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News for Tuesday 012318

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor John Bel Edwards presented a proposed spending plan to lawmakers Monday that reduces state funding for TOPS by 80-percent and slashes another 656-million dollars from the state health department’s budget. Edwards says the cuts are necessary, because the state is set lose about a billion dollars of revenue in July.

 

Edwards is considering a February special session so lawmakers can pass a tax reform plan to address the fiscal cliff. But Slidell Senator Sharon Hewitt says before raising taxes, the state should consider lowering state expenditures. It’s unclear if a February special session will happen.

 

A study finds the military has an economic impact in Louisiana totaling over seven billion dollars. The Trump Administration has made it know they want to build up the nation’s military. State Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says that would be huge for Louisiana. Pierson says there’s 77-thousand military related jobs in the state.

 

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise returned to the Capitol yesterday following surgery related to a shooting which injured him last summer shattering bone and striking internal organs.  He says he feels great following the January 10th procedure which was quote “very successful, but it took a long recovery.

 

Gas prices have seen a big jump throughout the nation and the state over the past few weeks. The current average in Louisiana is $2.36 a gallon, which is up 6 cents from the prior week.

 

LSU crawfish researcher Doctor Greg Lutz is hopeful last year’s deep freeze in south Louisiana will not have a huge impact on this year’s mudbug harvest. However, Lutz says to help improve the crawfish supply for the days leading up to Mardi Gras a long stretch of sunny, mild days is needed to warm up the ponds.

 

Entergy Louisiana has broken ground on a new 872-million dollar plant near Lake Charles. The natural gas fired plant is expected to be operational in June of 2020. Entergy spokesperson Michael Burns the state-of-the-art plant is expected to run much cleaner than previous plants. Entergy projects the project will directly employ over 700 people during peak construction. Entergy says they selected Lake Charles due to the region’s rapid growth.

 

The U.S. is pumping out over ten-million barrels of oil per day, topping a nearly 50-year record.  And forecasts show production could climb to eleven-million barrels a day by the end of 2019.  President of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, Chris John, says markets such as China are hungry for more fuel and Louisiana’s 170 offshore operators are showing they can keep up with demand. Crude oil topped $60.00 a barrel for the first time in over two years.  John says the cost of oil could top $70.00 per barrel before long. 

 

A nationwide non-profit to help veteran’s in their post military transition to the workplace is coming to New Orleans.  NextOp represents veterans by placing them in jobs in industries and companies throughout the region.  Louisiana Regional Manager Ben Armstrong says the challenge for veterans is not in obtaining work, but getting the type of jobs they need to support their families. Following their launch on February 1st, they are looking at expanding statewide. 

 

The LSU men’s basketball team will look to snap a three-game losing streak tonight when they host Texas A-and-M at the PMAC. Airtime 7:30 on KSYL 970 & 100.3 HD3

 

Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson is the first person with ties to Louisiana to serve as a head coach in the Super Bowl. Pederson was a head coach at Calvary Baptist in Shreveport from 2004 to 2008, and is also a former ULM quarterback.

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News for Monday 012218

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor John Bel Edwards will unveil a budget today that will show the effects of one-billion dollars in cuts to state agencies. Reports say healthcare and education will be the hardest hit, with the possibility of a 100-percent cut in funding to TOPS. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says it’s not the budget the governor wants, but it’s the budget he is constitutionally required to present. The budget is the result of a billion dollar shortfall generated by the expiration of a one cent sales tax, passed two years ago. So far, GOP legislative leaders and Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards have been unable to settle on a plan to address the fiscal cliff.

 

The Commissioner of Higher Education Joe Rallo is concerned about the possible lack of funding for the TOPS program.  Governor Edwards will present his budget proposal on Today. Rallo says if funding for TOPS is eliminated, it will be devastating for students who benefit from the program. Rallo says if TOPS doesn’t get funding, it could affect Louisiana’s job market. The Governor, by law, must submit a balanced budget.

 

A 9.7 million dollar grant was awarded to a UL Lafayette consortium to study the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale oil deposit that stretches across central Louisiana into the Florida parishes. A study from the 80s indicated that Louisiana could be sitting on nearly seven billion barrels of crude oil.  ULL Professor Mehdi Mokhtari (med-e mowk-tari) says the grant will help scientists unlock the shale’s potential.

 

The Louisiana Public Service Commission wants to know why utility customers were asked to reduce energy consumption for a time last Thursday morning over concerns the grids may not be able to handle the high demand in the cold. PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta says nobody’s power was going to be shut off. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which manages the flow of electricity, said they had set a record Wednesday morning for peak winter power usage.

 

Emerge Louisiana chooses 25 Democratic women that will train on how to run for political office.  They come from across the state and will get 70 hours of in depth education over six months. Executive Director Melanie Oubre says with Districts being  redrawn following the 2020 census, it will be a great time to have newly graduated women starting to create their new active roles in government, increasing the amount of female Democrats in office. Since the program started in other states, more than 150 Emerge America alums have been elected to office. 

 

Vermilion School Board President Anthony Fontana has announced he is resigning immediately.  This comes amid the controversy surrounding school teacher Deyshia Hargrave and her arrest two weeks ago.  A non-partisan group CrowdPac is concerned about the recent volatile actions of the board and wants to see changes.  Crowdpac spokesperson Mason Harrison says Fontana’s resignation is perfect timing for a seminar coming to Abbeville to train citizens to become prepared to run for a school board position.

 

With Republicans in control of the House, Senate and the Executive branch, Republican Congressman Clay Higgins issued a statement declaring “The shutdown of the federal government  belongs to the democrats. While Senator Bill Cassidy’s statement read, “They voted to shut down the government just to appease the pro-illegal immigration  extremists in their party.”  Both Representative Higgins and Senator Cassidy said the measure voted down would have funded the U.S. military and the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

 

A state judge will hear a dispute next month between Governor Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry over which party should control the state’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.  Edwards’ administration filed a lawsuit in September against more than a dozen drug companies.  Landry filed a request to stop the suit since it didn’t include how it impacts other agencies.  Landry says his office can supersede the state health department.

 

New Year’s resolutions are starting to fall by the wayside for many as day to day realities clash with their bold plans. LSU Ag Center nutritional specialist Elizabeth Gollub says many who start new diets plans can get frustrated with the changes and fall back on old habits with a binge. Gollub says one day of mistakes doesn’t mean you should abandon long-term healthy choices. Gollub says the key to making a long term positive change is to start with a series of smaller healthy habits.

 

A mysterious package left at a Slidell Post Office caused police to block off the area for the bomb squad to respond. The package was dropped off around 4 pm and after approximately 4 and half hours later the Slidell Police department said the contents of the package was about seventy pounds of human feces. Authorities say the person being questioned is thought to have mental health problems.

 

The couple found guilty of murdering a Zachary man and stuffing his body into a barrel were sentenced Friday. 23-year-old Jace Crehan was convicted of second degree murder and 19-year-old Brittany Monk, was sentenced to manslaughter. Both were from Walker. The victim, Robert Noce, was found guilty of sexually assaulting Monk for nearly ten years. Noce pleaded no contest to the charges two weeks before he was found in the barrel.

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News for Friday 011918

By Dave Graichen

 

The north Louisiana TV show personality known as Mr. Wonder in the 70s will serve five years in prison.  Frank Selas sexually assaulted a child while on a camping trip in Rapides Parish in 1979.  All parties agreed a plea agreement with two years credit for time served.  He will not have to register as a sex offender as that law was not in effect in 1979.

 

The freezing grip from the polar vortex is about to loosen in Louisiana.  Forecasters say last night was the last night we’ll see temps below freezing as warmer temps will start to move in over the weekend. State climatologist Barry Keim says this weekend will feel like paradise after nearly a month of below normal temperatures… Saturday temps will be near 60, Sunday near 70..

 

Temperatures will return to the 50s today, but cold weather-related issues remain, especially in southeast Louisiana where many communities are dealing with low water pressure. The record breaking cold busted pipes and forced many to run their faucets to fight the freeze. Governor John Bel Edwards says water systems need a couple more days to catch up.

 

Residents in Louisiana were asked by their utility companies to conserve power for a few hours Thursday morning as energy demand was getting close to being more than what the power grids could handle. Entergy spokeswoman Sheila Pounders says they don’t foresee any future demand that would exceed the supply over the next several days as temperatures will be rising.

 

A man was found frozen outside his home in Crowley early Wednesday morning.  The 56-year-old man was found by neighbors lying face down in his yard.  Police chief Jimmy Broussard says they are interviewing neighbors to try to determine why he was outside and if health issues were related to his death. The victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of the victim’s family.

