Today is the first full day of winter and many have not forgotten last year’s winter, which saw colder than normal temperatures and a few rounds of frozen precipitation. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the climate prediction center’s forecast for the next three months indicates we could see a repeat. Keim says the wildcard right now is the El Nino which has been in the forecast for a while, but hasn’t formed yet. He says the climate prediction center is giving the system a 60% chance of forming sometime this winter Keim says if the El Nino does form the way they think it will this winter, we’ll get more rain and even possibly some freezing rain like we saw last winter.
New employment numbers are out and Louisiana’s labor force grew to a record 2,179,837 in November. The number of people employed in the state jumped by 59,419 over the year. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says people are responding to Louisiana’s strong and sustained job growth by joining our workforce in record numbers
Eysink says, over the month of November, we added about 7,000 people working in Louisiana. He says this is outpacing a national trend.
A group called Senate Conservatives Action is sponsoring radio ads that target Republican Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise. The ads accuse Scalise of siding with President Obama instead of standing on the conservative platform. LaPolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says this attack stems from the Congressman’s efforts to help pass a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill. Alford says this is interesting since Scalise was able to capture the whip position because he was a favorite of the tea party movement, where the Senate Conservatives Action finds its roots. He says there is a bit of political intrigue here as this group supported Rob Maness in his run for the US Senate. Rumors are circulating that Maness may challenge Scalise in 2016.
A new poll shows that Republican Senator David Vitter’s change in position on Common Core is popular with voters. Vitter announced earlier this month he opposes the new educational testing standards and a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey found that 64-percent agree with Vitter. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the testing standards will be a main issue in the governor’s race. Another Republican gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, says he supports the controversial education standards.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has reached an agreement with the Secretary of State’s office to archive state employee health insurance program’s records. They had stopped sending claims for several months, because of privacy concerns. Now, the new agreement will have those records in a facility that is under Federal laws protecting personal information.
State Police troopers are urging drivers to use extra caution while on the highways during this holiday period. Sergeant Nick Manale says driver error is responsible for many of the wrecks they are seeing. Manale says since Thanksgiving week, State Police have worked fatal wrecks that resulted in 66 deaths. Manale says in most of the fatal wrecks they’ve investigated, the victims were not buckled up.
Here in the final days of 2014, there are some things taxpayers can do to put them in a better financial position in 2015. John Theriot is an accountant with the Louisiana Society of CPAs and he says business owners should accelerate expenses, because anything they can pay before year’s end will get the 2014 deduction. Theriot says now would also be a good time to let your employer know you want to up your contribution on your 401K or change your filing status on your W4. He says before the new year, you also might want to think about making charitable donations, so you can deduct it on your 2014 tax form.
The LSU Tigers are back at practice this week as they continue preparations to play Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. Even though the Bayou Bengals have some extra time to prepare for this game, Coach Les Miles says don’t expect many changes when it comes to game planning for this game. The other issue hanging around the LSU football program….Is how many underclassmen will leave for the NFL? There’s a report LSU cornerback Jalen Collins plans to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, but Miles is optimistic they won’t see as many juniors leaving for the pros early as previous seasons.
For the fourth straight season, the Ragin Cajuns have ended the year by winning the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. U-L Lafayette defeated Nevada 16-3 on Saturday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Coach Mark Hudspeth has now led the Cajuns to four straight…nine-win seasons.
Louisiana Tech holds its first practice in Dallas today leading up to its game against Illinois in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas bowl. Bulldogs Coach Skip Holtz says the team is looking forward to bowl week preparations. Holtz says the message to his team is that playing in a bowl game is great, but winning it, is even better
The Saints had a chance to win the NFC South on Sunday, but instead the Black and Gold’s season came to an end with a bitter 30-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. What makes it hurt even more is that, New Orleans finishes the year with five straight losses at the Dome.
Some much needed rain will be hitting Louisiana today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this rain is coming at a great time as the state has been rain deficient over the last two months. Keim says the entire state is teetering right on the edge of drought with everything east of the Atchafalaya Basin experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. Keim says the precipitation will be short lived with conditions clearing by Saturday morning
Governor Bobby Jindal says he opposes the President’s plan to “normalize” relations with Communist Cuba, but Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says resumed trade would benefit Louisiana. He says other non-democratic countries enjoy normal trade relations with the US. Prior to 1961 Cuba was the Port of New Orleans’ largest trade partner.
A new Southern Media and Opinion Research poll shows 58-percent of Louisianians disapprove of Governor Bobby Jindal’s job performance as he heads into his final year in office. 600 likely Louisiana voters were surveyed. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says you probably won’t see the Governor’s popularity increase very much as he ends his term.
But Pinsonat points out that the poll shows 70-percent of Republicans give the governor a positive job rating. With both houses of the state legislature being controlled by Republicans, Pinsonat doesn’t see these poll numbers changing the way Jindal will do business in his last year
US Senator David Vitter has a double digit lead over other 2015 Governor candidates in Louisiana according to a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey. But Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the same poll also found 40% of respondents don’t approve of Vitter’s performance. Southern Media and Opinion Research surveyed 600 likely voters and 36-percent support Vitter.
Rep. John Fleming is using the congressional break to shore up support in Louisiana for a possible 2016 Senate run. Fleming, armed with $1.1 million in campaign cash, is eyeing the seat of Republican Sen. David Vitter, who is running for governor next year.
Gas prices are about 75-cents lower than a year ago as we head into what should be a busy two weeks of traveling during this holiday period. Gregg Laskoski, with gas-buddy-dot-com, says with the statewide average at about $2.30 a gallon, it should help consumers pay for other expenses. Laskoski says gas prices have been on a sharp decline since October and this trend should continue into next year. He says the US Department of Energy is projecting a national average price of $2.60 a gallon for 2015
The last Saturday before Christmas could be as big a shopping day as Black Friday especially if you’re still looking for TVs, appliances or clothes according to experts. Andrew Kuo (quoe) is a marketing professor at LSU. He says the downside of the so-called “Super Saturday” is that shoppers are typically at the mercy of the retailers.
MartketWatch reports Super Saturday could edge out Black Friday as the top sales day of the year in 2014.
Governor Bobby Jindal is defending his plans to headline a prayer rally next month at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus. Some professors and students protesters are up in arms over the event sponsored by the American Family Association, which has been very vocal about being against homosexuality. Jindal says he’s continuing to support the rally.
You might be able to have a crawfish boil with your family for Christmas as mudbugs have already been spotted in stores. Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association President David Savoy says December crops are still considered somewhat early, but weather permitting, the season will really start to kick in early next year. He says they’ll also be in mixed size right now and pricey which is typical for this time of year.
A grand jury in Shreveport has indicted a former Homer police officer on charges he violated the civil rights of several people on multiple occasions. 64-year-old Willie Fred Knowles is accused of pushing a woman and hitting her for no reason and tasing others without justification. He is also charged for allegedly lying to the FBI about the incident.
A Ponchatoula man faces 15 to 40 years in prison for downloading more than half a million images of child pornography, one of the largest collections ever found in the state. 52 year old Robert Swan pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a massive child porn network that included pictures and videos of children as young as 4 weeks of age being forced to engage in sexually explicit conduct
U-L Lafaytte and Nevada meet tomorrow morning in the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. It’s the fourth straight year the Ragin Cajuns have played in this bowl game and last year 55-thousand people were attendance to see the Cajuns face in-state foe Tulane. Billy Ferrante, executive director of the New Orleans Bowl, says unfortunately reservations are down and they don’t expect to see that kind of crowd this year.
Sources close to LSU are reporting that Tigers Cornerback Jalen Collins will skip his senior year, and enter the NFL Draft. Collins has not made any official announcement, although he has met with agents, and has reportedly requested a draft grade from the NFL.
