Latest Louisiana news, sports, business and entertainment


Unattended toddlers die in house fire; mother arrested

BASTROP, La. (AP) — The State Fire Marshal’s Office says the mother of two small children who died in a house fire has been arrested after leaving them at home unattended.

Investigators says they are still piecing together their findings in Monday’s tragic fire that claimed the lives of 4-year-old Ta’shae Thompson Johnson and her 3-year-old brother, Clifton Thompson Johnson.

Authorities say 21-year-old Ciarria Johnson left her children unattended for hours as she was having her hair styled.

Johnson was booked Tuesday on two counts of negligent homicide in the death of her children.

It was unclear whether she has an attorney.


Tax breaks approved for proposed Deep South Studios

(Information in the following story is from: The Times-Picayune,

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Industrial Development Board for the city of New Orleans has approved tax breaks worth at least $3.1 million for a proposed $63.5 million movie studio complex.

If completed, the Deep South Studios complex would be one of the biggest investments in the local film industry to date. Times-Picayune reports the studio’s 19-acre campus, an as-yet undeveloped plot near the foot of the Crescent City Connection bridge, is slated to include a 262,000 square-feet of floor space spread over six sound stages.

The subsidy, which was approved Tuesday, comes in the form of a property tax break, or payment in lieu of taxes, deal.

Scott Niemeyer, chief executive of Deep South, said he plans to finance the bulk of the project, about $49.5 million, by soliciting foreign investors.


Report: Black students suspended, expelled at high rate

(Information in the following story is from: The Times-Picayune,

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A state Department of Education report says African-American students in Louisiana public schools are suspended and expelled at disproportionately high rates.

The report says that, although black students made up 44 percent of public school enrollment in the 2013-2014 school year, they received 63 percent of in-school suspensions, 67 percent of out-of-school suspensions and 68 percent of expulsions.

In a story on the study, NOLA.comThe Times-Picayune reports that state Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, a Baton Rouge Democrat, sponsored the 2014 resolution calling for the report. The data, including the racial disparity and the young ages of some disciplined students, are consistent with national trends that have led President Barack Obama’s administration to call for a crackdown on overly punitive school discipline policies.


Former Opelousas chief seeks $43K in unused annual leave

(Information in the following story is from: The Advocate,

OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) — Former Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow is asking the city for $43,658 to cover more than 1,000 hours of unused annual leave.

The Advocate reports the Opelousas Board of Aldermen on Tuesday set aside the request, for now.

Gallow served two terms as police chief before he was defeated in the Dec. 6 runoff by Donald Thompson.

Thompson said Gallow’s request involves payment for 1,032 hours over his eight-year term.

The board voted without opposition to have its Budget Committee review Gallow’s request before making any final decision.

Alderman Julius Alsandor said the board’s delay does not mean Gallow is not eligible to receive the funds.


Monroe council approves measures to examine wages

(Information in the following story is from: The News-Star,

MONROE, La. (AP) — After pleas from Monroe city workers for the administration to reward them for their hard work, the city council has approved two items aimed at starting a conversation on an increase in the minimum wage for city employees.

The News-Star reports the two items are a resolution stating the city council supports an increase in the minimum wage to $10 an hour and the approval of a study that will compare pay scales and job descriptions of Monroe to similarly situated cities.

Mayor Jamie Mayo says the additional expense would cost the city $1.5 million dollars.

The council approved Tuesday paying for a pay scale study, which is expected to take four to six weeks to complete.


Tax for Calcasieu teacher raises proposed

(Information in the following story is from: American Press,

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — The Calcasieu Parish School Board has approved a resolution to call a special election on May 2 for a parish-wide half-cent sales tax that would give district employees a raise. Teachers in the district haven’t had a pay raise in seven years.

Karl Bruchhaus, district superintendent, tells the American Press if voters approve the 10-year tax, employees would see an increase in pay beginning July 1. He said the tax would bring in nearly $23 million per year which would go toward employees’ pay and benefits.

Bruchhaus said because of time constraints, the board needed to approve the resolution Tuesday so the tax could get on the May ballot. He said particulars of the tax and strategies to inform the public would be discussed in February.


Judge replaced again in triple murder trial

(Information in the following story is from: The Courier,

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — The trial for a man accused of killing a Lockport woman and her two daughters has been moved to a different judge for the third time.

The Courier reports newly elected state District Judge Christopher Boudreaux announced in a hearing Tuesday that he will not preside over David Brown’s first-degree murder trial.

He was replaced by state District Judge John LeBlanc.

The Brown was arrested after 29-year-old Jacquelin Nieves and her daughters, 7-year-old Gabriela and 1-year-old Izabela, were found stabbed to death in their apartment Nov. 4, 2012.

The Lafourche Sheriff’s Office said Brown also allegedly sexually assaulted Jacquelin and Gabriela and set the family’s apartment on fire to cover up the killings.

Brown’s trial is set for April 20. The defense is led by New Orleans-based attorney Kerry Cuccia.


Bollinger delivers 12th Coast Guard cutter

(Information in the following story is from: The Advocate,

LOCKPORT, La. (AP) — Bollinger Shipyards has delivered its 12th Fast Response Cutter, the Isaac Mayo, to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The 154-foot patrol craft has a top speed of 31 mph and will be based out of Key West, Florida.

The Advocate reports the cutters are named for enlisted Coast Guard heroes. In 1879, the Sarah J. Fort, a three-masted schooner, wrecked on the shores of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, during a raging snowstorm. Mayo, a junior surfman, and his crew rescued the schooner’s sailors despite the weather conditions. Mayo was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal on Nov. 10, 1879.

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