 

Jury selection in the second-degree murder trial involving Joe McKnight’s shooter should conclude today. The former NFL and John Curtis running back was shot by Ronald Gasser on a roadside in Jefferson Parish in December of 2016. Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino says the defense will likely claim McKnight tried to enter Gasser’s car after a road rage incident. Gasser was involved in another aggressive incident at the same intersection a decade ago.

 

A legislative task force recommends Louisiana loosen its restrictions on the gaming industry. The task force put forward two recommendations to make bayou gaming more nationally competitive. Lake Charles Senator Ronnie Johns says one of those proposals involves allowing riverboat casinos some inland real estate. Existing regulations only allow a certain square footage of “gaming space”, and Johns says this requirement is antiquated considering the size of new slot machines. These proposals will go before legislators during the upcoming legislative session.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards has moved the unveiling of his budget proposal to Monday due to winter weather in Louisiana. He had intended to show the administration’s proposed spending plan today but moved the meeting to next week because of concern about how lawmakers would get to Baton Rouge.

 

The chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing more than $83,000 from the tribe. 40 year old Joey P. Barbry pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Dee Drell to one count of theft from an Indian tribal organization. Barbry faces five years in prison, three years of supervised release, restitution and a $250,000 fine.

 

There are nearly 50 boil advisories issued in the state right now due to water pressure concerns from excessive use and bursting frozen pipes. Louisiana Department of Health Chief Engineer Amanda Laughlin (Loff-Lin) it’s important to follow the orders because when pressure is low, bacteria could potentially enter the distribution system. She adds that the advisories are only precautionary.

 

Sports..

 

LSU nose tackle Greg Gilmore has been added to the Senior Bowl. He’ll be one of four Tigers in the game on January 27th in Mobile. Defensive lineman Christian LaCouture, running back Darrel Williams and receiver DJ Chark have also received invitations.

 

And former LSU standouts Russell Gage and Frank Herron will play in the N-F-L-P-A Collegiate Bowl on Saturday in the Rose Bowl in Pasedena.

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News for Thursday 011818

By Dave Graichen

 

After a very cold start this morning, most  Cenla Schools will reopen today. I-49 has reopened has reopened in all areas with the exception of Shreveport.. but there are still major problems in south Louisiana.. I-10 between Breaux Bridge and Slidell is still closed as is I12 in the Baton Rouge area..

 

Wakefield’s Fire Chief died in the line of duty Wednesday morning.  48-year-old Russell Achord of St. Francisville was killed while responding to another accident on Highway 61 in West Feliciana Parish. He was struck by an oncoming vehicle on an icy road.

 

An eight month old baby died yesterday when the car her mother was driving slid off the roadway and plunged into a canal in Metairie.  The mother is listed in critical condition

 

Cold temperatures claimed the life of a man in New Roads early Wednesday.  Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres says they were notified by a neighbor that 84-year-old Paul Maker was found dead due to hypothermia in his home.  They had some space heaters, but Maker and his wife were afraid to run them at night for fear of fire. The home’s temperature when police arrived was 20 degrees. 

 

State Police report a single vehicle crash on Highway 167 South of Dry Prong claimed the life of a sergeant with the Alexandria Police, 53 year old Travis Lowe. Troopers say Lowe apparently lost control of his truck, causing him to leave the highway and strike some trees. Lowe, who was not wearing a seatbelt was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

 

LifeShare Blood Center has a critical shortage, and hours are being extended this weekend so people can donate. All blood types are needed from both first-time and current blood donors. The center on North Mall Drive in Alexandria, will be open Today  from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to noon.

 

Multiple fire departments and police responded to a house fire yesterday morning on Mayflower Boulevard in Alexandria. The home belonged to Adam and Liz Jonson. The couple, their two children, and their dog were in the home when the fire started. All of them got out safely. Both Adam and Liz are employees at LSUA, and Adam is a member of the Rotary Club. LSUA faculty, and Rotary Club members are currently gathering donations for the family. Also, a Go Fund Me Account has been set up to help the family get back on their feet..  LINK

 

Louisiana continues to suffer through its worst flu season on record, with nearly 10 in 100 doctors’ visits in the last month for flu related symptoms. State Health Department Immunization Director Frank Welch says in his 20 years of doing this, he’s never seen so many cases. Welch says if you come down with flu like symptoms, you need to isolate yourself. Only after you have been without a temp for 24 hours are you no longer contagious. Welch says complications from the flu kills roughly 700 Louisianans a year.

 

Travel review website RewardExpert finds people vacationing in Louisiana are the “happiest and most satisfied of tourists.”  The site found that 98-percent of visitors to the Bayou State are happier with their trip here than other states.  Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser credits Louisiana’s hospitality. The Los Angeles Times also listed Louisiana as one of 25 must-see places this year and the New York Times says New Orleans is the number one place to go this year as the city celebrates its 300th birthday.

 

Sports..

 

Last night in a game heard on the New 94.7 ESPN after winning their last two, The Pelicans dropped one to the Atlanta Hawks 94 to 93. Up next, the Pels play host to the Grizzlies Saturday night..

 

Former LSU great Kevin Faulk will reportedly re-join the program and work with the football support staff. The Advocate says his hiring would need approval from the SEC, because he’s currently an assistant coach at Carencro and can’t have any ties with current players or walk-ons.

 

McNeese announces Lance Guidry will remain the head coach of the Cowboys after talking with Florida State about becoming an assistant for the Seminoles. A-D Bruce Hemphill says he’s excited Guidry is staying.

 

Tough loss for the LSU Tigers Tuesday night as they fell to Georgia by one point. The Bayou Bengals are now 2-and-3 in the SEC and all three losses have come at home. LSU will now play three of the next four on the road. On Saturday, the Tigers visit Vanderbilt and then return home to face Texas A-and-M on Tuesday.

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News for Wednesday 011718

By Dave Graichen

 

Some of the coldest temperatures Louisiana has seen so far are being observed this morning. Some areas are reporting near single digit temperatures while coastal areas are not warmer than the 20’s to start the day off.  Lake Charles National Weather Service forecaster Robert Megnia (meg-knee-a) says after bottoming out this morning, temperatures will slowly rebound across the state over the next 48 hours…

 

Due to Icy Road conditions, most schools across Cenla are closed again today. Public Schools in Rapides, Avoyelles, Grant, Vernon, LaSalle and St. Landry Parishes are closed.  Catholic schools in Avoyelles, Rapides and Natchitoches parishes Closed.  Alexandria Country Day School, Louisiana College, Northwestern State University, LSUA and University Academy are closed..

 

All State Offices are closed today.

 

Iced roads and closed schools have many workers asking if they have to go to their jobs today. Baton Rouge Attorney Yigal Bander says if your boss threatens you with a pink slip for skipping out, you don’t have many legal options. Louisiana, like most states, is employment at will. Bander says outside of gender, race, religion, and other protected areas, this means your employment status is wholly up to your boss…

 

A statewide poll by UNO shows President Donald Trump beating Oprah Winfrey by double digits in a hypothetical general election matchup. Trump gathered 60 percent of support in the poll of 722 Louisiana voters.  Pollster Ed Chervenak says part of the reason is the president’s high approval rating in the bayou…

 

Florida Governor Rick Scott has announced he’ll be in Louisiana this week on a domestic trade mission. Scott says he’ll try to convince Louisiana businesses to move to Florida. Scott says he will share with Louisiana companies how the Sunshine state is making it easier on families and job creators.

 

The State Revenue Department says online retailers outside of Louisiana which delivered goods or services to Louisiana addresses will soon notify shoppers to pay sales taxes on those purchases. LDR’s Byron Henderson says a 2016 makes it mandatory for customers to pay sales tax on shipped items if they didn’t at the time of purchase. Amazon, the nation’s leading online retailer, started charging the sales tax after the bill passed.

 

A legislative task force today recommended moving riverboat casinos onto dry land, and Republican State Senator Ronnie Johns of Lake Charles said he would draft bills based on the suggestions. The only casino on land now is Harrah’s in New Orleans. The proposed legislation would lift the requirement that the paddle wheels operate and that the boats be manned with a captain and other marine crew.

 

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell says taxpayers could save millions, if electric companies and cities convert to new energy efficient environmentally friendly LED streetlights.  Campbell is proposing that the PSC conduct a comprehensive review of streetlight technology and how cities can save money by changing over.  For example he says 40 percent of Shreveport’s electric bill is for their 35,000 street lights…

 

Drew Brees’s contract is a huge question mark for the Saints this offseason. The quarterback turned 39 on Monday, and is a free agent in March. Brees and the Saints front office have been coy so far about contract negotiations, but Brees says he hopes to have a deal before the free agent deadline.

