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News for Friday 022318

By Dave Graichen

 

A 15 year old Rapides Parish Student was arrested yesterday and has been charged with five counts of terrorizing and one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly sending threatening emails to several schools in the parish. Authorities are not saying what school the teen attended or because of his age, his name. The student is believed to be responsible for emails threatening Alexandria Senior High School, Bolton High School and Northwood High School.

 

City of Alexandria utility customers have recently reported receiving fraudulent calls from individuals claiming to be City representatives inquiring about utility rebates and rebate credits and asking for personal information. The City reminds all customers that it will not call customers asking them for personal or credit information or to make a credit card payment or wire money for any fees or bill payment.

 

Gridlock continued at the Capitol Thursday as state lawmakers did not move any closer to closing a nearly one-billion dollar budget deficit that’s caused by expiring sales taxes. Medicaid reform bills that House Republican leaders are pushing failed to get out of a committee. Legislation that would raise revenues are also not moving.

 

Medicaid reform legislation was pulled from consideration in the House Health and Welfare Committee before it could be voted on, maintaining the special session’s current run of inaction. The bill would have implemented work requirements for Medicaid recipients. Opelousas Democrat Dustin Miller says the proposal was similar to Kentucky’s Medicaid reform that is currently estimated to cost that state roughly 300 million dollars to implement. Hoffman says the Medicaid program is burdened by a noticeable amount of unemployed people who lack the motivation to work, but Miller says the numbers don’t back that up.

 

In the wake of the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead, Chalmette Representative Raymond Garafalo is planning to reintroduce a bill in the regular session that would allow school educators to carry weapons on campus if they have proper training. In the wake of recent threats and attacks, Garafalo says allowing guns in the classroom may prevent future mass school shootings. Garafalo says faculty who choose to voluntarily carry, would be trained appropriately.

 

A high school student was arrested and two other elementary school students have been suspended from their respective schools in LaFourche Parish for alleged threats.  Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Lt. Brennan Matherne says a 15-year-old male threatened to kill a South Lafourche High School teacher.

 

Secretary of State Tom Schedler faces accusations of sexual harassment. A lawsuit filed in state court in Baton Rouge alleges that Schedler sent a female state worker love letters, made sexual advancements and gave her unwanted gifts, including sex tapes. Defense attorney Jill Craft says her client was punished after she rebuffed his repeated advances.

 

An LSU study paid for by the waterway and shipyard industries found that the downturn in oil prices resulted in a loss of 21-thousand jobs and 1.4 billion dollars in wages from 2014-2016. The closure of the Avondale Shipyards in Jefferson Parish resulted in five-thousand lost jobs alone.

 

There are some big Louisiana Lottery winners that haven’t claimed their prizes, which are in some cases at least 50-thousand-dollars.  Lottery spokesperson Kim Chopin says they are seeking a winner who matched four of the five white ball numbers on September 2nd.  Their ticket is about to expire. So what happens to the unclaimed lottery winnings?  Chopin says there are roughly between nine and 11-million-dollars in unclaimed money annually that can be won again.

 

Sports..

 

Two college baseball powerhouses meet this weekend at Alex Box Stadium as 14th ranked Texas visits 22nd ranked LSU. Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says he has a lot of respect for the Longhorn program and their six national title. Texas is 3-1 on the season, while the Tigers are 2-and-2. Zack Hess will start on the mound for the Tigers tonight.. airtime 6:30 on KSYL 970am / 100.3 hd3 fm

 

In Basketball.. LSU has a chance to build on its NCAA Tournament resume on Saturday when they visit Georgia. It’s a winnable game for the Tigers who is trying to become one of the 68 teams in the Big Dance. But Coach Will Wade says has asked his team not to focus on the tourney talk. LSU has lost five straight road games. Wade says they’ve been competitive in most of those contests, but he says they are not finishing…

 

In NBA action, the Pelicans Play host to the Miami Heat tonight. Airtime 6:30p on 94.7 ESPN.

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News for Thursday 022218

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor John Bel Edwards yesterday addressed the issue of gun control in the wake of the latest mass shooting in Florida. The Governor said he would like to see a more robust background check system for firearm purchases and would like to see a purchasing ban for those on the No-Fly list, those who commit violent crimes, and have a history of mental illness. Edwards also came out against aftermarket additions that alter the capabilities of legally purchased rifles.

 

The special session grounded to a halt yesterday after a vote on a tax reform bill that would have kept a quarter of the one penny sales tax intact, and remove some of the special sales tax exemptions for specific industries was postponed indefinitely. LaPolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says it was the bill with the most momentum, and its failure could tank the entire session. Lawmakers were optimistic heading into the capitol Monday, but Alford says the political realities of an impending election and a bitter partisan divide didn’t take long to grind the session to a halt.

 

Police are reporting copycat type incidents throughout Louisiana since the mass school shooting in Florida.  LSU Pediatric psychologist Joy Osofsky (Oh-saf-ski) says there is a danger that kids are becoming star stuck by these killers, relishing that they are in control. The latest threat was made against Northwood High School in Blanchard in Caddo Parish…

 

State Police is asking the public not to share unsubstantiated threats through social media.  Senior Trooper Dustin Dwight says they encourage citizens to report suspicious activity, but they ask the public not to share unsubstantiated threats through social media because it creates chaos and panic. Dwight says if you do see a threat and if it’s viewed as an imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1.  If there is more investigation needed, other agencies will step in.  He says citizens are more scared than usual right now.

 

The State Department of Education is launching the “Be Irreplaceable. Be a Teacher” campaign.  It’s an effort to convince high school and college students to make a career in the teaching profession.  But Teacher of the Year Kim Eckert says it’s a challenge to bring in new teachers to Louisiana due to lower teacher pay.   She’s urging teachers to speak openly with lawmakers and education officials and it starts with this campaign…

 

A bill to require Medicaid patients to pay a copay if they use an emergency room for non-emergency treatment is expected to be heard Today in a House committee. Supporters say visits to the E-R for minor medical issues drives up health care costs, but opponents say the bill will result in low-income individuals not getting the care they need.

 

Next week it’s the girls state high school basketball championships in Alexandria and the week after it will be the boys turn in Lake Charles. But the LHSAA is having trouble having enough basketball referees during the season. Assistant Executive Director Keith Alexander says unfortunately rowdy fans can prevent some from wanting to be a ref.

 

Owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Tom Benson is in the hospital.  The 90- year old has flu like symptoms and is in ICU, but is resting comfortably.

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News for Wednesday 022118

By Dave Graichen

 

We’ve been telling you for some time now that this is a very deadly flu season. That claim was confirmed by Rapides parish Coroner Jonathan Hunter this week. Hunter confirmed that The flu has claimed the lives of at least six people in Rapides Parish alone since October. Rapides Regional Medical Center is reporting 230 confirmed flu cases between October 2017 and January 2018, compared to 98 between October 2016 and January 2017. Best defense is still to get the shot.

 

Schools in Evangeline Parish were closed yesterday because of social media threats. Officials say the schools have been cleared. A 15-year-old was arrested for posting one of the threats. All in all, Six threats were reported.  All school campuses in Rapides Parish were placed on "soft lockdown" Tuesday morning while authorities investigated a potential email threat.

 

Four parishes in northwest Louisiana, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne and Webster, are under a flash flood watch through Thursday morning.  Forecaster Brandi Hughes, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says several inches of rain are possible.. And more rain could be coming.  Hughes says the long range forecast looks wet for the next several days, which could add to already swollen creeks and rivers.

 

The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote today on a series of bills that would make changes to the state’s tax code as part of the effort to plug the billion dollar budget shortfall. Jackson Representative Kenny Havard says the current system, which provides tax breaks for businesses in certain industries, is unfair. But Baton Rouge Representative Barry Ivey says he’s concerned that the current push to fix the fiscal cliff by taxing business will hurt the state’s economy. He says it could result in jobs heading out of state. No agreement has been reached on a detailed proposal to solve the fiscal cliff, as legislators have shied away from specifics in the first two days of the special session.

 

Automotive insurance rates are on the rise again, after the Louisiana Department of Insurance approved double-digit hikes last year for at least six insurance companies.  State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says State Farm Insurance accounts for 30 percent of Louisiana insured drivers and it’s customers are paying on average ten-percent more starting this month. Donelon advises motorists to shop around if they think their rates are too high.