Tragedy strikes construction workers on Highway 165 near Columbia, after their stopped construction truck with a large arrow board was re-ended. State Trooper Michael Reichardt says 42 year-old Jan Williams of Columbia was traveling northbound and attempted to go around, but didn’t clear the vehicle striking it and seriously injuring one of the workers. Thirty year-old Michael Roberts of Monroe died later at an Alexandria hospital.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany plans to meet with Veterans Affairs officials today over their decision to push back the completion date of two new VA clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. It’s reported that the opening of both clinics are delayed by almost a year to 2016. Boustany says his office has not been contacted by the VA in regard to this issue. It’s reported though that VA officials made the announcement of the delay at a town hall meeting in Lake Charles.
A public demonstration is being held this evening in downtown Opelousas to protest grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York where charges were not pressed in officer involved deaths. It’s being organized by newly-elected alderman Tyrone Glover who says the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Opelousas Police, the DA’s office and the city marshal are all participating.
The former star of Sons of Guns, William Hayden, has reportedly been formally indicted by an East Baton Rouge Parish Grand Jury on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of forcible rape. A total of four victims have made claims against the founder of Red Jacket Firearms.
Everyone keeps buzzing about the price at the pump. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.34 which is down two cents from yesterday and almost 13 cents lower than this time last week.
The super low gas prices are making car salesmen happy this Holiday season as vehicle sales rise. Bob Isreal, Executive Director of the Automobile Dealers Association, says the consumer in general is feeling more confident with their money because of the lower price at the pump.
Christmas is one week from today and many people would call the next 7 days the most stressful of the year. LSU AgCenter Life specialist Diane Sasser says it’s a good idea to get plenty of rest and if you’re too tired — slow down. She says it’s important to keep smiling and stay positive because getting too easily irritated is unproductive. Sasser says if you’re lonely or missing a loved one, attending a community holiday event may brighten your spirits.
Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that the video game developer High Voltage Software will open a new studio in New Orleans and starting hiring soon. The company has worked with many major brands including LEGO and Star Wars. The company CEO says the state’s tax incentives were fundamental in the decision to open a studio in Louisiana.
President Obama has announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, but not everybody is onboard with the move. George Fowler, a native of Cuba, and Vice Chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, says the proposed prisoner exchange could be very dangerous, and there’s very little – if any – economic benefit, with the exception of one, Cheep cigars.
A Grambling State University student traveling at a high rate of speed is dead, and another student injured following a crash near campus. Witnesses said the driver over-corrected, flipped multiple times and burst into flames. Twenty-one year-old Carl Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene and his passenger 23 year-old Arceneau Robinson was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition.
The Jeanerette Police Department says a 57-year-old man is dead after allegedly being shot by his juvenile son. They say it happened Tuesday night and they’re still investigating whether or not the shooting was accidental. The victim’s identify has not yet been released.
Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Metairie says he supports US Senator David Vitter in his campaign to become governor. The House Majority Whip thinks Vitter would do a great job. Scalise made his comments on a Baton Rouge Talk Show Show.
There’s new information released in the fatal crash that killed three people in Beauregard Parish on Sunday. State Police originally believed that 28-year-old Kristi Poteet of DeRidder was heading the wrong way on U-S 171 when she collided head-on into a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Ricky Gill of Singer. Now investigators believe it was Gill who was driving the wrong way. The release states that Gill is suspected of being impaired, but that toxicology results on both drivers still is pending. Gill, Poteet and Brian Taylor, a passenger in Poteet’s car, all were killed.
A school funding task force is suggesting an increase in funding, if there is enough money available. The recommended price tag is $75 million dollars, and the next stop for the recommendation is the BESE Board before it goes to the legislature in March.
State Police report that a Port Allen man is under arrest after they learned he was attempting to solicit murder. 37-year-old Tommy Joe Gioele (JEE-oh-lee) is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder. Troopers say a man informed officers that Gioele approached him and asked him to kill two people in Pointe Coupee Parish. They gathered enough evidence to make the arrest.
23 year old Brittany Cooley and 23 Kevin Waller of DeRidder have been arrested and charged with cruelty in the case of an infant who is in the hospital and on life support.
Both were charged with second degree cruelty to a juvenile after authorities were informed of a 5-month old girl being admitted at a Beauregard Parish hospital with indications of abuse. The pair both were booked into the Beauregard Parish Jail, but bond has not been set. An investigation is continuing.
Crude oil prices continue to fall. They are down 47-percent since June and it’s the largest drop in five years. When oil prices decline over a long period of time, it means less revenue for the state government. But Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the state legislative fiscal office, is hopeful other revenue streams can make up for the loss in mineral revenues. Albrecht says the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet next month and agree on a forecast for future revenues.
A backlash is brewing over a prayer rally featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled for LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center next month. LSU students, faculty and other activists have come out against the event, called “The Response,” largely because it’s being paid for by the American Family Association, a controversial conservative religious group that opposes gay marriage and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights efforts. A protest has been planned in response to The Response, and a petition has gained hundreds of signatures in just a matter of days.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he plans to “actively explore” a presidential campaign and an operation allowing him to raise money for a bid. So what does this mean for Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations? UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Jindal is more conservative and Bush is more mainstream Republican, but obviously the later has the name recognition. He doesn’t think this announcement will change Jindal’s aspirations.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has launched a new online mobile tool that would help people find careers that interest them while supporting the standard of living they want to maintain. LWC spokesman Tom Guarisco says it’s called “My life. My way.” and it’s a fun way to envision the life you want. Guarisco says users can learn how much they need to earn by choosing from 8 regions in Louisiana then making lifestyle choices about housing, food, transportation. He says the app will then connect you to the appropriate career. You can find the tool online at laworks.net/mylife.
According to a new national survey, for the first time more teens are smoking e-cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes. The annual University of Michigan “Monitoring the Future” report surveyed over 40,000 8th, 10th, and 12 graders. DHH Health Promotions Director Caroline Brazeel says they are currently analyzing data for Louisiana but expects to see a similar trend here. It is cited that a possible reason for the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among teens is the perception that they do not harm your health. Brazeel says that’s not the case because nicotine can have a negative impact on brain development.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a Mississippi man has been cited for allegedly drowning a deer in the Mississippi River in Concordia Parish. Adam Einck with L-D-W-F says a witness observed 40-year-old David Hayes of Natchez, Mississippi, commit the crime. Einck says a wildlife and fisheries’ agent found Hayes with a dead eight point buck lying in front of the vessel. He says Hayes admitted to drowning the buck in the river on the Louisiana side. Hayes faces several hundreds of dollars in fines and up to 90 days in jail, if convicted. He also might have to pay a two-thousand dollar restitution charge for the replacement value of the deer.
US Senator David Vitter announced his committee assignments Monday and says he’s been appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says he promises to use that position to launch attacks on the Obama administration’s agenda. Vitter says he’ll also become Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and continue serving on the Senate Environment, Public Works and Banking committees.
The Rapides parish sheriff’s office reports they have been getting a multitude of calls in reference to a person identifying themselves as being with the Sheriff’s Office. That caller is claiming the person has missed jury duty and tells them for $400.00, they will recall the warrant. They ask the potential victim to get a reloadable VISA card to pay this fee. Need we say, this is a scam. If you get such a call report it to authorities.
State Police say 61 people have died in crashes they’ve investigated since the day before Thanksgiving this year. Not being properly restrained, impairment and driver distraction were the contributing factors. Col Mike Edmonson says in his 34 years with state police, he’s never seen a worse 30 day period than this one.
State Police say a suspected drunk driver heading the wrong way on a four-lane highway in Beauregard Parish struck another vehicle head-on, resulting in three fatalities. Authorities says they believe 28-year-old Kristi Poteet was traveling south in the northbound lanes of US 171 just north of Longville.
State Police is investigating a crash involving a pedestrian who was struck and killed after he fell out of the back of a truck in LaSalle Parish over the weekend. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says 22-year-old Brittany Walker of Jena was traveling on La Highway 8 when she struck an unknown object in the roadway. Moreau says they later determined that the object in the roadway was 43-year-old Marcus Jones. He says while they were working the scene one of victim’s friends returned looking Jones because he realized he was no longer in the back of his pickup.
