News for Friday 012017
By Dave Graichen
State Police say three people are dead and a child is in serious condition following a crash in Allen Parish. Sgt. James Anderson says around 10am Thursday morning, a vehicle traveling west on Hwy 190 in Kinder crossed the center line. Anderson says there was a young child in the second vehicle who was transported to the Rapides Trauma Center in serious condition. He says they are still trying to figure out how this happened. Impairment is believed to have been a factor in the crash.
The Mayor Of Lecompte, Robert Baxter, and town council members are facing a lawsuit over their use of tax funds. The case is being handled by Rapides Assistant District Attorney Tom Wells, who has been investigating Lecompte's use of sales tax funds generated through a proposition passed in 1989. The petition states it's believed funds that should have gone to the Lecompte Fire Department during the fiscal years ending in 2014 and 2015 instead went to the Lecompte Police Department. The petition alleges it's still happening.
The leader of the state House Republican delegation has offered a plan to reduce state spending by 304-million dollars in order to alleviate a midyear shortfall. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris say Republicans are not proposing any cuts to public colleges. But, Harris’s plan is proposing 147-million dollars in cuts to the health department, also cuts to state prisons, roadwork and K-through-12 education. Seventeen public health units in 16 parishes could be closed in one scenario the Louisiana Department of Health is considering to address looming budget cuts.
The West Monroe High School Rebel Band gets the prestigious honor of performing in the inaugural parade at the nation’s capital today. Band director Robert Freeman says they learned a month ago that they would play in the inaugural parade, and they didn’t have much time to prepare or raise the $240-thousand necessary for the trip. He says students were asked to pay $600 each, and they had to do a lot of fundraising in a short amount of time to pay for the trip.
The Louisiana National Guard’s 773rd Military Police Battalion is in Washington D.C. to assist in security for the 58th Presidential Inauguration today. More than 170 soldiers with the state’s National Guard will conduct security operations along the parade route, accompanied by Guardsmen from Kansas and South Dakota. This is the first time the 773rd has been a part of a presidential inauguration.
Congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District is looking forward to the changes that will come under the new administration. He says his team has been hard at work in Washington, and the freshman Representative says he’s already learned a lot. Higgins says Congress has been meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence throughout the transition, and he was encouraged by those conversations. He says voters sent a clear message last November and now it’s time to deliver.
LSU announces a timeline for finding a new live mascot and the plan is to have a new tiger before the start of the football season. Ginger Guttner with the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine says they are searching rescue facilities and sanctuaries for a young, male tiger to become Mike VII. But Guttner says the school is ending the decades old tradition of Mike in attendance for LSU football games.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Louisiana Office of Tourism announce the hiring of China-based East West Marketing Corporation — an effort aimed at bringing more Chinese tourists to Louisiana. It includes more support for public relations, consumer marketing and social media promotions. Ultimately Louisiana wants to take advantage of the Chinese travel market.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is considered one of the leading Democrats in the state and he weighs in on his feelings about the Trump administration. Landrieu says both Republicans and Democrats like President Trump’s proposal to invest one trillion dollars on infrastructure. But Landrieu says bi-partisan leaders are concerned about the immediate repeal of Obamacare without a replacement. He says while there are some issues with the Affordable Care Act, like increased premiums, they need to be fixed rather than a full repeal.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, LSU Pennington Biomedical Doctor Steven Heymsfield suggests behavioral counseling. Heymsfield says an obese individual must lose 5-8-percent of their weight in one to two years to have successfully completed the program. Heymsfield says many YMCAs offer an affordable high intensity lifestyle treatment, along with commercial companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
News for Tuesday 011717
By Dave Graichen
Despite a less than perfect day, weather wise, large crowds filled the streets yesterday to play their respects to the father of civil rights Martin Luther King Jr. Clubs, church groups, politicians and more made their way through the excited parade goers. Most didn’t even notice the on again off again showers..
With Yesterday being Martin Luther King Jr Day, Wallet Hub has issued a report on race relations which indicates Louisiana is among the top 10 for making the most progress. We’re among a handful of other southern states in WalletHub’s rankings of racial progress, and spokeswoman Jill Gonzales says there is a bit of the “nowhere to go but up” factor at play though. She says Louisiana’s biggest improvement areas over time were health care, education and civil engagement.
A Gallup poll finds President-elect Donald Trump has a 42-percent approval rating, the lowest since George W. Bush, who had 59-percent. ULM Political Science Professor Dr. John Sutherlin says Trump will likely come into office and follow through with his agenda, regardless of what polls say. Sutherlin says Trump doesn’t seem like his is bothered by public opinion.
A special session could kick off as early as next month so that lawmakers can decide how to deal with the state’s $313 million dollar budget shortfall. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the legislature raised nearly $2 billion in taxes last year, but it just wasn’t enough to balance the budget. Dardenne says they plan to use money from the rainy day fund to close some of the gap, but that still leaves about another 200 million dollars in possible cuts.
More and more LSU students are seeking Sugar Daddies to help pay for their education. That’s according to SeekingArangment.com. Spokesperson Brook Urick says online dating in the sugar lifestyle isn’t much different than regular online dating. She says the main difference is the lifestyle expectations. The average monthly allowance for a Sugar Baby is around $24-hundred. But Urick says not all Sugar Babies get the same allowance from their Sugar Daddies. As the cost of tuition continues to increase while funding for TOPS decreases, Urick says we could see even more Louisiana students turn to the lifestyle for financial assistance.
A recent poll commissioned by Restore the Mississippi River Delta finds over half of Louisianans polled believe coastal land loss is at a crisis, while 96-percent said it needs attention. Jimmy Frederick with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana says saving the coast isn’t just about protecting coastal cities. He says it’s important for the entire state. The state’s coastal Master plan would cost 50-billion dollars. Frederick says there are federal dollars and money from BP available to get some of the work started and this survey shows Louisiana residents want major coastal projects completed.
If you’re buying items from Amazon in the New Year, you might not pay as much in sales taxes as you thought. It was announced that starting January 1st the online retailer would begin collecting state sales taxes for the first time. But Department of Revenue Secretary, Kimberly Robinson, says the only sales tax collected are on products sold directly by Amazon, LLC. That does not include items purchased through third party vendors on Amazon. Robinson says if you purchase online you are required to pay sales taxes at the end of the year, if the seller did not collect them at the time of purchase. The current plan requires self-reporting and Robinson says participation is low.
AT&T Louisiana has donated $150-thousand to the Louisiana Jobs for America’s Graduates program, which helps young people who face difficult challenges earn a high school diploma, complete college, and find employment. Governor John Bel Edwards says this program is critically important to our state.
A homeowner in Slidell shot and killed a man early Monday morning, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. The resident told investigators that he was confronted by a subject acting erratically in the front yard of his residence; so he fatally shot the man. No arrests have been made, yet. The investigation is ongoing.
State Police are looking for a vehicle that hit a trooper’s patrol car and injured the officer over the weekend. Trooper Bryan Lee says the suspect sped off immediately after the wreck on Old Hammond Highway in East Baton Rouge Parish. The good news is the trooper suffered only minor injuries.
A Houma high-school that was for black students only during segregation will reopen next month as a museum celebrating African-American history in St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes. Dedication will be held on February 4th for the schoolhouse that was once called The Academy.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva fired football coach Les Miles in mid-season, could it happen again, this time with the men’s basketball program? The Tigers are 1-4 in the SEC, they’ve lost three in a row and all three defeats have been by double digits. Glen Guilbeau covers LSU hoops for the USA Today Network and says as the losses mount, Alleva might make a change…
News for Monday 011617
By Dave Graichen
State Police report a Saturday afternoon accident on Highway 71 North of Montgomery killed a man from Natchitoches and injured a man from St. Maurice. The crash involved a vehicle driven by 41 year Michael McKinney of St. Maurice. Troopers say McKinney lost control and left the roadway colliding with several trees. McKinney received moderate injuries. But a passenger in his vehicle, 27 year old Brandon Banks, was killed in the crash. Neither man was wearing a seatbelt.
State legislators will likely be called into a special session next month to deal with a budget deficit. The Revenue Estimating Conference has determined the midyear shortfall is around 313-million dollars. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says legislative input will be needed to address a budget gap of that magnitude. Governor Edwards released a statement regarding the bad budget news. He says a special session will prevent deep budget cuts in the areas of higher education and health care. He plans to develop a plan with legislative leaders that solves this budget crisis.
Meanwhile the Governor is in Italy where the topic will be the human trafficking epidemic. He’ll be joined by State. Police Colonel Mike Edmonson and a couple of lawmakers and they’ll meet with nuns who want to open a shelter for victims of sex trade. The governor hopes to meet with the pope on Wednesday and he says he’s paying his own way, but taxpayer dollars will pay for his security.
