Local News

Biden Plan Would More than Double Minimum Wage in Louisiana

Alexandria business owner Freddie Price has been closely watching Washington D.C. as of late. He has been relying on federal aid to prevent him from having to shut down his IT company, Dempsey Business Systems of Louisiana, and layoff his four employees.

“It has been nerve racking in the sense that each day we try to do the best we can to keep our business going,” said Price.

Price kept a close eye on President-Elect Joe Biden’s announcement of a $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package on Thursday night. So, when Biden announced he wants to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, it caught his attention.

“Probably will work but all small business owners really have to take a good look at that because we don’t want to be in a position where we can’t continue to operate and pay the bills,” said Price.

Biden’s plan would more than double the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, the first increase since 2009. Currently Louisiana doesn’t have a state minimum wage, so the state uses the federal minimum. Recently, Gov. John Bel Edwards pushed to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9, but the majority Republican legislature rejected it.

“I’m not in support of that,” said State Rep. Mike Johnson. “Not because I’m not sympathetic to people that work hourly rates. The reality of it is I think it’s going to have detrimental effect on small business.”

However, for State Rep. Johnson – he has no say. If Congress passes it, Louisiana along with the rest of the country will have to raise it. Nonetheless, it will be a tough sale for Republicans in Congress like it was for Louisiana’s majority Republican state legislature.

“They are either going to have to go up on prices which is difficult with the consumer environment right now,” said State Rep. Johnson. “They are going to have to lay off some of their employees, or they are going to have to cut hours. None of those are a benefit to the people the president says he is trying to help.”

But with Biden starting his administration with a slim majority in the House and Senate–the president-elect is pushing forward with the plan.

“But I think it’s in the right direction for sure,” said Price. “We need to have our employees have a livable wage.”

https://www.kalb.com/2021/01/16/biden-plan-would-more-than-double-minimum-wage-in-louisiana/

Gov. John Bel Edwards to Attend Inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden

Gov. John Bel Edwards will be attending the inauguration of President and Vice-President elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

The announcement was made Monday.

In a social media post, Governor Edwards said:

“I am traveling to Washington D.C., and will attend the inauguration this week representing the state of Louisiana at the ceremonial transition of power from one administration to the next.”

“This ceremony will mark a chance for a fresh start, new energy and bold leadership to overcome the many significant challenges facing our country.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards to attend inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden

Multi-State Police Chase Ends With Man Behind Bars

A man who led Harrison County deputies on a multi-state chase that shutdown Interstate 20 early Monday is behind bars.

Texas deputies received a call around 11:55 p.m. Sunday of reports of Caddo Parish deputies chasing Wesley Pearson, 35, of Shreveport, in a stolen vehicle on I-20 when he crossed into Texas.

Harrison County deputies and Texas troopers responded. Texas troopers deployed spikes on the interstate, which brought the vehicle to a stop near exit 603.

Deputies said Pearson refused to comply with commands, which led into a standoff that shutdown the interstate briefly. A distraction device was used and Pearson was arrested.

Pearson was transported to the Harrison County Jail and charged with unauthorized use of motor vehicle, evading arrest with a vehicle, failure to identify fugitive from justice, resisting arrest. Pearson also had an active aggravated robbery warrant in Minden.

https://www.ktbs.com/news/multi-state-police-chase-ends-with-man-behind-bars/article_b6fd39a4-599f-11eb-b64e-43b8b9f3ba3f.html

Beauregard Parish Police Jury Announce Final Pass for Hurricane Debris Pick-Up

The attached letter from the Beauregard Parish Police Jury announces the beginning of the final pass on Parish Roads that will begin on Monday, for most of the Parish. The graph divides the Parish into Road Districts for residents who aren’t sure which District they fall under.

Over the course of about three and a half months, the contracted debris clean up company has removed about 650,000 cubic yards of debris from public rights-of-way.

If you live on a Parish road, please move any remaining hurricane debris into the right of way so it can be removed during this final pass, following the requests in the letter from the Police Jury.

Contact information for the Beauregard Parish Police Jury:

Beauregard Parish Police Jury

201 W 2nd Street

DeRidder, LA 70634

E-mail: sor@beauparish.org Phone: (337) 463-7019

http://www.westcentralsbest.com/todays_country_1057/news/beauregard-parish-police-jury-announce-final-pass-for-hurricane-debris-pick-up/article_061b06fc-576f-11eb-81d9-5350be2e326a.html

IRS pushes start of 2021 tax season as online filing opens

 Because of the pandemic and stimulus payments, the Internal Revenue Service will not start accepting federal tax returns until Feb. 12.

The IRS announced the change, which shifts the start of tax season about a month later than usual, on Friday.

However, if you want to get a jump on things, the IRS’ Free File is open. The government agency works with private companies to help Americans who make $72,000 or less per year prepare and file their taxes.

