KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 04/23/14

News for Wednesday 042314

By Dave Graichen


A survey released by two pro-voucher groups shows 92-percent of the  parents who have children participating in the state's voucher program  are satisfied and happy with their child's academic progress. The state's voucher program, also called the Louisiana Scholarship  program, uses state funding to send children, from low income families  attending poorly performing public schools, to an approved private  school. 87-hundred students have already been awarded  a scholarship for next school year.


The  town  of Washington in St. Landry Parish has been called out on the high number  of  tickets  they've  been  writing on I-49. So, in response,  a  bill  was introduced authored by Shreveport  Rep  Alan Seabaugh that only allows  cities  to  write  speeding tickets on an interstate  if more than a half-mile of the interstate  is  in  town limits.   That   bill   passed  on  an  11-to-5  vote.  It now goes to the House floor.


The  hot  button  bill  by New Orleans Senator JP Morrell that would lessen marijuana penalties  in  Louisiana  is no more. SB 323, which says anyone charged with pot possession could  get  no  more  than 6 months  in  jail  and  a $100 fine on every offense, was deferred in committee. The matter is essentially dead for the session.


A bill that would  ban  employers  from discriminating who they hire based on sexual orientation or gender  identity is also done for the session. Representative Karen St. Germain  from  Pierre  Part pulled the legislation because she knew there wouldn't be enough  votes  to pass it.


Legislation that would increase the maximum sentence to 99 years for those individuals  who  are convicted of manufacturing, distribution or possessing heroin is heading  to the  House.  The full senate approved the measure on a 34-2 vote.


A bill requiring dogs to be restrained  in the beds of pickup trucks passes on the House floor  and heads to Senate. The measure by Kenner Representative  Tom  Willmott got a close 53-34 go-ahead vote. He says a dog loose in the back  of a truck that's going 70 on an interstate is extremely unsafe.


The massive 5 day Festival International which brings in music and art  lovers from all over the world, kicks off today in Lafayette. Kelly Strenge with the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau says this is a multicultural festival that draws thousands. Strenge says they are expecting between 300 to 350 thousand people to  attend the festival through the weekend. You can get more  information at festivalinternational.com.


Supporters to expand Medicaid coverage will rally on the state capitol  steps this morning. Alma Stewart, Louisiana Center for Health Equity,  says the rally will urge legislators to vote for a bill that would allow  voters to decide if the state should accept federal dollars to expand health care  coverage for an estimated 240-thousand low-income Louisiana adults....


The man from Bossier accused  of  murdering his wife in November has been found competent to stand trial. That word came down yesterday about the case where fifty-three year-od Robert  Bond  allegedly killed his wife Annie, dumped her body in Webster Parish, then left the state.


Two  police  officers  from  Eunice  who chose not to assist another officer  involved  in a fight have been  arrested.   Officers  Tayla Fruge and Jade Weaver  were charged with malfeasance, and were place on administrative leave,  this is pending an investigation by the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's


News For Tuesday 04/22/14

News for Tuesday 042214

By Dave Graichen


The former executive director of the Rapides Parish Coliseum is facing  theft and malfeasance charges. Kimberly Neal-Townley was booked into the  the Rapides Parish jail yesterday. Lt. Tommy Carnline says after a year  long investigation that included a review from the legislative auditor's  office, Neal-Townley is facing several criminal counts. The legislative auditor's office report came out in February and alleges  Neal-Townley paid herself 30-thousand for hours she did not work and  for leave hours she did not earn. The audit also says Townley gave  herself a pay raise without coliseum authority. Neal-Townley served as the executive director of the coliseum from 2010  until she resigned in February 2013.


A shooting in Colfax has left one woman dead, and a man charged with her death.  Seventy year-old  Loretta  Williams  was shot and killed over the weekend.  Twenty-six year old Alex Hall was  identified  as the  alleged  shooter,  and  he's  been  charged  with second-degree murder.


An accident yesterday on Barron Chapel Rd in Pineville claimed the life of 38 year old Brenda Starns of Holden. Starns was a passenger in a vehicle driven by 18 year old Trinity Sullivan. Sullivan was arrested and was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.  State Police suspect Sullivan was driving impaired, but routine toxicology tests are pending. An investigation continues


A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he’s scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana’s official state book. Republican Rep. Thomas Carmody told the House of Representatives that he wouldn’t pursue the measure. He said lawmakers had told him they were worried the bill was becoming a distraction from more important debates, like on the state budget and education issues.


A State Judiciary Committee  will hear a bill by New Orleans Senator JP  Morrell  Tuesday that would  lessen  the  penalty  of  marijuana possession to  a max 6 months in prison and a $100 fine -- no matter the  number  of offenses.   It  faces  strong  opposition  from  the Louisiana District  Attorney Association and Executive Director Pete Adams who says the bill takes discretion away from DAs who often use marijuana possession  offenses  as a tool to remove career criminals from the streets.  Morrell says if his bill passes,  it  would  save  the  state millions of dollars each year.


Retirement eligibility would change for state employee and teachers hired after July 1 under a bill that cleared the Louisiana House on Monday. The retirement age would increase to 62 with at least five years of service, Today it is age 60 years of age with at least five years. The House voted 91-3 for House Bill 38.


With   Monday’s   check   on  gas  prices,  the  American  Automobile Association says the current  statewide  average  for  a  gallon  of regular  is $3.49. That's up over 4 cents from last Monday and up 20 cents from this time last month.


Tickets for the  New  Orleans  Jazz and Heritage Festival are now on sale. The price is now $55 for any  single  day ticket but if you're waiting to see what the weather will do, you'll  have  to pay $70 at

the gate for the shows which begin this Friday.


Ninety-nine  runners  from Louisiana participated in yesterday’s  Boston Marathon, the first one  since  last  year's deadly bombing near the finish  line.   One  of  the athletes was the  son  of  Colonel  Mike

Edmonson, the Commander of  the  Louisiana  State  Police. It  took  Michael  Edmonson  Junior  about three hours to finish the 26-mile race.


The full House approves a bill that would require abortion clinics to  provide a pamphlet to women seeking an abortion that describes the  possible psychological effects of ending a pregnancy.  The bill passed on an 80 to 10 vote.


The St. Landry Parish  Sheriff's  office  has identified the man who attacked a woman last week in Opelousas with  a cane knife and ended up dying during the attack.  His name is 52-year-old  Phillip Manuel of Opelousas.  A cause of death is not known and it's also not known if  Manuel  knew  his victim.  The sheriff's office says the  victim remains in stable condition, recovering from her wounds.


The state Senate rejected legislation Monday that would restrict the use of unmanned aircraft in Louisiana. Senate Bill 330, which died with 15 voting for it and 21 voting against it, was an attempt to sync Louisiana law with evolving technology. Other states already have adopted legislation addressing drones. The Federal Aviation Administration is trying to figure out how drones can coexist with commercial airplanes.


A Bunkie man tried to escape Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents Wednesday by swimming across a bayou, but he was quickly caught while in the water. 30 year old Shannon Stevenson jumped into Bayou Rouge near Bunkie after agents tried to check his license as Stevenson was fishing from more than 140 crawfish traps from the bayou's banks.


There's some good news out regarding the New Orleans  Saints defense today.  The Black and Gold has announced exercising the  fifth  year option  for  Pro-Bowl  Defensive  End  Cameron  Jordan.  Twenty-five year-old Jordan led the Saints with 12 and a half sacks last season.


The LSU baseball team is ranked in the top 10 in three of the major  college baseball polls heading into a five game home stand. The Tigers  have  won 10 of their last 12 and in 11 of those games they have given  up 5 runs or fewer.




News For Monday 04/21/14

News for Monday 042114

By Dave Graichen


A Pineville man was killed Sunday morning when a pickup being driven by a Boyce man crossed the center line of Bayou Rapides Road and hit him head on. State police report 50 year old David Fowler died at the scene of the wreck. The driver of the pickup, 30 year old Daniel Verzwyvelt II received moderate injuries. Routine toxicology tests are pending, as are charges.


For the first time in  the  state's  history,  there are two-million people  working  in  Louisiana.  There are 35-thousand  more  people employed,  compared  to  this time last  year.  Louisiana  Workforce

Commission spokesperson Tom  Guarisco  says  the  number  of working Louisianans should continue to grow. In a statement, Governor Jindal said surpassing the two million mark is  proof  that overhauling the ethics code, revamping the workforce training system and cutting taxes is paying off.


The 2nd-half of the legislative session begins as legislators return to  Baton Rouge after an extended break for Easter. So far lawmakers have  talked about Common Core, guns, abortion, the levee lawsuit against oil  companies and chicken boxing. But Council for a Better Louisiana  President Barry Erwin says the focus will soon turn to the budget. 


An industry group has formed to lobby lawmakers to support legislation  that would legalize medical marijuana which is scheduled to come up  for debate this week. Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association  spokesman and lobbyist Jesse McCormick believes support for the  legalization of cannabis for medical purposes is growing in Louisiana. McCormick says while Louisiana citizens seem to support medical  marijuana legalization, he's unsure on lawmakers stance just yet. He

says he believes the support is there, but some legislators have a  tough time with it.


A  new  statewide  poll  on this year's US Senate race shows Senator Mary Landrieu leads three  other  republicans.  In the survey of 538 voters,  Landrieu  had  40-percent,  Congressman  Bill  Cassidy  had 35-percent,  retired Air Force Colonel Rob Manness at  four  percent and state representative Paul Hollis at three-percent. 18-percent  of  the  respondents  said they were undecided  for  the primary.


The  latest  campaign finance report  for  US  Representative  Vance McAllister shows  the  embattled Congressman only has eight-thousand dollars on hand. Which means  that  McAllister  may have to fund his own campaign, if he seeks re-election.


Political analyst Elliot Stonecipher says Republican Congressman John  Fleming is in good shape to be re-elected to a fourth term. His latest  campaign fundraising report shows the doctor from Minden has over one-  million dollars on hand. There is speculation Shreveport Mayor Cedric  Glover may challenge Fleming, but Stonecipher doesn't see it happening.  Fleming raised 405-thousand dollars during the first quarter of 2014 and  Stonecipher says there isn't another candidate out there who can raise  that type of cash quickly


The P-G-A Tour returns to Louisiana this week as round one of the Zurich  Classic of New Orleans will get underway on Thursday at the T-P-C of  Louisiana in Avondale. The Fore Kids Foundation is the producer of the  tournament and C-E-O Fore Kids, Steve Worthy, says this year's field  features 16 former major winners, plus other stars on the tour.




