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Kenny Henderson is out as LHSAA Executive Director

Kenny Henderson is out as executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Henderson has led the LHSAA, which governs high school athletics, since 2007. His contract was set to expire next summer, but past-president of the LHSAA, Todd Guice, says both sides felt now was the time for a change.

"We felt for the association and Mr. Henderson to sever our relationship," Guice said. "We appreciate Kenny's dedicated service to the association and we look forward to the future."
Guice would not say why Henderson will not serve the remainder of his contract. There's been unrest within the LHSAA about the recent split of public and private school football playoffs, but Guice says that one issue is not the reason for Henderson's departure. 
'It's certainly an issue the new executive director will have to deal with, hopefully carry us into the situation where we can work out some of the differences that we have remaining with that topic." 
The search for Henderson's replacement has already started. Guice will chair a committee that will seek out qualified candidates.
"We're looking for a great leader and a great communicator," Guice said.  
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Former Sorrento Mayor charged with 40 counts of possessing child porn

Michelle Southern reporting.
The controversial former Mayor of Sorrento was placed under arrest on Thursday after officials say they found child pornography inside his residence. Attorney General Criminal division director Kurt Wall says they obtained a search warrant for the home of 41-year-old Wilson Longanecker Jr.

"And upon executing that search warrant, it resulted in his arrest on 40 counts of possessing child pornography and one count of obstruction of justice," said Wall.

Wall says this was a joint law enforcement effort by the AG's Cyber Crime Unit, Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, Homeland Security and State Police. He says Longanecker is charged with 40 counts of possessing pornography involving juveniles and obstruction of justice.

"The obstruction of justice charge is related to the fact that he attempted to hide evidence in this case," said Wall.

Longanecker, who was elected mayor of Sorrento in 2011 and served until 2013, caused controversy when he was in office for taking extended leaves of absence and not being in contact with council members. Wall says the search of Longanecker's home last several hours.

"We took some electronics from his resident which will be additionally examined by our analysts," Wall said.

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Boyce man booked with 3rd DWI on lawnmower

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's office says a man is under arrest for DWI number three after cops caught him driving drunk on his lawnmower. Major Mark Wood says one of the deputies spotted 67-year-old Ralph Carroll of Boyce riding a red lawnmower on state Highway 121 attempting to elude law enforcement by driving into the woods.

"They finally got him stopped when he drove to his residence," said Wood. "Made contact with him and the deputy could smell a strong odor of alcohol."

Carroll is charged with third offense DWI, operating an unsafe vehicle and having no driver's license on his person.

"Once we got him to the courthouse he agreed agreed to blow into the breathalyzer, and he was way above the...well he was drunk," Wood said.

The suspect was then charged with his third DWI. Wood says Carroll received a citation for riding his lawnmower on a state highway last week.

"That's his means of transportation, he'll drive to the store or whatever," Wood says. "He's been seen before, he's been warned before and sometimes he refuses to cooperate and comply with the law."

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State Fair of Louisiana is underway

The 108th State Fair of Louisiana gets underway today in Shreveport.  The fair runs through November 9th, while being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  

General Manager Chris Giordano says the weather forecast is great this year's fair.
"Looks like we'll have some big crowds in here, over 60 carnival rides, a lot of great fair food, and games."

Giordano says this year's fair also features live music from Wayne Toups, Frank Foster, and many more.  He says there are lots of great family attractions that are free with your gate admission to the fair, including a bear show and a high-dive show.  

"We've got an attraction called 'Cowboy Boot Camp', which is for the little tykes.  It has many different activities teaching little kids how to be a cowboy."

He says there will also be several street performers at this year's fair, including a man who rides a unicycle while swallowing a sword and jumping a burning jump rope.  Giordano hopes to see big crowds at this year's State Fair.  

"We normally attract between 400- and 450-thousand people each year.  If the weather is right we'll be hitting the 450 mark, I hope."

For more information go to www.statefairoflouisiana.com. 
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2.9 million people registered to vote in November 4th election

2.9 million people are registered to vote in the November fourth election. There's about 93,000 more voters who are registered as "no party" than six years ago when Senator Mary Landrieu defeated republican John Kennedy. Political Analyst Elliot Stonecipher says these voters are an "X" factor going into the election. 

