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New changes are in place for the Powerball multi-state lottery game which will make it more difficult for players to win the grand prize, but more money could be won in other ways. Louisiana Lottery Spokesperson Kim Chopin says the matrix changes will increase the odds of winning the jackpot from 1 in 175 million to 1 and 292 million.

“This is going to help the game provide those big eye popping jackpots that our players really love.”

To produce the added player benefits, ten numbers will be added to the field of white-ball numbers for a total of 69 and nine Powerball numbers will be removed for a total of 26. Chopin says this allows them to increase the prize for matching four white balls plus a red Powerball number from $10,000 to $50,000.

“So when you add all those extra white ball numbers in there you’re lessening those odds of winning that jackpot prize but because we removed some red Powerball numbers now you’re increasing the odds to win other prize levels.”

Chopin says for players who add the one-dollar power play option, they can now multiply their nonjackpot prize up to ten times.

“Let’s say that you just matched the Powerball in that particular game, that prize would normally be four bucks for matching just the Powerball but you played Power Play, if it was a 10x, now your four dollar prize becomes 40 bucks.”



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LSU running back Leonard Fournette became the first back in SEC history on Saturday night to rush for over 200 yards in three consecutive games. Fournette had 233 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 44-22 win over Eastern Michigan. The Heisman candidate finished 17 yards shy of tying the school record for most rushing yards in a game. 

Fournette's longest TD run was for 75 yards. It came on the first play from scrimmage in the 2nd half. He also had touchdown runs of 3 and 11 yards. 
The Tigers needed a big night from Fournette, because the passing game was not very good. Quarterback Brandon Harris was 4-of-15 for 80 yards and an interception.
It wasn't all his fault. There were several dropped passes. Travin Dural dropped one towards the end of the first half that could have resulted in a touchdown. Malachi Dupre also dropped a TD pass.  
The interception was the result of a missed blocking assignment by left tackle Jerald Hawkins, who was beat badly on the play. Hawkins' man hit Harris as he was throwing and the ball landed right in the hands of an Eastern Michigan defender.
LSU had three interceptions. Linebacker Deion Jones returned one 26 yards and a touchdown. It was the final score of the game.
Jamal Adams and Kevin Toliver had the other two interceptions. Rickey Jefferson and Kendell Beckwith each had eight total tackles, to lead the Tigers defense.
LSU's next game is Saturday at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are 2-3 overall, 0-3 in the SEC after losing to Missouri 24-10. 


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The convicted killer who was accidentally released from prison in East Feliciana Parish has been captured in Atlanta. Middle District of Louisiana US Marshal Kevin Harrison says they spoke with Marshals in Georgia after receiving a tip that 32-year-old Benjuiel Johnson was staying in an Atlanta Motel 6.

“They showed his picture to a few people around the motel and they identified him as being an occupant of one of the rooms and so they were able to go ahead and make the arrest.”

Harrison says they spoke to a number of people in Iberville Parish and developed leads that Johnson had connections in Georgia.

“We developed those leads and followed up on them and fortunately they were able to go ahead and lead to us apprehending him there.”

Harrison says Johnson is awaiting extradition back to Louisiana. He credits the catch to the great efforts of all law enforcement involved.

“The only thing I can really attribute it to is all the law enforcement agencies involved, they were tenacious. Officers of the agencies involved were absolutely just dogged in their determination to apprehend this guy.”



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In a recent poll ranking Louisiana's six most recent governors, former four-term Governor Edwin Edwards came in at number one among respondents.  31-percent thought the "Cajun Prince" was the best governor, followed by former two-term Governor Mike Foster with 21-percent.  

Edwards feels he earned this honor by serving the people.
"People could reach me.  I was on the telephone.  I was on my job.  I met with members of the legislature.  I worked with them.  We got things done.  That's what government is supposed to do, take care of people."

Edwards says he appreciates this support shown by Louisianians.  The poll was conducted by Clarus Research Group on behalf of The Advocate and WWL-TV.  Edwards admits his gubernatorial terms were a bit controversial, but says he took care of business, even though some may not have liked the way he did it.

"People were working.  Taxes were low.  The budget was in balance.  Education was funded.  People had health care.  Things were just better and I'm very glad that I had a small part of doing that."

