The State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined that Wednesday’s fire in Calhoun, where two bodies were recovered, was a murder suicide. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they believe the situation began with a domestic dispute between 52-year-old Larry Lisotta and his wife, 57-year-old Diane Lisotta. Browning says they have determined that Larry Lisotta shot his wife in the head and then set the home on fire. They believe he then turned the gun on himself. Browning says this appears to be an isolated incident and do not believe anyone else was involved
Abortion rights activists testified Thursday The state Department of Health and Hospitals has gone too far in its proposed rules governing the operation of abortion clinics in the state.
About 80 people attended the DHH hearing to take public testimony on rules and regulations updated after the Louisiana Legislature passed several laws about the licensing and operation of abortion clinics. Nobody spoke in favor of the rules.
Lawyers on both sides of a same-sex marriage case urged Louisiana’s Supreme Court on Thursday to rule soon on the matter even though the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to do so by late June. Louisiana voters approved a 2004 amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriages in the state and forbids the recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. In September, state District Judge Edward Rubin, of Lafayette, ruled the ban unconstitutional.
The Louisiana Lottery says we’ve now hit the biggest Powerball jackpot of 2015 with tomorrow’s drawing worth a whopping $298 million dollars. Spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the current jackpot has been running since the end of November. She says the last big jackpot winner in Louisiana was from a May 2013 drawing so we’re due. Chopin says the current jackpot has a cash value of about $198.4 million dollars.
A new study ranks Louisiana third nationally on a per-capita basis for inappropriate teacher-student relationships. Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the US Department of Ed and now chair of Drive West Communications, says he found 23 reported cases in 2014, and six cases so far this year. In many situations, social media advanced a teacher-student relationship to an inappropriate level. Another interesting aspect to the study, there’s also a higher percentage of inappropriate relationships involving female teachers than the national average.
After more Louisianians have been hospitalized and even died as a result of synthetic marijuana, Governor Bobby Jindal has announced the ban of multiple new synthetic marijuana compounds. The new banned compounds are called “PX 1″, PX 2″, and “MDMB-CHMICA” (chimika).
Sometimes made in china can be a pain. A lot of Mardi Gras Krewes are getting nervous as most of their custom throws have not arrived yet and Fat Tuesday is just around the corner. There was an ongoing labor dispute at a Los Angeles port which held up thousands of signature Mardi Gras product, but Beads By the Dozen President Dan Kelly says tensions have calmed. Kelly says almost every Carnival Krewe was affected by the delay. He says now all of the Mardi Gras containers are being taken off ships and hopefully will be put on trains over the next two days.
So how likely would it be that former KKK leader and Louisiana lawmaker David Duke would be elected again here? Not very likely according to political analyst Bernie Pinsonat. Duke challenged Congressman Steve Scalise to step down for apologizing about speaking to a white supremacist group in 2002. Pinsonat says Duke is only milking this for attention
Duke took it a step further and said that he would consider challenging the House Majority Whip in the next election for the 1st District Seat. Pinsonat says Duke is just trying to get publicity and he will probably never get re-elected in Louisiana if he chooses to run.
The legal drama between the Benson family over ownership of the Saints and Pelicans could drag on for a year or more. The scene will play out in courtrooms in New Orleans and San Antonio. Legal analyst Tim Meche says an Orleans Civil District Court Judge could rule whether or not Tom Benson is physically and mentally fit to handle his business affairs by spring. Meche says the real litigation will take place in San Antonio involving whether or not Tom Benson can transfer the teams out of the family trust. He says, thus far, Benson has been unsuccessful in his attempts to do so.
A Louisiana inmate at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court debate over leniency for juvenile criminals had his life sentence cancelled Thursday after spending more than three decades in prison. George Toca, convicted in New Orleans of second-degree murder in 1985. Under the agreement, the 47 year old Toca enter a plea to a lesser charge of manslaughter and plead guilty to two counts of attempted armed robbery. Police said Toca accidentally shot his 16 year old friend while they were robbing a couple at gunpoint in April of 1984.
It all comes down to attachment A. The Rapides Parish Police Jury voted Wednesday to approve an agreement with the city of Alexandria to settle the parking lot dispute, once the wording of that attachment is worked out. In case you are wondering what is in that attachment that is holding up the project, it is the definition of the project. The city rejected it saying they plan to draft their own. The overall agreement provides that the Police Jury will pay the city $1.1 million for its share of the jointly owned parking lot. Having a valid parking plan is needed before the $23 million Coliseum renovation can begin.
Sasol says it will delay a decision on whether or not it will make the final announced investment into the proposed gas-to-liquids plant in Westlake Near Lake Charles. The South African energy company says they’re holding off on the 14 billion dollar phase of the project due to tumbling oil prices. Sasol has already approved an $8.1 billion dollar cracker unit in Westlake but right now says they are working to conserve as much money as possible.
Sasol’s announcement of a delay in their final decision to invest in a proposed gas-to-liquids plant in southwest Louisiana has raised some concern in the business community. But George Swift, President of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, says construction has already begun on Sasol’s $8 billion ethane cracker and that quells his concern. Swift says his confidence that the project will go ahead is boosted by the infrastructure work that Sasol is doing around the site of the proposed plant.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire early Wednesday morning in Ouachita Parish that has claimed the lives of two people. Fire Marshal Butch Browning says officials are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire. The identities of the man and woman who perished in the fire have not been released.
Governor Bobby Jindal says his proposed budget cuts will be presented to lawmakers, along with a list of “options” to ease some of the slashing. With the state facing a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, the Jindal administration is considering cuts for colleges, and to health care services.
State Police announce that 150 additional troopers will be deployed to New Orleans for this year’s Mardi Gras season. The detail will include a visible uniform security presence in the French Quarter and Central Business District as well as plain clothes officers. Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson says the troopers will be working in the city through Fat Tuesday.
Republican Congressman Steve Scalise has agreed to a meeting with two civil rights leaders in the aftermath of reports that Scalise spoke to a group of white supremacists in 2002. The pair want to ask Scalise to help advance civil and human rights issues, like the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Scalise has acknowledged it was a mistake to speak to the group and has apologized. Former KKK leader and State Representative David Duke says Congressman Steve Scalise is a sellout and he may consider running against him.
Officials from Grambling will be meeting with the Louisiana State Board of Nursing next month to rule on the school’s undergraduate program. Grambling’s nursing program has not maintained an 80 percent pass rate for students taking their state exams. Grambling currently has about 200 students in the program.
The Onion, a satirical news website, recently wrote an article skewering Governor Bobby Jindal that’s getting national attention. The fictitious article claimed that Jindal’s presidential campaign would last about two months before he pulled out of the race. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says The Onion writing an article about Jindal is not flattering and not the kind of national attention that the governor would prefer at this time. He says the underlying joke in the article is one that Louisianians will surely understand. The governor may end up running a two month campaign. But, truth is he has running for the presidency for the past five years.
Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has responded to a lawsuit filed by his daughter and two grandchildren. In a court filing, Benson says for years he attempted to groom Renee Benson and his two grandchildren to take over the professional franchises once he dies, but they never rose to the task. He adds the decision for his wife to take control of the teams following his death was a deliberate and reasoned decision.
Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky will battle for first place in Conference USA when the two basketball teams meet tonight in Ruston. Tech is 6-and-1 in Conference USA, while the Hilltoppers are 7-and-0. Bulldogs Coach Michael White says Tech has won 22 in a row at home and tonight is about protecting their home floor against a really good offensive team.
Rapides Parish Police Jury President Richard Billings has called a special Police Jury meeting for 4 p.m. today to discuss the Police Jury's lawsuit against the city of Alexandria. The jury sued the city over the parking lot dispute, which parish officials say has delayed the start of the $23 million Coliseum renovation project. It’s believed the city and the parish are very close to an agreement. The police jury is also working toward a long-term lease for "overflow parking" on property that is not owned by the city.
When it was created last year, a $40 million incentive fund to pay for college programs that fill high-demand jobs in Louisiana was hailed as critical to both higher education and the state's workforce needs. Now, with the state grappling with deep budget problems, Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to strip financing from the fund that only months ago he described as among his top priorities. But with Louisiana facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the 2015-16 fiscal year that begins July 1, Jindal is considering cuts of $300 million to $400 million to public colleges. And WISE, as the program is called, is on the chopping block.
According to the American Automobile Association, the statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is at $1.87 for the second day in a row. So has the price bottomed out? AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it’s possible, as the price of crude oil has stabilized between $45 and $48 a barrel. But, that’s not likely. Redman says there’s a chance that we could still see prices slip as we head into February. Redman says the drop in fuel costs is astounding, especially when you compare prices to this time last year…
The health of the teachers’ retirement system in Louisiana got a “C minus” in a report issued Tuesday by The National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan research and policy organization. The report says the state’s teacher retirement debt totals $11.3 billion.
The latest estimate from state officials is nearly $12 billion, which is the largest of the four statewide retirement systems. The report said the retirement debt is not well funded and lacks the flexibility needed to be fair to teachers, including allowing them to be vested in no more than three years. The requirement here is five years.
