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Local News
  • News For Friday 12/19/14

    News for Friday 121914

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Some much needed rain will be hitting Louisiana today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this rain is coming at a great time as the state has been rain deficient over the last two months. Keim says the entire state is teetering right on the edge of drought with everything east of the Atchafalaya Basin experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. Keim says the precipitation will be short lived with conditions clearing by Saturday morning

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal says he opposes the President’s plan to “normalize” relations with Communist Cuba, but Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says resumed trade would benefit Louisiana. He says other non-democratic countries enjoy normal trade relations with the US. Prior to 1961 Cuba was the Port of New Orleans’ largest trade partner.

     

    A new Southern Media and Opinion Research poll shows 58-percent of Louisianians disapprove of Governor Bobby Jindal’s job performance as he heads into his final year in office. 600 likely Louisiana voters were surveyed. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says you probably won’t see the Governor’s popularity increase very much as he ends his term.

    But Pinsonat points out that the poll shows 70-percent of Republicans give the governor a positive job rating. With both houses of the state legislature being controlled by Republicans, Pinsonat doesn’t see these poll numbers changing the way Jindal will do business in his last year

     

    US Senator David Vitter has a double digit lead over other 2015 Governor candidates in Louisiana according to a Southern Media and Opinion Research survey. But Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says the same poll also found 40% of respondents don’t approve of Vitter’s performance. Southern Media and Opinion Research surveyed 600 likely voters and 36-percent support Vitter.

     

    Rep. John Fleming is using the congressional break to shore up support in Louisiana for a possible 2016 Senate run. Fleming, armed with $1.1 million in campaign cash, is eyeing the seat of Republican Sen. David Vitter, who is running for governor next year.

     

    Gas prices are about 75-cents lower than a year ago as we head into what should be a busy two weeks of traveling during this holiday period. Gregg Laskoski, with gas-buddy-dot-com, says with the statewide average at about $2.30 a gallon, it should help consumers pay for other expenses. Laskoski says gas prices have been on a sharp decline since October and this trend should continue into next year. He says the US Department of Energy is projecting a national average price of $2.60 a gallon for 2015

     

    The last Saturday before Christmas could be as big a shopping day as Black Friday especially if you’re still looking for TVs, appliances or clothes according to experts. Andrew Kuo (quoe) is a marketing professor at LSU. He says the downside of the so-called “Super Saturday” is that shoppers are typically at the mercy of the retailers.

    MartketWatch reports Super Saturday could edge out Black Friday as the top sales day of the year in 2014.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal is defending his plans to headline a prayer rally next month at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus. Some professors and students protesters are up in arms over the event sponsored by the American Family Association, which has been very vocal about being against homosexuality. Jindal says he’s continuing to support the rally.

     

    You might be able to have a crawfish boil with your family for Christmas as mudbugs have already been spotted in stores. Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association President David Savoy says December crops are still considered somewhat early, but weather permitting, the season will really start to kick in early next year. He says they’ll also be in mixed size right now and pricey which is typical for this time of year.

     

    A grand jury in Shreveport has indicted a former Homer police officer on charges he violated the civil rights of several people on multiple occasions. 64-year-old Willie Fred Knowles is accused of pushing a woman and hitting her for no reason and tasing others without justification. He is also charged for allegedly lying to the FBI about the incident.

     

    A Ponchatoula man faces 15 to 40 years in prison for downloading more than half a million images of child pornography, one of the largest collections ever found in the state. 52 year old Robert Swan pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a massive child porn network that included pictures and videos of children as young as 4 weeks of age being forced to engage in sexually explicit conduct

     

    Sports..

     

    U-L Lafaytte and Nevada meet tomorrow morning in the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. It’s the fourth straight year the Ragin Cajuns have played in this bowl game and last year 55-thousand people were attendance to see the Cajuns face in-state foe Tulane. Billy Ferrante, executive director of the New Orleans Bowl, says unfortunately reservations are down and they don’t expect to see that kind of crowd this year.

     

    Sources close to LSU are reporting that Tigers Cornerback Jalen Collins will skip his senior year, and enter the NFL Draft. Collins has not made any official announcement, although he has met with agents, and has reportedly requested a draft grade from the NFL.

     

  • News For Thursday 12/18/14

    News for Thursday 121814

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Tragedy strikes construction workers on Highway 165 near Columbia, after their stopped construction truck with a large arrow board was re-ended. State Trooper Michael Reichardt says 42 year-old Jan Williams of Columbia was traveling northbound and attempted to go around, but didn’t clear the vehicle striking it and seriously injuring one of the workers. Thirty year-old Michael Roberts of Monroe died later at an Alexandria hospital.

     

    Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany plans to meet with Veterans Affairs officials today over their decision to push back the completion date of two new VA clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. It’s reported that the opening of both clinics are delayed by almost a year to 2016.  Boustany says his office has not been contacted by the VA in regard to this issue. It’s reported though that VA officials made the announcement of the delay at a town hall meeting in Lake Charles.

     

    A public demonstration is being held this evening in downtown Opelousas to protest grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York where charges were not pressed in officer involved deaths. It’s being organized by newly-elected alderman Tyrone Glover who says the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Opelousas Police, the DA’s office and the city marshal are all participating.

     

    The former star of Sons of Guns, William Hayden, has reportedly been formally indicted by an East Baton Rouge Parish Grand Jury on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of forcible rape. A total of four victims have made claims against the founder of Red Jacket Firearms.

     

    Everyone keeps buzzing about the price at the pump. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.34 which is down two cents from yesterday and almost 13 cents lower than this time last week.

     

    The super low gas prices are making car salesmen happy this Holiday season as vehicle sales rise. Bob Isreal, Executive Director of the Automobile Dealers Association, says the consumer in general is feeling more confident with their money because of the lower price at the pump.

     

    Christmas is one week from today and many people would call the next 7 days the most stressful of the year. LSU AgCenter Life specialist Diane Sasser says it’s a good idea to get plenty of rest and if you’re too tired — slow down. She says it’s important to keep smiling and stay positive because getting too easily irritated is unproductive. Sasser says if you’re lonely or missing a loved one, attending a community holiday event may brighten your spirits.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday  that the video game developer High Voltage Software will open a new studio in New Orleans and starting hiring soon. The company has worked with many major brands including LEGO and Star Wars. The company CEO says the state’s tax incentives were fundamental in the decision to open a studio in Louisiana.

     

    President Obama has announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, but not everybody is onboard with the move. George Fowler, a native of Cuba, and Vice Chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, says the proposed prisoner exchange could be very dangerous, and there’s very little – if any – economic benefit, with the exception of one, Cheep cigars.

     

    A Grambling State University student traveling at a high rate of speed is dead, and another student injured following a crash near campus. Witnesses said the driver over-corrected, flipped multiple times and burst into flames. Twenty-one year-old Carl Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene and his passenger 23 year-old Arceneau Robinson was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition.

     

    The Jeanerette Police Department says a 57-year-old man is dead after allegedly being shot by his juvenile son. They say it happened Tuesday night and they’re still investigating whether or not the shooting was accidental. The victim’s identify has not yet been released.

     

    Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Metairie says he supports US Senator David Vitter in his campaign to become governor. The House Majority Whip thinks Vitter would do a great job. Scalise made his comments on a Baton Rouge Talk Show Show.

  • News For Wednesday 12/17/14

    News for Wednesday 121714

    By Dave Graichen

     

    There’s new information released in the fatal crash that killed three people in Beauregard Parish on Sunday. State Police originally believed that 28-year-old Kristi Poteet of DeRidder was heading the wrong way on U-S 171 when she collided head-on into a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Ricky Gill of Singer. Now investigators believe it was Gill who was driving the wrong way. The release states that Gill is suspected of being impaired, but that toxicology results on both drivers still is pending. Gill, Poteet and Brian Taylor, a passenger in Poteet’s car, all were killed.

     

    A school funding task force is suggesting an increase in funding, if there is enough money available. The recommended price tag is $75 million dollars, and the next stop for the recommendation is the BESE Board before it goes to the legislature in March.

     

    State Police report that a Port Allen man is under arrest after they learned he was attempting to solicit murder. 37-year-old Tommy Joe Gioele (JEE-oh-lee) is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder. Troopers say a man informed officers that Gioele approached him and asked him to kill two people in Pointe Coupee Parish. They gathered enough evidence to make the arrest.

     

    23 year old Brittany Cooley and  23  Kevin Waller of DeRidder  have been arrested and  charged with cruelty in the case of an infant who is in the hospital and  on life support.

    Both were charged with second degree cruelty to a juvenile after authorities were informed of a  5-month old girl being admitted at a Beauregard Parish hospital with indications of abuse. The pair  both were booked into the Beauregard Parish Jail, but bond has not been set. An investigation is continuing.

     

    Crude oil prices continue to fall. They are down 47-percent since June and it’s the largest drop in five years. When oil prices decline over a long period of time, it means less revenue for the state government. But Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the state legislative fiscal office, is hopeful other revenue streams can make up for the loss in mineral revenues. Albrecht says the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet next month and agree on a forecast for future revenues.

     

    A backlash is brewing over a prayer rally featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled for LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center next month. LSU students, faculty and other activists have come out against the event, called “The Response,” largely because it’s being paid for by the American Family Association, a controversial conservative religious group that opposes gay marriage and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights efforts. A protest has been planned in response to The Response, and a petition has gained hundreds of signatures in just a matter of days.

     

    Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he plans to “actively explore” a presidential campaign and an operation allowing him to raise money for a bid. So what does this mean for Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations? UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Jindal is more conservative and Bush is more mainstream Republican, but obviously the later has the name recognition. He doesn’t think this announcement will change Jindal’s aspirations.

     

    The Louisiana Workforce Commission has launched a new online mobile tool that would help people find careers that interest them while supporting the standard of living they want to maintain. LWC spokesman Tom Guarisco says it’s called “My life. My way.” and it’s a fun way to envision the life you want. Guarisco says users can learn how much they need to earn by choosing from 8 regions in Louisiana then making lifestyle choices about housing, food, transportation. He says the app will then connect you to the appropriate career. You can find the tool online at laworks.net/mylife.

     

    According to a new national survey, for the first time more teens are smoking e-cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes. The annual University of Michigan “Monitoring the Future” report surveyed over 40,000 8th, 10th, and 12 graders. DHH Health Promotions Director Caroline Brazeel says they are currently analyzing data for Louisiana but expects to see a similar trend here. It is cited that a possible reason for the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among teens is the perception that they do not harm your health. Brazeel says that’s not the case because nicotine can have a negative impact on brain development.

     

    The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a Mississippi man has been cited for allegedly drowning a deer in the Mississippi River in Concordia Parish. Adam Einck with L-D-W-F says a witness observed 40-year-old David Hayes of Natchez, Mississippi, commit the crime. Einck says a wildlife and fisheries’ agent found Hayes with a dead eight point buck lying in front of the vessel. He says Hayes admitted to drowning the buck in the river on the Louisiana side. Hayes faces several hundreds of dollars in fines and up to 90 days in jail, if convicted. He also might have to pay a two-thousand dollar restitution charge for the replacement value of the deer.

     

     

  • News For Tuesday 12/16/14

    News for Tuesday 121614

    By Dave Graichen

     

    US Senator David Vitter announced his committee assignments Monday and says he’s been appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says he promises to use that position to launch attacks on the Obama administration’s agenda. Vitter says he’ll also become Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and continue serving on the Senate Environment, Public Works and Banking committees.

     

    The Rapides parish sheriff’s office reports they have been getting a multitude of calls in reference to a person identifying themselves as being with the Sheriff’s Office. That caller is claiming the person has missed jury duty and tells them for $400.00, they will recall the warrant.  They ask the potential victim to get a reloadable VISA card to pay this fee.  Need we say, this is a scam. If you get such a call report it to authorities.

     

    State Police say 61 people have died in crashes they’ve investigated since the day before Thanksgiving this year. Not being properly restrained, impairment and driver distraction were the contributing factors. Col Mike Edmonson says in his 34 years with state police, he’s never seen a worse 30 day period than this one.

     

    State Police say a suspected drunk driver heading the wrong way on a four-lane highway in Beauregard Parish struck another vehicle head-on, resulting in three fatalities. Authorities says they believe 28-year-old Kristi Poteet was traveling south in the northbound lanes of US 171 just north of Longville.

     

    State Police is investigating a crash involving a pedestrian who was struck and killed after he fell out of the back of a truck in LaSalle Parish over the weekend. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says 22-year-old Brittany Walker of Jena was traveling on La Highway 8 when she struck an unknown object in the roadway. Moreau says they later determined that the object in the roadway was 43-year-old Marcus Jones. He says while they were working the scene one of victim’s friends returned looking Jones because he realized he was no longer in the back of his pickup.

     

    The UL-Lafayette football team leaves today for New Orleans where they’ll play in the R L Carriers Bowl for the 4th straight time. The Ragin’ Cajuns will travel to The Big Easy to take on Nevada in the Mercedes Benz Superdome Saturday with a 10am kickoff.

