KVCL Local News

The number of West Nile virus cases this year in Louisiana has risen to 26. That's up from 24 earlier this month. Details released Friday by Louisiana's health department show that 16 of those cases involve serious infections of the brain or other parts of the nervous system. Eight infections caused the flu-like West Nile fever. Two persons who were infected with the virus showed no symptoms. There have been no deaths so far this year from the mosquito-borne virus.

The new owners of three rural Central Louisiana hospitals plan to invest in them and use local ties to provide better service. A group led by Allegiance Health Management recently completed the purchase of Avoyelles Hospital, Oakdale Community Hospital and Winn Parish Medical Center. Shreveport-based Allegiance is partnering with groups of local health care providers from Allen, Avoyelles and Winn parishes in the purchases. The former parent company of the hospitals filed for bankruptcy in May. The investors say they plan on putting money into the hospitals including hiring additional physicians and other personnel, increasing capacity and adding services to improve them and ensure they are the hospitals of choice for patients in the surrounding areas.

Governor John Bel Edwards is making his third trip to Washington, trying to build support for billions in federal disaster aid for Louisiana's flood recovery. The governor went to Washington on Wednesday and will return Friday. He will meet with members of Congress, making his pitch for a $2.8 billion recovery package. The governor and Louisiana's congressional delegation are trying to get flood aid inserted into a spending bill that must pass to avoid a government shutdown next week. It's unclear if they will be successful or have to wait until after the November elections for another chance at disaster relief. The mid-August flood killed 13 people and caused more than $8.7 billion in estimated damage.

Companies that make prescription painkillers and their allies have contributed more than $1 million to Louisiana candidates and hired an average of 40 lobbyists annually in the state since 2006 to push their policies. The findings are part of a joint investigation by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity. The investigation determined the organizations spent $880 million and hired an annual average of 1,350 lobbyists in state capitals around the country from 2006 through 2015. Lobbying by the organizations in Louisiana ranked fourth, when the lobbyist hires were considered against all lobbying registrations across states. The spending comes as Louisiana's use of opioids reached the sixth-highest in the country last year, with more than 4.8 million prescriptions issued, more than 1 prescription per capita.

Louisiana has been ranked as one of the least educated states in the nation. According to 24/7 Wall Street, Louisiana ranked the 47th most educated state in the nation. Only 23.2 percent of Louisiana adults hold a bachelor's degree, and 84.6 percent of adults have a high school diploma. The 2015 median household income was the seventh lowest in the nation, at $45,747.00, and the median earnings for four-year college graduates was $46, 376.00, which is the 23rd lowest in the nation. Massachusetts and Colorado ranked first and second as the most educated states in the country. Arkansas ranked 48th, Mississippi ranked 49th, and West Virginia ranked as the least educated state in the nation. According to the report, nearly 20 percent of Louisiana residents live in poverty.

Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:

On Thursday, September 22, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Lakisha Smith, of Natchitoches. Smith was arrested on a warrant for failure to appear. Also arrested Thursday was Billy Brown, of Goldonna, for speeding, switched plates, and possession of drug paraphenalia. Savannah Lasyone, of Winnfield, was arrested Thursday for disturbing the peace, simple battery, and remaining after being forbidden. Lee Brent Adley, of Winnfield, was arrested Thursday on a contempt warrant. On Friday, September 23, deputies arrested Russell Magee, Jr., of Dodson, for failure to appear and hit and run driving. Larry Wise, of Winnfield, was arrested Friday for failure to appear, theft of a firearm, and forgery.

LifeShare Blood Center will hold a blood drive at Calvin High School Thursday, September 29 from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. According to LifeShare, donors giving blood now through the end of the year will automatically be entered to win two tickets and pregame hospitality passes to the 2017 Super Bowl, along with the three-night stay in Houston for the event.

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, October 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