"These are people who are very disaffective with both the Democrat and Republican party," Stonecipher said. "I don't know what that means for the upcoming election."  
The Secretary of State's office reports an increase of 7,000 black registered voters prior to the October sixth deadline. This brings the total number of black voters to 919,000, which democrats see as a positive for Landrieu's re-election efforts. But Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says the big question is how many will vote. 
"Will the black turnout be huge in Louisiana and give Mary Landrieu a lift?" Pinsonat said. "It's possible, but not likely."
The number of white registered voters in Louisiana is 1.8 million and Pinsonat says while the black vote is important to Landrieu's re-election chances, white voters are more critical.  
"She can't win this election, unless she does much better with white voters than she's presently doing," Pinsonat said.  
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Price of flights for the Holidays skyrocketing

Michelle Southern reporting.
If you're planning to fly for the Holidays this year prepare to go a little deeper into your wallet. According to Expedia.com, Thanksgiving flights are up 17 percent from last year and Christmas flights have gone up 2 percent.

Travel expert Dale Irvin says airlines are finding it's more profitable to fly less with more people. 
"So we're finding that there are fewer flights in general," said Irvin. "But if you've flown lately you've probably noticed there are very few empty seats sitting out there."

Irvin says over 20 million people are expected to fly from now through December. He says if you want to travel by air cheap you should book a flight with one of the "uber-discount airlines."

"By that I mean, you pay for everything. They call it a-la-carte pricing," says Irvin. "It's typically a lower based fare, but you pay even to carry-on. You pay for drinks on board, you pay to pick your seat."

Discount airlines Frontier, Jet Blue and Spirit fly out of New Orleans and there's one called Allegiant Airlines in Shreveport. Irvin also says that it's usually cheaper to travel on the exact Holiday.

"Usually there are better fares available on Thanksgiving Day itself, then it'll also be cheaper if you fly back on the Saturday after or into early the next week," said Irvin.

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More Americans buying costumes this Halloween

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation shows a record number of Americans will buy Halloween costumes this year.  NRF Senior Director of Media Relations, Kathy Grannis, says Halloween has become much more than a child's holiday.

She says adults are really getting into the holiday.
"Throwing parties and dressing up in costumes, themselves.  We think that part of that growth among young adults, and even adults and parents, has helped propel the popularity of Halloween." 

The survey says more than two-thirds of Americans will buy costumes this year and the average person will spend $77.52 for the holiday.  Grannis says people are spending money on more than just costumes and candy.

"Even activities like going to a haunted house or a corn maze - spending on Halloween is a lot more than simply getting dressed up to go trick-or-treating."

She says Americans will spend a total of $7.4 billion this Halloween.  Grannis says popular kid's costumes will be Disney Frozen characters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and super heroes.  She says adults will keep it more traditional.

"Like witch and pirate, but of course thanks to pop culture references, from Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, we think there will be a lot of really great Hollywood and other pop culture references this Halloween, as well." 
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Partial solar eclipse will take place this evening

Michelle Southern reporting.
A partial solar eclipse will take place today as the new moon will obscure part of the sun. Louisiana Tech Astronomer Lee Sawyer says we should be able to see the maximum point of eclipse in The Bayou State before the sun goes down today.

"The eclipse is going to start just before 5 and the max will happen just before six," said Sawyer.

Sawyer says this is happening a few weeks after the total eclipse of the moon. He says the very best way to view today's partial eclipse is at an observing party or at a science museum but you should NOT look at the sun directly.

"Even dark glasses are not sufficient," said Sawyer. "You'll want to view the eclipse with a pinhole camera."

Sawyer says the partial eclipse will still be going on even after the sun sets in Louisiana around 6:30.

"We'll catch the beginning ant the maximum," said Sawyer. "But the sun will still look like a bite has been taken out of it as it goes down."
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92% of Louisiana teachers receive effective grade

The Louisiana Department of Education released a report today on the evaluation of public school teachers.  The report shows 92% of teachers received an "effective" grade. 

