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Louisiana’s governor’s race has its first negative commercial. It comes from a super pac supporting Senator David Vitter. The 30-second TV ad criticizes Vitter’s republican opponents, Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne, for supporting tax increases. ULM political science professor Joshua Stockley says the commercial comes at a time when Angelle is showing signs of gaining support.

"Given that Angelle is making the most movement and appears to be the biggest threat, it's imperative, I think, for the Vitter campaign to recognized that threat."

It’s been a quiet governor’s race as we are less than two months away from the October primary. Stockley says he figured it would get more heated around the Labor Day holiday.
"Labor Day is falling a little bit later than normal, so candidates don't have time to wait much longer."

Stockley says the other candidates also have super PACs, so he expects them to become more active now that the front-runner in the race has fired the first shot.
"Expect these PACs to grow and keep increasingly negative or aggressive, expect the campaigns to grow increasingly aggressive."


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Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs describes the current state of Louisiana's oil and gas industry as not pretty.  He says the declining prices of crude oil has caused the industry to hit record lows in several areas in the past year.  

Briggs says the number of working drilling sites in the state has taken a huge hit.
"In Louisiana, this time last year, we had 116 rigs.  We're down to 71 rigs."

Briggs says it's unclear when the industry will rebound.   He says just nine drilling sites are in operation in South Louisiana.  Briggs says the drop in production means a loss of jobs.

"For every single rig that we have, you can roughly guess that you have about 180 - 200 people direct and indirect on those rigs."

He says it's estimated that over 150,000 jobs have been lost in the industry nationwide since the crash began late last year.  Briggs says continued low oil prices could not only lead to major layoffs but more state budget cuts, as well.  He says every dollar drop in the price for crude oil equals a $12.5 million loss to the state budget.

"I think in August of a year ago it was $98 dollars a barrel.  Right now, we're at $55 today, but we've been as low as $45 last week.  It's a lot of money."


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State Police say a two vehicle crash in Tangipahoa Parish has claimed the life of a bicyclist.  Trooper Dustin Dwight says the unidentified cyclist was traveling on the US 190 Tangipahoa River Bridge late Monday night.

"She is struck in the rear by an SUV and, unfortunately, she did not survive the crash."

The victim was thrown from her bicycle and pronounced dead at the scene.  Dwight says the bicycle was not equipped with proper safety equipment and the rider was wearing dark clothing at the time of the crash.  He says this is a reminder to always keep safety in mind when riding a bicycle, especially at night.

"Whether it's reflective vests, some type of reflectors on the bicycle itself, and then any kind of lamps you can use to equip the bicycle just to make yourself as visible as possible to oncoming motorists."

Authorities are working to determine the victim's identity.  Dwight says investigators found the driver of the SUV, 24-year-old Kateria Edmon of Hammond to be not at fault.

"There are no charges pending.  There are no tickets.  There's no suspected impairment, either." 


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Les Miles says he’s doing fine after visiting the hospital, he just had a little too much coffee after not having it in his diet for a few months. Miles missed his weekly press conference on Monday but returned to campus in the afternoon for a successful practice.

“I had a very quality medical staff that decided that I should go get some examination and testing and they did a great job and took care of me and I appreciate that very much and now I just want everyone to know that everything is fine and we’re ready to roll.”

LSU’s first home game is Saturday against McNeese State. Miles says McNeese is a very quality football team and they have some skilled receivers and running backs. He says the Tigers are looking forward to playing another Louisiana team in Death Valley after finishing the last season on the road.

“This is an instate school, they know us and we know them, and in fact it’s a reason for this state to fill Tiger Stadium and enjoy football Louisiana style, McNeese and LSU.”

Miles says both Jennings and Harris showed great progress during training camp and he wouldn’t hesitate to play both quarterbacks but ultimately, sophomore Brandon Harris will be starting on Saturday for the McNeese game.

“I just think he’s continued to improve and again it’s just a vision and an observation.”



