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Memorial Day is one of the most solemn holidays on the calendar.  It's a day set aside to remember those men and women who gave their lives in defense of our freedom.  Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, David LeCerte, says the United States has sending young men and women off to fight for our nation since 1775.

"And a lot of them don't come back.  There's a lot of families that are impacted by that, especially over the last decade of war.  Memorial Day is a day that we set aside to honor those young men and women."

There will be several events across the state to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  LaCerte says attending a Memorial Day ceremony is a great way to remember these fallen heroes.  But he adds there are other ways you can commemorate the day.

"If you want to spend the day with your loved ones and grill a hot dog or a hamburger and kick back and, maybe, wet a fishing line, I think that that's also a great way to spend the day remembering those sacrifices."

LaCerte says several hundred Louisiana troops have been lost in the post 9/11 war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.   He says as the fight continues in new theatres, more men and women will be sent in harm's way and some will not come back home.  LaCerte says it's important to continue to honor those lost as we progress forward.

"Louisiana does a great job of that and I'm very proud to be a Louisianian on weekends like this.  I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world." 


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Many will be firing up the grill this Memorial Day and LSU AgCenter Economist Ross Pruitt says you can expect to continue to pay high prices for beef.  According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price for a pound of ground beef in March was $4.20, up almost 14-percent from 2014.  

Pruitt says it all comes down to how much beef is available.
"We're dealing with some tighter cattle supplies that we've dealt with the past couple of years.  So that's really causing some of these prices to keep going higher."

Beef production has been down over the past several years because of a drought in some of the leading beef-producing states.  However, Pruitt says some slight relief could be in sight.

"We're getting into that time of year where cattle slaughter starts to increase seasonally, so we might see some increased supplies and, as a result, bring prices down a little bit."

But Pruitt says, overall, you can expect to pay high prices for beef at least through the end of the year.  He says if you're looking for more bang for your buck, you may want to go with chicken or pork for your barbecue.

"Those two commodities may be relatively more cheap than what they have been compared to beef in the past couple of years in terms of a price differential." 


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LSU's 12-game winning streak at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium and 9-game winning streak in the SEC Tournament came to an end on Saturday as Florida rallied to beat LSU 2-1.
The Fighting Tigers had nine hits, but they left eight runners on base.

LSU's lone run came in the 2nd inning on a Jared Foster RBI single.
Florida's bullpen shutdown the Tigers the rest of the way. Kirby Snead threw two shutout innings. Taylor Lewis pitched 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball.  
LSU starting pitcher Alex Lange threw seven strong innings as he struck out seven. But walked six.
The Tigers bullpen, which was so good in victories on Wednesday and Thursday, could not hold on to a 1-0 lead on Saturday.
Zac Person relieved a tired Lange in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off single and then walked the next hitter. LSU's Hunter Newman entered the game and gave up an RBI double. Florida could have scored more runs, but had two runners thrown out on the RBI double.
Jesse Stallings pitched in the 9th and gave up his first home run of the year as Mike Rivera hit a solo dinger.
LSU can now get ready for the real season as they'll find out on Monday, who they will host in a Baton Rouge Regional.  


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Houma Police say a 36-year-old woman accused of dumping a pot of boiling grease on her sleeping ex-boyfriend turned herself into authorities this morning. Police chief Todd Duplantis says investigators originally thought it was just boiling water that burned the 33-year-old victim.
"It was a grease that she had thrown on her boyfriend and the officers noticed she put thumbtacks around the victim's bed," Duplantis said.  
The victim suffered severe burns to his torso, right arm and face and was sent to a burn center in Baton Rouge. Duplantis says Lynette Joseph faces a charge of aggravated second-degree battery. 
If convicted she faces fine of up to $10,000 and a 15 year prison sentence.  


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Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi says DNA has confirmed that a 30-year-old teacher in Plaquemine fathered a child of a 15-year-old student. Keavin Keith was arrested earlier this week, after accused of having a sexual relationship with three students. Stassi says no new additional charges will occur as a result of this latest development.

