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According to the US Fire Administration, the average number of home fires nearly double on Thanksgiving as compared to any other day of the year.  State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says it's important to remind residents of certain safety tips as they prepare their Thanksgiving meals.  

Browning says it's important that while cooking, the kitchen should never be left unattended.
"Don't set things cooking and move to other rooms or move outside.  Stay in there and watch what's being cooked.  And, of course, be cognizant of children.  You don't want children to be actually using the appliances because they're not trained."

He says it's important to always be prepared in the event a grease fire starts while you're cooking.  Browning says your common household A-B-C fire extinguisher is not designed to put out grease fires.

"It actually splatters grease.  So, what you'd want to use is the lid to cover that grease fire if that pot is actually burning."

He says there have been some serious fires in Louisiana due to frying turkeys.  Browning says there are just a few steps to follow to ensure you safely fry your birds this holiday season.

"Make sure the turkey is thawed.  Make sure that you do this cooking arrangement far away from your home.  I'm going to tell you 30 feet away from your home you should be.  And, of course, have provisions there to where you can extinguish a fire, where you can easily escape." 


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With Black Friday quickly approaching, the personal finance website WalletHub found holiday spending is estimated to reach more than 630-billion dollars this year. Website spokesperson Jill Gonzales says they investigated which stores were having the best Black Friday deals.

“JC Penney as being the very best, the average discount is about 70% there. Then right after that Kohls, Stage and Groupon all being around the 65% mark.”

Gonzales says the lowest are going to be Toys-R-Us, Big Lots, Amazon, Sam’s Club and Costco, all coming in at around a 20-percent discount. She says jewelry is an item that typically sees a big discount.

“We’re seeing an average discount of almost 75% off of jewelry items. After that books, movies and music have really good deals.”

Gonzales says the average discount across the board is about 40-percent off. She advises shoppers to look at the deals before heading out to purchase on Black Friday.

“You want to make sure what items are going for before the holiday season so you can make sure that the discount is actually a discount, especially at the 40% rate.”



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Former Governor Edwin Edwards is spending Thanksgiving in a hospital battling pneumonia. According to his wife, Trina, the former four-term governor was admitted yesterday and doctors in Baton Rouge are treating him with antibiotics. Edwin Edwards biographer, Leo Honeycutt, says illnesses are not unusual for the Cajun Prince.

"He battled pneumonia after he and Trina got married and he's always had this time of year some upper respiratory problem, you may recall back in 2012, he had the flu," Honeycutt said. 
Honeycutt says Edwards could be out of the hospital by the end of the holiday weekend.
"He is in good condition right now, the doctors say it's not serious and he'll probably be out in two to three days," Edwards said.
Edwards last public appearance was Saturday as he and wife Trina attended Governor elect John Bel Edwards election party in New Orleans.  


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The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has cited 14 additional strip clubs across the state as part of their "Operation Trick or Treat" investigation.  This crackdown comes weeks after 9 clubs were cited in the French Quarter in New Orleans.  

ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says these clubs were cited for several different reasons.
"We found drugs being sold there, prostitution and other issues we have been having with them."

The 14 strip clubs were cited for drug activity, prostitution and lewd acts.  Hebert says drug and prostitution activity at these establishments breeds other criminal activity.

"That's where rapes and murders and other things start evolving from because where there's drugs, there's drug dealers.  Where there's prostitution, there's pimps."

Six of the establishments were issued emergency suspensions due to a threat to public safety.  Hebert says the latest results of this operation show that this is not an issue that's isolated to the French Quarter.

"And as you can see by the number of places across the state, it certainly is a problem and we're addressing it." 


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Governor-elect John Bel Edwards has launched onwardlouisiana.com to give the residents of Louisiana updates on his plans and give those interested in working for his administration a chance to express their interest in a position. Spokesperson for the Edwards transition team Mary Patricia Wray says they want the best and the brightest on their team.

“We’re going to be taking resumes on the website. There is an ability to request that the governor-elect attend an event. You can learn more about the transition team members.”

Wray says so far no decisions have been made on cabinet and secretary members, but the team is working hard to ensure announcements are made soon. She says Edwards is making sure he keeps the promises he made during his campaign.

“He said that he would have a cabinet and that he would have a government that looked like the people of Louisiana, that was inclusive and that’s what we’re working hard to achieve.”

Wray says even though the website launched just hours ago, the resumes are already pouring in.

“We’ve been telling people to just be patient for about one more day while we get the website launched so that we can make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and that every qualified applicant gets their very best shot at working in the administration.”



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Morgan City Police are saying fake money used in movies is making its way across multiple parishes in southeast Louisiana. Sgt. Rick Hartley says a few banks, bars and convenience stores have reported to authorities they’ve received these counterfeit bills. He says at this time, they’ve arrested Vanisha August of Morgan City on one count of monetary instrument abuse.