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The latest Republican presidential polls in Iowa show Governor Bobby Jindal rounding up very little support.  A Monmouth University survey shows Jindal receiving one-percent of Iowa Republican caucus goers support, while a Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll shows him with two-percent.  

Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this has got to be discouraging for Jindal's campaign.
"He's spending money on television, he's going to be in every county, he says that he has standing room only crowds, but the polls aren't reflecting his optimism."

In the Bloomberg poll, Jindal's favorability was within the top 5 candidates which could be an indicator that the governor should be able to improve his standing in the Republican field.  But Pinsonat says the fact that Jindal is a sitting governor could be working against him.

"At the present time, the majority of the Republican voters who are paying attention, aren't enthused by someone who's been elected.  They're looking for someone who's not part of the system and not part of the problem."

He says Jindal has a few months left to generate some excitement around his campaign and move up in the polls.  Pinsonat says you can expect Jindal to remain in the race at least through the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

"I'm sure he's going to try to hang on until February, March, April.  But, unless his numbers move up dramatically, by the time the spring gets here, he won't be around." 


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LSU releases its plan to bring Mike the Tiger into Tiger Stadium for home games. Spokesperson for the School of Veterinary Medicine Ginger Guttner says although Mike VI didn’t attend any games in the 2014 season, they’re going to try to get him into his trailer for the first three home games.

“There is just really no way to know why he will or won’t go. It is entirely up to him, they open the door to the trailer, they open the door to the night house and we leave it up to him to see whether or not he’s going to go.”

Mike IV has been to 32 out of 52 home games that have taken place since he arrived at LSU in 2007. She says they aren’t sure what keeps him from attending games, but they keep careful records of which games he goes to and what the weather was like. Guttner says LSU has tried various things to get Mike to go.

“Putting food in his trailer will not work. He is not a dog, he is a cat and they are not food motivated. Even if we were to not feed him then put food in there, that doesn’t work with him.”

Guttner says if he doesn’t load after the first three games, they will reassess the situation. She says although everyone wants to see Mike on the field, it’s an honor and a privilege to have a live tiger on campus.

“He’s the only live tiger that lives on a college campus in the United States and so I know that all of the fans, as much as they want to see him on the field, we certainly want to do the best that we can for his care.”



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The old days of renting movies is over as the last Blockbuster store in Louisiana is closing. Owner Billy Mobley says his Opelousas location doesn’t do enough business to justify keeping their doors open. He says before the digital age, business was booming.

“The video business was good for many years, I’ve been in it since 1990 and had five Blockbuster stores up until 2010 and that’s when we started closing them.”

Mobley says the internet is one of the main culprits, along with social media and satellite TV, for ending video rentals. He says many loyal customers are heartbroken over the Blockbuster going out of business and he expects the store will close for good in mid-October.

“We were down probably 30% from last year. At that point it just wasn’t enough business to justify staying open and generally the summer is some of our best months of the year.”

Mobley says once the store closes, he’s moving on to the hair salon business. He says they’ll be selling all remaining movies for very low prices until everything goes. 

“Generally if the price is too high week two or three then by week six it will be the price people want to pay for it.”



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Voter Registration Week begins is underway and runs through Friday, urging residents with a valid Louisiana driver's license to register in person or online. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this week is important because of the upcoming fall elections in Louisiana. He encourages those who are already registered voters to make sure their information is up-to-date.

"The main purpose is for those who are not a part of that 15 percent that aren't, to go ahead and register to vote," Schedler said. "It's easier than ever now."
There are a number of ways a person can register: online through geauxvote.com, in person or through the mail. Schedler says that those who want to vote in the gubernatorial primary should register soon.
"In order to vote in the Oct. 24 election, you have to be registered to vote by the close of business on Wed., Sept. 23," he said.
Schedler says turnout in the state's previous elections has been around the 50 to 55 percentage mark. He wants to raise that number to the percentage often seen in presidential elections.
"Exercise your right, and it starts with the voter registration."