     

    Although he has yet to declare his intent to run for President in 2016, Governor Bobby Jindal returns to Iowa today. Iowa is a key Presidential primary state. Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson says Jindal has been making political appearances in Iowa for several years. Jindal will headline the Polk County Republican Winter Victory Dinner in West Des Moines tonight. This is the governor’s fourth trip to Iowa this year and third in the past three months.

     

    Fisherman got some good news Monday as areas off the coasts of Elmer’s and Grand Terre islands opened up for the first time since the 2010 oil spill. Dean Blanchard, Seafood business owner, says the more shrimp they are able to put more on the market the lower the price will go. He says they are keeping a close eye on these shrimp to make sure they aren’t affected by the spill. There is still an area near Barataria Bay that remains closed to fishing.

     

    A Louisiana Department of Public Safety officer is charged with sexual battery and malfeasance in office following a traffic stop in Zachary. State Police Lt. JB Slaton says the victim contacted the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office after the traffic stop.

    Michael Selders of Clinton was booked into the East Baton Rouge Prison.

     

    The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s office is investigating the case of two women who were shot in a domestic disturbance leaving one dead and one injured. Authorities say they found two female victims with gunshot wounds. A 20-year-old victim was pronounced dead at a hospital and the 19-year-old suffered non-life threatening injuries. A New Iberia man was arrested a short time later.

     

    Sports..

     

    Even though LSU’s Les Miles didn’t want to go on the record to talk about the vacancy at his alma mater Michigan, the Tigers head coach made it clear with reporters on Monday. While Miles wouldn’t discuss the Michigan job, he spoke highly of LSU’s future and what the Tigers can accomplish in the future, especially if they don’t lose a lot of underclassmen to the draft

    The Saints are in first place in the NFC South after winning on the road again. New Orleans beat the Bears 31-15 at a soggy Soldier Field in Chicago. After getting blown out at home last week, New Orleans took it to the Bears as Quarterback Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and the Saints defense intercepted three passes and sacked Chicago Quarterback Jay Cutler seven times. The Saints are now three and four away from New Orleans. Payton’s team will look to snap a four-game home losing streak this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

     

  • News For Monday 12/15/14

    News for Monday 121514

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office reports 18 year old Eric Gordon of Boyce was killed yesterday afternoon when he apparently lost control of the vehicle he was driving on highway 1204 and struck some trees. Deputies say Gordon was traveling at a high rate of speed and was not wearing a seatbelt. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

     

    The United States Postal Service says if you are shipping by standard post, today is the last day to get that package in the mail for an on-time Christmas delivery. Spokesman McKinney Boyd says today is the post office’s busiest day where they’ll process in the neighborhood of 354,000 packages statewide. Boyd says they expect to process an additional 1.5 million cards and letters tonight.

     

    A man who was once the janitor at Port Barre Elementary School and years later became the principal is being featured in a People Magazine series called “Heroes Among Us.” Joseph “Gabe” Sonnier says one day in the mid-80s the then-principal at the school told the janitor he knew he was very smart and capable of going more with his life. Sonnier says later he decided to go to school full-time while he continued working as the custodian. He says after getting his associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree he began teaching a Port Barre Elementary School. Sonnier, now 53, says he got his master’s degree then was appointed principal at the same school where he worked as a janitor for 27 years.

     

    Louisiana hopes to generate one-point-four million dollars in revenue by selling over seven-hundred underutilized state vehicles at auction. Division of Administration assistant commissioner Jan Cassidy says these vehicles are not being used enough by various state agencies, so the decision has been made to auction them off. Cassidy they are constantly evaluating state inventory to make sure they are spending tax dollars appropriately and it’s been determined they can reduce the number of state vehicles by over seven-hundred.

     

     LaSalle Parish lawmen have made an arrest in the investigation into a bomb threat at Jena High School on Wednesday morning. The sheriff’s office has arrested 18-year-old Jaqurius Ogletree. He is not a Jena student and his bond will be set this week.

     

    5th District Congressman-elect Ralph Abraham says he’s ready to begin his duties in Washington D.C. The Republican from Richland Parish says he’s already been told he’s secured assignments on the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs committees. Abraham, who is a physician, veteran, farmer and business owner, will be sworn in on January fifth.

     

    State Police say two Town of Franklinton employees are under arrest accused of stealing over $22,000 in water and utility payments from residents. The report says the two processed over 230 payments that were never deposited into the town’s account.

    They were arrested on many charges including felony theft and malfeasance in office.

     

    Former Saints star Darren Sharper is now facing state and federal indictments based on cases that occurred in Orleans parish. He’s facing two counts of aggravated rape and federal drug charges as he allegedly drugged two female victims before sexually assaulting them in September of 2013.

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy is urging Louisiana residents to check out the state’s unclaimed property database. He says over 500-thousand people are owed money from old checking accounts, insurance proceeds and oil and gas royalty payments. He says the unclaimed money can certainly help during the holiday season.

     

    Sports..

     

    The Saints will try to get another win on the road tonight when they face the Chicago Bears. New Orleans went to the Windy City last year and won 26-18.

     

     

     

     

  • News For Friday 12/12/14

    News for Friday 121214

    By Dave Graichen

     

    It’s a big Christmas parade weekend here in Cenla. It starts tonight with The Pineville Christmas Parade  at 7 p.m. The annual Ball Christmas Parade will begin at 2 p.m. tomorrow. In Glenmora , it’s noon Saturday. In Bunkie, the parade rolls at 4pm Saturday. In Leesville it’s 5:30 p.m. Saturday. And here in Alexandria the Christmas Parade is set for 2 p.m. Sunday. There’s a full weekend of activities scheduled in Natchitoches as well, all part of the city’s Christmas Festival.  

     

    Alexandria Representative and chairman of the state House Labor Committee, Herbet Dixon, is resigning. Dixon released a statement that said he’s stepping away from the legislature so that he can better manage his health situation, spend more time with his family and pursue other opportunities. Dixon says he has undergone a second round of chemotherapy treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and next week he will have a biopsy to help determine future treatments. House Speaker Chuck Kleckley has called a special election February 21st to fill his seat.

     

    State education Superintendent John White is concerned only 44 percent of public high school seniors fill out the paperwork required to receive federal financial aid to attend college or a technical training school. White says Louisiana students are missing out on millions of dollars in federal assistance. White says high school seniors should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to see if they’re eligible for Pell grants and other types of aid

     

    Democratic US Senator Mary Landrieu gave a farewell speech on the Senate floor yesterday as her third and final term is coming to a close. Landrieu says it’s been a joy to serve in the Senate these last 18 years. Landrieu did not say what her future plans hold.  Her Senate farewell was the first time she spoke publicly since losing to Republican Bill Cassidy in the Senate run-off and the outgoing senator she’s at peace with what happened.

     

    Fourth District Representative John Fleming is saying he wants to succeed Senator David Vitter in the Senate if he wins the Governor’s race. In a written statement, Fleming says his focus IS on the 4th district, but he would be interested. Political analyst Elliot Stonecipher says it’s a little early to start speculating on who will fill Vitter’s Senate seat.

     

    In a story first reported by LaPolitics.com, Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy may consider a run against Republican incumbent Buddy Caldwell in a race for Attorney General. Editor Jeremy Alford says Caldwell could be in trouble. He says the wild-card in the race is former Republican congressman Jeff Landy, who has already announced he’s running. Alford says not only is Kennedy thinking about running, but he’s actively been seeking advice from donors. He expects Kennedy will be reporting next year that he has $3.5 million dollars in the bank.

     

    The National Hurricane Center will issue storm surge warnings during next year’s Hurricane Season. Storm surge is often cited as the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone. Storm Surge Specialist, Jamie Rhome, says this has been many years in the making. He says the watches and warnings will highlight life threatening conditions.

     

    The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission announces that DWI patrols will be increased throughout the holiday period as part of their “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. This is a state and national campaign aimed at keeping impaired drivers off the roadways and reducing deadly crashes. Lt. Col. John Leblanc says December is one of the deadliest months on Louisiana roadways. Leblanc says 59 people were killed statewide in fatal accidents in December last year and 11 people were killed in the four days comprising the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. He says alcohol use was a factor in more than half of the fatalities.

     

     

  • News For Thursday 12/11/14

    News for Thursday 121114

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Rapides Parish Sheriff’s detectives are searching for two suspects who robbed a Dollar General Store Tuesday night in Tioga, leaving one employee slightly injured.

    Deputies responded to the call at 10:20 p.m. Witnesses said two armed suspects in hoodies and wearing masks took an undetermined amount of cash before running from the store. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers or the sheriff’s department.

     

    Governor Jindal visited southwest Louisiana today to announce that Venture Global plans to build a four-billion dollar plus liquefied natural gas company at Calcasieu Pass in Cameron Parish. 15-hundred workers will be needed to construct the facility and once completed, the project will result in 100 new long-term jobs. The company says they chose Louisiana because of a property tax exemption and tax rebate that the state provides for businesses that create jobs.

     

    The United Health Foundation released its 25th annual America’s Health Rankings and once again Louisiana is 48th in the nation. Dr. Catherine Palmier, Chief Medical Officer for the Foundation’s East Region, says we have an extremely high incidence of low birth weight babies. She says other factors keeping our rank near the bottom in the nation is the high rate of obesity at 33% of the population, physical inactivity which is 30% and smoking which at 23%.

     

    A report released Wednesday show a large majority of TOPS money is going to white students. The Board of Regents numbers show 79 percent of recipients are white, and 58 percent are women, and come mostly from household making $70 thousand to $99 thousand dollars annually.

     

    Angola warden Burl Cain says he’s thinking about running for governor. Cain says the thought of running for governor first came up a year ago, when he performed well in a poll on the 2015 governor’s race. The warden says now there’s road signs encouraging him to run. Cain says he’ll think and pray about it, but he’s not sure when he’ll make a final decision.

     

    Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, who is a democrat, announced he’s running for Lieutenent Governor yesterday. Holden says he’s not worried that Louisiana is a solid red state. Opelousas senator Elbert Guillory, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and Jefferson Parish President John Young are also lt governor candidates.

     

    Yet another house fire, and yet another death in the state; this one yesterday morning in Roseland. Once fire fighters got inside, they found the body of sixty year-old Woodrow H. Ford Jr. in a recliner. The State Fire Marshal’s Office reports the home had no working smoke detectors

     

    State education officials announce Louisiana has been awarded a federal grant of up to $32 million over four years to provide new and improved pre-k classes for over 10,000 children. State Education Superintendent John White says the grant is a tremendous step forward for the state. He says this grant will help address the demand issues for availability in the state’s early childhood education system. Louisiana is one of 13 states to receive this grant.

     

    With a check on gas prices, they keep dropping as the price of crude tumbles. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.46 down a penny from last night and over a dime less than this time last week.

     

    U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu told reporters Wednesday that should would not run for public office again. When asked if she would run for governor or for senator again, the Louisiana Democrat responded, “Oh Lord, no.” But she would not give a definite a no to running again. Politico has reported the opinions of several headhunters, veteran lobbyists and consultants saying that Landrieu’s status as a protector of the oil and gas industry and as a senior member, for years, then as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would make her a top recruit for the big money DC lobbying firms.

     

    A national report issued Wednesday said Louisiana deserves a “C” for how it trains teachers, which is also the average grade nationally. The eighth annual study was released by The National Council on Teacher Quality, which calls itself a nonpartisan research and policy group. The state was faulted for what reviewers called a failure to properly prepare teachers for college and career-readiness standards, including the use of informational texts. The report also said Louisiana is lax in what it requires prospective teachers to know about subject areas, and fails to require them to pass a content exam in four core subject areas to ensure that elementary teachers have mastered material they are licensed to teach.

  • News For Wednesday 12/10/14

    News for Wednesday 121014

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A tragic story out of St. Landry Parish where a father died after running into a burning house to rescue his 10-year-old son. 42-year-old John Robertson Sr. of Grand Prairie suffered fatal injuries while saving his son. Authorities say the boy is in stable condition with burns over 40 percent of his body. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

     

    Gas prices dropped again last night. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.47 according to the American Automobile Association.

     

    Two websites covering Michigan athletics reported Tuesday that the school has reached out to Les Miles’ agent to gauge the LSU coach’s interest in the vacant head coaching position at his alma mater,  both quoted unnamed sources that “confirmed” the contact. Miles’ long-time agent is George Bass of Dallas. Bass did not immediately respond to a message. LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said as of Tuesday night he had not been contacted by anyone regarding Miles.

     

    Events throughout the state and in Ferguson, Missouri have prompted law enforcement agencies in Louisiana to begin at least testing body cameras to be worn by officers. The president is calling for body cameras to be used nationwide. Jim Bueerman (BEER-MAN) is the president of the Police Foundation. He says the foundation is a strong advocate for the cameras. Bueerman says relationships between communities and police cannot be solved by technology. But he says the cameras will add a tremendous degree of viability and accountability. The cameras cost about 295 dollars per officer

     

    The driver responsible for a head-on crash Tuesday morning in Ascension Parish that claimed the life of a 14-year-old Dutchtown High student is charged with vehicular homicide. State Police spokesman Jared Sandifer says they believe 19-year-old Dwight Perrilloux of Reserve was drunk when he was traveling in the wrong lane of traffic.