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News for Tuesday 011618

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana is bracing for winter weather as winter storm warnings and watches are in effect  through this evening. Snow accumulations as much as four inches are possible in northwest Louisiana, while central Louisiana could see about an inch.

 

With the icy weather in the forecast,  Rapides Parish public schools will be closed today.

Public schools in Avoyelles, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches and Vernon also will also be closed.

 

Classes are also canceled today at all Catholic schools in Rapides, Avoyelles and Natchitoches parishes, LSUA, Louisiana College in Pineville and all Northwestern State University campuses.

 

Road conditions in north Louisiana could deteriorate quickly once this storm system begins producing ice then snow later.  DOTD’s Rodney Mallet says they are already preparing for the storm and have a good idea where the trouble spots will be

Temperatures will get back into the teens on tonight for much of Louisiana. Mallett says to check L-A-5-1-1 before heading out to see if the route you are taking is open.

 

A strong cold front has moved through north Louisiana into central Louisiana this morning.  The storm has already brought ice and snow to parts of Bayou state.  National Weather Service meteorologist Kent Kuyper says as the front heads south, the chances of freezing precipitation continues as temperatures will drop throughout the day leading very cold temperatures overnight tonight. The good news is above normal temperatures are expected in Louisiana by this weekend.

 

State police have arrested a Montgomery man, 28 year old Christopher Welch and charged him with felony Hit and Run in connection with an incident back on November 26th of last year in which 21 year old Hunter Thomisee was killed. Welch was arrested and charged based on information obtained during the fatal crash investigation that killed Thomisee.  He was booked into the Winn Parish Jail.

 

Governor Edwards will reportedly present a budget to lawmakers on Friday that includes a 100-percent cut to TOPS. The governor is constitutionally required to propose a balanced budget, and the spending plan presented on Friday would reflect what would happen if the state does not replace the money generated by an expiring one-cent sales tax. The governor’s office is also preparing a budget that would show how the state would spend its money, if the billion dollar shortfall is resolved.

 

It appears unlikely House legislators and Governor John Bel Edwards will come to a fiscal cliff agreement before a Friday deadline. The deadline was set by the Governor, who was hoping to enter into a February special session with an agreement in principle to fill a one-billion dollar budget shortfall.  The GOP is requesting a budget with less spending, while the governor wants to replace the sales tax by eliminating certain business tax breaks. Edwards says a key piece of these negotiations is getting his tax reform plan passed.

 

Don Briggs’ 26 year run as the President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association is coming to an end.  Briggs says he’ll remain active, because he is concerned about the lost jobs in the industry. Briggs hopes there will be changes so the oil industry can operate without so many regulations that will encourage jobs growth in Louisiana. Briggs’ son Gifford Briggs will officially become president during LOGA’s annual meeting in March.

 

163 employees at CB and I in Livingston Parish are losing their jobs.  The pipe fabrication facility in Walker says they are cutting costs due to a lack of available work.  The Business Report says the decision was made after the company announced a six billion dollar merger with McDermott International.  The layoffs go into effect February 19th.

 

The LSU men’s basketball team hosts Georgia tonight. The Tigers are looking for their first win at home in SEC play. Coach Will Wade says they need more from junior guard Brandon Sampson, who is averaging just four points a game in SEC contests and has yet to make a three-pointer. LSU lost to Alabama on Saturday 74-66.

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News for Monday 011519

By Dave Graichen

 

The Saints season ended in heart breaking fashion in Minnesota last night. A 61-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game gave the Vikings an improbable 29-24 victory over New Orleans. It appeared New Orleans had just completed a successful comeback from a 17-0 halftime deficit to win 24-23. But that touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs ripped the hearts out of the Who Dat nation. Despite the devastating loss, Drew Brees believes the Saints can be a playoff team again next year…

 

There is the possibility of some nasty weather on Tuesday in the form of sleet and freezing rain.. With that in mind, Officials in Grant Parish have announced schools will be closed there on Tuesday as a precaution..

 

Governor John Bel Edwards announces the state will seek 600 million dollars in loans to pay for major highway projects.  If accepted, the bonds will finance a major expansion of I-10 in Baton Rouge, the I-10 Loyola interchange in Kenner, and construction of an interchange into Barksdale Airforce Base in Bossier City. Edwards says the state will use federal highway money to pay back the loans…

 

The Legislative Women’s Caucus is investigating to see if it is necessary to overhaul sexual harassment policies for the legislature and state government employees.  Chairman and New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno says the current policies are antiquated and need to be changed. She hopes if persons are found guilty of sexual harassment allegations, they’ll be held accountable.

 

Broussard and Lafayette Police say murders in their cities are possibly related.  Broussard Police say the body of 23-year-old Skyler Barry of Lake Arthur was found lying face down under a home undergoing renovations Friday.  Lafayette Police say earlier, they found the body of 28-year-old Justin Zeno of Lafayette lying beside a burning vehicle.  Police say both people sustained gunshot wounds.  Both departments are assisting one another in the investigation.

 

Legal Analyst Tim Meche says it’s an example of the new criminal justice reform measures put in place last year. A 26-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison after plowing into a crowd of parade goers while intoxicated during a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.  He pled guilty to 11 felony counts of vehicular negligent injuring and 13 misdemeanor counts.

 

The Louisiana Heroes Project is asking folks to send some Fat Tuesday love to our troops serving in locations throughout the world who can’t be home this Carnival season. Mission Mardi Gras from Afghanistan coordinator Tawney Tallo, says their goal is to make sure all service members deployed from Louisiana receive a Carnival package before February 13th. If you would like to send a Mardi Gras Box to a deployed soldier, visit the Louisiana Heroes Project on Facebook for details.

 

It’s been a colder than normal winter to say the least in Louisiana and it might affect the insect population this summer.  LSU Entomology Professor Timothy Schowalter says it’s expected that there will be a reduction in mosquitoes this year since some adults were more than likely killed in the December cold snap. Lovebugs on the other hand will more than likely survive these recent cold snaps. 

 

Sportsman will be unable to renew their hunting and fishing licenses at retail stores for two months starting January 30th while the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries transitions to a new system. Spokesperson Rene LeBreton says the state has a new vendor for licensing. They will be available again at retail stores April 2nd.

 

The Louisiana Family Forum is celebrating the 2018 Longest Married Couple in Louisiana. The reigning champions, Lawrence and Varrie Player will be celebrating their 83rd anniversary this year.

 

A two year old child choked and died while at the Early Learning Center at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Gentily.  Seminary Spokesman Gary Meyers says the child was eating lunch when she chocked on food. Isabella Magee’s cause of death is under investigation

 

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana has ruled in favor of LSU, dismissing claims made by Teresa Buchanan in a lawsuit against the university. Buchanan filed the suit after she was fired for allegedly making inappropriate comments during classes.   The court ruled her comments were not protected by the First Amendment and that the university’s policies are constitutional, and that she received due process.

 

A police department in Ohio is trying to spread the word that they are not the Vermilion where a teacher was removed from a school board meeting this week for questioning the superintendent. Cops in Vermilion, Ohio say they have received angry and profane messages from people reacting to the controversial arrest of Deyshia Hargrave which actually happened in Vermilion Parish. The Ohio department said to please stop sending hate mail.

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News for Friday 011218

By Dave Graichen

 

Dr. Frank Welch , the state's immunization director, says he fears 600 to 700 people will die in Louisiana this year from flu-related deaths. According to Welch, Louisiana is suffering its worst flu season in decades. He says he has been doing his job for 20 years and he’s never seen the flu season here so aggressive so early. The best protection is still the Flue Shot. Welch said even those who have already suffered from the flu should get the vaccine because it could protect them from a second strain. He also said even if the vaccine doesn't prevent the flu it can make symptoms be less severe.

 

A state lawmaker is proposing to change TOPS scholarship amounts. Students who  meet the minimum eligibility would receive a four-thousand-dollar payment for the year, but students who achieve a very high ACT and GPA get a full scholarship, plus a stipend.  Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says four-thousand-dollars may seem low, but it’s still the most lucrative college tuition program in the U-S.

 

WalMart announces a minimum wage increase to 11 dollars but also announces the closings of 63 Sams Clubs in 10 states.  One of those stores is in Louisiana.  The Sam’s Club near Cortana Mall in Baton Rouge is closed and has displaced about 175 workers.