Current Governor Bobby Jindal ranked third with 14-percent.  But when asked who was the worst governor, 42-percent of respondents picked Jindal.  Edwards says this didn't come as a surprise to him.

"The fellow abandoned his job.  He took his pay and took expensive state troopers and traveled around the world at our expense and did nothing to restore the budget in Louisiana." 


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In last night's gubernatorial debate hosted by WDSU-TV in New Orleans , each of the four major candidates took shots at each other on a couple of different subjects.  On the topic of defunding Planned Parenthood, Republican David Vitter criticized both Democrat John Bel Edwards and fellow Republican Jay Dardenne.  

In reference to Edwards, Vitter equates his support of President Obama to support for Planned Parenthood.
"If that is consistent with a pro-life voting record, God help us because then nothing means anything."

Vitter supports defunding the organization.  Edwards says while he supports the Commander in Chief, he does have issues with many positions taken by the President.

"I vote my conscience based on an array of issues and I will tell you, while I did vote for the President, I have never voted for David Vitter."

On the same topic, Vitter called out Dardenne claiming that the Lt. Governor voted in favor of abortion six times.  In response, Dardenne called Vitter a liar.

"That's absolutely false and it's the kind of misleading things you're going to see from Senator Vitter, who is now getting desperate in this campaign." 

On the topic of Common Core, Republican Scott Angelle took the opportunity slam Vitter's inconsistency on the issue.

"Let me take this opportunity to call out 'Senator Pinocchio'.  The reality of it all is that he's wrong on education.  He was for something, he was against it, he's for it.  He has no idea where he will be on Common Core." 


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Analysts have been telling us that gas prices would drop during the fall, but according to the American Automobile Association the statewide average price for a regular gallon of gasoline has gone up a few pennies over the week to $2.03. Triple-A Fuel Analyst Don Redman says prices are leveling off now that refineries are transitioning into the winter blend of gasoline.

“Baring anything dramatic happening to the supply we’re not expecting a huge spike in prices. There might be a little upturn as we get over the hump but as we get into November, December we can expect those prices to come down.”

Redman says refineries shutting down for maintenance is putting a little dent in the supply of gasoline.

“That’s typical for this time of the year and sometimes as we get into October we see a little uptick in prices but usually it settles back down by November.”

Redman predicts gas prices to drop to about $1.80 per gallon in December, but Russia entering the Middle East could dramatically affect the price of crude oil.

“Our fuel prices are driven by the news of the day so if things suddenly escalate or spiral out of control in the Middle East, we could see an uptick in prices.”



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The Department of Children and Family Services announces changes to the food assistance program to encourage able-bodied recipients without children to move into the workforce.  Secretary Suzy Sonnier says a federal waiver was allowed to expire that creates changes in an able-bodied person's SNAP eligibility.

"(They) will be required to work at least 20 hour a week or be involved in a Workforce Investment Opportunities Act program, or a combination, in order to be eligible for their SNAP benefits."

Sonnier says there are approximately 62,000 able-bodied SNAP recipients in the state with no dependents.  Sonnier says there is a single goal in this effort.

"To insure that our families and our individuals that continue to rely on some of our programs become self-sufficient and they get engaged in the workforce."

Recipients who do not comply with the requirement changes will only receive benefits for three months over a three year period.  Sonnier says there are opportunities across the state for recipients to engage in some form of work activity.

"You can do some in-kind work.  You can also potentially do volunteer work where you have a business or an organization or a non-profit that you're working with." 


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State Treasurer John Kennedy announces that audits of life insurance company policies have found $35 million that should have been paid to Louisiana residents.  He says insurance companies often do not make concerted efforts to locate beneficiaries or heirs after a policy holder dies.  

Kennedy says they began doing these audits back in 2009...
"We have found 600 instances in which the deceased beneficiary was not paid and we've made the life insurance companies turn that money over to us."

Kennedy says, so far this year, claimants have received $2.6 million from these life insurance policy audits.  He says many times family members do not know these policies exist.  Kennedy says this has been a very successful program...

"We've returned on average about $80,000, usually to widows.  We did one the other day, I think it was in Houma, an elderly widow, we returned about $81,000 to her."