Louisiana's economy keeps creating jobs, but it can't keep up with the state's growing workforce. The state's unemployment rate rose in December for the eighth straight month, to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent in November. Louisiana now ties for the sixth-highest jobless rate among the states. But at the same time, the state hit new all-time highs for jobs. Experts say The jobless rate rose, though, because the number of job seekers grew faster than the number of jobs.
Two men were gunned down Monday and killed in Donaldsonville less than two hours before a community group intent on stemming a recent tide of violence prayed in the city’s downtown square. Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said 37 year old Chad Nichols was slain in his front yard. A second man, 29-year-old Benny Booker of Prairieville, was wounded with serious injuries and taken to a hospital but later died.
Witnesses told deputies that two white cars were seen speeding away from the mobile home shortly after the shooting.
The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office says the search for a teen, wanted in connection to a weekend robbery, ended unexpectedly when the suspect was found dead. Sheriff’s spokesperson Maxine Trahan says officers responded to a call from a crawfisherman who discovered the body of 18 year old Slye Mier in a field just east of Crowley. Authorities say Mier’s death is being classified as suspicious, although the exact cause of death is unknown at this time.
A Breaux Bridge woman Tuesday admitted to a judge that she was one of two people who strangled her elderly mother in 2011, drove her body to Lake Martin and left it in a car for others to find. 51 year old Heller Marie Dupuis plead guilty to manslaughter in the November 2011 killing of 83-year-old Jessie Messex, whose body police found with the rope still around her neck. Dupuis acknowledged to 16th District Judge Lori Landry on Tuesday that she and an accomplice, her 33-year-old daughter, Toni Marie Dupuis, carried out the crime. Toni Dupuis has agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter, though no court date has been scheduled.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual convention begins today and the main agenda item is the current split of the football playoffs. There is a proposal to expand the postseason split of public and private schools to other sports. A vote on the football playoff proposals will take place Friday.
Studies show more and more women are buying guns and becoming more familiar with how to use them. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 74 percent of gun shops saw growth in female customers in 2014. Barret Kendrick, a firearms trainer in Covington, says they have seen a major increase in the number of women coming into the gun market. Kendrick says women want to be able to protect themselves and their children and not feel like they have to rely on a man to protect them.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear “Boudin King Cake?” Well it’s out there. The brains behind the now crazy viral concept is Acadiana food critic Bob Carriker who is a UL-Lafayette history professor. He says he reviews King Cakes and Boudin from all over the nation and decided to combine the two and share the idea on his Facebook Page. Carriker says the now-famous King Cake uses a bread that is savory, not sweet, stuffed with boudin, topped with Steen’s cane syrup then sprinkled with cracklin.
RPSO Deputies arrested a home invasion suspect, 27 year old Nicholas Damico of Alexandria, around lunchtime yesterday. Authorities received a 911 call about shortly after noon stating that a burglary was in progress in the 5000 block of Plantation Road in Alexandria. When deputies arrived a short time later they found the suspect being held at gunpoint by the homeowner. Damico was charged with home invasion, stalking and simple battery.
Despite the number of burglaries being down 5% in the past year in Alexandria, city police are advising the public to be on the lookout for suspicious people looking in to vehicles. According to police there has been a rash of guns being stolen from parked vehicles. The police remind everyone to lock tempting items in the trunk of their vehicles.
The APD reports three teenagers from Jena were arrested over the weekend on drug and weapon charges. Police searched a vehicle after an officer saw one of the suspects smoking marijuana in the parking lot of the Grand Theatre on North Mall Drive. In that vehicle, Police found 29 bags of marijuana and a handgun. The suspects were taken to at the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
The state fire marshal is investigating a deadly blaze yesterday in Natchitoches that claimed the life of a yet unidentified person. Fire fighters made the gruesome discovery after extinguishing a fire at an abandoned mobile home yesterday morning. The body was so badly burnt investigators were unable to make an formal id. It is hope an autopsy will be able to do that.
Weak oil prices will result in a 103 million-dollar reduction in spending this fiscal year by state government. That determination was made at the Revenue Estimating Conference meeting in Baton Rouge Monday afternoon. The panel, which determines how much money the state can spend, also determined the budget deficit for next fiscal year has increased by another 203 million to one-point-six billion dollars.
Republican Minden Congressman John Fleming says he, along with eight other congressman, have formed the House Freedom Caucus. Fleming says they’ll advance an agenda that calls for an of accountable and limited government. Fleming says this new group of truly conservative lawmakers will look to advance legislation and also prevent measures that do not represent what he calls “America’s Agenda.
The state police confirmed yesterday the U.S. Secret Service is investigating a number of cases of ATM thefts in a major cities along the Interstate 10 corridor. Nick Manale of the Louisiana State Police says skimmers, devices which can read numbers from ATM cards, have been put on some ATM machines. Manale says keep an eye on their banks accounts, going back as long as one or two months, and if you suspect fraudulent activity, call your bank and the police. the Secret Service suspects this is the work of a group of people.
An accidental shooting at a Shreveport casino resulted in a man being hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Shreveport Police Cpl. Breck Scott says 34-year-old Jerry Grimes arrived at the casino valet early Monday morning and while in the process of removing his gun from his holster and placing it in the trunk, the gun fired striking Grimes in the upper thigh. Police say the injury was non-life threatening. The investigation is ongoing, but Grimes had no signs of impairment.
As New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is working to reduce crime in the Crescent City, one auto-theft crime hit home with the mayor, as a jeep registered to Landrieu was reportedly stolen over the weekend. An off-duty officer was able to locate the abandoned vehicle in the Uptown section of New Orleans. They are still seeking the suspect.
Entergy has cut the ribbon on a new power plant in suburban New Orleans that company officials say will reduce fuel costs and produce reliable and affordable power for Louisiana customers. Entergy Spokesperson Mike Burns says Ninemile 6 is already using 30 percent less fuel than other natural gas combustion plants. This is the first power plant Entergy has opened in Louisiana in 30 years. Burns says Ninemile 6 was completed under budget and ahead of time.
The State Department of Health and Hospitals sets up a program that encourages Louisiana residents to take control of their health. The program is called “Own Your Own Health”. It’s a three month wellness challenge that can assist residents in living a healthier lifestyle. Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Director Rudy Macklin says you can participate as an individual or part of a team. The challenges are meant to motivate Louisianians to make small daily steps in creating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. You can sign up at oyohla.com
A University of Michigan Medical School study finds, that since the late 90s, there has been an almost 30-percent increase in the report of falls among the elderly. Dr. Cathi Fontenot, with LSU Health Internal Medicine, as one ages, your sense of balance typically gets a little worse. Fontenot says it’s important to keep those core muscles as strong as possible to help maintain your balance. She says the weakening of core muscles in the elderly can affect their sense of balance
The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today to determine the budget shortfall the state faces this fiscal year and next. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says it’s likely mid-year cuts will be needed to offset the deficit. Though state officials say the reason for the shortfall is falling oil prices, Erwin says that’s not the only reason we’re in this situation. He says the structure of the budget has never really been repaired since 2008-2009. He says we’ve just been borrowing money from ourselves over and over and then that ran out.
Senate President John Alario plans to meet with Governor Jindal this week to discuss ways to reduce a potential budget cut of up to $380 million dollars to Louisiana’s public colleges. He says that kind of cut would completely devastate higher education not only to the universities but to the children who are seeking it. Alario says one of the items of discussion that’s on the table is trying to increase revenue
The state labor department says first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 17 decreased to 2,987 from the previous week's total of 3,601. The
Industries with the biggest over-the-week decrease in initial claims were construction, accommodation and food services, administrative and waste services, and retail trade.
It appears state Treasurer John Kennedy is testing the waters for a few races in this year’s upcoming election. It’s reported Kennedy has hired Virginia-based North Star Opinion Research to poll the races for governor, attorney general, and if there was a special US Senate election in 2016. Kennedy says, at this time, he’s keeping his options open.
The survey shows the Treasurer topping a possible attorney general’s race and the leading Republican in a US Senate race should David Vitter become governor.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has seen a slight uptick in Louisianans who view him favorably, according to a new poll of likely Louisiana voters. The poll, conducted by Jindal’s campaign pollster Wes Anderson of OnMessage Inc., found 46 percent approve of Jindal’s job performance heading into the final year of his final term, while 45 percent view him unfavorably. Among respondents 45 and younger, Jindal’s numbers were 55 percent favorable to 41 percent unfavorable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal told Christian evangelicals gathered at an all-day prayer rally Saturday that the nation needs a “spiritual revival,” as he continued to court religious conservatives for a possible presidential campaign. The rally attracted thousands to the basketball arena on LSU’s campus but drew controversy both because of the group hosting it, the American Family Association, and Jindal’s well-advertised headlining appearance.
Gov. Bobby Jindal took a hard-line stance against same-sex marriage during a five-minute interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sunday morning. The governor added that he hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately let states like Louisiana keep their bans on same-sex marriage in place. If it doesn't, he said he will support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to guarantee that states would be able to define marriage themselves.
State police report a Port Barre man died Saturday night as a result of an ATV accident. 28 year old Lance Lomas was on U.S. 190 in St. Landry Parish, driving on the westbound shoulder of the road, when for some unknown reason he veered right, crossed a driveway and drove into the ditch, flipping the ATV. Lomas was not wearing a helmet and suffered critical injuries. He died later at a hospital. Alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor in the crash.