News For Thursday 04/17/14

News for Thursday 041714

By Dave Graichen


Members of the House Criminal Justice committee shot down a proposal to  allow  some teachers and administrators to carry a gun on school campuses. The legislation is by Chalmette Representative Ray Garofalo who says he's just trying to make  criminals  think  twice  before going on a killing  spree  at  a  school. But he recognized there was  lots  of opposition to the bill so he voluntarily deferred.


Speaking of guns, legislators  won't be allowed to carry them around while  they work at the Capitol either.  The  discussion  was  quite heated on  the  Senate  Floor  as both sides argued about Senate Bill 651 that would allow  lawmakers  to  carry  guns  at the Capitol. It ended up failing by a vote of 23-12.


Leah Gordon, the staff member of Congressman Vance McAllister who is accused of leaking the video of the congressman’s scandalous kiss, has resigned as his Monroe District Office manager.

Adam Terry, McAllister’s chief of staff, confirmed her resignation late Wednesday. He said Gordon wasn’t fired and went on to say they won’t terminate or discipline any employee until after an internal investigation of the security breach is complete.


It's been  almost four years since the BP oil spill, and Wednesday it was announced that the "active" clean-up following the Deepwater Horizon disaster has  come  to an end. BP says that they will continue to be available should any  more  oil  show up on the Louisiana coastline. (More than $14 billion dollars was spent in the clean-up effort)


Two bodies were found inside a vehicle that was on fire in Vermilion Parish. Sheriff's deputies made the gruesome discovery around 9 Thursday morning.  Major Darryl LeBlanc, with the Vermilion Parish  Sheriff's Department  says it will take a while before they are able to get an ID on the victims. LeBlanc says the deaths are currently considered to be suspicious.


State Police say a man was fatally shot by law enforcement with  the Tangipahoa  Parish  Sheriff's  office  in  order  to  stop  him from attacking his 70-year-old mother.


East  Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Deputies say a fight between  two step brothers  resulted  in  one shooting and killing the other. The shooter  claimed he was acting in self-defense.


The University  of  Louisiana  at Monroe has been ranked by Business Insider Magazine as the most underrated  college in Louisiana. There were  50 colleges along with ULM on the underrated  list  which  had great  academics,   high   acceptance   rates  and  strong  in-state populations…


A Louisiana House-passed measure that would ban use of photo speed enforcement devices on Louisiana’s interstate highways neared final legislative passage Wednesday. The Senate Transportation and Public Works Committee - without objection - sent House Bill 896 to the Senate floor for approval.


 The House Education Committee approves a bill that gives public schools  the authority to put up nativity scenes and Christmas trees as part of a  holiday display. The author of the measure is Shreveport Representative  Alan Seabaugh, who says it's the Merry Christmas bill.  Seabaugh says he gets calls every year from public schools, asking if  they can have a Christmas play or put up a Christmas tree. He says the  Supreme Court has ruled that it's not a violation of church and state

 and therefore he would like it written into state law.


LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva has announced some additions to the LSU  football  schedules.  The "home and home" series with  Syracuse University will  have the Tigers travel to the Carrier Dome in  2015, then a return to Tiger Stadium against the Orange in 2017.



News For Wednesday 04/16/14

News for Wednesday 041614

By Dave Graichen


It's  been  a  rough  ride  for  Louisiana  College  President   Joe Aguillard,  with  many  students  and  board members calling for his resignation recently.  Tuesday  the Board of  Trustees  announced their

plans  to  make  him a President Emeritus and a tenured professor. Dr. Argile Smith, dean of the LC divinity school, was named interim president while the school searches for a replacement. 


 Embattled US Representative Vance McAllister will not make any public  appearances this week, but he will return to work in Washington D-C when  Congress returns from a two-week holiday recess.  McAllister has not been seen publicly since video was made public that  showed him kissing a staffer that was also married. In a written statement, his office said McAllister is with his wife and family for

the rest of the Easter recess.


A  senate committee has approved legislation this Tuesday that would allow   judges   to   sentence   individuals   convicted  of  heroin distribution or possession to 99 years in prison.  The bill heads to

the Senate floor.


A bill that would take the unenforceable anti-sodomy law off  Louisiana's books did not pass on the House floor Tuesday. The  legislation by Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith only got 27

 yes votes and needed 53 to pass.  Anti-Sodomy laws were invalidated nationwide by the US Supreme Court  in 2003


The  Jindal  Administration  launches  a  campaign  that  encourages schools, businesses and restaurants  to help Louisiana citizens live healthier.    Jindal  says  it's  called  the   "Well-Ahead   Health Initiative" and  those  entities that choose to participate would be considered a "Well Spot"  if  they meet a certain amount of criteria set forth by the Department of Health and Hospitals.


A senate committee  approves  a  bill  to  ban  the use of drones to photograph  people  on  private property without permission,  but  a couple of lawmakers have  concerns.   The  measure  contains several exceptions,  including  for  law  enforcement.  Despite the concerns, the bill passed without objection and heads to the Senate floor.


As the legislative session continues in Baton Rouge today, the House Criminal Justice Committee is scheduled  to  hear  a  bill  that  would allow principals, and even teachers, to bring a gun on a school campus, if they  have  a  concealed  gun  permit  and  have  undergone required training.


A  woman  from  Haughton  and  a  male friend from Bossier City were arrested Monday night for conspiring to murder her husband this past weekend.  Cassie Sims and Patrick Pierce were taken into custody for devising a plan to murder Sims' husband  Sunday morning.  Pierce and Sims  admitted  to  detectives  they developed  the  plan,  however; while attempting to carry  out the plot, the husband disarmed Pierce who  then  fled.   Multiple charges  have  been  filed.   Bonds  are



With today's check on gas prices, we're now paying 20 cents more for a gallon of regular than we were this time last month.  The American Automobile Association says the price is $3.46 right now  and jumped another penny last night.


State Superintendent of Education John White got a favorable review in his annual job evaluation, officials said Tuesday. The review was done by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Chas Roemer, president of the board, made the announcement after an hour-long, closed door meeting with White and the panel. The scores mean that, for the second year in a row, White is got the second highest of four ratings, effective/proficient. That is defined as meeting between 75 percent and 99 percent of the annual goals.


Fans of Bruce Springsteen slated to attend his show at Jazzfest this year will be getting a lot more bang for their  buck. Officials with the fest announced Monday the E Street Band will  now  be  getting a slot that's 2 hours and 45 minutes long.


The  Louisiana  Department  of  Wildlife  and  Fisheries  gave  some encouraging  news  today about Louisiana's Whooping Crane Population. A mating pair has produced  eggs  in  the wild for the first time in seventy  years.   The  eggs  will be under  observation  by  project biologists.



News For Tuesday 04/15/14

News for Tuesday 041514

By Dave Graichen


The Louisiana College board of trustees is meeting on campus today to discuss among things the future of it’s president Dr. Joe Aguillard. The 34 members will decide if Aguillard will be removed or given a new contract. About 50 Louisiana College alumni, students, faculty and community members joined hands in prayer for the private Baptist school in Pineville on Monday, as well as looking for guidance with the board’s decision.


A  spokesperson for Republican former congressman  Rodney  Alexander says  that he does not intend to run for his old congressional seat, currently  held  by  embattled  congressman Vance McAllister.  Robin Keller, Alexander's spokesperson says that Alexander has no interest in the 5th District seat.  Alexander  gave up the congressional seat last year to become Governor Jindal's veteran affairs secretary.


Chilly weather is back in the bayou state today as a result of that  strong cold front that produced severe weather across the state  yesterday. A damaging storm ripped though the town of Gautier (goh-SHAY) Mississippi last night toppling trees and destroyed or damaged up to 30 RV trailers at a local campground. State Climatologist Barry Keim says make sure you have a  jacket with you today as highs will only be in the low 60s.  Keim says the cold weather will last until tomorrow and there's a chance  we can break some record lows tomorrow as temperatures will dip into  the 30s for much of the state.


Today is tax day and there are millions of Americans who still haven't  filed and are waiting till the last minute. The IRS says if you plan to file  electronically, it must be done by midnight tonight. If you make less than $58,000 a year, you can log on to  irs.gov and choose from 14 different commercial software companies and  file your federal taxes for free. By the way, Three out of four filers get refunds  and they are issued within 21 days for the most part.


In a survey of 600 likely voters in the 6th district congressional race,   52-percent said they would NOT vote for former governor Edwin Edwards.  31-percent said they would vote for him, while 17-percent are undecided.  LSU Political Science Professor Kirby Goidel says the survey has 11-percent voting for Paul Dietzel and another 11-percent for state  senator Dan Claitor.  Goidel feels that Edwards is actually sitting in a  strong position to at least make a runoff election .


A  man who kidnapped a school bus driver in Baton Rouge at  gunpoint  surrendered  to  authorities  after  a stand-off that lasted for several hours. The BRPD SWAT team was called out to the house just a block away from an elementary school where 37 year old Jock Jones was holding the female bus driver hostage.  He eventually gave himself up without incident.


A distracted driver texting on a cell phone crashed his car into the back of a Calcasieu  Parish  School Bus on Highway 171 Monday morning. One of the injuries was reportedly  a  child  on  the bus.  Nineteen year-old  Tyler Moses of Longville-who was also injured-was  charged with texting  while driving, careless operation, and failure to stop for a school bus.


The Lafayette Police Department  says  they have interviewed the two men  who found the phone of a woman whose  body  was  discovered  in Girard  Park  early  Sunday.  The  two are not considered persons of interest  in  the  death  of  21-year-old   Alexandria   Shelton  of Lafayette.  The  cause  of  death  of  the  woman  has  not yet been released, however police are now saying  her death was not the result of a homicide. The investigation continues.


Former  LSU  linebacker  Tahj  Jones is recovering  after  a  second surgery Sunday afternoon from a  gunshot  wound.  Jones  was shot in the abdomen late Friday  night  allegedly  by  another former  LSU  football  player, Brandon Winey.  Winey was arrested  Saturday  and  charged  with one count of second degree attempted murder.


A man who is suspected of being  an  armed  robber  in  at least two cases  in  Northwest  Louisiana  was apprehended after a long  chase through Caddo Parish Sunday night. Several  agencies  were involved in the chase of Terry Leroy Smith who ended up being shot  by  officers after  he  allegedly  pointed  a  gun  at them. His injuries are not considered life threatening and he faces  a  laundry list of charges when he gets out of the hospital.