 

Teachers from multiple parishes have gathered in Abbeville yesterday afternoon to show their support for middle school teacher Deyshia Hargrave, who was arrested at a school board meeting after questioning a raise given to the Vermilion Parish Schools superintendent. Superintendent Jerome Puyau says he, his staff and family have received death threats over the incident. He also says he should have stood up for Hargrave.

 

Meanwhile it’s been learned that the marshal who arrested Hargrave was previously sued for excessive force. Reggie Hilts was working as a police officer in the city of Scott and was named as a defendant in the 2012 lawsuit. The suit was eventually settled in 2016. Hilts left the Scott Police Department before the lawsuit was filed.

 

The Louisiana Property Assistance Agency will resume its monthly state surplus property auctions in Baton Rouge this weekend.  The auction will feature a wide variety of items once used by state agencies.  Division of Administration spokesperson Jacques Berry says there’s something for everyone. Berry says the proceeds from the auction, go back to the state to take care of a large portion of their transportation needs.

The auction will start Saturday at 8am.

 

In 2017, poison control centers dealt with more than 10,000 reports of children eating detergent pods. Authorities report they now seeing an increasing number of teenagers ingesting the colorful cases with the hope of getting high. Louisiana Poison Control President-Elect Mark Ryan says there is nothing in the pods that could do that. Ryan says the pods aren’t dangerously poisonous, but could trigger a reaction that will put you in the hospital. He says if one of your children or friends ingests a pod, call the national poison hotline.

 

Wildlife and Fisheries agents have arrested a Point Coupee Parish man for allegedly killing a protected black bear. The bear was a part of the Louisiana Black Bear Management and Research project. LDWF Spokesperson Adam Einck says agents responded after the tagged bear set off an alert. He says 28-year-old Ronald Kimble is a convicted felon and is not allowed to possess a firearm in the first place.

 

Officials broke ground Thursday on a major I-10 widening project which will affect travelers between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The job will stretch over a six mile portion of the interstate from Highland Road to Highway 73. Officials  encourage drivers to visit 511LA.org for traffic and road closure info.

 

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron introduced his new offensive coordinator Thursday, Steve Ensminger. Ensminger is an old face around Tiger Stadium, having been with the team since 2010, and having captained LSU to three bowl games in the late 70s at quarterback. Ensminger was LSU’s interim offensive coordinator in 2016.

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News for Thursday 011118

By Dave Graichen

 

Get ready for a return of cold temperatures. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a strong cold front will move through the state today, dropping temperatures and keeping highs below 50 degrees for the weekend, with night time lows in the 20’s. The cold air is expected to stick around all weekend long and into next week.

 

A woman in Ouachita Parish has died as the result of a pit bull mauling. Ouachita Parish Sheriffs spokesperson Glen Springfield says deputies arrived at the Happy Hounds Hotel, a West Monroe area pet boarding facility,  and found Laura Ray had been severely injured.  No further details have been released about the incident, and Springfield says the pit bull is being held by Ouachita Parish Animal Control.

 

Former Ball police officer  David Wayne Gagnard has been charged again, this time accused of extortion, fraud and more. The 46 year old Gagnard was booked yesterday  into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on four counts of malfeasance in office, abuse of office, extortion, injuring public records and insurance fraud. That's in addition to  a long list of charges from his December. The arrest happened after Ball Police Department Chief Nate Ussery requested an investigation back in December.

 

A lot of LSU news in a short story.. Steve Ensminger has been named Matt Canada’s replacement as LSU offensive coordinator. The Baton Rouge Advocate obtained the separation agreement between LSU and Canada which state’s the former OC’s $1.7 million dollar settlement would be voided if he interferes with the football program. In other Tiger news, Derrius Guice announced yesterday  he’d be entering the NFL Draft.

 

US Senator John Kennedy says he’s considering a run for governor in 2019, as the GOP in Louisiana hopes to keep Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards from the post for a second term. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this is a very conservative state, so you can expect plenty of Republican candidates to line up for next year’s election. Other Republican names that have been mentioned include US Congressman Ralph Abraham, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Attorney General Jeff Landry.

 

Eilers and Krejcik Gaming says Louisiana is one of 18 states that could discuss legislation to legalize sports betting, if the U-S Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey, which is challenging the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Author of the report, Chris Grove, says legalizing sports betting would be a budgetary boon for the state.

 

The elementary school teacher who was arrested after speaking out against the Vermilion Parish superintendent’s raise has released a video statement. Deyshia Hargrave says by being asked to leave, the school board is attempting to silence an issue that effects the entire community.  Governor John Bel Edwards said Wednesday  he did not see that Hargrave did or said anything that warranted that type of action against her.

 

Who has the best King Cake in Louisiana? The website King Cake Snob is set to find out this carnival season.  Jay Connaughton, CEO of Mandeville-based Innovative Advertising, says the competition will award the top “traditional” and “filled” King Cakes this year by separating the best from the rest. The site for people to submit reviews is at king-cake-snob-dot-com. 

 

The Saints face their biggest challenge of the year this Sunday, as they head to Minnesota for a rematch of the season opener that they lost 19 to 29. The Vikings boast the best defense in the league, and have routinely suffocated even the best offenses, keeping both the Falcons and Rams in the single digits The Saints will be rolling into a raucous US Bank Stadium full of fans who know their team is only two wins away from the first ever home Super Bowl. The game kicks off at 3:40 Sunday afternoon.

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News for Wednesday 011018

By Dave Graichen

 

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise undergoes another surgery today as he continues his recovery from a gunshot sustained while practicing for a charity baseball game. The bullet struck several of the Congressman’s internal organs. Scalise mentioned the surgery in a press conference on Tuesday.  He says he’s looking forward to getting back to work on Capitol Hill and getting business done in the session that started this week.

 

A Monroe Police officer who died while on duty early Sunday morning apparently shot himself before crashing The Monroe News Star says it’s unknown if 26-year-old Officer Chris Beaudion accidentally shot himself or committed suicide.  State Police are investigating the wreck while the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating the cause of death.

 

After failing last year to raise Louisiana’s gas tax for road improvements, Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter has a different idea this year by planning to file a constitutional amendment that would allow a region of the state to decide if they want a higher gas tax for their area. Carter says there’s not enough support for a statewide gas tax increase.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards has sent a letter to President Trump asking him to defend Louisiana’s ability to offer medical marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ending a federal mandate that kept federal authorities from cracking down on legalized pot. St. Martinville Senator Fred Mills authored the law authorizing the regulation of cannabis treatment in Louisiana. The state Board of Pharmacy plans on issuing permits soon for nine selected pharmacies around the state that will be able to dispense the medical cannabis.

 

Officials say they will not press charges against a Vermilion Parish middle school teacher who was removed and then handcuffed after she spoke out during a school board meeting Monday night. English teacher Deyshia Hargrave opposed a pay raise for the superintendent. After asking several questions, Hargrave was led out by a marshal.

 

U-S Senator John Kennedy opposes a bipartisan bill designed to improve the national background check database. The legislation would penalize federal workers who fail to report relevant records to the database, and provide incentives to states that increase reporting levels. Kennedy says we don’t need legislation asking federal workers to do their job.

 

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Gene Reynolds says he and fellow Democrats came away frustrated after meeting with the GOP on how to prevent falling off a fiscal cliff when one-billion-dollars in revenue comes off the books June 30th.  Governor John Bel Edwards is saying he will present a budget no later than January 19th, whether or not the one-billion-dollar shortfall is accounted for.  Republican House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says Democrats are going about this all wrong and is disappointed in the way Edwards and his party are discussing ways to tackle the budget.

 

Congressman Steve Scalise of Metairie says the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is already having a positive impact on families. Scalise lists over 100 businesses on his House Majority Whip website that have given bonuses, pay raises or made new investments as a result of the federal tax overhaul. Scalise says local businesses in southeast Louisiana are following suit…

 

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index is the highest it’s ever been to start off 2018. NFIB State Director Dawn Starns says the federal tax reform legislation, de-regulation of businesses and the defeat of U-S Labor Department overtime rule have led to the high optimism rating. The rule would have required businesses to pay overtime to millions of workers.

 

State Police are warning motorists driving newer cars that their bright headlights, could increase the risk of accidents. Trooper Glen Younger says LED headlights are a particular problem, and motorists need to keep their distance while driving in bad weather with your bright light on. Many new cars come equipped with sensors that will automatically turn headlights on and off, but Younger says you still need to check your headlights when the weather clears up. He says driving with your high beams on could lead to you getting a ticket.

