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Local News
  • News for Friday 072216

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Heat indices will hit well over 100 degrees again today, so the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is urging everyone to take caution. Stay hydrated and check in on seniors. This hot and humid weather is expected to continue through the weekend.

     

    Today is the first of three funerals that will be held for the fallen Baton Rouge officers. The Funeral service for Matthew Gerald is today. Deputy Brad Garafola will be laid to rest on Saturday and Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson’s services will be Monday.

     

    There is good news when it comes to one of the officers that was injured in Sunday’s attack. Deputy Bruce Simmons was released from a Baton Rouge hospital yesterday. However, One deputy, Nick Tullier, still remains in the hospital. He is being treated for gunshot wounds to his head and torso and is still in critical condition.

     

    There are 21 individuals who have their eyes set on becoming Louisiana’s next US Senator. That’s how many people have qualified for the seat that will be vacated by David Vitter. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says with this many people in the race, anything is possible when voters go to the polls in November. The final day to qualify for the US Senate race or one of the six Congressional races is Friday.

     

    Republican state Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier City and fellow Republican former state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas joined the 4th Congressional District race on Wednesday.

    Incumbent Congressman John Fleming, R-Minden, is giving up the seat to run for the U.S. Senate.

     

    Deridder authorities have arrested three Deridder residents in connection with a hold up of the Sabine state bank on Monday. A single man robbed the Bank shortly after noon and then fled on foot. A short time later, he met up with two people at a nearby restaurant, and the three left together in a vehicle. The Deridder police made several posts with photos of the three suspects. One suspect  turned herself in. The other two were arrested a short time later. All three were charged with one count of first-degree robbery

     

    The Attorney General’s Office urges consumers to be cautious when making donations in wake of the Baton Rouge shootings. Amanda Larkins with the A-G’s office says they want to make sure contributions truly go to the families of the law enforcement officers and actually reach those they intend to help. Larkins says don’t assume that charity posts on social media are legitimate. A legitimate link can be found at cenlabroadcasting.com

     

    Democratic Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden says he’s running for Congress in the 2nd district because he’s unhappy with the performance of Democratic incumbent Cedric Richmond. The district runs from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Richmond says Baton Rouge needs its mayor tending to the business of the city, not running for Congress. Holden is serving out the final year of his term and he is term-limited.

     

    The Louisiana Department of Health has received confirmation of one additional case of Zika virus. The patient had traveled to a region with ongoing Zika transmission and sought medical care in Louisiana after returning, where tests confirmed the viral infection. This is the ninth case of travel-associated Zika confirmed in Louisiana. There have been no confirmed cases of local transmission within Louisiana.

     

    Tomorrow it’ll be one year since a man opened fire during a showing of a movie at a Lafayette theater, killing two people and injuring nine others. Joey Durel was the mayor on July 23rd, 2015. He’s says they couldn’t have moved on as easily if it weren’t for the love and support from people throughout the state, and the nation. He says one of the things that sticks out in his mind the most was a statement from an officer the next day who said, “All around the country people are throwing bricks at police, and here they are throwing food to us”.

     

    State Police have made an arrest in the fatal hit and run crash back in May that killed a skateboarder near the Southeastern Louisiana campus. 37-year-old Vincent Young of Natalbany has been booked into jail. Young faces several charges including Felony Hit and Run. Authorities believe  Young’s vehicle was the second one that hit the victim. The search continues for the first.

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  • News for Thursday 072116

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana lawmakers are already considering possible legislation for the coming year in response to the deadly shooting of three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers Sunday. Speaking on his monthly call-in radio show Wednesday, Edwards didn't elaborate on what proposals legislators might be putting together, but he said that the 2017 legislative session will partly focus on criminal justice reform and he's not opposed to efforts to outline how officer-involved shootings are handled in Louisiana. The program also featured State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson.

     

    The US Department of Veterans Affairs reports their health records show the man responsible for the shooting deaths of three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge had a number contacts with the V-A from 2008 to 2013. It’s been reported Gavin Long told people close to him that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disoder. The V-A says Long’s US Marine Corps’ service included overseas deployment.

     

    A memorial service is set for next Thursday to remember and honor the three law enforcement officers who lost their lives in a shootout with a gunman in Baton Rouge. Governor John Bel Edwards says the service will take place a 2:00 p.m. at Healing Place Church in the Capital City.

     

    13 candidates in the US Senate race officially signed up to run on the first day of qualifying yesterday. They include Republicans Congressmen Charles Boustany and John Fleming, State Treasurer John Kennedy and Joseph Cao. Democrats Caroline Fayard and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell threw their hats in the ring, as well as former ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert.

     

    Fifth District U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham was the first in line for qualifying here yesterday  morning, pulling into the Secretary of State's office 30 minutes before it opened at 8 a.m.

    Nobody had qualified to run against Abraham by the end of the first day. Qualifying continues today and Friday.

     

    The Jonesville Town Council asked its police chief to resign on Tuesday after a profanity-filled social media post that he made after the fatal shootings of three officers in Baton Rouge. Council members asked Chief Skylar Doré to resign after he posted an expletive- filled rant directed at President Barack Obama. Doré apologized at the meeting, saying he knew some Baton Rouge officers. The vote to ask for the chief’s resignation was unanimous.

     

    The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man accused of making threats against police officers on social media. Sheriff Greg Champagne says following the deadly rampage against officers in Baton Rouge a man by the name of Victor Pablo indicated he planned a similar ambush. Champagne says the suspect is being charged with terrorizing and threatening a public official, which carries up to a maximum of 15 years in prison.

     

    Senate President John Alario says state senator Troy Brown has been suspended from all of his committee assignments after he’s been charged for a second time of domestic abuse. Alario says Brown will remain suspended until the matter is resolved. Brown was arrested on Monday after he allegedly bit his wife’s arm at their Ascension Parish home.

     

    If you’re planning to install solar panels on your home, residents from this point will not be getting tax credits from the state. The Louisiana Department of Revenue says the solar energy tax incentive program is tapped out. But President of Solar Alternatives Jeff Cantin says there are still federal tax dollars available. He says this means around 2-thousand families will not get the state credit now.

     

    Rumors are swirling the LHSAA executive committee is seeking to buyout or terminate the contract of executive director Eddie Bonine. LHSAA President Vic Bonnafee has called a special meeting of the LHSAA executive committee for Monday. Bonine is expected to discuss a report he presented to the NFHS convention last month, where he described high school sports in Louisiana as a “dumpster fire” because of the growing split of public and private schools.

     

    Lafayette police officers will soon be equipped with modern crowd-control gear to replace decades-old equipment that spent much of its life aging on the shelf. The move to upgrade equipment to protect police officers comes in the wake of recent protests and unrest that have led to police officer killings in Baton Rouge, Dallas and elsewhere. The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Mayor-President Joel Robideaux's emergency request for $120,000 to provide full-body gear for all officers within the Lafayette Police Department.

     

    With Bobby Jindal out of office and Senator David Vitter leaving politics soon, it begs the question as to who is the face of the Republican Party in Louisiana. ULM political science professor Dr. John Sutherlin says the winner of this fall’s US Senate election could be the next Republican leader. Some may point to Steve Scalise as the republican leader in the state. But Sutherlin says the US Representative and House Majority Whip is the third-ranking Republican in the Congress, but he’s not well known out of the New Orleans area. Sutherlin says party leadership typically comes from the Governor’s office and having a democrat in the Governor’s mansion complicates the situation.

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  • News for Wednesday 072016

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A memorial fund for the families of the fallen Baton Rouge police officers has been set up by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Communications Director Mukul Verma says the East Baton Rouge First Responders Fund was established in 1988. He says donations can be made at BRAF.org, and every contribution helps. Verma says they have already raised over $33-thousand and more donations are still coming in.

     

    Police officers around the state and across the country are reeling from the Sunday’s tragic ambush in Baton Rouge, and law enforcement now has to decide where to go from here. Pineville Police Deputy Chief and President of the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police, Darrell Basco, says officers from all over the nation are doing everything they can to help, by sending money or officers to assist in Baton Rouge. Basco says they are also seeing tremendous community support as well. He says people have taken to social media in particular to show love for the men in blue.

     

    Funeral arrangements have been announced for two of the officers who were killed in Baton Rouge on Sunday. A viewing for BRPD Officer Matthew Gerald will be held Thursday at Resthaven in Baton Rouge, then again at Healing Place on Friday before services. The burial for Gerald will be at the Louisiana National Cemetery in Zachary. Corporal Montrell Jackson’s visitation, Services and burial will take place beginning at 9am Monday at Living Faith Christian Center in Baton Rouge.

     

    Qualifying for the US Senate race begins today. As many as eight well-known candidates are expected to file paperwork to put their name on the ballot, five republicans, two democrats and one independent. JMC Analytics pollster John Couvillion anticipates a Republican and Democrat will be the top two voters in the November open primary and advance to a December runoff. Couvillion says Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy are the front-runners for their respective parties.

     

    The Congressional races in Louisiana officially kick-off today with the start of qualifying. Candidates will sign-up at the Secretary of State’s office between today and Friday. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat predicts the third congressional district seat will be the most competitive with some big names and heavily funded candidates trying to make it into the runoff. Former state representative Bret Geymann, law enforcement officer Clay Higgins and Lafayette businessman Gus Rantz are few of the other high-profile Republican candidates in the 3rd district, which is currently occupied by Republican Charles Boustany who is running for Senate.

     

    Three Louisiana cities rank as very stressful. Shreveport is No. 6, New Orleans No. 8 and Baton Rouge came in at 13th. Dr. Michelle Moore with LSU Health New Orleans says that, especially in the case of New Orleans, crime is one of the biggest factors in the ranking.

    Moore says the report shows Louisianians have high anxiety about things like money, health, ability to cope and safety.

     

    Five people from Albany, in Livingston Parish, were killed in a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler in Alabama. State police report the driver of the big rig was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

     

    There are plans to rebuild the Civil War-era Governor’s Mansion that was intentionally burned down a week ago today in Opelousas. Mayor Reginald Tatum is upset the original structure was destroyed, but he says the foundation of the old structure is still in good condition to rebuild. He says the building’s owners are seeking emergency funds to pay for a new mansion through the national trust for historic preservation.

     

    There’s a growing buzz about Melania Trump’s speech last night at the Republican National Convention as some felt it was extremely similar to one Michelle Obama made in 2008. Former Jefferson Parish President and a Louisiana delegate at the convention in Cleveland, John Young, says at the end of the day the Trump campaign needs to deal with the issue and move on.

     

    The community and faith-based organization, Together Baton Rouge, lays out a plan on how to move the Capital City forward in the wake of the ambush on Baton Rouge police and the fatal shooting Alton Sterling. Rev. Lee Wesley says one of the first things that needs to be done is getting help to people who struggle with mental health problems. Wesley says they also want to see more “community policing” in which police build a relationship with citizens.

    Wesley says the group will hold “We the People” meetings over the next 6 months to allow people to voice their concerns on both sides.

     

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  • News for Tuesday 071916

    By Dave Graichen

     

    At an afternoon press conference yesterday, more details were released about the ambush attack that left three police officers dead and three more injured in Baton Rouge. Col. Mike Edmonson says they are still trying to determine what 29-year-old Gavin Long did prior to the attack and to whom he may have spoken. Edmonson says police are also investigating suspicious activity on Long’s social media accounts. He says they recovered a rental car Long used, which is being analyzed for evidence, as well as the weapons Long had at the time of the shooting. Edmonson says they believe Long acted alone in the shooting.

     

    There were also three officers injured in the attack. East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said deputy Nicholas Tullier is in very, very critical condition. Gautreaux says another injured deputy, Bruce Simmons, was shot in the arm and a titanium rod was used to replace the bone that was shattered.

     

    Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie defended law enforcement’s use of “militarized tactics” in light of the recent ambush on police officers. He says the officers who responded did exactly what they were trained to do. Dabadie says police have been questioned repeatedly over the past couple of weeks about their use of “militarized tactics.” He says the tragedy that occurred Sunday is an example of why they must be prepared to use any and all means to neutralize a threat..

     

    The tragic police shooting in Baton Rouge is being felt at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere says many people attending the convention are praying Baton Rouge, especially the families of the police officers who were killed. Villere says he believes public safety will become an even bigger platform for national leaders in response to the tragic shootings that have taken place throughout the country.

    Villere says security has been ramped up at the convention because of the recent violence.

     

    State senator Troy Brown is facing a domestic abuse charge in Ascension Parish. Sheriff Jeff Wiley says Brown was arrested at his Geismar residence after his wife called authorities and told them that the senator was irate and bit her on the forearm. Brown was also arrested eight months ago in New Orleans for allegedly punching a woman in the eye.

     

    Officials with the Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office says the 22-year-old woman who was abducted and nearly killed is still recovering at a hospital. 35-year-old Kevin Mathis is in jail in connection with the incident and charged with attempted murder and aggravated kidnapping. Authorities say the woman was found alone in a vehicle at a cemetery early Saturday morning. The case is under investigation.

     

    The three law enforcement officers killed in Sunday’s ambush attack in Baton Rouge are being remembered today as heroes. Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie says Officer Matthew Gerald was a devoted husband and father of two and joined the Baton Rouge Police Department in March. Dabadie says Gerald also served in the Marine Corp, the Army, and served three tours in Iraq. 32-year-old Corporal Montrell Jackson also lost his life and was a ten year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department. Chief Dabadie says Jackson had been with his wife for 10 years and they have a four month old son. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola was also killed by Gavin Long after trying to save a BRPD officer. Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says Garafola leaves behind a wife and four children. He says all the officers ran toward the threat, not away from it.  Fellow East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Tullier was critically wounded and is in the hospital on life support from injuries to his head and stomach.

     

    A murder/suicide in Sulphur has left a man and his 4-year-old-son dead. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Kim Myers says several calls came into their office of people who were worried about 59-year-old Kenneth Bacque (Bah-kay) Myers says police tried to make contact with Bacque when they arrived at his residence. She says when he did not respond, police forced their way into the home.  Myers says the investigation is in the preliminary stages but it appears Bacque shot his son and then shot himself.

