BAYOU CORNE — Officials say 11 new bubble sites have been found in inundated swampland west of an 8.5-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish.
The sites are roughly in a row west of an unnamed oilfield access road extending south from La. 70 South through the wooded swamp.
The sites bring to 34 the number of known bubble sites in the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou areas in the vicinity of the sinkhole on Texas Brine Co. LLC’s leased property.
Scientists think the Houston-based company’s salt cavern in the Napoleonville Dome failed deep underground, causing the sinkhole and unleashing oil and natural gas from formations along the salt dome face. That free gas is thought to be surfacing through many bubble sites and the sinkhole.
Deadline extended for Isaac claims
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana property owners with flood insurance policies whose homes or other structures were damaged during Hurricane Isaac have another 30 days to file claims for their flood losses.
Policy owners now have until Feb. 21 to complete their proof of loss.
The National Flood Insurance Program usually requires claims to be reported within 60 days of the date of loss but extensions have been granted because access to homes was limited by damage and high water.
Failure to submit the proof of loss could cause policyholders to miss out on benefits from their flood insurance policy.
Since Isaac made landfall, the insurance program has paid out more than $416 million on 13,159 claims in Louisiana.
Judge grants OK for jail reforms
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge has granted preliminary approval of an agreement between the Justice Department and the city of New Orleans that’s designed to clean up the city-funded jail.
The consent decree with Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman calls for him to provide adequate medical and mental health care and overhaul policies on use of force and rape prevention, among other reforms. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk’s approval Tuesday is a step towards implementing some of those reforms.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice, Gusman, and a group of current and former inmates represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center reached a settlement on the issue. But the city, which funds the jail, objected and is at financial odds with Gusman.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said the reforms suggested within the decree could cost as much as $17 million and could “bankrupt the city.”
Bats found in walls of Mandeville school
MANDEVILLE — Nine teachers at Mandeville Junior High School chose to relocate their classes after school officials found a few bats behind a wall.
St. Tammany Parish public school spokeswoman Meredith Mendez said maintenance workers discovered between two and four bats in a wing of the school when classes resumed after the holiday break.
Mendez says a few bats do not amount to an infestation, and there are no health concerns. Nonetheless, she says the bats are a protected species and can’t be forcibly removed or harmed.
Officer shoots suspected robber
ADDIS — A chase of an alleged robber in West Baton Rouge Parish led to a standoff and to the fatal shooting of the suspect by an Addis police officer.
Sheriff’s deputies say Brusly police received a call around 6 p.m. Monday about a masked gunman running into Noah’s Pharmacy.
As police arrived at the scene, Col. Richie Johnson says the suspect took a female cashier at the pharmacy hostage and stole a police car.
The car wrecked near Addis and the suspect got into a standoff with police.
Johnson says 50-year-old Ray Charles Hayes of Port Allen was killed when he threatened his hostage.
Police are still searching for a woman who they believe was supposed to be the suspect’s girlfriend and getaway driver.
Hunting seasons reopen in 3 areas
BATON ROUGE — Beginning Wednesday, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will reopen hunting seasons on Joyce, Manchac and Maurepas Swamp wildlife management areas.
The three areas contain acreage in parts of Ascension, Livingston, St. James, St. John the Baptist and Tangipahoa parishes.
All hunting seasons, except waterfowl, have been closed since Jan. 12 on the management areas due to high water levels associated with recent rain events.
Attorney argues woman not sane
at infant’s slaying
BATON ROUGE — An attorney says a 22-year-old Zachary woman accused in the April killing of her 2-month-old son was insane at the time.
Sabrina Maiden was arrested April 10 and booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a first-degree murder count in the death of Prince Javeion Deshaun Brown, but she has not been formally charged by prosecutors or indicted by a grand jury. She remains jailed.
Margaret Lagattuta, who represents Maiden, said Tuesday she expects Maiden at some point to enter a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.
B.R. mall shooter gets 20 years
BATON ROUGE — An 18-year-old Baton Rouge man received a 20-year prison term and forgiveness after pleading guilty in a January 2012 shooting that injured two teenage bystanders outside the Mall of Louisiana.
The teen victims and their parents said inside the courtroom that they forgive Johnny Williams and pray that he will someday become a productive member of society.
Williams was scheduled to stand trial Tuesday on two counts of attempted first-degree murder but instead pleaded guilty as charged in exchange for a 20-year sentence. He faced up to 50 years on each count.
Williams’ co-defendant, 18-year-old Michael Burrell of Baker, was slated to stand trial Tuesday, but he is now set to return to court Feb. 6 for a status hearing.
DHH to hire inspector general
BATON ROUGE — The state Department of Health and Hospitals is getting ready to hire an internal inspector general to help it with Medicaid fraud prevention efforts.
The legislative auditor issued a report finding improper payments and falsification of documents in several programs in which it did spot checks. It was the fifth finding of ineffective audit controls in the non-emergency medical transportation program.
DHH Undersecretary Jerry Phillips tells said the internal inspector general’s main role will be to assess risk and devise an Internal Audit Plan for the department.
Phillips said the position is expected to be filled by March.
Phillips advised Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera that DHH would hire the internal inspector general in a letter responding to an audit of several agency units.
From The Associated Press.