State Senator Troy Brown of Assumption Parish has issued a statement in response for calls to him to resign over his two domestic violence related arrests, and recent “no contest” plea for alleged abuse against his wife. He says while he would respect the wishes of the Senate if they choose to expel him, legal action would follow. Brown apologized but said he doesn’t feel a misdemeanor warrants him being removed.
Crowley Representative Jack Montoucet begins his duties today as the new Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Montoucet was appointed by Governor Edwards and says his main goal is to ensure Louisiana stays the Sportsman’s Paradise. He plans to try to get more residents involved in outdoor activities, like preservation, hunting and fishing. Montoucet has been the owner of an alligator farm in Acadiana for 30 years.
New Orleans Police report Seven people were injured in five separate shootings across New Orleans between Saturday morning and early Sunday. More people have now been shot in New Orleans in the first 14 days of 2017 than all of January 2016
The entire New Orleans Fair Grounds race track is under a quarantine in an effort to stop the spread of an equine herpes virus. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain. Strain says nine of the two-thousand horses at the track are in isolation.
A local doctor advises parents to limit their children’s screen time each day because too much time looking at a TV, computer or tablet can be bad for a child’s health. Ochsner Health Center Zachary Pediatrician Dr. Myriam Ortiz says when children spend too much time in front of a screen, it limits their outdoor activity time, which leads to higher rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. Ortiz says that’s why parents of children up to age 5 should limit their child’s screen time to one hour per day. She says parents of kids who are older than 6 should keep the media restrictions consistent.
Settlement discussions have failed to bring about a resolution to a federal court case accusing New Orleans criminal court judges of unconstitutionally jailing poor people who cannot afford to pay court fees. The suit was filed in 2015 by six people who said they were locked up for owing court debts. Lawyers are seeking to make it a class action case that could affect hundreds of others.
LSU’s leading receiver this past season Malachi Dupre has decided to enter the NFL draft. Dupre struggled early on during the 2016 campaign and finished with 41 catches for 593 yards and three touchdowns. NFL draft analyst Mike Detillier believes he’ll be selected in either the second or third round. Dupre is the fourth Tiger to turn pro early.
News for Friday 011316
By Dave Graichen
The judge says no bail for Derrick Henderson, the grant parish man accused of bludgeoning he grandparents with a baseball bat. On Thursday, Henderson was in a Grant Parish courtroom for a Gwen's hearing, which determines bond for suspects in domestic violence cases. He is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and home invasion in the Monday incident that seriously wounded his paternal grandparents, both of whom are in their 70s.
State Police report A Florida woman died Wednesday morning in a single-vehicle crash in Grant Parish. 56 year old Carolyn Trissler lost control of her vehicle on Highway 71and ran off the road. The car then hit a culvert and some trees. Trissler was pronounced dead at the scene.
A state judge has denied bond for the two individuals arrested in connection with the shooting of state Wildlife and Fisheries Agent Tyler Wheeler. The judge says Amethyst Baird and Jeremy Gullette are a risk to flee and both pose an imminent danger to the community. Wheeler was shot five times last weekend and at last report was responding well to treatment.
In the past week, Louisiana has seen an increase in the number of flu cases around the state. That’s according to Medical Director for the state Immunization Program Dr. Frank Welch who says four out of every 100 people who visit the doctor have the flu. He says if you got the flu shot, you should be protected. Welch says it’s rare, but if you do contract the flu virus after getting a shot, it’s usually a very mild case. Those who are at the most risk if they catch the flu, pregnant women and the elderly.
We’ll get better idea today whether or not Governor John Bel Edwards intends to call another special session to address looming budget shortfalls. The Revenue Estimating Conference meets today and the panel will determine the exact size of a revenue shortfall for this fiscal year. Edwards says the size of the deficit will determine if a special session is needed.
Edwards estimates a shortfall greater than $300 million would require a special session to resolve.
Louisiana has received 18-million dollars as part of a 4.3 billion dollar Volkswagen settlement in which the car maker admitted to cheating on air emissions tests. DEQ Secretary Chuck Brown says they may use that money to replace diesel engines in school buses with engines that burn cleaner fuels. The money has to be used on an environmental friendly project.
Even after a crazy year of weather in 2016, the crawfish crop seems to be doing just fine. LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Specialist Mark Shirely says the sizes of the mud bugs vary but the harvest is coming along fairly well. Shirely says since it’s early in the season, the price per pound for mud bugs will be more expansive than later in the season. But he says the price will drop depending on supply and demand.
Some state lawmakers are calling for Napoleonville Senator Troy Brown to resign after being convicted of his second domestic violence charge in four months. Senate President John Alario says Brown was suspended from serving on committees when he was arrested in July.
Governor Edwards called for Brown to resign after the arrest, but Brown said he has no plans to leave office.
The Director of the Louisiana State Police Commission has resigned. Cathy Derbonne submitted her resignation this morning amid speculation she may get fired because of controversial political contributions made by former board members. Derbonne served at that post for eight years
Police in Shreveport arrest a 44-year-old man in the death of an 11-month old baby. They said it’s believed that Frederick Clark had been watching the child for an extended period of time before it was discovered the baby was suffering complications that ultimately lead to his death. Clark is charged with second-degree murder and is being held on a million dollars bond.
The criticism is mounting against the LSU men’s basketball program. The Tigers are 1-3 in the SEC and in all three losses, LSU has allowed 90 or more points. LSU hosts Alabama on Saturday and Jones says there’s still plenty of time left in the season to move up the SEC standings.
News for Thursday 011217
By Dave Graichen
An autopsy has been ordered on the body of a man who was found lying alongside Willow Glen Road Monday afternoon. The APD says the, yet to be identified 49 year old man, was found lying face down in the ditch. The initial investigation does not indicate foul play. But the investigation is ongoing. This is the third time in less than a week police have investigated the discovery of a body.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the average price of crude oil in 2017 should be 52 dollars per barrel, so what does that mean for Louisiana? Tulane University Energy expert Eric Smith says this is a nine dollar improvement from last year, but not enough to support new deep water activity. Smith says the offshore oil industry needs prices in the low 60s to commit to new projects.
2017 is looking good for construction workers in Louisiana, as the Associated General Contractors of America finds 70-percent of Louisiana contractors anticipate hiring workers this year. Chief Economist with AGC, Ken Simonson, says the strongest category appears to be hospital construction, but the industry is expecting plenty of work in other sectors as well.
Louisiana State Police say a 51year-old trooper has died of a heart attack in Lake Charles
Tracy Morgan collapsed while walking from the parking garage to his office shortly after 1 p.m.
Tuesday. Troopers and medical personnel who worked in the building gave CPR until an ambulance arrived, but were unable to revive Morgan. He had been a state trooper since 1994, and was assigned to the Gaming Division. He also had worked as a crisis negotiator and had extensive investigative experience.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in finding a man who hasn’t been seen since New Year's Day. 41 year old Marty Powell is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighs 151 pounds and has brown hair and green eyes. Anyone who has seen Powell or has information about him is asked to call the sheriff's office.
January marks the 10 year anniversary of the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, which prohibited smoking in public buildings and places of employment- most significantly restaurants. Director for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, Tonya Moore, says the law has improved public health and it’s been good for the state’s economy. Moore says unfortunately, the ban did not include bars and casinos. But she says the Smoke-Free Air Act approved by the state legislature a decade ago has opened the door for stronger anti-smoking measurers locally.
Napoleonville Senator Troy Brown plead no contest to domestic violence charges. Brown’s 30 day sentence was suspended, and instead he wills spend just 38 hours in jail. Brown will also have to perform 64 hours of community service while on probation for three months.
Baton Rouge Police are looking for a gunman who fatally shot a 27-year-old mother in her doorway Tuesday night as her three children were inside. Sergeant L’Jean McKneely says they believe the woman was targeted. The children were not physically harmed in the shooting.
A Luling man has been arrested in connection with an armed robbery gone wrong. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne says 31-year-old Jerel Smith encountered the victim, Ryan Dubuc of Metairie, on Monday morning at a gas station, where he got into the victim’s truck.
Champagne says at some point, police believe Smith shot Dubuc multiple times in the head at close range, before dumping his body on the side of the road. Authorities say Dubuc was robbed for about $80. He says Smith faces multiple charges in this case.
Stabilizing the budget, flood recovery, criminal justice reform and coastal restoration are among John Bel Edwards’ goals as he begins his second year in the governor’s office. Edwards says last year he tackled a historic budget deficit with 850-million dollars in cuts and urging the legislature to raise taxes to protect higher education and health care. He says comprehensive tax reform is needed this year. Edwards says he’ll continue to push for adequate funding for healthcare, higher ed, and TOPS.
