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Local News
  • News for Monday 020816

    By Dave Graichen

     

    If you didn’t attend a parade this past weekend, you certainly can’t use the weather as an excuse. Cenla say near perfect parade weather Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Crowds were some of the largest we’ve seen in years. Forecasters are saying this great weather should stay with us through the end of the week.  

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards has issued the call for a special legislative session to deal with a 750-million dollar budget shortfall for this fiscal year. During the session, which starts February 14th and ends March 9th, lawmakers will debate budget cuts and tax increases. Governor John Bel Edwards says he’s listened to legislators and has drafted a call allow flexibility to consider both cuts and raising money for the state.

     

    Jeremy Alford of La-politics-com says to expect the unexpected during a special session that will start Sunday. Legislators will meet for 3 and half weeks looking at proposed cuts and tax increases to fix the state’s massive budget issues. Alford says Governor Edwards has released a broad call when it comes to taxes and to no one’s surprise, Republicans aren’t pleased. Alford anticipates Governor Edwards will work with Republicans to try to find a balance between budget cuts and tax increases. He says Republicans will go into the session looking for ways to reduce spending.

     

    Chevron North America notified the Louisiana Workforce Commission of layoffs at five office locations in Covington and Lafayette. Eric Smith, Associate Director at the Tulane Energy Institute, says the low oil prices originally impacted independent oil producers, but now big companies are feeling the effects…The company says they’ll work to help laid-off employees find jobs in other Chevron locations and offer severance packages to those unable to find one. Smith believes even more layoffs are coming.

     

    Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham introduces legislation aimed at stimulating agribusiness. The proposed FAME act changes the depreciation schedule for farm equipment. Abraham says it makes a simple adjustment to the tax code to shorten the depreciation schedule on farm equipment to five years rather than seven. Abraham says other businesses typically have a five year depreciation schedule for their durable equipment. He says this will help put money in the farmers’ pockets.

     

    The preservationists have lost another step in their fight to keep the Confederate monuments up in New Orleans as a civil district court judge rules against an effort to stop the removal of the statues. A similar challenge was shot down in federal court last month. The preservationists say they would appeal.

     

    KPLC in Lake Chares is reporting a former Catholic priest in Calcasieu Parish has been found guilty of molesting and raping altar boys. 60-year-old Mark Anthony Broussard was convicted of aggravated rape, molestation of a juvenile, aggravated oral sexual battery and aggravated rape. Broussard was accused of sexually abusing two boys while a priest in the 1980s and 90s.

     

    New Orleans attorney Caroline Fayard is the first Democrat to enter Louisiana’s US Senate race. Fayard has never held political office, but did run for Lt. Governor in 2010. Fayard says she’s running for the Senate because she doesn’t want the rest of the country to take Louisiana for granted and that starts in Washington, D.C. A release from her campaign describes Fayard as a “pro-life, pro-business Democrat.” She believes there are too many career politicians in Congress and voters are upset with the level of service they’re getting from their government.

     

    Negotiations have begun about forming another high school athletic association. This is in response to a vote by member principals of the LHSAA who chose to expand the championship split to basketball, baseball and softball. Former commissioner of administration, Paul Rainwater, planned a meeting with several high school principals and A-D’s to address what it would take to form a new organization.

     

    Sports..

     

    The LSU Tigers are in first place in the SEC after beating Mississippi State 88-77 on Saturday. Antonio Blakeney led the way with a career-high 31 points, Keith Hornsby had 25 points and Ben Simmons chipped in with 16 points. Coach Johnny Jones liked that the Tigers had 25 assists to go along with 32 made field goals. After a rough go during the nonconference schedule, the Tigers are now 8-2 in the SEC, one game ahead of three other teams in the league.

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  • News for Friday 020516

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A six-year-old girl was killed early yesterday in a three-bedroom mobile home fire in Deville. Her 12-year-old sister was also seriously injured in the blaze that started while the family was sleeping. Investigators believe a space heater may have caused the fatal fire. Also, there were no working smoke alarms in the home.

     

    The RPSO reports one person is dead after an attempt to serve a warrant in a domestic violence case led to a chase and a crash on U.S. Highway 165 south of town.  Deputies went to serve a warrant shortly after noon yesterday on Shannon Road in Alexandria. But the suspect got into a vehicle and fled, leading deputies on a chase on U.S. 165 toward Woodworth and then back again toward Alexandria. The suspect, whose name has not been released, then headed south again on U.S. 165 and crashed into another vehicle. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

     

    First it was the Alexandria Ryans location late last year and now it the Pineville Ryans. Ovation Brands announced "Seventy-four restaurants throughout the United States were permanently close on yesterday. Employees of the closed stores will be able to relocate to other markets with open restaurants.

     

    New Orleans lawyer Caroline Fayard, who once ran for Lt. Governor, is the first Democrat to get in Louisiana’s US Senate race. Fayard joins a crowded field of republican candidates. It’s also been rumored that Democrat and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell will also get in the race.

     

    We are expecting Governor John Bel Edwards will issue the call for a special legislative session very soon, possibly today. Jeremy Alford, with la-politics-dot-com, says the call outlines which tax measures the governor will ask legislators to vote on, to help close a 750-million dollar budget deficit for this fiscal year. A three-and-a-half week special session is expected to start on February 14th. Alford says republicans in the legislature are pushing the governor to include in the call, opportunities where significant budget cuts can be made. Republican legislators have expressed interest in making cuts that go beyond what Governor Edwards has suggested. But Alford says many lawmakers also realize that higher taxes are inevitable.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards announces he’s dropping the lawsuit filed by the Jindal Administration to end Common Core. Edwards says, since the process to develop and implement Louisiana’s own education standards is nearing completion, the case, which is pending on appeal before the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, uses money, time, and resources that do not benefit students. He says his administration will not continue to waste taxpayer money on lawyers and lawsuits.

     

    The Republican Party of Louisiana has launched their “Red to the Roots” campaign. The initiative is an effort to identify, engage, and register new conservative voters across Louisiana. Executive Director Jason Dore (DOOR-ay) says the $2 million dollar campaign will put permanent boots on the ground in Louisiana with a primary focus of registering conservative voters.

     

    The state department of transportation is trying to determine what other safety measures are needed at a railroad crossing in Iberia Parish that saw five people die in a train-versus-vehicle crash last December. DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett says their study involves observing traffic volumes, the speed of vehicles crossing the tracks and additional reports. Mallett says gates were installed at the crossing over ten years ago and there’s also a sign warning drivers not to stop on the tracks.

     

    Three Louisiana regions, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport-Bossier, are in the Top 10 of the best places to live and work as a moviemaker. Executive Director of Louisiana’s Film Office Chris Stelly says there are many films and show projects going on right now in the state.

    He says the moviemaker.com ranking proves the film industry in Louisiana is alive and well.

     

    The plea deal entered by former Saints star Darren Sharper in New Orleans to charges he drugged and raped women, is imploding according to a legal filing. Sharper pleaded guilty last year and agreed to a nine-year federal prison sentence in a so called “global deal.” Legal Analyst Tim Meche says it looks like the judge isn’t committing to the prison terms. He says this is bad for Sharper who has already admitted to being a serial rapist. The joint motion by Sharper’s attorneys and the US Attorney asked the judge to postpone a March 7th trial date.

     

    The two men accused in the kidnapping and murder of a Baton Rouge couple have been indicted on two counts each of first degree murder. District Attorney Hillar Moore says the death penalty is now on the table. 42-year-old Ernesto Alonso and 48-year-old Frank Garcia allegedly robbed 71-year-old Denis Duplantier and his 70-year-old white Suzy, before taking them from their home and killing them in October of last year, according to authorities

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  • News for Thursday 020416

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Melville woman and her two sons in connection with the shooting death of 15-year-old Treyvon Edwards. Capt. Clay Higgins says a 12-year-old has been charged with Negligent Homicide and it’s believed he and Edwards were playing with a gun and it went off accidentally killing Edwards. He says the mother, 33-year-old Twanda Louray Washington, is charged with Obstruction of Justice and two counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Juvenile.  Higgins says they suspect the mother and other son helped to cover up the crime scene. He says there are details of the case that might never be released…

     

    A new study by LSU finds 17-year-olds in Louisiana should be tried as juveniles, not adults, after they are arrested. Professor Stephen Phillippi (Philip-ee), with LSU’s Institute for Public Health and Justice, says several states have recently put 17-year-olds back in their juvenile system with good results. The report discovered that 17-year-olds sent to adult prison are more likely to to commit additional crimes when they are released.

     

    New York real estate heir Robert Durst pleaded guilty in New Orleans yesterday on a federal weapons charge, in exchange for over 7 years in prison. Durst will eventually be sent to California to face murder charges in the alleged killing of his friend Susan Berman. Durst was arrested at a hotel on Canal Street in March 2015.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards tells teachers there are no plans to cut funding for public schools, despite the state’s difficult budget challenges. Louisiana currently allocates three-point-seven billion dollars for public schools and puts it into the minimum foundation program, which distributes money to school districts. But Edwards added that there likely won’t be growth in the funding next fiscal year.

     

    Pro-life groups are concerned about the views that new Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Rebekah Gee has on abortion. Louisiana Right to Life claims Gee, a gynecologist, is pro-choice and has ties to Planned Parenthood. Gee says she is personally pro-choice, but when it comes to being the head of DHH, she’s pro-family. Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper says Governor John Bel Edwards named a DHH secretary with stances incompatible with his own pro-life values. But Gee says she is committed to upholding the views of the governor in this role.

     

    Dr. Trey Baucum, a Shreveport cardiologist and Republican, officially announced his candidacy for the 4th Congressional District seat Wednesday.  Incumbent congressman John Fleming is giving up the seat to run for U.S. Senate. Baucum, a Shreveport native, described himself as "a conservative in belief and principle.

     

    The Civil Air Patrol has identified two of its members, who were killed in an Alabama plane crash while returning from La. after flying a medical patient there for treatment. The patrol said its pilots perform compassion flights, often to transport patients or family members to or from treatment. The patrol said pilot 67 year old  David Mauritsonof Fairhope, Alabama, was returning from such a flight after flying a patient to an airport near Baton Rouge, when the Cessna 182 crashed near Mobile Regional Airport Monday. The patrol said Mauritson was killed, along with 66 year old Phil Dryden of Gulf Shores, Alabama, who served as mission scanner for the flight.

     

    LSU did not land the nation’s number one recruiting class, but it’s in the Top five according to 24-7 sports, Scout-dot-com and ESPN. Tiger Rag editor Cody Worshman says the strength of this class is in the secondary as the Tigers signed five talented defensive backs.

     

    Clinton Police have reportedly arrested a middle school teacher after a parent complained she found explicit messages on their child’s phones. Louis Smith Jr, an 8th grade teacher at East Feliciana Middle, was charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile, computer aided solicitation of a minor and prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and student. Detectives say they’re currently investigating to see if other students are involved.

     

    The FX series “The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” premiered Tuesday night and is getting rave reviews, and next season could be about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Hollywood Reporter says creator Ryan Murphy wants to follow six to eight people to examine all sides of what happened after the storm. Murphy told the entertainment outlet that Katrina was a crime against people and that’s what his show is all about.

     

    Federal money received as part of a nationwide disaster resiliency competition will be used to move Native Americans living in Isle de Jean (zhan) Charles in Terrebonne Parish to safer ground. The plan is to have the members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indian tribe relocated by 2019. Chief Albert Naquin says they’re not sure where their new community will be. Naquin says the state received $48 million to relocate the community.

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  • News for Wednesday 020316

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Ready for an early spring.. Well the expert weather prognosticator, Acadiana’s Cajun Groundhog Pierre C. Shadeaux, predicts that’s just what we’ll see. The Nutri did not see his shadow yesterday Groundhog Day. Pierre came out of his house in New Iberia in front of a huge crowd. Not to question his abilities, but this is the 5th year in a row he has forecast an early spring.. But then again who’s counting.

     

    A former cop in Avoyelles Parish who worked for Bunkie and Cottonport police has been arrested by State Police amid allegations he was on duty at the same time for both departments and collected pay from each. Investigators say they discovered 47-year-old Joseph Johnson of Mansura, for quite some time, was collecting two payroll checks for working the same hours. He was charged with 30 counts of public payroll fraud and malfeasance in office.

     

    Two juveniles and their mother have been arrested in connection with the death of 14-year-old Treyvon Goudueu of Melville. The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office says an autopsy determined Goudeau died of a gunshot wound to the head, and his body was found in woods Friday evening. A 12 year old is charged with Negligent Homicide. His 15-year-old brother is charged with Obstruction of Justice. Their mother is booked with Obstruction of Justice and 2 counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Juvenile.

     

    The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office says they have found the murder weapon in the investigation into the stabbing death of Dylan Kyle Poche. The 18-year-old was killed Saturday at the Sibley Lake boat launch. Captain Tony Moran says they’ve arrested 18-year-old Andrew Jacob Wallace and after several days of searching detectives found a critical piece of evidence. Two other 18 year olds were arrested in connection with the murder.

     

    A Campti man died on Monday afternoon after a two-vehicle crash in Campti on U.S. Highway71. Police say a pickup Reilly Runnels was driving crossed the center line and struck an 18 wheeler head on. Runnels died at the scene. The driver of the 18 wheeler was not injured.

     

    A Leesville substitute teacher has been charged after allegedly having sex with a student. 23 year old Derek Telin was arrested and charged after a Leesville police investigation

    discovered that Telin had numerous encounters with the victim at the school that involved improper sexual contact as well as improper electronic communication with the victim. The investigation also revealed that on at least one occasion Telin and the female student met away from the school where the encounter also resulted in improper sexual conduct between the two.” Telin’s Bond was set at $75,000.

     

    Today is the final day to register to vote or change your party affiliation for Louisiana’s March 5th presidential preference primary. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says it’s important to make sure your party affiliation is correct for this election. In a closed presidential primary, Democrats vote for Democrats and Republicans vote for Republicans. Schedler says Independent voters will not be able to take part in the presidential primary. You can register to vote or change your party affiliation at your local registrar of voters office until 4:30 today or do it online at geauxvote-dot-com until midnight tonight.

     

    Landry’s Incorporated, which operates the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles, says a large scale data breach resulted in customer’s credit card information being compromised for months. If you used a credit or debit card at Golden Nugget from May 4, 2014 through March 15, 2015 and from May 5, 2015 through December 3, 2015 you may have been affected.

     

    Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says he’s paying his executive staff nearly 400-thousand dollars less than what employees were paid under the previous administration. Dardenne says he’s decided against filling a couple of positions and will pay a few people less, because of the state’s budget problems. Dardenne’s annual salary is 237-thousand dollars, a 33-thousand dollar increase than his predecessor. Dardenne says that’s the salary the governor offered him and he accepted the challenge of solving Louisiana’s budget mess.

     

    Residents in the Tensas Parish town of St. Joe are being told by the Department of Health and Hospitals that it might be a while before the murky brown water in their system can be cleared up. The good news, DHH’s Dr. Jimmy Guidry says the iron in the water that is causing the concern on the part of residents is not a health issue.

     

    A mother and father are facing several charges after investigators say their baby was discovered alone at a Baton Rouge residence with what call cops described as having horrific living conditions. Baton Rouge Police were assisting a bails bondsman at the house when they found a one year old alone on a bed in a dirty diaper and the house filled with rotten food and animal feces.

     

    The Tabasco plant on Avery Island cut the ribbon this week on a brand new Visitors Center which also includes a restaurant and museum. Tabasco is produced by the McIlhenny (Mackle-Henny) Company of Louisiana, and President and CEO Tony Simmons says his family has been on the island since 1818, they began creating Tabasco in 1865, so the new museum contains artifacts and history from their time there.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards announces they will continue to have “an elevated presence” of state troopers patrolling New Orleans historic French Quarter. State Police Superintendent, Colonel Mike Edmonson, says a sales tax approved by French Quarter residents last October provides the funding to keep more troopers in the Big Easy. Edmonson says they are also bringing in an additional 170 troopers for the big Mardi Gras festivities this weekend.

