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Local News
  • News For Friday 03/27/15

    News for Friday 032715

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Demographer Elliot Stonecipher says Louisiana could be in jeopardy of losing another Congressional seat if the state doesn’t see more growth in population. Stonecipher is making that statement based on new Census figures, which shows the state’s population has only increased two-point-six percent since 2010. Louisiana saw it’s Congressional delegation shrink from seven to six members as a result of the 2010 Census. Stonecipher says the data suggests to him that Louisiana still has an out-migration problem.

     

    Congratulations to a Cenla Landmark Harlow’s Donuts and Bakery in Pineville, They are celebrating their 30th anniversary today.  Harlow’s originally opened in1972. But, Roy Burr purchased the business from the original owner,  Frank Dyson,  in 1985. Today some of their great treats will be priced as they were back in “85

     

    A grand jury returned a “no true bill” in the case of a Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputy shooting and killing a 14-year-old last September. The teenager had a BB gun, when the deputy came in contact with the child at an abandon house. Carlos Lazarus is the First Assistant DA in Terrebonne. He says they showed the jury pictures of the weapon the juvenile was holding and a real .45-caliber pistol and they are identical. But, the story is not over yet,  the FBI is also investigating the case.

     

    A Lafayette man who called in a bomb threat that shut down UL-Lafayette last summer has pleaded guilty in federal court to the crime. Devin Haywood faces up to 10 years for that, and up to 20 years for trying to rob a bank during the police search for the bomb.

     

    State Police and the FBI have arrested a man and woman and rescued a 17-year-old girl in connection with a sex trafficking case. Spokesperson Melissa Matey says the victim was being against her will and forced to perform commercial sexual acts in the French Quarter area through online ads. A 21 year old woman and 36 year old man are being charged with trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

     

    The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said a woman kidnapped from East Baton Rouge was found in the wreckage of a crash which claimed the life of her captor Thursday morning. They say the woman was airlifted to the hospital after the wreck. Deputies said the woman told them she was kidnapped Wednesday night. Authorities say the investigation into the incident is in it’s early stages.

     

    An 11-year-old boy has missed more than two weeks of school because his hair is too long according to Rapides Parish School Board policy. Ashton Bodiford’s hair falls past the middle of his back. Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman, who is not involved in this case, says it’s time for courts to recognize that students should be able to have a greater range of appearances. Esman says courts have ruled that schools are within their rights to have appearance policies like this.

     

    A student at Buckeye High School has started an online petition to replace the district school uniform policy with a casual dress code in Rapides Parish. 14 year old Eighth-grader Brandon Richardson created the "Uniform Policy Removal" petition March 18 on the Change.org website. In about a week his petition has received more than 580 signatures.

     

    Well there was somebody in Louisiana who could have been a Powerball millionaire, but they missed their chance. The Match 5 winning ticket was sold in Minden for the September 27th drawing, but no one came forward to claim the prize by the Thursday deadline. Louisiana Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the $1 million will go back into winnings.

     

    Shreveport’s Independence Bowl finds itself, once again, without a sponsor. Duck Commander, who was the title sponsor of last year’s game, will not return as the title sponsor this year. Last year’s game was played under a letter of intent between Duck Commander and the Independence Bowl and not a contract.

     

    A man from LaPlace has developed an app to keep teenagers from texting and driving. Mike Watson says Text Guardian is tied to the GPS device on cellular devices and parents can set to a certain speed. Watson says if somebody tries to call or text a teen while Text Guardian is activated, they will get a message back right away saying that the person will get back to you when it is safe to do so. He says it’s completely free and the difference between this and some other anti-driving-and-texting apps is that Text Guardian can not be removed. Right now Text Guardian is only available on Android devices but should be on iOS soon.

     

    Turkey season opens tomorrow and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries predicts a bumper crop for hunters. Wild Turkey and Resident Small Game Leader, Jimmy Stafford, says there should be some carryover this season after bad weather lead to a poor hunting last year.

     

    The number one ranked LSU baseball team opens up a three-game series tonight against Kentucky, with first pitch set for seven P-M at the Box. The Wilcats are 2-and-4 in league play, but Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says they are one of the better hitting teams in the conference.

     

  • News For Thursday 03/26/15

    News for Thursday 032615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The public memorial period to pay respects to National Guardsman David Strother continues today in the Alexandria Riverfront Center from noon to 4  At 4 a memorial service will be held, followed by a graveside ceremony in Alexandria Memorial Gardens. Strother, a resident of Alexandria was killed March 10 along with 10 other soldiers in a military helicopter crash in Florida. The family requests memorials be made to the Mojo 69 Memorial Fund, giveforward.com

     

    The Jindal administration’s experiment in privatizing Louisiana’s charity hospitals is running into some troubled financial waters. The House Appropriations Committee learned Wednesday that $332 million of the funding to keep the hospitals operating at a stand-still level relies on the uncertain legislative approval of some tax law changes. Committee chairman Rep. Jim Fannin said there should be no assumption that the dollars will materialize. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health agency budget proposal is already $142 million shy of the funding the private partners say is needed for operations in the fiscal year that begins July 1st. The bulk of the additional funding request is associated with the opening of the state-of-the-art $1 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans. Its opening has been delayed until Aug. 1.

     

    A Lafayette jury convicted Seth Fontenot of manslaughter on Wednesday rather than the first-degree murder charge prosecutors were seeking in the shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault. Fontenot was also convicted of two counts of aggravated battery for the wounding of two teens who were with Rivault in a pickup truck the night of the shooting. It took the Jury less than two hours to reach a verdict.

     

    An American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows that distraction in teen crashes is worse than previously thought. The study found that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. AAA spokesman Don Redman says the two leading causes of distraction are other passengers and cell phones. Redman says parents should sit down with their teen drivers and talk about the dangers of using their cell phones while behind the wheel. He also suggests that parents restrict the number of passengers their teen drivers are allowed to drive around.

     

    A leak in one of the 97 igloos storing the 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden in Webster Parish has resulted in the recommendation of the emergency destruction of its contents. Military officials says the moisture build up creates a chemical reaction the could cause the M6 to “auto-ignite”. An evaluation team, led by the Louisiana National Guard, is still reviewing the bids that were submitted to dispose of the propellant. Their decision is expected any day.

     

    A total of 46 Beau Chene (SHEN) High School Students have been suspended after an investigation into a pupil who is accused of changing grades. St. Landry school superintendent Edward Brown says the scheme began unraveling after one pupil became suspicious. He says the investigation is ongoing.

     

    A legislator wants to make it a law that a designated driver be present at certain locations that sell alcohol. Haughton Representative Henry Burns says he at least wants to get a dialogue started about the importance of having someone present who hasn’t been drinking at establishments which sell alcohol. Burns is still working on the final details, but believes that it should be illegal to sell alcohol to a designated driver.  

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal is keeping active for a potential run at the White House, and on the stationary bike. The Governor was spotted in a high-end gym in mid-town Manhattan Wednesday, and told reporters that he likes to start with some cardio then rotate through the weights. New York Magazine calls him Governor Bobby GYMdal.

     

    A cell phone video has emerged showing a group of young men beheading a live goat. The graphic 12 second video shows one man beheading the goat with a machete sword over a child’s swimming pool, while the others cheered. The Louisiana SPCA is offering a three thousand dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this felony crime.

     

    The Strawberry Festival Board and the Kiwanis Club of Ponchatoula have apologized for the controversial 2015 poster and they say they will not sell it at the event. The NAACP called for both boards to have a more diverse membership which they agreed to make an effort to do. The Kiwanis Club will continue to sell the posters (in house) until the festival begins.

     

     

    Sports..

     

    LSU Sophomore forward Jarell Martin announced Wednesday  that he’s leaving the Tigers to enter the N-B-A draft. The six-foot-ten forward from Baton Rouge averaged nearly 17 points and nine rebounds this past season. Martin is glad that he played a role in getting the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament, but it’s now time to move on.

     

    Fellow LSU forward Jordan Mickey might also leave for the NBA, but he says as of now he’s still considering his options. And Tigers assistant coach Eric Musselman was named today as the new head coach at Nevada.

     

  • News For Wednesday 03/25/15

    News for Wednesday 032515

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A very touching scene yesterday as Hundreds of people, many of them holding American flags, lined the streets as a motorcade accompanying a white hearse passed carrying the body of National Guardsman David Strother. A public memorial will be held from noon to 9 p.m. today and a public funeral service will be held at 4 p.m. Tomorrow. Both will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Strother, was one of 11 soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during a training mission on March 10.

     

    Now here’s something you don’t see every day.. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office says two elephants were used to keep an 18-wheeler from overturning on I-49. Deputies say a truck carrying elephants from New Orleans to Dallas got stuck in the mud, when deputies arrived on the scene Tuesday, they were surprised to find the elephants on the side of the truck that was starting to tip over. The 18-wheeler was eventually pulled out of the mud and no citations were issued, and the elephants were uninjured.

     

    It has been a long time coming, a contract has finally been awarded to build a new VA clinic in Lafayette. While Republican Congressman Charles Boustany – who got the legislative authorization to build new clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles – says it’s great news for Lafayette, he says the VA is dragging its feet though when it comes to construction of the  Lake Charles clinic.

     

    A Winsboro woman has been sentenced go to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Twenty-four year-old LaSasha  Allen placed her 20-month-old daughter, unrestrained, in the passenger’s seat of her vehicle. Authorities say she opened the car door while rounding a curve, allowing her daughter to fall out. Franklin Parish District Attorney Mack Lancaster says Allen showed no remorse.

     

    The 2015 Louisiana Survey reveals that 83-percent of Louisianians want the state’s budget deficit to be resolved through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says of those preferring a combination, 59-percent would rather see the focus mostly on the side of spending cuts. The way the Louisiana Constitution is written, higher education and health care will take the brunt of budget cuts. Henderson says that is not what the public wants. Most surveyed said they would like to see more spent in that area. When it comes to raising revenue, Henderson says the public seems to behind a hike in the so-called “sin taxes”: alcohol, tobacco, and gaming

     

    A new study conducted for the state by LSU economist Dr. Loren Scott shows the film tax credit program created nearly 13-thousand jobs, but cost Louisiana 171-million dollars last fiscal year. And Scott adds that many of the jobs produced do not benefit Louisiana. The state’s film tax credit program is expected to face changes in the upcoming legislative session.

     

    The financial planning website Bankrate.com lists Louisiana as the fifth worst place to retire. Bankrate’s research analyst Chris Kahn says Louisiana scores low when it comes to its crime rate, health care services and weather. Kahn says retirees in Louisiana do not face a huge tax burden, which is good, but the state has the second highest crime rate in the nation, which does NOT make the bayou state a dream retirement spot.

     

    The Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana has cut the rate of Tuberculosis cases by more than half from 2010 to 2014. DHH’s Charles DeGraw says they have also reduced the percentage of TB cases with HIV infection from 10% in 2010 to 4 percent in 2014.

     

    A man who was tree-sitting in City Park in New Orleans to block the construction of an upscale golf course, has fallen out of a large Cyprus tree. It is believed the man, who is identified as Lloyd Boover, may have broken an ankle and his nose from the fall. Authorities reportedly patrolled his protest, and continuously shined a spotlight on him at night. Boover is expected to be charged with trespassing.

     

    The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a Bossier City man is accused of stealing from his employer and selling the items on eBay. They say 60-year-old Michael Thompson returned about $2300 worth of stolen construction items to his company but said everything else had been sold on the online auction site. He is charged with theft.

     

    A former school board candidate in south Louisiana has been charged with felony sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl whom he used to coach in basketball. Lawrence McLeary with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office says the juvenile told her doctor that she was assaulted by 34-year-old Philip Ziegler of Central about a year and a half ago.

     

    The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Branch is meeting this morning with the Mayor of Ponchatoula and other leaders to discuss the controversial Strawberry Festival poster. They believe the painting is racist and want the Kiwanas Club to stop selling it. In a prepared statement, Mayor Bob Zabbia says because negative feelings about the poster go against the purpose of the Strawberry Festival, which has brought the community together for decades, he would recommend that Kiwanis reevaluate their decision to sell the poster.

     

    Sports..

     

    U-L-M men’s basketball will host Vermont tonight at seven P-M in the semifinals of the C-B-I tournament. The Warhawks started the tournament by beating Eastern Michigan and then rallying on the road to defeat Mercer by 20.

     

    ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reports that LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey is leaning towards entering the NBA draft. Mickey was a first-team ALL SEC selection this past season as he led the league in rebounding and he’s also the top shot blocker in the country.

  • News For Tuesday 03/24/15

    News for Tuesday 032415

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The recent ISIS online hit list that are targeting military personnel, has 25 names on a list of 100 that are current and/or past personnel from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport-Bossier. The threat was released by an ISIS hacking division, and because of that source, the Pentagon is asking the those concerned to adjust their online settings for social media accounts.

     

    The State Police have arrested 33 year old  arrested Angelle Temple of Marksville, LA, after an audit of the State motor vehicle office where she worked came up short. The audit determined Temple manipulated the OMV computer system on over 30 separate occasions in the beginning of 2014.  Auditors reported customers paid the fines/fees, but Temple's cash drawer did not reflect payment for any of these transactions.  The total amount Temple defrauded the state, in Rapides Parish, totaled over $5,500.00. 

     

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but Governor Bobby Jindal says he will wait until the legislative session ends in June before announcing whether he will enter the race. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Cruz, Rick Santorum and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will all have some impact on a Jindal candidacy because of their similar politics.  He says it’s smart for Jindal to wait until after the session to start a campaign.

     

    LSU President and Chancellor F King Alexander says 2,000 classes will be cancelled and every LSU employee will have to be furloughed if the legislature doesn’t restore the massive cut to higher education that’s proposed in Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget. Alexander says the proposed budget for next fiscal year will only provide LSU with 30-million dollars in state funding, a reduction of 110-million dollars from this fiscal year. He says students and alumni need to speak up loudly against this type of cut

     

    It looks like the price at the pump will continue to make our wallets happy. The American Automobile Association reports a gallon of regular on average statewide is $2.22. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says even the US Department of Energy predicts the national average won’t get above $2.50 for the entire year. Redman says the falling price at the pump can, in part, be attributed to a robust supply.