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  • News For Monday 071816

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The city of Baton Rouge is on edge after three law enforcement officers were fatally shot and three others wounded in a shooting that occurred Sunday morning. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says at 8:40 in the morning, a police officer saw an individual wearing all black and holding a rifle on Airline Highway and two minutes later there were reports of shots fired. Originally,  Edmonson said it was possible there could be accomplices. But now they believe the deceased gunman, Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri, worked alone.  The Three  officers killed have been identified as 41-year-old Matthew Gerald, 32-year-old Montrell Jackson and 45 year old Brad Garafola.

     

    East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore has announced that over half of the protestors who were arrested following the shooting death of Alton Sterling will not face charges. Moore says he will not prosecute about 100 of the cases, because the demonstrators were arrested only on misdemeanor counts, simple obstruction of a highway.

     

    Authorities in Baton Rouge have arrested a fourth person who was allegedly involved in a pawn shop burglary where guns were stolen that would be used to kill police officers. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s office says a 12-year-old male juvenile was booked into the Juvenile Detention Center for simple burglary and theft of a firearm. Three other suspects are also in custody. Officials say eight handguns were stolen during the break-in earlier in the month.

     

    Forty-two Louisiana delegates are at the Republican National Convention, which gets underway today in Cleveland. Kirk Williamson is a former Marco Rubio delegate who jumped on the Trump train. He says he’s looking forward to electing a good candidate that he believes can defeat Hillary Clinton in November. He says Trump has done a good job of uniting the Republican Party.

     

    It’s a big week in politics with the Republican National Convention and qualifying for the federal elections. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Donald Trump’s acceptance speech as the Republican nominee on Thursday night is the most anticipated speech of the year. Cross says the Republican Party is not completely united behind Donald Trump but they’re more and more on their way. He says there are a significant number of party members that are not happy with the Donald.

     

    Louisiana’s health department says enrollment for the state’s expanded Medicaid program, known as Healthy Louisiana, has reached 250-thousand new adults. According to the L-D-H, Healthy Louisiana will bring health insurance coverage to an estimated 375-thousand working Louisianans.

     

    Republicans in the US Senate race are leading in campaign fundraising. ULM political science professor Dr. Joshua Stockley says US Representative John Fleming reports $2.4 million in his campaign funds and State Treasurer John Kennedy has collected $1.4 million. Congressman Charles Boustany had the best recent fundraising period with $2.5 million in the bank.

     

    A Prairieville man faces up 10 years in prison as an Ascension Parish jury found him guilty of aggravated cruelty after he used a baseball bat to kill a dog. Thirty-three-year-old Jamari Jackson claimed in 2014 the dog got the stuck in a barbed wire fence, but veterinary experts said the dog died from blunt-force trauma injuries.

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  • News for Tuesday 071216

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A 15 month old child that went missing early Monday Morning here in Rapides Parish was located a short time later in a briar patch across the street from the Tioga home. Lt. Tommy Carnline with RPSO says the parents last saw the child around 3am asleep, and it’s unknown at this time how the 15 month old got out of the house. The child had numerous insect bites and was suffering from exposure to the elements. The investigation continues.

     

    Close to 100 people, from all walks of life, showed up at the Rapides Parish Court House late yesterday afternoon for a prayer vigil aimed at healing the community. One of the organizers of the event the Rev. Sherri Jackson, said she didn't want a protest, but wanted a place where people could gather to begin to heal after all of the incidents of last week. The event according to many who attended, did just that.

     

    Word yesterday afternoon that former Rapides Parish DA Edwin Ware III has passed away. Ware, who was DA from 1967 to 1984 passed Sunday. Funeral Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in First Presbyterian Church of Alexandria. Ware was 88.

     

    Baton Rouge DA Hillar Moore has recused himself and his office from the investigation of Alton Sterling because he has connections with the parents an officer involved in the shooting. A report says Blane Salamoni’s mother was the Violent Crime and Crime Scene Commander and Salamoni’s father has commanded the department’s special operations unit during most of Moore’s time in office. Moore says he wants to give protesters justice.

     

    The initial police report has been released in the death of Alton Sterling. According to a search warrant, officers saw the butt of Sterling’s gun in his front pocket and saw him reaching for it before shots were fired. Sterling refused orders from the two officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, and was being tased when they noticed the gun in his pocket. The report says Sterling was reaching for his gun and was then shot by Salamoni to stop the threat.

     

    The ACLU of Louisiana believe BRPD used excessive and illegal force this weekend on protesters marching for justice after the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. Many arrests were made from people obstructing roadways. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says treating peaceful protesters as though they are going to start a riot does not help relations that are already strained. EBR DA Hillar Moore says they are going to investigate every arrest case.

     

    A man accused of fatally shooting a state police trooper last summer has been granted a change of venue for his case. Kevin Daigle is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of officer Steven Vincent and state judge Guy Bradberry says the jury will be selected from Bossier Parish and transported to Calcasieu Parish for the trial.

     

    A transportation task force created by Governor John Bel Edwards holds its first meeting today. The panel will make various recommendations that could lead to major changes for Louisiana’s roadways. State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says the task force holds its first meeting as the state faces a nearly 13-billion dollar backlog in transportation projects. The recommendations from this task force will be brought to the legislature in 2017.

     

    Hammond Police continue to investigate a double homicide that claimed the lives of a 65-year-old woman and her 39-year-old nephew. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for anyone with information on these killings. Cops responded to the scene around 1am Sunday.

     

    Louisiana is ranked the third safest state for older drivers. That’s according to a report from Caring.com and Chief Caring Expert Dayna Steele 11-percent of people killed in car crashes in Louisiana are 65 and older and that age group makes up 14-percent of the population. She hopes this study sparks conversations and action with family members and loved ones who might not need to be driving anymore.

     

    A bill by Louisiana Congressman Ralph Abraham has won the approval of the US House that seeks to defund a 2015 executive order from President Obama that could drive up the costs of building in Louisiana. Abraham says the President’s order would also make flood insurance more expensive for Louisiana residents. Abraham says the order scraps the base flood commonly used to determine flood risk and replaces it with a new one that takes into account future flooding from climate change. Though the bill passed the house, Abraham says he does expect the Senate to approve the bill.

     

    With a historic budget crisis, torrential flooding in March, three legislative sessions, and now massive protests in the Capital City, Governor John Bel Edwards has certainly had a lot to deal with since taking office. ULM political science professor Dr. John Sutherlin says there likely hasn’t been another governor in office who’s had so much on his plate during the first few months of his term. Sutherlin says Edwards has done a fairly good job of managing situations that he did not create, and it’s unlikely that he will get a break anytime soon. He says it still remains to be seen how the governor will handle situations that he can control and what will come of all the work on the budget.

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  • News for Monday 071716

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A small, peaceful rally was held Sunday afternoon  in downtown Alexandria. The organizers say the held the rally as a call for unity and justice in light of recent officer-related shootings around the country. City and Parish officials organized throughout the day to insure the planned rally did not get out of control. In the end, it’s believed the afternoon thunderstorms kept the crowds away.

     

    A prominent Black Lives Matter activist and 100 other people were taken into custody, Saturday In Baton Rouge after protesters took to the streets to call for justice and voice anger over the fatal shooting of an Alton Sterling by two white police officers. Some 30 people were arrested on Friday.

     

    Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday he is proud of law enforcement's response to demonstrations in the wake of Alton Sterling's death in Baton Rouge and thanked community members who remained peaceful during the majority of the protests. But Edwards  characterized the 130 or so arrests in the demonstrations as a low number and emphasized there have been relatively few injuries to officers and protesters. Governor Edwards is asking that the public give the Department of Justice time to conduct its investigation into Sterling’s shooting.

     

    A march from Wesley United Methodist Church to the State Capitol Sunday protesting the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of Baton Rouge police went from peaceful to confrontational when protesters decided to continue walking on Government Street to the Police Department’s Headquarters.  At least 12 people were arrested. The march was initiated by the NAACP of LSU and other young activist groups.

     

    State Police Col Mike Edmonson says police have been investigating riot threats that have been made on social media and asks the public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. He says they are working on race relations between law enforcement and the public. He says in order for people to respect authorities, they have to be able to trust them. He says that starts with transparency and communication.

     

    The recent acts of violence across the country have many people asking what can be done to improve race relations in a country that seems more and more divided. LSU associate sociology professor Dr. Lori Martin says resolving the problem starts with acknowledging that there is one. She says what we need is an open and honest dialogue about racial issues.

    Martin says racial problems are real, and they have real consequences because tragedies like the Dallas attack are occurring far too often.

     

    A St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputy is donating his kidney today to a brother in blue from a neighboring parish. St. Tammany Deputy Robert Ardeneaux is scheduled to have the surgery today to donate his kidney to Jason Triche, a St. John the Baptist Parish Deputy whose kidneys are failing due to health problems from a 2012 shooting. Triche was injured in a shooting that took the lives of two officers.

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  • News for Wednesday 070616

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Hundreds of Louisiana workers will be out of work as a result of GE Oil and Gas in Pineville closing its doors in September. Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields says the company is closing its Pineville facility to move its operation to their other location in Jacksonville, Florida. He says he is disappointed to see this company move to another state. The plant closing will result in 269 of the company’s 289 employees encountering permanent layoffs .The move to Florida will be to a non-union shop. 

     

    State Police are upping their efforts to enforce the “Move Over” law after several officers were struck by vehicles while working on the side of the road, Killing one over the weekend. State Police Sgt. Jared Sandifer says people should always watch out for any emergency vehicle on the side of the road, including police, EMS, firefighters and tow trucks. According to the “Move Over America” campaign, over 70% of Americans do not know about move over laws.

     

    Just in time for summer vacations, drivers are seeing prices go down at the pump. AAA spokesperson Mike Right says we could see gas prices below $2 a gallon before the end of the summer. Gas prices have been falling for the past few weeks, and Right says that’s unusual during the summer months. He says this time last year, the statewide average was $2.55 a gallon, and today the average is $2.08. Here in Alexandria, prices are substantially lower than $2.00 a gal.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards announces the state’s Economic Development department will take a comprehensive look at the Louisiana’s film tax incentive program. With reports that movie industry jobs are fleeing to other states, LED Secretary Don Pierson says it’s time to see how they can help Hollywood South. Pierson says they’ll make recommendations on how to reform the program and legislators will get a chance to vote on them next year.

     

    Louisiana is set to receive 60-million dollars in federal grants that will benefit significant road projects in the state. The grant will be used to improve and expand I-10 between Lafayette and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. The Funds will also allow the state to use dollars to address the bottleneck on I-10 east as you come over the Mississippi River Bridge from West Baton Rouge parish.

     

    LSU student-athletes, coaches, and support staff will undergo sexual harassment sensitivity training and awareness classes. Deputy Athletic Director Eddie Nunez says they are increasing their efforts on this topic after troubling reports of sexual assaults involving athletes at other schools.  Nunez says their classes will be very broad and address everything from human relations risks to prevention of harassment and abuse.

     

    An officer involved shooting outside a Baton Rouge convenience store left one man dead. The convenience store clerk told a Baton Rouge TV station he saw suspect carrying a gun but he did not have it out at the time of the shooting. The coroner has said that Sterling was shot multiple times in the chest and back. One officer is on administrative leave and the investigation is ongoing.

     

    One man is dead and another is in the hospital following a shooting in Shreveport on Independence Day. Cpl. Marcus Hines says 33-year-old Antonio Collins and 32-year-old Exzavious Thomas were next door neighbors arguing over shooting fireworks. Hines says Collins suffered a fatal shot to the chest, and Thomas was also injured.

     

    In Ascension Parish, a Gonzales man has been arrested after he fatally shot his ex-girlfriend in her vehicle after a high speed chase. Chief Deputy Bobby Webre says 26-year-old Jarvis McNair faces several charges. Authorities say the couple’s 10-month-old boy was in the back seat when she was shot.

     

    Stadium Journey has ranked LSU’s Alex Box Stadium as the best ballpark in the country. In its review, they say the Box has it all, powerhouse ball club, state of the art facility, great food selection, rabid fan base and an intimidating atmosphere for opposing teams.

     

    Abortion providers in Louisiana have filed suit over seven abortion laws enacted this year. The Center for Reproductive Rights brought forward the federal suit to keep the rules from taking effect on August 1.  The lawsuit seeks to get a judge to determine the state’s new 72 hour waiting period for a woman to get an abortion is illegal and they are also challenging the ban of the so-called dismemberment abortion, which is commonly used in the second trimester.

     

    It's a new record. 34 drawings and still no Mega Millions jackpot winner. Virginia Lottery Director, Paula Otto says Friday's drawing is expected to be worth $508 million to the lucky winner.

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  • News for Tuesday 070516

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The APD is investigating the death of a man who was found lying in New York Avenue early Saturday Morning. Police say 45 year old Anthony Whitehead may have been lying in the road when he was struck by a vehicle. An autopsy and toxicology testing has been ordered.

     

    A Grant Parish man died Saturday morning in a crash between two boats on Cane River Lake in Natchitoches Parish. The victim has been id’d as 65 year old William Morrison of Dry Prong. The LDWF is investigating the accident.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards has decided not to veto a measure that would “front load” the TOPS scholarship program. Higher Education Commissioner Dr. Joe Rallo says they support the governor. But those who oppose say this would put a massive burden on college students in the spring semester. Edwards did call this a disingenuous budgeting gimmick. Edwards says students should be prepared for cuts to TOPS in the fall, and an even bigger cut in the spring.

     

    Louisiana is being sued over the seven abortion laws that were enacted during the legislative sessions. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the federal suit to stop the rules from taking effect on August 1. This comes after the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn a Texas law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals. The suit attacks laws like the banning of dismemberment abortions and prohibiting the state from funding abortion clinics.

     

    Two law enforcement officers standing on the side of the road have been struck by moving vehicles since last Friday, because drivers failed to merge into the next lane. In one of the cases, a Sterlington Police officer died from his injuries and a 44-year-old Monroe driver is facing several charges, including vehicular homicide. That incident happened early Sunday morning in Ouachita Parish.

     

    A police officer in New Orleans collapsed and died while on Patrol in Bourbon Street over the weekend. The Orleans Parish coroner will conduct an autopsy, though it appears the officer’s death was of natural causes.

