JEANERETTE — Metal Shark Boats says it’s expanding its Jeanerette shipyard again.
Company President Chris Allard and Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday the expansion will create 88 new jobs with an average salary of more than $62,000. Hiring for the new jobs is under way.
Jindal says Metal Shark is meeting the needs of “our armed forces while also providing great jobs for our hardworking men and women.”
Last May, Jindal helped dedicate a previous expansion of Metal Shark’s Jeanerette facility after the company won a $192 million U.S. Coast Guard contract to build a boat to broaden its homeland security mission. The company is also building other boat classes for the Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, local law enforcement agencies and foreign agencies.
Ex-LSU RB’s trial to start
GONZALES — The sexual battery trial of former LSU running back Charles Scott is scheduled to begin today in state district court in Ascension Parish.
Scott was booked into the Ascension Parish Jail in November 2011 after allegedly raping an 18-year-old woman at his Prairieville home. The now-24-year-old was arraigned later on a charge of sexual battery, a lesser offense than the crime of simple rape he originally was accused of committing. In February 2012, Scott entered a plea of not guilty. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
The case will be heard by District Judge Jessie LeBlanc, who has waived Scott’s right to a jury trial at the request of the defense.
Bus drivers recruited
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish school system is pushing for more substitute bus drivers to staff routes for the upcoming school year.
Transportation Director Bill Samec said the district has about 30 substitute bus drivers to fill in for 290 full-time drivers,.
He says transportation department staff members leave the office to drive school buses when needed.
Samec says recruitment for substitutes is beginning now to enable interested drivers to get some driving time as part of their training.
Applications for the substitute positions close March 28.
Galliano hospital CEO retiring
GALLIANO — Lady of the Sea General Hospital CEO Don Werner will retire this fall after leading the Galliano hospital for nearly seven years.
Werner will officially step down Sept. 30 from the top post at the hospital.
Lady of the Sea Hospital Board Chairman Ronald Callais said the board voted to form a search committee for the hospital’s new chief executive officer. He said the board is prepared for a long-term search and will carefully consider candidates for the job over the next six to seven months.
Werner, who will be turning 69 this year, said it was time to retire to spend more time with his family.
Jennings man arrested
for theft of crawfish
JENNINGS — Police say a 44-year-old Jennings man was arrested after a crawfish farmer caught him stealing crawfish from his pond.
James Darrel Dubroc was arrested Sunday and booked with trespassing and theft of crawfish by the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Dubroc was arrested after the sheriff’s office received a call from a local crawfish farmer about a man spotted in his pond on U.S. 90 west of Jennings.
Dubroc is being held in the parish jail without bond.
LSU board to consider more hospital privatizations
BATON ROUGE — The LSU Board of Supervisors next week will decide whether to turn over management of university-run hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe to the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana.
LSU board member John George is vice chairman of the board of directors for the nonprofit research foundation that would take over the hospitals if the agreement is approved.
The university system is seeking to privatize nearly all of its public hospitals as a way to shrink costs after Gov. Bobby Jindal assigned much of a federal Medicaid funding cut to the LSU hospitals that care for the poor and uninsured.
Trial: Rig workers were
‘trying to get right’ on BP well
NEW ORLEANS — Workers on the drilling rig that exploded at the outset of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill catastrophe were “trying to get it right” as they monitored BP’s well for signs of trouble before the blast, an expert witness for the company that owned the rig testified Monday.
“They just misinterpreted what they were seeing,” well control expert Calvin Barnhill said on the 13th day of a trial over the disaster. “I don’t think anybody out there intentionally misinterpreted this situation.”
Barnhill was Transocean Ltd.’s first witness as the Swiss-based company, which leased the rig to BP PLC, started presenting its defense. Transocean president and CEO Steven Newman was scheduled to testify today.
2 Jindal 2012 top bills
before La Supreme Court
NEW ORLEANS — Lawyers for the state are defending two centerpieces of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 2012 legislative agenda — both found unconstitutional.
The Louisiana Supreme Court was to hear back-to-back arguments today about the expanded school voucher program and the plan to shift future rank-and-file state workers to a 401(k)-style retirement plan.
State District Judge Tim Kelley found that the voucher program unconstitutionally diverts public money to private and parochial schools. District Judge William Morvant found that the retirement plan needed a two-thirds majority rather than the simple majorities it got in both House and Senate.
The voucher program started in New Orleans and expanded statewide this year for lower-income students at schools with a state rating of C, D or F. Such schools make up 63 percent of Louisiana’s 1,303 public schools. Only 471 got an A or B last year.
The state is paying about $25 million in tuition and fees this year for 4,944 students at 117 schools. Names such as St. Alphonsus School, New Orleans Adventist Academy, Conquering Word Christian Academy, and New Orleans Jewish Day School make it clear that more than 100 of them are religious.
Kelley ruled Nov. 30 at the end of a three-day trial of consolidated lawsuits filed by Louisiana’s two largest teacher unions and the state’s school boards association. They challenged the legality of both the voucher bill and the annual education funding formula, which provided about $3.4 billion in basic state aid for schools and students.
Kelley found that both the law and the funding formula are unconstitutional for two reasons: They give private and parochial schools money required by the state constitution to go to public schools, and they divert local tax money from local school districts.
He didn’t rule on whether state taxes could be spent on private school tuition, as they were for the voucher program in New Orleans from 2008 through the last school year.
The judge also ruled it was unconstitutional to use the public school money for another program, which has not yet started but for which the department is registering students. It would let students take online and apprenticeship-type courses run by private companies and others outside of the public school system.
The retirement bill calls for employees hired after July 1, to get investment accounts rather than monthly retirement payments based on salary and years of employment. Unlike people with traditional 401(k) plans, Louisiana’s employees would never lose money for investment slumps.
The switch would apply to rank-and-file state employees and university staff — not to law enforcement or other hazardous-duty workers nor to public school employees.
Supporters say it would rein in the costs of retirement programs that are billions of dollars short of the money they’ll need to pay for all benefits promised. Opponents said the new investment account wouldn’t give state workers enough of a safety net.
Morvant’s ruling against the plan hinged on the Jindal administration’s use of an outside analyst who predicted big savings when the Legislature’s retirement analyst said the new plan could be more expensive than the present system.
A two-thirds majority vote is needed for bills that will increase costs.
Lawyers for the Jindal administration argued lawmakers could decide which analysis to use.
The Legislature’s chief actuary is constitutionally charged with reviewing legislation, Morvant said. “I know of no authority for the Legislature to receive the constitutionally-mandated note from the legislative (actuary) and say, ‘Great, we got it, now we can ignore it.’”
From The Associated Press.