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News for Friday 092217

By Dave Graichen

 

Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy made it official yesterday at his weekly briefing, Fire Department Veteran Larry King is now the city’s new Fire Chief. King said he looks forward to the challenge and that he hopes to take the best from the three chiefs he has worked under in his 29 years with the department. Up next for the city, deciding upon a new Police Chief.

 

Two Alexandria teens have been arrested and charged in connection with a Wednesday night shooting in the city that claimed the life of an unidentified 19 year old.  The APD says the shooting took place around 11 p.m. in the area of Richard Avenue and Duhon Lane. The victim was taken to a local hospital, where he died. The 17-year-old has been identified as Brian Booker-Allen of Alexandria. The other accused is a 16-year-old and his name has been withheld.

 

A new report just released by the USDA shows Louisiana is the second hungriest state in the nation. “Bread for the World” President David Beckmann says the hunger problem in the state is concentrated among African Americans where about 1 out of 3 families may run out of food before the end of month.

 

Positive state budget news has been difficult to find lately, but at least one recent financial fact is encouraging. Governor John Bel Edwards says Louisiana had a 143-million dollar surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30th.  Edwards thinks it’s a sign the state’s economy is improving.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards are encouraging  schools to participate in the school breakfast challenge to help reduce childhood hunger. Donna Edwards says schools that take action and make sure kids eat breakfast can win up to one-thousand dollars in cash and other great prizes. Edwards says research shows one in four children in Louisiana struggles with hunger. The First Lady knows as a former teacher that if children have a healthy start to their day, it will lead to better results in the classroom. Schools can register online at Louisiana-school-breakfast-dot-org.

 

In response to the death of fraternity pledge Maxwell Gruver, LSU held a Rally Against Hazing Wednesday afternoon on the steps of the Memorial Tower. LSU Student Government wanted to bring together student organizations, as well as individual students, so the campus can begin “honest and progressive conversations about putting an end to hazing.”

 

An off-duty Slidell Police Lieutenant riding a motorcycle was killed Wednesday night in a traffic accident. State Police Trooper Dustin Dwight gave details. The driver of the vehicle that turned directly into the path of 52-year-old Ray Dupuy received a citation for improper turning.

 

Sad story out of Livingston Parish, a five-year-old boy was struck and killed by a vehicle after leaving an ice cream truck. Denham Springs Police spokesperson Amber Fairburn says the driver indicated he did not see the child. As of now, no charges have been filed against the driver.

 

This is Louisiana Craft Brewers Week, designated to commemorate beers brewed right here in the state, and the people who make it possible. Cary Koch (COKE), Executive Director of the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild, says when this designation was made by the State Legislature in 2013, there were just 7 breweries that took part, and three brewpubs. Koch says Louisiana now has over 30 breweries and brew pubs — and establishments in every corner of the state are opening up their taps and shelves to carry these locally made beers. He says these brewers make it a priority to use as many Louisiana-made products as possible…:

 

The state department of transportation is hopeful that the major overlay project on I-20 in Webster Parish will wrap around the Thanksgiving weekend, which would be ahead of schedule. DOTD spokesperson Erin Buchanan says the westbound lanes are complete and contractors are working in the eastbound lanes. Buchanan says once the work is complete, motorists will experience a greatly improved travel experience for this section of I-20…

 

LSU football Coach Ed Orgeron is promising a better performance on Saturday night when his Tigers host Syracuse. The Bayou Bengals suffered their worst loss ever to Mississippi State last week in a 37-7 drubbing. Orgeron says he’s on a mission for his team to play better. LSU is a 22.5 point favorite to beat Syracuse

 

The Saints look for their first win of the year on Sunday when they visit Carolina. The Panthers are 2-and-0 and they rank number one in the NFL in total defense, allowing less than 200 yards a game. Frustration level among Saints fans is probably the highest it’s been since Head Coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived.

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News for Thursday 092117

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office arrests a former inmate accused of stalking a woman who had previously worked at the jail where the suspect was incarcerated. They say 31-year-old Jerome Ferrell of Alexandria allegedly started sending the victim and her family messages when he was released from the Rapides Detention Center and threatened to harm her. Ferrell was arrested on nine counts of Cyberstalking and six counts of stalking.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards confirmed on his monthly call in radio show that Amazon is set to build a distribution center somewhere in Louisiana, but details are limited at the time. He says either way, it’s great news that the online retail giant is bringing a part of its operation to the state. The state has also said they are very interested in being the home of the second Amazon headquarters which the company said would bring an investment of $5 billion dollars and 50,000 jobs. Edwards says the state is still working with Amazon in order to finalize the site selection…

 

U.S Senator Bill Cassidy told CNN he is sorry that talk show host Jimmy Kimmel does not understand his health care legislation.  Kimmel said on his show Tuesday night that Cassidy lied to his face when it comes to passing a health care bill that protects people with pre-existing conditions and lowers premiums for middle class families. Cassidy says his bill does cover pre-existing conditions and it will lead to more Americans covered by health insurance. However, Insurance experts say pre-existing coverage will be up to the individual states to decide.

 

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne announces the state ended up with a 100 million dollar surplus from the fiscal year that ended in June.  The surplus is the result of higher than anticipated personal income and sales tax collections.  But, he cautions the 100 million surplus will not offset the looming fiscal cliff. That is right at $1 billion.

 

A former East Baton Rouge Parish Parks Commissioner was found shot to death outside of his home in Pride at around 5:45 Tuesday night. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Casey Rayborn Hicks says when police arrived they attempted to resuscitate the man, 66-year-old Carroll Breeden, but he died at the scene. She urges anyone who may have seen something to contact the police.

 

The State Police are investigating an officer involved in a shooting in Bernice. The L-S-P says Tuesday afternoon the Union Parish Sheriff’s office was sent to a home in response to a disturbance and made contact with a male subject. They say at some point during the incident, the suspect was shot and died at the scene.

 

After a long wait, the car-sharing service, Uber, is finally available in Monroe, West Monroe and areas governed by Ouachita Parish. Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says his office has spent the last six months working on a contract with Uber and he knows the city is excited it’s finally official. Mayo says he’s also hoping to work out a deal with Lyft as well.

 

Louisiana Tech University has set an enrollment record for this fall as nearly 13-thousand students are taking classes this fall, which is 17-percent increase since the fall of 2013. Jim King is the Vice President for Student Advancement says the average ACT score of 24.71 for first-time freshmen is also a university record.

 

New Orleans attorney Scott Sternberg has concerns with parts of LSU’s suspension of Greek activities in the wake of the death of a fraternity pledge. Sternberg says the students’ first amendment rights are being taken away when not allowed to gather in groups of 10 or more to tailgate and he also questions the prohibition of wearing Greek attire. He says a lawsuit may be pending.

 

A startling statistic, The state department of children and family services says the number of babies born in Louisiana who are exposed to alcohol and drugs in the womb has tripled from 2008 to 2016. Last year, that number reached nearly 17-hundred.

 

The Louisiana Workforce Commission is hosting job fairs at 25 locations across the state today for young adults. Executive Director Ava Dejoie says Walmart is one of the companies participating and the national retail giant plans to hire 12-hundred workers in Louisiana for the holiday season. Dejoie says this is a great opportunity for those 18 to 24.

 

LSU Coach Ed Orgeron says star running back Derrius Guice is very questionable for Saturday’s home game against Syracuse. Guice reportedly has a knee injury. Tiger Rag Associate Editor James Moran believes LSU is being cautious with its best offensive player. Moran says this gives senior Darrell Williams a chance to start. There is some positive injury news. Orgeron says starting defensive end Rashard Lawerence should play against the Orange.

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News for Wednesday 092017

By Dave Graichen

 

The RPSO reports a 16 year old student at Peabody Magnet High was arrested yesterday by a School Resource officer after it was discovered he brought a gun to school. School administrators were the ones who alerted the officer to Tuesday's incident. While the investigation continues, the boy was charged with one count of carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon on school property.

 

The APD reports three suspects accused in a series of attempted vehicle burglaries early Sunday now face more charges after police were able to determine a wallet found with them had been stolen. All three were charged with simple burglary.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards released an email poll asking if Louisiana residents support raising the minimum wage. ULM Political Science Professor Dr. Joshua Stockley says this survey is more about fundraising, as many of his supporters already want to increase the state’s minimum wage, which is $7.25. Stockley says this message was also sent out to raise awareness that this is a campaign pledge the governor ran on and he continues to support it. He says Edwards is looking for more public support, as this issue is not gaining traction in the legislature.

