Louisiana news briefs
Health benefit changes planned for state workers
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana’s state government employees and retirees face increased out-of-pocket costs, higher deductibles and new health service limitations as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration reworks state insurance plans to keep the program from financial disaster.
Financial analysts say those in the insurance program in many instances will be paying more and getting less. Critics of the changes say workers and retirees are being held responsible for the Jindal administration’s mismanagement of their program.
But the Republican governor’s top budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, said Tuesday that health care costs simply are going up, with medical inflation and federal health care changes.
She said the Office of Group Benefits offered plans that were too generous to continue affording at their current price tag, and she said insurance plans will be offered that could have some people paying less and getting coverage more in line with what they need.
The Office of Group Benefits provides health care coverage for more than 230,000 public employees, retired workers and their dependents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana manages the health care plans that cover most of them.
Student dies following fight with another teen
NATCHITOCHES (AP) — A Natchitoches Central High School student hospitalized after a fight with a fellow student has died from his injuries.
Police Capt. Brad Walker said in a news release that 18-year-old JohnQuaries Smith died around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at University Health in Shreveport.
The 16-year-old student accused of causing Smith’s death will be booked with a new charge of manslaughter. The teen, whose name was not released because of his age, was initially booked after Monday’s fight with second-degree battery.
The confrontation occurred shortly after noon Monday. Walker says the fight was random and did not involve a gang or multiple persons.
Authorities say the decision on whether the suspect will be charged as an adult is up to District Attorney Van Kyzar.
French Consul General
to visit Arnaudville
OPELOUSAS (AP) — Grégor Trumel, the new French Consul General in New Orleans, will visit Arnaudville on Friday.
Jacqui Cochran with NUNUs Arts and Cultural Collective says Trumel and members of his staff are the featured guests at a “Bienvenue Potluck Social” that starts at 7 p.m. at 1510 Courtableau Road, also known as La. 93 East.
Cochran says the event, sponsored by NUNUs, the Jacques Arnaud French Studies Collective and Bayou Teche Brewing, is open to the public. Admission is a covered dish to share with the community potluck.
Mavis Fruge, head of the collective, said the gathering is significant because it will be one of Trumel’s first visits outside of New Orleans.
Trumel replaced former Consul General Jean-Claude Brunet, who has since been assigned to Munich.
I-10 through New Orleans opens after truck fire
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police have reopened eastbound Interstate 10 in eastern New Orleans after a tank truck hauling 8,600 gallons of fuel overturned, exploded and burned in the median.
The accident closed the highway late Tuesday afternoon. The wreckage was removed overnight and the eastbound lanes reopened early Wednesday morning.
Firefighters say the truck driver suffered face, arm and knee injuries but left the cab on her own. Police say the 24-year-old driver told emergency officials she overturned when she swerved to avoid a vehicle that cut her off while she merged from Interstate 510.
PETA files complaints
against Hammond turtle farm
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed six complaints against a Hammond turtle and alligator farm.
One claims the family is abusing a 6-year-old boy by teaching him to handle alligators at Harvey Kliebert Turtle and Alligator Farm and Tours.
According to news reports, photographs, and video footage, the boy’s parents let him “‘wrangle’ dangerous alligators and crocodiles, placing him at risk of virulent infection and serious injury from bites, scratches, head butts, and thrashing,” according to that complaint.
Every generation at the farm began learning the work as children, said Melody Kliebert, who married into the family and is not the boy’s mother.
“It’s been in the family for seven decades now. The whole Kliebert family has been through this,” she said Tuesday. She compared learning to safely handle alligators to learning to ride a bicycle. “If he’s not controlling the bike, he’ll be hurt.”
Lafayette board to hear report on Supt. Pat Cooper
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Lafayette Parish School Board will hear a report Thursday from its attorney on whether they have cause to fire Superintendent Pat Cooper over various management decisions they disagreed with.
The board hired Dennis Blunt to conduct the investigation of Cooper.
The board’s general counsel, Bob Hammonds, has said that investigations are a common means to identify any potential charges to bring against a superintendent to start termination proceedings.
Cooper signed a four-year contract in 2012.
If the board plans to terminate Cooper’s contract, it must notify him of the charges in writing and hold a hearing.
.Termination requires a two-thirds vote — or at least six votes — from the nine-member board.
Board members haven’t revealed the cause or reasons for the investigation.