KSYL Local News Archives for 2014-03

News For Monday 03/31/14


News for Monday 033114

By Dave Graichen

 

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

 

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

the Health Insurance Marketplace.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

News For Friday 03/28/14


News for Friday 032814

By Dave Graichen

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

connecting all three air bases in the Colorado Springs region.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

News For Thursday 03/27/14


News for Thursday 032714

By Dave Graichen

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

News For Wednesday 03/26/14


News for Wednesday 032614

By Dave Graichen

 

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

 

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

 

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

standards.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

News For Tuesday 03/25/14


News for Tuesday 032514

By Dave Graichen

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

News For Monday 03/24/14


News for Monday 032414

By Dave Graichen

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

News For Friday 03/21/14


News For Friday 032114

By Dave Graichen

 

A group of current Louisiana College students is calling for a strike to begin Monday and is demanding changes at the private Baptist school in Pineville, including the removal of Joe Aguillard as president. Fliers have appeared on campus asking others to join the student strike at Guinn Auditorium at 8 a.m. Monday. They’re asking for faculty and community members to join them.

 

After  almost  not  moving  at  all  to start 2014, the gas price in Louisiana  is starting it's spring climb.  The  American  Automobile Association  says  the  current  statewide  average  for a gallon of

regular stands at $3.29 which is up almost a nickel from  just  last week.  AAA  fuel  analyst  Don Redman says motorists should start to budget more for gas. He says they are expecting a mostly smooth transition from winter to summer blend gasoline, but the  tensions  in  Russia and Crimea have the  market a little nervous which could mean a  sharp  spike  later this month.

 

In  response to U.S. sanctions over Crimea, Russia has imposed  some entry  bans  on  a  number of U.S. lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Mary  Landrieu.  A New  Orleans  newspaper  reports  that  there  is speculation  it is  based on her criticism of Russia ending an adoption program.

 

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is reminding all registered voters that  you can cast your ballots early for the April 5th spring municipal  elections starting tomorrow. He says the elections next month will be  held in 34 of the state's 64 parishes. Early voting begins tomorrow and  runs through Saturday March 29th, excluding Sunday March 23rd.

 

Several  students  are reportedly facing big time punishment for allegedly changing their grades in an online class for credit. Caddo Parish  officials say the seniors, from Southwood High,  apparently hacked into the system and gave themselves  more  credit  needed  to graduate. They are suspended and could be expelled.

 

 A New York City man has been arrested after making a statement that he  had placed an explosive device on a Greyhound bus in Monroe. 26-year-old  Jonathan Rivera locked himself in the bus bathroom and started a fire. Police report  37 passengers were removed from the bus and taken across  the street while the Monroe Fire Department, Fire Marshall's Office and  State Police aided in sweeping the bus and surrounding area with the  of bomb-sniffing dogs. Rivera remains in custody in the Ouachita  Correctional Center.

 

You  might  be  due  some cash from the IRS. Louisiana residents who have not filed their 2010  tax  returns  are due a total of over $15 million. IRS Media relations director Lea Crusberg says thousands of individuals have potential refunds waiting to be claimed. She says there is a three year window that you have to claim refunds before the money goes into the US Treasury.

 

The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office announces they've gotten more dangerous drugs  off  the  street.  They  say about $40,000 worth of synthetic  marijuana, about 22 pounds of it,  was  seized  during  a traffic stop  near Lawtell. A search of a vehicle found 968 ten gram packets  of 9 different  types  of  the  synthetic  drug.  Names  of suspects are not being released at this time as the investigation is ongoing.

 

Speaking of synthetic pot, The  state  Department  of  Health and Hospitals issues an emergency

order that bans an additional  eight  compounds  found  in synthetic marijuana   sold  in  Louisiana.  Officials  say  in  recent  weeks, emergency rooms  in  the  Baton  Rouge  area  have  treated over 100 individuals who have overdosed on synthetic marijuana.

 

If you are planning on kicking off the first weekend of spring with a  crawfish boil, expect little mudbugs and big prices. Dr. Greg Lutz  with the LSU Ag Center says, this season the crawfish are running way behind. Lutz says a good crawfish crop relies on vegetation to provide the basis

for a natural food chain. However, with the cold weather we've  experienced in recent months, that vegetation is just not there. Thus smaller, fewer and more expensive crawfish.

 

The Calcasieu  Parish  Sheriff's  office says a 25-year-old man from Sulphur  is accused of raping a 4-year-old  girl.  They  say  Albert Hudson is  accused  in  the  incident  that occurred last month, and

after further investigation he was arrested  this  week  and  booked with aggravated rape. Bond is set at $750,000.

 

The Ragin Cajuns look to pull off an upset this afternoon when they face  the Creighton Blue Jays in the NCAA Tournament. Creighton finished in  second in the Big East Conference and they are led by Doug McDermott,  who is one of the top scorers in the nation. Cajuns Coach Bob Marlin  says his team has a chance to make a real statement. The Ragin Cajuns received an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament by  winning the Sun Belt Tournament.

News For Thursday 03/20/14


News for Thursday 032014

By Dave Graichen

 

The  House  Health  and Welfare Committee has approved new standards for  abortion  clinics.  The  biggest  provision  requires  abortion doctors to have  admitting  privileges  at  a nearby hospital. The bill now heads to the House floor. But pro-choice advocates were on hand during the debate to voice their opposition to the so-called admitting privileges bill. Amy Irvin,  with the New Orleans Abortion Fund, says  if this legislation becomes law,  it  will close abortion facilities in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

 

A bill by New Orleans Representative Cameron Henry  which  calls for harsher  penalties  for  individuals  who commit battery on athletic sporting  officials  was  approved by the  House  Committee  on  the Administration of Criminal Justice and now moves to the house floor. Henry says that the current  penalties  for  battery are clearly not strong  enough  and  he  wants  to  see fines increased  along  with possible jail time, community service, and court approved counseling for individuals who commit this offense.

 

A number of charges are facing a Department of children and family services audit director  for  allegedly using  a  state-issued  credit  card for personal use.  State Police Captain Doug Cain says when they  searched  the  home of 34 year-old Delrice  Augustus,  they  discovered  items  worth $7500  and  about $18,000  in  cash. Augustus allegedly purchased iphones,  flat  screens,  ipads  and  a dishwasher with the card.

 

Lake   Charles   Police   are  investigating  a  shooting  Tuesday afternoon, in which a 12 year-old  boy  shot a 15 year-old boy after an argument.  Police caught up to the young suspect shortly after he fled the scene. According to a Lake Charles TV station, they believe the gun was registered to owner of the home.