He says his office tries to locate these beneficiaries when they discover an unpaid policy, but you can search online at LATreasury-dot-com to see if you are owed any money.  Kennedy says when a life insurance company learns of a policy holders death, they should actively seek out the beneficiaries and heirs of that person...

"Some of them don't and they try to hold on to the money and we're going to stop them from doing that."


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According to records from the National Weather Service, this September will go down as one of the driest for north Louisiana. Senior Meteorologist Jason Hansford says Shreveport Regional Airport recorded only 0.07 inches of rain during the entire month, which just surpassed the previous record set in 1994.

“Mainly the I-20 corridor here from Shreveport all the way to Monroe and many locations including Minden, Ruston and Monroe all fell within the top five driest on record.”

Hansford says the drought is having a big impact on agriculture and creating fire issues. He says burn bans are in place for almost every parish in north Louisiana.

“We have some drier air beginning to build in behind a weak cold front, in addition to maybe some 10 to 15 mph winds. That’ll keep a moderate fire danger in place given the very dry conditions we have on the ground now.”

Hansford says we’re going to keep relatively low humidity throughout the next week. He says unfortunately relief from the dry air isn’t expected any time soon.

“It might not be until maybe next Thursday, Friday or even the weekend before we even see any rain over this portion of the state.”



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Investigators have learned that the Eunice mother who shot her two children then took her own life, while also setting her home on fire, purchased a hand gun nine days before the double murder suicide. Deputy Chief with the state Fire Marshal’s Office Brant Thompson says the autopsy results came back confirming their suspicions.

“16-year-old Julia Watford actually died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Her sister suffered two gunshot wounds to the head.”

Thompson says the mother, 39-year-old Carla Watford, carefully planned out this murder and legally purchased the .38-caliber hand gun along with 50 rounds of ammunition. He says they don’t believe anyone was aware Watford bought the gun.

“We did question Carla’s husband who had no knowledge concerning that purchase.”

Thompson says investigators found a multiple page document when they arrived at the scene. He says Watford left a note trying to explain why she did this horrific thing.

“Certainly she expressed dissatisfaction with a number of things but again seemed quite at peace with her decision to take the lives of her two daughters and her own life.”



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Michelle Southern reporting.
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame announces its 2016 induction class and once again it's a star studded group of athletes and coaches. One of the headliners is four time Major League Baseball All-Star Pitcher Ben Sheets out of St. Amant High. 

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Chairman Doug Ireland says Sheets is also an Olympic Gold Medalist.

"He was part of the Team USA 2000 Olympic Gold Medal team in baseball after his breakout college career at UL-Monroe," says Ireland. "He's just a remarkable power pitcher with excellent control."

NBA standout PJ Brown of Winnfield will also be recognized in next year's class. Ireland says Brown was a great player at Louisiana Tech, but didn't project to be a 15 year NBA Veteran.

"Three time all defensive team member in the NBA. He averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds a game in over 1000 career games for 5 pro teams including 4 years in New Orleans," said Ireland.

Included in the class is University of Michigan and NFL star Anthony Thomas aka, "The A-Train," also from Winnfield and 21 year long Tulane Baseball Coach Rick Jones. 

Ireland says another big headliner is St. Thomas More coach Jim Hightower who is the second-winningest high school football coach in state history.

"He's the only football coach to win a district championship in all of the classifications of Louisiana High School sports," said Ireland. "1A and 2A at Catholic-Pointe Coupee, and then 3A, 4A and now 5A at St. Thomas More."

The group  of eight will be enshrined next summer at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Natchitoches. 



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Michelle Southern reporting.
Get ready for some beautiful weather Louisiana as another cold front settles over the state over the next several days. State Climatologist Barry Keim says today is just the beginning with slightly cooler and less humid conditions. He says the temperatures this morning are in the 60s across most of Louisiana.

"But the highs today are only going to be in the mid 80s which doesn't sound like a big drop," says Keim. "But the humidity is going to be dramatically reduced and it's going to feel so much better."

Keim says by tomorrow morning, the minimum temperatures are going to be in the 50s, with high temperatures only in the 70s. 

He says this weather pattern is going to persist through the weekend and perhaps even into early next week.

"So we're going to get a real protracted run of this incredibly beautiful weather," says Keim. "And my interpretation here is that summer weather, not exactly over, but fall is really starting to get a foothold now."