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The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office has made an arrest in connection with the murder of a Stark man. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says 33-year-old Jody Barlow was found dead in a wooded area from gunshot wounds. Mancuso says Zachary Bench has been booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center and charged with second degree murder, armed robbery and obstruction of justice.

“Through our investigation and leads we were able to get from people and surveillance footage we were able to obtain from some local stores around there, we were able to put some pieces together and arrest Zachary A. Bench, 21, of Vinton.”

Mancuso believes the motive of the murder was robbery. He says the investigation found Barlow’s truck, utility vehicle and trailer were missing along with guns, an iPad and other personal items.

“There really is no logical reason. There was no fight that we know of, no struggle. We just believe he wanted what he had and the only way to get it was to kill him.”

Mancuso says they discovered Barlow’s truck and other items in the woods completely burned. He says Bench and Barlow did not know each other well.

“They did but not very well, they were not long term friends or anything like that from what we can gather.”



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The State Fire Marshal's Office says a 2-year-old girl was killed and her mother injured in a house fire in Monroe.  State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says little Kataleya Williams and her mother were inside the home when the fire broke out Sunday afternoon.

"When the Ouachita Parish Firefighters responded, they found significant fire in the building.  The mother was injured and the 2-year-old toddler perished in the fire."

He says burglar bars on the home hampered escape efforts.  Neighbors and firefighters were able to remove them, allowing the mother to escape.  Browning says they believe the fire was caused by a pot left unattended on the stove.

"The mother said they were cooking.  She went to another part of the home when she smelt smoke and saw significant fire."

Authorities say the body of Williams was found under a table in the living room of the home in an apparent attempt to hide from the blaze.  Browning says they don't believe there were working smoke alarms in the home.  He says this is just a sad situation.

"It's just a real tragic scene.  We're still piecing together some more information.  But it's just a bad thing to happen." 


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The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has suspended the alcohol license for the Wet & Wild Saloon in Houma after drugs and prostitution were discovered there.  ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office uncovered some disturbing video evidence against the establishment.

"Including videos that show drugs being sold, prostitution being promoted, amongst a long list of illegal activities happening in this place."

ATC cited the business for numerous violations including allowing entertainers to engage in lewd and immoral acts and improperly allowing employees to solicit drinks from patrons for a fee.  TPSO has arrested the owners, Lance and Rachel Smiley, on numerous charges.  Hebert says this type of activity is something his office will not tolerate.

"And when we reviewed the video tapes of what's going on over there, they certainly don't deserve the privilege to sell alcohol.  And the types of activities that's going on over there actually, in my opinion, endangered the public health and safety." 


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After confiscating Confederate flags on Friday, West Monroe High School principal Shelby Ainsworth says he hopes people will understand the school's new policy. He says after the tragedy in South Carolina, the entire nation has put restrictions on the Confederate flag, and this is just a continuation of those efforts.
"We want to do our part to comply and cooperate with our country's officials," Ainsworth said.
At the beginning of the school year, Ainsworth says he and school officials told students they could not fly the Confederate flag from their vehicles. Ainsworth says this past Friday he announced that this policy would be enacted during the football games and other school events as well. Although some thought the school would not allow students to wear Rebel themed attired, Ainsworth says that was not the case.
"We were basically isolating strictly on the flying of the Confederate flag," he said.
Ainsworth says the school has designed its own West Monroe rebels flag in recent years, and the school supports students flying that as well as the American flag. He says students may wear rebel or Confederate flag clothing, and the policy only applies to flying the flag on campus.
"We're just sensitive to the concerns of the nation in general," Ainsworth said. 


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The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office says three people have been arrested after allegedly striking moving vehicles with full one-gallon water jugs.  Lt. Col. Bobby Webre says their investigation led to the arrest of 19-year-old Chance Lambert, 18-year-old Layne Goodman, and 17-year-old James McCormack.