     

    Democratic Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden is throwing his hat in the ring in Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor’s race. Holden is expected to officially announce his intentions at a press conference today. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Holden has a real shot of making the runoff for the office despite the negative climate of the Democratic Party in Louisiana. Pinsonat says it would be extremely difficult for any Democratic candidate to win a statewide office this year. But he says the election is a year away and that could be an advantage for Holden.

     

    US Senator David Vitter has drafted legislation that would prohibit the federal government from mandating states to adopt Common Core standards. Vitter had previously supported the federal education standards. Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics.com says Vitter now has to show that he’s serious about his current stance.

     

    The Louisiana Workforce Commission says The Bayou State is ranked second best in the nation for work-related injuries and illness. The incidence rate in 2014 improved to its best level in more than 12 years. LWC spokesman Tom Guarisco says this is a great accomplishment for employers and workers in Louisiana.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order yesterday which directs hospitals to bill the state instead of victims for sexual assault medical treatment. Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Ebony Tucker says there is still a lot to do, but this order is a step in the right direction.

     

    The Louisiana Workforce Commissioner says The Bayou State is ranked second best in the nation for work-related injuries and illness. The incidence rate in 2014 improved to its best level in more than 12 years. LWC praises employers and their workforce for doing the right things to keep Louisiana safer.

     

    It’s tough times for the New Orleans Saints these days, losing four of their last five games, including a sound throttling by Carolina on Sunday. Coach Sean Payton says he’s looking for players and coaches to step up; and step up now. One player that won’t be doing that is wide receiver Joe Morgan, who was waived Tuesday. Payton says there could be more personnel and line-up changes.

     

     

  • News For Tuesday 12/09/14

    News for Tuesday 120914

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Pineville Police Department is investigating a rather bazar robbery that took place last Friday.   Police say which two men posing as salesmen distracted a homeowner while it’s  believed a third person stole from the home. A man presented himself as a flooring salesman and talked his way into the home, trying to sell the homeowner  linoleum flooring. The release said a second man, posing as a carpenter, then came into the house. The second man held up a large piece of linoleum to show the homeowner. It’s believed that’s when a third person slipped in unnoticed, stealing a large amount of jewelry. Anyone with info is asked to call authorities…

     

    A Livonia teenager who was placing coins onto train tracks as a train rolled by was killed early Sunday morning when a ladder hanging off one of the train cars caught the boy, throwing him under the train. 17 year old Brandt Torres was pronounced dead at the scene.

     

    Louisiana’s newly elected Congressmen discuss Washington D.C. committee assignments. Congressman-elect Garret Graves, representing the 6th District, says he’s got a spot on the House Transportation and Natural Resources Committee. In the 5th District, Congressman-elect Ralph Abraham will likely be on the House Ag and Veterans’ Affairs committees. The GOP has already promised Senator-elect Bill Cassidy a seat on the Senate energy committee and Cassidy says he’ll also seek a spot on the Appropriations committee because he wants to see Congress change

     

    As was predicted, the Republican party is about to have control of both the House and Senate, and 4th District Congressman John Fleming of Leesville says the party discussion now turns to how they can rebuild the trust of the American people.

    Fleming says they will probably get the Keystone Pipeline on the floor fairly quickly.

     

    The Louisiana’s Governor’s race is now a political focal point, and we already know that Senator David Vitter and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne are the Republican front-runners. On the democratic side, there WAS some speculation that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu might run, but U-L-L Political Science Professor Peaerson Cross says that was before his sister suffered defeat.  State Representative Jon Bel edwards is the only announced Democrat so far.

     

    Now that the US Senate election is over and she won’t be returning to Congress, what’s next for Mary Landrieu? Political Analyst Clancy Dubos expects Landrieu to first take some time off to spend with her family. He says, after a waiting period, Landrieu could consider becoming a lobbyist. Dubos also says Saturday’s defeat doesn’t necessarily mean that Landrieu’s political career is over. Dubos says Landrieu could decide to jump back in the political arena, but admits that it may be a while before she runs for office again.

     

    The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected BP’s challenge of the multi-billion dollar settlement set forth by lower courts in connection with the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. Most legal experts suspect that there will not be any further litigation in the matter, and BP will have to abide by the deal it made.

     

    The Jindal Administration says they are on track to reach the savings and efficiency goals in the state general fund to keep this year’s budget balanced as promised. They say Louisiana will save $75.7 million dollars by reducing spending in state agencies.

     

    Former Governor Edwin Edwards will be releasing another book next year and this one will be loaded with pictures. Biographer Leo Honeycutt says many people have been asking him to write another book about The Cajun Prince since there are already several new chapters in his life. Honeycutt says while he was working on the 600 page novel he ended up amassing over 900 pictures. He says the new venture is a coffee table book and will be Edwards’ life in pictures.

     

    The Department of Health and Hospitals is hosting a symposium today which will focus on finding solutions to rising youth ADHD (or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) diagnoses and treatment. Secretary Kathy Kliebert says it’s concerning that Louisiana has the second highest state ADHD prescription rate in the nation. ADHD medication use has risen 35.5 percent from 2008 to 2012 and young adult use has nearly doubled.

     

    The Big Easy is once again expecting many football fans in town for the R L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the Allstate Sugar bowl. New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Corporation President Mark Romig says the New Year’s Day matchup between Alabama and Ohio State in the Sugarbowl will be legendary. Romig says they are expecting a sell-out crowd at the Mercedes Benz Superdome for the inaugural College Football Playoff and expects the city to be packed. Romig says there will also be big crows in town for the New Orleans Bowl on December 20th.

     

    The matchup for the Duck Commander Independence Bowl has been set as the South Carolina Gamecocks will face the Miami Hurricanes on December 27th in Shreveport.

  • News For Monday 12/08/14

    News for Monday 120814

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Phillip Terrell was the big winner Saturday in the Rapides Parish DA’s Race. Terrell  received 52.9 percent in Saturday’s runoff to defeat state Rep. Chris Hazel  who had slightly better than 47 percent. Terrell will succeed retiring DA James “Jam” Downs, who has held the office for 14 years.

     

    Jim Villard was re-elected Saturday to a second term as an at-large member of the Alexandria City Council. Villard received  54 percent to defeat challenger Malcolm Larvadain who had just shy of 46 percent.

     

    Terence Grines fought a tough battle to hold on to his position of Alexandria City Marshall. Grines defeated political veteran Charlie Dewitt by getting close to 52 percent of the vote.  In the Pineville City Marshall’s race Sarah Smith was the big winner over Jay Slater garnering close to 62% of the vote.

     

    In Boyce, Alma Moore is the new mayor. She won the seat with Just short of 64% of the vote over Jack Dewitt.

     

    It was a historic night Saturday in Shreveport as Ollie Tyler became the first black woman elected mayor. In the history books, she also will be listed as the second woman to lead the city. Republican Hazel Beard left office in 1994 .

     

    Two new congressmen have been elected in the 5th and 6th Congressional Districts. In the 6th District, Republican Garret Graves defeated Democratic former four-term governor Edwin Edwards. Graves says this election result is an emphatic statement from the voters of Louisiana. Graves will fill the seat left vacant by now Senator-elect Bill Cassidy. Republican political newcomer Dr. Ralph Abraham easily won in the 5th Congressional District race over Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Mayo received 35% of the vote at Abraham got 64-percent. The physician from Richland Parish says when he gets to Washington D.C. he’s going to work on bringing more jobs and infrastructure to his district.

     

    For the first time in 82-years, an incumbent US Senator has lost a re-election in Louisiana. Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy easily defeated three-term Democrat Mary Landrieu. Cassidy says the voters spoke loudly that they want less interference from the government. Cassidy received 57-percent of the vote to Landrieu’s 43-percent.

    Many political analysts say Landrieu’s vote for the Affordable Care Act, which is unpopular in Louisiana, played a significant role in her defeat. But Landrieu says she doesn’t regret that vote.  Landrieu says it’s been a great honor to serve the state of Louisiana.

     

    Former Governor Edwin Edwards says even though he lost the election to Republican Garret Graves, his campaign in the 6th Congressional District race was not run in vain. This is the first time the 87-year-old has ever lost in a runoff. Edwards says this doesn’t mean he’s going to retire. Edwards was defeated by Graves 62-37. Edwards says he’s happy and he feels like he’s fulfilled his role in life. Edwards says while he was hoping for a better result, this is not unexpected.

     

    So now that all of the major Democratic candidates lost their elections this year, where does that leave the party going forward? LSU Media Professor Bob Mann, who is a former Democratic staffer, says the party needs to have some serious and honest reflection. Mann says there are many in the Democratic party who may feel that the answer is to moderate its message and start leaning more conservative.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal announcing some more economic news Friday, as Oxlean Manufacturing announces plan to expand it’s steel fabrication site in Walker. The company will invest over 2 million dollars, and create an additional 73 new jobs and another 122 indirect jobs.

     

    Sports.

     

    Pathetic, terrible, horrendous, all of those adjectives describes the Saints 41-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers yesterday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. It’s the fourth straight loss at home and the largest margin of defeat for the franchise since 2007.  Carolina jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and the Saints didn’t do much to get back in the game. Payton calls it an embarrassing performance.

     

    The LSU football team will play Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl on Tuesday, December 30th.  It’s the 15th straight season the Tigers will play in a bowl game and it’s their first meeting against the Fighting Irish since beating them 41-13 in the 2007 Sugar Bowl. Kick-off for the game is set for two PM in Nashville.

     

  • News For Friday 12/05/14

    News for Friday 120514

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Tomorrow is election day in Louisiana. The ballot is highlighted by the US Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. Secretary of State Tom Schedler expects a 40-percent voter turnout for the election.

    He says the high early voter turnout was a nice surprise and is hopeful that voters will turn out Saturday. Schedler expects voters to be more active in the 5th and 6th Congressional districts due to those contested seats.

     

    The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says a staff member at Red River Academy in Lecompte is under arrest for allegedly trying to rape a female teenage student. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the local police station requested deputy assistance into a criminal sexual conduct allegation at the residential-type school. Carnline says they were able to obtain enough probable cause to issue arrest warrants for 36-year-old Charles Allen of Cheneyville for 1 count of sexual battery, one count of attempted forcible rape and 1 count of prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student.

     

    Gas prices in Louisiana dropped another two cents overnight. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.54

     

    With tomorrow’s election looming, everybody wants to know who is going to represent Louisiana in the new Congress next year? ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says the US Senate race is Republican Bill Cassidy’s race to lose. The 5th Congressional District race features Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham in the runoff. Stockley says the political climate in Louisiana favors Republicans, especially in the 5th District. Stockley says the 6th Congressional District race could prove to be the most interesting of the night. He says enthusiasm isn’t very high for either candidate, Republican Garret Graves or Democrat Edwin Edwards. Stockley says voter turnout could be the deciding factor here.

     

    In an interview with an LSU journalism student, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy says he supports over-the-counter sales of birth control. Cassidy says he’s going along with the recommendation made by the College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Cassidy says he wants to keep big government out of the birth control business. The clip was filmed for Tiger TV which is produced by LSU journalism student reporters and airs on campus.

     

    Louisiana has petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear an appeal of Louisiana’s ban on gay marriage before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decides the case. Special counsel Kyle Duncan filed the request this week. Tulane Constitutional Law Professor, Keith Werhan, says the state may think that this issue is on the fast track to being decided in the Supreme Court. Federal Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage earlier this year.

     

    According to the Centers for Disease Control there’s a widespread outbreak of the flu in Louisiana. Dr. Frank Welch, with the state Department of Health and Hospitals, says it’s not a designation the state wants, but we appear to be leading the pack. Louisiana is the only state in the Continental US with widespread flu cases.

     

    Louisiana residents who have health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace are advised to seek out cheaper policies during open enrollment. Brian Burton, State Director for the Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana, says there are new choices and more competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace. In Louisiana, consumers can now choose from 6 issuers in the Marketplace. Burton says United Healthcare is a new provider for this year and they’re making a big difference for consumers. Open enrollment closes on February 15.

     

    Sports..

     

    Louisiana Tech will face Marshall in the Conference USA Championship game on Saturday. It’s the first time the Bulldogs will play in a conference title game. In order to win, the Bulldogs will have to slow down a Thundering Herd offense that’s averaging 47 points a game.

     

    The Saints will look to end a three-game losing streak at home when they host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Before they started this losing skid in the Dome, they won 20 straight previous games, including playoffs, played in New Orleans.