Louisiana is the third most dangerous state for pedestrians, according to a report by Smart Growth America. Director the National Complete Streets Coalition Emiko (EM-mee-koh) Atherton says this means Louisiana has a lot of work to do to increase pedestrian safety. She says many of these deaths are preventable. Florida and Alabama came in first and second for the most dangerous states for pedestrians.
In a conference before U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, the City of Slidell agreed not to enforce its requirement that panhandlers register with the police pending the court’s ruling on the ordinance’s constitutionality. Based on that promise, the ACLU of Louisiana has agreed that its request for a preliminary injunction can be dismissed as moot. The ALCU is representing panhandlers who in the city who say the ordinance violates the first amendment.
New Roads Police say a teacher at False River Academy turned herself in yesterday amid allegations she was setting up a tryst with a student. They say 23-year-old Skylar Russell was found in the car with the victim before any contact was made. She is charged with attempted carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
Former LSU Coach Les Miles told Stephen A Smith on ESPN’s First Take that he’d be willing to coach at a Group Five School. Western Michigan currently has an opening. Miles says playing for a championship year in and year out is great, but he also likes taking a group of guys and making them better.
New Orleans native Vance Joseph is the new head coach of the Denver Broncos. The former Archbishop Shaw quarterback has agreed to a four-year deal and becomes the franchise’s first African-American permanent head coach.
LSU baseball is ranked number two in Perfect Game USA’s preseason Top 25 poll. TCU is ranked number one, who LSU is scheduled to play March 3rd in Houston. The Ragin Cajuns are ranked 13th in the Perfect Game poll.
News for Wednesday 011117
By Dave Graichen
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested a 31-year-old man after he allegedly beat up his grandparents with a baseball bat. Derrick Henderson of Georgetown has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and home invasion. The elderly victims received severe injuries.
Today marks one year in office for Governor John Bel Edwards, and what a year it’s been. After such a tumultuous start, it begs the question as to what the next year will hold. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says like his first year, one of the governor’s biggest challenges in year two is the budget. The Governor’s Monthly call in show is this afternoon at 2p on 970 KSYL
A new political party has been established in the Bayou State, as the official paperwork has been submitted by the Louisiana Independent Party. Party Treasurer Bill Bryan says this is more of a movement than a political action. He says often times, people vote for a party, not a person, and party affiliations can make it difficult for people to have open, honest discussions about candidates. There are currently 56-thousand Independent voters registered in the party. Bryan says the current-two party system doesn’t serve the wide spectrum of views held by voters, as evidenced by the most recent election.
5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham will have a chance to set military policy for the United States as he’s been appointed to the House Armed Services Committee. Abraham says his top priority will be looking out for the men and women who serve our country.
Abraham says it’s critically important for a member of Louisiana’s delegation to sit on the committee because the Bayou State is home to Barksdale Air Force Base, Fort Polk, and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in New Orleans. He expects Louisiana’s military bases to be vital in the ongoing fight against domestic and international terrorism.
Students who attend poorly performing schools can begin applying for vouchers today. President of the Louisiana Federation for Children, Ann Duplesis says about 10-thousand families apply every year, and students from all over the state can apply. Duplesis says students already enrolled in the program do not need to reapply. 123 schools in 31 school districts around the state participate in the voucher program.
WWE’s WrestleMania is returning to New Orleans next year. Governor John Bel Edwards says when the event came to the Big Easy in 2014, over 75-thousand fans came from around the world, bringing an economic impact of $142 million. Edwards says this is the quickest the event has ever returned to a previous host city.
Small business optimism skyrocketed last month, according to the National Federation for Independent Business. State Director Dawn Starns says it’s because business owners are anticipating better economic conditions under the new administration. The NFIB says small business optimism is at its highest level since 2004.
150-thousand Louisiana residents have signed up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Christen Young with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services says financial assistance is a key driver, as 82-percent of Louisiana consumers have qualified for tax credits. Young says most people can find a plan for less than $75 per month.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is looking into new permanent security measures for Bourbon Street. The proposed $30 million plan would include blocking off the road to vehicles during most hours, setting up a command center to monitor a network of cameras, and taking measures to allow police to respond to emergencies with force more quickly.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office says one of their deputies was involved in a shooting with a man apparently trying to kill himself. They say 19-year-old Austin Rackley of Sulphur was located fighting with a family member and he had a gun. They said he refused to put it down when he was ordered to and deputies fired striking him in the neck – injuring him. The investigation is ongoing.
Officials in Alabama say a 20-year-old LSU student has died in Tuscaloosa after being struck by a train. They say Katie Keogh was walking with others after the college title game when she failed to make it across the tracks in time and died at the scene.
A study from LSU Health New Orleans finds a parent’s concern about neighborhood safety will result in less play time outside. Research Professor Dr. Melinda Sothern says they questioned parents in neighborhoods with high crime rates along with graffiti and blighted neighborhoods and found they restricted their children’s outdoor play, which means less physical activity for those children. Sothern says the most intriguing finding was what parents thought of their own communities and if they trusted their neighbors.
News for Tuesday 011017
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office arrests two adults after three juveniles in their care tested positive for narcotics. Captain Tommy Carnline says the complaint originally came in from the Department of Children and Family Services in regards in a November incident. Arrested were 19-year-old Stephan Matthews and 22-year-old Kate Bordelon of Pineville are in jail on a charge of second-degree cruelty to juveniles.
Alexandria Senior High's football stadium may soon be named for the school's former coach "Butch" Stoker, who passed away a little over a month ago. School officials will seek approval to rename the stadium at the School Board's Jan.10 meeting.
The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Rapides Parish School Board $100,000 to replace five of its school buses with "cleaner," lower-emission models. The Rebates going to some 88 school districts in 27 states are being funded by the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. Rapides was the only school system in the state identified as a recipient of new buses this year.
The staff of the Louisiana Board of Regents is proposing several changes to the TOPS scholarship program. Higher Ed Commissioner Joe Rallo says the board is reviewing their report, and the final recommendations will be made in February. He says they are looking at a variety of ways to change how the scholarship is awarded, after the state failed to fully fund the program for the first time this year.
Governor John Bel Edwards plans to go back to Washington in February to secure more federal funds for flood recovery. He says Congress has already approved more than $1.5 billion, but that will not cover flood victims who had flood insurance. He says Louisiana is still $2 billion short for a full, robust recovery.
State Police say Wildlife and Fisheries Agent Tyler Wheeler is responding well to treatment after he was shot five times early Saturday morning in Morehouse Parish. Two residents from Monroe have been arrested in connection with the shooting and State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says more arrests are possible. Edmonson says they are still trying to get a handle on what sparked the shooting.
The clean-up process for Charity Hospital in New Orleans begins today. The historic building has been locked up tight since Hurricane Katrina. LSU Health New Orleans Director of Facility Planning Jerry Jones says the facilities contain asbestos, mold, chemicals, and other hazardous materials and the building is not safe for immediate occupancy. Jones says FEMA will pay for the cleanup to the tune of $6.4 Million Dollars. It’s unclear what will happen with the 78 year old structure once it’s cleaned out.
A Pierre Part man has been arrested after allegedly accidentally texting an Assumption Parish Sheriff’s deputy about a potential drug deal. 39-year-old Dwayne Paul Hebert was met by authorities at a location where he planned to sell crystal meth. Heber was arrested with two firearms along with the drug. He was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, resisting an officer and other charges.
The governor will be in New Orleans today for an announcement that WrestleMania is returning to the Crescent City in 2018.
AAA says the national average price for gas has increased to the highest level since June, but Louisiana is still listed on the top 10 of cheapest markets in the country this week. The statewide average stands at $2.18, up over 12 cents from the prior month.
The race to become the state’s next elected State Treasurer is underway as Covington Representative John Schroder becomes the first person to announce he’s a candidate for the job. The election takes place in October. The other big election is the New Orleans mayoral race, so Political analyst Clancy Dubos says Big Easy voters will play a major role in this race.
Dubos anticipates a lot of candidates running for State Treasurer.
The cold weather over the weekend damaged many plants and it has some wondering what to do next. LSU AgCenter Horticulturist Dan Gill recommends waiting a while to see if the plant is actually dead, even if it appears to have damage.
News for Monday 010917
By Dave Graichen
A Monroe woman was arrested and charged late Saturday night with shooting Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Agent Tyler Wheeler five times after a traffic stop in Morehouse Parish. Wheeler is listed in stable condition at University Health in Shreveport after being shot twice in the head, twice in the arm and once in the shoulder. 31 year old Amethyst Baird of Monroe was charged with attempted first degree murder of a police officer. Police also arrested 34 year old Jeremy Gullette of Monroe and charged him with one count of accessory after the fact to attempted first degree murder.