"He was already charged with the charge that came in," Stassi said. "There maybe some child support issues that come up down the road, but not at this time."
Stassi says they ordered DNA tests after one of the alleged victims told detectives she had a sexual relationship with Keith that produced a son. 
"One of the three underage victims had a baby, the baby is approximately a year old."
Keith was released from jail on a 100-thousand dollar bond. Stassi says they continue to investigate, but at this time, there's only three alleged victims in this case.


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Fourth district Congressman John Fleming's office says the Environmental Protection Agency will move forward with the disposal of 15-million pounds of M6 propellant stored at Camp Minden in Webster Parish. Fleming was concerned about a delay, because the EPA is seeking an additional 8-million dollars from Louisiana for oversight costs.

"They've done nothing to show that there is a need for that type of oversight or any type of justification for that level of expense," Fleming said.
In a statement, the EPA says additional dollars are needed because of updated cost estimates. But Fleming says the EPA has not provided any documentation on why this additional money is needed. 
"This all came verbally from a phone call a couple of days ago and that's it," Fleming said.  
Fleming is hopeful the work to dispose the product will be completed soon. 
"This stuff gets increasingly more unstable because of exposure to weather, and in mid-August is the outside date of getting this stuff done," Fleming said.  


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A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agent is hospitalized after he was shot while in the line of duty. LDWF spokesperson Adam Einck says 32-year-old Sgt. Scott Bullitt of Jonesboro was shot in the back while performing a traffic stop on the Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area in Ouachita Parish.

"He's still listed in serious condition," Einck said. "At this time, it doesn't appear it will be life threatening, however we are unsure what injuries may or may not be recoverable from." 
A source says the bullet is lodged in Bullitt's spine. He's at a hospital in Shreveport. Einck says Sergeant Bullitt has been an LDWF agent for over five years and he's married with no kids. 
"He recently received the 'Louisiana Highway Safety Commission DWI Award.' He was selected among statewide agents to receive this award due to his dedication and hard work to make Louisiana waterways and roadways safer for the traveling public by removing impaired drivers."
The man who allegedly shot Sergeant Bullitt has been identified as 29-year-old Luke Jarrod Hust. He fled into the woods after the shooting, but was arrested by authorities several hours later. Einck says Hust has been in and out of jail over the last 10 years and decided to shoot Bullitt during the traffic stop. 
"He went back to his own patrol vehicle and at the time, the passenger opened fire on him and hit him in his lower back," Einck said. 
Hust has been charged with two counts of attempted 1st-degree murder.  


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In the first of a series of questions to the four major gubernatorial candidates, Louisiana Radio Network asks about the state's budget problems. We asked each candidate if they were Governor today, how would they handle the $1.6 billion dollar deficit? Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he'd cut every dime of wasteful spending.

"Wasteful contracts, programs and positions that are not critical should be cut and that money needs to be used for higher education and healthcare," says Angelle.

Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says he'd curtail tax exemptions and refundable credits, cap the film tax credit program and raise the cigarette tax. But Dardenne says if he were Governor there wouldn't be this giant deficit.

"We've got to separate our wants from our needs by setting priorities and funding the most critical areas of state government first," said Dardenne. "For me those start with education, transportation and keeping our economy strong."

Democratic Representative John Bel Edwards says he would reduce or eliminate tax giveaways that cost too much or produce too little return on investment. He says he would also accept federal tax dollars back into Louisiana to help us meet obligations for the people of Louisiana.

"We need to expand Medicaid," said Edwards. "It would bring in $16 billion dollars over 10 years and it would save $52 million dollars this year alone. That's money we can use."

Republican US Senator David Vitter says if he is elected, he would immediately call a special legislative session on spending and tax reform.

"We need to put everything on the table and get down to basics," said Vitter. "We're not doing that now under Governor Jindal and we need to do that immediately in the new governor's term."


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As motorists begin hitting the road for the Memorial Day weekend, Gasbuddy-dot-com says they'll see the lowest gas prices since 2009.  Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski says the current average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Louisiana is $2.45 a gallon.

"That's 95-cents less than what we were paying a year ago.  We were at $3.40 just a year ago."

Laskoski says many are considering an additional road trip this summer because of the price at the pump.  He says while gas prices have gone up about 21-cents a gallon in the past month, prices are still almost a dollar less than we paid a year ago.  Laskoski says the price hike is not totally unexpected.

