seek trial delay
NEW ORLEANS — Two BP rig supervisors have asked a federal judge to postpone their trial on manslaughter charges in the April 2010 deaths of 11 workers.
Their trial is set to begin Feb. 5. In a court filing Tuesday, attorneys for BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine ask for more time to prepare. The defense lawyers say Justice Department prosecutors aren’t opposed to a delay.
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. didn’t immediately rule on their request for a late 2013 trial date.
Another judge has postponed a trial for former BP executive David Rainey, who was charged separately with withholding information from Congress about the severity of BP’s Gulf oil spill. That judge hasn’t set a new date for Rainey’s trial, which was scheduled to start Jan. 28.
Halfway there: Re-storing of explosives continues
DOYLINE — State police say that just over 3 million pounds of explosive propellant has been moved at the northwestern Louisiana industrial site where it was found to be improperly stored a couple of weeks ago.
That’s about half the roughly 6 million pounds that authorities said was found at the site of an explosives recycler at Camp Minden in Webster Parish.
The effort to properly separate quantities of the explosive and store it securely began more than a week ago. It was set to rev up again at sunrise Wednesday.
TV in bedrooms linked
to childhood obesity
BATON ROUGE — Researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center found a link between obesity and children having TV sets in their bedrooms.
The report, published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, found that children with TV sets in their bedrooms were likely to watch more TV, have more fat and a higher waist circumference than boys and girls who didn’t have TVs in their bedrooms. They were also three times more likely to have elevated cardiometabolic risk and elevated triglycerides.
The report was based on a yearlong study of nearly 370 Baton Rouge children, ranging in ages 5 to 18.
Amanda Staiano, a postdoctoral research fellow, said a bedroom TV may create additional disruption to healthy habits in children.
New Vernon school
will serve Fort Polk
FORT POLK — The Department of Defense is releasing more than $18 million to the Vernon Parish School Board for a school that will serve military families at Fort Polk.
Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office says the action announced Tuesday will allow construction to begin on the $20 million South Polk Elementary School. The school will serve 800 students in first- through fourth-grades. State and local governments are contributing to $2 million to the cost.
to locate in Houma
HOUMA — Schottel Inc., a St. Rose-based marine wholesale and service company, will build a new facility in Houma.
President Nils G. Moerkeseth told a meeting of the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority board on Tuesday the move would create six jobs with the possibility of more.
Moerkeseth said 14 workers are slated to transfer from the company’s St. Rose facility, but there is a chance that a few will not move.
He said the facility should be completed by the end of July.
Schottel specializes in service parts and repairs. It began working with tugboats and decided 10 years ago to focus on the off-shore industry.
La. man, company barred from preparing tax returns
BATON ROUGE — A federal judge has agreed to permanently bar a Louisiana tax preparer and his business from preparing tax returns for customers.
The Justice Department accused Larry Carnell Dixon Jr. and his company, Dixon’s Tax Service LLC, of fabricating and inflating business expense deductions on clients’ tax returns to fraudulently generate higher refunds. The department says Dixon’s alleged misconduct cost the federal government as much as $39 million.
Dixon, whose business has offices in Baton Rouge and Gonzales, consented to the civil injunction order without admitting any guilt.
U.S. District Judge James Brady in Baton Rouge signed the order last week.
Tulane prof gets grant
for meth ingredient study
NEW ORLEANS — A Tulane University faculty member has received a grant to study the possible effects of placing more severe restrictions on an ingredient found in cold and sinus medications.
The same ingredient is used to illegally produce methamphetamine.
Keith Finlay, an assistant professor of economics at Tulane, recently won the grant for more than $116,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He’ll use it to study whether more restrictions on the ingredient would reduce public health costs associated with meth production and use.
The ingredient is pseudoephedrine. Finlay’s research will involve the possible effects of quantity restrictions, electronic tracking or requiring a doctor’s prescription for remedies containing the ingredient.
Former La. governors
to speak at CABL meeting
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s four living former governors are gathering to talk about their combined 30 years in the state’s top leadership post.
Former Govs. Edwin Edwards, Buddy Roemer, Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco are speaking Wednesday at the annual meeting of the nonpartisan Council for a Better Louisiana. The luncheon is in honor of CABL’s 50th anniversary.
The organization says the event — which is sold out — will be the first time all four former governors speak together in a public setting.
State restocks False River with redear sunfish
NEW ROADS — The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is restocking the ailing False River with approximately 300 pounds of redear sunfish.
Mike Wood, director of inland fisheries for the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said replenishing the lake’s fish population with 300,000 redear sunfish will help the agency gauge just how well revitalization efforts are going.
False River has been in a state of decline the past 30 years due to excessive siltation, which over time has neutralized its spawning territories for fish and deteriorated its natural habitats.
Wood said the lake’s habitat deficiencies are to blame for the dramatic drop over the years in its chinquapin population.
Rule may shut Opelousas restaurant at 2 a.m.
OPELOUSAS — The Opelousas Board of Aldermen has agreed to change the rules for businesses seeking to sell liquor beyond the current closing time now allowed by a five-year old ordinance.
Bars are generally required to close between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., but an exception was carved out for businesses where the sale of alcohol accounts for less than 15 percent of gross revenue during those hours.
Stallions, which operates as a restaurant as well as a bar, has stayed open past 2 a.m. under the same exemption, arguing that cover charges at the door combined with food sales have pushed its alcohol sales below 15 percent of gross revenue.
The measure requires that cover charges be considered the same as alcohol sales.
Accreditation warning removed at Grambling State
GRAMBLING — Grambling State University’s accreditation warning has been lifted, one month after the state legislative auditor’s annual financial report for the school found no significant problems.
The university announced Tuesday that it had received notification from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that the six-month warning issued in June had been removed.
“I’m not surprised because I don’t think there were any other options since our own state authority found no findings, no cause, no reason for us to follow-up on anything. There’s nothing left to do but to keep up the good work,” Grambling State President Frank Pogue said in a statement.
The accreditation warning required the school to address issues related to financial aid and moveable property, such as computers and calculators.
Pogue said the university has worked to improve its accounting and finances. The school received a clean state audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, with the review saying issues of missing property and tax penalties had been substantially resolved by university management
Accreditation is a benchmark used to judge the worth of a school, reviewing governance, finance and integrity issues.
From The Associated Press.