smart phone that puts the health reports for local restaurants at your fingertips. The app is called “What the Health” and is the brain-child of Chris Peoples and Jake Van Dyke of Modern Appsolutions. Louisiana is one of just eight states, along with Washington DC, serviced by the app. Van Dyke says the app will show you a letter and number grade for each restaurant along with any actual violations they received during their last health inspection. The app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.
LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center launches an initiative to provide doctors in Louisiana with proven strategies which would reduce and treat obesity in children. The project is led by Dr. Amanda Staiano (stye-an-no) who says the Child Obesity Treatment Toolkit helps primary care physicians determine who’s at risk for obesity. Staiano says childhood obesity is a very serious issue in Louisiana with half of our kids being overweight or obese.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined that Wednesday’s fire in Calhoun, where two bodies were recovered, was a murder suicide. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they believe the situation began with a domestic dispute between 52-year-old Larry Lisotta and his wife, 57-year-old Diane Lisotta. Browning says they have determined that Larry Lisotta shot his wife in the head and then set the home on fire. They believe he then turned the gun on himself. Browning says this appears to be an isolated incident and do not believe anyone else was involved
Abortion rights activists testified Thursday The state Department of Health and Hospitals has gone too far in its proposed rules governing the operation of abortion clinics in the state.
About 80 people attended the DHH hearing to take public testimony on rules and regulations updated after the Louisiana Legislature passed several laws about the licensing and operation of abortion clinics. Nobody spoke in favor of the rules.
Lawyers on both sides of a same-sex marriage case urged Louisiana’s Supreme Court on Thursday to rule soon on the matter even though the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to do so by late June. Louisiana voters approved a 2004 amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriages in the state and forbids the recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. In September, state District Judge Edward Rubin, of Lafayette, ruled the ban unconstitutional.
The Louisiana Lottery says we’ve now hit the biggest Powerball jackpot of 2015 with tomorrow’s drawing worth a whopping $298 million dollars. Spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the current jackpot has been running since the end of November. She says the last big jackpot winner in Louisiana was from a May 2013 drawing so we’re due. Chopin says the current jackpot has a cash value of about $198.4 million dollars.
A new study ranks Louisiana third nationally on a per-capita basis for inappropriate teacher-student relationships. Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the US Department of Ed and now chair of Drive West Communications, says he found 23 reported cases in 2014, and six cases so far this year. In many situations, social media advanced a teacher-student relationship to an inappropriate level. Another interesting aspect to the study, there’s also a higher percentage of inappropriate relationships involving female teachers than the national average.
After more Louisianians have been hospitalized and even died as a result of synthetic marijuana, Governor Bobby Jindal has announced the ban of multiple new synthetic marijuana compounds. The new banned compounds are called “PX 1″, PX 2″, and “MDMB-CHMICA” (chimika).
Sometimes made in china can be a pain. A lot of Mardi Gras Krewes are getting nervous as most of their custom throws have not arrived yet and Fat Tuesday is just around the corner. There was an ongoing labor dispute at a Los Angeles port which held up thousands of signature Mardi Gras product, but Beads By the Dozen President Dan Kelly says tensions have calmed. Kelly says almost every Carnival Krewe was affected by the delay. He says now all of the Mardi Gras containers are being taken off ships and hopefully will be put on trains over the next two days.
So how likely would it be that former KKK leader and Louisiana lawmaker David Duke would be elected again here? Not very likely according to political analyst Bernie Pinsonat. Duke challenged Congressman Steve Scalise to step down for apologizing about speaking to a white supremacist group in 2002. Pinsonat says Duke is only milking this for attention
Duke took it a step further and said that he would consider challenging the House Majority Whip in the next election for the 1st District Seat. Pinsonat says Duke is just trying to get publicity and he will probably never get re-elected in Louisiana if he chooses to run.
The legal drama between the Benson family over ownership of the Saints and Pelicans could drag on for a year or more. The scene will play out in courtrooms in New Orleans and San Antonio. Legal analyst Tim Meche says an Orleans Civil District Court Judge could rule whether or not Tom Benson is physically and mentally fit to handle his business affairs by spring. Meche says the real litigation will take place in San Antonio involving whether or not Tom Benson can transfer the teams out of the family trust. He says, thus far, Benson has been unsuccessful in his attempts to do so.
A Louisiana inmate at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court debate over leniency for juvenile criminals had his life sentence cancelled Thursday after spending more than three decades in prison. George Toca, convicted in New Orleans of second-degree murder in 1985. Under the agreement, the 47 year old Toca enter a plea to a lesser charge of manslaughter and plead guilty to two counts of attempted armed robbery. Police said Toca accidentally shot his 16 year old friend while they were robbing a couple at gunpoint in April of 1984.
It all comes down to attachment A. The Rapides Parish Police Jury voted Wednesday to approve an agreement with the city of Alexandria to settle the parking lot dispute, once the wording of that attachment is worked out. In case you are wondering what is in that attachment that is holding up the project, it is the definition of the project. The city rejected it saying they plan to draft their own. The overall agreement provides that the Police Jury will pay the city $1.1 million for its share of the jointly owned parking lot. Having a valid parking plan is needed before the $23 million Coliseum renovation can begin.
Sasol says it will delay a decision on whether or not it will make the final announced investment into the proposed gas-to-liquids plant in Westlake Near Lake Charles. The South African energy company says they’re holding off on the 14 billion dollar phase of the project due to tumbling oil prices. Sasol has already approved an $8.1 billion dollar cracker unit in Westlake but right now says they are working to conserve as much money as possible.
Sasol’s announcement of a delay in their final decision to invest in a proposed gas-to-liquids plant in southwest Louisiana has raised some concern in the business community. But George Swift, President of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, says construction has already begun on Sasol’s $8 billion ethane cracker and that quells his concern. Swift says his confidence that the project will go ahead is boosted by the infrastructure work that Sasol is doing around the site of the proposed plant.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire early Wednesday morning in Ouachita Parish that has claimed the lives of two people. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says officials are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire. The identities of the man and woman who perished in the fire have not been released.
Governor Bobby Jindal says his proposed budget cuts will be presented to lawmakers, along with a list of “options” to ease some of the slashing. With the state facing a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, the Jindal administration is considering cuts for colleges, and to health care services.
State Police announce that 150 additional troopers will be deployed to New Orleans for this year’s Mardi Gras season. The detail will include a visible uniform security presence in the French Quarter and Central Business District as well as plain clothes officers. Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson says the troopers will be working in the city through Fat Tuesday.
Republican Congressman Steve Scalise has agreed to a meeting with two civil rights leaders in the aftermath of reports that Scalise spoke to a group of white supremacists in 2002. The pair want to ask Scalise to help advance civil and human rights issues, like the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Scalise has acknowledged it was a mistake to speak to the group and has apologized. Former KKK leader and State Representative David Duke says Congressman Steve Scalise is a sellout and he may consider running against him.
Officials from Grambling will be meeting with the Louisiana State Board of Nursing next month to rule on the school’s undergraduate program. Grambling’s nursing program has not maintained an 80 percent pass rate for students taking their state exams. Grambling currently has about 200 students in the program.
The Onion, a satirical news website, recently wrote an article skewering Governor Bobby Jindal that’s getting national attention. The fictitious article claimed that Jindal’s presidential campaign would last about two months before he pulled out of the race. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says The Onion writing an article about Jindal is not flattering and not the kind of national attention that the governor would prefer at this time. He says the underlying joke in the article is one that Louisianians will surely understand. The governor may end up running a two month campaign. But, truth is he has running for the presidency for the past five years.
Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has responded to a lawsuit filed by his daughter and two grandchildren. In a court filing, Benson says for years he attempted to groom Renee Benson and his two grandchildren to take over the professional franchises once he dies, but they never rose to the task. He adds the decision for his wife to take control of the teams following his death was a deliberate and reasoned decision.
Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky will battle for first place in Conference USA when the two basketball teams meet tonight in Ruston. Tech is 6-and-1 in Conference USA, while the Hilltoppers are 7-and-0. Bulldogs Coach Michael White says Tech has won 22 in a row at home and tonight is about protecting their home floor against a really good offensive team.
Rapides Parish Police Jury President Richard Billings has called a special Police Jury meeting for 4 p.m. today to discuss the Police Jury's lawsuit against the city of Alexandria. The jury sued the city over the parking lot dispute, which parish officials say has delayed the start of the $23 million Coliseum renovation project. It’s believed the city and the parish are very close to an agreement. The police jury is also working toward a long-term lease for "overflow parking" on property that is not owned by the city.
When it was created last year, a $40 million incentive fund to pay for college programs that fill high-demand jobs in Louisiana was hailed as critical to both higher education and the state's workforce needs. Now, with the state grappling with deep budget problems, Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to strip financing from the fund that only months ago he described as among his top priorities. But with Louisiana facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the 2015-16 fiscal year that begins July 1, Jindal is considering cuts of $300 million to $400 million to public colleges. And WISE, as the program is called, is on the chopping block.
According to the American Automobile Association, the statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is at $1.87 for the second day in a row. So has the price bottomed out? AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it’s possible, as the price of crude oil has stabilized between $45 and $48 a barrel. But, that’s not likely. Redman says there’s a chance that we could still see prices slip as we head into February. Redman says the drop in fuel costs is astounding, especially when you compare prices to this time last year…
The health of the teachers’ retirement system in Louisiana got a “C minus” in a report issued Tuesday by The National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan research and policy organization. The report says the state’s teacher retirement debt totals $11.3 billion.
The latest estimate from state officials is nearly $12 billion, which is the largest of the four statewide retirement systems. The report said the retirement debt is not well funded and lacks the flexibility needed to be fair to teachers, including allowing them to be vested in no more than three years. The requirement here is five years.
Louisiana's economy keeps creating jobs, but it can't keep up with the state's growing workforce. The state's unemployment rate rose in December for the eighth straight month, to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent in November. Louisiana now ties for the sixth-highest jobless rate among the states. But at the same time, the state hit new all-time highs for jobs. Experts say The jobless rate rose, though, because the number of job seekers grew faster than the number of jobs.
Two men were gunned down Monday and killed in Donaldsonville less than two hours before a community group intent on stemming a recent tide of violence prayed in the city’s downtown square. Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said 37 year old Chad Nichols was slain in his front yard. A second man, 29-year-old Benny Booker of Prairieville, was wounded with serious injuries and taken to a hospital but later died.
Witnesses told deputies that two white cars were seen speeding away from the mobile home shortly after the shooting.
The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office says the search for a teen, wanted in connection to a weekend robbery, ended unexpectedly when the suspect was found dead. Sheriff’s spokesperson Maxine Trahan says officers responded to a call from a crawfisherman who discovered the body of 18 year old Slye Mier in a field just east of Crowley. Authorities say Mier’s death is being classified as suspicious, although the exact cause of death is unknown at this time.
A Breaux Bridge woman Tuesday admitted to a judge that she was one of two people who strangled her elderly mother in 2011, drove her body to Lake Martin and left it in a car for others to find. 51 year old Heller Marie Dupuis plead guilty to manslaughter in the November 2011 killing of 83-year-old Jessie Messex, whose body police found with the rope still around her neck. Dupuis acknowledged to 16th District Judge Lori Landry on Tuesday that she and an accomplice, her 33-year-old daughter, Toni Marie Dupuis, carried out the crime. Toni Dupuis has agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter, though no court date has been scheduled.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual convention begins today and the main agenda item is the current split of the football playoffs. There is a proposal to expand the postseason split of public and private schools to other sports. A vote on the football playoff proposals will take place Friday.