 

The Louisiana Association of Educators says a poll of Louisiana parents finds that 65-percent believe the state places too much emphasis on student testing. L-A-E President Debbie Meaux says parents and their children are not excited about filling out bubbles on a test. The L-A-E survey also found 55-percent of respondents believe a student’s  test performance should not play a major role in determining a teacher’s effectiveness. Meaux says tomorrow a new 25-member panel will meet to examine whether public school students are over tested.

 

Multiple reports say an Adolf Hitler speech was found at the home of Kenneth Gleason, who was booked today in Baton Rouge for the murders of two black men. East Baton Rouge DA Hillar Moore says Gleason could face the death penalty for last week’s fatal shootings. Gleason has also been charged for allegedly shooting up the home of a black family.

 

Senator Bill Cassidy’s bill to issue block grants to states as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act has support from Louisiana’s junior senator.  Republican John Kennedy not only wants to vote for the legislation but he plans to propose an amendment to prevent states from accepting block grants to establish a single payer health insurance system.  Kennedy says he would prefer to have private insurance companies provide coverage that could help lower healthcare costs.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says he can’t support Senator Cassidy’s legislation, because he says it will lead to the elimination of the Medicaid expansion. Edwards says he’s working with Republican and Democratic governors to promote a solution that makes health insurance more stable and affordable.

 

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services has received a grant to increase the number of child welfare workers. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says her staff has decreased by 600 employees over the last 10 years and this is an opportunity to address the high turnover rate. Nearly half of the child welfare workers who left DCFS in 2016, had less than three years of service. Walters says there is a direct correlation between the case load and the turnover rate.

 

A Bawcomville man is facing two counts of aggravated assault after chasing two water meter readers with a golf club. The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office says 53-year-old Tommy Bouwell was allegedly intoxicated when yelled at the victims accusing them of coming at him with a weapon, and that’s when he returned with a golf club and started swinging.

 

After LSU’s 30-point loss to Mississippi State last Saturday, some are wondering if Head Coach Ed Orgeron was the right man to choose for the job.

But Tiger Rag Editor Cody Worsham says one thing to keep in mind is that Athletic Director Joe Alleva’s fate lies with the Board of Supervisors. Worsham says right now it’s a little too early to guess if there will be any changes in leadership with the athletic department, as there has only been one SEC game this season. But he says the hire of Coach O was strictly a call made by Alleva, and if things remain bleak there will be consequences.

 

The dangers of hazing have become an important conversation in the wake of LSU freshman Max Gruver’s death. Gruver was pledging at Phi Delta Theta and high amounts of alcohol were found in his system.  Executive Director of HazingPrevention.org Emily Pualwan says hazing has been around for centuries. She says it’s different than bullying. Pualwan says universities can look back and see a pattern of hazing, but only realize the escalation after something as terrible as a death occurs.  LSU has temporarily shut down their entire Greek system after Gruver’s death.

 

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News for Tuesday 091917

By Dave Graichen

 

Four sheriff’s offices in Louisiana have filed lawsuits against drug companies and physicians for allegedly helping to grow the opioid crisis. Attorney David Laborde says the defendants have misrepresented the proper use of opioids which has led to an epidemic and an uptick in crime. Avoyelles, Lafayette, Jefferson Davis and Rapides have filed lawsuits in state courts in their respective parishes. Laborde says the sheriff’s offices are seeking to recoup the money law enforcement has spent on dealing with the opioid epidemic.

 

The Louisiana Democratic Party opposes U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy’s and three other Republican lawmakers bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  Party Spokesperson D’Seante Parks says this legislation would end the Medicaid expansion, which covers more than 430-thousand Louisiana residents. Senator Cassidy’s proposed legislation would give block grant funding to each state if it passes. However, the money would not be dedicated as it is now.

 

According to the U.S. Census data Louisiana’s uninsured rate is 10.3 percent.  These were the numbers of uninsured Louisiana residents in 2016.  That’s a small decline from 11.9 percent in 2012.  The trend comes after Louisiana’s Medicaid program was expanded by Governor John Bel Edwards to offer government-financed health insurance to over 430 thousand low-income adults.

 

The LSU AgCenter has finalized its contract with GB Sciences which will grow medical marijuana for Louisiana patients who have specific conditions. The marijuana-based medication made by the company is required to be put in oil based medical products.  GB Sciences Louisiana will renovate the production facility and availability to patients is expected by mid-2018.

 

Pennington Biomedical Research Center has been awarded a 6.7 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study military nutrition and metabolism research. Researcher Dr. Jennifer Rood (Rude) says they will focus on how to ensure a healthy and fit military. Rood says this research could change the eating habits of soldiers.

 

A Baton Rouge man considered a person of interest in the shooting deaths of two black men last week, has bonded out of jail. 23-year-old Kenneth Gleason was arrested over the weekend on drug charges. Baton Rouge Police Sgt. Don Coppola says Gleason has yet to be cleared of the homicides. He says it’s a possibility that these murders were racially motivated.

 

The national Phi Delta Theta organization has removed the charter from the Beta Chapter at LSU, where a pledge recently died in a possible hazing incident. The organization said it suspended operations based on information in the investigation of the death of 18-year-old Max Gruver which found some chapter members were in violation of the alcohol-free housing policy. No charges have been filed and East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says that could take a while.

 

An explosion in a home injured three people Monday including 92 year old Dwena Henry, an alderman for the village of Stanley in DeSoto parish and her daughter Sharon Fletcher who is the mayor. Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle says William Roe, a friend of the family was also injured. Arbuckle says Henry suffered third-degree burns to over 50-percent of her body and is fighting for her life. Reportedly, Henry was cooking when Roe and Fletcher smelled gas.

 

The White House held a summit with presidents of black colleges today but Grambling State President Rick Gallot  was not there. Gallot says that he was not boycotting, but there’s a lot happening on the Grambling campus between the start of the a new semester and football season.

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News for Monday 091817

By Dave Graichen

 

The median household income in Louisiana declined by over 2-percent in 2016, the largest decrease in the nation according to Census Figures. Dr. LSU Economist Loren Scott says this decrease is a result of the struggling oil and gas industry. He says we have three metropolitan areas that are in a recession, Houma, Lafayette and Shreveport. Louisiana looks to be improving as we gained 24,200 nonfarm jobs since August of last year.

 

Louisiana’s unemployment rate has now declined for four consecutive months according to data released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. At 5.2%, the current rate is the lowest it’s been since August of 2008. That figure is also 0.9 percentage points lower from a year ago.

 

Gas prices have started to decline. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana is $2.39.

 

Attorney General Jeff Landry is alerting consumers to be on the lookout when buying vehicles, as nearly one million vehicles were flooded in Texas and Florida during recent hurricanes. Landry says these flood-damaged vehicles could end up on the streets and sold to unsuspecting car buyers.  He advises consumers to obtain a vehicle history report. Landry says if you suspect someone is knowingly selling a flood damaged vehicle, contact your local authorities or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection.

 

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark has released preliminary autopsy findings on the body of the 18-year-old LSU student who died in what the university had called a possible hazing incident at his fraternity. Clark says they did not find any internal or external signs of trauma on Maxwell Gruver. Clark says Gruver was driven to the hospital in a private vehicle from the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house and was later pronounced dead. His office will provide a comprehensive toxicology test which takes as long as four weeks to complete.

 

The state lawmaker who admitted to taking money from his campaign fund to fuel a gambling addiction will have to pay a $37,000 fine to the state treasury under an agreement reached Friday. The Louisiana Board of Ethics also said that Representative Dee Richard will no longer be allowed to draw from his war chest. Richard had said his compulsive gambling was a side effect of medication he was taking for Parkinson’s disease.

 

Today, Governor John Bel Edwards and DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson are in Washington D.C. to meet with the US Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the long-delayed Comite River Diversion Canal, a flood control project for the Baton Rouge area. Wilson says the state has committed a significant amount of resources for this project, and it’s time for the Corps to do their part.

 

The principal wanted by Baton Rouge police after allegedly locking a 5-year-old in a closet has turned himself in to authorities. Authorities say 31-year-old Shafeeq Deen has been charged with cruelty to a juvenile and false imprisonment. Other students at Laurel Oaks Charter School are coming forward now claiming Deen punished them in similar ways.