The trial for a man accused of tying up and abandoning a baby pit-bull in a storage building in October 2013 begins in Caddo District Court today, and there are plenty of angry citizens expected to be in attendance. 32-year-old Gabriel Lee, charged with cruelty to an animal after he allegedly left the dog without food and water for several days. When the dog was discovered, he was barely alive. He has since made a full recovery.
LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri says sophomore left-hander Jared Poche will start opening day on February 13th against Kansas, but he’s not sure on what the rest of his starting rotation will look like. Mainieri says he has several freshmen to choose from and the situation will play itself out during the non-conference portion of the schedule
Employees at General Electric's Pineville plant have been told the facility is closing. The valve plant was formerly operated by Dresser Inc. before that company was bought by GE in 2010. It employs about 300 people. So far, company officials have refused to confirm or deny the closing.
Pineville Police report 48 year old Tyrone Teasley was arrested Wednesday after he walked into a classroom at Louisiana College and started teaching a class. Problem was, Teasley was neither a teacher or a student at the private school. Teasley was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and disturbing the peace. He was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
Finally some good news relating to the Rapides Parish Coliseum. Police Jury President Richard Billings announced yesterday a proposed agreement between the Police Jury and the city of Alexandria over jointly owned property needed for Coliseum parking could be finalized as early as next week. The Police Jury canceled a special meeting that had been set for Thursday morning on a proposed intergovernmental agreement with the city of Alexandria on the parking lot issue. Word is, the agreement needed some tweaking. Billings is hopeful the agreement will be ready soon.
An Alexandria police officer who has been under investigation has resigned, according to Chief Loren Lampert. Two investigations into possible misconduct by the unidentified ex-officer were turned over to the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office in late December for grand jury consideration. A new grand jury was expected to be empaneled late this month. The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office started an investigation after receiving a complaint about possible misconduct by the officer while he was off duty and outside of the city. The Alexandria Police Department started its own investigation after being notified of the allegation.
Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson announces ownership of both teams will transfer to his wife, Gayle, upon his death. This move effectively cuts out Benson’s daughter, Renee, and grandchildren, Ryan Leblanc and Rita Benson Leblanc, from the sports franchises. Benson stated that this change in succession is necessary for the long-term success of both teams. Shortly after the announcement, Benson’s former heir filed a law suit claiming her grandfather is incapacitated. Rita Benson LeBlanc, her mother Renee Benson and brother Ryan LeBlanc filed the petition in Orleans Civil District Court. The suit also alleges that Tom Benson’s wife, Gayle, is trying to take advantage of her husband’s unfit mental state and is only after his money.
Republican supporters of Governor Bobby Jindal establish a super PAC that could assist him in a presidential bid. Former Louisiana Congressman, Bob Livingston, is the chairman of the political action committee, called Believe Again PAC. Livingston acknowledges this is the first step in a possible run for the White House. The Super PAC can raise an unlimited amount of money, but Jindal can’t direct or coordinate how the money is spent.
The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department has arrested a 24-year-old woman in the May 2014 death of her fiancé’s 3-year-old son. After an eight month investigation, Brittany Marie Prejean of Rayne is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Keaghyn Parsons. Prejean was caring for the toddler the day of his death. An autopsy performed on the child showed he died of blunt trauma. The Calcasieu Parish Coroner ruled his death a homicide.
The New Orleans City Council Thursday approved a smoking ban at bars and casinos by a 7-0 vote. This is a big win for supporters who say it’s a public health issue for workers and patrons of these establishments. Tonia Moore is with the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living. She says they are thrilled this initiative had so much support. The opposition was mostly from business owners who were worried such a smoking ban would threaten revenue. Moore says they hope to see many other municipalities in Louisiana follow suit.
This weekend, the Mystick Krewe of Louisiana will be hosting the DC Mardi Gras in our nation’s capital. A reported 3,000 Louisiana will fly in for the festivities at the Washington Hilton.
The woman who has assisted law enforcement locally and nationally in identifying human remains, Mary Manhein, announces she is retiring from the LSU FACES Laboratory after more than 30 years. Also known as “The Bone Lady,” Manhein has consulted on hundreds of forensic cases including mass disasters. Manhein says her last day is April 30th and she’ll then turn over the reins of the program to another generation.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the whooping crane that was shot in Vermilion Parish then later died late last year. Spokesman Adam Einck says the reward money is coming from several sources. Einck says the whooping crane is one of the world’s most endangered birds and they want to make it clear that there are serious repercussions from killing one. He says this is now the 6th bird that has been shot and killed in Louisiana. Anyone with information on this case can report it online at wlf.louisiana.gov.
College baseball teams can begin full squad workouts today and for the LSU Tigers they enter the season ranked ninth in the country according to Division One-Baseball-dot-com.
You may have noticed a lot of extra traffic in town. There’s a good reason for that. The Pentecostals of Alexandria are playing host to over 3000 people from all around the world. It’s the 32 “because of the times Conference”. An event that has continued to grow since it’s inception back in 1984. The conference started Tuesday and runs through today.
A fish fry will be held Sunday at Bea’s Grocery in Montgomery to raise funds for the family involved in a fatal wreck over the weekend. Three members of the West family from Montgomery died after the wreck on U.S. Highway 71 near Clarence. Jennifer Tell West and Brian West died at the scene. Their 10year-old daughter, Kayle West, died Tuesday morning.
The wreck also killed Pineville resident Stacey Lachney and injured her daughter.
Jennifer West worked at Bea’s Grocery for about three years, and her father has established a fund at Montgomery Bank to help with expenses. All proceeds from the fish fry will go to that fund. Plates are $10 each, and sales begin at 10 a.m. and will last until supplies are gone.
GoFundMe accounts also have been established for the West family
Falling oil prices has resulted in Lafayette-based Stone Energy Company to announce it will cut spending this year by more than half of what they spent in 2014. Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, says Stone Energy is not the only oil company scaling back. The price of oil is trading at 47-dollars a barrel today.
A self-confessed child killer named Phillip DeSelle is set to be released from prison today and the family of the little girl and Evangeline Parish citizens are outraged. Averie Evans of Natchitoches who was killed by DeSelle when she was 11 years old. DeSelle, now 65, served just 24 years in prison on a 50 year sentence and was given time off for good behavior.
Governor Bobby Jindal continues to insist there are neighborhoods in Europe where authority is ceded to a more harsh version of Islamic law. Jindal had a chance to back down from those comments in a one-on-one interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Fox News previously reported the same claims, but has since apologized and said those reports were false. But in the governor’s interview on Fox News, he said there are government officials in Europe who say they have Muslim-led communities who do want to assimilate. Jindal expressed concern a similar situation could develop in this country, if our federal government doesn’t take appropriate measures to make sure immigrants are not trying to overturn our culture.
According to the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, 137-thousand people in Louisiana have signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. Open enrollment ends on February 15th. More information can be found at health-care-dot-gov.
A man wanted for the shooting injury of an Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Deputy yesterday has been found and arrested. Sheriff Jeff Wiley says 35 year-old John McMullen was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by police for a shop-lifting incident, when McMullen shot at the car and the deputy, hitting him in the hand. The suspect took off, but they found him later. A man and a woman in the car were also arrested. McMullen is charged with attempted first degree murder of a police officer.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested an Opelousas woman for allegedly burning her child with cigarettes. 26-year-old Jessica Deville is facing a charge of cruelty to a juvenile. Lt. Clay Higgins says they were alerted by a local hospital about the alleged abuse. She denies those charges. The 5 year old is now in the custody of his father.
New Orleans City Council is expected to vote on a controversial ordinance that would prohibit smoking in bars and casinos. Claudia Rodas, with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, is in favor of the ordinance. She says more should be done to protect bar and casino workers from the dangers of second hand smoke. But, Alex Fine, President of the French Quarter Business League, points out that there are already over 100 bars in the city that do not allow smoking. He says owners should be allowed to make the decision on whether or not they want to be smoke-free
LSU football received a verbal commitment from one of the top high school prospects in the state, Riverdale defensive back Donte Jackson, who had five interceptions last season The 2015 recruiting class also features a couple of other highly thought of defensive backs in Kevin Toliver and Xavier Lewis.
State Police say a two-vehicle accident in Natchitoches Parish on Sunday afternoon left three people dead and four others injured. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Stacey Lachney of Pineville crossed the center line of US 70 and collided with a vehicle driven by 31-year-old Jennifer Tell of Montgomery head on. Lachney was killed as a result of the crash, as was Tell along with a passenger in her car identified as Brian West. Moreau says three juvenile passengers in Tell’s car received minor to serious injuries.
Massive traffic problems on I-10 yesterday morning as Authorities had to close the I-210 bridge in Lake Charles shortly after 4am due to a bomb threat. State Police Sgt. James Anderson says they received a call about a car on fire on the Calcasieu River bridge, but found no car on fire and the person with the car said he had a bomb. Anderson says the investigation is ongoing. No bomb was found and the bridge was reopened just before 12:30 p.m.
Gov. Bobby Jindal continued Monday to warn of "no-go zones" in Europe where non-Muslims are unwelcome and residents are ruled by religious laws, even after Fox News declared that there is "no credible information" that such areas exist in France and England. CNN reporter Max Foster challenged Jindal during an interview Monday, saying he had lived in London a long time and he don't know of any no-go zones. However, Jindal stood firm.