     

    The Colorado State University forecast team has upped the number of anticipated named storms in 2016 by one. In June they called for 14 named storms, now they predict 15. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the change is due to the fact that there are already 4 named storms on the books this year. He says that’s the most ever for this early in the season.

    The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November.

     

    It was a safe Essence Festival in New Orleans. Organizers say 450-thousand people attended the 2016 event, which is down from the previous year which had an attendance of a half-million people.

     

    State Police say a deputy with the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office shot and killed a man who allegedly came at the cop with a knife after a standoff. They say 40-year-old Shannon Labit of New Iberia is believed to have had stabbed two people earlier at a home before the standoff ensued. The deputy’s name is not being released at this time. The instigation is ongoing.

     

    The Baton Rouge mom accused of whipping her kids after they robbed a house will not face any charges according to District Attorney Hillar Moore. 30-year-old Schaquana Spears was arrested on two counts of cruelty to a juvenile for whipping her two children with a cable after the burglarized a neighbor’s home. Moore says he doesn’t plan on changing his mind. Spears lost her job and custody of her kids after she was arrested.

     

     

    The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says a 2-year-old was saved after being left in a car on a 90 degree day while his mother and aunt were inside Walmart shopping. Employees noticed the little boy was by himself and still strapped in his car seat so they smashed the passenger side window. The windows in the vehicle had been rolled up and the car off for close to 30 minutes. The child was showing signs of heat stroke as he was sweating and had vomited. 37-year-old Shaun Buchanan and 25-year-old Cynthia Simmons were arrested on charges of child desertion and cruelty to a juvenile.

     

    A lawsuit has been filed in attempt to restore voting rights to Louisiana felons. The suit states that prohibiting people released on parole or probation from voting in the state is unconstitutional. The suit was filed by the activist group called The Voice of the Ex-Offender. The Attorney General’s Office says they will review the lawsuit but believe the law is constitutional.

     

    Police have arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with the shooting deaths of two people at the Monroe Civic Center. Jaterrious Godfrey of Monroe was booked into the Ouachita Correctional Center. Detectives believe Godfrey fired a weapon when a fight broke out in the parking lot after a private event was getting out early Sunday morning.

     

    A Livonia couple has been arrested on child sex charges. Police say 35-year-old Damien Kimble was raping his girlfriend’s daughter over the course of 9 years. The Livonia Police Chief says the victim, who is under 13-years-old, reported the crime herself. Kimble has been charged with aggravated rape, molestation, and carnal knowledge of a juvenile, and the unnamed mother was charged with principal to molestation and indecent behavior of a juvenile.

     

    A deputy with the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office has been arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. State Trooper Scott Moreau says the investigation into 48-year-old Stacy Bender revealed he had an inappropriate relationship. Moreau says Bender is looking at 12 charges. The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office says Bender was a deputy for over 17 years and has been terminated.

     

    The town of Welsh, located in in Jefferson Davis Parish, is now the official The Home of the Cajun Dictionary.” Mayor Carolyn Louviere says the town’s long time pastor, the late Father Jules Daigle. Tha Pastor wasn’t pleased with the way Cajun French was spoken and wrote two books on the language. She credits Welsh’s city council for taking steps to get this official designation.

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  • News for Friday 070116

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Times are tough everywhere. Even in the church. With less money in the collection plate, fewer charitable donations and ever-increasing expenses, The Catholic Diocese of Alexandria has announced its eliminating 13 positions, including three clergy positions, at St. Joseph Catholic Center. Bishop Ronald Herzog said in a letter about the staff reductions, this coming year’s deficit is approaching $500,000,”

     

    Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields saying yesterday during a public meeting on the city’s budget that the city is sound financially, but it cannot continue dipping into reserve funds. The City Council unanimously approved the amended 2015-16 budget and the 2016-17 budget. The new fiscal year which starts today. The budget was amended to accommodate the city paying the IRS over $244 thousand for missed Social Security payments for firefighters. City officials actually are relieved that they could settle the debt for that amount, since the city was facing a potential $2.36 million debt.

     

    The state’s newly expanded Medicaid program goes into effect today, and the Louisiana Department of Health says some people may be able to see a doctor for the first time in their lives. Secretary Rebekah Gee says the expansion will improve health outcomes for Louisiana residents.

     

    Two arrests have been made in the murder of the Raising Cane’s shift manager who was killed during an armed robbery. 23-year-old Joshua Every and 24-year-old Mark Crocklen are both charged with armed robbery and first degree murder for the death of 21-year-old Taylor Friloux. Kenner Police Chief Michael Glaser says the suspects are going back and forth about who stabbed the girl, but the video clearly shows what happened. Police say this was a planned robbery, and only $1,000 was stolen.

     

    Beginning today, able-bodied food stamp recipients without dependents will be required to participate in job-training if they do not work or go to school. DCFS Deputy Assistant Secretary, Sammy Guillory, says the requirement could be different on a case by case basis.

    Guillory says this new requirement will affect about 52-thousand food stamp recipients.

     

    Cuts will still need to be made on government services as the new fiscal year starts,   but the concern is that there will be a deficit in the current year that would carry over Rob Henson with the State Treasurer’s Office says even with the work that the legislature did in the two special sessions, there are still major money problems ahead.

     

    ALT:

    The Revenue Estimating Conference learned Thursday that lawmakers raised $371 million dollars in revenue that can be used in the budget year that begins Friday. But Ron Henson with the State Treasurer’s Office says there are still concerns that Louisiana won’t be able to pay its bills until taxes are collected and it’s possible state government will have to borrow money.

     

    A motion has been filed to allow a jury to hear a secret recording of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal calling a federal prosecutor in a pending case a “sorry son of a b****”. Legal analyst Tim Meche says Ackal did not know he was being recorded. Ackal also allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks about the prosecutor

     

    Two 18th District judges have been suspended without pay, due to misconduct. Judge Robin Free and Judge James Best’s region covers Iberville, Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes. Judge Alvin Batiste, who also handles cases in that district, says anytime a judge is punished, it is serious. The Supreme Court suspended Free for a year, and Best was suspended 15 days.

     

    Summer is upon us and many people will be out enjoying the water, so the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is giving out some tips on what to do in the event of an alligator encounter. LDWF Alligator Program Manager Edmond Mouton says whatever you do, don’t feed or approach alligators.  He says if you see an alligator in an area that could pose a public safety hazard, call LDWF immediately because state law prohibits taking it into your own hands. Mouton advises Louisiana residents to visit LA-gator-program-dot-com

     

    One man is dead following an officer-involved shooting in Monroe. State Trooper Michael Reichardt says deputies were following up on a domestic violence call when the suspect pointed a weapon at them, so they fired. Reichardt says the deputies were not harmed, and the investigation is ongoing.

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  • News for Thursday 063016

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy at yesterday’s administrative meeting outlined several possible plans to boost development downtown along the Red river.  One plan would involve the city renovating the Capitol One Bank building and moving city hall to the building just a few blocks from the current location. Roy says the project would cost roughly $6 million. Part of the current city hall building would be torn down to create a “mall” or green space while still retaining the Convention Hall part of the building. The project is still very much still in the talking stage.

     

    No change of venue for now.. A decision on whether to grant a change of venue in the case of one of the former Marksville Ward 2 marshals accused in the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy and the serious wounding of his father has been deferred until prospective jurors are questioned. Attorneys for Derrick Stafford appeared before 12th Judicial District Court Judge William Bennett on Wednesday morning for a hearing on seven motions they filed in the case. Stafford faces trial on charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.

     

    A rather bazaar story out of Pineville yesterday as a police arrested a man who attempted to steel an ambulance at gunpoint. Police say 43 year old Harlan Farque  had attempted to steal a car first, only to find it had a flat. He then went to the Acadian Ambulance office on Melrose Street and demanded they give him an ambulance. Farque was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with carjacking, two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, attempted simple escape and battery on a police officer.

     

    Kenner Police say an armed robbery at a Raising Cane’s left a 21-year-old employee dead from multiple stab wounds. Chief Michael Glaser says the victim is identified as 21-year-old Taylor Friloux. Glaser says they are still working to identify possible suspects in the crime. Cane’s issued a statement saying they are deeply saddened by the loss of one of their crew members and they are working with the Kenner Police Department in an active investigation.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards asked the Board of Regents and colleges and universities not raise tuition for the upcoming school year. He said he kept his word about protecting higher education and he doesn’t want any more of a burden to be placed on students and families. Still no word on whether the governor will line item veto language in the budget bill that fully funds TOPS in the fall, but pays for less than half in the spring.

     

    Starting today through Monday, more Americans than ever are expected to be hitting the road for the 4th of July weekend. Triple A Spokesperson Don Redman says close to 43 million people will be traveling over the holiday, which is five million more than Memorial Day.

    Redman says the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the state is $2.10, we haven’t seen prices this low since 2005.

     

    The second special session ended a week ago today, and lawmakers proposed several constitutional amendments to be decided by voters in November. President of the Public Affairs Research Council, Robert Travis Scott, says there will be six changes on the ballot in the fall. He says one of them would change the state’s corporate income taxes. He says another amendment would affect those who have lost a spouse in the line of duty. And finally, one proposal would no longer allow the legislature to set tuition at colleges and universities. That power would go to higher education boards instead.

     

    A statewide campaign begins today that seeks to reduce drunk driving this Fourth of July weekend. Jessica Bedwell with the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will include multiple enforcement efforts aimed at keeping drunk drivers off the road. Bedwell says they also ask people to eliminate distractions while behind the wheel and focus on driving safely

     

    The defense lawyers for Cardell Hayes, the man accused of fatally shooting Saints player Will Smith, do not want the trial to take place during football season. Currently, the trial is set to begin September 20th. Hayes’ attorneys believe any trial date during the season could cause unfair bias against their client. Hayes is charged with second degree murder of Will Smith and attempted murder for shooting Smith’s wife Racquel.

     

    Inspector General Stephen Street has announced that a film company claimed over $1 million in fraudulent tax exemptions in Louisiana. Street says Horizon Entertainment and Productions claimed excess expenses in the 2011 filming of The Sean Payton Show and the documentary Saintsational. He calls on the legislature to put tighter regulations on the film tax credit program to prevent this type of fraud. Horizon denies doing anything wrong.

     

    This week Louisiana’s Interstate Highway System marks it’s 60ith birthday. DOTD Secretary Sean Wilson says our system is very valuable, effective but sometimes over capacity. Wilson says they’re going to work on improving parts of I-10 and I-20 to make room for more travelers. He says travel has increased by 43% on Louisiana’s interstates from 2000 to 2014

     

    The UL-System appointed Leon Sanders, vice president of finance and administration at Grambling State, to act as the school’s leader while the job search is underway. President Willie Larkin’s resignation is effective tomorrow. The UL-System says they are currently accepting applications for the job and hope to do interviews at their July 26th meeting.

     

    State Police say an off duty Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Deputy is facing a DWI. Trooper Jesse LaGrange says Tara Whitney was pulled over in Houma after an officer noticed she wasn’t wearing her seat belt, then was found to be intoxicated with an open container. He says Whitney, who was placed on leave from the sheriff’s office, faces multiple charges.

     

    A Baton Rouge man is in the ICU after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria in Mississippi last week. Dick Empson reportedly had to have his leg amputated because of the infection and is currently in a medically induced coma. Doctors told family members that the survival rate for this kind of infection is 20% to 30%. This type of bacteria has been discovered at beaches along the Gulf Coast, and people are advised not to enter the water with open cuts or sores.

     

    Three of the major Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter appeared at a debate in Baton Rouge to discuss why they should be elected on November 8th. Congressman Charles Boustany says he wants to create a better sense of trust between the people and government. Congressman John Fleming says he has a record of fighting for what the people of Louisiana want. State Treasurer John Kennedy says government is too big and plans to give the power to the people. So basically nothing new.. Democrat Foster Campbell apologized for not being able to attend the debate.

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  • News for Wednesday 062916

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Social media has been going wild with rumors regarding an increase in SNAP benefits this month. However the Bureau of Communications and Governmental Affairs had denied these rumors and urges SNAP recipients to remain cautious of online, and telephone scams. DCFS says the rumor is 100% false, and SNAP recipients will continue to receive their usual benefit amount on their regularly scheduled day.

     

    The story of the missing girl out of a quiet Caldwell Parish community seems to be over after authorities located what is believed to be her body inside a vehicle that was found in a lake. Sheriff Steve May says search teams had been looking for Joann Jarrell for about a month and found her in the water Tuesday.  He says they do not suspect foul play at this time.

     

    Dow Chemical announced Tuesday it will lay off 2500 workers worldwide, though it’s not clear whether the job cuts would affect the company’s more than 6,000 employees and contract workers in Louisiana. The cuts are part of Dow’s efforts to achieve $500 million in cost savings and boost revenue after taking full control of the Dow Corning Corp.

     

    People making plans for their Fourth of July celebrations like to head to Louisiana for the festivities. According to WalletHub, the New Orleans is the third best city for Independence Day parties. Jill Gonzales with WalletHub says the study looked at entertainment and food options, attractions and activities, and weather forecast. She says New Orleans did particularly well in the food category. Seattle and Minneapolis were the only two cities to top New Orleans on the list.

     

    A Louisiana Congressman has filed legislation that seeks to help prepare for potential health emergencies, like outbreaks of Ebola and Zika. The proposal by Congressman Bill Cassidy would wave some red-tape regulations and authorize funding if a public health emergency is declared. Cassidy, a doctor, says this could help contain outbreaks. The bill would also authorize about $1.5 billion to control the outbreak when a health emergency is declared.

     

    After waiting for more than 10 years, today is the groundbreaking ceremony for the site of the permanent VA clinic in Lake Charles. Chairman of the Lake Charles Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission Jim Jackson says he’s looking forward to finally having a clinic that will help around 10-thousand veterans in the southwest Louisiana area. He says it’s time we looked at the long range issue of care for the men and women who fought for our freedoms.  Jackson says the project should take about 12 months to complete.

     

    A crash in Iberville Parish claimed the life a 9-year-old and injured several others. Trooper Bryan Lee with State Police says 27-year-old Tommie Killough was trying to pass another vehicle in a no passing zone when the cars collided. He says Killough is still in the hospital, but once she gets out, she will face multiple charges. Lee says no on in the other vehicle was hurt.

