News for Monday 040317
By Dave Graichen
All Rapides Parish schools will be closed Monday following widespread power outages caused by severe weather. Holy Savior Menard High School, Our Lady of Prompt Succor School and St. Frances Cabrini School also cancelled classes, but other parochial schools will be open, according to the Diocese of Alexandria. Other private schools closed include University Academy of Central Louisiana, Alexandria Country Day School, the Montessori Educational Center, Grace Christian School and Alpine Christian School. Other districts with cancelled classes Monday include Grant and LaSalle. Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana State University of Alexandria and Central Louisiana Technical Community College also cancelled classes Monday.
It was a day most here in Louisiana won’t forget for a while. Band after band of severe weather rolled across the state Sunday causing widespread damage and power outages. In south Louisiana a mother and daughter were killed when their trailer flipped over in St. Martin Parish.
What was believed to be a small tornado touched down in several spots in Alexandria knocking down trees and bending over billboards along Mac Arthur drive. The good news, there have been no reports of serious injuries from the storm in Cenla.
A deadly fire claimed the life of a 96-year-old Deville Friday night. A second occupant of the home, the victim’s son, 68 year old David Cole, was transported to Cabrini Hospital after suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his face and hands. The body of Lela Cole was found inside the home after the fire was extinguished. Fire officials say the home had no working smoke alarms at the time of the fire.
Speed enforcement cameras would be taken down around the state, under a proposal to be discussed in the regular session. Covington Representative Paul Hollis says these cameras deny people their constitutional right to confront their accuser. He says he’s uncomfortable turning the duties of police over to robots and cameras.
The former Marksville officer who fatally shot a 6-year-old boy has been sentenced to 40 years behind bars. Derrick Stafford testified he didn’t know the little boy was in the vehicle when he fired his weapon after a car chase. Stafford faced a maximum sentence of 60 years.
Two suspects have been arrested in connection with back to back break-ins at both Tioga High School and Tioga Junior High that caused extensive damage to the interior of the schools. Police say 17-year-olds Cody Blakeny and Shane Johnson both of Rapides Parish will face charges of burglary and criminal damage.
A bill by Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor could put an end to the death penalty in Louisiana for first degree rape and murder convictions. Claitor says the death penalty cheapens life, as his catholic religion teaches all life is sacred. The bill would not affect inmates currently on death row.
A measure in the Governor’s proposed criminal justice package for the regular session seeks to improve police training. Baton Rouge Representative Ted James authors a bill that strengthens requirements for the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST. James says this bill requires all officers to complete 400 hours of this training, with an additional 20 hours annually. James is optimistic this modernized training can help ease tensions and build trust between law enforcement and the public.
Seven companies have submitted bids with the LSU Ag Center to produce medical marijuana that would one day be used for patients, who suffer from specific diseases. The estimated cost is 10-million dollars. LSU is expected to select a contractor by June, who will pay for the production costs. The facility will be located off of LSU’s campus and the first crop should be ready by the end of 2017.
The first 8 blocks of Bourbon Street will undergo their first renovation in nearly a century. After French Quarter fest, city officials say crews will begin the $6 million project of replacing the roadway and water lines two blocks at a time. Each segment is expected to take 60 days to complete, and the entire project is projected to finish up by the end of the year.
Louisiana is one step close to getting flood recover dollars into the hands of flood victims, as HUD has approved the state’s spending plan for the federal funds. Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves is disappointed the state does not have a contractor lined up yet. The Governor expects to have a program manager in place in the coming weeks, and funds are expected to start rolling out shortly after.
The popularity of essential oils are on the rise for massages and air fresheners, but they also poses a greater risk to children. Louisiana Poison Center Managing Director Dr. Mark Ryan says more and more children are accidentally ingesting these oils which can lead to seizures or liver damage.
The online donation campaign CrowdRelief is working to replace items families lost in the floods. Founder Rob Gaudet says all the household items that were piled up on the side of the road after the flood need to be replaced. He says flood victims can fill out a survey online, and then a CrowdRelief volunteer will meet with them to hear their story and take pictures of their rebuilding. Once approved, the site lists specific items that flood victims need replaced next to the story of the family seeking help. To donate or apply for assistance, visit CrowdRelief.net.
A cruel April Fool’s joke was played on the LSU baseball team on Saturday. Up 3-0 in the 9th inning, pitcher Caleb Gilbert and the Tigers gave up 4 runs and ended up losing to Texas A&M 4-3 and lose the series to the Aggies. Coach Paul Mainieri says the defeat was a hard punch to the stomach. The loss drops LSU’s record to 5-4 in the SEC.