 

New data is out that shows salaries for Louisiana public school teachers is 17-hundred dollars less than the Southern Regional Average. Legislative Director for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers Cynthia Posey says it’s disappointing to see this, when ten years ago, educators were paid about the same as other southern states. Posey hopes lawmakers can stabilize the budget, so more money can be available for teacher salaries.

 

A bill to create a transparency tool called Louisiana Checkbook passed the House Appropriations committee, and may be considered on the House floor later this week. The program closely mirrors Ohiocheckbook.com, where Ohio residents are presented a detailed report about state expenses.

 

Tangipahoa Parish School Board member Mike Whitlow is facing heavy backlash for posting a picture of a noose on his public Facebook page. The picture had the caption: “If we want to make America great again, we will have to make evil people fear punishment again.” Whitlow says the post was not racially motivated, he says it was about criminal justice.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry have agreed to coordinate efforts in the State of Louisiana’s litigation against opioid manufacturers.

Under this agreement, the Attorney General’s office will take over primary responsibility for the suit filed by the Louisiana Department of Health in the 19th Judicial District Court. Furthermore, the AG’s office will lead the efforts with other state agencies and departments to pursue all claims Louisiana has as a result of the opioid crisis.

 

Emile the crawfish will be allowed to live his life out peacefully thanks to Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser  who picked “Emile” to be pardoned for their “annual pardoning of the crawfish” in New Orleans yesterday.

 

After poor starting pitching performances in the series loss to Notre Dame, LSU Coach Paul Mainieri is making changes to his weekend rotation. Mainieri says Zack Hess will start on Friday against the Texas Longhorns, instead of Caleb Gilbert. Thibodaux native Cam Sanders will start on the mound tonight against UNO. Airtime 6p on KSYL 970am / 100.3 HD3fm.

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News for Tuesday 022018

By Dave Graichen

 

Recent above normal temperatures are making it feel more like Spring, but a pesky front is expected to move into North Louisiana starting this evening, which State Climatologist Barry Keim says will bring the temperatures closer to normal in that area for the remainder of the week and along with that the good chance for rain through the weekend.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards addressed the legislature, calling on the state’s governing body to put party politics aside to fix the impending fiscal cliff that triggers July 1st after a series of sales taxes expire. If no deal is struck, TOPS, higher Ed, and healthcare would see massive cuts. Edwards says it’s time to put party aside for the future of the state.

 

The governor called on lawmakers to adopt his plan that would reduce the state sales tax, and replace the funds by widening the tax base, removing certain business sales tax exemptions, and compressing income tax brackets. Edwards says funding popular state programs should be every legislator’s objective.

 

The Senate Democratic Caucus offers a solution on solving the one-billion dollar shortfall. Chairman Troy Carter proposes compressing income tax brackets, removing sales tax exemptions that benefit some businesses and expand the sales tax base, so certain services are taxed. But anti-tax critics say proposal would raise income taxes on the middle class.

 

LSU president F. King Alexander is calling on legislators to find a budget solution that funds higher ed and TOPS by the end of the February special session.

Alexander says there was a noticeable impact the last time the state failed to properly fund TOPS in a timely manner. He says if lawmakers wait until June to solve the one billion dollar fiscal cliff, the damage will already have been done for the 2018-2019 school year.

 

At least three Louisiana schools received social media threats over the weekend, with Ville Platte High receiving one Monday morning. That threat forced a lockdown for several hours.  Dutchtown and Ponchatoula High Schools were threatened in social media over the weekend. 

 

North Louisiana Congressman Ralph Abraham made no bones about his intentions to take a hard look at running for Governor. On the day when Governor John Bel Edwards took center stage at the capitol and opened the special legislative session, Abraham took a swipe at his potential opponent while speaking to the Baton Rouge Press club.

Abraham says in the days of lightning fast social media,  Louisiana voters are less likely to consider where a candidate is from and more likely to hear his message.

 

The State Transportation Department will begin work on the I-10 bridge in Lake Charles on March 3rd. DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett says they will replace the expansion joints on the bridge, initially closing one eastbound lane. Mallett says this work is part of a large scale job they plan to perform. The project is expected to be completed in four to six months.

 

Sad story out of Pointe Coupee Parish as a female employee at False River Academy was killed when her 74-year-old husband accidentally pinned her between his truck and a school bus. 66-year-old Edith Atkinson died from her injures at a local hospital.

 

A 71-year-old Louisiana inmate serving a life sentence for the fatal shooting of a sheriff’s deputy was denied parole Monday by a three-member panel of the state’s parole board. Henry Montgomery just turned 17-year-old when he fatally shot an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy in 1963. He received a parole hearing thanks to a US Supreme Court ruling that juvenile homicide offenders should have an opportunity at parole.

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News for Monday 021918

By Dave Graichen

 

The Town Talk is reporting a shortage of substitute school bus drivers in Rapides Parish has become so severe that there are days the district isn't providing transportation for some students. according to Director of Transportation Velt Edwards the shortage has been a growing problem for about three years. Among the factors compounding the issue is the district's dependence on substitutes to drive routes full-time. Some of those substitutes are quitting after a year or more of performing the same job as salaried drivers, while making $67 a day with no benefits.

 

The special state legislative session kicks off today to address a one billion dollar budget shortfall. Lawmakers have until March 7th to find a fix to the looming fiscal cliff or else cuts will occur in the areas of higher education and health care. Governor Edwards is calling for the replacement of the expiring sales taxes with permanent tax reform that would eliminate certain deductions for businesses, and the GOP wants spending reductions. Political analysts have warned the special session could be a political minefield, with Republicans attempting to make sure the governor does not leave with a “win” that could propel him to another term in office.

 

Louisiana is taking more taxes out of workers’ paychecks. The state constitution allows for it, if the federal government lowers their tax brackets, which they did last month.  Baton Rouge area CPA Brandon LaGarde says The state tax wage adjustment is automatic as it is built into the Louisiana Constitution.  LaGarde says your employer has nothing to do with the change. LaGarde says the federal tax break outweighs the state’s updated tax withholding tables, meaning you still take home more than you did last year.

 

Governor Edwards and state lawmakers are in Baton Rouge for the special session to find a solution to the looming fiscal cliff that threatens to gut popular programs like TOPS. The governor is seeking tax reform, and Republicans want spending reductions. Erath Representative Blake Miguez says the GOP caucus is demanding the creation of the Louisiana Checkbook. He says the program would increase transparency, and would closely resembles Ohio’s Ohiocheckbook.com.  Along with implementing Medicaid copays, tighter eligibility, and work requirements, Miguez says he also wants to see a state spending cap that is tied to private sector economic performance.  

Democrats say they will not allow a full renewal of the expiring one penny sales tax, as they feel it unfairly targets the poor.

 

Springtime is acceptance letter season for most college bound high school students, and the state’s budget uncertainty is causing many to rethink whether they want to attend school in Louisiana. LSU president F. King Alexander is calling on legislators to find a budget solution that funds higher ed and TOPS by the end of the February special session. Alexander says there was a noticeable impact the last time the state failed to properly fund TOPS in a timely manner. Alexander says if lawmakers wait until June to solve the one billion dollar fiscal cliff, the damage will already have been done for the 2018-2019 school year.

 

Many Americans are swimming in debt and getting in deeper than ever. One report suggests total household debt has risen to 13-trillion-dollars for 2017.  Louisiana appears to be America’s capital of past due debt, with almost half of its residents in debt that has gone into collections.  Professor of Economics at Xavier University of Louisiana Dr. Jose Bautista says a lot of workers aren’t making enough money. Another reason credit debt is so high is the lack of a savings account. Dr. Bautista says most are left with no choice but to use credit cards for emergencies, but it starts a slippery downhill slide. Medical bills are a large part of financial distress, especially if there isn’t enough insurance coverage.  Dr. Bautista says get coverage to cover all your medical needs…

 

Debates are raging about school safety in the wake of the Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead by a mental unstable teen. Since the shooting, calls for increased mental health treatment in school have grown louder, But Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Larry Carter says when state budget cuts come in, one of the first things on the chopping block tends to be social work programs. Carter says along with an increased investment in counseling programs, we need to be taking a look at improving the layout of schools to improve security.

 

The Baton Rouge police officer shot by a man described as mentally ill  a week ago is out of the hospital. Doctors say he should fully recover.  Cpl. Shane Totty was admitted  after sustaining a gunshot wound from Eugene Thomas Jr. Thomas is charged with four counts of attempted first degree murder, attempted first degree murder of a police officer and a felon in possession of a firearm.