     

    The Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office have arrested three people in connection to the murder of a Siciliy Island man shot to death in his front yard. 24-year-old Daquan Thomas and 31-year-old Perry Gibson have been charged with first degree murder in George Harris’ death. 30-year-old April Simmons has been charged with accessory after the fact of First degree murder.

     

    A former Eunice police officer is facing charges of obstruction and malfeasance in office, for allegedly cussing out someone he was arresting and threatening to beat him up. Major Eddie Thibodaux with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office says Lt. Varden Guillory became irate with Heath Bergeron, a domestic violence suspect, when Bergeron came in to make his statement. It ended up that the husband was the victim. Guillory left the Eunice Police Department after the incident.

     

    State Police says they are reviewing a viral video that appears to show a trooper body slamming a suspect.  LSP spokesperson Melissa Matey says the unnamed trooper was walking down Bourbon Street on his way home after a 12 hour shift. Matey says State Police supervisors are reviewing the video.

     

    Country music legend Charlie Daniels and rock band Theory Of A Deadman will be the featured entertainers Saturday at FreedomFest 2016 at Fort Polk. The one-day festival, which begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, is free and open to the public. It will take place at Headquarters Field at Fort Polk. The day will wrap up with a large fireworks display.

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  • News for Tuesday 062816

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion law Monday, which could mean a similar Louisiana law is coming off the books as well. The law required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals, and Louisiana has similar legislation. Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says the justices ruled the law violates the Constitution. Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a statement saying his office will review the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Louisiana’s law, but will continue to fight Louisiana’s case to protect women’s health.

     

    Just in time for the soaring summer temperatures, Cleco utility customers are getting a break on their power bills. Cleco spokesperson Robbyn Cooper says beginning July 1, customers will start seeing a credit on their bills, averaging $475. The credit comes as a result of the Pineville-based utility company’s sale to a foreign investment group.  Cooper says they want customers to benefit from the sale as well.

     

    Health officials have posted beach advisories along the Gulf Coast as many people put the finishing touches on their 4th of July Holiday plans. They advise folks planning to head the ocean in Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas to not get into the water at certain locations due to high levels of a harmful flesh eating bacteria. You can get Louisiana water advisories online at dhh.louisiana.gov.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards has been elected as the chair of the Southern Regional Education Board. Edwards’ Communication Director Richard Carbo says says K-12 education has been cut for in the state for the first time in a generation. He says this new position will give Governor Edwards an opportunity to find new ideas to improve education throughout the 16 state region.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards is taking a lot of heat from industry leaders in the state after he issued an executive order to make changes to a program that gives manufactures big tax breaks. Local governing bodies will now have a say in how the exemptions are handed out, and requires companies applying to show they are creating or retaining jobs. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says this order is nothing out of the ordinary since 38 other states give local oversight on the local exemption process.

     

    State Police say a Sunday afternoon crash in St. Landry Parish took the life a one-year-old child. Master Trooper Brooks David says 24-year-old Bendel Williams ran off  highway 182 and struck some trees. The infant in the back seat was not properly restrained and was killed. Charges are pending against Williams.

     

    State Police say a child is dead and 8 people are injured after an a vehicle was passing in a no passing zone and flipped multiple times after being hit by another vehicle yesterday  afternoon in Iberville Parish.

     

    Police say the Bossier City woman who falsely accused a man of molesting his 5-month-old daughter has turned herself in. Authorities say Carrie Rivers has been booked into the Bossier Maximum Security facility. Rivers reportedly worked as a babysitter for the family, and when her services were no longer needed, she made up the story to get back at the family.

     

    Two men are behind bars in Lafayette in connection to the murders of two people who were found in two separate burned out vehicles. Deputies say 31-year-old Joshua Willis and 21-year-old Joseph Sylvester face charges including two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of 23-year-old Ashley Metz and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Walter Hill. The case remains under investigation.

     

    Despite rumors to the contrary, sources say the New Orleans Saints do plan to still hold mini camp at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, following devastating flooding at the site of the team’s practice facility. The Saints say they feel the practice complex and all other necessary facilities will be ready for them when camp opens late next month.

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  • News for Monday 062716

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Today is National HIV Testing Day. According to government statistics, one-in-eight people living with HIV don't know they have it.

     

    The  Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, police and other agencies continue to search the Red River for a man who jumped from the Gillis Long Bridge Saturday afternoon.

    Family members have confirmed the man who jumped was 46 year old Eddie Jeter Jr. They say Jeter was depressed and homeless.

     

    State police continue to investigate a single vehicle crash early Sunday morning that claimed the life of a Pitkin teen and injured another. Troopers say 19 year old Alfred Trosclair III lost control and exited the left side of highway 10 and struck a tree. Trosclair was pronounced dead at the scene. 19 year old Carl James, a passenger in the vehicle, was ejected during the crash.  He received moderate injuries and was transported to Cabrini Hospital. Alcohol usage is a suspected factor in the crash

     

    Manufacturing facilities who receive a huge local property tax break would now have to prove they are creating and retaining jobs under an executive order by Governor John Bel Edwards. The industry says the rule changes could put major projects on hold or prevent other businesses from coming to Louisiana. But the governor says the program is not doing a service to local governments if the plants aren’t retaining or creating jobs.

     

    There have been developments in the two cases of the officers who were shot in here in Louisiana last week. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newel Normand says the suspect in the murder of Deputy David Michel Jr. was sending text messages the prior day planning to commit other crimes. He added that witnesses say Jerman Neveaux shot Michel twice in the back as the deputy tried to crawl away.

     

    In the shooting and injuring of a Ouachita Parish deputy, two 17 year olds were arrested with accessory after the fact for allegedly trying to lead cops away from the suspected gunman by giving false information. Ricky Wade Jr. is facing three charges of attempted first degree murder.

     

    Remember we told you Friday that charges were being dropped against a Baton Rouge mother who whipped her children after she found out they had robbed a neighbor’s home. Well, it appears now her problems may have only just begun. State Attorney General Jeff Landry has decided his officer needs to look into the matter to be sure the Parish DA handled the situation properly.  But, that’s not all. The state Department of Children and family services is also looking into the case. Landry says he is concerned that the children may be taken away from their mother.

     

    The LSU Board of Supervisors gives the school’s ag center the green light to begin the process of growing medical marijuana. LSU Ag Center Chancellor Doctor Bill Richardson says the weed won’t be grown in a field outside. But rather in a very controlled inside environment.

    The AgCenter plans to get a third-party investor involved to help pay for start-up costs.

     

    The LSU board also voted Friday to implement a $177 hike in fees starting in the fall. LSU President F. King Alexander says the increases are a result of continued cuts to higher education. He added he does not like the amendment approved by the legislature that would fund TOPS in the fall, but not the spring. He says this would create series problems for students who need financial aid. Governor Edwards could line-item veto the TOPS language.

     

    A Shreveport woman is wanted by police for making false accusations that a father molested his 5-month-old daughter. Lt. Bill Davis with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office says 32-year-old Carrie Rivers was a babysitter for the family of the infant and when her services were no longer needed, she made up this story to make the parents mad. He says this allegation created major problems.

     

    Plans are in the works for Shreveport-Bossier to get a new bridge over the Red River, and Monroe residents are asking when will the state pay for a new bridge over the Ouachita River, as there’s been talk of a new bridge in that area for decades. Ouachita parish police juror Walt Caldwell says a new bridge in Monroe would cost around $300 million, and there isn’t enough money in the state capital outlay budget to cover the cost. The cost for the new Shreveport bridge is projected between $80 and $100 million. Caldwell says the Monroe project would require a lot of federal funding, and that money doesn’t appear to be available either.

     

    A suspect wanted in a 2014 double murder case out of East Feliciana Parish has been returned to Louisiana after being located in Germany. State Police arrested one of the two people accused wanted for the murders of Eddy Earl Hall and Connie Hall of Ethel. State Police are still trying to locate the second suspect.

     

    Louisiana’s major goal of stopping wetland erosion and rebuilding the coast has come to a halt. Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Restoration Program David Muth says that’s because sea levels are expected to rise higher than previously predicted. But he says that doesn’t mean they’ll stop trying to solve coastal land loss. Muth says the state is using funding from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to build barrier islands, marshes and dredging to limit coastal land loss. He says the most important step is for Louisiana to use sediment from the Mississippi River to build up the marshes.

     

    The second special session is over, but ULM political science professor John Sutherlin says Governor John Bel Edwards won’t be taking a breather anytime soon. The governor will have to make at least $300 million dollars in cuts to the state budget for next fiscal year. Sutherlin says Edwards will be involved in trying to bolster the state’s ports, roads and bridges, while also working on some job creation projects. Sutherlin says with a Democrat in the White House it may help Edwards bring down more federal dollars from Washington for infrastructure projects. He anticipates the governor will also look to improve broadband internet service throughout the state.

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  • News for Friday 062416

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Just one day after a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy was shot and killed; two Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Deputies were shot in Monroe while serving a felony warrant. Sheriff Jay Russell says one of the officers was shot near his face and the other in his the leg. Russell says both deputies underwent surgery and are expected to make a full recovery. The suspect, who has a long rap sheet was arrested a short time later.  Both deputies are 25 year veterans of the OPSO.

     

    Just before midnight, the Louisiana legislature gave final approval to a spending bill that calls for the TOPS scholarship program to be fully funded for the fall semester. But legislators left Baton Rouge without fully funding TOPS. Under the plan approved by lawmakers, TOPS students would only have 42-percent of their tuition covered for the spring semester. Several democrats call the front-loading of TOPS a budget gimmick. Governor John Bel Edwards agrees saying TOPS students will be left with a big tuition bill for the spring semester…

     

    Renovation of the Rapides Parish Coliseum is set to be completed later this year. Yesterday, the Police Jury met to give it’s blessing to a $405,000 contract for a bathroom project that is part of the Coliseum renovation. Ratcliff construction, who is already the lead contractor on the renovation project, was the low bidder and was handed the contract.  

     

    President of Grambling State University Willie Larkin resigned today after one year at the school. Larkin made the announcement at Louisiana Tech during a meeting of the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors. In February, Grambling’s Faculty Senate gave Dr. Larkin a vote of no confidence. As they were reportedly upset with falling enrollment, fundraising and the loss of the school’s nursing program.

     

    The LSU Board of Supervisors will vote tomorrow on whether or not their AgCenter will grow medical marijuana that would be sold to patients who receive prescription for the drug. Spokesperson for the LSU AgCenter Frankie Gould says the law passed this year that expanded the diseases for which the drug can be prescribed, also outlined two possible growers for the plant. LSU was one of them. Gould says they aren’t sure if this is a worthwhile investment, especially since state funding for colleges has been slashed in recent years.

     

    Residents in northwest Louisiana will now have access to revolutionary hi-tech methods for breast cancer detection, as new state-of-the-art breast imaging center is opening today in Shreveport. Marilyn Joiner is the spokeswoman for the WK Breast Health Center. She says doctors there will use 3D technology which lets them do a mammogram and a biopsy at the same time.

     

    An Abbeville man will spend the rest of his life in prison for fatally shooting a Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s deputy. District Attorney Keith Stutes says 22-year-old Quintylan Richard entered a plea of guilty on the two-year anniversary when he shot Deputy Allen Bares. Authorities say Bares was gunned down after confronting Richard and an alleged accomplice about a home they just robbed. Stutes says Richard will not get the death penalty, but he will spend the rest of his life in jail. He says the trial was set for next year, but everyone was ready to put this tragedy to rest.

     

    Beginning August 1, assaulting a police officer will be a felony, no matter what kind of weapon is used. West Monroe Senator Mike Walsworth says under the previous law, assaulting an officer with anything other than a gun was a misdemeanor. He says this new law expands that language to include the use of any weapon in the felony, not just a firearm.

     

    The DA is East Baton Rouge Parish says they will not seek the death penalty in the case of the two suspects accused in the brutal murders and kidnapping of an elderly Baton Rouge couple last year. Hillar Moore says this was the decision of the victim’s family. Ernesto Alonso and Frank Garcia are both charged with two counts of first degree murder and kidnapping.

     

    The Louisiana filmed movie, Free State of Jones, starting Matthew McConaughey comes out in theaters today. Executive Director of Celtic Studios Patrick Mulhearn says the movie revolves around a Mississippi farmer who tries to succeed from the Confederacy. He says the movie is set during the Civil War and was filmed in 10 different Louisiana parishes.

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  • News for Thursday 062316

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Law enforcement around the state are mourning the death of 50-year-old Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy David Michel, who was fatally shot yesterday while attempting to conduct a pedestrian stop. Police say a suspect is in custody. Authorities say Michel was shot three times in the back after an altercation with a male pedestrian. After the shooting he was rushed to a local hospital, where he died less than an hour later.

     

    The Town Talk reports today the Alexandria Police officer who broke up a fight involving radio talk show host Tony Brown last month at The Grand Theatre has been exonerated following an Internal Affairs investigation. The Internal Affairs investigation was conducted to see if the officer used excessive force. He took Brown to the ground to arrest him, and in the process Brown’s wife was knocked down. The Town Talk, through a public records request, obtained a copy of the Internal Affairs case report and copies of dozens of pages of evidence in the case. The complete story is in today’s Town Talk.

     

    The special session ends tonight at midnight and lawmakers are still trying to figure out how much state agencies will get based on the revenue that has been raised over the last couple of weeks. The Senate Finance Committee has decided not to give public colleges a reduction in state dollars, so K-12 public schools are on the chopping block. Shreveport Senator Gregory Tarver says universities have been cut enough…This spending proposal still needs the approval of the House and Senate.

     

    The lawyer of a Marksville City Marshall accused of fatally shooting a 6-year-old boy and injuring his father  has filed a motion to move the trial out of Avoyelles Parish. 31-year-old Derrick Stafford’s attorney, Christopher LaCour, says with all the media coverage he doesn’t believe Stafford can get a fair trial in this parish. Stafford and Greenhouse are set to go to trial this fall.

     

    Instead of repairing the Jimmy Davis Bridge over the River in Shreveport-Bossier, the DOTD says they’ve decided to build a new four-lane bridge. Now word yet as to how much the new bridge will cost or when construction will begin.