A CBS News poll of one one-thousand Americans nationwide found 14-percent of Republicans would like to see Governor Bobby Jindal run for President, while 20-percent said they do not want to see him run. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the republican getting the most support based on this poll, as 59-percent of the respondents said they would like to see Romney run again.
Former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason will be Senator David Vitter’s special guest tonight at President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS and works with his Team Gleason organization to empower others living with the disease. Vitter says he’s honored to have Gleason attend, calling Gleason an inspiring leader in the fight against ALS.
Starting today, taxpayers can file their federal and state 2014 returns. Mark Eldredge, with Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants, says if you bought health insurance through the federal marketplace, also referred to as Obamacare, there is a special form you’ll have to fill out proving you had insurance. If you did not, you’re subject to a fine that’s laid out in the Affordable Care Act. Eldredge encourages you to get your returns to a licensed preparer soon, because even tax pros are trying to get up to speed on the new rules.
A federal trial to determine how much oil giant B-P will be required to pay in penalties for its role in the massive 2010 Gulf oil spill begins today in New Orleans. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Eric Smith, says a ruling made last week by U-S District Judge Carl Barbier gave us an indication on how steep the fine could be. BP faces up to 13-billion dollars in Clean Water Act fines.
With election day about nine months away, the four major announced candidates are starting to speak out about why they should be Louisiana’s next governor. During a recent forum in Baton Rouge, Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says there are many major issues facing the state and he has a history of bringing people together to solve problems. Democratic state representative John Bel Edwards says if elected, he’ll put Louisiana first, something that the current governor is not doing. Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he’s committed to building a better Louisiana & Republican Senator David Vitter says if he’s elected governor, it will be his last political job, which means his focus will be strictly on the challenges that lie ahead for Louisiana.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. Faye Williams of Alexandria currently serves as the Chair of the National Congress of Black Women. She says today is a day of service. Williams says we should use today to remember Dr. King by calling on people from all walks of life to work together in providing solutions to our most pressing national problems. Activities are scheduled all across the state today.
The Joint Legislative Committee on the budget approved a 20% pay raise for state troopers. The original request from Col. Mike Edmonson was for a 30% increase but the measure was amended down to 20% reducing the cost from about $14 million to about $10 million. Edmonson says this will be the first pay raise for Louisiana State troopers since 2002.
The vote from the House side was 24-5 and the Senate side 13-3. Much of the pushback Friday came from lawmakers who argued the request came as somewhat of a surprise and the process was too rushed.
State Police say a hostage situation in Evangeline Parish turned deadly with the suspect being shot and killed by police. They say the unidentified man took his girlfriend hostage in a trailer park in Pine Prairie. Master Trooper Brooks David says the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s deputies responded to call from a neighbor of a domestic disturbance. David says after deputies arrived, gunshots were fired from inside the residence. The female hostage broke out a window and screamed to the officers that she was going to be killed. David says, at that time, the hostage taker presented himself in the window and was shot. The hostage received only minor injuries.
Minden Representative Gene Reynolds says the EPA has agreed to delay the open tray burn of the more than 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden for at least 90 days. He says they also have now said they would support any decision on an alternative method to get rid of the explosives by the DEQ and the National Guard. Reynolds says there will now be more meetings and further discussions on the way to disposed of in a way that does not harm the environment.
The four announced candidates for governor met in Baton Rouge Friday to discuss ways Louisiana can have a better highway system. The idea of raising the gasoline tax was not discussed, but republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he would look into toll roads if elected. The lone democrat in the race, Amite representative Jon Bel said Louisiana could spend more money on highways, if state government made sure transportation Trust Funds went to roads and no other areas. Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says in too many cases transportation projects are funded as a political favor and that needs to stop. Republican US Senator David Vitter says one of his priorities as the next governor would be to develop a targeted highway building plan.
A Baton Rouge lawmaker is concerned about a department of education report that shows more than 61-thousand public school students received an out of school suspension last academic year as a result disciplinary action. That’s about nine-percent of the state’s public school students and senator Sharon Weston Broome believes that’s too high. The report also indicates about five-hundred students between K-and-12th grade received an out-of-school expulsion because of their actions. Broome says she’s meeting with principals, school board members and teachers in an attempt to find out if sending a disruptive or troubled child home is the best punishment.
New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond is concerned that airfare prices have not gone down despite the significant decline in fuel costs. Richmond says the fact that airline ticket prices haven’t gone down doesn’t make any sense to him. Richmond says if air travel is cost prohibitive, it is a detriment to American families. He wants an explanation of what exactly makes up the price of an airline ticket. Richmond feels there’s a chance that this issue could be heard in a Congressional hearing.
After a cold and cloudy week in Louisiana, get ready for some warmer temperatures and sunshine. Gary Chatelain, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, says we’re going to see a January thaw over the next few day. Chatelain says we’ll see high temperatures in the mid to upper 50s today, but the warm-up doesn’t stop there. Temps should be around 60 under sunny skies Saturday and Sunday.
Alexandria City officials and others gathered yesterday at the D.G. Hunter Generating Station, the city power plant , to highlight the start of a project in which seven new “rapid start” generators will add to the city’s generating capacity. The $100 million project is expected to be completed in a year. Mayor Jacques Roy says the project should keep city utility rates stable for the next 20 to 30 years.
A Campti man, 22 year old Robert White, who had been wanted on bank fraud and other charges was captured Thursday in Natchitoches. Authorities say White had been wanted since Dec. 31 on two counts of felony bank fraud and two counts of monetary instrument abuse. Another suspect in the case, Colie Northcutt, turned herself in last week.
The head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association is not expecting another oil bust like we saw in the 1980s even though the price of oil has fallen over 50-dollars in the last six months. LOGA President Don Briggs says while he doesn’t see a large number of oil and gas companies going under, there will be some belt tightening and some of that has already occurred. Briggs says there are currently 55 active off-shore rigs, and so far, these have not been impacted by the lower prices.
Those falling oil prices are not helping Louisiana’s state budget shortfall, as Secretary of State Tom Schedler reports his office faces a proposed $3.8 million dollar mid-year budget reduction from the Jindal Administration. This will force him to implement an agency-wide employee furlough as early as Tuesday.
You saw and heard the commercials every time you turned on the radio and TV. Now we know why. A just released report shows outside groups spent $27 million in Louisiana Senate campaign, all aimed at unseating Mary Landrieu. But, it was worse in other states. The No. 1 target for outside groups in 2014 was the Senate race in North Carolina, with $80 million spent. Republican Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in that election. The races in Colorado ($68 million) and Iowa ($59 million) ranked second and third. In all three of those elections Republicans captured a seat previously in Democratic hands, contributing to the gain of nine seats that has given Republicans control of the Senate in the current Congress.
Jonesboro Rep. Jim Fannin says he won’t support the pay increase for State Police when Col Mike Edmonson makes the request today before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. A bill was passed last session which created an account with motorist’s fines to be used for LSP. But Fannin says lawmakers have bigger fish to fry right now than pay raises
Fannin says with so many other state agencies cutting budgets in the mid-year, it wouldn’t be a good time to give troopers such a big increase. He also says a 30% increase is unreasonable…
State Senate President John Alario says forthcoming budget cuts to higher education would be disastrous to institutions across the state. The Jindal administration has discussed a potential $200 to $300 million cut to higher education. But Alario says he’s heard it could be as high as $380 million which would be devastating. The state has projected a $1.4 billion budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, and that number could rise due to falling oil prices. It’s expected that higher ed will take the brunt in efforts to try to balance the budget.
The major candidates in the 2015 Governor’s race will get together for the first time today in a Baton Rouge forum that will address transportation and infrastructure issues. The event is sponsored in part by The Louisiana Associated General Contractors. US-Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commission Scott Angelle, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and state Representative John Bel Edwards are expected to attend the two-hour forum.
The Washington Parish Sheriff’s office says a former speech therapist from Franklinton High School is under arrest for allegedly having sex with at least 2 students under the age of 17. Chief Deputy Mike Haley says after the complaint came in, they were able to gather enough evidence to arrest 40-year-old Kimberly Cooke. Haley says the suspect is booked with indecent behavior with juveniles.
Looking ahead to the governor’s race, Republican Senator David Vitter made a couple of major policy announcements yesterday. The first is concerning a fundamental spending and tax reform package; and the second being a targeted highway building plan. He says Louisiana needs to break out of the budget chaos, and he’s tired of poor roads and mounting traffic.
BP faces possible $13 billion in penalties at trial . That after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that 3.19 million barrels, just under 134 million gallons, were discharged into the Gulf after a rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well. The number is more than the 2.4 million barrel figure BP had argued for and less than the government’s estimate of about 4.2 million, a figure that could have meant $18 billion in maximum penalties under the Clean Water Act. Those penalties are to be determined in a trial set to open Tuesday.
The Alexandria Zoo is under fire from an animal rights group after two endangered primates froze to death last week. A zoo employee left three cotton-top Tamarins out in the cold, resulting in the death of two of the monkeys. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesperson, Brittany Peete says PETA wants the zoo to be held accountable for any possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Zoo officials say the employee in question, who was initially placed on administrative leave, has resigned.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s department reports A Rapides inmate on a road crew stole a truck from a Pineville church parking lot and fled yesterday afternoon. 43 year old Christopher Bailey was serving time for a burglary conviction. Because it was a non-violent conviction, Bailey was assigned to a crew that works across the parish, picking up trash or clearing brush. He is not considered dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call authorities.