     

    Today, a grand jury will consider the case against a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed 14-year-old Cameron Tillman last September. The Sheriff’s Department says Deputy Preston Norman fired in self-defense after Tillman appeared to be holding a gun. The grand jury will hear evidence and testimony, possibly from Norman, himself. Relatives and others who were at the abandoned house with the boy say he was not holding a weapon.

     

    Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper has made a “global” plea deal with prosecutors in 4 states where he is accused of drugging and raping women and sentencing started today. He’ll reportedly serve 9 years behind bars. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this type of plea deal means Sharper has agreed to one punishment for all charges. He says this is a good move on the part of Sharper who could get life on a conviction and it’s also smart on the victim side because rapes are hard to prove without a reasonable doubt.

     

    The millionaire accused of killing a female friend in California 15 years ago will be staying put in Louisiana. Seventy-one year-old Robert Durst was in court Monday for a bond hearing on weapons charges, a week after he was discovered at a New Orleans hotel under a fake name, with a gun, passport and a large amount of cash. He had been sent to a prison’s mental health unit, as jail officials said he was a suicide risk.

     

    A son is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound after cops say he was shot by his father when there was no more orange juice in their Baton Rouge home. They say 58-year-old Eldrige Dukes got into a huge fight with his son when he discovered the orange juice was gone and began to chase him around the house with a gun and firing several times eventually striking the teen in the butt. Dukes is charged with attempted manslaughter and illegal use of a dangerous weapon. The son is going to be okay.

     

    A 30-year-old Baton Rouge heroin user will spend at least 6 years in prison on charges related to the death of his girlfriend from a fatal overdose. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore says Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin.

    Moore says the evidence showed that Eirick purchased the heroin earlier in the day, and he and Leah Hitchinson shot each other up. He says since the Eirick supplied Hitchinson with the heroin that lead to her death, he was charged.

     

    Sports..

     

    The number one ranked LSU baseball team will resume its rivalry with Tulane tonight in New Orleans. The Fighting Tigers are 21-and-3 overall, while the Green Wave are 17-and-7

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • News For Monday 03/23/15

    News for Monday 032315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    State police report a two vehicle accident late Saturday night claimed the life of a 16 year old driver from Florian and injured another teen from Many. The accident occurred shortly before midnight when a pickup driven by Kelby Pilcher crossed the center line of highway 118 and struck another pickup head on. Pilcher was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene. 18 year old Michael Fair, the driver of the vehicle that was struck, was wearing a seatbelt and survived the crash with serious injuries. Routine toxicology tests are pending.  The crash remains under investigation.

     

    An Opelousas man died early Sunday in a crash on La. 749 in St. Landry Parish. The state police report 38 year old Herbert Rideau was driving north near Opelousas about 1:30 a.m. when his pickup truck ran off the right side of the road and struck a parked 18-wheeler. Rideau was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology tests are pending and the crash remains under investigation.

     

    Police are investigating the case of a man who walked into the New Orleans airport wielding a machete and slashing at TSA officers while spraying them with bug spray before being shot several times. The Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office say a TSA officer and traveler sustained non-life threatening injuries apparently from bullets fired at the suspect by a sheriff’s deputy. The man, 62-year-old Richard White of Kenner, died from his injuries.

     

    According to state officials, Louisiana casinos brought in $224.1 million dollars last month which is 6.8 percent higher than February the year before. Casino Association Executive Director Wade Duty says while the revenues are up, this isn’t an accurate year-to-year comparison because of the mid-December opening of the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.

    He says the big gains can also be attributed to lower gas prices as more out of state gamblers head in.

     

    The state Department of Transportation and Development is taking part in National Work Zone Awareness Week which runs through Friday. DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett says this is about bringing attention to the fact that safety should be a top priority through road construction areas. Mallett says since 2013 in Louisiana there’s been about 580 people who have lost their lives in work zones. Mallett says drivers face fines, fees and other consequences if they’re caught speeding in a work zone or driving without their headlights on.

     

    Former New Orleans Saints Safety Darren Sharper has cut a deal on charges he drugged and raped women in four states. The Orleans DA office says details of the deal have not been made public. A news release says Sharper is also pleading guilty to charges in three other states and federal charges.

     

    Parks Senator Fred Mills is sponsoring legislation this session that looks at ways to change the way public school teachers are evaluated. Currently educator effectiveness is determined by students’ standardized test results. Mills says his bill seeks to make a teacher’s job performance more accurately measured.  He says this measure would take things back to the way they used to be when it comes to checking out how a teacher is doing. Mills says the proposed law would not completely remove the use of test scores as a factor in deciding teacher effectiveness.

     

    A Shreveport lawmaker feels the state legislature should look at different options in trying to shrink the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit. Democratic Representative Patrick Williams it’s clear that the state needs to generate additional revenue. The House Ways and Means Committee member says a hike on cigarette and alcohol taxes is one way the state can raise funds quickly. Williams also feels that lawmakers should take a closer look at tax incentives offered by the state to shrink the budget gap. He says some of these are not paying dividends back to the state.

     

    Sentencing is scheduled today for a Baton Rouge man who allegedly shot his girlfriend up with a fatal injection of heroin in 2013. 31-year-old Brandon Eirick pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and heroin distribution in the death of 31-year old Leah Hutchinson. Eirick was originally charged with second degree murder in this case, but pleaded to the lesser charge of negligent homicide in October.

     

    The 2015 Poncatoula Strawberry Festival Poster is being called racist by some, and beautiful by others. The Tangipahoa NAACP says the painting, depicting faceless black children carrying a basket of strawberries, is offensive and they are calling for it to stop being sold immediately. Strawberry Festival spokesperson Shelley Matherne says the depiction is meant to build a bridge between cultures.

     

    Sports..

     

    LSU won it’s series with  Arkansas over the weekend with anxiety-filled 7-4 rubber match win.

    The Tigers won a three-game Southeastern Conference series after losing the opening game for just the second time in five years, and they grabbed a 10th series win over the Razorbacks in the last 11 tries.

     

    The “Dunkin Dogs” of Louisiana Tech will face Texas A&M tonight in the second round of the NIT.  Bulldogs Coach Michael White says his program doesn’t have many opportunities to beat a team from a major conference, so they need to take advantage of it when it comes. Tech enters the game with a 26-8 record, while the Aggies are 21-11 and beat Montana in the opening round of the NIT.

     

    The Pelicans are now three games back of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after completing an 0-for-3 road trip with a 107-100 loss to the Clippers.

  • News For Friday 03/20/15

    News for Friday 032015

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Spring Equinox occurs later today at precisely 5:45pm our time, marking the end of winter and the very beginning of Spring. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the Bayou State has been getting a lot of rain over the past few weeks and it’s setting the stage for what we can expect this spring. He says the good news is that the Climate Prediction Center says we should have normal temperatures throughout the season

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy says the Jindal Administration is considering selling the Louisiana Lottery as a way to help plug the state’s massive budget hole. The Administration is denying this. But, Kennedy says he has reports from CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs which essentially say that selling the Louisiana Lottery would provide significant general fund relief. He says these documents are irrefutable evidence that these discussions are ongoing

     

    LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab says more and more Louisianians are starting to say that the state is headed in the right direction. In the results of their 2015 Louisiana survey, Director Michael Henderson also says 26-percent of citizens say the state business climate is better than it was a year ago. He says public confidence in state government to effectively deal with the most pressing issues has increased for the first time in five years.

     

    State Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret tells lawmakers it’s time to reign in the state’s film tax credit program. Moret says the state’s film program has created an estimated ten-thousand jobs and brought positive attention to the state, but it only produces 20-cents in revenue for every dollar of tax credit. Moret also suggests tighter controls on who is getting the tax credits as there have been recent reports of fraud in the program. But he says the most important thing is limiting the program’s benefits so the state has a greater control of how much they are spending on it.

     

    A survey by MarblePort Polling on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican David Vitter leading the field with 34-percent of the vote. Democrat John Bel Edwards is close behind with 31-percent, followed by Republicans Jay Dardenne with 14-percent and Scott Angelle with 7-percent. The automated survey polled just over 1000 Louisiana residents.

     

    Spring is in the air and crawfish season is in full swing in Louisiana. Gulf Seafood Institute Chairman Harlon Pearce says they expected a substantial change in the price of the mudbugs once we got those crazy early March winter temperatures out of the way and you’ll certainly see it this weekend. Pearce says you could easily see boiled crawfish this weekend at about $3.50 a pound

     

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler says the Jindal Administration’s budget for next fiscal year doesn’t fund a presidential preference primary for Louisiana in 2016. It would cost three and a half million dollars and Schedler says he’s telling lawmakers that unless they command another way, the state intends to move forward. A spokesperson from the Division of Administration says they have spoken with Schedler and they will work with his office to come up with a funding solution so that the state can have a Presidential Primary next year.

     

    According to the Louisiana National Guard, they have received a total of 10 bids from companies to destroy about 75 hundred tons of M6 artillery propellant near Camp Minden. An evaluation team is being formed with a dialog committee, after some residents spoke out against the open burning method. The Guard says they may consider other methods.

     

    An appeals court judge has thrown out the sentence of former Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson and ordered a re-sentencing. Thompson was convicted in 2013 on three counts of malfeasance in office. The court ruled that Thompson’s sentence of six years in prison, combined with having to pay restitution of almost $52,000, was excessive. It is unknown when the re-sentencing will take place.

     

    The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says an 85-year-old man is booked with vehicular homicide charges for allegedly running over his long time female companion in a driveway. They say when deputies responded to medical emergency in DeQuincy they found 56-year-old Mary Franklin laying near the driveway and she was pronounced dead at the scene. It was determined she was run over by James Abdalla Jr. He is in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on $60,000 bond.

  • News For Thursday 03/19/15

    News for Thursday 031915

    By Dave Graichen

     

    LifeShare Blood Center reports Donations of O negative blood are being sought to meet a critical need. Donors of all blood types are necessary and welcome, but the immediate need is for more O negative donors. Blood donations of blood may be made at the LifeShare Donation Center on North Mall Drive in Alexandria.

     

    The IRS says there are about 22,000 people in Louisiana who did not file a tax return in 2011 which amounts to potential refunds of up to $21.4 million dollars. Spokeswoman Lea (Lee) Crusberg says tax payers only have until April 15th of this year to file their 2011 return to get their refund or else the money will go into the US Treasury. Crusberg says the average potential refund in Louisiana is $693.

     

    Just as some 316-thousand students are taking the Common Core tests this week, Governor Bobby Jindal announces a plan to remove Common Core from Louisiana’s public schools and replace it with a plan and test developed by Louisiana teachers and parents. Jindal says the plan will be presented to lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session next month.

     

    State Superintendent John White is moving forward with plans to have Louisiana educators review and tweak the Common Core academic standards, despite Gov. Bobby Jindal’s intent to support legislation to throw them out altogether. White reviewed preliminary plans with educators, superintendents and other stakeholders Wednesday morning, just hours before Jindal’s statements. They will be discussed with superintendents from across the state on Thursday.

     

    There’s a new state-wide poll that shows 56-percent of Louisiana residents support an increase in the state’s cigarette tax. That same poll also revealed Governor Bobby Jindal with a 28 percent positive rating.

     

    While drivers enjoy low gas prices, the plummeting price of crude is starting to take its toll on the oil industry, with layoffs happening here in Louisiana. In the past few months, about a thousand oil industry jobs have been lost, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. State officials say they are optimistic that the losses will be temporary.

     

    The drop in the price of oil was seen in a new lease sales yesterday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Regulators report only 195 bids for new oil and gas leasing were placed off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That’s the lowest amount since 1986, when there were only 129 bids offered.

     

    State Police say a former detective with the Ville Platte Police Department has been arrested on multiple charges. Authorities say Nathanial Savoy, who also owns a roofing business, was allegedly spotted on surveillance video stealing roofing materials from a local business. To add insult to injury, he was reportedly in a police unit when the crime was committed.

     

    New Orleans Senator JP Morrell files a bill that would allow public students in Orleans Parish to be surveyed about what type of behaviors they are involved in — including sexual behavior. He says results of such a review would help with coming up with a sex ed class that would actually be effective. Baton Rouge Representative Pat Smith introduced similar legislation last year but it failed after a massive push-back from the Louisiana Family Forum. Morrell says opponents believe that by addressing sexual education you are making kids promiscuous.

     

    Lobbyists can spend more wining and dining legislators and others they seek to influence beginning later this year as the cap increases yet again, but not by much. The Louisiana Board of Ethics is scheduled Friday to start the legal process to allow $60 to be spent per occasion effective July 1. The current per event limit is $58. The amount has been steadily rising since the Legislature implemented a $50 spending cap in 2008 as part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ethics package. The new law allowed the spending cap to increase with the consumer price index, or CPI. The provision has resulted in a 20 percent increase over five years.

     

    Sports..

     

    Ninth-seeded LSU faces 8th seeded North Carolina State tonight in the NCAA Tournament. The oddsmakers have the Wolfpack as a two-point favorite.

  • News For Wednesday 03/18/15

    News for Wednesday 031814

    By Dave Graichen

     

    We missed an important birthday yesterday.. The Town Talk was founded on March 17, 1883. That made the paper a young 132 years old. To give you an example of how different life was back then, an article in the March 18th Paper described how Hoodlums damaged several women’s dresses by stretching a tarred rope across a dark street. The women returning from church damaged their dresses when they rubbed up against it.  The suggestion for punishment if caught, The boys should be tarred and feathered.  We’ve come a long way, or have we? A belated Happy Birthday to the Town Talk.