     

    East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says he has yet to decide if he’ll prosecute a Baton Rouge mother who has been charged with child cruelty for allegedly hitting her children with an electric cord, because they broke into a neighbor’s home. Moore says he’s still waiting to get all the facts in the case. Social media has gone crazy with people supporting the woman’s decision. Moore says the woman does not have a criminal history.

     

    Governor Edwards has signed into law legislation that says if you fly a drone over someone’s property to take a peep at what they are doing, you could be charged with trespassing. The law goes into effect immediately.

     

    President Obama signed a bill into law that puts regulations in place to make chemical plants safer. U.S. Senator David Vitter is a co-sponsor of the legislation and says this benefits Louisiana residents, because it creates a federal system to make sure chemicals are made safely based on the latest science. Vitter says the law gives a reasonable set of regulations with a single handbook that our companies can follow to remain a world leader in innovation. He says before this, states were developing their own inconsistent regulatory systems which wasn’t working.

     

    A Baton Rouge woman has been placed under arrest by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office for allegedly pretending to be a cop and taking someone into custody with toy handcuffs at a casino. Deputies learned 23-year-old Georgetta Augillard didn’t work for any law enforcement agency and she was booked with false imprisonment and fraudulent portrayal of a cop.

     

    The Ponchatoula-based company Elmer Chocolate cuts the ribbon on their new $40 million expansion today. Elmer president and CEO, Robert Nelson, says they are excited to open their expanded facility right here in the Bayou State. Elmer is best known for its Easter candy, but Nelson says that only accounts for 10-percent of their total sales.

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  • News for Wednesday 062216

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Manpower says based on its survey of metropolitan areas, New Orleans and Baton Rouge are the two worst in the country to find a job this summer. LSU Economist Doctor Loren Scott says the summer is a slow time for New Orleans tourism industry. Scott says the job outlook is actually much worse in Houma and Lafayette, because of the downturn in the oil and gas industry.

     

    A new report released by the Annie E Casey Foundation finds Louisiana ranks 48th for child well-being. Teresa Falgoust, with the Agenda for Children, says the state ranks so low because of the number of kids who live in poverty, but the report highlights some positives. Falgoust says Louisiana ranks seventh in pre-school attendance and literacy has improved.

     

    A group called Together Louisiana says the state gives away 1.6 billion dollars in local tax revenue as a result of the industrial tax exemption program, which benefits large manufacturers. Together Louisiana spokesperson Broderick Bagert says school districts, parishes and other local entities are missing out on these dollars. Tax and Finance Council Director for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Jim Patterson, says 40 states give this kind of exemption. He says without this exemption, many businesses might not come to Louisiana.

     

    The legislative session ends on Thursday night at midnight and 284-million dollars in revenues have been approved as a result of changes to tax laws. Governor John Bel Edwards has pushed for 600-million dollars in the hopes the state can avoid making cuts to the budget.

     

    Senate President John Alario says he wants to revive a piece of legislation that would reduce the amount of tax deductions a person receives if they itemize on their state income tax forms. The proposal would generate an estimated 88-million dollars. It’s an effort supported by the governor, but such a proposal has already been dismissed by the Louisiana House.

     

    If 284-million dollars is all that could be raised, cuts will occur to higher ed, various health care services and the TOPS program to name a few. How much of the revenue raised in this special session should go to TOPS versus hospitals that provide care for the poor is a major debate right now.

     

    Governor Edwards has established a task Force to develop ways Louisiana can safely lower its prison population and reduce inmate housing costs. Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc says Louisiana incarcerates more residents per capita than anywhere else in the world and this task force will come up with recommendations that the legislature can approve in 2017. LeBlanc says more programs at the local level can help reduce the recividism rate and lower the jail population.

     

    The governor has signed a bill into law that raised the age threshold for victims of sex trafficking from 18 to 21. Before this law, victims between 18 to 21 could have been arrested for prostitution. Executive Director of Project 41 in West Monroe, Lindsey Nadler, says they are thrilled about the new law, because jail is not what these victims need.

     

    Deputies in Lafayette are investigating two bodies that were both located in burned out vehicles separate from each other in the early morning hours yesterday. They say one was found in Carenco around 1:15am, and the other at 3:30am in Scott. Authorities say at this time the bodies have not been identified and it is unknown if the two incidents are connected. Detectives are still working the scenes and the case is ongoing.

     

    Attorney General Jeff Landry and law enforcement are teaming up to tackle cyber-crimes against children. Landry says since April, 57 alleged perpetrators have been arrested for the distribution and possession of child pornography as part of “Operation Broken Heart”  State Police is assisting in the effort to reduce internet crimes against children. Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson says parents can help in this battle by being vigilant and keeping a close eye on your kids online activities.

     

    Former state senator Elbert Guillory is in the race for the 4th Congressional District seat, and he’s running a very unique YouTube ad to gain voters’ support, by using coconuts as a metaphor, saying he has the coconuts for the job.  This is not the first time Guillory has made a bold statement in an ad. Last year in the race for Lt. Governor, he used the n-word multiple times to “start a dialogue on race.”

     

    Here’s a bizarre story out of Caddo Parish, sheriff’s office spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says they arrested a Shreveport man for trespassing after he climbed up a historic monument outside of the courthouse during the middle of the night and the statue’s arm fell off in the process. Bond for Twenty-seven-year-old Tromell Conerlious was set at 500-dollars.

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  • News for Tuesday 062116

    By Dave Graichen

     

    It has happened yet again. Authorities are investigating the deaths of 3-year-old twins who died after being locked in a hot pickup truck. Bossier City Police spokesperson Mark Natale says at some point Saturday afternoon, the children’s mother realized she didn’t know where the kids were.  She found the children in a closed pickup truck. A Shreveport television reports the children were in the truck for two hours and temperatures were in the 90s Saturday afternoon. No criminal charges have been filed yet in the case.

     

    With very little fanfare, Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton was sworn in Monday to his sixth term. Ninth District Judge John Davidson administered the oath of office to Hilton, who has served five terms in office. Hilton’s 6th term will officially will begin July 1.

     

    The Louisiana House approved two bills Monday that would generate an additional 75-million dollars in tax revenue. If approved by the Senate, the legislature will raise 284-million dollars in this special session, far short of the $600 million sought by Governor John Bel Edwards. Based on the taxes that have been raised in the two special sessions, at least 70% of TOPS would be funded under a bill approved by the House.

     

    With two days left in the special session, lawmakers are arguing over how much to fund TOPS. A bill approved by the House funds the scholarship program at 70-percent. Bogalusa Representative Malinda White believes fewer dollars should go to TOPS in favor of more money for hospitals that provide care for the poor and uninsured. Prairieville Representative Tony Bacala urged House members not to take any more funding away from the scholarship program. The Senate Finance committee will talk more about TOPS funding at its meeting Today.

     

    According to the Department of Children and Family Services, the number of food stamp recipients in Louisiana jumped 9% from April 2015 to April 2016, but that rate is falling nationwide. Director of the Louisiana Budget Project, Jan Moller says those rates should go down when oil prices come back up, and more people in that sector get jobs.

     

    Louisiana ranks third in the country for lightning claims, according to State Farm. Roszell Gadson with State Farm says in 2015, the insurance company paid out over $6 million on almost 14-hundred lightning claims, averaging $46-hundred each.

     

    32-year-old Margaret Sanchez has been sentenced to 40 years in jail after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and manslaughter in the death and dismemberment of Bourbon Street exotic dancer Jaren Lockhart in 2012. Legal analyst Chick Foret says now that the case is over, Lockhart’s family can finally have closure.

     

    Two Alabama football players arrested in Monroe on gun and drug charges will not be prosecuted. Ouachita Parish District Attorney Jerry Jones told KNOE-TV there was insufficient evidence. Back in May, Cameron Robinson and Hootie Jones were arrested after a Monroe police officer allegedly found them smoking pot inside a vehicle.

     

    Louisiana anglers rejoice as Toledo Bend has been ranked the number one bass fishery in the country for the second straight year by Bassmaster. Magazine Editor James Hall says this is the first time in the history of ranking the best fishing destination in America that one fishery has won back to back or even won twice.

     

    Thursday night is the NBA Draft and the Pelicans have three picks. The sixth overall pick and then two in the second round. New Orleans General Manager Dell Demps believes they can add some significant pieces around All-Star Anthony Davis.

     

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  • News for Monday 062016

    By Dave Graichen

     

    It looks like the appetite just isn’t there for lawmakers to raise any more taxes. Governor John Bel Edwards asked legislators to increase revenue by 600-million dollars in this special session, but it appears the legislature will fall way short of that figure. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says many lawmakers believe they’ve raised enough revenue.

    Last night, state representatives failed to pass a measure that would limit excess itemized deductions in personal income taxes, which would have raised an additional 60-million dollars.

     

    LSU economist Dr. Jim Richardson says Louisiana could finish this fiscal year with a 200 million dollar deficit. Senate President John Alario says Richardson informed him corporate income taxes are way below what was projected. So far, the legislature has agreed to tax changes that will generate 220 million dollars in additional revenue, but there’s a big resistance in the House to raise anymore. The special session ends Thursday.

     

    The head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association says there are some encouraging signs for the struggling industry. LOGA President Don Briggs says one positive sign is that oil prices are near 50-dollars a barrel, after falling to 26-dollars in February. Briggs says they hope the price can rise some more during the second half of 2016, because of the break-even point for the industry is between 60-and-70-dollars a barrel. He says the price of natural gas is also up, which is particularly good for the northwestern part of the state.

     

    Congratulations going out to the Town Talk.. The Alexandria / Pineville newspaper earned a first-place award for best front page and took third place overall for general excellence Saturday at the 136th Annual Louisiana Press Association Convention. In addition to the two staff-wide awards, six Town Talk staff members won awards as well..

     

    The number of abortions that took place in 2015 fell 10-percent from the previous year. That’s based on numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health. Louisiana Right to Life spokesperson Ben Clapper says there were 93-hundred abortions last year, a decrease of about a thousand from the previous year. He credits pregnancy resource centers for the decline. Clapper says Caddo Parish had the highest number of abortions in a single parish with 34-hundred. He says based on 2015 data, about 26 abortions are performed every day in Louisiana.

     

    Louisiana has the third worst roads in the country, according to a new report from CarInsurance.com. Oklahoma came in 49th on the list, and California finished last. Michelle Megna with CarInsurance.com says poor quality roads had a big impact on the state’s low rating. The report also indicates that 29% of bridges in the state are classified as structurally deficient. Megna says Louisiana is also the second worst in the nation for how much drivers spend on their car insurance. Megna says almost 14% of Louisiana drivers do not have auto insurance.

     

    The former Amite High School valedictorian and standout athlete Andrew Jones finally had his graduation ceremony after not being allowed to attend the one with his classmates, because of his facial hair. The celebration took place last night at the African-American Heritage Museum in Hammond.

     

    A settlement has been reached in the dispute between Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson and his heirs. Terms of the agreement are confidential. The 88-year-old sued last year to make sure his wife gained control of the teams , instead of his children and two grandchildren.

     

    More charges have been added in the murder of the Baton Rouge pregnant teacher. Baton Rouge Police Cpl. L’Jean McKneely says evidence leads investigators to conclude 40-year-old Lyntell Washington was fatally shot by 39-year-old Robert Marks. He says Marks was the assistant principal where Washington was a teacher, and she was threatening to reveal their affair. Marks has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree feticide

     

    A former Livingston Parish teacher has been arrested following allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student at Walker Freshman High School. Authorities says 33-year-old Lynsie Pendarvis was arrested following an interview with the 15-year-old student who confirmed they had . Sharp says the juvenile was a student in Pendarvis’ science class.

     

    Louisiana Tech is looking for a new baseball coach. Greg Goff has left the program after two seasons as he’s the new coach at Alabama. Goff led the Bulldogs to a 42-20 record this past season and a berth into the NCAA Tournament. Tech athletics director Tommy McClelland says they appreciate the job Goff did in building a winning culture.

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  • News for Friday 061616

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Louisiana House has decided to wait until Sunday night before voting on a tax bill that has the backing of Governor John Bel Edwards. A vote on the measure was scheduled for Thursday, but the author of the bill, Bogalusa Representative Malinda White, says the 53 votes are not there to get it passed. It would temporarily reduce a tax deduction for those who itemize on their state income tax returns. House Speaker Taylor Barras said he believes his members have reached a “saturation point” against raising more taxes after a showdown vote on an income tax bill planned Thursday was postponed, but the Senate upped the ante by approving about $200 million in new revenue.

     

    Four Louisiana cities rank in the top 20 least health cities in the US, according to a study from 24/7 Wall Street. Hammond came in third on the list, Monroe ranked sixth, Shreveport-Bossier is ninth, and Alexandria came in at number 12. Bob Johannessen with the state Department of Health and Hospitals says the study shows many unhealthy cities have a high uninsured rate, and Louisiana’s uninsured rate is currently about 13%. Johannessen says DHH is working to remedy that with the newly expanded Medicaid program. He says they’ve already enrolled over 200-thousand people in the two weeks since enrollment began.

     

    Domestic violence victims with active restraining orders will soon be able to get expedited temporary concealed carry permits under a bill that’s been signed into law. The new law goes into effect August 1. These victims will have access to temporary permits, but they will still have to undergo background checks. Once this permit expires they will have to take a training class and get a regular permit. Louisiana is consistently in the top 5 nationally when it comes to domestic violence.

     

    Law enforcement is taking extreme precautions in New Orleans for the Gay Pride parade and Festival this weekend after the tragic mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says they’ve beefed up security in the French Quarter and are working hand in hand with festival organizers. He says their mantra is if you see something, say something.

     

    Thousands of Louisiana state workers will not receive a pay raise this year. The Civil Service Commission voted to block annual pay adjustments for 38-thousand government employees. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne previously said the state couldn’t afford raises, because of budget problems.

     

    A heat advisory is in effect for the entire state, and emergency officials are urging residents to take extreme caution outside. GOHSEP spokesman Mike Steele says we are experiencing these scorching temperatures earlier than usual. Forecasters say heat index values could be between 105-110. Good news is, conditions will be quite a bit cooler over the weekend.