The UL-Lafayette football team leaves today for New Orleans where they’ll play in the R+L Carriers Bowl for the 4th straight time. The Ragin’ Cajuns will travel to The Big Easy to take on Nevada in the Mercedes Benz Superdome Saturday with a 10am kickoff.
Although he has yet to declare his intent to run for President in 2016, Governor Bobby Jindal returns to Iowa today. Iowa is a key Presidential primary state. Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson says Jindal has been making political appearances in Iowa for several years. Jindal will headline the Polk County Republican Winter Victory Dinner in West Des Moines tonight. This is the governor’s fourth trip to Iowa this year and third in the past three months.
Fisherman got some good news Monday as areas off the coasts of Elmer’s and Grand Terre islands opened up for the first time since the 2010 oil spill. Dean Blanchard, Seafood business owner, says the more shrimp they are able to put more on the market the lower the price will go. He says they are keeping a close eye on these shrimp to make sure they aren’t affected by the spill. There is still an area near Barataria Bay that remains closed to fishing.
A Louisiana Department of Public Safety officer is charged with sexual battery and malfeasance in office following a traffic stop in Zachary. State Police Lt. JB Slaton says the victim contacted the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office after the traffic stop.
Michael Selders of Clinton was booked into the East Baton Rouge Prison.
The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s office is investigating the case of two women who were shot in a domestic disturbance leaving one dead and one injured. Authorities say they found two female victims with gunshot wounds. A 20-year-old victim was pronounced dead at a hospital and the 19-year-old suffered non-life threatening injuries. A New Iberia man was arrested a short time later.
Even though LSU’s Les Miles didn’t want to go on the record to talk about the vacancy at his alma mater Michigan, the Tigers head coach made it clear with reporters on Monday. While Miles wouldn’t discuss the Michigan job, he spoke highly of LSU’s future and what the Tigers can accomplish in the future, especially if they don’t lose a lot of underclassmen to the draft
The Saints are in first place in the NFC South after winning on the road again. New Orleans beat the Bears 31-15 at a soggy Soldier Field in Chicago. After getting blown out at home last week, New Orleans took it to the Bears as Quarterback Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and the Saints defense intercepted three passes and sacked Chicago Quarterback Jay Cutler seven times. The Saints are now three and four away from New Orleans. Payton’s team will look to snap a four-game home losing streak this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office reports 18 year old Eric Gordon of Boyce was killed yesterday afternoon when he apparently lost control of the vehicle he was driving on highway 1204 and struck some trees. Deputies say Gordon was traveling at a high rate of speed and was not wearing a seatbelt. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The United States Postal Service says if you are shipping by standard post, today is the last day to get that package in the mail for an on-time Christmas delivery. Spokesman McKinney Boyd says today is the post office’s busiest day where they’ll process in the neighborhood of 354,000 packages statewide. Boyd says they expect to process an additional 1.5 million cards and letters tonight.
A man who was once the janitor at Port Barre Elementary School and years later became the principal is being featured in a People Magazine series called “Heroes Among Us.” Joseph “Gabe” Sonnier says one day in the mid-80s the then-principal at the school told the janitor he knew he was very smart and capable of going more with his life. Sonnier says later he decided to go to school full-time while he continued working as the custodian. He says after getting his associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree he began teaching a Port Barre Elementary School. Sonnier, now 53, says he got his master’s degree then was appointed principal at the same school where he worked as a janitor for 27 years.
Louisiana hopes to generate one-point-four million dollars in revenue by selling over seven-hundred underutilized state vehicles at auction. Division of Administration assistant commissioner Jan Cassidy says these vehicles are not being used enough by various state agencies, so the decision has been made to auction them off. Cassidy they are constantly evaluating state inventory to make sure they are spending tax dollars appropriately and it’s been determined they can reduce the number of state vehicles by over seven-hundred.
LaSalle Parish lawmen have made an arrest in the investigation into a bomb threat at Jena High School on Wednesday morning. The sheriff’s office has arrested 18-year-old Jaqurius Ogletree. He is not a Jena student and his bond will be set this week.
5th District Congressman-elect Ralph Abraham says he’s ready to begin his duties in Washington D.C. The Republican from Richland Parish says he’s already been told he’s secured assignments on the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs committees. Abraham, who is a physician, veteran, farmer and business owner, will be sworn in on January fifth.
State Police say two Town of Franklinton employees are under arrest accused of stealing over $22,000 in water and utility payments from residents. The report says the two processed over 230 payments that were never deposited into the town’s account.
They were arrested on many charges including felony theft and malfeasance in office.
Former Saints star Darren Sharper is now facing state and federal indictments based on cases that occurred in Orleans parish. He’s facing two counts of aggravated rape and federal drug charges as he allegedly drugged two female victims before sexually assaulting them in September of 2013.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is urging Louisiana residents to check out the state’s unclaimed property database. He says over 500-thousand people are owed money from old checking accounts, insurance proceeds and oil and gas royalty payments. He says the unclaimed money can certainly help during the holiday season.
The Saints will try to get another win on the road tonight when they face the Chicago Bears. New Orleans went to the Windy City last year and won 26-18.
It’s a big Christmas parade weekend here in Cenla. It starts tonight with The Pineville Christmas Parade at 7 p.m. The annual Ball Christmas Parade will begin at 2 p.m. tomorrow. In Glenmora , it’s noon Saturday. In Bunkie, the parade rolls at 4pm Saturday. In Leesville it’s 5:30 p.m. Saturday. And here in Alexandria the Christmas Parade is set for 2 p.m. Sunday. There’s a full weekend of activities scheduled in Natchitoches as well, all part of the city’s Christmas Festival.
Alexandria Representative and chairman of the state House Labor Committee, Herbet Dixon, is resigning. Dixon released a statement that said he’s stepping away from the legislature so that he can better manage his health situation, spend more time with his family and pursue other opportunities. Dixon says he has undergone a second round of chemotherapy treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and next week he will have a biopsy to help determine future treatments. House Speaker Chuck Kleckley has called a special election February 21st to fill his seat.
State education Superintendent John White is concerned only 44 percent of public high school seniors fill out the paperwork required to receive federal financial aid to attend college or a technical training school. White says Louisiana students are missing out on millions of dollars in federal assistance. White says high school seniors should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to see if they’re eligible for Pell grants and other types of aid
Democratic US Senator Mary Landrieu gave a farewell speech on the Senate floor yesterday as her third and final term is coming to a close. Landrieu says it’s been a joy to serve in the Senate these last 18 years. Landrieu did not say what her future plans hold. Her Senate farewell was the first time she spoke publicly since losing to Republican Bill Cassidy in the Senate run-off and the outgoing senator she’s at peace with what happened.
Fourth District Representative John Fleming is saying he wants to succeed Senator David Vitter in the Senate if he wins the Governor’s race. In a written statement, Fleming says his focus IS on the 4th district, but he would be interested. Political analyst Elliot Stonecipher says it’s a little early to start speculating on who will fill Vitter’s Senate seat.
In a story first reported by LaPolitics.com, Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy may consider a run against Republican incumbent Buddy Caldwell in a race for Attorney General. Editor Jeremy Alford says Caldwell could be in trouble. He says the wild-card in the race is former Republican congressman Jeff Landy, who has already announced he’s running. Alford says not only is Kennedy thinking about running, but he’s actively been seeking advice from donors. He expects Kennedy will be reporting next year that he has $3.5 million dollars in the bank.
The National Hurricane Center will issue storm surge warnings during next year’s Hurricane Season. Storm surge is often cited as the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone. Storm Surge Specialist, Jamie Rhome, says this has been many years in the making. He says the watches and warnings will highlight life threatening conditions.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission announces that DWI patrols will be increased throughout the holiday period as part of their “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. This is a state and national campaign aimed at keeping impaired drivers off the roadways and reducing deadly crashes. Lt. Col. John Leblanc says December is one of the deadliest months on Louisiana roadways. Leblanc says 59 people were killed statewide in fatal accidents in December last year and 11 people were killed in the four days comprising the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. He says alcohol use was a factor in more than half of the fatalities.