A bill that would require dogs to be secured  in  the  beds of pickup trucks traveling on interstates cleared committee 13-2  yesterday.  The legislation heads to the full house.




News For Monday 04/14/14

News for Monday 041414

By Dave Graichen


According   to  the  National  Association  of  Home  Builders/First American Leading  Markets  index,  the Baton Rouge housing market is the most rapidly recovering in the nation,  and New Orleans is No. 9 on  the  list.  Norman Morris is the CEO of the  Louisiana  Realtors Association. He says  areas  across  the  state  are  seeing  a nice housing boom. He  also says The Bayou State weathered the recent housing recession better than most states.


Northwestern  State University President Randy Webb announced Friday he will retire later in the year. Under   Webb,   Northwestern   State   has  received  national   and international  attention  for  its  academic  programs  and  student accomplishments.


LSU has completed a survey  on  two social issues that are gaining a lot  of  attention,  the  legalization  of marijuana  and  same  sex marriages. Amy Reynolds, director of the Reilly Center for Media and Public affairs says they found the support  for legalizing marijuana  in Louisiana is on the rise with 79% of people  saying pot should be legal for medical use. She says  the  support   for  same  sex  marriages increased from 39 to 42 percent over the past year as well.


A  Democratic  lawmaker from Amite is criticizing Republican leaders for calling for the  resignation  of  Congressman  Vance McAllister, when  they backed Senator David Vitter amidst his scandal.  La.  GOP chairman   Roger   Villere   said   McAllister   is  a  hypocritical embarrassment. Rep. John Bel Edwards, who plans to  run for Governor says Villirie is the hypocrite. Edwards questions why Vitter taking phone calls from prostitutes  is any  different from Congressman McAllister making out with a married woman who worked for him.


The Sulphur Police Department says a former  LSU football player was shot Friday  night. They say Tahj Jones, who played for The Tigers as a linebacker and was at last week's Pro Day, was  allegedly injured by a  bullet  and  taken  to  a  hospital. He is said to be  in  stable condition. An arrest has been made  according  to  authorities but a suspect's name is not being released at this time.


The largest cruise ship ever to be docked at the Port of New Orleans  arrives today. The 36-hundred passenger Carnival Dream will begin year  round, 6 day Caribbean departures starting at 4 o'clock this afternoon.  Senior Vice President of Fleet Deployment Terry Thornton says this ship  is 30% bigger than their last ship and can hold 4 thousand people.


The House Transportation committee is scheduled to hear a bill today that would designate a section of I-49 in St. Landry Parish as a  "Slow Down Speed Trap." The bill is by Shreveport Representative Alan  Seabaugh introduced the bill. The proposed law calls on the department of transportation to place  signage near the Washington exit reflecting the highway designation. Seabaugh believes that the town of Washington is not using the speed  limit laws as they were intended.


A lawmaker from Kenner wants people to be required to have a dog  secured in a humane manner when the animal is in the back of a pickup  truck traveling on the interstate. Representative Tom Willmott's House  Bill 1091 would do just that. He says dogs in the bed of a truck that  is going a high rate of speed could be considered an unsecured load. Willmott says he's heard several stories about dogs flying out of  trucks on interstates who then get run over and killed. He also says  these types of incidents could cause serious crashes.


The full senate is scheduled to vote on a bill this afternoon that  would require judges to sentence a person convicted of a home invasion  armed with a dangerous weapon to five years in prison. Right now,  there's no minimum jail time, while the maximum sentence is 30 years. The legislation was approved unanimously by a state senate committee  last week.



News For Friday 04/11/14

News For Friday 041114

By Dave Graichen


Several local businesses were recognized Thursday at the Central Louisiana Torch Awards.  The awards, presented by the Better Business Bureau, recognize local companies and nonprofits in areas such as integrity and customer service. This Year’s winners were:  Hixson Brothers Funeral Home for Integrity. Chick-fil-A for customer Commitment, The nonprofit Award went to St. Mary’s Residential Training School of Alexandria and finally, the Good Neighbor Award went to Our parent company, Cenla Broadcasting. Congratulations to all involved.


No raise in the $7.25 minimum wage in Louisiana this year. A series of bills that would have done just that failed to pass out of the House Labor committee on Thursday. Dawn Starns, state director of the National Federation of Independent  Business, testified a higher minimum wage in the state would lead to lay-offs and higher prices for  consumers.


Gov. Bobby Jindal bolstered the Louisiana Republican Party’s call Thursday for 5th district congressman  Vance McAllister to resign in the wake of a “kissing congressman” controversy.  The governor, in a prepared statement said “Congressman McAllister’s behavior is an embarrassment and he should resign. He says he wants privacy to work on his issues with his family. The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress. Earlier in the day, the GOP made a similar request.


A bill that would name the Holy Bible as the official state book of Louisiana passes out of a House committee yesterday. The measure passed on an 8-5 vote and now heads to the house floor.


Federal officials have warned Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration that it will withhold $307 million in Medicaid money from the state if no agreement has been reached on financing plans for the privatized LSU hospitals. Jindal’s health secretary, Kathy Kliebert, said Thursday the announcement was expected because of continuing negotiations over financing plans for uninsured care at LSU hospitals that have been privatized. Most of LSU’s charity hospitals were turned over to private managers, but federal officials haven’t decided yet whether they’ll agree to the money arrangements used to pay the new hospital operators.


The Colorado State University hurricane forecast team is calling for a  below-average hurricane season. C-S-U researcher Phil Klotzbach says  they anticipate nine named storms and only three hurricanes this year.  Klotzbach says an El Nino will likely develop in the Pacific, which will  effect storm development in the Atlantic. The report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making

landfall on US soil and Klotzbach says there's a 19-percent chance of a  Category 3 or higher hurricane hitting the gulf coast.


One of the state's largest festivals gets underway today, The  Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival gets underway at 4:00 today and it's estimated to attract 200-thousand people over the next three days.


Tax Day is just a few days away, which means thousands of Louisiana  taxpayers will spend this weekend filling out their tax forms. I-R-S  spokeswoman Lea Crusberg says once you get your paperwork together  electronic filing may be the way to go. The deadline for filing your taxes is midnight on April 15. Crusberg says if you need to file for an extension, it is easy to get one. But, that will not let you off the hook for your tax bill.


The presence of LSU Athletics generated almost $400 million dollars in  new sales and $119 million in new household earnings for the four  parishes surrounding the university in 2012. That's according to a  study conducted but former LSU economics professor Dr. Loren Scott. He  says these numbers are quadruple what they were in 2002.


Good news for crawfish lovers. As temperatures are finally starting to  warm up, the supply of crawfish is heating up and the price is going  down. The size of the mud bugs are still rather small. But, the President of the Crawfish Farmers Association David Savoy says they should be getting larger as the weeks go by. 


News For Thursday 04/10/14

News for Thursday 041014

By Dave Graichen


The House Labor Committee  is scheduled to hear several bills today that would raise the state's minimum wage,  which  is currently $7.25  an  hour.  One  of  the  items  of legislation would raise it to $10.10 which opponents say would force  businesses to hire fewer people. Proponents say it would give workers a livable wage.


Gas prices keep climbing. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular jumped two pennies last night to $3.41. That's also up 17 cents from last month.


The Colorado State University Forecast team will issue its initial   forecast for the 2014 season today. State Climatologist Barry Keim  anticipates Doctor William Gray and Phil Klotzbach  will call for an

 average season, because there's a  50 percent chance an El Nino will  form later this year. Keim says an average season would be 10 to 12 named storms. He says an   El Nino makes it less conducive for storms to form in the Atlantic.


The office of Vance McAllister says they are backing off their request  that the FBI investigate whether or not the leaking of the surveillance  kissing video was a federal breach in security. Legal analyst Tim Meche  doesn't think a crime took place. He says this video came from a  surveillance camera at the office and everyone knew it was there. Word is now, the state’s GOP Executive Committee, may today ask McAllister to resign.


The pending closure of Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville is moving ahead, with the latest step coming with Senate approval. Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 48 was adopted by a 26-11 vote on Tuesday. It next goes to the House for consideration. HPL was the last of the state’s public hospitals to have its services transferred to private partners. A cooperative endeavor agreement between the state, Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and Rapides Regional Medical Center is transferring those services to clinics operated by the two hospitals and the hospitals themselves.


A plan that would create a $40 million pot of money that Louisiana’s colleges and universities would then compete over, sailed through the state House overwhelmingly Wednesday on a 100-0 vote.  The plan would set aside 80 percent of the funding for workforce development. Every public college or university in the state would get a shot to collect a share of the money depending on how many graduates they produce in high-demand fields such as computer science and engineering. In order to draw down the funds, schools would have to come up with a 20 percent match in private investments. It now heads to the Senate for a vote.


The House Health and Welfare committee  approved  a  bill Wednesday that would require abortion clinics to provide information to the patient about  possible  psychological  effects  associated  with  ending  a pregnancy. Baton Rouge Representative Barry Ivey says this info will be  contained  in  a  pamphlet  that  women  seeking abortions would receive.  The measure passed without objection and now heads to the House floor.


The  House  Criminal Justice Committee agreed with a bill today that would remove  the  state's  anti-sodomy  law from the state's books. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith  says  she  authored  this bill,  because the Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the law violates the constitution. The bill now heads to the house floor.


A  bill  that  would  allow  concealed carry permit holders to bring their gun into certain places  that  sell  alcohol  passed Wednesday afternoon on the House Floor. The bill now heads to the  Senate  for

further consideration.


A bill that would ban motorists from using  certain  hand  held cell phones  in  school zones got approval from the full House Wednesday. House Bill 370 received  unanimous  approval  and  now  heads to the Senate.


Pointe  Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres has suspended three of  his deputies  for  allegedly  giving  special  treatment  to a New Roads police  officer  who  was  involved in a crash, while off-duty.  The

officer, Captain Mark Munson,  was  suspected of driving while drunk and he's been suspended too.



News For Wednesday 04/09/14

News for Wednesday 040914

By Dave Graichen


Sad story today out  of  Winnfield.  Winn  Parish  Sheriff  Cranford Jordan (Jerdon) says the search for a three year old little boy  who fell  into  a creek Monday has ended with the boy’s body being found. He says they received the 911 call around  10:30  am  Monday about a child who had fallen into the water. Jordon says the boy slipped under  a  culvert and he drowned.