  • News For Thursday 12/04/14

    News for Thursday 120414

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office reports, a man wanted in the death of his wife was found Tuesday morning, hiding underneath a house not far from the scene of the Sunday night stabbing. 48 year old Dennis Williams was wanted for second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 46-yearold Laura Williams, who was found Sunday night in her home on Starlight Baptist Church Road. When Deputies found Williams hiding, he was suffering from apparent self-inflicted stab wounds. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

     

    A complaint has been filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics, urging them to look into allegations whether Republican Bill Cassidy violated House rules and federal law for receiving compensation from the LSU health system that he didn’t perform. Cassidy’s opponent in the Senate, Democrat Mary Landrieu, faced an ethics complaint in September, after it was learned her office used taxpayer dollars to pay for charter flights for campaign events.

     

    In a televised debate between Fifth District Congressional candidates, Republican Ralph Abraham and Democrat Jamie Mayo, Mayo said Abraham makes too much money to understand the needs of the district, which is one of the poorest in the nation. Abraham said he’ll bring a conservative voice and common sense approach to Washington D-C.

     

    The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved new licensing rules for child care centers. One of the new regulations calls for fingerprint-based criminal background checks for the facilities workers and volunteers. The regulations include a provision that require one teacher for every 11 two-year-olds at a child care center.

     

    Louisiana is joining a 16 state coalition-led by Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott, in suing the Obama administration for the recent executive orders regarding illegal immigrant amnesty. Abbot says that Texas would especially be harmed by President Obama’s executive orders, since his state has such a long border with Mexico.

     

    State Police has teamed up with the Office of Motor Vehicles to implement the “Parents Supervised Driving Program”, an effort to prevent teen motor vehicle crashes through education and awareness of teen driving restrictions. The program provides parents with more information so they can do a better job with their teens while they have their learner’s permit.

     

    Former Governor Edwin Edwards and Republican Garret Graves went head to head in Livingston Parish Tuesday and it got ugly. Perhaps the most controversial moment came at the end of the 6th Congressional District debate when Graves announced he’d been endorsed but the Sheriff’s Association. Edwards left his podium and approached Graves calling him a liar. The Sheriff’s Association reportedly held a vote on whether or not to endorse Graves and all agreed but not every member was present at the meeting.

     

    In the final days before Saturday’s election, a new poll on the 6th District Congressional race shows Republican Garrett Graves with 53-percent of the vote while Democratic former governor Edwin Edwards has 47-percent. The Glascock Group surveyed 532 voters from across the district.

     

    Shan Davis, a member of the staff of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was named executive director Wednesday for the panel. The executive director is responsible for administrative and fiscal operations of the board office. BESE sets policies for about 700,000 public school students statewide. Davis said she officially starts the job on Dec. 21. She said her salary has not been finalized. Her predecessor was paid $125,000 a year.

     

    Sports..

     

    For a fourth straight season, the UL-Lafayette Football team has accepted an invitation to play in the R and L Carriers New Orleans Bowl which will be played Saturday December 20th. The voice of the Ragin Cajuns Jay Walker says their fans are always fired up about heading to the Big Easy. UL-Lafayette will likely have to wait until Sunday to find out who they will play.

     

     

  • News For Wednesday 12/03/14

    News for Wednesday 120314

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office says the 85-year-old Pollock woman who was viciously mauled by suspected stray dogs last week, died Late Monday night. Sheriff Steve Martin says nobody witnessed the attack. He says the neighbor heard screaming and found Cheveallier on the ground and two “wolf-type” dogs were near her. So far   they’ve rounded up about 15 dogs in an effort to find the guilty canines.

     

    The pitbull named Zeus WILL be able to stay with his family, following the Moreauville Town Council’s reversal of their vicious dog ban Monday night. Moving forward, Mayor Timmy Lemoine says the town now will adopt the Louisiana state statute in regard to dangerous dogs. An online petition to save Zeus received over 340 thousand signatures, and the town received numerous phone calls, along with pressure from PETA.

     

    The state DOTD is closing the Kansas City Southern Railroad track on Melrose behind Louisiana College  so work can be done. The intersection will be closed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. so that Kansas City Southern can replace track panel and the crossing. The road will be completely closed.

     

    A state audit of Grambling State University revealed equipment thefts totaling more than $130,000. Legislative Auditor Bradley Cryer says it was the university who discovered several items missing. Cryer says the items stolen were plumbing units, air conditioners, and hot water heaters; things that were being sold for scrap metal. He says they have recommended that the school install new procedures to limit the key access to facilities that are vacant. One person has been arrested in connection with the thefts.

     

    The Les Miles to Michigan rumors are back. That’s because Miles’ alma mater, Michigan, is searching for a new football coach after firing Brady Hoke. LSU beat reporter for Gannett Newspapers, Glen Guilbeau, says Miles has been offered the Michigan job two previous times and said no and will likely say no again, if offered a third time. Michigan went 5 and 7 this season. And Guilbeau says it will take a lot of hard work to get Michigan to become a title contender again, while LSU is closer to competing for national titles.

     

    Louisiana Tech is one of the five universities nationwide to receive a one-point-four million dollar grant to produce more secondary math and science teachers. The grant money comes from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

     

    Tourism leaders are looking to capitalize on the increasing trend of international tourists visiting Louisiana. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says they have been very aggressive in marketing Louisiana to international visitors and those efforts are definitely paying off. He says the state had an 18-percent increase in international visitors last year, the highest increase of any state in the nation according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.

     

    The attrition rate for public school teachers has remained steady for the past three years, according to a report issued Tuesday by the state Department of Education. A total of 12 percent of teachers left the profession from 2013 to 2014, the same percentage as 2012-13 and just higher than the 11 percent in 2011-12, the review says.

    Retirement was listed as the top reason, 28 percent, followed by those taking education administrative jobs, 23 percent. Pay was cited by just 1 percent of the nearly 6,500 teachers who took part in exit interviews in all 69 of Louisiana’s school districts.

     

    Authorities in Missouri have made an arrest of a New Iberia man in connection with the 2008 strangulation death of 61 year-old Judy Blanchard Landry. Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal says sixty-year old Keith Leleux will be extradited back to New Iberia to face first-degree murder charges

     

     

     

     

  • News For Tuesday 12/02/14

    News for Tuesday 120214

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s office says a woman from Marksville was found dead in her home early Sunday of an apparent stabbing. Deputies say they are looking for the victim’s husband, 48-year-old Dennis Williams as a person of interest in the death of 46-year-old Laura Williams.

     

    In the final debate of the year, Democratic US-Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy brought out the big guns. The incumbent began by addressing the allegations claiming Cassidy was “double billing” by getting paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he did not perform. Landrieu continues to come under fire for using tax payer money to fund personal campaign charter flights. She calls the matter a bookkeeping error that has been paid back and is a much smaller issue than Cassidy’s alleged double subsidies. Political pendants are on the fence over who won the debate. Most believe it will have little effect on Saturday’s election.

     

    Analysts are reporting there’s a chance gas prices could drop below $2 a gallon in Louisiana. Gasbuddy-dot-com’s Gregg Laskoski says, in light of recent events, he could see some station’s price dropping below $2, but is skeptical that the statewide average will drop that low. Laskoski says you could expect to see gas prices drop another 15 to 20 cents a gallon over the next couple of weeks if crude oil prices stay as low as they are.

     

    Oil prices are down to 70-dollars a barrel which is not good for the state’s budget, because it means lower revenues from severance taxes and mineral royalties. Chief economist for the Louisiana Fiscal office, Greg Albrecht, says they already adjusted the state’s revenue picture downward. Albrecht says if oil prices keep trading for about 70-dollars a barrel for a lengthy period of time, it will cost the state millions of dollars in revenues. Albrect says the Revenue Estimating Conference will likely meet again next month to assess the situation.

     

    Medicaid expenditures here in Louisiana  have increased by more than $900 million since 2012 amid the move to privatization, according to a legislative auditor’s report released Monday. Expenditures remained fairly consistent from 2010 through 2012 remaining in the $6.6 billion to $6.8 billion range, the report said. But the spending jumped to $7.57 billion by fiscal year 2014 which ended June 30. Included is a net increase of $600 million related to Bayou Health spending, the private health insurance program handling health care for more than 900,000 of Medicaid’s 1.4 million recipients. In addition, there has been an estimated $350 million increase in payments for care of the uninsured to private operators of LSU hospitals.

     

    US-Senator Mary Landrieu is claiming her opponent Congressman Bill Cassidy, who is a doctor, was paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he didn’t do. She also says members of Congress are only allowed to make $26,000 a year in outside work. Cassidy was paid $50,000 per year. In a statement, Cassidy says he’s proud of his work in the LSU System and these allegations are just an attempt by Landrieu to salvage her political career. LSU announced Monday afternoon their intensions to investigate the part-time employment of the congressman.

     

    US Senator David Vitter, who is running for governor next year, has changed his stance regarding Common Core. Vitter said four months ago that he supports the multistate educational standards, but in an email to supporters Monday, the Senator says he’s changed his mind after hearing from parents and teachers. He says Louisiana should establish its own standards and testing.

     

    A quiet 2014 hurricane season came to an end over the weekend. State Climatologist Barry Keim says there were only 8 named storms which is the fewest since 1997. He says this is the ninth straight year we didn’t have a major hurricane hit the US Coastline, the longest such streak since records were kept. He says we can attribute the quiet season to lower than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean.

     

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler says 221-thousand voters casted ballots during the early voting period that ended Saturday. Schedler says the heaviest voter turnout areas were East Baton Rouge, Orleans and St. Tammany Parishes.  The run-off election is Saturday.

     

    The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says they are still looking for two men they believe abducted and shot a woman on Thanksgiving Day. Spokesman Sergeant Clay Higgins says the victim reported she left her house that morning to walk to a nearby store when she accepted a ride from the suspects. Higgins says the 49-year-old Opelousas woman thought the men offering the ride were just being friendly on the Thanksgiving morning in her own neighborhood known as “The Hill.” However, That ended up not being the case.

     

  • News For Monday 12/01/14

    News for Monday 120114

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu and republican challenger Bill Cassidy will meet in a televised Senate debate tonight. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says you can bet Landrieu will bring up the recent allegations that Cassidy, who is a doctor, was paid by the LSU Health Sciences Center for work he never did. In published reports, Cassidy denies the accusations that he received payments for work he didn’t do. As far as the debate goes, Dubos expects Cassidy will continue to connect Landrieu’s voting record with President Obama’s policies.

     

    After spending the weekend shopping for great deals at the mall and other retail stores, consumers will now turn to the internet for Cyber Monday. LSU marketing professor Dan Rice says savvy consumers held off on buying certain items this past weekend to see what kind of deals they’ll get today. Rice says Cyber Monday is becoming a bigger deal then Black Friday for many consumers.

     

    The State Police Cadet Class #93 has started training to earn the privilege of wearing the “gold boot” badge of the Louisiana State Police. The cadets will go through 20 weeks of training. Trooper Jared Sandifer says about 70 new cadets reported to the Training Academy yesterday. He’s hopeful this class will produce 50 new troopers.

     

    State Police report a single vehicle crash Saturday night involving a motorcycle killed a man from Leesville, LA and seriously injured his wife, after their motorcycle collided with a deer. Troopers responded to the crash around 9:30 p.m. on Hwy 28 West near Walnut Hill Road.  Killed in the crash was 53 year old Gordon Bolton. His passenger and wife 57 year old Monika Bolton received serious injuries and was transported to Rapides Regional Trauma Center.  Troopers say Both were wearing helmets.

     

    The State Attorney General’s Office reminds shoppers to stay safe and shop smart this holiday season. Director of the Public Protection Division, Sam Pleasant, says you should be on the lookout for holiday shopping scams to protect your identity and make sure you keep credit and debit cards in a secure place.

     

    The welders and pipefitters union in the Lake Charies area is seeking to train craftsmen for the industry work that will come online in the next few years, at no cost to its students. Roy McGraw, training director of United Association Local 198, said that individuals who want training in fields such as welding, plumbing and pipefitting, can pick up an application at the union’s new facility at 5432 Broad St. in Lake Charles.

     

    Prospective students much have a high school diploma with transcripts or a GED with their test scores to be considered. They also must have a valid driver’s license, birth certificate and Social Security card. Prospects must also pass an aptitude test, which covers basic math and reading skills, and an interview with union representatives

     

    Staying fit or maintaining your current weight is difficult for some during the holiday season. State department of health and hospital’s Well-Ahead Director, Melissa Martin, says staying hydrated is one way to make sure you don’t eat too much during one sitting. Martin says during the holiday season, many people take in more calories than they do during other months of the year, so she says find ways to burn off those calories. Martin says also try to plan out your meals and avoid eating on the run.

     

    The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries now has a series of online hunting safety videos to help hunters be safe during the season. They cover firearms, tree stands, boats and other gear. You can view the videos online on their website, or Facebook search ldwf.

     

     

    Sports..

     

    Louisiana Tech will play this Saturday in the Conference USA Championship game against Marshall after routing Rice 76-31 on Saturday. Tech will take on the Thundering Herd in the league title game this Saturday at 11 AM in Huntington, West Virginia.