 

Rough start to the baseball season, as the LSU Tigers lost two of three from Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish clinched the series victory with an 11-3 drubbing of LSU. The Bayou Bengals had a dramatic come from behind victory on Friday, but it was all downhill from there. Coach Paul Mainieri says it’s hard to find any positives…

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News for Friday 021618

By Dave Graichen

 

Richland Parish Congressman Ralph Abraham has introduced a bill to allow rural communities direct access to more than two-billion-dollars in FAST ACT grant funding.  The money can be used to build better highways, bridges and utilities including broadband internet.  Abraham says the money is available for these projects but current FAST ACT dollars are not making it to rural Louisiana. His bill would allow local governments to apply for FAST ACT dollars without much red tape.

 

In response to the 2017 death of LSU student Maxwell Gruver, Lafayette Representative Nancy Landry is proposing a bill that would increase legal penalties for campus hazing related incidents. She says the current penalties of a 100 dollar fine or less and 30 days in jail isn’t enough for such a dangerous activity…

 

The latest campaign finance report for Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry shows he has one-point-two million dollars on hand. There’s speculation Landry will run for governor in 2019. Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards reported five million dollars in his campaign account earlier this month.

 

LSU and GB Sciences Louisiana has found a location to grow medical marijuana that can be distributed to patients who have specific conditions. Director of the LSU AgCenter’s Therapeutic Cannabis Program Ashley Mullens says a 36-thousand square foot warehouse near Highland Road and Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge will house the plants. Mullens says medical cannabis should be available to patients in late summer.

 

Hollywood superstars Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson will be in Louisiana over the coming weeks filming a movie called Highwaymen which details the chase for Bonnie and Clyde. Tom Hanks’ World War Two movie will also soon start shooting in Baton Rouge. Executive Director of Louisiana Entertainment Chris Stelly says the state’s reformulated film tax credit incentive is encouraging movie producers to reconsider Louisiana.

 

Most persons are happy with their jobs.  A recent Bankrate-dot-com survey finds the average worker rates their job satisfaction at a seven out of ten.  And half of those gave a rating of at least eight.  And there is no surprise in this stat, the survey found higher income earners with higher average levels of workplace happiness.

 

Some crawfish crazies are heating up over the higher prices and smaller size of the crop this year. LSU Ag Center Professor Greg Lutz says suppliers aren’t trying to rip you off, farmers are just having a hard time finding enough crop after the historic winter to justify pulling their traps. Lutz says the crawfish survived the winter just fine, but the little fellas are just taking some extra time to develop. Lutz says if you don’t want to pay the inflated prices, give it a few weeks, the cost of a boil should be returning to normal.

 

The Young Leadership Council partnered with ArcGNO this carnival season to collect beads and recyclables on the parade routes through uptown New Orleans. After a Nola.com story revealed that the city removed more than 64 tons of beads from a five block stretch of St. Charles, YLC Recycles Project Leader Hannah Kincannon says it’s a public safety issue. About 200 people worked the ground, passing out recycling and collection bags over the programs two weekends. Kincannon says two and a half tons of Mardi Gras beads were collected on the first day alone.

 

LSU’s Paul Mainieri begins his 12th season as the head coach of the Tigers tonight as the Bayou Bengals host Notre Dame. Mainieri says opening day always brings out some anxiety, because there are a lot of unknowns. We will have the entire three game series starting tonight at 6:30 on KSYL 970 am / 100.3 HD3 fm

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News for Thursday 021518

By Dave Graichen

 

The Louisiana Department of Health is extending its free flu shot drive after initially planning to end the program Monday. Immunization Director Dr. Frank Welch says they were excited to extend the program after a very successful two week run. This year’s flu shot has been criticized for having a potentially lower than normal effectiveness. Welch says despite some claims to the contrary, getting the flu shot is still a great idea.

 

A series of Mardi Gras day shootings in New Orleans left three dead and five injured. None of the shootings occurred on an active parade route. New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison says the shootings shouldn’t mar an otherwise positive carnival season. Harrison says despite Tuesday’s shootings, there’s been a decrease in violence in the city thanks to increased police efforts.

 

Three Cenla restaurant managers were cited after allegedly selling swai fish and calling it catfish.  Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spokesperson Adam Einck says Robert Fant, Mollie McDowell and Michael Rhodes all of Pineville, used the swai fish at Rosie Joe’s and Debarges’s Crawfish in Alexandria and Crazy Cajun in Tioga. Truth of the matter, most people can tell the difference between the two.

 

Catholics are cutting back on eating meat for the Lenten season, in most places, that’s a sacrifice, but for spoiled bayou Catholics, it’s not too tough. Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board member Chalin Delaune says there’s a good supply of seafood, but the cold weather could keep crawfish prices high.

 

Shreveport Police are looking for a man who is robbing elderly women and assaulting them with a baseball bat.  The robberies started in late January and have continued since.  Detective Richard Turpen says since the attacks started, police have become more concerned since the suspect has been acting more aggressive. Turpen says a few of the victims have been able to describe their attacker, but the description police are working with isn’t much since the attacks are from behind

 

The LSU Vet School is providing care for a goose who was pierced with an arrow.  The wounded goose was found near the LSU Lakes and captured by Wildlife and Fisheries crews. Since there is no identification on the goose, they will not give the goose out for adoption.  Spokesperson Julie Thomas says once he has recovered, he will live in the wild again. Officials do not know by whom or where the goose was shot.

 

Livingston Parish deputies have arrested three men in connection with the death of a 19-year-old female. The body of Emily Rodgers was found Tuesday in a wooded area off Catfish Landing Road in Maurepas (more-a-pa).

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News for Wednesday 021418

By Dave Graichen

 

The State Police report  an accident yesterday morning on Highway 28 east of Gardner killed 79-year-old Imogene Jones of Ball. Troopers say she was traveling in the wrong lane when she struck a pickup truck head on. The driver of the truck, 45-year-old Joseph  Bordelon of Alexandria sustained moderate injuries and was taken to Rapides Regional Trauma Center.

 

The Louisiana Family Forum is honoring the top ten Louisiana couples married the longest on this Valentine’s Day.  For the third year in a row, the longest married couple is Lawrence and Varrie (Very) Player of Benton, married for 83 years.   The second longest married couple is Wallace and Gladys Menard of Duson married for 79 years.

 

A survey ranks Louisiana 49th in well-being. The Bayou State only finished ahead of West Virginia in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. Researcher Dan Witters says their survey found many in Louisiana are not proud of where they live or believe they are living in the good place. Witters says the Bayou State also ranks low in their index, because about a quarter of those surveyed admit not having enough money to buy food for their family. Witters says they asked Louisiana residents if they felt safe and secure in their community and most said no.

 

The National Federation of Independent Businesses says the Small Business Optimism Index set a record in January, with small business owners saying now is a good time to expand.  Louisiana NFIB Director Dawn Starns says they have found owners are enthusiastic about investing the extra money they are getting from federal tax reform into their business. Starns says while it might be a good time to expand because of less federal taxes and regulations, small business owners are concerned about finding qualified workers for open positions.

 

A survey by offers-dot-com finds the average consumer will spend 55-dollars on Valentine’s Day this year. Spokesperson Sarah Hollenbeck says many will get their sweetheart something for their sweet tooth.

 

Chronic wasting disease in deer has been detected in Mississippi and Louisiana wildlife officials are concerned the fatal disease will end up in the Bayou State. A four-year-old buck was found dead of C-W-D near the Louisiana border. State Wildlife Veterinarian, Doctor Jim LaCour says East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parish landowners should curtail supplemental feeding of deer. C-W-D is similar to mad cow disease and L-D-W-F is working with Mississippi wildlife officials on sampling and containment. LaCour says there’s no evidence C-W-D can infect humans, but there are concerns about eating deer that had the disease.

 

Global sports entertainment leader Topgolf is coming to Baton Rouge in late 2018.  The ten-million-dollar entertainment venue will feature 15-hundred square feet of private event space and 72 climate controlled hitting bays.  Spokesperson Caroline Jerome says it is the ultimate family experience. It will bring 325 jobs to Baton Rouge.

 

The Baldwin Police Department was heavily damaged and a prisoner was injured after a fire yesterday afternoon.  State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says it will be a while before normal operations can resume as the police department sustained quite a bit of damage. Browning says they continue to conduct interviews and will talk with the jailed man when he has sufficiently recovered.