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  • News for Tuesday 020216

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Louisiana Public Service Commission voted Monday to adopt a service quality plan for Cleco. That action "insures the current level of Cleco employees will remain even if the proposed sale is not approved by the commission later this month. The decision may be a moot point, the investor group looking to buy Cleco Corp. has already promised to maintain the company's employee headcount if the proposed sale is approved.

     

    Rapides Parish police jurors voted unanimously yesterday to oppose Clean Harbors Colfax’s permit request to increase its open-burning operations. While Clean Harbors Colfax is located in Grant Parish, the jurors were convinced the harmful effects of increasing open burning could reach Rapides and other surrounding parishes. John Martel, who lives by Nantachie Lake in Grant Parish, is co-chair of the Central Louisiana Coalition for A Safe and Healthy Environment, which was formed to rally opposition to the permit request. He told jurors residents within a 40-mile radius of the site near Colfax are “most at risk” of health dangers from airborne contaminants from the open burning. He also pointed out the Rapides Parish Courthouse is only 23 miles from the site.

     

    Standards Review Committee Monday announced Louisiana educators have changed 21 percent of the academic standards for math and English. Regina Sanford, chair of the Committee, told the media they have created these standards to fit the needs of our Louisiana students and they hope the changes will empower teachers. Many changes are geared toward giving teachers more flexibility, making standards clearer and ensuring standards are appropriate for students’ ages and grade levels.

     

    A new report by the Violence Policy Center found gun deaths outpaced vehicle fatalities in the District of Columbia and 21 states, including Louisiana during 2014. According to the report vehicle-related deaths are on the decline as a result of decades of injury prevention strategy, but firearm deaths continue unabated. Louisiana had a total of 896 gun deaths compared to 807 motor vehicle deaths in 2014.

     

    Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says new revenues, possibly from an additional one-cent increase to the state sales tax, are needed to stave off big cuts to public colleges and health care services. Dardenne says they are being honest with the public when they say, just cutting the budget will not solve this fiscal year’s 750-million dollar shortfall. Dardenne says they are proposing to use some one-time money, rainy day funds and there are some proposed budget cuts to help with the budget crisis for this fiscal year. But he says additional revenue is also needed to avoid big cuts.  Governor John Bel Edwards will call a three-week long special session later this month and at that time, he’ll ask lawmakers to raise taxes.

     

    In an effort to perhaps win favor with the state republicans, Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards attended a Republican legislative retreat Monday in Lafayette. GOP lawmakers met to discuss plans to deal with the state’s budget crisis.

     

    A report from the state inspector general and legislative auditor finds former Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David LaCerte mismanaged his department. LaCerte resigned unexpectedly in October during the investigation by Inspector General Stephen Street and Legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera. Street says they found improprieties at several Veterans homes across the state. The report also claims LaCerte used over $27,000 in federal funds, earmarked for a veterans cemetery, to purchase an SUV for department use and  paid $44,000 to some law school classmates for professional services without  documentation of what they did. LaCerte’s attorney says these allegations are false and part of a character assassination.

     

    A study out of LSU Health Shreveport finds radiation is being over used to treat elderly woman with breast cancer. Lead researcher Dr. Quyen (Quinn) Chu says woman 70 and older with stage 1 breast cancer shouldn’t be treated with radiation and should talk with doctors about taking another treatment route.  Chu says their research shows that 2/3 of women in this category are still receiving radiation. He says radiation treatment can cause many different complications in patients.  He says the reason radiation is still being used is likely because doctors are set in their ways of treating patients.

     

    The Attorney General’s Office has announced six more arrests of people involved in the Lafayette D.A. bribery scandal.  A-G Jeff Landry says the corrupt practices that were being dismissed in this office were ignored by the previous Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell. He says it’s disturbing that action wasn’t taken earlier. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has already sentenced and convicted 5 others in connection with this case. He says the six people arrested here are some of the ones that have been prosecuted in the federal investigation and are now facing a variety of charges from the state.

     

    The US Army Corps of Engineers closed the last open bays of the Bonnet Carre Spillway yesterday. The spillway opened early last month to divert rising Mississippi River floodwaters from New Orleans. Spokesperson Ricky Boyette says about 290 of the 350 bays of the Bonnet Carre were opened during the operation.

     

    Impairment is suspected in a weekend head-on collision in Calcasieu Parish that police say claimed three lives. Cops say a car, driven by 22-year-old Alejandro Delgado of Sulphur, crossed the center line and collided with an SUV with two occupants inside. All three succumbed to their injuries. The investigation is ongoing.

     

    Thibodaux Police have identified the two Napoleonville men who shot and injured each other during a parade on Sunday. They believe 20-year-old Ryan Harris got into an argument with 33-year-old Quincy Johnson, when Harris came back to the scene in body armor and shot Johnson in the chest. Johnson returned fire and struck Harris in the left side. The men are both in stable condition.

     

    A Texas man accused of raping a woman he met on Tinder in 2014 was acquitted Monday by an East Baton Rouge Parish jury. 24-year-old Jacob Witz, of Bellaire, Texas, was indicted on the charge in January 2015. If found guilty, he could have served up to 40 years in prison on the forcible rape charge.

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  • News for Monday 020116

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A 19 year old Natchitoches Parish man, 18-year-old Dylan Kyle Poche,  is dead after being stabbed Saturday night at Sibley Lake boat launch in the Oak Grove community near Natchitoches. Authorities say a suspect is in custody and are asking for the public’s help. Anyone with information is asked to call the Natchitoches parish sheriff’s department.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards argues against those who say he is breaking a campaign promise by proposing to raise taxes to address Louisiana’s massive budget shortfall. Edwards says the proposals he’s made are different than talked about during the election, because the facts are different. He also says these proposals are not what he wanted, but necessary. State Treasurer John Kennedy has said there is no need to raise taxes to balance the budget, but Edwards says Kennedy is trying to boost his US Senate campaign.

     

    The presidential race kicks up a notch today with the Iowa Caucus, the first electoral event in the 2016 presidential race. Many candidates who have won the Iowa Caucus, went on to win their party’s nomination. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley thinks it will be a tight race in the Republican caucus between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Eight of the last 10 Republican presidential nominees placed first or second in the Iowa Caucus. Louisiana’s presidential primary is March 5th. On the Democratic side, Stockley says Hillary Clinton is in an unexpected dogfight with Bernie Sanders. Stockley predicts Clinton will pull out a close victory in Iowa.

     

    Former Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub is back in state government. Governor John Bel Edwards has appointed Ieyoub as the state’s Commissioner of Conservation. He’s in charge of conserving and regulating oil, gas and lignite resources in the state. Ieyoub served as A-G from 1992 to 2004.

     

    The LSU Board of Supervisors is changing the rules so they can build a statue of former LSU star Pete Maravich. Since “Pistol Pete” never graduated college, the school can’t move forward to put a life-size statue next to the building that’s named after him. LSU board member Stephen Perry says it’s time to do what they should have done a long time ago. Maravich still holds the NCAA record for most points scored in college basketball.

     

    A Montegut man has stepped up and claimed a $1 million Powerball prize just days before the winning ticket was set to expire. 53-year-old Laine Aucoin’s winning ticket matched all five white ball numbers in the August 5, 2015 drawing. After federal and state taxes were withheld, Aucoin took home $700,000. That winning ticket would have expired yesterday tomorrow.

     

    The Mardi Gras parade season has arrived and law enforcement is putting more officers on the roads as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director, Lt. Col John Leblanc, says law enforcement increases its presence on the roads during the times of the year when fatal crashes are most prevalent.

    Last year, there were were nearly 600 fatal and injury crashes and 10 fatalities during the Mardi Gras holiday, and more than half of those deaths involved alcohol.

     

    Major changes are coming to the LHSAA after member principals voted to expand the select–nonselect championships to basketball, baseball and softball, starting with the 2016-17 school year. 40-percent of the schools are opposed to this move. But LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine says a majority of the association is pleased with what happened. Friday’s vote will create 12 champions in basketball, baseball and softball, seven on the nonselect side and five on the select side. Where these additional championship games will be played, still has to be sorted out.

     

    The deadline to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act was yesterday.  Healthcare-dot-gov CEO Kevin Counihan says over 200,000 Louisianians have already signed up for coverage through the federal insurance marketplace. He says financial assistance through healthcare-dot-gov can really help in making insurance more affordable. Counihan says if you don’t have health insurance in 2016, you could face a penalty of up to 695-dollars.

     

    The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ Own Your Own Health Challenge is underway. The challenge, which runs until April 25th, is designed to help Louisianans become more active and create a healthier lifestyle. Director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Rudy Macklin Macklin says the challenge allows you to create teams or work individually to compete against other people in a weight loss challenge with the chance to win a prize. He says the second component helps participants learn what questions to ask when visiting the doctor. To register visit o-y-o-h-l-a-dot-com.

     

    February is American Heart Month and health experts are promoting initiatives in an attempt to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the US. Professor at Tulane University’s School of Medicine, Dr. Keith Ferdinand, says heart disease is the number one killer of Louisiana residents and many of the deaths could be prevented through healthy living habits. Ferdinand says African American men experience the highest risk for heart disease and hypertension.

     

    A 12-year-old boy is under his arrest for his role in the death of an elderly nun. It’s reported that an incident occurred in October where 87-year-old Sister Rosario O’Connell was helping the child with his homework, when he became enraged and slammed her into a wall which caused brain damage that could have killed her. O’Connell died last week.

     

     

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  • News for Friday 012915

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Skimming devices, which document credit card numbers, are continuing to pop up on gasoline pumps throughout the state. Department of Ag & Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain says their inspectors recently located three in Ascension Parish and two in Baton Rouge. He says since June 2015, a total of 25 skimming devices have been discovered in 12 Louisiana parishes.

    Strain says they encourage people to constantly check their bank statements and file a report if they notice anything out of the ordinary.

     

    Ex-state legislator and former Alcohol and Tobacco Commissioner Troy Hebert announces he’s running for the US Senate. When Hebert was elected as a state representative in 1995, he was a democrat, but towards the end of his legislative career he was an Independent. He says this time he plans to run for Senate as an Independent.

     

    Health officials say while the Zika (ZEEKA) virus is a threat, it’s not a cause for alarm in Louisiana, just yet. The relatively new mosquito-borne virus has been linked to birth defects in pregnant women. In Brazil, so are calling it an epidemic. The good news is, as of now, there is no spread of the virus in the United States. However, health officials say that may change as the temps rise this spring and summer.

     

    The alleged child predator who was a popular Monroe television host in the 70s, claims he is not the “Mr. Wonder” that authorities have been looking for. The man identified as Frank Selas was arrested in San Diego for allegedly sexually abusing children during a Louisiana camping trip in 1979. Deputy US Marshal Steve Jurman, based in San Diego, says it’s mind blowing the access to kids this man had since 1985 in California. They are worried there could be victims in San Diego they are asking to come forward.

     

    The LHSAA’s annual convention wraps up today and there are some big votes on the agenda for principals. One proposal would create select- non-select playoffs in basketball, softball and baseball. There’s also a proposal to return the football playoffs back to a five-class system, there’s also a proposal to have metro and rural divisions for the football postseason.

     

    The Louisiana Supreme Court overturns a constitutional amendment that prohibits convicted felons from running for political office. In their ruling, the Court says what residents voted on in 1997 did not match what the legislature did. Legal analyst Tim Meche says the justices put a lot of thought into this opinion. He believes lawmakers will likely bring this issue up to voters again.

     

    Louisianians are starting to get on board with getting insurance through the federal marketplace. There are 198,551 registered now, an increase of about 12,000 from last year’s total. The final deadline for individuals to enroll in an Affordable Care Act plan is Sunday.

     

    Another lawsuit has been filed by those wanting to block the removal of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans. This time the preservationists are taking their case to state court, after US District Judge Carl Barbier rejected their challenge Tuesday. The New Orleans City Council in December voted to declare the statues a public nuisance, clearing the way for them to be taken down.

     

    Tulane University and Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System researchers say they have created a painkiller that’s just as strong as morphine but non-addictive. Lead Investigator Dr. James Zadina says tests performed on animals lead them to the conclusion that this could be a non-addictive alternative to morphine. Zadina says they used compounds from the brain rather than from the opium plant to create the drug. He says human clinical trials are set to begin within the next couple of years…

     

    Paul Kantner--a founding member of both the Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship--is dead at the age of 74. Kantner died of organ failure and septic shock.

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  • News for Thursday 012815

    Dave Graichen

     

    40% of households in Louisiana are considered in poverty and struggle to afford day-to-day needs, according to a new report by the Louisiana Association of United Ways. President and CEO Sarah Berthelot says these more than 695,000 homes in the state are nicknamed ALICE. ALICE refers to a group of families and individuals who work low-paying jobs and have little or no savings. Berthelot says ALICE families play a critical role in keeping Louisiana’s economic engine running, but they aren’t always sure that they can put food on their own tables. She says the scale of the struggle is alarming.

     

    4-day dog show opens today in Alexandria.  The sixth annual Mardi Gras Cluster Dog Show that begins today and runs through Sunday in the Alexandria Riverfront Center.

    Judging will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. each day. Admission is free

     

    A constitutional amendment which bans those with felony convictions from running for state office has been declared invalid by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Derrick Shepherd, a Democrat from Marrero who pleaded guilty to money laundering in 2008, tried to run for a spot in the Louisiana House last fall, but he was stopped because the state doesn’t allow convicted felons to run for office. The Supreme court ruled Wednesday citizens voted on something different than what was enacted by the Legislature.

     

    A Monroe man convicted of two counts of attempted first degree murder on Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, in Ouachita Parish. 29-year-old Luke Jarrod Hust was found guilty December 3rd for shooting LDWF Sgt. Scott Bullitt and shooting at another agent. LDWF officials say they are thankful Hust got the stiffest penalty of life behind bars so he won’t have the chance to commit another violent crime.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards describes the proposed one cent sales tax increase as a bridge to get the state to a new, more stable tax structure. He says voters will have an opportunity in the future to repeal the tax hike in favor of a new income tax structure. Edwards believes the $750 million dollar budget deficit is so bad that new revenue is necessary to fix it. A special session to address the matter begins February 14th.

     

    The Department of Health and Hospitals submitted two plans to the Division of Administration Wednesday that outline how $131 million in cuts would be spread across the Medicaid program to address the current budget shortfall. They say both options would have a catastrophic impact to those being served and rely on Medicaid, insurance companies who administer the Bayou Health Plan, and hospitals and other providers.

     

    Republican Retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness officially announces his bid for Louisiana’s soon to be vacant US Senate seat. Maness placed third in 2014′s US Senate primary election behind incumbent Mary Landrieu and eventual winner Bill Cassidy. He says he joined the field to answer a call by the people of the state. . Maness is a 32-year veteran of the Air Force who has never held political office. He joins four other Republicans who are seeking Senator David Vitter’s seat.

     

    Attorney General Jeff Landry says he’s taking over the appeal of a ruling that blocked Louisiana’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. The case is left over from the Jindal administration. Landry says, as AG, he has the Constitutional authority to defend all legal issues in state government. He says it’s in the best interest of taxpayers to protect the integrity of our Medicaid program by pursuing this appeal.

     

    The contained burn chamber that will be used to dispose of 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden is scheduled to arrive at the Part of Natchitoches on February 6th. Col. Pete Schneider with the National Guard says the 400,000 pound container is on the Mississippi River now, but when it heads to Camp Minden it will be loaded onto a vehicle. The burn chamber was constructed in Oklahoma and the only other chamber like it is in Denmark.