5th district congressman Vance McAllister in an exclusive interview with The (Monroe) News-Star, said he asked his wife, Kelly, and their five children for forgiveness weeks ago, before the release Monday of a video showing him kissing another woman. He said the relationship was “absolutely” his first infidelity.


So how might the Vance McAllister kissing video scandal affect the election for the 5th District Seat coming up this fall? Political analyst Elliott  Stonecipher says this might be the end of McAllister. Stonecipher believes the reason someone wanted to tarnish McAllister's reputation is so that more candidates would jump into the Congressional  race. He feels state Senator Neil Riser, who was Bobby Jindal's choice  for the job in the 2013 special election, will pop back up. Stonecipher  believes the Jindal Administration and Timmy Teeple are behind this. Stonecipher says there's also a rumor that Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo has  an interest in yanking McAllister's family values platform.


The  Rapides  Parish  Sheriff's  Office  says two deputies have been arrested and fired for allegedly engaging  in  inappropriate  sexual behavior  with  an inmate at the jail. Spokesman Tommy Carnline says the  charges  are against  56-year-old  John  William  Benjamin  and 51-year-old Donald Weston. Carnline says Benjamin and Weston were each charged with Malfeasance in Office and Prohibited Sexual Contact with an inmate.


The senate health and welfare committee gives unanimous approval to  legislation that would give hospitals the ability to NOT hire someone  just because that person smokes. The bill by New Orleans Senator David  Heitmeier has the support of the hospital industry. Catherine Levendis,  with the Ochsner Health System, spoke in favor of the bill.  Levendis says hospitals are also interested in implementing a tobacco  free living policy for its workers, because they want to protect  patients from known carcinogens that could be found on a smoker's  clothes, hair or skin.


A  bill  that  would  ban unmanned aircraft devices from flying over chemical plants or water  facilities  passed  in  a Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Baton Rouge Senator Bodi White's says he bill would make  it  illegal  use  a  drone  to take surveillance of  "critical infrastructure sites" without prior written consent of the owner. The   measure  advanced  to  full  Senate  without objection.


A senate committee approves legislation that would allow lawmakers who  possess a concealed handgun permit to bring their gun into the state  capitol. Franklin Senator Brent Allain says legislators should have the  ability to protect themselves. He says the proposed law requires an  armed legislator to undergo annual firearms training. The measure passed on a five-to three vote and heads to the Senate  floor.


The  latest  campaign  finance reports show US Senator Mary Landrieu continues to our raise her main republican challenger in the 2014 US Senate race. Landrieu's campaign says the Senator raised 1.8 million dollars  in  the first three  months  of  2014,  while  Baton  Rouge Congressman  Bill   Cassidy  collected  1-point-2  million  dollars. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat  says you can expect  to start seeing the money being spent on ads here in about two or three months.


Penalties would go up dramatically in vehicular homicide cases involving accidents in which two or more people die under a bill headed to the Senate floor. The Senate Committee on Judiciary C approved the measure Tuesday under which the offender would be sentence separately for each victim. In addition, the sentences would run consecutively. Senate Bill 148 would also include the unborn who dies along with a pregnant woman as a feticide victim. The feticide provision was added in committee.


Representatives from all 32 NFL teams are in Baton Rouge today to scout  LSU players that are eligible for next month's draft. It's a big day for  quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is expected to throw in front of  scouts, for the first time since tearing his A-C-L in November. NFL  draft analyst Mike Detillier says LSU will have 20 former players participating in a variety of drills  during today's Pro Day. Detillier says there's only one sure first round  pick out of the group and that's wide receiver Odell Beckham junior.





News For Tuesday 04/08/14

News for Tuesday 040814

By Dave Graichen


Freshman  GOP  Congressman Vance McAllister has issued an apology in response  to the  video  released  Monday  showing  him  romantically kissing a woman  for almost 30 seconds from inside his congressional office in Monroe.  The Monroe News Star says Vance McAllister issued statement asking for  forgiveness  from  his family and constituents Monday afternoon.


A  statewide poll shows that voters in Louisiana are generally split on the  idea of Common Core, but would support education reform. The study indicated 41% of people are for common core, while 40% percent are against it. But it also asked how they felt about implementation of education standards that are more in line with most other schools across the  US  and  only  27%  of  people say that oppose that.


According to an audit released Monday,  the state should beef up its bridge  inspection process in Louisiana. Legislative  auditor  Daryl Purpera's report says the Department of Transportation is just fully compliant  with  39%  of  federal  standards in place to be used for bridge inspections. DOTD spokeswoman  Lauren Lee says they are happy with their bridge inspection program. But  she  says they do agree with the audit's  recommendations  that they should  improve its inspection frequency, procedures and bridge inventory.


Another legislative  audit  report  that  came  out Monday, estimates districts  courts  were not able to collect 126-million  dollars  in court costs and fines. The report says collection efforts need to be



According to the WWE, Wrestlemania  30 broke the record for the most money ever spent at the Mercedes-Benz  Superdome.  The  Sunday event brought in over 75,000 people and grossed $10.9 million dollars.


St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Deputies are asking for  public  help in locating  two missing juveniles.  12 year-old Ariel Blaze Robin  was last seen getting  into  a  2001 Mercury driven by 15 year-old Henry

Bieber, Jr. Both suffer from severe depression and are considered at risk.  If  you  have  any  information,   please   call  St.  Landry Crimestoppers.


A state Senate committee is expected  to  hear  legislation  today that  will  prohibit  using  drones  to  take  pictures  of  private property.  Baton  Rouge  Senator Dan Claitor says he wants Louisiana

laws to keep up with technology and promote privacy. Claitor says the bill will  not  impact  the  use  of drones for law enforcement purposes that help with crime scene investigations.


The  House  overwhelmingly approves a bill that would  fine  someone $300 if they  threw  a  cigarette butt out of a car window.  Marrero Representative Patrick Connick  says  his legislation is intended to

stop  the littering of cigarette butts.  The House passed the bill on a 95 to 1 vote and it now heads to the Senate for further discussion.


The state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Monday that would strengthen the state’s 2008 ban on cockfighting. The bill sponsored by Sen. J.P. Morrell would expand the state’s ban on cockfighting to include all types of chickens. It also would make it a crime to possess paraphernalia, such as razors, spurs, leather spur covers and other items commonly used in the sport, together with chickens that have been trained as fighting birds. The measure passed on a 31-7 vote, but not before senators again debated the merits of a “sport” known as “chicken boxing.”



News For Monday 04/07/14

News for Monday 040714

By Dave Graichen


A new poll on Louisiana's US Senate race shows Senator Mary Landrieu leading  three  republican  challengers.  In a survey of 600 voters, 39-percent favored her, while 26-percent preferred  GOP  Congressman Bill Cassidy. State representative Paul  Hollis  and retired air force colonel Rob Maness received single digit support  in  the  poll.  28-percent  of respondents said they were undecided.


A look ahead to the 2015 governor's race shows a statistical tie between  republican senator David Vitter and democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch  Landrieu. Vitter is running, while it's unknown if Landrieu will run. UL  Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross doesn't expect  Landrieu to run, so it's Vitter's race to lose. In the Magellan Strategies poll of 600 voters, Vitter received support  from 28-percent of the respondents, 26-percent said they would vote for  Landrieu and another 13-percent backed republican Lt. Governor Jay  Dardenne.


Grambling  State  President  Frank Pogue announces he's retiring and his last day at the university is June 30th. Pogue says when he came out of retirement to take the  job as GSU's president, he planned to stay for five years, but that wasn’t to be. Pogue  says  the  last  few  years  have  been  challenging  as  the university's state funding was cut by  more  than 56-percent.


Today marks the start of Work Zone Awareness Week and the State  Department of Transportation is asking motorists to slow down in  construction zones and pay attention. DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas says  this awareness week makes drivers more mindful of safety issues on the  road. Based on the latest statistics available, 609 people nationwide lost  their lives in construction zones in 2012 and 12 were from Louisiana.


The bill that will create a penalty for throwing cigarette butts from a  vehicle is set to come up on the House floor today. State Representative  Patrick Connick says he wants to clarify the law and make cigarette  butts count as a form of litter. Under the proposed law, violators would be fined 300 dollars and ordered  to perform eight hours of community service. The Marrero rep says  when the bill was discussed in committee there was no opposition because  lawmakers seem to understand this is an issue.


A bill that a lawmaker from Opelousas fears will ruin the sport of  chicken boxing is scheduled to come up on the Senate floor today. The  legislation by New Orleans Senator JP Morrell expands Louisiana's ban on  cockfighting by applying all chickens to the law and also making it  illegal to own such paraphernalia. Senator Elbert Guillory opposes.  Guillory says under Senate Bill 523, anyone who owns any type of  aggressive chicken would be breaking the law which he calls ludicrous.  He says it's time for everyone in Louisiana to realize that "chicken  boxing" is a real sport and it's perfectly legal.


State Senator Bret Allain, R-Franklin, wants legislators to be able to pack a pistol in the State Capitol chambers and committee rooms. According to the lawmaker, they make votes  all the time that are controversial, that sometimes upset groups of people. He think that legislators as a whole should have the same right to protect themselves as judges and Da’s Allain submitted Senate Bill 651 just before the filing deadline for new legislation. The bill must be debated in the next two months in order to reach the governor’s desk.




News For Friday 04/04/14

News for Friday 040414

By Dave Graichen


Investigators from the Louisiana State Police and the FBI arrested the chief of police and an officer from the town of Lecompte yesterday. Chief Mikel White was charged with extortion, malfeasance in office, and false imprisonment.  Officer Gregory Armstead was charged with malfeasance in office and false imprisonment. The charges stem from an incident last month in which chief white was captured on video threatening a man who owed him money. The victim was handcuffed and taken into custody by Officer Armstead at the order of the Chief.  The victim was eventually released without being charged for any crime.


Could  the discussion of Common Core be  essentially  dead  for  the session?  A  bill  that  would scrap the new controversial education standards  set to begin next  year  was  voted  down  by  the  House Education Committee  12-7 yesterday,  despite  Governor  Bobby  Jindal's  last minute backing.


Testimony continues today in the penalty phase of Brian Horn's  capital murder trial. Horn has already been convicted for killing 12  year old Justin Bloxom in 2010. Horn was found guilty of picking up Justin in a Taxi after sending texts  pretending to be a girl. Horn ended up strangling the child and leaving  his body in a wooded area. The DA says they are seeking the death penalty.