 

And here’s a bizarre story out of Terrebonne Parish. Houma Police arrested a man and woman who were allegedly caught having sex in a library. Authorities say 33-year-old Elizabeth Jernigan and 35-year-old Rex Jernigan also recorded themselves and uploaded the video to a porn site. Through their investigation, it was determined the couple recorded themselves doing similar activities at other businesses.

 

Authorities say a prison guard at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola fatally shot an inmate after first firing a warning shot. The state department of Corrections says 35-year-old Brandon Lizotte was among a group of prisoners being escorted to work when he aggressively ran towards a correctional officer. The officer fired his service weapon striking Lizotte. Lizotte was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder in Tangipahoa Parish in 2006.

 

Sports..

 

“Tell the truth Monday” will not be kind for the LSU Tigers after they were embarrassed 37-7 by Mississippi State. The Tigers were beat at the line of scrimmage, the defense had blown assignments and LSU also committed 9 penalties for 112 yards.  LSU is back in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night as they host Syracuse.

 

For the fourth consecutive year, the Saints have started 0-2 as they dropped a 36-20 decision to the New England Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady scorched the New Orleans defense for 447 yards and three touchdowns. On offense, the Saints converted just 33% of their third down opportunities. The Saints have now lost 11 of their last 12 games in the month of September. They travel to Carolina this Sunday.

 

Louisiana Tech rallied back from a 22-13 4th quarter deficit to beat conference rival Western Kentucky 23-22. Jonathan Barnes 22-yard field goal with two seconds left gave the Bulldogs an important win as they look to win the Conference USA western division.

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News for Friday 091517

By Dave Graichen

 

42 year old Kenneth Seth Thomas of Deville, a police officer with the Alexandria Police Department, was arrested yesterday and charged with malfeasance in office, distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, and possession of a firearm in the presence of the drugs. An investigation led by the State Police and the APD revealed Thomas had engaged in illegal activities by having sex with at least one woman, while on-duty, and distributing illegal drugs. He was arrested and booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center. The investigation remains active and ongoing.

 

State police report Two men died Thursday  morning after a head-on collision between a car and an 18 wheeler truck on Louisiana highway 124 near the Winn and LaSalle Parish line.  The fatal crash took the lives of 22 year old Logan Franklin from Olla and 26 year old David Lincecum of Grayson. It’s reported both victims were not wearing a seat belt.

 

The US attorney’s office reports a Georgetown woman will spend two years in prison for counterfeiting $20 bills in Alexandria last year. 20 year old Gena Marie Armstrong was sentenced on Wednesday.

 

An 18-year-old LSU freshman from Georgia has died in what university officials are calling a possible hazing incident at Phi Delta Fraternity House. LSU System President F King Alexander says the death of Maxwell Gruver is tragic and untimely

Gruver was pronounced dead at a local hospital and Alexander says it is believed alcohol is involved. Phi Delta has been suspended by the school and national organization.

 

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith says Fire Chief Steve Krentel has been cleared in the murder of his wife Nanette, who was found in burned home with a gunshot wound to the head in July.  Smith says Steve Krentel was their initial primary person of interest. Sheriff Smith says they worked this case as a homicide since day one and will continue to do so.

 

After a both a regular and special legislative session earlier this year, the state still faces a fiscal cliff in July of next year. That’s when a billion dollars in temporary sales taxes expire. Yesterday House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says get ready to hear scare tactics coming from the governor’s office. In a video posted to his Facebook page, the Republican from Metairie says he expects Governor Edwards to start threatening cuts to important programs like TOPS. The governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Richard Carbo, says Henry is intent on continuing partisan gridlock in the House.

 

Starting with tonight’s games, several Louisiana high schools are taking in part in “Touchdowns Against Cancer,” an initiative which directly benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The campaign lets their fans pledge a donation for every touchdown scored. The effort is in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and runs through the end of the month.

 

An arrest has been made in the murder of a St. Martin Parish woman who was eight months pregnant. Major Ginny Higgins says authorities arrested 32-year-old Toni Trimble Thomas and she is charged with one count of first degree murder and one count of first degree feticide. The suspect’s brother was the boyfriend of the victim, 24-year-old Ashley Nicole Meche.

 

Louisiana Community and Technical College System president Monty Sullivan would like the state to have a scholarship program that would benefit adults who want to attend one of their two-year campuses. Sullivan calls it a wise investment and can help a mother of two who makes eight dollars an hour receive the training that can lead to an 18-dollar an hour job.

 

Neville High School in Monroe has been named the most beautiful public high school in Louisiana by Architectural Digest. Dana Jefferson, Executive Director of the school’s Alumni Association, says the school has undergone many renovations to preserve the 86-year-old building. Jefferson says Neville is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and that’s something the students and staff are really proud of.

 

Sports..

 

Louisiana Tech jumps into league play tomorrow by facing the defending Conference USA champion Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. W-K-U is led by senior quarterback Mike White, who is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country. These two teams met twice last year. Tech won at home 55-52 and then lost in the Conference USA title game. It’s the eighth meeting between the two teams and Tech leads the all-time series four to three. You can hear the game beginning at 4:30 on ESPN 1410 & 93.1 HD3.

 

LSU gets its first test in the SEC tomorrow night when they visit Mississippi State. The voice of the Tigers, Chris Blair, believes this game will be won in the trenches. LSU had success throwing the football down field last week and Blair anticipates the Tigers opening up the playbook even more tomorrow. Hear the game beginning at 4p on 970 KSYL & 96.9 KZMZ.

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News for Thursday 091417

By Dave Graichen

 

Although it doesn’t resolve the issue, a decision by the Rapides Parish police jury to allocate $200,000 to move prisoners from DC1 to other facilities will take the pressure off for now. The Sheriff's Office is under a mandate from the State Fire Marshall's Office to reduce the population of facility to its capacity of 348. Even though the number of prisoners in the DC1 is down from a high of 395 on Monday, the number is still above the max capacity. Sheriff Hilton sent a letter to the Fire Marshall's Office Wednesday detailing plans to reduce the population. He also asked for a temporary increase to the jail's capacity.

 

Many people in Alexandria are upset over higher than usual electric bills. The City yesterday announced it has been lengthening its billing cycle for residents charged for utilities from about 28 to 40 days. Why? The city says it is short staffed, with 6 of it’s 9 meter reading positions open. According to a press release, contracted workers are expected to be hired soon until the meter reader vacancies are filled.

 

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy is a co-author of the last ditch effort by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Cassidy says the legislation repeals individual and employer mandates, and it gets rid of the medical device tax. The Republican says their proposal also eliminates the inequity in which three states receive 37-percent of Obamacare funds. He says this proposal gives the power back to patients.

 

House Speaker Taylor Barras has told the Associated Press he believes the House can come up with a plan by January to address the loss of one-billion dollars in tax revenue that expires next summer. Barras says if there’s enough agreement, a special session could be held early next year. There’s been a stalemate between the House and the governor on how to address the fiscal cliff.

 

Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo says the first LaSTEM Advisory Council meeting was successful in discussing how to increase the amount of students who will succeed in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. Rallo says right now, if we don’t engage, Louisiana will not catch up with neighboring states when it comes to STEM jobs.  He says the council agrees STEM education needs to be a pipeline, starting in Kindergarten and continuing through high school.

 

One month from today is the general election for State Treasurer. Three Republican candidates are raising money. There’s also a Democrat and Libertarian on the ballot. Publisher of La-politics-dot-com, Jeremy Alford, says Columbia Senator Neil Riser has been the most active in tv advertising. Ex state legislator John Schroder and former Commissioner of Administration Angelle Davis are the other Republicans fundraising. But Alford says none of the candidates have enough money to run TV commercials statewide, which will lead to a low voter turnout on October 14th

 

The Oil and Gas Industry is helping with recovery efforts in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. President of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association Chris John says when Harvey hit, it knocked out about 12-percent of the refining capacity for this nation. John says they are making progress with getting Texas refineries back on line. He says Louisiana has tried to produce as much product as possible while Texas plants are recovering.

 

Authorities made an arrest in the homicide investigation of Ashely Nicole Meche.  The St. Martin Parish Sheriff department arrested Toni Trimble Thomas of Breaux Bridge.  Trimble Thomas is the sister of the victim’s boyfriend.  The 24 year old Meche was eight months pregnant at the time she was killed so Trimble Thomas is charged with second degree murder and second degree feticide.   It was determined that her boyfriend, Mark Trimble was not present or involved in the homicide.