     

    New Orleans firefighters had a tough time Yesterday morning battling a major six-alarm blaze that had smoke covering downtown and caused the closure of the famous Canal Street between the CBD and the French Quarter. It started at one building then spread to another. Officials say there were no reports of injuries.

     

    A Livingston Parish Sheriff’s deputy has been fired and arrested for allegedly using excessive force on a female inmate. Authorities say video evidence shows 35-year-old Deputy Karleen Leglue was escorting a handcuffed detainee when she grabbed the inmate and forced her head against a concrete wall.

     

    Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser has tapped former state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham to direct Louisiana’s state parks and historic sites. State parks are facing issues like layoffs, pool closures, and deferred maintenance, while some historic sites are closed with no plans to reopen.

     

    A 5-year-old child who sustained life threatening injuries in a West Monroe fire Sunday, has died. The State Fire Marshal’s Office says Prince Halley Owojori passed yesterday morning. His father and mother and 7 month old brother remain on life support but they are not expected to survive. Investigators believe faulty electrical wiring in the attic of their home started the deadly blaze.

     

    The man accused of shooting a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy while serving a warrant during a federal task force has been officially charged. Jarvis Hardy is booked with attempted murder and attempted murder and assault of a federal officer. Deputy Steven Arnold was shot five times and remains in critical condition.

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  • News for Wednesday 012715

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A north Louisiana television personality, who had a kids show in the 1970s has been arrested in San Diego on allegations of criminal sexual conduct with juveniles. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s spokesperson Lt. Tommny Carnline says they’ve been trying to catch “Mr Wonder” for 37 years as he faces a variety of charges. Carnline says 76-year-old Frank Selas had been hiding out in Asia and central and south America.

     

    38 year old Earnest Hamilton of Natchitoches man faces a mandatory life sentence after being found guilty on Tuesday of raping an 11-year-old girl who ended up giving birth to his child. Hamilton was found guilty of aggravated rape by a unanimous jury verdict.

     

    A federal judge in Baton Rouge strikes down a Louisiana law that required abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says  US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on this very same case in March. Supporters of this law say it’s intended to protect women’s health, while opponents say it will make it very difficult to get an abortion in Louisiana.

     

    Could the third time be the charm? Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy has made it official. He will run for US Senate as he seeks the seat that will soon be left vacant by David Vitter. Kennedy, who was just re-elected as treasurer, says he wants to serve in the Senate because we’re at risk of losing the American dream. This will be Kennedy’s third run for the US Senate. Fellow Republicans, Congressmen Charles Boustany and John Fleming, and former Congressman Joseph Cao (gow) have also declared their intent to run. Retired Col Rob Maness is making his official announcement today.

     

    The deadline to register to vote in Louisiana’s upcoming presidential preference primary is one week from today. The primary election is March 5th. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this is Louisiana’s only closed primary. In the closed primary, Democratic voters are only allowed to vote for Democratic presidential candidates and Republican voters for Republicans. Schedler says registered independent voters are not allowed to take part in the closed presidential primary.

     

    According to the latest labor numbers, the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in December, as more people continue to leave the work force. The Louisiana Workforce Commission says employment in education and health services grew by 2,400 jobs last month. They say growth in those sectors is helping offset the loss of jobs in the Oil and Gas industry.

     

    The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s annual meeting begins today at the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles. Vice President Gifford Briggs says the market shifted drastically in 2015, and it’s critical industry professionals stay informed. He says they are optimistic the sharp cut in the price of oil will rebound. Speakers Thursday include Governor John Bel Edwards, State Treasurer John Kennedy and Congressman Charles Boustany.

     

    A U.S. District Judge Tuesday declined to issue an injunction that would have prevented the city of New Orleans from taking down four Confederate statues. District Judge Carl Barbier denied the appeal after a group of preservationists filed a federal lawsuit.

     

    A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy is in critical condition after he was shot several times while executing a drug search warrant at a residence in New Orleans. Thirty-five-year-old Steven Arnold is a 12-year veteran of the JPSO.

     

    Former LSU basketball star Shaquille O’ Neal said on Monday night during a fundraiser in Los Angeles that he was paid very well during his college years in Baton Rouge and the school can’t get in trouble, because the statute of limitations is up. But Shaq said yesterday he was only joking and he was trying to give a funny response to the questions he was asked during the event.

     

    A human female fetus was located in a sewage piping station in Avoyelles Parish by Moreauville city workers. Avoyelles Sheriff Doug Anderson says they predict the fetus was between 20 to 30 weeks into development, and was a grim discovery. Anderson says they’re working to determine who the fetus belonged to.

     

    Sports..

     

    A format for the prep football playoffs will be voted on at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association convention, which kicks off in Baton Rouge today. LHSAA president Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic says there’s great uncertainty, after it was determined the association didn’t follow the correct procedures to split the playoffs between public and private schools in 2013

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  • News for Tuesday 012615

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards inherited fresh pay raises for employees at four departments that were granted by former Governor Bobby Jindal “at the 11th hour,” even though the state faces a $750 million dollar deficit. LaPolitics.com publisher Jeremy Alford, who first reported the news, says these pay raises add up to at least $19 million for the remainder of this fiscal year and next fiscal year.

     

    Natchitoches Parish Officials report one man has died and a woman was critically in what may  have been an attempted murder suicide. A neighbor contacted the Sheriff’s office Monday morning and shortly later deputies found  the couple in the master bedroom of the home, both suffering from gunshot wounds. The 23 year old man was pronounced dead at the scene, while the 30 year old woman was in critical condition. According to authorities there were no signs of forced entry into the residence and a handgun was found at the scene.

     

    Bad electrical work in the attic of a West Monroe duplex is what investigators believe started a fire that left a family of 4 all on life support. The parents, including a pregnant mother, were in their mid 20s and had a 5-year-old and a 7 month old, all are in critical condition. Brant Thompson with the State fire Marshal’s office said the home had no working smoke alarms.

    The investigation into the fire is ongoing.

     

    LSU says if they take a 65-million dollar budget cut, it will mean the laying off of faculty and raising student fees. President and Chancellor F. King Alexander said they were told to prepare scenarios for a 32% budget cut to its statewide operations, and the reductions would be devastating. If the legislature doesn’t intervene in the upcoming legislative session on other ways to fill the budget hole, higher ed was told the state would have to cut $131 million from the state’s colleges and universities.

     

    People who were sentenced to life for crimes they committed as juveniles now must be given the chance at parole. The US Supreme court ruled on a case out of Baton Rouge today. Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says Henry Montgomery, convicted at 17 in 1963, will now get his case back in Louisiana and likely before a parole board hearing.

     

    The Army Corps of Engineers have begun closing the Bonnet Carre Spillway. The process started today, will end in February when the final pins are put back in place. The spillway was opened January 10th to help divert water out of the swollen Mississippi River and into Lake Pontchartain.

     

    Former New Roads Mayor Tommy Nelson Jr.’s 10year prison stint stemming from his convictions in an FBI sting will stand after a federal appellate court found no problems with the judge’s sentence. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Friday.

     

    The sting also netted the convictions of ex-St. Gabriel Mayor George Grace, former White Castle Mayor Maurice Brown, ex-Port Allen Mayor Derek Lewis and other area municipal officials

     

    A LaPlace man who allegedly failed to render aid to his 90-year-old grandmother as she laid on the floor is charged with negligent homicide in her death. The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office says 33-year-old Neil Oberoi admitted he saw his grandmother on the floor Friday evening and she was calling for help, but he ignored her pleas. Several hours later he called 911 to report his grandmother was not waking up, and she was pronounced dead on arrival. Oberoi is also booked with cruelty to the infirmed.

     

    The Barksdale Air Force Base airman fatally stabbed during a fight at a Bossier City night club is identified as 34-year-old Technical Sergeant Zechariah Casagranda. Bossier City PD spokesman Mark Natale says 21-year-old Benjamin William Shaw of Killeen, Texas is charged with second degree murder.

     

    Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says Louisiana will no longer use an online booking portal that state employees were required to use under the Jindal administration. Dardenne said, as Lt. Governor, he opposed the use of HotelPlanner.com because it was an out of state booking company and didn’t produce budget savings. Dardenne says state workers should be able to choose an option that is the least expensive and most convenient.

     

    The wife of the late New Orleans chef Paul Pruhomme has donated about 600 personal cookbooks to a museum in The Big Easy which is dedicated to southern cuisine. The Southern Food & Beverage Museum says the donation also includes Pruhomme’s wine and food documents and books on food science.

     

    LSU got first place in a competition to see which college could gather the most recycled trash during a home football game in the 2015 season. In the GameDay Recycling challenge, LSU led the nation with 86,400 pounds total recycling. Campus Sustainability manager Sarah Temple says taking part in this challenge builds on the goal of reaching 50% recycling rate a month.

     

    A Haughton woman has been arrested for abusing her 72-year-old wheel chair bound mother. Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Spokesperson, Lt. Bill Davis, says 43-year-old Belinda Roberts was a caregiver for her mother and abused her in various ways because her mother refused to give Belinda her prescription medicine. Davis says Roberts is charged with cruelty to the infirmed, domestic abuse battery with strangulation, aggravated battery, robbery, and possession of drugs.

     

    Sports…

     

    The LSU men’s basketball team finishes off the month of January with two home games, starting with tonight’s match-up against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers are 5-2 in the SEC, while Georgia is 4-3. After tonight’s game, LSU will host number one ranked Oklahoma on Saturday in the PMAC.

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  • News for Monday 012516

    By Dave Graichen

     

    New Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson begins a statewide tour today, meeting with local economic development groups emphasizing small business success in the state. Pierson says Governor John Bel Edwards has made small business growth a priority of his administration. He says it’s important to learn the different economic development needs from each region of the state. Pierson will make stops today in Tallulah, Delhi, and Alexandria.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards administration has informed higher education leaders that a cut in state funding to public colleges and universities is likely this fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says at this point it could be as much as 131 million dollars. Dardenne says they’re still in the process of reviewing what’s going to be necessary in order to combine cuts with revenue measures in the hopes of softening the cuts. He says this is just the reality of where we are as a state.

     

    LSU President F King Alexander says they are expecting another round of cuts, but that Governor John Bel Edwards remains committed to prioritizing higher education. Alexander says, in the face of a $750 million dollar budget shortfall in the current fiscal year, LSU will take a $65 million dollar cut out of the $131 million for higher ed across the board, without legislative intervention.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards has put out a variety of different proposals to help with the state’s budget deficit, one being increasing the cigarette tax by 22 cents. Consultant with the Invest in a Healthy Louisiana campaign Randy Hayden says his organization doesn’t think that’s enough. He says the campaign suggests raising the cigarette tax another $1.25 per pack.  Hayden says we had the third lowest cigarette tax in the country until Louisiana increased the tax 50 cents in 2015.

     

    Gov. John Bel Edwards said he told Louisiana’s congressional lawmakers during his first trip to Washington since taking office that his administration wants to put “Louisianians first and shed our party labels at the door.” The newly elected Democrat met last week with the mostly Republican delegation in the office of Rep. Steve Scalise, the House GOP whip. Edwards says he  asked them to approach issues in Louisiana, primarily as Louisianians rather than as Democrats or Republicans. The governor went on to say, that certainly doesn’t mean we’re going to agree on everything… But hopefully the disagreement can be respectful and professional so that it doesn’t poison our ability to work together on those things where we can agree or where we can find common ground.”

     

    A 60-year-old man from St. Tammany Parish won a one-million dollar Powerball prize. Charles Schwetizer the Second matched all five white ball numbers on the January 13th drawing. That was the day when the grand prize was one-point-five billion dollars. Schweitzer received 700-thousand dollars after federal and state taxes were withheld.

     

    The Shreveport Police Department says a $5,000 reward is now being offered for information in the search for the two endangered boys taken by force by their mother and a man wanted in connection with a pair of bank robberies. They say 2-year-old Elijah Wong and 7-year-old Donnie Simmons are believed to be in imminent danger. They are seeking to apprehend Keith Rogers and the boy’s mother, Antoinette Wong. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of these four is urged to contact authorities.

     

    A St. Tammany Parish jury acquits a former teacher’s aide of molestation of a juvenile. Wendell Troullier (Trool-yay)was arrested by Slidell Police in 2014 after a 10-year-old boy said Troullier touched him inappropriately while at the man’s house. Defense attorney Robby Gill says the lead detective said during the trial that they never took DNA from the child, which led to the jury finding Troullier not guilty. Troullier was facing a minimum 25-year prison sentence if found guilty. Gill says Troullier was never arrested before this case and he maintained his innocence throughout, even during intense interrogation at police headquarters.

     

    A man from Zachary is under arrest for allegedly shooting his dog multiple times when the pet wouldn’t cooperate during a bath. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office said the roommate and wife of 51-year-old Brian Keith Blair tried to talk him out of it, but deputies found nin .22 caliber casings and were forced to euthanize the pet at the scene. Blair is booked on animal creulty charges and illegal use of a weapon.

     

    Do you have a favorite king cake that you swear by? Now there’s a website where you can rate and judge yours against other bakeries. Erica Sweeney is the spokesperson for the site, KingCakeSnob.com. She says you vote on a variety of characteristics of the king cake and the results are updated as each user submits a review.

     

    The family of the man who died on New Year’s after being run over in New Orleans and dragged through the French Quarter for 6 miles, is desperate to find out who is responsible. 28-year-old Josh Woodruff was hailing an Uber around 3am January 1st when he was struck by a four door black sedan and dragged away, according to investigators. At this time the vehicle has not been found and no arrests have been made. There is a $10,000 reward.

     

    A New Iberia railroad crossing where five people were killed is dangerously near a highway intersection, leading to traffic backups that can trap vehicles in a train’s path, safety experts But state transportation officials say the crossing is not scheduled for improvements such as a traffic signal guided by sensors for approaching trains. Since 2012, at least one train a year has hit a vehicle stopped at that crossing.

     

    LSU football fans are anxious for the start of the 2016 season as the Tigers will have 19 scholarship seniors on the team. Several of them had an opportunity to enter the NFL draft and Coach Les Miles is happy to see them stay. The season opener is September 3rd against Wisconsin.

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  • News For Friday 012216

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Make sure you grab a coat before leaving the house today as the temperatures are much colder than what we experienced yesterday. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a strong cold front has brought us some of the coldest temperatures of the winter. Keim says to expect the maximum temperature statewide today to be in the 40s, with the warmest part of the day in the morning. Along with the cold temps, strong winds are forecasted across the state.

     

    South Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee has died, according to the state Department of Corrections. Lee was 47. He was convicted in the murders of two women and suspected in the brutal slayings of at least five other women. Lee was sentenced to death in 2004 and had been at Angola since. Multiple sources reported this week that Lee was suffering complications with a pace maker.

     

    The mother of the victim in the case that put Derrick Todd Lee on death row says the world is a better place now that the serial killer is dead. Lee died at the age of 47 in a Baton Rouge hospital on Thursday. Ann Pace said on a Baton Rouge Talk Show that Lee got off far easier than her daughter, Charlotte Murray Pace, and the, at least, 6 other victims. Charlotte Murray Pace was just 22 when Lee stabbed her 81 times and bludgeoned her with an iron at her Baton Rouge home in 2002.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards has proposed raising some taxes in efforts to help with the state’s fiscal issues. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross believes lawmakers might approve these tax hikes but it depends on what they are and who the taxes impact.

    Cross says Governor Edwards has made many proposals for raising revenue and will likely continue to make the point that Louisiana is in dire budget straights.  Cross says he doesn’t expect much push back from legislators right now given the dismal budget situation the state faces.