The Town Talk reports The domestic abuse charge against Cleco CEO Darren Olagues has been dropped at the request of the victim. The Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office announced in a release that it is no longer pursuing the case. Olagues was arrested on Dec. 8 and charged with one count of domestic abuse strangulation, involving his wife. Olagues has been on leave from Cleco since the arrest.
The Transportation Task Force has released their final report on how to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, and of course, funding is number one. DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson says the state needs to increase its investment in transportation by $700 million a year. But he says they haven’t decided how those dollars will be raised. Wilson says they’re also looking into tolls and public-private partnerships as a means of funding. He says something has to be done to address the $13 billion backlog of transportation projects, as well as address the $16 billion in new projects, like a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday he expects a special legislative session to rebalance Louisiana's budget will be needed if a looming midyear deficit reaches $300 million or more, as projected. House Republican leaders, however, hope to avoid a special session. At issue are the constitutional limits on how and where Louisiana's governor and lawmakers can make cuts when a midyear budget gap emerges. The size of the gap will be decided next week by the Revenue Estimating Conference.
Governor John Bel Edwards has sent a letter to Congress urging national leaders not to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But US Senator Bill Cassidy says Obamacare isn’t working for everyone. He says when premiums and deductibles cost thousands of dollars, that’s anything but affordable. But Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee urges federal lawmakers not to fix what isn’t broken. While she admits Obamacare is causing premiums to go up nationwide, she is adamant that the Medicaid expansion has been a godsend.
Monroe is a top contender for a new Graphic Packaging facility. Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Sue Appleyard, says while they are still looking at other potential locations, the company reached a conceptual agreement with the local union to build the facility in the Monroe area. Appleyard expects a final decision to come in the next few months. She says there won’t be any impact on their current paper mill, which employs the bulk of their 400 workers in West Monroe, but the two other facilities would be consolidated. Appleyard says this new 70-million facility will be Graphic Packaging’s first brand new plant in 10 years.
News for Friday 010617
By Dave Graichen
There’s a chance some parts of Louisiana will see winter precipitation today. State climatologist Barry Keim says the region north of the I-10 corridor will likely see a wintry mix.
The annual Quality counts report from Education Week gives Louisiana a D-plus for public education. According to the study, the state performed poorly when it comes to K-12 achievement and funding for public schools. Louisiana finished 46th out of the 50 states.
The Restore Louisiana Task Force meets today to discuss plans to spend federal flood relief dollars. In the weeks after the August flood, the state secured 438-million and then another 1.2 billion was appropriated in December. Pat Forbes, executive director of the State Office of Community Development, says unfortunately, when you’re dealing with federal money – the process of how to secure it takes longer than anyone wants. Once HUD approves the final plan for the first installment, the agency will make the money available to the state; maybe by March.
Trump supporters in Louisiana are helping to drum up support for President-elect Donald Trump’s agenda for his first 100 days in office. Co-chair of the Donald Trump for Louisiana campaign Brian Trascher says they’re organizing post-election activities. He says one of the first orders of business is to make sure Louisiana’s U.S. Senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, support Mr. Trump’s cabinet picks. Trascher says the team plans to create a special fund that will be used to run ads so that people can get the full story on what the president-elect hopes to do.
Four workers on a Renaissance Offshore platform were forced into the water early Thursday when a fire broke out on the platform. US Coast Guard Petty Officer Travis Magee says they received reports of a fire on a platform 80 miles off the coast of Grand Isle. The workers were reportedly taken to Terrebonne General Medical Center for observation. They say there were no signs of pollution in the area.
The Saints have made major changes with their coaching staff. Five assistant coaches were let go, including long-time assistant head coach Joe Vitt. Vitt and James Willis both coached the linebackers and they were let go. Defensive line coach Bill Johnson will also not be back, and special teams assistant Stan Kwan and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon were also let go.
Several stores are closing their doors for good in the coming months. Sears Holdings announces Kmart locations in Gonzales and Jefferson Parish, as well as Sears in Gretna and Cortana Mall in Baton Rouge will close by this April. The Limited is shutting down nationwide, meaning all 5 stores in Louisiana will lock their doors permanently this Saturday, and the Macys in Kenner is closing in the spring. Company officials say online shopping has had a major negative effect of their businesses. Retail experts say the stores simply haven’t keep up with the times.
Walker and Denham Springs have filed a class action suit against the state and all of the contractors infolved in the I-12 widening project. The Livingston Parish towns claim the concrete barrier wall on the interstate made the flooding worse in August, because it prevented water from draining out.
Many people set New Year’s resolutions to become healthier for 2017 but nutritionists are cautioning people about the dangers of fad diets. Registered Dietitian with the LSU AgCenter Sandra May says she sees the popularity of these name brand diets ramp up at the beginning of each year. She urges consumers to eat a balanced diet. May says the most popular fad diets currently are the Adkins, Zone and Paleo diets. She says juicing or detoxing can be very dangerous, especially if you have a medical condition like diabetes.
News for Thursday 010517
By Dave Graichen
Precipitation moves into Louisiana tonight, and it could change to snow north of I-20. But State climatologist Barry Keim says the chance for wintery precipitation is not very high. Keim says this weather system is expected to move through the state quickly. But he says once it passes over, arctic air pushes in.
Well it is now official. According to the National Weather Service, at least 8 tornadoes hit Louisiana Monday. The twisters damaged parts of Avoyelles, Beauregard, Evangeline, Rapides, and Tangipahoa parishes. The most powerful storm touched down in Beauregard Parish, with winds reaching 110 mph. Ten to 25 homes were damaged.
GLOVIS America announces a new inland distribution center for imported vehicles will be located at the old General Motors plant in Shreveport. It will mean at least 150 new jobs. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says Kia and Hyundai vehicles will come from other countries and get equipment and exterior upgrades at the facility. A hiring date has not been set, but he says the average salary is expected to be around $32-thouasnd. The former Shreveport GM plant has been inactive since 2012.
Water systems across Louisiana are increasing fees to help with increased state inspections. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there’s always been a fee to pay for state inspections, but the legislature and governor agreed to increase the fee by another 75-cents per month starting this month, because health risks are getting higher. Guidry hopes this will prevent another disaster like the poor drinking water currently in St. Joseph.
Drivers can expect to pay more at the pump this year, as GasBuddy forecasts the highest prices in three years. Senior Petroleum Analyst Greg Laskowski says right now the statewide average is $2.16, which is about 40-cents higher than a year ago and a spike is likely later this winter and spring. Laskowski expects prices to peak in May or June and the yearly average is expected to be 36-cents higher.
The state has released its revised coastal protection and restoration masterplan that’s designed to reduce hurricane storm surge and restore Louisiana’s vanishing coastline. Bren Haase with the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority says the plan proposes 120 projects. Haase says the worst case scenario for the coast would be about 4-thousand square miles of land loss if they did nothing. Haase says roughly $18 billion has been secured to implement the 50-year plan, which would take $50 billion to fully fund it.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation launches a railroad safety campaign. Based on the latest numbers from the Federal Railroad Administration, Louisiana was fourth in the nation for the number of highway-rail grade crossing fatalities in 2015, with 13 deaths. DOTD Spokesperson Rodney Mallett says the message of their campaign is do not stop on the tracks.
News for Wednesday 010417
By Dave Graichen
At one point over 15,000 Avoyelles Parish CLECO customers were with power after Monday’s storms. After working around the clock, company officials say less than 900 remained with power as of 5pm yesterday. As expected, most of those still without power saw the lights come on over night. CLECO says, those left should see power restored (By Noon) today.
Another cold snap is coming our way, and state climatologist Barry Keim says it will be the coldest one yet. He says a cold front is moving into the state today, which will drastically cool things off in the Bayou State. Keim says it will get progressively colder every day until Sunday. He says a storm forming in the Gulf will increase the chance for wintery precipitation in north and central Louisiana on Friday.
Republican John Kennedy was sworn in as a new U.S. Senator for Louisiana Tuesday. Kennedy occupies the seat once held by David Vitter, who decided not to run for re-election. Kennedy also resigned as state treasurer today. Ron Henson will lead the state agency. Voters will have the opportunity to elect a new treasurer in October.
Two new members of Louisiana’s House delegation also took the oath of office Tuesday as well. Republican Congressman Clay Higgins will represent the third district, which covers southwest Louisiana. And Republican Mike Johnson moves from the state legislature to the seat representing the fourth congressional district.
Louisiana’s congressional delegation is gearing up to tackle some big issues in the 115th United States Congress. Congressman Ralph Abraham was sworn in Monday for his second term representing northeast and central Louisiana. He says a big priority for his district will be creating and protecting jobs in agriculture.
US Representative Cedric Richmond, who represents New Orleans, parts of the River Parishes and Baton Rouge, was sworn in as the new chairman of Congressional Black Caucus yesterday. Richmond says the Caucus plans to affect change. It’s expected that the Caucus will fight many of the policies that will come from the Trump administration. One piece of legislation the two sides could agree on is a funding bill for infrastructure projects.