     

    It didn’t take long, Rapides Parish police jurors on Tuesday gave their stamp of approval to an agreement with the city of Alexandria that could pave the way for Coliseum renovations to begin. Police jurors met in executive session for 37 minutes Tuesday morning before the unanimous vote to go along with the terms of a proposed Alexandria City Council ordinance.

    The ordinance was introduced by the City Council on Monday and is expected to come up for a council vote in early April.

     

    Latest employment numbers show that there were 7500 less people working in January than in December, ending a long streak of monthly employment gains. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says even though there was the typical job drop that you see in January, we’re still employing far more people this year than we were this time last year. At 7 percent the unemployment rate for January ranked as the third highest among states.

     

    Residents will soon have to pay more for flood insurance. State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the increases are the result of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that were passed by Congress last year.  He says the premium hikes for primary residences are capped at 18-percent each year. However,  premium increases for second residences, commercial, and rental properties are capped at 25-percent per year. In addition to the rate increases, property owners will have to pay a surcharge, $25 per year for your primary residence and $250 for businesses, rentals, or secondary residences. Donelon says these changes are complicated, so you may want to get some advice.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal is looking at selling the remainder of a multi-billion dollar settlement from tobacco manufacturers to help the state’s budget problems. The Jindal administration says it could be used finance the TOP’s scholarship program for the next seven to eight years, but State Treasurer John Kennedy doesn’t like this idea. Kennedy says the Jindal administration has raided all other pots of money and this is the last one left. Despite Kennedy’s concerns, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation, voted to begin the process of selling the tobacco settlement.

     

    State Police say a truck driver from Alabama died when he was run over by a trooper who was looking for him in Madison Parish. Sgt. James Anderson says they received a report early Tuesday morning that an 18-wheeler was stuck in the lane of travel on US Highway 65. Anderson says 47-year-old David Watford of Cottonwood, Alabama was walking in the middle of the road wearing blue jeans and a camouflage shirt when he was struck and killed by the trooper. The investigation continues.

     

    An 81-year-old Korean War veteran died in a mobile home fire in Arnaudville Tuesday  morning. The state Fire Marshal’s office has identified the victim as Robert Kaltenbach. Investigators say the fire started near a desk right next to an overloaded power outlet.

     

    A State Police investigation into criminal activity at Jackson Parish Hospital has led to the arrest of four people, three of whom were hospital employees. Sgt. James Anderson says investigators discovered cases of illegal drug distribution and payroll fraud at the hospital.

     

    Calcasieu, Jackson, and Central School systems lead the state in the percentage of opt-outs during Monday’s first day of statewide PARCC testing. Jackson had an opt-out rate of 13-percent, followed by 12-percent for Calcasieu and eight-percent for Central. Central School Superintendent Michael Faulk says 153 students in the district did not participate.  Faulk believes social media has something to do with the number of opt-outs. He says they began a Facebook page to try to deal with the false information about the tests spreading on the site.

     

    The Mayor of Dequincy says he’s not concerned about a fake news site once again targeting the city with an article claiming they’ve passed some ridiculous law. This time “The News Examiner” says polygamy is now legal in DeQuincy. Other articles in the past have claimed that the city was being attacked by gay zombies on bath salts and that officials had banned twerking. The Mayor says he would like to invite the man who is writing these stories to visit the Calcasieu Parish town and see what it really has to offer.

     

     

  • News For Tuesday 03/17/15

    News for Tuesday 031715

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Louisiana national guard made it official yesterday releasing the names  of the four guardsmen killed March 10 when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed into Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola, Florida, during a training exercise. The Guardsmen killed are:  37 year old Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin Jr, 44 year old Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother, 40 year old Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron and 26 year old Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich. Maj. Gen. Glenn  Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard said, while announcing the names, that the Guardsmen represent the best of us and their names will forever be etched on our hearts and in our minds.

     

    Today is the big day. Motorists who commute between Alexandria and Pineville and take the O.K. Allen Bridge will be redirected to begin utilizing the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge starting this morning at 10am. Deidra Druilhet with the state Department of Transportation says

    only the northbound span of the new bridge has been completed  and it will be used for the two-way traffic while the O.K. Allen Bridge is torn down. Over 20,000 motorists cross the Red River over the O.K. Allen Bridge on a daily basis. The southbound span is expected to be ready by mid-2016.

     

    An ordinance introduced Monday by the Alexandria City Council is intended to settle the Rapides Parish Coliseum property dispute with the Police Jury. The deal includes the Police Jury paying the city $1.1 million as part of a land swap. The agreement would give the parish control of the parking lot at the Coliseum. The parking lot has been the center of a dispute between the city and the parish. Resolution of the dispute is needed to clear the way for the $22.9 million renovation of the Coliseum to begin.

     

    The APD reports a North MacArthur drive homeowner chased a burglar who had just robbed his home Saturday leading police directly to the robbers Enterprise Road home. Police arrested 38 James Robertson and booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. Robertson has been  charged with simple burglary.

     

    State Superintendent of Education John White says after the first day of PARCC testing, concerns that there would be widespread non-participation did not bear out. He says preliminary findings show more than 320,000 students took the test associated Common Core which is about 99% participation. White says half of the 1% of non-participants came from Calcasieu Parish. He also says Red River, Jackson and Central Community had a high number of students who didn’t test.

     

    The state’s economic development secretary Stephen Moret will leave his job in May and take over as the president and CEO of the LSU foundation, which is LSU’s top fundraising organization. Moret is an LSU grad and has severed as Governor Bobby Jindal’s LED secretary since 2008.

     

    A Washington Post article refers to Governor Bobby Jindal as one of the great mysteries of the early 2016 presidential campaign. They said that not long ago, Jindal was considered a fresh new face in the Republican Party, but his star has since fallen. The Post says, for the first time in Jindal’s political career, he appears to be lost. They say the governor looks like he’s trying to be every politician at once. According to The Post, Jindal is polling at around two-percent in national Republican polls.

     

    The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office says a toddler from Slidell is in the hospital after being run over apparently by a family member who then left the scene. They say 44-year-old Derrick Populus eventually admitted he struck the child with a vehicle in the driveway then drove off. He is booked with felony hit-and-run. The child’s condition appears to be improving.

     

    Shreveport Representative Barbra Norton has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would make it illegal to supply a child 12 or under with an Uzi sub-machine gun. She says kids are not big enough to handle such a large weapon in a safe manner. Norton says she realizes that some parents want to teach their children how to shoot guns for hunting or for general safety reasons, but she sees no reason for kids to ever have a machine gun.

     

    Jury selection begins today in Lafayette in the first-degree murder trial of Seth Fontenot, accused of a 2013 shooting that killed 15-year old Austin Rivault and injured two others. Fontenot claims he fired to scare the teens, who he thought were breaking into his truck, not to hurt them.

     

    Sports..

     

    The LSU men’s basketball team leaves today for Pittsburgh, where they’ll play North Carolina State on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers bring a 22-and-10 record to the Big Dance and needs to win six straight games to win a national championship.

     

    The new Baseball America Poll is out and LSU is still on top now for the second straight week. The Tigers went 3-1 on the week losing once in a 14-inning game against ole Miss. They’re joined in the top 10 with four other SEC teams, Florida, Vandy, Texas A&M and South Carolina.

     

    Louisiana Tech hosts Central Michigan tonight in the N-I-T. It’s the second straight year the Bulldogs will get to host a postseason game. But this year Tech is coming off a disappointing loss in the Conference USA tournament. Central Michigan was the regular season Mid-American Conference West Division champions this season and they boast a record of 23-and-8.

     

     

  • News For Monday 03/16/15

    News for Monday 031615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Early Sunday afternoon,  a Texas couple were killed in Hineston, when their motorcycle struck a vehicle that turned directly into their path. The accident occurred when 62 year old Larry Callahan made a left turn off of highway 121. The driver of the motorcycle attempted to stop in time but was unable to do so. Callahan was not injured, however he was charged with improper turning.

     

    Funeral services will be held today for former Rapides Parish Police Juror Stephen Bordelon who passed away Friday. Bordelon is known for his service to the city of Pineville in several capacities including the fire department and city council, as well as his tenure on the Rapides Parish Police Jury. Visitation will be at Hixson Brothers in Pineville this morning at 9 a.m. until the service at 11 a.m. Stephen Bordelon was 75

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order calling for the flags at all state buildings to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the military members who lost their lives in the Black Hawk crash last week. The order is through this Friday at sunset.

     

    Students in third through eighth grades will begin taking the controversial tests tied to Common Core today. This is the first time PARCC will be administered in Louisiana. State Department of Education Superintendent John White says this is about getting a basic description of what kids should be able to do at the end of each grade level. There are many people who oppose Common Core arguing that it’s too complex but White says it’s time that we stop teaching math with memorization.

     

    A special enrollment period began Sunday on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace giving some, who didn’t realized they would be penalized on their taxes for not being covered, a second chance of obtaining health insurance. This special enrollment period will go through April 30.

     

    The state Department of Health and Hospitals announces a new initiative aimed at reducing c-section rates among Louisiana mothers. DHH Secretary Kathy Kleibert says “Go the Full 40″ is a voluntary pledge by hospitals to end non-medically indicated induced pregnancies. Kleibert says about 50% of babies in Louisiana are born before 40 weeks gestation.

     

    The bird flu has made a recent appearance in Arkansas, along with confirmations in some mid-western and northwestern states. Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says  a poultry quarantine will keep any live poultry products from entering Louisiana from an area that’s been affected. The good news is, this disease is not normally contracted by humans.

     

    Proposed legislation will be presented to lawmakers that will provide funds to pay for sexual assault victim care with expired winning casino tickets. New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno says, under the proposed law, hospitals would not bill victims -and- those who come forward aren’t limited to 72 hours to report an incident in order for the services to be provided at no charge. You can expect the casinos to fight this legislation. Currently, casinos and tracks are allowed to keep expired winnings as earnings.

     

    The four candidates for governor met last Friday in a forum to discuss Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. As you may suspect, all said they support it. The Louisiana gubernatorial election will take place on October 24.

     

    Richard J. “Dick” Brennan Sr., a restaurateur who with his family owned and managed some of New Orleans most celebrated dining establishments, died Saturday at his home in New Orleans. Along with his siblings, he was instrumental in the transformation of Commander’s Palace into the definitive modern Creole restaurant of its generation, beginning in the 1970s. Dick Brennan Sr was 84.

     

    March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it is reported that nearly 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 are not getting tested as recommended. Last year alone, more than 50,000 people died of colorectal cancer in the United States.

     

    Sports..

     

    For the first time since 2009, the LSU Tigers are in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Bayou Bengals are a nine-seed and they’ll face North Carolina State on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Coach Johnny Jones says the goal all season long was to get an invite to the Big Dance.

     

  • News For Friday 03/13/15

    News For Friday 031315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Eglin Air Force Base officials say the wreckage of the Army helicopter that crashed Tuesday night over the Florida Panhandle has been found. Eglin Col. Monte Cannon says the wreckage was located in about 25 feet of water. The search has gone from a search and rescue to now just a rescue mission. The Coast Guard announced Thursday afternoon nine of the 11 victims have been found, including two from Louisiana. Pineville native David Strother a chief warrant officer, is one of those who lost his life. Strother is being remembered as someone who made the "ultimate sacrifice" for his country.

     

    Alexandria PD report that foul play is not suspected in the death of a man whose body was found under a bridge on North 3rd street Wednesday morning. The man's body was sent for an autopsy and other forensic testing. The man's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

     

    They’ve made progress. But, there’s more work to do. S.A.C.S The Southern Association Of Colleges and Schools, visited the Louisiana College Campus on Wednesday. The good news, Louisiana College is in compliance with five of the six standards that led to it being placed on probation last year. A standard citing “external influence” remains unresolved.  SACS placed the school on probation in June, six months after the agency reaffirmed its accreditation. LC had been on warning with SACS for two years prior.

     

    Lt Governor hopeful Kip Holden is finding himself involved in a scandal as a 2011 lawsuit has surfaced claiming the Baton Rouge mayor repeatedly sexually harassed a woman who was in Louisiana on business. The lawsuit does not name Holden as a defendant and it’s actually targeted at her former employer. A poll was released this week showing Holden in good position to make the run-off in the lieutenant governor’s race. Holden denies the accusations, saying both he and his wife know the truth on this one.

     

    According to a report by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, Louisiana has the highest estimated percentage of unemployed youth in the country. The study also found that New Orleans is third in the nation for the percentage of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who aren’t working or in school.

     

    Bogalusa Representative Harold Ritchie files a bill that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to the national average. The governor has proposed an increase in the state’s cigarette tax to the southern regional average, but Ritchie believes the tax on cigarettes should be higher. Ritchie’s bill would raise the tax from 36-cents to a $1.54 per pack. It will be considered during the legislative session that begins April 13th. The Jindal administration says they will support an increase in tobacco taxes, but only if it’s accompanied with a tax break.

     

    More police presence in New Orleans, as State Police have redeployed additional troopers to patrol the Crescent City. This comes courtesy of $2.5 million dollars raised by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, based on the needs of NOPD and requests from business leaders. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says this will not take away any patrol efforts for the rest of the state.

     

    Louisiana Tech is under somewhat of a microscope after a claim comes up accusing their Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity of racist chanting in 2010 — similar to the now-closed Oklahoma Chapter. Tech says there is no evidence of this. Tech says they are investigating the matter.

     

    The United Steelworkers union has reached an agreement with Shell that could soon lead to the end of a six-week strike that has affected 12 U.S. refineries,  including two in Louisiana.

     

    The union and Royal Dutch Shell have been negotiating a contract that would serve as a blueprint for agreements with other refiners.

     

    The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating a school bus crash and a driver that is suspected of being under the influence when the accident took place. They say no there were no major injuries of students on the bus. The driver, 50-year-old John Harvey Bernard, was issued a careless operation citation and is still under investigation pending results from a blood alcohol  test.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal announces legislation will once again be brought up this session that would protect sexual assault victims and ensure that they are not charged by hospitals for medical services associated with assault claims. The Stand and Support Survivors Bill is sponsored by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno.

