News for Thursday 072017
By Dave Graichen
It’s official, almost. A private company will begin running the Rapides Parish Coliseum in September. The Rapides Parish Police Jury agreed to terms with SMG Wednesday. The company, which specializes in managing publicly owned facilities. The terms include a $125,000 yearly management fee for SMG, up to $50,000 a year in performance incentives and a 15 percent commission on advertising and sales. SMG is deferring this year's fees to 2018 and 2019, and kicking in a $100,000 grant for marketing and incentive funds to entice acts to the Coliseum. The Police Jury also voted Wednesday to dissolve the Coliseum Authority on July 31, on the condition that the contract with SMG is finalized.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office is warning residents not to fall for a scam in which callers try to convince people they face fines for missing jury duty. Callers are telling people they can be arrested and prosecuted for not reporting for jury duty in federal and state courts. The callers, of course, tell people they can pay a fine at the federal courthouse in downtown Alexandria to clear up the issue. But the victim then will receive a follow-up phone call with an offer to expedite the issue if the victim buys a Green Dot Visa card. The sheriff's office reminds people that no law enforcement agency would try to collect a fine in this manner, and neither would the courts system.
The National Weather Service in Shreveport has issued a heat advisory for the northern half of the state through 7 PM tonight. Forecasters indicate hot and humid conditions could lead to temperatures that climb into the mid to upper 90s with heat index values up 108 degrees. They urge residents to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.
Zachary Police say they have made an arrest in the case of a fatal home invasion that occurred Tuesday night. Chief David McDavid says the deceased, 20-year-old Damon Hayes Jr, allegedly broke into an elderly residents home with 20-year-old Jordale Carter and possibly two other suspects. The resident opened fire killing Hayes. Carter was booked on many charges including murder because his accomplice died during a crime. McDavid says two other suspects are still at large.
Three months ahead of the October 14 election, more than half of the races have already been settled. Candidates in 41 races had no opponents, while 16 saw no candidates at all. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says they saw a similar rate just over a year ago when 44 percent of the races were settled before reaching the ballot.
Schedler blames the public’s frustration with government for the disinterest in running for public office. Plus, he says these positions don’t pay much and they come with a lot of stress.
Could state Education Superintendent John White’s job be in jeopardy? Governor Edwards says White was not reconfirmed by the Senate during the session. Over a dozen people filed a lawsuit alleging White needed that confirmation, but a judge dismissed the case. The judge noted few elected officials have the legal authority to file a petition to fire White, and the governor is one of those.
Governor John Bel Edwards is not endorsing Damon Baldone in the public service commissioner race. Edwards appointed Baldone to serve as interim when Scott Angelle vacated the position in June. A longtime Democrat, Baldone qualified in the race as a Republican. Election Day is October 14.
Louisiana’s Congressional delegation is getting behind an effort to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. Congressman Clay Higgins is one of the co-sponsors and the Republican from St. Landry Parish says the proposal would protect policyholders from skyrocketing premiums. The current National Flood Insurance Program expires on September 30th, which is why there is a big push to reauthorize the program for another six years. Higgins says it’s their desire to limit rate increases to no more than 10 percent a year.
Governor John Bel Edwards is pleased with job growth and creation in the Bayou State. On his monthly radio call in show, the governor said several sectors of the economy are improving, especially health care thanks to expansion of the Medicaid program. Edwards says in January of 2016, the state’s unemployment rate was at 6.2-percent and the latest numbers show the unemployment rate in May of 2017 was 5.7-percent and predicts that will drop even lower when the June numbers are released.
Authorities say an 84-year-old woman at a senior living center in Metairie was choked to death and the search is on for suspects and a motive. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office says the victim was found dead Tuesday night. Detectives at first thought it was a death by natural causes, but an autopsy revealed the cause of death to be strangulation.
Monroe Police Chief Quentin Holmes announces his plans to retire. Holmes said in a news conference he has been thinking about returning to teaching for quite some time. News outlets had reported that Mayor Jamie Mayo asked for a resignation, but he says that’s absolutely not true. Mayo says Holmes will remain chief until July 30 while his office works to find someone to serve in the interim. Holmes has served as Monroe’s top cop since 2011.
A man rushing his pregnant wife to the hospital missed the birth of his child after being arrested in Rapides Parish. Creola Police Chief Health Landry says one of his officers clocked a vehicle doing 108 in a 55 mph speed zone. He says the officer witnessed more dangerous driving as he attempted to pull over Zak Evans. Landry says the officer radioed ahead to Pineville, where officers set up a road block because Evans would not stop. He says when officers finally pulled over Evans and got him out of the vehicle, he was livid. An ambulance took Evans’ wife Bridget to a local hospital, and Evans was arrested on charges of flight from an office and careless operation, as well as ticketed for speeding.
Female military veterans will have a new support system, as the state Department of Veterans Affairs is set to launch monthly Coffee Conversations in August. Female veterans outreach coordinator Alex Juan says this will offer a safe space for military women to talk about the issues affecting them. She says the discussions will be live streamed and open to all of female veterans in the state. Louisiana is home to more than 32,000 women veterans.
Governor John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday federal funding for flood control projects in the Baton Rouge area. Edwards says 220 million dollars will go to local governments in the Capital region as part of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
Edwards says each parish will submit a plan to FEMA before the money will be allocated. He says some of the money will be used to buy back significantly damaged homes from last year’s flood and make it a green space.