BATON ROUGE — State elections officials removed about 52,000 inactive voters from Louisiana’s voter rolls after November’s presidential election.
State Elections Commissioner Angie Rogers said election laws require the purge of voter registration rolls once every two years or so, to remove the names of people who have not voted in the past two federal elections or any state or local race during that time period.
Rogers say the individuals have had notices sent to the address listed on voter rolls as part of a canvass process prior to the cancellation.
Lafayette board OKs safety items
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board has approved a school safety package designed to improve security on campuses with additional personnel, including a safety officer, school resource officer and dean of students.
On Wednesday, the board also discussed but did not vote on the use of new alarm systems and new security cameras.
The school safety package was recommended after a review of campuses that reported increases in discipline issues after a new discipline policy was started this school year.
Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau says the costs of the alarm systems and security cameras are still under review. She says the district does not have the money to pay for new alarms and security cameras at this time.
Home rule charter violators targeted
NEW IBERIA — The Iberia Parish Council has voted to add a fine of $500 or 30 days in jail for anyone who knowingly violates the home rule charter.
The new law approved Wednesday would penalize any employee or public official who refuses to perform a duty the charter requires, intentionally performs a duty that violates the charter, or allows an employee to intentionally refuse to perform a duty or perform a duty that violates the charter.
Parish Council President Roger Duncan said there were no specific violations the council had in mind for the new law.
Parish council legal adviser Dean Wattigny said that the law is not retroactive and will only apply to any future violations.
Council approves moving residents
BATON ROUGE — The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council has voted to relocate 44 Scotlandville homeowners away from a foul-smelling waste water treatment plant, putting an end to a 17-year battle with residents.
The council voted 8-4 Wednesday night to approve an estimated $6 million project to relocate the residents and build a natural buffer zone around the sewer plant.
A small group of Scotlandville residents who attended the meeting said they were cautiously optimistic about moving forward with the city-parish on the relocation plan after the council’s vote to approve creation of a buffer zone around the sewer plant.
Homes within the buffer zone will be demolished under the plan, which means residents will have no choice other than to relocate.
Teacher facing more sex charges
ALEXANDRIA — A Rapides Parish high school teacher, who was arrested last month on charges of having a sexual relationship with a student, now is facing nine additional charges.
Heather Michelle Cooksey, 27, was arrested Tuesday and later released on a $35,000 bond.
Rapides Parish sheriff’s deputies say Cooksey faces two counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, four counts of prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and a student, two counts of sexual battery by fondling and one count of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
Cooksey, an English teacher at Tioga High School, originally was arrested Dec. 19 on two counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
Hunter found after boat sinks in marsh
NEW ORLEANS — A hunter whose boat sank in marshland south of New Orleans was found by the Coast Guard and sheriff’s deputies several hours after his wife reported him missing.
The Coast Guard said the 64-year-old man started a brush fire that helped authorities locate him Wednesday in marshes on the edge of Lake Salvador.
The man had gone hunting Tuesday morning and was due back by nightfall, but his 15-foot aluminum boat got stuck in mud and sank that afternoon.
Man gets prison for shooting at Guard helicopter
ALEXANDRIA — A Sikes man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for shooting at a Louisiana Army National Guard helicopter during a drug surveillance operation.
U.S. District Judge Dee Drell on Wednesday sentenced 62-year-old Lamar Kelly to 41 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
In September, a jury convicted Kelly of charges he fired at the helicopter while it was helping state and local law-enforcement officers conduct an August 2010 aerial search of an area in Winn Parish where marijuana was suspected of being grown.
Nobody was injured in the shooting, and no bullet holes were found in the helicopter.
Former mayor’s arraignment delayed
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge has postponed an arraignment for former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on charges he accepted bribes and gratuities from city contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in work for the city.
Nagin was scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 31. On Wednesday, however, U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan moved Nagin’s arraignment to Feb. 20. Berrigan’s order doesn’t give a reason for the delay or say if it was requested by Nagin’s attorney or federal prosecutors.
A 21-count federal indictment last Friday accuses Nagin of accepting more than $200,000 in bribes, free loads of granite for a family business and trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and other places.
The charges against Nagin include bribery, wire fraud and filing false tax returns.
Trial set in lawsuit against state retirement plan
BATON ROUGE — A Baton Rouge judge is hearing arguments in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 401(k)-style retirement plan for future rank-and-file state workers.
The Retired State Employees Association of Louisiana claims the law is unconstitutional because it didn’t get a two-thirds vote in the state House of Representatives.
The trial before Judge William Morvant is Thursday. It’s expected to last all day.
The bill created an investment account similar to a 401(k) plan for state employees hired after July 1, 2013, instead of a monthly retirement payment based on salary and years of employment. It’s called a “cash balance” retirement plan.
Jindal’s office said the governor is confident the measure was constitutionally passed during the last legislative session. House Speaker Chuck Kleckley ruled the bill didn’t need a two-thirds vote.
‘Rex’ liquor seller says no infringement intended
NEW ORLEANS — An executive with a liquor distributor that brands its products with a name often associated with Mardi Gras says its trademark was registered without any intention of infringing on the trademarks of a famous New Orleans Carnival organization.
Last week, The Rex Organization filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Rex Spirits Inc. is unlawfully combining the Rex name with Mardi Gras images to market products under the name “King REX Spirits.”
In a written release responding to the lawsuit, Desi Ortiz of Rex Spirits says that the company considers its brand to be separate from that of The Rex Organization. Ortiz notes that the company provides a commodity while the historic Carnival group provides charitable nonprofit services.
A trial date for the lawsuit has not been set.
From The Associated Press.