Average retail gasoline prices in Louisiana have fallen 2.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.10 a gallon Sunday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.7 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.24 a gallon, according to LouisianaGasPrices.com. Including the change in gas prices in Louisiana during the past week, prices Sunday were 2.3 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 13.3 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 3.9 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 10.4 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.
A Jindal cabinet secretary said Thursday that JPMorgan Chase waited months before alerting the administration about a computer hacking incident that impacts 13,500 Louisiana residents. State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield said he is reserving judgment but wants to know why there was a delay. He said JPMorgan Chase & Co. learned about the breach in September and phoned his office in the last week. Bank officials alerted the Jindal administration about the security breach just before noon Wednesday. A followup call later in the afternoon revealed more details. The state Division of Administration issued a press release Wednesday night. In Louisiana, the breach impacted thousands who logged onto the Internet between July and September 2013 to register pre-loaded debit cards for income tax refunds, child support or unemployment benefits.
Louisiana authorities say computer hackers may have gained access to the personal information of thousands of residents who use debit cards issued by JPMorgan Chase for three state agencies. Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said in a news release Wednesday that the breach involves the Department of Revenue, Workforce Commission and Department of Children and Family Services. Nichols said the information may have been compromised for about 6,000 recipients of pre-loaded debit cards for state income tax refunds; 5,300 child support debit cardholders and 2,200 residents receiving unemployment benefits. Nichols said cardholders who registered their cards on the JPMorgan UCard Center website and performed certain actions online between July and September are affected.
Governor Bobby Jindal sharply criticized President Barack Obama and Democratic members of Congress Tuesday for pushing a policy of "energy austerity" that he said directly contradicts the current U.S. energy boom. During a speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Jindal delivered an enthusiastic endorsement of the Keystone XL pipeline and lashed out at those he said were standing in the way of American entrepreneurs interested in expanding the country's ability to produce affordable and available energy. Jindal said opposition to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is based on "an irrational liberal ideology that blindly and unscientifically opposes all forms of energy that they do not deem to be sufficiently 'green' or 'renewable.'" Jindal also criticized the news media and environmental groups for painting Republicans as heartless science-deniers who unflinchingly support the oil and gas industry at the expense of clean energy alternatives.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue has failed to make sure oil and gas companies pay everything they owe in severance taxes, according to an audit released Monday. The tax revenue is one of the state's larger sources of financing for operations, and Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office said the state could be missing millions it is owed from companies that remove oil and gas from the state. The audit said that the Department of Revenue in 2010 turned off an automated program that looked for companies that didn't file severance tax returns and does only a limited review to make sure self-reported data used to compute taxes owed are accurate. The department's review of severance tax refund requests also is insufficient, allowing companies to get more refunded to them than what is owed, the audit says. The Department of Revenue agreed with auditors' findings and said it is working on improved tax review software to ensure that severance taxes are properly collected.
Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:
On Wednesday, November 27, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Desiree Mitchell, of Winnfield. Mitchell was charged with criminal trespassing and attempted theft under $500.00. On Sunday, December 1, deputies arrested Franklin Blankenship, of Ferriday, for third-offense DWI and careless operation with an accident. On Monday, December 2, Taquez McKinney, of Winnfield, was arrested for distribution of marijuana. Also arrested Monday was Kenneth Nash, of Winnfield, for possession of crack cocaine. On Tuesday, December 3, Dustin Baker, of Dodson, was arrested and charged with first-offense DWI. Also arrested Tuesday was Jeromy Withers, of Kentucky, for probation violation.
The Winnfield Kiwanis Christmas Parade has been postponed to a later date due to weather conditions Saturday. According to Jenny Hodge of the Winnfield Kiwanis Club, the date and time of the Christmas Parade will be announced this week.
Drive-thru flu shots will be offered by the Winn Parish Health Unit at 301 West Main Street on Friday, December 20, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Everyone is asked to wear a short-sleeve shirt and bring their Medicare or Medicaid card if available. There will be a maximum $10.00 fee, although most will have no out-of-pocket expense. Children age 12 and under will be seen in the Health Unit.
The Winnfield and Winn Parish Fire Departments and the Louisiana Fire Marshall's office are offering free smoke detectors to the general public. Two smoke detectors are available free of charge to each household, and free installation is also available. Anyone who would like to receive a free detector may contact the Winnfield Fire Department at 628-3923, or the Winn Parish Fire Department at 628-1230. The Timbermen Fund is accepting donations for Toys For Kids, a program that provides Christmas gifts to needy children in Winn Parish. Large or small contributions will be accepted, and persons can mail donations to Toys For Kids, P.O. Box 891, Winnfield, LA 71483. Donations may also be dropped off at the Louisiana Association of Timbermen at 113 East Main Street. Anyone with questions may call 628-6730.
The Juanita Pharr Cancer Support Group meets on the first Friday of each month at 12:00 noon for a dutch treat meeting. All cancer survivors and caretakers are invited. There is a different meeting place each month, and persons may contact Maxine Godman for more information at 628-3858.