Rapides Parish Sheriff’s detectives are searching for two suspects who robbed a Dollar General Store Tuesday night in Tioga, leaving one employee slightly injured.
Deputies responded to the call at 10:20 p.m. Witnesses said two armed suspects in hoodies and wearing masks took an undetermined amount of cash before running from the store. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers or the sheriff’s department.
Governor Jindal visited southwest Louisiana today to announce that Venture Global plans to build a four-billion dollar plus liquefied natural gas company at Calcasieu Pass in Cameron Parish. 15-hundred workers will be needed to construct the facility and once completed, the project will result in 100 new long-term jobs. The company says they chose Louisiana because of a property tax exemption and tax rebate that the state provides for businesses that create jobs.
The United Health Foundation released its 25th annual America’s Health Rankings and once again Louisiana is 48th in the nation. Dr. Catherine Palmier, Chief Medical Officer for the Foundation’s East Region, says we have an extremely high incidence of low birth weight babies. She says other factors keeping our rank near the bottom in the nation is the high rate of obesity at 33% of the population, physical inactivity which is 30% and smoking which at 23%.
A report released Wednesday show a large majority of TOPS money is going to white students. The Board of Regents numbers show 79 percent of recipients are white, and 58 percent are women, and come mostly from household making $70 thousand to $99 thousand dollars annually.
Angola warden Burl Cain says he’s thinking about running for governor. Cain says the thought of running for governor first came up a year ago, when he performed well in a poll on the 2015 governor’s race. The warden says now there’s road signs encouraging him to run. Cain says he’ll think and pray about it, but he’s not sure when he’ll make a final decision.
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, who is a democrat, announced he’s running for Lieutenent Governor yesterday. Holden says he’s not worried that Louisiana is a solid red state. Opelousas senator Elbert Guillory, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and Jefferson Parish President John Young are also lt governor candidates.
Yet another house fire, and yet another death in the state; this one yesterday morning in Roseland. Once fire fighters got inside, they found the body of sixty year-old Woodrow H. Ford Jr. in a recliner. The State Fire Marshal’s Office reports the home had no working smoke detectors
State education officials announce Louisiana has been awarded a federal grant of up to $32 million over four years to provide new and improved pre-k classes for over 10,000 children. State Education Superintendent John White says the grant is a tremendous step forward for the state. He says this grant will help address the demand issues for availability in the state’s early childhood education system. Louisiana is one of 13 states to receive this grant.
With a check on gas prices, they keep dropping as the price of crude tumbles. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.46 down a penny from last night and over a dime less than this time last week.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu told reporters Wednesday that should would not run for public office again. When asked if she would run for governor or for senator again, the Louisiana Democrat responded, “Oh Lord, no.” But she would not give a definite a no to running again. Politico has reported the opinions of several headhunters, veteran lobbyists and consultants saying that Landrieu’s status as a protector of the oil and gas industry and as a senior member, for years, then as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would make her a top recruit for the big money DC lobbying firms.
A national report issued Wednesday said Louisiana deserves a “C” for how it trains teachers, which is also the average grade nationally. The eighth annual study was released by The National Council on Teacher Quality, which calls itself a nonpartisan research and policy group. The state was faulted for what reviewers called a failure to properly prepare teachers for college and career-readiness standards, including the use of informational texts. The report also said Louisiana is lax in what it requires prospective teachers to know about subject areas, and fails to require them to pass a content exam in four core subject areas to ensure that elementary teachers have mastered material they are licensed to teach.
A tragic story out of St. Landry Parish where a father died after running into a burning house to rescue his 10-year-old son. 42-year-old John Robertson Sr. of Grand Prairie suffered fatal injuries while saving his son. Authorities say the boy is in stable condition with burns over 40 percent of his body. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
Gas prices dropped again last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.47 according to the American Automobile Association.
Two websites covering Michigan athletics reported Tuesday that the school has reached out to Les Miles’ agent to gauge the LSU coach’s interest in the vacant head coaching position at his alma mater, both quoted unnamed sources that “confirmed” the contact. Miles’ long-time agent is George Bass of Dallas. Bass did not immediately respond to a message. LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said as of Tuesday night he had not been contacted by anyone regarding Miles.
Events throughout the state and in Ferguson, Missouri have prompted law enforcement agencies in Louisiana to begin at least testing body cameras to be worn by officers. The president is calling for body cameras to be used nationwide. Jim Bueerman (BEER-MAN) is the president of the Police Foundation. He says the foundation is a strong advocate for the cameras. Bueerman says relationships between communities and police cannot be solved by technology. But he says the cameras will add a tremendous degree of viability and accountability. The cameras cost about 295 dollars per officer
The driver responsible for a head-on crash Tuesday morning in Ascension Parish that claimed the life of a 14-year-old Dutchtown High student is charged with vehicular homicide. State Police spokesman Jared Sandifer says they believe 19-year-old Dwight Perrilloux of Reserve was drunk when he was traveling in the wrong lane of traffic.
Democratic Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden is throwing his hat in the ring in Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor’s race. Holden is expected to officially announce his intentions at a press conference today. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Holden has a real shot of making the runoff for the office despite the negative climate of the Democratic Party in Louisiana. Pinsonat says it would be extremely difficult for any Democratic candidate to win a statewide office this year. But he says the election is a year away and that could be an advantage for Holden.
US Senator David Vitter has drafted legislation that would prohibit the federal government from mandating states to adopt Common Core standards. Vitter had previously supported the federal education standards. Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics.com says Vitter now has to show that he’s serious about his current stance.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says The Bayou State is ranked second best in the nation for work-related injuries and illness. The incidence rate in 2014 improved to its best level in more than 12 years. LWC spokesman Tom Guarisco says this is a great accomplishment for employers and workers in Louisiana.
Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order yesterday which directs hospitals to bill the state instead of victims for sexual assault medical treatment. Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Ebony Tucker says there is still a lot to do, but this order is a step in the right direction.
The Louisiana Workforce Commissioner says The Bayou State is ranked second best in the nation for work-related injuries and illness. The incidence rate in 2014 improved to its best level in more than 12 years. LWC praises employers and their workforce for doing the right things to keep Louisiana safer.
It’s tough times for the New Orleans Saints these days, losing four of their last five games, including a sound throttling by Carolina on Sunday. Coach Sean Payton says he’s looking for players and coaches to step up; and step up now. One player that won’t be doing that is wide receiver Joe Morgan, who was waived Tuesday. Payton says there could be more personnel and line-up changes.
The Pineville Police Department is investigating a rather bazar robbery that took place last Friday. Police say which two men posing as salesmen distracted a homeowner while it’s believed a third person stole from the home. A man presented himself as a flooring salesman and talked his way into the home, trying to sell the homeowner linoleum flooring. The release said a second man, posing as a carpenter, then came into the house. The second man held up a large piece of linoleum to show the homeowner. It’s believed that’s when a third person slipped in unnoticed, stealing a large amount of jewelry. Anyone with info is asked to call authorities…
A Livonia teenager who was placing coins onto train tracks as a train rolled by was killed early Sunday morning when a ladder hanging off one of the train cars caught the boy, throwing him under the train. 17 year old Brandt Torres was pronounced dead at the scene.
Louisiana’s newly elected Congressmen discuss Washington D.C. committee assignments. Congressman-elect Garret Graves, representing the 6th District, says he’s got a spot on the House Transportation and Natural Resources Committee. In the 5th District, Congressman-elect Ralph Abraham will likely be on the House Ag and Veterans’ Affairs committees. The GOP has already promised Senator-elect Bill Cassidy a seat on the Senate energy committee and Cassidy says he’ll also seek a spot on the Appropriations committee because he wants to see Congress change
As was predicted, the Republican party is about to have control of both the House and Senate, and 4th District Congressman John Fleming of Leesville says the party discussion now turns to how they can rebuild the trust of the American people.