Studies show more and more women are buying guns and becoming more familiar with how to use them. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 74 percent of gun shops saw growth in female customers in 2014. Barret Kendrick, a firearms trainer in Covington, says they have seen a major increase in the number of women coming into the gun market. Kendrick says women want to be able to protect themselves and their children and not feel like they have to rely on a man to protect them.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear “Boudin King Cake?” Well it’s out there. The brains behind the now crazy viral concept is Acadiana food critic Bob Carriker who is a UL-Lafayette history professor. He says he reviews King Cakes and Boudin from all over the nation and decided to combine the two and share the idea on his Facebook Page. Carriker says the now-famous King Cake uses a bread that is savory, not sweet, stuffed with boudin, topped with Steen’s cane syrup then sprinkled with cracklin.
RPSO Deputies arrested a home invasion suspect, 27 year old Nicholas Damico of Alexandria, around lunchtime yesterday. Authorities received a 911 call about shortly after noon stating that a burglary was in progress in the 5000 block of Plantation Road in Alexandria. When deputies arrived a short time later they found the suspect being held at gunpoint by the homeowner. Damico was charged with home invasion, stalking and simple battery.
Despite the number of burglaries being down 5% in the past year in Alexandria, city police are advising the public to be on the lookout for suspicious people looking in to vehicles. According to police there has been a rash of guns being stolen from parked vehicles. The police remind everyone to lock tempting items in the trunk of their vehicles.
The APD reports three teenagers from Jena were arrested over the weekend on drug and weapon charges. Police searched a vehicle after an officer saw one of the suspects smoking marijuana in the parking lot of the Grand Theatre on North Mall Drive. In that vehicle, Police found 29 bags of marijuana and a handgun. The suspects were taken to at the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
The state fire marshal is investigating a deadly blaze yesterday in Natchitoches that claimed the life of a yet unidentified person. Fire fighters made the gruesome discovery after extinguishing a fire at an abandoned mobile home yesterday morning. The body was so badly burnt investigators were unable to make an formal id. It is hope an autopsy will be able to do that.
Weak oil prices will result in a 103 million-dollar reduction in spending this fiscal year by state government. That determination was made at the Revenue Estimating Conference meeting in Baton Rouge Monday afternoon. The panel, which determines how much money the state can spend, also determined the budget deficit for next fiscal year has increased by another 203 million to one-point-six billion dollars.
Republican Minden Congressman John Fleming says he, along with eight other congressman, have formed the House Freedom Caucus. Fleming says they’ll advance an agenda that calls for an of accountable and limited government. Fleming says this new group of truly conservative lawmakers will look to advance legislation and also prevent measures that do not represent what he calls “America’s Agenda.
The state police confirmed yesterday the U.S. Secret Service is investigating a number of cases of ATM thefts in a major cities along the Interstate 10 corridor. Nick Manale of the Louisiana State Police says skimmers, devices which can read numbers from ATM cards, have been put on some ATM machines. Manale says keep an eye on their banks accounts, going back as long as one or two months, and if you suspect fraudulent activity, call your bank and the police. the Secret Service suspects this is the work of a group of people.
An accidental shooting at a Shreveport casino resulted in a man being hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Shreveport Police Cpl. Breck Scott says 34-year-old Jerry Grimes arrived at the casino valet early Monday morning and while in the process of removing his gun from his holster and placing it in the trunk, the gun fired striking Grimes in the upper thigh. Police say the injury was non-life threatening. The investigation is ongoing, but Grimes had no signs of impairment.
As New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is working to reduce crime in the Crescent City, one auto-theft crime hit home with the mayor, as a jeep registered to Landrieu was reportedly stolen over the weekend. An off-duty officer was able to locate the abandoned vehicle in the Uptown section of New Orleans. They are still seeking the suspect.
Entergy has cut the ribbon on a new power plant in suburban New Orleans that company officials say will reduce fuel costs and produce reliable and affordable power for Louisiana customers. Entergy Spokesperson Mike Burns says Ninemile 6 is already using 30 percent less fuel than other natural gas combustion plants. This is the first power plant Entergy has opened in Louisiana in 30 years. Burns says Ninemile 6 was completed under budget and ahead of time.
The State Department of Health and Hospitals sets up a program that encourages Louisiana residents to take control of their health. The program is called “Own Your Own Health”. It’s a three month wellness challenge that can assist residents in living a healthier lifestyle. Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Director Rudy Macklin says you can participate as an individual or part of a team. The challenges are meant to motivate Louisianians to make small daily steps in creating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. You can sign up at oyohla.com
A University of Michigan Medical School study finds, that since the late 90s, there has been an almost 30-percent increase in the report of falls among the elderly. Dr. Cathi Fontenot, with LSU Health Internal Medicine, as one ages, your sense of balance typically gets a little worse. Fontenot says it’s important to keep those core muscles as strong as possible to help maintain your balance. She says the weakening of core muscles in the elderly can affect their sense of balance
The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today to determine the budget shortfall the state faces this fiscal year and next. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says it’s likely mid-year cuts will be needed to offset the deficit. Though state officials say the reason for the shortfall is falling oil prices, Erwin says that’s not the only reason we’re in this situation. He says the structure of the budget has never really been repaired since 2008-2009. He says we’ve just been borrowing money from ourselves over and over and then that ran out.
Senate President John Alario plans to meet with Governor Jindal this week to discuss ways to reduce a potential budget cut of up to $380 million dollars to Louisiana’s public colleges. He says that kind of cut would completely devastate higher education not only to the universities but to the children who are seeking it. Alario says one of the items of discussion that’s on the table is trying to increase revenue
The state labor department says first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 17 decreased to 2,987 from the previous week's total of 3,601. The
Industries with the biggest over-the-week decrease in initial claims were construction, accommodation and food services, administrative and waste services, and retail trade.
It appears state Treasurer John Kennedy is testing the waters for a few races in this year’s upcoming election. It’s reported Kennedy has hired Virginia-based North Star Opinion Research to poll the races for governor, attorney general, and if there was a special US Senate election in 2016. Kennedy says, at this time, he’s keeping his options open.
The survey shows the Treasurer topping a possible attorney general’s race and the leading Republican in a US Senate race should David Vitter become governor.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has seen a slight uptick in Louisianans who view him favorably, according to a new poll of likely Louisiana voters. The poll, conducted by Jindal’s campaign pollster Wes Anderson of OnMessage Inc., found 46 percent approve of Jindal’s job performance heading into the final year of his final term, while 45 percent view him unfavorably. Among respondents 45 and younger, Jindal’s numbers were 55 percent favorable to 41 percent unfavorable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal told Christian evangelicals gathered at an all-day prayer rally Saturday that the nation needs a “spiritual revival,” as he continued to court religious conservatives for a possible presidential campaign. The rally attracted thousands to the basketball arena on LSU’s campus but drew controversy both because of the group hosting it, the American Family Association, and Jindal’s well-advertised headlining appearance.
Gov. Bobby Jindal took a hard-line stance against same-sex marriage during a five-minute interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sunday morning. The governor added that he hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately let states like Louisiana keep their bans on same-sex marriage in place. If it doesn't, he said he will support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to guarantee that states would be able to define marriage themselves.
State police report a Port Barre man died Saturday night as a result of an ATV accident. 28 year old Lance Lomas was on U.S. 190 in St. Landry Parish, driving on the westbound shoulder of the road, when for some unknown reason he veered right, crossed a driveway and drove into the ditch, flipping the ATV. Lomas was not wearing a helmet and suffered critical injuries. He died later at a hospital. Alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor in the crash.
The trial for a man accused of tying up and abandoning a baby pit-bull in a storage building in October 2013 begins in Caddo District Court today, and there are plenty of angry citizens expected to be in attendance. 32-year-old Gabriel Lee, charged with cruelty to an animal after he allegedly left the dog without food and water for several days. When the dog was discovered, he was barely alive. He has since made a full recovery.
LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri says sophomore left-hander Jared Poche will start opening day on February 13th against Kansas, but he’s not sure on what the rest of his starting rotation will look like. Mainieri says he has several freshmen to choose from and the situation will play itself out during the non-conference portion of the schedule
Employees at General Electric's Pineville plant have been told the facility is closing. The valve plant was formerly operated by Dresser Inc. before that company was bought by GE in 2010. It employs about 300 people. So far, company officials have refused to confirm or deny the closing.
Pineville Police report 48 year old Tyrone Teasley was arrested Wednesday after he walked into a classroom at Louisiana College and started teaching a class. Problem was, Teasley was neither a teacher or a student at the private school. Teasley was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and disturbing the peace. He was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
Finally some good news relating to the Rapides Parish Coliseum. Police Jury President Richard Billings announced yesterday a proposed agreement between the Police Jury and the city of Alexandria over jointly owned property needed for Coliseum parking could be finalized as early as next week. The Police Jury canceled a special meeting that had been set for Thursday morning on a proposed intergovernmental agreement with the city of Alexandria on the parking lot issue. Word is, the agreement needed some tweaking. Billings is hopeful the agreement will be ready soon.
An Alexandria police officer who has been under investigation has resigned, according to Chief Loren Lampert. Two investigations into possible misconduct by the unidentified ex-officer were turned over to the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office in late December for grand jury consideration. A new grand jury was expected to be empaneled late this month. The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office started an investigation after receiving a complaint about possible misconduct by the officer while he was off duty and outside of the city. The Alexandria Police Department started its own investigation after being notified of the allegation.
Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson announces ownership of both teams will transfer to his wife, Gayle, upon his death. This move effectively cuts out Benson’s daughter, Renee, and grandchildren, Ryan Leblanc and Rita Benson Leblanc, from the sports franchises. Benson stated that this change in succession is necessary for the long-term success of both teams. Shortly after the announcement, Benson’s former heir filed a law suit claiming her grandfather is incapacitated. Rita Benson LeBlanc, her mother Renee Benson and brother Ryan LeBlanc filed the petition in Orleans Civil District Court. The suit also alleges that Tom Benson’s wife, Gayle, is trying to take advantage of her husband’s unfit mental state and is only after his money.
Republican supporters of Governor Bobby Jindal establish a super PAC that could assist him in a presidential bid. Former Louisiana Congressman, Bob Livingston, is the chairman of the political action committee, called Believe Again PAC. Livingston acknowledges this is the first step in a possible run for the White House. The Super PAC can raise an unlimited amount of money, but Jindal can’t direct or coordinate how the money is spent.
The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department has arrested a 24-year-old woman in the May 2014 death of her fiancé’s 3-year-old son. After an eight month investigation, Brittany Marie Prejean of Rayne is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Keaghyn Parsons. Prejean was caring for the toddler the day of his death. An autopsy performed on the child showed he died of blunt trauma. The Calcasieu Parish Coroner ruled his death a homicide.
The New Orleans City Council Thursday approved a smoking ban at bars and casinos by a 7-0 vote. This is a big win for supporters who say it’s a public health issue for workers and patrons of these establishments. Tonia Moore is with the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living. She says they are thrilled this initiative had so much support. The opposition was mostly from business owners who were worried such a smoking ban would threaten revenue. Moore says they hope to see many other municipalities in Louisiana follow suit.
This weekend, the Mystick Krewe of Louisiana will be hosting the DC Mardi Gras in our nation’s capital. A reported 3,000 Louisiana will fly in for the festivities at the Washington Hilton.
The woman who has assisted law enforcement locally and nationally in identifying human remains, Mary Manhein, announces she is retiring from the LSU FACES Laboratory after more than 30 years. Also known as “The Bone Lady,” Manhein has consulted on hundreds of forensic cases including mass disasters. Manhein says her last day is April 30th and she’ll then turn over the reins of the program to another generation.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the whooping crane that was shot in Vermilion Parish then later died late last year. Spokesman Adam Einck says the reward money is coming from several sources. Einck says the whooping crane is one of the world’s most endangered birds and they want to make it clear that there are serious repercussions from killing one. He says this is now the 6th bird that has been shot and killed in Louisiana. Anyone with information on this case can report it online at wlf.louisiana.gov.
College baseball teams can begin full squad workouts today and for the LSU Tigers they enter the season ranked ninth in the country according to Division One-Baseball-dot-com.