According to the Violence Policy Center, Louisiana has the fifth highest black homicide victimization rate in the nation. The study details homicide rates for 2012. VPC executive director, Josh Sugarmann, says this is the ninth year they’ve conducted this report. Louisiana’s black homicide rate is 25.75 per 100,000, much higher than the national average of 18.03. There were 384 black homicide victims in Louisiana in 2012. Sugarmann says, in black homicides where the weapon used could be identified, one weapon stood out far above all others, that’s handguns.
Sometimes it seems had to believe you have to tell people they are being scammed.. but, this is one of those times.. the Grant Parish Sheriff’s office put out an alert yesterday warning If someone calls you and insists that a 5 percent processing fee is all that stands between you, a sizable amount of money and a Mercedes, it a scam. The Sheriff says the callers have been very persistent, placing several calls to people to try to convince them. No word if anyone has taken the bait.
The APD does not suspect foul play in the death of a man who’s body was found Tuesday morning lying next to Murray St. The identity of the man is being withheld until the next of kin is notified. An autopsy and other forensic testing are pending,
A new study shows that less than half of Louisiana families earn enough money to cover basic costs. The report, by Loyola University’s Jesuit Social Research Institute, finds 52-percent of families with children not making enough money to live, what they call, “a modest, dignified life.” According to their findings, the average Louisiana couple with one child accrues expenses adding up to 55-thousand dollars a year, but most people make far less.
Gas prices continue their steady decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $1.95 according to the American Automobile Association. That’s down a staggering 45 cents from this time last month.
The mother of the two siblings killed in a house fire in Bastrop Monday, now faces criminal charges in their death. 4-year-old Tashae Johnson and her 3-year-old brother Clifton were killed in the fire after being left unattended in the home. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says the investigation is ongoing, but one thing is for sure: the two children were left unattended in the home for hours before the fire broke out.
A state lawmaker concerned about potential health effects of an open tray burn of 15-million pounds of M-6 propellant in Webster Parish did not get the answers he was seeking in a closed door meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is pushing for an incinerator burn, but E-P-A continues to say an open tray burn is safe and easy. The EPA say the propellants at Camp Minden are deteriorating and an open burn is the safest and fastest way to get rid of it. But Reynolds says the state owns the explosives, so they should have the final say on the method of disposal.
As expected, Chuck Fowler was elected Tuesday to once again lead the Alexandria City Council. This will be Fowlers 3rd go around as president. Lee Rubin was elected to the vice-presidents position.
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office has concluded its investigation into the death of Mrs. Bobbie Chevallier of Pollock. Chevallier was found unconscious in the back yard of her home suffering from bite wounds to the lower half of her body the day before Thanksgiving last year. She died from her injuries several days later. It was originally believed Chevallier was the victim of a stray dog attack. But, a just completed autopsy determined that Mrs. Chevallier was unconscious before the encounter with the dogs. A number of dogs belonging to a next door neighbor and a stray dog believed to have been involved in this incident were seized following the investigation and have been euthanized. No additional attacks or incidents have been reported since this incident.
The Grant Parish sheriff’s department has arrested an Atlanta man on charges that he allegedly abused his wife in front of their children. Deputies report the office had received a report about a domestic disturbance in which shots had been fired. Deputies went to the scene and found that 41 year old Walter Box Jr. He had allegedly had beaten his wife and had fired a shotgun over her head. Box also allegedly destroyed his wife’s cellphone and had threatened to kill her if she left. Box was arrested and was booked into the Grant Parish Detention Center.
It’s a bad flu season and the numbers prove it. Doctor Frank Welch, medical director for the state’s immunization program, says nearly 400-thousand people have come down with the flu so far this flu season and influenza has hospitalized up to four-thousand people. Even though the flu vaccine is not a direct match with the flu strain going around, Welch still advises getting an influenza shot.
State Treasurer John Kennedy is getting the word out that they’ve collected through audits 31-million dollars in unclaimed property from life insurance companies. Kennedy says the money belongs to thousands of beneficiaries that never received their money. To see if you’re owed money go to la-treasury-dot-com.
Fifth District congressman Ralph Abraham has been appointed to serve on the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture.
Abraham was also assigned to the Subcommittee on Nutrition on House Agriculture. Abraham said his position on the committees puts him in direct position to supervise the implementation of the new Farm Bill. Last week Abraham landed a subcommittee chairmanship on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
State Police is requesting a 30% increase for many of its troopers. Col Mike Edmonson says the money is coming from a special fund approved in last year’s legislative session which collects fines from drivers with expired auto insurance and puts them in an account for LSP salaries. If lawmakers approve the money shift, starting pay with benefits for troopers would go from about $35,600 a year to $46,600 a year. This will be the first raise for rank-and-file troopers since 2002.
State Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, said Tuesday he plans to run for the Louisiana District 35 Senate seat this fall. Fannin, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, is term limited in the state House. The District 35 seat is currently held by state Sen. Bob Kostelka of Monroe, but he is also term limited. Republican Stewart Cathey Jr., a small business owner and veteran, said Tuesday he will also run for the seat.
A 21-year-old mother has been charged with two counts of negligent homicide in the death of her three-year-old and four-year-old, who died in a house fire in Bastrop yesterday. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they’ve learned that 21-year-old Ciarria Johnson left her children unattended for hours as she was having her hair styled. Browning says they believe the fire started from a gas heater in the living room, they also suspect a space heater was in close proximity to flammable materials.
Senator David Vitter has announced he has 4 million dollars for his Louisiana gubernatorial campaign with 3.5 million dollars cash on hand. Vitter’s office says that 88 percent of campaign contributions are from over 25 hundred in-state donors. Vitter announced his candidacy last January.
A Monroe stand-off Tuesday morning at an assisted living complex ended tragically, as the resident courtesy officer died after he was allegedly shot by a resident . Seventy-six year-old Alton Sutter died at a local hospital.
A researcher at the L-S-U Health Sciences Center in Shreveport hopes sea moss found below the surface of the Pacific Ocean could be used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Doctor Steven Alexander and his team have tested a drug derived from sea moss and it has a positive effect on mice who suffer from human Alzheimer’s disease. Alexander says they are seeking FDA approval to begin clinical trials on humans.
Two local events Thursday will mark the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The Alexandria VA Medical Center will hold a ceremony Thursday at 2 p.m. The “Color of Unity” program will be held in the center’s auditorium and is open to the public. The guest speaker will be Vonda Williams, social worker coordinator for the Mental Health Intensive Case Management Program at the Alexandria VA. Peabody Magnet High School Jazz Band will perform. Also Thursday, the Rapides Parish Library will screen King’s famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech at the main library, 411 Washington St. in downtown Alexandria, at 5:30 p.m.
Also, Alexandria artist Morris Taft Thomas will speak about King and his work. Refreshments will be served after the film at the family friendly event.
The Downtown Alexandria Merchants Association will host the first Third Thursday on Third event this Thursday along Third Street in downtown Alexandria from 6 to 9 p.m. Ten businesses on or adjacent to Third Street will be offering specials or providing entertainment.
LSU has confirmed reports that Alabama linebackers coach Kevin Steele is will be the next defensive coordinator at LSU. Prior to coaching at Alabama, Steele served three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Clemson, helping Clemson win the A-C-C in 2011. He’s also the former head coach at Baylor and coached linebackers for the Carolina Panthers in the 1990s.
The Alexandria City Council will take up the business of electing officers at tonight’s meeting. It is expected that Chuck Fowler will try for a third consecutive term as president. The council definitely will get a new vice president, since the 2014 vice president, Mitzi Gibson La-Salle, is no longer on the council. The council meets at 5 p.m. today
Authorities are looking for a Natchitoches man who is wanted in connection with December dog-fighting ring near Derry. At that site, sheriff’s deputies found several dead dogs and seized several others. 29 year old Jarin Pikes, who also goes by the name of “Moonie,” is wanted by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office on multiple warrants. If you see him, contact authorities. Pikes has ties to the areas of Natchitoches, Cloutierville, Derry, Campti, St. Maurice and Winnfield.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in finding a Leesville couple after being contacted by a concerned family member earlier this month. 39 year old Allison Gilcrease and 40 year old James Michael Jeane were last seen on Christmas Day at their home. Anyone with information on the couple are asked to call the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s office.
The US Supreme Court has rejected a plea to consider striking down Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. This decision from the US Supreme Court means the district court ruling upholding Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage must first be challenged in a federal appeals court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments last week on the issue. It’s expected the 5th Circuit will issue a ruling sometime this spring.
Fourth District U.S. Rep. John Fleming said he will definitely run for the U.S. Senate if Sen. David Vitter wins the governor's race this fall. If Vitter is elected governor, he would appoint someone to his U.S. Senate seat until an election could be held. Has Fleming’s name come up when it comes to an appointment? Apparently not. However, The congressman say he would "certainly" accept the appointment if Vitter were to offer it. However, Fleming said he would run for the seat regardless.