“That arrest has led us to information regarding other persons involved, which is being investigated and also warrants and things will be cut out pretty soon for other subjects.”

Hartley says the bills they’ve confiscated are obviously fake marked with the phrase “Motion Picture Use Only.” But he says often times people will go into a dimly lit business in an effort to try to break the counterfeit bill for real money.

“A lot of times when bartenders are busy, they don’t think about checking the money a little closer or looking at that money a little closer.”

Hartley says you can purchase movie money on a number of websites, so it’s very easy to get your hands on this fake money.

“I’m sure that the movie industry has made an attempt to make it so ridiculously obvious that it is fake money, however in a dark setting or dark environment, it can be easily missed.”

(photo courtesy of Amazon


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Oyster dressing is one of the most popular dishes on the Thanksgiving dinner table.  The question is, are there enough oysters available for everyone to enjoy oyster dressing this Thanksgiving?

Sal Sunseri, Co-owner of P&J Oyster Company in New Orleans, says although oyster production has been down since the BP disaster, you should find plenty of oysters for your dressing.
"Oysters are great.  We wish we had more product.  It's not the supply we're used to, but due to the lack of demand from the east coast, we're okay."

He says oyster production in Maryland has decreased the east coast demand for Louisiana oysters leaving plenty for your holiday dishes.  Sunseri says oyster dressing is  a dish that can be found on most holiday dinner tables all across the south.

"That's part of the family tradition here in the south and especially in southern Louisiana.  It's just natural.  It's who we are as a people."

He says, not only are there enough oysters for Thanksgiving, but the quality of the oysters are very good.  Sunseri says oyster dressing is an extraordinary dish for the holiday.

"It brings families together and it's just that incredible food item that's on your Thanksgiving table during a very special time." 


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Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is concerned international tourism into Louisiana could be impacted by the United States’ issuing a worldwide terror alert. Dardenne says last year the Pelican State had the biggest increase in percentage of international visitors of any state in the country and he worries that will change.

“I think the international visitor is likely to be a little more wary about traveling overseas to America and that could have an impact on our numbers.”

Dardenne says he doesn’t believe this will effect domestic tourism to Louisiana. He says we have to be respectful of international tourists because the threat wouldn’t be raised this high if it wasn’t necessary.

“We just hope we don’t get any more bizarre and crazy acts of terrorism like we’ve seen and hopefully things settle down and travelers feel a little more comfortable getting on airlines and flying across the ocean.”

Dardenne says State Police has been very involved in staying up to date with various security agencies and in keeping residents and visitors safe. He hopes this terror alert won’t have a prolonged impact on Louisiana tourism.

“It depends upon how long this threat level stays in place but hopefully it will be a relatively short duration and people will feel very comfortable traveling again, coming to the United States and particularly coming to Louisiana.”



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The American Automobile Association projects we'll see the most Thanksgiving holiday travelers since 2007. Triple-A estimates nearly 47 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the four-day weekend. Don Redman says it is a modest, but notable increase from last year.

"This is the seventh consecutive year that we are seeing an increase in the number of people traveling," Redman said. "You have to go back to 2007 to see more people traveling." 
AAA estimates consumers have saved nearly $350 million more on gasoline than last year, allowing them more financial flexibility to travel this Thanksgiving. Redman says these favorable gas prices will continue through this holiday weekend.
"For now, I think we are going to see prices hovering around a $1.90, $1.95 and again these are prices we haven't seen in several years," Redman said. 
More than 360,000 motorists are predicted to call Triple-A for roadside assistance during the holiday. Redman says the best way for motorists to avoid a break down is to check their vehicles before hitting the road. 


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The Holiday Season is here, which means flu season is coming too. Dr. Frank Welch with the Department of Health and Hospitals says luckily this flu season is off to a slower start but you still should get your flu shot. 

“We’ve had some much cooler weather over the past few days and when people congregate together with closed doors and windows that is the perfect time and place for the flu to spread.”

Welch says as well as getting your flu vaccine, remember healthy habits like regular hand washing, cover your cough. He says this year’s shot seems to be well matched to the strain going around.

“It’s much better able to work and prevent the flu. Some people may get the flu after they get the flu vaccine, but it will be much, much milder and you’ll get better much quicker.”

Welch says the flu vaccine is available at your doctor’s office or usually a local pharmacy. He says try to live a healthier lifestyle during flu season to ward off the virus.

“Get a little exercise, don’t drink too much alcohol, drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest. Make sure you wash your hands, cover your cough.”



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A record number of people plan to shop local for Small Business Saturday. Dawn Starns, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, says they partnered with American Express and their survey found a large majority of shoppers plan to participate in Small Business Saturday.