"Just a bad, terrible prank that these folks were doing and thank goodness no one was seriously injured.  But we know the potential there that could have happened."

He says vehicles were damaged in the incidents.  Webre says the suspects would throw the water jugs from a moving vehicle, which made the situation even more dangerous.

"The car would be coming head-on at them with bright lights on and, as they passed by, they threw the jugs out of the moving vehicle at another moving vehicle.  So you had twice the impact."

It is reported that Lambert is a volunteer firefighter with the Galvez-Lake Volunteer Fire Department.  The suspects are being charged with felony aggravated criminal damage to property.

"They were teenagers, but they certainly weren't minors so they are being charged as adults in this."   


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The Louisiana Department of Transportation will hold the first of three public meetings about proposed improvements to the I-10 Corridor in the capital city beginning tonight at 6 p.m. at the Baton Rouge River Center. DOTD Spokesperson Rodney Mallett says the meeting will go over the results of the survey presented to residents earlier this year.
"We also have some traffic data that shows what some of the projects that can be done to address the traffic issue in Baton Rouge," Mallett said.
Mallett says many of the survey response suggestions included building a new bridge or adding lanes to the corridor. He says there are those who are hesitant about the benefits of any traffic flow improvements because of the possible cost to the Baton Rouge community.
"And so adding lanes, just coming in and filling concrete now, how much is it going to have a negative impact versus a positive impact of traffic flow?"
These public meetings are a part of a requirement by law that the department receive public input before moving forward with any plans. Mallett says each meeting will be the same with the presentation, so people only need come to one. After the presentation of preliminary plans, the public will be able to give its input before DOTD moves forward with a feasibility study.
"It's not just about coming in and fixing the traffic," Mallett says. "It's about coming in and making enhancements to traffic and the people who live, work and play in the corridor."


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Game week arrives for the Tigers as they kick-off the season against McNeese State on Saturday. In years past, LSU has opened the season against big name opponents, but associate athletics director Verge Ausberry says with Mississippi State and Auburn looming in weeks two and three, they didn't want to start the season with a Top 5 opponent.

"Schedule smart...putting them in a position to win," Ausberry said.
Ausberry says it just happened to be LSU's year to play a couple of early SEC matchups. But he says when that's not the case, they like to open the season with a strong opponent. 
"I don't think we'll have this every year, we're still going to be playing neutral site games, big games against big opponents," Ausberry said.
Next year, LSU opens the season against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. In 2017, the Tigers return to Houston to face BYU. In 2018, LSU's first game is against Miami of Florida in Dallas, Texas.  


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As we enter the month of September, it’s usually the busiest month of the year for the hurricane season. State Climatologist Barry Keim says sea surface temperatures tend to peak during this month.

“Now early to mid-September is also the time where we get the highest frequency of storms and the highest average intensity of storms. So we can clearly see an uptick in the activity which has taken place in recent times.”

Keim says in September, we typically see an average of three to four named storms in the north-Atlantic and about two to three become hurricanes. He says we’ve had several September hurricanes that had devastating impacts.

“Hurricane Betsy was a September storm, Gustav, Ike and Rita, those were all September storms. It’s a very popular month and if we can make it through September then we should be in pretty good shape.”

But Keim says this year an El Nino is creating wind shear. He says although these conditions are working against storm formation, we’ve already had six named storms and 10 to 12 is the average number.

“But the benefit again is the storms that have formed well out in the Atlantic have eventually encountered some of these hostile conditions and it’s broken them apart.” 



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A new Louisiana State Police cadet class starts their first full day of training today in Baton Rouge. Sgt. Nick Manale says over the next 16 weeks, they will cover everything from classroom instruction to hands on scenario based training. He says these individuals were carefully selected to ensure State Police has the right people.

“These men and women are putting their lives on the line and they have to be the best trained, best prepared, best equipped to put out there on our roadways. So we’re certainly happy to have this group of cadets for our new academy.”