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News for Tuesday 010918

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor John Bel Edwards met with House Speaker Taylor Barras again Monday to discuss solutions to a looming one-billion dollar budget deficit. Edwards would like to call a special session in February to pass a revenue-neutral tax plan to address the fiscal cliff.  The governor is working on proposing a budget that reflects a billion dollars in cuts, if he can’t reach an agreement with legislators on a tax plan. In a twitter post, Governor Edwards outlined for the GOP what he would like to see accomplished.

 

What is going on in Baton Rouge? The Capitol city for the past two years a seen a major jump in the number of homicides. In 2017, that number eclipsed the number of homicides, per 100,000, in the city of Chicago. The number of parish wide homicides,  defined by the FBI as intentional, not justified nor accidental, killings, increased by 70 percent from 2016, when 62 homicides were counted. And looking even beyond that one-year jump, 2017 still marked a 50 percent increase from an average of the previous five years.

 

State Police say an officer with the Monroe Police Department has died following a Sunday wreck. They say 26-year-old Chris Beaudion was involved in a single-vehicle crash while on duty in the early morning hours. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Beaudion leaves behind a wife and two children. He had been with the department since August 2016…

 

One person is dead, two others injured after a home invasion in Madison parish that happened Sunday night an apartment complex. Authorities have yet to make an arrest and they have not identified the victims. Investigators believe it was a random murder.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards has several items he would like to accomplish in the 2018 regular legislative session when it convenes March 12th.   Edwards will once again ask legislators to increase the minimum wage.  18 states increased their minimum wage January 1st.  He says $7.25 an hour is not enough for  hard working Louisiana families. The Governor also feels there is an overabundance of state licensing boards, 71 of them to be exact and the Governor believes most need to be eliminated.  By doing so, he says it would help small businesses trying to start up in Louisiana.

 

Saints fans following the team to Minnesota will be lucky if they experience temperatures above zero. Minneapolis is expecting arctic temperatures all weekend long, but the game itself will be played indoors.

 

The former Police Chief for the Town of Killian in Livingston Parish was paid for time he did not work, received excessive compensation and used work credit cards for personal use, according to a recent state audit. Investigative Audit Manager Greg Clapinski says they found that Dennis Hill submitted time sheets for overtime that he did not work.

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News for Monday 010818

By Dave Graichen

 

Based on records released by the Division of Administration the state paid out one-point-three million dollars since mid-2009 to settle sexual harassment claims involving state officials and employees. There were 27 payouts ranging from 55-hundred dollars to 150-thousand dollars. University professors, judges, employees in the state prison system were among the ones accused in the settlement cases.

 

LSU athletics reportedly paid 1.7 million dollars to buy out the final two years of Matt Canada’s contract. So the search is on for a new offensive coordinator. Tiger Rag Editor Cody Worsham believes Athletics Director Joe Alleva is willing to spend a lot on a new play caller. Worsham says finding Canada’s replacement will be very important for Orgeron, because if he misfires again, it could mean the end of his tenure at LSU.

 

The New Orleans Saints advanced to the NFC Divisional playoffs next Sunday at Minnesota with a heart stopping, 31-26 victory over Carolina in the Wild Card playoffs Sunday afternoon at the Superdome.

 

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards will meet with Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras today to continue negotiations centered on the looming fiscal cliff. Edwards set a January 19th deadline to come up with an agreement in principle on a plan to address a one billion dollar shortfall. The governor’s plan includes allowing the fifth penny of the state sales tax to expire, but removes some sales tax exemptions businesses enjoy. The plan echoes the recommendations of a bipartisan taskforce.

 

New Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul will be sworn in today and has a huge task ahead. East Baton Rouge recorded 104 murders in 2017, most  were in the city limits of Baton Rouge. LSU Sociology Professor Matthew Valasik says Paul must heal any animosity between police and citizens, before progress can be made. Paul is a 19-year law enforcement veteran coming from Louisiana State Police.  Valasik says this will enable Paul to bring experience and a different perspective.

 

Republican U-S Senator Bill Cassidy says the Trump’s administration plan to expand offshore oil and gas production to areas currently restricted would mean hundreds of thousands jobs. Cassidy says the job growth for Louisiana would about 31-thousand jobs. But Democrats and environmental groups are pushing against the plan, because of possible negative impacts to the environment.

 

East Baton Rouge sheriff deputies arrested a 29-year-old man after he allegedly stabbed his wife and three children with scissors. Sheriff’s office spokesperson Casey Rayborn Hicks says the victims fled and told neighbors to call 9-1-1. The suspect is in police custody.

 

It's been a billion-dollar lottery weekend after a lone Powerball ticket sold in New Hampshire matched all six numbers and will claim a $570 million jackpot, one day after another single ticket sold in Florida nabbed a $450 million Mega Millions grand prize.

 

Water has been distributed to residents in Tallulah as a state of emergency has been declared in Madison Parish because many residents are without water. Numerous pipes have busted because of the cold weather. Tallulah Mayor Payton Branch says the city’s water plant is 70 years old and they plan to rebuild it this year.

 

Since Christmas, Louisiana has seen 16 people die in home fires. That’s according to State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, who says many of the fires started because of misusing space heaters. He says some outlets can’t handle a space heater and another electrical item plugged into them. Browning says space heaters should also not be plugged into an extension cord.

 

State wildlife and fisheries says we could see fish kills throughout coastal Louisiana as a result of the arctic blast that produced freezing water temperatures. Biologists say many fish that may have been killed by the freeze would still be on the bottom of water bodies and may not be visible for a week or more.

 

The arctic blast halted crawfish farming, caused a rash of house fires, but it looks like this year’s strawberry crop should escape with minimal damage. The strawberry crop is a 15 million dollar a year industry for the state.

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News for Friday 010518

By Dave Graichen

 

Former Louisiana College President Dr. Joe Aguillard is suing the school again .The suit filed in  in U.S. District Court in Alexandria claims Aguillard was discriminated against for his "disability" , he had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery in 2011. Aguillard resigned from the presidency publicly stating health reasons. Aguillard also is claiming discrimination based on his religious beliefs, claiming current LC president, Rick Brewer, is a Calvinist.

 

Qualifying ends today for the March 24th election. So far, five men have qualified for the Alexandria city marshal race. Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields and five council members have drawn no opposition and no one has qualified yet for the Ward 10 justice of the peace contest.

 

The arctic blast is expected to start receding this weekend, sending the state back to its usual mild winter weather. Low temperatures this week sat in the lower 20s for much of Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry Keim says it’s one of the coldest weeks on record.

 

The federal tax reform bill slashed taxes for different businesses, and the state believes those tax savings could be passed on to utility customers. Governor John Bel Edwards has asked the Louisiana Public Service Commission to see if the state’s utility customers should see lower rates as a result of the recently approved federal tax overhaul legislation. P-S-C member Foster Campbell says Edwards is right and that will be a focus of their first meetings of 2018.  Edwards says Dominion Energy in South Carolina has already announced plans to lower its rates, because of the new federal tax law.

 

Saturday’s Powerball jackpot and tonight’s Mega-Millions drawing are some of the largest jackpots the history of the multi-state lottery games.  Louisiana Lottery spokesman Dustin Annison says a lot of money is on the line. Over $440 Million for tonight’s Megga Millions Drawing and $550 million for the Saturday’s Power Ball Drawing. Annison says the large jackpots are drawing people across state lines helping to increase the size of the jackpots.

 

Cleanup continues at the scene of a train derailment in Pointe Coupee Parish along LA 1 between New Roads and Morganza. The Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office reports that 23 train cars were involved in the derailment the occurred Thursday. No  leaks or injuries reported.

 

The 96th Louisiana State Police cadet class will graduate today with 27 men and women being assigned to the ten different troops around the state.  Sgt. Jared Sandifer says the new troopers will help drivers throughout the Bayou State. This was the first time in many years that LSP conducted two cadet classes at the same time.  As the 96th is wrapping up, the 97th class began their over 20 week training program.

 

Three people, a mother and her two children, were killed in a mobile home fire in Zachary late Wednesday  night. Zachary Fire Chief Danny Kimble says firefighters reported to a fully engulfed trailer shortly after 11pm. A cause of the blaze hasn’t been determined the but the State Fire Mashal says the below freezing temperatures have led to a surge in fire-related deaths.

