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Louisiana at 12 p.m. on Monday
Good afternoon, Louisiana editors.
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BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Legislature opens its three-month regular session Monday at noon, with a wide array of issues up for debate and a limited agenda being pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Jindal is scheduled to address members of the House and Senate an hour later in a speech expected to focus largely on his worker training proposals. But lawmakers have a range of their own ideas and will discuss whether to legalize medical marijuana, roll back the state's use of new educational standards and raise the state's minimum wage. By Melinda Deslatte. SENT: 461 words. Will be updated with developments in the afternoon. With AP Photos.
FERAL HOGS-AIRBORNE HUNT
NEW ORLEANS — The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters flying over two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana. Spokesman Bo Boehringer says he's been told one helicopter squad can kill as many as 300 hogs in a day. Officials estimate there are more than half a million feral hogs loose in Louisiana. They'll be flying this week over three sections of the Sherburn Wildlife Management Area and the marshes south of U.S. Highway 90 in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area. Each section will be covered by a single helicopter. The Pearl River Wildlife Management Area is in St. Tammany Parish. Sherburne is in Iberville, St. Martin and Pointe Coupee parishes. By Janet McConnaughey. SENT: 368 words.
NEW JOINTS, HFR
It's not just grandma with a new hip and your uncle with a new knee. More than 2 of every 100 Americans now have an artificial joint. The numbers are from the first major study to look at how prevalent these operations have become — more than 7 million people in the U.S. alone. From an orthopedics conference in New Orleans. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. UPCOMING: 800 words for release at 12:01 a.m. CDT Tuesday.
LAFAYETTE — The last two Desperado's employees charged in the federal drug and prostitution case have indicated they'll plead guilty. Officials say that leaves only strip club owner James Panos and his wife, Jennifer, to stand trial in May on drug distribution and racketeering charges. Acquila Shanete Latigue and Gerald Cormier said in documents they'll change the not guilty pleas they made last year. Cormier's hearing is scheduled for March 20. The date of Latigue's change of plea has not been determined. Federal prosecutors allege prolific prostitution and drug distribution was a daily and nightly occurrence at the club, where women danced nude or almost nude. Federal, state and local agents raided Desperado's in December 2012 after a months-long undercover investigation, padlocking the doors after a daylight raid. SENT: 288 words.
GONZALES — An accounting error discovered last summer cost the Ascension Parish Court $1.173 million over seven years. But it's been corrected and a plan put into place for the court to recover the lost funds. The error might boil down to two financial accounts that had very similar names. Ascension Parish Court Judge Marilyn Lambert said at the heart of the funds in question is a $100 bench warrant fine that people pay when they miss their court date and must reschedule. Sixty dollars of each of those fines collected go to the judicial expense fund of Parish Court. But, at some point in 2006, the $60 collected from each fine began to go, instead, to the judicial expense fund. SENT: 298 words.
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board's executive committee is considering how to respond to an external auditor's questions about discrepancies in the school district's salary schedule relative to the pay of some principals. The audit found that some employees were hired at a rate of pay that conflicted with the salary schedule approved by the board. Auditors also questioned whether the current salary schedule was in line with certain provisions of state law. The board's executive committee could take the matter up for further discussion in the next few weeks. The school system had to submit a corrective action plan to address the issue. That plan involves referring the findings to legal counsel and addressing the issue by March 31. SENT: 314 words.
HOUMA — Eight wetland restoration projects are in the running for federal money this year. The projects include work in both Lafourche and Terrebonne parish and are among 18 others statewide vying for money set aside by the federal Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Simone Maloz, director of Thibodaux-based coastal restoration advocacy group Restore or Retreat, said the process is tedious, but it has aided in a number of projects and was at one time the only source of money to fight the continuing erosion of Louisiana's coastal wetlands. A task force overseeing the federal money usually allocates between $30 million and $50 million for projects each year. The latest projects will be further screened in April. SENT: 459 words.
LAFAYETTE — Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will vote this month on a fee increase that would help the school's Office of Transportation Services purchase new buses and expand transportation options. The student referendum will be added to the Student Government Association elections ballot on March 31 and April 1. If passed, the measure would raise the student-assessed transportation fee from $25 to $50. SGA President David Neef says the current fee was approved in 2002 and is not enough to expand transportation services or even to maintain the existing system. SENT: 269 words.
JEAN LAFITTE AUDIT
NEW ORLEANS — An audit finds an employee of the town of Jean Lafitte employee misappropriated $23,000 from the fund for traffic fines and regulatory licenses last year. The town is attempting to recover the money through repayment and insurance, according to an audit released Monday by the state Legislative Auditor's office. The audit also found other problems, including failure to amend the budget to acknowledge an increase in revenues. SENT: 119 words.
LIL BOOSIE-WHAT'S NEXT
NEW ORLEANS — Just days after his release from Louisiana's maximum security prison at Angola, rapper Lil Boosie discusses his future. Lil Boosie, whose real name is Torence Hatch, had been imprisoned after a drug conviction and was released after serving his time. By Chevel Johnson. UPCOMING: 400 words by 4:30 p.m. With AP Photos.