     

    The LSU Professor who was fired for allegedly creating a hostile learning environment by cussing and making sex jokes says she’s suing the university. Teresa Buchanan feels she was wrongfully fired for what she calls “expressing academic freedom.” She says it’s a professor’s job to stimulate students thinking and to get them to question assumptions

    LSU says it will defend students’ rights to a harassment-free learning environment.

     

    Higher education leaders from across the state met with Governor John Bel Edwards to plead their case against further cuts as Louisiana deals with a massive budget deficit. The state is facing an estimated $750 million dollar mid-year budget shortfall. In the past eight years, higher ed has been cut more than $700 million. State Commissioner of Higher Education, Joe Rallo, says Governor Edwards assured them that if there are cuts to higher ed, they would be part of sweeping budget cuts across the board.

     

    A Ponchatoula man has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for having what federal authorities have called one of the largest collections of child pornography ever discovered in Louisiana. Authorities say 53-year-old Robert Swan had at least 15 devices in his home containing over 500,000 sexually explicit pictures and videos of children. Swan pleaded guilty in December 2014.

     

    Mackenzie Bourg of Lafayette is going to Hollywood after advancing on American Idol. The 23-year-old received three yes votes from judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. Mackenzie also made a name for himself in 2012 for his stellar performances on The Voice.

     

    In an effort to reduce motorcycle fatalities and injuries, Louisiana State Police is getting the word out about a motorcycle training program that’s offered at 10 different locations around the state. Trooper Bryan Lee says this training course helps to build mental and physical skills to safely operate a motorcycle. During 2015 there were nearly two thousand motorcycle related crashes across Louisiana and 80 resulted in death. Lee says they have courses available for basic, intermediate and experienced riders.

     

     

    After losing on the road to Texas A-and-M on Tuesday night, the LSU men’s basketball team looks for a road win tomorrow against Alabama. 2004 was the last time the Tigers went into Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa and came away with a victory. LSU enters league play with a 4-2 record, while Alabama is 1-4 in the SEC.

     

    LSU has added another four-star prospect to its 2016 football recruiting class. John Curtis offensive lineman Willie Allen announced his decision this morning to attend LSU. He’s listed at six-foot-seven, 300 pounds. ESPN has him as the second ranked prospect at his position and 16th overall. Allen also visited Georgia and TCU.

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  • News for Thursday 012116

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The second former Marksville officer accused in the death of a 6-year-old boy and injuring of his father, is reportedly expected to bond out of prison by week’s end. Apparently the family of 32-year-old Derrick Stafford put up the $1 million dollar property bond, but a paperwork issue is holding things up. Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr, who has already bonded out, are accused of shooting and killing 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and the wounding of his father.

     

    Rain and the possibility of severe weather is expected today across Louisiana as a cold front moves across the state. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the threat of severe weather is statewide. He says there’s probably no area that’s of any greater risk than any other…

    The good news is, the front should move out of the state by Friday. Keim says the front will leave us with a nice weekend ahead, but it will be chilly…

     

    The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office reports the human remains found earlier this month near Mansura have been identified as a man reported missing since September.  35 year old Ray Lachney was reported missing by his family in September, but last was reported seen by friends on July 3 of last year. Lachney's stepfather found his remains near Mansura on Jan. 3 while family and friends were searching for him. An investigation is continuing.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards has offered several options to the state legislature to address the state’s budget crisis. House Majority Leader, Republican Lance Harris of Alexandria, says Republicans will work on their own plan to deal with the fiscal mess in the coming weeks. He says with regards to raising the sales tax by a cent, everything needs to be on the table and it’s too early to form an opinion on the issue. Harris says he appreciates the governor being so candid about the budget numbers.

     

    Governor Edwards met with education leaders Wednesday from around Louisiana to discuss how the budget matters would impact colleges and universities. The administration says they are looking to get input from higher ed leaders about the changes he’s proposed and future steps which could help soften a potentially devastating blow from more midyear budget cuts.

     

    Senate President John Alario says lawmakers are still evaluating the governor’s proposals for fixing Louisiana’s massive budget shortfall. An increase to the state’s sales is one suggestion that’s been put forward by John Bel Edwards. Alario appreciates that the governor has given lawmakers some options.  Alario says it’s wait and see to determine if there is enough support of the governor’s proposed tax hikes, which will take a 2/3 vote. He says lawmakers must do their due diligence to see exactly where the state stands.

     

    The current, sharp drop in the price of oil is having an adverse effect on the state’s budget. The price of crude closed at $26.55 a barrel Wednesday, the lowest level since 2003. Louisiana Budget Project Director Jan Moeller says diminishing mineral revenues are doing a real number on the budget. Moeller says not only are shrinking mineral revenues hurting the budget, oil field layoffs are as well. Noble Drilling has announced a layoff of 100 to 120 employees due to the anticipated shutdown of a rig offshore.

     

    National Oilwell Varco, a manufacturer and parts supplier to the oil and gas industry, is shutting down its facility in Houma, Louisiana, and that will put 80 employees out of work.

     

    The declines are also lowering the price at the pump. GasBuddy.com says the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $1.66, with some areas in south Louisiana below $1.40.

     

    An app developed in Lake Charles that provides delivery from local restaurants to customers is starting to launch in areas throughout the state. It’s called, “Waitr” (W-A-I-T-R), and for a $5 delivery fee, you can order what you want from participating restaurants who normally don’t bring food to your door. It’s available in Baton Rouge as of this week and later this year is targeted for New Orleans, Alexandria, Shreveport and Monroe.

     

    A 16-year-old boy walking along train tracks in Slidell Wednesday morning apparently didn’t hear an oncoming train that struck and killed him because he was wearing headphones. Slidell police say James Pulsifer was hit by a Norfolk freight train, and the conductor tried to stop and sounded the horn, to no avail.

     

    Some legal experts feel New Orleans Police were too quick to arrest the grandmother whose gun allegedly went off from under her pillow and killed her 3-year-old grandson during the night. NOPD says 43-year-old Deonca Kennedy , who was in a state of shock, did not cooperate with investigators and was charged with negligent homicide and second degree cruelty to a juvenile. Legal analyst Tim Meche says, in New Orleans, having a loaded gun in your home and under your pillow is not uncommon. The investigation is ongoing.

     

    A man continues to recover from a bullet wound after he accidentally shot himself while he was raking leaves. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office says they responded and located 52-year-old Ricky Bolton of Mora suffering from a gunshot wound to his thigh. He told deputies that while he was raking leaves, a .22 Magnum revolver in his pocket discharged and hit him in the upper thigh. He was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

     

    A bill filed for the upcoming regular session would prohibit the use of drones from conducting surveillance of correctional facilities and public and private schools. Lake Charles Representative Stephen Dwight proposed the legislation after the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff requested a law to stop the use of drones from flying over his jail.  Dwight says the Sheriff wants to ensure inmates cannot plot with friends or family on the outside to escape or smuggle in contraband.

     

    The late West Monroe football coach Don Shows along with baseball star Todd Walker highlight the seven member class that will be inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame this year. Shows is fourth on Louisiana’s all-time wins list and won eight state titles at West Monroe. Walker was a three-sport star at Airline High School, but baseball was is his main sport and he ended up playing 12 years in the Big Leagues.

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  • News for Wednesday 012016

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards spoke at the Capitol Tuesday to announce the administration’s options to fix the state’s $750 million dollar shortfall for this fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says they’re proposing tapping the rainy day fund for 128 million dollars, and raising the sales tax by 1% beginning April 1st. Edwards anticipates calling a special session on February 14th and have it last until March 4th.It’s estimated Louisiana also faces a $1.9 billion dollar deficit in the 2016-2017 operating budget.

     

    The investigation continues in to the weekend crash that claimed the life of a Tioga man. The Pineville PD reports 49 year old Christopher Robertson was traveling northbound on highway 165 by the entrance of Kings Country shopping center when a Pickup turned directly in his path.  Robertson died a short time later. The driver of the pickup, Roy Weaver, has been charged with failure to yield.

     

    US Congressman Ralph Abraham is upset with the Department of Veteran Affair’s choice to lead health care operations in Louisiana and Mississippi. Skye McDougall has been appointed to oversee medical centers in Alexandria, Shreveport and New Orleans. Abraham says McDougall provided false testimony about four day wait times at V-A centers in Los Angeles. VA officials have defended McDougall’s testimony.

     

    The artists performing at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt,  Snoop Dog and many more. The lineup at nojazzfest.com, announced this morning, includes the individual days each artist will perform the 7 dates between, April 22nd through May 1st.

     

    The Department of Health and Hospitals says the worst of the current influenza season is still to come and they encourage everyone to get a flu shot. Immunization Director Dr. Frank Welch says it’s fortunate that flu season has been very slow, to date, in Louisiana. Welch says doctor visits for flu-like symptoms in the state are down around 50-percent from this time last year. But, flu activity is increasing in other parts of the country and it’s only a matter of time before it hits Louisiana. Welch says they expect flu activity to increase in the state over the next couple of weeks.

     

    Gas prices continue to fall all across Louisiana. GasBuddy-dot-com reports that the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline has dropped six cents in the past week. Spokesperson Gregg Laskoski says Louisiana’s average price per gallon has fallen to $1.67. He says falling gas prices are a direct result of the rapid drop in crude oil prices. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude has plunged below $30 a barrel as a result of the lifting of sanctions against Iran, which will add more oil to an already glutted market. Laskoski says oil prices could drop even further.

     

    The rising Mississippi River has crested Baton Rouge at a slightly lower than expected level of 43.3 feet. But officials said Monday the high water is expected to stick around for a while. The river will continue to slowly drop over the coming weeks until it’s below flood stage of 35 feet at Baton Rouge in the second week of February.

     

    An Lamborghini belonging to David Mahler, owner of H&O Investments, was found in flames in front of the firm’s Baton Rouge office Tuesday. H&O was the original contractor that the city of New Orleans hired to remove Confederate statues, but death threats prompted H&O to withdraw from the contract. Mahler’s attorneys say the threats and the car torching are being aggressively investigated.

     

    According to the personal finance website WalletHub, it costs less to smoke in Louisiana than in any other state. The report, The True Cost of Smoking By State, finds one resident in Louisiana spends about $24,000 a year in smoking-related costs. WalletHub spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez says it’s based on societal and economic factors. She says the out of pocket expense for a smoker in Louisiana who picks up a pack a day is about $1700 a year

     

    The ex-mayor of Sorrento has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and animal cruelty charges — in exchange for a 40 year sentence. Wilson Longanecker Jr. was initially arrested in 2014 after his home was raided and the illegal images were found. Spokesperson for the 23rd District Attorney’s says the videos found at Longanecker’s Sorrento home involved minor girls, some as young as three years old

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  • News for Tuesday 011916

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Visitation is today for former state legislator and ex-mayor of Marksville, Raymond Laborde, who passed away Sunday at the age of 88. Laborde was in the state legislature from 1972 to 1992. He was the mayor of Marskville from 1958 to 1970 and also served as Commissioner of Administration during former governor Edwin Edwards final term in office . Funeral services are Wednesday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marksville.

     

    The price of gasoline continues to drop down, on average a nickel from last week. The statewide average according to AAA, $1.69

     

    Today, the Louisiana Department of Education begins accepting applications for the Louisiana Scholarship Program for the 2016-2017 school year. Louisiana Federation for Children President Ann Duplesis says about 7,100 students are currently participating and they expect the demand to remain high. The program provides vouchers to low-income families to send their child to a participating private school, if the student is in a low performing public school.

     

    The Louisiana Department of Revenue, along with the I-R-S, starts accepting income tax returns today. Federal returns are due April 15th. L-D-R spokesperson Kizzy Payton says you’ll have until May 16th  to file your state returns. She says this year, they’ve implemented enhanced security measures to protect taxpayers against fraud, which is something they started focusing on a couple of years ago. Payton says the Department of Revenue suggests taxpayers filed their returns electronically to ensure quick processing.

     

    Former Mamou Police Chief Robert McGee has been sentenced to one year and a day in prison for using a Taser on a compliant inmate in the Mamou jail in August 2010. The Justice Department and U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley said McGee’s conviction was the result of a federal investigation into the illegal use of excessive force on inmates at the Mamou jail that also led to the 2015 civil rights conviction of former Mamou Police Chief Gregory Dupuis for unlawfully using a Taser against a different inmate. On Aug. 6, 2010, McGee used a Taser on an inmate who was verbally, but not physically, disruptive.

     

    A recent study finds Louisiana drivers don’t save much money on their car insurance for choosing larger deductibles. According to InsuranceQuotes.com, Louisiana is ranked third last in offering the biggest car insurance savings when deductibles are increased from $500-$1000. Senior analyst Laura Adams says it amounts to a savings of about 6%, on average.  She says this is important information for someone who lives paycheck-to-paycheck and couldn’t afford to pay a $1000 deductible out of pocket. Adams says Louisiana already has some of the highest car insurance rates in the country, so it may be tempting to do whatever it takes to reduce your premium. But, think twice.

     

    The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s office reports a man in New Iberia was hit and killed by a train. The 55-year-old was standing between two freight cars when the train began to move. He becomes the 6th person to be killed by a train in New Iberia in less than a month, as five people lost their lives on tracks when an Amtrak train crashed into their vehicle.

     

    State Police has arrested a Shreveport casino employee for allegedly stealing more than $3,000 from his employer. They say the man, who was the director of slots at Sam’s Town Casino, created fraudulent credit payouts and stole the money. State Police say this is the first time an upper level casino manager has been arrested since gambling was legalized in Louisiana.

     

    A 17-year-old accused of shooting and killing his friend by mistake with a shotgun has been arrested by the Baton Rouge Police Department. Cpl. Don Coppola says 17-year-old Ahmad Antoine is charged with negligent homicide in the death of 17-year-old Devin Anderson.

    Anderson was pronounced dead at the scene. Antoine turned himself in to police shortly after the shooting.

     

    An autographed copy of the speech a student gave to welcome President Barack Obama to McKinley High School in Baton Rouge was stolen out of her vehicle, but cops say they found it and also made an arrest. The Baton Rouge Police Department says a 17-year-old tossed  signed speech in dumpster after breaking into the students car.

     

    Warning labels on sugary beverages may keep parents from buying them for their kids, according to recent research published in the Journal of Pediatrics. LSU Health Clinical Psychologist Michelle Moore says parents may not know that seemingly innocent looking drinks contain so much sugar. California is proposing legislation that would put text warning labels on sweetened nonalcoholic drinks with added sweeteners with 75 or more calories per 12 ounces.

     

    Sports

     

    LSU fans got some great news today as Tre’Davious White and Kendell Beckwith have decided to stay with the purple and gold for their senior seasons. In 2015, White finished the season with 44 tackles, seven pass break ups and seven passes defensed. Beckwith finished second on the team with 84 tackles and added 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. LSU head coach Les Miles says he’s happy the two decided to stay.

     

    Officials with the Louisiana Marathon have disqualified the female first place finisher in the race for receiving assistance that is prohibited. They say Mandy West, a Nike Running account executive from St. Louis, was brought nutrition and liquids several times during the race in Baton Rouge by someone on a bike who wasn’t affiliated with the organization. Competitors are told prior to the race that such help is not allowed.

     

    The Saints hired Sean Payton as head coach 10 years ago Monday. One of his first moves as head coach was to sign free agent quarterback Drew Brees. The Black & Gold are coming off their second straight losing season. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says fixing the team’s defense will determine how long Payton will remain with the Saints. Detillier says you can credit Brees and Payton for turning the organization around.

     

    The LSU Tigers face a big test on the road tonight when they visit 10th ranked Texas A-and-M. The Aggies are a pefect 5-0 in the SEC and feature one of the top players in the SEC in Jalen Jones, who is averaging 17 points and seven rebounds a game.