     

    After a brief flirtation with Texas, LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri is staying in Baton Rouge. In a statement, Mainieri says LSU is home to his family and it’s his intention to keep it that way for a long time. While Maineri is staying, there are reports that Louisiana Tech coach Greg Goff is heading to Alabama to take over the Crimson Tide’s baseball program.

     

    The East Baton Rouge Coroner has been able to confirm that the body found in Iberville Parish this week is the pregnant missing teacher from Baton Rouge. 40-year-old Lyntell Washington was reported missing last Thursday. Authorities believes the assistant principal where Washington worked has something to do with her disappearance.

     

    A review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer finds drinking beverages above 149 degrees Fahrenheit could cause people to develop esophageal cancer. Deputy Director of LSU Health New Orleans Cancer Center, Dr. Edward Trapido, says hot drinks cause damage to the superficial cells in the upper esophagus. Trapido says however there is no evidence that shows coffee causes cancer so you should feel okay having your morning cup of joe.

     

    According to the National Retail Federation, people will spend more on Dad this Father’s Day than ever before. Spokesperson Ana Serafin-Smith says it’s expected Americans will spend about 14 billion dollars this weekend. She says the uptick is linked to kids treating Dad to a nice steak dinner or giving him the latest in electronics. All of which have gone up in price.

     

    Fox Louisiana Productions has been filming for the new Wolverine movie in Ferriday this week. Mayor Gene Allen says the town’s residents are thrilled to have such a big cinematic event taking place in the small Concordia Parish town. Allen says the filming has boosted local business tremendously.

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  • News for Thursday 061616

    By Dave Graichen

     

    A heat advisory is in effect for the upper half of the state, including Rapides Parish.  State Climatologist Barry Keim says the summer is off to a hot start, with temperatures reaching into the mid and upper 90s. He says on top of that, humidity levels are running high leading to high heat index values. Today heat indices are expected to be near or at 110.

     

    A House committee and a senate committee approved separate bills that would generate revenue to address a 600-million dollar shortfall. In House Ways and Means, the panel on a 10-9 vote sent a measure to the House floor that would reduce a tax break for those who itemize on their tax returns. It would generate over 100-million dollars.

     

    The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee approves a bill that would make industries choose between taking an industrial tax exemption or receiving an inventory tax credit. Business groups expressed concerns about losing one of these tax credits. But New Orleans Sen. Karen Peterson says the state can’t afford these large tax breaks, when it’s facing cuts to higher ed, public schools and healthcare. The measure would generate 146-million dollars in tax money. It now moves to the Senate floor.

     

    Teachers in public schools will soon have to teach students cursive writing because of a bill signed into law by the governor. Franklinton Senator Beth Mizell authored the legislation, because she’s concerned children will not be able to sign their name in cursive. The law takes effect in July of next year.

     

    The fines for texting or using social media while driving have been increased from $175 to $500 for a first offense, as a bill has just been signed into law by the governor. Drivers could pay a fine of up to $1,000 for a subsequent offense. For minors caught texting and driving, the fines more than doubled, and subsequent offenses could result in a 6 month suspension of their driver’s license.

     

    Many of the former Wal-Mart Express Stores that closed earlier in the year will soon reopen under a new name. Brookshire foods announced yesterday the pending acquisition of 25 former Walmart Express stores, they will be reopened this summer as "hometown convenience" stores under the name Spring Market. The stores reopening include Colfax, Iowa, Lake Arthur, Mamou and Zwolle.

     

    A new study shows that, In Louisiana, parents average premium for car insurance increases by over 86-percent when they add a teen driver to an existing policy.  Senior insurance analyst with InsuranceQuotes.com Laura Adams says although it’s still expensive, rates have been dipping slightly. She says this is because many teens are waiting to drive under they’re older.

     

    FEMA has released a smartphone app to help residents get prepared for potential natural disasters. It also allows users to receive safety and preparedness tips, including practicing a fire escape plan and updating emergency tips. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says many tools are built in to the app. The app is available in the iTunes store and on Google Play.

     

    East Baton Rouge Coroner, Doctor Beau Clark, says the body found of a woman found in a ditch in Iberville Parish yesterday was shot in the head, but he’s unable to make a positive identification because of advance stages of decomposition. It will take DNA testing to do that.  Authorities believe the body is that of a pregnant teacher from Baton Rouge. Clark says there’s no doubt the victim was pregnant at the time of her death.

     

    A former deputy with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office is under arrest amid charges he had sex with a juvenile while he was on duty. Cops say 31-year-old William Lanoux of Prairieville is charged with malfeasance in office and 1st degree rape. Deputies say the juvenile was considered a runaway when she allegedly met Lanoux on social media and the two went off to have sex. Upon Lanoux’s arrest he was immediately terminated.

     

    The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office arrests three people amid allegations tey stole over $31,000 from an elderly victim. They say the suspects worked as sitters for the woman.

     

    The third installment of the “Ask the Governor” call-in radio show featured a wide variety of questions from callers. Governor John Bel Edwards was asked about everything from food stamps to marijuana and the budget was a key topic. One caller asked about changes to the state’s film tax credit program. Edwards says the state capped the program at 180-million dollars in credits paid out and there are no plans to change it. Another caller asked whether a gas tax could be imposed to address the state’s budget shortfall. Edwards says he has established a transportation task force that will look into revenue raising measures such as gas taxes, tolls, and other ideas. But he says those dollars will have to go towards transportation.

    One caller asked the governor about gun control, in light of the mass shooting in Orlando. Edwards says he is a big supporter of the Second Amendment, but he is in favor of a measure that would prohibit people on terrorist watch lists, who cannot even board planes, from purchasing guns.

     

    LSU says they will now allow visiting bands to perform during halftime, after not allowing them to do so during football games last season. LSU Deputy Athletic Director Eddie Nunez says their plan involves changes to seating in the South End Zone to allow bands to take a more direct route onto the field. He says there were safety concerns with having two bands along the sidelines before the end of the first half.

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  • News for Wednesday 061516

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Town Talk reports the proposed 5% pay raises that were set to take effect on July 1st for Police Jury Civil Service employees has been voted down after it was discovered the raises would cost the Jury a lot more than projected $15,600. Richard Billings offered the motion for the pay hikes, saying the parish can afford increase. However, jury President Craig Smith on Tuesday said that with the way the resolution was worded, the cost would have actually been more like $181 thousand. The employees who would have benefited haven’t seen a pay raise in years.  

     

    Lawmakers are taking another look at a bill that would limit itemized deductions on personal income taxes, after the House Ways and Means Committee rejected the proposal 11-10 last week. The bill would raise more than $100 million in taxes for next fiscal year’s budget. The compromise would make the bill temporary and limit the revenue raised if other bills bring in more money. The special session must end by midnight on June 23.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards has signed the REAL ID Act into law, bringing Louisiana into compliance with the 2005 federal ruling that created national identification standards in the wake of 9/11. Edwards says these ID’s will be required for air travel, even domestic, in the near future. The Office of Motor Vehicles anticipates it will begin issuing REAL ID licenses in the fall of this year, and they will not cost any more than a regular driver’s license.

     

    Local FBI officials say they are on alert in the New Orleans area as the city prepares to host a number of gay pride events. The Orlando shooter appeared to have targeted the gay club where 49 people were killed. The area FBI says there are no specific terror threats for New Orleans, but they are going to be sure if any come up they will be addressed.

     

    State Police say they’ve arrested three people that led investigators to the largest ever seizure of child pornography by LSP. Sgt. Jared Sandifer says over one million files were seized. Sandifer says the Special Victims Unit will continue to work as hard as possible to find those individuals who exploit children in Louisiana.

     

    Lotte (Low-tay) Chemical and Axiall have broken ground on a three billion dollar chemical manufacturing complex in Lake Charles. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says this investment will create hundreds of quality jobs. Pierson says with these jobs coming to southwest Louisiana it will help make up for the employment losses in the oil and gas industry. Pierson expects the plants will be up and running by 2019.

     

    A new report shows Baton Rouge is the second most dangerous city to drive, ranking only behind Detroit. The analysis by the personal finance website NerdWallet examined risks for those who drive in nearly 200 of the nation’s most populated regions. The rankings were based on the rate of fatal crashes, the likelihood of an accident, and other factors.

     

    U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson has scheduled a hearing today to determine if death row inmates at Angola should have air conditioning. Legal Analyst Tim Meche says the state came up with their own heat remediation plan that consists of fans, ice chests, and cold showers for the prisoners, rather than AC. Meche says Judge Jackson will not likely reverse his ruling of installing air conditioners in death row, which would cost about a million dollars. Jackson ruled that it is unconstitutional for the inmates to live where the heat index is higher than 88 degrees.

     

    The first murder to occur in the Hammond city limits in over two years took place last night. Lisa Lambert with Hammond Police says 24-year-old Tremayne Sandifer fatally shot 34-year-old William Davis in a drug deal gone wrong then stole his car and fled the scene. Lambert says Sandifer has been arrested and faces multiple charges.

     

    Multiple agencies are investigating the discovery of a badly decomposed woman’s body in a ditch in Iberville Parish. Authorities say it could possibly be the body of 40-year-old Lyntell Washington, who is a pregnant teacher from Baton Rouge that disappeared last Wednesday. The body has been taken to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s office.

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  • News for Tuesday 061416

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The Rapides Parish Police Jury made it official yesterday. Transgender people will not get to pick and choose which bathrooms they use. Police jurors on Monday unanimously approved a resolution to go on record opposing the federal directive that public schools allow transgender people to use bathrooms of the gender with which they identify. Juror Richard Billings, who authored the resolution, said “We live in a country that everybody knows their gender. They might not appreciate what they were born with, but they should appreciate and evolve to that,”

     

    Two people with ties to Louisiana were among the victims in the mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub. Twenty-seven-year-old Frank Hernandez, a former Lafayette Parish resident, was one of 49 killed and 39-year-old Leonel Melendez, a New Orleans native, is in a coma after he was shot in the head. A vigil was held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol for the victims and families of the Orlando mass shooting. Governor Edwards has ordered US and State of Louisiana flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday.

     

    In the wake of the deadly shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham, from Richland Parish, says the United States must do more to eliminate ISIS. Abraham says our military commanders have told the Obama administration what the U.S needs to do, but the President will not address the elephant in the room. Abraham says the mass shootings in Orlando and San Bernardino by radical Islamic extremists will continue to get out of control, until these terrorists are eliminated

     

    A bill signing ceremony to include 17-year-olds in the Juvenile Justice System takes place today. The Policy Director for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, Rachel Gassert, says this law brings Louisiana in line with 41 other states that currently set the age of criminal responsibility at 18. She says 17-year-olds are not adults and shouldn’t be treated as such for even minor offenses. Gassert says this will improve public safety because the recidivism rates in the Juvenile Justice System are far better than those in the adult system.

     

    The standstill continues at the State Capitol over whether lawmakers should pass tax increases that would raise 600 million dollars in revenue, which is what the governor is seeking. The Edwards Administration says without that money there will be cuts to healthcare, education and the TOPS program. So far the House has approved 220 million dollars in tax increases.

     

    The Baton Rouge father of the eight-month-old baby girl who was left in a hot car will not be criminally prosecuted in her death. That decision was made by East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, who says Marvin Mercer forgot to drop his daughter, Raylee, off at daycare on his way to work, because it’s not something he usually does. Baton Rouge police charged Mercer with negligent homicide. But, Moore says Raylee’s death was an accident and Mercer’s actions do not rise to the standard of criminal negligence

     

    The Baton Rouge PD reports three people, including a 16-year-old, are under arrest in connection with the apparent accidental shooting death of a woman inside a vehicle. They say the group was allegedly traveling to the scene of an earlier conflict, when an assault rifle the teen was holding went off in the back seat and killed a 20-year-old female.

     

    The Associated Press is reporting Louisiana has spent one-million dollars over the last three years fighting a lawsuit that seeks to get the court system to mandate air conditioning on death row at Angola. The story says it would cost about a million dollars for an air conditioning system that would satisfy a federal judge overseeing the case.

     

    The charges have been dropped for now against a man accused in the murder of a 21-year-old woman in Desoto Parish. Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle says autopsy findings could not determine how Maranda Whitton died, so they had to release the suspect, 33-year-old Jarrod Earl Johnson of Logansport. He says they are still actively investigating this incident.

     

    Police in Baton Rouge are still hopeful they will be able to find out what happened to the pregnant mother who went missing after her child was found alone near a vehicle filled with blood. They say the search of swamps near Ramah was suspended for 40-year-old Lyntell Washington, and now cops are looking for other leads or a break in the case. Police arrested 39-year-old Robert Marks for allegedly abandoning the child.

     

    The massive sinkhole that formed about four years ago in Bayou Corne has showed reduced action and is close to stable. That’s the word from Assumption Parish Director of Emergency Operations, John Boudreaux, who says the sinkhole shows some growth but nothing intense. He says the deepest part has reached 174 feet and has consumed close to 35 acres of land.

     

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  • News for Monday 061316

    By Dave Graichen

     

    For the third time in five seasons, LSU baseball has seen its season come to an end on its home field. Coastal Carolina’s Michael Paez’s single into left field scored the game winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning handing the Tigers a tough four to three defeat. Coach Paul Mainieri’s team finishes with a record of 45-and-21. A majority of the team will return next season.

     

    Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana is standing by Florida in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Early Sunday morning a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 50 people and injuring at least 53. Edwards said in a statement “This is a senseless tragedy of unimaginable scale,” “In the face of adversity, as we always do, we stand united against acts of terrorism that threaten our people and our way of life.” 

     

    The investigation continues into a deadly crash that claimed the lives of four people in Vernon parish over the weekend. State police report the crash occurred shortly after four in the morning Saturday on LA 10 between Pitkin and Oakdale. Police say the driver of the vehicle lost control and left the road hitting several trees and bursting into flames. The names of the four who lost their lives have not been released pending DNA testing. Excessive speed is a suspected factor in the crash.

     

    A recent independent poll of 800 voters shows Republican Scott Angelle is leading in the 3rd Congressional District race as 39% of the respondents support the Public Service Commissioner. The Traflagar Group poll has Clay Higgins, who recently joined the race, at 18%. UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross the poll shows 24% are undecided.