Superintendent John White says while we should be proud of teachers reaching that achievement, the inflation of highly effective scores outpaced the growth of student achievement scores.
"When we evaluate ourselves at a level that is more generous than we are evaluating our students, we are not doing our kids any favors."
Teacher "Compass" ratings are based equally on Student Growth Score and classroom  observations.  Individual school districts are responsible for rating their teachers.  White says schools and school districts that set a high bar when observing teachers see progress in both educators and students.
"This is a significant lesson from this year's report, because of its implications for what it means to use 'Compass' well and what it means to not use it well."
White says the most critical piece of information they received from this report is that schools who expect more of their teachers, will see an increase in student growth.
"Some places are taking it very seriously, they have high expectations when they observe their teachers.  Some places are not taking it as seriously.  And when you take it seriously and you have high expectations for classroom teaching, student learning goes up."
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Baton Rouge man who killed son's abductor in 1984 dies at 68

Michelle Southern reporting.
The man who killed his son's abductor at the Baton Rouge airport in March of 1984, Gary Plauche, died this week at the age of 68. Jeffrey Doucet was accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting Plauche's son Jody 30-years-ago -- and when the suspect was extradited back to Baton Rouge, Plauche was waiting at the airport then fired a shot.

The incident was caught on camera and Abram McGull was the news photographer.

"I'll never forget what he said when the police officer rushed him," said McGull. "The cops were shouting, 'Why Gary? Why?' and Gary said, 'If it was your son you'd have done the same thing too.'"

Plauche was sentenced to 5 years probation but did not get jail time. The news director of the television station at the time, John Spain, said he didn't think the public wasn't surprised that Plauche just received a suspended sentence.

"This was a high profile case, it was an emotional case and people questioned what they would do themselves in they were in the same position," said Spain. "Largley the public opinion at the time sided with Gary while not agreeing with what he'd done, they understood it."

The son, Jody who was 11 years old at the time, is now an advocate for child victims of sexual assault. McGull, who is a former federal prosecutor, says he found out the video of the incident is being used by the FBI and other law enforcement.

"They use it as a training video as what not to do when escorting a prisoner," said McGull. "I think a lot of security features have been upgraded since this incident."

His family said Plauche died from complications related to a stroke.

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Cold and flu season is here

Cold and flu season is upon us and people are looking for ways to avoid coming down with a seasonal bug.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over six-months of age to get a flu vaccine.

 Dr. Fred Lopez, with the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, says there is a reason for that recommendation.
"The vaccine is very effective at preventing flu infections and, in recent years, we've had good match between the vaccine and the flu strains that are prevalent in the communities in this country."
He says one you get the flu vaccine, don't expect it to work immediately.  Lopez says it takes a couple of weeks for your body to develop antibodies from the vaccine. 
"For two weeks, if you did come across someone who is sick with the flu, you could possibly get infected from them because your immunity hasn't developed, yet."
Lopez says once you receive a flu vaccine, you'll still want to take steps to avoid any infections this season.  He says washing your hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizers are good ways to keep the flu at bay.  But Lopez says you should not stop there. 
"Rest, good nutrition - two particularly helpful ways for you to prevent infection during the cold and flu season."
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In US Senate race is Maness taking votes from Cassidy?

Michelle Southern reporting.
Is Rob Maness hurting fellow Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy’s campaign in the US-Senate race against Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu? There’s a new poll out by Real Clear Politics which found Landrieu ahead with 38 percent, Cassidy with 36 percent and Maness with 9%.

"I think if this were a Cassidy vs Landrieu election, the wins are certainly in favor of Republicans," says LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan. "If Maness weren't in the picture now, maybe Cassidy would have a clearer shot of winning outright."

Hogan says that while it may be true that Maness is taking votes away from Cassidy, the Congressman will need support from those ultra-conservative voters by addressing the policies that are most important to them.

"This is a smart strategy, in some ways, on the part of very conservative voters," said Hogan. "Run a candidate against a conservative to moderate candidate and maybe pull them to your side against issues you're concerned about."

Hogan says when it comes to the undecided voters so late in the campaign, they are the ones who are likely conservative but are influenced by Landrieu’s longtime incumbency.