 

Louisiana  State  Police  says a man from Clinton is booked with his 7th DWI in East Feliciana Parish.  They  say  30-year-old James Earl Haynes refused a breath test and was booked into  jail  on counts of 7th  offense  DWI  and  unlawful  refusal  to submit chemical tests. Haynes has been  arrested by the same trooper 3 times since 2011 for the same offense.

 

A 19-year-old mother from  Houma  is  charged  with attempted second degree murder of her one month old baby. A spokesman with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's says they believe the woman was responsible for shaking  her baby and throwing the boy against the wall.

 

The Department of Transportation has launched  a  "Pick  the  Paint" campaign  to have the public pick the new paint color for the Jimmie Davis Bridge  that connects Shreveport with Bossier City.  With over 27 hundred votes  so  far,  it  sounds  as  if  there's some LSU and Louisiana Tech influence, as the top choices are  Purple,  Blue  and Red.   The  rehabilitation project for the bridge is scheduled to go to bid this fall.

 

Instead of a price-tag of almost $540 million dollars, the estimated cost for rail service between  Baton  Rouge  and New Orleans has now been  reduced to around $262 million dollars, according  to  a  rail study released  yesterday.  The  study  by HNTB Corporation proposed leasing trains upfront as opposed to purchasing  them to save money. The  trip  would  take a about an hour and a half with  seven  stops along the way.

 

A  Louisiana  House committee  voted  14-1  in  favor  of  advancing legislation that  would expand the application of the death penalty. Under House Bill 278,  the killing of a prison worker would become a capital crime. First degree  murder  already  covers  the  death  of firemen,  peace  officers, Louisiana State Police Crime Lab civilian employees, taxi drivers,  young children and the elderly. The last time a prison worker was killed by an inmate was during a failed prison escape at Angola 15 years ago.

 

 As expected, a bill by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno which  would ban UV tanning for anyone 17 and under was overwhelmingly  approved by the House in a 97-1 vote. The only lawmaker to vote against  the bill was Stonewall Representative Richard Burford. Moreno says this measure will lower risks from skin cancer associated  with UV tanning lamps and beds. She says the risks are  especially high  for younger tanning bed users.

 

LSU is selling old lockers from Tiger Stadium in a fundraising effort.  The Jeff Boss Locker Room is in the process of a complete renovation  and the old lockers from 1996- 2013 are being sold. For more information about the lockers or to purchase a locker go to  tiger-stadium-lockers-dot-net

 

 

News For Wednesday 03/19/14


News for Wednesday 031914

By Dave Graichen

 

The husband of the woman killed in LaSalle Parish Thursday has  been arrested,  and charged with second-degree murder. Fifty-six year-old Michael James Worley of Pineville was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center  Tuesday.  He allegedly pulled the trigger of the fatal shot that killed  his wife, Mary Worley.  She was reportedly shot in the back of the head.

 

Another unrestrained driver has been killed  in  Central  Louisiana. State  Police  say that twenty-eight year-old Shauna Beebe of  Boyce lost control of  her  vehicle on Bud Nichols Road Monday night, struck several trees and flipped.  She was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Federal  authorities  have  announced  the  arrest of 14 men who were allegedly  involved  in  an  online  child exploitation  network.  The website's primary administration has been  identified as 27-year old Johnathan  Johnson  of  Abita Springs. Agent Ray  Farmer,  with  the Homeland Security office  in  New  Orleans, says Johnson used social networking sites to target young children. So far investigators have identified  251  victims  in 39 states and five foreign countries.  Two of the victims wer three  years old and younger. Johnson faces up to 20 years in prison.

 

A senate committee has approved legislation  that prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes. An additional amendment was  added in committee by Senator Barrow Peacock of Bossier City to also add  a  ban  on Vapor pens.  The  bills author Senator Rick Gallow of Ruston says when  it comes to these  devices  they  should  be  treated  as other tobacco products.

 

A  constitutional  amendment  that  would  allow voters to decide if judges can remain in office after the age of  70,  moved out of a senate  committee Tuesday. The state constitution currently  prohibits

judges from beginning a new term once they turn 70 years old.

 

State lawmakers  questioned  Economic  Development Secretary Stephen Moret  yesterday  about  why  state  revenues  have   not  substantially increased,   even   though   there's  been  claims  by  the   Jindal administration that business  projects  will  bring 80-thousand jobs and 50-billion dollars in capital investments to Louisiana. Moret  says  the  slow recovery of the national economy  is  hurting

Louisiana's revenue  picture and he says the use of state tax breaks is  taking  money  away  from   the  state  treasury.  He  says  the film-tax-break program for instance  is  costing  the  state  up  to

200-million dollars a year. But  Moret says the film tax breaks have created 10-thousand jobs in

this state.

 

Authorities say foul play is suspected in the death of an Oberlin man whose body was pulled from inside a burning mobile home Tuesday Morning. Allen Parish Sheriff Doug Hebert III says 59-year-old Freddie Green’s death is being treated as a homicide. An autopsy is pending to determine the official cause and time of death.

 

In a recent report released by the Tax Foundation, at 8.89 percent,  Louisiana has the third highest average combined state local sales tax  rate in the nation. Economist Scott Drenkard says while statewide sales  taxes are in line with the rest of the country, our local sales taxes  are not.

 

After  remaining  mostly  flat for the past couple of weeks, the gas price  spiked  two  cents last  night  in  Louisiana.  The  American Automobile Association  says  the  current  statewide  average for a

gallon of regular is now $3.28.

 

A   Washington  Parish  Volunteer  Fireman  has  been  arrested   in connection   with   20  fires  he  allegedly  set  intentionally  in Washington  Parish.    The  Louisiana  Department  of  Wildlife  and

Fisheries reports that  that  Johnny Erin Tarver was booked into the Washington Parish Jail with a $30 thousand dollar bond.

 

 

News For Tuesday 03/18/14


News For Tuesday 031814

By Dave Graichen

 

At the age of 86, former Governor Edwin Edwards has announced he will  run for Congress. Edwards will seek the seat currently held by Bill  Cassidy, who is running for U-S Senate. Because he's a recent convicted  felon, he's not allowed to run governor, but Edwards says there's  nothing in the constitution that says he can't run for Congress. There's already a crowded field of candidates for the sixth district  congressional race. But Edwards says he's confident he'll end up in a  runoff with one of the republican candidates. And he says age should  not be a factor in this race.

