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News for Friday 121517

By Dave Graichen

 

An appeals court has reversed the dismissal of a suit brought by former Cleco shareholders, clearing the way for the three-year-old class action petition to continue.

Plaintiffs in the suit allege that Cleco executives and directors breached their fiduciary duty by pushing through the sale of the company from public to private hands for their own financial benefit, resulting in shareholders receiving less than full value for their shares. The full story can be found online at thetowntalk.com

 

Former Governor and University of Southwestern Louisiana graduate Kathleen Blanco will give the Commencement address at UL-Lafayette today.   Blanco announced last week she is fighting liver cancer.  University President Joe Savoie says the plans for her to speak today were made before her latest diagnosis Savoie says Blanco has not only been a great political leader, but is a great person and looks forward to seeing her values shine through in the speech.

 

Republican U.S. Representative Mike Johnson along with Democratic Florida Representative Charlie Crist have established a bi-partisan Honor and Civility Caucus to restore trust and confidence in American politics. Johnson, who represents the northwestern parishes of Louisiana, says it’s time to change the tone of the way politics is done. Johnson authored the “Commitment to Civility” that’s been signed by over 120 bi-partisan members of Congress to commit to setting an example of personal integrity and mutual respect. He says it’s sad that an issue has to be made about this topic to remind people to be polite.

 

Through an Executive Order, Governor John Bel Edwards has the created the Governor’s Justice Implementation Oversight Council as a part of the sweeping criminal justice reform effort.  A main aspect of the reform effort is the lowering of the state’s incarceration rate, which the Governor’s office says will save the state 78-million-dollars over ten years.  The money will be reinvested for programs designed to rehabilitate former inmates into becoming productive citizens. 

 

The state legislative auditor releases findings that point to possible misuse of state dollars and abuse of power by the former Superintendent of State Police Mike Edmonson. During a meeting of the legislative audit advisory council, an auditor who worked on the report gave an example of how Edmonson allegedly used public resources to run errands for his family. The report also details improper use of New Orleans hotel rooms during Mardi Gras. State Auditor Roger Harris says Edmonson and his family lived in a state owned building without proper authority. Edmonson says he plans to respond to the audit by January 15th and believes Louisiana residents will not prematurely reach conclusions until all facts are presented.

 

A grand jury met for the first time Thursday to determine if 10 LSU fraternity members should be charged in connection with Maxwell Gruver’s suspected hazing death. Gruver’s mother, Rae Ann, spoke on ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday saying the Phi Delta Theta brothers should be charged with murder. The Ten frat members are facing a charge of hazing and one of the accused is also charged with negligent homicide

 

The U-S Post office says time is running out to make sure your holiday gifts get to your loved ones on time.  Spokesperson Twana Barber says all first class mail needs to be at the Post Office by December 19th, priority mail December 20th and December 22nd

for Priority Mail express. She says make sure the name and address of where the gift is going can be clearly seen.

 

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is underway for the holiday season. Executive Director Katara Williams says law enforcement officers will be cracking down on drunk driving. She says they want Louisianans to celebrate the holidays responsibly.

 

A man faces sentencing next month afer he was found guilty of killing a man who allegedly sexually assaulted his then girlfriend.  21-year-old Jace Crehan killed and stuffed 47-year-old Robert Noce Jr. of Zachary in a barrel.  Noce pled no contest to the claims of sexual assault before his death. 

 

The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s office has confiscated an eighth-grader’s guns as a result of a threatening Instagram post. Sheriff Brett Stassi says the student admits to taking the picture showing him holding a rifle, but did not write the text telling students to stay home that had parents and law enforcement concerned. Stassi says the Math, Science and Arts Academy campus was opened, once they realized there was not a threat. Stassi says this appears to be a prank that went awry.

 

The 9-and-4 Saints are preparing to host the New York Jets Sunday. New Orleans is in a tie in the NFC South with Carolina after losing last Thursday to Atlanta.  Quarterback Drew Brees says the long week has allowed the team to heal and prepare for the final four games of the regular season.

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News for Thursday 121417

By Dave Graichen

 

The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office is trying to figure out how two bodies ended up in Lake Dubbuisson near Ville Platte. Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says they are working with Alexandria Police, because they believe 30-year-old Anthony Michael Murray of Rapides Parish kidnapped 21-year-old Lia Ali Kazan in a motel parking lot.

Autopsies on the bodies will be conducted today.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards was a surprise visitor at yesterday’s House Republican delegation retreat in New Orleans. Edwards says he spoke to legislators about the looming fiscal cliff as the state is facing a one-point-one billion dollar budget deficit. The governor says the state can make up that revenue by removing dozens of sales tax exemptions. Edwards says it’s his goal not to raise taxes, but some republican legislators say eliminating tax breaks is a tax increase.

 

Col. Mike Edmonson is under public scrutiny for how he spent taxpayer money during his time as the leader of state police. The legislative auditor has released a preliminary report  that shows Edmonson may have received special taxpayer funded treatment for housing, food and chauffer service for his wife.

 

Louisiana once again ranks 49th out of 50 states in a health ranking report.  America’s Health Rankings Annual Report analyzes 35 health guidelines.  CEO of United Health Care of Louisiana Joe Ochipinti says the Bayou State ranks near the bottom because a quarter of it’s residents smoke and that in turn raises other health related problems.

Ochipinti says education and healthy lifestyles are the key to lowering sickness and death rates.

 

A “Report Card on State Efforts to Improve Financial Literacy in High Schools” gives Louisiana schools a “D”, down from a “B” grade just two years ago.  Minden State Representative Gene Reynolds authored a 2016 law that requires financial literacy to be taught in high schools, but it appears some schools are only teaching personal finance as another existing course of study.

 

A white man accused in two racially motivated murders in Baton Rouge pleaded not guilty yesterday to all charges against him. Kenneth James Gleason allegedly fatally shot two black men in September and also fired shots into a home that was occupied by a black family. A trial date has not been set. Prosecutors can seek the death penalty in this case.

 

The Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office says they’ve arrested and fired one of their deputies after he allegedly wrecked his patrol car while driving intoxicated early yesterday morning. Commander Lonny Cavalier says authorities responded to calls of a vehicle in a ditch and it turned out to be 22-year-old Deputy Joseph Edward Repp of Pierre Part. Cavalier says Repp blew a .09 on the breath test, which is just above the legal limit.

 

The headquarters for the state Department of Transportation in Baton Rouge were vandalized Tuesday night. Windows on the east side of the building received damage from the gunshots. Senior Trooper Bryan Lee says steps have been taken to ensure the building is secure and it is monitored by the Department of Public Safety.

 

A Tulane researcher has received a 414-thousand-dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to study why males have more impulse control issues than females.  Director of the Tulane University Brain Institute Jill Daniel says if are able to determine why males are more vulnerable to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and addiction, it will lead to better treatment. Daniel says they know impulsive behavior issues start when a person is a child and continue into adulthood. 

 

A Boutte man is thanking his beloved pup, Rusty, for saving him from a house fire. Calvin Baldwin says he fell asleep on his couch after a long day of watching the high school football championship games in New Orleans when he was woken by Rusty pawing at his hands. Baldwin saw smoke near the bathroom and was able to get out of the house with the dog. It’s believed the fire was started by an electrical spark.

 

The who man serves as LSU’s General Manager for the football program, Austin Thomas, is leaving for the same job at Tennessee. Thomas is a Tennessee native and has been a critical part of LSU’s recruiting efforts. He was with LSU for four and a half years.

 

A Kentucky state lawmaker facing sexual assault allegations has apparently killed himself. Officials say Republican Dan Johnson shot himself on the side of a road outside Louisville. A woman told the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting that Johnson sexually assaulted her in 2013. Police did not file any charges against Johnson. The report was published on Monday. Johnson denied it the following day.

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News for Wednesday 121317

By Dave Graichen

 

Police have identified the woman found in a lake in St. Landry Parish.  21-year-old Lia Ali Kazan was reported kidnapped over the weekend while visiting Alexandria.  Authorities say a white man’s body was also found Tuesday in the 2007 Ford Taurus that was pulled from Lake Dubuisson. (du-bah-son). The St. Landry Sheriff’s Office says he appears to be in his late 20s to early 30s.  His identity is unknown.

 

A bi-partisan group of 12 governors, including Governor John Bel Edwards, is urging Congress to reauthorize funding for a popular children’s health insurance program as soon as possible. Fresh funding for the $14 billion CHIP program ran out October 1st. In a letter the governor’s say resources are nearly exhausted and some states already have begun to inform families that their children’s coverage may end on January 31.