Even though the service is free, a government audit found that 14 million people ended up paying for their 2019 filing. The IRS says it has tried to make it easier for people to file and find their free resources.

For those that do take advantage of Free File or use other tax software, any taxes filed online before Feb. 12 will not be given to the IRS until that date.

To speed refunds, the IRS is urging taxpayers to file electronically with direct deposit as soon as possible. The deadline for filing remains April 15.

https://www.kalb.com/2021/01/17/irs-pushes-start-of-2021-tax-season-as-online-filing-opens/

Missing San Augustine Man Found Safe on CR 202 Days After Wrecked Vehicle Located

 The San Augustine man who was reported missing on Thursday was found safe on County Road 202 Saturday, according to the San Augustine County Sheriff’s Office.

A truck driver found Smith walking on CR 202 in northwest San Augustine County at about noon Saturday, the press release stated. EMS personnel took him to St. Augustine CHI St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital to be evaluated by the emergency room staff.

“The family and San Augustine Police Department would like to thank everyone for the help in locating Antwone,” the press release stated.

According to a previous KTRE story, the San Augustine Police Department received a call to investigate a report of a missing person at about 3 a.m. Thursday.

Smith’s girlfriend stated she had last seen Smith in the early hours of January 13 at their home.

Over the course of their preliminary investigation, police say it was discovered that their vehicle, a 2012 white Chrysler Town and Country van, was involved in a crash on FM 711, approximately 4 miles north of San Augustine.

The crash was reported to emergency dispatch around 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday. It is believed that Smith was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. There was no one located at scene of the crash or in the immediate area.

https://www.ktre.com/2021/01/16/missing-san-augustine-man-found-safe-cr-days-after-wrecked-vehicle-located/

Three Members of Sabine County Volunteer Fire Department Killed in a Crash

They’re in shock and mourning in Sabine County after three members of a volunteer fire department were killed in a crash there on Saturday evening. Two of them were a husband and wife who were the parents of three children.

Daily News & More is reporting that it happened at about 7:00 on Highway 21 in Pendleton Harbor, a community in the northeast portion of the county on the western shore of Toledo Bend Reservoir. The three firefighters were in a passenger vehicle and the accident did not involve a fire department call.

Friends and family have identified two of the deceased as husband and wife Jason and Vanessa Davis, ages 38 and 28, and DPS says the third person who died was Ralph Hill, age 48, of Hemphill.

According to DPS Sergeant David Hendry, 44-year-old Curtis Harrison, of Hemphill, was driving a 2021 Toyota passenger car and he failed to yield right-of-way when leaving a private driveway. Hendry said Harrison pulled out in front of an eastbound 2010 GMC pickup truck which struck the Toyota, and then went into the westbound lane and collided with a 2016 Chevrolet pickup truck that was driven by Vanessa Davis, and occupied by Jason Davis and Ralph Hill.

The Davis couple and Hill were all pronounced dead at the scene, while Harrison was flown by a medical helicopter to the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport for treatment of critical injuries.

Sergeant Hendry said the driver and passenger in the Chevrolet truck were not injured, and their identities were not immediately available.

Several agencies worked the scene, including emergency responders who came in from Sabine Parish to assist.

The Pendleton Harbor Fire Department has released a statement which says “Tonight we come and ask for prayers for our department. Tonight a tone dropped for a 3 car accident, never did we think it would be one of our own. We lost 3 members tonight. Our assistant chief lost his brother also. Please keep all of our families in your prayers.”

*A GoFundMe account has been established to assist with funeral expenses for the family of Jason & Vanessa Davis: https://www.gofundme.com/f/jason-vanessa-davis-funeral-expenses?fbclid=IwAR3OdIIZ5OCoIQIy37aSgQ9GR5LnDiMrhAOFFZNgmSA62R2nevWIogmSnVA

https://www.kjas.com/news/local_news/article_a62e80b0-58c8-11eb-9d13-eff7b815f802.html

1 Burglary Suspect Fatally Shot, 1 Taken Into Custody by Cherokee County Deputy

One suspect was shot and another taken into custody after an incident east of Rusk in the Atoy community Thursday night.

Cherokee County Sheriff Brent Dickson said that the incident happened at 6:45 p.m. today at a property off 343 and FM 851.

A deputy was doing a drive-by check on a property at the owner’s request, due to recent break-ins in the area, Dickson said. When the deputy approached the property, he spotted a vehicle and two people there. The deputy confronted the two and during the exchange, the deputy shot one suspect, who died. He took the other suspect into custody.

Texas Rangers are at the scene investigating now, Dickson said.