 

The Louisiana Republican party wasted no time in responding to Edwin  Edwards Congressional announcement. Jason Dore, LAGOP executive director  says while Edwards may be a well-known figure, he is well known for all  the wrong reasons.

 

Word yesterday that A body found Friday in LaSalle Parish near the Rapides Parish line has been identified as that of a 56-year-old Pineville woman, who was reported missing on Thursday.  The LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office is treating the death of Mary Worley as a homicide. While the official cause of death has not been determined, deputies did report a gunshot wound to the back of her head.  Officials believe the death was an isolated incident. 

 

The Rapides Parish Police Jury directed counsel Monday to file litigation against the former design firm on the Rapides Coliseum renovation project. The jury terminated its contract with Barron Heinberg & Brocato in August after the firm reported it could not complete the project within the $23 million budget. More than $600,000 had been spent on the project already. The litigation seeks to recoup some of that money.

 

The Grant Parish sheriff’s office reports a  Montgomery man is in the Grant Parish Detention Center, accused of holding a mother and five children against their will in a Monday standoff that lasted several hours. After the standoff, 35 year old Russell Hoffpauir II was arrested. Deputies say  they found an assault rifle with hundreds of rounds of armor-piercing bullets, a shotgun, a pistol, a tactical vest filled with ammunition, a large knife, a GPS and other tactical equipment. Hoffpauir’s  bond was set at $250,000.

 

New numbers released  from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate  Louisiana has the lowest unemployment rate in the Sothern region. This  is great news for both our state and local economies says Curt Eysink  with the Louisiana Workforce Commission the lower unemployment numbers can be attributed to a  number of factors but is due in large part to the tremendous growth in  the private sector. Private employers in Louisiana added 25,300 jobs in the 12-months ended  January 2014 and states private sector has grown over-the-year every  month since October 2010.

 

Out of 700 hundred thousand 2013 Louisiana state income  tax returns filed  so  far,  some  eight  thousand people have received pre-paid debit cards or checks. All refunds  were supposed to distributed via direct deposits into bank accounts.   The Department of Revenue says they  have  fixed  the  problem,  and they are  offering  to  cancel pre-paid cards.

 

State  Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain went  before  the  House Appropriations  Committee Monday urging lawmakers to provide him more money than what the  governor proposed in next fiscal year's budget. Strain says he needs another  three-point-nine  million  dollars, so the  department  can  battle a dangerous citrus infection and  avoid lay-offs within his agency.

 

A senate committee will hear legislation today that would ban the  selling of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18. Ruston senator  Rick Gallot says he filed the bill because research discovered the  negative effects these products have on children. Gallot says e-cigarettes are a great alternative for adults trying to  quit smoking, but not for children, because they do contain nicotine,  which is addictive.

 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says they've settled  its lawsuit with the Sabine Parish school district involving a Buddhist  sixth grader who claimed he was the subject of harassment due to  religious beliefs. LA-ACLU executive director Marjorie Esman says the school board recognized they were in violation of the law, so they  decided to settle the case. The

district has also agreed to train their teachers on what the law says in  regards to religious freedom in public schools. Esman says the  child's family was also awarded $4,000 to cover the costs of  transporting the student to another school out of town.

 

The Mega Millions jackpot for today is 400 million dollars. Louisiana  Lottery spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says this pot of gold has been  running since January 3rd. Chopin says even though the odds are low,  Mega Millions has a ton of  of different prize levels. She says in the last drawing, two people won  5-thousand dollars and one player won the Megaplier and got 15-hundred  dollars.

 

An 18 year old from Schriever is lucky to be alive after he was shot in the head Saturday night while riding his dirt bike. Major  Malcom Wolfe  with the Terrebonne Sheriff's office says the area where  the

teen was  shot  is  an area commonly used for target practice. While the shooting appears  to be accidental, charges are possible for the shooter..

 

The Pointe Coupee Sheriff's office has arrested a couple in connection with the death of  their  three  year old son. Jason Lutz and Ashley Cogar have been charged with the second  degree murder of Joseph  Lutz.  Autopsy results have confirmed the child  died  as  a result of malnutrition.  Officials  say when the boy was found dead in January, he weighed less than he did when he was born.

 

A new swine virus that is sweeping across the nation could mean  consumers will pay more for ribs, chops, hams and other pork products  this summer. Some experts forecast  price increases as much as 15 percent,  but  Dr. Tim Page with the LSU AG Center  says that may be a  a conservative estimate. The PEDv virus is highly contagious and fatal to swine. The disease is  new here in the US, but it has affected Europe for a number of years.  Fortunately however, Page says the virus poses no threat to humans or  other animals.

 

Former LSU, McNeese State and Miami Dolphins running back Cecil “The Diesel” Collins dodged more prison time Monday and was instead put on probation for an extra three years for violating his probation in a pair of 1998 Baton Rouge cases. Collins, who was released from a Florida prison in May after serving more than 13 years for a 1999 burglary in Miami, faced the possibility Monday of going back to prison, this time in Louisiana, for up to five additional years. State District Judge Mike Caldwell, who put Collins on probation for four years in 1999 after giving him a suspended five-year prison term, warned Collins that he’ll be given no more chances.

News For Monday 03/17/14


News for Monday 031714

By Dave Graichen

 

Rumors floating around Baton Rouge say that today could be the day former Governor Edwin Edwards will announce he's decided  to run for the 6th Congressional District. Political analyst Bernie

Pinsonat says Edwards is still extremely popular in Louisiana,  but he doesn't think there are enough Edwards lovers to elect him to  Congress. However, Pinsonat says we're talking about a man who is the only Governor in Louisiana to be elected 4 times.

 

A West Monroe lawmaker has a bill that would allow certain  motorcyclists to choose whether or not they want to wear a helmet.  Senator Mike Walsworth says the legislation would only apply to people

21 and over and those who have completed a motorcycle safety awareness  program.  Riders were not required to wear a helmet in the late 90s early 2000's but due to a high number of fatal accidents involving bikes, the law was put back on the books.

 

It's  against the law  to  threaten  lawmakers  according  to  State Police.  But  that's  just  what  one  Monroe man allegedly did says Trooper Albert Paxton. He says 31-year-old  Roy  Green  was arrested after   a  report  came  in  that  he  sent  an  email  to  a  state representative saying if he didn't support marijuana law reform, the suspect  would  personally  see  that his office and livelihood were placed in danger. Paxton says Green  denies  sending  the  email but says it was a Facebook post. Green  is charged with extortion and if found guilty faces 15  years in prison.