“80% of consumers are saying they’re willing to pay slightly more that they know they’ll pay at a small independently owned retailer because they’ll get the opportunity to buy something a little unique.”

Starns say this is so encouraging because this is the time of year where small businesses are in competition with big name stores. She says shoppers are often looking for unique gifts and items and that’s where your small business retailer comes in handy.

“A lot of times people feel like they’re in a line, running in droves with the masses and really a lot of times people are looking for something not everybody is going to have to give as a gift.”

Starns encourages shoppers to keep local stores in mind this holiday season, because says the money spent at a small retailer goes right back into the local economy.

“These local shops are doing everything they can to not only be in business and be there for them to offer great opportunities to shop but also give back to the community and employ people.”



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Many in the national media believe its crazy LSU would fire Coach Les Miles at the end of the regular season. Miles has won one national championship and 110 games in his eleven seasons in Baton Rouge. Dennis Dodd with cbssports.com, says LSU would be making a horrible decision if they axed Miles…

“I can’t think of another school that’s willing to part with a coach for $17 million in the middle of winning.”

Dodd says it was only three weeks ago when LSU was ranked second in the college football playoff rankings. He says it will be very hard to replace Miles with a better coach…

“If you’re going to do this, you’d better have a (Florida State) Jimbo Fisher in your back pocket, you better have a (Clemson) Dabo Swinney in your back pocket and as we sit here right now, I don’t know if they do.”

Miles’ job security came into question last week as a result of a published report that said he was coaching for his job. Athletic Director Joe Alleva has remained quiet. Dodd says Alleva is mishandling this situation…

“I think it’s horrendous that the AD has just been mute about this. It’s pretty obvious these stories were written at least with his passive approval, if not guidance and that’s fine but you’ve got to stand up and say something in the middle of this.”



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Blue Bell ice cream lovers are in luck, the creamery is announcing they’re coming back to the Pelican State. Spokesperson Joe Robertson says Blue Bell will begin to restock Louisiana grocery stores on December 21st.

“Now that we have all three of our facilities back up and running, we’re able to build up enough inventory to return to some of these phases.”

Blue Bell pulled its ice cream from the shelves in April over listeria concerns. The popular ice cream has been coming back in phases over the last few months. Robertson says most of their retail partners have welcomed them back and they’ll be in most major grocery stores. He says currently, they’re only selling five flavors of ice cream.

“We’ve got our Homemade Vanilla, our Cookies ‘n Cream, Dutch Chocolate, The Great Divide and our Butter Pecan flavor right now and that’s how we’ll start out.”

Robertson says with each phase, they bring back more employees.

“With phase four, Louisiana and Jackson, Mississippi phase, we’ll bring back an additional 115 employees. Most of those we're employees at the distribution centers in those areas.”



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Governor-elect John Bel Edwards made his first address since winning Saturday's election at the annual Louisiana Federation of Teachers convention in Lake Charles.  Edwards told teachers that he will insist on a greater accountability of charter schools and push for more autonomy for local school systems.

"We've got to stop substituting the opinion of the BESE board in Baton Rouge for school boards at the local level when those school districts are performing well under our own accountability system."

Edwards says a recent report in the Advocate newspaper stating that he wants to ban charter schools is not true.  He says he has proposed nothing that would really affect an existing charter school.  But Edwards says charter school placement should not necessarily be a decision made by BESE.

"But in those districts that perform well under our accountability system, the final decision as to whether a new charter school opens ought to rest with that school board.  It's just that simple."

Edwards told teachers that after he is sworn into office on January 11th, they were going to have a partner in the Governor's Office.  Edwards also stated that he had no intention to take the voucher program off the books, but would seek to steer the program back to its original purpose.

"It's stated purpose was to provide a choice for parents whose kids were trapped in failing schools.  A 'C' school is not a failing school." 


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The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the state Fire Marshal's Office, and local authorities are seeking information on 86 suspected arsons.  Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says the suspicious fires happened between August 30th and October 21st.

"These fires began in the Castor community in Bienville Parish and progressed east through the Liberty Hill area and east to North Hodge in Jackson Parish."

Investigators have determined that a majority of these fires occurred on properties owned by timber company Weyerhaeuser Industries.  Strain says a substantial reward is being offered for information leading to the capture for these arsonists...

"The Louisiana Forestry Association and Weyerhaeuser have put up a $4,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and the conviction of the people or person responsible for these arsons."

Strain says arson is a serious crime that comes with serious penalties...

"Not only is it a criminal activity, for which you will go to jail, but you will also have to pay full restitution.  Pay for what you have destroyed." 


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For the fourth year in a row, the cost for a traditional Thanksgiving meal has increased.  The LSU AgCenter recently did a survey of Baton Rouge retailers and found the cost of items to prepare a meal for 10 was $49.81, a $1.31 increase from last year.  

