Louisiana news briefs
Suspect booked in theft of oilfield equipment
HOUMA (AP) — Authorities in Terrebonne Parish say a 24-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the theft of oilfield equipment from a business.
Maj. Malcolm Wolfe said Leroy James Nixon of Gibson is suspected in the theft and attempted sale of equipment valued at about $1,700.
Wolfe says the thefts took place at equipment supplier Pro Valve in Houma.
Investigators say Nixon was arrested Wednesday while loading valves onto his truck at the company’s yard.
Wolfe said Nixon fled in his truck, but surrendered when deputies caught up to him.
He was booked at the Terrebonne Parish jail.
It was not immediately clear whether Nixon has an attorney.
Counterfeiters scam stores
MANDEVILLE (AP) — Police say someone is passing counterfeit cash at retail stores in Mandeville.
A spokesman for the Police Department said a total of $1,100 in phony cash was passed in recent purchases at Victoria’s Secret, The Gap and Banana Republic stores.
Police say as many as three suspects may be involved, and that incidents in the Baton Rouge area are under investigation for possible connections.
Bridge connecting Alexandria, Pineville to reopen
ALEXANDRIA (AP) — The Gillis W. Long Bridge will reopen to vehicle traffic at 7 a.m. Dec. 12.
The downtown bridge, commonly known as the Jackson Street Bridge, is one of three connecting Alexandria and Pineville over the Red River. It has been closed since early September for repairs and enhancements, including making it more friendly for cyclists and pedestrians.
The $5.26 million improvement project includes replacing the bridge deck, making the surface more bicycle-friendly.
Former deputy pleads guilty to unauthorized use of database
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A former sheriff’s deputy has pleaded guilty to federal charges of unauthorized use of an FBI database to check the criminal history of two people for non-law enforcement purposes.
Chad Hazelwood, 42, faces up to two years in prison after admitting on Wednesday to two misdemeanor counts of exceeding authorized computer access.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley did not give details on why Hazelwood was checking their backgrounds but said he accessed the FBI database “for non-law enforcement purposes.”
Hazelwood worked as a Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy from 2006 to 2011.
He worked as an Iberia Parish sheriff’s deputy from Nov. 4, 2011, to July 16, 2012.
Hazelwood also worked for several years with the New Iberia Police Department.
Board to settle lawsuit
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The Lafayette Parish School Board gave its attorney permission to move forward with settlement negotiations related to a lawsuit filed by a parent whose daughter was struck by a school bus in 2012.
The board’s attorney, Tonya Smith, said negotiations are ongoing in the lawsuit, which was filed in July 2013 by Rhaima Sabeh Waffa on behalf of her minor daughter, Maryam Jaafar.
Jaafar was struck by a bus in the driveway of Lafayette High on Sept. 20, 2012. The school district issued a news release following the incident, saying a student was struck by a school bus as it was leaving the school’s driveway and pulling onto Congress Street.
Charter schools rejected
AMITE (AP) — The Tangipahoa Parish School Board has denied two charter school applications and tabled discussion on another.
On Wednesday, the board shot down applications for Life Preparatory Academy and Hammond Charter Academy. It deferred a vote on Tangi Academy until later in December, when a special meeting is expected to be called to discuss the charter school, among other topics.
The board only had Wednesday’s meeting scheduled for this month.
Tangi Academy is a planned kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Hammond. If approved, it would use space at the African-American Heritage Museum in Hammond.
Grand jury indicts 3 in slaying
BATON ROUGE (AP) — An East Baton Rouge grand jury has indicted three men in the Aug. 2 slaying of a Baton Rouge man during a drug deal.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III says Julius Thomas, Darren Paul, both of Baton Rouge, and Jarvis Fleming, of Greenwell Springs, were each indicted for principal to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Donald Ray Walls.
Fleming is accused of driving Thomas and Paul to a mobile home park to sell a pound of marijuana to Walls and another man at about 8 p.m. on Aug. 2. Sometime during the deal, the indictment says Paul pulled a gun and fired at Walls and the other man before Walls pulled a gun and fired back.
Council approves budget
HOUMA (AP) — The Terrebonne Parish Council approved the 2014 parish budget with little discussion.
The budget, approved Wednesday, calls for $207 million in spending, up about 2 percent from this year’s $203 million. The budget for parish operations, excluding construction projects, comes to about $197 million.
Parish officials cited an increase in property tax money next year for the ability to spend more. Parish employees did not receive raises last year. Parish President Michel Claudet hasn’t yet made a decision on 2014 increases but is expected to do so before year’s end.
The parish is projected to make about $193 million next year, down from the $396 million it estimated for 2013.
Houma airport must stick with separate contracts
HOUMA (AP) — The Louisiana attorney general told the Houma-Terrebonne Airport Authority that it is not allowed to use a single contractor to design and build new projects at the airport.
Airport Director David Slayter said the authority had asked if the airport could use a design-build construction method for a potential project. The method involved hiring a specialized contractor that could deliver a complete package, both designing and building the project.
The attorney general affirmed that Louisiana law prohibits the use of design-build contracting and requires the design and construction phase of municipal projects to be completed on separate contracts.
Slayter said design-build projects are common in airports and often result in significantly lower costs.