You may have noticed a lot of extra traffic in town. There’s a good reason for that. The Pentecostals of Alexandria are playing host to over 3000 people from all around the world. It’s the 32 “because of the times Conference”. An event that has continued to grow since it’s inception back in 1984. The conference started Tuesday and runs through today.
A fish fry will be held Sunday at Bea’s Grocery in Montgomery to raise funds for the family involved in a fatal wreck over the weekend. Three members of the West family from Montgomery died after the wreck on U.S. Highway 71 near Clarence. Jennifer Tell West and Brian West died at the scene. Their 10year-old daughter, Kayle West, died Tuesday morning.
The wreck also killed Pineville resident Stacey Lachney and injured her daughter.
Jennifer West worked at Bea’s Grocery for about three years, and her father has established a fund at Montgomery Bank to help with expenses. All proceeds from the fish fry will go to that fund. Plates are $10 each, and sales begin at 10 a.m. and will last until supplies are gone.
GoFundMe accounts also have been established for the West family
Falling oil prices has resulted in Lafayette-based Stone Energy Company to announce it will cut spending this year by more than half of what they spent in 2014. Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, says Stone Energy is not the only oil company scaling back. The price of oil is trading at 47-dollars a barrel today.
A self-confessed child killer named Phillip DeSelle is set to be released from prison today and the family of the little girl and Evangeline Parish citizens are outraged. Averie Evans of Natchitoches who was killed by DeSelle when she was 11 years old. DeSelle, now 65, served just 24 years in prison on a 50 year sentence and was given time off for good behavior.
Governor Bobby Jindal continues to insist there are neighborhoods in Europe where authority is ceded to a more harsh version of Islamic law. Jindal had a chance to back down from those comments in a one-on-one interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Fox News previously reported the same claims, but has since apologized and said those reports were false. But in the governor’s interview on Fox News, he said there are government officials in Europe who say they have Muslim-led communities who do want to assimilate. Jindal expressed concern a similar situation could develop in this country, if our federal government doesn’t take appropriate measures to make sure immigrants are not trying to overturn our culture.
According to the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, 137-thousand people in Louisiana have signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. Open enrollment ends on February 15th. More information can be found at health-care-dot-gov.
A man wanted for the shooting injury of an Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Deputy yesterday has been found and arrested. Sheriff Jeff Wiley says 35 year-old John McMullen was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by police for a shop-lifting incident, when McMullen shot at the car and the deputy, hitting him in the hand. The suspect took off, but they found him later. A man and a woman in the car were also arrested. McMullen is charged with attempted first degree murder of a police officer.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested an Opelousas woman for allegedly burning her child with cigarettes. 26-year-old Jessica Deville is facing a charge of cruelty to a juvenile. Lt. Clay Higgins says they were alerted by a local hospital about the alleged abuse. She denies those charges. The 5 year old is now in the custody of his father.
New Orleans City Council is expected to vote on a controversial ordinance that would prohibit smoking in bars and casinos. Claudia Rodas, with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, is in favor of the ordinance. She says more should be done to protect bar and casino workers from the dangers of second hand smoke. But, Alex Fine, President of the French Quarter Business League, points out that there are already over 100 bars in the city that do not allow smoking. He says owners should be allowed to make the decision on whether or not they want to be smoke-free
LSU football received a verbal commitment from one of the top high school prospects in the state, Riverdale defensive back Donte Jackson, who had five interceptions last season The 2015 recruiting class also features a couple of other highly thought of defensive backs in Kevin Toliver and Xavier Lewis.
State Police say a two-vehicle accident in Natchitoches Parish on Sunday afternoon left three people dead and four others injured. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Stacey Lachney of Pineville crossed the center line of US 70 and collided with a vehicle driven by 31-year-old Jennifer Tell of Montgomery head on. Lachney was killed as a result of the crash, as was Tell along with a passenger in her car identified as Brian West. Moreau says three juvenile passengers in Tell’s car received minor to serious injuries.
Massive traffic problems on I-10 yesterday morning as Authorities had to close the I-210 bridge in Lake Charles shortly after 4am due to a bomb threat. State Police Sgt. James Anderson says they received a call about a car on fire on the Calcasieu River bridge, but found no car on fire and the person with the car said he had a bomb. Anderson says the investigation is ongoing. No bomb was found and the bridge was reopened just before 12:30 p.m.
Gov. Bobby Jindal continued Monday to warn of "no-go zones" in Europe where non-Muslims are unwelcome and residents are ruled by religious laws, even after Fox News declared that there is "no credible information" that such areas exist in France and England. CNN reporter Max Foster challenged Jindal during an interview Monday, saying he had lived in London a long time and he don't know of any no-go zones. However, Jindal stood firm.
A CBS News poll of one one-thousand Americans nationwide found 14-percent of Republicans would like to see Governor Bobby Jindal run for President, while 20-percent said they do not want to see him run. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the republican getting the most support based on this poll, as 59-percent of the respondents said they would like to see Romney run again.
Former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason will be Senator David Vitter’s special guest tonight at President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS and works with his Team Gleason organization to empower others living with the disease. Vitter says he’s honored to have Gleason attend, calling Gleason an inspiring leader in the fight against ALS.
Starting today, taxpayers can file their federal and state 2014 returns. Mark Eldredge, with Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants, says if you bought health insurance through the federal marketplace, also referred to as Obamacare, there is a special form you’ll have to fill out proving you had insurance. If you did not, you’re subject to a fine that’s laid out in the Affordable Care Act. Eldredge encourages you to get your returns to a licensed preparer soon, because even tax pros are trying to get up to speed on the new rules.
A federal trial to determine how much oil giant B-P will be required to pay in penalties for its role in the massive 2010 Gulf oil spill begins today in New Orleans. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Eric Smith, says a ruling made last week by U-S District Judge Carl Barbier gave us an indication on how steep the fine could be. BP faces up to 13-billion dollars in Clean Water Act fines.
With election day about nine months away, the four major announced candidates are starting to speak out about why they should be Louisiana’s next governor. During a recent forum in Baton Rouge, Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says there are many major issues facing the state and he has a history of bringing people together to solve problems. Democratic state representative John Bel Edwards says if elected, he’ll put Louisiana first, something that the current governor is not doing. Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he’s committed to building a better Louisiana & Republican Senator David Vitter says if he’s elected governor, it will be his last political job, which means his focus will be strictly on the challenges that lie ahead for Louisiana.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. Faye Williams of Alexandria currently serves as the Chair of the National Congress of Black Women. She says today is a day of service. Williams says we should use today to remember Dr. King by calling on people from all walks of life to work together in providing solutions to our most pressing national problems. Activities are scheduled all across the state today.
The Joint Legislative Committee on the budget approved a 20% pay raise for state troopers. The original request from Col. Mike Edmonson was for a 30% increase but the measure was amended down to 20% reducing the cost from about $14 million to about $10 million. Edmonson says this will be the first pay raise for Louisiana State troopers since 2002.
The vote from the House side was 24-5 and the Senate side 13-3. Much of the pushback Friday came from lawmakers who argued the request came as somewhat of a surprise and the process was too rushed.
State Police say a hostage situation in Evangeline Parish turned deadly with the suspect being shot and killed by police. They say the unidentified man took his girlfriend hostage in a trailer park in Pine Prairie. Master Trooper Brooks David says the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s deputies responded to call from a neighbor of a domestic disturbance. David says after deputies arrived, gunshots were fired from inside the residence. The female hostage broke out a window and screamed to the officers that she was going to be killed. David says, at that time, the hostage taker presented himself in the window and was shot. The hostage received only minor injuries.
Minden Representative Gene Reynolds says the EPA has agreed to delay the open tray burn of the more than 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden for at least 90 days. He says they also have now said they would support any decision on an alternative method to get rid of the explosives by the DEQ and the National Guard. Reynolds says there will now be more meetings and further discussions on the way to disposed of in a way that does not harm the environment.
The four announced candidates for governor met in Baton Rouge Friday to discuss ways Louisiana can have a better highway system. The idea of raising the gasoline tax was not discussed, but republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he would look into toll roads if elected. The lone democrat in the race, Amite representative Jon Bel said Louisiana could spend more money on highways, if state government made sure transportation Trust Funds went to roads and no other areas. Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says in too many cases transportation projects are funded as a political favor and that needs to stop. Republican US Senator David Vitter says one of his priorities as the next governor would be to develop a targeted highway building plan.
A Baton Rouge lawmaker is concerned about a department of education report that shows more than 61-thousand public school students received an out of school suspension last academic year as a result disciplinary action. That’s about nine-percent of the state’s public school students and senator Sharon Weston Broome believes that’s too high. The report also indicates about five-hundred students between K-and-12th grade received an out-of-school expulsion because of their actions. Broome says she’s meeting with principals, school board members and teachers in an attempt to find out if sending a disruptive or troubled child home is the best punishment.
New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond is concerned that airfare prices have not gone down despite the significant decline in fuel costs. Richmond says the fact that airline ticket prices haven’t gone down doesn’t make any sense to him. Richmond says if air travel is cost prohibitive, it is a detriment to American families. He wants an explanation of what exactly makes up the price of an airline ticket. Richmond feels there’s a chance that this issue could be heard in a Congressional hearing.
After a cold and cloudy week in Louisiana, get ready for some warmer temperatures and sunshine. Gary Chatelain, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, says we’re going to see a January thaw over the next few day. Chatelain says we’ll see high temperatures in the mid to upper 50s today, but the warm-up doesn’t stop there. Temps should be around 60 under sunny skies Saturday and Sunday.
Alexandria City officials and others gathered yesterday at the D.G. Hunter Generating Station, the city power plant , to highlight the start of a project in which seven new “rapid start” generators will add to the city’s generating capacity. The $100 million project is expected to be completed in a year. Mayor Jacques Roy says the project should keep city utility rates stable for the next 20 to 30 years.
A Campti man, 22 year old Robert White, who had been wanted on bank fraud and other charges was captured Thursday in Natchitoches. Authorities say White had been wanted since Dec. 31 on two counts of felony bank fraud and two counts of monetary instrument abuse. Another suspect in the case, Colie Northcutt, turned herself in last week.
The head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association is not expecting another oil bust like we saw in the 1980s even though the price of oil has fallen over 50-dollars in the last six months. LOGA President Don Briggs says while he doesn’t see a large number of oil and gas companies going under, there will be some belt tightening and some of that has already occurred. Briggs says there are currently 55 active off-shore rigs, and so far, these have not been impacted by the lower prices.
Those falling oil prices are not helping Louisiana’s state budget shortfall, as Secretary of State Tom Schedler reports his office faces a proposed $3.8 million dollar mid-year budget reduction from the Jindal Administration. This will force him to implement an agency-wide employee furlough as early as Tuesday.
You saw and heard the commercials every time you turned on the radio and TV. Now we know why. A just released report shows outside groups spent $27 million in Louisiana Senate campaign, all aimed at unseating Mary Landrieu. But, it was worse in other states. The No. 1 target for outside groups in 2014 was the Senate race in North Carolina, with $80 million spent. Republican Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in that election. The races in Colorado ($68 million) and Iowa ($59 million) ranked second and third. In all three of those elections Republicans captured a seat previously in Democratic hands, contributing to the gain of nine seats that has given Republicans control of the Senate in the current Congress.
Jonesboro Rep. Jim Fannin says he won’t support the pay increase for State Police when Col Mike Edmonson makes the request today before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. A bill was passed last session which created an account with motorist’s fines to be used for LSP. But Fannin says lawmakers have bigger fish to fry right now than pay raises
Fannin says with so many other state agencies cutting budgets in the mid-year, it wouldn’t be a good time to give troopers such a big increase. He also says a 30% increase is unreasonable…
State Senate President John Alario says forthcoming budget cuts to higher education would be disastrous to institutions across the state. The Jindal administration has discussed a potential $200 to $300 million cut to higher education. But Alario says he’s heard it could be as high as $380 million which would be devastating. The state has projected a $1.4 billion budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, and that number could rise due to falling oil prices. It’s expected that higher ed will take the brunt in efforts to try to balance the budget.