Workers compensation rates are continuing a downward trajectory in Louisiana, as the Louisiana Department of Insurance announces a statewide rate decrease of nearly 10-percent. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says this is good news for Louisiana businesses because it makes competing for jobs easier. Donelon says rates have seen a cumulative drop of 34-percent over the last 10 years and 50-percent over the last 20 years. He says workplace safety is the biggest reason Louisiana’s workers compensation rates continue to decline.
For 10 years, Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan has represented the state’s vision for preventing its bottom third from being consumed by the Gulf of Mexico. That vision got a lot grimmer Tuesday with the release of the 2017 edition of the plan. It predicts that even if everything works as planned, 2,800 square miles of coast still could be lost in the next four decades, and about 27,000 buildings may need to be floodproofed, elevated or bought out, including about 10,000 in communities around New Orleans.
Season two of the cold case series Killing Fields debuted last night on the Discovery Channel. Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi says the TV show will highlight to work of his deputies who helped solve a 1991 cold case murder and another case that made headlines last spring
The show airs at 9 PM Tuesday nights.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is partnering with Dunkin Donuts franchisee Vik Patel to develop nearly 70 more donut shops in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Monroe. The first new store is expected to open this year. Five stores are currently open in Louisiana. Brees is also involved in the Jimmy John’s Franchise and co-owns Walk-On’s Enterprises.
News for Tuesday 010317
By Dave Graichen
Yesterday’s forecast called for a good chance of thunderstorms. But, no one expected the storms that rolled through Cenla yesterday around lunch time.. Heavy rain and strong winds caused widespread damage. The worst of which was to the south and east of Alexandria / Pineville. In Avoyelles parish residents say they believe it was a tornado that tore through their neighborhoods. In the town of Cheneyville there were reports of heavy damage as well. Power was knocked out to many residents. Cleco says they hope to have most restored today.
A report released yesterday by the state legislative Auditor’s office was critical of reporting required by the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office for certain types of crime. The report pointed out two cases of theft within the department, one of which was reported to the Parish DA’s office. The other was resolved internally. A release on Monday from the RPSO said all monies in both incidents had been recovered.
The 10 story downtown Capital One Building has been sold for $1.425 million to a Hammond developer Darryl Smith. According to Rod Noles, who’s company helped to broker the deal to sell the property, Smith who intends to keep the building's current tenants and do significant renovations. The building, a downtown landmark, was built in the last months of World War One, back in 1919.
Information is still forth coming, but the APD reported yesterday morning that the 16 year old parents of a 1-month-old child have been charged in her death. Authorities arrested the, so far unidentified couple, after the little girl died at the hospital early Monday morning. After their arrests, both were put into juvenile detention and charged with second-degree murder. No other information is available at this time.
Vernon Parish authorities are reporting a man who allegedly fatally shot his aunt and another man on New Year's Day in Anacoco, was later was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The two were identified as 48-year-old Norma Ross of Anacoco and 30-year-old Calvin Stubbs of Leesville. Witnesses told deputies that Ross' nephew, 36-year-old Derrick Ross, had shot the pair.
A federal lawsuit claims sheriff's deputies shot and killed a 27-year-old man in his southwest Louisiana home after investigators improperly obtained a warrant to search his residence for drugs. The Dec. 26 lawsuit accuses a Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office detective of relying on false and uncorroborated statements from an informant and an anonymous caller to get a "no-knock" warrant to search Eric Senegal's home. Deputies told State Police investigators that they fatally shot Senegal after he pointed a .45-caliber pistol at a SWAT team member who raided his Ragley home in January of last year. A third deputy said he shot and killed Senegal's pit bull after the dog attacked them. No drugs were found, however Senegal had drugs in his system at the time of his death.
Today in Washington D.C, John Kennedy will be sworn into the 115th Congress of the United States as Louisiana’s newest Senator. The former state treasurer says he intends to hit the ground running. Kennedy says says one of the biggest things he’s going to try to do for Louisianians is get flood relief here quickly.
The Smoking Cessation Trust is offering tips to help smokers quit for the New Year. CEO Mike Rogers says this is a great resolution for people to push for. He says most people who try to quit cold turkey are unsuccessful but they have a great program to help. Visit smokefreela.org for more info on the program.
2016 was certainly an unusual year for Louisiana politics, so what can we expect in 2017? Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says next year will be all about the budget. He says we can look forward to another contentious battle over revenue versus spending. He says like last year, we are entering the New Year with a massive budget shortfall.
Saints Coach Sean Payton refused to address rumors on Monday that he could be coaching elsewhere in 2017. He said it would be silly to add fuel to those reports. Quarterback Drew Brees has said that reports of Payton leaving have been completely made up and said it comes with the territory when you don’t make the playoffs. Brees is coming off another great season. The 37-year-old signed a one-year contract extension prior to the start of 2016 season…
News for Monday 010217
By Dave Graichen
An Alexandria man, 25-year-old Keaton Spurlin, Has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence, after an accident on Wednesday of last Wednesday killed a 18 month old child. Spurlin was booked him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center Friday on the charge. He’s been released on bond.
Governor John Bel Edwards has named State Rep. Jack Montoucet of Crowley as the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The governor’s office says Montoucet will take office in mid-January. Former secretary Charles Melancon stepped down after an audit showed problems with his predecessor.
At least 90 homes out of the water tested at 400 residences in the town of St. Joseph were found positive for levels of lead not safe for consumption. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says in many cases, it was found the lead was coming from pipes inside of the home. He says they’re offering more tests to ensure there aren’t other sources of lead in the home that kids could be exposed to.
The state Department of Environmental Quality is urging Louisianans to recycle after the holidays. Jean Kelly with DEQ says more waste is produced in December than any other month. She says almost everything is recyclable in some way.
A Baton Rouge man is facing two counts of first degree murder from a 2015 cold case. Sgt. L’Jean McKneely with Baton Rouge police says it’s believed 26-year-old Johnathan Robertson was also involved in a number of other crimes. McKneely encourages anyone who might be a potential victim to contact police.
A Rayville man is facing one count of negligent homicide after he allegedly shot and killed his cousin when being careless with a gun. They say 34 year old Bryant Silk is accused of pointing the weapon at the victim as a joke when the two were smoking weed and drinking. This is apparently when the gun went off by accident. Bond was set at $25,000 for Silk.
Many people set new fitness resolutions for the New Year, but how do you make sure to keep up with them? Director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Rudy Macklin says it’s always a good idea to get a workout partner. Macklin says a good way to become more active is to do more physical things around the home, like mowing the grass. He says starting a diet or workout regimen with another person helps to keep up the motivation. Macklin advises people who are older or haven’t been active in a while to start out slow.
The New Orleans murder rate climbed last year to 176. That's the highest count since 2012 when 193 people were slain in the city. Murders last year included domestic violence incidents, drug turf wars and high profile cases such as the Nov. 27 mass shooting on Bourbon Street. Chicago led the country in murders in 2016 with 762 homicides. That's more killings than New York and Los Angeles combined.
A newly formed Shreveport environmental activist group has made plans to travel to Baton Rouge to protest an incoming pipeline that many worry would hurt the environment.
The $670 million pipeline project would carry an estimated 280,000 barrels of oil through 11 southern Louisiana parishes. It's backed by Energy Transfer Partners, Inc., the same company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
A disease research company will set up a pharmaceutical research and development facility at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Crown Bioscience Inc. CEO Jean-Pierre Wery announced the project. Wery said the project will enable Crown Bioscience to advance treatments for cardiovascular and metabolic disease research. The company will make a $1 million investment and create 10 jobs with an average salary of $70,000.
Baton Rouge Mayor-President-Elect Sharon Weston Broome said she’s started searching for replacements for two top jobs in her administration. Broome said she’s reached out to national organizations to help recruit candidates to fill the roles of Police Chief Carl Dabadie and Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel. She also said that all city-parish department heads were to take on the “interim” title as she tries to fill her administration with people of her choosing.
Broome said she has started soliciting feedback from national groups though no search committees have been formed yet.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl kicks off tonight in the Mercedes Benz Superdome at 7:30 as the Auburn Tigers take on the Oklahoma Sooners. Chief Operating Officer for the bowl, Jeff Hundley, says originally there were some struggles selling tickets but he still expects a big crowd to be in attendance.
Now that the Saints season is over and they’ve once again failed to make the playoffs for a third straight year, can we expect to see many changes in the off season? NFL Analyst Mike Detillier says he doesn’t see many things that need shaking up on the offense. Detililer says what the Saints really need to do in this off season is go out and find a top pass rusher. He also says there has got to be a new special teams coach.