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  • News for Monday 011816

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A single vehicle crash Saturday afternoon on LA 113 in Vernon Parish claimed the lives of three Pitkin residents. The crash involved a vehicle driven by 70 year old Michael O. Perkins.  Stare police say Perkins’ lost control of the vehicle and struck a tree. 69 year old Janice Perkins and 88 year old Marie Powell died at the scene. Michael Perkins died later at a local hospital.

     

    Services for well-known Pineville attorney Richard Lee will be held at 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, at First United Methodist Church, Pineville with Reverend Ed Cooper officiating. Burial will be Greenwood Memorial Park, under the direction of Hixson Brothers, Alexandria. The family requests that visitation be observed Tuesday at Hixson Brothers, Alexandria from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Mr. Lee,79, of Pineville passed away last Friday..

     

    Walmart has announced the company will be closing 269 stores worldwide, including 8 in Louisiana. All eight closures in Louisiana are Walmart Express stores. The stores are located in Colfax, Clinton, Independence, Iowa, Kentwood, Lake Arthur, Mamou and Zwolle, and all will be closed on Jan. 28.

     

    The Louisiana flu season has been mercifully quiet so far, but that could change as cases of the illness increase across the country. Despite the lull in the season, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is encouraging everyone to get a flu shot. Dr. Frank Welch, immunization medical director at DHH  says the flu usually gets going in the large cities and spreads from there, which is what is being seen now. The best protection is the flu shot.  Flu shots start taking effect immediately but become fully effective in about seven days, after the body has a chance to produce a defense. This year’s shot is said to be right on target for the current strain of the flu.

     

    Another Destrehan High School teacher is under arrest for allegedly having sex with one of her female students. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne says  26-year-old Kimberly Naquin was charged with carnal knowledge of a juvenile and prohibited sexual conduct between educator and student. Two other Destrehan teachers have cases pending  where they allegedly had three-way sexual encounter with a  male student. Champagne says these cases are bewildering.

     

    The Louisiana High School Athletic Association has learned that the public-private split in football should have never happened in 2013, because of the way the vote was conducted. It’s believed the vote violated the LHSAA constitution.  For those who wanted the old playoff system, this is a big win.

     

    Advanced drilling technologies have given the U.S. more cheap natural gas than it knows what to do with until now. A planned $20 billion, multiphase terminal in Cameron Parish is within weeks of cranking out liquefied natural gas onto ships bound for foreign markets, potentially the first of many facilities that could propel the U.S. to become the world’s third-largest LNG exporter by 2020.

     

    So, you’ve been trying to quit smoking and you’ve even started smoking those Electronic cigarettes to help you kick the habit. According to a new study, odds are you are less likely to quit now than you were before you started pubbing on an e-cigarette. The report says adults who use e-cigarettes to stop smoking are 28 percent less likely to quit. There have also been several other studies that show  electronic cigarettes lead to regular cigarette smoking.

     

    Transportation is expected to be a major topic in the upcoming regular session. Governor John Bel Edwards says he showed President Barack Obama the single lane of traffic motorists must pass through in Baton Rouge on I-10 when going from west to east. Edwards says he told the president that it was the only place on the 2,460 mile interstate with a single lane. Edwards said the president understood the importance of getting some additional work done on I-10.

    Louisiana has at least a $12 billion dollar backlog in improving its road and bridge system.

     

    A new report shows that even though Louisiana has the second lowest median income in the nation, its residents do better than expected when it comes to managing money. CreditCards.com senior analyst Matt Schulz says Louisiana’s average credit score is third worst, but it’s three points higher than what’s expected based on what people make. Schulz says Louisiana ranks 25th in the country for managing money. He says considering low credit scores and low median income, Louisianans do fairly well handling credit cards. Schulz says they also found Louisiana is one of the younger states in the country in terms of average age of residence.

     

    A Mississippi man has been arrested for aggravated animal cruelty after posting on Facebook a picture of a dog he shot and killed in Washington Parish. Brent Jones with the Sheriff’s Office says they discovered the shooting happened in Clifton, Louisiana. He says Todd Hammond was questioned after officers saw his online post. He says Hammond was also issued a violation for not having a hunting license in Louisiana.

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  • News for Friday 011516

    By Dave Graichen

     

    President Barack Obama said in Baton Rouge Thursday, the fact that Louisiana voters chose Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards proves elections do matter. Mr. Obama said the people of Louisiana have spoken and Edwards has already proven he will be a leader that isn’t afraid to make big decisions. Edwards is dealing with a $700 million dollar shortfall he has to close in the remaining 6 months of the current budget year. President Obama urged Louisianans to support Edwards.

     

    Parks Senator Fred Mills, who has been named chairman of the state Senate Health and Welfare Committee, says the rule writing for the state’s Medicaid expansion will be one of the committee’s top tasks for the year. He says he is a supporter of Medicaid expansion and believes it will be a benefit for the state.

     

    State Treasurer John Kennedy reports the December 2015 Net Receipts Report shows total state revenue is down 15-percent from the same time last year. The report shows a drop in sales taxes, severance taxes, and corporation taxes. Kennedy attributes much of the decline in revenue to the price of crude oil. He says the low oil prices are beginning to affect corporate taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes.

     

    The number of Louisiana residents who got coverage through the federal insurance marketplace reached 193,249 as of Jan. 9, roughly 7,000 more than last year’s total. Today is the last day to sign up for coverage starting Feb. 1.

     

    Republicans on Thursday criticized Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to waive work requirements for thousands of food stamp recipients, saying the assistance program should only be a short-term safety net. Edwards won approval to sidestep a federal requirement that childless adults aged 18 to 49 have to work at least 20 hours per week or be enrolled in a federally approved job training program to receive the food aid. Edwards said Louisiana’s high unemployment rate qualifies it to skip the work mandate. The state has had a waiver for 19 years. Edwards said he wanted a one-year extension so his administration has time to bolster state worker training programs.

     

    People in Louisiana want to see a range of issues addressed in a special session, according to an LSU poll. Governor John Bel Edwards has said he’ll call the legislature into a special session in February to address the state’s budgetary challenges. Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says they found 66% of respondents want to see a broad range of matters addressed in the special session such as education, jobs, and health care. Henderson says these poll results show the people of Louisiana are ready to have these other issues addressed, but it will likely have to wait until a later session.

     

    A rare hurricane has formed in the Atlantic Ocean in January for the first time since 1938. State Climatologist Barry Keim says Hurricane Alex is the second hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin during this month. Keim says Alex is only the fourth named storm to form in the month of January in the Atlantic and the second hurricane to form in this month in this ocean since record keeping began in 1851.

     

    In the lead up to Wednesday’s $1.6 billion dollar Powerball drawing, nearly $23 million worth of Powerball tickets were sold in Louisiana for the week beginning Sunday, Jan. 10. More than 442,000 Louisiana Lottery players won cash prizes, according to the Louisiana Lottery, including a $1 million dollar ticket purchased in Franklinton.

     

    As expected, Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness says he’ll officially announce his candidacy for the US Senate seat, being vacated by David Vitter, on Wednesday January 27th at the Kenner Park Pavillion.

     

    18 year old Timmy Ray Robinson, convicted of manslaughter in the death of a fellow student at  Natchitoches Central High, has been sentenced to two years in a secure training academy.

    Robinson was sentenced Tuesday in 10th Judicial District Court for manslaughter in the death of 18 JohnQuaries Smith in August of 2014. Robinson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in October. He was 16 at the time of the incident but was tried as an adult.

     

    A former Louisiana teacher accused in a 2014 sex scandal involving an underage student has entered a plea of not guilty through her lawyer in Jefferson Parish. 33-year-old Shelley Dufresne, who taught at Destrehan High, faces two counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Also accused, 25-year-old Rachel Respess, pleaded not guilty earlier to a charge of failure to report Dufresne’s crime. Dufresne was also charged in St. Charles Parish and has agreed to a plea deal to avoid having to register as a sex offender.

     

    The Confederate monument issue was taken up in New Orleans federal court on Thursday, and it appears as though the preservationists are facing an uphill battle. US District Judge Carl Barbier is considering a plea by four groups seeking to stop the removal of the monuments. Legal analyst Chick Foret says it didn’t seem Judge Barbier found any federal jurisdiction in the case. The judge did not indicate when he would rule.

     

    For the third day in a row, barges have hit a railroad bridge over the Mississippi River near Vicksburg. The barges all apparently stayed in their tow and the river remained open to traffic after Thursday’s 7:44 a.m. accident. The old U.S. 80 bridge will remain closed until state and Vicksburg Bridge Commission inspectors have checked it for damage. Four barges carrying coal sank on Tuesday after a towboat pushing 22 barges hit the bridge Tuesday. On Wednesday, a grain barge sank after a towboat pushing 25 barges drifted sideways at the bend north of Vicksburg, and a barge clipped a bridge pier.

     

    New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson has been ordered by a Texas judge to give a deposition in the court battle over the family trust. Thus far, Benson has refused to personally participate in any of the proceedings. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this is a significant ruling, considering the family claims Benson is being manipulated by those around him. A January 21st deposition has been ordered for Benson in San Antonio where his estranged family will be present. A trial date has been set for February 1st. Benson is seeking to give control of the teams to his wife Gayle upon his death and not his daughter and grandchildren.

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  • News for Thursday 011416

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Two Calcasieu residents have been arrested after authorities discovered  a “sparkler bomb” and drugs in their home. After receiving numerous tips and complaints about meth in the Calcasieu area, agents were able to obtain a search warrant for the residence and served it on Tuesday when the suspects were at home. The RPSO arrested and charged 57 year old Leslie Dubois and 54 year old  Janet  Dubois. Both were later released on $15,750 bond each.

     

    President Barack Obama speaks this morning at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge where he is expected to talk about health care, jobs and early childhood education. The President will address the expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana and the importance of covering working individuals who typically wouldn’t qualify. The visit is part of the President’s annual trip to various cities after he gives the State of the Union Address. This is the 10th time he has visited the Bayou State since becoming President. 

     

    There’s expected opposition to Governor John Bel Edwards decision to expand Medicaid access in Louisiana. But the Louisiana AARP applauds the executive order. State Director Denise Bottcher believes Medicaid expansion will go a long way to make Louisiana a healthier state. She believes this will give residents peace of mind that if they get sick they’ll get the health care they deserve without going bankrupt.  Dawn Starns, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, says they are disappointed in the governor’s decision. She feels there are bigger problems facing the state that should be handled first.

     

    The chair of the Senate Labor Committee says he’s not going to support any measure that would increase the state’s minimum wage. Governor John Bel Edwards reportedly wants to increase the minimum pay in Louisiana by $1 to $8.25 an hour. But Columbia Senator Neil Riser feels $7.25 an hour gives employees a fair starting point. Any bill that would raise Louisiana’s minimum wage would likely come through Riser’s committee.

     

    After taking an aerial tour of from Vidalia to Morgan City, Governor John Bel Edwards is confident the rising Mississippi River will be contained within the state’s levee system. Edwards made stops in Vidalia, Morgan City, and Krotz Springs Wednesday. He says he’s confident the worst case scenario regarding Mississippi River flooding has been avoided.

    He praised the work of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana National Guard in keeping the flood threat at bay.

     

    Here we go again.. Louisiana is the worst state in the country according to a report by Politico Magazine. The findings come from factors like education, health, crime and employment. Deputy Editor Margaret Slattery says Louisiana was second to last in 2015. New Hampshire was ranked as the best state by Politico. Slattery says Louisiana often ranks low on lists like this. She says they’re measuring how each state ranks in areas like wealth, health, income equality, and employment to determine which is the best to live in.

     

    The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to elected Metairie lawyer, Jim Garvey as its new president. There are eight new members on BESE’s 11-member panel. Former BESE President Chas Roemer decided not to seek re-election to the panel.

     

    Senate President John Alario has announced committee assignments and appointments for the start of the 2016-2020 Louisiana Senate. Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur will chair the Senate Finance Committee, Revenue & Fiscal Affairs will be led by New Orleans Senator JP Morrell. Parks Senator Fred Mills will chair Senate Health & Welfare and Senator Page Cortez of Lafayette will oversee Senate Transportation. Senator Blade Morrish will chair Senate Education.

     

    Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who was in Louisiana this week, has receieved the endorsement of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. In a video endorsement, Robertson says qualifications for a president include someone who is godly and would kill a duck and put him in a gumbo.

     

    A Denham Springs gas station clerk is under arrest for allegedly selling a dangerous synthetic drug at the store, which caused two high school students to overdose. The owner faces 228 counts of possession with intent to distribute. Denham Springs Police Det. Glenn Lemoine says undercovers went in and bought the drug and later executed a search warrant.

    Lemoine says the drug is a liquid known as “Juicy” and it’s ingested through a vaporizer.

     

    A 15-year-old student who allegedly called in a bomb threat to Plaquemine High School has been arrested by the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office and booked on two counts of terrorizing. They say a 911 call came in on Tuesday saying a bomb had been placed at the school and classes were cancelled as a precaution. The same thing happened in December and with the help of the FBI, they were able to track the calls to the juvenile who was booked Wednesday.

     

    The Lafayette Police Department has released a copy of Lafayette theater shooter John Russell Houser’s hand written journal. The diary was found in Houser’s Motel 6 room where he was staying before the shooting. Houser killed 2 and injured 9 in the July 2015 shooting, before turning the gun on himself. In the journal, Houser thanks accused South Carolina church shooter Dylann Roof.

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  • News for Wednesday 011315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Yesterday, Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order to expand Medicaid in Louisiana. Edwards spoke alongside patients he said would benefit from the federally funded health insurance. He says these are low income adults who were too poor to qualify for subsidized care on the health insurance exchange. Edwards says by July 1st, they expect more than 300,000 citizens will enroll under the new Medicaid eligibility. The state will have to hire 248 individuals to help with the enrollment process and it will cost 2-point-8 million dollars, but health care providers are expected to pick up that bill.  Edwards says they will follow other states lead for a smooth enrollment sign-up.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards says he’d like to see the minimum wage in Louisiana raised. The state’s current minimum wage is the federally mandated wage of $7.25 per hour. LSU Economist Jim Richardson says he’s heard talk of raising that to anywhere between $8.50 to 10.10 per hour. He says a hike in minimum wage could cause businesses to re-think how they do business. Supporters of a higher minimum wage say putting more money in workers hands will help spur the economy.

     

    A 12-year-old girl died in a residential structure fire in Eunice, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office. They say firefighters located the lifeless body of young Cailey Duplechain during suppression efforts, dead of apparent smoke inhalation. Her stepfather and 4-month old brother were able to escape the blaze with injuries and are expected to recover. An electric space heater was located near the origin of the fire and the home, which was completely destroyed, had no smoke alarms.

     

    The Poweball jackpot has shot up to 1.5 billion dollars, making it the biggest jackpot in the world. Louisiana Lottery Spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says ticket sales keep going up as the jackpot grows. She says when the sales continue to climb we’re able to transfer more money to the state of Louisiana. Chopin says the chances of multiple jackpot winners increases when more people are purchasing tickets. She says it’s been reported that in some hot spots, players are having to wait in lines just to buy a Powerball ticket.

     

    Nola.com is reporting that Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere admitted to police that he had been drinking when he was busted urinating off the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. The Mayor was issued a citation for the offense. He apparently asked cops to help him out because he is running for re-election.

     

    A Homer man is under arrest for allegedly murdering a 68-year-old Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office employee and burying her body in a shallow grave. Sheriff Gary Sexton says, after being reported missing by her daughter, the remains of 68-year-old Sulyn Prince were located in a wooded area behind her home. 35-year-old Jermaine Johnson, who was convicted of simple rape in April 2015, is charged with second degree murder in the death of Prince.