The major candidates in the 2015 Governor’s race will get together for the first time today in a Baton Rouge forum that will address transportation and infrastructure issues. The event is sponsored in part by The Louisiana Associated General Contractors. US-Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commission Scott Angelle, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and state Representative John Bel Edwards are expected to attend the two-hour forum.
The Washington Parish Sheriff’s office says a former speech therapist from Franklinton High School is under arrest for allegedly having sex with at least 2 students under the age of 17. Chief Deputy Mike Haley says after the complaint came in, they were able to gather enough evidence to arrest 40-year-old Kimberly Cooke. Haley says the suspect is booked with indecent behavior with juveniles.
Looking ahead to the governor’s race, Republican Senator David Vitter made a couple of major policy announcements yesterday. The first is concerning a fundamental spending and tax reform package; and the second being a targeted highway building plan. He says Louisiana needs to break out of the budget chaos, and he’s tired of poor roads and mounting traffic.
BP faces possible $13 billion in penalties at trial . That after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that 3.19 million barrels, just under 134 million gallons, were discharged into the Gulf after a rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well. The number is more than the 2.4 million barrel figure BP had argued for and less than the government’s estimate of about 4.2 million, a figure that could have meant $18 billion in maximum penalties under the Clean Water Act. Those penalties are to be determined in a trial set to open Tuesday.
The Alexandria Zoo is under fire from an animal rights group after two endangered primates froze to death last week. A zoo employee left three cotton-top Tamarins out in the cold, resulting in the death of two of the monkeys. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesperson, Brittany Peete says PETA wants the zoo to be held accountable for any possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Zoo officials say the employee in question, who was initially placed on administrative leave, has resigned.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s department reports A Rapides inmate on a road crew stole a truck from a Pineville church parking lot and fled yesterday afternoon. 43 year old Christopher Bailey was serving time for a burglary conviction. Because it was a non-violent conviction, Bailey was assigned to a crew that works across the parish, picking up trash or clearing brush. He is not considered dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call authorities.
According to the Violence Policy Center, Louisiana has the fifth highest black homicide victimization rate in the nation. The study details homicide rates for 2012. VPC executive director, Josh Sugarmann, says this is the ninth year they’ve conducted this report. Louisiana’s black homicide rate is 25.75 per 100,000, much higher than the national average of 18.03. There were 384 black homicide victims in Louisiana in 2012. Sugarmann says, in black homicides where the weapon used could be identified, one weapon stood out far above all others, that’s handguns.
Sometimes it seems had to believe you have to tell people they are being scammed.. but, this is one of those times.. the Grant Parish Sheriff’s office put out an alert yesterday warning If someone calls you and insists that a 5 percent processing fee is all that stands between you, a sizable amount of money and a Mercedes, it a scam. The Sheriff says the callers have been very persistent, placing several calls to people to try to convince them. No word if anyone has taken the bait.
The APD does not suspect foul play in the death of a man who’s body was found Tuesday morning lying next to Murray St. The identity of the man is being withheld until the next of kin is notified. An autopsy and other forensic testing are pending,
A new study shows that less than half of Louisiana families earn enough money to cover basic costs. The report, by Loyola University’s Jesuit Social Research Institute, finds 52-percent of families with children not making enough money to live, what they call, “a modest, dignified life.” According to their findings, the average Louisiana couple with one child accrues expenses adding up to 55-thousand dollars a year, but most people make far less.
Gas prices continue their steady decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $1.95 according to the American Automobile Association. That’s down a staggering 45 cents from this time last month.
The mother of the two siblings killed in a house fire in Bastrop Monday, now faces criminal charges in their death. 4-year-old Tashae Johnson and her 3-year-old brother Clifton were killed in the fire after being left unattended in the home. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says the investigation is ongoing, but one thing is for sure: the two children were left unattended in the home for hours before the fire broke out.
A state lawmaker concerned about potential health effects of an open tray burn of 15-million pounds of M-6 propellant in Webster Parish did not get the answers he was seeking in a closed door meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is pushing for an incinerator burn, but E-P-A continues to say an open tray burn is safe and easy. The EPA say the propellants at Camp Minden are deteriorating and an open burn is the safest and fastest way to get rid of it. But Reynolds says the state owns the explosives, so they should have the final say on the method of disposal.
As expected, Chuck Fowler was elected Tuesday to once again lead the Alexandria City Council. This will be Fowlers 3rd go around as president. Lee Rubin was elected to the vice-presidents position.
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office has concluded its investigation into the death of Mrs. Bobbie Chevallier of Pollock. Chevallier was found unconscious in the back yard of her home suffering from bite wounds to the lower half of her body the day before Thanksgiving last year. She died from her injuries several days later. It was originally believed Chevallier was the victim of a stray dog attack. But, a just completed autopsy determined that Mrs. Chevallier was unconscious before the encounter with the dogs. A number of dogs belonging to a next door neighbor and a stray dog believed to have been involved in this incident were seized following the investigation and have been euthanized. No additional attacks or incidents have been reported since this incident.
The Grant Parish sheriff’s department has arrested an Atlanta man on charges that he allegedly abused his wife in front of their children. Deputies report the office had received a report about a domestic disturbance in which shots had been fired. Deputies went to the scene and found that 41 year old Walter Box Jr. He had allegedly had beaten his wife and had fired a shotgun over her head. Box also allegedly destroyed his wife’s cellphone and had threatened to kill her if she left. Box was arrested and was booked into the Grant Parish Detention Center.
It’s a bad flu season and the numbers prove it. Doctor Frank Welch, medical director for the state’s immunization program, says nearly 400-thousand people have come down with the flu so far this flu season and influenza has hospitalized up to four-thousand people. Even though the flu vaccine is not a direct match with the flu strain going around, Welch still advises getting an influenza shot.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is getting the word out that they’ve collected through audits 31-million dollars in unclaimed property from life insurance companies. Kennedy says the money belongs to thousands of beneficiaries that never received their money. To see if you’re owed money go to la-treasury-dot-com.
Fifth District congressman Ralph Abraham has been appointed to serve on the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture.
Abraham was also assigned to the Subcommittee on Nutrition on House Agriculture. Abraham said his position on the committees puts him in direct position to supervise the implementation of the new Farm Bill. Last week Abraham landed a subcommittee chairmanship on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
State Police is requesting a 30% increase for many of its troopers. Col Mike Edmonson says the money is coming from a special fund approved in last year’s legislative session which collects fines from drivers with expired auto insurance and puts them in an account for LSP salaries. If lawmakers approve the money shift, starting pay with benefits for troopers would go from about $35,600 a year to $46,600 a year. This will be the first raise for rank-and-file troopers since 2002.
State Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, said Tuesday he plans to run for the Louisiana District 35 Senate seat this fall. Fannin, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, is term limited in the state House. The District 35 seat is currently held by state Sen. Bob Kostelka of Monroe, but he is also term limited. Republican Stewart Cathey Jr., a small business owner and veteran, said Tuesday he will also run for the seat.
A 21-year-old mother has been charged with two counts of negligent homicide in the death of her three-year-old and four-year-old, who died in a house fire in Bastrop yesterday. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they’ve learned that 21-year-old Ciarria Johnson left her children unattended for hours as she was having her hair styled. Browning says they believe the fire started from a gas heater in the living room, they also suspect a space heater was in close proximity to flammable materials.
Senator David Vitter has announced he has 4 million dollars for his Louisiana gubernatorial campaign with 3.5 million dollars cash on hand. Vitter’s office says that 88 percent of campaign contributions are from over 25 hundred in-state donors. Vitter announced his candidacy last January.
A Monroe stand-off Tuesday morning at an assisted living complex ended tragically, as the resident courtesy officer died after he was allegedly shot by a resident . Seventy-six year-old Alton Sutter died at a local hospital.
A researcher at the L-S-U Health Sciences Center in Shreveport hopes sea moss found below the surface of the Pacific Ocean could be used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Doctor Steven Alexander and his team have tested a drug derived from sea moss and it has a positive effect on mice who suffer from human Alzheimer’s disease. Alexander says they are seeking FDA approval to begin clinical trials on humans.
Two local events Thursday will mark the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The Alexandria VA Medical Center will hold a ceremony Thursday at 2 p.m. The “Color of Unity” program will be held in the center’s auditorium and is open to the public. The guest speaker will be Vonda Williams, social worker coordinator for the Mental Health Intensive Case Management Program at the Alexandria VA. Peabody Magnet High School Jazz Band will perform. Also Thursday, the Rapides Parish Library will screen King’s famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech at the main library, 411 Washington St. in downtown Alexandria, at 5:30 p.m.
Also, Alexandria artist Morris Taft Thomas will speak about King and his work. Refreshments will be served after the film at the family friendly event.
The Downtown Alexandria Merchants Association will host the first Third Thursday on Third event this Thursday along Third Street in downtown Alexandria from 6 to 9 p.m. Ten businesses on or adjacent to Third Street will be offering specials or providing entertainment.
LSU has confirmed reports that Alabama linebackers coach Kevin Steele is will be the next defensive coordinator at LSU. Prior to coaching at Alabama, Steele served three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Clemson, helping Clemson win the A-C-C in 2011. He’s also the former head coach at Baylor and coached linebackers for the Carolina Panthers in the 1990s.
The Alexandria City Council will take up the business of electing officers at tonight’s meeting. It is expected that Chuck Fowler will try for a third consecutive term as president. The council definitely will get a new vice president, since the 2014 vice president, Mitzi Gibson La-Salle, is no longer on the council. The council meets at 5 p.m. today
Authorities are looking for a Natchitoches man who is wanted in connection with December dog-fighting ring near Derry. At that site, sheriff’s deputies found several dead dogs and seized several others. 29 year old Jarin Pikes, who also goes by the name of “Moonie,” is wanted by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office on multiple warrants. If you see him, contact authorities. Pikes has ties to the areas of Natchitoches, Cloutierville, Derry, Campti, St. Maurice and Winnfield.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in finding a Leesville couple after being contacted by a concerned family member earlier this month. 39 year old Allison Gilcrease and 40 year old James Michael Jeane were last seen on Christmas Day at their home. Anyone with information on the couple are asked to call the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s office.
The US Supreme Court has rejected a plea to consider striking down Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. This decision from the US Supreme Court means the district court ruling upholding Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage must first be challenged in a federal appeals court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments last week on the issue. It’s expected the 5th Circuit will issue a ruling sometime this spring.
Fourth District U.S. Rep. John Fleming said he will definitely run for the U.S. Senate if Sen. David Vitter wins the governor's race this fall. If Vitter is elected governor, he would appoint someone to his U.S. Senate seat until an election could be held. Has Fleming’s name come up when it comes to an appointment? Apparently not. However, The congressman say he would "certainly" accept the appointment if Vitter were to offer it. However, Fleming said he would run for the seat regardless.
Even as state agencies are cutting budgets, the Louisiana State Police seeks a 30 percent pay raise for many of its troopers. The hike would bring State Police in line with what other law enforcement officers are paid and was approved before the price of oil dropped by $40 a barrel, requiring a midyear correction in this year’s budget and massive cuts to next year’s. About 1,646 employees will get raises starting Jan. 19
Gas prices keep dropping. According to the American Automobile Association the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $1.96.
Republican US Senator David Vitter says he plans to be active in Washington D-C, even though he’s running for governor this year. Vitter says he has several priorities and one of them is to pass a highway and transportation bill that would help improve traffic flow on major highways. Vitter says he’ll also work to repeal the Affordable Care Act and if Obamacare is not going away, then the federal health care laws should apply to everyone in Washington, meaning even the President would have to purchase his insurance through the Marketplace.