Manale says 80 cadets will participate in the intense training in hopes of graduating in December and wearing the “Gold Boot” badge. He says this is the third State Police cadet class since 2014, which is helping to boost their numbers after not having any new troopers for five years.

“We’re just really try to make sure we have an increased presence out on our roadways, make sure our Troopers are out there doing what they’re supposed to be doing and they’re well trained and capable and reflecting the professional law enforcement agency in our state, of course.”

Manale says even though they’ve added over 100 troopers since 2014, they are still hoping to have another cadet class soon, after this current one wraps up.

“We urge people to either go to our website and click on the recruiting tab to learn the process of becoming a State Trooper and they can also visit the Louisiana State Police Commission website to get information on cadet testing, the process and the application process.”



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According to BankRate.com, Louisiana is the worst state for drivers. The website’s research and statistics analyst Chris Kahn says they ranked all 50 states according to the amount of fatal crashes, car thefts, commute times, gas prices, and insurance premiums. 

"Also repair costs are much higher in Louisiana than the national average and also fatal crashes, there are a lot of fatal crashes in Louisiana."

Kahn says the fatal crash rate is above the national average in the state but the one main factor that is always dragging Louisiana down is the absurdly high insurance premiums. He says the reason it's so high could be because of a couple different things.
"The crime rate in different cities in Louisiana, things like fatal crashes, there is a lot of natural disasters, or the potential for natural disasters and all those combined to make the insurance premiums really high."

Kahn says one way to help get Louisiana from the bottom of the list is to chat with your insurance provider to find out about discounts.
"There are so many different things that go into your insurance premium, I would suggest calling your insurance carrier and asking about different ways and every insurance carrier has different tips and different ways for people to lower their insurance premiums."


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The Saints fell to 0-3 in the preseason with a 27-13 loss to the Houston Texans. Penalties were a big problem again for New Orleans as they were flagged 11 times for 148 yards.
The defense didn't have much of a pass rush and allowed the Texans to convert on 8-of-16 on 3rd chances. The offense had trouble scoring in the red zone, going 0-for-3.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees only played one series and led New Orleans to a field goal on the first drive of the game.
Houston took control of the game with 10 points in the first quarter. Former LSU Tiger Kenny Hilliard led the Texans in rushing with 25 yards on 10 carries. He also had 2 catches for 28 yards.
Luke McCown led the Saints quarterbacks as he was 8-of-14 for 117 yards and fumbled once. Edwin Baker led New Orleans in rushing, with 49 yards. He had a 45-yard touchdown run.
Rookie Marcus Murphy had 3 catches for 67 yards. He had 43 yards rushing and looked good on returns.
Zach Hocker was 2-for-2 on field goals including a 53-yarder.
The Saints wrap up the preseason on Thursday against the Green Bay Packers.  


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As part of Louisiana Radio Network's continuing Q-and-A with the men running for governor, we asked the four candidates about how transparent their administration will be once they are in office. Democrat John Bel Edwards says he's the only candidate that voted for a bill that will bring new transparency to the records in the governor's office.

"Whenever practical, I will always provide information on where I am and with who I am meeting, I will always deal with the people of Louisiana in the light of day," Edwards said.
Republican David Vitter plans to make more documents available to the public than what's currently available and the US Senator says he'll make himself available to the public with town hall meetings in every parish. 
"Also, host a monthly coffee open house at the governor's mansion for the public to visit in a more relaxed way," Vitter said.
Republican Scott Angelle says his administration will be more transparent than any past administration. He says access to records is a critical part in building public's trust with government. 
"We certainly have to make sure that government officials are not driven into a smoke filled back room to discuss the things that are important to Louisiana," Angelle said.
Republican Jay Dardenne also agrees that the records of the executive branch, including the office of the governor, need to be made open and available upon request. 
"At the same time, I'll work with the legislature to create an open records law that keeps pace with technological changes and forces future governors to make certain their records are to the public open as well," Dardenne said.


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