"Because we have seen crude oil prices go up and we also know we're moving closer to the summer driving season."

But, he doesn't think there will be a huge increase in gas prices this summer.  Laskoski says there is still a really significant inventory of gasoline and that's good news for motorists.

"Anybody who's traveling this summer, they can be relieved to know that the prices at the pump are going to be about a dollar less than what they paid last year."


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LSU took advantage of six errors from the Arkansas Razorbacks to post a 10-5 victory on Thursday night in Hoover, Alabama. Three of the errors came in the 1st inning as the Tigers scored 4 runs to begin the ball game. LSU added two more runs in the 2nd, 4th and 7th innings.

The Tigers had eleven hits on the night. Mark Laird and Andrew Stevenson each had two hits and drove in a run. Alex Bregman had just one hit, but drove in 3 runs and now has 47 RBIs on the season. 
For the second straight night, LSU got a short outing from its starting pitcher. Jared Poche threw only one inning on Wednesday, while Austin Bain couldn't get past the 2nd inning against the Razorbacks. Arkansas touched up Bain for four runs in the 2nd inning.
But sophomore right-hander Russell Reynolds (6-0) came out of the bullpen and held Arkansas down. The Baton Rouge native threw 3.1 innings of shutout baseball and struck out three and he was credited with the win.
Jesse Stallings threw a scoreless inning of relief, Alden Cartwright gave up one run in the 8th inning and Zac Person tossed a scoreless 9th.
LSU is now 48-9 on the season. They will play again on Saturday afternoon in the SEC Tournament semifinals. The Tigers will face the winner of Friday's game between Florida and Arkansas.  


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On a 65-37 vote, the state House approved a 24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year, sending the spending plan to the senate. House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin says the budget process started with a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall, but they covered much of that gap, by passing revenue generating bills, recognizing additional dollars thanks to an improved revenue forecast and other financing.

"With this 850-million of total revenue created, we can fully fund higher education, health care, debt service and MFP (public schools)."
As it stands now, the budget reduces funding for LSU's medical schols in New Orleans and Shreveport and the state's public-private hospital partnerships are also underfunded. Fannin says some agencies will also face cuts. 
'There will still be cuts in the budget, but these cuts will be reduced and we will have funded our highest priority."
A politically charged amendment was added to the budget during the debate. The measure would require the governor's office and not State Police to pay for troopers, when Jindal makes out-of-state campaign trips. Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson is in full support. 
"We do not have money in our state to pay for our State Police to travel back and forth to Iowa and every where else for campaign purposes for one person," Jackson said. 
The amendment passed on a 55-35 vote, but could be removed by the Senate or Jindal can use his line-item veto power on the legislation. 


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Michelle Southern reporting.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission has asked the state Attorney General's office to investigate the sentence of the Destrehan High School teacher who had sex with one of her students. Shelley Dufresene admitted to the act in exchange for no jail time and not having to register as a sex offender. Legal analyst Tim Meche says the MCC President should know better than to call for this investigation.

"The Attorney General lacks the constitutional authority to conduct investigations of anybody without a request from the DA," said Meche.

Dufresne was originally charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile but pleaded down to a misdemeanor obscenity charge as part of the deal. The MCC wants the AG's office to look into whether St. Charles Parish DA Joel Chaisson committed any criminal violations with regards to the plea. 

Meche says if the MCC believes a criminal act occurred they should report it to federal authorities.

"But asking the Attorney General to investigate a District Attorney is not permitted under our Louisiana constitution," said Meche.

Dufresne is the daughter of a sitting judge in the 29th District and the entire bench recused themselves in the matter but Chaisson did not. There are many people who say Dufresne got off easy and if the teacher would have been male and the student female then the outcome would have been much different.

Meche says people are entitled to their opinion but this move is a classic case of political grandstanding.

"And the fact that he released it to the public makes me question their sincerity," says Meche.


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Governor Bobby Jindal's religious freedom executive order is receiving strong criticism from democrats. The leader of the state democratic party, state Senator Karen Peterson, says she can't believe Jindal would issue the order, when the tourism industry expressed that the measure could alienate visitors or chase away convention business.

