KVCL Local News

40 percent of people in Louisiana struggle to make ends meet, according to an independent research report. This is nearly double the number of people in the state who are considered below the federal poverty level. The report sought to estimate the average costs of necessities such as food, housing, health care and transportation in a given area. For a family of four in Louisiana, the annual average was $42,444. This amount is significantly higher than the federal poverty level of $23,550 for a family of four, which explains the gulf between what the federal government defines as "poor" and the number of people the report identifies as struggling to get by financially. Government assistance programs typically are available to people above the federal poverty level, but this and wages are often not enough. A major goal of the report was to spark solutions to moving people who are below the threshold to a position of stability. The full report can be viewed at uwcl.org.

Eight years of state budget cuts have led to some student turn-offs to public higher education in Louisiana. Enrollment has dropped about 10,000 students in five years — 225,206 in 2010 to 215,200 in 2015. which is a loss of 4.4 percent. Schools are increasingly reliant on tuition and fees for revenue, and many have cut costs through eliminating programs. Higher tuition for fewer options means less accessibility for potential students. The Southern system, the smallest system in the state, saw the biggest decrease, losing 958 students or 6.8 percent in five years. It has more than 13,000 students in four schools, down from 14,019 in 2010. According to CollegeBoard, average tuition and fees for in-state schools went from $4,733 in 2010-11 to $7,871 in 2015-16, a 66-percent increase in tuition and fees. Schools in the technical college system saw tuition increases for several consecutive years. This coming school year will be the first time since 2008 that technical college students will not see an increase. From 2010 to 2015, the system dropped about 10 percent, losing 7,373 students.

Authorities in Louisiana are searching for three inmates who escaped from a detention center. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office said the inmates escaped from Dorm B of the parish's detention center after 10:00 p.m. Saturday, and then jumped over two rolls of razor-wire fence. The escapees should be considered dangerous, and extreme caution should be used if they are seen. The escapees are 34 year-old Willie E. Ethridge, 24 year-old Michael Elliot, and 35 year-old Walshea Mitchell. Ethridge was imprisoned on one count of attempted second-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery. Elliot was serving time for illegal possession of stolen things and theft of a motor vehicle, Mitchell was serving time for armed robbery with a weapon and attempted armed robbery.

Louisiana’s congressional delegation is working on legislation for additional funding to supplement recovery efforts from the historic flooding. U.S. Senator David Vitter said Thursday he and the other members of the delegation are gathering the facts and figures that would support a request for billions of extra dollars beyond the federal disaster assistance available when the president declares an emergency under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The delegation’s bill for additional recovery money – similar to measures approved for Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy – will be filed in a few weeks, according to Vitter.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Office of State Parks have teamed up to offer three lottery deer hunts on a tract in the north-central part of the state. Hunters may apply for the lottery until September 16. Coochie Brake State Park will be open October 21-23 for archery hunting, December 2-4 for firearm hunting and January 20-22 for primitive-firearm hunting. Five hunters will be selected for each hunt. Application forms are available at www.wlf.louisiana.gov, and a $5.00 administrative fee must accompany each application. Selected hunters will be charged an additional $25.00 for a State Park-issued permit. They will be sent payment information, permits and maps from the Office of State Parks. Coochie Brake, a 700-acre tract in Winn Parish, ranked 10th in the state last year for deer harvests.

Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:

On Monday, August 22, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Blake Leffel, of Grayson. Leffel was charged with possession of a Schedule I CDS. On Tuesday, August 23, deputies arrested Jeffery Hamilton, Jr., of Winnfield, on two warrants for failure to appear, Kaleb Johnson, of Winn Correctional Center, for aggravated battery, and John Duke, of Winn Correctional Center for battery of a correctional officer. Also arrested Tuesday was Jennifer Jacquneaux, of Lafayette, for second-offense DWI, possession of marijuana, and open container. Taquez McKinney, of Winnfield, was arrested Tuesday on two warrants for failure to appear.

The 27th Annual Saline Creek Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 3, in Goldonna. Activities start with a parade at 10:00 a.m., followed by the announcement of Beauty Pageant winners. There will be live music at 11:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., a Treasure Hunt throughout the day, along with food, arts and crafts vendors, a cake walk, and a water slide and jump house for the kids. Everyone is invited for a day of family fun. For booth space or more information, contact Verna Bedgood at 727-8770.

A public hearing of the Winn Parish School Board will be held in the School Board meeting room at 304 East Court Street in Winnfield on Tuesday, September 6, at 5:30 p.m. The Board will consider levying additional or increased millage rates without further voter approval, or adopting the adjusted millage rates after reassessment, and rolling forward to rates not to exceed the prior year's maximum.

The Winnfield Recreation Department is holding registration for Pee Wee Flag Football now until Friday, September 9. The registration fee is $40.00 per child, and boys and girls age 4 through 12 are eligible. Tryouts will be Saturday, September 10, at the Grove Street Recreation Center on Field #2. Adult Flag Football registration is also underway, with a registration fee of $150.00 per team or $10.00 per team member. Fees must be paid at the Grove Street Recreation Center, and men and women ages 18 through 50 qualify for the program. For more information, contact Anthony Hall at 628-3413.

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, September 13, 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