BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal has met for the first time with the families displaced since August by a massive sinkhole in Assumption Parish.
Jindal visited Tuesday with residents and local officials in the Bayou Corne area, a sparsely populated swampland about 40 miles south of Baton Rouge.
Scientists say the 12-acre sinkhole formed after the collapse of an underground salt cavern operated by Houston-based Texas Brine.
About 350 people living in the area have been under an evacuation order for more than seven months. Texas Brine officials say they were beginning to contact residents Monday to discuss buyouts and settlement offers.
Lafayette sheriff considers forming jail committee
LAFAYETTE — Sheriff Mike Neustrom said overcrowding at Lafayette’s jail is under control, but that he supports forming a committee to track issues there in case things change.
Neustrom met Tuesday with police officials, judges, lawyers, even school officials to weigh the merits of starting a local Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee.
The sheriff said the committee’s comments would factor into the center’s plans for growth.
Neustrom said complaints about jail overcrowding have been an issue before, but the center’s population has been under better control in recent years.
The facility has 954 beds. As of Tuesday afternoon, its population was 857 inmates. Of them, 480 inmates were awaiting trial.
Vinton gets new warning system
VINTON — The town of Vinton has installed a new siren warning system to alert residents to take action in emergencies.
Fire Chief Jerry Merchant said the two sirens can be heard throughout the town when they go off.
Merchant says the purpose of the sirens is to warn residents in the event of a hazardous materials release, inclement weather and other emergencies.
Merchant says Vinton is the first in the parish to have a siren equipped with the capability to send out a warning of severe weather.
Vinton’s emergency system is also the only one in the parish equipped to transmit voice messages.
New Iberia man arrested in child porn case
NEW IBERIA — State police say a 60-year-old New Iberia man has been arrested for possessing and distributing child pornography.
Troopers say Paul Smith was arrested Monday at his home where detectives said they found digitally stored pornographic images of children along with several movies that depicted child pornography.
Smith was booked into the Iberia Parish Jail on one count each of possession of child pornography and distribution of child porn.
5 N.O. men cited
for fishing violations
BATON ROUGE — Five New Orleans men have been cited for alleged fishing violations in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries cited the men — Nam Truong, 82, Nam Nguyen, 52, Hung Tran, 55, Hang Nguyen, 51, and Son Pham, 41, — for violating highly migratory species regulations in the Gulf.
State wildlife and fisheries agents boarded the vessel, The Blue Fin, when it returned Tuesday to Dulac after getting a tip the crew was illegally fishing with live bait. Agents found J-hooks, hand lines and three places to hold live bait. The violations bring up to $50,000 in fines, loss of permits for up to a year and loss of catch.
Agents seized 2,861 pounds of yellowfin tuna and 623 pounds of swordfish, wahoo and escolar.
Lafayette council defers amnesty vote
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette City-Parish Council has deferred a vote on an amnesty program for delinquent parking and traffic camera tickets.
The amnesty measure would have given drivers until April 30 to pay nearly 29,000 past-due parking and traffic camera tickets before the start of a tougher collection policy that calls for lawsuits to recover the unpaid fines.
The council voted unanimously Tuesday to hold off moving forward on the amnesty program over questions about whether the private contractor overseeing the automated traffic camera enforcement program, Redflex Traffic Systems, would share in revenue from any past-due fines that city-parish government won in court.
Under its contract, Redflex receives 40 percent of the fine for any traffic camera tickets paid on time and city-parish government receives 60 percent.
VILLE PLATTE — A 36-year-old Ville Platte man has been arrested on two counts of Medicaid fraud.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office said in news release Tuesday that Brady P. Hudspeth faces up to five years in prison and fines up to $20,000 on each count.
Hudspeth was arrested Thursday by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
From The Associated Press.
Officials say he is a former mental health counselor intern who is accused of submitting false time sheets to the New Orleans office, where he worked.