Louisiana is making an early repayment of the $370 million it borrowed this budget year to keep state agencies paying their bills on time. The early repayment will save the state $330,000 in interest costs. This is a minor amount compared to a multi-billion-dollar budget, but officials said Thursday it will send positive signals to Wall Street and credit rating agencies. But Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and Treasurer Ron Henson also acknowledge Louisiana may have to take out a similar loan again next year. Louisiana last took out a similar short-term loan nearly 30 years ago. Local governments regularly use the approach. The maneuver, state officials say, was needed because Louisiana has fewer reserves after years of budget raids.
Law enforcement agencies across the country are raising alarms about the increasing trend of finding heroin laced with an extremely lethal elephant tranquilizer called carfentanil, according to the Washington Post. The drug is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl, just two milligrams of which is lethal. Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin, and just a puff from re-sealing a plastic bag can be lethal, raising risks for first-responders. Though authorities are struggling to identify it in overdose cases—and sometimes not trying due to the health risks—carfentanil has been linked to dramatic increases in overdoses, which were already at alarming levels amid the nationwide opioid epidemic. The list of states reporting carfentanil-related deaths includes Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Virginia and Maryland.
Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to Louisiana businesses and residents affected by severe weather, tornadoes and flooding that occurred April 1 and April 2. According to the Small Business Administration, a disaster declaration issued by the SBA makes assistance available in Allen, Avoyelles, Evangeline, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides and Vernon parishes. Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to businesses of all sizes, most private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters whose property was damaged or destroyed. Disaster loan information and application forms are available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955. For more information, persons may visit www.sba.gov.
The body of a missing Bossier man was found late Saturday in Winn Parish. According to Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan, 31 year-old Cody Allen Bray, of Bossier Parish, was found dead around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Bray was last seen around 6:00 p.m. on April 17 at a friend’s house in Goldonna. A Winn Parish deputy received a call from two citizens from Calvin at 9:18 p.m. saying they had seen flyers on Bray’s disappearance and spotted his truck in an area off Fowler Road between Calvin and Goldonna. Deputies arrived at 9:30, Jordan said, and found Bray’s body wedged between one of the truck’s doors and a pine tree. A preliminary investigation suggests Bray experienced some sort of issues with the truck, got out to investigate, and the truck rolled backwards and he became caught between the truck and the tree. Jordan said that foul play is not suspected, and that the body has been sent for an autopsy.
Louisiana is slated to receive $8.1 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help combat the opioid epidemic. The grant is part of $485 million the federal government has set aside to help states with prevention, treatment and recovery services. The money was distributed to states based on their rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for opioid addiction treatment. According to research from the Institute for Healthcare Informatics, Louisiana has the sixth-highest opioid pain reliever prescription rate in the country over a year-long period through June 2016.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to scale back the state's sales tax holiday for hunting supplies. A proposal by Senator Barrow Peacock, of Bossier City, would keep state sales taxes from being charged on firearms, ammunition and archery supplies on the first weekend of September. The sales tax holiday would no longer apply to off-road vehicles, airboats, pirogues, animal feed and some other items that have been tax-free. A financial analysis says revenue lost to the state for the tax holiday this year is estimated at $900,000, with $400,000 coming from vehicle and boat sales that would be excluded. The Senate voted 22-6 for the bill Thursday evening, sending it to the House for debate.
Although Louisiana continues to face budget shortfalls, state legislative leaders aren't proposing to cut their own agencies. They're seeking to boost legislative spending next year to levels before they took any reductions. A panel of legislative leaders Wednesday backed a more than $98 million financing proposal for the House, Senate and other legislative agencies in the budget year that begins July 1. If supported by the full Legislature, that would be well above the more than $88 million budget approved for those agencies this year. Senate President John Alario says the Legislature needs to have the money to do its job properly. He says the House and Senate have absorbed the costs of three special sessions over the last two years while also coping with increased retirement and health costs.
Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:
On Wednesday, April 19, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Joel Heard, of Winnfield. Heard was charged with failure to appear. Also arrested on April 19 was Raven Goff, of Winnfield, for assisting escape and obstructing court orders. On Thursday, April 20, deputies arrested Christopher Thomas, of Dodson, for hit and run, careless operation, and driving under suspension. On Friday, April 21, Donald Ray Cheek, of Winnfield, was arrested for open container, resisting an officer, obstruction of a public roadway, and disturbing the peace. On Saturday, April 22, Kelvin Barnes, of Winnfield, was arrested for failure to appear, and Sidney Daniels, of Jonesboro, was arrested Monday, April 24, for failure to appear.
The Winn Parish Fire District #3 will hold its regular meeting Monday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m., at the Central Station located at 8920 Hwy. 501. Items of business include discussion of the 2016 audit.
The 2017 Annual DARE Fair is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, at the Central Louisiana Technical Community College campus. Activities will be from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. There will be a number of presentations, including a K-9 demo, the LLEGS trailer, Teen Challenge, the WPSO drone, and the Louisiana State Police robot. There will also be informational booths and giveaways, exhibits, outdoor skills, games and food, and fun for the entire family.
Everyone is invited to Market Fest 2017, scheduled for Saturday, May 6, at the Winn Farmer's Market. Activities will be from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., with vendors selling a variety of items, including crafts, plants, corn, jelly, cracklins, and more. There will be a bounce house for the kids, and lots of fun and food for the entire family.
Dodson High School will hold its annual alumni meeting Saturday, May 6, in the Dodson High School Cafeteria. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m., with a short business meeting at 11:00 a.m. Classes ending in the number "7" will be recognized. A covered dish lunch will be served at noon. All Dodson alumni are invited to bring their classmates and enjoy the day.The Ninth Annual NSU Louisiana High School Essay Contest is accepting submissions until May 19. The contest is open to all Louisiana students in grades 9-12, including private and home-school students. The 2017 Contest theme is "Louisiana Landscapes," and students are invited to write about a place in Louisiana that has a special meaning. All places in Louisiana are appropriate, including homes, schools, churches, neighborhoods, parks, historic sites, museums, waterways, landmarks and regions. Personal reflections and experiences are valid as part of the essay content, and essays may be also be in narrative form. For more information, send an email to email@example.com or call (318) 357-4332.
There will be a public meeting at the Winn Parish Tax Assessor's Office Wednesday, May 24, at 8:30 a.m. in Room 101 of the Winn Parish Courthouse. The meeting has been scheduled to adopt the 2017 Ad Valorem tax millage. Anyone with questions may contact the Winn Parish Tax Assessor's Office at 628-3267.The Winn Ranger District of the Kisatchie National Forest will host the 15th Annual Youth Fishing Derby Saturday, June 3, at the Bombing Range pond on U.S. Hwy. 84 West near the Gum Springs Recreation Area. Children age 2 through 12 are invited to participate, and each child that participates will receive a prize. The purpose of the Fishing Derby is to provide a fun, exciting, and educational fishing experience for area youth. 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 9, 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