     

    A new Centers for Disease Control study shows that two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer in the US survive five years or more. The cancer survivor estimates are based on cases of invasive cancers reported during 2011. Associate Dean for Research at LSU’s School of Public Health, Ed Trapido, says these numbers show a remarkable amount of progress.

    Among the most common types of cancer, the study reports a five-year-survival rate of 97-percent for prostate cancer and 88-percent for breast cancer.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Sports..

     

    The New Orleans Saints did another trade Thursday  to clear some salary cap room, saving the team $3.6 million. Two time Pro-Bowler guard Ben Grubbs was traded to Kansas City in exchange for a 5th round pick. The move allowed the Black and Gold to sign cornerback Brandon Browner from the New England Patriots.

     

    According to a new research by the LSU economics department, LSU is the number 32 most disliked team in the country. LSU is behind some other SEC schools-Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The most disliked team in the nation is Boise State.

     

    The LSU Tigers begin SEC play tonight against Ole Miss as the number one ranked team in the country according to Baseball America. Coach Paul Mainieri says his team earned that number one ranking, by playing solid baseball. Jared Poche will be tonight’s starting pitcher.

     

     

     

     

  • News For Thursday 03/12/15

    The investigation continues today in the Army helicopter crash that killed all 11 servicemen on board during a training mission Tuesday night in the Florida Panhandle. Of the 11, four were Louisiana National Guard soldiers based out of Hammond.  David Strother Of Pineville was one of four Louisiana National Guardsmen serving as crew members. The other seven servicemen were Marines based out of Fort LaJeune in North Carolina.

     

    U.S. Attorney Walt Green announced yesterday a licensed clinical social worker has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for her role in a health care fraud scheme involving two companies that operated in the Alexandria area. 50 year old Carla Clark of Pineville, also was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson to pay more than $413,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

     

    State Police announce that during a crackdown of insurance fraud throughout Louisiana, several arrests have been made of people who have tried to abuse the system various ways. LSP Spokesman Dustin Dwight says insurance fraud is a problem that affects all citizens here who pay some of the highest premiums in the country. This latest round of arrests include people who are accused of faking car accidents, filing fraudulent medical bills from injuries they’ve claimed to have received in vehicle crashes.

     

    Work is progressing on several million dollars of improvements to pave the way for construction of a Cool Planet Energy Systems plant at the Port of Alexandria. The larger portion of the improvements began a few weeks ago, though rain has robbed contractors of many of those days. The $6.4 million project includes construction of roads, fire-suppressant equipment and an operations center for the plant, which will manufacture gasoline and agriculture-boosting biochar out of wood chips. On Wednesday, the port’s board of commissioners approved advertising for an additional $1.8 million in infrastructure improvements related to the project.

     

    An autopsy performed on the US Deputy Marshal who was fatally injured Tuesday as a result of a shoot-out with a suspect, died because of a shot to the neck. Twenty-seven year-old Josie Wells was serving a warrant for a double homicide suspect in Scotlandville  when he was shot. The suspect, Jamie Croom,  succumbed to his injuries Yesterday. Wells leaves behind a wife and a baby on the way.

     

    Payscale-dot-com ranks Louisiana Tech number one in the state in overall Return of Investment for both in-state and out-of-state students. University spokesman Dave Guerin says this is a great accomplishment and it shows Louisiana Tech provides students with marketable skills to go into a company and make an impact. This is the second straight year that Tech has received the top ranking in Louisiana.

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy wants the Jindal administration to rethink the sale of the rest of the state’s tobacco settlement to generate cash to fill a budget hole. Kennedy said yesterday It’s the same bad fiscal policy that’s created the current $1.6 billion “structural deficit” in the state budget. The administration proposes sale of the remaining portion of a 1998 tobacco settlement in order to generate $750 million for spending.

     

    State education officials announced yesterday, while about 320,000 public school students will take Common Core tests starting Monday, they will also face a second round of the exams May 4-8. The second phase, like the questions next week, will focus on what students know about math, reading and writing. Common Core and its assessments have been a hot topic of debate for the past 18 months, and the tests had to overcome a court challenge from Gov. Bobby Jindal before they won final clearance.

     

    The video of a 7-year-old girl’s tearful reaction to New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham getting traded to Seattle, has gone viral. The child, Lexia Woods, was obviously devastated after her mother, Ashley Ann Woods, told her the news with the video camera rolling. Lexia is doing much better today.

     

    The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in an overnight home invasion  in New Iberia, where two male victims inside the home were shot. Sheriff Louis Ackal says the victims were transported to the hospital; the two suspects wore ski masks, and are still at large.

     

    The gas price keeps rising. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.26 up a penny in the past 24 hours.

     

    Sports..

     

    Louisiana Tech men’s basketball begins play tonight in the Conference USA tonight. The Bulldogs won the regular season title and a conference tournament championship will give them an automatic berth in the Big Dance.

  • News For Tuesday 03/10/15

    News for Tuesday 031015

    By Dave Graichen

     

    New Louisiana College president Rick Brewer is on the Pineville campus this week even though he doesn’t officially begin until April 7th. Brewer will meet with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools who placed the institution on academic probation. Brewer says he took the job, because he believes the private Baptist College has a great future. Brewer says he plans to turn things around for LC and make it a place students, faculty and alumni can be proud of again. Brewer says it’s time to change the dial at LC and that’s what he plans to do slowly, but surely.

     

    Alexandria police have identified one victim of the Friday wreck that killed two people and injured two others. 18 year old Darius Jones and a 15year-old juvenile both died in the wreck in the 3200 block of North Bolton Avenue. Other sources and a death notice published Sunday in The Town Talk identified the 15-year-old as Kashayla Jones, a freshman at Alexandria Senior High School. The APD reports the wreck still is under investigation. One person died at the scene of the wreck, and three others were taken to local hospitals. The second person died later, according to police. The two other passengers remain hospitalized

     

    Lin Dyess Stewert was appointed Monday by the Police Jury to become registrar of voters on July 1st when the current registrar retires. The unusual twist to the story is, when Joanell Wilson retires, her successor will be the daughter of the man she succeeded. Wilson has worked for registrar’s office since January 1968. She became registrar in July 1988, succeeding B.G. Dyess, Stewart’s father.

     

    In what has all the makings for a TV reality show, it appears the City of Alexandria will appeal a ruling made Monday by the 9 Judicial court having to do with the ongoing squabble between the city and the police jury over the issue of the Rapides parish coliseum parking lot. Judge George Metoyer on Monday ruled against the city of Alexandria when he refused to grant an exception about proper jurisdiction in the case.  The city believes that Metoyer doesn’t  have the jurisdiction to hear the property dispute between the two public bodies. The Judge, disagrees.

     

    The Kiwanis Club of Pineville is hosting its annual Pancake Day fundraiser from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. today in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The club is offering pancakes, sausage, milk and coffee for $6 per person. Children 5 and under can eat free with an adult meal purchased. Takeout orders are available. Pancake Day raises funds so that the Kiwanis Club of Pineville can support various charitable causes and organizations, including the Key Clubs of Pineville and Tioga high schools.

     

    A state audit looking at the “Road Home” program finds that $939 million was given out to homeowners who did not comply with the rules of the program. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says “Road Home” was set up following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to help homeowners repair and reoccupy their homes. Purpera says it’s possible the federal government will ask the state to return the money that was not used appropriately, but he says the feds also understand the complexity of the program. The audit shows the $939 million in noncompliant funds is just the tip of the iceberg.

     

    A new poll on Louisiana’s governor’s race shows Republican US Senator David Vitter leading with 35% followed by Democratic Amite Representative John Bel Edwards at 33%. The survey by Triumph Campaigns shows Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne third with 15% and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle with 7%. 11% of those polled remain undecided.

     

    Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil has filed a Constitutional Amendment for the 2015 session which would give colleges control of raising their own fees. Foil says currently our state constitution does not allow colleges the autonomy to raise their fees — it has to be approved by two-thirds vote of the members of each house. He says if this constitutional amendment passes, colleges would have the option to raise fees in certain areas as they see fit for the students.

     

    A republican lawmaker describes Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal as “insane” in a letter to supporters. Monroe Representative Jay Morris says the Americans for Tax Reform has okayed the Jindal administration’s plan, but it’s not the best way to handle a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall next fiscal year. Morris says the Americans for Tax Reform, which is an anti-tax group, has said its okay to scale back the inventory tax credit, but they do not approve of capping the state’s film tax credits. Morris says it’s hard to say what the final budget will look like. He suspects there will be a combination of cuts to state government and measures to raise revenue that are supported by the ATR.

     

    Central Casting Louisiana is looking for people with oil rig, merchant marine, and Coast Guard experience to work on the upcoming feature film, “Deepwater Horizon”. Director of Casting, Adam Hochfeld (HOCK-feld), says the movie will tell the story of the rig workers on the platform when the explosion took place back in 2010 and the subsequent rescue of those workers. Those interested can e-mail their information, including work experience, to deepwater-at-centralcasting-dot-com. The film will star Mark Wahlberg.

     

    Trilby Lundberg, who monitors gas prices across the country, says Baton Rouge has the lowest national average gas price in the country at $2.16. Gas-buddy-dot-com’s Gregg Laskoski  says Louisiana’s statewide average of $2.24, ranks in the top ten for lowest gas prices in the nation. The lowest statewide average in the country is Wyoming and South Carolina at $2.14 a gallon. Laskoski says gas prices have been rising since the start of February and he expects that trend to continue.

     

    Sports..

     

    The New Orleans Saints have released linebacker Curtis Lofton. The move saves a reported $9.25 million dollars. Lofton was picked up by the Black and Gold as a free agent in 2012. The NFL salary cap deadline is today. Teams will be able to sign free agents starting at 3pm.

     

    The NFL free-agency period begins today. Teams will be able to sign free agents to their roster beginning at 3PM. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says the Saints will be looking to improve the team on both sides of the ball. He says they need to address a couple of issues going into the 2015 season. Although the Saints are dealing with salary cap issues, Detillier says that won’t stop the team from getting the players they need.

     

    No one is playing better basketball than U-L Lafayette heading into this week’s Sun Belt Tournament in New Orleans. The Ragin Cajuns have won six straight to raise their overall record to 19-and-12. U-L Lafayette will play either U-T Arlington or Texas State in the semi-finals on Friday at Lakefront Arena. The Cajuns won the Sun Belt Tourney and earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament last year.

  • News For Monday 03/09/15

    News for Monday 030915

    By Dave Graichen

     

    And now there are three. Rapides Parish Assistant District Attorney Monique Metoyer has been fired. After 23 years on the job, she was told Friday she was no longer needed. Since Phillip Terrell was been sworn in as DA, two other DA’s have lost their jobs, Daphne Robinson, a 19 year veteran and Jerry Deason.

     

    The APD now reports 2 people lost their lives as a result of a single vehicle accident on North Bolton Ave late Friday afternoon. Police also report two other people received moderate to severe injuries in the crash.

     

    A Baton Rouge lawmaker will file a bill for the upcoming legislative session that seeks to let citizens vote on whether or not marijuana should be legal in Louisiana for recreational use. Representative Dalton Honore is also bringing back his medical marijuana bill which failed last year. He says people should be able to vote on the recreational pot law. Recreational marijuana for adult use is legal in Oregon, Washington D.C., Colorado, Alaska and Washington. Honore says he hopes other lawmakers will get on board with letting people decide whether or not marijuana for recreational use should be legal here. The legislative session begins April 13th.

     

    This school year, the Ascension Parish School Board turned the work of hiring substitute teachers to Kelly Educational Staffing, a division of the national employment agency.

    The motivation for the School Board was the difficulty, both financially and time-wise, of meeting requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which calls for providing health insurance for employees who work more than 30 hours a week, which substitute teachers sometimes do.

    The move is saving the School Board $358,000 a year, with other benefits being the recruitment and training of substitute teachers that Kelly Services provides.

     

    With the beginning of Daylight Saving Time over the weekend, everyone lost an hour of sleep. But State Police says that’s no excuse to drive fatigued. Sgt. Nick Manale says they often see accidents that were caused by sleepy drivers, so if you do feel yourself becoming fatigued while driving, Manale suggests pulling over and getting a breath of fresh air, stepping out of the car, or getting something to drink as ways you can revive yourself. Manale says sleepy driving can be as dangerous as impaired or distracted driving.

     

    Lafayette has been named as one of the top 20 hardest working cities in the US by the personal finance site badcredit-dot-org. Editor Steven Richmond says about 350 cities were ranked on four separate categories for this report, the  percentage of population over age 16 in the workforce, average commute times, percentage of households with children, and average number of hours worked each week. He says this list represents some of the busiest, hardest working, and most workaholic populations in the US.

     

     

     

  • News For Friday 03/06/15

    News for Friday 030615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The vote by the board of trustees was unanimous and Rick Brewer is the new president at Louisiana College. Brewer is currently vice president of student affairs and athletics at Charleston (S.C.) Southern University. He succeeds Joe Aguillard, president of the college from January 2005 until the board voted in April of last year  to approve an agreement to for his removal. Brewer will take office April 7.

     

    BESE rejects a proposal to waive penalties against schools who have students that opt out from taking the Common Core exam. In a 7-to-4 vote, BESE agreed with Superintendent of Education John White, who says let’s wait and see how many opt outs there are first. A zero score will be given for each student who doesn’t take the test, which could lower a school’s performance score. Before the vote, BESE members heard from frustrated parents and educators who are upset over the new academic standards and the tests tied to them.

     

    A former LSU football tight end for the Tigers 2003 national championship team was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday for his role in shooting up a Port Allen truck stop casino more than three years ago. 32 year old Demetri Robinson pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder in the Sept. 2011, shooting at the Cajun Circus Casino. Robinson shot a cashier then fired shots at two other employees after he was asked to leave the casino.