     

    The Saints continue to do the unexpected. Lose games when you expect them to win, but win games when you think they’ll get beat. New Orleans went into Pittsburgh yesterday and beat the Steelers 35-32. Quarterback Drew Brees threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers, Mark Ingram rushed for 122 yards and the defense forced two turnovers. Coach Sean Payton says it feels good to beat a good team on the road.

     

    The LSU Tigers are No. 23 in The Associated Press Top 25 and No. 24 in the new coaches poll released Sunday. The tigers finish the regular season ranked for the sixth straight season and the ninth time in coach Les Miles’ 10 years.

  • News For Wednesday 11/26/14

    News for Wednesday 112614

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The city of Alexandria City will finally be getting out of the Hotel business. The council Tuesday made a decision  between two groups seeking to buy the Alexander Fulton Hotel. In a 4-3 vote, the council elected to go with Southern Hospitality Group over Windfeel Properties. Windfeel, who has been managing the Fulton since September 2013, was unable to come up with the money to purchase the hotel. The council also passed an ordinance and resolution to compensate Windfeel for improvements or services it has provided that have added value to the hotel or the renovation process, as well as services provided during the transition period to SHG ownership.

     

    In other good downtown news, word is the Mirror Room in the shuttered Hotel Bentley will be opening before the end of the year. The Bentley had been closed for nearly eight years when Alexandria Businessman Michael Jenkins bought it in 2012. Renovation plans call for converting the seven-story tower portion of the property into condominiums. The original portion of the property will remain a hotel with 92-94 rooms. It’s hoped that other sections will be opening after the first of the year.

     

    Republican Senate candidate Bill Cassidy received the endorsement Tuesday of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Meanwhile, Senator Mary Landrieu spent the afternoon in Houma meeting with workers at Weeks Marine Incorporated and speaking with seniors and disabled citizens at a senior center.

     

    The American Automobile Association says more than 46 million Americans will be hitting the road to celebrate Thanksgiving which is the most since 2007. The travel days are defined as tomorrow through Sunday. 90% of vacationers will be taking their car and enjoying the lowest gas prices in over 4 years.

     

    A family from Moreauville is fighting a proposed ban on vicious dogs. Joanna Armand, who owns a one year-old pitbull named Zeus, says their family dog is providing love and support to four of her children, who are special needs kids. She says giving up the dog would be a devastating blow for her family.

     

    The former Destrehan High School teacher accused of participating in group sex with a 16-year-old student entered a not guilty plea to a charge of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The judge loosened some restrictions of her bond, which will allow her to attend an exercise class and help her husband care for their three young children.

     

    A Jonesboro woman has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man inside his home. Fifty-one year-old Veronica Denise Jackson has been charged with second degree murder for allegedly shooting 58 year-old Grover Brown in rural Lincoln Parish. His body was discovered Sunday morning and that investigation continues.

     

    It may be a tradition at your household to rinse the turkey before putting it in the oven for the Thanksgiving feast. But LSU AgCenter nutritionist Denise Holston-West advises against it. She says washing poultry or meat can spread bacteria. Once the turkey is in the oven, use a food thermometer to make sure it cooks to 165-degrees. Holtston-West says the stuffing should be cooked in a separate casserole.

     

    Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships, the Nina and Pinta, will be on display in Houma starting today. The ships are floating museums educating the public on the type of ship that Columbus used during the age of discovery. Captain of the Nina, Stephen Sanger, says the ships attract people of all ages. The ships will be on display through December 7th at the Downtown Marina in Houma.

  • News For Tuesday 11/25/14

    News for Tuesday 112514

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The state continues to set new employment records. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says total nonfarm employment in Louisiana reached 1,988,900 in October, which is a new record high. The number of private employment jobs has grown by 31-thousand over the last year. In a strange twist, The state’s unemployment rate is also going up, along with the number of people who are employed. The unemployment rate for October was six-point-two percent, up four-percentage points from last year.

     

    Early voting for the December 6th runoff election continues across the state, and will run through this Saturday, excluding Thursday and Friday. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says voter turnout for the kickoff this past Saturday was brisk, and when compared to early voting for the primary. He expects the voter turnout to be around 35 percent.

     

    A West Monroe lawmaker filed a lawsuit this week seeking to extend the early voting period for the December 6th runoff because two days were lost this time due to the Thanksgiving Holidays. Governor Bobby Jindal declared this Friday a state holiday, Acadian Day, and polls are closed. Representative Marcus Hunter says this election, with the US-Senate race at the top of the ballot, is too important to shorten the amount of time someone is given the opportunity to vote. He says he hopes a judge will add those two extra days back.

     

    A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Hardman Family who lost five in a crash in Ouachita Parish while on their way to their dream Disney World vacation last week. According to the site, the money, now reaching almost $30,000, will be used for the five funeral expenses. Trudi and Michael Hardman died in a crash along with three juveniles age 15, 7 and 4.

     

    New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has pledged two gifts to the Pro Football Hall of Fame totaling $11 million. This is the largest individual contribution in the Hall’s 51 year history. The donation will help build a Hall of Fame Village. $10 million of Benson’s donation will be used to renovate Fawcett Stadium, which will now be called Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The renovations will allow the stadium to be used for other sporting and entertainment events. The additional $1 million will help construct the Hall of Fame’s Legends Landing,  a residence where former greats can live if they fall on hard times.

     

    The famous Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is officially underway. The 300,000 lights were turned on for the first time on Saturday and will twinkle every night at dusk through January 6th of next year. Downtown attractions include carriage tours through the historic district and all shops and restaurants will be open late. The 88th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival and parade happens December 6th.  You can get more information on the festival online at christmasfestival.com.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal announce ClearEdge Wholesale Glass will invest $2.65 million dollars to renovate a 41,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Baton Rouge and relocate their current smaller operations from New Orleans to the new facility in Baton Rouge. He says ClearEdge will create 120 new direct jobs at the new facility with an average salary of nearly $40,000 a year plus benefits.

     

    Former Governor Edwin Edwards took several shots at his opponent in the 6th Congressional District race in a debate where Garret Graves did not show up. Edwards accuses Graves of playing dirty politics in a flyer he sent out prior to the November 4th election that may lead voters to believe Paul Deitzel is gay. Edwards is also accusing Graves of helping his family profit from Government contracts when he was the head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Edwards was asked if he thought Senator Mary Landrieu was affecting his campaign. The former governor joked that it’s The President hurting that’s them both.

     

    As the rate of diabetes continues to rise, new numbers show the disease costs Louisiana’s five-billion dollars a year. The study was conducted by LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the facility’s executive director, Dr. William Cefalu, says the cost of pre-diabetes went up 74-percent and undiagnosed diabetes grew 82-percent since 2007. Nationally, the cost of diabetes has grown to $322 billion per year in excess medical costs and lost productivity. Cefalu says diabetes is becoming an economic burden for the entire country.

     

    Sports..

     

    Louisiana Tech can win the West Division of Conference USA this Saturday. But the defending league champions stand in the Bulldogs way. The Rice Owls won ten games last year and were crowned the C-USA champs. This season Rice can win the West from Tech by beating the Bulldogs in Ruston this weekend. Last season, the Rice Owls embarrassed Louisiana Tech, beating them in Houston 52-14.

     

    LSU heads into Thursday night’s regular season finale against Texas A-and-M struggling on offense. So will true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris get some snaps against the Aggies. When asked. Coach Les Miles gave a non-committal answer.

    LSU has won the two previous meetings against Texas A-and-M, since the Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference.

     

     

  • News For Monday 11/24/14

    News for Monday 112414

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Early voting  for the December 6th runoff elections is underway. You’ll have until this Saturday to cast your ballot. But, keep in mind, the polls will be closed Thursday Thanksgiving day and this Friday, which is a state holiday. The polls are open at 8:30am and close at 6pm.

     

    State Representative Marcus Hunter says he’s asking the Secretary of State’s office to extend the December 6th runoff early voting period which began Saturday. The Democratic West Monroe lawmaker is upset the 7-day early voting is reduced to five days this time because the voting precincts are closed for the Thursday and Friday state holidays. Hunter says he plans to take the matter to court this week.

     

    Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the state plans to use amnesty money, eliminate 167 unused positions and reduce spending as part of the plan to fill the state’s current $171 million dollar budget shortfall. The deficit was tied to low severance tax and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.

     

    As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating a statewide Click It or Ticket campaign aimed at saving lives. Executive Director Lt. Col. John Leblanc says last year’s Thanksgiving holiday was one of the most dangerous of the year on Louisiana roadways. He says Louisiana law requires everyone in a vehicle to be buckled up at all times.

     

    It looks like your Thanksgiving meal will cost a little more this year, according to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Association. The average price for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost $49.41, 37 cents more than last year. Louisiana Farm Bureau Association’s Avery Davidson says the biggest price hikes you’ll see are your proteins, particularly turkey and beef. Davidson says prices are up. because fewer turkeys were processed this year and we have the smallest beef herds in the last 30 or 40 years.

     

    A recent State Farm survey found drivers are still texting and driving, even though they know its dangerous. 52 percent of those polled admit they have talked on a cell phone while driving and 34 percent say they have texted while driving.  State Farm Spokesperson Gary Stephenson says there has been an increase in the use of hands free cell phones. Stephenson says 77 percent of young drivers say they believe they can safely text while driving. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 80 percent of crashes are due to distracted driving.

     

    The Louisiana Film Entertainment Association has met their Kickstarter goal with money they were raising for a study that will research the economic impact of the movie industry in Louisiana. LFEA Executive Board member Raelyn Loop says once the study is complete, they will present the findings to lawmakers. Loop says the state has to look at whether the motion picture tax incentive that benefits outside companies coming in to do business here is helping Louisiana. She says other states are mimicking our program so Louisiana needs to remain competitive.

     

    State Police say a crash in Jackson Parish with a 15-year-old behind the wheel claimed the life of a 14-year-old passenger Friday night. They say the juvenile from Jonesboro veered off the road and slammed into a tree. Both occupants were unrestrained. Investigators say the 14-year-old passenger from Quitman died at the scene and the driver has serious injuries. It is not known at this time if alcohol was a factor in the crash.

     

    State Police report two men died Saturday afternoon in Concordia Parish when the car they were in overturned and erupted in flames after being hit. Ernie Climer of Cheneyville and Jeremy  Elliott of Trout, both 36, died at the scene of the wreck on La. Highway 565

     

     

  • News For Friday 11/21/14

    News for Friday 112114

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Jindal Administration will be announcing mid-year budget cuts today. Louisiana is facing a $171 million dollar revenue shortfall. Jindal’s chief administrator has indicated that higher education will avoid any substantial cuts, but Senate Finance chairman Jack Donahue doesn’t see that being possible. There are many dedicated budget items that can’t be cut so typically higher education and health care are hit hardest.

     

    President Barack Obama announced his plans for immigration reform last night, but many people say more needs to be done. Local business consultant Randy Hayden says the new Congress that is sworn in next year should look at making more working visas available, which could help with the state’s worker shortage. Hayden says one area of reform desperately needed deals with foreign students who are a educated by a Louisiana college and university, but then can’t stay after graduation because they can’t get a visa.

     

    A concerned citizen’s tip led to the arrest of a Natchitoches Central High School teacher after police found she had sent nude photos to a 17-year-old student.

    27year-old Nickol Smith was released on bond after the city’s High Tech Crime Unit found the photos with a warrant to search her phone and that of the male student.

    Smith was charged with one count of prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student. The charge carries a $1,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment.

     

    The Rapides Parish sheriff’s office reports an inmate walked away from his work release job Thursday. 27 year old Chad  Babb was last seen around 7 a.m. while working for the Parish Highway Department compound on Highway 28 West. Babb was convicted of first degree robbery burglary. He is not considered to be dangerous.

     

    Louisiana’s latest amnesty program is expected to bring in $169 million according to the state department of revenue who says they got 41,000 applications. $38 million will go to help the state close its mid-year budget deficit. The Jindal Administration will announce those cuts tomorrow. Louisiana is looking at a $171 million dollar shortfall.

     

    The early voting period for the December 6th runoff elections begins tomorrow. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting will run through Saturday November 29th excluding a few days, Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following Thanksgiving. Schedler expects voter turnout in the 5th and 6th Congressional districts to outpace the rest of the state but he says even though control of the Senate has already been decided, it is still important hit your polling place, even if the US Senate race is the only item on your ballot

     

    A lawyer for the Obama administration asked a judge Thursday  to dismiss Governor Bobby Jindal’s anti-Common Core lawsuit because the education standards were not forced by the feds to be accepted in states. A ruling on the matter is expected in December.

     

    A new poll on the 6th Congressional District runoff race shows Republican Garret Graves with a large lead over Democrat former governor Edwin Edwards. Pollster John Couvillon says the numbers indicate that Republicans have really gotten behind Graves as the GOP nominee. The JMC Analytics and Polling Company conducted the survey, and it shows Graves with 59 percent of the vote; with Edwards getting 34 percent.