President Obama is working on the details of a plan to offer two years of free community college education to any American to help train the US workforce. Dr. Monty Sullivan, the head of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System says it’s estimated the program will cost the federal government around $60 billion over 10 years. Sullivan admits that it is a lot of money, but people shouldn’t look at this as another big money expenditure. It’s an investment.
The President will promote the initiative in his State of the Union address on January 20th.
Louisiana’s scholarship program, also known as the voucher program, is now accepting applications from low-income families who wish to have their child attend a private school of their choice with the use of state dollars. Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children says the other major qualification is that the student is enrolled in a low-performing public school. Families may apply at the department of education’s website or in person at the participating school of their choice through February 27th. Last year over 13-thousand families applied and nearly 74-hundred were awarded vouchers.
Louisiana’s newly selected Higher Education Commissioner is starting a statewide tour to introduce himself to communities and school leaders. Joseph Rallo says he wants all of the system presidents to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with issues facing higher ed. Rallo says he plans to engage with leaders who share the common goal of creating a stronger economy through higher education. He wants to make sure the needs of all students are being met.
Officials in northwest Louisiana plan to meet with the EPA today over plans to conduct an open burn of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is representing the community’s concern over the potential health effects of burning this propellant. He believes there is another solution. Reynolds suggests an incinerator burn of the propellant. He also says that scientists have come up with other ways to dispose of the propellant. The concern among citizens is that the open burning of this propellant will pollute the air around the site.
Impressive lineup for the 2015 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Headliners include Elton John, No Doubt, Widespread Panic, Jimmy Buffett, The Who, Tony Bennett, Chicago, Lady Gaga, Keith Urban, Pitbull and many more. The final performance night headliner has yet to be announced. Jazzfest always happens the last weekend in April, and first weekend in May. You can see the full lineup online at nojazzfest.com.
NCIS: New Orleans will be back again as the CBS prime time drama has been picked up for a second season. The series is not only set in New Orleans but it’s also filmed in The Big Easy.
An interesting candidate has emerged for LSU’s vacant defensive coordinator position. LSU officials have spoken to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Smart could be looking for a change of scenery to help build his resume for a potential head coaching job down the road. The 39-year-old Smart has been Alabama’s defensive coordinator the last seven seasons.
A spokeswoman for the Jindal Administration says a 200 to 300 million dollar cut in funding to higher ed is being considered for the fiscal year budget that starts July 1st. The UL-System says they are confident the legislature would never allow such a cut in funding to happen.
A Ville Platte man arrested in the death of his grandmother in November has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. The Evangeline Parish District Attorney’s Office said the trial for Christopher Goodley has been set for June 8. Goodley pleaded not guilty on Thursday.
If convicted, Goodley would face a mandatory life sentence.
5th District newly elected Congressman Ralph Abraham joined the many Republicans in the US-House on Friday by voting to approve the TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline project. The President has promised to veto such a bill if it hits his desk. 6th District Congressman Garret Graves says having the actual Keystone Pipeline legislation in front of President Obama may cause The White house to reconsider vetoing it, considering the amount of support. The Senate has enough votes to pass an identical bill and will take a test vote today
BP can’t get out of having to dish out federal penalties for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 based on a ruling by an appeals court Friday. The oil giant was trying to blame another company’s failed equipment. A trial is set for later this month to determine Clean Water Act penalties.
The Transportation Funding Task Force meets today at the Capitol where they’ll finalize recommendations on improving the way the state funds highway improvements. There is currently a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge needs in the state. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman, Robert Adley of Benton, says they’ll work to protect the transportation trust fund from being used for the general operation of the state. With this being Governor Jindal’s final year in office, it is not expected that we’ll see major changes to how the state funds roadway projects. But Adley is hopeful. the task force will get behind his plan to ensure the state spends $70 million for roadway preservation.
There’s a growing concern in northwest Louisiana over a plan to burn 15-million pounds of M6 propellant in steel trays at Camp Minden. Minden Mayor Tommy Davis says they’re worried about possible health effects. The explosive propellant once belonged to Explo Systems, who went bankrupt which is why it’s in bunkers at Camp Minden. It’s deteriorating so there is a worry it could explode if not disposed of soon. The US E-P-A supports opening burning as the disposal method. Davis says Louisiana’s Congressional delegation is putting the pressure on the agency to prove that the open tray burn is safe.
Shaquille O’Neal was in Lafayette Friday at the Courthouse to be sworn in as a deputy city marshal. The Clerk of Court said it was the coolest swearing in he’s ever done.
The latest fund raising totals from Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle shows he is a serious candidate for governor. Angelle announced that his campaign has raised over $1.5 million since he announced his candidacy on October 2nd. Angelle is one of three Republicans seeking the governorship, along with Senator David Vitter and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne.
Sad story out of Madison Parish. A grandmother in Tallulah died Friday afternoon trying to keep one of her grandsons from shooting another according to authorities. Cops say the woman apparently died of a heart attack when trying to defuse the dispute between cousins. One teen shot the other they say and he’s in custody while the other is in the hospital.
According to a recent study out of Yale University, cold weather can in fact make you sick. Dr. Fred Lopez is an Infectious Diseases specialist at the LSU New Orleans School of Medicine. He says they are finding validity to the fact that the lower the temperature outside, the more likely a cold virus is going to thrive. Lopez says the most common virus which causes a cold replicates and makes more copies of itself at cooler temperatures. The nasal cavity is where the flu virus will most often enter the body and when that area is cooler then the bug is allowed to grow more effectively. Lopez says staying out of the cold does actually help.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne announces plans for a major motion picture set to be filmed exclusively in Louisiana about the Battle of New Orleans. The movie will be called, “Andrew Jackson – The Battle For New Orleans.” Dardenne says the project will be based off the book by Ron Drez “The War of 1812: Conflict and Deception” and will begin filming here soon.
Lynne Marino, the highly outspoken mother of serial killer victim Pam Kinamore, discloses that she has pancreatic cancer and hopes to see Derrick Todd Lee executed before she dies. Lee got the death penalty for the murder of Charlotte Murray Pace in 2004 and his case has since been tied up in several appeals. Marino says it’s time for Lee to go. Lee wants a new trial which has been rejected by a Baton Rouge state judge and now heads to the Louisiana Supreme Court -then- if those justices feel the same the case would go to a drawn out post-conviction relief stage.
A Pineville teen is facing attempted rape and other charges after he allegedly pulled a knife on a woman who had given him a ride. 17 year old Mataeo Chaney was arrested on Wednesday after an investigation by Pineville police into the incident, which happened on Dec. 19. The suspect allegedly told the victim to perform oral sex on him, but she refused. A struggle started over the knife, during which the victim was cut. The suspect then ran from the vehicle.
Police say The victim suffered a minor injury. Chaney is in the Rapides Parish detention center.
Today the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hears three cases regarding same-sex marriage bans in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. In September, Federal Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, but the ruling was appealed to the 5th Circuit. Tulane Constitutional Law Professor Keith Werhan says supporters will argue that the state has to have a legitimate reason in denying two adults who want to marry, the right to do so. He says opponents will argue on the strength of state’s rights. Because the 6th Circuit decision created a circuit split on the issue, the US Supreme Court will privately discuss same-sex marriage cases from several states today, including Louisiana. Werhan says the ultimate decision on same-sex marriage will come from the US Supreme Court, perhaps this year.
Louisiana’s public schools receive a grade of D-plus from Education Week as part of their annual report. The state’s public education system is also ranked 44th, up five spots from their previous report. House Education Chairman, Steve Carter of Baton Rouge, says a series of reforms passed in 2012, including one that allows educators who perform well to get paid more, will lead to a better grade in the future. Carter says it’s encouraging to see Louisiana move up in the rankings, because historically the bayou state has ranked 48th or 49th when it comes to public education. Louisiana received a grade of D-Minus for K-through-12 Achievement, but received a grade of B-minus for its early-education programs.
Governor Bobby Jindal, Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret will lead a Louisiana delegation to Europe for a ten-day economic development trip. Moret says says it’s an opportunity to meet with European companies who are considering investing in Louisiana. The group leaves Sunday.
The freezing temperatures we had has strawberry farmers working to minimize the damage on their crops here in the state. Regina Bracy, with the LSU AgCenter, says sub-freezing temps can have disastrous effects on the strawberry harvest. But Bracy adds that strawberry plants can take the cold, and she suspects that freezing weather will just delay the start of the Louisiana strawberry season.
The plea is not guilty on the charge of aggravated rape from the former “Sons of Guns” reality TV star Will Hayden. He is accused of raping a young girl in East Baton Rouge Parish on multiple occasions in the span between March 2013 and August 2014. He is also to plead in the forcible rape of a Livingston Parish woman next week.
A state lawmaker from Mandeville is introducing a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would restrict the use of cell phones to “hands-free” only on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Representative Tim Burns says the number of fatal accidents involving vehicles plunging off the side of the bridge has gone from one every 5 years to three a year now. Burns supports a statewide ban on hand held cell phone use while driving but lawmakers can never pass such legislation.
Entergy Gulf States Louisiana plans to build a $187 million power transmission facility in the Lake Charles area, the region projected to have the fastest job growth in the state from an industrial boom that’s driving a need for more electricity. The project includes two new substations, expanding a third substation and adding about 25 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. The Lake Charles Transmission Project is one of the largest single transmission projects in Entergy’s history.
We’re seeing temperatures in the teens for the northern half of the state and it’s not much warmer along the coast. State Climatologist Barry Keim says be prepared for what will be a cold day. It was unusually cold in Louisiana last January and Keim says we are experiencing another polar vortex. Keim says not only is the air temperature colder than normal, but we are also seeing some bone chilling wind chill readings as well.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office is seeking a Montgomery man wanted on warrants for home invasion and armed robbery. Two other suspects already are in custody, but officials still are searching for 27 year old Joshua Blake Coburn of Montgomery. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact authorities.
APD Detectives have arrested 51 year old Jerrell Fontenot after an investigation into two robberies at the south Macarthur Dr. Pizza Hut. The robberies occurred in October and in December. Fontenot was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with armed robbery and attempted first-degree robbery.
Alexandria police have arrested 22-year-old Tavis Thomas, on a warrant issued by the Alexandria Fire Department. An AFD spokesman said Thomas became a suspect in a Dec. 26 fire set at a house that was occupied by two children and an adult. The adult at the house was able to put the fire out, and there were no injuries.
On the first day of qualifying, Two former Alexandria mayoral candidates tossed their hats in the ring for the vacant House District 26 seat. Jeff Hall and Alice Hammond, both democrats from Alexandria, qualified Wednesday for the special election, which will be the only election in Rapides Parish on Feb. 21. Wednesday was the opening day of qualifying, which continues from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and Friday at the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.
According to media reports, the New Orleans Saints are reportedly going to keep Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan for next season. NFL Analyst Mike Detillier says the defensive weakness of the Saints are more about the players than the coaches, so he says the Saints have some work to do in the off-season. The New Orleans Saints ranked 31st in the league for yards allowed.
A Thibodaux High School teacher has been charged for having sexual contact with a student. The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office says they learned of the alleged sexual incident between twenty-five year-old Celeste Bergeron and a 17 year-old student. Bergeron admitted to the sexual contact, and the Lafourche Parish School Board Superintendent Jo Ann Mathews says Bergeron is no longer employed by the school system.
An Abbeville High School teacher is in jail accused of having sex with one of his female juvenile students. Thirty-six-year-old Nicholas Willis is accused of engaging in sexual relations with the juvenile which is a felony.
The Monroe Police Department says they’ve recovered the body of a 38-year-old man from Rayville in a private pond. They say Clarence Dean Roy Jr. was reported missing after he left a construction site in western Ouachita Parish and was located Tuesday afternoon in the water near the work site. Foul play is not suspected. Cops believe Roy had a medical issue.
Police in Baton Rouge say a 12-year-old boy is in critical condition after a car swerved off the road and hit him while he was walking to school Wednesday morning. They believe it was a mechanical program with the vehicle which caused the driver to lose control and hit the boy walking along a nearby sidewalk. Cops say the driver isn’t cited and the crash is under investigation.