 

Panola Pepper and Providence Foods founder Grady Wyly “Bubber” Brown Sr. will be laid to rest today.  The 83-year-old from Lake Providence died Saturday.  Panola Pepper was founded in 1983 so that Brown’s farmhands would have work through the winter.  Lake Providence Mayor Bobby Amacker says he made the first batch on his mother’s stovetop. Amacker says Brown’s death leaves a big hole in the community

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News for Tuesday 021318

By Dave Graichen

 

It’s Fat Tuesday and there’s big parades in south Louisiana and Mardi Gras activities in Shreveport as well, but unfortunately there’s a chance of rain. State Climatologist Barry Keim says you might need a poncho. Keim says temperatures are expected to reach in the upper 60s in New Orleans, but it will be a little cooler in southwest Louisiana for their Mardi Gras festivities. Keim says after today we’ll see high temperatures get into the 70s.

 

Over a million visitors will be enjoying Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year, but it’s not the only place to celebrate the last day before Lent. The town of Mamou will keep the chicken run tradition alive this year and in Lafayette parades will run throughout the day.

 

The federal government has declared this year’s flu season as the worst breakout since the 2009 swine flu epidemic. Estimates say nearly half a million people around world will die from the flu this year. State Health Secretary Rebeka Gee says if you’re concerned about potential mercury in the flu vaccine, you’re misinformed. There is none.. Gee says there is a lot of misinformation about vaccines and the flu. She says get trustworthy advice from your doctor.

 

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser is celebrating Mardi Gras, he’s just not in Louisiana.  He’s helping to promote Louisiana’s new travel tourism slogan “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul.”  The new brand is being promoted in several states, including the Nation’s capital. Atlanta, Dallas and Houston are also participating in helping to roll out the new brand with food trucks and King Cake.

 

An 83-year-old grandmother is the first Louisiana Lotto jackpot winner for the year. Louisiana Lottery Spokesperson Kim Chopin says Josephine Prendergast of Gonzales thought she won only 600-dollars.  Prednergast was quite surprised when she found out at the lottery office she won 525-thousand-dollars. Ms Prendergast said first thing she was going to do was stop and get a good cup of coffee.. The ticket was bought at a store in Breaux Bridge and they will get a reward for selling the winning ticket.

 

A man is under arrest after allegedly firing shots at a Baton Rouge Police Department officer and some family members.  Cops located 34-year-old Eugene Thomas Junior about 15 minutes after the initial shooting and Sgt. Don Coppola says that’s when the suspect started shooting at the officer. The officer was rushed to the hospital where he is expected to make a full recovery.

 

A Shreveport woman was arrested and charged with exploitation of persons with infirmities and felony identity theft after an investigation by Caddo Parish deputies. 37-year-old Dorothy Edwards was a caregiver for a disabled 65-year-old-woman and is accused of stealing more than 20,000 dollars.

 

Rayne Police have arrested 41-year-old Raushe Turner after he allegedly stabbed a woman multiple times inside a vehicle. Turner was charged with attempted second-degree murder. Authorities did not say why the attack occurred and did not provide an update on the victim’s condition.

 

The man who brought flavor to Louisiana in the form of Panola pepper has died. Bubber Brown died Saturday at 83 years old. Brown began Panola back in 1983 to give his workers year-round work. The company operates in East Carroll Parish just outside of lake Providence.

 

An invasive species of snail is posing a threat to crawfish harvests. The apple snail is indigenous to South America, and can devour vegetation crucial to the development of Louisiana crawfish. An abundance of apple snail shut down a 220 acre farm in Acadia Parish. LSU Ag Center Agent Mark Shirley says so far, there is no solution to the problem. The invasion is being blamed on aquarium owners who decided to dump the snails into the water way.

 

The LSU Tigers have another tough test on the road tonight in the SEC as they visit Alabama. The Crimson Tide is coming off a 28-point win over at the time 15th ranked Tennessee. LSU is coming off an 82-66 victory over Ole Miss. Airtime 7:30 on KSYL 970am & 100.3 HD3.

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News for Monday 021218

By Dave Graichen

 

The weather decided to cooperate Sunday allowing the 25th annual Alexandria Mardi Gras Association Krewes Parade starts on schedule. A few small sprinkles of rain were felt early on, but not enough to dampen the spirits of spectators. Saturday’s Children’s parade was not so lucky. Heavy rains Saturday morning forced officials to call the event off..

 

Governor John Bel Edwards has called for a special session to start on February 19th.  The 17-day special session is being called to address a one-billion-dollar fiscal cliff facing the state starting July 1st when a one-cent sales tax drops off the books.  His plan calls for structural changes to the budget and tax policy. He is proposing to replace 994-million-dollars to keep TOPS and healthcare funded.  The GOP has said the Governor’s excessive spending needs to stop. However, they have not made any solid suggestions as to where those cuts should be made.

 

Legislative leaders are optimistic the February special session will end with a deal to fill the one billion dollar budget gap that’s the result of the expiration of sales taxes in July. The session will begin February 19th, and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Gene Reynolds says the two sides are getting close on an agreement. Governor Edwards has pushed for replacing the expiring one cent sales tax by eliminating certain sales tax deductions that benefit certain businesses.

 

Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a lawsuit against the Corps of Engineers alleging that the Corps expanded the Intracoastal Waterway in Vermillion Parish beyond the borders set in a 1920s agreement.  He says even though there are agreements that allow states to construct new waterways, Landry says those states wouldn’t have allowed the Corp to over expand. The Governor says he’ll review the suit, but is concerned Landry did not consult with him, or the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

 

Out of the eight members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation, only three of them voted for the spending bill that reopened the federal government after a brief shutdown. US Representative Ralph Abraham was one of those three yes votes, because he says it increases federal funding for our military. Senator John Kennedy voted against the measure, because he says the bill increases the federal debt.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards and State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson are in Washington to discuss infrastructure plans with the Trump Administration. Reports indicate the President could soon unveil a massive new infrastructure spending plan. Wilson says today’s roundtable discussion is a great opportunity to bring attention to the state’s aging infrastructure. The reports indicate the President could be seeking as much as 1.5 trillion dollars in new infrastructure spending.

 

Mangers and operators of Raising Canes attended a conference recently in Baton Rouge, celebrating the company’s success since opening their first store near the LSU campus in 1996.  CEO Todd Graves had an exciting announcement for attendees.  Some big expansions are taking place. 80 new locations are planned for this year.  Stores are also operating overseas in the Middle East.

 

A Monroe man has designed a product called Streamleash to help you have better control of your dog. Ian Blaylock says as a runner, if his dog quickly ran in one direction, he would lose his balance and control of his pet. So far, the Kickstarter project has raised 21-hundred-dollars.  Blaylock says orders made through the website will begin being delivered in May.

 

Al Wester, the first radio voice of the Saints, whose local and national broadcasting career spanned more than 60 years, died last week in a New Orleans hospital. Along with broadcasting the Saints games from 1967-70, Wester was the sports director at WDSU-TV for several years beginning in 1952 when he came to New Orleans from Greenville, South Carolina. Al Webster was 93.

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News for Friday 020918

By Dave Graichen

 

Many Mardi Gras revelers will keep one eye on the parades and one eye on the skies as threatening weather may put a damper on their celebrations  The National Weather Service says rain, heavy at times, is predicted for southeast Louisiana. Here in Cenla, the forecast calls for a 90% chance of rain Saturday and an 80% chance on Sunday..

 

Here in Cenla we will keep our fingers crossed in the hopes mother nature cooperates.  This afternoon  it’s the 2018 Hixson Classic Cars and College Cheerleaders Parade. It  rolls in downtown Alexandria staring at 4:30 p.m. and will travel down  Murray street to, Fifth, then to Jackson, Third and St. James.

 

Saturday The Alexandria Mardi Gras Association Children's Parade starts at 10 a.m. and follows the same downtown route as the Cars and Cheerleaders Parade.

 

Mardi Gras at the Alexandria Zoo is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Sunday, The 25th annual Alexandria Mardi Gras Association Krewes Parade starts at 2 p.m.  

 

There will be an expanded presence of state police troopers in New Orleans as Mardi Gras ramps up for the final weekend. They have committed 165 troopers to working the French Quarter and the metro area. Senior Trooper Melissa Matey says they will perform a variety of assignments. Last year, State Police and New Orleans Police confiscated dozens of firearms along parade routes.