     

    Clean-air rules regulating new or expanding factories would be modified with the goal of spurring more chemical manufacturing under a bill by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, that won House approval Thursday — and that has prompted a veto threat from Democratic President Barack Obama. The bill would cut red tape and bring more transparency to the air-quality permitting process, Scalise has said. In Louisiana alone, Scalise has said, burdensome regulations have stalled 39 proposed projects worth $28.6 billion that would create 46,000 new jobs.

     

    State Police report an extremely tragic accident out of Ouachita Parish Wednesday  night which claimed the lives of 5 people, including young children, headed to Disney World for family vacation. They say the 16-year-old licensed driver from Texas likely fell asleep when the Tahoe crashed on I-20 and 6 out of the eight occupants, all unrestrained, were ejected. The children who died were 4, 7 and 15.

     

    In the 1950′s, it was estimated there were only 80 to about 120 Louisiana black bears in the state. Today, the numbers are much better, with most of the bears in the northeastern part of the state in the Tensas River Basin. That’s LDWF biologist Maria Davidson, who says this report could result in the bears being removed from the endangered species list.

     

  • News For Thursday 11/20/14

    News for Thursday 112014

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Today is the Great American Smoke out and the Smoking Cessation Trust, or SCT, is urging smokers in Louisiana to take advantage of all the free products and services available to help them quit  today. SCT CEO Mike Rogers says qualified applicants are entitled to certain “stop smoking” benefits which tobacco companies fund. Rogers says in order to qualify for the free benefits you’d need to have started smoking cigarettes before September 1, 1988 and live in Louisiana. He says since their program started in 2012, over 22,000 citizens have received the benefit card.  For more info log on to www.smokefreela.org

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against the federal government over Common Core will be heard in a Baton Rouge federal court today. The governor claims the Obama administration over reached their authority in trying to implement the controversial education standards in Louisiana. Jindal claims the federal government used education grant money and waivers to force Louisiana and other states to adopt Common Core.

     

    Louisiana has saved $12 million from a debt refinancing that took advantage of lower interest rates. State Treasurer John Kennedy announced the savings figure Tuesday, after the state completed its refinancing of the $229 million in existing bond debt. The state sells general obligation bonds to investors for upfront cash to pay for construction projects. The borrowing is paid off over time with interest. The refinancing lowers that multiyear repayment rate. The refinancing had been delayed briefly because of a disagreement between Kennedy’s office and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration over the financial paperwork. But the two sides reached a compromise. Up Next, a plan to borrow another $200 million to replenish the escrow account that pays for state-financed construction work.

     

    Louisiana State University of Alexandria opened its new student health center this week. The school had been the only senior institution of higher education in Louisiana without a student health center, something Chancellor Dan Howard and his administration had worked to change since March. A partnership with Rapides Regional Medical Center will provide the medical staff to perform health care for the school's more than 700 students, about 300 of which live on campus.

     

    The faculty senate at Grambling State University has given a “no confidence” vote for interim president Cynthia Warrick and they are seeking her immediate dismissal. G-S-U faculty Senate President, Doctor Herbert Simmons Jr, says they are disappointed Warrick hired several administrators at a six-figure salary, when the university faces a three-point-seven million dollar deficit. Warrick was named as Grambling’s interim A-D in June.

     

    Well, he did say he would welcome any and all endorsements.. The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy over democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. Louisiana Cannabis spokesperson Jesse McCormick says in a debate last month Bill Cassidy  said he supports the legal use of medical marijuana, while Landrieu opposes it. McCormick says because Cassidy is a doctor, he understands why there’s a need for marijuana to be legal for medicinal purposes. No comment from the Cassidy camp.

     

    A federal grand jury has handed down indictments to a total of 13 people from Louisiana and one from Texas in connection with a methamphetamine distribution ring in South Central Louisiana. Some defendants face up to 20 years in prison, while others face up to life imprisonment. The arrests are part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Prosecutors say methamphetamine was purchased in large quantities in Texas and then distributed throughout southwest Louisiana, mainly Lafayette and New Iberia, over several months in 2014.

     

    Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken Plant in Natchitoches has been named one of the nine worst chicken plants in the nation for animal cruelty. Farm Sanctuary and the Animal Welfare Institute director of policy, Bruce Friedrich (FREED-rick) says they had gotten reports of workers routinely throwing live birds into bags of dead on arrival birds.

    In a statement, Pilgrim Farms says they have made voluntary corrective actions.

     

    USA Today released its annual report on college football coaches today, and LSU Head Coach Les Miles is the 7th highest paid coach with an annual four-point three million dollars. Alabama Head coach Nick Saban is the highest paid with an annual salary of seven-point-one million.

     

    Louisiana State Police say a Coushatta woman who wasn’t buckled up died in a crash last night in Red River Parish. They say 44-year-old Salley Giddens was hit from behind when she was stopped waiting to turn into a private drive on Highway 71. Her car was thrown into the opposite lane of traffic and hit by a truck. LSP says Giddens wasn’t restrained and suffered fatal injuries in the crash.

     

    A former office manager at a Baton Rouge electrical engineering firm stands accused of embezzling $465,000 from the company. 46 year old Lori Fry was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of wire fraud, accusing the former manager and bookkeeper of diverting more than 100 separate payments from the firm’s account for her own personal use through her personal bank account.

     

    Search and rescue workers on Wednesday found the bodies of two men missing since their single-engine plane crashed into Lake Pontchartrain last week. The bodies were recovered from the lake after authorities spent days searching for the two men. Both bodies were taken to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office for identification, and Coroner Jeffrey Rouse said Wednesday night that his office “has made positive identifications of the two plane crash victims, Burt Lattimore and Aftab Rab.” The cause of the crash is under investigation.

     

    Sunset Mayor Cecil Lavergne asked the St. Landry Parish Council on Wednesday night for money to restore the former Sunset High building. Lavergne asked for a maximum of $50,000 for the project, but said he’d be happy to get $30,000 to $35,000 to repair the 89-year-old building. The council voted to delay action on the request until the 2015 budget is approved. The proposed budget for 2015 was introduced during the meeting without discussion.

  • News For Wednesday 11/19/14

    News for Wednesday 111914

    By Dave Graichen

     

    According to the Department of Health and Hospitals, flu activity is on the increase in Louisiana. Frank Welch, Medical Director for the Immunization Program, says the state typically gets a late start on flu activity, but not this year. Welch says the strain of flu that seems to be dominant this year, is one that is captured by the flu shot. He says if you haven’t gotten your flu shot, yet, now is the time to do so.

     

    The State police report the chief of Marksville's Tunica-Biloxi Tribe was arrested Tuesday on 21 charges of obtaining prescriptions through doctor shopping in both Avoyelles and Rapides parishes. 36 year old Joey Barbry of Mansura was booked into the Parish jail. It was alleged that Barbry was getting prescriptions fraudulently from multiple physicians

     

    Gov. Bobby Jindal announced yesterday that he will shield Louisiana’s public colleges from cuts when he reveals his proposal Friday to rebalance this year’s budget, which contains a $171 million hole that must be eliminated. Jindal’s Division of Administration confirmed the same protection will be given to all four public college systems, which have lost $700 million in state financing since 2008, one of the steepest declines for higher education across the nation. The shortfall stems from two main problems: worse than projected revenue tied to falling oil prices and anemic personal income tax growth.

     

    Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu did not prevail in her attempt to get the US Senate to pass a bill that would authorize the construction of the Keystone Oil Pipeline. The measure needed 60 votes to pass but it only got 59. Landrieu has spent the last week trying to pass the bill as a way to show her clout in Congress in the Senate runoff.

     

    Grammy award-winning artist Stevie Wonder will be traveling to New Orleans to headline a campaign fundraiser for Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu early next month. Wonder recorded a radio ad for Landrieu during the primary. The exact time of the fundraiser will be announced later date.

     

    The trial date of a former Natchitoches Parish police officer accused in a Sabine Parish man’s death has been postponed. Sabine Parish District Judge Stephen Beasley originally set the first-degree murder trial of Robert Barthelemy for Jan. 19 and had been pushing toward that goal. However, late last week, after Barthelemy changed his plea, from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity Beasley moved the trial date to Sept. 28. The 35 year old Barthelemy is accused in the dead of Tony Procell in august of last year. The DA in the case say he plans to seek the death penalty.

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy is reporting a record $35.5 million dollars in refunds for Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program for the last fiscal year. Right now, there is more than $635 million dollars in unclaimed property. You can search online at LAtreasury.com.

     

    State Farm announces they will increase auto insurance rates for Louisiana customers beginning December 8th. Spokesman Gary Stephenson says the statewide average increase will be about 3.6 percent. State Farm is the largest insurer of automobiles in Louisiana and in the United States. The price we pay for car insurance here in Louisiana has been and continues to be some of the highest in the nation.

     

    Ouachita Parish won’t be getting federal money to aid in the aftermath of the tornadoes that went through the area in October. FEMA calculated that the tornadoes did $4 million in damage and $6.3 million in damage is required to be declared a federal disaster. Neal Brown, Director of the Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says they also didn’t reach the threshold of uninsured home owners who were impacted.

     

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says a school bus driver in East Baton Rouge Parish detained and harassed a student because he thought the 16-year-old was gay. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says they’ve asked the East Baton Rouge School System to fully investigate the complaint and educate their employees. School officials say the bus driver’s supervisor is aware of the situation and it’s been addressed.

     

    The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s office says a man from Zwolle is behind bars on murder charges for allegedly stabbing his step-father seven times. They say 27-year-old Dustin Rivers claimed 51-year-old Howard Ferguson hit him first in the head with an aluminum bat during a fight. Rivers is being held on $25,000 bond after his Sunday night arrest for second-degree murder.

     

    Lake Charles Police have arrested three men today accused of a violent home invasion and robbery last week that resulted in the sexual battery of a woman who was home alone. Chief Don Dixon says they believe the trio targeted that specific house.

    Bond has been set at 1 million dollars for each of the men.

     

    The former teacher accused of having sex with a Destrehan High School student is asking for some leniency in her house arrest. Thirty-two year-old Shelley Dufrense is seeking some time for a Jazzercise class to help with depression and a mood disorder. Another reason is Dufrense’s oldest child has autism and requires therapy twice a week. . A hearing on the matter will be held next Tuesday.

     

    Sports..

     

    Louisiana Tech hits the road this weekend looking to improve to 7-0 in Conference USA action. The Bulldogs are at Old Dominion who is 4-and-6 overall, 2-and-4 in the league. A win for the Bulldogs on Saturday and they will clinch the Western Division of Conference USA.

     

     

     

  • News For Tuesday 11/18/14

    News for Tuesday 111814

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Public school superintendents in Louisiana are having a tough time finding substitute teachers due, they say, to the Affordable Care Act. Scott Richard, Executive Director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, says work restrictions within the ACA, limiting part-time workers to 30 hours a week, is a huge problem. He says this makes finding substitutes difficult, especially when a teacher is on an extended leave.

     

    Falling oil prices are having a negative impact on the state’s oil and gas industry. Many analysts say layoffs are in the industry’s near future. Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs says the low prices for oil is forcing companies to pull back and reassessing their budgets. Briggs says he’s seen companies already reducing manpower and scaling back drilling budgets in the Gulf of Mexico for 2015. Briggs says

    says oil prices in the $70 to $80 dollar a barrel range can be problematic for a while.

     

    Gas prices continue their rapid decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.71 which is down 6 cents from just last week.

     

    Retired US Army General Wesley Clark is in Louisiana pushing the federal free cell phone program despite complaints from Senator David Vitter saying it’s a waste of tax payer dollars. Vitter has been a vocal critic of the Lifeline program which gives cell phones to low-income families. Clark says more than 300,000 Louisianians have the phone including 36,000 veterans. He says the federal free cell phone program helps a lot of people get connected who otherwise would be unable to do so.

     

    LSU broke ground Monday on a 110-million dollar renovation and expansion of the engineering school. LSU College of Engineering Dean Rick Koubek (ko-beck) says they expect construction to begin in 2017, and will help them produce more grads to meet workforce demands.

     

    The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a new report which shows homelessness in Louisiana has fallen over the past four years. The numbers indicate a 12 percent decline in the number of homeless people over the past year and down about 63 percent since 2010.

     

    The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is trying to find information about a cougar that was found dead in Calcasieu Parish. They say owning exotic cats like that is illegal without a permit in Louisiana. The lifeless cougar was found along LA-Highway 12 near Dequincy.

     

    Louisiana will get $13.2 million to help monitor, and if necessary, change the management of river diversions and barrier island coastal restoration projects. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Monday that more than $13 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund will go toward the effort in Louisiana with the rest of the gulf states sharing $86 million for projects.