The State Department of Transportation announces a plan to widen a portion of I-10 between Lafayette and St. Martin Parishes. The DOTD says construction will take place where I-10 meets I-49 all the way to Breaux Bridge and will take two years to complete. This is the first of three projects that will widen or improve I-10 from Lafayette to the Atchafalaya Basin.
Festivities begin today to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. As part of the War of 1812, the battle culminated in a US victory over the British in Chalmette on January 8, 1815. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says this was one of the most important battles fought on American soil. Dardenne says this victory enabled America to continue to expand westward and cemented Louisiana’s role as part of the United States. He says special events will last throughout the weekend.
If you’d like to try to save money on your homeowners and auto insurance, the Department of Insurance has enhanced its online tool to help consumers find a better rate. Commissioner Jim Donelon says you can enter specific information about you into the new website like your age, or how many miles you drive and other things that set rates for insurance. Donelon says among the features of the new website are streamlined online services and a responsive design that makes it compatible with mobile devices. The “Shop Your Rates” guides can be accessed at ldi.la.gov.
The LSU men’s basketball team begins conference play tonight as they visit the Missouri Tigers in a game that will tip-off at 6 P-M. The Bayou Bengals enter league play with an 11-and-2 record and eight-game winning streak. You can hear that game tonight on 970 KSYL.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office says the town clerk in Forest Hill has been arrested on multiple counts of forgery, malfeasance in office, and more. Lt. Tommy Carnline says their investigation began when town officials discovered some discrepancies in their fine collections. 31-year-old Trista Goleman had allegedly been cashing money orders that were being sent to the town for fine payments. Carnline says Goleman was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, where she faces 17 felony counts each of forgery, malfeasance in office, injuring public records and filing false public records. Investigators believe Goleman acted alone.
Qualifying for the special election to fill the House District 26 seat begins today in Rapides Parish. Candidates can qualify from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today through Friday this week at the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office. The House District 26 primary election is set for Feb. 21. A runoff, if needed, will be held March 28.
Early voting for the Feb. 21 election is set for Feb. 7-14 (except Sunday, Feb. 8).
The winner of the House District 26 special election will serve out the remaining year that is on the second term of Herbert Dixon who resigned Dec. 10 for health reasons.
Two New Walmart neighborhood Markets officially open today. The stores, located on highway 28 east in Pineville and off of Jackson Street Extension in Alexandria, will directly compete with other area supermarkets.
New 5th District Congressman, Republican Ralph Abraham of Alto, was sworn in on Capitol Hill yesterday. Abraham will be taking over the seat previously occupied by Vance McAllister. Abraham says the new Republican controlled Congress will get to work rather quickly and you can expect to see votes occur this week. He says they will address the immigration problem and the export ban on Liquefied Natural Gas. Abraham says one of the first items they will address will be the Keystone XL Pipeline, something the White House said yesterday the President would veto. Abraham is optimistic that the GOP controlled Senate will be able override a presidential veto.
A new republican controlled Congress is already battling with President Barack Obama over the much-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The White House has issued a veto threat, if lawmakers approve the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. Newly elected republican senator Bill Cassidy doesn’t understand the opposition to the five-point-four billion dollar project. The House could approve a bill that green lights the project by the end of the week and a Senate could happen soon after. 60 members of the Senate support construction of the Keytone, including six Democrats, but Cassidy is concerned that won’t be enough to overturn a Presidential veto.
According to 24/7 Wall Street, Louisiana is the 5th most dangerous state in the USA. The report indicates more dangerous than Louisiana are Alaska, New Mexico, Nevada and Tennessee. LSU Criminologist Edward Shihadeh (Sheh-Ha-Dah) says
Louisiana also ranks 3rd highest in poverty rate and only 83% of people here have a high school diploma which is the 4th lowest nationally. Shihadeh says lack of education and crime go hand in .
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is asking residents to please be aware of the artic weather that is currently moving through the state. The National Weather Service says the cold blast began impacting Louisiana overnight and a hard freeze is expected at sundown through Thursday morning. Officials remind you to protect pets, plants and pipes and if you plan to use space heaters, be sure you have a working smoke detector.
The premiere of Duck Dynasty Season 7 is tonight at 8:30 on A&E and some experts are saying the show is losing its luster. Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for The Washington Post. She says it’s not unusual for reality show ratings to drop, but the Robertson family has seen a major decrease in numbers. But she doesn’t think this is the end as 3 million people tuning in is a really great number for cable and it’s probably the best thing A&E has going on right now.
The mother of the Baton Rouge pre-schooler who drowned in a 20-foot, water-filled well has been charged with negligent homicide of 4 year-old Jassiah Clark. BRPD says 25-year-old Brittni Clark, was charged Tuesday afternoon, because they do not believe the child was properly supervised when he went missing on December 20th
A Baton Rouge TV station reports Ohio State Quarterback and two-time Big 10 MVP Braxton Miller is considering transferring to LSU. An injury kept Miller from playing this season and two younger QBs passed him up on the depth chart.
LSU has moved into the next step in its search for a defensive coordinator with at least one candidate.
Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will interview for the job soon. Shoop is expected to interview with coach Les Miles after a week of flirtation between the two sides. LSU’s search for a replacement for John Chavis has entered its second week with a host of candidates and possibilities, but Miles has officially interviewed only a few coaches.
Alexandria Police say a man is behind bars for pulling the trigger in a fatal shooting that investigators are calling an accident. Lt. Brooks Fairbanks says 29-year-old Kendall Smith is charged with negligent homicide. He says they responded to a report of a shooting and located another 29-year-old male victim suffering from a gunshot wound.
Fairbanks says an investigation revealed some individuals were playing with a weapon before the incident took place.
The APD is investigating a bank robbery that happened Friday afternoon after a man walked in to the Coliseum Blvd branch of First Federal Bank and demanded money.
The man left on foot with "an undetermined amount of cash,". "No weapons were observed, and there were no reported injuries."
Doctor Bill Cassidy will be sworn in as a US Senator today giving Louisiana two republicans in the US Senate. What will that mean for the Bayou State? U-L Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Louisiana will have a unified voice on issues that the Senate debates. Cross says Louisiana loses clout in the US Senate, with Cassidy replacing three-term democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. But he says the state can make up for it by having Cassidy and Senior Senator David Vitter working together in a republican controlled Senate…
It’s an election year in Louisiana and Angola Warden Burl Cain’s name has come up as a possible candidate for governor. Cain was in Baton Rouge Monday and says he’s still thinking about running for the highest elected position in the state. Cain has served as the Warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary since 1995. He says the idea of him running for governor came from people who have visited the prison. Cain says he’s a civil servant and he’ll have to resign, if he runs, so right now, he doesn’t want to talk about the topic.
Angola Warden Burl Cain says he has not taken any steps to install a cooling system on death row. A federal judge has ruled that the state needs to take more measures to cool off death row during the hot summer months. The ruling is currently under appeal. Cain says it would be too expensive to add any type of cooling system at the prison. Cain says they couldn’t just reduce the heat levels on death row, it would have to be the entire prison. That isn’t in the budget.
Republican lawmakers are looking to move past the controversy surrounding the number three House GOP leader, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, over a speech he gave 12 years ago to a white supremacist group. Incoming Utah Representative Mia Love is the first black female Republican elected to the House. She told ABC’s “This Week” that Scalice has the support of the party. Scalise has stated that the speech was a mistake that he now regrets. Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, have backed Scalise. However, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says Scalise once referred to himself as -quote- David Duke without baggage.
The Kenner Police Department confirms New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette is under arrest and booked with domestic abuse battery. They say the incident involved a female acquaintance who sustained injuries including blood coming out of her ear when her earring was apparently ripped out. The 26-year-old linebacker told cops that the woman was a dancer he brought home for the night, but the victim claims she was Galette’s assistant who had been staying with him for about two years. Also arrested was Gallett’s cousin, 27-year-old Terrance Banks of Newark, New Jersey. The woman told cops the argument started over money for a cab.
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal is scheduled to have two closed door meetings with conservative religious leaders in Iowa. According to the Des Moines Register, the meetings will take place in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says Jindal is looking to shore up his support among this important group of voters. Jindal is thinking about a presidential run in 2016 and Iowa is important because they host the first primary. Stockley adds that evangelicals and conservatives are also important because of their participation in the primary.
A cold week is on tap for Louisiana as artic air makes it way into the Bayou State. Tim Humphrey, with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, says high temperatures will only be in the 40s for north Louisiana today and 50s in south Louisiana and even more colder air will arrive Wednesday. Humphrey says the cold air mass heading down from Canada will be dry, so you won’t have to worry about any winter precipitation.
Just over 20 new state laws went into effect with the start of the new year. That includes changes to Louisiana’s D-W-I laws. Law enforcement officials say the changes will make it easier for everyone to understand the penalties of driving under the influence. One important change, judges can now take certain measures to provide substance abuse help for those convicted of their first or second D-W-I. The new law laws also calls for jail time for first time offenders, who are under the age of 21.
According to GasBuddy.com, it’s possible we’re at the bottom of the dramatic drop in the price we pay at the pump. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says their current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is around $2.10 and crude oil prices will likely not drop much lower. Laskoski says if gas prices are at their lowest point right now it wouldn’t be much of a surprise because that’s typically what happens in January.
With a new Congress set to swear-in tomorrow that puts a wrap on Mary Landrieu’s last day as a U-S Senator. Landrieu has served Louisiana in the Senate the last 18 years and LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says she’ll be remembered for her work to bring federal resources to the Bayou State. In 2006, Landrieu co-authored a piece of legislation that expanded oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and it also steered billions of dollars in revenues produced offshore to Louisiana to help fund the state’s coastal restoration efforts. Hogan says without a doubt, Landrieu fought for the state.
Louisiana has been experiencing some mild temperatures so far this winter which is good news for the crawfish season. LSU Ag Center Aquaculture specialist Dr. Greg Lutz says warmer weather allows the mudbugs to grow faster during the winter months. Lutz says the supply of crawfish right now is fair and it should be getting bigger toward the end of the month.
The state department of health and hospitals is encouraging businesses to come up with programs or policies at the workplace that would encourage employees to live a healthy lifestyle. Martin says the most important initiative is to offer a tobacco free environment. She says the state offers many cessation coaching programs for the workplace. Martin says providing two or three healthier cafeteria options can help improve employee wellness. And She says healthier snacks during meetings can actually provide a more productive workforce.
Almost everyone in Louisiana knew her as Elly Mae, actress and former beauty queen Donna Douglas passed away in Zachary New Year’s Day. She appeared on “The Beverly Hillbillies” on CBS from 1962 to 1971. Donna Douglas was 81.
After missing 21 games with a shoulder injury, Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon may play tonight when New Orleans hosts the Washington Wizards. Gordon, who is averaging almost 10 points a game, went through practice yesterday and believes there’s a chance he can play tonight. The Pelicans are 17-and-16 on the season, one game back of Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. You can hear tonight’s game starting at 7p on our sister station espn1410.
The investigation continues into a fire yesterday morning at the Zion Hill church in Pineville. The fire which was confined to a warehouse owned by the church broke out at about 4 in the morning. Authorities do not believe foul play was involved in the blaze.
The Centers for Disease Control says the flu has now reached the epidemic level in the United States and the state Department of Health and Hospitals says its going to get worse before it gets better in Louisiana. Medical director for the immunization program, Dr. Frank Welch, says on average seven out of every 10 doctor visits in the state are for flu-like symptoms. He says this year’s flu shot is not perfect, but that should not be an excuse to not get immunized. Welch says the flu shot is still absolutely your best protection. Welch says, after receiving a flu shot a couple of months ago, he contracted the flu last week. However, symptoms were mild.