 

In order to address the state’s high rates for teen pregnancy and STDs, the Louisiana Public Health Institute has started a new campaign to promote comprehensive sex ed in public schools and at home. Associate Director Kristie Bardell says parents, students, teachers and legislators can log on to geaux-talk-dot-org to receive tips on how to have informed conversations about the value of sexual health. She says a recent study shows 84 percent of Louisiana parents and caregivers believe sex ed is an important part of their students’ curriculum. However, in many school districts in the state sex ed is a low priority.

 

The Rapides Parish Police Jury was informed Monday the recent sale of SMG, the company that manages the Coliseum, will have little if any effect on day to day operations. SMG, which took over management of the coliseum in September, announced Monday that they had been bought by Canadian private equity firm for an undisclosed amount. The Police Jury turned to SMG when the coliseum struggled to meet revenue projections in the months following a $23 million renovation of the facility. SMG has more than 230 facilities under management, making it a global leader in the industry.

 

State police report a man driving the wrong way on a Sabine Parish highway collided with another car Monday night. 50 year old Wallace Brumfield from Many was killed in the crash. The driver of the other vehicle received moderate injuries. Troopers believe Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

 

A Lafayette attorney has claimed the $191 million dollar Powerball prize on behalf of a three-member family partnership from the winning ticket in the October 25th drawing sold in Eunice. Louisiana Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin says the group opted for the cash prize. That boils down to about $119.4 Million dollars. Chopin  says the family wants to remain anonymous but released a statement saying they are obviously elated. The payout represents the largest single prize ever won in the Louisiana Lottery’s 26-year history.

 

The Louisiana Board of Regents has given Grambling State University the green light to proceed with plans to establish the first cybersecurity degree program in the state. Grambling State University President Rick Gallot says an estimated two million cybersecurity workers will be needed by 2019. Once the components are in place, the university will have to go back to the Regents for final approval of the new degree program. 

 

There’s buzz about the possibility of Congressman Ralph Abraham of Richland Parish running for governor in 2019. He says it’s an option he’s considering, but will run for re-election in the 5th Congressional District next year. He says he’d run for governor because he’d like to see less government oversight on a state level.

 

Small business optimism nationwide is near a record high, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. NFIB State Director Dawn Starns says we haven’t seen this kind of optimism in 34 years, when the economy was booming during the Reagan administration. Starns credits the positivity to the push for tax reform in Washington D.C.

 

A Saints season ticket holder is asking for a refund due to the National Anthem protests.  Lee Dragna of Morgan City is seeking a refund for the tickets and attorney fees.  He says he and his family are not able to enjoy the games due to players not standing for the National Anthem.  He claims the rowdy, angry reaction of the people around his seats during the protests have made the tickets unusable.

 

A coalition of student groups called Renew LSU is pushing for university leaders to rename two prominent buildings on campus, Murphy J. Foster Hall and the John M. Parker Agriculture Coliseum.  Parker served as governor, but participated in an 1891 lynching of 11 Sicilian immigrants who were allegedly involved in the murder of a New Orleans Police Chief.  The group’s spokesperson Savanah Dickinson says because of his actions, they want to rename it in honor of Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane.

 

Louisiana’s original craft brewery Abita Brewing Company is helping to celebrate New Orleans’ Tricentennial next year with a new brew called Maison Blanc.  Brewmaster Mark Wilson says the concept comes from the area’s long standing history with French culture and lifestyles. They expect to have the new brew available statewide by the first of the year.  He says Maison Blanc is combining the best of wine and beer, making it into one delicious recipe.

 

College football’s first ever early signing period begins a week from today. From December 20th to 22nd, schools can sign high school prospects to national letters of intent. The next signing day will be February 7th. LSU has 20 commitments and Coach Ed Orgeron says it’s their anticipation they’ll sign most of their verbal pledges next week. Orgeron says over half of their commitments are linemen.

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News for Tuesday 121217

By Dave Graichen

 

The St. Landry Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 21-year-old whose body was found by a fisherman in Lake Dubuisson. Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says the woman’s purse was found and shows a Shreveport address but they believe she was visiting friends in Alexandria. Family members notified deputies she was abducted while here. Guidroz says deputies are hoping to finds a lead to identify a suspect. Authorities are asking anyone who has any information to please contact them.

 

The RPSO reports criminal scammers are targeting local citizens with phone calls threatening them with arrest and prosecution for failing to comply with jury service in federal or state courts. In the calls, recipients are pressured to bring a "fine payment" for missing jury duty to the Federal Courthouse in Alexandria. Then the victim receives a phone call to "expedite the process" to put the money on a Green Dot Visa Card.  The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office reminds you that this is a scam and something law enforcement  would never ask you to do.

 

A 32-year-old Lafayette man faces up to five years in prison after he admitted to using Donald Trump’s social security number in an effort to get the president’s federal tax information. Court documents say Jordan Hamlett was unsuccessful. He’ll be sentenced at a later time. Legal Analyst Tim Meche says Hamlett will likely get probation or very little time. He says no harm was done by Hamlett’s actions.

 

Two time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks is coming to Baton Rouge early next year to star in a World War Two era film entitled “Greyhound”.  Louisiana Economic Development’s Don Pierson says it will employ over 250 persons in Baton Rouge.

Pre-production started this week and crews are expected to film aboard the U-S-S Kidd on the Mississippi River and other Baton Rouge locations next March. 

 

Gasoline prices are on the decline for the first time in several weeks. Usually they start to fall in October after the summer driving season, but there was a still a strong demand for gasoline in the fall. AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says the current statewide average is $2.26, which is four-cents lower on the week.

 

Democrat Justin Dewitt of Baton Rouge has announced he plans to run against Republican Congressman Garret Graves next year. Dewitt was born in Sulphur and moved to Zachary, where he graduated from Zachary High School. He says he’s running because Graves does not represent the interests of the 6th Congressional District. As a victim on last year’s historic flood, he says he plans to seriously address flood control. Dewitt says he’s only accepting individual contributions for his campaign.

 

Totals are in from Friday’s historic snow event. Kentwood saw the most in the state with 6 and a half inches. That’s according to Shawn O’Neil with the National Weather Service in Slidell, who says parts of the Baton Rouge area saw three to five inches.

O’Neil says it’s the biggest snow event in south Louisiana since December of 2008.

 

Twin brothers who are Gonzales firefighters will appear in the next season of the CBS reality show “The Amazing Race.” 33-year-old Daniel and Eric Guiffreda said they competed against world champion skiers, NBA players, and competitive eater, Joey Chestnut. The show premieres January 3rd on CBS for its 17th season.

 

An anonymous donor gave one-million-dollars to the University of Louisiana at Monroe.   It was given as part of the SOAR Capital Campaign to support the School of Education at ULM.  Development Officer of the fund raising effort Morgan Patrick says the donation gets them closer to their 54-million-dollar goal. Dr. Eric Pani, Vice President of Academic Affairs is awed that the donation was given by a retired teacher in the Monroe area who is also a ULM alum.

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News for Monday 121117

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana officials on Sunday offered prayers and support to former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who announced she is fighting melanoma in her liver, for which she said there is no cure. The former governor, who served from 2004 to 2008, said she has begun a treatment program but no cure exists for this type of melanoma. She asked for “prayers and loving support” as she continues to undergo treatment.

 

Court officials say a senior federal judge in Louisiana has died, days before he was to preside over the trial of a private investigator accused of trying to get Donald Trump's tax returns illegally during the presidential campaign. Judge James J. Brady died over the weekend after a short illness. Brady was to preside as jury selection began Monday in the trial of Jordan Hamlett.  Brady was nominated to the bench in 1999 by then-President Bill Clinton. Judge Brady was 73.

 

LaPolitics Weekly reports 5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham is considering a run for governor in 2019. Abraham says he hasn’t made any decisions, but a number of people are asking him about it. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says the Richland Parish physician will need to boost his name recognition. U.S. Senator John Kennedy, Attorney General Jeff Landry and Congressman Garret Graves are a few GOP politicians that are suspected to run against current Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards.

 

The face-off between state Attorney General Jeff Landry and New Orleans Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell over Cantrell’s possible abuse of a city credit card has sparked accusations of political motivations and set off a round of musical chairs at Criminal District Court over which judge may handle the case. And that’s before Landry has filed any charges over the matter, if he ever does. Landry’s preliminary digging, which apparently is focused on Cantrell alone and comes even as the state legislative auditor is looking into the credit card spending of all seven members of the City Council.