"He doesn't care about Louisiana's economy nor does he care about the people that we represent," Peterson said.
LSU grad and prominent Democratic Party figure, James Carville, appeared on the Jim Engster Show and said he wishes the governor would focus on bigger issues impacting the state. 
"I wish he had the same conviction when it came to higher ed, then this Indiana-style legislation that's going to do nothing but economically cripple the state," Carville said.
But Jindal is not apologizing for the religious freedom order. The governor says it re-affirms our first amendment rights.
"The first amendment to the Constitution says that Louisianians, Americans have the right to live according to religious beliefs, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without discrimination." 
Jindal's controversial order prevents the executive branch of state government from taking adverse action against a person or a business for their belief in traditional marriage. He disputes the accusation that his order will hurt the state's economy.
"In Louisiana we are for freedom, and that means economic freedom and that means 1st Amendment religious liberty freedom rights as well."  


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Michelle Southern reporting.
The teacher who was arrested in Iberville Parish for allegedly having sex with three of his students, apparently fathered a child of one of the victim's when she was 15-years-old. 30-year-old Keavin Keith was arrested Monday on 30 counts of prohibited sex with a student. Sheriff Brett Stassi says one of the victim's claims Keith got her pregnant.

"And we are waiting on DNA and paternity results," said Stassi. "But yes that has been alleged by the victim."

Keith was also charged with two counts of indecent behavior with juveniles and five counts of felony carnal knowledge.

Stassi says at least one other victim told detectives that she engaged in oral sex with Keith inside his classroom at Iberville's Math, Science and Arts Academy-West in Plaquemine. He says this is an unfortunate case.

"This isn't just a one day thing. This is going to affect this person's life for the rest of his life," said Stassi.

Stassi says they got a statement from Keith when he was arrested and he admitted to investigators that he'd had sex with the students. He says they've been getting reaction from the community on both sides of this case.

"Teachers should be held to a higher standard but we've also had people tell us that he's a very good teacher in class," said Stassi.

Keith was named teacher of the year in 2013.



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State Police say a fire at their data center has left Office of Motor Vehicles offices across the state unable process any transactions.  Major Doug Cain says an electrical panel fire has disabled all automated systems at the Department of Public Safety, including OMV locations statewide.

"You're not going to be able to do any transactions within the Office of Motor Vehicles at all, online or any of the offices."

He says workers are staying on site at the offices in hopes that the situation can be resolved.  As of now, all they can do is turn people away.  Cain says they hope to get everything up and going later today.  Trooper patrols will continue, but Cain says this fire has brought the Department of Public Safety to a virtual standstill.

"Every system within the Department of Public Safety is down, except for the radio system our troopers use." 


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The American Automobile Association expects more Americans to travel this Memorial Day weekend than they have in the last 10 years.  Spokesman Don Redman says they predict a 5-percent increase from last year in people who will travel for the holiday weekend.

"We certainly are expecting a very busy holiday.  More than 37 million people will be traveling 50 miles or more from home and, of course, a vast majority of those will traveling by car."

Redman says if you plan to travel by car this weekend, you can expect to share the road with a lot of people.

"Almost 90-percent of everyone who's going to be traveling will be traveling by car, so it's going to be very busy."

It's expected that about 33-million people will be traveling by car.  Most drivers can expect to pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in five years.  Redman says you can attribute much of the increase in travelers to the fact that people are feeling more confident about the economy because of the drop in gas prices.

"Families are getting a break at the pump and have been for several months.  That's really helped the family economy and I think that's why we're seeing a big number of people traveling this holiday."   


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Michelle Southern reporting.
The United Health Foundation ranks Louisiana 50th in the nation for Senior Health. That's last according to the Annual America's Health Rankings 2015 Senior Report. Katherine Palmier is the Chief Medical Officer for the East Region of United Health Care. She says among the challenges in Louisiana is a low percentage of dental visits.

"People with poor dental hygiene also have higher rates of illnesses like heart disease, because the inflammation in a poorly cared for mouth can cause inflammation in the rest of the body," said Palmier.