There  was  a  bill  to  reduce  the  penalties  of simple marijuana possession  introduced by New Orleans Representative  Austin  Badon. Now it looks as if it won't be able to get out of the House Criminal Justice Committee.  Badon was trying to make a case that the current 20 year sentence is excessive. His proposal would have reduced the penalty to five years.


Also not leaving committee today was a Senate Bill by Mike Walsworth of West Monroe that would allow  certain people to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. There was no discussion  on  the  legislation that only got 5 votes and failed 3-2. Those who oppose the  bill say data clearly indicates wearing a helmets saves lives.


The Louisiana House supported a rewrite of Louisiana’s career-track diploma law, to match a new policy of the state education board that will require public high school students who aren’t college-bound to get job skills certifications to get a diploma. House Bill 944 by state Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, was sent to the state Senate with a 94-0 vote Thursday. The redesign, pushed by Superintendent of Education John White, emphasizes skills training for students who don’t intend to go to a four-year university.


Public school students in Louisiana who show proficiency in a language other than English could be able to get a state “Seal of Biliteracy” on their diplomas, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House in an 86-0 vote Thursday. House Bill 1016 by state Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, would encourage local school districts to participate in the program, but wouldn’t require it.


The Ascension Parish Sheriff's office says a woman who was trying to get away  from her husband with a divorce was found killed allegedly by his hand before the man turned the gun on himself. They say their teenage son  found  his  parents  around  midnight Thursday morning  in  the Gonzales residence. The wife was dead and the husband had a gunshot  wound to the  head  but  was  still  alive and is currently listed in serious condition. The investigation is ongoing.


The  state  House  approves  a  package  of domestic violence  bills sponsored by New Orleans Representative Helena  Moreno.  One of the, House   Bill  753  received  unanimous  support.  Moreno  says  this legislation will prevent certain offenders of domestic violence from owning a gun. Another  bill  that  passed  Thursday  enhances the penalties for anyone that violates a restraining order  or protective order. The measures head to the Senate.


The Lafayette  Police  Department  says  the mother of a 5 month old baby who died of suffocation in January is charged with murder. They say the child was brought to the hospital  where the mother reported a plastic shopping bag had covered her baby's  head.  Corporal  Paul Mouton says they received new information in the case and the woman, 20-year-old  Raven  Senegal of Lafayette, was arrested Wednesday and charged with 1st degree murder.


With hurricane season coming up, emergency preparedness officials are  going through a statewide training exercise that's testing their  disaster response capabilities. Kevin Davis, director of the Governor's  Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says federal,  state and local agencies are participating in this drill.


20th ranked LSU hosts 9th ranked Mississippi State tonight at Alex Box Stadium. Aaron Nola has been the Tigers traditional Friday starter, but  Coach Paul Mainieri will pitch freshman Jared Poche instead tonight.  Nola will pitch tomorrow night. Mainieri says since Nola pitched last  Saturday, he wanted to rest him six days, before he pitched him again.



News For Thursday 04/03/14

News for Thursday 040314

By Dave Graichen


An unidentified man died Wednesday morning after being struck by a train in Ball.  Authorities report the engineer of the Union Pacific train saw a pedestrian walking northbound along a train track as he rounded a corner. The train’s whistle was blown, but the man, who appeared to be in his early 20, did not respond. He was struck by the train and killed. It’s reported he was wearing headphones with loud music playing.  Ball police believe the man may have been homeless or someone who lives in the area.


A public meeting is set for today to present information about an upcoming city of Alexandria election for a tax to fund recreation and the Alexandria Zoo. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Alexandria Senior High School. The election on May 3 will ask Alexandria residents to vote on a proposal for a 6-mill property tax. Three mills would be dedicated to funding recreation and three to the zoo.


Legislation that would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring their  gun  inside  a restaurant that sells alcohol now heads to the House Floor. House Bill  72  by  Metairie Representative Joe Lopinto passed in House Criminal Justice by  a  9-4  vote.


A  jury  of  six  men  and six women have found a child sex offender from North Louisiana  guilty.  Brian Horn was found guilty yesterday afternoon of  kidnapping  and  killing 12 year-old Justin Bloxum in 2010.  It took the jury less than one hour to  come  to that verdict after closing arguments.  Horn is eligible for the death penalty.


Gas prices statewide have increased by more than 10 cents in the past  month. The American Automobile Association Fuel Analyst Don Redman says  the average price in Louisiana right now is about $3.35 because  refineries are switching from a winter blend to a summer blend of gas  but Redman says they aren't expecting prices to skyrocket.  Redman says he hopes the max high for gas prices in our state will be  about $3.50 a gallon.


The House Criminal Justice committee will hear a bill today that would  reduce the maximum prison sentence for those who are convicted of  possessing marijuana on multiple occasions. House Bill 14 would reduce maximum prison time on a 3rd pot possession  conviction to five years and beyond that the max would be eight years  in prison. Under current law, someone who has three or more  convictions  of possession of marijuana could be sentenced to a maximum 20 years in  jail.


A huge parade and party is happening on Fort Polk today to honor the  members of the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division who recently  returned from their nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. Anne Causey is  the Executive Director of the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce, she says everything kicks off today at 1pm. The public is invited to attend all of the day’s events.


A lawmaker from Opelousas  is  concerned  legislation  headed to the Senate  floor  that  broadens Louisiana's ban on cockfighting  would interfere with the sport  of  chicken  boxing. Senate Bill 523 would make possessing any type of cockfighting paraphernalia a felony. But Senator Elbert Guillory says the Baton Rouge  Senator  JP  Morrell's law  would  criminalize chicken boxing. Guillory  compared  chicken boxing to human kick boxing and said it's perfectly legal. The plea was on deaf ears, Morrell's bill ended up passing 4-2.


Houma police say the  pit  bull  responsible  for  the  death  of  a 4-year-old  little  girl last week did not have rabies. The test was requested after the animal  viciously attacked Mia DeRouen who later

died at a local hospital from  injuries to her head and neck. Police say the investigation is still ongoing,  but Animal Control reported the dog cannot be tested for steroids because he is dead.


If  you like to dance, check  this  out.  Coming  up  this  Saturday producers  of  the squeal to the movie Pitch Perfect are looking for Louisiana male and  a female dancers for the film. A casting call is

set for 11am-6pm Saturday  at  Ric  Seeling's  Dance Studio in Baton Rouge.


Police  in  New Orleans are investigating the discovery  of  a  dead Reserve couple,  whose  bodies  were  pulled  from  the Intracoastal Waterway in New Orleans East.  Authorities think that  they  may have been  murdered,  as  both  victims  were  found  bound.  The body of twenty-nine  year old Lakeitha Joseph was found several  weeks  ago, and Kenneth Joseph's body was found about a week ago.


If you're  going  to  break into a home, don't try and do it while a U.S. Attorney is walking  his dog.  Especially if it's U.S. Attorney James Green. He was on that  walk  when  he  saw  a  man  trying  to

burglarize  a relative's home in Baton Rouge. Judge Green confronted the man, they  struggled,  and  the  suspect fled.  Police caught up with  58  year-old  Sidney J. Parker and  charged  him  with  simple burglary and simple battery.


The Super Bowl of wrestling is coming to New Orleans this weekend.  Wrestlemania 30 will be held at the Mercedes Benz Super Dome on Sunday.   StubHub Spokesperson Cameron Papp says ticket sales are going really  well for this event.  Papp says a big draw to Wrestlemania this year is the location. He says  people are eager to visit New Orleans and a lot of visitors from Texas  and New York are expected to attend.



News For Wednesday 04/02/14

News For Wednesday 040214

By Dave Graichen


It didn’t take long, Alexandria Police have charged a Pineville man with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a Laredo, Texas man, whose body was found Monday afternoon in the 100 block of Chester Street. 31 year old  Mark Russell Thomas was arrested Monday night and booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Thomas is accused of shooting 37 year old Jenain Simmons. The motive behind the shooting has not been released by the police as the investigation is ongoing.


The House Criminal Justice Committee will hear legislation today that  deals with allowing concealed carry permit holders to bring their gun  into certain places that sell alcohol. Bossier City Rep Jeff Thompson's  proposed law, House Bill 20, says if you have a concealed carry permit,  you can bring your weapon into a Class A establishment.  Thompson says his legislation applies to places who get the vast  majority of their sales from food like an Chilies. He says people have  the right to protect their families when they go out to eat dinner.


A  bill  is  now headed to the House Floor that would ban the use of cell phones through  a school zone. The  legislation  that  would fine violators $175 on a first offense and $500 on subsequent offenses passed 8-7.


A Donaldsonville High school teacher and coach has  been  arrested  on charges  of  giving  steroids  to  a  student  athlete.   Fifty-six year-old  Curtis  Tsurada was booked into the Ascension Parish  Jail

today on distribution  of schedule 3 CDS, distribution to a student, and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.


A bid to label some communities as “speed traps” was watered down, then shelved Tuesday in the Louisiana House. The proposal, House Bill 961, would require communities deriving more than 50 percent of their revenue from speeding tickets erect “speed trap” signs, including blinking lights.

The House yanked the “speed trap” language from the measure and replaced it with “strict speed enforcement zone,” minus any requirement that it include lights. The bill was later returned to the House calendar, which likely kills the measure for this session. The plan was opposed by the influential Louisiana Municipal Association, which represents city and town governments across the state.


The Louisiana Senate on Tuesday endorsed a bill that would require private schools to account for funds they receive for the education of voucher students. The Senate voted 35-0 for the measure.

Senate Bill 460 sponsor state Sen. Robert Adley said the legislative auditor found it “difficult to follow the public funds.” The legislation would require the voucher schools to account for the funds separately or develop an accounting procedure that would allow the tracking. The bill now heads to the House.


A proposed constitutional amendment that would scrap the mandatory age 70 retirement for Louisiana judges sailed through the Senate on Tuesday. Senate Bill 11, sponsored by state Sen. Eric Lafleur, D-Ville Platte, received a 34-0 vote, far more than the two-thirds majority needed in the 39 member Senate. The bill heads to the House where it died last year.


State  Police  say  a  woman from Bastrop who did not pull over when officers were trying to  stop  her  from speeding, ended up crashing her car and suffering fatal injuries.  Trooper  Albert  Paxton  says

63-year-old Patricia Porter was not buckled up. He says they are not sure why she didn't stop.


The state senate gave unanimous approval to legislation  that  would allow  a victim of domestic abuse to be granted an immediate divorce from their spouse. Similar legislation is also being debated in the House.