 

A teenager who was found yesterday with multiple stab wounds inside a Lafayette home has died from his injuries.  A 32-year-old man has been charged with manslaughter in the case. Lafayette Police Corporal Bridgette Dugas says they believe an argument between the teen and 32-year-old Lawrence Allen the Second escalated into murder. Allen has been booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center.

 

A television series about the life of the men and women who live in the wilds of Louisiana will begin airing on a new channel this weekend. The Discovery Channel has signed “Out Da’ Bayou” for 13 episodes after five years on CST and the Sportsman Channel. Host John Jackson says the show puts you right in the middle of some of the toughest jobs in the state. Jackson says even if you were born and raised in the bayou, you’ll probably learn something new about your home state. The show airs Saturdays at 7:30am.

 

Sports..

 

One of the top defensive coordinators in the country will stay in Baton Rouge. LSU and Dave Aranda have reportedly agreed to a four-year deal. Aranda was already the highest paid assistant college football coach in the country and now he’s set to make on average 2.5 million dollars a year.

 

A key member of LSU’s defense has declared for the NFL draft. Arden Key told fans on social media that he’ll skip his senior season. Tiger Rag Associate Editor James Moran says Key left the team during spring football to deal with a personal matter and also missed five games during his junior campaign, because of injuries. We’re still waiting to hear if running back Derius Guice will enter the NFL draft. He has until January 15th to decide.

 

New Orleans is nearly a touchdown favorite to beat Carolina on Sunday in their NFC playoff match-up. The Black and Gold already own two victories over the Panthers this season. The Saints have won seven straight inside the Superdome.

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News for Thursday 010418

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana remains one of the states with the most confirmed cases of influenza during the early half of the flu season.  Department of Health’s Dr. Frank Welch says he is very concerned at the early aggressiveness the flu is showing this year. Louisiana sees on average about 8,000 hospitalizations and 700 deaths per year as a result of the flu.  Welch says not all flu cases are serious enough to go to the hospital, but stay away from people if you are sick.

 

The national price at the pump is at its highest in nearly five years after the busiest holiday travel season on record. The average here in Louisiana is 2.26 a gallon for regular gas, up nearly four cents over last week, but AAA spokesperson Don Redman says he doesn’t expect the price to hold. Redman says he believes gas will come down at least ten cents in the next month

 

Parts of coastal Southeast Louisiana saw snow early Wednesday morning.  Measurable snow fell in Grand Isle and areas of south Plaquemines Parish.  Alek Krautman with the National Weather Service in Slidell says the last time snow stuck to the ground in that area was December 1989

 

The Louisiana SPCA says they are getting numerous reports of pets left outside in this extremely cold weather.  Some pets are being seized by authorities and owners are being charged with animal cruelty.

 

Dr. Joseph Johnson, one of the most influential alumni and presidents in Grambling State University’s history passed away yesterday. Johnson was instrumental in a 1981 consent decree that led to an increase in funding for the school, facilitating the creation of the Grambling School of Nursing, and the university’s first doctoral program. He was the university’s third president, serving from 1977 to 1991, and nearly tripled the institutions enrollment during his tenure.

 

A new component of driver’s education is a section on how to respond to being pulled over by a police officer. The additional curriculum is the result of a new law that went into effect January 1st, aimed at decreasing fatalities resulting from police interactions during traffic stops. Along with educating new drivers on how to talk to police, the new program will emphasize how to be prepared if you get pulled over.

 

As Louisiana tourism enters 2018, there are some glaring concerns as to how to encourage more visitors to come to the Bayou State.  Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser says the state’s tourism budget is facing a ten percent cut if legislators are unable to resolve the fiscal cliff issues.  Nungesser says the Lt. Governor’s office has seen massive cuts the last several years and is afraid further cuts will reduce the ability to keep the state park system operating…

 

Three are under arrest in the shooting death of a man found near Gonzales in Ascension Parish.  The body of 20 year old Francisco Nieves was found in a ditch near a trailer park Tuesday.  Police say the shooting didn’t occur in Gonzales, but happened in Jefferson Parish.  20-year-old Archie Armstrong of Marrero is charged with second degree murder while two others face accessory to second degree murder charges…

 

Texas A&M is not taking no for an answer and is coming after LSU defense coordinator Dave Aranda again.  Aranda turned down their original offer of 1.85-milllion dollars to make him the highest paid college assistant coach in the country.  An LSU source says the new offer may be closer now to 3 million and Aranda would have the flexibility to hire his own defensive staff.

 

Kentucky beat LSU in Basketball last night.. the final 74 to 71 Up next, Texas A&M Saturday..

 

The Pelicans beat the Jazz last night, 108 - 98

 

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News for Wednesday 010318

By Dave Graichen

 

2018 is off to a very cold start. Lows the last two mornings were in the teens to low 20s and wind chills were in the single digits in some areas. It was so cold yesterday that snow fell in parts of Southeast Louisiana in the areas of Morgan City, Houma, Grand Isle and Raceland. Phil Grigsby, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says this arctic air mass is not going away.  We’ll have to wait until this weekend before the Bayou State can finally thaw out.

 

Two people were found dead Tuesday at the site of a house fire in Baton Rouge, bringing the total to seven houses fire across the state in just 24 hours. The State Fire Marshal is warning residents to use extra care in using heating devices in the face of this unusually cold winter weather, and to make sure you check your fire alarms before going to sleep tonight. Few things can do more to save your life in a fire.

 

An audit found that some Boyce Police Department officers may have been given improper pay raises and that some are working excessive hours, including one officer who clocked more than 25 hours in one day. The town already has turned over the matter concerning the excessive hours to the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office and a review of the pay raises is under way.

 

The arctic blast is keeping Louisianans indoors and is threatening this year’s crawfish harvest. The state’s winters are usually wet and mild, perfect conditions for breeding plenty of big crawfish, but the near record lows have halted production.  Last year’s crop came with a low profit margin and Louisiana Crawfish Promotion Board President David Savoy says expect much smaller crawfish this year.

 

A few national corporations announced they’d be giving holiday bonuses last week as a result of the GOP tax bill, but on a local level the response has been somewhat more muted. LSU economist Loren Scott says the bill is a substantial reduction in corporate and business taxes, and is aimed at enticing foreign businesses to relocate to the USA, and inspiring domestic businesses to expand. Republicans say the bill will help maintain the current three percent growth in GDP, and Scott says if that happens, it would be a big boost to the Louisiana economy.

 

2018 could be a volatile year in Louisiana politics.  It’s a somewhat quiet year for elections, but UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says the Legislature and Governor John Bel Edwards have a long road facing them after the one cent sales tax falls off the books June 30th, leaving Louisiana with a one-billion-dollar deficit. The Louisiana Congressional delegation appears to be solid going into the mid-term elections this year.  Cross feels 3rd District Congressman Clay Higgins faces the most opposition…

 

The looming fiscal cliff has party leaders preparing for a series of tense negotiations ahead of a January 19th deadline imposed by Governor John Bel Edwards. That deadline was set with the hope that legislative leaders would have the framework for a deal to address an imminent one billion dollar shortfall. State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere is not happy with the governor’s deadline. Edwards wants a deal in principle by January 19th so he can call a special session in February to pass new tax laws to address the budget deficit. The Governor says he wants a revenue neutral plan, but Villere says Edwards is really calling for a tax hike.

 

Fourth District Congressman Mike Johnson and Attorney General Jeff Landry have released the “Louisiana Student Rights Review.” Johnson says the publication found at mike-johnson-for-Louisiana-dot-com answers legal questions and clears up misconceptions about religious expression on school campuses. Johnson says the Constitution protects the rights of students to live out their faith in a public school.

 

Many find it hard to be motivated at work after taking time off for the holidays. And with the extended cold snap, it may be challenging to get out and go back to work.  But once you get there, CEO of Mid-America Careers Nick Murphy says do not be too hard on yourself as you get back into “work mode” If you are in a job that you truly are not happy with, it may be a good time to make a change.  Many employers are starting to hire with new budgets in place.

 

The LSU men’s basketball team has made great strides during the first year with Will Wade as their head coach. The 9-and-3 Tigers are coming off a road win over Memphis, tonight they face 17th ranked Kentucky. You can hear that game starting at 7 this evening on KSYL 970AM & 100.3 HD3FM.

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News for Tuesday 010218

By Dave Graichen

 

All of the state starting the day in a deep freeze, with temps in the mid-teens here in Cenla. The cold weather plans to stick around for a while. 18 is the predicted low for tonight.

 

Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson looks ahead to road projects coming and continuing into 2018. He says major progress will take place on the work being done on I-10, west of the Basin Bridge to Lafayette.  Wilson says there is a major construction boom happening in Southeast Louisiana this year where over 100,000 people pass through each day, so motorists need to expect delays for at least the entire year.