There will be a press conference at the sheriff’s office Friday morning to give more details on the incident. Stay with KLTV and KLTV.com for updates.

https://www.kltv.com/2021/01/15/burglary-suspect-fatally-shot-taken-into-custody-by-cherokee-county-deputy/

Information Sought on Dog Lost During 18-Wheeler Crash in DeSoto

DeSoto Parish Animal Services is asking the public to be on the lookout for a white pit bull that escaped Wednesday morning when its owner crashed his 18-wheeler on U.S. Highway 84 in the Stanley area.
The truck driver was flown from the scene to a Shreveport hospital for treatment of what was later described as moderate injuries. The highway was partially closed for most of the day.
His dog escaped unharmed from the accident site near Natural Gas Road.
According to a social media post by animal services, the dog is “certainly traumatized and in unfamiliar territory.”
Animal services officers tracked the female pit for 5 miles but could not get close enough to catch her. The family said the dog is trained to be protective.
“She is definitely his baby,” the post states.
The dog’s last whereabouts were on the utility high lines west of state Highway 191 and Highway 84 close to Logansport.
DeSoto Animal Services officers ask that any hunters or property owners in the area with game cameras to check them for any clues to the dog’s direction or whereabouts. They also ask for help from any drone owner who may be willing to volunteer to search from above.
To report any sightings of the dog, call (318) 871-2900.

Letlow’s Widow Enters Race for Louisiana Congressional Seat

The widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, who died from complications related to COVID-19 before he could take office, declared Thursday that she is entering the race to fill the Louisiana congressional vacancy left by her husband’s death.

Julia Barnhill Letlow, a Republican who lives in Richland Parish, announced her campaign launch in a statement and a radio interview ahead of next week’s candidate signup period for the March 20 election for the 5th District seat representing central and northeastern Louisiana.

“Everything in my life and in my marriage has prepared me for this moment. My motivation is the passion Luke and I both shared: to better this region that we called home and to leave it a better place for our children and future generations,” she said in the statement.

She added: “I am running to continue the mission Luke started — to stand up for our Christian values, to fight for our rural agricultural communities and to deliver real results to move our state forward.”

Her husband died Dec. 29 at the age of 41 only days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office, cutting short what appeared to be a promising political future and leaving behind a family that includes two young children. Republican backers encouraged Julia Letlow to run for the position, and she appears to be lining up the support that had previously gone to Luke Letlow.

Julia Letlow, who has a Ph.D. in communication, works at the University of Louisiana at Monroe as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach, among several jobs she’s held in higher education. She’s worked on political campaigns in north Louisiana and was an active participant in her husband’s campaign, but she’s a newcomer to running for office herself.

“During Luke’s campaign for Congress last year, Luke and I traveled to every corner of Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District — from Bastrop to Bunkie to Bogalusa — and all points between,” Julia Letlow said. “I met many of the hardworking people of the district and listened to the dreams and ideas they have for our district.”

Luke Letlow, who had no known underlying health conditions that put him at greater risk of death from COVID-19, had been elected in a December runoff election. He was going to fill the seat vacated by his boss, Republican Ralph Abraham. He had been Abraham’s chief of staff and ran with Abraham’s backing for the job.

At least two other candidates who ran for the seat in last year’s election have announced they intend to compete for the job again: Sandra “Candy” Christophe, an Alexandria Democrat who finished third in the race, and Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican.

The candidate qualifying period runs from Jan. 20 through 22.

After her announcement Thursday, Julia Letlow quickly picked up an endorsement from Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson Parish, a top-ranking House Republican who announced his backing on Twitter. He described Luke Letlow’s death as “nothing short of devastating.”

“Julia shares the same commitment to public service and I can’t think of anyone better to carry on Luke’s legacy in representing Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District,” Scalise wrote.

Louisiana’s March 20 election will have two congressional races on the ballot. In addition to the 5th District competition, voters will be choosing someone to fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat after Democrat Cedric Richmond left the job to work for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

If no candidate tops 50% of the vote in the elections, the races will move to April 24 runoffs.

https://www.ktbs.com/news/letlows-widow-enters-race-for-louisiana-congressional-seat/article_e9a97036-567d-11eb-b1bc-1b8d0964589b.html

Officials Find No ‘Substantiated Threat to Life’ Regarding Planned Protests in Louisiana

 Several law enforcement agencies in Louisiana, including the FBI, say they have found “no specific and substantiated threat to life or property” regarding the State Capitol or other government buildings.

Officials say they are working closely to coordinate security protocols, ensure safety for protestors, staff, and the community.

“Agencies will continually monitor for potential security concerns and provide timely notification should this change,” officials said in a press release Thursday afternoon. “All agencies remain steadfast in our mission to protect our citizens and respect those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights, including the right to peacefully protest. Criminal activity, the destruction of property, and the intentional incitement of violence prevents others from peacefully expressing their First Amendment rights and will not be tolerated.”