 

Louisiana remains one of the most business-friendly states in the nation, ranking No. 5 in Area Development magazine’s annual Top States for Doing Business survey. This is the second year in a row the publication has ranked Louisiana No. 5.

 

The St. Tammany Parish Coroner has ruled the death of s fire chief’s wife in July, as a homicide. The body of Nanette Krentel, wife of Fire District 12 Chief Stephen Krentel, was discovered in the rubble of the couple’s home which had burned to the ground on July 7th. Coroner Charles Preston said it was determined from the start Mrs. Krentel died from a gunshot wound. But the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office said in a media advisory that it does not necessarily support the coroner’s conclusion.  The sheriff will provide an update on the investigation during a news conference today.

 

Authorities say they arrested the man shown in a video punching out a student on the LSU Parade Grounds before last Saturday’s football game.  He’s been identified as 18 year old Casen Maggio of Prairieville and he been charged with aggravated battery.  The official report says several bones in the student’s face were broken.

 

A homeowner shot and killed an alleged intruder in LaPlace Tuesday night. St. John the Baptist Parish authorities say the homeowner told detectives he heard voices in his yard and went to investigate. When he opened the back door, he was face-to-face with the intruder. No charges have been filed against the homeowner. The whole episode was captured on the home’s video surveillance camera.

 

The Shreveport City Council has rejected the mayor’s proposal to build a sports complex in the downtown area. The vote was unanimous. Councilman Oliver Jenkins says 30 million of the city’s dollars would be used along with 139 million in private finances.  He says they would like to present this project to the public in a different light, because many didn’t know it could bring in a minor league basketball team.

 

Two weeks into the season and the Ragin Cajuns defense ranks as the third worst out of the 129 F-B-S teams. UL Lafayette has allowed nearly 12-hundred yards. But Head Coach Mark Hudspeth says there’s a great desire to turn things around. The Cajuns gave up 66 points in a loss to Tulsa last week.

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News for Wednesday 091317

By Dave Graichen

 

Pineville PD report rumors of a student making threats to shoot up Pineville High School were unfounded.  The student accused of making the threat as well as potential witnesses were interviewed late Monday by Pineville Police, which traced the issue back to social media where rumors of an alleged threat began circulating after school hours.

 

A 29-member panel meets today in Baton Rouge to discuss ways to get more students interested and improve achievement in the areas of science technology, engineering and math also known as STEM. Slidell Senator Sharon Hewitt is behind this effort to grow STEM programs in schools. Hewitt says major employers, like Amazon who is looking to build a second headquarters, are seeking workers who could perform STEM related jobs.

 

The Edwards Administration gives the private operator of two state owned north Louisiana hospitals, BRF,45 days to correct alleged violations of a contract. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the state spoke with Ochsner Health System, which could help BRF run the hospitals. BRF says they anticipate resolving the contract disagreement without being ousted and they’ll use legal action if removed as operator of University Health in Shreveport and University Health Conway in Monroe.

 

Hundreds of cancer patients and survivors were in Washington D.C. Tuesday to urge Congress to help with the fight against cancer. Louisiana resident Amber Stevens says they are urging lawmakers to support palliative care and hospice education training. She’d like to see funding for cancer research reach 36 billion dollars, a two billion dollar increase over current spending.

 

Recovery continues in Calcasieu Parish after Tropical Storm Harvey left major flood damage in some areas. OEP Director Dick Gremillion says in the days before the storm made landfall in Calcasieu, a torrential downpour left nearly 500 houses with some water inside. He says flooding also occurred when the Sabine River came out of its banks. Gremillion says they are still waiting to find out if Calcasieu flood victims will be available for federal assistance.

 

Attorney General Jeff Landry says Louisiana will receive nearly seven million dollars as part of a multi-state settlement with Mylan, which manufacturers EpiPens. Landry says Mylan knowingly overcharged taxpayers for Epipens dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries.

 

A new study finds that Louisiana’s lawsuit climate is the worst in the nation, and also showed this ranking is not good when it comes to attracting new businesses. Harold Kim is the executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. He says the survey found that 85% of company attorneys said a state’s lawsuit climate is likely to impact decision making. Kim says the areas Louisiana ranked poorly were the in the competence and impartiality of its judges, the fairness of its juries and quality of appellate review.

 

Northwestern State University’s fall enrollment has reached its highest ever in the school’s 133-year history, with 10,572 students. NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio says this is one of the most meaningful milestones in the school’s long history. He credits this achievement to the university’s academics. Also,A number of renovations to dormitories on the main campus have made NSU more appealing to students.

 

LSU Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron has signed an advertising deal with Baton Rouge-based Raising Cane’s. Orgeron will be featured in commercials, billboards and in-restaurant signage for the fast food restaurant that specializes in chicken fingers. Former LSU Head Coach Les Miles had a similar agreement with Cane’s for eight years.

 

Louisiana lawmakers are working to free a Shreveport man from a Guatemalan jail after he was arrested in March for bringing hunting ammunition in his luggage. U.S. Representative Mike Johnson and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy met with the country’s ambassador to discuss the case of Zachary Wilson. Johnson says Wilson suffers from ulcerative colitis. Wilson’s family says it is extremely difficult to ship his medication to Guatemala and he is running out of his prescription. Johnson says they understand Guatemala is a sovereign nation and respect the rule of law but the charges brought against Wilson are not justified.

 

The Saints spent Tuesday breaking down the tape of Monday night’s 29-19 loss to Minnesota. Head Coach Sean Payton says it was not a fun exercise, because of how poorly the team played. This was the 5th time in 6 years the Saints started off the season with a loss.

 

A few of LSU’s young wide receivers had a chance to shine in last Saturday’s victory over Chattanooga. Stephen (STEF-ON) Sullivan and JaCoby Stevens each caught their first passes on the college level and Drake Davis was wide open when he caught his first TD Pass. However, after two games, LSU is the most penalized team in the SEC, with 21.

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News for Tuesday 091217

By Dave Graichen

 

The maximum capacity of the Rapides Parish jail is 348. But Friday of last week it was determined the population of the jail was well above that figure. The State Fire Marshall’s office gave the sheriff department until 4pm yesterday to resolve the issue. There were meetings between Sheriff Hilton and the Police Jury, the DA and several judges. But at the end of the day, the jail population was still at 395. According to Sheriff Hilton the department  now has seven days to get to or below 348 inmates, or it will be assessed a fine of $500 a day

 

35 year old Mark Thomas, who was indicted as part of the Triple M Murder Team again tried on Monday to remove his attorney, but was denied for the second time. Thomas now faces a Nov. 6 trial on first-degree murder, armed robbery with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon and racketeering charges. He was one of 14 members or associates of the Alexandria-based gang indicted after an investigation that lasted more than two years and involved federal, state and local agencies.

 

The statistical peak of hurricane season is behind us, and State Climatologist Barry Keim says it’s likely we will exceed earlier predictions. But he says right now, it looks as if things are calming down compared to last week. He says there have already been 11 named storms so far in 2017, and if we doubled that it would rank among the second busiest in history.

 

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is deploying employees and coordinating assistance from other state agencies for Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey response and recovery efforts. GOHSEP spokesman Mike Steele says there is a wide range of needs right now in Florida and Georgia, and ongoing cleanup in Texas, and the state is happy to help. Steele says the state-to-state system was developed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. He says Louisiana has a lot of experience in what to do after a storm hits.

 

Kaplan Police Chief Boyd Adams has been arrested on charges of theft and malfeasance in office after an investigation by the Legislative Auditor’s Office. The audit showed the Kaplan Police Recreation Account had not been included in the financial statements for the town, which means it was never audited and that there were no records to support the expenditure of over 19-thousand dollars. The State Police allege Adams used nearly $7000 in funds for himself.

 

After 9/11 , former Governor Mike Foster started a campaign for Louisianans to raise money to donate new firetrucks to the New York City Fire Department. Enough money was donated to build four firetrucks at the Ferrera Fire Apparatus facility in Livingston Parish.  Former owner, Chris Ferrera says 1.2 million dollars was raised and all of the trucks are still in use 16 years later. Ferrera says it’s so amazing that the people of the Bayou State came together and, her says, the legacy continues.

 

A popular bar for LSU students to attend is apologizing after pictures surfaced on social media that showed a noose hanging from the ceiling and cups with a Blue Confederate flag on them were handed out to patrons. Reggie’s Bar issued a statement that says they apologize to anyone offended.