Economist Kurt Guidry says a rise in turkey prices led to this year's price increase.
"That's predominately the function of the outbreak of avian influenza that impacted that industry earlier this year."

He says, on the wholesale level, the price of turkey is up 9-percent from a year ago.  On the other hand, the price of milk is about 50-cents lower than last year.  Guidry says, fortunately for consumers, the retail price of turkey is only up slightly...

"I think most of that is because retailers are still trying to entice consumers to come in there and purchase their products."

If you plan to fry your turkey for Thanksgiving, you can add $30 to $45 dollars for the peanut oil you will use.  Guidry says, while the price for the meal is a little higher, he doesn't think it will limit anyone's Thanksgiving dinner...

"We're only still looking at probably a one to two-percent increase over last year and that's normal inflation that we would normally expect to see." 


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LSU Coach Les Miles does not want the focus on him or the rumors of his firing, as his team prepares for the final regular season game of the year on Saturday against Texas A&M. The Tigers have lost three in a row for the first time in Miles 11-year coaching career at LSU and he was not ready to address his job status at his weekly luncheon with reporters. 

"At some point and time there's a me in this, but not when I'm coaching. This will always be about our players and the team."

It’s been reported that LSU is preparing to part ways with Miles, but the decision is not final. The coach sidestepped a question on whether he’s spoken with any LSU administrators about his job security.
"Speculation on my job at this point is off limits. The information I have is do your job as you would do it," Miles said.  
Speculation over whether LSU would fire Miles at the end of the season intensified last week as a result of a published report in the Advocate newspaper that said the head coach was coaching for his job in the final two regular season games. Miles says the only instruction he’s received is to continue doing his job. 
"Someone is asking me that If I'm coaching for my job, I think I've done that for eleven years," Miles said.  
LSU's regular season finale is Saturday against Texas A&M.  


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US Representative John Fleming of Minden has joined fellow Republican Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany in letting voters know that he plans to run for US Senate next year. Political analyst Elliot Stonecipher says it’s not a surprise to see Fleming to throw his hat into the ring for David Vitter’s Senate seat.
"I don't think any of these early announcements are new," Stonecipher said. "Congressman Fleming has been saying for a year or so already."

Boustany, state treasurer John Kennedy and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle are other candidates that could run as Vitter has announced he’s not seeking re-election in 2016.
In a statement, Fleming says voters are eager to see real, conservative solutions in our nation’s capital. Boustany says considering the Senate race is still nearly a year away, he thinks any candidates for that race should hold off on making any announcements until the dust settles from this past election. 
"There's just a lot new and different stuff happening out there," Stonecipher said. "We don't know if it will happen again in any so-called national election in 2016, but I think everyone is thinking through that and these candidates aren't." 


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There is a lot of speculation concerning the job security of Les Miles’ at LSU. Tiger Rag Editor Cody Worsham says athletic director Joe Alleva has not commented on Miles’ future but his silence is telling.

“All Joe Alleva would have to do at this point is come out and say that Les Miles is on board for next season and that they’re sticking with him. So far, despite all the reports, to the contrary nothing has been said from LSU.”

Miles’ contract runs until 2019. Worsham says coming off of the Tigers three game losing streak, it’s pretty clear to him that Miles’ job is in jeopardy. But he doesn’t believe there is any rush to get rid of Miles just yet.

“I think before Alleva makes any decision, he’ll want to have all his ducks in a row and know where he’s going next. I wouldn’t expect a decision anytime soon but it’s college football and it’s LSU, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Worsham says Miles’ 15 million dollar buyout isn’t much of a determining factor because those who want him gone are willing to front that money.

“The key there is that none of that money will be coming from the university, it would be raised privately from a few private donors and those private donors are willing to pay.”



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Republican Congressman Charles Boustany has announced his intention to run for David Vitter's Senate seat next year.  Vitter announced Saturday night that he would not seek re-election.  

UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says this announcement was expected.
"Charles Boustany had made it fairly evident that if David Vitter was the winner in the gubernatorial contest that he would, in fact, seek his seat.  Now that Vitter has said he's not running for re-election, he can move ahead with his plans."

He says Boustany has already been fundraising and meeting with donors in anticipation of a Senate campaign. The congressman plans to make a formal campaign announcement in his hometown of Lafayette in the near future. Cross says the race for the soon-to-be vacant Senate seat could feature some familiar names.

"Congressman from the 4th District, John Fleming, is considered a very likely entrant in that race.  Certainly, Treasurer John Kennedy's going to give it a fairly careful look."

He says Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is another possible name that could enter the field. Cross adds that even Governor Bobby Jindal could jump into the race, but thinks that is unlikely.

"He was not a super enthusiastic congressman in his two terms in the US Congress.  He didn't seem to really like that job so much, he preferred the job as governor.  So going back to the Senate, I'm not sure is the best option." 


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