Citizens are urged to report suspicious or suspected criminal activity by calling 911.

https://www.wafb.com/2021/01/14/officials-find-no-substantiated-threat-life-regarding-planned-protests-louisiana/

Hicks High School Receives $15,000 from Dollar General Literacy Foundation and the American Association of School Librarians

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation and American Association of School Librarians (AASL) presented $15,000 to Hicks High School in Leesville, LA at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

These funds are provided through the organizations joint Beyond Words grant program. The funds aim to support the school rebuild after Hurricane Laura completely destroyed the schools library.

http://www.westcentralsbest.com/todays_country_1057/news/hicks-high-school-receives-15-000-from-dollar-general-literacy-foundation-and-the-american-association/article_89e91212-55e9-11eb-9bf2-a32960e6c13b.html

Louisiana Senators Remain Silent as House Votes to Impeach President

After the historic move to impeach the President for the second time in the House, it’s still unclear exactly what will happen in the Senate.

Both of Louisiana’s senators have remained silent on the matter.

“I think this is more based on political expediency, rather than actual any rational analysis of the issues,” Dillard University Political Analyst, Robert Collins said.

In a red state where Trump won by nearly 400,000 votes, Collins says most of the delegation probably won’t speak out against their voters.

”The reason why they haven’t come out strong pro-Trump either because they’re not sure how this is all going to shake out, so I suspect they’re going to be studying poll numbers over the next couple of weeks,” Collins said.

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise hasn’t responded to FOX 8′s repeated requests for comment, but he has been vocal on national platforms in opposition of impeachment. During Wednesday’s hearing, he took to the House floor.

”I oppose this rushed impeachment brought forward without a single hearing, and by the way, the Senate will not even take this up until President Trump is out of office,” Scalise said.

Republican Congressmen Clay Higgins and Mike Johnson also came out on Twitter with similar sentiments the impeachment would cause more division.

Representative Garret Graves has remained silent and has not responded to our questions.

Richmond was the only Louisiana representative that voted for impeachment.

”Some of my colleagues, some of which may well be co-conspirators in their latest attempt to placate and please this unfit president suggest that we shouldn’t punish Trump for his actions in order to unify the country. That is the climax of foolishness,” Richmond said on the House floor.

As this moves to the Senate, we still don’t know where the two republican senators Cassidy and John Kennedy stand.

Fox 8 Political Analyst Mike Sherman points out 10 Republican representatives crossed the aisle to impeach the president Wednesday.

”There’s already upwards of half a dozen senators indicating they’re likely to convict based upon the evidence already presented and the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Trump’s staunchest ally, is saying I’m undecided, I’m going to wait and see the evidence,” Sherman said. “That sends a really shocking message to his party.”

FOX 8 has repeatedly reached out since the riot to these lawmakers with questions. Only Cassidy and Higgins have responded to us in that time period. However, no answer from Cassidy on where he stands with impeachment.

https://www.wafb.com/2021/01/14/louisiana-senators-remain-silent-house-votes-impeach-president/

Lufkin Police Arrest Man After 9-Minute High-Speed Car Chase

Lufkin police have arrested a man who they say led officers on a high-speed chase Tuesday afternoon.

Jason Brightwell, 29, was arrested on a charge of evading arrest after he allegedly fled from officers in a vehicle that had been reported stolen in Smith County. The police report states that officers initially were called to assist another agency to search for the vehicle, however after a short time an officer came upon the vehicle on Farm to Market Road 2021 and attempted to initiate a traffic stop. Brightwell allegedly refused to stop before leading police units on a nine-minute, high-speed pursuit.

Police say Brightwell eventually stopped at a home off FM 2021 and fled on foot with officers in pursuit. The foot chase continued through a wooded area before officers were able to apprehend Brightwell and take him into custody outside a nearby home on HH Allen Road.

https://www.ktre.com/2021/01/13/lufkin-police-arrest-man-after-minute-high-speed-car-chase/

Natchitoches Parish Man Arrested for Camper Fire That Injured Two

 The state fire marshal’s office has arrested a Saline man for setting fire to his relatives’ RV, causing the two occupants to suffer burns.
Jeremie Dewayne Aldy, 43, was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center on three counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of aggravated arson.
The incident happened at 3 p.m. Sunday in Country Haven Trailer Park on state Highway 9 in Saline. Natchitoches Fire District No. 2 responded to the report of a camper fire and found three people standing outside the RV.
A woman had serious burns, while a man had cuts that were suffered while trying to rescue the woman. A third person, a female, was not hurt. The two injured people were taken to an area hospital for treatment.
The state fire marshal’s office determined the fire started on the outside of the RV and was intentionally set.
Witnesses reported seeing Aldy pouring a liquid on the camper’s porch then lighting it. In an interview with deputies, Aldy confessed, according to the fire marshal’s office.