 

Thibodaux Police have arrested a man who they found passed out behind the wheel in the drive-through of a restaurant. They say 37-year-old John Sewell Jr allegedly tried to drive off when cops woke him up, but his key had already been removed by officers. The man apparently told detectives he was tired and high. He was booked for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

 

The Saints started out the season on a sour note last night with one in the second column. They were whooped by the Vikings 29 - 19

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News for Monday 091117

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office is under orders to reduce the parish jail's occupancy by 33 inmates before  4 this afternoon. The jail was found early Friday to have been over occupancy limits for seven days straight, at which point it is violating State Fire Marshal code.

 

Louisiana utility crews are heading to Georgia to help with any potential power outages from Hurricane Irma. Cleco spokesperson Jennifer Cahill says crews are meeting at the St. Tammany Service Center Today to make the trip to Macon, Georgia. Cahill says Cleco also assisted Georgia Power following Hurricane Matthew.

 

75 Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard’s 165th Combat Sustainment and Support Battalion are set to deploy to Afghanistan. Bossier Parish Community College gymnasium will hold a deployment ceremony today for family and friends to bid farewell. Col. Ed Bush says these troops will be overseas for about a year.

 

Congress approves a measure to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program for the next 90 days, as federal lawmakers work on a long-term solution for the program. US Senator John Kennedy says while this was not his first choice, he’s glad congressional leaders didn’t let the clock run out on the program that expires September 30. Kennedy filed a bill to reauthorize the program for the long term that he says has bipartisan support.

 

Amazon seeks a location for new corporate headquarters, as the online mega retailer plans to open a second corporate location. State Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says Louisiana has a lot of strengths to offer should we throw our hat in the ring, and its likely we will. Amazon is reportedly looking for a metropolitan area with more than a million people near an international airport with access to mass transit. New Orleans could be a perfect fit. Pierson says the number one rated LED Fast Start program can also offer skilled employees. Pierson has said a prime location could be between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Amazon’s second headquarters will employ 50-thousand workers.

 

New Orleans plans to make a bid to host World Cup soccer games if North America is named as a host site for one of the biggest sporting events in the world in 2026. President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, Jay Cicero, says the Big Easy has so much to offer to international sports fans. US Soccer plans to announce in the fall a list of potential 25 host cities.

 

The state department of transportation says there’s been an alarming increase in accidents on I-10 from Lafayette to the Atchafalaya Basin, where two rehabilitation and widening projects are ongoing. DOTD spokesperson Deidra Druilhet says motorists need to slow down. Durilhet says they’re also putting a solid line through the construction zone to deter lane changes.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is asking the public to limit the transportation of Roseau cane, as the species is rapidly dying off. The plant helps to protect the Mississippi River delta and the coastal region. LDWF Biologist Manager Vaughn McDonald says the Roseau cane scale, which is a bug, is killing off the beneficial plant life.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU football team is 2-0, but the Tigers still have a lot to work on as they head into this Saturday’s SEC opener versus Mississippi State in Starkville. While kicking field goals have been a problem, quarterback Danny Etling has looked sharp. Through two games, he’s completed 71-percent of his passes for nearly 400 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. Coach O says Etling looks like a different player this season.

 

An intriguing matchup to start the season for the Saints as they visit the Minnesota Vikings to kick-off the 2017 campaign. New Orleans led the NFL in total offense last year, while the Vikings had the league’s third-ranked defense, and return most of their starters from 2016. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees says it’s a tough match-up to start the season. Hear the game this evening on 96.9 KZMZ.

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News for Friday 090817

By Dave Graichen

 

The APD has arrested a suspect in a shooting death that took place over the weekend.  19 year old Braylon Dozier of Alexandria was charged with first degree murder and armed robbery with a firearm for an incident on Beatrice Street Sunday night that left a man dead. Dozier was also charged with two additional counts of armed robbery with a firearm for two other incidents. The victim in the Sunday night shooting has been id as Steven Allen. Family members say he was making a pizza delivery at the time he was shot.

 

Louisiana has been pretty lucky this hurricane season, even after two tropical storms made landfall in the Bayou State. State climatologist Barry Keim says fortunately neither Cindy nor Harvey did much damage in Louisiana. But Keim says we aren’t out of the woods yet, as three storms are currently churning in the Atlantic. The peak of hurricane season is this Sunday.

 

In the coming weeks and months, Harvey victims will need help navigating the red tape to getting federal aid, and Louisianans are coming to the rescue. CSRA was enlisted by the feds to establish a call center for helping disaster victims. Spokesperson Mimi Hedgcock says 500 of those call agents will be based in Bossier City. A $95 million grant will fund the temporary call center which will open early next week after the new agents receive the proper training.

 

The Governor’s Office is holding a statewide blood drive today amid a supply shortage following Hurricane Harvey. Tina Martinez with LifeShare Blood Centers says because of the hurricane’s destruction, many communities have not been able to donate blood to support the medical needs of local patients. Blood drive locations have been set up in all the major Louisiana cities, and donors can also go by any LifeShare location to donate.

 

Both of Louisiana’s US Senators voted to appropriate 15-billion dollars in disaster aid for victims of Harvey, which nearly doubles what President Donald Trump requested .

The vote was 80-17 in the Senate and now heads to the House for their approval.

 

High school students in Louisiana did not perform as well on the ACT compared to students in other states. The national average composite score was 21, while Louisiana averaged a 19.5. The Bayou State reportedly ranks 43rd in the country for ACT test scores.

 

A recent report finds LSU graduates have higher early- and mid-career earnings than graduates of other Louisiana universities. President F. King Alexander notes many of the universities below LSU on the list charge higher tuition and their students have more student debt. LSU grads have early career earnings of more than $52,000 and mid-career earnings of over $100,000.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards held another roundtable meeting yesterday, this time with business leaders and local officials in the Houma area to gather input on how the state can stabilize the budget for the long-term. Louisiana is facing a looming fiscal cliff, as a over a billion dollars in temporary taxes expire July 1st. Edwards says his meetings with stakeholders have been extremely productive.

 

Entergy is teaming up with Cleco to build a new transmission line in southeast Louisiana that can withstand winds up to 150 miles per hour. Cleco spokesperson Jennifer Cahill says this is an important project because customers want their power restored immediately after a storm. The project should be complete by fall of next year.

 

Louisiana Tech is gearing up for a big home game this Saturday as the Bulldogs will host Mississippi State from the SEC. The last time these two teams met in Ruston, Tech defeated State 22-14 in 2008. Coach Skip Holtz says hosting an SEC team is a great opportunity for their football team. You’ll be able to hear that game Saturday afternoon starting at 5 on ESPN 1410 & 93.1 HD3

 

12th ranked LSU is coming off a dominating performance over BYU and will host Chattanooga Saturday evening at 6:30 in the home opener for the Tigers. You can hear that game on 970 KSYL and 96.9 KZMZ

 

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News for Thursday 090717

By Dave Graichen

 

Major refineries in Texas are starting to come back online, and gas prices across the nation are finally starting to level off. Patrick Dehaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst with GasBuddy.com, says Louisiana saw a 16 cent increase over the last week. Today’s statewide average is $2.39.

 

A task force examining all aspects of the TOPS scholarship met for the first time Wednesday at the state capitol. Senate Education Chairman Blade Morrish says the purpose of today’s meeting was to get a general overview of the taxpayer funded scholarship program. The task force will issue a report in February.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards is urging Congress to clear a road block that has touched thousands of homeowners who flooded in Louisiana over the past year, and could also impact Texans as they recover from Hurricane Harvey. Currently, residents are blocked from using federal assistance money to pay off SBA loans that they take out after disasters. But Edwards says removing that restriction would provide badly needed relief for people rebuilding their lives.

 

Tomorrow the Louisiana Board of Ethics decides the fate of Thibodaux Representative Dee Richard, who gambled $37-thousand in campaign funds between 2012 and 2015. He says he was never a gambler before he started taking medication for Parkinson’s, and the drug was later linked to gambling addiction. He says he’s prepared to pay back the money, but he’d like to finish out the remaining two years of his last term.

 

The woman accused of shooting a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agent was sentenced to 20 years in prison on separate charges. Amethyst Baird of Monroe got 10 years for possession of stolen items and 10 more for a second methamphetamine possession charge. Baird is also accused of shooting LDWF Agent Tyler Wheeler five times during a traffic stop in January.