Even as state agencies are cutting budgets, the Louisiana State Police seeks a 30 percent pay raise for many of its troopers. The hike would bring State Police in line with what other law enforcement officers are paid and was approved before the price of oil dropped by $40 a barrel, requiring a midyear correction in this year’s budget and massive cuts to next year’s. About 1,646 employees will get raises starting Jan. 19
Gas prices keep dropping. According to the American Automobile Association the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $1.96.
Republican US Senator David Vitter says he plans to be active in Washington D-C, even though he’s running for governor this year. Vitter says he has several priorities and one of them is to pass a highway and transportation bill that would help improve traffic flow on major highways. Vitter says he’ll also work to repeal the Affordable Care Act and if Obamacare is not going away, then the federal health care laws should apply to everyone in Washington, meaning even the President would have to purchase his insurance through the Marketplace.
President Obama is working on the details of a plan to offer two years of free community college education to any American to help train the US workforce. Dr. Monty Sullivan, the head of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System says it’s estimated the program will cost the federal government around $60 billion over 10 years. Sullivan admits that it is a lot of money, but people shouldn’t look at this as another big money expenditure. It’s an investment.
The President will promote the initiative in his State of the Union address on January 20th.
Louisiana’s scholarship program, also known as the voucher program, is now accepting applications from low-income families who wish to have their child attend a private school of their choice with the use of state dollars. Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children says the other major qualification is that the student is enrolled in a low-performing public school. Families may apply at the department of education’s website or in person at the participating school of their choice through February 27th. Last year over 13-thousand families applied and nearly 74-hundred were awarded vouchers.
Louisiana’s newly selected Higher Education Commissioner is starting a statewide tour to introduce himself to communities and school leaders. Joseph Rallo says he wants all of the system presidents to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with issues facing higher ed. Rallo says he plans to engage with leaders who share the common goal of creating a stronger economy through higher education. He wants to make sure the needs of all students are being met.
Officials in northwest Louisiana plan to meet with the EPA today over plans to conduct an open burn of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is representing the community’s concern over the potential health effects of burning this propellant. He believes there is another solution. Reynolds suggests an incinerator burn of the propellant. He also says that scientists have come up with other ways to dispose of the propellant. The concern among citizens is that the open burning of this propellant will pollute the air around the site.
Impressive lineup for the 2015 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Headliners include Elton John, No Doubt, Widespread Panic, Jimmy Buffett, The Who, Tony Bennett, Chicago, Lady Gaga, Keith Urban, Pitbull and many more. The final performance night headliner has yet to be announced. Jazzfest always happens the last weekend in April, and first weekend in May. You can see the full lineup online at nojazzfest.com.
NCIS: New Orleans will be back again as the CBS prime time drama has been picked up for a second season. The series is not only set in New Orleans but it’s also filmed in The Big Easy.
An interesting candidate has emerged for LSU’s vacant defensive coordinator position. LSU officials have spoken to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Smart could be looking for a change of scenery to help build his resume for a potential head coaching job down the road. The 39-year-old Smart has been Alabama’s defensive coordinator the last seven seasons.
A spokeswoman for the Jindal Administration says a 200 to 300 million dollar cut in funding to higher ed is being considered for the fiscal year budget that starts July 1st. The UL-System says they are confident the legislature would never allow such a cut in funding to happen.
A Ville Platte man arrested in the death of his grandmother in November has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. The Evangeline Parish District Attorney’s Office said the trial for Christopher Goodley has been set for June 8. Goodley pleaded not guilty on Thursday.
If convicted, Goodley would face a mandatory life sentence.
5th District newly elected Congressman Ralph Abraham joined the many Republicans in the US-House on Friday by voting to approve the TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline project. The President has promised to veto such a bill if it hits his desk. 6th District Congressman Garret Graves says having the actual Keystone Pipeline legislation in front of President Obama may cause The White house to reconsider vetoing it, considering the amount of support. The Senate has enough votes to pass an identical bill and will take a test vote today
BP can’t get out of having to dish out federal penalties for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 based on a ruling by an appeals court Friday. The oil giant was trying to blame another company’s failed equipment. A trial is set for later this month to determine Clean Water Act penalties.
The Transportation Funding Task Force meets today at the Capitol where they’ll finalize recommendations on improving the way the state funds highway improvements. There is currently a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge needs in the state. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman, Robert Adley of Benton, says they’ll work to protect the transportation trust fund from being used for the general operation of the state. With this being Governor Jindal’s final year in office, it is not expected that we’ll see major changes to how the state funds roadway projects. But Adley is hopeful. the task force will get behind his plan to ensure the state spends $70 million for roadway preservation.
There’s a growing concern in northwest Louisiana over a plan to burn 15-million pounds of M6 propellant in steel trays at Camp Minden. Minden Mayor Tommy Davis says they’re worried about possible health effects. The explosive propellant once belonged to Explo Systems, who went bankrupt which is why it’s in bunkers at Camp Minden. It’s deteriorating so there is a worry it could explode if not disposed of soon. The US E-P-A supports opening burning as the disposal method. Davis says Louisiana’s Congressional delegation is putting the pressure on the agency to prove that the open tray burn is safe.
Shaquille O’Neal was in Lafayette Friday at the Courthouse to be sworn in as a deputy city marshal. The Clerk of Court said it was the coolest swearing in he’s ever done.
The latest fund raising totals from Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle shows he is a serious candidate for governor. Angelle announced that his campaign has raised over $1.5 million since he announced his candidacy on October 2nd. Angelle is one of three Republicans seeking the governorship, along with Senator David Vitter and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne.
Sad story out of Madison Parish. A grandmother in Tallulah died Friday afternoon trying to keep one of her grandsons from shooting another according to authorities. Cops say the woman apparently died of a heart attack when trying to defuse the dispute between cousins. One teen shot the other they say and he’s in custody while the other is in the hospital.
According to a recent study out of Yale University, cold weather can in fact make you sick. Dr. Fred Lopez is an Infectious Diseases specialist at the LSU New Orleans School of Medicine. He says they are finding validity to the fact that the lower the temperature outside, the more likely a cold virus is going to thrive. Lopez says the most common virus which causes a cold replicates and makes more copies of itself at cooler temperatures. The nasal cavity is where the flu virus will most often enter the body and when that area is cooler then the bug is allowed to grow more effectively. Lopez says staying out of the cold does actually help.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne announces plans for a major motion picture set to be filmed exclusively in Louisiana about the Battle of New Orleans. The movie will be called, “Andrew Jackson – The Battle For New Orleans.” Dardenne says the project will be based off the book by Ron Drez “The War of 1812: Conflict and Deception” and will begin filming here soon.
Lynne Marino, the highly outspoken mother of serial killer victim Pam Kinamore, discloses that she has pancreatic cancer and hopes to see Derrick Todd Lee executed before she dies. Lee got the death penalty for the murder of Charlotte Murray Pace in 2004 and his case has since been tied up in several appeals. Marino says it’s time for Lee to go. Lee wants a new trial which has been rejected by a Baton Rouge state judge and now heads to the Louisiana Supreme Court -then- if those justices feel the same the case would go to a drawn out post-conviction relief stage.
A Pineville teen is facing attempted rape and other charges after he allegedly pulled a knife on a woman who had given him a ride. 17 year old Mataeo Chaney was arrested on Wednesday after an investigation by Pineville police into the incident, which happened on Dec. 19. The suspect allegedly told the victim to perform oral sex on him, but she refused. A struggle started over the knife, during which the victim was cut. The suspect then ran from the vehicle.
Police say The victim suffered a minor injury. Chaney is in the Rapides Parish detention center.
Today the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hears three cases regarding same-sex marriage bans in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. In September, Federal Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, but the ruling was appealed to the 5th Circuit. Tulane Constitutional Law Professor Keith Werhan says supporters will argue that the state has to have a legitimate reason in denying two adults who want to marry, the right to do so. He says opponents will argue on the strength of state’s rights. Because the 6th Circuit decision created a circuit split on the issue, the US Supreme Court will privately discuss same-sex marriage cases from several states today, including Louisiana. Werhan says the ultimate decision on same-sex marriage will come from the US Supreme Court, perhaps this year.
Louisiana’s public schools receive a grade of D-plus from Education Week as part of their annual report. The state’s public education system is also ranked 44th, up five spots from their previous report. House Education Chairman, Steve Carter of Baton Rouge, says a series of reforms passed in 2012, including one that allows educators who perform well to get paid more, will lead to a better grade in the future. Carter says it’s encouraging to see Louisiana move up in the rankings, because historically the bayou state has ranked 48th or 49th when it comes to public education. Louisiana received a grade of D-Minus for K-through-12 Achievement, but received a grade of B-minus for its early-education programs.
Governor Bobby Jindal, Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret will lead a Louisiana delegation to Europe for a ten-day economic development trip. Moret says says it’s an opportunity to meet with European companies who are considering investing in Louisiana. The group leaves Sunday.
The freezing temperatures we had has strawberry farmers working to minimize the damage on their crops here in the state. Regina Bracy, with the LSU AgCenter, says sub-freezing temps can have disastrous effects on the strawberry harvest. But Bracy adds that strawberry plants can take the cold, and she suspects that freezing weather will just delay the start of the Louisiana strawberry season.