Keim says from here on out, cooler and less humid weather should start to dominate the pattern as we kiss summer heat goodbye. He feels, for the most part, those long periods of hot sticky weather are over.

"We're going to start seeing longer runs of these cooler days and shorter runs of that hot summery weather," says Keim. "The next 5-7 days are going to be absolutely fantastic."


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A study shows more Louisiana drivers are buckling up this year. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Col. John LeBlanc says their 2015 Louisiana Seat Belt and Motorcycle Helmet Observation Survey found a record 86% of front seat passengers and drivers we’re using their seat belt.

“We’re really encouraged about the seat belt use, particularly among the rear seat passengers. The rate of compliance is 68.9% this year, which is a 14% increase of the rate last year.”

LeBlanc says they’re still trying to get more young male drivers drivers to buckle up. And he says front seat seat belt use among African Americans measured lower than other races.

“A very small percentage of the population is making up over half of our fatalities. If we can change the behavior of that population and get them to buckle up, they’d probably survive many of those crashes.”

LeBlanc says even though the numbers are going up, we can always improve. He attributes the yearly increase to, “Click it or Ticket” and other seat belt campaigns.

“We also do nighttime seat belt enforcement emphasis, we do a buckle up in your truck campaign but I think all of those combined in a comprehensive effort helps to raise the compliance rate up.”



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The four major gubernatorial candidates for governor are slated to appear tonight at six o' clock in a televised debate hosted by WDSU TV in New Orleans. It will also air online and on NBC affiliated stations.

LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says this is the chance for Republican candidates Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne to gain some traction against frontrunner David Vitter.

“Vitter has spent a lot of money saying negative things about Dardenne, as well as, Angelle so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in this debate.”

Hogan says Angelle and Dardenne are getting a chance to receive free publicity. He expects both republicans will use this as their chance to prove to Louisianan’s why they should be elected over Vitter.

“This is their major opportunity so I think you’re going to see sparks fly in this debate in a way that you don’t generally see.”

Vitter has missed his fair share of debates and forums, but Hogan says it doesn’t look good for him to miss too many.

“This is a situation where he is not in control of the message in the way he is with his campaign advertising. It creates a degree of uncertainty there for him but he can only avoid them so much.”



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Michelle Southern reporting.
A debate has started over whether star LSU sophomore running back Leonard Fournette should sit out his junior season so he doesn't risk injury before heading to the NFL. The Heisman Trophy candidate is not eligible for the draft until after next season.
(photo by Jonathan Mailhes via tigerrag.com.)

But NFL analyst Mike Detillier says this argument is ridiculous.

"You can get hurt in a car wreck, or walking around in your home," says Detillier. "The risk of playing football is there and you understand it, but that's really idiotic to make a comment that he'd sit out a season like that. "

Pro Football Talk got the conversation started when they suggested it would be smart for Fournette to opt out of playing next year instead of possibly getting injured and ruining his pro career.

Detillier says, sure, there is always a risk in playing football, but college is a time for athletes to grow.

"Isn't this the time to try to mature physically and mentally and get better at your craft? I think that's what Leonard Fournette would want," said Detillier.

Fournette weighed in on Twitter:

I will never jump ship... I'm drowning with my brothers

— 7⃣ (@_fournette) September 30, 2015
Detillier says this talk is for the purpose of gossiping and getting people riled up.

"It's not actuality. Leonard Fournette is coming back to play at LSU and barring injury he will be back on the football field in 2016."


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The manhunt continues for a convicted killer who was mistakenly released from the East Feliciana Parish jail on September 22nd. Thirty-two-year-old Benjueil Johnson was in prison, serving a 40-year sentence for a 2010 fatal shooting in Plaquemine. State Department of corrections spokesperson Pam Laborde says they hope to bring Johnson back into custody soon.

"We are working with several law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Marshals service, State Police and other local law enforcement agencies to bring about his capture and return to DOC custody."

Laborde says they are working with Crime Stoppers to offer a one-thousand dollar reward for information leading to Johnson’s capture.
"We do think that family members of this particular offender have information or have heard information and so we do hope that they'll do the right thing."