News for Thursday 122216
By Dave Graichen
Next year State Police will begin equipping 700 troopers with a body camera. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says each trooper will be equipped with two cameras, and they will automatically turn on if a trooper activates a stun gun. Edmonson hopes these new cameras will improve transparency between police and citizens. Troopers in New Orleans will be the first to get the body cameras and they hope to have them statewide by next summer.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and Venture Global LNG announced Wednesday the company will invest $8.5 billion to develop a natural gas liquefaction facility and export terminal in Plaquemines Parish. They say Plaquemines LNG will create 250 new direct jobs at an average annual salary of $70,000 per year, plus benefits. Full operations are expected to begin in 2022
With Christmas this weekend, there are still thousands of flood victims that are still not in their homes, and Governor John Bel Edwards says they are doing what they can to get them back home as quickly as possible. Congress approved $438 million for flood recovery in September, and an additional $1.2 billion was allocated in December. Edwards says the biggest challenge with getting federal funds into the hands of those that need it, is all the federal red tape. But he says hopefully the wait is almost over for displaced flood victims. Edwards says thanks to the Shelter At Home program, more than 10-thousand families were able to move back into their homes while repairs continue. He says only 400 homes in the program are left to be repaired.
There’s a new report that shows women earn on average 76-percent of the salary men make in Louisiana. Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa says business owners agree with the concept of equal pay for equal work, but it’s hard to make it a reality when job duties are different. The statistics show women in Louisiana had a median weekly income of $630 to $828 for men.
Louisiana’s population has grown very little, according to the latest census data. Demographer Greg Rigamer says the nation as a whole changed more than 4-percent from 2010 to 2016, while the southern region changed about 6.5-percent. He says Louisiana saw a 3-percent change over the same period. Rigamer says in 2010, Louisiana ranked 25th in the nation for population, and we still rank 25th today. He says job loss could be pushing some working people out of the state. He says while Louisiana saw a small growth, Mississippi’s population decreased slightly.
Some Entergy customers will see a refund on their January bill. The refund is a result of an agreement approved by state regulators regarding a dispute over 140-million dollars in repairs to the Waterford 3 nuclear power plant. The typical refund will be worth about 40-dollars and there will be a small reduction in monthly rates going forward.
Governor John Bel Edwards met with reporters yesterday outlined his goals for 2017. Edwards says addressing long-term structural budget reform, so that Louisiana has a fair and predictable tax structure is a priority. Edwards says his administration also plans on tackling criminal justice reform. The Governor called 2016 a challenging year. Edwards says he entered office and immediately addressed an unprecedented budget deficit by making cuts and raising revenues through tax increases. He say the most difficult day was July 17th, that’s when three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana wildlife and fisheries secretary Charlie Melancon tells the Associated Press that he’s resigning immediately, because people in the office are making it difficult for him to implement reforms to improve the department’s finances. After clashing with recreational fishermen and employees with L-D-W-F, it was announced that Melancon would leave in February, but he’s decided to step down now.
State wildlife biologists have determined that a picture of an animal taken in Morehouse Parish is that of a cougar. It’s the first time the state has been able to verify a cougar sighting since 2011. Maria Davidson says cougars are known to travel hundreds of miles, so it’s likely the animal is no longer in Louisiana, but they encourage the public to report any physical evidence of cougar sightings.
A Mississippi man has been charged with arson for starting a fire that caused damage to the ULM waterski house. Campus surveillance captured video footage and authorities have determined that 36-year-old Michael Daquilla of Centerville allegedly set fire to the building. Daquilla has no known connections to ULM.
LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre says he remains undecided on whether he’ll enter the NFL draft after the bowl game. Dupre was expected to have a big junior season, but he started off slow. The former John Curtis star finished the regular season with 34 catches and three touchdown receptions. He says he’s not leaning one way or the other on what he might do…
LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux is another Tiger that has yet to decide on whether he’ll stay or go.
As of right now, there is not one Saints player who will play in the NFL pro bowl. Quarterback Drew Brees and defensive end Cam Jordan still might get an invite, depending on injuries and which two teams will play in the Super Bowl.
According to an audit, the ULM football team broke the law and the UL system policy when it played at Hawaii last season. That’s according to a report from the Monroe News Star. University officials says they though the school met state and system guidelines
News for Wednesday 122116
By Dave Graichen
Winter Solstice officially began at 4:44 this morning, according to State climatologist Barry Keim. He says we’ve been experiencing some cold temperatures this week, but the Climate Prediction Center is calling for warmer and drier than normal conditions for the next three months. Keim says the chance of having a white Christmas in Louisiana this year is basically nil, since temps are predicted to be in the 70’s Christmas day.
State department are making cuts to their respective agencies this week, as $277 million has been carved from the state budget. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says these cuts are being made by not hiring new people to fill vacant positions. Dardenne says we’ll get the full budget picture when the Revenue Estimating Conference meets again in January.
The state’s revenues will likely get a boost with the news that Amazon will begin collecting state and local sales taxes on purchases made by Louisiana consumers, starting January 1st. State Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson hopes other online retailers follow Amazon’s new policy. It’s a state law that taxes must be paid on internet purchases, but it’s up to the consumer to self-report.
Governor John Bel Edwards met with Senator-elect John Kennedy, along with Congressmen-elect Mike Johnson and Clay Higgins to discuss flood recovery efforts. Edwards says he’s asked the entire Louisiana Congressional delegation to press the Housing and Urban Development department to publish guidelines on how the second round of federal dollars can be used by the state.
Governor John Bel Edwards is set to meet with reporters today to look back at the challenges and successes Louisiana has seen during 2016. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Edwards inherited an historic budget deficit when he took office on January 11th, which took up most of his time during the first half of the year. Pinsonat says Edwards had some victories in his first year, like getting federal funding for flood victims and raising over 1.5 billion dollars in revenues during two special sessions. A survey last month found that 64-percent approve of the governor’s job performance.
The ACLU of Louisiana has sent a letter to the Grant Parish Police Jury because a Christmas display outside of the courthouse only includes a Nativity scene. The Nativity scene is on display in front of the courthouse "without including other holiday symbols," reads the letter. The letter does not call for the display's removal, but the inclusion of other faiths.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three panhandlers in Slidell, over an ordinance that requires them to get a permit in order to beg for money on city streets. Louisiana ACLU executive director Marjorie Esman says the city of Slidell’s requirement violates the panhandlers First Amendment Rights. Slidell has yet to enforce the ordinance, which was passed in October. A spokesperson says they are waiting for the newly elected police chief and mayor to decide how to proceed.
The assistant warden at the Angola State penitentiary has been arrested for rape. 34-year-old Barrett Boeker reportedly faces one count of second degree rape for an alleged incident that occurred on November 30 at his home behind the gates of the prison. Boeker turned himself in shortly after the warrant was issued Tuesday.
Baton Rouge has received funding to start plans for a commuter train between the Capitol City and New Orleans. John Spain with the Southern Rail Commission says the city received quarter of a million dollars to start planning for a new train station in downtown Baton Rouge, and the city has agreed to match the federal investment. Spain says this commuter rail would hopefully be part of a larger route that stretches from Baton Rouge to Orlando, Florida. He says a passenger train used to run that route, but parts of it were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
A Walker man has been charged with attempted second-degree murder following a road rage incident. Walker Police Capt. John Sharp says 31-year-old Bradley Deville fired a 9mm pistol into the side of 35-year-old Johnny Franz’ vehicle. Sharp says the incident began when Franz tailgated Deville and the two began arguing at an intersection.
CNN will again celebrate New Year’s Eve in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune reported that Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin will host a Central Time Zone countdown to the new year in the Crescent City. CNN’s New Year’s coverage begins at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31 with “New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin” in New York’s Time Square. They will hand off to Lemon and Baldwin from New Orleans at 11:30 p.m.
During a Q-and-A session on twitter, LSU’s Brandon Harris said he plans to be back with the Tigers in 2017. The backup QB seems to be excited about new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
A couple of other LSU notes, wide receiver Malachi Dupre says he’s not made a decision on whether he’ll turn pro following the Citrus Bowl. It’s been learned linebacker Kendell Beckwith suffered a torn ACL when he left the Florida game with an injury. Beckwith will not participate in the Senior Bowl.
In college baseball…Collegiate Baseball ranks LSU number two in the country. Three other Louisiana schools are ranked in the Top 40, the Cajuns are ranked 14th, Tulane is 34th and Southeastern Louisiana is ranked 36th.
The Saints have placed linebacker Stephone Anthony on injured reserve. The 2015 first-round pick has been slowed by a knee injury and a move to strong side linebacker has not worked out well for him or the Saints. Anthony finishes the season with just 16 tackles.
