Louisiana news briefs
Coast Guard searches for missing swimmer
GRAND ISLE — Coast Guard rescue crews are searching for a missing swimmer last seen off of Grand Isle.
The Coast Guard in a press release said it received a report around 4:20 p.m. Tuesday that a person was seen submerging and not resurfacing about 300 yards from Cajun Tide Beach Resort.
The Coast Guard has not identified the missing swimmer.
Suspects arrested in police officer fatal hit-run
NEW ORLEANS — Police have arrested three suspects in the hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of a New Orleans police officer.
Police early Tuesday booked Justin McKey, 25, with manslaughter and hit and run. Police said McKey was allegedly driving the 2013 Porsche Panamera that hit Officer Rodney Thomas on Sunday about 1 a.m. Police also booked the owner of the car, Kenneth Halley, 28, and the owner of the body shop where the damaged car was found, Bill Cager, 34, with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to manslaughter.
Thomas, 52, was on his way home from work when he was involved in a minor accident on Interstate 10. He was struck as he got out of his car to check on the other driver.
for Orleans bonds
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans officials say rate hikes approved last year for the city’s sewer and water service customers have led to better ratings for sewer and water system revenue bonds.
The city says the bond rating increases could save the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board millions of dollars in interest and finance charges on future bond issues or refinancing of existing debt.
Tuesday’s news release said Standard and Poor’s Rating Services raised a rate on sewer revenue bonds by two notches and on water revenue bonds by one notch.
to build 40 new supply vessels
NEW ORLEANS — Edison Chouest Offshore says it will build more than 40 new vessels to meet growing demand for offshore oil and gas support in the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic and Brazil.
The new vessels continue a build campaign the Galliano-based company launched in 2011. Edison Chouest did not disclose the cost of the newest round of builds.
Most of the construction work will be spread among Chouest’s four U.S.-affiliate shipyards — North American Shipbuilding in Larose, LaShip in Houma, Gulf Ship in Gulfport, Miss., and Tampa Ship in Tampa, Fla. — as well as its Brazilian shipyard, Navship.
The largest portion of the new build program will be the construction of 17 diesel-electric platform supply vessels. Chouest intends to market the new vessels, which feature a new hull form designed to carry more weight while lowering hydrodynamic resistance, as a more fuel-efficient option to oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico.
Chouest’s plans also include two new ice class vessels designed for service work in the Arctic and four new subsea construction vessels slated for service in the Gulf of Mexico. The company’s fleet of icebreaking vessels, which will total six when the new builds are delivered, has supported Royal Dutch Shell’s drilling activity in Alaska.
Chouest operates a fleet of nearly 250 offshore service and support vessels worldwide.
in high numbers
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana teachers are continuing to retire at higher-than-usual numbers — more than 7,500 in the last two years.
The number of retirements in 2013 increased from the 24 percent increase last year.
Dana Vicknair, assistant director at Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana, said the figure is up about 1,000 from what they would normally see.
State Superintendent of Education John White said the exodus should be looked at as primarily a financial decision on the part of more veteran employees.
But school superintendents also said the decision has a lot to do with changes occurring in the classroom, including new teacher evaluations pushed by the Jindal administration, which one educator said created “a tipping point.”
There are some 50,000 Louisiana public school teachers.
DENHAM SPRINGS — The Denham Springs City Council has rejected a proposal to set up a portable photo-laser speed enforcement system to issue speeding tickets along a stretch of Interstate 12 that passes through the city.
Mayor James Durbin said the DragonCam system being considered for use by the Denham Springs Police Department would be one way to assist police in catching speeders on the interstate.
Police Chief Scott Jones, who did not strongly advocate the DragonCam, told the council that officers would not be working the laser-camera system on a 24-hour basis. Rather, he said, it would be used as manpower was available.
Terrebonne Parish building permits up
HOUMA — New residential building permits in Terrebonne Parish are up 9 percent over last year. That’s according to data released by the parish.
By this time in 2012, 125 building permits had been issued, compared to 136 this year.
In total, there were 281 permits issued last year — numbers parish officials said they haven’t seen since 2006.
Commercial construction in Terrebonne has also seen a jump. Through June 2012, 54 commercial building permits were granted compared to 61 this year.
Houma-Thibodaux’s jobless rate rose in May to 4.4 percent. The area has posted the lowest monthly unemployment rate among Louisiana’s eight metro areas since January 2012 with the exception of October.
From The Associated Press.