 

Louisiana's legendary hot sauce - Tabasco - was profiled last night on  CBS's 60 minutes. Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down Tabasco and McIlhenny  (MAC-LENNY) Company CEO Tony Simmons, the great great grandson of the  company's founder, Edmund McIlhenny. Simmons says CBS was intrigued by

the story of a 5th generation, family owned business. Simmons says every bottle of Tabasco in the world is made in Avery  Island.

 

In recent years there has been a growing concern that playing high  school football may contribute to brain issues later in life.. However,  a new study conducted by Tulane University's Dr Gregory Stewart has found  there is no link between high school football play and neurocognitive  function. Stewart's study involved 12-hundred New Orleans high school football  players who played between 1998 and 2001. He says they looked at their  concussion history and scores on common neuropsychological tests. The research does however suggest the need to reinforce education of  high school and college athletes about concussion symptoms so they can   be properly treated.

 

A woman from  Galliano  is  facing multiple felony theft charges for allegedly stealing money from  an  elderly  man  she had befriended. Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Brennan Matherne says Charlene Romero confessed to taking thousands from the man’s home but they aren't sure exactly how much money it was. She currently is charged with more than 10 felony counts of theft.

 

The solider who was busted in Port Allen with 23 pounds  of  pot  in his  car  in  February was released from the West Baton rouge Parish prison Friday to  military police. 30-year-old Sgt. Horace Brown was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

 

If a teacher yanked  your  child's shirt at school do you think that educator should be arrested  for  simple  battery?  Baker Police say yes. Chief Mike Knaps says 47-year-old Deborah Anderson  is arrested for  simple battery in the matter at Baker Middle. The Baker  School Superintendent  thinks  that's  too  far. But Knaps says you are not allowed to touch students unless they  are  posing  a threat.

 

The Ragin Cajuns men's basketball team is in the NCAA Tournament for the  first time since 2005. U-L Lafayette rallied back from a 9-point deficit  with three minutes in regulation to beat Georgia State 82-81 in overtime  in the Sun Belt Tournament Championship game.  The Cajuns are a 14-seed in the tournament. And they'll play third-seeded Creighton on Friday in San Antonio.

 

News For Friday 03/14/14


News For Friday 031414

By Dave Graichen

 

A teenager from Boyce was killed  Wednesday  night  in  a  single vehicle wreck  on Twin Bridges Road. State police report 18-year-old  Derek  Stanley  was  a passenger in a pickup truck

that for unknown reasons left the roadway. Another passenger in the vehicle and the driver, 20-year-old Andrew Juneau of Boyce were injured in the crash Toxicology tests are pending and the crash remains under investigation.

 

A man whose wife  was  found  buried  in  concrete  on  the couple's property in Opelousas is charged with manslaughter in her death. The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office says Sandra Tillett was  reported missing  in  December and since then 59-year-old Arthur Tillett  has been uncooperative  with  investigators. He was already charged with obstruction, cruelty to the infirm and unlawful disposal of remains.

 

Another  statewide  poll  has  Congressman   Bill   Cassidy  leading democratic  Senator  Mary Landrieu. Hickman Analytics  surveyed  400 likely voters last month  and  found that 46-percent of them plan to vote for Cassidy, while 42-percent  say  they'll  vote for Landrieu. A  Rasmussen poll in January also showed Cassidy with a 4 percentage point lead over Landrieu.

 

Lawmakers have the day off Friday so there  will  be  no legislative action,  but  Governor  Bobby  Jindal  is  keeping  busy. Jindal  is delivering a speech in New Hampshire for the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference.

 

Baton Rouge will host the 2014  Miss USA pageant. Officials made the announcement Thursday morning. The  event  will  be  on Sunday, June 8th. Tickets will be available to the public via Ticketmaster.

 

A flood insurance bill that blocks extremely high premium increases for  thousands of Louisiana homeowners has cleared Congress. The Senate vote  was 72-22 and the legislation now heads to President Obama's desk.  Senator Mary Landrieu says this is great news for the people of Louisiana. The rate increases were put in place under the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act  but under the new compromise, homes that met code when they were built  are protected from these huge spikes. Landrieu says now people don't  have to worry about losing their homes and having to turn them over to  the bank because they can't pay their insurance bill.

 

So now that  Glenn  Ford  is  a  free  man  after  being  wrongfully incarcerated at Angola for almost three decades, what's next for the Caddo  Parish  man?  Alexandria  Representative  Herbert Dixon,  who sponsored the compensation state's compensation statute,  says  Ford can  now  apply  in  court  to receive $25,000 a year up to $250,000 total. But Dixson would like to see that maximum amount raised in the future, He says $250,000 is not  nearly  enough  for a person to get their life back.

 

Tonight's Mega Millions jackpot has grown to 353 million dollars, with a  cash value of 194 million dollars. Louisiana lottery spokesperson  Kimberly Chopin says tonight's drawing is now a top  5 Mega Millions  jackpot.

 

A  man  from  northern New Jersey has been sentenced  to  two  years’ probation for making  a threatening phone call to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Twenty-nine  year  old  Ronnie McMillian Jr. allegedly left a voice mail that said that Jindal and other Republicans would- quote  -  "get  a  bullet in the head." A federal  judge  says  that McMillian  must  spend   six   months   of  that  sentence  in  home incarceration.

 

Police in Shreveport  say  a  wheelchair  bound woman was struck and killed by a van, while trying to cross the  street  in  her electric scooter.  59-year-old  Julia  Bay  was  pronounced  dead  at a local

hospital. No charges have of yet have been filed against the driver. Alcohol is not suspected as a factor.

 

Several law enforcement agencies are searching for a man who escaped from a St. Tammany Parish workforce program early Thursday  morning then allegedly abducted his girlfriend. Deputies say are actively seeking the whereabouts of Christopher Ricker who ended up crashing his car during  a  chase  with  police  in Tangipahoa parish then escaping in nearby river.

 

A woman from Baton  Rouge  is  going  to federal prison for almost 7 years for filing more than 600 false federal  and state tax returns; using  others'  identities  without  their  knowledge.  The woman   must also pay $700,000 to the IRS, and over  $11,000 to the state.

News For Thursday 03/13/14


News for Thursday 031314

By Dave Graichen

 

More headaches for Louisiana College. Less than three months after reaffirming Louisiana College’s accreditation, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools plans to open an investigation into the private Baptist school in Pineville.  SACS’ decision comes in the wake of allegations that LC officials had submitted documents that contained forged signatures to the accrediting agency as it was considering whether to remove the school from warning status in 2011-12.

