BATON ROUGE — State health officials report 11 new cases of West Nile virus this week, with one additional West Nile-related death.
That brings the total number of West Nile cases in Louisiana this year to 382, with a death toll of 17.
Most people bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus show no symptoms, but some develop flu-like West Nile fever, and a few develop serious “neuroinvasive” infections of the brain or spinal cord that can lead to paralysis, brain damage or death.
Four new neuroinvasive disease cases reported this week were in Bossier, Calcasieu, St. Helena and Winn parishes. Five West Nile fever cases were in Bossier, Cameron, Concordia, East Feliciana and Orleans parishes.
Two asymptomatic cases were in Grant and Pointe Coupee parishes. Such cases are typically detected through blood donations or in the course of other routine medical tests.
This is the worst year for West Nile infections in Louisiana since 2002, when the state reported 328 cases and 24 deaths.
GM leaves La. plant
SHREVEPORT — General Motors LLC is officially gone from Shreveport.
The automaker closed its Shreveport plant in August. GM officially handed over the facility on Friday to the trust that took over 89 GM-owned facilities in 14 states after GM declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The automaker is still leasing a very small area to hold some equipment until it can be moved.
The plant is owned by the RACER Trust. The acronym stands for Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response.
Its redevelopment manager, Bruce Rasher, says several possible buyers have expressed interest in the plant since the Trust began marketing it in April 2011.
Budget hearing set
HOUMA — Terrebonne Parish will hold a public hearing Wednesday on its 2013 budget and five-year construction spending plan.
The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Government Tower in Houma.
St. Bernard to consider residency requirement
CHALMETTE — Voters in St. Bernard Parish will consider a proposal on the Dec. 8 ballot that would require parish employees to live in the parish.
Councilman Richie Lewis, who introduced the proposed charter amendment, said it is a matter of making sure parish employees have a personal stake in the community.
Neither New Orleans nor Jefferson, Plaquemines or St. Tammany Parish governments have across-the-board residency requirements for parish employees.
The city of Kenner requires department heads to live in the city; a 2007 Kenner referendum to eliminate that requirement was defeated.
The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office does not have a residency requirement, but Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann said local residents receive preference in hiring. Pohlmann said sheriff’s employees who live outside the parish do not receive take-home vehicles.
Parish President Dave Peralta’s administration has voiced concern about the proposed residency rule, saying such a requirement would limit the applicant pool for open positions.
“Does it give me some concern? Yes, in terms of the available employees here,” Peralta said. “But as the parish grows, and I expect continued growth, it will concern me less.”
As of August, 82 percent of St. Bernard Parish government employees resided in St. Bernard.
Federal judge to speak at Nicholls commencement
THIBODAUX — A federal judge will be the keynote speaker when Nicholls State University holds graduation ceremonies on Dec. 15.
U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche Milazzo is a 1977 graduate of Nicholls. The Courier reports that she later became the first woman elected to Louisiana’s 23rd Judicial District Court.
She received Senate confirmation as a judge for the New Orleans-based Eastern District of the federal court system in Louisiana in 2011.
La. Tech chief
may be named
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Tech University may find out who its next president is going to be Tuesday.
Les Guice, executive vice president and vice president for research and development at Louisiana Tech, was named the one remaining finalist by the search committee Thursday. The committee will recommend Guice be named the university’s newest leader to the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.
If approved, Guice will replace Dan Reneau, who announced in September he will retire as the university’s 13th president at the end of June after 26 years in the position.
Meetings set on N.O. expressway
NEW ORLEANS — Construction of an elevated expressway over New Orleans’ busy Claiborne Avenue split neighborhoods decades ago.
Now, the New Orleans mayor’s office is asking residents of Orleans, St. Bernard and Jefferson parishes to attend a series of December public meetings to discuss the future of the Claiborne corridor — including the possibility of taking down the expressway.
A region-wide meeting is set for Dec. 8.
Subsequent meetings will be held the week of Dec. 10.
“We encourage all citizens to join their neighbors to consider the possibilities of the Claiborne Avenue corridor. Success could mean transforming this entire area into a more vibrant community,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release.
“We need to hear from those that live along the Claiborne Avenue corridor and from people throughout the region who use this vital transportation artery.”
Landrieu said a study of the Claiborne corridor is being paid for with more than $2 million in federal funding.
Landrieu said the study will focus on transit, “walkability” and economic development along the corridor and will “investigate ways to mitigate the impacts of the elevated section of Interstate 10 over Claiborne Avenue including the feasibility of various alternatives for future transportation investments that may or may not include its removal.”
The elevated expressway was built in the 1960s. Rows of oak trees along portions of Claiborne Avenue were removed to make way.
From The Associated Press.