While Louisiana is ranked as the least healthy state for older adults, Mississippi is Number 49 this year then Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Palmier says in Louisiana there is a high percentage of nursing home residents that are not receiving proper care. She also says a lot of Louisiana seniors struggle with food insecurity which means they wonder if they are going to have enough money to pay for their next meal.

"Or are they having trouble getting to the grocery store or obtaining fresh food," said Palmier. "All those things go into food insecurity."

To develop this report, a panel of experts in senior health was charged with identifying the areas of health and well-being most pertinent to the older adult population.

In 2014 Louisiana was ranked 49th. She says despite the low ranking, Louisiana does have some positives like a high flu vaccination rate, low prevalence of falls and great home health.



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The number one ranked LSU baseball team rallied back from a five-run deficit to beat Auburn 9-8 on Wednesday night in the SEC Tournament. The Tigers exploded for six runs in the 5th inning to take a 9-8 lead and that score held up the rest of the way.

The game got off to a very bad start for the Tigers as sophomore left-hander Jared Poche was lit up for five runs in the 1st inning, but only two of the runs were earned as a throwing error by Chris Chinea and two walks by Poche paved the way for a big inning. 
LSU scored 3 runs in the 2nd inning to get back in the game. Chris Sciambra hit an RBI double and Jared Foster had a 2-run home run.
Auburn regained its five-run lead by scoring two runs against relief pitcher Jake Godfrey and a single run off of Doug Norman.
But that set up LSU's dramatic come back.
The six-run 5th inning started with a double by Foster. He scored on a Jake Fraley single. Conner Hale then delivered a two-run single to make it 8-6. The next hitter up, Kade Scivicque. hit one off the center field wall for an RBI double.
Andrew Stevenson grounded out for the second out of the inning. It looked like Auburn would get out of the inning with a lead, when Chris Chinea hit a pop fly to right fielder Damon Haecker, but Haecker lost the ball in the dusk and Scivicique scored. Sciambra then came up with an RBI single to drive in the eventual winning run.
Hale, Sciambra and Foster each drove in two runs as every Tiger in LSU's line-up except Mark Laird had at least one hit.
Norman was credited with the win. Parker Bugg pitched a scoreless 9th to get the save. And Zac Person was very impressive out of the bullpen as he struck out 3 in 1.1. innings pitched.
LSU advances to the winner's bracket, where they'll play on Thursday night at around 8 PM.  


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Legislation by Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater that would allow state colleges to raise fees for students passes the state House.  Gonzales Representative Eddie Lambert wanted assurance from Broadwater that this measure would not affect tuition.

Rep. Lambert:  "Representative Broadwater, this deals strictly with fees.."

Rep. Broadwater:  "Strictly with fees, has no impact on TOPS, whatsoever."

Broadwater says his measure would only make it easier for colleges to raise student fees, within certain limits, and not affect TOPS in any way.  He says a percentage of the revenues generated from additional fees would be set aside for needs based assistance.

"Some of this money will be used to go for financial assistance for those students so we don't create an access to education problem."

Broadwater says those concerned that increased fees would create a drop in enrollment should look at the bigger picture.

"If we don't do a better job with our state support of higher education, we're going to have an access to education problem because the schools will close and they won't have a school to go to.  That's a worse access to education problem than we'll have under this."

The legislation passed on a 79-14 vote and moves to the Senate. 


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New Orleans has been invited to bid to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls.  The Big Easy last hosted the Super Bowl in 2013.  Jay Cicero, President of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, says four other cities also received invitations.

"Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, and we just found out Los Angeles, if they are able to get a plan together for their stadium, they're invited to bid on 2020."

New Orleans lost out on hosting the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis and their new stadium last year.  Cicero says with new stadiums proposed for Atlanta and Los Angeles, the competition will be stiff.

"It's going to be our job to put together an aggressive bid and, hopefully, put ourselves in position to win one of those Super Bowls."

Los Angeles was invited to bid on the 2020 Super Bowl if a stadium is in place and a team has moved there by the start of the 2018 season.  The bids will to to a vote of team owners next May.  Cicero feels the Crescent City has an edge on the other cities vying to host the Super Bowl.

"The fact we've got 20,000 hotel rooms within walking distance from the Superdome and the Convention Center, as well as the French Quarter, all those things put into place really give us a competitive advantage." 


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