News for Tuesday 122016
By Dave Graichen
The APD reports an Alexandria man was robbed Saturday afternoon while walking down the street. While that in itself is not so unusual, the fact that as many as nine kids worked together to commit the crime is. The victim told officers that he was walking down the road when as many as nine juveniles surrounded him and went through his pockets, looking for stuff to steal. So far, police have made two arrests in connection with the incident.
A sad story out of Pineville, A family of three lost their home and everything in it to a fire Monday afternoon. A neighbor spotted the fire before 3 p.m. and alerted the woman, who was home alone while her husband was at work and their daughter was at school. Three engines from the Pineville Fire Department were at the scene around 3 p.m. but the house was a total loss. It’s believed the blaze started in the attic of the home.
Not surprisingly, all 8 of Louisiana’s electors cast their votes for President-elect Donald Trump. Chairman of the Republican Party in Louisiana, Roger Villere, says they were not expecting any surprises, and they got what they expected. Villere says several electors received tens of thousands of emails, letters, and phone calls asking them not to vote for Trump. Mr. Trump got 301 electoral votes. Villere says although electors sign an affidavit when they are selected saying they will vote for the nominee, they would not have faced consequences had they voted against Mr. Trump.
Governor John Bel Edwards has said tax reform will be a major item on his 2017 legislative agenda. Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary, Kimberly Lewis Robinson, sat on a state Tax Task Force that has provided recommendations to provide a fair, simple and stable tax code. She says to simplify the system, they recommend the elimination of some tax exemptions and deductions. Robinson says in order to be competitive, Louisiana needs a 4-percent sales tax, rather than a 5-percent rate, which lawmakers approved earlier this year. She says currently the largest percentage of the budget comes from sales tax collections, which isn’t fair to consumers or businesses.
Governor John Bel Edwards was in Tensas Parish yesterday visiting with residents of St. Joseph after a public health emergency was issued after lead and copper was found during testing of the towns drinking water. Julie Baxter Payer, with the governor’s office, says
construction has started on repairing the town’s drinking neglected water delivery system.
Thirteen parishes in north and central Louisiana have been declared a natural disaster area by the US Department of Agriculture because of drought conditions during 2016. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says crops were damaged because of the drought, and this declaration could help farmers recover. Strain says these farmers have 8 months from the date of the declaration to apply for assistance.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announces that the city has reached settlements totaling 13-million dollars with the families of those involved in fatal police shootings and a fatal police beating that took place right around the time of Hurricane Katrina. The settlements are with 17 plaintiffs.
Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office announces the arrest of three people involved in armed robbery, kidnapping, and rape. Chief Deputy Mike Haley says a woman in her early 50s and her husband were targeted for the heinous crime because of their large gun collection.
More than $2 million in federal funds will go to 11 communities in three southern states to restore and improve passenger rail service. The Southern Rail Commission announced on Monday that the Federal Railroad Administration funding for the communities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The cities of Baton Rouge and Gonzales, as well as St. John Parish, will benefit.
The communities will get money for station-area planning and construction projects to improve safety, access and convenience.
NFL analyst Mike Detillier believes Sean Payton will be the head coach of the Saints in 2017, despite a report that said the New Orleans franchise is interested in trading the Super Bowl winning head coach. Two teams already have vacancies and Detillier says the opening in Los Angeles might intrigue Payton, but not enough to force a trade. Many Saints fans are getting frustrating with the team as they are headed for the their third consecutive losing season and might like a change at the top. But Detillier says be careful for what you root for
News for Monday 121916
By Dave Graichen
With budget shortfalls still looming, higher education leaders are looking at more potential changes to the TOPS scholarship program. Higher Ed Commissioner Joe Rallo says one option being discussed is raising the hourly requirement for the scholarship from 24 credits per year to 30. He says the idea is to encourage students to graduate more quickly, as TOPS only covers 8 semesters. Rallo says this is just one of several changes they’re considering to stabilize the program. Lawmakers are hopeful they can find the necessary $89 million to fully fund the program next year, but Rallo says changes will likely come to TOPS whether or not it’s fully funded.
There’s talk around the Capitol about the potential for another special session to address a looming $300 million budget shortfall for this fiscal year. That’s according to La-politics-dot-com, who heard that from a source within the Edwards administration. The Revenue Estimating Committee meets again in January, so lawmakers will have a better idea of how much money is available.
Today, Louisiana’s 8 electors will cast their votes for President-elect Donald Trump. Scott Wilfong is one of those electors. Wilfong says each elector will cast his or her ballot in their respective state capitals today. He says the votes will then be sent to Washington, where the new Congress will read them when they convene in January. Wilfong says he and other electors have received hundreds of phone calls, emails, and letters asking them not to vote for Mr. Trump. But he says it would be a disservice to the people of Louisiana to go against their votes. However, he does expect some electors will be swayed.
David Vitter has just two weeks left in office as a U.S Senator. Vitter says representing and serving the people of Louisiana has been the greatest honor of his professional life. He says he’s most proud of his work in the post-Katrina recovery, as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the coast just months after Vitter was sworn in as a Senator. Vitter served as Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District Representative from 1999 to 2004 and as a US Senator since 2005. Prior to that, Vitter served in Louisiana’s House of Representatives from 1992 to 1999.
Louisiana is no longer the least healthy state in the country, according to the United Health Foundation. State Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee says this is great news, but unfortunately Louisiana still ranks 49th in the nation for overall health. She says the state has high rates of low birth weight, infant mortality, and obesity. Mississippi was the only state found to be less healthy than Louisiana.
Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a public health emergency in St. Joseph after testing found levels of lead and copper in the public water system that has been poorly maintained for years. Bottled water has been sent into the Tensas Parish town as health officials are advising residents to use an alternative source of water to drink, brush their teeth and food preparation.
Louisiana Willdlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon tells the Associated Press he’s been forced out from his Cabinet Position. Melancon says he’s not been given a reason why, but he’s had public disagreements with recreational fishermen and has been criticized for his handling of agency changes that have been recommended by state auditors. A spokesperson for the governor says there’s been unnecessary public battles as the agency tries to reform.
Fewer Louisianans are smoking cigarettes, according to the United Health Foundation. The report found 22-percent of Louisiana residents are smokers, compared to 24-percent in 2015. CEO of the Smoking Cessation Trust, Mike Rogers, credits legislation that bans smoking in bars and casinos, like one that was passed in New Orleans last year. Louisiana now ranks 43rd in the country for the rate of smokers, up from 46th last year.
LSU’s Leonard Fournette has decided not to play in the Citrus Bowl, so he can give his injured ankle more time to heal and allow his body to get ready for the NFL draft. Tigers Coach Ed Orgeron supports the decision, but he’ll miss the dynamic running back.
News for Friday 121616
By Dave Graichen
Doctors thought at first he would live the rest of his life in a vegetative state. But, that’s apparently not the case. East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy Nick Tullier (too yay) is making very good progress. That’s what doctors say at a Houston hospital where the wounded deputy continues to recover after getting shot last July during an ambush that killed three others. Doctor Katherine O’ Brien. And they say he can communicate nonverbally and move some parts of his body.
Now this is something you don’t hear every day, A Louisiana State trooper has been arrested and is facing charges after he allegedly entered a Bayou Crossing Drive house on Thursday morning. APD officers were sent to the home after a call claiming a burglar entered the home. The report says when The Burglar was confronted, he left the scene. 43-year-old Jeffrey Covington of Alexandria was charged with aggravated burglary and malfeasance in office.
55 year old Mitchell Casmere, the man who shot a downtown Alexandria Regions Bank employee while robbing the branch back in July pleaded guilty yesterday. Casmere was sentenced to a total of 30 years at hard labor. He originally faced an attempted first-degree murder charge, but it was amended to the battery charge when he agreed to plead guilty.
The House and Senate joint budget committee approved a plan Thursday that will result in a 12-million dollar cut in state funding for public colleges. The cut to higher education was needed to address a 313-million dollar deficit. But Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne warned more cuts are coming, because another 300-million dollar shortfall could be recognized next month.
Three Louisiana cities rank as some of the highest in the US for losing the most jobs. According to 24/7 Wall St, the Lafayette area topped the list having accounted for 9400 losses in the past year. Houma/Thibodaux ranked third highest with an area employment decline of 3.7%, and Shreveport-Bossier came in at No. 4 with a loss of 4200 jobs. LSU Economist Dr. Loren Scott. says the rig count in northwest Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale area has gone from about 140 to around 16, and in the Gulf of Mexico there used to be about 56 rigs online and that’s now down in the teens. He says their forecast shows the job losses in these three areas continuing into 2017, but at a slower rate.
FBI agents raided the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Hammond Police Department. An agency spokesperson says they are carrying out court ordered actions. The investigation reportedly stems from possible mishandling of evidence by a drug task force. The FBI has indicated this is a large scale investigation and there will be more raids.