    Oil prices have hit 30 dollars a barrel, which is the lowest price since December 2003. Eric Smith with the Tulane Energy Institute says we could see the price drop even lower as 2016 goes on. Smith says it will be tough for oil companies to make money with oil trading at that price. Oil prices are down 19-percent for this year and they’ve fallen 72-percent since June 2014, when oil was trading over 100-dollars a barrel. Smith says to stop the crash in oil prices, the supply has to meet a week demand for oil and in the short term the only way to do that is to cut back on production.

     

    BP says they plan to cut an additional 4,000 jobs this year, including from oil production operations in the United States. The company did not say how many people in the US would be laid off. Benchmark US crude today fell below $30 a barrel before settling at $30.44 at the close. Tuesday’s statewide average for a gallon of gas was $1.74 according to AAA.

     

    Fish farming will now be allowed in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, after new regulations were issued this week by NOAA. This means commercial seafood can now be harvested in enclosures on the seafloor. NOAA’s Deputy Director of Aquaculture, David O’Brien, says they’ve been pushing for this because the U.S. imports about 90% of our seafood.

     

    Barges struck bridges over the rain-swollen Mississippi River in two separate incidents yesterday, but there were no reports of injuries, or serious damage to the bridges. Four barges sank in the Mississippi after a towboat pushing 22 barges struck the old U.S. 80 Bridge in Vicksburg on Tuesday morning.

     

    UL Lafayette has been placed on two years’ probation and will lose three scholarships for next season and the following season as a result of a former assistant football coach, who violated NCAA rules by arranging fraudulent entrance exam scores for five prospects. The NCAA also fined the school $5,000 and imposed recruiting restrictions. The school had already voluntarily vacated all victories from 2011 season because of the violations. Walker says the NCAA has ordered the school to do the same for the 2012-2014 seasons for games the ineligible players participated in. In an unusual twist of events, The school has sued the ACT over failure to detecting the cheating.

     

    LSU running back Leonard Fournette is the first player in LSU history to lead the nation in rushing, with an average of 162.8 yards per game. Fournette is also the first running back from the SEC to be declared rushing champion since 1949.

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  • News for Tuesday 011216

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Democrat John Bel Edwards laid out some of his priorities for the next four years as he was sworn in as the state’s 56th governor. Edwards says he’ll seek to expand Medicaid, increase the minimum wage and he’ll support efforts to make higher education more affordable. Edwards says his top priority is fixing the state’s massive budget problems.

     

    As Louisiana has sworn in a new governor, John Bel Edwards, we also have a new Lt. Governor. Republican Billy Nungesser also has budget issues to face. He says it will take creativity and working with the legislature to change laws to create more money within tourism.

     

    It didn’t take long for Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards to have his first political defeat. Conservatives in the House mustered enough votes to elect New Iberia Republican Taylor Barras as the Speaker of the House over Edwards choice of Democrat Walt Leger. Lapolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says this could be a bad sign for Edwards. Edwards said he wants to invest more money into education, lower the state’s poverty rate and stabilize the budget. Alford says it remains to be seen if the Republican controlled House will go with Edwards plan or come up with their own. Edwards has called a 1:30 press conference this afternoon to discuss his plans to expand Medicaid.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards’ Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says Louisiana has monumental financial problems to overcome, but they plan to lay out options and govern responsibly. Governor Edwards is expected to call a special legislative session in mid-February to address these issues. Dardenne estimates the deficit in this year’s budget, which ends July 30th, is between $700-$750 million dollars. Dardenne says the shortfall for next fiscal year, when taking into account falling oil prices, could be close to $2 billion dollars if permanent changes to the budget aren’t made.

     

    Craig Smith is the newly elected president of the Rapides Parish Police Jury. Scott Perry Jr. is the new vice president. Both men, once nominated, ran unopposed.

     

    Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jeannette Knoll has announced plans to retire. Knoll is nearing the end of her second 10-year term on the state’s highest court. She said in an emailed statement Monday evening that she plans to retire at the end of the year. She was elected from Louisiana’s 3rd Supreme Court District and began serving in 1997.

     

    First time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 2 increased from the previous week’s total. The state labor department figures released Monday show the initial claims increased to 2,459 from the previous week’s total of 2,398. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 1,814.

     

    Nearly 300 Louisiana National Guard personnel have been mobilized to help build barriers against approaching flood waters from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers. Lt. Rebekah Malone says protective levees are being built in Krotz Springs and Avoca Island.  The US Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway Sunday, but yesterday announced the opening of the Morganza Spillway will not be necessary at this time. The latest high water projections show the river crest can safely pass through Louisiana without opening the Morganza.

     

    Lifeshare Blood Centers, which has locations across the state, say they are in the need of blood donations as their supply is less than two days for most blood types. Spokesperson Tina Hooper says if you’re eligible to donate, please do. Hooper says low blood donor turnout in December and last week led to a critically low supply of blood on hand.

     

    A 96-year-old driver plowed into the Mandeville community center yesterday, injuring four people inside. Authorities say the driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake as she was pulling up to the building. The injuries to the people inside are not considered life threatening.

     

    President Barack Obama will speak at McKinley High during his visit to Baton Rouge on Thursday. The White House says Mr. Obama’s speech will begin at 9:45am. The president’s visit will come two days after his final State of the Union address.

     

    When Amite and Bogalusa High School play each other in football this October, their fans will not be allowed to attend. That’s the result of the penalties handed down by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. LHSAA Assistant Director Keith Alexander says the two schools were involved in a bench clearing brawl towards the end of their playoff game last November.

    Alexander says both schools were fined 500-dollars and two-thousand dollars for not reporting the incident to the L-H-S-A-A. He says the 2016 Amite-Bogalusa game will be considered a closed competition.

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  • News for Monday 011116

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Today is inauguration day and Governor-elect John Bel Edwards will start out today with his family at St. Joseph’s cathedral in Baton Rouge before the ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Richard Carbo, Edwards’ communication director, says the voice of LSU, Jim Hawthorne, will be the master of ceremonies of the inauguration. Carbo says the swearing in will happen right at noon and then Governor Edwards will make his inauguration address on the steps of the Capitol. Carbo believes Edwards will be optimistic about the days ahead for Louisiana in his inauguration speech. He says the governor-elect is going to urge both democrats and republicans to be engaged in the process and contribute ideas to help the state.

     

    So what can we expect from Democrat John Bel Edwards once he is sworn in as governor? Political analyst Clancy Dubos says Edwards plans to immediately expand Medicaid and he is going to call a special session to deal with all the fiscal issues in the state. Dubos says right after the special session ends, Edwards will jump right into a regular session to deal with issues not regarding the budget. He believes the democratic governor will have a fairly easy time with the Senate, but the challenge will be in the House.  Dubos says most people of Louisiana want to see more state funding for higher education, healthcare and highways. But he says that will be hard to do, as the state’s budget is in bad shape

     

    The US Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway Sunday morning to alleviate the flood threat of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. This is the 11th time the spillway has been opened since its completion in 1931. The Bonnet Carre diverts Mississippi River waters to Lake Pontchartrain and into the Gulf to protect New Orleans. While the Morganza Spillway protects Baton Rouge in much the same way. The Morganza could be opened as early as Wednesday. But, Corp officials say an issue with opening the Morganza is the impact to the Louisiana black bear population living in the floodway. He says, because of this, a slow opening is planned.

     

    28 year old Lacey Fontenot of Pineville was killed Saturday night in a two vehicle accident just north of Turkey Creek. State police say Fontenot’s vehicle crossed the centerline of highway 165 and struck, head on, a vehicle driven by 29 year old Nickolas Fontenot of Ville Platte. Both drivers were not wearing seatbelts.  Nickolas Fontenot received serious injuries, while Lacey Fontenot was pronounced dead at the scene.

     

    A water boil advisory has been issued in the area around Richard Avenue in Alexandria. Water pressure was lost during repairs to an 8-inch water main in the 5600 block of Richard Avenue, and the water in the area might have been compromised. The boil advisory, which will remain in effect until otherwise noted, is for residences and businesses in the area bound by Richard Avenue, Lisa Street, Jeff Davis Drive and Blanche Drive.

     

    The Powerball lottery jackpot continues to grow  to an estimated record $1.3 billion by the next drawing pm Wednesday after nobody matched the winning numbers on Saturday.

     

    President Barack Obama will make his first trip to Baton Rouge as president this Thursday,  two days after his State of the Union address. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says it’s not uncommon for the president to hit the road after the State of the Union. Hogan believes Mr. Obama will likely praise Democrats for working to get John Bel Edwards elected governor and highlight Edwards’ support of Medicaid expansion.

     

    An Ascension Parish man who was linked by DNA to a murder that took place over 25 years ago, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and second-degree kidnapping charges. 50-year-old Kenneth Lavigne of St. Amant admitted Friday to taking a 38-year-old woman from her home in 1990, and sexually assaulting her before killing her. The case remained cold until officials matched DNA from the victim to Lavigne.

     

    Tulane has now joined four other state colleges in implementing a hoverboard ban on campus. LSU, Nicholls State, Southeastern and UL-Lafayette have also prohibited the self-balancing, 2 wheeled motorized scooters amid reports that they have blow up while charging and cause serious injuries to inexperienced owners.

     

    An LSU professor was arrested and booked on 98 charges including public payroll fraud, theft, forgery and malfeasance in office for allegedly faking travel vouchers in order to obtain funds. 45-year-old Todd Shupe of Baton Rouge is accused of collecting reimbursements by forging multiple students’ signatures in an amount totaling $16,478. Shupe worked at the Louisiana Forest Products Development Center at the LSU AgCenter. He posted $98,000 bond.

     

    What started as a culinary experiment last year has taken on a life of its own as the boudin king cake is quickly becoming one of the most popular pastries to get your hands on during carnival season. Bob Carriker is a UL-Lafayette professor, and he used his food blogging sites, boudinlink.com and kingcaker.com, to introduce his invention to Louisiana. It took off. The boudin king cake uses bread that is savory, stuffed with boudin, topped with Steen’s cane syrup then sprinkled with cracklings. Carriker says people have started calling it the most Cajun food ever.

     

    There’s still three and a half weeks left before national signing day and LSU is in position to reel in the number one football recruiting class. The Tigers have 20 verbal commitments and according to 24-7 sports, LSU has the top ranked class.

     

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  • News for Friday 010816

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Cleco announced starting today they will be forced to disconnect electric meters and cut power to 64 customers in the Open Bayou and Woodson Landing areas because of flooding. The company says in addition to five customers already cut off in the Echo area. Other areas may soon follow. The utility says they will try to notify customers before power is cut. Power will remain off until the water recedes.

     

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards and Louisiana’s future First Lady, Donna Edwards, announce that legendary Voice of the Tigers Jim Hawthorne will be the Master of Ceremonies for the Inaugural Celebration on Monday. Edwards will take the oath of office on the steps of the Louisiana Capitol at noon. About 11,000 invitations have gone out for the ceremony, and it is also open to the public. Events begin at 11:30.

     

    The National Guard has been mobilized to help out communities throughout the state who face the threat of Mississippi River flooding as near record crests are expected. 24 hour levee inspections will begin today in Concordia, East Carroll, Madison and Tensas Parishes. The Morganza Spillway will be opened on Monday in an effort to contain the rising waters of the Mississippi River. That water will be diverted into the  into the Atchafalaya Basin. But, not without risks. Officials warn,  with the opening of the spillway, there is the potential risk of flooding from Butte La Rose down to Morgan City.

     

    For a second straight year, Louisiana’s public schools rank 49th in the nation in academic achievement. That’s according to Education Week Magazine, who has unveiled its Quality Counts report. Education Week Research Center director Holly Yetcick (Yet-ick) says Louisiana scored a 69 out of 100 for classroom performance, which is just above a passing grade. She says slight improvements were seen with fourth graders and their reading ability.

     

    By now I am sure you heard nobody hit the more than $500 million dollar Powerball jackpot Wednesday night. Bu, there are two new Louisiana millionaires. A ticket from New Roads matched 5 for $1 million dollars and so did a ticket sold in New Iberia. The Louisiana Lottery says you can expect more winners this weekend as the estimated jackpot for Saturday tops $700 million dollars. That’s an all-time record..

     

    Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had his 2014 corruption charges appeal rejected in federal court. Nagin argued the judge gave the jury faulty instructions when he was convicted on charges including wire fraud, bribery and money laundering. The 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals said they found no errors were made.

     

    A new law is in effect in Louisiana that cracks down on marriage fraud, especially in cases where illegal immigrants attempt to fraudulently gain US citizenship. Denham Springs State Representative Valarie Hodges, who sponsored the measure, says state marriage licenses haven’t been updated for about 40 years. She says these changes protect the institution of marriage.

     

    The Attorney General’s office is not happy that the town of Springfield in Livingston Parish re-hired Jimmy Jones as its police chief after he pled guility to misdemeanor criminal mischief last year. Prosecutor David Caldwell calls it a dumb idea, but Town Attorney Brian Abels says the community has faith Jones will do a good job as police chief. Jones started work as the town’s police chief this week.

     

    The man suspected of stabbing LSU tight end Dillon Gordon during a bar fight earlier this week has been arrested. Twenty-year-old Jamal Joseph Vaughn of Gonzales has been charged with aggravated second-degree battery. Gordon’s injuries were non-life threatening.

     

    The red snapper fishing season opens today and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has extended the limit from three to nine miles offshore for recreational fishing.

     

    Bobby Jindal’s two terms as governor ends on Monday as Governor-elect John Bel Edwards is sworn in. U-L-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Jindal came into office as a bright young man with the promise of making Louisiana a better state. He says the soon to be ex-governor had early success in ethics and education. Cross says budget problems led to deep cuts to higher education during his two terms, which is how many will remember him.

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  • News for Thursday 010716

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Town Talk reports that Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy is considering a run for the US senate seat soon to be vacated by David Vitter. Also considering a run for the Senate seat is state Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville. He was recently re-elected to a third term representing House District 28. The Senate primary election will be held Nov. 8, the same day as the presidential election, and the runoff, if needed, would be Dec.

     

    Cleco is warning customers that fraudulent callers claiming to be from Cleco are demanding bill payment with the threat of power disconnection. Cleco officials say that is something they never do. Cleco is working with law enforcement officials, but it suggests that customers hang up the phone if they are in doubt when receiving calls regarding unpaid balances.

     

    A 16-year-old Natchitoches Central High School has been hospitalized with bleeding in his brain after a fight on the school’s parking lot on Tuesday, which led to the arrest of an 18-year-old Natchitoches resident. The Natchitoches Police Department said the victim was transferred from Natchitoches Regional Medical Center to Rapides Regional Medical Center, “where his current condition is unknown,”

     

    RPSO Deputies  stopped a car Tuesday afternoon after the observed the driver not wearing a seatbelt. Inside they found a driver with no license, four small, unrestrained children and four sealed bags of marijuana, a street value of about $1,500.  Arrested were 29-year-old Devon Ray Jones and a passenger 26-year-old Guy Marcus Baty of Alexandria. Both men received multiple charges.   

     

    Trial dates have been set for the two deputy Marksville city marshals charged with the shooting death of a 6-year-old boy. 32-year-old Derrick Stafford and 24-year-old Norris Greenhouse entered pleas of not guilty and will be tried separately in the death of Jeremy Mardis. Stafford’s trial is set to begin September 26th, while Greenhouse’s trial will start November 28th.

     

    Sean Payton is remaining as the head coach of the Saints, despite weeks of speculation that he may want to coach for another NFL team. Payton spoke with reporters for about an hour talking about his love for the fans, the franchise and the city, despite all of its faults. Payton still has two years left on his current deal and said any talk of a contract extension will take care of itself.  Payton also said he hopes Drew Brees is his quarterback in New Orleans for many years to come. Brees has one year left on his current contract.