 

Many Louisianans have likely noticed a serious uptick in the amount of lovebugs we’re seeing. LSU-Shreveport Associate professor of Biological Sciences Beverly Burden says the relatively mild summer can be to blame for this. She says these last few months are wetter and cooler than we typically see this time of year. Burden says while the lovebugs are a major nuisance she expects the population to decline in the next 10 to 14 days.

 

Rural parishes in Louisiana are struggling more than major cities to combat the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Linda Meredith is the research and development manager for the advocacy group HEROES. She says rural regions account for 15 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases in the state. Meredith adds the mortality rate is 1.6 times higher in northeast Louisiana than near major cities. Addressing the epidemic has been difficult because funding is tight, especially in the poorest corner of the state. Louisiana ranks first in the country for new HIV infections.

 

A third sperm whale has been found stranded off the Louisiana coast. State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Mandy Tumlin says they are working to determine the cause of the increase in dead animals washing onto Louisiana beaches. She says an autopsy will soon be conducted on this mammal found beached on Grand Isle. This latest sperm whale is a female and is one of five of the endangered species found in the northern Gulf of Mexico over the past year.

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News for Wednesday 090617

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested six suspects in a ring of burglaries in and near the Kellyland subdivision. The residential burglaries were reported over a period of several weeks. The suspects, juveniles thru 18 years of age, were located and arrested after RPSO personnel received a report of several people carrying flat-screen TVs in the area.

 

Alexandria City Marshall Terence Grines officially resigned from his job yesterday. The resignation comes on the heels of a criminal investigation where Grines faces a series of felony charges including malfeasance in office, two counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance II with intent to distribute, resisting an officer with force or violence, and illegal carrying of a weapon.

He is set to be arraigned on Friday.

 

Alexandria police report a 25-year-old man was fatally shot Sunday evening in the city.

APD officers responded to a report of shots fired in the 1700 block of Beatrice Street at around 10 p.m. Sunday. They found the victim moaning but unresponsive.

He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

 

Hurricane Irma is a Category 5 storm moving through the Caribbean, but state climatologist Barry Keim says Irma should be Florida’s problem, not Louisiana’s. He says a cold front will move over the state today pushing the storm away. Keim says the storm certainly bears watching, because things can change, but for now Louisiana appears to be in the clear. He says the cold front will bring delightful conditions to the Bayou State that will last through the weekend.

 

The state department of children and family services is loading up Harvey survivors and sending them home to Texas, as the shelters in Shreveport and Alexandria are closing. Families are the first to head home, and there’s even space on the bus for small pets. Most of the storm victims are from the Orange, Texas area. The move to a shelter in Dallas should be completed Thursday.

 

State Officials got together yesterday to discuss Louisiana’s response plan should another storm hit us while Texas recovers from Hurricane Harvey. Mike Steele with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says we are still in the heart of hurricane season, and resources in Louisiana could be strained. He says as part of the exercise, state agencies and emergency managers were asked to take actions without support from Texas.

 

Tropical Depression number 13 has formed in the Bay of Campeche. It’s expected to become a tropical storm today, but only impact Mexico. Still, Mike Steele, with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says we still need to be prepared.

 

The state department of corrections is exploring new safeguards to prevent work release inmates from escaping. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Adult Services, Perry Stagg, says they’re looking at a variety of options from more supervision to ankle bracelets. Stagg says the department has seen a decrease in inmates walking off their jobs in recent years, and this is an effort to continue that trend. In 2016, 70 of the more than 5,000 work release participants escaped.

 

The Lafayette Sheriff’s daughter and babysitter are safe and sound after the two went missing in a canoe overnight. John Mowell with the sheriff’s office says 21-year-old Juliana Brooks and 7-year-old Cora Garber were found near an oil well in the Lake Martin area after an all-night search.

 

UL-Lafayette’s petroleum engineering department was ranked seventh best in the nation and thirteenth in the world by CEOWORLD magazine. Department Head Dr. Fathi Boukadi says it’s an honor for the program to be ranked among the best in the world, and he hopes to continue to improve the department. Job placement was a key factor in the report, as UL students get lots of hands on experience.

 

Two Louisiana State Police troopers avoided suspension and received only minor discipline for taking an unauthorized "side trip" last year to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon while driving across the country to attend a law enforcement conference in California. In doing so, they charged taxpayers for thousands of dollars in overtime — as they traveled to San Diego for the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police conference.

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News for Tuesday 090517

By Dave Graichen

 

According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, 12,000 more people are holding down jobs in the state compared to last year. LSU economist Loren Scott attributes the increase to an industrial boom in Lake Charles and Baton Rouge and improvements in the construction sector. Construction employment is at an all-time high in the state.

 

Hurricane Irma strengthened overnight but it isn't clear if the storm will threaten Florida. The storm's 145 mph winds are expected to lash the Leeward Islands, the U-S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Wednesday. Forecasters expect the storm to turn north at some point. Where that happens will determine if or where it hits the U-S mainland.

 

The state Department of Children and Family Services says they’ve decided to open a second mega-shelter for flood victims from Texas, this time in Shreveport. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says they’re also taking care of nearly 2000 Lone Star State residents in Alexandria.

 

I-10 is now open in both directions at the Texas state line, according to State Police. But some other roads remain closed due to flooding, and you can check 511la.org for an up-to-date map of closures around the state.

 

Louisiana has the fifth highest obesity rate in the country, according to a report from Trust for America’s Health. President and CEO John Auerbach says perhaps even more troubling is the finding that Louisiana ranks fourth in the country for childhood obesity of 10- to 17-year-olds, at 21 percent.

 

Relief efforts are ongoing amid the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey, and many are asking how they can help those affected. Chairman of the Board for the Greater Baton Rouge Red Cross, Desiree Lemoine says donating money is the easiest way to give because the Red Cross can buy in bulk.  She says those who wish to donate can specify what they want their donation to go towards. To donate or volunteer, go online to RedCross.org.

 

A weekend boating incident in Cameron Parish took the life of a little boy. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents say 11-year-old Griffin LeBlanc and another 11-year-old boy were jumping off a boat on Lake Calcasieu when they jumped into the path of an oncoming vessel. LeBlanc’s body was recovered, and the other boy was taken to a hospital in serious condition.

 

The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary is seeking volunteers to clean up the 2.5 mile stretch of beach on Elmer’s Island later this month. Spokesperson Alma Robichaux says the event is in coordination with the international coastal cleanup that happens every September. To sign up, visit b-t-n-e-p.dot-org.

 

A Monroe-native is launching a new streaming TV network next month. Ro Wright says CONGO TV launches online on October 1. He says the network will be available through a variety of streaming options. Wright says he hopes to help local actors showcase their talent in feature films. He says the network will also feature local program based on where users log in, as well as original films and reality shows.

 

A Baton Rouge General Doctor is one of the first physicians in the country to perform a successful new stoke prevention procedure. Dr. Vince Weaver says this is a minimally invasive procedure that reverses the blood flow through the brain to divert blood clots and plaque away from the brain to prevent blockage and stroke. Three procedures have already been successful and several more are scheduled. Weaver says the previous procedure for high risk patients involved open surgery, which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. He says this treatment option is significantly safer.

 

The 2017 season is off to a good start for the LSU Tigers. The Bayou Bengals blanked BYU 27-0 as the Tigers outgained the Cougars 479-to-97. It’s the first time the Tigers have shutout an opponent since 2014 and first opening game shutout since the 2007 national championship team. Coach O was a happy guy.

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News for Friday 090117

By Dave Graichen

 

Nearly 900 disaster victims from Texas are taking shelter in Louisiana. That’s according to Governor John Bel Edwards, who says the state is prepared to take in 3,000 more of our neighbors, who can be housed at shelters in Lake Charles, here at the evac-center in Alexandria, and in Shreveport

 

Irma is now a category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic with winds up to 115 miles per hour. Forecasters say Irma will be a major hurricane by the time it reaches the Caribbean early next week. Governor Edwards says while we aren’t sure where the system will go, there is a chance it could head for the Bayou State.

 

The western half of Calcasieu Parish is under a voluntary evacuation as flooding from the Sabine River is possible. Tom Hoefer with the parish police jury says fewer than one thousand homes and camps are included in the evacuation. He says residents in the area have plenty of time to get out of their homes. The river is extremely swollen after the flood gates were opened at the Toledo Bend Reservoir.

 

The Department of Agriculture’s mobile pet shelter has been deployed in Lake Charles to help with pet evacuations. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says they will do whatever they can to ensure pets are safe, while their owners are coping with the disaster. He says currently they have 86 pets in their care and they are preparing for an additional 500 pets in here in Alexandria. He says donations of dog and cat food are welcome. The department is providing 200 soft sided carriers for pets traveling by bus.