 

A Tioga man who had been facing 50 counts of pornography with juveniles pleaded guilty to one reduced charge on Monday and avoided jail time. Terry Lee Adams Jr. pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obscenity and the 49 other charges were dropped. Adams was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $495 in a plea deal.

 

A 27-year-old Mansura man was arrested for distribution of child pornography on Wednesday. Dustin Novo is being held at the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center on a 100,000 dollar bond. State Police spokesperson Scott Moreau says deputies were tipped off about a month ago. A warrant for Novo’s residence was served, and after a search of the premises, he was arrested and charged.

 

House Republicans are looking at renewing at least some or all of the temporary one cent sales tax as a way to address a looming one billion dollar shortfall. But the governor says he will not support any plan that maintains the current sales tax rate, which is currently five-cents.

 

Today is the deadline for Governor John Bel Edwards to call a February special session to address the looming one billion dollar budget hole resulting in the expiration of sales taxes. The governor said he would not call the session without an agreement in principle on a fiscal cliff deal, but LAPoltics.com publisher Jeremy Alford says the governor is being pushed to call the session. Because it’s a revenue issue, the fiscal cliff can only be addressed in a special session.

 

The Humane Society of Louisiana has a facebook page where you can adopt horses that appear in Mardi Gras parades this week. H-S-L Director Jeff Dorson says 19 horses are up for adoption this year after 17 horses were adopted last year, keeping them from heading to a slaughter house. The facebook page is New Orleans Mardi Gras Horses Available for Adoption.

 

Governor Edwards will be in Washington D-C on Lundi Gras for a White House event to discuss President Trump’s plans to improve infrastructure. Edwards, along with Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, will participate in a roundtable with federal, state and local leaders.

 

Mandeville Representative Paul Hollis has filed legislation that would make it easier for voters to recall their elected officials. Currently, 33 percent of registered voters in districts with more than 100,000 voters must sign the recall petition before a special election is triggered. Hollis says his bill would cut that number down to 20 percent. If adopted, Hollis says it’ll still take a serious effort to unseat an official. Hollis had a similar bill that failed in the legislature last year.

 

Drax Biomass is relocating its headquarters from Atlanta to Monroe, in what Governor John Bel Edwards is hailing as another big win for Louisiana’s economy. Drax already operates two wood pellet manufacturing facilities and a shipping operation in the state. Monroe Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sue Nicholson says that means 150 good paying jobs are on the way.

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News for Thursday 020818

By Dave Graichen

 

Pineville-based Cleco Corporate Holdings has acquired South Central Generating LLC, which includes nine utility cooperatives and eight generating assets in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, totaling one-billion-dollars.   Spokesperson Jennifer Cahill says they will be able to significantly increase the scale of their operations in Louisiana with the ability to provide over 35-hundred megawatts of power in all three states. The sale is expected to close by the end of the year.

 

More on that Alexandria daycare center that was shut down by the state this week.  The Department of Education shut the doors at Jumpin’ Jacks Development Center after receiving several reports of children escaping or nearly escaping the facility.  DOE Spokesperson Sydni Dunn says a complaint from a parent in December was the final straw. Dunn says the center failed to report 55 incidents of non-compliance over the last two years.  There were lesser violations, but the amount of them served sent up a lot of red flags. Providers who have had their licenses revoked are ineligible to apply for another license for two years from the date of the revocation.

 

The TOPS task force formed five months ago to find a long term solution to funding the scholarship program has decided against endorsing a single position, and instead is submitting a series of proposals for the legislature to consider. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says he hopes the results will help legislators when voting on potential changes to TOPS in the upcoming regular session.

 

24-7 sports ranks LSU’s recruiting class as 15th best in the nation. The worst ranking for LSU since 2005, which was Les Miles first class. Tiger Rag Associate Editor James Moran says Orgeron’s staff did well in adding depth to the offensive and defensive lines, but signed just one five-star prospect Wednesday.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says FEMA has agreed to his request to help ease the financial burden of flood survivors living in Temporary Housing Units. Starting March 1st, rent for the units will be reduced to $50.00 a month which will last through the new deadline of May 14th when the program is scheduled to end.   Edwards says he will continue to request extensions as needed.

 

The Coast Guard rescued four people from the Lower Atchafalaya River south of Patterson yesterday after an emergency landing of a twin-engine plane.  Petty Officer Lora Ratliff says the pilot made a valiant effort trying to avoid the emergency landing, but realized he couldn’t make it to an airstrip. One person suffered a minor injury. 

 

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is considering whether or not a 2016 Louisiana law that would ban women under 21 from dancing naked at strip clubs is too broad in its application. Opponents are concerned that the law was so vaguely written that it could outlaw 18, 19, and 20-year-olds from some theatrical or ballet productions that involve nudity. Proponents argue that the law protects young women from sex trafficking. The court has not indicated which way it is leaning.

 

A biologist at LSU is working to develop biodegradedable beads in a push to stop the environmental damage that occurs after millions of pounds of beads end up in landfills every year. His solution involves growing large ponds of algae that will develop oils that can be refined into degradedable material. Four to five million pounds of beads are thrown every carnival season.

 

Once every few years, holidays important to Louisianans fall in the same week.  This year, Mardi Gras will be Tuesday, February 13th and Valentine’s Day will fall on the next day.  It may prove to be interesting for restaurants to get couples to eat out on the second most popular holiday.  Erika Burns with the Louisiana Restaurant Association says if you are considering taking your sweetheart out for dinner Wednesday, it’s best to make sure you have a reservation so you’re not left out.

 

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News for Wednesday 020718

By Dave Graichen

 

It’s going to be an upside down day with weather in the Bayou State.   It’s a type of day that occurs once in a while when a cold weather front moves through.  State Climatologist Barry Keim says many areas in Central and south Louisiana will see their high temperatures early in the day and temps will fall throughout the day. After some wet weather today, a dry day is on tap for Thursday.  Then Keim says another front is moving in just in time to put a damper on Mardi Gras weekend.

 

The Louisiana Department of Education on Tuesday revoked the license an Alexandria child care center, Jumpin' Jacks Development Center on Metro Drive, after receiving a complaint from a mother who said her child nearly escaped from the child care center.  The parent explained it was not the first time such an incident had occurred. The center, which has a history of noncompliance, failed to report the critical incidents. The state also terminated the center’s public funding.

 

Can you imagine opening your water bill to find that you owe more than $40 thousand dollars?  Up to 60 Pineville residents have had that experience after a computer malfunction sent out bogus bills. Chief of Staff Rich Dupree says something went wrong, when information from a meter-reading device that wasn't working properly, had to be manually entered into the billing system. The problem has been resolved. But, city officials say anyone with concerns are welcome to contact the utility office.

 

With a one billion dollar state budget gap looming, Governor John Bel Edwards has a self-imposed Friday deadline on whether he will call for a Legislative special session before the regular session starts on March 12th. A group of 14 bipartisan senators have sent a letter to Governor Edwards urging him to call a special session this month, so legislators can solve the shortfall the state faces on July 1st. Port Allen Senator Rick Ward says solving the fiscal cliff now will make it easier for legislators to pass a budget in June. Governor Edwards is expected to make a call for a special session by Friday.

 

Workers are starting to see a difference in their paychecks. The federal tax reform bill has kicked in, giving the average worker an additional one-point-six-percent more in take home pay. But not everyone is seeing the increase just yet.  Co-owner of Metairie based Crescent Payroll Solutions Sanders Offner says some of the income tax bracket changes are just getting to some employers.

 

U.S. Republican Senator John Kennedy has joined Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware in introducing the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act.  Kennedy says in 2015, the Social Security Administration made nearly ten-billion-dollars in improper payments. After contacting the Social Security Administration as to why they couldn’t share their dead person’s database with the Treasury Department, Kennedy was told they didn’t have the legal authority to do so.  Kennedy says this bill will allow them to trade that information, stopping the waste of billions of dollars.

 

Baton Rouge Representative Barry Ivey is proposing legislation for the regular session that would require state agencies to publish all of their expenditures online for the public. The measure would create a “Louisiana Checkbook” that Ivey says it’s all about transparency. The proposal seeks to replicate Ohiocheckbook.com, where all Ohio state expenditures are logged, and available to view using a user-friendly interface. Ivey says an online checkbook would provide citizens with the ability to keep a close eye on every single transaction the state makes.