 

After a timeout in August, the Louisiana Board of Regents is set today to consider tightening the rules on how high school students can earn college credit, without unduly curbing access to the popular classes.  The board delayed action on the initial proposal at the request of Gov. John Bel Edwards' office and amid concerns by Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana System. Henderson said the revised draft is far better than the proposed changes unveiled in August, which he said would have overly restricted access to the courses.

 

The LSU AgCenter has developed a milk-based meal replacement powder to help consumers lose weight. Studies show drinking meal replacement shakes for 12 weeks instead of meals is a safe way to drop pounds. Director of the AgCenter Food Incubator Gaye Sandoz says they’ve developed the powder and now LSU’s Pennington  Research Center will test the product.

 

A Baker woman left an autistic child in a truck with the engine off in 35-degree weather while she played bingo on Friday afternoon, according to a Baker police report.

An anonymous caller told police Friday that someone had been sitting in a truck outside the Baker Bingo Hall for nearly four hours. When officers arrived, they found the person inside the vehicle was a non-verbal, autistic child, according to the police report. The child’s mother was booked in Parish Prison on improper supervision, cruelty to juveniles and child endangerment.

 

A dozen juvenile whooping cranes have been released at the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge as part of an ongoing effort to protect them from extinction. Biologist Sara Zimorski with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says they are joining eleven juveniles that were released a couple of weeks ago in Vermilion Parish.  Whooping cranes are the tallest bird in North America, standing on average five feet tall. 

 

Multiple reports indicate fewer people are watching as much pro football than they used to. Baton Rouge-based Todd Advertising Agency owner Deborah Todd says it’s not just national anthem protests, she says viewer fatigue has also set in, because of an over saturation of NFL games. Todd says cord cutters, households who get rid of cable or satellite TV, is also hurting NFL viewership. She says internet based apps like Netflix, Hulu and Directvnow, is helping to further divide people’s attention away from professional football and it’s cheaper.

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News for Friday 120817

By Dave Graichen

 

A few schools districts decided to play it very safe and are closed today due to the threat of nasty weather overnight.. Avoyelles Parish public and Catholic schools are closed.. as are St. Landry parish public schools, Beauregard parish, Vernon and Evangeline Parish schools ..  All Schools in the Alexandria Pineville area are open..

 

If you are planning on attending the Pineville Christmas parade tonight, bundle up, it will be cold… The parade starts at 7:00 pm at Huey P. Long Hospital Blvd. it will then travel up main street and end at the Trotter Center at Claiborne. The Annual Christmas Parade in Ball it tomorrow starting at 2:30p. And the Alexandria Christmas parade is set for Sunday at 2p

 

Thursday afternoon it took a  9th Judicial court jury less than an hour to find Akeeley Blade guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Michael Butler during a motel room invasion back in August of last year.  No sentencing date was set yet because a hearing will have to be held to determine if Blade, who was17 at the time of the crime, should receive life in prison or be declared eligible for parole after serving 25 years.

 

The reward for information on the death of a St. Tammany Parish Fire Chief’s wife has been increased to ten-thousand-dollars. Nanette Krentel, the wife of Fire District No. 12 Chief Stephen Krentel, was thought to have died when the couple’s house burned down, but her death was later ruled a homicide.

 

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed 231-to-198 the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to allow a person with a concealed carry permit issued in one state to carry a firearm in another state.  U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson says by passing this bill, there will be less confusion as to which states allow concealed carry and those that don’t.

 

With Christmas right around the corner, the Louisiana SPCA encourages people to give the gift of a home to a pet in need through adoption. Spokesperson Alicia Haefele says they’re offering a 50-dollar adoption special until December 23rd. She says last year 222 animals found forever homes during the holiday season. Haefele says this service is available around the state. She says it’s important to make sure everyone adopting a pet understands it’s a life time commitment, not just a holiday gift.

 

Louisiana Tech in Ruston has been granted 1.3 million dollars to enhance its cybersecurity programs. The money was awarded by the National Science Foundation. U.S. Congressman Ralph Abraham of Alto says LA Tech is a leader in training the next generation of professions that will be tasked with protecting our nation. Louisiana Tech is the first university in the country to establish a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Engineering degree program. Abraham says Louisiana Tech is looking toward the future.

 

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday shoppers will spend about 967 dollars a person on gifts this year, up 3.4-percent from in 2016. Mark Rosa, Professor with the UNO School of Business, says everybody gets excited during the season and wants to be generous but we have to resist the urge to overspend. He says it’s easy to put purchases on credit cards. It’s much more difficult to pay them off..

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News for Thursday 120717

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor Edwards has established a seven member task force to review sexual harassment and discrimination policies in state agencies.  They will review current polices, identify the most effective mode of training to prevent harassment and develop a protocol for new employees  The report must be submitted to the Governor no later than March 1.  This all comes after Governor Edwards’s staff member Johnny Anderson resigned following sexual harassment allegations…

 

A new study from the University Council on Gender Equity finds that LSU male professors make more money than female professors.  Assistant Accounting Professor Christine Cheng says the data is missing variables such as experience, education and other market factors. But she says additional research needs to be done when outside information is used…

 

The embattled National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire on Friday if Congress doesn’t take some sort of action. The House has already passed a five-year re-authorization of the NFIP, but the Senate is very wrapped up in dealing with the tax reform legislation right now. Lafayette Congressman Clay Higgins predicts there will be a brief extension to buy some time.

 

Louisiana’s Medicaid program is spending at a slower pace than expected.  The forecast shows they may spend as much as 650-million-dollars less, which could give the program a surplus in six months.  30-million-dollars of that money would go to a state general fund surplus that could be spent elsewhere in state government.

 

You may be thinking about using heaters and fireplaces to keep you warm now that winter weather has arrived.  The chances for house fires increases, especially if proper precautions are not followed.  State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says it’s not advisable to use space heaters for an extended period of time.

 

The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous time but can often be overwhelming, causing seasonal depression. Our Lady of the Lake Psychiatric Nurse Glenda Natale says this time of year, they receive more calls for help dealing with the holiday blues. She says we live in a perfectionist society. Natale says people who feel like they don’t have a strong support system are at a higher risk for developing holiday depression. She suggests getting out to volunteer or befriending a neighbor, rather than dwelling on past memories with people who are no longer with you.

 

The 2017 Allstate Sugar Bowl—L-H-S-A-A Prep Classic begins today and runs through Saturday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Nine state champions will be crowned over the next three days and Association Executive Director Eddie Bonine says they anticipate several close games.

 

The recent cold snap could bring central and south east Louisiana some wintry precipitation tonight into Friday morning.  State Climatologist Barry Keim says even though the air temperature will stay above freezing, you may still see freezing precipitation. Sunny but still cold weather is expected to return by the weekend.  Temperatures will remain in the 50’s for the majority of the state.

 

The New Orleans Saints are set to square off against the Atlanta Falcons tonight in a key NFC South showdown.  Quarterback Drew Brees says the short week can make it difficult to prepare, but he knows the Falcons will be ready with some new tricks up their sleeve. Kickoff is tonight at 7:25 at Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta. Saints running back Mark Ingram is listed as questionable with a toe injury.

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News for Wednesday 120617

By Dave Graichen

 

Health officials are concerned that Louisiana might have a severe flu season.  There are more cases of flu here and in Alabama than elsewhere in the country.  Louisiana Department of Health Doctor Frank Welch says there are more medical visits for the flu than there should be this early in the season. Some officials warn this year’s flu vaccine may only be ten percent effective against the “A” strain of the virus.  Welch is concerned that this influenza will cause several problems the current vaccine does not immunize against.

 

A cold front has crossed the state, bringing Louisiana its coldest weather of the season. State Climatologist Barry Keim says we can expect to see clouds and lingering rain through tomorrow. He says break out the sweaters and winter coats as highs won’t get out of the 40’s today. Keim says by Friday and over the weekend, we’ll see temperatures in the 30s in the morning with afternoon highs in the 50s.

 

Over the past few weeks, he has made two trips to Washing DC to testify that Louisiana’s voting system is unhackable. But now Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler says they are looking at replacing the state’s voting machines. Schedler says tampering with the current machines is remote, but a new system would further decrease the chances of tampering.  He is awaiting approval from the state Division of Administration.

 

John Schroder was sworn in last night as Louisiana’s next state treasurer after being chosen by a record low number of voters in the November 18th runoff. John Kennedy stepped down from the position to become a U.S. Senator.

 

Singer John Mayer cancelled last night’s New Orleans show with Dead and Company, a Grateful Dead revival band after he underwent an emergency appendectomy.  There is no word on when a concert will be rescheduled.  Ticket holders can either ask for a refund or use their tickets at the rescheduled show.