 

Prices at the pump jumped three cents overnight as storm-impacted refineries shut down in Texas. Don Redman with AAA says the statewide average is about $2.22 a gallon, up from $2.14 a week ago. Redman says prices could reach up to $2.40 a gallon in the coming weeks before the refineries reopen. But he says once they do, there’s an ample supply of gasoline for plants to distribute.

 

This weekend Louisiana hunters can enjoy a tax break on their guns and ammo during the 2nd Amendment sales tax holiday. Byron Henderson with the state department of revenue says eligible items will be fully exempt from local sales taxes and subject to only three percent of the state sales tax. The sales tax holiday runs this Friday through Sunday throughout the state.

 

The Cajun Navy is hard at work rescuing disaster victims in Texas, and the Cajun Gravy is making sure they are well fed. The Cajun Gravy is serving up Louisiana delicacies like jambalaya to first responders in Orange, Texas. The group consists of cooks from Baton Rouge, Gonzales, and Donaldsonville.

 

The original owners of the Hodges Garden State Park are taking back the 948-acre recreation area in Sabine Parish because the state department of tourism can’t afford to maintain the facility. The assistant secretary in charge of the state park system, Robert Braham, says the state is transferring Hodges back to the Hodges Foundation, effective the last day of September. The state took over the park in 2007. Barham says there have been issues with upkeep due to continued budget cuts for Louisiana’s state parks. He says in the last 10 years, the department has seen a 40 percent reduction in funding.

 

A team of 10 Baton Rouge area firefighters are heading to Port Arthur, Texas, to assist with the Harvey relief efforts, as the city is reportedly underwater. Task Force 2 consists of seven firefighters from Baton Rouge, two from Hammond, and one from Zachary. The team of trained rescuers will be in Texas for two weeks.

 

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is urging Louisiana residents to purchase flood insurance as we’re seeing an uptick of historic flooding events. He says when congress reconvenes next month, he will push for significant changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

 

The Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office says a high school teacher is under arrest in Jennings for allegedly having an improper relationship with a student. They say deputies received a complaint about 26-year-old Rachel Gillespie, and an investigation led detectives to request a warrant. She was booked for indecent behavior with a juvenile.

 

The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau is gearing up for a busy weekend as the LSU-BYU season opener takes at the Mercedes Benz Superdome at 8:30 p.m Saturday. Kristian Sonnier with the CVB says even though the game was relocated last minute due to Harvey, they are expecting a big crowd. He says the Decadence Festival will be underway at the same time. Sonnier expects about 50,000 people will be in the Crescent City for the game that they were not anticipating.

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News for Thursday 083117

By Dave Graichen

 

No Public school Thursday in the following parishes.. Rapides Parish, Vernon Parish, LaSalle Parish & Beauregard Parish. Also closed, Catholic schools in Rapides and Natchitoches parishes.   Classes are cancelled at LSUA, all campuses of NSU, Central Louisiana Technical College's Alexandria, Winnfield, Natchitoches, Many, Jena and Leesville campuses &The Learning Center for Rapides Parish.

 

Classes will resume today in Avoyelles Parish, St. Landry & Grant Parish public schools and at Louisiana College.

 

The Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s office is strongly advising residents on the western side of the parish to evacuate. That’s because the Sabine River Authority opened all of the flood gates at Toledo Bend Lake by one foot because of rising waters. The authority says they may continue to raise the gates in one-foot increments to provide a controlled release.

 

Harvey continues to move to the North East, out of the state. State Climatologist Barry Keim says fortunately Louisiana has been spared from much of the flooding seen in Texas. He says that’s because the system ingested dry air. Keim says the greatest rainfall total from Houston is nearly 52 inches, while the Bayou State has topped out at around 30 inches in extreme southwest Louisiana.

 

High water a problem on I-10. If you’re trying to get to Texas, be advised I-10 Westbound at milepost 4 near the Texas state line is closed due to flooding on the Texas side of the Sabine River.

 

Louisianans who want to help with the Harvey relief efforts both in Texas and Louisiana can find ways to give at VolunteerLouisiana.gov. Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser says thousands have already signed up to give their time and resources to those in need.

 

Members of the Louisiana National Guard continue to help with search and rescue efforts in Texas, as flood waters will not recede for some time. Col. Ed Bush says it’s a great feeling to be able to help our neighbors in need. Bush says hundreds of rescues have already been conducted, and many Texans are now in shelters in Lake Charles.

 

Calcasieu Parish survived Tropical Storm Harvey without any widespread flooding. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the rural areas on the western side of the parish took on some water, but all things considered, it could have been much worse.

 

Harvey is finally moving out of Gulf Coast, but forecasters are now keeping an eye on a tropical disturbance near southern Mexico. Andy Tingler with the National Weather Service says there is a low chance this system could develop into a tropical depression or storm over the next five days. There is also Tropical Storm Irma, which is currently gaining strength in the Atlantic and is located off the western coast of Africa. Tingler says there’s a good chance Irma could develop into a hurricane over the next few days.

 

Congress will be tasked with reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program once lawmakers reconvene in September. This has become an even bigger priority as hundreds of thousands of homeowners cope with the flood waters left by Harvey. US Senator John Kennedy says the NFIP is the only option for homeowners to cover homes for flooding. He says the amount of flooding from substantial rainfall has doubled in the past decade. He says virtually no one in the country today is immune from flooding, no matter where you live.

 

New Orleans received minimal impacts from Harvey and the city is in good shape to host the LSU-BYU football game on Saturday. Ticket sales are underway for the LSU-BYU season opener at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Fans who purchased tickets for the game in Houston, season ticket holders and students have first priority. LSU Ticket Manager Brian Broussard says the general public can now buying tickets online through Ticketmaster. Ticket prices range from 40-dollars to 250-dollars

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News for Wednesday 083017

By Dave Graichen

 

Public schools in Rapides Parish, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Grant, Natchitoches, St. Landry and Vernon parishes will be closed Wednesday as tropical storm Harvey moves across the state. Also closed today Catholic schools in Rapides, Avoyelles and Natchitoches parishes, Alpine Christian School , Grace Christian School, University Academy, St. James Episcopal Day School, Montessori Educational Center &  Alexandria Country Day School.  Louisiana State University of Alexandria, Louisiana College, the Learning Center for Rapides Parish, Northwestern State University campuses  and Central Louisiana Technical College's nine campuses are all closed.

 

Southwest Louisiana will likely see the biggest impact from Tropical Storm Harvey, but the entire state will be affected. In northwest Louisiana, a flash flood watch is in effect through Thursday evening. Lisa May with the National Weather Service in Shreveport expects periods of heavy rainfall through the end of the week. May says the area could also see gusty winds and isolated tornadoes as Harvey treks through the area.

 

Cleco is ready for Tropical Storm Harvey’s arrival in Louisiana as five of the energy company’s operational regions are in the path of the storm. Jennifer Cahill with Cleco says they are doubling the number of crews available to safely restore power if need be. She says Cleco is reminding customers to stay safe and beware of rising water and downed power lines.

 

Cameron Parish braced for impact yesterday as Tropical Storm Harvey prepared to make a second landfall and start it’s treks north through the state. Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Danny Lavergne says the biggest threat from the storm is the water, as the parish received about 30 inches of rain in just the last two days. Forecasters are saying the costal parish could see another 10 to 20 inches of rain before the storm moves through.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says the Cajun Navy’s work in Texas is receiving praise from local authorities. So how do they do it? Penny Shar with Project We Care Louisiana works in conjunction with the Cajun Navy 2016 and she says they use the Zello Smartphone App to communicate with nearby boats to help find stranded residents. Shar says they will work closely with officials here at home to organize efforts rescue efforts as well.

 

The Cajun Navy is working hard to assist Texas authorities with ongoing search and rescues. While volunteers work to rescue people in Texas, the North Louisiana Red Cross is giving them a place to stay once they are safe. Executive Director Michelle Davidson says the shelter at Morning Star Baptist Church will house up to 250 individuals.

 

State Police is investigating the shooting of a Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s deputy. The suspect in the case was fatally shot. Authorities say a deputy was shot while conducting a traffic stop near Simsboro High School. His bullet proof vest deflected the bullet. The state police says the deputy returned fire, killing the suspect.