     

    Legislators return to the State Capitol today as they look to solve the state’s budget issues. Governor John Bel Edwards has asked legislators to raise revenues by 600-million dollars in this special session to avoid cuts to health care, higher education, public schools and TOPS. But so far the House has only agreed to 220-million dollars in tax increases. The governor’s chief of staff, Ben Nevers, says if the legislature only approves 223-million dollars in new taxes in this session, it could lead to hospitals closing and TOPS funding cut in half. 

     

    The US House has approved a bill that seeks to block President Obama’s proposed $10.25 tax on every barrel of oil. Louisiana Oil and Gas Association Chairman Brian Hanks is pleased with the House’s action, because any additional burden would be a devastating blow to an already struggling industry. Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany says the proposed tax would drive up the price of gas by as much as 25-cents a gallon. A study by the Tax Foundation also found it would cost 137-thousand American jobs. The proposed tax is an effort to pay for green initiatives and alternative energy research.

     

    A Transportation Infrastructure Investment task force has been formed by the governor to identify priority projects throughout the state. State Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says the average driver pays about $108 a year in gas taxes to Louisiana, and they want to make sure those dollars go towards repairing roads, bridges and ports.

    Wilson says they are looking at all of their options to fund the much needed infrastructure projects.

     

    Sea lice has been producing rashes for some Gulf Coast swimmers. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi biology professor, Dr Kim Withers, says sea lice are actually jelly fish larvae and they tend to sting people when they get trapped under a person’s clothes. Withers says the irritation caused by the bites usually goes away after 24 hours, but it can become severe. Withers says the best thing people can do is limit the amount of clothes they wear in the water.

     

    A Luling man has been arrested after he allegedly shot his neighbor’s cat with a bow and arrow. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne says Cody Dupre has just been charged with an aggravated cruelty to an animal charge, because the animal survived the ordeal.

    Champagne says Dupre apparently shot the cat, because he didn’t want it on his property.

     

    DeSoto Parish authorities have tentatively identified a body found in a pond in Logansport as 21-year-old Miranda Whitton. She was reported missing on Monday. The sheriff’s office says 33–year-old Jarrod Earl Johnson of Logansport has been charged with second-degree murder and he’s been booked into the DeSoto Detention Center.

     

    Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred outside the Salvation Army in downtown Monroe. Authorities say two males got into a fight, one of them was stabbed with a knife, while the other was fatally shot.

     

    The Baton Rouge Police Department is searching for a pregnant woman whose 3-year-old daughter was found wandering alone Thursday morning. Cpl. L’Jean McKneely says 39-year-old Robert Marks is arrested for child desertion, and they do suspect foul play in the disappearance of 40-year-old Lyntell Washington. Arrest records indicate the child told detectives that her mother was in the lake. Marks is an assistant principal in East Baton Rouge Parish.

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  • News for Friday 061016

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The East Baton Rouge Parish man, who is accused of leaving his baby in a hot car for over two hours causing her death, has been released from jail on $10,000 bond. 31-year-old Marvin Mercer, who is also a high school baseball coach, was charged with negligent homicide in the death of 8-month-old Raylee Mercer. He said he forgot to take her to daycare on his way to work. The Baton Rouge Coroner’s office has ruled the death as an accident.

     

    Shreveport has lost one of its most influential social and civil rights activists. The Galilee Missionary Baptist Church confirmed yesterday the passing of  Rev. E. Edward Jones. Calling Jones “a civil rights giant,” Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler said his legacy will remain in the hearts of the people in the city he served so well. Reverend Jones was 85.

     

    US Senator David Vitter is pushing legislation that attempts to block the Obama Administration’s overtime rule that would require salary employees not making at least $47,476 a year to receive overtime pay. Supporters say this will put more money in the pockets of low to middle-income earners, but Vitter says the overtime rule is actually a bad thing for American workers.

     

    Florida Governor Rick Scott says he’s coming to Louisiana to encourage businesses here to move to the Sunshine State. In a statement, Scott said Governor John Bel Edwards called the special session for the sole purpose of raising taxes which will burden the job climate here. Edwards’ spokesman Richard Carbo said yesterday the visit is nothing more than a political stunt. But, that they welcome Governor Scott to Louisiana and hope he spends a lot of money while he’s here.

     

    At the State Capitol Thursday, the Louisiana House approved a package of tax bills that would increase state revenues by 220-million dollars for next fiscal year’s budget. But Governor John Bel Edwards has said the legislature needs to raise 600-million dollars to avoid major cuts to education and health care. Several other tax bills are having a difficult time getting out of the House Ways and Means Committee. The biggest revenue generating bill to pass is a measure that raises taxes on H-M-Os. The special session must wrap up its business by the 23rd of this month.

     

    A graduation ceremony will be held for the valedictorian who was not allowed to participate in his graduation at Amite High School because of his facial hair. Pastor Roosevelt Wright is one of the coordinators for this event. He says Andrew Jones, a 4.0 student, overcame many challenges and earned the right to lead his class that day. He says the facial hair policy in place in the school had never been enforced prior to graduation day, and he says they have plenty of pictures to prove it.

     

    Former-governor Bobby Jindal turns 45 today. The former-presidential candidate has kept a low profile since he left the Governor’s Office in January. But UL Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says Jindal’s political career is probably far from over. At one-time the former governor was considered a rising star in the Republican Party. He finished his second-term as the state’s highest elected official with low approval numbers. Cross says it’s unlikely Jindal run for office again in this state. Cross says the former-governor and Congressman has already accomplished so much at a young age that it’s hard to say what exactly he will do next.

     

    Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal is facing a new criminal charge. Ackal has been indicted on an allegation that he planned to have another man arrested and beaten, because he assaulted one of the sheriff’s relatives. Back in March, Ackal was initially indicted on charges he directed officers to beat five inmates at the parish jail’s chapel, where no surveillance cameras could catch it.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards has signed into law a measure that will prevent adult entertainment establishments from hiring strippers that are under the age of 21. Jim Kelly with the Covenant House in New Orleans supports the legislation, because if a girl has to be 21 to drink at a strip club, then she should have to be 21 to take her clothes off in that establishment.

    The new law goes into effect August 1st.

     

    Tangipahoa Parish deputies arrest a 15-year-old in connection with the double homicide that occurred last week in Natalbany. The teenage boy has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Authorities say the shooting was drug related and connected to another fatal shooting that took place the next day.

     

    State Police have confirmed St. Joseph Mayor Ed Brown is the subject of a criminal investigation. A legislative audit has accused Brown of mishandling the Tensas Parish town’s finances. Officials say says this could be a lengthy investigation. A judge appointed a fiscal manager for the town earlier this week and St. Joe’s financial problems have kept them from receiving state funds to improve their drinking water, which has been a murky brown color for close to a decade.

     

    A job fair is taking place in Terrebonne Parish today that aims to help those in the oil and gas industry find jobs, as unemployment in that sector continues to rise. President and CEO of the South Louisiana Economic Council, Vic LaFonte, says although the bayou region is seeing job losses, there are employment opportunities in other parts of the state. Lake Charles, for example, is seeing an economic boom..

     

    Lake Charles Police announced in a press conference yesterday that they have arrested a 16-year-old suspect in the fatal shooting of 79-year-old man over the weekend. Police Chief Don Dixon says on Sunday they responded to a vehicle that hit a tree and officers discovered Robert Colston behind the wheel suffering from a gunshot wound. Colston was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Dixon says they’ve charged a teenager with second-degree murder, and the Calcasieu Parish DA’s office will seek to prosecute him as an adult.

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  • News for Thursday 060916

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Baton Rouge Police arrest a Zachary man after he left his eight month old daughter in a hot vehicle for approximately two hours. Authorities say 31-year-old Marvin Mercer arrived at work and then realized a couple of hours later that his daughter was still in the vehicle. The infant was pronounced dead at a local hospital and Mercer has been charged with negligent homicide. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is urging parents to take steps not to forget their young children in the backseat of a vehicle during these hot summer months.

     

    The state department of health and hospitals announces 197-thousand adults have been enrolled in the state’s expanded Medicaid program. About 187-thousand of those were automatically signed up because they were receiving state health services from the state. The rest have signed up online, by phone or in person.

     

    The LHSAA has voted to keep the expanded select/non-select school championship split, during a special meeting Wednesday. This means there will once again be nine championships in football, five non-select and four select. And 12 each in boys and girls basketball.

     

    The City of Pineville has announced Fireworks are coming back to Lake Buhlow over the 4th of July weekend. It will be the first display since 2011 when construction of the Curtis Coleman bridge put the event on hold. The Fireworks show and concert will be held Sunday night July 3rd.

     

    Central Louisiana residents are always willing to support a good cause and this weekend was no exception. The 29th annual Children's Miracle Network telethon took place over the weekend and the final tally is now in.  Theresa Slater, the executive director of the Cabrini Foundation and the hospital's Children's Miracle Network, reported yesterday the weekend event raised $426,806. All of which will stay in Central Louisiana to improve children's health care.

     

    Two days into the second special session, several of Governor Joh Bel Edwards tax proposals have hit a wall. LaPolitics.com publisher Jeremy Alford says proposals that would have raised income taxes on middle and upper class income earners received a frosty reception from the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee killed a proposal to reduce tax credits for corporations. All revenue generating bills must start in the House Ways and Means Committee and Alford says based on early action, he doesn’t see the legislature raising the $600 million needed to close the budget gap.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards and members of the legislature are supportive of changes to the Common Core academic standards suggested by a 26-member review panel. BESE President Jim Garvey says the panel was made up of people recommended by local school boards.

    Twenty-one percent of the English and math standards were changed by the panel. Garvey says that may not sound like much, but it’s about the same amount of changes that were made when they switched to Common Core initially. Garvey says the changes will give teachers the freedom to teach these standards how they want.

     

    The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is looking for new field agents, and they are taking applications for up to 23 cadets. LDWF spokesman Adam Einck says the academy is starting in September. Applicants can apply online through the Department of Civil Service website. Einck says if you like law enforcement and the outdoors, this is a perfect job for you:

     

    Starting August 1st, signs will be required to be posted 500 feet ahead of intersections that have red light cameras, because of a bill signed into law by the governor. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter says it’s a great day for the citizens of Louisiana. Carter says red light cameras should be about public safety, not collecting fines.  The measure was approved with bipartisan support from both chambers.

     

    As a result of legislation approved state lawmakers and signed by the governor, patients have direct access to physical therapists without having to see a doctor first, but the Louisiana Orthopedic Association says this new law could be costly for patients. LOA spokesperson Barbara Carey says if patients want insurance to cover their P-T treatment, they need to see a doctor first.  She says pain can be due to a number of conditions.

     

    Make room on your smartphone because you may be downloading a new app soon: A digital version of your driver’s license. Tuesday, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed House Bill 481 allowing the Office of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers licenses on smartphones.

    Residents would still have to go through the same process as getting a regular ID and the digital license would also be accepted by officers during a traffic stop. However, the digital license would not be accepted when buying things like beer, cigarettes or lottery tickets.

     

    According to 24/7 Wall Street, nearly half of Louisiana residents drink soda or other sugary drinks daily. Louisiana ranks second in the nation for the number of people who drink sugary drinks every day, only behind Mississippi. As you may suspect, the obesity rate in Louisiana is over 7% higher than the national average.

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  • News for Wednesday 060816

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The investigation continues in to an apparent drive by shooting in Alexandria’s Garden district Sunday afternoon. The APD reports that two men have been arrested and charged in the incident. 22 year old  Farron Jones of Pineville and 20 year old Justin Babin of Gretna were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.

     

    The Rapides Parish Police jury has added it’s comments dealing with an issue that up until a few month ago, was never an issue. It is the belief of the jury that “Someone who is born a male should have to use the men’s bathroom in schools and other public buildings and not be allowed in a women’s bathroom, even if that person identifies as a female.” The Jurors  Monday voted unanimously to go on record opposing a federal directive that schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms of the gender with which they identify.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards addressed a joint session of the legislature yesterday calling on lawmakers to raise enough revenue during this special session to reduce cuts to state programs. He wants lawmakers to limit the itemized deductions taxpayers claim on their state returns. He says this proposal would not affect the majority of Louisiana taxpayers.

     

    Several lawmakers are in a foul mood after failing to approve a construction budget. Ways and Means Chairman Neil Abramson says Senate changes to the spending plan made the bill unworkable and he didn’t bring it up for a vote in the regular session. The construction budget funds road projects, repairs to public buildings and improvement to state parks. A new version of the construction budget bill has begun to move in the special session as the four-billion dollar financing plan was approved by the Ways and Means Committee yesterday afternoon.

     

    The Senate and House education committees have agreed to revisions to the Common Core education standards. A 26-member review panel recommended changing 21-percent of English and math standards used in public schools and now Governor Edwards will decide whether they should be implemented in the classroom.

     

    The LSU baseball team is headed back to the Super Regionals as the Tigers rallied from a two-run deficit to beat to beat the Rice Owls five to two. The most valuable player in this game was Jared Poche, who on three days’ rest, threw six shutout innings and kept LSU in the contest, until the bats woke up in the 7th.

     

    LHSAA principals meet today in Baton Rouge to vote on four proposals regarding the public-private playoff split, which is set to expand to other sports beginning next year. LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee says one reason for this meeting is because the expanded split to other sports has created logistical issues for the venues that host championship events in basketball, baseball and softball. Bonnaffee says whatever happens today, the debate over public versus private schools will not end.

     

    The governor is signing the Ban the Box bill into law today. The measure would prohibit state employers from asking about criminal history until the interview process. Executive Director for the US Justice Action Network, Holly Harris, says they’re excited to see this legislation pass with bipartisan support, because Louisiana is the incarceration capital of the world and in serious need of criminal justice reform. Harris says this legislation is about showing that former convicts are more than just their one mistake.

     

    A bill that failed to make it out of the final hours of the regular session would have given convicted teen killers serving life sentences parole hearings after 30 years in prison. The bill was a reaction to a Supreme Court ruling that says convicted minors cannot be sentenced to life without the chance for parole. Louisiana is one of 32 states who are not in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling.