 

Topcashback.com surveyed thousands of adults asking their opinion on Valentine’s Day gifts that may have some of you scrambling for the receipts. Chief Communications Officer Natasha Rachel Smith says according to their results, materialistic gifts are out, and quality time is in.

 

Investors are concerned with the recent drop in the Stock Market.  Monday’s drop of 1,175 points of the Dow Jones Industrial average was the biggest one day point decline and percentage wise the largest loss in six years. Financial analyst Fred Dent says if you find yourself concerned about your portfolio, don’t sell out.  He says it’s a good time to talk with a financial adviser to reevaluate your portfolio.

 

Search crews recovered the body of a St. Martinville man from Bayou Amy Tuesday  morning in St. Martin Parish.  LDWF enforcement agents and the St. Martin and Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Offices recovered the body of 54-year-old Richard Pellerin. Officials were notified about a capsized vessel found in the Bayou.  Upon recovery there was no personal flotation device found on the body.

 

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office says a student at Barbe High School brought a weapon to school Tuesday.  The 15-year-old boy brought the firearm that belonged to a sheriff’s deputy, identified as a family member.  The weapon was taken without the deputy’s knowledge.   The juvenile was arrested and the sheriff’s office is conducting an internal investigation in reference to the firearm.

 

A Krewe of Oshun horse rider was given a citation for animal cruelty after he were filmed abusing his horse Friday during the uptown Mardi Gras New Orleans parade. SPCA Communications Director Alicia Haefele says the video was a disturbing example of animal abuse. The horse is in good condition and is being transferred to SPCA control.

 

Today marks National Signing Day, but it’s not like how it used to be. LSU signed 21 players during the first ever December signing period and they will likely sign four more players today to complete the 2018 recruiting class.

 

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News for Tuesday 020618

By Dave Graichen

 

Investigators with Louisiana State Police and the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office were at the town of Ball's offices Monday morning, reviewing records of former police chief Nate Ussery. Ussery resigned on Friday night amid an unspecified investigation by an unidentified agency or agencies. A statement from Louisiana State Police said it was asked to "assist the District Attorney's Office with a potential complaint against Ussery.  "The matter remains ongoing and active."

 

In a rather unusual day Monday two Rapides parish inmates took off from their work crews. This first inmate was captured within an hour of walking away from his crew in Pineville. The second, Richard Allen Morris, who walked away from his work crew at the Pentecostals of Alexandria, was captured later in the day without incident. Officials are now investigating whether or not the two cases were connected.

 

State Immunization director Dr. Frank Welch says the flu outbreak has eased up somewhat over the past week.  He says people getting their flu shots have helped.  And those that are sick are heeding the advice to stay away from others. But he says even if you have recovered from the flu, you are not out of danger. With three different strains reported in Louisiana, you still have the chance of catching the flu again. The best protection still is the flu shot. If you haven’t gotten it, you should.

 

One man died and another hospitalized after a Mardi Gras parade route shooting in Jeanerette on Sunday. Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Major Wendell Raborn says there are a lot of potential witnesses, but no one has come forward with any information. There is no word on the condition of the second person shot.

 

Shreveport police say a Good Samaritan trying to help in an accident on I-20 was killed Sunday afternoon.  A major accident had occurred in the westbound lanes between a tractor trailer and a pickup truck.   The pedestrian stopped to help, attempting to cross both eastbound lanes of traffic when he was struck and killed.   The victims in the initial accident were taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

 

President Trump has asked Congress to pass a one-point-five-trillion-dollar infrastructure funding bill.  But will Louisiana see any of those dollars if it passes? State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson is worried because Louisiana doesn’t have enough state transportation dollars to match what the federal government might be willing to offer. The state currently has a backlog of 13-billion-dollars in infrastructure repairs and projects.

 

The stats are very slow in coming. But, it appears Louisiana’s number of work related fatalities decrease in 2016.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there were 95 fatalities, down from 112 in 2015.  Injury rates also saw a decline from 5.8 per 100,000 full time workers in 2015 to 5.0 in 2016.   Most of the fatalities occurred in trade, transportation and utilities.

 

State Police arrest a 20-year-old Kaplan man for a hit and run crash that killed two high school students. Sergeant Jared Sandifer says Tyler Meaux was driving a Ford F-150 and heading the wrong way on U-S 167 Sunday night when he slammed into a Honda Civic, carrying four teenagers. Sandifer says they believe Meaux was drunk. Those killed are identified as 16-year-old Alana Duhon of Abbeville and 15-year-old Sydney Colomb of Maurice.

 

A Port Allen high school volunteer has been accused of having sex with a 15-year-old-student. Reports say the 30-year-old Ronald Barbier has been charged with one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile and five counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile. The reports say Barbier worked as an athletics volunteer. Barbier is being accused of communicating with the minor through social media.

 

The LSU Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences has developed a new treatment for heart disease using antioxidants from red wine. Research has indicated that having a glass of red wine could be good for your heart, but with Professor Tammy Dugas’s program, even the sober can get those benefits. Dugas developed a stent that can be inserted into arteries that releases antioxidants directly into problem areas.

Experts have recommend having two glasses a day to start noticing the heart health benefits.

 

Many Entergy Louisiana customers have suffered sticker shock after seeing their most recent bill, following the extreme cold snap in late December and January.  For many, the normal storm restoration fee went up.  Entergy says they are working with customers to set up payment arrangements if they are having problems paying for their last bill.

 

The LSU men’s basketball team is in a five-way tie for eighth place in the SEC standings as they get ready to play Florida tomorrow night in Gainesville. The Tigers are 13-9 overall, 4-6 in the SEC and Coach Will Wade says his team still has an opportunity to make a postseason tournament. LSU is coming off a 94-86 win over Arkansas.

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News for Monday 020518

By Dave Graichen

 

Pineville Police Friday requested the public’s assistance in locating a 94 year old man who was last been seen on Main Street in Pineville on Wednesday. Saturday, The body Landry Chatelain was located by divers at the Red River Boat Landing behind Buhlow Lake. Next of kin has been notified and more information will be released pending further investigation and an autopsy.

 

A highway traffic safety enforcement program that resulted in some state troopers receiving overtime pay when they were at home has been reinstated after new rules were put in place. The investigation by WVUE-TV in New Orleans led to the suspension of three troopers. State Police Major Doug Cain says changes have been made to prevent payroll fraud. The investigation found one Trooper made 240-thousand dollars a year by abusing the LACE program.

 

The governor’s deputy chief of staff says another meeting could take place today  between Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras. Edwards is waiting on Barras to provide him with a list of revenue generating tax proposals that republican legislators could support in a possible special session this month to address a one-billion dollar shortfall for next fiscal year. Barras has already provided the governor with recommendations on how to reduce state spending.

 

Employees of the DeSoto Parish School System will soon receive a one-time salary supplement for a job well done.  In recognition of the district earning an “A” rating from the Louisiana Department of Education, the School Board authorized a $2,000 bonus for all full-time employees.  The DeSoto Parish School System was ranked 49th in Louisiana in 2010, but is now ranked 9th.

 

Peninsula Pacific is evaluating the prospect of moving it’s Diamond Jack Casino in Bossier City to Tangipahoa Parish. The company is looking at moving the casino to the Tangipahoa River at the Robert exit. The move would require a difficult series of local and state requirements to be met and approved before the project could be initiated, but Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller says it’s a great opportunity for the parish. The project could cost north of 100 million dollars.

 

Monroe-based CenturyLink is opening a new outbound sales center bringing 150 jobs to the area.  The center will be located on Forsythe Avenue.  CenturyLink spokesperson Anne Marie Sartor says the center will focus on small businesses throughout the country in helping them with their communication needs. A job fair will be held later this month in Monroe to help fill the new jobs.

 

State Police have announced charges against a man who was shot by a Bienville Parish Sheriff’s deputy as they were attempting to arrest him. 41-year-old Steven Hulion has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault of a peace officer and one count of aggravated battery.

 

3rd District Congressman Clay Higgins has 50-thousand-dollars in the bank for a re-election bid and still needs to repay seven-thousand-dollars in debt from his 2016 campaign.  Political analyst Bernie Pinosnat says even though Higgins is well liked in southwest Louisiana, he needs more funds to get re-elected. Higgins has the fewest dollars on hand out of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation as mid-term elections take place in November. 