 

LSU says fans who bought tickets for the season opener against BYU in Houston will have their money refunded automatically. Athletic Director Joe Alleva says those who had tickets, will get first priority to purchase tickets for the game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, then LSU season ticket holders, students followed by the general public.

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News for Tuesday 082917

By Dave Graichen

 

Harvey has strengthened as it moves over the Gulf along the Texas coast. John Cangialosi with the National Hurricane Center says the biggest concern is the continued rainfall over eastern Texas and western Louisiana with isolated totals reaching 50 inches in some areas.  He encourages everyone to stay up to date on advisories issued in their areas.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says the worst is yet to come in Louisiana with Tropical Storm Harvey. He says in southwest Louisiana, forecasters say 10-15 inches of additional rain could fall on already saturated grounds through Friday.

 

The National Guard has mobilized about 60 soldiers to Southwest Louisiana to assist with the possibility of flooding due to Tropical Storm Harvey. High water vehicles and boats are prepositioned in eight of the state’s western parishes.

 

The Cajun Navy is assisting with the flood response in Texas and additional resources are on the way. Penny Shar is with Project We Care Louisiana, she says about 100 people with boats and high water vehicles left from Baton Rouge, and more are leaving from Lafayette. Forty Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents are also in Texas assisting authorities with search and rescue efforts.

 

Several roads are under water in south Louisiana. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has told citizens in the Crescent City to stay home today and off the streets.

 

Three men from St. Tammany Parish are heroes. The had just arrived in Houston to help flood victims when they spotted an elderly woman face-down in the floodwaters brought by Tropical Storm Harvey. Joshua Lincoln said he and fellow "Cajun Navy" members Ricky Berrigan and Donnie Davenport were able to pull the woman, 73-year-old Wilma Ellis, into their boat and get her breathing again in relatively short order.  They say it was a case of  just being in the right place at the right time.

 

It’s official, LSU’s season opener against BYU will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is set for 8:30, and the game will be televised by ESPN. Tickets and parking passes purchased through LSU’s ticket office will be automatically refunded tomorrow. The LSU ticket office will work to set up a purchasing structure for that event, and fans will be alerted when tickets are available. The game was moved from NRG Stadium in Houston because of epic flooding from Harvey.

 

Today marks 12 years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, and Texans are facing a similar situation now with Harvey. State climatologist Barry Keim says both made landfall as a major hurricane, but Katrina reached Category 5 strength in the Gulf and weakened, while Harvey continued to strengthen until landfall. Keim says the biggest surge from Harvey so far is 6.8 feet, while Katrina caused the biggest surge ever measured in the western hemisphere at 28 feet. Keim says Harvey has been meandering around at about 2 miles per hour. He notes the storm has only moved about 100 miles since last Friday.

 

Today marks the 12 year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. Over 15-hundred people died in Louisiana from the powerful storm. But, former Governor Kathleen Blanco says it could’ve been a lot worse if they hadn’t of evacuate one million people from New Orleans. Some people decided not to leave. Many of them were casualties of the storm. She says so many Louisiana residents worked feverously to help each other during that difficult time. When asked about the situation in Houston, Blanco said she doesn’t understand why a city the size of Houston has no evacuation plan in place.

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News for Monday 082817

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says Louisiana is not out of the woods yet when it comes to Tropical Storm Harvey. Edwards asks residents to stay vigilant and pay attention to local news reports. State Climatologist Barry Keim says Harvey will eventually move towards Louisiana. Keim says rainfall from Harvey is Louisiana’s biggest threat.

Lake Charles could still see upwards of 12 inches of rain. Here in Central Louisiana 4 to 6 inches and New Orleans up to 8 inches are possible through the end of the week.

 

As Tropical Storm Harvey delivered a wallop Sunday to Louisiana’s neighbors in Texas, Louisianans remembered the many disasters that have struck home and Texans were always there to help. The Pelican State managed Sunday to avoid most of Harvey’s fury. But around Baton Rouge, Lafayette and other parts of the state, members of the Cajun Navy sprang into action to return the neighborly love. Many who spent last August wading around south Louisiana’s floodwaters in boats packed them up Sunday and headed west to help rescue Texans caught in the floods.

 

The FAA has announced Houston's Hobby Airport, a key piece of New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Airport and Southwest Airlines' travel schedules, is closed until Wednesday morning at the earliest. Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which files to both New Orleans and Baton Rouge's airports, is also closed. The FAA expects that airport might reopen today.

 

With Louisiana in a state of emergency due to Harvey, the Attorney General’s Office warns consumers to be wary of price gouging. Deputy Director of Public Protection Mike Dupree says once the governor declares a state of emergency, price gouging laws go into effect. Dupree says that does not include price changes like a few cents increase for a gallon of gas, which could go up due to the market. But he says if the price of emergency supplies spikes overnight, consumers should be suspicious.  He encourages anyone who suspects a business of price gouging to report it immediately.

 

The Shreveport City Council will soon consider a proposal to construct a 30-million dollar sports complex in the downtown area. The goal of the complex, which would be right next to a proposed mixed use development site, is to lure the New Orleans Pelicans G-League team to the arena.  Local banker Rich Holland says different entities are now gathering their plans for presentation. There is also talk of the facility being used as a practice facility for the New Orleans Saints.

 

For the second straight preseason game, the Saints defense did not allow an offensive touchdown. The Saints held the Texans to 246 total yards and 13 first downs in a 13-0 victory over Houston on Saturday night.

 

LSU is scheduled to play BYU this Saturday, but athletic director Joe Alleva doubts it can be played in Houston. Alleva says a number of alternate locations are being considered and a decision should be made early this week.

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News for Friday 082517

By Dave Graichen

 

Hurricane Harvey is expected to reach Category 3 strength by the time the storm makes landfall in Texas. Eric Blake with the National Hurricane Center says the storm isn’t expected to move far inland, as it makes landfall early Saturday morning. Models show Harvey moving east towards Louisiana after making landfall, and Governor John Bel Edwards has already declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm. Extensive rainfall is expected, and the governor says citizens should prepare now.

Edwards says the biggest concern is in southwest Louisiana, but the entire state could see high rainfall totals.

 

More jobs are coming to Union Parish, as Foster Farms announces a $30 million expansion that will result in 50 new direct jobs and 42 indirect jobs. Farmerville Mayor Stein Baughman says this is huge for the parish. The poultry processing facility will also maintain over 1,000 existing jobs.

 

A southwest Louisiana mother of four is now a millionaire after winning $2 million in the Powerball. The woman works as an assistant manager at the Tiger Mart in Lake Arthur. Store manager April Lemaire says if anyone deserves to win, it’s her. The Tiger Mart will receive a bonus of 20-thousand dollars for selling the ticket. Lemaire says the assistant manager plans to keep working at the convenience store.  

 

The state Department of Education announces a new program has launched that would let experienced teachers statewide get training to become mentors to aspiring educators. They say beginning in the fall and over the next three years, Louisiana will establish at least 2,500 professionals equipped with the necessary skills to help guide a new generation of teachers.

 

Louisiana is home to the third worse drivers in the nation, according to a report by SmartAsset. Vice President of Financial Education AJ Smith says they looked at vehicle fatalities, insurance rates, and Google searches to determine the rankings. She says the Bayou State did not fare well in any of those categories. Smith says at 86 percent, Louisiana has the 16th lowest rate of insured drivers in the country. Florida and Mississippi were the only states that had worse drivers than Louisiana.

 

Louisiana customers who use Walmart to conduct money transfers can use a new feature called Express Money Services. The company says instead of filling out paperwork at the store, you can enter the information into the Walmart app. Customers will use a dedicated Express Lane at the store to complete the transaction.

 

A third relative has been arrested in Webster Parish in the bizarre case of a seven-year-old who shot his aunt twice. The child’s grandmother, 64-year-old Cheryl Lee of Shreveport was booked on obstruction of justice as she allegedly tried to cover up the shooting. The boy’s mother and grandfather are also facing charges.

 

The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office has ruled the death of a 53-year-old man whose body was found in the backyard of a home in an overgrown area, as a homicide. They say Dale Sands had been reported missing by the Sheriff’s Office, and officials say he was shot in the chest and head. Investigators have not yet established a motive or suspect.

 

Sports..

 

The Saints are set to the play the Texans in exhibition game number three. Quarterback Drew Brees is expected to get his first action of the preseason and he’s excited to finally play in a game. Veteran running back Adrian Peterson is expected to make his preseason debut as well. Brees says he’s been impressed with the future Hall of Famer during camp.

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