     

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards reappoints Jimmy LeBlanc as secretary of corrections. LeBlanc says he and Edwards are on the same page when it comes to reducing Louisiana’s prison population and progress has been made. LeBlanc is the lone cabinet secretary holdover from the Jindal Administration.

     

    Governor Jindal announced he’s granted clemency for 21 people who have been convicted of crimes. That brings the total number of pardons during his two terms to 83, which is well below the hundreds granted by former governors Kathleen Blanco and Mike Foster.

     

    According to a personal finance site, Ruston is one of the top 10 cities out of about 2500 nationwide, with the least sustainable credit card debt. CardHub determined that the average credit card debt for a Ruston resident is $5,323. They say it would take 173 months for that debt to be paid off, at a cost of $7,138. Dr. Bill McCumber, finance professor at Louisiana Tech, says several cities on CardHub’s least sustainable credit card debt list are college towns, like Ruston. McCumber says most students are without jobs and use plastic more to pay for things with the idea they’ll get full time employment once they graduate.

     

    A Crowley man is under arrest for allegedly killing his girlfriend then trying to burn her body then her home. The Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office charged 33-year-old Nicholas Dupuis with first degree murder and arson. Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Brant Thompson says 22-year-old Kantarise Lazaro of Church point told authorities he followed Dupuis to a location where they tried to burn the body. He says there are three crime scenes, one where the victim was shot, one where she was burned and the other where her home was set ablaze.

     

    A now former police officer in Plaqumine has been arrested by the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office for allegedly attacking and kidnapping his estranged wife. Authorities says the victim claimed 28-year-old Justin Bush took her against her will over the weekend and assaulted her. Deputies believed there was enough evidence to arrest Bush for aggravated kidnapping, battery assault and malfeasance. He was fired from his job.

     

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards takes office on Monday and two former governors have some advice. Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who was governor of Louisiana from 2004 to 2008, says Edwards has a tough road ahead with all of the budget issues and dealing with legislators over the state’s finances is not easy. Blanco says every new governor is tested when they first enter office. She says it remains to be seen how the governor handles those pressures with the legislature. Former Republican governor Mike Foster says he had some rules to live by while in office and advises governor-elect Edwards to tell his staff to forget politics. He says to do what you think is the best for the state of Louisiana.

     

    Small businesses in Louisiana aren’t too optimistic about 2016. Dawn Starns, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, says owners haven’t changed their negative outlook in quite some time. She says things were more upbeat a couple of years ago, but now businesses have much lower expectations. Starns feels many Louisiana businesses are in “wait and see” mode with a brand new administration beginning Monday. She says before owners start to make decisions about whether to expand, build or bring on new staff, they’ll be waiting to see how Governor-elect John Bel Edwards plans to fix the state’s fiscal mess.

     

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  • News for Wednesday 010616

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Cenla Broadcasting notes the passing of Frances Bolton Davis. By all accounts an extraordinary woman. When Davis received the Alexandria Rotary Club's Service Above Self award in 2013, she credited her family upbringing with instilling in her the need to give back.  A motto she lived by.  Funeral services for Ms Davis will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in First United Methodist Church of Alexandria. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Friday in the chapel of Hixson Bros. in Alexandria.  Frances Bolton Davis was a very young 87.

     

    The two defendants in the Jeremy Mardis fatal shooting case both pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, and separate trials were tentatively scheduled for later this year. Both Norris Greenhouse Jr. and Derrick Stafford were indicted in early December on charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. The pair, former Marksville Ward 2 deputy marshals, were arrested on Nov. 6, three days after the fatal shooting of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and the wounding of his father, Chris Few.

     

    The man who shot and killed himself on Monday during a foot chase with Rapides Parish Sheriff’s deputies has been identified as 30-year-old Frankie James Bobb Jr. of Alexandria.

    An off-duty deputy had seen Bobb going door to door in the England and Innis drives area near La. Highway 1 on Monday afternoon and thought it was suspicious. The deputy reported his suspicions, and an on-duty deputy was dispatched to investigate. Bobb ran from that deputy, across La. 1 and onto Powell Street, where he fired a shot at the deputy. More deputies and detectives responded, and Bobb allegedly entered some homes as he ran from them. On Marilyn Street, Bobb shot himself once in the head after he refused deputies’ commands to put the weapon down. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

     

    Most flea markets and websites that sell guns don’t require background checks, but President Obama issued an executive order today to change that. The hope is to expand the number of gun sales subject to background checks. The current law states that only federally licensed gun dealers are required to conduct background checks on buyers.

     

    During additional announcements about cabinet members Tuesday, Governor-elect John Bel Edwards said he expects the state will expand its Medicaid program on July 1st, but the ball will start rolling at the start of his administration. Edwards named Doctor Rebekah Gee as the state’s secretary for the Department of Health and Hospitals. The LSU professor will have the challenge of managing a nine-point-seven billion dollar agency. Also announced yesterday, Jimmy Leblanc will remain the head of the Department of Corrections and Butch Browning will remain the State Fire Marshal.

     

    Twenty-seven-year-old Eric John Senegal and his dog were killed in an altercation with authorities in southwest Louisiana. State Police Sergeant James Anderson says Beauregard Parish deputies were at his residence in Ragley, serving a narcotics search warrant, when gunfire erupted. Two Beauregard Parish Sheriff deputies have been placed on desk duty following the incident.

     

    The Baton Rouge PD reports an LSU football player was involved in a bar fight early Tuesday in which he was stabbed multiple times. The injuries were said to be non-life threatening.  School officials identify the victim as tight end Dillon Gordon. The incident is under investigation. Coach Les Miles announced yesterday that his players are no longer allowed to attend bars because there are better ways to socialize than attending “fight night clubs.”

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal announced yesterday that Blue Line Associates will establish a software development office at the Louisiana Technology Park in Baton Rouge. They say the new facility will create 40 new direct jobs with an average salary of $40,000 plus benefits. LED estimates the project will results in 27 new indirect jobs.

     

    Lottery officials have raised the Powerball jackpot amount for tonight’s drawing to an estimated $450 million dollars. The amount was raised from $400 million dollars due to the high number of ticket sales. The jackpot is now the sixth largest ever.

     

    Twelfth night is today and that means it’s the kick off to Mardi Gras season and a busy time for bakeries. Co-owner of Haydel’s Bakery in New Orleans, David Haydel, says with Fat Tuesday on February 9th and a short Mardi Gras season, king cakes will be selling quickly.

     

    The US set a new auto sales record in 2015, but Louisiana didn’t see such a boost. Automakers announced Tuesday that last year, nationwide sales hit a record of about 17 million vehicles. Bob Israel is the President of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association. He says our oil based economy is suffering which played a part in a slight auto sales decline in Louisiana last year.

     

    Still waiting to find out what will happen with Saints head coach Sean Payton. He’s been connected to the vacancy in New York as the football Giants are looking to replace Tom Coughlin. Payton is scheduled to speak with reporters today.

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  • News for Tuesday 010516

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The RPSO reports an unidentified man shot and killed himself while being pursued by sheriff’s  deputies Monday afternoon.  An off-duty sheriff's deputy had spotted the man around shortly after 3 in the afternoon in the England and Innis drives area of Alexandria. He called the sheriff's office to report it, and a deputy responded to the scene. The man fled upon seeing the deputy and fired a shot missing the deputy. The chase ended  in the 1400 block of Marilyn Drive when the man pulled the trigger to a gun he had been holding to his head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

     

    Louisiana’s political community is in shock over the apparent suicide of political blogger C.B Forgotston. State Treasurer John Kennedy says the 70-year-old capitol watchdog would say what other people were too scared to say. He says Forgotston’s candor, honesty, and goodness will be missed. It’s reported that he left his wife a note while she was sleeping indicating where his body could be found.

     

    Rapides Parish Coliseum Authority Chairman Jimbo Thiels told police jurors Monday they hope to have an executive director in place by April 1st. Thields says a search committee has been working on the hiring process for an executive director, and more than 10 résumés have been received “without even soliciting” for them yet. He says search efforts will be stepped up in February and March.

     

    Natchitoches parish officials are on the lookout for a Parish inmate who escaped from correctional officers on Monday morning, while on his way to court for a hearing. 26 year old  Kenneth Dewayne Hardy Jr.  was being held on drug charges, as well as possession of a firearm by a felony, obstruction of justice and introduction of contraband into a penal institution. The Sheriff’s department says if you see Hardy, do not approach him. Contact authorities.

     

    Avoyelles Officials report no identification has been made yet on human remains found Sunday afternoon near Mansura.  Avoyelles Parish Sheriff Doug Anderson says the remains, which were found along  T. Doss road, were in bad condition, and it’s unclear whether or not they were male or female. The LSU FACES Laboratory  is now attempting to form an ID.

     

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards advisory panel on transportation recommends tax increases to provide an additional 75-million dollars a year in transportation funding. A higher gasoline tax, a sales tax on auto repairs and tolls are some of the suggestions. Incoming Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says more dialogue is needed before a decision on where the additional dollars will come from.

     

    An Alexandria man was arrested Monday after he allegedly fatally shot two people in Lafayette last week. 21-year-old Tavis Jenkins was taken into police custody without incident.  Jenkins is accused of killing two men, including a 17-year-old, after he went to ex-girlfriend’s apartment in Lafayette. He faces two counts of first-degree murder.

     

    Analysts predict we’ll continue to see affordable gas prices in 2016. Don Redman, with the American Automobile Association, says we could see prices dropping even more before springtime. Redman says right now we’re looking at a statewide average of $1.77 for a gallon of regular gasoline compared to $2.06 at this time last year. But he says be cautious, because tension in the Middle East could create an increase in prices.

     

    The National Weather Service is lowering the projected crest of the Mississippi River from the Louisiana-Arkansas line to about Vicksburg, Mississippi. Marty Pope, with the N-W-S in Pearl, Mississippi, says they’re now expecting a foot and a half drop in the river crest.  Pope says a drop in these crest projections is good news, especially in Vidalia, where there is a convention center, many hotels and a hospital along the riverfront. He says hopefully these river estimates will hold up.

     

    Mississippi wildlife officials are investigating a fatal shooting that involved a 16-year-old from Franklinton, Louisiana, who shot his father while hunting in the Delta National Forest on New Year’s Eve. Few details have been released but law enforcement bureau chief Steve Adcock advises hunters to be aware of their target

     

    There were no Powerball winners in Saturday’s drawing and the prize for Wednesday now goes to an estimated $400 million dollars.

     

    A $1 million dollar Powerball prize is out there that still hasn’t been claimed. The Louisiana Lottery says the prize was won on August 5th from a ticket that was sold in Montegut and is set to expire February 1st.

     

    Sports..

     

    Speculation continues to grow over whether Sean Payton will be the head coach of the Saints in 2016. Several teams are reportedly interested in talking with Payton, who is still under contract with the Saints. The Saints PR staff says that Payton will speak with reporters on Wednesday.

     

    LSU running back Leonard Fournette has been named the state’s top offensive player of the year according to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. McNeese State’s Wallace Scott was selected as defensive player of the year. And Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel earned Newcomer of the Year honors.

     

    LSU quarterback Brandon Harris reportedly had surgery this morning for a sports hernia. It appears Harris had been playing with the injury since the Alabama game and is expected to be recovered in 4-6 weeks in time for spring practice.

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  • News for Monday 010416

    By Dave Graichen

     

    It was announced last week that Louisiana is facing a $750 million deficit this fiscal year and another $1.9 billion next fiscal year. Many wonder if lawmakers can make up this shortfall without raising taxes. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says it seems almost inevitable that the legislature will have to raise some new revenues. He says lawmakers have a lot of options when it comes to raising revenues, like raising the sales, income, gasoline, and “sin” taxes. Erwin says the legislature should take a broad-based approach in finding a permanent solution to the budget problems.

     

    One week from today, Democrat John Bel Edwards will be sworn in as the state’s next governor. Since the election, Edwards has been appointing officials to serve in his administration. The governor-elect’s deputy chief of staff, Julie Baxter Payer, says the new administration plans to keep an open dialogue with the public when it comes to the harsh realities the state faces with its budget situation. Incoming Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne has pegged the shortfall for this fiscal year at 750-million dollars and one-point-nine billion dollars next fiscal year. Payer says they’ll seek the public’s help in solving these budget issues.

     

    US oil prices fell 30-percent in 2015, so what could we expect in 2016? David Dismukes is the executive director at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies and he says there needs to be an increase in demand for oil for prices to go back up, but he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, a barrel of oil is going for 37-dollars a far cry from 2014 when oil was trading for 100-dollars a barrel.

     

    The Corps of Engineers is scheduled to begin emergency operations on the Mississippi River as river levels are expected to crest later this month at a historically high level for the winter months at Vicksburg and Natchez.

     

    State Police report  a two vehicle crash here in Rapides Parish has claimed the life of 21-year-old Kristi Mayfield of Lecompte. Troopers say Mayfield collided with the rear of a tractor trailer. Mayfield was taken to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. The driver of the 18-wheeler was uninjured. The investigation is currently ongoing.

     

    The Smoking Cessation Trust is offering Louisiana smokers tips to help them quit in 2016. Spokesperson Jim Pittman says any resident that started smoking before September 1, 1988 is eligible for free programs and services, including cessation medication, nicotine replacement therapy, and counseling. Pittman advises smokers to chat with their doctor about nicotine replacement therapy or a prescription medication to stop.

     

    The Kenner Police Department says a woman was injured after a man fired a gun in celebration of the new year. They say 26-year-old Brandon Smith fired the gun toward an empty parking lot early Friday morning when one shot bounced off a metal pole and struck a 40-year-old woman who was getting out of a car. The unidentified victim was transported to an area hospital where she was treated for her injury and released. Smith faces charges of aggravated battery, negligent injury, and illegal discharge of a firearm.

     

    Hoverboards were among the most popular gifts this holiday season, but LSU students who received one are urged to leave them at home when they return to campus from the winter break. The school has issued a temporary ban on hoverboards on campus due to safety risks. There have been several reports of hoverboard batteries bursting into flame, especially while they are being charged. LSU says the ban will stay in place until safety standards for all hoverboards are implemented.

     

    Residents and visitors to the Big Easy will have to pay more to park on some busy New Orleans streets in the new year. In some high traffic areas, including the French Quarter and Central Business District, parking meter rates will double from $1.50 an hour to $3 an hour. In other areas of the city, the rate will increase to $2 an hour. Enforcement hours will also be extended an hour to 7PM. The changes take effect January 11.

     

    A lot of people are making New Year’s resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle in 2016 but that’s often easier said than done. LSU Health New Orleans Clinical Psychologist Dr. Michelle Moore

    says many people have good intentions to live a better lifestyle at the start of the New Year but often fall off by the end of January. She says giving yourself a plan and building on it every month will help you to keep up with your resolution. Moore says not to make dramatic resolutions right off the bat because they are hard to keep. She says make sure you shoot for an obtainable goal.

     

    The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man accused of fatally stabbing his 14-year-old nephew and injuring another nephew and his own elderly mother. Information is limited, but authorities believe 58-year-old Tyrone Dorsey stabbed all three during during some sort of altercation. The victims were transported to a local hospital, where the 14-year-old died from his injuries. The 21-year-old male and 79-year-old female suffered non-life threatening injuries. Police have yet to determine a motive for the stabbings.

     

    Less than 72 hours after Kevin Steele announced he was leaving Baton Rouge to take the defensive coordinator position at Auburn, LSU announces Wisconsin’s Dave Arnada as the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator. Under Arnada, the Badger defense ranks in the top seven nationally in five major defensive categories. In a bit of irony, LSU opens their 2016 football season against Wisconsin.

     

    In what might have been the final game of the Sean Payton era, the Saints defeated the Falcons 20-17. Payton says it was a gutsy win for his banged-up team. The win gives the Saints a 7-9 record for the 2015 season and they end the year on a two-game winning streak.