 

A Louisiana chef has found a solution to the invasive and very large Asian Carp. It involves a little white wine and butter. Fishermen have been asking what to do if a 100-pound Asian Carp jump out of the water and into their boat, which has been known to happen. Chef Philippe Parola has developed a way to cook the huge fish. Parola says if you catch an Asian Carp, don’t toss it back, toss it in Tony’s. He says if cooked right they have a wonderful flavor, similar to lemon fish.

 

February is American Heart Month, dedicated to the education and prevention of heart disease.  Louisiana ranks fifth in the nation in heart disease deaths. Dr. Tiffany Powell-Wiley with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says to turn the tide around, start with small steps.

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News for Friday 020218

By Dave Graichen

 

U-S Senator John Kennedy proposes a way to finance large infrastructure projects like a new Jimmie Davis Bridge in Shreveport, widening I-10 in New Orleans and finishing the Comite River Diversion Canal. Kennedy says the state can generate 150-million dollars if it leverages noncash securities held by the state’s Unclaimed Property Division. Governor John Bel Edwards calls it an unrealistic proposal and urges Kennedy to help pass a funding bill that would pay for major projects.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards filed his annual campaign finance report today showing about $5 million dollars cash on hand at the halfway point of his term. Edwards raised nearly $2.2 million in 2017 and spent about $310,230. His campaign says 85 percent of the contributions came from Louisiana citizens.

 

CNN anchor Don Lemon’s sister has been identified as the woman who died in an accidental drowning in Denham Springs. Livingston Sheriff Jason Ard says 58-year-old L’tanya Grimes drowned in a neighborhood pond. Foul play is not suspected.

 

Alabama tourism claims the city of Mobile is “America’s original Mardi Gras.” That’s at least what they are saying in billboards that can be seen in New Orleans and southern Mississippi. Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy disagrees. Hardy says no one should be unduly upset about the claim being made by Alabama. Both have terrific celebrations. Plus, He says the country knows where the birthplace of Mardi Gras really is.

 

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled state corrections officials do not have to prevent the heat index from going above 88 degrees on Angola’s death row. Attorney General Jeff Landry says Louisiana argued on appeal that the inmates do not have a constitutional right to be comfortable in jail.

 

Shreveport police say they are investigating the discovery of male body found in a trunk of burned out vehicle.  Corporal Marcus Hines says The Shreveport Fire Department responded to a call and found the 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis on fire Wednesday  night. Hines says they are hopeful some witnesses will come forward to help them solve this strange case. He says due to the severity of the burns, they can’t identify the victim.

 

Starting this month, Louisiana State Police will be adding Dodge Chargers to their fleet with a twist.  Some of the new vehicles will be fully marked, while others will be semi-marked and a few will not be marked at all.  State Police Lt. J.B. Slaton says the new less visible vehicles will allow Troopers to blend in with traffic and stop drivers who are reckless. He says it’s not about handing out tickets. It’s about highway safety.

 

One northwest Louisiana private school is rooting hard for Philadelphia in Super Bowl 52 Sunday.  The Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson was the head coach for Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport between 2005 and 2009, leading them to their first ever district title just two years after taking the helm.

 

The iconic Voice of the Saints Jim Henderson is retiring after a storied career calling the most triumphant and heartbreaking moments in Black and Gold history. The announcement came as a shock to many, as the Saints are a team on the rise, full of young talent, but Henderson says that’s exactly why he chose this moment to leave.

Henderson says he’s looking forward to just being a fan again.

 

The LSU Board of Supervisors is expected to approve today new contracts for LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Ensminger will make much less than his predecessor Matt Canada who collected 1.5 million dollars last season. Tiger Rag Associate Editor James Moran says Ensminger’s contract is 800-thousand dollars a year and will run through March of 2020. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s annual salary will go up to 2.5 million dollars.  And LSU Pitching Coach Alan Dunn will receive a one-year contract extension, but no raise.

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News for Thursday 020118

By Dave Graichen

 

An Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia, including Senator Bill Cassidy and Representative Garret Graves collided with a garbage truck near Charlottesville, Virginia. Cassidy says he was fortunate and he and his wife Laura were not injured, but says other passengers felt the brunt of the collision, which derailed the train. One person in the garbage truck was killed and five others are reportedly injured.

 

Gas prices keep going up, which could signal high prices in the future.   Triple A fuel analyst Don Redman says with price increases coming on a daily basis, we may be paying much higher prices during the busy travel season this spring, like around $3.00 a gallon. Regular gas is at 2.43 a gallon on average in Louisiana.

 

A task force’s recommendations,  to alter the TOPS scholarship,  is taking fire from advocates for lower income students. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish’s proposal would cap payments to lower performing high school students. Taylor Foundation Executive Director Dr. James Caillier says Morrish’s proposal will have a negative effect on poor students. Caillier says the proposal takes money from poor families to line rich student’s pockets. The TOPS task force will vote on adopting several different  proposals February 7th.

 

Yesterday was the deadline for retailers to mail notices to Louisiana residents who purchased products online, but did not pay sales tax at the time of purchase. Customers are required to include these forms so they can pay those taxes when they file their taxes this year. Louisiana Department of Revenue spokesperson Byron Henderson says if you fail to report these taxes, it’ll cost you. The good news, Louisiana customers won’t need to worry about Amazon, as they charge sales tax at the time of purchase.

 

Louisianans looking to buy local products at their grocery store should look for a new logo. Louisiana Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says they have overhauled their Certified logo program with flashier, more diverse logos to further highlight goods made in the Bayou State. He hopes it spurs more interest in Louisiana goods.

 

A Jefferson Parish man imprisoned for nearly four decades is free after being cleared in a 1979 rape. 58-year-old Malcolm Alexander’s conviction and life sentence were thrown out Tuesday by a state judge in Gretna.

 

Monroe-based CenturyLink is being relied upon to keep the lights on, and the broadcast rolling for this year’s Super Bowl. U.S. Bank Stadium is a new stadium built from the ground up with state-of-the-art technology, mostly by CenturyLink. Director of Smart Solutions Jesse Sullivan says it’s a project years in the making. CenturyLink will handle all of the major network video streams coming out of the stadium, as well as the massive data load of 72,000 fans sending snaps, Facebook videos, and Instagram selfies. Tech giant CenturyLink employs 2,700 Louisianans, with a payroll over 200- million dollars a year.

 

The St. Landry Parish Crime Stoppers program has been awarded the 2017 Best “Crime of the Week” segment in the nation for cities up to 250-thousand people. The program is responsible for assisting in 60 arrests in 50 different cases in 2017. 

 

The Louisiana movie industry is seeing a revitalization after lawmakers reworked the state’s film tax credit program in 2016. The state offers a 150-million-dollars-a-year-cap on credits issued, or 20-million-dollars per production.  Louisiana Economic Development says producers spent an estimated 668-million-dollars in 2017, up from 365-million-dollars the year before. Secretary Don Pierson says Oscar winner Tom Hanks has chosen the Capital City to film the World War II movie “Greyhound”.  Pierson says shooting will begin in Mid-March aboard the U.S.S. Kidd and other Baton Rouge locations.

 

A tough game last night for the LSU Men’s Basketball team as they fell to The Tennessee Volunteers. The final 84 to 61. The Tigers will attempt to pick up the pieces before they host Arkansas Saturday afternoon..

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News for Wednesday 013118

By Dave Graichen

 

The State Health Department is making available free flu shots at more than 60 parish health units between 1 and 4:30pm today.  The vaccinations are in response to one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory.  The flu shots will be available at Parish Health units in Rapides, Grant, Natchitoches, La Salle and Avoyelles parishes.

 

Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras provides Governor John Bel Edwards with budget cutting proposals as part of the negotiations to solve a nearly billion dollar shortfall. House Republican delegation chairman Lance Harris says in an effort to reduce health care spending, they would like to see work requirements for certain people who receive Medicaid. Governor Edwards responded to the proposals saying while none of these measures accomplish fixing the fiscal cliff, he views them as a positive development in their ongoing discussions.

 

A TOPS task force will vote on a series of recommendations today they hope will bring long-term sustainability to the popular scholarship program. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says under his proposal many TOPS students would not have their tuition fully paid for anymore. Morrish proposes a 4,000 dollar stipend for TOPS Opportunity recipients, those are incoming freshman that have a C average high school grade. He says students that have a higher GPA and ACT score will receive higher financial awards. Morrish’s proposal would need legislative approval during the regular session. He says if enacted, it would save the state 20-million dollars a year.

