HOUMA — More homes in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes will be elevated thanks to nearly $10 million in new Federal Emergency Management Agency grant money.
Terrebonne Parish received $7.3 million, and Lafourche received $2.7 million in grant money that had been set aside to address damage caused during hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.
Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said hurricane money that was not used was reallocated to the parishes to help protect their communities from future loss.
Both parishes said they plan to use the money to elevate homes that have suffered repeated damage from flooding.
Man, woman shot in north Lafayette
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating the deaths of a man and woman at their home in northern Lafayette Parish.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Kip Judice said the man and woman both sustained gunshot wounds, but investigators had yet to determine whether the case was a murder-suicide or whether the victims were shot by someone else.
Judice said there was no apparent sign of forced entry into the home, and investigators had yet to determine if anything was missing.
He says the shooting was reported just after 4 p.m. Wednesday after a relative reported finding the bodies.
Terrebonne school headed to board
HOUMA — The Terrebonne Parish School Board is set to approve a spending plan in two weeks for a proposed property tax increase, giving parents and residents a chance for input.
The school board is asking voters to approve increasing the property tax it collects by 31 mills in a May 4 vote.
School officials argue the increase is necessary because Terrebonne schools collect the lowest property tax in Louisiana. If approved, the new tax rate would match the state average.
The board’s Finance Committee approved a plan Tuesday for how the board would spend the proposed increase.
The plan is broken into two sections — improvements to buildings and physical plants, and personnel and instructional programs.
in meth lab case
GONZALES — Authorities have arrested a 36-year-old Gonzales man accused of operating a methamphetamine lab in his home.
Scott Bateman was booked Tuesday with operating a clandestine lab, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Louisiana State Probation and Parole agents went to Bateman’s home on a routine visit because he had been placed on probation for possession of methamphetamine and simple burglary convictions.
During the visit, agents found what appeared to be a methamphetamine lab and drug paraphernalia. Agents then contacted Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics detectives.
St. John Parish
gets Isaac aid
BATON ROUGE — St. John the Baptist Parish will get a $1.5 million federal grant to reimburse the cost of repairing sewer and storm pumps damaged by slow-moving Hurricane Isaac.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday the money is part of the nearly $215.6 million in total public assistance recovery dollars approved for Louisiana since the Aug. 29 disaster declaration.
Isaac made landfall Aug. 28 and caused significant flooding in southeast Louisiana, hitting St. John and Plaquemines parishes especially hard. Sewer and storm pumps at 12 locations required repair after the hurricane.
NEW ORLEANS — A Covington woman has pleaded guilty to a federal charge that she embezzled health care funds.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans says 42-year-old Kelly Muller entered the plea Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval.
Prosecutors said Muller used her position as a bookkeeper and office manager for a Metairie dentist to embezzle almost $190,000 in health care benefit plan funds by adding unauthorized pay to her paycheck and by making personal and unauthorized credit card purchases.
Muller faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of $250,000, plus restitution of the embezzled money.
Lawmakers to discuss explosives investigation
BATON ROUGE — State lawmakers are getting an update on the removal of millions of pounds of improperly stored material at an explosives recycling company in northwest Louisiana.
Authorities estimate 10 million pounds of a military propellant was haphazardly stored at Explo Systems’s facility at Camp Minden, a Louisiana National Guard base east of Shreveport.
The House homeland security committee is scheduled to hear today from the Louisiana State Police about where things stand in removal and storage of the explosive material.
The nearby town of Doyline was evacuated for a week in December because of concerns that any ignition could set off a massive chain-reaction blast.
2 weak tornadoes hit parishes
HOUMA — The National Weather Service says two weak tornadoes touched down in Lafourche and Terrebonne Sunday night and Monday, resulting in minor damages.
A tornado struck Mathews at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday near U.S. 90 and La. 308. It was about 25 yards wide and had maximum winds of about 85 mph. It traveled for about two miles, damaging fencing at Central Lafourche High School, downing power poles and ripping the air conditioning unit out of a small building.
A second tornado, 35-yards-wide, hit just after 4:30 p.m. Monday in Houma. It traveled for about a mile and had winds of 95 mph. It blew down utility poles caused minor damage at Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center and at various businesses.
No one was hurt.
White Castle ferry returns to service
BATON ROUGE — The White Castle ferry returns to service today.
Service was originally scheduled to resume in mid-January after crews completed repairs to the ferry’s propeller shaft; however, damage to the vessel’s propulsion system was discovered while crews were testing the original repairs. Repairs to the propulsion system had to be made before the U.S. Coast Guard gave the Department of Transportation and Development clearance to resume service at the White Castle landing.
The ferry will operate from 4:30 to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Propeller shaft repairs and other problems kept the ferry out of service from June until Nov. 29. Without the ferry, drivers must go 22 miles to the Plaquemine ferry or 42 miles to the Sunshine Bridge.
From The Associated Press.