 

A  recent  survey  of  Louisiana  employers  conducted  by  Manpower indicates the majority  plan  to do more hiring and only 4% say they want to make cuts to their staff  during the second quarter of 2014. Manpower's Regional Director, Rene  Patterson  that's  good news and keeping us up to par with the rest of the nation. 16%  of  Louisiana  employers polled say they want to increase their staff.

 

A bill  that may soon mean parents would have more say in what books their children are learning from in school passed a Senate committee Wednesday  without  debate.  The  legislation  would  let the state choose  the  textbooks  that meet Louisiana's educational standards, but then individual districts  could hold discussions with educators and parents would get to choose  which materials they think are best to use.

 

The Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union says there should be no more  death  penalty  here.  That's  their  reaction  to the release Tuesday of 64-year-old Glen Ford, who spent over 25 years  on  death row  for  a  crime  he  didn't  commit.  LA-ACLU  Executive Director Marjorie  Esman  says  even  though  there aren't any bills  in  the current session to toss capital punishment,  legislators  still have time to put one together. Ford was made a free man after the Caddo Parish DA's office  learned

there is no way he could have murdered the Shreveport jewelry  store owner.

 

By the way, Nobody  won  the  Mega  Millions  jackpot Wednesday night. The prize  for Friday's drawing is now up to $353 million dollars. That cash value? $194 million dollars.

 

Two state representatives are pushing for legislation that would set aside 15-percent of the state's  revenue  from  the beer tax and put towards the Wounded Warriors Fund, which assists  veterans  who were disabled while serving overseas. Many Representative Frank Howard is a co-sponsor of the bill and he says he was inspired by the veterans from   his   own   district   and  that's  why  he  introduced  this legislation. The bill has yet to be scheduled for committee debate.

 

The National Transportation Safety  Board  has ruled that the school bus  accident  caused  by an S-U-V that crossed  the  road  on  U.S. Highway 190 has been found to be the result of a blown-out tire that was 10 years old.  Thirty-one players and coaches from the Lafayette High School baseball team  were injured in the crash; some severely. That investigation continues.

 

The president of the New Orleans nonprofit National Action Now, Reverend  Raymond Brown, calls for the US Justice Department to investigate the  fatal in-custody shooting of Victor White III. Brown says he has no  confidence the State Police will conduct an impartial investigation. Authorities say White was arrested on drug charges on March 2nd and  while in an Iberia Parish Sheriff's deputy vehicle, he allegedly fatally  shot himself while handcuffed.  Ultimately Brown, says he just wants to get to  the truth.

 

The  House  Health  and  Welfare committee approved legislation yesterday that would ban anyone under  the age of 18 from using a tanning bed. The bill is by New Orleans Representative  Helena  Moreno,  who says her  legislation  would  lower  risks of skin cancer associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

 

Since emerging 18 months ago, the Bayou Corne  area  sinkhole, began showing  signs  of  stabilizing  yesterday  according  to a  leading scientist  studying  the  hole. Newly released models indicate  that while the hole is still growing, the rate of growth has slowed significantly.

 

A proposed new law that would create stricter penalties for littering  cigarettes, will be discussed during this current legislative session.  Marrero Representative Patrick Connick says the idea came up after there  would be a monthly roadside clean-up and thousands of cigarette butts  had to be scooped up.  Connick says under this proposed law, people who throw their butts on to  the ground could face a 300 dollar fine and eight hours of community  service.

 

The  Plaquemines  Parish  Sheriff's  Office has charged a mother for allegedly  killing her Downs Syndrome baby.  Twenty  year-old   Erika Wigstrom faces  a  charge  of  first  degree-murder  for the alcohol poisoning  death  of two year-old Lucas Ruiz  (roo-eeze),  who  died January 14th.  The baby's father, Cesar Ruiz, was accused of pouring rum into the child’s feeding  tube  when the baby was only 8 months old.

 

The New Orleans Saints have signed running back Pierre Thomas  to  a two  year contract extension. Thomas has played seven seasons in New Orleans and last year led the team in rushing and caught 77 passes.

 

 

News For Wednesday 03/12/14


News for Wednesday 031214

By Dave Graichen

 

One victim is dead and another is in serious condition  After a  shooting incident  last night shortly before 10 in the 1100 block of Brannon Road near Pineville. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene to find 40 year old David Wayne Lachney of Pineville, unresponsive and another person seriously injured. An investigation determined that Lachney and the other victim, whose name has not been released, were involved in an altercation, and Lachney allegedly shot the victim and then turned the gun on himself.

 

On  Tuesday, the  first  full  day  of  the  legislative  session,  the House appropriations committee took a long look at the proposed 25-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year. But, before lawmakers can even think about next year’s budget, there are some budget holes that need to be filled in the current budget. The Senate Finance Committee learned yesterday up to $87 million in gaps exist in health care, education, prison and other state programs for the budget year that ends June 30.

 

On the first full day of the 2014 Louisiana Legislature, a House panel Tuesday churned out bills that would authorize prestige license plates to honor the late artist George Rodrigue, master gardeners, U.S. Army Rangers, winners of the Distinguished Service Cross and other causes. All the proposals breezed through the House Transportation Committee with little discussion. Most will be placed on the House list of noncontroversial bills when they are reviewed by the full chamber. The state has 215 specialty plates now with the LSU designation topping the list.

 

Legislation has been filed that  allows teachers and principals, who are concealed handgun permit owners,  to  bring  their guns into the schools  they  work at. The bill is by Chalmette representative  Ray Garofola, who says  this  is  in  response  to  an  increase  in gun violence, particularly on school campuses. Garofola says the bill not only requires teachers and administrators to possess a concealed carry permit, it also requires them to undergo eight  hours  of annual tactical training. The measure will be heard at a later date by the House Criminal Justice Committee.

 

And two bills that  attempt  to crack down on human trafficking have been  filed. Governor Bobby Jindal  threw  his  support  behind  the legislation  during  a  Tuesday  afternoon press conference. He says Baton Rouge ranks in the top ten cities  in  the  nation  for  human trafficking.

 

 A New Orleans lawmaker says a person should be 18 or over if they want  to tank in a bed that emits ultra-violate light. Rep. Helena Moreno says  she was approached by a group of dermatologists who asked her to file  legislation that would make it against the law for teens 17 and under to  lay in a UV tanning bed. A House panel will hear the measure today.

 

In New Iberia, deputies have identified the victim and a suspect  in a  deadly  shooting  that  took  place  Monday  afternoon.  They say 24-year-old  Uriah  Joseph  was  shot  several  times  and died at a hospital. Iberia Parish Sheriff's investigators are now  looking for Michael Augustine who is wanted for second degree murder.

