Louisiana news briefs
President honors top La. math and science teachers
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two Louisiana teachers have been named as the state’s recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching by President Barack Obama.
Donna Lamonte, who teaches first grade at the LSU University Laboratory School in Baton Rouge, is Louisiana’s winner of the math award.
Mande Warren, who teaches at Lake Harbor Middle School in Mandeville, is Louisiana’s winner of the science award. Warren is also Louisiana’s middle school teacher of the year for 2013.
Winners will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation to be spent as they wish.
This year’s awards, announced Friday, honor teachers in grades K-6.
The teachers will receive their awards at a ceremony in Washington in the coming year.
mostly flat in Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A new state report shows employment and wage patterns for Louisiana residents were virtually unchanged in the second quarter of 2013.
The data, compiled by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, shows employment in the second quarter averaged 1,896,463, an increase of 1.1 percent from the first-quarter figure of 1,875,778.
The report shows industries with continued growth include construction, the arts, entertainment and recreation, accommodation and food services.
Employment rose 0.7 percent from the same quarter of 2012.
The average weekly wage for the second quarter 2013 was $824.
Rising police costs raise concerns in Thibodaux
THIBODAUX (AP) — The Thibodaux Police Department’s operating budget has risen from $4.4 million in 2008 to $6.4 million for next year, a 45 percent increase.
The biggest jump has been in personnel expenses, which have grown from $2.95 million in 2008 to $5.5 million in 2014.
City Council Chairman Chip Badeaux has questioned Police Chief Scott Silverii about why the department has 89 employees, more than police forces in comparable cities such as Pineville, Zachary, Morgan City and Jennings. All operate with about 20 fewer workers.
“There are cities similar to us that operate with almost half the amount of (police) staff,” Badeaux said.
Mayor Tommy Eschete said U.S. Census populations are similar, but the comparisons are unfair.
Though the census estimates 14,546 people live in Thibodaux, Eschete said its operational population is 30,000 to 40,000, including people who come to the city to work or shop.
“We have a four-year university, a regional medical center. Some of these places may have a couple of elementary schools and a high school. We’ve got 12 schools in town. You can’t just go on population alone,” Eschete said.
Central man’s body found
in Bayou Pigeon on Sunday
NEW IBERIA (AP) — The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the body of a 37-year-old man has been found in an Iberia Parish bayou.
Spokesman Adam Einck says the body of Brent LeBlanc of Central was found about 8:30 a.m. Sunday in Bayou Pigeon. He says in a news release that LeBlanc was not wearing a life vest when his body was found.
Volunteers and crews from the department and the Iberia, Iberville and Assumption parish sheriffs’ offices began searching Saturday afternoon, after getting reports about a vessel floating about a mile southwest of the Bayou Pigeon landing.
Einck says investigators don’t know how LeBlanc wound up in the bayou, but don’t suspect alcohol.
LeBlanc’s body was turned over to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
No Louisiana-based drawings on Christmas Day
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Louisiana Lottery Corp. says there won’t be any Louisiana-based drawings on Christmas. There will be a drawing in the multi-state Powerball lottery, which is based in Orlando, Fla.
Lottery offices will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Tickets for the daily Pick 3 and Pick 4 games bought after the draw close on Tuesday will be good for the next regularly scheduled drawing on Thursday. Easy 5 and Lotto tickets purchased after the draw close on Saturday will be good for the next regularly scheduled drawing on Dec. 28.
Advance plays on Pick 3 and Pick 4 won’t be available for Wednesday, Dec. 25, which will be skipped on any Pick 3, Pick 4, Easy 5 and Lotto multidraw ticket.
BESE suspends expense payments to member
SHREVEPORT (AP) — The president of Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has told member Walter Lee that he won’t get any expense payments until he documents and returns up to $13,000 the legislative auditor alleges he double-billed.
Chas Roemer told the retired DeSoto Parish schools superintendent in a letter dated Thursday.
An audit last week said Lee reportedly billed both the DeSoto Parish school board and BESE for travel and fuel expenses between 2009 and 2012.
DeSoto District Attorney Richard Johnson says he will decide by year’s end whether to bring charges. The auditor lists several laws that Lee may have broken.
Lee told The Times-Picayune last week that he would follow his attorney’s advice about what to do. He said the reimbursement rules were confusing.