Two men have been charged in connection with a double homicide that occurred in LaSalle Parish. According to a news release, 18 year-old Austin Dyess and 26 year-old Joshua Sant were booked into the LaSalle Parish Jail on Friday. Both were charged by the LaSalle Parish Sheriff's Office with two counts of second-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. They are accused in the deaths of 19 year-old Chelsey Copling and 26-year-old Demond Garner, who were reported missing from Tullos on Monday afternoon. An earlier release from the sheriff's office said the pair had left a Tullos home on Sunday night, walking to an unknown destination.
A Winnfield man was sentenced to almost six years in prison after his January guilty plea to one count of failure to register as a sex offender. According to U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley, 38 year-old Dexter Lavar Powell also was sentenced to five years of supervised release. Powell had traveled from Michigan to Louisiana between November 2013 and May 2014, eventually applying for and receiving a Louisiana identification card. Powell's card did not include a sex offender label as was required for him after a 2000 conviction in Michigan for the attempted kidnapping of a 9-month-old. Powell, who had started living and working in Winnfield in May 2014, was told to register at his new address. But he failed to do so, even after he pleaded guilty in March 2015 to felony cruelty to a juvenile in Winn Parish.
A bill that would require the teaching of cursive writing in public schools won approval Wednesday in the Louisiana Senate. The vote was 37-0. The measure, Senate Bill 275, goes to debate in the state House. Senator Beth Mizell, of Franklinton, has said cursive is needed so students can appreciate historical documents and carry distinctive signatures. Cursive, or script, was taught to public school students for generations. It has become less common amid increased pressures in the daily curriculum and technology. The requirement would take effect in August.
A national report released Tuesday said Louisiana is not well-prepared for a public health emergency, placing last in the nation. The 2016 National Health Security Preparedness Index from the Center for Disease Control found Louisiana is the least prepared state in the country. Louisiana scored 5.6 out of 10, below the national average of 6.7. Glen Mays led the study and says they looked at the response capabilities of government, emergency management, public health, and private sectors in each state. Louisiana is among a cluster of southern states below average, and with Governor Jon bel Edwards' recent announcement that the Department of Health and Hospitals will soon get hit with a $70 million budget cut, the state could fall farther behind.
A large percentage of Louisiana residents are struggling with gambling addiction. A study from WalletHub examined factors such as casinos per capita, gaming machines per capita, lottery sales and gambling-related arrests. It ranked Louisiana as the 11th most addicted state, behind Nevada, which ranked first. Mississippi ranked third and New Jersey ranked seventh. The study also found that Louisiana had the third highest percentage of adults with a gambling-related disorder. Gambling disorder is estimated to affect 2 percent of all Americans. Men with a gambling addiction acquire between $55,000 and $90,000 in debt, while a womenn average $15,000.
Proposed state budget cuts will result in fewer inspections of the retail food industry. The Department of Health and Hospitals is planning for a possible staff reduction that could include up to 16 sanitarian staff members. DHH Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto said the impact would be 20,700 fewer retail food inspections next year. Alletto says a decrease in routine inspections like this is likely to result in an increase in unsafe food handling practices which is likely to increase the number of citizens and visitors who are exposed to food borne illnesses. Lawmakers are considering ways to close a $750 million shortfall in the state budget year that begins July 1.
After much debate, Louisiana is moving close to adopting the Real ID law. The federal mandate would require another form of ID to board a plane or even enter a federal building, and has raised a lot of concern with lawmakers. Security checkpoints could soon be longer as more states usher in the Real ID law from the federal government. The act originated out of the 911 Commission as an extra layer of security to help fight terrorism. However, its adoption has been slow in many states, including Louisiana. House Bill 702, sponsored by Representative Jimmy Harris is the first step toward accepting the law. It was dealt a setback when Representative Mike Johnson added an amendment that would require a separate database to store Real ID information. State Office of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Karen St. Germain said that the option to opt-out of the program should be made to residents.
Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:
On Sunday, April 3, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Gary Pinder, of Montgomery. Pinder was charged with simple battery and aggravated assault. On Wednesday, April 6, deputies arrested Dale Keeny, of Quitman, on two warrants for failure to appear. On Thursday, April 7, Craig St. Cyr, an inmate of the Parish jail, was charged with introduction of contraband into a penal institution. On Friday, April 8, John Blake, Jr., of Winnfield, was arrested for simple assault, remaining on premises, disturbing the peace, and self mutilation by a prisoner. Also arrested Friday was Dennis King, of CCA, for battery of a corrections officer. On Saturday, April 9, David Weaver, of Saline, was arrested for false imprisonment and resisting an officer.
The Winn Farmer's Market will hold its next meeting Tuesday, May 3, at the Winn 4-H Office in the Winn Parish Courthouse. The meeting is scheduled from 12:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m., and those who plan to attend are asked to make a reservation by sending an email to email@example.com, or by calling 628-4528.The 2016 Downtown Garage Sale will be held Saturday, May 7, starting at 7:00 a.m. The sale will take place in the large parking area between The Pea Patch and the Winnfield Post Office, and some downtown merchants will also participate. Individuals, church groups, civic organizations, or school groups can set up and sell items or concessions. Early set up will be on Friday, May 6. Set up is free of charge, and large crowds are expected. For more information, contact Gail Shelton at 628-3560 or the Winn Chamber of Commerce at 628-4461. Everyone is invited to Market Fest 2016, sponsored by the Winn Farmer's Market Saturday, May 14. Activities will be from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the Farmer's Market, and everyone is invited to bring the entire family for a fun-filled day. There will be old-fashioned corn grinding, a bouncy house, a blender bike, local music, food, and arts, along with the North Louisiana Vintage Tractor Club and Winn Master Gardeners. There will also be downtown merchant booths, and all proceeds will benefit the Winn Farmer's Market. For more information, contact Donny Moon at 628-4528.
The Winn Ranger District of the Kisatchie National Forest will host the 14th Annual Youth Fishing Derby Saturday, June 11, at the Bombing Range Pond near the Gum Springs Recreation Area. Children age 2 through 12 are invited to participate, and the derby will provide a fun, exciting, and an educational fishing experience for area youth. Each child that attends the derby will leave with a prize. Donations are also needed, and persons making donations can make checks payable to the Winnfield Bass Club, and mail donations to the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Highway 84 West, Winnfield, LA, Attention Ginger Cummings. For more information, contact the Winn Ranger District at 628-4664.Congressman Ralph Abraham has announced satellite office hours for Central Louisiana parishes. Office hours for Winn Parish will be in the Winn Parish Police Jury meeting room at 119 West Main Street, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. Constituents are encouraged to visit the staff during these hours if they need help with any federal agency. Staff members are also available during business hours at the Central Louisiana District Office in Alexandria, which can be reached at 318-445-0818.
The next meeting of the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board will be on Tuesday, May 10, at 9:00 a.m., at the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement Office, at 602 North Fifth Street in Baton Rouge. The public is invited to attend this meeting, and assistance will be provided to those who need special accommodations in order to attend this meeting. For more information, persons may call 225.342.1500