     

    Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Thursday that he is pushing two pieces of legislation that aim to help veterans and military students earn college degrees in Louisiana. One would establish the “Governor’s Veterans Friendly Campus Designation” for colleges that implement a list of support measures for student veterans. The other bill Jindal’s backing would help streamline the transfer of credits to Louisiana colleges from accredited schools that contract with the Department of Defense to teach on military bases around the world. Both bills will be debated in the upcoming legislative session.

     

    Acadia Parish authorities are searching for a Church Point attorney who is accused of allegedly stealing more than 435 thousand dollars from clients who had hired him as their lawyer. Malcolm Brasseaux is nowhere to be found. Anyone with information is asked to call the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department.

     

    The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has cited a New Iberia man for allegedly killing a Louisiana Black bear in St. Mary Parish. Agents say 52-year-old Richard Picard Junior was hog hunting and Picard claims he mistakenly identified the black bear as a wild hog. Picard faces hundreds of dollars in fines and possible jail time as well.

     

    Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is planning to hold regular meetings with various stakeholders from across the state during the upcoming legislative session. The new “Commissioner’s Roundtable” initiative has been planned as a way to keep business and industry leaders, faculty, staff and others outside of Baton Rouge engaged in legislative issues related that will impact higher ed throughout the session. Rallo, who took on the job in January, set out on a statewide listening tour earlier this year. He has since met with more than 1,000 people across 45 parishes.

  • News For Thursday 03/05/15

    News for Thursday 030515

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Due to the threat of Icy weather, Schools in Rapides, Grant, LaSalle, Catahoula  and Avoyelles parishes are closed today.  Catholic schools in Rapides and Avoyelles parishes also will be closed. Also closed LSUA and Central Louisiana Technical Community College. The Alexandria, Jena & Avoyelles campuses and Northwestern State University - Alexandria campus.

     

    Louisiana State Offices are closed in: Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, & Rapides parishes.

     

    The Louisiana College Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting today, at which time they are expected to announce their selection of a new President. Board Chairman Tommy French announced February the 17 that one candidate would appear before the full board at the special meeting. However, members of the board have refused to reveal the name the candidate prior to their vote.

     

    The Country Cares For Kids St. Jude’s Radiothon is today on 100.3 KRRV  call 1-800-573-5425 to become a partner in hope.

     

    The APD reports Two juveniles a, 15 and a 16 year old, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kendrick  Hayes, who was found early Sunday in the City Park area.. The department has asked Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office that both juveniles be tried as adults.

     

    Sources say the New Orleans Saints have released running back Pierre Thomas from the team. The 30-year-old will save the Black and Gold $1.735 million dollars against the salary cap. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says it’s a heart breaking move, but not really a surprise.

    New Orleans needs to continue to move or lay-off some players by March 10th to get below the salary cap.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that EPIC Piping would be making a $45.3 million dollar capital investment in Livingston Parish to establish an advanced facility and corporate headquarters. The project is to create 560 new direct jobs with an average daily salary of $56,600 plus benefits.

     

    The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet today and one of them items on the agenda is the question of what to do about Common Core Opt-Outs. Some families who oppose the education standards have said they won’t let their child take the PARCC test. BESE member Jane Smith seeks to delay consequences for schools who have students who opt out. Smith says students who opt-out of taking the Common Core test won’t be punished but it’s the school that would get a zero for that student towards its performance score.

     

    A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and a deputy in Victor White III’s death by White’s mother. White died from a gunshot wound while handcuffed in the backseat of the deputy’s squad car. The Iberia Sheriff’s Department claims White shot himself.

     

    Sports..

     

    The roller-coaster ride of a season continued for the LSU men’s basketball team on Wednesday night at a most unfortunate time. Facing a team it crushed by 18 points on the road just 2½ weeks earlier, LSU had an opportunity to solidify its spot in the NCAA tournament field on its home floor against Tennessee. However Tennessee rolled to an easy 78-63 victory. LSU will try to rebound on Saturday in the regular-season finale against Arkansas in Fayetteville.

     

     

     

     

  • News For Wednesday 03/04/15

    News for Wednesday 030415

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Get ready for a big change in the weather. State climatologist Barry Keim says high temperatures today will be in the 70s and tomorrow they’ll be back in the 30s and 40s as a result of a strong cold front. This front has the potential to produce another round of winter precipitation. Keim says the northern half of the state could see freezing rain during the overnight hours.

     

    Now all we can do is wait and see.. Army officials were in Leesville Tuesday to hear concerns about a potential downsizing that could remove up to 6,500 troops, more than half the personnel at Ft. Polk. At the listening session in Leesville, and concurrent events in Alexandria and Lake Charles, Strong community support was evident. The Army is evaluating ways to reduce its strength by as many as 70,000 troops. Fort Polk is one of 30 bases that is being considered for personnel reductions to achieve that.

     

    The price of gas keeps going up. The state wide average is now $2.22 which is almost a dime more than this time last week. The Energy Department says there is a major increase in crude oil and the US is running out of room to store it. Some say this could mean another huge drop in the price we’re paying for gas at the pump in Louisiana.

     

    Authorities in Vernon Parish report A Pitkin man is facing several charges after he allegedly had sexual contact with a 10-year-old. A complaint was made on Tuesday, and detectives conducted a forensic interview with the victim, who said that Robert L. Fortenberry III had touched her inappropriately. The 37 year old Fortenberry admitted to the incident during the interview with detectives.

     

    The state Department of Revenue announces that tax refunds are now being issued. Spokeswoman Kizzie Payton says there was a slight delay this year due to the increase in fraudulent tax returns across the nation. She says, thus far, over 763,000 tax returns have been filed and about 244,000 have been processed.

     

    The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry plans to fight Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to repeal the inventory tax credit. Such a move would save the state an estimated $380 million to help the budget crisis. But LABI Vice President, Jim Patterson, says the vast majority of states do not have inventory taxes, so if the refund went away businesses could decide to shift inventories to states that do not have such a tax and those warehouse jobs would be lost.

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy sees pros and cons to Governor Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal. The governor has proposed scaling back certain tax credits and cut spending in other areas to address a $1.6 billion revenue shortfall. Kennedy says some of the proposed reductions in spending make sense, especially in the area of consulting contracts. Kennedy says the proposed budget looks to reduce 60-percent of the deficit by repealing tax credits and 40-percent by reducing spending. However, Kennedy does question the proposal of closing all health clinics in New Orleans, which will affect about 57,000 people.

     

    Louisiana has built a $1.1 billion medical teaching hospital in New Orleans, but the manager of the soon-to-be-opened University Medical Center says Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget leaves it millions short of the operating cash it needs. Altogether, private operators of the state-owned hospitals previously run by LSU asked for $142 million more than Jindal proposed to spend on them in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nearly $88 million of that was for the hospital in New Orleans, which will shift services from an interim facility to the larger, new hospital this summer.

     

    An early morning fire yesterday claimed the life of a 73-year-old woman in Opelousas. Firefighters responded to a wood frame dwelling around 4am, which they found fully engulfed in flames. The state fire Marshal’s office is still working to determine the cause of the blaze.

     

    A Campti man died Monday after fell to his death after his safety harness became entangled in machinery at the International Paper-Red River. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office  reports 42 year old David  Long was pronounced dead at the scene.

     

    Shreveport Police Department is investigating a overnight home invasion, where one of the suspects was shot and killed. Corporal Marcus Hines says they believe two men wearing masks, and entered the home with guns. Further evidence indicated there may have been illegal drugs present. Police say there were children inside the home, but they were not injured.

     

    Agents with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control say a Ruston woman is under arrest accused of selling booze out of her personal residence. ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says 21-year-old Bryanna Jackson was taking money for cocktails at her apartment. Hebert says undercover agents went in one evening and were able to purchase two mixed drinks from the suspect. He says they discovered the illegal activity was going on from ads the woman was posting online.

     

    Sports..

     

    The LSU men’s basketball team plays its final home game of the year tonight as they host the Tennessee Volunteers at six pm in the Maravich Center. These two teams met in Knoxville on Valentine’s Day and it was all LSU as they won by 18 points. LSU has won its last three and they are ten and six in league play.

     

  • News For Tuesday 03/03/15

    News for Tuesday 030315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    As the military, once again, looks to reduce the number of troops at the Fort Polk Army base, the Army is holding a meeting tonight to listen to concerns about the potential effects a troop reduction could have on the area. Fort Polk Progress Chairman, Michael Reese, says the listening session is the final event in their evaluation process. He says they will host three events in Leesville, Lake Charles, and here in Alexandria. The listening sessions begin at 6 p.m., though people are encouraged to arrive early. The Alexandria session is at Alexandria Convention Hall (in City Hall). The military is considering troop reductions at 30 bases nationwide.

     

    The RPSO reports an Alexandria man was killed Saturday evening when he was struck by a train while he was walking on railroad tracks in the Wardville area of Pineville The train was traveling north on the tracks between Louisiana College and the creosote plant when a pedestrian was spotted in the middle of the tracks. The engineer told deputies he sounded the horn and applied the emergency brake, but was unable to stop in time. Killed in the incident was 36 year old Brandon Iles.

     

    It looks like north Louisiana is in for yet another winter weather event Wednesday night into Thursday. Meteorologist Davyon Hill with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says a cold front is moving through late this evening into tomorrow bringing some rain along with it and a massive temperature drop behind it. Hill says this line of a possible wintry mix is from Natchitoches to Monroe and northwest of that. Central Louisiana could get some freezing rain and as you go north the risk for sleet and possibly some snow gets higher.

     

    Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo says Governor Jindal’s proposed budget is about 200-million dollars short of what’s needed to fully fund the state’s public college and universities. Rallo says if the funding situation doesn’t change, campus leaders will have to make some tough decisions. One possible solution is to close college campuses. Another option, the privatization of some public universities.

     

    A straw poll conducted at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference showed Governor Bobby Jindal finishing in 12th place among Republican presidential hopefuls. Jindal received less than one percent of the ballots in that poll. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul won the poll, followed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

     

    Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon will be facing a newly announced challenger in this year’s re-election campaign. Matt Parker, a political newcomer who owns a car repair business in West Monroe announced his candidacy in an email to reporters Monday. Parker claims Donelon is taking campaign contributions from the insurance industry which could mean higher rates for customers.

     

    It was a very close vote, but a New Orleans flood protection board has decided not to abandon their appeal of the dismissal of a lawsuit of coastal erosion. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-east filed the suit in 2013, seeking damages from oil and gas companies who built pipelines they contend caused the loss of coastal wetlands that were vital for hurricane protection.

     

    Slidell Police has arrested a Baton Rouge man after he threw his 17 month-old baby daughter to the ground while fleeing officers during a shoplifting attempt. Twenty-four year-old Lamar Causey is facing numerous charges. Fortunately, the little girl had only minor injuries.

     

    Sports..

     

    LSU sophomore guard Tim Quarterman is the SEC player of the week. Quarterman had a triple-double on over the weekend, the first one in LSU’s history since Shaquille O’ Neal did it in 1992.

     

    LSU and its former defensive coordinator John Chavis are in a legal battle. The two sides filed lawsuits against each other. LSU claims Chavis owes a 400-thousand dollar contractual buyout for accepting a job with Texas A-and-M. Legal analyst Tim Meche says where the case will be heard, Texas or Baton Rouge, needs to be settled first. Chavis filed the first lawsuit in Texas, claiming he took the proper steps when he left LSU. LSU counter sued, seeking to dismiss Chavis’ suit and have the case heard in Baton Rouge.

  • News For Monday 03/02/15

    News for Monday 030215

    By Dave Graichen

     

    APD detectives are investigating a homicide that occurred in the city over the weekend. Police found the body of 21 year old Kendrick Hayes of Alexandria about 2:45 a.m. Sunday after responding to a report of an unconscious male in the vicinity of City Park off of Masonic Drive. The death is being treated as a homicide. An autopsy is pending.

     

    If at first you don’t succeed, try 86 more times. The APD reports an Alexandria man was arrested last week on a charge of attempted simple burglary and booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. While that is not unusual in and of itself,  this arrest was the 87 arrest for 54 year old Jessie Swafford. At the time of the arrest, Swafford was out on bond in connection with a November felony theft charge, which is pending in 9th Judicial District Court.

     

    The Jindal administration presented a proposed budget Friday that provides  a starting point on how to prevent drastic cuts to health care and higher education, despite a one-point-six billion revenue shortfalll for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says they want lawmakers to scale back a dozen  refundable tax credits which would save the state 526-million dollars. Even with a cap on certain tax credits, the cut in the proposed budget to higher ed is 211-million dollars. The potential drop in funding for health care services is 235-million dollars according to the proposed budget.

     

    Republican gubernatorial candidate, US Senator David Vitter, is getting the endorsement of an ex-president. The Vitter campaign sent an e-mail to supporters announcing the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush. In his endorsement, Bush describes Vitter as an effective, conservative leader and urges people to contribute to his campaign. Vitter is the front runner in this year’s governor’s race, ahead of Republicans Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Democratic state Representative John Bel Edwards.

     

    As the Louisiana filmed blockbuster “Focus” opened over the weekend, a group of lawmakers are looking at ways to improve the state’s film tax credits. Some have argued that the movie credits here are corrupt and too generous. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell, who is working on reform legislation, says he fully supports the program but it has major issues. Economic impact numbers revealed Focus filmed here for 43 days and spent over $8.3 million on local labor at in-state businesses and on location.

     

    In two weeks, students will take Common Core exams and a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that will prohibit penalties if a student decided to opt out of the testing. Abbeville Representative Bob Hensgens’ bill would protect students, schools, and school systems from non-participation penalties. He says there is no law that levies penalties for not taking the tests, but that’s not what he’s hearing from school districts. Education Superintendent John White says they will address opt-outs when they see how many students actually opt-out of the exams.