Louisiana has one of the biggest wage gaps between its richest and poorest residents, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Director of the Louisiana Budget Project, Jan Moeller isn’t surprised because he says Louisiana has the fourth highest rate of income inequality in the country. Moeller says this large wage gap is a reason why Louisiana’s economy has trouble growing.
According to a report from Bankrate.com, Louisiana is the fourth worst state for drivers. The report says the high number of auto fatalities and longer than average commute times contributed to Louisiana’s ranking. New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, and California round out the bottom five states.
U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham’s Office has begun handing out their tickets to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration and they are a hot commodity. Spokesperson Cole Avery says they had a link on the Congressman’s website for people to request tickets, but they had to take it down because requests were flooding in. He says there were about 300 ticket requests, and they only have about 185 to give away.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu met with President-elect Donald Trump yesterday in New York. The mayor was invited under his title as vice president of the United States Conference of Mayors. The two were scheduled to discuss public safety and infrastructure.
Tiny beetles resembling ladybugs are swarming homes around Louisiana more than usual this year. Dr. Chris Carlton with LSU’s Entomology Department says it’s the Asian Lady Beetle and it’s not the typical ladybug we normally see, but it’s in the same family. He says while they have been known to bite people, they aren’t really aggressive.
LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center receives a 5.3 million dollar grant to study why some people benefit more or less from exercise. Associate executive director of clinical research and study investigator Dr. Eric Ravussin says everyone knows exercise improves health, but they hope to determine which activity is the most effective on certain people and why. Pennington is one of six clinical centers around the country that will recruit healthy, inactive adults to participate in this exercise study. Ravussin says they hope their efforts will help people reap the maximum benefits from physical activity.
Looks like LSU has locked up a quarterback. Myles Brennan, the 4 star QB out of Mississippi, reaffirmed his commitment to the Tigers hours after meeting with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Brennan threw for 3,982 yards and 48 touchdowns this season in high school.
News for Thursday 121516
By Dave Graichen
The APD yesterday arrested 54 year old Daniel Mikkelson and 35 year old Natarsha Meredith in connection with the stabbing death of an Eastwood Blvd resident. Police entered the home to find a body that had been stabbed multiple times. Both Mikkelson and Meredith were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on charges of armed robbery and first-degree murder. The name of the victim still has not been released by police.
If you plan on mailing a gift this Christmas, you’re running out of time to ship it. New Orleans Postmaster Matt Connelly says today is the deadline for ground mailing through the US Postal Service. He says other deadlines are also approaching. Connelly says today will be the busiest mailing day, and the busiest delivery day will be December 22.
Governor John Bel Edwards’ executive order preventing LGBT discrimination in state government and businesses who have contracts with the state has been overturned. Attorney General Jeff Landry says he applauds Judge Todd Hernandez’ ruling. He says at the end of the day, this case was about the governor trying to create his own law. Edwards says he plans on appealing the ruling. Sean Sullivan with Forum for Equality Foundation says this ruling is another setback for the LGBT community in Louisiana.
LSU System President F King Alexander is not painting a rosy picture of the school’s future with the potential for more budget cuts to be handed down. Alexander says enrollment is down 3.5 percent for the next semester compared to the previous spring. Alexander says the University of Alabama is in the process of hiring 300 new teachers, while LSU has lost over 500 in the past nine years. Alexander says at some point the state needs to invest in the next generation of students.
LSU made it official today by naming Matt Canada as the Tigers new offensive coordinator. Tiger Rag Associate Editor James Moran believes it’s a good hire and it gives LSU two young and talented coordinators, Canada and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
Former US Representative Charlie Melancon has resigned as the state’s wildlife and fisheries secretary. Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement saying it’s time to take the department in a different direction.
FEMA announces any flood victims awaiting a manufactured housing unit will receive one by January 31st. Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer for FEMA Tito Hernandez says 25-hundred families are currently eligible to live in a mobile home. Currently on average, FEMA is installing 30 trailers each day. Hernandez says a lot of work goes into installing a FEMA home, which is considered a last resort when it comes to temporary housing. He says even given the criticism, they are pleased with their performance.
Lake Charles Police have made an arrest in a homicide that took place in 1987. Lt. Richard Harrell says they re-opened the cold case last spring and put together enough evidence to charge 59-year-old Harry James Richard with armed robbery and first degree murder in the death of 75-year-old Noah Breaux. Harrell says more evidence and witness testimony has since come out, and Breaux’s body was exhumed in August.
The National Cattleman’s Beef Association says consumers could see lower beef prices because of an increase in production. CEO of Cattle Producers of Louisiana, Dave Foster, says the increase in U.S. beef production is due to packagers offering feeders more money for their cattle, which helped the struggling market rebound. The US Department of Agriculture found that November 2016 was the largest beef production month since 2010.
Shreveport police say a 71-year-old shop owner shot an individual who attempted to rob him and his business. Corporal Marcus Hines says the suspect, 36-year-old Michael Kelly, was shot three times. Kelly faces a laundry list of charges, including armed robbery.
Gas prices continue their steady rise as we head into the holidays. The current statewide average is $2.06 up over 6 cents from this time last month.
News for Wednesday 121416
By Dave Graichen
The state’s income forecasting panel has decided to delay the state’s reduced budget outlook for this fiscal year. The income projections were expected to be dismal, and Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the delay is irresponsible. The latest estimates show the state is facing a shortfall of more than $600 million. Dardenne says the wait gives agencies less time to deal with inevitable cuts.
In response to Senator-elect John Kennedy’s comment that the governor hasn’t done enough to secure federal flood aid, Governor John Bel Edwards sent a letter to Kennedy, bringing him up to speed. The Governor’s Communications Director Richard Carbo says the first round of aid was approved with unprecedented speed, but they understand Kennedy is new to this.
Carbo says the letter outlined the efforts made by the administration, as well as the process by which federal funds are approved.
Authorities say careless play led to a Baton Rouge man punching his pre-schooler to death. Police say they booked 25-year-old Kristopher Carter into East Baton Rouge Parish prison on negligent homicide charges, amid allegations he caused the death of his 4-year-old son as the two were “play fighting.” Cops say a witness told them Carter was punching the child and encouraging him to punch back.
Public meetings are being held in flood impacted areas of the state to update flood victims on the ongoing recovery efforts. Office of Community Development Executive Director, Pat Forbes says the action plan for allocating the federal funds still has to go through the bureaucratic process. The first round of money will go to low income families who are not in a flood plain and don’t have flood insurance. A meeting was held last night in Lafayette, and more are scheduled in Rapides, Caddo, Ouachita, East Baton Rouge, and Ascension parishes.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards is in the hospital being treated for pneumonia. The 89-year-old frequently suffers from the illness and his wife Trina says hopefully they’ll be able to go home soon. Trina says her husband comes down with pneumonia every year around this time.
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen former-Texas Governor Rick Perry as the Secretary for the Department of Energy. So what does that mean for Louisiana’s oil and gas industry? Acting president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Gifford Briggs, says this nomination and Trump’s other cabinet selections, including Scott Pruitt to run the EPA and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as future Secretary of State, give them hope for what the industry could be. He says at this point they are cautiously optimistic.
The mental healthcare reform bill by US Senator Bill Cassidy has been signed into law by the president. The 21st Century Cures Act seeks to give mentally ill individuals more access to treatment, as well as giving family members more access to their loved ones doctors. Cassidy says this new law marks the beginning of serious mental health reform and it will help millions of people affected by mental illness become whole.
Small business optimism has skyrocketed since the election of Donald Trump, according the National Federation of Independent Business’ monthly Index of Small Business Optimism. NFIB state director Dawn Starns says business owners said they are now excited about the future. The survey finds small businesses job creation plans have increased from 9-percent to 23-percent since October. Starns says business owners felt bogged down recently by government regulations.
Louisiana is home to three of the most sinful cities in the country, according to WalletHub. Baton Rouge came in at number 8 on the list, New Orleans is number 10, and Shreveport cracked the top 20. The report found that New Orleans came in second for excessive drinking, while Baton Rouge came in 12. Shreveport ranked 12th for violent crimes per capita, and Baton Rouge landed at number 14 on the list.
Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana has dropped his defamation lawsuit over a book that alleges the he was a client of prostitutes who were later killed. Boustany sued the author and publisher of “Murder in the Bayou” in October, when he was in a tight Senate race competition. Boustany lost the race in November and ended his lawsuit this month. Boustany lawyer Jimmy Faircloth confirmed the lawsuit dismissal Tuesday.
A train collision just north of Hammond killed two people Tuesday afternoon. WWL-TV reports a southbound Amtrak train crashed into a vehicle at a railroad crossing in Natalbany, when both passengers in the vehicle were killed. There were reportedly 68 passengers on the train at the time of the crash, and WWL-TV reports they are all okay.