Extensive  debate  begins  today in the House education committee over Common Core. The new public  educational  standards  in reading, writing and math will take full effect next year. But,  one of the bills up  for debate would get rid of Common Core all together. Debate  on  Common  core  is  expected to last until Thursday.


State Sen. Ben Nevers wanted to lower the cost of payday loans in Louisiana by limiting the amount of interest that can be charged annually. By the time Senate Bill 84 emerged from the Senate Committee on Judiciary A Tuesday, it was a substantially different proposal. The cap on annual interest fees disappeared. In its place is a prohibition against consumers taking out more than 10 payday loans in a year. The committee also added language setting up a database so the state can keep better tabs on how many dollars consumers are borrowing.


Governor  Jindal's  recent  trip  to Asia reportedly cost  taxpayers 57-thousand dollars. Jindal went to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan in January in the hopes that the trip  will  lead to increased business

in Louisiana from Asian companies. Security,  rental  cars,  lodging and airfare led to the 57-thousand dollar expense.


A coffee design created by a Starbucks at the Mall of  Louisiana  in Baton  Rouge  has yielded an apology to a woman who complained about what appeared to  be  a  devil pentagram star drawn in the foam. The consumer, Megan Pinion, was  so  offended,  she  decided  to  post a picture  of  the  design  on Facebook.  Once Starbucks became aware, they issued an immediate apology.


The Caddo Parish Sheriff's office says two people are under arrest for  allegedly exchanging sexually explicit pictures of a 2 month old baby  over Facebook. Spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick says a 28-year-old Shreveport  woman, Brandi Brown, is accused of production of child pornography  involving a two-month old family member. Chadwick says Brown is accused of taking the sexually explicit  photographs and then Facebook private messaging them to another man.


News For Tuesday 04/01/14

News For Tuesday 040114

By Dave Graichen


The APD reports a shooting Monday afternoon near Chester Street has left one person dead. Around 12:45 p.m., the department responded to a shots fired call near the 100 block of Chester Street. A victim found at the scene was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The victim's identity hasn't been released pending notification of the family. The investigation is ongoing.


The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office reports the arrest of a man from Ball,  who  allegedly  had repeated sexual relations with a juvenile victim thirty times.  Twenty-three  year old Devon Paul Lockhart was charged with 30 counts of carnal knowledge  of  a  juvenile.  He was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center with  a bond of $150 thousand  dollars.


The Turner Street YMCA has closed indefinitely due to lack of funding. The iconic facility has been a fixture in Alexandria since it opened in 1967, but recent financial trouble left the YMCA of Central Louisiana needing an infusion of cash to keep it open. Board members still hold out hope that donations to reopen Turner Street will materialize. Between $150,000 and $200,000 is needed.


Practically all of Cleco’s customers had power restored Monday afternoon after strong storms hit the area this weekend. According to Cleco’s online outage report, only one customer, in Allen Parish, was without power by 6 p.m. Monday.


Baker Police say they are investigating a Friday night shooting at a birthday  party  that  claimed  the lives of 3 teenagers. They say a 16-year-old, who will be tried as  an  adult according to the DA, is

in custody accused in the murders. The incident  took  place  during the private party with the suspect allegedly just fired into an open crowd.


A  Deridder  woman is dead and her crazed boyfriend is under  arrest for her Saturday  night  strangulation death inside her home.  Caddo Parish Sheriff's Deputies were able to track down 40 year-old Jeremy A. Bunch in Shreveport, then  transported  him  back  to  Beauregard Parish to face charges for allegedly killing 40 year-old Mandy Kirl. Bunch has been charged with second-degree murder.


The Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's  office says they've identified a body found in False River as a woman  with dementia who went missing from  a  New Roads nursing home last week.  Investigators  say  Isla Lazare went  out  to smoke a cigarette on March 27th then never came back. She was found in the River this weekend and the cause of death was drowning officials say.


The House of Representatives approves legislation that would require abortion doctors to have admitting  privileges at nearby hospitals. Opponents  argued when the legislation  was  discussed  in  a  House committee that  this  measure  will  close  five  abortion  clinics, leaving just two open in the Shreveport area. But when the bill  was brought  up  for  discussion  on  the  House  floor,  no  one voiced opposition and it passed easily. The bill is heading to the Senate for their approval.


A business magazine called "Area Development" ranks Louisiana in the top   5   in   numerous   categories,   including  overall  business environment, most cooperative state government  and  overall cost of doing business. Greater New Orleans Inc President Michael Hecht says it's  a third-party validation of the work being done here  to  make Louisiana a business friendly state. Hecht says  he  even  has consultants that say Louisiana is a better place to do business than Texas.


A gay  rights  bill  that would have added sexual orientation to the Louisiana Equal Housing Opportunity Act as a list of things property owners can't use to turn  people  away  for  housing was shot down in House Commerce committee yesterday. The vote against the measure was 13-5.


300 jobs are coming to a small town in Webster Parish as a company from  Texas plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Springhill.  IntegriCo Composites announced plans to build a $20 million plant that  will produce railroad ties, rail crossings and industrial mats. The new manufacturing facility will create an annual salary of $35,000 plus benefits for employees.


A bill that  would ban employers and school officials from requiring log-in information  from applicants and students passes in the House Commerce Committee Monday.  Baton Rouge Representative Ted James says people should feel free to post  whatever  they want on their social media sites without their superiors knowing  about  it. The bill now heads to the House floor.


Citing the rising number of heroin overdoses and subsequent deaths, State Senator Dan Claitor says his legislation to increase the penalty on those distributing the drug will be taken up in Senate Judiciary committee today. The Baton Rouge lawmaker says the sentence for the crime use to be life in prison which the legislature moved away from years ago. Under Senate Bill 87, the maximum term of imprisonment at hard labor  for the manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to  distribute heroin would increase from 50 years to 99 years.


A plan to reward Louisiana colleges and universities with increased funding for every engineering, computer science or other in-demand degree cleared its first hurdle Monday when the measure passed through the House Appropriations Committee. House Bill 1033 creates the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, commonly called WISE — a $40 million pool of money Louisiana schools would compete over. Institutions would be able to draw money from the fund based on the type of research they conduct and the number of students who graduate with degrees in fields that match the needs of the state’s economy.


The  state  House Transportation Committee approves legislation that would prohibit  using  cameras  to  issue  traffic  tickets on state highways. The measure now heads to the House floor.


Individuals who  attack  referees  or  officials  at a youth athletic event will face larger fines under legislation that passed the House on  a  93-to-1  vote.  The  senate  will  now  decide  whether Henry's bill that calls  for higher fines for punching or shoving an official should become law.


Another deadly drunk  driving  incident  from over the weekend.  Two people are dead and three others injured following  an  early Sunday morning  crash  on I-10 on the new Mississippi Bridge.  The  victims are 26 year-old Johnny  Galmon  and  19  year-old  Kandace Cox.  The driver; 38-year-old Derick Matthews was arrested on numerous charges including 2 counts of vehicular homicide and DWI.



News For Monday 03/31/14

News for Monday 033114

By Dave Graichen


Louisiana's unemployment rate fell  to  its  lowest  level since mid 2008  in  the  month  of February according to the US Department  of Labor. The state's unemployment  rate was 4.9 percent in  January and was 4.5 percent last month.


Today is the last day to sign-up for private health insurance plans  offered through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Blue  Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana spokesperson Robin Mayhall says the  federal government is not requiring the uninsured to purchase a plan by  the end of today, but start the process if you want coverage in 2014. The federal government reports there's been an increase in the last  week in the number of uninsured people signing up for coverage through

the Health Insurance Marketplace.


State  officials  announce that  the  Phelps  Correction  Center  in Dequincy will re-open.  The  state  closed  the facility in November 2012,  resulting  in  300  employees  losing  their  jobs  or  being

transferred to another prison. But the prison is  re-opening  and it will  house  about  three-hundred  adult  men,  who  are non-violent offenders that are within four years within their release date.


Today lawmakers will discuss legislation that would put regulations on  traffic cameras that issues tickets. New Orleans Representative Jeff  Arnold has filed bills in the past to put certain restrictions on the  cameras that can issue tickets, and one of the three bills before  committee today deals with issuing citations through the mail. House Bill 859 would require that automated traffic enforcement

systems use the standardized yellow light time. Arnold says studies  have shown that the best way to reduce accidents is to extend the  caution light time.


The House Commerce committee will hear legislation today that will  prohibit an employer or a school from asking for a person's log-in and  password information for their personal e-mail or social media page.  The bill by Baton Rouge Representative Ted James also states that an  employer can't fire someone if they don't give up that information.


On April 5th there are several local governments in Louisiana that  have tax measures on the ballot and voter turnout for that election  will likely be low. That's why state senator Bret Allain of Franklin (ah-Leh) has filed a constitutional amendment to require at least a  voter turnout of 20% before any tax measure would be implemented. Allain doesn't think it's right that very small percentages of people  show up at the polls then vote on a tax that will apply to everyone in their municipality.


After months of arguments outside the State Capitol, lawmakers are set to cast their first votes Wednesday on the future of the academic standards known as Common Core. In an unusual move, the House Education Committee will devote what may be a daylong hearing, and possibly more, strictly to the bills that would repeal or revamp the classroom goals, which were adopted by Louisiana and 44 other states.


A Boston-based hedge fund is threatening to shut down a major pipeline that provides natural gas to thousands in Louisiana and Mississippi. ArcLight Capital Partners is threatening to abandon the American Midstream Pipeline , which was built in the 1920, that runs from Ouachita Parish to as far south as East Baton Rouge Parish. It provides natural gas to Jonesville, Ferriday, Sicily Island, Vidalia, Slaughter and Clayton as well as Natchez, Miss. Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the company is asking towns to pay $200 million to replace the line.


The Natchitoches Parish School Board says 13 people have applied for the position of school superintendent. The applicants are being vetted for minimum eligibility. Derwood Duke, superintendent in Natchitoches since 2009, announced in January that he would resign April 30.

The first round of interviews to determine finalists to become Duke’s successor will be April 8-10.


Louisiana State  Police  say  a  deputy  with  the  Richland  Parish Sheriff's office is under arrest for sexual battery and Malfeasance. They say 39-year-old Dewey Allen of Rayville committed battery  on a female without her consent while in his patrol unit. Bond is set  at $40,000  and Allen was terminated. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.