Fleming says they will probably get the Keystone Pipeline on the floor fairly quickly.
The Louisiana’s Governor’s race is now a political focal point, and we already know that Senator David Vitter and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne are the Republican front-runners. On the democratic side, there WAS some speculation that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu might run, but U-L-L Political Science Professor Peaerson Cross says that was before his sister suffered defeat. State Representative Jon Bel edwards is the only announced Democrat so far.
Now that the US Senate election is over and she won’t be returning to Congress, what’s next for Mary Landrieu? Political Analyst Clancy Dubos expects Landrieu to first take some time off to spend with her family. He says, after a waiting period, Landrieu could consider becoming a lobbyist. Dubos also says Saturday’s defeat doesn’t necessarily mean that Landrieu’s political career is over. Dubos says Landrieu could decide to jump back in the political arena, but admits that it may be a while before she runs for office again.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected BP’s challenge of the multi-billion dollar settlement set forth by lower courts in connection with the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. Most legal experts suspect that there will not be any further litigation in the matter, and BP will have to abide by the deal it made.
The Jindal Administration says they are on track to reach the savings and efficiency goals in the state general fund to keep this year’s budget balanced as promised. They say Louisiana will save $75.7 million dollars by reducing spending in state agencies.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards will be releasing another book next year and this one will be loaded with pictures. Biographer Leo Honeycutt says many people have been asking him to write another book about The Cajun Prince since there are already several new chapters in his life. Honeycutt says while he was working on the 600+ page novel he ended up amassing over 900 pictures. He says the new venture is a coffee table book and will be Edwards’ life in pictures.
The Department of Health and Hospitals is hosting a symposium today which will focus on finding solutions to rising youth ADHD (or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) diagnoses and treatment. Secretary Kathy Kliebert says it’s concerning that Louisiana has the second highest state ADHD prescription rate in the nation. ADHD medication use has risen 35.5 percent from 2008 to 2012 and young adult use has nearly doubled.
The Big Easy is once again expecting many football fans in town for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the Allstate Sugar bowl. New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Corporation President Mark Romig says the New Year’s Day matchup between Alabama and Ohio State in the Sugarbowl will be legendary. Romig says they are expecting a sell-out crowd at the Mercedes Benz Superdome for the inaugural College Football Playoff and expects the city to be packed. Romig says there will also be big crows in town for the New Orleans Bowl on December 20th.
The matchup for the Duck Commander Independence Bowl has been set as the South Carolina Gamecocks will face the Miami Hurricanes on December 27th in Shreveport.
Phillip Terrell was the big winner Saturday in the Rapides Parish DA’s Race. Terrell received 52.9 percent in Saturday’s runoff to defeat state Rep. Chris Hazel who had slightly better than 47 percent. Terrell will succeed retiring DA James “Jam” Downs, who has held the office for 14 years.
Jim Villard was re-elected Saturday to a second term as an at-large member of the Alexandria City Council. Villard received 54 percent to defeat challenger Malcolm Larvadain who had just shy of 46 percent.
Terence Grines fought a tough battle to hold on to his position of Alexandria City Marshall. Grines defeated political veteran Charlie Dewitt by getting close to 52 percent of the vote. In the Pineville City Marshall’s race Sarah Smith was the big winner over Jay Slater garnering close to 62% of the vote.
In Boyce, Alma Moore is the new mayor. She won the seat with Just short of 64% of the vote over Jack Dewitt.
It was a historic night Saturday in Shreveport as Ollie Tyler became the first black woman elected mayor. In the history books, she also will be listed as the second woman to lead the city. Republican Hazel Beard left office in 1994 .
Two new congressmen have been elected in the 5th and 6th Congressional Districts. In the 6th District, Republican Garret Graves defeated Democratic former four-term governor Edwin Edwards. Graves says this election result is an emphatic statement from the voters of Louisiana. Graves will fill the seat left vacant by now Senator-elect Bill Cassidy. Republican political newcomer Dr. Ralph Abraham easily won in the 5th Congressional District race over Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Mayo received 35% of the vote at Abraham got 64-percent. The physician from Richland Parish says when he gets to Washington D.C. he’s going to work on bringing more jobs and infrastructure to his district.
For the first time in 82-years, an incumbent US Senator has lost a re-election in Louisiana. Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy easily defeated three-term Democrat Mary Landrieu. Cassidy says the voters spoke loudly that they want less interference from the government. Cassidy received 57-percent of the vote to Landrieu’s 43-percent.
Many political analysts say Landrieu’s vote for the Affordable Care Act, which is unpopular in Louisiana, played a significant role in her defeat. But Landrieu says she doesn’t regret that vote. Landrieu says it’s been a great honor to serve the state of Louisiana.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards says even though he lost the election to Republican Garret Graves, his campaign in the 6th Congressional District race was not run in vain. This is the first time the 87-year-old has ever lost in a runoff. Edwards says this doesn’t mean he’s going to retire. Edwards was defeated by Graves 62-37. Edwards says he’s happy and he feels like he’s fulfilled his role in life. Edwards says while he was hoping for a better result, this is not unexpected.
So now that all of the major Democratic candidates lost their elections this year, where does that leave the party going forward? LSU Media Professor Bob Mann, who is a former Democratic staffer, says the party needs to have some serious and honest reflection. Mann says there are many in the Democratic party who may feel that the answer is to moderate its message and start leaning more conservative.
Governor Bobby Jindal announcing some more economic news Friday, as Oxlean Manufacturing announces plan to expand it’s steel fabrication site in Walker. The company will invest over 2 million dollars, and create an additional 73 new jobs and another 122 indirect jobs.
Pathetic, terrible, horrendous, all of those adjectives describes the Saints 41-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers yesterday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. It’s the fourth straight loss at home and the largest margin of defeat for the franchise since 2007. Carolina jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and the Saints didn’t do much to get back in the game. Payton calls it an embarrassing performance.
The LSU football team will play Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl on Tuesday, December 30th. It’s the 15th straight season the Tigers will play in a bowl game and it’s their first meeting against the Fighting Irish since beating them 41-13 in the 2007 Sugar Bowl. Kick-off for the game is set for two PM in Nashville.
Tomorrow is election day in Louisiana. The ballot is highlighted by the US Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. Secretary of State Tom Schedler expects a 40-percent voter turnout for the election.
He says the high early voter turnout was a nice surprise and is hopeful that voters will turn out Saturday. Schedler expects voters to be more active in the 5th and 6th Congressional districts due to those contested seats.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a staff member at Red River Academy in Lecompte is under arrest for allegedly trying to rape a female teenage student. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the local police station requested deputy assistance into a criminal sexual conduct allegation at the residential-type school. Carnline says they were able to obtain enough probable cause to issue arrest warrants for 36-year-old Charles Allen of Cheneyville for 1 count of sexual battery, one count of attempted forcible rape and 1 count of prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student.
Gas prices in Louisiana dropped another two cents overnight. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.54
With tomorrow’s election looming, everybody wants to know who is going to represent Louisiana in the new Congress next year? ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says the US Senate race is Republican Bill Cassidy’s race to lose. The 5th Congressional District race features Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham in the runoff. Stockley says the political climate in Louisiana favors Republicans, especially in the 5th District. Stockley says the 6th Congressional District race could prove to be the most interesting of the night. He says enthusiasm isn’t very high for either candidate, Republican Garret Graves or Democrat Edwin Edwards. Stockley says voter turnout could be the deciding factor here.
In an interview with an LSU journalism student, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy says he supports over-the-counter sales of birth control. Cassidy says he’s going along with the recommendation made by the College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Cassidy says he wants to keep big government out of the birth control business. The clip was filmed for Tiger TV which is produced by LSU journalism student reporters and airs on campus.
