Louisiana news briefs
State Farm raises hurricane deductible to 5%
BATON ROUGE (AP) — One month into the hurricane season, State Farm’s 308,000 Louisiana homeowner’s customers are confronting an unpleasant change: their policies now include a mandatory 5 percent hurricane deductible.
State Farm spokesman Gary Stephenson said the hurricane deductible was included on new policies in November and added to existing customers as they’ve renewed their policies on or after Dec. 1. Most policies had a 2 percent hurricane deductible.
That means a customer with a $200,000 house and 5 percent hurricane deductible will pay for the first $10,000 in damage before insurance kicks in, compared to the $4,000 the customer would have paid under a 2 percent deductible.
The mandatory hurricane deductible accompanied an average statewide rate increase of close to 9 percent on premiums policyholders pay for insurance.
2 Iberia public works employees killed in accident
NEW IBERIA (AP) — State police say two Iberia Parish public works employees died while working on the shoulder of the U.S. 90 South Service Road.
Master Trooper Brooks David says 48-year-old Ross Migues, of Lydia, and 57-year-old Jody Anthony, of St. Martinville, were putting up rezoning signs when they were hit by their work truck about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday after it was rear-ended by a car that had drifted onto the shoulder.
David said 26-year-old Alicia Marie Mire, of New Iberia, who was driving the car and her passenger were not seriously injured.
David said Migues and Anthony were pronounced dead at the scene by a Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office representative. He says their truck had been parked on the shoulder with its lights on.
OMV employee arrested for theft
HAMMOND (AP) — State police have arrested an employee of the Office of Motor Vehicles in Hammond.
Louisiana State Police said Tuesday that 46-year-old Gezelle Buchanan, of Pine Grove, was arrested for felony theft and malfeasance in office and booked into the Tangipahoa Parish Prison. It was not known if she had an attorney.
While employed with the OMV, part of Buchanan’s job included clearing insurance flags from customers’ records. In order to do so, she was required to collect fees from customers and document those fees paid.
An audit found that during a nearly two-year period, Buchanan collected fees but did not remit the money to the OMV but kept it for herself. It was determined she kept over $15,000.
State: Website links fishers, farmers, buyers
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The state Office of Community Development is touting the online Louisiana MarketMaker program that provides a database of local fishers, farmers and food retailers, matching food producers with consumer markets and thus potential buyers.
The office’s Disaster Recovery Unit provided a three-year, $125,000 grant to the LSU AgCenter to get the service up and running.
On Tuesday, the state said the website had more than 4.6 million hits since it launched in June 2010 through April — much more than its initial goal of 100,000.
Anybody in Louisiana with a product to sell — seafood, citrus, pecans, strawberries or other items — can establish an account on the site for free.
Spring shrimp seasons near end in some areas
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana wildlife officials say the 2014 spring inshore shrimp season will close next week in parts of the state.
The closure takes effect at 6 a.m. July 15 in the Terrebonne and Barataria Basins from the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River westward to the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island.
The season also will close in parts of the Lake Pontchartrain basin.
Further details, including a map of the closing areas, can be viewed online at www.wlf.louisiana.gov.
Tulane to be 100% smoke-free on Aug. 1
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tulane University says its campus will be 100 percent smoke free beginning Aug. 1.
Scott Tims, director of Tulane University Student Health Services, says the goal of the policy, passed in May 2013, is to protect non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke while encouraging current smokers to quit.
Tulane will join 1,372 college and university campuses in the U.S. that have adopted smoke-free policies. In going “smoke-free,” Tulane will eliminate not only the smoking of cigarettes and cigars, but also the use of chewing tobacco, dips and electronic products like e-cigarettes and vaporizers.
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana’s health department is reporting its first human cases of West Nile Virus for the year have been found in Livingston Parish.
The three cases are all asymptomatic, which means the individuals did not know they were infected, and only found out because they were donating blood or having blood work done.
Dr. Raoult Ratard, the state epidemiologist, says the discovery is a warning for residents. He says people should protect themselves from mosquitoes, which spread the virus to humans when they bite.
Louisiana had 34 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease last year, down from 2002’s high of 204 cases.
Man finds skeletal remains while brush-hogging
ST. FRANCISVILLE (AP) — A man whacking overgrown grass stumbled upon the skeletal remains of an unidentified person near the Old Ferry Landing in St. Francisville over the weekend.
Lee Willie Swan says he was brush-hogging and had backed up the equipment, when he saw a leg bone. Swan said he found the remains within the property’s overgrown shrubbery about 1 p.m. Sunday.
The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office says the remains have been sent to the LSU FACES Lab for DNA testing and examination to determine the cause of death. Authorities don’t expect to get results for a few days.
In a news release, spokeswoman Erin Foster said authorities had no information regarding “the race, sex, age or ID of the body.”
Swan said from what he could tell, it looks like a man’s body. “You could still see the clothes they had on; I saw the imprint of a wallet in his pocket,” he said.
kids to gamble
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Baton Rouge police say a man and woman have been arrested after allegedly leaving their children alone to go gambling.
Lisa Wynn and Michael Jackson were arrested Sunday for child desertion. Bond information was unavailable. It was unknown if either has an attorney.
Police responded to a call from the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hotel that two unaccompanied juveniles were walking the hotel’s hallway. Hotel management tried to contact their parents, but couldn’t find them.
The children told investigators they last saw their parents about 6:30 that evening before they fell asleep.
The parents said they were outside smoking, but police say they were told the couple had been gambling.