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Cost of Thanksgiving dinner up slightly

It looks like your Thanksgiving meal will cost a little more this year, according to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Association. The average price for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost $49.41, 37 cents more than last year.  

Louisiana Farm Bureau Association's Avery Davidson says the biggest price hikes you'll see in your feast are proteins, particularly turkey and beef.
"We have fewer turkeys going through processing this year than in past years.  When you look at beef prices, those are brought up by the fact that we have the smallest beef herd in about 30, 40 years."

Davidson says some good news is the price increases aren't very much and, in fact, some items cost less this year.

"Fresh cranberries are going to be about 8 cents cheaper this year, you're going to save a penny on the rolls.  It's just that big turkey that's going to cost you a little more this year." 

He says, although this year's Thanksgiving meal cost is up, it's still lower than we paid in 2012.  Davidson has a suggestion if you're looking for a deal on sweet potatoes or yams.

"You can find those right now at almost any farmer's market and you might be able to get a better deal there than you will in the grocery store."

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Cajuns and Bulldogs lose their first conference games of the year

The Ragin Cajuns fell out of a tie for first place in the Sun Belt Conference as they lost to Appalachian State 35-16 on Saturday at Cajun Field. The Mountaineers dominated at the line of scrimmage, rushing for 232 yards. Appalachian State running back Marcus Cox rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
Cajuns Coach Mark Hudspeth says his defense got away from its gap responsibilities.
"I think any back in the country that can run against a defense that don't have everybody in their gaps," Hudspeth said.
Quarterback Terrance Broadway did not have a good performance in his final game at Cajun field. The senior from Baton Rouge threw for only 160 yards and he was held to two yards rushing. Hudspeth gives a lot of credit to the Mountaineers defense. 
"They took away his option game tonight, they were making us give the ball, sort of made us sort of us a little bit one dimensional," Hudspeth said. "That's part of their game plan, was not to make him run the ball and they did a nice job of that."
Louisiana Tech also dropped its first league game of the season as they lost to Old Dominion 30-27 in overtime on saturday. Tech led 24-14 at halftime, but failed to score a touchdown the rest of the way. Bulldogs Coach Skip Holtz says it was a disappointing second half. 
"We came out here in the second half, couldn't execute on third down and couldn't stay on the field," Holtz said.
La Tech will wrap up the regular season this Saturday against Rice. The winner will advance to the C-USA Championship game against Marshall. Holtz says his guys can't let Saturday's loss linger.
"You gotta put this one behind you," Holtz said. 
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Homelessness in Louisiana has fallen 63 percent over the past four years

According to a report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness in Louisiana has declined nearly 12 percent since last year and roughly 63 percent since 2010. 

Louisiana Housing Corporation Executive Director Fred Tombar says one of the key factors has been the state's implementation of the $146 million dollar Permanent Supportive Housing Program.
"What we're able to do in Louisiana is pair these people with the types of services that they need, as well as put a decent safe and sanitary roof over their head," said Tombar.

Tombar says they work with local non-profit organizations throughout the state with the same goal of finding people who are on the street and have a need.

"With both a housing unit and services," said Tombar. "We make sure they get the federal funding for both."

There are an estimated 4,606 homeless people in Louisiana this year compared to 5,226 last year and 12,482 four years ago. Baton Rouge and New Orleans have the largest concentrations of homeless individuals. 

Tombar says the ultimate goal is to eradicate chronic homelessness.

"We believe it can be done just based on the progress we've made over the past four years," said Tombar.

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State Farm surveys drivers about cell phone habits behind the wheel

A recent State Farm survey found drivers are still texting and driving, even though they know its dangerous. 52 percent of those polled admit they have talked on a cell phone while driving and 34 percent say they have texted while driving.  State Farm Spokesperson Gary Stephenson says there has been an increase in the use of hands free cell phones.

"About 80 percent of drivers do say that sending a text is very distracting and 68 percent say reading a text is very distracting however that habit has not diminished very much at all," Stephenson says. 
Stephenson says 77 percent of young drivers say they believe they can safely text while driving. But he says some people acknowledged when the road conditions were bad, they reduced their cell phone use. 
"That is sort of admitting there is a distraction factor here but people seem to think that if the road is open or it seems to be clear it is safe to be distracted," Stephenson says. 
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 80 percent of crashes are due to distracted driving. Stephenson says drivers now use their phones to read emails, access social media and use the internet, in addition to texting. 
"Smart phone use and ownership is growing dramatically. Three years ago, 52 percent of drivers owned a smart phone. Three years later in 2014, 80 percent own a smart phone," Stephenson says.  
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Jindal plugs deficit by reducing spending; higher ed spared

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the state plans to use amnesty money, eliminate 167 unused positions and reduce spending as part of the plan to fill the state’s current $171 million dollar budget shortfall.
Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.com says this falls in line with Jindal’s promise higher ed would be spared mid-year cuts.

"Higher ed really didn't get touched at all and no jobs were lost," said Alford.

The deficit was tied to low severance tax and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes. 
Alford says the Jindal Administration said it’s found $130 million in unused funding.

"Basically the Governor on his own is reducing spending," Alford said.

Alford says says there will be another meeting in December by the Joint Budget Committee to review the plan more thoroughly and make a final vote. 

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Teen given citation in fatal Ouachita Parish crash

The teenager who was driving the vehicle that crashed in Ouachita Parish and killed 5 of the 8 family members on board was issued a citation for careless operation.  The family was on their way from Texas to Disney World for a vacation.  

State Trooper Michael Reichardt says the teen, who has not been identified, was cited when he was released from the hospital.
"...with a traffic citation for careless operation.  It's just a regular traffic ticket.  He was not charged with a crime."

Reichardt says the teen is having to deal with so much right now.

"You know, this 16-year-old is going through the most horrific thing he'll ever go through in his life.  It's just a tragic accident."

Two adults, Michael and Trudy Hardman, and three of their children, 15-year-old Dakota Watson, 7-year-old Adam Hardman, and 5-year-old Kaci Hardman were killed in the crash.  Reichardt says the teenager was issued a citation because it's State Police policy.

"If we work a crash, regardless of the severity of the crash, there will be a citation written."
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"Click It or Ticket" campaign underway for Thanksgiving holiday

As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating a statewide Click It of Ticket campaign aimed at saving lives. Executive Director Lt. Col. John Leblanc says last year's Thanksgiving holiday was one of the most dangerous of the year on Louisiana roadways. 

"There were 409 fatal and injury accidents during that holiday period, five fatals and 689 injuries."

He says Louisiana's seat belt compliance rate is 82.5-percent, the highest it's ever been.  Leblanc says the compliance rate has gone up 8-percent in the last four years.

"Statisticians tell us that every time the compliance rate goes up one percentage point, about eight lives are saved in Louisiana, so we're happy about that.  But we still lag behind the national average which is 87-percent."

He says the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest for travel with more vehicles on the road and a greater chance of accidents.  Louisiana law requires all people to use seat belts and Leblanc says it's important to "Click It" to reduce the risk of fatal injury in an accident.

"You increase your chances of surviving by about 45-percent when you wear your seat belt when involved in an accident." 

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