     

    The Jindal administration has said they are willing to scale back 526-million dollars in tax credits for businesses. As a way to help reduce cuts to higher education, The Jindal administration proposes higher fees to attend public college, but provides a tax credit to offset those costs, which would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax. The governor has highlighted 12 tax credits that could become non-refundable which would give the state more money to spend.

     

    NBC’s hit show “The Voice” begins its second week of the new season tonight and Louisiana already has ties to three contestants who made it through the blind auditions. 22-year-old Rob Taylor, who was raised in Baton Rouge and now lives in Donaldsonville, gets to move on to the battle rounds which take place next month. Also vying to win a recording contract this season is Tonya Boyd-Cannon who’s from Jackson, Mississippi but currently lives in Chalmette. And Meghan Linsey who’s from The Big Easy but currently lives in Nashville.

     

    A state Attorney General’s Office investigation has lead to the arrest of a former St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s deputy on multiple charges. They say 39-year-old Michael Barber of Breaux Bridge was booked into the St. Martin Parish jail on counts of malfeasance in office, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and attempted production of child pornography. Barber was a school resource officer at St. Martinville High.

     

    The New Orleans Police Department has arrested a 13-year-old boy accused of raping three relatives on several occasions. They say the incidents happened over the last two years. The alleged victims include two girls, ages 13 and 11, and a 7-year-old boy.

     

    In Baton Rouge, an eighth-grader is being hailed a hero after he quickly stopped a moving school bus after the driver was punched unconscious by another student. 14-year-old Tay’veon Slaughter quickly stopped the bus, preventing it from crashing, and called authorities after the bus driver was unresponsive. The 15-year-old alleged attacker was arrested and booked on numerous charges including second degree battery.

     

    ULM officials will break ground today on a new end zone building at Malone Stadium. It’s the first new athletic facility built on campus in 1983 and it will feature a new locker room, a Hall of Fame area and new coaches’ offices. Coach Todd Berry says the project has been a long time coming for the program

     

     

  • News For Monday 02/23/15

    News for Monday 022315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Rapides schools Superintendent Nason "Tony" Authement announced schools are closed Monday and Tuesday due to predictions of freezing temperatures, rain and ice accumulation on roads. The Diocese of Alexandria has canceled school for Monday, which affects Holy Savior Menard Central High School, Our Lady of Prompt Succor School and St. Frances Cabrini Elementary in Rapides Parish and St. Joseph School in Plaucheville. Schools in Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches and Vernon parishes are closed Monday with decisions pending for Tuesday.

     

    Also closed today all state offices in Central and North Louisiana.  Louisiana State University and University Academy, Louisiana College in Pineville and all campuses of Northwestern State University are closed Monday.

     

    Major economic news for Central Louisiana was announced Friday as local and state officials made it official that American Specialty Alloys  plans to develop a $2.4 billion aluminum mill at the site of the former International Paper mill in Pineville. The plant, which will  provide strong, lightweight metal for the automotive and aerospace industries, will create 1,450 new permanent jobs, including 850 direct ASA employees and 600 employees of corporate partners that will perform additional manufacturing and logistics functions on the mill campus. In addition, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project would result in 2,600 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 4,000 new jobs in Central Louisiana.  ASA expects to break ground later this year, with a targeted completion date of all facilities in 2020. ASA estimates development of the aluminum mill will generate 2,000 construction jobs.

     

    In the end it really was no race at all.. Jeff Hall won a landslide victory Saturday in a special election for the House District 26 seat. Hall, a retired Cleco executive, had 3,361 votes or 84.07 percent to defeat two other candidates, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

    Daniel Williams, Alexandria's Community Services director, was second with 457 votes or 11.43 percent. Alice "Red" Hammond, a retired Air Force captain, had 180 votes or 4.5 percent

     

    Alcohol is suspected in a traffic accident that claimed the life of one teen and left another in serious condition. The victim was identified by police as 18 year old Abigail Welch of Deridder. Welch was a passenger in a pickup driven by 19 year old Blake Shell of Singer, who was partially ejected, according to police. Neither teen was wearing a seatbelt.

     

    The legislature’s joint budget committee approved a 103-million dollar cut to this fiscal year’s budget. But there were several complaints on how the cuts were handed down. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith expressed her frustration that the governor’s office only received a ten-thousand dollar cut in funding. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols pushed lawmakers to approve the governor’s plan, because if any proposed cuts are re-stored, it will lead to deeper cuts next fiscal year.

     

    Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is the first 2015 gubernatorial candidate to begin advertising on television. LaPolitics.com’s Jeremy Alford says the commercials are part of the $200,000 buy. Alford says there are three commercials in rotation feature Angelle’s “Workhorse Not a Showhorse” line and in one of the ads he speaks in Cajun French.  Alford says now we can expect to see gubernatorial ads non-stop between now and the fall, not only from candidates but also from super PACS.

     

    Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon encourages taxpayers to file for an insurance rebate available to any person who pays for a homeowners, renters or business property insurance policy. Donelon says eligible taxpayers should check the box on their returns for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Assessment rebate. Donelon says if you have questions, go to the insurance department’s website or call his office.

     

    A group of LSU students believe the legislature should approve a constitutional amendment that protects higher education from budget cuts. Higher ed and health care are not protected and they will likely take the brunt of next fiscal year’s budget cuts. So far the group has gathered over one-thousand signatures of LSU students.

     

    Sports..

     

    It was another great weekend for Tiger Baseball. LSU rolled up 21 hits in 16-2 win over Boston College Saturday to sweep the series. This is the second sweep in as many weekends.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • News For Friday 02/20/15

    News for Friday 022015

    By Dave Graichen

     

    In a recent CBS News Poll, 67-percent of Republican respondents said they did not know enough about Governor Bobby Jindal to consider him for the Republican presidential nomination. The poll found that 18-percent of respondents would consider Jindal.

     

    The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office announced the arrests of 19 people yesterday. According to Avoyelles parish sheriff Doug Anderson the operation was "part of an ongoing investigation targeting drug trafficking.

     

    Tomorrow is election day in Rapides parish. Voters will choose from among three Alexandria Democrats on Saturday in a special election to fill the vacant House District 26 seat. The candidates are Jeff Hall, a retired Cleco executive; Alice “Red” Hammond, a retired Air Force captain; and Daniel Williams, Alexandria’s director of Community Services. The winner will fill the remainder of Herbert Dixon’s legislative term, which ends next January. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Saturday.  The House District 26 race is the only election taking place Saturday in Rapides Parish.

     

    The city just wants assurance the project will be completed. That was the response from Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy when asked about the ongoing dispute between the city and Rapides Parish Police Jury over the Rapides Parish Coliseum and the adjacent parking lot. The mayor addressing the Exchange club, went on to say the city is not holding up the process on the renovation project or the sale of the parking lot to the jury.

     

    Former Governor Edwin says he done with politics, and now he’s talking about a career as a real estate broker. As a convicted felon, a majority of the Real Estate Commission members must approve Edwards’ application before he is tested for his license. The 86 year-old Edwards says he wants to work with friends to develop property along the I-10, 1-12 corridor.

     

    A Kenner woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Saints linebacker Junior Gallette, claiming he was physically and emotionally abusive to her during their 2-year relationship. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says this is not good for Gallette or the Saints. Sunseri says the results of the investigation could also determine if Gallette violated the NFL’s new Domestic Abuse Policy. The lawsuit also claims that other members of the team groped her while she was drugged.

     

    The former pastor of President Barack Obama, Reverend  Jeremiah Wright, spoke to students at Southern University on Thursday telling the audience that you shouldn’t seek help from the government but instead from the Lord. Wright says for too many years, blacks have looked to government for help and that’s the wrong place. Wright was Barack Obama’s minister until 2008 when controversial comments surfaced from a sermon he gave in 2003. Wright didn’t mention Mr. Obama during his speech, but defended his work as President.

     

    The case of the man who was convicted of literally scaring a Lafayette woman to death after he broke into her home, then had the ruling overturned, will be reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. A jury found 40-year-old Willie Robertson guilty in 2013 of causing 86-year-old Irene Schoofs heart attack which killed her. The woman died in 1999  but the case wasn’t prosecuted until 13 years later.

  • News For Tuesday 02/19/15

    News for Thursday 021915

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The APD Reports, Homicide suspects, Mark Hayes and Melissa Hayes are in custody. U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force and APD Detectives learned that the suspects were returning to the Alexandria area. Both were arrested, without incident Wednesday afternoon. The two were booked into the Rapides Parish Jail. The brother and sister are key suspects in a double homicide in the city last Friday.

     

    The US Department of Health and Human Services says over 184,000 people in Louisiana are signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. That is a growth of 82 thousand state-wide over last year. Nationwide that number is about 11.4 million Americans. These numbers are as of February 15th which was the deadline to sign up this year.

     

    Louisiana taxpayers who quickly filed their state taxes and are eagerly waiting for their tax refunds will have to keep waiting. The state Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that it won’t start issuing refunds until the week of March 2. The department said it was taking “extra precautions to verify the filings” because of concerns about fraudulent tax returns that had been discovered around the country. Nearly 665,000 electronic returns have been filed with the state since Jan. 20, with no refunds issued so far.

     

    The Secretary of State’s Office is bracing for a $930 thousand dollar mid-year budget reduction. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this one is the largest to hit historical sites. He says there will be dozens of layoffs, and hours of operation reductions are planned, as many museums and the Old State Capitol cut back.

     

    A survey of Louisiana teachers finds 78-percent of them believe state-required standardized tests takes too much time away from classroom instruction. Louisiana Association of Educators president Debbie Meaux says teachers believe there’s an overemphasis on standardized testing in state’s school accountability system .Meaux believes students should only be required to take standardized tests once in elementary school, then again in middle school and one more time on the high school level. She says annual testing does not give teachers enough time to teach the concepts for mastery. Meaux says current amount of standardized tests is also driving younger teachers away.

     

    Tom Benson intends to appeal a San Antonio court’s decision to oust him as steward of a Texas trust set up for his now-estranged daughter. Attorneys for the owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans have filed a notice of appeal with the Bexar County Probate Court in San Antonio. The notice does not give a specific reason for the appeal, which will be filed with the Texas 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio.

     

    According to the latest campaign finance reports, U.S. Sen. David Vitter has more campaign funds than that of his fellow Republican governor’s race opponents combined. Vitter reported $3.5 million in cash on hand when 2015 began compared to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne at $1.55 million and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle at $1.43 million. Lagging behind is Democratic contender state Rep. John Bel Edwards who said he’s raised “over $1 million … since he first announced his candidacy.

     

    A year after Congress amended the National Flood Insurance Program to prevent south Louisiana homeowners from getting hit with huge premium hikes, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is warning again about proposed changes to the program. Last month, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to the program, which would take into account projected sea level rises when determining the risk of future flooding for federal buildings. Cassidy says his  concern is it could influence the bond market and other activities and that could come in a back-end way to influence the private market.

     

    The State Department of Ag and Forestry says the severe insect pest Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB) has been detected in Louisiana. Commissioner Mike Strain says this pest attacks ash trees and has been confirmed in Webster Parish making Louisiana the 25th state to report the presence of this beetle. He says the EAB could be devastating to the trees. Strain says one of their biggest concerns with the EAB is that there is no effective eradication method.

     

    New federal guidelines for an increase in guest worker wages could be hitting crawfish lovers in the pocketbook. Louisiana’s crawfish industry depends heavily on guest workers to perform jobs they cannot fill locally, and processors say the five dollar an hour raise to 12.35 an hour will result in a $3 per pound increase in the price of tail meat.

     

     

  • News For Wednesday 02/18/15

    News for Wednesday 021815

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Alexandria police have issued warrants for a brother and sister in connection to Friday's double homicide. 29 year old Mark Hayes and 24 year old Melissa Hayes are considered armed and dangerous and are believed to be in the New Orleans area. The Alexandria victims, 25-year-old Richard Prenell and 18-year-old Kiasha Clovis, were found Friday afternoon in a 21st street apartment complex.

     

    According to the Towntalk, Louisiana College's search for a permanent president to succeed Joe Aguillard might be nearing the end. The Rev. Tommy French, chairman of the LC Board of Trustees, has called a special meeting of the board for March 5 to "vet and vote on a candidate as president of the college. The private Baptist college in Pineville has conducted its search in secret. LC officials are not disclosing the name the candidate who will appear before the board.

     

    Army officials announced Tuesday  Fort Polk will gain an additional 700 soldiers as the Army realigns its brigade combat teams. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, will be deactivated next week but the soldiers in the unit will be remain at Fort Polk. The 4th BCT, with the additional 700 troops, will become the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in a reflagging ceremony on Feb. 24. The base could still face a cut of up to 6500 soldiers later this year.

     

    Four people are facing charges in an early morning shooting Tuesday after a concert at the VFW on 3rd street in Alexandria. Police say four people were injured, two of whom required surgery.  Detectives worked through the night, interviewing witnesses and serving search warrants. Several weapons were seized during the searches

     

    A report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education shows the black male high school graduation rates in Louisiana trails whites’ by 16 points. For the 2012-13 school year, only 53-percent of black male students graduated compared to 69-percent of white males. Foundation President John Jackson says these numbers are reason for concern. He says the results of this study indicate a climate that doesn’t foster health living and learning environments for black males.

     

    As people across the state head to their local places of worship to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, a Shreveport church is offering ashes to go. Christ United Methodist Church will offer “Drive By Ashes” to accommodate those who’s schedules won’t allow them to make their full church service. Associate Pastor Kelly Berne says this is an event has done well. The church began offering this service in 2011 and Berne expects over 100 people drive through today.

