A reward is being offered for information on 86 suspected arson fires that took place in Bienville and Jackson parishes from August 30 through October 21. The state Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Fire Marshalís Office, and the Bienville and Jackson Parish sheriff's offices are conducting the investigation. The fires began in the Castor community in Bienville Parish and progressed east through the Liberty Hill area and east to North Hodge in Jackson Parish. Investigators found that almost all of the fires took place on properties owned by Weyerhaeuser Industries. One arrest was made recently for three fires in the Jamestown and Castor communities, and another individual was arrested for six fires that took place in 2011. The Louisiana Forestry Association and Weyerhaeuser have put up a $4,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for these arsons. Anyone with information should call (225) 925-4500 or 855-452-5323 with information.
The Natchitoches Police Department is investigating the shooting death of 35-year-old Fredrick Sowell. NPD Captain Brad R. Walker said Saturday that a 911 call came in at 12:58 p.m. on November 21. The caller reported a shooting at Lakeview Apartments. Natchitoches police officers found Sowell in one of the bedrooms of the apartment with a gunshot wound to the face. Detectives and the coronerís office then arrived on scene. Fredrick Sowell was pronounced dead at the scene by the Natchitoches Parish Coronerís Office. The investigation is ongoing.
The Louisiana State Bond Commission approved $468 million for projects statewide and approved more than $2 million in savings at its November 19 meeting, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy. Among the individual projects approved include $10.5 million in Sales Tax Bonds for the Winn Parish Law Enforcement District, for the acquisition and construction of a detention center, including acquisition of equipment, fixtures, and furnishings.
Governor Bobby Jindal proposes to cut $150 million across agencies, tap into the state rainy day fund and use piecemeal financing to close a $487 million budget deficit. Public colleges will be shielded from cuts. The state health department, however, will have to shrink its state spending by $130 million. Jindal's top budget adviser Stafford Palmieri unveiled the broad overview Wednesday of the plan to rebalance the $25 billion budget. Lawmakers - who have to approve parts of the proposal before they can take effect - will consider the recommendations Friday. Most of the deficit emerged when Louisiana's income forecasting panel downgraded its projections for the current budget year, to account for declining oil prices and lower-than-expected business tax collections. Another gap is from last year, when the state overspent.
The Town of Tullos spent more money than it collected in each of the past four fiscal years, resulting in an operating loss totaling more than $564,000, according to an investigative audit released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera. Tullos Mayor Charles Newsom may have also violated state law when he appointed his mother-in-law to fill a vacancy on the Town Council. In addition, for over two years, he did not collect occupational license taxes required under a Town ordinance after Tullos business owners strongly opposed the license tax at a Town Council meeting. The Legislative Auditorís investigation was prompted by wide-ranging complaints received about Tullos. The Town was further cited in the report for paying an invoice totaling $735 for legal services provided to the former LaSalle Parish Tax Assessor.
Delinquent Louisiana taxpayers have one last chance to pay what they owe with reduced penalties and interest charges. The Louisiana revenue department announced that Louisiana's latest tax amnesty period continues through December 15. This is the third year in a row Louisiana is offering amnesty to those who haven't paid what they owe, and it will be the last amnesty allowed for a decade. State lawmakers authorized the amnesty periods to help acquire funds for the state's budget. The goal of this year's 30-day amnesty period is to raise $50 million. Those who agree to settle their back-owed tax debts will have to pay the full amount of delinquent taxes, 83 percent of the interest and 67 percent of the penalties due. Six-month installment plans are available.
Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:
On Wednesday, November 11, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Eugene Skains, II, of Goldonna. Skains was charged with remaining after being forbidden. Also arrested Wednesday was Damiene White, of Jonesboro, for speeding, flight from an officer, driving under suspension, reckless operation, and improper lane use. White was also charged with possession of synthetic marijuana with intent to distribute. On Friday, November 13, deputies arrested Ronald Tolbert, of Joyce, for simple battery. Carolyn Lowery, of Winnfield, was arrested Friday on a warrant for failure to appear.
LifeShare Blood Center will hold a blood drive at Wal-Mart in Natchitoches Friday, November 27, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. There will also be a blood drive at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and at Wal-Mart in Winnfield Saturday, November 28, from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Everyone is asked to make a donation.
The Winnfield Recreation Department is holding registration for its annual Youth Basketball program. Registration continues now through Monday, November 30. The registration fee is $40.00 per child, and boys and girls age 4 through 15 are eligible. Late registration will be December 1 through December 4, with a $10.00 late fee. Tryouts will be Saturday, December 5. For more information, call 628-3413.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a community meeting for the American Creosote Works Superfund site in Winnfield. The meeting will be held Thursday, December 3, at the Winn Parish Library at 200 North St. John Street in Winnfield. The meeting is scheduled from 5:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.. The informal meeting will provide the community with an update on the EPA's cleanup activities, and give people an opportunity to ask questions.The Dugdemona High-Twelve Club will hold it's annual Gumbo Luncheon on Friday, December 4. Gumbo will be served from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at Eastern Star Lodge on Beville Street. The lunch includes chicken and sausage gumbo over rice, along with crackers, coleslaw, and cake. Dine-in or take-out orders will be available, and tea will be available to those who dine in. Tickets may be purchased from any High Twelve member. For more information, contact Gary Foster at 318-342-2370.
The next meeting of the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board will be on Tuesday, December 8, 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