The St. Helena  Parish Sheriff's office says a 6 month old baby died Thursday after drowning  when a vehicle rolled into a pond. They say the child was in the care of her grandparents who could not stop the car from sinking after it  fell  off  a 20 foot cliff into the water  while  the infant was strapped inside. First  responders  could  not reach the baby in time. The incident is under investigation.


This season's shrimp harvest so far has been smaller than normal and that  has  caused  prices  at  the  market  to  go up for consumers. Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry says most of the shrimp we eat is imported and there has been a decline  in  imported shrimp as well. It’s hoped prices will come down the closer we get to summer.


News For Friday 03/28/14

News for Friday 032814

By Dave Graichen


Alexandria police arrested 10 people Wednesday after they allegedly kicked in the door at the Boys & Girls Club. The suspects were four adults and six juveniles. The juveniles, ranging in ages from 12 to 16, all were arrested and were charged  with unauthorized entry of a place of business. The adults were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center and additionally charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The investigation is ongoing.


There's  a new Gallup Well-Being poll out that  shows  Louisiana  is near the bottom  of  the  list  of states whose residents can afford food. Our percentage of almost 23%  of  residents  who  struggle  to afford   food  is  only  one  place  away  from  the  bottom,  where Mississippi is.


State Ag and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain announced yesterday more than 5 million gallons of gasoline shipped from the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge terminal in mid-March was tainted by something that is causing the intake and valve systems of vehicles to gum up.  The problem is contained to two batches of gasoline shipped between March 12 and March 15. Contaminated  gas was found at several  locations around the Baton Rouge area.


As part of the investigation into the pit-bull attack that killed  a little  girl  on Tuesday, Houma Police have requested testing on the dog's remains for  rabies,  and to also see if the 130 pound dog had

been injected with steroids,  which  is  illegal.  Four year-old Mia DeRouren was killed and her mother hospitalized as a  result  of the attack in their home.


Opening arguments in the first degree murder trial of Brian Horn get  underway today in a DeSoto Parish Courtroom.  Horn, a former taxi  driver, is accused of killing 12-year-old Justin Bloxom in 2010.  Jury selection for the case began March 11th in East Baton Rouge Parish and the panel consists of 6 men and 6 women. They were transported to  Mansfield and will be sequestered until a verdict is reached.


A group of citizens for pot legalization in The Bayou State are urging  voters to change their political affiliation to the Louisiana  Marijuana Party. Jerry Jacobs is leading the effort to have the party

officially recognized by the office of the Secretary of State. He says  they need 1,000 residents to register for the party by May 1st. Jacobs says they need this so The Louisiana Marijuana  Party can qualify a candidate for the US Senate race in November.


State lawmakers are working on a bill that would create a specialized  human trafficking court. Kenner Representative Julie Stokes' proposal  calls for judges to get special training on how to handle human  trafficking cases. Stokes says currently many human trafficking victims  are charged as prostitutes, instead of receiving support services.


Legislation  that  allows  every  parish  and  city  in Louisiana to organized  a  gun  buyback program is heading to the House  floor. Under  current  Louisiana  Law,   New  Orleans  is  the  only  place

authorized in the state that can have  a  weapon  buyback program.


Legislation that will allow for the sale of wine ice cream Louisiana gets  put  on the shelf, so that the author of the bill can work out details to make  sure minors  can't purchase the adult treat. Monroe

Representative Marcus Hunter says  he'll  bring  the bill back up, but he first wants  to alleviate the concerns of lawmakers that wine ice cream won't be used as a way minors can get drunk.


The  Monroe based Century Link has been awarded a contract from  the US Defense Information Systems Agency worth a reported $1.7 million. The company  is  charged with providing a communications system that could survive a nuclear  attack.  The  system  operates continuously

connecting all three air bases in the Colorado Springs region.


Colleges and universities would be required to increase the contributions they make toward faculty pensions under legislation approved Thursday by a Louisiana House panel. House Bill 6, as amended in committee, would require the employer contribution to what is called the Optional Retirement Plan, or ORP, to reach 6.2 percent by 2018. It is the same amount private employers are required to contribute toward Social Security.


LSU  Police  have  arrested  four  fast food employees for allegedly stealing money from customers who paid  for  their  meals  with  the university  debit  card  system. Capt. Corey Lelonde says the thefts occurred at a McDonald's located in the student union. More arrests  are  pending  and  the  investigation  is ongoing.


A  study  commissioned  by the environmental group Restore Louisiana Now,  says  funding  the Louisiana's  multi-billion-dollar,  50-year master plan for coastal  protection  and  restoration  could  create anywhere  from  109,000  to  212,000  new  jobs  for the state while stimulating  the economy with billions in spending  related  to  the projects.


In  response to a recent population explosion, legislation  to  allow year  round  night  hunting  of  feral  pigs  was  reintroduced into Legislation. Present law only allows nighttime hunting between March

through  August.  The  House  Committee  on  Natural  Resources  and Environment  voted  11-3  to  move  the  bill to the House floor  for further consideration.



News For Thursday 03/27/14

News for Thursday 032714

By Dave Graichen


The Town Talk is reporting Dr. Joe Aguillard has been asked by the Louisiana College Board of Trustees to resign from his position as president of the private Baptist school in Pineville. Multiple sources confirmed that Dr. Aguillard met with his senior leadership team Wednesday afternoon, telling them he had no plans to resign. No official word has been made as of yet by LC of the  Louisiana Baptist Convention.


Authorities in  Houma report a 4-year-old girl was killed Tuesday  night by a pit bull that her family owned. The child's mother was also injured. When police arrived, the dog was running loose  in  the  home in a vicious manner and the mother was screaming for help in a bedroom.  Officers  had  to shoot the  dog  to  stop the threat. They are not sure what set the animal off.


The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office  says  a  17-year-old  is  under arrest  after  deputies  say they found a .25 caliber handgun on him while  he was at Peabody High  School.  They  say  Andrew  Smith was booked for possession of a firearm in a school zone.


No changes  to the TOPS program.  That word came down yesterday from the House Education Committee.  Several lawmakers wanted to place limits on that program,  in  order  to save the state money, but there were not enough votes to change it.  As  it is now, the program will cost the state well over $230 million dollars for next year.


The  rapid  increase  of  heroin  overdose  deaths  is  getting  the attention  of  Louisiana  lawmakers.   The  House  Criminal  Justice Committee  approved  the  bill  that would double  mandatory  minimum

sentences for the distribution of heroin from five to ten years, and heroin possession would result in  2  years  behind bars.  The bill heads to the house floor for discussion.


At the State Capital,  The  Senate Retirement Committee has approved bills giving a 1.5 percent cost-of-living  increase  for  members of Louisiana's  main  retirement  organizations.  That averages out  to about  $29  a  month for approximately  one-hundred-eleven  thousand retirees.


New  stats  from  the  Louisiana  Highway  Safety  Commission  shows auto-pedestrian  deaths  have  had a rather sharp increases. Factors have  involved  alcohol and mostly  in  the  evening  hours  and  on weekends. Latest  numbers  have  122  pedestrian deaths in 2012, and that's the highest number since 1997.


A jury has been  seated  in  the  Brian  Horn  murder case.  Horn is accused  of  kidnapping  and  killing 12-year-old Justin  Bloxom  of Stoneway in 2010.  The jurors were  selected  in Baton Rouge and are enroot  to  Desoto  Parish  for  the  trial. The trial could  begin  on Friday with opening statements.


A state House panel Wednesday endorsed a pilot program that would impose requirements for certain food stamp recipients to keep receiving benefits. House Bill 464 would require non-working, able-bodied adults to be engaged in acceptable workforce training or education activities. The legislation would restrict the experiment to Tangipahoa Parish where some 2,188 individuals could be impacted.


A bill that puts tougher gun restrictions on people who are involved  in certain domestic violence situations clears committee Wednesday.  The legislation by New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno prohibits a person  convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse battery from possessing a gun  for 10 years.


The House Natural Resources Committee passes a bill that would result  in a $300 fine if you throw a  cigarette butt out the car window.  The normal fine for littering is $250. This  bill would impose a   $300 fine for a first offense of littering with a cigarette butt plus  community service.


A bill by Monroe Representative Marcus Hunter, which would authorize the  sale of wine ice cream, is set to be heard  by the House Judiciary  Committee today. Hunter points out that restaurants already sell alcohol  infused dishes and wine ice cream falls into that same category. He says  his bill aims to make the sale of these products legal in Louisiana.


A convicted sex offender from Port Allen, who allegedly repeatedly raped his girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter last year and arranged sexual encounters between the girl and other adults, was indicted Wednesday along with five others in the rape of the child.


For the first  time in five years The Louisiana State Police is actively looking for new troopers. Captain Doug Cain says they are seeking individuals who want a career in  law enforcement and a desire to make the state a safer place. 2 years of college, 2 years as a full time police  officer or 3 years in the military are some qualifications needed. For more information about the application process, visit laspc.com.


News For Wednesday 03/26/14

News for Wednesday 032614

By Dave Graichen


The Rapides parish sheriff’s department reports a few telephone scams are making their way throughout the area.  One scam revolves around a call from someone identified as a federal officer who claims that the person has a either an outstanding federal or local warrant.  The caller tries to get the person to pay with a credit card, saying that the warrant will be recalled. The other, happens when a person calls and claims to be with MidSouth Bank, or some other financial institution. The call says the person’s card has been deactivated and tries to get personal information so that a new card can be activated. Both are scams.. Don’t be fooled.


A nationally prominent member of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees said an independent audit of school finances failed to substantiate LC President Joe Aguillard’s claim that he was “exonerated totally and completely” of allegations that he misappropriated funds. Board member Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., has requested the board review Aguillard’s declaration of exoneration along with the findings of an audit conducted by an Alexandria accounting firm. Perkins made his request in a letter addressed to Aguillard and board Chairman Tommy French dated March 3. Copies of the letter were sent to every member of the board. The full story can be found in today’s  Town Talk.


The  Department  of  Health  and  Hospitals  says  almost all of the drinking water systems in Louisiana are up to safety standards. They say about 70 remain in non-compliance with an emergency  rule put in place in November of 2013 after a rare amoeba was discovered  in St. Bernard  and  DeSoto  Parishes and is blamed for the deaths of three people since 2011. DHH  plans  to  work  with  the  other systems to ensure  they bring their water chlorine levels up  to  the  new



A  senate  committee  has  approved  legislation that would grant an immediate  divorce  in  cases of spousal  or  child  abuse.  Current Louisiana law requires a  woman  or man to wait 180 days for divorce to  be  granted  in cases where one spouse  physically  or  sexually abuses the other or  their  children. The bill now heads to the senate floor for further consideration.