Louisiana has petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear an appeal of Louisiana’s ban on gay marriage before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decides the case. Special counsel Kyle Duncan filed the request this week. Tulane Constitutional Law Professor, Keith Werhan, says the state may think that this issue is on the fast track to being decided in the Supreme Court. Federal Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage earlier this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control there’s a widespread outbreak of the flu in Louisiana. Dr. Frank Welch, with the state Department of Health and Hospitals, says it’s not a designation the state wants, but we appear to be leading the pack. Louisiana is the only state in the Continental US with widespread flu cases.
Louisiana residents who have health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace are advised to seek out cheaper policies during open enrollment. Brian Burton, State Director for the Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana, says there are new choices and more competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace. In Louisiana, consumers can now choose from 6 issuers in the Marketplace. Burton says United Healthcare is a new provider for this year and they’re making a big difference for consumers. Open enrollment closes on February 15.
Louisiana Tech will face Marshall in the Conference USA Championship game on Saturday. It’s the first time the Bulldogs will play in a conference title game. In order to win, the Bulldogs will have to slow down a Thundering Herd offense that’s averaging 47 points a game.
The Saints will look to end a three-game losing streak at home when they host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Before they started this losing skid in the Dome, they won 20 straight previous games, including playoffs, played in New Orleans.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office reports, a man wanted in the death of his wife was found Tuesday morning, hiding underneath a house not far from the scene of the Sunday night stabbing. 48 year old Dennis Williams was wanted for second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 46-yearold Laura Williams, who was found Sunday night in her home on Starlight Baptist Church Road. When Deputies found Williams hiding, he was suffering from apparent self-inflicted stab wounds. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
A complaint has been filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics, urging them to look into allegations whether Republican Bill Cassidy violated House rules and federal law for receiving compensation from the LSU health system that he didn’t perform. Cassidy’s opponent in the Senate, Democrat Mary Landrieu, faced an ethics complaint in September, after it was learned her office used taxpayer dollars to pay for charter flights for campaign events.
In a televised debate between Fifth District Congressional candidates, Republican Ralph Abraham and Democrat Jamie Mayo, Mayo said Abraham makes too much money to understand the needs of the district, which is one of the poorest in the nation. Abraham said he’ll bring a conservative voice and common sense approach to Washington D-C.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved new licensing rules for child care centers. One of the new regulations calls for fingerprint-based criminal background checks for the facilities workers and volunteers. The regulations include a provision that require one teacher for every 11 two-year-olds at a child care center.
Louisiana is joining a 16 state coalition-led by Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott, in suing the Obama administration for the recent executive orders regarding illegal immigrant amnesty. Abbot says that Texas would especially be harmed by President Obama’s executive orders, since his state has such a long border with Mexico.
State Police has teamed up with the Office of Motor Vehicles to implement the “Parents Supervised Driving Program”, an effort to prevent teen motor vehicle crashes through education and awareness of teen driving restrictions. The program provides parents with more information so they can do a better job with their teens while they have their learner’s permit.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards and Republican Garret Graves went head to head in Livingston Parish Tuesday and it got ugly. Perhaps the most controversial moment came at the end of the 6th Congressional District debate when Graves announced he’d been endorsed but the Sheriff’s Association. Edwards left his podium and approached Graves calling him a liar. The Sheriff’s Association reportedly held a vote on whether or not to endorse Graves and all agreed but not every member was present at the meeting.
In the final days before Saturday’s election, a new poll on the 6th District Congressional race shows Republican Garrett Graves with 53-percent of the vote while Democratic former governor Edwin Edwards has 47-percent. The Glascock Group surveyed 532 voters from across the district.
Shan Davis, a member of the staff of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was named executive director Wednesday for the panel. The executive director is responsible for administrative and fiscal operations of the board office. BESE sets policies for about 700,000 public school students statewide. Davis said she officially starts the job on Dec. 21. She said her salary has not been finalized. Her predecessor was paid $125,000 a year.
For a fourth straight season, the UL-Lafayette Football team has accepted an invitation to play in the R and L Carriers New Orleans Bowl which will be played Saturday December 20th. The voice of the Ragin Cajuns Jay Walker says their fans are always fired up about heading to the Big Easy. UL-Lafayette will likely have to wait until Sunday to find out who they will play.
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office says the 85-year-old Pollock woman who was viciously mauled by suspected stray dogs last week, died Late Monday night. Sheriff Steve Martin says nobody witnessed the attack. He says the neighbor heard screaming and found Cheveallier on the ground and two “wolf-type” dogs were near her. So far they’ve rounded up about 15 dogs in an effort to find the guilty canines.
The pitbull named Zeus WILL be able to stay with his family, following the Moreauville Town Council’s reversal of their vicious dog ban Monday night. Moving forward, Mayor Timmy Lemoine says the town now will adopt the Louisiana state statute in regard to dangerous dogs. An online petition to save Zeus received over 340 thousand signatures, and the town received numerous phone calls, along with pressure from PETA.
The state DOTD is closing the Kansas City Southern Railroad track on Melrose behind Louisiana College so work can be done. The intersection will be closed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. so that Kansas City Southern can replace track panel and the crossing. The road will be completely closed.
A state audit of Grambling State University revealed equipment thefts totaling more than $130,000. Legislative Auditor Bradley Cryer says it was the university who discovered several items missing. Cryer says the items stolen were plumbing units, air conditioners, and hot water heaters; things that were being sold for scrap metal. He says they have recommended that the school install new procedures to limit the key access to facilities that are vacant. One person has been arrested in connection with the thefts.
The Les Miles to Michigan rumors are back. That’s because Miles’ alma mater, Michigan, is searching for a new football coach after firing Brady Hoke. LSU beat reporter for Gannett Newspapers, Glen Guilbeau, says Miles has been offered the Michigan job two previous times and said no and will likely say no again, if offered a third time. Michigan went 5 and 7 this season. And Guilbeau says it will take a lot of hard work to get Michigan to become a title contender again, while LSU is closer to competing for national titles.
Louisiana Tech is one of the five universities nationwide to receive a one-point-four million dollar grant to produce more secondary math and science teachers. The grant money comes from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Tourism leaders are looking to capitalize on the increasing trend of international tourists visiting Louisiana. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says they have been very aggressive in marketing Louisiana to international visitors and those efforts are definitely paying off. He says the state had an 18-percent increase in international visitors last year, the highest increase of any state in the nation according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.
The attrition rate for public school teachers has remained steady for the past three years, according to a report issued Tuesday by the state Department of Education. A total of 12 percent of teachers left the profession from 2013 to 2014, the same percentage as 2012-13 and just higher than the 11 percent in 2011-12, the review says.
Retirement was listed as the top reason, 28 percent, followed by those taking education administrative jobs, 23 percent. Pay was cited by just 1 percent of the nearly 6,500 teachers who took part in exit interviews in all 69 of Louisiana’s school districts.
Authorities in Missouri have made an arrest of a New Iberia man in connection with the 2008 strangulation death of 61 year-old Judy Blanchard Landry. Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal says sixty-year old Keith Leleux will be extradited back to New Iberia to face first-degree murder charges
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman from Marksville was found dead in her home early Sunday of an apparent stabbing. Deputies say they are looking for the victim’s husband, 48-year-old Dennis Williams as a person of interest in the death of 46-year-old Laura Williams.
In the final debate of the year, Democratic US-Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy brought out the big guns. The incumbent began by addressing the allegations claiming Cassidy was “double billing” by getting paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he did not perform. Landrieu continues to come under fire for using tax payer money to fund personal campaign charter flights. She calls the matter a bookkeeping error that has been paid back and is a much smaller issue than Cassidy’s alleged double subsidies. Political pendants are on the fence over who won the debate. Most believe it will have little effect on Saturday’s election.
Analysts are reporting there’s a chance gas prices could drop below $2 a gallon in Louisiana. Gasbuddy-dot-com’s Gregg Laskoski says, in light of recent events, he could see some station’s price dropping below $2, but is skeptical that the statewide average will drop that low. Laskoski says you could expect to see gas prices drop another 15 to 20 cents a gallon over the next couple of weeks if crude oil prices stay as low as they are.