     

     

  • News For Monday 11/17/14

    News for Monday 111714
    By Dave Graichen

    It doesn’t look like Louisiana is out of the woods, yet, when it comes to freezing temperatures. State Climatologist Barry Keim says two fronts are now affecting Louisiana. He says the weather should clear up today and more Canadian air will settle over the state. Keim expects highs to only get up to around 50 degrees statewide today and temperatures to once again drop below freezing overnight. He says the polar vortex is angry again and we have to brace for it. Keim says Wednesday will pretty much be a carbon copy of Tuesday with another hard freeze expected.

    Mid-year budget cuts are coming in state government as a result of lower than anticipated revenues. The shortfall for this fiscal year ending June 30th is 171 million dollars and Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.com says higher education will likely take the brunt of these cuts. Louisiana’s budget woes only get worse as the state spent $141 million more than it brought in last year, and next year’s shortfall is projected to be $1.4 billion.

    Friday, the US House gave approval the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline in a bill that was sponsored by Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy. House Republican whip, Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise, says the Keystone Pipeline is an issue that brings people together. The move is viewed as an effort by Republicans to boost Cassidy’s chances in the Senate runoff election against Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Landrieu has pushed the Senate to vote on this issue next week.

    Open enrollment for those seeking health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act is not officially underway. Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says an additional insurer will be selling plans on the federal Marketplace, giving many Louisiana residents up to six different insurance companies to choose from. The website that had a multitude of problems when Obama Care began last year, reportedly is operating smoothly now. Over 100,000 Louisiana residents are currently insured thought the Affordable Care Act.

    Shreveport Police are on the hunt for a home intruder who allegedly shot a three-year-old girl inside her home and then fled. Authorities have identified the victim as Paris Hill. Hill is hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. Anyone with information on this shooting is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

    Mid-year budget cuts are coming for state government. That’s because the Revenue Estimating Conference officially recognized on Friday a 171-million dollar shortfall for the current fiscal year. Falling oil prices and lower than expected growth in personal income taxes caused the shortfall.

    Entergy is launching new energy efficiency programs to help customers use less power and save money on their electricity bills. Entergy Solutions Program Manager Heather Leblanc says this program provides customers a variety of ways to cut energy use at their homes. She says programs are also available for business owners. For more information and to sign up, go online to entergysolutionsla.com

    It’s possible you haven’t thought about next year’s elections in Louisiana, but a research firm has already polled voters on the 2015 ballot. Multi-Quest pollster John Scurich says in the race for Governor, US Senator David Vitter leads with 25.9 percent followed by Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne with 10.9 percent. He says 53% are undecided. Scurich says most voters will likely become more involved in next year’s races after the first of the year when the state Senate and Congressional races are over. Even so he says this early on, Vitter looks to be in good shape.  

    LSU’s offense failed to score a single point on a frigid night in Fayetteville as they lost to the Razorbacks 17-0 on Saturday. The Tigers only rushed for 36 yards and had 123 total yards as LSU fell to 3-and-4 in the SEC.

    A frustrating season for the Saints, became more aggravating on Sunday with a 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s second straight loss at home, New Orleans hasn’t done that since 2012.

     
     

  • News For Friday 11/14/14

    News for Friday 111414

    By Dave Graichen

     

    When you see Local fire departments out conducting local boot drives this weekend, keep in mind, it’s for a good cause, The Food Bank of Central Louisiana. The participating departments and locations are:  The Pineville Fire Department at intersection of Griffith and La. Highway 28 East in Pineville, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today.  The Ball Fire Department at intersection of U.S. Highway 165 and Shangai Road in Ball, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. ­ Rapides Parish Fire Department District 3 at intersection of Hickory Hill and Shreveport Highway in Tioga, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today.  Rapides Parish Fire Department District 2 at Walmart on La. Highway 28 West in Alexandria, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday.

     

    The Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce will host its 2nd Annual Women in Business Conference today from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in downtown Alexandria. Workshops and seminars will be held at The Rapides Foundation, 1101 Fourth St. while a luncheon will be held at The Diamond Grill, 924 Third St. More than 100 women are expected to attend the conference, which will provide a platform for learning, networking and sharing information.

     

    The numbers from to Bloomberg are out, and during the primary election, Democrats outspent Republicans two-to-one; despite the majority of the polls on this race still have Congressman Bill Cassidy winning the runoff. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says you can expect even more spending. Ninety-six percent of television ads during the first week of runoff campaigning supported Republican Bill Cassidy.

     

    Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy is hitting the campaign trail again the runoff race for the Senate, and this Saturday in Monroe, he will have some help from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The campaign rally at 2:30 will also feature former Republican candidate Rob Maness.

     

    U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, was re-elected as expected Thursday to the No. 3 position, majority whip, in the House’s ruling Republican hierarchy.

    Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu broke ranks with her fellow Democrats to vote against the re-election of Harry Reid, of Nevada, as the party’s leader. Reid, currently majority leader, was re-elected but will serve as minority leader in the incoming Congress in January as a result of Democratic defeats in Senate elections Nov. 4, which cost them control of the Senate.

     

    The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today where it’s expected the state will receive bad news concerning the amount of revenue coming in. Senate President John Alario says he’s bracing to hear there’s been a significant reduction in anticipated revenues. Not only is a mid-year budget cut possible, but it’s likely the state will have less money to spend next fiscal year, which could lead to additional cuts. Alario says the two main factors are low oil prices and income tax revenue is also down, even though employment is at an all-time high in Louisiana

     

    The Monroe Police Department says they are testing body cameras on officers. They are working to see if they benefit the department with the ultimate goal of getting footage that would protect both the interests of officers and citizens.

     

    Grand Isle Fire Chief Aubrey Chaisson is one of 20 people arrested during an undercover operation aimed at the sale of illegal drugs and alcohol on the island. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand says he received confidential information claiming possible misconduct could be taking place. Chaisson was charged with possession of Marijuana.   Normand says all of the arrests were the result of an extensive undercover operation.

     

    An LSU police officer remains in stable condition after getting hit by a passing vehicle late Saturday night in which Alabama team doctors rushed to his aid. The story is starting to grab national headlines. The doctors, Lyle Cain, Norman Waldrop and Benton Emblom were part of the team’s motorcade according to LSUPD spokesman Captain Corey Lalonde. LaLonde says the officer is 33-year-old Sgt. Christopher Gresham and he’s an eight year veteran of the department. He says Gresham sustained very serious injuries in the crash.

     

    The search continues for a missing Louisiana woman believed to be in a wooded area of south Arkansas. 32-year-old Amanda McKinnie McPherson of Marion was last seen in in woods near Three Creeks in Union County on November 3rd. Sheriff Mike McGough (ma GOO) says McPherson and a male friend were driving in the area and got stuck. McGough says the male friend left to find help, but got lost. He says by the time the male friend returned to the truck, McPherson had left. McGough says she talked to family and friends on her cellphone before trying to walk out of the woods on her own. But, No one has heard from McPherson since her phone went dead. McGough says they have no reason to suspect foul play at this point, but they are not ruling that out.

     

    Ochsner Health System is hosting the first Alton Ochsner Conference on Tobacco today in New Orleans. This commemorates the 75th anniversary of Dr. Alton Ochsner’s groundbreaking article linking smoking to lung cancer. The event is co-sponsored by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.

     

     

    ULM will look to an end a five-game losing streak when they host in-state rival U-L Lafayette on Saturday. The Warhawks have lost their last three games by a combined 11 points and Coach Todd Berry says it won’t be any easier on Saturday night when they face the Ragin Cajuns, who are undefeated in Sun Belt play.

     

    LSU will attempt to bounce back from a tough overtime loss to when they visit Arkansas on Saturday night. The Razorbacks are looking to end a 17-game SEC losing streak.

     

  • News For Thursday 11/13/14

    News for Thursday 111314

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Much of the state is under a freeze watch or warning tonight as that cold Canadian air the cold front brought to Louisiana is really entrenched across the state. Mike Efferson, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says you can expect temperatures really drop tonight. Efferson says the freeze watch could turn into a freeze warning in some areas depending on local conditions. Efferson says lows tonight could dip down as low as 25 degrees…

     

    The Keystone Pipeline project has become the focus of the US Senate race. During the campaign, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu has touted her clout as a reason to elect her, so Wednesday she called on her colleagues in the Senate to vote on the Keystone Pipeline project. Shortly after Landrieu spoke, republican leaders in the House said they would vote on a bill tomorrow by Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy that authorizes the building of the pipeline. It’s unclear if the Democratic controlled Senate will have their own vote.

     

    Republicans have promised Bill Cassidy a seat on the Senate’s energy committee if he defeats Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana’s runoff election next month, potentially undercutting one of her main arguments for re-election. Landrieu has repeatedly touted the importance of her seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in her campaign for a fourth term representing a state with a robust oil and gas industry. While she will no longer serve as the committee’s chair in the GOP-led Senate in the next Congress, Landrieu has campaigned hard on her place as the committee’s senior Democrat  and Cassidy’s inability to get a seat on the panel as a freshman senator.

     

    Two Baton Rouge Police officers and a former officer were indicted today on sex-related charges. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says Isaac Bolden, Emerson Jackson and Travis Wheeler were all in uniform and on duty at the time when they convinced a woman to perform a sexual act on one of the three men at a Baton Rouge park.

     

    The coldest temperatures of the fall have arrived and that could result in an increase in home fires. The American Red Cross says heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase in the winter months. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says if you use a space heater, make sure there’s a clear area of space around it. Browning says it’s also important to turn off space heaters before you go to bed and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

     

    A now-banned new component in synthetic marijuana known as Mojo and Spice is believed to be responsible for sending more teenagers to the hospital in Louisiana. Louisiana Poison Control Executive Director Mark Ryan says most teenagers don’t realize that ingredients in synthetic weed are specifically designed to be abused and are far more dangerous than the real thing.

     

    A man had to be rescued from his burning home in Shreveport Wednesday morning. Authorities say a retired state trooper pulled an individual out of his home that was engulfed in flames. The former law enforcement officer was not injured, but the man inside the house suffered non-life threatening injuries.

     

    Three constitutional amendments approved by voters last week leaves higher education more vulnerable to budget cuts. Traditionally, higher ed and health care are hit the hardest during tough budget times. But Jan Moller, head of the Louisiana Budget Project, says the approval of Amendments One and Two protects a larger portion health care dollars from being cut. The passage of Amendment eight, which protects funding for artificial reef development, is another amendment that has the potential of keeping state dollars away from higher education.

     

    A total of 40 plus animals have been rescued in Washington Parish, and an arrest warrant has been issued for an unnamed woman, who is being accused of hoarding and neglecting animals. Officials from the Humane Society of Louisiana says law enforcement executed a search warrant at the property, but the owner was not there.

     

    The Republican National Committee has announced that they are sending more than 200 people to Louisiana to aid Congressman Bill Cassidy in the US Senate runoff election. RNC Louisiana Communications Director Ben Voelkel (vocal) says these people will focus on getting out the vote.

     

    Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk feels many people have just started paying attention to this race, and he sees polling numbers going up for the Senator. Handwerk says there is a lot of support for Mary Landrieu because of what she has delivered for Louisiana.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • News For Wednesday 11/12/14

    News for Wednesday 111214

    By Dave Graichen

     

    As you’re headed outside today, it’s time to grab your jacket and coat. State climatologist Barry Keim says the cold front has now completely moved through the entire state with cool Canadian air fully settled over Louisiana. Much cooler temps are expected over the next few days.

     

    As things turn cold, fire officials are urging residents to please make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home. There was a tragedy last night in New Orleans in which three children and two adults died in a blaze inside their two story home. Authorities say there were no working smoke alarms inside the home. The three children who died were age 6, 11 and 12.

     

    According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control, Baton Rouge has moved from #1 to #2 in new rankings of AIDS cases. The Capital City dropped behind Atlanta after having the highest rate in the country according to the CDC. The CDC says New Orleans was ranked fourth in the nation.

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy is concerned Louisiana is spending way more than it’s bringing in which could lead to another round of mid-year budget cuts. He says the state general fund is running at a historically high negative balance just four months into the fiscal year. The Revenue estimating conference is meeting Friday and Kennedy says changes need to be made otherwise mid-year budget cuts could do further damage to higher education. He says DHH just announced that we are already $171 million dollars over budget in our Medicaid program.

     

    A Terrebonne Parish fiery crash involving two trucks lead to 3 deaths on Highway 24 yesterday. Trooper Evan Harrell says one driver driving at a high rate of speed, lost control of his vehicle in an S curve and slammed into another truck. Harrell says, due to the nature of the impact, the two vehicles almost instantaneously caught fire…

     

    LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has sent out a written statement apologizing for fans using a “profane” chant that was directed towards Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. Coach Les Miles was unaware it happened at the time and didn’t like hearing that LSU fans would do that. Alleva called it crude behavior by a small minority.

     

    According to a report from the Entertainment Software Association, Louisiana gaming is big business with big salaries. The report shows the state’s computer and video game industry paid workers $14 million dollars in 2012, with an average salary of $88 thousand dollars annually per person.