Laborde says an employee at Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, Louisiana, overlooked the fact that Johnson was convicted of manslaughter and didn’t do the due diligence needed to make sure he would not be accidentally released.
"There was information in that file that should have told her, 'yes I need to pick up the phone, I need to call Iberville," just to make sure."


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Michelle Southern reporting.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals confirms a second death this year from the West Nile Virus. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there are now 54 confirmed cases in 2015 and 2 deaths, compared to 123 cases and 5 deaths the prior year.

He says even as we move into October, the threat of infected mosquitoes is still there.

"In Louisiana, because of the warm weather, we'll see them well into the end of the year," says Guidry. "There are a lot of games left and we're spending a lot of time outside...just spray on that mosquito repellent."

Guidry says the latest West Nile death is out of the Baton Rouge area. He says about 90 percent of the cases they see are asymptomatic, but about 10 percent will develop West Nile Fever.

"People who have low immune response, people over 65 and young kids are at highest risk," said Guidry.

Guidry says less than a percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito will develop the more serious form of the disease, but anyone can get West Nile. 

He says it's important to protect yourself from mosquitoes at least until the end of the year.

"A cool front may come through and we won't see as many mosquitoes, but we all know from being out there that mosquitoes are active well into December," said Guidry.


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The Louisiana chapter for Americans for Prosperity launches a statewide radio ad which informs listeners about lawmakers who are up for re-election and voted for $ 700 million in tax increases and the expansion of Medicaid. AFP State Director Phillip Joffrion says the commercial points voters to a website that shows how lawmakers voted.

The Louisiana AFP is tied with the Tea Party. Joffrion says they want to spotlight those lawmakers who voted to raise taxes.

“We need real leadership in Baton Rouge that are willing to stand up, pass real solutions for our structural budget issues that continue to have deficit after deficit instead of these short term fixes.”

Joffrion says this ad is an effort to urge Louisiana citizens to voice their concerns about Medicaid expansion and tax increases. He says the public can view their lawmaker’s record at LouisianaScoreCard.com.

“The can go in and see exactly how their state rep and their state senator voted on these key issues. They can contact their legislator right there, directly from that site.”



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Michelle Southern reporting.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the ballots for the October 24th primary have been sent to print, but it’s possible more candidates will be removed before election day. He says they started out with about 1150 races statewide but, due to offices running unopposed, challenges or candidates dropping out, there are now about 575 active races.

"And that is a moving target because we continue to have challenges outstanding that have not been determined by courts or the potential for a candidate to still withdraw," said Schedler.

Schedler says in the November 2014 Congressional elections they found that about 5 percent of the candidates either withdrew or were disqualified, and for this one it’s up to 8 percent.
He says in the last few cycles, the Louisiana Ethics Administration has been a lot more aggressive.
"I'm glad to see the outstanding ethics violations of fees that they are challenging candidacies, so we have seen an uptick of that," said Schedler.

Schedler says if a candidate is listed on the ballot but is not in the race come voting day, notices will be posted near the booths about the elections which are affected.
He says when you go to the precinct you should make sure the person you are voting for is still active. 
"If you're going to vote for candidate A and candidate A is withdrawn, understand that your vote for that candidate will not count," said Schedler.
He says the sample ballots at geauxvote.com are always up to date. 


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A new airline will soon offer daily non-stop flights between Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans and Shreveport Regional Airport. New Orleans Resident Trey Fayard is the founder of the new airline called Glo, which will also offer flights from New Orleans to Little Rock and Memphis.

He says he started the airline after experiencing years of wasted time getting to different locations in the mid-South region.

“If all these people are having the same problem then there may be an opportunity here. So I vowed to explore the markets see what a model would look like that could work economically between these cities.”

Fayard says their first flights are scheduled to take off November 15th and tickets are available for purchase now. He says many experienced executives have joined the Glo team from American Airlines, Pan Am, and Air Tran.

“We’ve put together a really great team of seasoned airline veterans who have come together with me and put together what we think will be a successful business venture.”

Fayard says Glo will operate three 30-passenger aircrafts. He says with a lot of business coming to Louisiana, it’s time to be able to get around quickly.

“We’ve had tremendous reception in Shreveport and New Orleans. A lot of excitement and I can confirm that people are already on the website looking for tickets.”



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