 

Two Slidell Junior High School students are arrested after allegedly bringing a firearm to school.  Police received a crime stoppers tip that a 14-year-old boy brought the weapon while a 12-year-old boy showed the weapon to several students.  The younger boy also went as far as pointing it at another student and making threats on social media.  Both suspects are in custody at the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center.

 

Denham Springs Police have arrested a man who allegedly tried to rob a woman at gunpoint during a sale of an XBOX video game.  The victim told police that she met Michael Mitchell at a bank parking lot, when Mitchell drew a gun.  The victim screamed and Mitchell fled from the scene in a car.  He was later found at a Baton Rouge restaurant where he was taken into custody.  The victim identified him in a police lineup.  He is in custody on a 100-thousand-dollar bond.

 

State Police and the FBI seek the public’s help in the apprehension of suspects involved in two bank robberies in north Louisiana.  The Guaranty Bank in Epps was robbed November 10th. Seventeen days later the Barksdale Federal Credit Union in Cotton Valley was held up. State Police say the suspected man and woman hid their identities, but they believe both robberies are connected. A reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrests of the suspects.

 

Facebook plans to launch a new app for kids so they can message their friends with the approval of their parents. It’s called Messenger Kids and is aimed at children under 13 LSU Mass Communications Professor Lance Porter says this new app is a way to reduce the exposure to things kids are not ready to developmentally deal with.

 

The Richwood Rams of Monroe in Ouachita Parish will play in the 3A State Championship against West Feliciana at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Friday.  There are many fans that want to go watch, but can’t afford to make the long trip.  Tyron Dickens is trying to help raise money through his non-profit program K-9 Outreach and he says donations have started coming in. This is the first time since 1974 that the Rams have been involved in a state championship game.

 

There has been a lot of buzz over the Instagram post by LSU star running back Derrius Guice which says he will decide whether to enter the draft after the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame. The junior is expected to be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft if he leaves early. Tiger Rag Associate Editor James Moran says he would be shocked if Guice stayed another year..

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News for Tuesday 120517

By Dave Graichen

 

It’s going to get cold real fast in the Bayou State as a major weather system begins affecting the state today.  National Weather Service says thunderstorms are a good possibility with this arctic blast…Temps will peak early and will begin to drop during the afternoon. The good news is, after the front moves through, the clouds will give way to a sunny, but cold temperatures for the latter half of the week into the weekend.

 

The Department of Health has gotten better about erroneously making Medicaid payments to deceased recipients over the last four years, but still has work to do. A new report from the state’s Legislative Auditor found LDH made nearly $718,000 in improper payments between July 2013 and August 2017. Performance Audit Manager Chris Magee says LDH has improved since 2013.

 

Louisiana is one of a dozen states asking the US Supreme Court to block a California law which states any eggs sold in California  must come from hens who have been able to stretch their limbs in their cages. In most cases, chickens we eat and get eggs from live in cages so small they can’t turn around. State Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says California can pass whatever law they want, but saying that their standards should apply to all eggs shipped into their state violates the Commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.  Strain says, at the end of the day, this would inhibit the free flow of products across state lines.

 

Three people, including the President of the East Baton Rouge Parish NAACP have sued Baton Rouge Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wilson and the city.   They claim they were allegedly removed during a public comment portion of a council meeting after wanting to discuss the Alton Sterling case.   Their attorney says since it was during the public comment part of the meeting, they had a right to speak, even though it wasn’t on the agenda.

 

Allegations against Louisiana State Police have been flying after investigations into the LACE program and troopers taking a side trip while driving to a conference. Superintendent Kevin Reeves says changes have been made when it comes to deciding disciplinary action. He says now a case goes before the Disciplinary Review Panel. Reeves says the Panel ensures that all decisions regarding troopers’ actions are decided in a way where no one receives special treatment from the Superintendent.

 

Funeral services have been announced for Acadiana area visionary and UL-Lafayette supporter Judge Kaliste (collie) Saloom Jr., Saturday at 10am at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Lafayette.  The 99-year-old former Lafayette City judge died over the weekend following a short illness.  Visitation will be Friday at Martin and Castile’s downtown Lafayette location.

 

Southern Mississippi and Florida State will play in Walk-On’s Independence Bowl in Shreveport on Wednesday December 27th. The Seminoles won’t have head coach Jimbo Fisher who left for Texas A & M. I-Bowl spokesman Stefan Nolet says they hope this game marks the beginning of better times for Florida State and their fans.

 

Louisiana Tech is heading to a bowl game for a fourth consecutive season as they’ll play SMU in the first ever Frisco Bowl on December 20th in Frisco, Texas. Bulldogs Head Coach Skip Holtz says they look forward to the matchup against the 7-5 Mustangs.

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News for Monday 120417

By Dave Graichen

 

The Alexandria Zoning Commission will meet today at 4 to discuss the possibility of  rezoning the former Cavalier Motel property on Masonic Drive from part commercial, part single family housing to entirely commercial. The Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority, which owns the property, has agreed to sell it to a developer for a new Family Dollar store, but the zoning variance must be granted before the sale is finalized.

 

Over the weekend, Alex Winter Fete had an incredible run. The near perfect weather and an amazing line up of family entertainment led to large crowds each night. Estimates have the crowds at over 40,000 for the event. All in all, a great success..

In Natchitoches, record crowds were also reported for that city’s Christmas festival.

 

Both of Louisiana’s U-S Republican Senators voted for the tax bill that was approved on a 51-49 vote. Senior Senator Bill Cassidy says it will cut taxes for working families in Louisiana. John Kennedy says the non-partisan Tax Foundation says Louisiana will see an increase of 12-thousand jobs and the average family will gain 18-hundred dollars in after-tax income. But Louisiana Budget Project Director Jan Moller says only the wealthy will get a tax break, while low-income and middle-class Americans would face a tax increase.

 

For the second straight year, LSU is headed to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and this year they’ll play Notre Dame. Last year the Tigers trounced Louisville 29-9 on New Year’s Eve. This year’s game will be played on New Year’s Day at noon in Camping World Stadium.

 

Shreveport police have arrested a 16-year-old who allegedly threatened to shoot his classmates at Caddo Magnet High School. Investigators say the troubled teen also surfed the internet on how to make bombs and watched videos of other school shootings. Authorities seized undisclosed items from his home and the suspect was booked on one count of terrorizing.

 

There are reports Smoothie King is looking at moving its corporate headquarters from Metairie to Texas. A five-year deal between Louisiana and the fruit drink maker expires at the end of the year. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says  under the deal set to expire, the state pays Smoothie King, who employs about 60 people,  hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives. Pierson says Louisiana Economic Development will work with Smoothie King to explore all options for them to remain in the state.

 

After a third consecutive losing season, UL Lafayette has fired head coach Mark Hudspeth. Athletic Director Bryan Maggard informed Hudspeth of his decision Sunday morning following the team’s 63-14 loss to Appalachian State. Hudspeth directed the school to four straight New Orleans Bowl titles from 2011 to 2014, but because of NCAA sanctions, UL Lafayette was forced to forfeit 22 victories, including two bowl wins.

 

Broussard Police say the man that held up the First Community Bank on Monday is now in custody. 29-year-old Jeremi Raymond of New Iberia allegedly wounded one of the bank tellers when he fired his weapon. Broussard Police Chief Brennan Decou says Raymond, who is a convicted felon,  faces several charges.

 

A newly released 300-page State Police report provided to the Advocate, shows former LSP Superintendent Mike Edmonson retired last March after learning some troopers were being internally investigated after claiming overtime and expensive hotel stays in Arizona and Nevada on taxpayers money.   President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission Rafael Goyeneche (go-en-nech-che) says Edmonson’s tampering with key evidence could bring felony charges, including obstruction of justice…

 

A new addiction treatment center is opening on the Northshore.  The ten-million-dollar Longbranch Recovery Center will open around the first of the year in Abita Springs.  Longbranch Healthcare CEO Chris McMahon, sober for 17 years, says he wants to do his part in helping those who need it the most. McMahon says the location of the facility was as important as treating the patient.  He says the former Longbranch Hotel in Abita Springs is a now a 32-bed facility that will be able to house patients during 30 to 90 day treatment programs

 

The Saints regained control of the NFC South with a convincing 31-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. The Atlanta Falcons also lost, so now New Orleans has a one-game lead over the Panthers and a two-game lead over the Dirty Birds for the division lead. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 269 yards and one touchdown in the victory. The Saints are 9-3 heading into a Thursday night showdown with the Falcons.