Oil prices are down to 70-dollars a barrel which is not good for the state’s budget, because it means lower revenues from severance taxes and mineral royalties. Chief economist for the Louisiana Fiscal office, Greg Albrecht, says they already adjusted the state’s revenue picture downward. Albrecht says if oil prices keep trading for about 70-dollars a barrel for a lengthy period of time, it will cost the state millions of dollars in revenues. Albrect says the Revenue Estimating Conference will likely meet again next month to assess the situation.
Medicaid expenditures here in Louisiana have increased by more than $900 million since 2012 amid the move to privatization, according to a legislative auditor’s report released Monday. Expenditures remained fairly consistent from 2010 through 2012 remaining in the $6.6 billion to $6.8 billion range, the report said. But the spending jumped to $7.57 billion by fiscal year 2014 which ended June 30. Included is a net increase of $600 million related to Bayou Health spending, the private health insurance program handling health care for more than 900,000 of Medicaid’s 1.4 million recipients. In addition, there has been an estimated $350 million increase in payments for care of the uninsured to private operators of LSU hospitals.
US-Senator Mary Landrieu is claiming her opponent Congressman Bill Cassidy, who is a doctor, was paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he didn’t do. She also says members of Congress are only allowed to make $26,000 a year in outside work. Cassidy was paid $50,000 per year. In a statement, Cassidy says he’s proud of his work in the LSU System and these allegations are just an attempt by Landrieu to salvage her political career. LSU announced Monday afternoon their intensions to investigate the part-time employment of the congressman.
US Senator David Vitter, who is running for governor next year, has changed his stance regarding Common Core. Vitter said four months ago that he supports the multistate educational standards, but in an email to supporters Monday, the Senator says he’s changed his mind after hearing from parents and teachers. He says Louisiana should establish its own standards and testing.
A quiet 2014 hurricane season came to an end over the weekend. State Climatologist Barry Keim says there were only 8 named storms which is the fewest since 1997. He says this is the ninth straight year we didn’t have a major hurricane hit the US Coastline, the longest such streak since records were kept. He says we can attribute the quiet season to lower than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says 221-thousand voters casted ballots during the early voting period that ended Saturday. Schedler says the heaviest voter turnout areas were East Baton Rouge, Orleans and St. Tammany Parishes. The run-off election is Saturday.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says they are still looking for two men they believe abducted and shot a woman on Thanksgiving Day. Spokesman Sergeant Clay Higgins says the victim reported she left her house that morning to walk to a nearby store when she accepted a ride from the suspects. Higgins says the 49-year-old Opelousas woman thought the men offering the ride were just being friendly on the Thanksgiving morning in her own neighborhood known as “The Hill.” However, That ended up not being the case.
Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu and republican challenger Bill Cassidy will meet in a televised Senate debate tonight. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says you can bet Landrieu will bring up the recent allegations that Cassidy, who is a doctor, was paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he never did. In published reports, Cassidy denies the accusations that he received payments for work he didn’t do. As far as the debate goes, Dubos expects Cassidy will continue to connect Landrieu’s voting record with President Obama’s policies.
After spending the weekend shopping for great deals at the mall and other retail stores, consumers will now turn to the internet for Cyber Monday. LSU marketing professor Dan Rice says savvy consumers held off on buying certain items this past weekend to see what kind of deals they’ll get today. Rice says Cyber Monday is becoming a bigger deal then Black Friday for many consumers.
The State Police Cadet Class #93 has started training to earn the privilege of wearing the “gold boot” badge of the Louisiana State Police. The cadets will go through 20 weeks of training. Trooper Jared Sandifer says about 70 new cadets reported to the Training Academy yesterday. He’s hopeful this class will produce 50 new troopers.
State Police report a single vehicle crash Saturday night involving a motorcycle killed a man from Leesville, LA and seriously injured his wife, after their motorcycle collided with a deer. Troopers responded to the crash around 9:30 p.m. on Hwy 28 West near Walnut Hill Road. Killed in the crash was 53 year old Gordon Bolton. His passenger and wife 57 year old Monika Bolton received serious injuries and was transported to Rapides Regional Trauma Center. Troopers say Both were wearing helmets.
The State Attorney General’s Office reminds shoppers to stay safe and shop smart this holiday season. Director of the Public Protection Division, Sam Pleasant, says you should be on the lookout for holiday shopping scams to protect your identity and make sure you keep credit and debit cards in a secure place.
The welders and pipefitters union in the Lake Charies area is seeking to train craftsmen for the industry work that will come online in the next few years, at no cost to its students. Roy McGraw, training director of United Association Local 198, said that individuals who want training in fields such as welding, plumbing and pipefitting, can pick up an application at the union’s new facility at 5432 Broad St. in Lake Charles.
Prospective students much have a high school diploma with transcripts or a GED with their test scores to be considered. They also must have a valid driver’s license, birth certificate and Social Security card. Prospects must also pass an aptitude test, which covers basic math and reading skills, and an interview with union representatives
Staying fit or maintaining your current weight is difficult for some during the holiday season. State department of health and hospital’s Well-Ahead Director, Melissa Martin, says staying hydrated is one way to make sure you don’t eat too much during one sitting. Martin says during the holiday season, many people take in more calories than they do during other months of the year, so she says find ways to burn off those calories. Martin says also try to plan out your meals and avoid eating on the run.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries now has a series of online hunting safety videos to help hunters be safe during the season. They cover firearms, tree stands, boats and other gear. You can view the videos online on their website, or Facebook search ldwf.
Louisiana Tech will play this Saturday in the Conference USA Championship game against Marshall after routing Rice 76-31 on Saturday. Tech will take on the Thundering Herd in the league title game this Saturday at 11 AM in Huntington, West Virginia.
The Saints continue to do the unexpected. Lose games when you expect them to win, but win games when you think they’ll get beat. New Orleans went into Pittsburgh yesterday and beat the Steelers 35-32. Quarterback Drew Brees threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers, Mark Ingram rushed for 122 yards and the defense forced two turnovers. Coach Sean Payton says it feels good to beat a good team on the road.
The LSU Tigers are No. 23 in The Associated Press Top 25 and No. 24 in the new coaches poll released Sunday. The tigers finish the regular season ranked for the sixth straight season and the ninth time in coach Les Miles’ 10 years.
The city of Alexandria City will finally be getting out of the Hotel business. The council Tuesday made a decision between two groups seeking to buy the Alexander Fulton Hotel. In a 4-3 vote, the council elected to go with Southern Hospitality Group over Windfeel Properties. Windfeel, who has been managing the Fulton since September 2013, was unable to come up with the money to purchase the hotel. The council also passed an ordinance and resolution to compensate Windfeel for improvements or services it has provided that have added value to the hotel or the renovation process, as well as services provided during the transition period to SHG ownership.
In other good downtown news, word is the Mirror Room in the shuttered Hotel Bentley will be opening before the end of the year. The Bentley had been closed for nearly eight years when Alexandria Businessman Michael Jenkins bought it in 2012. Renovation plans call for converting the seven-story tower portion of the property into condominiums. The original portion of the property will remain a hotel with 92-94 rooms. It’s hoped that other sections will be opening after the first of the year.
Republican Senate candidate Bill Cassidy received the endorsement Tuesday of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Meanwhile, Senator Mary Landrieu spent the afternoon in Houma meeting with workers at Weeks Marine Incorporated and speaking with seniors and disabled citizens at a senior center.
The American Automobile Association says more than 46 million Americans will be hitting the road to celebrate Thanksgiving which is the most since 2007. The travel days are defined as tomorrow through Sunday. 90% of vacationers will be taking their car and enjoying the lowest gas prices in over 4 years.