     

    Today is the start of the Lenton season and many people will be totally giving up meat for the next 40 days or at least eating seafood only on Fridays. Gulf Seafood Institute chairman Harlon Pearce says the warmer things get, the better the supply will be of our Louisiana favorites. Pearce says fish is in excellent supply right now and this is the time of year that oysters are at their best

     

    State Police say a third person has died from Monday’s truck versus train collision in DeSoto Parish. Trooper Matt Harris says the driver and the two passengers in the truck were the ones killed in the wreck. Harris says truck attempted to cross over a set of tracks that didn’t have a warning gate or lights. Harris says they believe the driver stopped, but began moving forward when it was already too late and they were hit.

     

    Union Parish authorities have arrested a 23-year-old mother who allegedly left her eight-month-old son on his grandfather’s droop step wrapped in a blanket and in a car seat. Detectives say Keondra Ferguson left the child there, because she was depressed and there was no one to help her. Deputies believe the child was outside in mid-30 temperatures for an hour and a half. Ferguson was charged with child abandonment and the father is now taking care of the baby.

     

    In Acadiana, several phone bomb threats were received on Fat Tuesday. The first two were called into the Walmart in Crowley, and Rayne Police are investigating another one made to a  Pharmacy. Several law enforcement agencies are working together to find the person or persons responsible.

     

    Abita Brewing Company announces their craft-brewed root beer is now available in cans. Abita President David Blossman says ever since they launched Abita beer in cans, people have been asking for their root beer to be in cans. Blossman says it’s the same great old-fashioned root beer they’ve been making for years, but now you can get it in portable, recyclable 12-pack aluminum cans. He says their root beer is unique in that it’s made with pure Louisiana cane sugar.

     

    Sports..

     

    It’s the one that got away from the LSU football, as Calvary Baptist 5 star quarterback Shea Patterson from Shreveport announces he will be going across the border to play for the Ole Miss Rebels next year. For the last two seasons, Patterson threw for over 5 thousand yards, 72 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions.

     

    The fourth ranked LSU baseball team looks to improve to 4-0 tonight when they host Nicholls State at 6:30. Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says Freshman right-hander Doug Norman will start on the mound for the Tigers, while the Colonels will counter with a senior.  Mainieri says tonight’s game should be a good challenge for his team.

     

     

  • News For Tuesday 02/17/15

    News for Tuesday 021715
    By Dave Graichen

    Now that a strong cold front has moved through, Canadian air has settled over Louisiana leaving us with another chilly Mardi Gras day. State Climatologist Barry Keim says southeast Louisiana should brace for temperatures today in the upper 30s this morning, then high temperatures this afternoon only in the upper 40s. Keim says if you’re headed to parades today anywhere in the state, make sure you bring a lot heavy coats, gloves and blankets.

    The investigation continued yesterday into a Sunday night house fire in Pineville. Police Chief Eddie Laborde say when firefighters arrived shortly before 9:30 Sunday evening the home on Wildwood Drive was totally engulfed in flames. Although the home was badly damaged, the good news is, no one was injured.

    The APD has released the names of two people who were found dead Friday in an Alexandria apartment complex on 21st Street. Alexandria police identified the pair as 25 year old Richard Prenell and 18 year old Kiasha Clovis, both of Alexandria. No other information has been released by the police who reported Friday the deaths were not from natural causes..

    Louisiana State Police has increased their numbers in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and they’re making their presence known. Over 150 additional troopers are patrolling the French Quarter and the metro area, and so far, troopers have made over 140 arrests.

    The question over which city “started” Mardi Gras, New Orleans or Mobile, Alabama, is coming up again this Fat Tuesday. Mobile Mayor Sandy Simpson is bragging that the Alabama destination is where the pre-Lenten celebrations originally began in the United States. The Big Easy Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy says the first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade was held in 1857,  Mobile’s parades on Fat Tuesday did not begin until 1868  after the Civil War.
    Hardy says the style of parade,  floats and costumes and masks,  did in fact start in Mobile, but they didn’t roll on Mardi Gras day until 11 years after New Orleans did.

    IBM technology announces plans for a 400-job application development and innovation center in Monroe. Officials say IBM will provide software technology services to clients across the nation and partner with CenturyLink on research and product innovation initiatives. Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says this is huge for Northeast Louisiana. Mayo says this announcement is in addition to the 800 jobs coming to the CenturyLink technology center which will open in March.

    State Police say two people have died in a crash involving a truck and a train in DeSoto Parish. They say the vehicle was hit by the train and a third person is critically injured at the University Health Center in Shreveport. It is not known why the truck was on the tracks but the investigation is ongoing.


    Sports..

    The LSU men’s basketball team is at Texas A-and-M looking to pick up another win on the road tonight.
     

  • News For Monday 02/16/15

    News for Monday 021615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    It was a great day for a parade as thousands showed up yesterday for the 22nd Alexandria Mardi Gras Association’s Krewe Parade. The annual event wrapped up parade season in the Alexandria area. It was the 10th year for the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band to participate in the parade. Parade activities continue today and tomorrow across the state.

     

    No new information yet in the case of two people, a male and a female, who were found dead Friday afternoon in an apartment building in the 700 block of 21st Street in Alexandria’s garden district. The APD is treating the case as a homicide. The identity, ages and cause of death are unavailable at this time, as the investigation is in its early stages.

     

    It appears the peak of the flu season is behind us, but health officials say we can’t let our guard down. Doctor Frank Welch, with the state department of health and hospitals, says during the height of the flu season, over 500-thousand Louisiana residents were hit with the flu. He says the elderly have been hit especially hard this season.

     

    Law enforcement are patrolling throughout the Mardi Gras holiday to discourage impaired driving and help reduce the number of crashes on Louisiana roadways. State Police spokeswoman, Melissa Matey, says if you’re going to partake in Carnival revelry, do it responsibly and have a designated driver. During last year’s five-day Mardi Gras holiday, there were 599 crashes which resulted in 13 deaths statewide. Over half of those deaths involved alcohol.

     

    A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a New Orleans area levee board that claimed dozens of oil and gas companies should pay damages for destroying Louisiana’s coast. Judge Nannette Brown ruled that federal and state laws are not set up so that the levee authority could successfully file a suit against the energy industry.

     

    Louisiana’s Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the mid-year budget cuts handed down by Governor Bobby Jindal are just not fair. He says most of the larger cuts hit departments managed by elected officials. The Department of Ag received mid-year cuts equivalent to $2.6 million dollars, while the governor’s office had a ten-thousand dollar cut to its budget. The Jindal administration is defending the way the cuts were handed down.

     

    A Shreveport police officer has been arrested after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female in his office. The victim was at the police station so she can discuss with detectives harassing phone calls she received. The officer arrested has on the force for 15 years.

     

    So far, The Louisiana Office of Alcohol And Tobacco Control says they’ve conducted over 600 alcohol and tobacco compliance checks across the state since February 2nd, finding 83 violations of business selling to underage customers. The A-T-C says they are continuing those checks throughout Mardi Gras

     

    A Walker man is under arrest, accused of secretly recording himself having sex with his girlfriend, then posting it on social media after the couple broke up. Thirty-year-old Robert Howard reportedly had an argument with his girlfriend, when she told him to leave her apartment. Shortly after, she noticed that Howard posted to sex video to Facebook. Howard was arrested on charges of video voyeurism.

     

    CC’s and Raising Cane’s, two prominent Louisiana-born businesses, made the 2014 Top 10 Excellent Fast-Food Chains list. The California based research firm Sandelman & Associates ranked Raising Cane’s number four and CC’s Coffee House number six in the Quick-Track Awards of Excellence for quick service chains.

     

    The Bossier Sheriff’s Office is trying to figure out who is creating elaborate websites for schools purporting to be in the parish — but that actually don’t exist. Lt. Bill Davis says there are three websites with pictures of people, biographies of principals and teachers, enrollment information for schools listing Bossier City addresses. Davis says they are working with the Louisiana Department of Education to see if the people behind the sites are trying to defraud the federal government or the state via grant dollars.

     

  • News For Friday 02/13/15

    News for Friday 021315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Thursday Governor Bobby Jindal announced Metal plate Galvanizing will make a $9.7 million dollar capital investment to develop a plant in Jennings. The facility is expected to span 50,000 square feet and create 104 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $46,300 plus benefits.

     

    State Police arrest two drug traffickers in Alexandria that were preparing to sell drugs to Mardi Gras revelers. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says authorities were alerted to suspicious activity of an aircraft at Alexandria International Airport. He says during their investigation, a K-9 alerted officers of possible drugs on the aircraft and a search began. He says troopers seized over 34 pounds of marijuana and over 550 grams of hashish. 37-year-old George Marshall of Gulf Shores, AL and 40-year-old John Marshall of Grass Valley, CA were taken into custody.

     

    The Central Louisiana Technical and Community College is eliminating 24 positions and cutting two programs at the Leesville campus to make up a $1.3 million structural deficit across its seven campuses.  Most of the cuts will take effect March 1, while some will come at the end of the semester.

     

    A member of the “Angola 3″ is indicted for a third time in the 1972 murder of an Angola prison guard. Albert Woodfox’s case went before a West Feliciana Parish grand jury, because a federal appeals court overturned his last conviction on grand jury selection issues.

     

    The National Highway Safety Administration reports that fewer drunk drivers are on the road, but drug use while driving is rising. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Col. John Leblanc says there have been an exceptional number of Louisiana drivers found to be under the influence of drugs. He says synthetic drugs have become a particularly bad problem and warns motorists that driving under the influence of narcotics is just as dangerous as driving drunk.

     

    In the latest round of midyear budget cuts, Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking a deeper carving knife to the spending of his fellow statewide elected officials than to most agencies under his control, including his own office. The governor's office will come through the $61 million in slashing largely unscathed, taking a reduction of $10,000 — less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its budget. Departments overseen by the lieutenant governor, treasurer, insurance commissioner and agriculture commissioner are slated to take hits of 3 to 4 percent, more than nearly all departments managed by Jindal's cabinet secretaries.  Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said the offices controlled by Louisiana's elected officials, excluding the governor, comprise less than 1 percent of the $25 billion state budget. But they're in line for 16 percent of the midyear budget cuts recommended by the governor.

     

    Port Barre Police have arrested a 15 year-old student from Port Barre High School who threatened to use a gun on the school principal. Police Chief Deon Boudreaux says the teen had a bullet and a fake gun in his possession but, he thought it was the real deal.  The student remains in police custody. They are hopeful the teenager can get some counseling help.

     

    Next Wednesday is the deadline for the candidates for running governor to report by how much they raised during 2014. It’s expected Republican Senator David Vitter will report the most at around four-million dollars, and Lt Governor Jay Dardenne says he’s raised about half of that.

     

    Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has fallen behind chief opponent Jeff Landry in fundraising for this fall’s election. Both Republican candidates in the Oct. 24 election filed their campaign finance report this week with the Board of Ethics. Landry, a former congressman, has more than three times the campaign cash reported by Caldwell. Caldwell’s report shows him ending the year with $302,000 in the bank. Landry reported having more than $1 million in his campaign account.

     

    The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act comes to an end Sunday. Kara James, with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, says this year’s enrollment figures are a nearly 55-percent increase from last year. She says there have been several improvements to the HealthCare-dot-gov website to make it easier and faster for people to enroll. Although premiums in the marketplace have risen since last year’s open enrollment, James says financial assistance is available that can help many lower their monthly payment. She says nine out of ten Louisianians, who have selected coverage, were determined eligible for assistance to lower their monthly premium.

     

    The price at the pump in Louisiana jumped another 2 cents overnight. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.08 according to the American Automobile Association.

     

    Officials in New Orleans want people who are heading to The Big Easy for Mardi Gras over the next few days to know that the city is safer than ever. Convention and Visitors Bureau President Stephen Perry says State Police is bringing in 150 extra troopers into the city to help keep the Carnival crowd under control. Perry says they are trying to spread the word that Mardi Gras season is typically one of the most protected times of the year in New Orleans.

    Perry says with the increased presence of state police combining forces with the NOPD, they are expecting this to be one of the safest Mardi Gras season’s in history.

     

     

    Sports..

     

    The 2015 college baseball season begins tonight with the second ranked LSU Tigers hosting the Kansas Jayhawks at Alex Box Stadium. Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman believes this team has what it takes to get back to the College World Series.

     

  • News For Thursday 02/12/15

    News for Thursday 021215

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal proposes reducing the size of tax credits in cases where a company or individual receives more money from the state than they owe as a way to balance next fiscal year’s budget. Jindal says two of his cabinet secretaries are looking at how this could help the state’s fiscal situation. The state faces a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall for next fiscal year. Jindal’s commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, will present a proposed spending plan to lawmakers on February 27th and despite this huge deficit, Jindal says increasing taxes are off the table.

     

    The voice of the LSU Tigers, Jim Hawthorne, has announced he will retire next year. Hawthorne has been calling LSU sporting events for 35 years and plans to hang up the headphones and microphone following the 2015-16 basketball season. During his career, he’s been on the mic for LSU’s three Final four appearances, two national titles in football and all six of LSU’s national championships in baseball.

     

    Unless you bought your Powerball ticket in North Carolina, Porto Rico or Texas, you didn’t win the big jackpot. The $564 million will be split 3 ways.

     

    The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office says a three year old child is dead after she accidentally shot herself with one of the family’s guns. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the father was cleaning his guns and suddenly had to leave for work. He says the dad called the mom and told her to put the guns away when she got home, but it was too late. No charges have been filed at this time.

     

    The American Automobile Association says the price of gas in Louisiana is shooting up faster than the national average, but that’s because the pump price here was so low to begin with. We’re up 2 cents from yesterday to $2.06 according to AAA.

     

    Planned Parenthood has filed an appeal regarding a Department of Health and Hospitals decision denying the group permission to perform abortions at a new facility currently under construction in New Orleans. Senior Counsel, Roger Evans, says the basis of the appeal is that DHH offered no basis in denying the application. The group says they currently see about 8,000 patients at their current health center in New Orleans. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says the organization did not meet the Facility Need Requirements specified by the state and their application was denied. A decision from an administrative law judge is expected in 4 to 7 months.