 

Tragedy  this  Tuesday morning  on I-55. State Police say a two people  died after one person allegedly  drove  drunk  onto the wrong side of the interstate causing a multi-vehicle crash.

 

 A Caddo Parish man on death row has been released from Angola after a  Caddo Parish District Judge signed an order vacating Glenn Ford's first  degree murder conviction and death sentence. Ford was convicted for the  1983 murder of a Shreveport jeweler store owner. New evidence "supports findings that Ford was neither present at,  nor a participant in the robbery and murder.

 

Two  brothers  are now facing federal charges in connection with the Mother's Day "second  line" parade shooting in New Orleans, in which twenty people were injured  in  May. Twenty year-old Akein (ah KEEN) Scott and twenty-five year old Shawn Scott-along with seven others - violated gun control acts -according  to authorities- and drug laws. All are members of a local New Orleans gang.

 

Officials in the Baton Rouge  area  have  talked about an interstate loop  around  the  capital  city  for years, and  now,  there's  new discussion in the legislative session.  Baton  Rouge  Representative

Steve Carter says they are seeking state funding to conduct  studies for a proposed alternate highway around Baton Rouge. The  price  tag  for  the  feasibility  study  is about $3.5 million dollars.

 

 

News For Tuesday 03/11/14


News for Tuesday 031114

By Dave Graichen

 

The  2014  legislative  session  is  underway. Lawmakers started the session yesterday at 12 noon then Governor Bobby Jindal spoke to a joint session of Representatives and Senators  on  the  House  floor.  The session will adjourn no later than 6pm on Monday June 2nd.

 

 The chairwoman of the Louisiana democratic party  blasts what Governor  Jindal has done in office after he gave an address to lawmakers touting  the need for more skilled workers. Karen Peterson says the state  would  be able to produce more grads, if Jindal had not cut funding for  for education in recent years. Peterson says if the governor truly wants to improve this state, it  would help if he was around to help pass some meaningful legislation.

 

The Mega Millions Jackpot is now up to 309 Million dollars. Tonight's  drawing has a cash value of about 169 million dollars. Louisiana Lottery  Spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says this is the ninth largest Mega  Millions jackpot in lottery history.

 

State  Treasurer  John Kennedy  says  he  wants  the  department  of corrections to re-open  the  Phelps Correctional Center in Calcasieu Parish as an inmate charter school.  He says a 2013 Rand Corporation study of 58 prison education programs  found that every dollar spent on prison education saves four dollars in prison costs. Kennedy says taxpayers aren't benefiting  from  an empty prison that was  closed because it was supposed to save the state  two-point-six million dollars.

 

Governor  Bobby  Jindal finished in tenth place in a 2016 republican presidential straw  poll  that  was  taken  at the conclusion of the Conservative Political Action Committee conference.  Jindal received

just two-percent of the vote. The Governor has said he  doesn't know if he'll run for President, but political analyst Clancy  Dubos says it's obviously he was some sort of national aspirations. US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky won Saturday's straw poll.

 

The   Department  of  Wildlife  and  Fisheries  says  they  will  be conducting aerial feral hog control using helicopters on Pearl River in the  marsh  south  of  Highway  90  in  St. Tammany Parish and on

Sherburne  in  Iberville and Point Coupee Parishes  this  week.  The purpose of this aerial population control with firearms is to reduce the feral hog numbers.

 

The state of Louisiana  used  to  be the second fattest state in the nation.  Now, we find ourselves as  the  fourth fattest state in the union,  according  to  a  new Gallup survey.   There  are  signs  of

improvement as the work-out percentages are increasing, in those who say they exercise moderately or vigorously.  Those numbers moved from 35.4 percent  to 43.6 percent in a 10 year period.

 

Twice-convicted sex offender Brian Horn has  been  denied his motion  for a 14 month delay in his capital murder trial for the death of 12 year-old  Justin Bloxom south of Stonewall in 2010.   Bloxom's  body was discovered  in  a ditch off Highway 171, after he was kidnapped. Desoto Parish District  Judge  Robert  Burgess  said that trial will begin as scheduled today.

 

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries announced today that the reward has  been  increased  to $20,000 for information that  leads  to  an arrest and conviction of  the  person  or  persons  responsible  for shooting  two  whooping  cranes  found  in  Jefferson Davis Parish earlier in the year

 

A Morgan City man is in a St Landry Parish jail after he allegedly held  toddler's feet in scalding water. St. Landry Parish Sheriff's  Captain  Megan Vizena says 34-year-old Theron Thomas has been  charged with one  count of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

 

News For Thursday 03/06/14


News for Friday 030614

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office is searching for a 15-year-old girl last seen Saturday in the Pineville area. Priscilla Compton is described as being 5-feet, 1-inch tall and weighs 110 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone who has seen her or has information concerning her whereabouts is asked to call the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office.

 

A Rapides Parish grand jury has indicted Dorothy  Vanasselberg of Elmer and Kyle Hauenstein of Pineville on hundreds of sex charges. The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Vanasselberg in July of last year after detectives investigated a complaint of possible sexual contact between Vanasselberg and a juvenile. Detectives later found evidence that indicated Hauenstein had received child pornography from Vanasselberg. While detectives searched for Hauenstein, sheriff's deputies said "they discovered evidence that led them to believe (Hauenstein) committed multiple criminal sexual acts" with one or more juvenile family members while he was in the Pineville area.

 

A Boyce man who tortured and murdered an 18-month-old child has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 25 year old Jaymes Harris was found guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. At the time of the child’s death, Harris was the live-in boyfriend of the child’s mother. 

 

The Louisiana Legislative  session starts Monday, and there could be a slight 1.5% cost of living increase for retirees across the state. That increase would be the first one in five years.

 

Small business owners in LA say they oppose any legislation that would  raise the minimum wage. The 2014 legislative session is to start Monday  and there are bills filed that would raise the state's minimum wage to $10 an  hour.  Louisiana director of NFIB Dawn Starns says they surveyed their members and 90% of them said "no" to raising the minimum wage. She says small businesses only have so much money and the increase could possibly lead to some layoffs.

 

The search for the missing Slidell teenager who was last seen at a UNO  dorm over the weekend, ends in tragedy. Authorities confirmed Wednesday  evening that the car and body of 19-year-old Hayley Howard were pulled  from water near the I-10 Twin Spans around Irish Bayou.  Friends say Howard was headed home to Slidell early Saturday morning  when she suddenly vanished. Police say the UNO student's phone was last  pinged at 6am that day in the Irish Bayou area. The  case is currently being investigated as a fatal accident.