"She has won the seat three times in the past, so you don't want to think this incumbent is vulnerable simply because of her party affiliation," said Hogan.

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Jindal defends his record as governor

Governor Bobby Jindal has 14 months left in office and he says he still has plenty of work to do in Louisiana, even though a presidential campaign could be on the horizon. During recent debates, candidates have been asked what grade they would give the governor, Jindal says it's too early to give himself a grade.

"The grade that I think is fair to give is incomplete, we still got more work to do, and we are going to continue to show up to work every day, to continue make more progress," Jindal said. 
So far republican candidates in the US Senate and the sixth district congressional races have given good but not great marks when asked to judge Jindal on a scale of 1 to 10. Democratic candidates gave low grades. Jindal defends his record, based on the record number of people who are working in the state today.  
"Are per capita income is now higher than its ever been before, our economy has grown almost as twice as fast as the national economy, since I've taken office."
Jindal has made it no secret that he is considering a potential Presidential run in 2016. The governor says he's not interested in running for his old job as a US Representative. 
"If I were to stay in politics it would involve 2016 running for President, there's no other elected office I would seek, I'm not interested in going back to the Congress or the Senate or any other elected position." 
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LWC: Louisiana job numbers continue to break records

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says we're getting closer and closer to the 2 million mark when it comes to the number of people who have jobs here. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says non-farm employment grew by 33,100 jobs over the year ending September 30th -- a new record with employment now exceeding 1.98 million.
"We have an unbroken, 4 year strong of job growth," said Eysink. "Year over year we've been growing for 4 straight years which is huge for us."

Eysink says we have more jobs than we've ever had, a bigger labor force than we've ever had and more people working than every before. He says construction is seeing the most growth with 11,000 jobs over the year ending September 30th. Eysink says the boom they've been saying is coming has already begun.

"We're not into it as heavily as we're gonna be as most projects haven't even started work yet," said Eysink. "Sasol, the biggest of them all, broke ground this week and that could potentially mean $22 billion by the time it's done."

Leisure and hospitality was second adding 9500 jobs. Eysink says another area of our economy that is seeing a lot of growth, adding 9200, is business and professional services. He says as all these construction projects continue to pop up in Louisiana, we're going to see more and more professional jobs.

"The ultimate benefit is exactly what the Governor has been talking about," said Eysink. "People who graduate with those degrees will no longer have to leave the state to find work because we'll have those jobs right here in Louisiana."

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ULM Basketball player charged with forcible rape

Michelle Southern reporting.
A freshman ULM basketball player is under arrest for allegedly raping a female student he'd arranged to meet online. University spokeswoman Donna Bernard says the alleged incident occurred Sunday night after they were told 18-year-old Roderick Taylor talked to the female student on a social media site.

"The two planned a meeting on campus and then they got into a car and drove to a parking lot where the alleged incident occurred," said Bernard.

Bernard says the alleged victim filed a report with the ULM Police Department the next morning.

"From that complaint and the interview with the player, forcible rape was the charge," said Bernard.

Bernard says ULM Athletic Director Brian Wickstrom made an announcement about Bernard's status on the team following the arrest.

"The suspect has been suspended indefinitely from the basketball team as of the time of the formal charge against him," said Bernard.

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School report cards show improvement

The number of Louisiana Public Schools earning a state performance grade of an A has gone up from 187 to 241 this year, according to the Department of Education.  Education officials released the reports earlier today.  

Superintendent John White says numbers are up because schools are responding to what they have been asked to achieve.
"That is largely the result of schools that were B's, previously, increasing the percentage of students achieving higher levels, such as mastery, on state tests."
School performance scores are primarily based on student test scores.  This year's school report card also shows 10 Louisiana school districts earning an A and no school districts in the state receiving an F grade.  White says high schools are performing better across the state. 
"They have graduated more kids.  They have more kids than ever before achieving basic."
1335 schools were included in this report.  White says this year's scores come as the department raises the bar for public schools across the state. 
"Starting in 2016, you can expect that schools will be experiencing it to be much more difficult to maintain these high marks on their school report cards."
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Early voting is underway

The early voting period for the November 4th election kicks off Tuesdayay.  Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will take place through October 28th from 8:30AM to 6PM, excluding Sunday.
Schedler says early voter participation is on the rise.