     

    States in the south are snatching up more tickets than ever for the February 14th release of the movie “50 Shades of Grey” compared to the rest of the nation. According to Fandango, Louisiana and Alabama are buying twice as many pre-sale tickets than normal for the film, while Mississippi tops the list at 4 times their usual rate. The movie debuts here in Alexandria tonight. But, only showing late in the evening.

     

    The US House has approved a bill that authorizes construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas. The measure now heads to President Barack Obama, who is expected to veto it over environmental concerns. Supporters say the pipeline would create thousands of jobs, without adding more greenhouse gasses into the air. Opponents say the high pressure pipeline could spring a massive leak and cause irreparable damage the water aquifers below it.

     

    As we approach the February 15th deadline, the US Department of Health and Human Services announces since open enrollment began on November 15th, 157,900 people in Louisiana have selected plans or were re-enrolled through HealthCare.gov. With only three  days left, officials are urging uninsured citizens to get signed up for coverage if you haven’t already.

     

    Serious charges are facing a Houma man, after 4 new born puppies were found dead in a home, including one with a severed head. Police Chief Todd Duplantis says the live-in boyfriend of the woman who owned the puppies got into an argument with her, and when she left the residence to calm down, she returned, made the discovery, and called police. Fifty-two year-old Richie Kiffe (KEEF)was arrested on four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.

     

    A businessman whose testimony helped put former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in prison has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to fraud related to Nagin’s corruption case. Frank Fradella was sentenced today for making a $50,000 payoff to Nagin in exchange for favorable treatment of his business interests. Nagin is serving a 10-year prison sentence.

     

  • News For Wednesday 02/11/15

    News for Wednesday 021115

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Local authorities continue to investigate an armed robbery of an armored vehicle yesterday morning at the highway 28 west Walmart in Alexandria.  The APD reports several shots were fired during the robbery, but no one was injured. The robber got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. But, didn’t get far. He was involved in a crash just a short distance from the store and was disarmed and subdued by a retired state trooper, an additional off-duty LSP Trooper, a nearby citizen and an Alexandria Police Officer.  The suspect was identified as 57 year old James Gilbert of Deville.

     

    In the ongoing Benson family legal feud, New Orleans Judge Kern Reese has ordered that Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson undergo an examination. Benson will face three exams performed by three different doctors in what is called a standard assessment. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this ruling is not in Benson’s favor. This ruling comes on the heels of a Texas judge’s appointment of two men to oversee the Benson family trust. The standard assessment exams must be completed by March 15. Meche says, because of these recent rulings, Tom Benson is learning it’s not going to be easy to disinherit his heirs.

     

    Tonight’s Powerball jackpot has reached a massive $485 million which is the third largest prize in the game’s history. The lump sum cash value for the drawing is worth $327 million according to Kimberly Chopin with the Louisiana Lottery. She says the odds of winning any prize on Powerball are one in 32, the odds of winning the jackpot are one in 175 million. This jackpot has been growing since November 29th.

     

    Over a dozen Louisiana public school districts have passed resolutions that ask the state not to enforce penalties for students who decide not take to the Common Core standardized tests. Louisiana School Boards Association executive director Scott Richard says as it stands now, school systems will receive a “zero” for every student who opts out. Richard says if a school or school system has a large number of opt-outs, it will result in a lower school performance score or letter grade, as part of the state’s accountability system. Students will take the Common Core exams the week of March 16th. Richard says the uncertainty is not good for anyone.

     

    When the legislative session begins in April, lawmakers will once again discuss whether or not to authorize the use of medical marijuana in Louisiana. Democrat Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore’s measure was defeated in the Senate last year. Honore says he’s bringing it back up due to the results of recent polls on the issue. State associations of sheriffs and district attorneys successfully blocked efforts to pass this legislation last year. Honore says their main concern is that this bill would legalize marijuana for recreational use and that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since 1991 for people with certain conditions. But rules for dispensaries were not set, so no prescriptions have been issued.

     

    Halliburton announces plans to lay-off at least five thousand of its workers as a result of falling oil prices. The Houston-based oil field services company the cuts will impact all areas of Halliburton’s operations.

     

    A big announcement yesterday that a  Holiday Inn Express is coming to Pineville, and a new townhouse development may be as well. Pineville officials have been working on the hotel project for two years now, and they expect the company to break ground on the project in two months. The hotel, which will be located on U.S. 165 south of the Kmart, will have 81 rooms.

     

    It has happened again, A 6-year-old girl who had fallen asleep on the way to her first grade class woke up on a parked and empty school bus. It happened yesterday morning in the garden district. A neighbor spotted the child and was able to get her out of the bus safely and contacted the child’s father. The name of the driver of the bus has not been announced. But Rapides parish school officials say the matter has been addressed.

     

    Louisiana gas prices are shooting back up. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $2.04 up almost 15 cents from this time last week according to AAA.

     

    The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office says a woman is in critical condition at a local hospital after they believe she fell out of the back of a truck her estranged husband was driving. 46-year-old Allen Wray and 48-year-old Sherri Wray were sitting on the back of a tailgate, when the husband told his wife to get in the cab. She refused; he drove off, causing her to fall. She’s in very critical condition.

     

    Monroe Police say an officer has been fired because of racially offensive comments he made on social media about the Ferguson Missouri incident in which a black unarmed teen was shot by a white officer. Officials announced Monday that Officer Doug Lambert, who’s been on leave since November, is no longer with the department after an internal investigation. The Chief said the comments are not at all what the department stands for.

     

    What does it mean for Louisiana now that a federal ruling has been issued in Alabama clearing the way for Clerk of Court offices to begin distributing marriage licenses for same sex couples? Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says all eyes right now are on the US Supreme court which is currently considering four cases that will soon be argued. Same sex marriages are against state law in Louisiana and recently federal district judge in New Orleans upheld that prohibition,  a ruling which is currently under appeal.

     

    The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Raceland man for his seventh DWI late last night on Highway 1 at a convenience store. Thirty year-old Jessi Joseph III was booked into the Lafourche Parish Detention Center with his first Louisiana DWI offense, to go with his six prior arrests on DUI in California.

     

    Research from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans finds that a psychedelic drug prevents the development of allergic asthma in mice. Lead researcher Dr. Charles Nichols says the next step in their research is to see if the drug has a positive effect on mice who already have asthma. There are over 25 million people in the US known to have asthma.

  • News For Tuesday 02/10/15

    News for Tuesday 021015

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office says they are investigating KKK fliers that are being left in some neighborhoods in the area. Lt. Tommy Carnline says the fliers have a picture of a hooded man on them and say “You can sleep well tonight knowing the Klan is awake.

    Carnline says even though the flier doesn’t contain any threats, they are asking the FBI to investigate because the literature is ending up in the driveways of minorities which could be considered a hate crime.

     

    The public is invited to a forum this evening in Pineville for candidates in the House District 26 race. The forum, sponsored by Pineville Concerned Citizens, is set for 6 to 8 p.m in the Kees Park Community Center on La. Highway 28 East in Pineville. The three candidates Jeff Hall, Alice Hammond and Daniel Williams have been invited to participate.  Early voting in the House District 26 race continues today through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Rapides Parish Registrar of Voters’ Office in the parish courthouse. The primary election is set for Feb. 21.

     

    Twenty-seven Radio Shack locations in Louisiana are included on the company’s list of 1,750 stores it expects to close by the end of March as the electronics retailer seeks bankruptcy reorganization. The two Alexandria Stores, the North Mall Drive and Alexandria Mall locations are on the closure list.

     

    Sunday night, a single vehicle crash killed a man from Effie.  The state police reports the crash occurred around 7:30 p.m., on LA Hwy 1206, near the Deville Cutoff Road.  60 year old Jeffery Parker apparently lost control of his Jeep Wrangler and left the roadway causing the vehicle to overturn. Parker, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected. He was pronounced dead a short time later.  The investigation continues. 

     

    The Jindal administration’s $3.5 million dollar mid-year budget cut to the state department of Tourism means lay-offs and reduced hours at state parks and museums.  Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says the size of this cut is disproportionate than what other agencies are experiencing. Dardenne says they’ve had to close three state historic sites and layoff 106 employees.  He says no state parks will be closed due to the cut, but they will operate under reduced hours through the rest of the fiscal year.  Also, swimming pools at state parks will not be open this year due to the budget cuts.

     

    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says efforts by the Republican establishment to conduct a “kinder, gentler” presidential nominating process in 2016 are misguided and designed to stifle conservative candidates. Jindal, who is considering a run for the White House, took aim Monday at the Republican National Committee’s decision to officially sanction no more than a dozen debates among Republican contenders. Jindal trails well behind the front-runners in opinion polls of potential Republican candidates and could be hampered by the RNC’s guidelines.

     

    A 16-year-old is in jail and another dead after a shooting in Sabine Parish. Authorities say the teen suspect is charged with second degree murder for allegedly fatally shooting the victim in the head once. The motive is under investigation but cops believe the two had been arguing at the apartment complex outside of Many.

     

    Sasol announces they’ve selected Louisiana-based construction contractors to begin work on its ethane cracker and derivatives project in Westlake. Spokesman Mike Hayes says these appointments reflect Sasol’s commitment to using Louisiana businesses on the project.

    Hayes says construction of the complex will begin soon and they hope to launch commercial production in 2018. They predict the $8.1 billion dollar complex will create about 5,000 construction jobs.

     

    LSU officials are reporting rather unpleasant scenarios, as the threat of state budget cuts are approaching. An internal report details layoffs, hundreds of classes on the chopping block, and academic programs eliminated. The Jindal administration is considering big cuts to higher education for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal stole a line from the late comedian Richard Pryor when he was asked about a portrait that shows him with a different skin tone. The picture went viral on social media last week. When asked about it in Washington D.C. Jindal said “You mean I’m not white,” which Pryor said in the movie See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Jindal added the controversy surrounding the portrait is silly.

     

    Kenner Police say a Mississippi woman is under arrest for allegedly driving drunk then backing into the police car that pulled her over two times. 46 year-old Debra Lynn white was booked with DWI, reckless operation and aggravated flight from an officer.

     

    Louisiana’s Longest Known Married couple for 2015 has been announced by the Louisiana Family Forum. Executive Director Gene Mills says Lawrence and Varrie Player of Benton celebrated 80 years of marriage last month. He says when they wed, he was 21 and she was 15.

     

    Sports..

     

    The LSU men’s basketball team has a chance to hand top ranked Kentucky its first loss of the season tonight. The two teams will square off in the Maravich Center at six P-M Kentucky is 23-0 on the season, while LSU is 17-6

     

     

     

  • News For Monday 02/09/15

    News for Monday 020915

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Jindal administration proposes 61-million dollars in cuts to various state agencies and using 43-million dollars in stopgap funds to fill a 103-million dollar revenue shortfall for this fiscal year.  Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the cuts will eliminate certain state contracts, plus museums and state parks will be impacted. Nichols says the joint legislative committee on the budget will have its opportunity to approve the governor’s revised budget plan at their meeting on February 20th

     

    After five years of virtual freezes, state aid for public schools is up in the air again, another potential casualty of Louisiana’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall. The aid, which goes through a complex formula called the Minimum Foundation Program, is the lifeblood for a system used by about 720,000 students. Schools are getting $3.6 billion this year, which makes the assistance one of the state’s biggest expenditures. Educators say how schools fare this year is crucial, amid rising costs of retirement, health care and classroom technology.

     

    The $17.7 billion long-term debt of Louisiana’s teacher and state employee pension plans just got larger. Known as “unfunded accrued liabilities,” the UAL for the state’s teachers’ and employees’ retirements has hit the $19.2 billion mark. It represents how far short the systems are from having the assets necessary to pay their long-term pension obligations, a debt for which the state’s taxpayers are ultimately responsible. The systems include more than 240,000 active and retiree members. State officials and legislators are aware of the increased debt but say it’s under control.

     

    A judge in Texas is expected today to officially name the former mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger and estate lawyer Art Bayern as overseers of a trust that benefits Tom Benson’s heirs. Legal analyst Doug Sunseri says Judge Tom Rickhoff will likely ask these two individuals to conduct an audit of the trust fund. Millions of dollars are in this trust, which was created for Renee Benson by her mother Shirley Benson, who passed away in 1980. Sunseri says assets inside that trust have been frozen by the courts. The battle over this trust fund is part of the larger feud concerning future ownership of the Saints and Pelicans.

     

    According to a new report by InsuranceQuotes.com, car insurance premiums in Louisiana rise by an average of 30% after a single claim. Senior analysts Laura Adams says that’s the 15th lowest hike in the country. She says while 30% seems high, it falls well below the 41% claim hike which is the national average. Adams says many consumers underestimate the consequences of making claims because they can affect your rate for years.

     

    A new CDC study shows that Americans who live in the southeast, between the ages of 30 and 74, are at a higher risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years than people in other parts of the country.   Bruce Johnson, a heart attack survivor and heart health advocate, says the death rate from heart disease in Louisiana is particularly high. He says nearly 250 Louisianians, out of every 100,000 residents, die from cardiovascular disease per year.  Among African-Americans, that figure rises to 266.  Johnson says, for many, lifestyle changes can lead to better heart health.  He says a lot of heart health issues have to do with lack of exercise and diet.

     

    The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Louisiana has climbed back to over $2.00 a gallon.  According to the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of regular in the Bayou State is $2.01.  AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says it was expected that fuel prices would increase as we head into spring. Redman says the price of gas has increased about 10-percent over the last two weeks and he says you can expect to see the price continue to rise in the coming months.  But Redman says the US Department of Energy is forecasting that gas prices will remain below $3.00 a gallon this year.

     

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has written a letter to the St. Martinville Police Department regarding an apparent policy stating floats in their Mardi Gras parades can’t play rap music with obscene lyrics. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says people participating in the parade reportedly had agreed to some rules about music along the route that are unclear and not constitutionally enforceable.  She says just because the police and the city council don’t like rap music it doesn’t mean they can ban it.

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