     

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  • News for Wednesday 122315

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Much of the state could experience severe weather today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this warm-humid air mass that’s over the state could produce flash flooding, damaging winds, hail and tornadoes. Keim says higher rainfall totals are anticipated in southeast Louisiana, while the threat of severe weather extends across the entire state. Rain chances will remain high through Christmas Day, but today provides the highest risk for severe storms.

     

    The office of Governor-elect John Bel Edwards says nearly 11,000 invitations have been sent out for the swearing in ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol on January 11th. But you don’t need an invite to attend. Edwards will officially become our Governor at 12 noon, and the public is encouraged to attend the ceremony which begins that day at 11:30.

     

    For the first time on record, the American Automobile Association projects that over 100 million holiday travelers will hit the road this year. That’s nearly one in three Americans traveling 50 miles or more for the holidays. AAA spokesman Don Redman says lower gas prices, an improved economy, and holidays falling on the weekend make it much easier for people to travel this holiday season.

     

    Prices at the pump continue to fall. GasBuddy.com reports that the current statewide average for a gallon of regular in Louisiana stands at $1.78.

     

    State Police say a shooting involving deputies from the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office has left one man dead. The deceased man is identified as 32-year-old Michael Noel of Breaux Bridge. Family members told media that deputies were called to the home because Noel was having a breakdown. All authorities will confirm at this point is that  St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s deputies were involved, at least one shot was fired, and one person is dead.

     

    A 19-year-old was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds on the side of the road in Jennings. Deputy Chief Danny Semmes says Trey Gant died at a hospital after he was located around 11:30 Monday night. He says they are searching for 29-year-old Thomas Segura, but he’s not considered a suspect just yet. The investigation is ongoing.

     

    The state fire marshal’s office reports a camper trailer fire early Saturday morning in Pineville  has claimed the lives of two people after a man died Monday night in a local hospital. 56year-old Kenneth Ashworth, who initially survived the blaze, passed away Monday evening.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

     

    New Census numbers show Louisiana added nearly 22-thousand residents to its population from July 1st 2014 to July of this year. Demographer Elliot Stonecipher says the slight increase is due to more births compared to deaths and an increase in citizens from foreign countries.

    Stonecipher says Louisiana finished with a net loss of 74-hundred residents, when you look at migration totals within the United States. Meaning, the bayou state lost more of its residents to other states than they took in. He says that problem could get worse, if oil prices remain low

     

    Two men have been accused of timber theft after some landowners discovered that their timber had been cut without their permission. 65 year old Allen Fife of Tullos, and 46 year old Delaine Yocum, 46, of Winnfield, were arrested on Tuesday after a joint investigation by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the LaSalle Parish Sheriff's Office.

    Both were booked into the LaSalle Parish Jail and were charged with one count of timber theft.

     

    If you’re one of the many Louisianians who ran to the grocery store this week to get your Blue Bell Ice Cream fix, experts say the product is likely safer than it’s ever been. Blue Bell products were linked to several listeria deaths in the spring, forcing the company to pull the treats from the shelves. LSU Health New Orleans Infectious Diseases Professor Dr. Fred Lopez says the FDA has implemented new regulations -and- Blue Bell has added an additional step to their process to ensure safety

     

    There are many in Louisiana not happy about these unseasonably warm temperatures this Christmas, but experts say retailers who rely on winter clothing sales are really struggling. Many stores are welcoming last minute shoppers with major discounts.

     

    A man who allegedly stole someone’s iPhone 6 was caught when Lafayette cops tracked him through a selfie he’d taken with the device. Investigators say a 26-year-old male victim reported he was robbed of his property at gunpoint, but later noticed activity on the phone through his home computer when he discovered and uploaded the selfie. Lafayette police made contact with the suspect, 27-year-old Leroy Hebert, through a dating website. He was arrested a charged with armed robbery.

     

    The Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office says a 3-year-old boy drowned in the early morning hours  Tuesday in a canal near his home near Crowville. The child reportedly wandered away from his home during the night and his parents didn’t notice he was missing until about 4am. The case is under investigation.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal and his wife Supriya say they’ve collected almost 300 pounds of food for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank they’ve asked guests to bring during the Christmas season. They encourage anyone who can to donate to Louisiana’s food banks.

     

    A 17-year-old who suffered an apparent accidental gunshot wound to the head has been pronounced clinically deceased, according to the Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office. They say a 911 report came in over the weekend with a caller stating Dronald Washington was playing with a .38 caliber revolver when it went off. They say this is an ongoing investigation as questions surrounding the incident remain unanswered.

     

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  • News for Tuesday 122215

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A cause of a fire in Pineville over the weekend that claimed the life of a resident and critically injured a second is being examined by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. They say the blaze claimed the life of the homeowner 58-year-old Neida Reeves and a critically burned a second occupant, 56-year-old Kenneth Ashworth who had second and third degree burns over 2/3 of his body. The investigation into this tragic fire is continuing.

     

    Warm and active weather patterns are in the forecast for the days leading up to Christmas. Temperatures are expected to be well above normal with near record warmth for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Severe weather could become an issue over the next three days according to the National Weather Service with the possibility for flash flooding, tornadoes and damaging winds. Last night several Tornadoes were spotted in Central Louisiana during heavy rain that pass through the area.

     

    Today is the first full day of winter. Winter officially began at 10:49PM last night with the winter solstice. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the seasonal forecast is kind of gloomy. He says this winter will bring cooler and wetter than normal conditions to Louisiana. Keim says, despite a forecast for cooler temperatures, you shouldn’t expect a lot of freezes across Louisiana this winter.

     

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards is urging the federal government and the state Department of Children and Family Services to avoid interruption in food stamps for able-bodied single adults on January 1st. The Jindal Administration said starting next year, single people who are able to work would only have their benefits continue if they had a job or were in a training program. Edwards says there are still 31,000 low-income adults who would lose their benefits next Friday without intervention.

     

    An alcoholic version of the famous Abita Root Beer arrives in stores this week. Abita Brewing Company Brewmaster Mark Wilson says the hard root beer will be the first product in its line of “Bayou Bootlegger” hard sodas. He says it only made sense to come up with an adult take on the same old-fashioned Abita Root Beer recipe made with pure Louisiana cane sugar. Wilson says the Bayou Bootlegger Hard Root Beer is brewed to achieve a 5.9 percent alcohol by volume and is all natural and gluten free. He says they hope the hard root beer is eventually as popular as the original.

     

    As the fall shrimp season comes to a close, many shrimpers and seafood dealers say this has been a terrible year for the industry. Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry agrees, but says there are reasons to be hopeful. He says a resurgence of imported shrimp led to some of the lowest prices ever seen at the dock. He says recently passed legislation to better control the importing of shrimp should help.

     

    A maintenance worker at a horse farm in Bossier Parish is in jail after he allegedly set off a bomb underneath a home located on the property. Bossier Parish Sheriff’s spokesperson, Lt. Bill Davis, says 54-year-old Douglas Holley of Benton is facing two counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of manufacturing a bomb. He says apparently Holley was upset at one of the vet’s who lived at that home. Nobody was seriously injured.

     

    17 arrest warrants have been issued in an attempt to stop criminal activity by the Gremlins Gang through four parishes in South Central Louisiana. State Police spokesperson Brooks David says a lengthy, multi-agency investigation led cops to suspect the Gremlins Gang is possibly linked to homicides, intimidation and widespread narcotics distribution. He says all of them, 10 in custody and 7 at large, face several charges, including racketeering, which carries a long prison sentence if convicted.

     

    Former LSU Tiger Odell Beckham Junior has been suspended for one game for his actions against Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. Beckham was flagged three times for unnecessary roughness. He was reportedly upset that a member of the Panthers was walking around on the field with a bat in his hands before the game. The Giants star wide out plans to appeal the suspension.

     

    Governor Bobby Jindal and his family have reportedly closed on their new home at the University Club in Baton Rouge. Filings with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s Office show the Jindals bought their house for $817,500. Governor-elect John Bel Edwards takes office January 11th.

     

    Three Louisiana college baseball teams are ranked in the first preseason poll. Collegiate Baseball has UL Lafayette ranked sixth, LSU is ranked seventh and Tulane is ranked 19th.

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  • News for Monday 122115

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Expanding the Medicaid program remains a top priority for incoming governor John Bel Edwards. Edwards says this will result in additional federal tax dollars flowing into the state, helping Louisiana with its health care needs. He says without federal assistance, hospitals will close. Edwards will be  sworn in on January 11th.

     

    Alex Winter Fete proved to be a big hit, even exceeding Alexandria officials’ expectations.

    Mayor Roy saying “It was a resounding success,” Bottom line, more than 27,000 people attended the inaugural Alex Winter Fete that was held Dec. 3-5 in downtown Alexandria. That’s close to double what The city had projected for the three-day event. The Mayor also went on to say The reviews he has heard from the community were overwhelming positive.

     

    Blue Bell lovers get an early Christmas present today as the ice cream makes it way back on shelves in Louisiana. Blue Bell Spokesperson Joe Robertson says seven different flavors will be available . Blue Bell was forced to take their ice cream off the shelves last spring because its products were linked to 10 listeria cases, including three deaths in Kansas. He says they’ve made huge changes to ensure that listeria is never a problem again in Blue Bell ice cream.

     

    Many will travel on Louisiana highways during this holiday season and they’ll see the price at the pump around a $1.80 for a gallon of regular gasoline. Gas-Buddy-dot-com (gasbuddy.com) spokesperson Gregg Laskoski says prices haven’t been this low since March 2009. And He says gas prices are 50 cents lower than this time last year. Laskoski says the downward pressure of the price of crude oil is what’s driving gas prices down. He says we can expect to see gas this low into the first month of the new year. Laskoski says some locations across the state are advertising gas prices as low as $1.57 a gallon.

     

    State authorities are looking into possible wrongdoing by outgoing Angola Warden Burl Cain. There’s been reports Cain violated department rules in real estate transactions with relatives of inmates, but officials say there are other allegations as well. Corrections Secretary James Leblanc wouldn’t elaborate. Cain has said he’s done nothing wrong.

     

    A Vernon Parish man is in jail for first-degree murder after authorities determined he allegedly killed his finance and her nine year old son. Misty Marshall and the nine-year-old boy had not been seen since Thanksgiving. Sheriff Sam Craft says this tragic crime has rocked this rural area. Two other children belonging to Marshall were not harmed.

     

    The Food and Drug Administration plans to ban anyone younger than 18 from using indoor tanning beds or sunlamps. LSU Associate Clinical Professor and Dermatologist Dr. Sarah Jackson says the American Academy of Dermatology is in full support of these regulations. Jackson says about 1.6 million minors use tanning beds every year. Jackson says there are countless cases of skin cancer related to tanning bed use. She says they’ve seen an increase in the amount of young women with melanoma since tanning beds became popular.

     

    The latest Star Wars movie is generating a lot of buzz. This Louisiana boy went on opening day and he says he’s the biggest Star Wars fan you’ll ever meet. For it’s preview showings alone, “The Force Awakens” brought in a record breaking $57 million dollars at US box offices in one night

     

    State Police say stepped up patrols are underway in an effort to keep drunk drivers off the road this holiday. Sgt. Nick Manale says over the Thanksgiving holiday they saw a high number of traffic fatalities and want to prevent that from happening again. During the 2014 holiday season, there were 671 fatal and injury crashes and 99 involved alcohol.

     

    A former investigator with the DA’s Office in Washington Parish has been indicted by a grand jury amidst allegations he used his position to force women to have sex with him. Chief Deputy Mike Haley says 66-year-old Michael Cotton of Bogalusa allegedly threatened a female drug offender to obtain sex. He says the victims assisted in the investigation. He says Cotton is being held with $75,000 bond on an extortion charge and $25,000 for public bribery.

     

    A 40-year-old ban that prevented the United States from exporting oil has been lifted. Both the US House and Senate approved legislation that will allow the US to send crude oil to other countries. Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise calls it a big win for Louisiana as the lifting of the ban could create as many as five-thousand jobs.

     

    Duck Dynasty has reached a syndication deal with the Outdoor channel. The first six-seasons of the Louisiana-based reality TV show will begin airing on the Outdoor channel next month.

     

    Sports..

     

    It appears Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry is fed up with the losing. After the team’s latest defeat to Phoenix last night, Gentry said the effort from his players was terrible. New Orleans is now 7-19 on the year.

     

    The Saints face the Detroit Lions tonight at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in a battle of two teams with losing records. New Orleans is 5-8 on the year, but coming off one of its best performances of the season when they beat Tampa Bay last week. Quarterback Drew Brees says they want to build on that performance. The Saints were eliminated from playoff contention for a second straight year when Seattle and Minnesota won yesterday. Even though the Saints have fallen short of reaching their goals, Brees says the players have not given up on the season

     

    The Louisiana Tech senior duo of Jeff Driskel and Kenneth Dixon powered the Bulldogs to a 47-28 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday in the R L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

    It was a memorable night for both Driskel and Dixon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Driskel, who lost in New Orleans as Florida's quarterback in the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season, threw for 457 yards and three touchdowns. Dixon totaled 203 yards rushing and receiving and scored four times to move atop of the FBS record books.

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  • News for Friday 121815

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The $1 million dollar bond reduction motion was reportedly denied for two former Marksville Police Officers accused in the murder of a 6-year-old boy. Norris Greenhouse Jr. is out on a million dollar property bond, and Derrick Stafford is still in jail on $1 million dollar bond. The two were indicted last week in the shooting death of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and wounding of his father, Christopher Few.

     

    The State Department of Education Thursday released public school report cards to show parents how their child’s school is performing. They came up with the grades on a number of different factors including test scores, ACT scores and more depending on what type of school was being graded. Here in Rapides parish, 6 schools received an “A”, 12 a “B”, 14 a “c”, 21 a “D” and 5 received an “F”.  Go to Louisiana-believes-dot-com to find out the letter grade of the public school your child attends. 

     

    The State Police report  A Jena man died early Thursday after he crashed his truck and was ejected when it began overturning. 55 year old Rawlins Breland died at the scene of the wreck around 4:40 a.m. on La. Highway 127.

     

    On a six-to vote, the New Orleans city council votes to remove four Confederate monuments from their current location, including the one from Lee Circle. There were passionate arguments on both sides. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says three of the monuments could be removed in a matter of days.

     

    To keep alcohol related deaths down during the holiday season, police are increasing the number of officers on our roadways. State Police Sgt. Nick Manale says the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign begins today and runs through January 3rd.  According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, during the 2014 holiday season, there were 671 fatal and injury crashes and 99 involved alcohol.

     

    Former US Representative Charles Melancon will lead the state department of wildlife and fisheries. Melancon is joining Governor-elect John Bel Edwards’ new administration. Melancon says he wants to find a balance between private and commercial fisherman. Colonel Mike Edmonson also remains as the State Police Superintendent.

     

    LSU admitted in court filings this week that they altered the contract of former defensive coordinator John Chavis, according to a report in the Advocate. The University and the now Texas A&M defensive coordinator have been in an ongoing dispute since Chavis left, and following a court appearance this morning, Chavis’ lawyer told reporters that LSU said they changed his contract after he signed it.

     

    There’s just one shopping weekend left until Christmas and folks that fell behind this year will be out and about Saturday and Sunday with list in hand. Tomorrow is known as “Super Saturday,” but LSU Marketing Professor Dan Rice says the good news for last minute shoppers is that they could be paying even less in stores as many sales have already kicked in. He says you can expect the malls to be packed as folks rush to wrap everything up.

     

    A bunch of points are expected on Saturday night at the R-and-L Carriers New Orleans Bowl as Louisiana Tech faces Arkansas State. Both teams rank in the top 20 in scoring as the Red Wolves are averaging 41 points a game and the Bulldogs have averaged 37 a contest.

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