LOUISIANA IN BRIEF
Editors: The following brief items moved Monday on AP's Louisiana wire and may be of interest for your Tuesdayday editions.
MINDEN — State police are investigating a fatal crash on Interstate 20 about 6 miles west of Minden. The crash occurred shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday. Trooper Albert Paxton says a car driven by 46-year-old Joseph Abel, of Princeton, was westbound he it attempted to pass several slower moving vehicles. SENT: 125 words.
SHREVEPORT — Sheriff Steve Prator says two security counselors at the Caddo Juvenile Detention Center have been arrested on battery charges for their treatment of juvenile inmates. Prator says the arrests involved separate cases. Prator says 29-year-old Allan Bigham Brown II, of Shreveport, was arrested on two counts of simple battery. Forty-five-year-old Irma Jean Williams, of Bossier City, was arrested on one count of simple battery. SENT: 113 words.
ANACOCO — Authorities say a 32-year-old Anacoco man is facing seven counts of attempted second-degree murder after setting fire to a trailer following a domestic dispute. Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft said James Aubery Moses was arrested early Sunday morning. SENT: 95 words.
NORTHWESTERN ST-GLOBAL SECURITY
NATCHITOCHES — Northwestern State University has received approval for a Post Master's Certificate in Global Security and Intelligence from the Louisiana Board of Regents. Joe Morris, head of the Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Science, says the 18-hour credit program is scheduled to start this fall and will build upon the existing master's in homeland security and the work experience of the student. SENT: 116 words.
ASCENSION ROAD PROJECT
DONALDSONVILLE — Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said he and other parish officials had some success in pressing Ascension's case in Washington, D.C. for a federal grant to build a key road to Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. Martinez told the parish council officials spoke with the Louisiana congressional delegation about using a TIGER grant for the $12 million to $15 million road. SENT: 1120 words.
LAKE CHARLES — The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury is hosting three town hall meetings this month to discuss several items on the April 5 ballot, including a sales tax to fund sewer expansion and two parish-wide property tax renewals. The first meeting is Tuesday. The second is March 17 and the third is March 24. SENT: 132 words.
NORTHWESTERN ST-RESEARCH DAY
NATCHITOCHES — Northwestern State University's 27th annual Research Day is set for Thursday. Research Day showcases a broad range of graduate and undergraduate academic and creative endeavors with students offering 15-minute oral presentations on their topics, followed by question-and-answer sessions. SENT: 98 words.
OPELOUSAS — Deputy marshals are stepping up patrols in Opelousas with an eye toward cutting down on robberies of local businesses. City Marshal Paul Mouton said he's added 8 reserve marshals and they are patrolling the city from 6-10 p.m. each night. SENT: 112 words.
BARGE CAPTAIN DROWNS
HOUMA — A barge captain from Labadieville drowned after falling from a boat in a remote Terrebonne Parish bayou. The Terrebonne Sheriff's Office identified the victim as 54-year-old Arthur Scott Anderson. SENT: 127 words.
DISASTER DEBT FORGIVEN
CUT OFF — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has waived repayment of a $5 million disaster loan given to Lady of the Sea Hospital in the Lafourche Parish community of Cut Off after Hurricane Katrina. The provision was a part of the federal 2013 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. SENT: 58 words.
PORT ALLEN — A West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy arrested last week could face additional discipline after he shoved an Addis police officer and threatened another officer who, during a routine traffic stop, pulled over a car containing the deputy's wife, daughter and her boyfriend. Maj. Ronald Graham, chief of uniform patrol for the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, was arrested Wednesday for simple battery and issued a misdemeanor summons after his fiery confrontation with police officers in Brusly. SENT: 125 words.
BUSINESS IN BRIEF
LAKE CHARLES — A property and casualty insurance pre-licensing course will be offered April 4-5 and April 11-12 at McNeese State University. The classes will be held from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and are offered in partnership with by the Louisiana Consortium of Insurance and Financial Services at Louisiana State University-Shreveport. SENT: 99 words.
HAMMOND — Southeastern Louisiana University is expanding its occupational, safety, health and environment program to include three new minors designed to complement existing degree programs. Sebastian van Delden, head of the department of computer science and industrial technology, says the programs will be implemented in the fall semester. The offerings include minors in safety, health and environment. SENT: 93 words.
BATON ROUGE — The first steps to allow hunters and fishermen to stay longer in the state's most remote areas was taken Thursday by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. At the urging of state game and fisheries biologists and managers, the LWFC amended the 2014-2015 resident-game hunting regulations to allow hunters a three-day possession limit of small game — rabbit, squirrels and quail — but kept the daily limits of eight on squirrels and rabbits and 10 per day on quail. The commission later approved a move that would allow fishermen to hold a three-day limit of black bass (largemouth and spotted bass) in areas south of the state's saltwater line. By Joe Macaluso, The Advocate. SENT: 605 words.
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