 

Legislation that would put a law on the books that defines a speed trap and prohibits them in Louisiana has been filed for the session that  begins Monday. Baton Rouge Representative Regina Barrow says when a motorist is transitioning from one speed limit to a  higher one, there should not be a cop sitting in between the two signs  waiting to write tickets for people who were going 5 miles over the  speed limit. She says this is a particularly big problem in small Louisiana  towns.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s former chief of staff, Paul Rainwater, said Wednesday that he plans to open his own lobbying and consulting firm. Rainwater left the Jindal administration this week after serving as chief of staff, commissioner of administration and hurricane recovery adviser. He helped manage the daily operations of Jindal’s office and served as one of the governor’s closest advisers. During a stop at the State Capitol on Wednesday, Rainwater said he needed more of a personal life and often felt like he was the oldest pitcher on the team. At 52, Rainwater was one of the few gray-haired members of the governor’s staff.

 

First, there was  a  Lake  Providence  Police  officer  charged with malfeasance allegedly asking a speeding motorist for $50  to avoid a ticket.   Now,  a  second  police  officer  has  been  charged  with

intentionally  falsifying  an  accident report.  Fifty-two year-old Lee Antwine surrendered to investigators  Monday.   It's  the second Lake Providence Police officer incident in 30 days.

 

Authorities say a Circle  K store in Opelousas was selling synthetic marijuana. Undercover officers  bought  the  drugs from the store on East  Vine  street.   This  led  to searches of the  store  and  the

manager's residence.  The store’s manager  was arrested and booked into the St.  Landry Parish jail.

 

LSU's  cartoon  style  tiger  graphic has "disappeared" from the LSU basketball court.  In it's place  is  a Tiger graphic that's similar to  what  on  the LSU football helmet. Luke  Johnson  of  Tiger  Rag magazine says LSU  did  a  "soft  launch" of the new Tiger by simply displaying it at center court at the PMAC.

 

 

News For Wednesday 03/05/14


News for Wednesday 030514

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana was hit with its fourth wintry precipitation event of the year  yesterday. So when will it end? State Climatologist Barry Keim hopes  Tuesday was the end of the winter weather.  Keim says it's very rare to have  freezing rain in Louisiana during the first week of March. He says it  will be much warmer today and for the rest of the week.

 

Louisiana State Police say they are investigating a case out of New  Iberia in which a man who was handcuffed and in the back of an Iberia  Parish Sheriff patrol car, apparently killed himself. Spokesman Stephen  Hammons says deputies were responding to reports of a fight Sunday  night where they arrested 22-year-old Victor White III. Upon arrival at the Sheriff's office, the suspect refused to get out of the patrol car. Hammons says while in the back of the patrol car, White produced a  handgun and fired once striking himself in the back. He says White was pronounced dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at a  local hospital.

 

State Farm has compiled data that ranks Louisiana seventh in the nation for the number of wind and hail storm claims during 2013. State Farm spokesperson Gary Stephenson says  State Farm paid more than three billion dollars in claims nationwide, as a result of property damage caused by wind and hail storms. In Louisiana alone, they had 14-thousand claims.

 

The US House of Representatives approves a bill that would spare  thousands of Louisiana homeowners massive flood insurance rate  increases, and the legislation now heads to the Senate. Metairie  Congressman Steve Scalise says this bill protects those who have built  their homes to code from unaffordable hikes permanently. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act is in-part lead by  Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy who says the House legislation  also lowers the cap on annual rate increases to 18% per property.

 

 A lawmaker from Baton Rouge says he doesn't want the government to be  able to use drones on the private property of Louisiana residents so  he's filed a bill restricting the use of the flying devices. State  Senator Dan Claitor says he wants to make it against the law for a  drone to look at our backyards or into our private homes. Claitor says his bill would still allow the use of drones if a search  warrant was obtained or if law enforcement needed them to help document  a crime scene. He says our home is our castle and citizens are supposed  to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

News For Tuesday 03/04/14


News for Tuesday 030314

By Dave Graichen

 

Many children in central Louisiana got Mardi Gras day off after all.. The threat of icy weather has closed the public and catholic school  in Avoyelles, Rapides and Vernon parishes today. LSUA: Will open at 11 a.m.

 

The weather forecast calls for a wet and cold Mardi Gras day. State  Climatologist Barry Keim says temperatures are below freezing for much  of the state this morning and we are expecting highs only in the 40s. He  says there's also a good chance for rain in south Louisiana.

 

State police report a single-vehicle crash Monday morning killed a Boyce man. 40 year old David  Cundiff  was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Brown's Creek Road. Troopers say Cundiff, who was not wearing a seatbelt, lost control of his vehicle, ran off the road and hit several trees and a fence.

 

A  house  fire  in St. Landry Parish has claimed the  lives  of  two people in Lawtell early Monday. The bodies of Willis and Lou Anna Semien were found on the  scene  by  firefighters. Their 19

Year old  granddaughter,  a  14 year-old foster child,  and  another granddaughter escaped the fire, and were able to get to a neighbor's house.   The  State  Fire  Marshal   says   the   blaze   is  under

investigation.

 

A  mobile  home  fire  claimed  the  lives of two people in Caddo Parish Yesterday.  The bodies of 35 year old Adonis  Walker and his girlfriend, 32 year old Hanna Hawkins were found inside  by firefighters after the blaze was extinguished.

 

Your  state issued driver’s license can now read "I'm a Cajun"  right below your  DMV  photo for an extra five dollars. State Senator Fred Mills the proceeds  will  go to  the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. Mills says the money will support scholarships  for  French language

and culture studies.

 

Two bills for the upcoming legislative session have been filed to  legalize the use of medical marijuana.  One of the bills is authored by  St. Martinville Senator Fred Mills, an owner of a retail pharmacy. Mills   says Louisiana law allows for a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana,  but it remains illegal for a pharmacist to dispense the drug. The legislation regulates the growers of medical marijuana, the  dispensers, and the doctors who prescribe it.  Mills says the proposed  law involves many different agencies to share the responsibilities of  implementing the intended uses of medical marijuana.

 

Louisiana  continues  to  gain recognition for places that companies look to for expansion.  Site  Selection  Magazine has listed the Baton  Rouge  area  was one of the top 10 metro areas  for  new  and expanded corporate facilities  for  2013.   According to the report, Baton Rouge placed 2nd (in the top 10).