     

    The state Department of Environmental Quality has resumed mercury testing in public waterways after the program was halted in 2008 because of budget cuts. DEQ environmental scientist Al Hindrichs says there are currently 48 advisories in place for 85 water bodies in Louisiana.

     

    The family of slain Tulane graduate Thomas Rolfes held a news conference Tuesday to beg for information about the murder which happened a month ago today. There are no suspects in the 25-year-old’s murder. His fiancé, Elizabeth Fried says Rolfes was a wonderful man who touched the lives of everyone he met. There is a $30,000 reward.

     

    A Baton Rouge man is behind bars for allegedly strangling his wife to death following an argument. The Sheriff’s Office says 42-year-old Donald Germany contacted family members and confessed to the crime. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office says 41-year-old Nichole Jones was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency workers tried to revive her.

     

    Authorities in New Orleans report that Officer Natasha Hunter has died from injuries suffered in a crash over the weekend. Hunter suffered traumatic brain injuries. Hunter was working on a car accident on Interstate 10 near early Sunday morning when her vehicle was struck by a drunk driver. Officer Hunter was an 11-year veteran of the.

     

    NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said that flares had been placed around the accident and that officer Hunter was inside her vehicle when it was struck.

     

    The Humane Society of Louisiana says they’ve seen a higher than usual number of animal abuse arrests and seizures over the past 6 months. Director Jeff Dorson credits newly formed partnerships between humane societies and law enforcement agencies that work together as a team to investigate cases of animal abuse. Dorson says now when people report cases of animal abuse, members of the humane society will go out with the law enforcement agencies as they coordinate the arrests, and seize the animals to find them new homes.

     

    The Thibodaux Police Department says they’ve arrested a man on bank fraud charges for allegedly writing checks on an account that did not belong to him, and spelling the numbers wrong. They say 23-year-old Brandon Sims of Thibodaux was caught red handed, and police noticed that “fifty” was misspelled on the check and that actually contributed to an additional charge. Sims is being held on a $17,500 bond.

     

    The Saints have signed free-agent safety Roman Harper, who spent the first eight seasons of his career NFL career in New Orleans before playing his last two with the Carolina Panthers. Harper started 104 games out of a possible 108 during his first tenure with the Saints. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says Harper provides familiarity, a player with high football IQ and depth.

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  • News for Tuesday 060716

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Local authorities are investigating what appears to have been a hit and run over the weekend on England Drive and Browns Bend Rd.  35-year-old Marquis Butler was pronounced dead at the scene. Anyone with information concerning the incident is asked to call the APD or RPSO.

     

    The second special session of 2016 is underway and lawmakers are looking at their options to raise enough revenue to reduce cuts to state programs, like TOPS and hospitals that provide care for the poor and uninsured. Personal and corporate income taxes are an option for raising revenue. Lawmakers have also proposed reducing or eliminating some corporate tax exemptions.  Senate President John Alario believes the legislature needs to raise about $450 million to ensure that TOPS, higher ed and safety net hospitals are adequately funded. Alario says he is not opposed to altering state income tax rates or removing exemptions, if it means all of the state’s priorities will be funded.

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards is set to address a joint session of the state legislature at 10 this morning, which marks the official kickoff to the special session that was called to address a $600 million revenue shortfall. Legislators also have to pass a $4 billion construction budget that would pay for road work and improvements to public buildings and state parks. Edwards is upset the House failed to negotiate the construction spending plan during the regular session.

    The special session must end by June 23 at midnight.

     

    The Governor has signed the Louisiana Family Caregiver Act into law, which supporters say will provide critical help for families across the state. Advocacy Director for AARP Louisiana, Andrew Muhl says this will assist the more than 660-thousand family members who help out an aging relative. It’s estimated this type of unpaid care to family members in our state amount to about 6-point-4 billion dollars annually. Muhl says this legislation will save the state money by reducing costly hospital readmissions, as family caregivers will be able to perform the tasks the patients need. The unanimously-approved law goes into effect August 1.

     

    A small Tensas parish town is one step closer to having clean water after being plagued by murky brown tap water. The town of St. Joseph has agreed to appoint a fiscal administrator so audits on the town can be cleared up and work can begin to repair the town’s water system. The governor’s Communications Director, Richard Carbo says St. Jo has not been able to get approval to use state funds to fix the water system because Mayor Edward Brown missed the December deadline to file an audit. Carbo says they’re making progress, but at this point it’s still not clear when clean water will flow from the taps in St. Joseph.

     

    A trooper was injured in a fatal St. Charles Parish incident that involved two suspected drunk drivers and a man who stopped on the Bonne Carre spillway to relieve himself.  State Police  say a man suspected of being impaired, plowed into the back of the stopped vehicle killing a passenger sitting in the vehicle. A trooper was responding to the first crash scene on the spillway was hit from behind by yet another impaired driver. The trooper was wearing a seat belt and sustained minor injuries in the crash. The only charges filed thus far are against the man who stopped to pee.

     

    Citizens in Franklin Parish continue to mourn the death of a Winnsboro Police Department officer who died in a car crash while he was on-duty over the weekend, according to officials. They say Sergeant Derrick Mingo, who is also a former employee of the Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office, was on his way to help another officer dealing with a drunk driver, when he left a roadway and crashed into a tree. State Police say he was not wearing a seat belt.

     

    The University of New Orleans will soon have a new digital animation lab on campus. UNO fine arts instructor Jeff Rinehart led the effort to secure a $94-thousand grant for the school’s new Innovation Lab, which will be open to all students working on digital media projects. Rinehart says the department is working toward creating a new media and animation degree.

    Rinehart says the lab should be open to students by the 2017 spring semester.

     

    Plans have been unveiled for a Riverfront Improvement Project in Natchitoches. Mayor Lee Posey says the project will update some infrastructure along the river and improve handicap accessibility. Posey says they will put new bathrooms on the riverbank, double the size of the stage on the river, add new landscaping, and even repave the asphalt along the riverbank. He says the project will cost just over $4 million. He says state and private agencies will split the costs of the project. Posey says they hope to have everything ready by the beginning of next year.

     

    It’s win or go home for the LSU baseball team today after losing to Rice 10 to 6 last night. That loss forced a winner takes all match up this afternoon at 4 in the Baton Rouge Regional..

     

    The Ragin Cajuns season came to a quick end last night as they lost two games to Arizona, which resulted in the wildcats winning the Lafayette regional and advancing to the Super regionals.

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  • News for Monday 060616

    By Dave Graichen

     

    The APD reports the death of a Pineville man whose body was found early Saturday morning lying on a street is being investigated as a homicide. The body of 43-year-old Donnie Harvey was found around 5am in the 1300 block of Shirland Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death has not been determined, pending autopsy and other forensic testing.

     

    Standing water in the road led to a single vehicle crash that took the life of an 8 year old Avoyelles Parish girl Saturday afternoon.  The State Police report 8-year-old Isabella Ducote died when the vehicle she was a passenger in left the roadway and struck a fence.  The driver of the vehicle, 40 year old Carmen Moreau, received moderate injuries in the crash.

     

    State lawmakers have approved a 26-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year that does not fully fund the TOPS scholarship program and hospitals that provide care for the poor and uninsured. House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says the spending plan is not perfect, but they can address gaps in the budget in a special session that begins tonight. Because of a 600-million dollar revenue shortfall, the budget also contains cuts to public schools, universities, prisons and child welfare programs. Henry says under this plan TOPS would be funded at 48-percent. The senate approved the budget on a 35-2 vote, but the vote was much closer in the House, 63 “yeas” and 38 “nays”

     

    The regular session must conclude by 6pm tonight. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says Governor John Bel Edwards had a hard time getting key pieces of his legislative package through the legislature, like the bills for equal pay for men and women and increasing the minimum wage. Dubos says there were some victories for the governor. He says the budget lawmakers will pass is close to the one he first proposed. Also, a bill that increases the age to 18 for which a person can be tried as an adult received final legislative passage.

     

    Voters could soon decide if universities should have the authority to set their own tuition as a result of a proposed constitutional amendment that is nearing final legislative passage. Right now, the legislature has to approve a tuition hike if it goes above a certain percentage. Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo says the proposed change to the constitution gives institutions the power to lower and increase tuition depending on the market.

     

    Legislation that would require pet stores to keep records of breeders’ names, addresses, and licensing information heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. The Louisiana SPCA says these regulations will help ensure pet stores are held to certain standards. She says pet stores will be required to keep the records of their dogs and cats for at least two years.

     

    The number of Louisiana homes at risk for storm surge damage has increased since last year, according to CoreLogic. Senior hazard risk scientist for CoreLogic, Tom Jeffery says that has a lot to do with new homes being built along the coast. According to CoreLogic, last year there were just over 760-thousand hones at risk in Louisiana, and that number has grown to over 800-thousand. Almost 7 million homes along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts are at risk of potential storm surge damage this year.

     

    The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating three suspected murders that occurred within 24 hours in the rural town of Natalbany. Sheriff Daniel Edwards says they are asking anyone with any information to come forward, as police are offering a reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

     

    22-year-old Ernest Felton, the first shooter arrested in the deadly shooting of two Southern students, has had his charge upgraded to second degree murder. Baton Rouge Police Cpl. L’Jean Mckneely says Felton was originally charged with attempted second-degree murder. Mckneely says police are looking for the brother of the other shooter involved, 25-year-old Brandon Henderson.

     

    A bill to ban hotels, convention centers and trade shows from blocking personal Wi-Fi hotspots is heading to the governor’s desk. Ville Platte Senator Eric LeFleur says his bill saves people from having to pay for daily access to a company’s WiFi. He says disabling personal hotspots when people pay cellular data plan fees is unfair.

     

    A Winnsboro Police officer has been killed in a car crash on Louisiana over the weekend while heading to assist another officer who was pursuing a drunk driver. Sgt. Derrick Mingo had  been with the department for five years.

     

    A New Orleans police officer suffered a massive brain injury after being struck by a drunken driver early Sunday morning. Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said the officer was inside her police vehicle on the side of the road with the emergency lights on when she was hit. He identified the officer as Natasha Hunter, a 12-year veteran of the police force. Hunter was taken to the hospital where she remains in critical condition in an unresponsive state.

     

    Sports..

     

    Draymond Green had 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while MVP Stephen Curry scored 18 points despite foul trouble, and Golden State thoroughly overwhelmed the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-77 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.

     

    LSU starting pitcher Alex Lange struck out 10 hitters to help lead the Tigers to a 4-2 win over Rice. The victory puts the Bayou Bengals into the championship round of the Baton Rouge regional. Lange threw eight plus innings and only gave up two runs. Not an even rain delay could slow down Lange. The game was halted for about an hour in the 6th inning, but Lange returned to put a couple more zeros on the scoreboard. (LSU will play the winner of today’s game between Southeastern Louisiana and Rice at 7 PM.

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  • News for Friday 052716

    By Dave Graichen

     

    Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to issue the call for another special session any day now, according to Jeremy Alford, publisher of LaPolitics.com. Edwards has said a second session is needed to raise revenues to address a 600-million dollar budget deficit for next fiscal year. Alford says the call could include reductions to personal or corporate income tax credits and addressing issues not covered in the previous session.

     

    NOAA will issue its outlook for the 2016 hurricane season today. State climatologist Barry Keim expects the federal forecasters will predict an average season. He says there are two factors working against each other, cooler than normal sea surface temperature, which is an indication for fewer storms, and La Nina coming later this season, which is an indicator for more storms. Hurricane Isaac in 2012 was the last hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana. Keim says Louisianans should still be prepared.

     

    The Edwards administration is urging the Senate to reject the House amendments that were made to the proposed budget for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Senate Finance committee that the spending plan the House approved is not acceptable, because it will result in deep cuts to programs that assist the elderly and disabled. One of the major changes the House made to HB1 was reallocating money towards TOPS and away from hospitals that provide care for the poor.

     

    Every student would be guaranteed that at least part of their TOPS scholarship would be funded if lawmakers have to make some cuts to the program, under a bill nearing final passage. Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater says it would be better to reduce the award for all than to cut some 13-thousand students out of the program. The bill has one more stop in the Senate before heading to the governor’s desk.

     

    Governor Edwards has signed the Blue Lives Matter Bill into law, which makes Louisiana the first in the nation to expand its hate crime laws to protect police, firefighters and EMS crews. The new law allows prosecutors to seek tougher penalties against individuals who intentionally target first responders because of their profession.

     

    A Senate-approved measure that would let patients see physical therapists without a doctor’s referral receives the support of the House as it nears final passage. The measure passed on a 65-33 vote in the House and heads back to the Senate for concurrence on House Language.

     

    The House has approved a bill that would require cursive writing to be taught in public schools. The Senate still has to agree to House changes. Under the proposed law, the cursive writing requirement would go in effect for the 2017-18 school year.

     

    Yesterday the price of oil rose above 50 dollars a barrel for the first time since October. Executive Director at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies David Dismukes says this marks an important milestone and it might put an end to the job losses in this industry. Crude oil was below 30 dollars a barrel earlier this year.

     

    An investigative report by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums finds that the Baton Rouge zoo is not at fault for the deaths of two elderly giraffes, who died in March during a severe thunderstorm. Baton Rouge zoo director Phil Frost says they welcomed the findings of report and were glad the investigators found that the zoo did all they could for the animals.

     

    A Baton Rouge man is in jail on felony child abuse charges amid allegations he forced his 8-year-old nephew to smoke weed. A report indicates the child told hospital staff that 29-year-old Jason Taylor made him smoke mojo which gave him a headache and a racing heart. When officers learned the child tested positive for marijuana, Taylor was booked with cruelty to juveniles.

     

    The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office says a man is under arrest after a 17-year-old woman died of an apparent drug overdose. They say Melissa Sharpe drove the victim to the hospital, and it was determined the woman had been deceased for several hours. She is charged with obstruction of justice. Noah Sharpe is booked with 2nd degree murder in the incident. They’re asking anyone with information on this incident contact authorities.

     

    LSU stayed unbeaten in the SEC Tournament with a 6-2 win over the first-place Mississippi State Bulldogs. Jared Poche got the win for LSU.  The boys have the day off today. But, will meet Florida Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm

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