State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield told lawmakers Tuesday that he expects the state to collect $100 million in back-owed taxes through an amnesty period planned for later this year. That’s a good thing since Gov. Bobby Jindal’s $25 billion budget proposal assumes the tax amnesty program will bring in the $100 million and uses the money in the health department for ongoing services.


Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would give the legislative auditor greater ability to track state tax dollars paying for students to go to private schools through the statewide voucher program.

Under Senate Bill 460 by state Sen. Robert Adley, the private schools would have to keep the dollars either in a separate account or use an accounting procedure that allows the auditor’s office to track the receipt and spending of the money. The voucher program is slated to receive $46 million in next year’s budget.


Baton Rouge has been named as one of only four cities to receive the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant for 2014. The winning cities will receive pro bono consulting expertise on  the  issues which are most challenging to the community. For Baton Rouge, the  focus will be on traffic.  A  team  from  IBM is scheduled to visit the capital  city later this year and begin a study of the transportation system.


One thousand pounds of marijuana; several pounds of cocaine, and two handguns.  That's the result of proactive traffic  stops  in the past few weeks by Louisiana State Police.  Troopers in Troop A  and Troop I made multiple arrests during the stops.


The rates of  heroin  overdoses are skyrocketing across the state, a state senate committee  has  advanced  a  bill  designed to help get emergency  help to those people faster.  Baton Rouge  State  Senator Sharon Broome says this will exempt from prosecution people who call emergency services when the person they are with overdoses.


Louisiana State Police have arrested Homer mayor, Alicia Smith, for  malfeasance in office. Trooper Sterling Davis says Smith used her office  for personal financial gain. During the investigation authorities learned Smith took non-business related trips using taxpayer funds, while using the town's credit cards to pay for expenses incurred during the trips. Davis says Smith then falsified public records to justify the expenses.


The charges are two counts of manslaughter against two Houma parents who left a  2 year-old toddler and a one year-old baby home alone in house  that  caught  fire  and  killed the children.  Authorities are currently  searching  for  the  parents,  Romell  Welch  Senior  and Vaneshia Valentine.


According  to  authorities, a murder investigation in Amite City has led investigators  to hundreds of thousands of dollars in counterfeit bills. The Amite Police  Department said they were following up on a tip about a murder weapon when they discovered more than $200,000 in fake cash, mostly in $100  bills.






News For Tuesday 03/25/14

News for Tuesday 032514

By Dave Graichen


Alexandria police are investigating the apparent murder of 21 year old William Dryden of Pineville. His body was found at a North MacArthur Drive hotel early Monday morning. Police were called to the scene after reports of shots being fired.


About 50 students were involved in a student strike yesterday at  Louisiana College in Pineville. The group is seeking the removal of Dr. Joe  Aguillard as the college's president. The protestors gathered in front  of Guinn Auditorium, held hands, prayed and sang. There are rumors students are planning another protest but  school officials told the group yesterday they will not be allowed to do so on campus.


The  House  transportation committee put the brakes on a proposal to ban the use of  a  hand held cell phone while driving. Breaux Bridge Representative Mike Huval wanted to make it a secondary offense if a driver spoke on a phone  up  to  their  ear while driving. There was support for the bill from Members of the state's insurance industry, however strong   opposition  from  committee  members. The bill is dead for the session.


Also in the Louisiana House  Transportation  committee Monday, a bill that  would  ban  photo  speed  enforcement devices  on  interstates passed. That bill heads to the House floor.


Teaching creationism in Louisiana science classes is unconstitutional, but senators refuse to repeal a law that mandates it.The Senate voted 32-5 Monday against a bill by Republican Sen. Dan Claitor that would remove a law requiring public schools to give balanced treatment in science classes and textbooks to evolution and creationism. The law also prohibits teaching evolution as proven scientific fact. The law, passed in 1981, was found unconstitutional in 1987 by the Louisiana Supreme Court. But lawmakers have refused to strip it from the law books.


Legislators cracked open Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed state prison budget Monday and quickly expressed displeasure with what they found. Leftover hurricane dollars will help pay for workers’ retirement costs. Funding for supplies was slashed. No money was set aside for repairs. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, said the state Department of Correction’s $525 million proposed budget doesn’t contain a nickel for any handyman projects that arise at the state’s prisons. The only increases, he said, are for salaries and benefits.


Cost of living increases appear to be on the horizon for about 100,000 retired state workers, teachers, school employees and state police troopers. The proposed 1.5 percent increases, the first in six years for some, cleared the Senate Retirement Committee on Monday. The raise must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and the governor before it can be implemented.


A bill that would require local municipalities who get more than half  of their revenue from traffic citations to post signs warning  motorists of speed traps made it out of a House committee Monday. The bill passed 9-3 and will be further considered on the House floor.


The Louisiana Senate on Monday night advanced legislation banning sale of e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products to minors. The Senate voted 37-0 for the heavily amended Senate Bill 12. State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, said the changes are the result of discussions with the state Office of Alcohol Tobacco Control and industry representatives. The changes better define the products covered in the ban.


Sabine Parish Deputies, working with Deputies  in DeSoto Parish have made  a  total  of ten arrests in connection with an  organized  dog fighting event near  Hicks  Lane  of Highway 175 in North Louisiana. Deputies seized a total of 5 vehicles,  a  quantity  of cash and two dogs in the raid over the weekend.


The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office is  currently  investigating a fatal pedestrian/vehicle hit and run. 26-year-old Justin J. Brown of Lake Charles was apparently lying in the middle of the  road when he

was  struck  and  killed.  The vehicle described as an white,  older model car did not stop after  striking  Brown Deputies investigating case  have  determined that due to heavy fog,  it  is  possible  the driver of the  car  did not know he even hit the man.


A family who did not  return  from a weekend boating trip were found safe late Sunday  evening.

Spokesperson Traci Landry says friends of Peter and Jennifer Orlando and their two children ages 12  and  15,  became  alarmed when their mobile phones were sending calls straight to voicemail. She says the Orlando's left around 9am Saturday morning. After their boat's motor failed, the father was able to get the boat to land and they family took refuge in a small houseboat. Landry says

Mr. Orlando is to be commended for using available resources to keep his family safe while awaiting rescue.


The Raging Cajuns have been ranked number 1 in Collegiate Baseball's NCAA Division 1 poll.  This  is  a first for the Cajuns who have won their last 12 games in a row and the  team is hitting .303 as a team and averaging 7.5 runs per game. At 22  and 2 this is the best start in school history.


2013 was a big year in the state's agriculture business.   In  fact, it  was  a  record-breaking  one thanks to good weather and no major disease    problems.    The   agriculture    industry    contributed

11-point-eight billion dollars to state's economy.


News For Monday 03/24/14

News for Monday 032414

By Dave Graichen


If you do not have health insurance, your deadline to purchase a policy through Obamacare is one week from today. Under the Affordable Care Act,  all Americans must have health insurance or face a 95-dollar penalty.  Dr. Renard Murray, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  says go to health-care-dot-gov to choose your policy.  Murray estimates there are over 800-thousand people here in Louisiana who are eligible for  health insurance at little or no cost through Obamacare.


In  an  automated  phone  survey  of  over  seven-hundred registered voters, 43-percent of the respondents said they will vote for former governor  Edwin Edwards in the sixth district congressional primary. But  the  survey  also shows in a hypothetical run-off  between  two republican candidates,  Edwards trails state senator Dan Claitor and coastal expert Garret Graves.


The  Louisiana  Department  of  Children  and  Family  Services  has implemented  an  emergency   rule  to  prohibit  the  use  of  Family Independence Temporary Assistance  Program  and  Kinship Care Subsidy Program Benefits for at retailers who sell goods or provide services inconsistent  with the purpose of the cash assistance  programs and not necessary for basic needs. Violators of rule will lose their benefits for 12  months  on the first offense, 24  on the second and permanently on the third.


Once again lawmakers will discuss banning the use of hand held cell  phones while driving. A bill to do just that will be debated in the  House Transportation Committee today. Breaux Bridge Representative Mike  Huval says representatives for the insurance industry are in support of

this proposal. The legislation would make driving while on a hand held cell  phone a secondary offense, which means you can't get pulled over for  talking and driving.


Today the House Transportation Committee will hear a bill by Sulphur  Representative Mike Danahay that would prohibit the use of photo speed  enforcement devices on interstates. Danahay does not believe these types   of devices will actually enhance public safety.  He says the speed cameras are a

revenue generation device and can never take the place of manual stops. Danahay's bill contains some exceptions. He says speed traffic cameras  could be used in construction zones.


After  reviewing the case against a Baker Middle School teacher, who allegedly  pulled  a  student’s shirt after he refused to tuck it in, the prosecutor has decided  not to pursue charges against her. Yigal Bander, attorney for Deborah  Anderson,  says  he feels this was the proper course of action to take, as there was no legal basis for the charge of simple battery.


Lake  Charles  Police  have  arrested  a  22-year old  Andre  Jordan Broussard for attempted murder after he allegedly  pulled  out a gun during  a  vigil and opened fire. Deputy Chief of Police Mark  Kraus says Broussard  shot  two  people, one of the victims was treated at the scene, the other is in critical condition. About 300 people were at the vigil at the time of the shooting.


President Barack  Obama  has  signed  into law legislation that will prevent Louisiana homeowners, who live  in  flood  prone areas, from seeing drastic increases in their flood insurance premiums.  The new law  limits rate increases for federal flood insurance to 18-percent per year.


A man  wanted  for  the  murder  of a 24-year-old New Iberia man was arrested in Houston over the weekend. Authorities in Texas captured Michael Wade Augustine and he's now awaiting  extradition  to Iberia Parish. Iberia Sheriff Louis Ackal says Augustine fatally shot  Uriah Joseph on March 10th.


The spring and summer are shaping up to be a busy time for "Hollywood South". Chris Stelly, executive director for Louisiana Entertainment  says a number of blockbuster films are gearing up for production in the  Bayou State...Stelly says Fantastic Four, Jurassic Park and Terminator  5 will all start shooting soon in Louisiana. On the TV side, HBO's True Detective ,Sci-fi thriller Salem, American Horror Story, and  N-C-I-S are among the tv series that are shooting in the state.





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