The Pentagon says the Army Contracting Command at Fort Polk awarded an extension to Northrop Grumman Enterprise Management Services to continue transportation, maintenance and supply at Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The extension will run through the end of June.
Louisiana driver’s licenses can now sport university logos. Smokers must step away from state Office Building entrances when they light up. And 16-year-olds will be able to register to vote but not exercise the right just yet. The changes came as the result of some of the 22 new laws that went into effect on the 1st. Other new laws provide more transparency to government agency operations, more regulatory protection to Louisiana’s payday loan industry and more options for people to make charitable donations when they file income tax returns.
Louisiana’s Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret anticipates significant growth in 2015 as a result of the new projects they announced last year. Moret says a lot of that growth will occur in the high tech and the software development industry
Moret says in 2014, Louisiana announced dozens of company expansions or relocations, which will result in 25-thousand new jobs.
With statewide elections taking place this year and the possibility of Governor Bobby Jindal announcing a run for President, 2015, expects to be another wild year in Louisiana politics. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Republican US Senator David Vitter is the front-runner in the governor’s race, but there are other strong candidates.
Pinsonat says we can expect an announcement early this year from Jindal on running for President. He says the governor may have to announce his intentions sooner than originally planned, because of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s entrance into the race. Pinsonat says it’s unclear how involved Jindal will be with state matters in his final year of office, especially if he’s focused on the 2016 Presidential race.
The minimum wage goes up in 21 states Yesterday. Of course, here in Louisiana the minimum hourly wage stays at $7.25. But Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa says with nearly half of the states acting on their own, it will spur more talk about raising the federal minimum wage. Critics of a higher minimum wage say it forces some businesses to reduce their work force in order to compensate for the higher wages. Traditionally, that has not been the case.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is now accepting applications from individuals who are interested in becoming an enforcement agent. LDWF spokesperson Adam Einck says individuals interested in applying should visit the state’s civil service website and also must complete a test to qualify for consideration. They will be accepting applications until January 23rd and out of those applications, 24 cadets will be chosen and will train for six months in Baton Rouge. Einck says this is a great position for people who love to be outdoors. He says field agents spend most of their time outdoors, on the water and trekking through the woods.
More than 56-thousand Louisiana residents have selected health insurance plans during the first month of open enrollment under what is commonly called “Obamacare.” Doctor Karen DeSalvo, with the US Department of Health and Human Services, says the 2015 open enrollment period will last until February 15th, and she urges people to get covered. Nearly 102-thousand people in Louisiana purchased health insurance through the federal marketplace in 2014.
With a New Year underway, many people strive to live a healthier lifestyle and try to lose weight. Melissa Martin with the State Department of Health and Hospitals says in order to keep your New Years resolution you can start with keeping it simple and realistic. Martin says having a support system to keep you motivated while working toward your goals. She says also smart phones have new food journal apps that can help you stay accountable and aware of the decisions you make. Martin says drinking water is very important to staying on track because the number one symptom of dehydration is hunger. She says also watching your alcohol consumption can really make a difference when it comes to following through with your resolutions.
Today is the first full day of winter and many have not forgotten last year’s winter, which saw colder than normal temperatures and a few rounds of frozen precipitation. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the climate prediction center’s forecast for the next three months indicates we could see a repeat. Keim says the wildcard right now is the El Nino which has been in the forecast for a while, but hasn’t formed yet. He says the climate prediction center is giving the system a 60% chance of forming sometime this winter Keim says if the El Nino does form the way they think it will this winter, we’ll get more rain and even possibly some freezing rain like we saw last winter.
New employment numbers are out and Louisiana’s labor force grew to a record 2,179,837 in November. The number of people employed in the state jumped by 59,419 over the year. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says people are responding to Louisiana’s strong and sustained job growth by joining our workforce in record numbers
Eysink says, over the month of November, we added about 7,000 people working in Louisiana. He says this is outpacing a national trend.
A group called Senate Conservatives Action is sponsoring radio ads that target Republican Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise. The ads accuse Scalise of siding with President Obama instead of standing on the conservative platform. LaPolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says this attack stems from the Congressman’s efforts to help pass a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill. Alford says this is interesting since Scalise was able to capture the whip position because he was a favorite of the tea party movement, where the Senate Conservatives Action finds its roots. He says there is a bit of political intrigue here as this group supported Rob Maness in his run for the US Senate. Rumors are circulating that Maness may challenge Scalise in 2016.
A new poll shows that Republican Senator David Vitter’s change in position on Common Core is popular with voters. Vitter announced earlier this month he opposes the new educational testing standards and a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey found that 64-percent agree with Vitter. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the testing standards will be a main issue in the governor’s race. Another Republican gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, says he supports the controversial education standards.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has reached an agreement with the Secretary of State’s office to archive state employee health insurance program’s records. They had stopped sending claims for several months, because of privacy concerns. Now, the new agreement will have those records in a facility that is under Federal laws protecting personal information.
State Police troopers are urging drivers to use extra caution while on the highways during this holiday period. Sergeant Nick Manale says driver error is responsible for many of the wrecks they are seeing. Manale says since Thanksgiving week, State Police have worked fatal wrecks that resulted in 66 deaths. Manale says in most of the fatal wrecks they’ve investigated, the victims were not buckled up.
Here in the final days of 2014, there are some things taxpayers can do to put them in a better financial position in 2015. John Theriot is an accountant with the Louisiana Society of CPAs and he says business owners should accelerate expenses, because anything they can pay before year’s end will get the 2014 deduction. Theriot says now would also be a good time to let your employer know you want to up your contribution on your 401K or change your filing status on your W4. He says before the new year, you also might want to think about making charitable donations, so you can deduct it on your 2014 tax form.
The LSU Tigers are back at practice this week as they continue preparations to play Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. Even though the Bayou Bengals have some extra time to prepare for this game, Coach Les Miles says don’t expect many changes when it comes to game planning for this game. The other issue hanging around the LSU football program….Is how many underclassmen will leave for the NFL? There’s a report LSU cornerback Jalen Collins plans to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, but Miles is optimistic they won’t see as many juniors leaving for the pros early as previous seasons.
For the fourth straight season, the Ragin Cajuns have ended the year by winning the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. U-L Lafayette defeated Nevada 16-3 on Saturday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Coach Mark Hudspeth has now led the Cajuns to four straight…nine-win seasons.
Louisiana Tech holds its first practice in Dallas today leading up to its game against Illinois in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas bowl. Bulldogs Coach Skip Holtz says the team is looking forward to bowl week preparations. Holtz says the message to his team is that playing in a bowl game is great, but winning it, is even better
The Saints had a chance to win the NFC South on Sunday, but instead the Black and Gold’s season came to an end with a bitter 30-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. What makes it hurt even more is that, New Orleans finishes the year with five straight losses at the Dome.
Some much needed rain will be hitting Louisiana today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this rain is coming at a great time as the state has been rain deficient over the last two months. Keim says the entire state is teetering right on the edge of drought with everything east of the Atchafalaya Basin experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. Keim says the precipitation will be short lived with conditions clearing by Saturday morning
Governor Bobby Jindal says he opposes the President’s plan to “normalize” relations with Communist Cuba, but Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says resumed trade would benefit Louisiana. He says other non-democratic countries enjoy normal trade relations with the US. Prior to 1961 Cuba was the Port of New Orleans’ largest trade partner.
A new Southern Media and Opinion Research poll shows 58-percent of Louisianians disapprove of Governor Bobby Jindal’s job performance as he heads into his final year in office. 600 likely Louisiana voters were surveyed. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says you probably won’t see the Governor’s popularity increase very much as he ends his term.
But Pinsonat points out that the poll shows 70-percent of Republicans give the governor a positive job rating. With both houses of the state legislature being controlled by Republicans, Pinsonat doesn’t see these poll numbers changing the way Jindal will do business in his last year
US Senator David Vitter has a double digit lead over other 2015 Governor candidates in Louisiana according to a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey. But Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the same poll also found 40% of respondents don’t approve of Vitter’s performance. Southern Media and Opinion Research surveyed 600 likely voters and 36-percent support Vitter.
Rep. John Fleming is using the congressional break to shore up support in Louisiana for a possible 2016 Senate run. Fleming, armed with $1.1 million in campaign cash, is eyeing the seat of Republican Sen. David Vitter, who is running for governor next year.
Gas prices are about 75-cents lower than a year ago as we head into what should be a busy two weeks of traveling during this holiday period. Gregg Laskoski, with gas-buddy-dot-com, says with the statewide average at about $2.30 a gallon, it should help consumers pay for other expenses. Laskoski says gas prices have been on a sharp decline since October and this trend should continue into next year. He says the US Department of Energy is projecting a national average price of $2.60 a gallon for 2015
The last Saturday before Christmas could be as big a shopping day as Black Friday especially if you’re still looking for TVs, appliances or clothes according to experts. Andrew Kuo (quoe) is a marketing professor at LSU. He says the downside of the so-called “Super Saturday” is that shoppers are typically at the mercy of the retailers.
MartketWatch reports Super Saturday could edge out Black Friday as the top sales day of the year in 2014.
Governor Bobby Jindal is defending his plans to headline a prayer rally next month at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus. Some professors and students protesters are up in arms over the event sponsored by the American Family Association, which has been very vocal about being against homosexuality. Jindal says he’s continuing to support the rally.
You might be able to have a crawfish boil with your family for Christmas as mudbugs have already been spotted in stores. Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association President David Savoy says December crops are still considered somewhat early, but weather permitting, the season will really start to kick in early next year. He says they’ll also be in mixed size right now and pricey which is typical for this time of year.
A grand jury in Shreveport has indicted a former Homer police officer on charges he violated the civil rights of several people on multiple occasions. 64-year-old Willie Fred Knowles is accused of pushing a woman and hitting her for no reason and tasing others without justification. He is also charged for allegedly lying to the FBI about the incident.
A Ponchatoula man faces 15 to 40 years in prison for downloading more than half a million images of child pornography, one of the largest collections ever found in the state. 52 year old Robert Swan pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a massive child porn network that included pictures and videos of children as young as 4 weeks of age being forced to engage in sexually explicit conduct
U-L Lafaytte and Nevada meet tomorrow morning in the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. It’s the fourth straight year the Ragin Cajuns have played in this bowl game and last year 55-thousand people were attendance to see the Cajuns face in-state foe Tulane. Billy Ferrante, executive director of the New Orleans Bowl, says unfortunately reservations are down and they don’t expect to see that kind of crowd this year.
Sources close to LSU are reporting that Tigers Cornerback Jalen Collins will skip his senior year, and enter the NFL Draft. Collins has not made any official announcement, although he has met with agents, and has reportedly requested a draft grade from the NFL.
Tragedy strikes construction workers on Highway 165 near Columbia, after their stopped construction truck with a large arrow board was re-ended. State Trooper Michael Reichardt says 42 year-old Jan Williams of Columbia was traveling northbound and attempted to go around, but didn’t clear the vehicle striking it and seriously injuring one of the workers. Thirty year-old Michael Roberts of Monroe died later at an Alexandria hospital.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany plans to meet with Veterans Affairs officials today over their decision to push back the completion date of two new VA clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. It’s reported that the opening of both clinics are delayed by almost a year to 2016. Boustany says his office has not been contacted by the VA in regard to this issue. It’s reported though that VA officials made the announcement of the delay at a town hall meeting in Lake Charles.
A public demonstration is being held this evening in downtown Opelousas to protest grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York where charges were not pressed in officer involved deaths. It’s being organized by newly-elected alderman Tyrone Glover who says the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Opelousas Police, the DA’s office and the city marshal are all participating.
The former star of Sons of Guns, William Hayden, has reportedly been formally indicted by an East Baton Rouge Parish Grand Jury on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of forcible rape. A total of four victims have made claims against the founder of Red Jacket Firearms.
Everyone keeps buzzing about the price at the pump. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.34 which is down two cents from yesterday and almost 13 cents lower than this time last week.