 

A 14-year-old Lafayette girl who is battling cystic fibrosis got the thrill of a lifetime, being a special guest in attendance at the State of the Union address last night.  Bella Reed was a guest of St. Landry Parish Congressman Clay Higgins.   He says having Bella in attendance hopefully will bring more awareness to the disease as he introduces legislation supporting ongoing research.

 

New Orleans city officials are getting ready for Mardi Gras.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced today NOPD will be on the streets at 100% capacity. He also says there is a ban on closed tents along parade routes.   The Mayor says it’s because someone fired a gun from inside a port-a-potty last year.  They won’t be allowed on parade routes either and anyone with a port-a-potty will be fined 250 dollars.

 

Members of the Lafayette Cajun band The Lost Bayou Ramblers are back in Louisiana today after a couple of days of celebrating their Grammy in New York City. “Kalenda” won the group a gramophone for Best Regional Roots Music Album. Co-founder Andre Michot says they’ve been playing non-stop for almost two decades, and now the guys would like to take a vacation. A Louisiana artist has won the Regional Roots award six times in the 7-year-old category.

 

The state Department of Revenue is suing three companies for tax evasion for not withholding and remitting appropriate payroll taxes from employee earnings.  The companies are Elliott Roofing Services in Metairie, Antunez Painting in Baton Rouge and Extreme Cars and Trucks in Monroe. LDR Spokesperson Byron Henderson says fraud robs the state.

 

The port of New Orleans set a record in 2017 for cruise passengers as 1.1 million moved through the Big Easy last year alone. Spokesman Donnell Jackson says this marks the fourth consecutive year of more than a million passengers at their terminals. They are expecting additional growth this year, with Norwegian Cruise Line replacing the Norwegian Pearl. Jackson says these yearend results validate the continued appeal of cruising from The Crescent City.

 

The mother of the woman who went overboard a Carnival cruise ship says she has yet to hear from her son-in-law.  KLFY TV says Marilyn Winfrey has not heard from Scott Brooks since her daughter Juwanna Brooks fell from the ship on January 21st.  Witnesses says the couple was observed fighting just before she went missing. The Mexican Navy has since called off the search for Juwanna.

 

A group in New Orleans which fought the removal of Confederate monuments created a Mardi Gras bead to commemorate the Robert E. Lee statue which was taken down last May. But they are now gone as Forever Lee Circle said on Facebook that the beads bearing their name are sold out.

 

State Police has arrested an animal control officer in West Feliciana Parish for allegedly charging Entergy for performing his job duties while he was being paid by the sheriff’s office at the same time. 57-year-old Daniel Klein of St. Francisville is charged with four counts of abuse of office and one count of malfeasance in office — all felonies.

 

After losing by 25 points to 11th ranked Auburn on Saturday, LSU gets another chance at a ranked team tonight when they visit 18th ranked Tennessee. LSU is 3-5 in the SEC, while the Volunteers are 5-3. You can hear the game this afternoon starting at 5 on KSYL 970am & 100.3fm.

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News for Tuesday 013018

By Dave Graichen

 

President Trump’s first official State of the Union address is tonight.  It is believed the President will stress bi-partisanship with Mr. Trump himself calling it an “important speech.”  Senior Administration officials have been quoted saying it will be an “optimistic speech.”  You can hear the State Of The Union speech tonight starting at 8p on KSYL 970am & 100.3 HD3fm.

 

President Donald Trump invited a very special guest to his first State of the Union address tonight. Cajun Navy founder Jon Bridgers will be in attendance along with a section of 15 other special guests. Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves says Bridgers’ volunteer group has been credited with rescuing thousands of people during Hurricane Harvey and the 2016 floods. Bridgers was invited by President Donald Trump.

 

Tax filing season began yesterday. There are several ways to file, including using a tax preparer. If you decide to use a tax preparer to file your return, state department of revenue spokesperson Bryon Henderson says it’s important to find a reputable preparer. Your federal tax return is due April 17, state returns are due May 15.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards’ “Doomsday Budget” proposal has state agencies scrambling to shore up state funding, with LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Center looking at a potential 600,000 dollar cut. John Kirwan, who was named executive director last month, says the budget issues threaten to drive off talented researchers. Kirwan says the budget cuts threaten Pennington’s groundbreaking research on diabetes and pre-diabetes, which he says effects nearly 50 percent of the state’s population.

 

Officials cut the ribbon Monday on the new LSU Center for River Studies, which has a state of art model of the Mississippi River. Director Clint Wilson says it gives coastal scientists a powerful tool on how sediment diversion can help in the fight against coastal erosion. The project is the result of a collaboration between LSU and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

 

The head of Louisiana’s Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control says they’ve suspended the liquor licenses for eight French Quarter strip clubs, because they found evidence of prostitution, drug sales and lewd acts. New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison says the investigation’s target was not prostitutes, but human traffickers. He says no one has been charged with human trafficking, but the investigation continues. Hearings are scheduled in February to see if the clubs who had their liquor licenses suspended will get them back.

 

This winter’s extremely cold weather in Louisiana has stunted or even killed many of the tropical plants that normally flourish in Louisiana.  Horticulture expert Dan Gill with the LSU Ag Center says it’s a good idea to not be in a hurry to give up on a plant this soon after the extreme cold snap.  He says they aren’t used to the chilly weather, but could rebound. He says some plants won’t begin rebounding until March or April and in some cases like trees, it could be summer before you can properly assess if they are still alive.

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News for Monday 012918

By Dave Graichen

 

House Republican Caucus Chairman Lance Harris of Alexandria is still waiting on specifics from the Edwards administration on how to fix the fiscal cliff. The governor would like to call lawmakers into a special session, so changes can be made to our tax code to address a billion dollar shortfall. The governor is proposing a reduction in tax breaks for businesses as a way to bridge the one-billion-dollar budget deficit.  But Harris says they should look at making more cuts in state spending first. Governor Edwards told legislators last week he’s made 600-million-dollars in cuts in his first two years in office.  Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says it’s time for the legislature to “put up or shut up” and present a proposal on where additional cuts need to be made.

 

Several of the nation’s largest corporations announced they are giving employees a bonus as a result of federal tax reform. Walmart, who employs tens of thousands of Louisianans, announced they are increasing bottom salaries from nine dollars to 11 dollars, and authorizing up to a thousand dollars in bonuses for employees.

Walmart has come under fire in recent years for paying workers poverty level wages. Making Change at Walmart Director of Communication Amy Ritter says Walmart’s thousand dollar bonus headline was fairly misleading. Since most employees will receive less than $400. Ritter says even with the pay increase, hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers will still be below the poverty line. She says the costs for impoverished workers falls back on the taxpayer…

 

Gretna telecommunications contractor Ronald Gasser was found guilty of manslaughter Friday night for fatally shooting ex-NFL pro Joe McKnight at a Terrytown intersection a little more than a year ago. A Jefferson Parish jury returned the verdict about 8 p.m. after more than seven hours of deliberations. Gasser now faces up to 40 years in prison. He would have faced mandatory life imprisonment if found guilty of second-degree murder, as charged. Sentencing will take place March 15th.

 

UL-Lafayette has been named one of the Top 25 in U.S. News and World Report’s list of, “Universities and Colleges Where Students are Eager to Enroll.” Coming in at No. 24, UL-Lafayette was the only school in Louisiana named to the list.

 

The Trump administration says they will speed up the approval of a key coastal restoration project. The agreement would reduce the permitting process for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project from five years to two. Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana spokesperson Jimmy Frederick says it’s a big win. The state intends to pay for much of the project using funds it received from BP after the 2010 oil spill.

 

It’s been a year of repairs, replacement and testing for the water system in the town of St. Joseph in Tensas Parish, but it appears it is about ready for public use again.  A public health emergency was declared in late 2016 forbidding use of the water after high amounts of lead was discovered.  State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says there has been a complete overhaul since then. The system is expected to be in full operation sometime in February.

 

The bodies of two adults and a child from West Feliciana Parish were found after their pontoon boat capsized while they were duck hunting early Sunday in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Authorities say the hunters had two boats and were using their pontoon boat as a duck blind. The pontoon capsized as the people were trying to step onto it, causing them to become trapped underneath. A dog also died during the accident.

 

Rough News for the New Orleans Pelicans. Even after a thrilling victory over the Rockets Friday night, All-Star Demarcus Cousins went down and ESPN reports is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Cousins was averaging 25.4 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

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