     

    Despite having millions for their Senate runoff campaigns, both Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy are doing their own versions of dialing for dollars. Landrieu has already been active on the phone, and in a release out today, Bill Cassidy asks “Will you stand with me?,” and then asks for anywhere from between $25 and $250. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says total spending for the runoff could top $80 million dollars.

     

    21 year old Christopher Goodley, of Ville Platte,  has been booked on a count of first-degree murder in the death of his 80-year-old grandmother, Delsy Williams, whose body was found last week in a field off La. 1161. State Police began investigating Williams’ disappearance as a homicide Nov. 2, the day after family members reported her missing.

     

  • News For Tuesday 11/11/14

    News for Tuesday 111114

    By Dave Graichen

     

    State Climatologist Barry Keim says a strong cold front begins passing through the state today. The next couple of days will basically be a transition period before a big blast of cold air from Canada hits the Bayou State. He doesn’t expect this to bring record lows, but temperatures should fall below freezing in northern and central Louisiana. Afternoon highs will be in the 40s and 50s statewide. Keim says what makes this cold weather event unique is that it will last for a while, with cool temps right into next week.

     

    Today is Veteran’s Day, a day to honor the millions who have served our country and fought, and are still fighting, for our freedom. Louisiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David LaCerte says it’s important to not only remember veterans today, but 365 days a year. LaCerte says there are a lot of people to thank in Louisiana where we have about 320,000 vets. LaCerte says there are many Veteran’s Day events planned across the state today and you can find a schedule on their website at www.vetaffairs.la.gov.  A Veterans Memorial Tribute Service is set for 2 p.m. today at Veterans Memorial Plaza at Alexandria City Hall. The public is invited.

     

    Better than half of the Rapides Parish school board members were no shows Monday night at a special meeting held to discuss the new Common Core-aligned math curriculum. Four of nine board members attended the meeting that was called to hear from parents and community members about Eureka Math. The curriculum was implemented in Rapides Parish schools this year. The organizer of the event, Pineville parent Stephanie Riley requested the special meeting after receiving nearly 1,000 signatures on an online petition she began in October to remove the curriculum from local schools.  Riley says she will  be requesting another meeting in January.

     

    Good news is, no one was injured in an early Monday fire at the St. Charles Place apartment  complex on Versailles Boulevard. Three apartments in a unit were heavily damaged, according to the Alexandria Fire Department. Firefighters from Rapides Parish Fire District #2 also responded to that blaze.

     

    A fatal shooting of a hunter in Rapides Parish will not result in any charges. Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Tommy Carnline says 37-year-old Michael Haynes of Alexandria was the victim of a single gunshot wound and was pronounced dead on the scene. Carnline says investigators determined that Haynes was shot by a hunting partner who mistook him for a deer.

     

    The Louisiana Poison Control Center is sending out a warning to parents about the dangers of laundry detergent pods which have harmed hundreds of children nationally who mistake them for toys or candy. Director Mark Ryan says kids who ingest the concentrated detergent in these pods can quickly have central nervous system depression and become lethargic. He says as with any cleaning product, the first rule is to keep them up and away from a child’s reach.

     

    Sad news to report out of the Lafayette-area. Former Ragin Cajuns star and Minnesota Vikings standout Orlando Thomas has passed away. Thomas has been battling A-L-S, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the last ten years of his life. Thomas won a state championship at Crowley High, was an All-American at U-S-L and played seven seasons with the Vikings. Thomas was 42.

     

    The former health secretary for Governor Bobby Jindal has entered a plea of not guilty on nine counts of perjury regarding his involvement in a 200 million dollar Medicaid deal. Bruce Greenstein is accused of lying to a Senate confirmation hearing and a grand jury reviewing the state’s contract.

     

    Victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita can apply to receive a settlement check, amounting anywhere from one dollar to more than $400. You may be included in the proposed Settlement Class if you lived, owned property, operated a business or were present within the Parishes of Jefferson, Orleans or St. Bernard, Louisiana at the time of Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. Residents and businesses in those areas are receiving letters in the mail saying they can apply for the benefits.

     

    A Shreveport woman is in jail after she allegedly threw her 17 month-old baby across the room while intoxicated as a form of punishment. Shreveport Police Cpl. Breck Scott who says 25 year-old Gabrielle Kirkendoll was arrested for cruelty to a juvenile.

     

    Former Governor Edwin Edwards doesn’t seem to be bothered much by the fact that the National Democratic Party isn’t endorsing him in his 6th Congressional District race against Republican Garret Graves. He says he was never one to fall in line with some of the policies and values of the National Democratic Party which is struggling in the south.

    He says this election is about issues facing the 6th Congressional District, not about party affiliation.

     

    In the fifth Congressional District race, republican Zach Dasher has endorsed fellow republican Ralph Abraham, who is in a runoff with democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. Dasher just missed being in the runoff against Abraham. And former US Senate candidate Rob Maness threw his support behind fellow republican Bill Cassidy today. Maness finished third in the primary last week.

     

     

  • News For Monday 11/10/14

    News for Monday 111014

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Louisiana’s 2014 tax amnesty period comes to an end at the end of the week. Department of Revenue Deputy Secretary Jarrod Coniglio says until 11:59 PM Friday.  Those who are behind on their taxes with the state, can settle their debt without a penalty and pay only 50-percent of the interest. Coniglio says the state hopes to collect 104-million dollars in back taxes.

     

    A dedication ceremony scheduled today celebrates the long awaited completion of the final section of Interstate 49 in northwest Louisiana. The final stretch of roadway connects Texarkana, Arkansas to Shreveport. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says this will open the area to Canada and the Mid-West. There are a couple of small sections of the Interstate that need to be tied in to I-220 in Shreveport. He says once that’s done, they’ll be at full gallop for economic development.

     

    If you’re planning to hit the road for the Thanksgiving Holiday, you can reduce your travel gas budget as the price at the pump continues to drop. Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com says they predict the price per gallon to drop another 5-10 cents before Turkey Day. GasBuddy.com reports the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline statewide is below 2.80.

     

    A former staffer for Democrats John Breaux and Kathleen Blanco says Mary Landrieu needs to change her message in order to have a chance at victory on December sixth. Bob Mann, who is currently an LSU Mass Communications Professor, says the senator must continue to differentiate herself from Bill Cassidy and explain why he would be harmful to what people who have voted Democrat in the past care about. He says Landrieu also needs to appeal to women.  Landrieu only received 18-percent of the white vote Election night. Mann says, if Landrieu expects to defeat Cassidy in December, she’s going to have to do much better in both areas.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration made some adjustments Friday to help stabilize the state’s insurance program. The new plan will raise premiums, but it will lower out-of-pocket expenses. Before the move, the lawmakers received numerous complaints from constituents about it.

     

    Tulane researchers determine eating shrimp from an area of the Gulf of Mexico impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill poses no acute health risks or increased cancer risks. Research professor Mark Wilson says when the spill occurred, there were concerns that shrimp would be contaminated by a class of chemicals that can pose health hazards. Wilson says they also surveyed over one-hundred Vietnamese residents in New Orleans East that tend to eat more shrimp than most people and that helped them reach the conclusion that Gulf shrimp are safe to eat.

    Wilson hopes the study’s results will get to wholesalers and distributors, who still may have concerns Gulf Shrimp are contaminated

     

    The LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health has been awarded a $2.2 million grant to increase the availability of health information and support services for young breast cancer survivors in the Gulf South. Project Coordinator Helen McMillan says they were one of seven sites awarded grants from the CDC. McMillan says the issues facing young women who diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 45 are much different from older women who are diagnosed. She says this program will provide support services and resources for these women.

     

    LSU’s overtime loss to Alabama on Saturday night is expected to sting for a long time. The Tigers were poised to beat the Crimson Tide, but victory slipped away as Alabama won in overtime 20-13.

     

    49er kicker Phil Dawson put a 35-yard field goal through the uprights in overtime as San Francisco edged the Saints 27-24 yesterday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

     

     

  • News For Friday 11/07/14

    News for Friday 110714

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Once again, Louisiana is expected to have a nice weather weekend with temperatures running a few degrees below normal for this time of year. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a cold front moved through the state yesterday bringing some much needed rain. Keim says high temps will be in the 60s across the state today with weekend lows dropping into the upper 30’s to low 40’s. He says a warming trend will hit the state early next week bringing a chance of rain by mid-week.

     

    It’s a nice Christmas Present for employees  of the Rapides Parish School District. The school board approved on Wednesday a $1,200  annual  employees’  Christmas “supplement” . The  one-time special salary increase to be issued to employees as a 13th check on Dec. 18.

     

    The LSU Alabama game has been one of the hottest tickets in college football in recent years and this Saturday’s matchup is no exception. The Tigers and the Tide kick off at 7pm. Connor Gregoire  with SeatGeek, an online ticket search engine, says tomorrow’s game in Tiger Stadium is one of the most expensive tickets in college football. Gregoire says the highest seats in the upper sections of death valley are still going for about $150. Other, more desirable seats are running in the thousands.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal doesn’t want the Republican Party to waste the opportunity that’s in front of them now that the G-O-P has majority control of both the US House and Senate. He says based on Tuesday’s election results, Americans want changes in Washington D-C and they hope republicans can provide bold ideas. Jindal is considering a run for President in 2016.

     

    Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu hopes Governor Bobby Jindal’s endorsement of Bill Cassidy will hurt the Republican in December’s US Senate runoff election. Landrieu says she looks at Jindal’s endorsement as a black eye for the Cassidy campaign, based on how the governor has led the state. Landrieu says Cassidy and Jindal are two peas in a pod.

     

    Meanwhile, yesterday, the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee cancelled almost $2 million dollars in TV ad placement to help Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign against Congressman Bill Cassidy. The committee says they still support Landrieu, but they will now evaluate their ad spending on a weekly basis

     

    Congressman Bill Cassidy has responded to Landrieu’s 6 debate challenge. He’s accepted an invite to debate the incumbent on December 1st, and says he’ll debate her as many other times as she brings Barack Obama to Louisiana.

     

    With Republicans gaining control of the US Senate, a new opportunity presents itself to Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Vitter is slated to be the chairman of the Small Business Committee when the new Senate convenes next year. He says the country would still be in a technical recession if not for the new energy jobs related to American natural gas and oil. Vitter says this does not change his mind about running for governor next year.

     

    The Opelousas Police Department has arrested a man accused of buying votes for certain candidates in the November 4th election. Sergeant Jody White says it is unclear if 64-year-old Wilfred Young acted alone or some candidates were involved in the scheme. He says two people have come forward, so far, and they’re still trying to determine exactly how many people were approached and how much money they were offered. Young is charged with bribery of voters, which is a felony.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal announces Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc will construct a new production facility in St. Charles Parish and upgrade their plant in Ascension Parish. He says the plant expansions represent a capital investment pf $66 million and will retain 55 jobs in Geismar while creating 13 new direct jobs. LED estimates the project will result in an estimated 74 new indirect jobs.

     

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday that Shreveport’s Moonbot Studios is once again a semifinalist in the animated short film about books category for “The Numberlys” — a story about the alphabet. Moonbot won the Oscar for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” three years ago in the same category.

     

    The Saints continue preparation for Sunday’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams come into the game with 4-4 records on the season. The 49ers are coming off a 13-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Quarterback Drew Brees says there’s never a good time to play them, especially right after a disappointing loss. The Black and Gold come into Sunday’s game winning two in a row and leading the NFC South.

     

     

  • News For Thursday 11/06/14

    News for Thursday 110614

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Voter turnout for the November fourth election was 50-percent. Secretary of State Tom Schedler wishes it was higher, but he’s glad there were very few problems at the polls.

    He hopes the turnout is higher for the December sixth runoff and the election goes as smoothly. Early voting begins Saturday, November 22nd.

     

    Republican Dr. Ralph Abraham and Democrat Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo will face off for Representative Vance McAllister’s congressional seat in the 5th District for the December 6th runoff.  McAllister said yesterday, whoever is elected to take his place, he will support the new congressman as much as he can. McAllister went on to say, he was at peace with the election results. Saying he left the decision up to the voters.

    McAllister finished fourth in the primary.

     

    Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell won for this third term on election night this week. The 67-year-old represents District 5 on the five-seat commission which regulates utility companies — which spans all of northern Louisiana and covers 24 parishes. Campbell is one of the last elected Democrats in the state but won across both parties.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal, who was not vocal about Louisiana races prior to the November 4th election, announces his support for Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy as he tries to defeat Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in the December sixth runoff. Jindal says Landrieu doesn’t represent the state’s best interests. Jindal has also announced his support for the republican candidates in the two Congressional district run-offs. And if they want him to appear with them on the campaign trail, the governor says he’ll be there.

     

    Bayou Country Superfest announces the lineup for the 2015 shows. They say Kenny Chesney will headline Saturday night May 23rd and Maranda Lambert and husband Blake Shelton will be back to back to close out the shows on Sunday night May 24th. It was previously announced that Taylor Swift’s show in Tiger Stadium that Friday May 22nd was part of Bayou Country Superfest, but today promoters of the show are calling it a stand alone.

     

     

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