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News for Thursday 113017

By Dave Graichen

 

The city of Alexandria’s Christmas festival starts tonight as Alex Winter Fete kicks off with downtown being illuminated with Christmas lights. Community Services Director for Alexandria, Robert Weeks, says the festival runs through Saturday night and visitors will enjoy live music, food, an Indie Village and everyone’s favorite; ice-skating.

 

State police report a two vehicle accident yesterday afternoon claimed the life of a Moreauville man. The accident occurred on Hwy 1 and 1195.  Troopers say 59 year old Terrell Ducote was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle, crossed the centerline of the highway and hit a pickup head on. Ducote was wearing a helmet, but was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the pickup, who authorities say was wearing a seatbelt, was uninjured.

 

The Governor’s Office is hosting a series of human trafficking summits and one of them is today here in Alexandria. The goal is to highlight information regarding existing services, protocols and community response to human trafficking victims. Director of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet Dr. Dana Hunter says they want to make sure different local and state agencies have the resources to tackle this problem. The next summit will be held in Shreveport on December 13th.

 

The State Police is alerting the public about fraudulent LSP solicitation phone calls. Troopers say the impersonators contact the phones of potential victims by using a call that appears to be originating from Troop A. The caller is pretending to be law enforcement and attempting to gain personal information. They remind you to never give unsolicited callers any personal information.

 

The 2017 hurricane comes to an end today and it will go down as one of the most active seasons we have seen.  Hurricanes Nate and Tropical Storms Cindy and Harvey made landfall in Louisiana this year.  State Climatologist Barry Keim says overall, many records going back 167 years were tied.

 

The current La Nina pattern is to blame for the recent arid conditions in Louisiana. An updated three month forecast from the Climate Prediction center is due today and State Climatologist Barry Keim says he expects more of the same. He says this strong La Nina will keep moisture from coming south. Keim says he expects parishes will start issuing burn bans soon..

 

State senator Sharon Hewitt of Slidell is calling on Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera to review the state’s sexual harassment policies and she also wants an investigation into the hiring of Johnny Anderson. Anderson is a former aide to Governor Edwards, who resigned last week after sexual harassment allegations surfaced. Hewitt is seeking recommendations on how the state can strengthen its policies, procedures and laws pertaining to sexual harassment.

 

Matt Lauer of the Today Show is now another prominent figure to be fired after being accused of sexual harassment. LSU Health New Orleans Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Michelle Many believes the general consciousness of sexual harassment has been raised over the last 10 years allowing for more victims to be taken seriously. She says it’s time for employers to take another look at this issue.

 

A Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s deputy was involved in a shooting after responding to a burglary. Authorities say 45-year-old David Rozas broke into the home of his estranged wife and refused to put a gun down when police arrived. Rozas raised the gun toward the deputy and the deputy fired. Rozas began firing back at the deputy, causing the deputy to continue to fire, hitting Rozas several times. Rozas was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He faces multiple charges including attempted first degree murder of a police officer.

 

North Korea launched a ballistic missile yesterday that landed in the Sea of Japan. Retired U.S. Army Lt. General Russel Honore says the 33-year-old leader of North Korea is ordering these strikes to act like he has a seat at the table with powerful countries like the U.S. But he says if Kim Jong Un tries to go to war with us, he will lose.

 

The St. Bernard Parish District Attorney’s Office announces the Chalmette man accused of murdering his ex-wife with an axe in September won’t face the death penalty. Mark Owens is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Authorities say Owens hid under his ex-wife’s bed at her house, waited until she left for work, then attacked her in the front yard.

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News for Wednesday 112917

By Dave Graichen

 

The suspected killer accused in the random shooting deaths of three people has pleaded not guilty to two of the murders which occurred in East Feliciana Parish. 36-year-old Ryan Sharpe entered two pleas yesterday and requested a public defender. Sharpe also allegedly shot and killed a man in East Baton Rouge Parish.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards participated in a criminal justice reform event organized by the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington DC yesterday.  The Edwards Administration helped passed ten new laws allowing for the early release of non-violent prisoners.  Nearly two-thousand were released earlier this month.  U.S. Senator John Kennedy says Edwards criminal justice reform effort isn’t working, saying some who were released under the new guidelines are already back in jail. But, the numbers don’t support Kennedy’s claims.. Nearly 2,000 non-violent prisoners were released as part of the reform program. Fewer than 10 have returned to jail.

 

A new report from Wallet hub ranking which states are the most charitable, is giving Louisiana low marks.. Charitable was defined in the report as “volunteering and service” and “charitable giving." Utah came in at #1 as the most charitable state in the nation. Louisiana came in at #47, #50 being the least charitable. That distinction by the way went to Hawaii.

 

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is today slated to once again testify before a US House committee that there is no need to worry that elections in Louisiana are being hacked by Russians. Schedler says the main concern is over online voter registration lists, but Louisiana was not one of the states identified as a target of hackers during last year’s election.

 

Kyle Duncan, the Louisiana nominee for the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals seat will go before the Senate Judiciary committee today.  Attorney General Jeff Landry has been lobbying for Duncan, who was nominated by President Donald Trump. He says especially for conservatives, this is an easy selection. Senator John Kennedy sits on the committee and has yet to make a decision on if Duncan should be judge. Landry says it’s a bit odd that Kennedy is taking so long to decide on an individual with Duncan’s record and skill set.

 

State Police say a 49-year-old Slidell man was killed when a boat struck his vehicle while he was traveling in St. James Parish. Trooper Jesse LaGrange says the boat trailer detached from a vehicle that was towing it, striking David Burvant’s vehicle. Burvant died from his injuries.

 

A 17-year-old, who was on the football team at North Webster High School in Springhill, was fatally shot Monday night and police are searching for the gunman. Police say a 45-caliber pistol was used to shoot Jaylen Thomas. 16 shots were fired and police say they have a person of interest.

 

A Livingston Parish woman is under arrest after allegedly falsely claiming she was raped by a sheriff’s deputy.  38-year-old Sherri Penton claimed a deputy sexually assaulted her in his car after meeting on an internet dating site.   The trooper claimed the sex was consensual.  State police says they didn’t find evidence in the deputy’s car.  Penton is at the East Baton Rouge Jail.

 

Its Grambling State versus Alcorn State for a third consecutive season in Saturday’s SWAC Championship game in Houston. The winner advances to play North Carolina A-and-T in the Celebration Bowl on December 16th in Atlanta.

 

LSU Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron has said he expects offensive coordinator Matt Canada will seek a head coaching job. Football analyst Mike Detillier says there appears to be a rift between Coach “O” and Canada and he believes the young play caller has coached his last game at LSU.

 

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News for Tuesday 112817

By Dave Graichen

 

17 year old Camryn Lasyone of Alexandria was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison, with 10 suspended, for his part in the beating death of a Lecompte man. Lasyone admitted that he was present at the former Motel 6 in August 2015 when he and two others barged into the room of 54-year-old Michael Butler. But he denied beating Butler, who later died from his injuries. Lasyone pled guilty to manslaughter in a plea deal. The original charge was 1st degree murder.

 

During the Thanksgiving weekend, State Police investigated four fatal crashes, the same number as last year. Sgt. Jared Sandifer says typically fatal crashes around this time are a result of drunk driving or not wearing a seat belt. But this year it seemed like the common theme was hit and runs.

 

State Police have arrested a Slidell man in a fatal hit and run of a bicyclist, after cops tracked the suspect down by following a trail of vehicle fluid from the scene of the crash. Authorities say the suspect  pulled the man and his bike from his windshield and though him in a ditch before he could escape the scene...

 

State Police continue to look for the driver of a pickup truck after a man riding in the bed of the truck, fell out and died in Winn Parish Sunday morning.   Master Trooper Scott Moreau says Troopers are still trying to determine how 21-year-old Hunter Thomisee of Montgomery fell out and why he was in the bed of the pickup.  Moreau says while they continue the investigation, they need the public’s help to find the vehicle and it’s driver

 

Spare the rod, spoil the child.. That apparently doesn’t apply to a belt. A 38-year-old father is charged with cruelty to a juvenile after allegedly beating his son with a belt for getting suspended from school. Baton Rouge Police Sgt. Don Coppola says Edward Humphrey dropped the child off at his mother’s workplace, who called police about her 11-year-old son’s injuries.  Coppola says the father’s discipline went too far.

 

Starting this week, nearly 500 Louisiana educators will begin training to become mentors to future teachers.  This is the first step in a three-year effort to train at least 25-hundred public school teachers.  Assistant Superintendent for Talent Hannah Dietsch says nearly 500 veteran educators were nominated by their local school systems to participate in the mentor training program.