The super low gas prices are making car salesmen happy this Holiday season as vehicle sales rise. Bob Isreal, Executive Director of the Automobile Dealers Association, says the consumer in general is feeling more confident with their money because of the lower price at the pump.
Christmas is one week from today and many people would call the next 7 days the most stressful of the year. LSU AgCenter Life specialist Diane Sasser says it’s a good idea to get plenty of rest and if you’re too tired — slow down. She says it’s important to keep smiling and stay positive because getting too easily irritated is unproductive. Sasser says if you’re lonely or missing a loved one, attending a community holiday event may brighten your spirits.
Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that the video game developer High Voltage Software will open a new studio in New Orleans and starting hiring soon. The company has worked with many major brands including LEGO and Star Wars. The company CEO says the state’s tax incentives were fundamental in the decision to open a studio in Louisiana.
President Obama has announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, but not everybody is onboard with the move. George Fowler, a native of Cuba, and Vice Chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, says the proposed prisoner exchange could be very dangerous, and there’s very little – if any – economic benefit, with the exception of one, Cheep cigars.
A Grambling State University student traveling at a high rate of speed is dead, and another student injured following a crash near campus. Witnesses said the driver over-corrected, flipped multiple times and burst into flames. Twenty-one year-old Carl Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene and his passenger 23 year-old Arceneau Robinson was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition.
The Jeanerette Police Department says a 57-year-old man is dead after allegedly being shot by his juvenile son. They say it happened Tuesday night and they’re still investigating whether or not the shooting was accidental. The victim’s identify has not yet been released.
Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Metairie says he supports US Senator David Vitter in his campaign to become governor. The House Majority Whip thinks Vitter would do a great job. Scalise made his comments on a Baton Rouge Talk Show Show.
There’s new information released in the fatal crash that killed three people in Beauregard Parish on Sunday. State Police originally believed that 28-year-old Kristi Poteet of DeRidder was heading the wrong way on U-S 171 when she collided head-on into a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Ricky Gill of Singer. Now investigators believe it was Gill who was driving the wrong way. The release states that Gill is suspected of being impaired, but that toxicology results on both drivers still is pending. Gill, Poteet and Brian Taylor, a passenger in Poteet’s car, all were killed.
A school funding task force is suggesting an increase in funding, if there is enough money available. The recommended price tag is $75 million dollars, and the next stop for the recommendation is the BESE Board before it goes to the legislature in March.
State Police report that a Port Allen man is under arrest after they learned he was attempting to solicit murder. 37-year-old Tommy Joe Gioele (JEE-oh-lee) is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder. Troopers say a man informed officers that Gioele approached him and asked him to kill two people in Pointe Coupee Parish. They gathered enough evidence to make the arrest.
23 year old Brittany Cooley and 23 Kevin Waller of DeRidder have been arrested and charged with cruelty in the case of an infant who is in the hospital and on life support.
Both were charged with second degree cruelty to a juvenile after authorities were informed of a 5-month old girl being admitted at a Beauregard Parish hospital with indications of abuse. The pair both were booked into the Beauregard Parish Jail, but bond has not been set. An investigation is continuing.
Crude oil prices continue to fall. They are down 47-percent since June and it’s the largest drop in five years. When oil prices decline over a long period of time, it means less revenue for the state government. But Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the state legislative fiscal office, is hopeful other revenue streams can make up for the loss in mineral revenues. Albrecht says the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet next month and agree on a forecast for future revenues.
A backlash is brewing over a prayer rally featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled for LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center next month. LSU students, faculty and other activists have come out against the event, called “The Response,” largely because it’s being paid for by the American Family Association, a controversial conservative religious group that opposes gay marriage and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights efforts. A protest has been planned in response to The Response, and a petition has gained hundreds of signatures in just a matter of days.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he plans to “actively explore” a presidential campaign and an operation allowing him to raise money for a bid. So what does this mean for Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations? UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Jindal is more conservative and Bush is more mainstream Republican, but obviously the later has the name recognition. He doesn’t think this announcement will change Jindal’s aspirations.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has launched a new online mobile tool that would help people find careers that interest them while supporting the standard of living they want to maintain. LWC spokesman Tom Guarisco says it’s called “My life. My way.” and it’s a fun way to envision the life you want. Guarisco says users can learn how much they need to earn by choosing from 8 regions in Louisiana then making lifestyle choices about housing, food, transportation. He says the app will then connect you to the appropriate career. You can find the tool online at laworks.net/mylife.
According to a new national survey, for the first time more teens are smoking e-cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes. The annual University of Michigan “Monitoring the Future” report surveyed over 40,000 8th, 10th, and 12 graders. DHH Health Promotions Director Caroline Brazeel says they are currently analyzing data for Louisiana but expects to see a similar trend here. It is cited that a possible reason for the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among teens is the perception that they do not harm your health. Brazeel says that’s not the case because nicotine can have a negative impact on brain development.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a Mississippi man has been cited for allegedly drowning a deer in the Mississippi River in Concordia Parish. Adam Einck with L-D-W-F says a witness observed 40-year-old David Hayes of Natchez, Mississippi, commit the crime. Einck says a wildlife and fisheries’ agent found Hayes with a dead eight point buck lying in front of the vessel. He says Hayes admitted to drowning the buck in the river on the Louisiana side. Hayes faces several hundreds of dollars in fines and up to 90 days in jail, if convicted. He also might have to pay a two-thousand dollar restitution charge for the replacement value of the deer.
US Senator David Vitter announced his committee assignments Monday and says he’s been appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says he promises to use that position to launch attacks on the Obama administration’s agenda. Vitter says he’ll also become Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and continue serving on the Senate Environment, Public Works and Banking committees.
The Rapides parish sheriff’s office reports they have been getting a multitude of calls in reference to a person identifying themselves as being with the Sheriff’s Office. That caller is claiming the person has missed jury duty and tells them for $400.00, they will recall the warrant. They ask the potential victim to get a reloadable VISA card to pay this fee. Need we say, this is a scam. If you get such a call report it to authorities.
State Police say 61 people have died in crashes they’ve investigated since the day before Thanksgiving this year. Not being properly restrained, impairment and driver distraction were the contributing factors. Col Mike Edmonson says in his 34 years with state police, he’s never seen a worse 30 day period than this one.
State Police say a suspected drunk driver heading the wrong way on a four-lane highway in Beauregard Parish struck another vehicle head-on, resulting in three fatalities. Authorities says they believe 28-year-old Kristi Poteet was traveling south in the northbound lanes of US 171 just north of Longville.
State Police is investigating a crash involving a pedestrian who was struck and killed after he fell out of the back of a truck in LaSalle Parish over the weekend. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says 22-year-old Brittany Walker of Jena was traveling on La Highway 8 when she struck an unknown object in the roadway. Moreau says they later determined that the object in the roadway was 43-year-old Marcus Jones. He says while they were working the scene one of victim’s friends returned looking Jones because he realized he was no longer in the back of his pickup.
The UL-Lafayette football team leaves today for New Orleans where they’ll play in the R+L Carriers Bowl for the 4th straight time. The Ragin’ Cajuns will travel to The Big Easy to take on Nevada in the Mercedes Benz Superdome Saturday with a 10am kickoff.
Although he has yet to declare his intent to run for President in 2016, Governor Bobby Jindal returns to Iowa today. Iowa is a key Presidential primary state. Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson says Jindal has been making political appearances in Iowa for several years. Jindal will headline the Polk County Republican Winter Victory Dinner in West Des Moines tonight. This is the governor’s fourth trip to Iowa this year and third in the past three months.
Fisherman got some good news Monday as areas off the coasts of Elmer’s and Grand Terre islands opened up for the first time since the 2010 oil spill. Dean Blanchard, Seafood business owner, says the more shrimp they are able to put more on the market the lower the price will go. He says they are keeping a close eye on these shrimp to make sure they aren’t affected by the spill. There is still an area near Barataria Bay that remains closed to fishing.
A Louisiana Department of Public Safety officer is charged with sexual battery and malfeasance in office following a traffic stop in Zachary. State Police Lt. JB Slaton says the victim contacted the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office after the traffic stop.
Michael Selders of Clinton was booked into the East Baton Rouge Prison.
The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s office is investigating the case of two women who were shot in a domestic disturbance leaving one dead and one injured. Authorities say they found two female victims with gunshot wounds. A 20-year-old victim was pronounced dead at a hospital and the 19-year-old suffered non-life threatening injuries. A New Iberia man was arrested a short time later.
Even though LSU’s Les Miles didn’t want to go on the record to talk about the vacancy at his alma mater Michigan, the Tigers head coach made it clear with reporters on Monday. While Miles wouldn’t discuss the Michigan job, he spoke highly of LSU’s future and what the Tigers can accomplish in the future, especially if they don’t lose a lot of underclassmen to the draft
The Saints are in first place in the NFC South after winning on the road again. New Orleans beat the Bears 31-15 at a soggy Soldier Field in Chicago. After getting blown out at home last week, New Orleans took it to the Bears as Quarterback Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and the Saints defense intercepted three passes and sacked Chicago Quarterback Jay Cutler seven times. The Saints are now three and four away from New Orleans. Payton’s team will look to snap a four-game home losing streak this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office reports 18 year old Eric Gordon of Boyce was killed yesterday afternoon when he apparently lost control of the vehicle he was driving on highway 1204 and struck some trees. Deputies say Gordon was traveling at a high rate of speed and was not wearing a seatbelt. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The United States Postal Service says if you are shipping by standard post, today is the last day to get that package in the mail for an on-time Christmas delivery. Spokesman McKinney Boyd says today is the post office’s busiest day where they’ll process in the neighborhood of 354,000 packages statewide. Boyd says they expect to process an additional 1.5 million cards and letters tonight.
A man who was once the janitor at Port Barre Elementary School and years later became the principal is being featured in a People Magazine series called “Heroes Among Us.” Joseph “Gabe” Sonnier says one day in the mid-80s the then-principal at the school told the janitor he knew he was very smart and capable of going more with his life. Sonnier says later he decided to go to school full-time while he continued working as the custodian. He says after getting his associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree he began teaching a Port Barre Elementary School. Sonnier, now 53, says he got his master’s degree then was appointed principal at the same school where he worked as a janitor for 27 years.
Louisiana hopes to generate one-point-four million dollars in revenue by selling over seven-hundred underutilized state vehicles at auction. Division of Administration assistant commissioner Jan Cassidy says these vehicles are not being used enough by various state agencies, so the decision has been made to auction them off. Cassidy they are constantly evaluating state inventory to make sure they are spending tax dollars appropriately and it’s been determined they can reduce the number of state vehicles by over seven-hundred.
LaSalle Parish lawmen have made an arrest in the investigation into a bomb threat at Jena High School on Wednesday morning. The sheriff’s office has arrested 18-year-old Jaqurius Ogletree. He is not a Jena student and his bond will be set this week.
5th District Congressman-elect Ralph Abraham says he’s ready to begin his duties in Washington D.C. The Republican from Richland Parish says he’s already been told he’s secured assignments on the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs committees. Abraham, who is a physician, veteran, farmer and business owner, will be sworn in on January fifth.
State Police say two Town of Franklinton employees are under arrest accused of stealing over $22,000 in water and utility payments from residents. The report says the two processed over 230 payments that were never deposited into the town’s account.
They were arrested on many charges including felony theft and malfeasance in office.
Former Saints star Darren Sharper is now facing state and federal indictments based on cases that occurred in Orleans parish. He’s facing two counts of aggravated rape and federal drug charges as he allegedly drugged two female victims before sexually assaulting them in September of 2013.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is urging Louisiana residents to check out the state’s unclaimed property database. He says over 500-thousand people are owed money from old checking accounts, insurance proceeds and oil and gas royalty payments. He says the unclaimed money can certainly help during the holiday season.
The Saints will try to get another win on the road tonight when they face the Chicago Bears. New Orleans went to the Windy City last year and won 26-18.