 

Governor  Bobby Jindal made an appearance in St. James Parish  Monday to mark the  completion  of the Nucor's direct reduced iron plant in Convent.  The $750 million  dollar plant started production 2 months ago, and has already created 140 new direct jobs.

 

Legendary  high  school football coach Don Shows has passed away  at the age of 75, after  battling  health issues for over a year. Shows turned West Monroe High School into  one  of  the  best  high school football  programs  in  the country, winning eight state championships.

 

The fourth ranked LSU baseball team makes a rare trip to Natchitoches  today to play Northwestern State. It's the Tigers first visit to Brown- Stroud Field since 2003. LSU is trying to bounce back from a tough 8-7  loss to Yale on Sunday. You can hear that game this afternoon beginning at 3 on 970 KSYL

 

Nearly a two-week run of high school basketball begins today in the  Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, which is the host site for the Top 28  state boys and girls basketball championship tournaments.

 

 

 

News For Monday 03/03/14


News for Monday 030314

By Dave Graichen

 

12 Years a Slave,” the historical drama filmed in the New Orleans area, earned three Academy Awards on Sunday, including the night’s top honor, best picture.

 

State police report  43-year-old William Antee of Boyce  is facing vehicular homicide and other charges after he lost control of a utility task vehicle Saturday night. The vehicle overturned and  killed a 4-year-old Texas girl and injured two other girls who were riding in the vehicle. Authorities say that alcohol use is suspected in the crash. Antee was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with vehicle homicide, vehicular negligent injuring and careless operation. The investigation continues.

 

One man is dead and another is fighting for his life after a crash early Sunday on La. 35 inLandry Parish. State police say 31 year old Curtis Wheeler of Church Point died in the single-vehicle wreck after he was ejected from a pickup that struck a culvert and rolled over several times. Troopers believe the driver of the vehicle, 25 year old Brad Wheeler of Church Point , may have been drunk at the time of the crash. Wheeler is listed in critical condition.

 

Louisiana college president Dr.Joe Aguillard, could soon receive a contract extension to remain at the private Baptist school in Pineville.  Board of Trustee Chair, Tommy French, says work began on the new contract and will continue over the next few weeks. If a contract extension is offered to Aguillard, it must be approved by the full board, which is scheduled to meet in April. French said he couldn’t speak for the committee or the board, but he saw no reason Aguillard would not receive a new contract.

 

City of Pineville water service has been restored to residents along La. Highway 3128 (old Paper Mill Road), including the Whispering Pines subdivision, but a boil advisory remains in effect for affected residents. On Saturday, an 8-inch water main burst, leading to disruption of service in that area. The main was replaced later Saturday with a temporary 2-inch line. Replacement of close to 300 feet of the original water main will take place this week. A water boil advisory remains in effect until this repair project is complete.

 

Mother nature cooperated and large crowds turned out yesterday for the Alexandria Mardi Gras parade. The parade featured 23 floats and five bands. Becky Deville, president of the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association, called the parade a success thanks to the work of the association and the city.

 

A  new  pediatric  death  from  influenza in Central  Louisiana  has been reported by the Centers for Disease  Control  and  Prevention.  This new death brings the total of pediatric flu deaths so  far  this flu season  to  four.   Since  October  2013, lab tests confirmed 66 flu deaths in Louisiana of various ages.   However, state health officials say the number may be as high as 200 to 400 deaths. Since many deaths are caused by complications from the flu. Officials  say  a flu shot is your best protection.

 

A three-year-old child in Slidell died on Sunday by drowning in a  neighbor's pool. Authorities say it appears the three-year-old left his parents’ home Sunday morning through a window in his bedroom. It appears the child fell into the pool.

 

Louisiana taxpayers who were concerned  about a delay in their state tax  refunds  can  expect  to get their refunds  quite  soon.  Byron Henderson of the Louisiana Department of Revenue says one reason the state refunds are a bit late was the federal shutdown which delayed the I.R.S. processing schedule. Henderson says the first batch  of  four  hundred and forty thousand refund checks has been issued and promises  a steady output of state tax refunds will continue.

 

This Mardi Gras holiday  the  Louisiana  Highway  Safety  Commission handed  out grants to law enforcement agencies to fund overtime  and extra shifts  for  officers throughout the state.  Their goal is to  remove  impaired  drivers   from  Louisiana  roadways.  In Louisiana, the first offense of  Driving While Intoxicated can carry a thousand dollar fine and possibly  jail  time, plus the suspension of a driver's license for up to 2 years.

 

We're now one week away from the legislative session and once again  lawmakers will talk about proposed changes to the popular TOPS  scholarship program. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber has weighed in and  they think higher standards should be set to receive the award. BRAC  COO Erin Monroe Wesley says TOPS is becoming too costly. Currently to be eligible for TOPS, you have to have a 2.5 GPA and a  minimum ACT Score of 20. Wesley says an increase in those requirements would better align TOPS to comparable merit-based programs.

 

A  Baton Rouge man will face life in prison for killing three women. A jury  found  24-year-old  Courtney Williams, guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend and two others  during  a shooting spree in 2011.  Williams  will be formally sentenced to life in  prison  at  Angola, March 28th.

 

A Gonzales  man  was arrested for holding his parents captive inside their home for five  days.   The  Ascension  Parish Sheriff's office says  44  year  old  Richard  Miley  held them against  their  will,

beginning on February 20th.  They  were  freed  when the imprisoned couple's granddaughter visited the home and got them out.  Miley told deputies he had stopped taking his medication which  he  says caused the  incident.   He  is  being held in Ascension Parish jail without bond.

 

Even though there has been an excess of snow in northern states  surrounding the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, it is not expected to cause  floods in Louisiana. National Weather Service hydrologist Jeff Graschel says even with seasonal rainfalls, we shouldn't see many problems with the lower part of the river. In 2011, record level rainfalls in the Midwest led to flooding issues  along the Mississippi, forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to open the Morganza Spillway to prevent major flooding in southeast Louisiana  Graschel says they don't expect anything like that this year.

 

Now that we are in March, allergy season is right around the corner.  Doctor Ken Paris, with the LSU Health Sciences Center, says tree pollen  in the spring time causes nasal congestion, coughing and wheezing  for thousands in the bayou state, but this year's allergy season may  start a little later, because of our cold winter.  Paris says if you have allergy issues, there are things you can do now

to minimize the symptoms once the pollen count escalates. He says  prescription and over-the-counter nasal sprays can be effective. But, if allergy season makes you feel miserable, then go see a doctor now and get a head start.

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