Louisiana news briefs
Pierre Part man dies in crash
NAPOLEONVILLE (AP) — A 30-year-old Pierre Part man died following a one-vehicle crash on La. 401 near Napoleonville in Assumption Parish.
State Trooper Evan Harrell says Kerry Huey was driving a pickup east on La. 401 shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday when the truck began to drift off the road.
Harrell says Huey then overcorrected, causing the truck to cross both lanes of traffic before rolling off the road. Harrell says Huey, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the truck as it rolled. Assumption Parish Coroner’s Office pronounced Huey dead at the scene
Harrell says investigators suspect that alcohol played a role in the crash, and toxicology results are pending.
Ascension council eyes recreation tax
GONZALES (AP) — The Ascension Parish Council is planning to ask voters to rededicate next spring a portion of the 5-mill East Ascension drainage tax toward major recreation improvements.
While details are still being developed before the council puts something on the ballot, probably May 3, the proposed 10-year, 3-mill recreation tax would fund new park and ball field upgrades, new spray grounds, jogging trails and other capital improvements.
The tax, which would generate $2.5 million annually, would also use Lamar-Dixon Expo Center’s undeveloped land for a major recreational complex with a variety of sports fields, a natatorium and an outdoor amphitheater.
The rededication concept comes in the face of strong voter opposition to new additional taxes for critical infrastructure and public safety.
Woman and boy die after I-10 bridge hit-and-run
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 2-year-old has now died after being struck in a hit-and-run accident on Interstate 10.
The Orleans Parish Coroner says Kaedan Boyd died Sunday in a hospital. His aunt, 29-year-old Danielle Rhone, died earlier at the scene of the accident.
New Orleans police say the two were passengers who got out of a Chevrolet Impala. It broke down on the high-rise bridge over the Industrial Canal about 1:10 a.m. Sunday.
A chain-reaction wreck ensued after the breakdown. Rhone and Boyd were struck and thrown over the bridge’s railing.
Police say they believe some of the vehicles involved fled the scene, and are looking for a white Chevrolet Suburban with damage to the passenger side.
Blood and alcohol tests are pending, as are autopsies.
Police say no citations have been issued.
La. quarantines movement
of citrus plants
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has established a quarantine restricting the movement of citrus trees, except for fruit, from parishes where plant certain plant diseases have been found.
Areas quarantined for citrus greening include Orleans and Washington parishes.
Quarantined areas for Asian citrus psyllid include the entire state of Louisiana for interstate movement of regulated materials, unless plants are properly treated.
Quarantined areas for citrus canker include all of Orleans Parish and portions of Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Charles parishes.
Officials say citrus greening and canker haven’t been found is southern Plaquemines Parish, the state’s main citrus region Trees treated for the Asian citrus psyllid and found free of this insect can move freely from the area without restriction.
Feral hogs damaging levees
MARRERO (AP) — Feral hogs are rooting up levees on Jefferson Parish’s west bank, causing damage that could pose a threat to flood protection, officials say.
The west bank levee board has enlisted the help of the U.S. Agriculture Department determine the size of the hog population before deciding what measures to take.
“We are working with the USDA to assess the situation in our jurisdiction before taking humane steps to eradicate the problem in an efficient and cost-effective way,” board President Susan Maclay said.
The problem was discovered after Hurricane Isaac, when officials conducted inspections of more than 60 miles of levees.
Storm surge pushed feral hogs onto the levees, where they foraged for food, damaging levees along Lake Cataouatche, Bayou Segnette State Park and the Jean Lafitte National Park, says Giuseppe Miserendino, regional director of the west bank levee authority.
“We made the repairs and literally, 24 hours later, they ripped up the repairs,” Miserendino told the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West’s board of commissioners. “We spent thousands of dollars repairing the levee, and 24 hours later, it was back in worse condition. So our game plan of just repairing as need be wasn’t going to work.”
Terrebonne panel focuses on schools
HOUMA (AP) — Improving teacher salaries, technology training and the classroom environment have become the focal points for a panel charged with determining needs in Terrebonne Parish public schools.
The 15-member task force also is trying to determine how to finance changes schools.
The panel was formed in July after the School Board and Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce decided to work on needs and solutions after voters rejected a proposal to more than quadruple property tax rates.
The proposal, which would have raised an estimated $25 million annually for building improvements, pay raises and other items, failed in May, with a 76 percent no vote.
An early focus of the group has been on ways to retain teachers.
“There is nothing more important than having excellent teachers,” Sharon Bergeron, vice president of Coastal Commerce Bank, said during a meeting this past week.
Panel member Stephanie Hebert, a Houma insurance agency owner, said the task force should focus less on the teachers’ facilities and more on retaining and honoring the teachers.
“The building issue is huge, but if we don’t fix teacher pay and the technology issues, then the facilities don’t matter,” she said.
Chairwoman Jennifer Armand said the panel should identify a target student-to-teacher ratio. The more specific details the board can present to the public, the more likely voters are to buy into the measure, she said.
“Unless there is a detailed plan, the public and the community will never go for this,” Hebert added.
Technology, a topic touched on only briefly in earlier meetings, was another focal point. The school district collects money earmarked for technology, such as computers and smart boards, through different sales taxes.
Panel members pointed out inconsistencies in technology throughout the district, from schools not having accessible computers to teachers not using the technology they’ve been given.
Teachers at the meeting said they weren’t receiving proper training to use the technology.
Panel members also used fliers the board circulated on the tax plan to critique four major points: teachers, technology, universal pre-kindergarten and facility improvements.
Suggestions will be discussed at the next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 4 at the North Terrebonne Library in Gray. The panel is expected to draft a final proposal to recommend to the School Board in January.