KVCL Local News

A Louisiana nonprofit insurer that received nearly $66 million in taxpayer-funded loans is closing its doors. The Louisiana Department of Insurance announced Friday that the state’s co-op would be discontinuing its operations at the end of 2015. Louisiana’s is the second co-op created under Obamacare to close. According to the Department of Insurance, the Louisiana Health Cooperative will not be offering plans to consumers next year, but it will continue its coverage of the 17,000 Louisiana consumers currently receiving health insurance through the co-op. Many of those consumers purchased their plans with the Louisiana Health Cooperative on the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov. The Louisiana Health Cooperative was one of 23 started under Obamacare. Of those 23, only one cooperative has been reported profitable.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans say it is a "good time" to find a quality job, down three percentage points since June and the lowest since December 2014. In nearly 14 years, the percentage of Americans saying it is a "good time" to find a quality job has never reached a majority. Men are more upbeat than women about the job market, and employed adults more than those who are not employed. And while adults younger than 30 have a mostly positive view of the job market, this weakens by age group, with those aged 65 and older being the least positive. Despite perceptions of a healthier flow of jobs from their own employers and a dropping unemployment rate, these signs might not be enough for Americans to maintain a positive outlook on the U.S. job market. Still, the current outlook is more positive than it has been for most of the past several years.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries begins a drawdown Monday on Iatt Lake in Grant Parish for giant salvinia control. The previously scheduled drawdown was postponed due to high water levels on the Red River, preventing the lake from draining. State officials, in a news release last Wednesday, said the lake level will be lowered six feet below pool stage to allow drying of the lake bottom, concentrating giant salvinia and increasing the effectiveness of herbicide applications. The control structure will be closed no later than November 5 to allow the lake to refill. The drawdown is a part of the state's plan to control giant salvinia on Iatt Lake. Currently, an estimated 3,000 acres of giant salvinia coverage exists on the lake.

Governor Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that a Lithuania-based company will invest up to $265 million to convert an idled biofuels refinery in Grant Parish into an ammonia manufacturing facility. The project will create up to 85 new direct jobs at an average annual salary of $55,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 220 new indirect jobs for Grant Parish and the Central Louisiana region, for a total of more than 250 new jobs in the state. The company expects the project to generate 560 construction jobs. The company, Investimus Foris, is buying assets of the former Vanguard Synfuels refinery in Pollock as the site for its new facility. The plant will produce 500,000 tons of ammonia a year for use in agricultural applications. Construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2016 and is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2018.

A new report finds that speeding was a factor in at least 27 percent of Louisiana traffic fatalities in 2013. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that Louisiana had 703 traffic fatalities two years ago, with 193 related in part to speeding. More than 9,600 people nationally died from speeding-related crashes, which is a decrease of 7 percent from the previous year. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, said that the state's highway fatality rates have declined significantly since 2007, but speed continues to be a major factor in fatal crashes. The state had 997 traffic fatalities in 2007. The lack of seat belt use is also a key factor in speeding-related fatalities. Nationally, 49 percent of drivers were using seat belts in fatal crashes compared with 78 percent of drivers who were not speeding. In addition, drivers in the U.S. involved in fatal speeding crashes were alcohol-impaired more than twice as often as those not speeding, according to the report. LeBlanc also said young males age 15 to 24 were the most likely to be involved in accidents.

Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:

On Thursday, July 16, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Chelsie Miller, of Winnfield. Miller was charged with simple battery. On Monday, July 20, deputies arrested Spencer Jones, of Georgetown, for driving under suspension, expired registration, possession of a Schedule IV substance, and prohibited acts. Also arrested Monday was Jason McDaniel, of Winnfield, for possession of a stolen item over $750.00. On Tuesday, July 21, Dustin Clifton, of Montgomery, was arrested on two warrants for failure to appear. Also arrested Tuesday was Joseph Blake Allen, of Winnfield, on five unspecified warrants, possession of Schedule I and Schedule II substances, and prohibited acts.

The Winnfield Mayor and City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday, July 28, at 5:00 p.m. in Winnfield City Hall. The Council will meet to discuss Fire Department personnel.

The next meeting of the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board will be on Tuesday, August 11, 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