A family from Moreauville is fighting a proposed ban on vicious dogs. Joanna Armand, who owns a one year-old pitbull named Zeus, says their family dog is providing love and support to four of her children, who are special needs kids. She says giving up the dog would be a devastating blow for her family.
The former Destrehan High School teacher accused of participating in group sex with a 16-year-old student entered a not guilty plea to a charge of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The judge loosened some restrictions of her bond, which will allow her to attend an exercise class and help her husband care for their three young children.
A Jonesboro woman has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man inside his home. Fifty-one year-old Veronica Denise Jackson has been charged with second degree murder for allegedly shooting 58 year-old Grover Brown in rural Lincoln Parish. His body was discovered Sunday morning and that investigation continues.
It may be a tradition at your household to rinse the turkey before putting it in the oven for the Thanksgiving feast. But LSU AgCenter nutritionist Denise Holston-West advises against it. She says washing poultry or meat can spread bacteria. Once the turkey is in the oven, use a food thermometer to make sure it cooks to 165-degrees. Holtston-West says the stuffing should be cooked in a separate casserole.
Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships, the Nina and Pinta, will be on display in Houma starting today. The ships are floating museums educating the public on the type of ship that Columbus used during the age of discovery. Captain of the Nina, Stephen Sanger, says the ships attract people of all ages. The ships will be on display through December 7th at the Downtown Marina in Houma.
The state continues to set new employment records. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says total nonfarm employment in Louisiana reached 1,988,900 in October, which is a new record high. The number of private employment jobs has grown by 31-thousand over the last year. In a strange twist, The state’s unemployment rate is also going up, along with the number of people who are employed. The unemployment rate for October was six-point-two percent, up four-percentage points from last year.
Early voting for the December 6th runoff election continues across the state, and will run through this Saturday, excluding Thursday and Friday. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says voter turnout for the kickoff this past Saturday was brisk, and when compared to early voting for the primary. He expects the voter turnout to be around 35 percent.
A West Monroe lawmaker filed a lawsuit this week seeking to extend the early voting period for the December 6th runoff because two days were lost this time due to the Thanksgiving Holidays. Governor Bobby Jindal declared this Friday a state holiday, Acadian Day, and polls are closed. Representative Marcus Hunter says this election, with the US-Senate race at the top of the ballot, is too important to shorten the amount of time someone is given the opportunity to vote. He says he hopes a judge will add those two extra days back.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Hardman Family who lost five in a crash in Ouachita Parish while on their way to their dream Disney World vacation last week. According to the site, the money, now reaching almost $30,000, will be used for the five funeral expenses. Trudi and Michael Hardman died in a crash along with three juveniles age 15, 7 and 4.
New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has pledged two gifts to the Pro Football Hall of Fame totaling $11 million. This is the largest individual contribution in the Hall’s 51 year history. The donation will help build a Hall of Fame Village. $10 million of Benson’s donation will be used to renovate Fawcett Stadium, which will now be called Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The renovations will allow the stadium to be used for other sporting and entertainment events. The additional $1 million will help construct the Hall of Fame’s Legends Landing, a residence where former greats can live if they fall on hard times.
The famous Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is officially underway. The 300,000+ lights were turned on for the first time on Saturday and will twinkle every night at dusk through January 6th of next year. Downtown attractions include carriage tours through the historic district and all shops and restaurants will be open late. The 88th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival and parade happens December 6th. You can get more information on the festival online at christmasfestival.com.
Governor Bobby Jindal announce ClearEdge Wholesale Glass will invest $2.65 million dollars to renovate a 41,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Baton Rouge and relocate their current smaller operations from New Orleans to the new facility in Baton Rouge. He says ClearEdge will create 120 new direct jobs at the new facility with an average salary of nearly $40,000 a year plus benefits.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards took several shots at his opponent in the 6th Congressional District race in a debate where Garret Graves did not show up. Edwards accuses Graves of playing dirty politics in a flyer he sent out prior to the November 4th election that may lead voters to believe Paul Deitzel is gay. Edwards is also accusing Graves of helping his family profit from Government contracts when he was the head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Edwards was asked if he thought Senator Mary Landrieu was affecting his campaign. The former governor joked that it’s The President hurting that’s them both.
As the rate of diabetes continues to rise, new numbers show the disease costs Louisiana’s five-billion dollars a year. The study was conducted by LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the facility’s executive director, Dr. William Cefalu, says the cost of pre-diabetes went up 74-percent and undiagnosed diabetes grew 82-percent since 2007. Nationally, the cost of diabetes has grown to $322 billion per year in excess medical costs and lost productivity. Cefalu says diabetes is becoming an economic burden for the entire country.
Louisiana Tech can win the West Division of Conference USA this Saturday. But the defending league champions stand in the Bulldogs way. The Rice Owls won ten games last year and were crowned the C-USA champs. This season Rice can win the West from Tech by beating the Bulldogs in Ruston this weekend. Last season, the Rice Owls embarrassed Louisiana Tech, beating them in Houston 52-14.
LSU heads into Thursday night’s regular season finale against Texas A-and-M struggling on offense. So will true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris get some snaps against the Aggies. When asked. Coach Les Miles gave a non-committal answer.
LSU has won the two previous meetings against Texas A-and-M, since the Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference.
Early voting for the December 6th runoff elections is underway. You’ll have until this Saturday to cast your ballot. But, keep in mind, the polls will be closed Thursday Thanksgiving day and this Friday, which is a state holiday. The polls are open at 8:30am and close at 6pm.
State Representative Marcus Hunter says he’s asking the Secretary of State’s office to extend the December 6th runoff early voting period which began Saturday. The Democratic West Monroe lawmaker is upset the 7-day early voting is reduced to five days this time because the voting precincts are closed for the Thursday and Friday state holidays. Hunter says he plans to take the matter to court this week.
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the state plans to use amnesty money, eliminate 167 unused positions and reduce spending as part of the plan to fill the state’s current $171 million dollar budget shortfall. The deficit was tied to low severance tax and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.
As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating a statewide Click It or Ticket campaign aimed at saving lives. Executive Director Lt. Col. John Leblanc says last year’s Thanksgiving holiday was one of the most dangerous of the year on Louisiana roadways. He says Louisiana law requires everyone in a vehicle to be buckled up at all times.
It looks like your Thanksgiving meal will cost a little more this year, according to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Association. The average price for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost $49.41, 37 cents more than last year. Louisiana Farm Bureau Association’s Avery Davidson says the biggest price hikes you’ll see are your proteins, particularly turkey and beef. Davidson says prices are up. because fewer turkeys were processed this year and we have the smallest beef herds in the last 30 or 40 years.
A recent State Farm survey found drivers are still texting and driving, even though they know its dangerous. 52 percent of those polled admit they have talked on a cell phone while driving and 34 percent say they have texted while driving. State Farm Spokesperson Gary Stephenson says there has been an increase in the use of hands free cell phones. Stephenson says 77 percent of young drivers say they believe they can safely text while driving. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 80 percent of crashes are due to distracted driving.
The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association has met their Kickstarter goal with money they were raising for a study that will research the economic impact of the movie industry in Louisiana. LFEA Executive Board member Raelyn Loop says once the study is complete, they will present the findings to lawmakers. Loop says the state has to look at whether the motion picture tax incentive that benefits outside companies coming in to do business here is helping Louisiana. She says other states are mimicking our program so Louisiana needs to remain competitive.
State Police say a crash in Jackson Parish with a 15-year-old behind the wheel claimed the life of a 14-year-old passenger Friday night. They say the juvenile from Jonesboro veered off the road and slammed into a tree. Both occupants were unrestrained. Investigators say the 14-year-old passenger from Quitman died at the scene and the driver has serious injuries. It is not known at this time if alcohol was a factor in the crash.
State Police report two men died Saturday afternoon in Concordia Parish when the car they were in overturned and erupted in flames after being hit. Ernie Climer of Cheneyville and Jeremy Elliott of Trout, both 36, died at the scene of the wreck on La. Highway 565