"We don't see increasing numbers in overall participation, but we certainly seeing a creep of individuals taking advantage of early voting."
This year's election is highlighted by a hotly contested US Senate race and several contested Congressional races.  Schedler wants to remind voters that there are 14 Constitutional Amendments on this year's ballot.  He says voters should expect a lengthy ballot. 
"Over 4,400 candidates and some 2,400 positions available statewide."
Schedler says, statewide, this is the biggest election in the state in decades.   He says for sample ballots and early voting locations, you can go online at geauxvote.com.  Schedler says he expects a voter turnout between 45 and 50-percent for this US Senate election. 
"I tilt more to the upper side of that range, just simply for the magnitude of this race and the importance and factoring in some of these local issues that will also fuel high participation."
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Two indicted in St. John Parish water system dispute and LSP amoeba investigation

Michelle Southern reporting. 
A grand jury indicted two St. John the Baptist Parish utilities workers in connection with an investigation into a deadly amoeba which was found in the parish's drinking water in August. Kurt Wall with the state Attorney General's office says there was a question about whether or not samples being collected were accurate.

"The logs where these collectors would write down specific dates and times and what the residual levels of chlorine were in that sample," said Wall. "And those didn't match up with what DHH had been randomly testing."

Wall says the workers were reporting the chlorine levels in the water supply were up to par but DHH did random testing and discovered, instead, the amoeba. He says that's when State Police stepped in and decided to check GPS coordinates on the vehicles these parish employees were using at the time they said samples were taken.

"When they checked the GPS coordinates it was determined that in many cases, the collector didn't even stop at the site all day," said Wall. "And these were samples that were supposed to be taken on a daily basis so that the water could be treated correctly."

Kevin Branch of LaPlace and Danielle Roussel of Pauline were each charged with one count of malfeasance in office and one count of filing and/or maintaining false public records. Each felony count carries up to 5 years in prison.

Wall says the St. John Parish Government is fully cooperating and are taking corrective steps to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

"They've brought in different types of testing procedures and different people to do the collected," said Wall. "This has been remedied and I don't think it's going to be an issue moving forward."

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Former President Bill Clinton stumps for Senator Landrieu

Former President Bill Clinton tells a crowd of Mary Landrieu supporters he doesn't see how the senior senator is not a clear favorite in Louisiana's US Senate race over her republican challengers. Clinton says Landrieu has a history of getting things done.

"Everyone of these analyses that the non-partisans groups in Washington do, show that she's one of the most bipartisan people in the US Senate and one of the most effective people in United States Senate." 
Clinton was in Baton Rouge Monday and spoke at a Landrieu rally. Her main opponent, Bill Cassidy, constantly ties Landrieu and her voting record to policies supported by President Obama. But Clinton says Louisiana voters should not look at the Senate race as a chance to vote against Obama. 
"You cannot afford to vote for what you're against, you have to vote for what you are for."
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DHH plans to stop hospital bills from going to rape victims

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says they plan to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests. DHH spokeswoman Olivia Watkins says they plan intend to work with the legislature to craft bills for the 2014 session that would prohibit hospitals from charging rape survivors for the care they receive.

"Things like the emergency room cost, the cost of the person who performed the medical exam," said Watkins.

Advocacy groups and lawmakers were critical of the fact that women who had been raped were getting big hospital bills after checking in to be treated for the assault. 

Watkins says, under the plan, hospitals would be able to seek reimbursement for such expenses from the Crime Victim’s Reparation fund which receives fines associated with criminal cases.

"So you have an individual who is convicted of a violent criminal offense," said Watkins. "The fines and fees associated with that conviction are used to go into the fund and that's on a state level."

Watkins says they also plan to remove the requirement that survivors of sexual assault file a police report to qualify for that reimbursement. She also says they want to do away with the provision that victims be sober in order to get money from the fund for hospital bills.

"It shouldn't matter if a man or woman is sexually assaulted when they are under the influence of alcohol so that's something we want to address," said Watkins.


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