 

Many people make quitting smoking one of their New Year’s resolutions.  Louisiana is 47th out of 50 states for tobacco use, with over 22-percent of adults light up, one of the highest percentages in the nation.  Smoking Cessation Trust CEO Mike Rogers says one of the main reasons people don’t succeed is they try to go it alone. He adds if you don’t succeed this time, to keep trying.  An average person quits at least eight times before succeeding.

 

A new year can mean the start of several new things, including how you handle your finances.  Trying to keep your financial house in order can be tough, if you are not aware of where you are spending your money.  Baton Rouge CPA Layne McDaniel says one way to try to squeeze a little more out of your budget is knowing how you spend. How much to save is the big question.  McDaniel says even though it’s an old cliché, he says to “pay yourself first”.

 

The number of Craft Breweries in Louisiana has more than doubled in the last five years, and with the recent corporate tax cuts as a result of the tax reform legislation passed by Congress, we could see a few more. Executive Director of the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild Cary Koch says a provision in the new tax law will have big returns for local brewers.

 

Disappointing finish to the season for the LSU Tigers as Notre Dame scored a late touchdown to beat the Bayou Bengals 21-17.

 

Despite a 31-24 defeat at Tampa Bay Sunday afternoon, the Saints still won the NFC South and still will host Carolina in a Wild Card playoff game Sunday afternoon in the Superdome. The Saints-Panthers winner will advance to play at either No. 1 seed Philadelphia or No. 2 seed Minnesota.

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News for Friday 122217

By Dave Graichen

 

Cleco  has named Bill Fontenot as the new CEO effective January 1st. Fontenot has been with the company for 31 years, working in various capacities including business development, commercial operations and utility operations. He says he’s honored to help keep the focus of the utility on their customers. Fontenot’s family has a long history with the Pineville-based utility company. The father worked for the utility for over 30 years and son Bill followed in his footsteps. Cleco serves about 288-thousand customers in Louisiana.

 

For the seventeenth year in a row State Police troop E out of Alexandria will be delivering gifts to children who are stuck in the hospital for Christmas. The troop plans to meet Christmas Eve morning to start wrapping gifts to deliver to kids later that night. Master Trooper Scott Moreau says the troop works on the toy drive all year long.

Moreau says any hospitalized child, regardless of background, will be getting a gift…

Moreau says it’s his troops way of spreading a little holiday cheer.

 

A Southern Media and Opinion Research poll finds Governor John Bel Edwards has his highest approval numbers since taking office nearly two years ago at 65-percent. It eclipses his previous high of 63-percent and is higher than the 54-percent approval rating in May. Governor Edwards says he’s grateful for the trust the voters have placed in him.  He says the first two years have seen it’s share of challenges, but he is looking forward to the future.

 

This will be a record setting holiday for traveling this Christmas.   Over 103 million Americans will take to the roads and skies between now and the first of the year.  Part of the reason behind the surge in travelers is low gas prices.  Triple-A’s Don Redman says prices are higher than they were last year, but travelers feel more confident about the economy. Airline fares are seeing a drop.  Some six million are expected to take to the skies during the final week of the year, a one-point-five-percent increase over 2016. 

 

The roads will be packed this weekend with holiday traffic, and the Louisiana State police want everyone traveling to stay safe. Trooper Glen Younger says the stress and extended traffic times can stress drivers and sometimes lead to road rage. He says if you are driving, expect longer travel times. And of course, if you plan to drink, keep a designated driver handy.

 

Congress’s 1.5 trillion dollar tax overhaul has many wondering how this will impact their finances. The wholesale changes touch everything from investment returns to charitable donations, and radically alters tax season for most Louisianans. Baton Rouge area CPA Brandon Lagarde says the bill should lower taxes for most in the state. He says in any case, the changes will keep CPA’s very busy…

 

This will be a big weekend for Christmas present crunch time, and retailers are rolling out plenty of last-minute deals to get that holiday dollar. The last Saturday before Christmas is known as Super Saturday, and LSU Marketing Professor Dan Rice says it’s a big day for brick and mortar stores because it’s too late for online shopping in most cases. About 126 million people, or 53 percent of consumers, plan to shop on Saturday

 

A Zachary man is charged by a grand jury with first degree murder in the deaths of three people last month.  36-year-old Taurus Ike Hamilton allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend and two others in East Feliciana Parish.  He has not yet been charged with a fourth murder in East Baton Rouge.  His mother Belinda Folse is charged with accessory to second degree murder, after allegedly taking Hamilton across state lines…

 

Nearly 64,000 Americans died last year from drug overdoses, leading to a decline in life expectancy for the second year in a row, according to the CDC. Addiction Policy Forum President and CEO, Jessica Hulsey Nickel, blames the exploding opioid epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, The United states now ranks below several dozen other countries in average life expectancy.

 

Saints Safety Kenny Vaccaro has been placed on injured reserve as a result of a groin injury, which means he’ll miss the rest of the season. He suffered the injury on November fifth and a source says it never healed correctly and it will require surgery.

 

The Saints can qualify for the playoffs with a win over NFC South rival Atlanta or a Carolina loss this weekend.  New Orleans has the easiest road to the post season of any NFL team still trying to qualify, only needing to win one of the next two to play in January.   Quarterback Drew Brees says he would love to wrap this up and win in front of the home crowd.

 

It’s another case of people being more upset than the victim. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton has apologized for the choke gesture he made towards Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. TV cameras caught the incident when the two teams met two weeks ago in Atlanta and the two teams are set to meet again this Sunday. In a conference call with Atlanta reporters, Payton said he let his emotions get the best of him. Freeman says he’s not bothered by Payton’s actions.

 

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame  inductee Charlie Hennigan passed away Wednesday. Hennigan, a Northwestern State graduate, still holds two NFL receiving records and is in the top three of three more. A native of Bienville, Hennigan will be laid to rest there Saturday. Charlie Hennigan was 82.

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News for Thursday 122117

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor John Bel Edwards held an end of the year press conference yesterday and set a deadline of January 19th for an agreement in principle with House Republican leaders regarding the one-billion dollar budget deficit the state is facing in 2018. If no agreement, then the governor will not call a special session to approve various proposals to close the budget gap. Edwards says if they are unable to reduce the deficit, he’ll have no chose but to propose deep cuts to education and health care. He says there is nowhere else to cut…

 

U-S Senator Bill Cassidy says the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act approved by Congress does more than just cut taxes for working families. Cassidy says the legislation also allows victims of last year’s floods in North and South Louisiana to deduct all of their personal casualty losses from their taxable income, which could mean thousands of dollars…

Cassidy says the bill also doubles the Child Tax Credit to two-thousand dollars.

 

The head of the Tiger Athletic Foundation is waiting to see what kind of impact the federal tax reform legislation will have on college athletics. TAF President Rick Perry says LSU season ticket sales for their major sports could be impacted since fans will no longer be able to deduct 80 percent of their donations to the athletic program for the right to buy season tickets.

 

A Southern Media and Opinion Research poll finds only 19 percent of registered Louisiana voters believe their taxes will decrease with the passage of the Republican tax reform bill.  Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says Republicans say the average wage earner will see more money, but taxpayers are skeptical. According to the survey of 500 likely Louisiana voters, 42-percent of respondents believe their taxes will increase. Pinsonat says the massive tax reform legislation will have a major impact on next year’s federal mid-term elections.

 

An appeals court has ruled against the Rapides Parish School Board, which had appealed the reinstatement of a tenured teacher fired in 2001 and a more than $1 million judgment for her. The case of Patricia Powell was sent back to the 9th Judicial District Court "for a determination of the exact amount of damages awarded, along with appropriate interest and costs. In September of last year, District Judge Thomas Yeager ruled that Powell had been the victim of political retaliation and awarded her more than $1 million in damages. The school board appealed that decision to the 3rd Circuit.

 

The state attorney general’s office announced Wednesday the athletic director and basketball coach at Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau has been arrested on various sex crimes, including indecent behavior with a juvenile. 51-year-old Mark Aune of Opelousas was booked into the St. Landry Parish jail with the help of Texas authorities.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards addressed two controversies yesterday involving former members of his administration. A legislative audit accuses former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson of abusing his power and possible illegal activity. The Governor defended his living arrangement at state police headquarters. But, said that other findings revealed by both the State Police Internal Affairs and a legislative audit revealed troubling behavior. Edwards former aide, Johnny Anderson, recently resigned over sexual harassment allegations. Edwards says the issue was handled swiftly.