 

Authorities say two suspects linked to the fatal shootings of four people in Zachary and East Feliciana was arrested in Alabama. Ike Hamilton is being charged with multiple counts of 2nd-degree murder. Zachary Police Chief David McDavid says they also learned that Hamilton’s mother, Belinda Folse, was responsible for taking her son to Alabama.

 

Former LSU Head Football Coach Les Miles is sticking around Baton Rouge.  Reports indicate Miles has purchased a home in the Settlement at Willow Grove for one-point-three-million-dollars.  He recently sold his home in Bocage Lakes for one-point-45-million-dollars.   He still owns a lot there.  He is currently working as a television analyst for FOX and ESPN.

 

The swearing-in ceremony for John Schroder as State Treasurer will take place on Tuesday, December 5th. Schroder, a Republican, received 56 percent of the vote, to Democratic opponent Derrick Edwards’ 44 percent during the November 18th runoff election. The turnout was record-low.

 

LSU will rename multiple streets on campus, including Raphael Semmes Road, which was named after a Confederate officer. LSU Mass Communication professor Bob Mann says earlier this year, his students looked at street names and buildings that should be changed. Raphael Semmes Road will be changed to Veterans Drive. Mann says in reality, Semmes had almost no association with the university.

 

With his 347 yard passing performance in the victory over Texas A-and-M, LSU’s Danny Etling became the fifth quarterback to throw for over 2,000 yards in multiple seasons. Jeff Wickersham, Zach Mettenberger, Toddy Hodson and JaMarcus Russell are the others. In 12 games this season, Etling has thrown for 2,234 yards, 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Etling is glad he ended up at LSU.

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News for Monday 112717

By Dave Graichen

 

State Police are investigating a single vehicle crash that killed a young man from Montgomery shortly before 2am Sunday.  Police report 21 year old Hunter Thomisee  who was riding in the bed of a pickup truck, fell out of the vehicle and into the roadway. 

The crash remains under investigation.  Anyone with information, regarding this crash, is asked to call Troop E.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards is voicing his frustration with the 13-percent turnout for the November 14th election. Edwards says everyone has the freedom to vote or not vote, but it’s something you would think residents would do. He says it’s more convenient than ever to vote with seven days of early voting, but still it seems there’s lower turnout than ever. Edwards says it’s likely voter apathy is keeping residents away from the polls.

 

After months of grinding negotiations over the future of the National Flood Insurance Program, lawmakers return to Capitol Hill on Monday with less than two weeks before the program expires.

 

Despite progress in the U.S. House of Representatives before Congress split town for its Thanksgiving break, deep and longstanding divisions remain over the federal program, which is heavily in debt and now facing billions in claims from victims of a spate of destructive hurricanes this year. Members of Congress and those keeping a close eye on the flood insurance debate are increasingly expecting the Dec. 8 deadline to come and go without a comprehensive, long-term reauthorization for the program. Instead, most are now hoping for a shorter deal to temporarily extend the program — possibly for six months or a year — to buy more time for negotiations on a more comprehensive set of reforms.

 

An aide to Governor Edwards has resigned as a result of sexual harassment allegations. Anderson was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Programming and Planning. He told the Advocate he’s innocent, but doesn’t want to be a distraction as he attempts to clear his name.

 

Construction begins today on a new oyster reef in Calcasieu Lake near Lake Charles. About 12,500 cubic yards of crushed limestone will be spread on the lake bottom to create 100 acres of artificial oyster reef. Assistant Secretary for Fisheries Patrick Banks says it will increase oyster and seafood production. Oyster reefs have been constructed in Calcasieu Lake since 1963.  They were smaller in size, anywhere from 18 to 59 acres. Banks says more money is allowing them to do a much larger project.

 

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.  National Hospice and Palliative Care President and CEO Edo Banach (Ban-ick) says about 50 percent of Louisiana Medicare decedents were enrolled in hospice at the time of death. Banach says although it may be difficult to discuss, the holiday season provides an opportunity to discuss advance care planning with loved ones. Banach says every adult should complete an advance directive and appoint a health care proxy or else your end of life decisions will be taken out of your hands…

 

There was no happy ending in Los Angeles for the Saints, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped by the up and coming Rams. New Orleans had trouble getting its offense going and the defense missed its top two cornerbacks, who are injured. Coach Sean Payton says L-A was the better team in the 26-20 win. The loss drops the Saints record to 8-3 and into a first place tie with Carolina for first place in the NFC South. New Orleans and the Panthers meet this Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

 

Texas A&M has fired coach Kevin Sumlin after six winning seasons, just a day after losing to LSU 45-21 at Tiger Stadium.

 

So now that the regular season is over for the LSU Tigers, what bowl game will they play in? Jerry Palm does bowl projections for CBS Sports and he expects the Tigers will be in Florida on New Year's Day. Palm says he currently has them in the Outback Bowl.  If LSU goes to the Outback Bowl, they'll play a team from the Big 10.

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News for Wednesday 112217

By Dave Graichen

 

AAA predicts nearly 51-million people will travel 50 miles or more for the Thanksgiving holiday, a three-percent increase from last year and it’s the highest number since 2005. AAA spokesman Don Redman says gas prices are about 35-cents higher than last year, but that’s not stopping the expected 45-million that will hit the highways..

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds holiday chefs to be conscious of food safety. Sarah Lichtman with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says the first step is cleaning your hands and surfaces before and after touching raw meats. She says it’s also important to make sure you cook your turkey to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t forget about leftovers sitting out on the table. Now where this reporter disagrees with Lichtman, She debunks the need to clean poultry before you cook it.. If you have ever seen chicken or turkeys processed I am sure you, as well,  would disagree..

 

The lines have become blurred between family traditions on Thanksgiving and getting the good deals before everyone else to kick off the holiday shopping season.  National Retail Federation’s Ana Serafin Smith says many stores are opening earlier on Thanksgiving this year. According to best-black-Friday-dot-com, 38 retail chains will be open Thursday.  They include Best Buy, JcPenney,’s, Sears, Walmart and numerous others. Most other retailers will remain closed until early afternoon. 

 

A report by Well Being Trust finds the state’s drug, alcohol and suicide death rate could increase 42-percent in the next decade. Chief Policy Officer Ben Miller says the opioid epidemic is at the root of this upsetting report. The report outlines a strategy of prevention, early identification and treatment for those addicted to opioids.

 

The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program has offered grant awards for nearly 31-hundred homeowners affected by the floods in 2016, totaling nearly 92-million dollars. Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes says these funds are helping people rebuild their homes and many of the homeowners are reimbursed for work already done. Over 38-thousand homeowners have qualified to receive assistance.

 

The man accused of fatally shooting two people at Grambling State University last month appeared in court Tuesday and plead not guilty on two counts of first degree murder. 19-year-old Jaylin Wayne’s next court appearance is in March.

 

On the second anniversary of his election, Governor John Bel Edwards sent an email to supporters asking for donations for his upcoming reelection battle. The governor’s latest campaign finance report shows he has 3.3 million dollars on hand but Political Analyst Clancy Dubos says Edwards will need every penny he can get. Dubos says if Edwards is able to help solve Louisiana’s fiscal problems, it will help his re-election chances.

 

Delhi Senator Francis Thompson, who has served in the state legislature for 40 years, has announced he is battling prostate cancer. Despite this health scare, the chairman of the Senate Ag committee plans to be ready for the next legislative session. The 76-year-old will have surgery in Baton Rouge next month.

 

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News for Tuesday 112117

By Dave Graichen

 

A report finds that black students in Louisiana public schools are twice as likely as white students to face suspensions. The study also finds low-income students are likely to face longer suspension than non-low-income children. Researcher Nathan Barrett hopes school officials look at the report to reduce discipline disparities based on race and income.

 

A state audit finds that the Louisiana Department of Health is not calculating Medicaid rates for nursing facilities accurately.  Louisiana Legislative Office Director of Performance Audits Karen LeBlanc says they discovered 19.7 million dollars the state could have saved this past year was spent on patients not covered by Medicaid. Medicaid payments to the 260 private nursing home facilities in Louisiana reached one-billion-dollars last year, yet nursing home populations went up less than one-percent.  LeBlanc says better procedures are needed to ensure the nursing homes are compensated accurately.

 

State Police is reminding holiday travelers that buzzed driving is drunk driving. Sgt. James Anderson says 10 people died and over 700 injured in crashes in Louisiana during the last Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Anderson says troopers will be out in full force under the Zero Deaths for the Holidays campaign to put an end to drunk driving.