The plea is not guilty on the charge of aggravated rape from the former “Sons of Guns” reality TV star Will Hayden. He is accused of raping a young girl in East Baton Rouge Parish on multiple occasions in the span between March 2013 and August 2014. He is also to plead in the forcible rape of a Livingston Parish woman next week.
A state lawmaker from Mandeville is introducing a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would restrict the use of cell phones to “hands-free” only on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Representative Tim Burns says the number of fatal accidents involving vehicles plunging off the side of the bridge has gone from one every 5 years to three a year now. Burns supports a statewide ban on hand held cell phone use while driving but lawmakers can never pass such legislation.
Entergy Gulf States Louisiana plans to build a $187 million power transmission facility in the Lake Charles area, the region projected to have the fastest job growth in the state from an industrial boom that’s driving a need for more electricity. The project includes two new substations, expanding a third substation and adding about 25 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. The Lake Charles Transmission Project is one of the largest single transmission projects in Entergy’s history.
We’re seeing temperatures in the teens for the northern half of the state and it’s not much warmer along the coast. State Climatologist Barry Keim says be prepared for what will be a cold day. It was unusually cold in Louisiana last January and Keim says we are experiencing another polar vortex. Keim says not only is the air temperature colder than normal, but we are also seeing some bone chilling wind chill readings as well.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office is seeking a Montgomery man wanted on warrants for home invasion and armed robbery. Two other suspects already are in custody, but officials still are searching for 27 year old Joshua Blake Coburn of Montgomery. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact authorities.
APD Detectives have arrested 51 year old Jerrell Fontenot after an investigation into two robberies at the south Macarthur Dr. Pizza Hut. The robberies occurred in October and in December. Fontenot was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with armed robbery and attempted first-degree robbery.
Alexandria police have arrested 22-year-old Tavis Thomas, on a warrant issued by the Alexandria Fire Department. An AFD spokesman said Thomas became a suspect in a Dec. 26 fire set at a house that was occupied by two children and an adult. The adult at the house was able to put the fire out, and there were no injuries.
On the first day of qualifying, Two former Alexandria mayoral candidates tossed their hats in the ring for the vacant House District 26 seat. Jeff Hall and Alice Hammond, both democrats from Alexandria, qualified Wednesday for the special election, which will be the only election in Rapides Parish on Feb. 21. Wednesday was the opening day of qualifying, which continues from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and Friday at the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.
According to media reports, the New Orleans Saints are reportedly going to keep Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan for next season. NFL Analyst Mike Detillier says the defensive weakness of the Saints are more about the players than the coaches, so he says the Saints have some work to do in the off-season. The New Orleans Saints ranked 31st in the league for yards allowed.
A Thibodaux High School teacher has been charged for having sexual contact with a student. The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office says they learned of the alleged sexual incident between twenty-five year-old Celeste Bergeron and a 17 year-old student. Bergeron admitted to the sexual contact, and the Lafourche Parish School Board Superintendent Jo Ann Mathews says Bergeron is no longer employed by the school system.
An Abbeville High School teacher is in jail accused of having sex with one of his female juvenile students. Thirty-six-year-old Nicholas Willis is accused of engaging in sexual relations with the juvenile which is a felony.
The Monroe Police Department says they’ve recovered the body of a 38-year-old man from Rayville in a private pond. They say Clarence Dean Roy Jr. was reported missing after he left a construction site in western Ouachita Parish and was located Tuesday afternoon in the water near the work site. Foul play is not suspected. Cops believe Roy had a medical issue.
Police in Baton Rouge say a 12-year-old boy is in critical condition after a car swerved off the road and hit him while he was walking to school Wednesday morning. They believe it was a mechanical program with the vehicle which caused the driver to lose control and hit the boy walking along a nearby sidewalk. Cops say the driver isn’t cited and the crash is under investigation.
The State Department of Transportation announces a plan to widen a portion of I-10 between Lafayette and St. Martin Parishes. The DOTD says construction will take place where I-10 meets I-49 all the way to Breaux Bridge and will take two years to complete. This is the first of three projects that will widen or improve I-10 from Lafayette to the Atchafalaya Basin.
Festivities begin today to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. As part of the War of 1812, the battle culminated in a US victory over the British in Chalmette on January 8, 1815. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says this was one of the most important battles fought on American soil. Dardenne says this victory enabled America to continue to expand westward and cemented Louisiana’s role as part of the United States. He says special events will last throughout the weekend.
If you’d like to try to save money on your homeowners and auto insurance, the Department of Insurance has enhanced its online tool to help consumers find a better rate. Commissioner Jim Donelon says you can enter specific information about you into the new website like your age, or how many miles you drive and other things that set rates for insurance. Donelon says among the features of the new website are streamlined online services and a responsive design that makes it compatible with mobile devices. The “Shop Your Rates” guides can be accessed at ldi.la.gov.
The LSU men’s basketball team begins conference play tonight as they visit the Missouri Tigers in a game that will tip-off at 6 P-M. The Bayou Bengals enter league play with an 11-and-2 record and eight-game winning streak. You can hear that game tonight on 970 KSYL.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office says the town clerk in Forest Hill has been arrested on multiple counts of forgery, malfeasance in office, and more. Lt. Tommy Carnline says their investigation began when town officials discovered some discrepancies in their fine collections. 31-year-old Trista Goleman had allegedly been cashing money orders that were being sent to the town for fine payments. Carnline says Goleman was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, where she faces 17 felony counts each of forgery, malfeasance in office, injuring public records and filing false public records. Investigators believe Goleman acted alone.
Qualifying for the special election to fill the House District 26 seat begins today in Rapides Parish. Candidates can qualify from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today through Friday this week at the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office. The House District 26 primary election is set for Feb. 21. A runoff, if needed, will be held March 28.
Early voting for the Feb. 21 election is set for Feb. 7-14 (except Sunday, Feb. 8).
The winner of the House District 26 special election will serve out the remaining year that is on the second term of Herbert Dixon who resigned Dec. 10 for health reasons.
Two New Walmart neighborhood Markets officially open today. The stores, located on highway 28 east in Pineville and off of Jackson Street Extension in Alexandria, will directly compete with other area supermarkets.
New 5th District Congressman, Republican Ralph Abraham of Alto, was sworn in on Capitol Hill yesterday. Abraham will be taking over the seat previously occupied by Vance McAllister. Abraham says the new Republican controlled Congress will get to work rather quickly and you can expect to see votes occur this week. He says they will address the immigration problem and the export ban on Liquefied Natural Gas. Abraham says one of the first items they will address will be the Keystone XL Pipeline, something the White House said yesterday the President would veto. Abraham is optimistic that the GOP controlled Senate will be able override a presidential veto.
A new republican controlled Congress is already battling with President Barack Obama over the much-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The White House has issued a veto threat, if lawmakers approve the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. Newly elected republican senator Bill Cassidy doesn’t understand the opposition to the five-point-four billion dollar project. The House could approve a bill that green lights the project by the end of the week and a Senate could happen soon after. 60 members of the Senate support construction of the Keytone, including six Democrats, but Cassidy is concerned that won’t be enough to overturn a Presidential veto.
According to 24/7 Wall Street, Louisiana is the 5th most dangerous state in the USA. The report indicates more dangerous than Louisiana are Alaska, New Mexico, Nevada and Tennessee. LSU Criminologist Edward Shihadeh (Sheh-Ha-Dah) says
Louisiana also ranks 3rd highest in poverty rate and only 83% of people here have a high school diploma which is the 4th lowest nationally. Shihadeh says lack of education and crime go hand in .
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is asking residents to please be aware of the artic weather that is currently moving through the state. The National Weather Service says the cold blast began impacting Louisiana overnight and a hard freeze is expected at sundown through Thursday morning. Officials remind you to protect pets, plants and pipes and if you plan to use space heaters, be sure you have a working smoke detector.
The premiere of Duck Dynasty Season 7 is tonight at 8:30 on A&E and some experts are saying the show is losing its luster. Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for The Washington Post. She says it’s not unusual for reality show ratings to drop, but the Robertson family has seen a major decrease in numbers. But she doesn’t think this is the end as 3 million people tuning in is a really great number for cable and it’s probably the best thing A&E has going on right now.
The mother of the Baton Rouge pre-schooler who drowned in a 20-foot, water-filled well has been charged with negligent homicide of 4 year-old Jassiah Clark. BRPD says 25-year-old Brittni Clark, was charged Tuesday afternoon, because they do not believe the child was properly supervised when he went missing on December 20th
A Baton Rouge TV station reports Ohio State Quarterback and two-time Big 10 MVP Braxton Miller is considering transferring to LSU. An injury kept Miller from playing this season and two younger QBs passed him up on the depth chart.
LSU has moved into the next step in its search for a defensive coordinator with at least one candidate.
Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will interview for the job soon. Shoop is expected to interview with coach Les Miles after a week of flirtation between the two sides. LSU’s search for a replacement for John Chavis has entered its second week with a host of candidates and possibilities, but Miles has officially interviewed only a few coaches.
Alexandria Police say a man is behind bars for pulling the trigger in a fatal shooting that investigators are calling an accident. Lt. Brooks Fairbanks says 29-year-old Kendall Smith is charged with negligent homicide. He says they responded to a report of a shooting and located another 29-year-old male victim suffering from a gunshot wound.