 

Lottery tickets may seem like a great Christmas gift with adults buying them for  children as stocking stuffers. But Quinetta Womack, director of Problem Gambling Services, says it gives the juvenile a false sense of dreams and ideas that can lead to gambling addiction. Womack says it’s much better to give a child a gift that will promote their creativity, based on real values.

 

LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois believes this will be a record breaking year for sugarcane production in this state. Gravois says 2012 is the record for production, 84-hundred pounds per acre harvested and he believes they’ll beat that this year.

 

The selections for the 2018 Pro Bowl were announced Tuesday night and they include six New Orleans Saints. Quarterback Drew Brees, defensive end Cameron Jordan, receiver Michael Thomas, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have been named to the team.

 

A good night last night for Louisiana Tech in the first ever Frisco Bowl. The Bulldogs Squashed the SMU Mustangs 51 to 10

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News for Wednesday 122017

By Dave Graichen

 

The U-S House and Senate approves a one-point-five trillion dollar tax package that supporters say will provide tax relief for working families, but opponents say only the rich will see tax breaks. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana says on average, families will see over two-thousand dollars more in their paychecks every year that will benefit them directly. The day was not without hiccups as several small provisions in the tax bill were found by the Senate parliamentarian to violate the budget rules that Republicans must follow to pass their bill through a process that shields it from a Democratic filibuster. As a result, the House will need to vote again on the tax bill, probably today, since both chambers must approve identical legislation.

 

State police report a 15-year-old girl died Monday night after losing control of the truck she was driving. Troopers say the accident happened shortly after 9pm on U.S. Highway 71 near Campti in Natchitoches Parish.  Kristyn Hoffpauir, from the village of Atlanta in Winn Parish, died at the scene of the crash. A passenger in the vehicle received serious injuries and was transported to Rapides Regional.

 

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of DeJuan Guillory’s family claims an Evangeline Parish sheriff’s deputy fatally shot the then 27 year old Guillory on July 6 as Guillory tried to crawl away, posing no threat to the deputy. An Evangeline Parish grand jury on Dec. 13 declined to indict Lafleur in the shooting, which followed a fight between Guillory and Lafleur during a 4 a.m. traffic stop where Guillory and his girlfriend, Dequince Brown, had been riding an all-terrain vehicle. Brown, who jumped on Lafleur around the time the gun went off, is now charged with attempted murder of a police officer.

 

The future of two major safety-net hospitals in north Louisiana is close to being secured. Ochsner Health Systems signed a non-binding agreement to take control of the facilities from BRF. The hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe are set to enter into a public-private partnership between LSU and Ochsner, after years of criticism over BRF’s practices. State Officials say a contract could take a few months to complete.

 

According to an ULM economic impact study released, commercial use of the Ouachita River produces billions in revenue and several thousand jobs in North Louisiana. Ouachita River Valley Association President Randy Denmon says they will be able to use this study to ask the federal government to keep the river open and navigable.

 

A university of Kansas study says Uber customers are increasingly choosing the ride service for trips to the emergency room, over an ambulance. Chief of Emergency Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans, Dr. Keith Van Meter says sometimes people feel their illness is not that significant and just need an Uber driver to get them to the hospital, but that could be a mistake.

 

According to Trust for America’s Health, Louisiana achieved only four out of ten indicators for public health preparedness. The criteria is based on weather related events, flu vaccination rate, paid sick leave and other benchmarks.  CEO John Auerbach says Louisiana’s flu vaccine rate is the seventh lowest in the nation.

 

Governor Edwards revealed his plan to help cover a one-billion-dollar deficit. It includes taxing services such as cable TV, but also reducing the state sales tax from five to four percent.  Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says the House Republican delegation is still discussing the best options to address the fiscal cliff. Edwards plans on calling a special session in February to consider his tax proposals.

 

Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director James Waskom says they plan to work towards having the state officially partner with the Cajun Navy for future disasters. Waskom says it would be beneficial for GOHSEP to know who these people are, and where they are being dispatched to during an emergency.

 

A River Ridge vet has been arrested after allegedly shooting her neighbor’s dog.  35-year-old Kelly Folse says she killed the dog due to excessive barking and was aggressive.   Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto says the dog died a day after being shot.  Authorities say they didn’t find evidence the dog was aggressive.  Folse is charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and possession of narcotics.

 

Louisiana Tech can finish with a winning record for the 2017 season if it can beat SMU in the Frisco Bowl. It’s been an up and down season for the Bulldogs, who fell short of playing for the Conference USA title. But Bulldogs Coach Skip Holtz says finishing 2017 with a three-game winning streak would be great. You can hear the game this evening starting at 5:30 on ESPN 1410 & 93.1 HD3

 

LSU is expected to sign nearly 20 players over the next three days as part of the college football new early signing period. In the past recruits had to wait until February to sign, now they can do so in December.

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News for Tuesday 121917

By Dave Graichen

 

The APD reported yesterday that four people have been arrested and charged in connection with a shooting in the city Saturday night that left a 19 year old man on life support. The department announced it had charged 18 year old Donterio Wilson and 17 year old Kevin Thompson, plus two juveniles with first-degree murder and armed robbery. Both Wilson and Thompson were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, while the juveniles were taken to a juvenile detention facility.

 

You may have notices if you were stuck standing in line.. But, Monday was the busiest day of the year for the U-S Postal Service. Spokesperson Twana Barber says If you want your gifts to arrive by Christmas Day, the deadline for first class mail is today.

 

The Cajun Navy has a new mission, getting people back in their homes in time for Christmas. A February 15th FEMA deadline is looming, where residents who are living in temporary housing face the possibility of paying rent to stay in their FEMA homes. Sondra Richard, a volunteer with the Cajun Navy says the mission  is a grassroots, completely volunteer effort to get people back into their homes. They are looking for people who can help with rebuilding and transportation of supplies. The United Cajun Navy is accepting volunteers, more information can be found on their Facebook page.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards outlined his proposals for closing a $1 billion dollar budget gap, also known as the fiscal cliff. The governor proposes higher sales taxes on utilities that businesses pay, new sales taxes on various services like cable TV and changes to individual income tax brackets. He does not support the renewal of a one-cent temporary sales tax that will expire on June 30th. The governor says he plans to unveil a budget proposal on January 19th, but it will include $1 billion in cuts, since no decision on tax reform will be made until an anticipated February special session.

 

Hunger Free America has just released a report showing that Louisiana is tied with Mississippi for the second highest food insecurity in the country.  Spokesperson Magen Allen of Hunger Free America says the survey shows that 14 percent of working adults in Louisiana suffered from food insecurity at some point between 2014 and 2016. Food insecurity is defined as “when a person is without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”  Another segment that is suffering silently is senior citizens in the state

 

The ACLU of Louisiana has filed a suit challenging the Webster Parish School District’s alleged practice of subjecting students to school sponsored Christian prayer and other religious rituals.  The suit was filed on behalf of Webster Parish parent Christy Cole.  ACLU attorney Bruce Hamilton says the suit alleges that Christian prayers are broadcast during morning school . Hamilton says graduation ceremonies have been held inside churches and at times resemble a church service. He says the teaching of evolution and creationism have become blurred at Webster Parish Schools. 

 

The White House says judicial nominee Matthew Peterson has withdrawn his nomination. Peterson failed to answer basic legal questions when questioned by Republican Senator John Kennedy. Kennedy says he had no idea that Peterson had no litigation experience, and said that’s why the Senate holds hearings.

 

State Representative Chris Broadwater has announced he’s stepping down from the state legislature, so he can spend more time with his family. Broadwater has represented Hammond and parts of Tangipahoa Parish for the last six years. The GOP legislator has a reputation of working with both Republicans and Democrats. We’ve seen a lot of resignations lately because of sexual harassment, but Broadwater made it very clear, a possible scandal is not why he’s stepping down.

 

Penn National Gaming has purchased Pinnacle Entertainment for 2.8 billion dollars. Pinnacle operates the L’auberge in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, and Boomtown in New Orleans and Bossier City. Wade Duty of the Casino Association of Louisiana says that the buyout won’t lead to big changes for players. He does not anticipate Penn National Gaming expanding their new properties in Louisiana.

 

A state audit finds the Louisiana Cancer Research Center, created by the state legislature in 2002, has yet to achieve the National Cancer Institute designation, which would open up additional federal funding to improve research and how cancer is treated. The audit notes changes are needed in their administrative structure of the research center in order to achieve the designation.

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