 

There’s good and bad news when it comes to holiday shopping here in Louisiana. The good news, Holiday shopping is expected to increase this Christmas. That’s the view of LSU Marketing Professor Dan Rice who says households have largely recovered from the 2016 floods and the state’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008…The bad news, experts say says consumers will keep using the internet to fill out their shopping lists, rather than shopping local.

 

A year after thousands of homes flooded in Livingston Parish, residents in the eastern part of the parish said "no" to tax proposals that would have paid for drainage improvements.  Residents living east of Walker were faced Saturday with ballot proposals that would have funded gravity drainage districts, local boards that oversee off-road drainage maintenance and cleaning. Passing the tax would have created the first Livingston Parish-wide system of drainage districts.  But residents issued a clear "no," to both proposals. Parish officials say they are at a total loss to explain the vote.

 

Human remains have been found in Amite in Tangipaoha Parish.   A rabbit hunter made the discovery Monday.  Police believe they are the remains of a middle aged man.  The cause of death remains uncertain.  The investigation continues.

 

A Shreveport man and two others are dead after a medical helicopter crashed in eastern Arkansas Sunday  night. 26-year-old John Auld III was on the flight that went down about 60 miles southeast of Little Rock. The helicopter was flying from Pine Bluff to DeWitt.

 

The woman who was found fatally shot Sunday  night in St. Claude is the mother of a 7-year-old boy that was reported missing. New Orleans Police say the child has been found safe and was with a neighbor when the incident occurred. Authorities made the connection that the missing child was the son of the deceased after the investigation was launched.

 

Monday in Atlanta, the Georgia Dome was imploded after 25 years in existence. Meanwhile, the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans continues to be one of the top entertainment venues. Alan Freeman, General Manager of the Dome, credits the success of the Superdome to the great relationship they have with the New Orleans Saints. He says the state owns the arena and provides the funds to keep up with improvements as the building ages, especially after Hurricane Katrina did major damage.  Freeman says the Superdome is a viable building and in a city that thrives on hosting major events.

 

State District Judge Trudy White likened the actions of a 46-year-old Baton Rouge man convicted of human trafficking to those that participated in the African slave trade before sentencing him Monday to 40 years in prison. Carlos Lampley was found guilty in May on one count each of trafficking a child for sexual purposes, human trafficking and attempted human trafficking.

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News for Tuesday 111417

By Dave Graichen

 

The state police report a suspect in an Alexandria kidnapping and rape was caught Monday in Grant Parish after a chase. 40-year-old Edward Williams would not stop for law enforcement on La. Highway 8 yesterday and after a short chase, he jumped from the car and ran. State Police Troopers were able to quickly take him into custody. Shortly thereafter, Alexandria authorities took custody of Williams. He is now facing multiple charges.

 

Governor John Bel Edwards says Virginia-based DXC Technology will open a New Orleans office that will employ two-thousand people. Officials are calling it the single largest jobs announcement in the city’s modern history. An exact location for the facility has yet to be decided, but it will be downtown. Average salaries of for those working there will be 63-thousand dollars.

 

LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva says the elimination of tax break in the GOP tax reform bills could be disastrous for big-time collegiate athletics. LSU and many other schools require donations to purchase tickets to athletic events and Alleva is concerned those donations will go away, if fans can no longer claim 80-percent of the donation as a tax deduction. Alleva says LSU receives about 50-million dollars from this revenue stream.

 

U.S. Senator John Kennedy has written an op-ed piece to the Washington Examiner entitled “Please stop having children you aren’t willing to raise.”  In the piece, Kennedy implores parents that if they are drug users or if the child would be born to a fatherless house, to think twice about bringing lives into the world. Kennedy says too many parents are failing their children these days in Louisiana. He says thousands of children are in the state’ foster care system and those who fail to find a good foster care home end up struggling in life.

 

Today, the Governor will begin traveling with Ag Commissioner Mike Strain on a listening tour with farmers across Louisiana to hear their concerns.  Today’s stops will be in Mooringsport and Bastrop.  Later this week they will be in Arnaudville, Ferriday, Slaughter and Ville Platte.

 

The latest poll on the New Orleans Mayors race is out. LaToya Cantrell continues to hang on to a double-digit lead over Desiree Charbonnet, according to UNO pollster Ed Chervenak, 46 percent to 35 percent, with 19 percent still undecided.

 

Expectations of a bumper pecan crop in Louisiana this year have been lowered due to unfavorable weather, but that shouldn’t affect your pies for the holidays. That’s according to LSU AgCenter Associate Professor Charlie Graham, who says pecans are still in greater supply than last year.

 

Reports indicate a Louisiana man was arrested trying to cross into North Korea.  The man was detained by South Korean forces before he could cross the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two countries.  The 58-year-old is identified as “A”.  The Washington Post says he was trying to enter North Korea for “political purposes.”

 

If you want to know if the flu bug has invaded your neighborhood, a new phone app called Sickweather has been designed with you in mind.  Founder and CEO Graham Dodge says they use the public’s help to track when there’s an outbreak of various illnesses from the common cold to the flu. Dodge says the app will alert you when you are entering an area where there’s been a large of number of verified illnesses reported.  The app is currently available on Google Play and the Apple store for free.

 

For the third time this year, LSU linebacker Devin White has been named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. The sophomore from Springhill, Louisiana had 14 tackles in the Tigers 33-10 win over Arkansas.

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News for Monday 111317

By Dave Graichen

 

A pilot was killed when a small plane crashed in Rapides Parish, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The single-engine private airplane was found in thick brush between Lake Buhlow and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.  Further details, including the name of the pilot or where he was going, have not been released. The FAA is investigating the crash.

 

There’s an estimated 600-thousand Louisiana adults who lack a high school diploma. Now, a program called WorkReady U is attempting to grow Louisiana’s workforce by helping to educate the 600-thousand Louisiana’s adults who do not have a high school diploma. Jason Beard is the senior manager for a nonprofit group called Educational Testing Service, which offers adults looking to better their education a chance at passing the High School Equivalency Test. More information can be found online at yesyoucan.la

 

It appears the state AG didn’t have his fact straight after all. The state Department of Health announces new data shows there are fewer opioids being prescribed since Medicaid expansion began in July 2016. This comes amid recent claims by Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry that the better access to healthcare is fueling the opioid crisis. But, the state Board of Pharmacy says there was a 2 percent reduction in the number of opioid prescriptions from the year before Medicaid expansion to the year after.

 

Four Baton Rouge police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave following allegations of possible payroll fraud.  A source told WAFB TV that they include two sergeants.  The information comes on the heels of similar allegations involving the Louisiana State Police concerning three troopers.

 

This week, two years from now, voters will cast their ballots for Louisiana’s next governor. Current Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards is planning to run again. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry could challenge Edwards and tensions between the two continue to escalate. He says expect GOP leaders to keep attacking the governor on various issues. Pinsonat says there’s been word that along with Landry, Congressmen Garret Graves and Steve Scalise as well as U.S. Senator John Kennedy are taking a look at the governor’s seat.

 

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, supports the Senate’s GOP tax plan which was unveiled on Thursday. Cassidy says the proposed legislation would help families and help businesses grow by cutting taxes and simplifying the tax code. He says a family of four would see a tax cut of over 14-hundred-dollars…

 

A new phone app called OnPoint can help you keep an eye on politicians at nearly every level of government.  Vote-Smart-dot-org National Director Walker McKusick says they have culled information on over 40-thousand politicians, including those in Louisiana. McKusick credits their non-partisanship donations in helping them to present the true facts behind every politician in Louisiana…

 

Two elderly people were killed after a logging truck struck their vehicle in Beauregard Parish Thursday.  State Police Sgt. James Anderson says 86-year-old Elaine Picard and passenger 82-year-old William Picard were at a stop sign, when they pulled out onto Highway 112 east of DeRidder, directly into the path of a logging truck.

 

Complete domination. That’s the best way you can describe the Saints 47-10 beat down of the Bills in Buffalo yesterday. New Orleans had 482 yards of total offense to Buffalo’s 198 and the Saints had the ball for over 41 minutes in the game. It was the team’s seventh straight victory. The Saints rushed for 298 yards and set a franchise record by scoring six rushing touchdowns.

 

The LSU football team scored four touchdowns in the 2nd half on Saturday to beat Arkansas 33-10. LSU is now 7-3, 4-2 in the SEC and this Saturday they’ll visit a Tennessee team that was crushed by Missouri 50-17. The Vols are 0-6 in the league.

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News for Friday 111017

By Dave Graichen

 

A Rapides Parish Jury found a 17 year old mother, Donasty Cohen, guilty of manslaughter in the death of her 27 day old son nearly a year ago. Cohen will be sentenced on Dec. 4, giving time for the completion of a pre-sentencing investigation ordered by 9th Judicial District Court after the verdict.