Fairbanks says an investigation revealed some individuals were playing with a weapon before the incident took place.
The APD is investigating a bank robbery that happened Friday afternoon after a man walked in to the Coliseum Blvd branch of First Federal Bank and demanded money.
The man left on foot with "an undetermined amount of cash,". "No weapons were observed, and there were no reported injuries."
Doctor Bill Cassidy will be sworn in as a US Senator today giving Louisiana two republicans in the US Senate. What will that mean for the Bayou State? U-L Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Louisiana will have a unified voice on issues that the Senate debates. Cross says Louisiana loses clout in the US Senate, with Cassidy replacing three-term democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. But he says the state can make up for it by having Cassidy and Senior Senator David Vitter working together in a republican controlled Senate…
It’s an election year in Louisiana and Angola Warden Burl Cain’s name has come up as a possible candidate for governor. Cain was in Baton Rouge Monday and says he’s still thinking about running for the highest elected position in the state. Cain has served as the Warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary since 1995. He says the idea of him running for governor came from people who have visited the prison. Cain says he’s a civil servant and he’ll have to resign, if he runs, so right now, he doesn’t want to talk about the topic.
Angola Warden Burl Cain says he has not taken any steps to install a cooling system on death row. A federal judge has ruled that the state needs to take more measures to cool off death row during the hot summer months. The ruling is currently under appeal. Cain says it would be too expensive to add any type of cooling system at the prison. Cain says they couldn’t just reduce the heat levels on death row, it would have to be the entire prison. That isn’t in the budget.
Republican lawmakers are looking to move past the controversy surrounding the number three House GOP leader, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, over a speech he gave 12 years ago to a white supremacist group. Incoming Utah Representative Mia Love is the first black female Republican elected to the House. She told ABC’s “This Week” that Scalice has the support of the party. Scalise has stated that the speech was a mistake that he now regrets. Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, have backed Scalise. However, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says Scalise once referred to himself as -quote- David Duke without baggage.
The Kenner Police Department confirms New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette is under arrest and booked with domestic abuse battery. They say the incident involved a female acquaintance who sustained injuries including blood coming out of her ear when her earring was apparently ripped out. The 26-year-old linebacker told cops that the woman was a dancer he brought home for the night, but the victim claims she was Galette’s assistant who had been staying with him for about two years. Also arrested was Gallett’s cousin, 27-year-old Terrance Banks of Newark, New Jersey. The woman told cops the argument started over money for a cab.
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal is scheduled to have two closed door meetings with conservative religious leaders in Iowa. According to the Des Moines Register, the meetings will take place in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says Jindal is looking to shore up his support among this important group of voters. Jindal is thinking about a presidential run in 2016 and Iowa is important because they host the first primary. Stockley adds that evangelicals and conservatives are also important because of their participation in the primary.
A cold week is on tap for Louisiana as artic air makes it way into the Bayou State. Tim Humphrey, with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, says high temperatures will only be in the 40s for north Louisiana today and 50s in south Louisiana and even more colder air will arrive Wednesday. Humphrey says the cold air mass heading down from Canada will be dry, so you won’t have to worry about any winter precipitation.
Just over 20 new state laws went into effect with the start of the new year. That includes changes to Louisiana’s D-W-I laws. Law enforcement officials say the changes will make it easier for everyone to understand the penalties of driving under the influence. One important change, judges can now take certain measures to provide substance abuse help for those convicted of their first or second D-W-I. The new law laws also calls for jail time for first time offenders, who are under the age of 21.
According to GasBuddy.com, it’s possible we’re at the bottom of the dramatic drop in the price we pay at the pump. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says their current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is around $2.10 and crude oil prices will likely not drop much lower. Laskoski says if gas prices are at their lowest point right now it wouldn’t be much of a surprise because that’s typically what happens in January.
With a new Congress set to swear-in tomorrow that puts a wrap on Mary Landrieu’s last day as a U-S Senator. Landrieu has served Louisiana in the Senate the last 18 years and LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says she’ll be remembered for her work to bring federal resources to the Bayou State. In 2006, Landrieu co-authored a piece of legislation that expanded oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and it also steered billions of dollars in revenues produced offshore to Louisiana to help fund the state’s coastal restoration efforts. Hogan says without a doubt, Landrieu fought for the state.
Louisiana has been experiencing some mild temperatures so far this winter which is good news for the crawfish season. LSU Ag Center Aquaculture specialist Dr. Greg Lutz says warmer weather allows the mudbugs to grow faster during the winter months. Lutz says the supply of crawfish right now is fair and it should be getting bigger toward the end of the month.
The state department of health and hospitals is encouraging businesses to come up with programs or policies at the workplace that would encourage employees to live a healthy lifestyle. Martin says the most important initiative is to offer a tobacco free environment. She says the state offers many cessation coaching programs for the workplace. Martin says providing two or three healthier cafeteria options can help improve employee wellness. And She says healthier snacks during meetings can actually provide a more productive workforce.
Almost everyone in Louisiana knew her as Elly Mae, actress and former beauty queen Donna Douglas passed away in Zachary New Year’s Day. She appeared on “The Beverly Hillbillies” on CBS from 1962 to 1971. Donna Douglas was 81.
After missing 21 games with a shoulder injury, Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon may play tonight when New Orleans hosts the Washington Wizards. Gordon, who is averaging almost 10 points a game, went through practice yesterday and believes there’s a chance he can play tonight. The Pelicans are 17-and-16 on the season, one game back of Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. You can hear tonight’s game starting at 7p on our sister station espn1410.
The investigation continues into a fire yesterday morning at the Zion Hill church in Pineville. The fire which was confined to a warehouse owned by the church broke out at about 4 in the morning. Authorities do not believe foul play was involved in the blaze.
The Centers for Disease Control says the flu has now reached the epidemic level in the United States and the state Department of Health and Hospitals says its going to get worse before it gets better in Louisiana. Medical director for the immunization program, Dr. Frank Welch, says on average seven out of every 10 doctor visits in the state are for flu-like symptoms. He says this year’s flu shot is not perfect, but that should not be an excuse to not get immunized. Welch says the flu shot is still absolutely your best protection. Welch says, after receiving a flu shot a couple of months ago, he contracted the flu last week. However, symptoms were mild.
The Pentagon says the Army Contracting Command at Fort Polk awarded an extension to Northrop Grumman Enterprise Management Services to continue transportation, maintenance and supply at Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The extension will run through the end of June.
Louisiana driver’s licenses can now sport university logos. Smokers must step away from state Office Building entrances when they light up. And 16-year-olds will be able to register to vote but not exercise the right just yet. The changes came as the result of some of the 22 new laws that went into effect on the 1st. Other new laws provide more transparency to government agency operations, more regulatory protection to Louisiana’s payday loan industry and more options for people to make charitable donations when they file income tax returns.
Louisiana’s Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret anticipates significant growth in 2015 as a result of the new projects they announced last year. Moret says a lot of that growth will occur in the high tech and the software development industry
Moret says in 2014, Louisiana announced dozens of company expansions or relocations, which will result in 25-thousand new jobs.
With statewide elections taking place this year and the possibility of Governor Bobby Jindal announcing a run for President, 2015, expects to be another wild year in Louisiana politics. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Republican US Senator David Vitter is the front-runner in the governor’s race, but there are other strong candidates.
Pinsonat says we can expect an announcement early this year from Jindal on running for President. He says the governor may have to announce his intentions sooner than originally planned, because of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s entrance into the race. Pinsonat says it’s unclear how involved Jindal will be with state matters in his final year of office, especially if he’s focused on the 2016 Presidential race.
The minimum wage goes up in 21 states Yesterday. Of course, here in Louisiana the minimum hourly wage stays at $7.25. But Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa says with nearly half of the states acting on their own, it will spur more talk about raising the federal minimum wage. Critics of a higher minimum wage say it forces some businesses to reduce their work force in order to compensate for the higher wages. Traditionally, that has not been the case.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is now accepting applications from individuals who are interested in becoming an enforcement agent. LDWF spokesperson Adam Einck says individuals interested in applying should visit the state’s civil service website and also must complete a test to qualify for consideration. They will be accepting applications until January 23rd and out of those applications, 24 cadets will be chosen and will train for six months in Baton Rouge. Einck says this is a great position for people who love to be outdoors. He says field agents spend most of their time outdoors, on the water and trekking through the woods.
More than 56-thousand Louisiana residents have selected health insurance plans during the first month of open enrollment under what is commonly called “Obamacare.” Doctor Karen DeSalvo, with the US Department of Health and Human Services, says the 2015 open enrollment period will last until February 15th, and she urges people to get covered. Nearly 102-thousand people in Louisiana purchased health insurance through the federal marketplace in 2014.
With a New Year underway, many people strive to live a healthier lifestyle and try to lose weight. Melissa Martin with the State Department of Health and Hospitals says in order to keep your New Years resolution you can start with keeping it simple and realistic. Martin says having a support system to keep you motivated while working toward your goals. She says also smart phones have new food journal apps that can help you stay accountable and aware of the decisions you make. Martin says drinking water is very important to staying on track because the number one symptom of dehydration is hunger. She says also watching your alcohol consumption can really make a difference when it comes to following through with your resolutions.