 

The Rapides Parish  Police Jury and the company in charge of managing the Rapides Parish Coliseum  are hoping a grant from the Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority will allow for the purchase of some equipment  that they say is needed to attract larger events to the venue. The Jury approved the  $200,000 grant application at a special meeting Thursday. The money would be used to purchase a stage, chairs for the floor of the arena, speakers, spotlights, wireless intercom and a forklift.

 

Young people in Louisiana are smoking at a rate of 12-percent, which is lower than the national average of 16-percent, according to a report by Truth Initiative. President and CEO Robin Koval says when teenagers are given the facts and allowed to make their own decisions, they are more likely to positively respond. The down side of the report shows a different story when it comes to adult smoking. Over 22-percent, of adult smoke in the state, that compared to 15 in the rest of the country.

 

Tomorrow is the last day to early vote for the November 18th election and early voting locations are closed today in observance of Veteran’s Day. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says in the last days of early voting, the number of residents who cast a ballot exceeded his original expectation of around 10-percent. Aside from the statewide State Treasurer’s election, the New Orleans mayoral race is also on the ballot. Voters here in Alexandria will be asked whether to renew a 24-year-old property tax that funds "critical" capital projects, such as roads and drainage.

 

The five members of the Capitol Police Department at the baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia when House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot, have been awarded the medal of honor. Scalise says the excellent training undergone by members of this department prepared them and gave them the skills to save the lives of so many that day.

 

Authorities are refuting a WBRZ-TV report that a 13-year-old child was raped by an inmate in a bathroom during last month’s Angola Rodeo. Officials say the State Police Crime Lab through DNA testing determined no sexual contact occurred between the minor and prisoner. West Feliciana Sheriff Austin Daniel says an investigation started when it was observed a 13-year and an inmate walked out of a bathroom together. Daniel says they are not sure why the two were in bathroom together, but there is no evidence that sexual contact occurred.

 

University system presidents met at the governor’s mansion Thursday afternoon to discuss steps to eliminate hazing and alcohol abuse among sanctioned groups on campus. LSU System President F King Alexander says it’s not their intention to get rid of Greek organizations, because they do a lot of good work in the community.

 

The Kenner Police Department says a habitual offender that was released early from jail due to the state’s new criminal justice reform, committed an armed robbery 5 days after he was let out.  Chief Michael Glaser says Tyrone White is well known in that neighborhood, and cops had already been alerted that he was lurking again pulling on car door handles to see if they were unlocked. Glaser says this 24-year-old man should never have been let out of jail…

 

A Denham Springs woman turned herself into police today after being suspected of texting before a fatal crash on I-12 that killed a 5-month-old baby. Denham Springs Police issued an arrest warrant for 23-year-old Jessica Cowart. Cowart is charged with negligent homicide, negligent injuring and reckless operation.  She is free on a 51-thousand-dollar-bond.

 

Gas prices keep rising as demand remains high. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $2.29, up five cents from the prior week.

 

According to the Louisiana Lottery, no one has claimed the $50,000 Powerball prize from the drawing on June 14. The winning ticket was purchased at Super 1 Foods on Northeast Evangeline Thruway in Carencro. The winner has until Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. to claim the prize.

 

Have you ever wondered who is responsible for painting LSU’s Eye of the Tiger in Death Valley? Well it’s LSU graduate Hunter Sexton who is the Sports Turf Manager for Tiger Stadium. He says being the guy who paints the intimidating eye in the middle of the field is the coolest job ever. Sexton says he’s been painting fields since he was a kid, and to be able to work full time for LSU is a huge honor.

 

The Saints seek their seventh straight victory this Sunday when they visit Buffalo. When the schedule came out, many Saints fans probably thought the Bills would have a losing record at this point of the year. But Buffalo is 5-3 and New Orleans Quarterback Drew Brees says they are a perfect 4-0 at home.

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News for Thursday 110917

By Dave Graichen

 

If you’re dumb enough to make repeated crank calls to 911, don’t get caught in the act. A Pollock man did just that. 21-year-old Arthur Veal  was in the process of making another crank call to 911 when a Grant Parish deputy tracked him down.  The GPSO says in addition to catching Veal, they found Multiple Bags Of Marijuana in the home he was calling from. But the story doesn’t end there. As Veal was being booked into jail, officials found crystal meth hidden in his underwear .We don’t have enough time to report how many things he has been charged with.

 

After an alleged confrontation with a student player on Friday,  a Natchitoches Central High School football coach John Daughtery was charged with simple battery. The Natchitoches PD reports they received a complaint around 6 p.m. Monday about an incident that happened on Friday at Turpin Stadium. The 17-year-old alleges that Daughtery grabbed his helmet, eventually pulling it off and then began to pull him into a locker room by his jersey. Daughtery  has a court date in December.

 

Three state police troopers have been placed on paid administrative leave amid allegations of claiming overtime on hours they never actually worked. State Police Major Doug Cain says the investigation started after surveillance video was uncovered by a New Orleans television station.

 

An Arson fire in Many destroyed the ARC of Sabine building, which benefits the developmentally disabled. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says they have a person in custody. The suspect has been identified as 25-year-old Brett Shoemaker and he’s a former client of ARC. No injuries were reported.

 

Early voting for the November 18th election comes to a close on Saturday and the candidates for State Treasurer continue to get their message out to voters. Republican candidate John Schroder is a former lawmaker from Covington, a veteran and a business owner. He says he’s ready to take on the job and separate himself from any loyalties to do what is the best for our state. Democratic candidate Derrick Edwards has a Master’s degree in accounting and is an attorney in the New Orleans area. Edwards says he will bring accountability and transparency to the office of the State Treasurer. He says this race is not about party affiliation.

 

A 25-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly attacking a woman who tried to help him as he was lying in a ditch near Oak Grove. West Carroll Parish Sheriff Jerry Philley says the victim saw Christian Turnbow on the side of the road as she was driving her kids to school. He says police arrived after one of her children called 911 to report the attack. The victim suffered minor injuries.

 

The state department of corrections is not saying much about a Baton Rouge television station’s report that claims a 13-year-old boy was raped by an inmate during the last weekend of the Angola Prison rodeo. A D-O-C spokesperson says an investigation is underway into an alleged incident that may have occurred and details will be released at the appropriate time.

 

Two people were injured and dozens were evacuated yesterday off of a Shell platform about 115 miles off  the Louisiana coast, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Petty Officer Lexie Preston says a 54-year-old male suffered from flash burns and a concussion and a 29-year-old male suffered a sprained wrist and a concussion. Preston says the fire has been reduced to a small flame and a light sheen is reported north of the platform. The incident occurred early Wednesday morning.

 

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office says a Covington woman is under arrest amid allegations she lied about an NFL referee physically abusing her. Lt. Brennan Matherne says 49-year-old Sandra Brooks told cops in June that her live in boyfriend, 57-year-old Carl Johnson Sr. of Thibodaux, was hitting her. He says no evidence of wrongdoing by Johnson was found and ultimately he was exonerated in the investigation and Brooks is one now facing the charges.

 

Authorities have arrested a 14-year-old after he allegedly brought a handgun and rifle ammunition to Rayville High School. Rayville Police Chief Willie Robinson says the rifle rounds were in the teen’s backpack and a gun belonging to him was found in another student’s vehicle. Robinson says the teen told detectives he forgot to take the ammo out of his bag after he went hunting.

 

More than half of LSU’s 27 fraternities are in some kind of trouble for violating policy both before and after the death of LSU pledge Max Gruver. The punishments range from suspensions, being kicked off campus, on probation or letter of reprimand. The latest is an LSU letter sent to Alpha Gamma Rho saying they must stop all charter events because of an incident, “not in compliance with university policies.”

 

A state law approved seven years ago allows persons to possess guns inside a place of worship, under strict conditions. The person must be approved by the church leader, the congregation is made aware and persons must receive specialized training. One of those courses is coming up later this month in Livingston Parish. Sheriff Jason Ard says there is increased interest since the Texas church shooting.

 

Washington Parish authorities arrest the owner of a 2006 Porsche after he allegedly came up with a scheme to burn his water damaged vehicle in an effort to collect insurance money.  Chief Deputy Mike Haley says 49-year-old Gary Joseph Leblanc of Robert was arrested following a six week investigation.

 

Multiple sources are reporting that former LSU coach Les Miles is interested in the coaching job at Oregon State. The Beavers are 1-8 under interim coach Cory Hall after Gary Andersen and the school opted to part ways following a loss to Southern California earlier this season.

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