BC-LA--Louisiana-News Digest,ADVISORY, LA

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Associated Press

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Louisiana at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

Good evening, Louisiana editors.

If you have any contributions for or questions about the report, call 1-800-662-7717. To report technical problems: 1-800-469-1362. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, can also be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. Reruns are also available from the Service Desk (800-838-4616). The news editor is Brian Schwaner. The breaking news staffer this evening is Chevel Johnson.

TOP STORIES

AUDUBON-SAN DIEGO ZOO

NEW ORLEANS — Zoos in Louisiana and California will partner to create a home where endangered antelope can roam — and help repopulate their species — on 1,000 acres near the Mississippi River in New Orleans. More than two dozen species of endangered hoofed animals and birds will have places at the breeding facility planned by the Audubon Nature Institute and the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Their new Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife will take up most of the 1,400 acres of the Audubon Species Survival Center, where scientists began breeding endangered cranes, hoofed animals and cats in 1996. Techniques used by both institutions have included cloning, test-tube fertilization using previously frozen sperm and eggs, and implanting fetuses created in the lab into a female of a related but more common species. By Janet McConnaughey.

AP Photos LAJM104-0502070849, LAJM103-0108131731, LAJM102-0108131745, LAJM106-0108131155, LAJM105-0108131510, LAJM107-0114131814

LOUISIANA BUDGET

BATON ROUGE, La. — Two Jefferson Parish lawmakers lodged a legal challenge Tuesday against the state's $25 billion budget, asking a judge to declare its patchwork financing a violation of Louisiana's Constitution. Republican Reps. Kirk Talbot and Cameron Henry filed the lawsuit, which is the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute that conservative House Republicans have with GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal over his use of one-time funding to pay for ongoing programs and services in state government. By Melinda Deslatte.

JINDAL TAX PLAN

BATON ROUGE, La. — The leader on Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposed tax code rewrite said Tuesday the administration wants to keep most of the state's economic development incentive programs as part of the revamp. Many of the programs overseen by the Department of Economic Development give credits or exemptions to income taxes, so they would need to be modified since Jindal is proposing to eliminate state income taxes in exchange for higher sales taxes. By Melinda Deslatte.

TEACHER EVALUATIONS

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to approve modest changes to the state's method for evaluating public school teachers, after a board committee backed the ideas. The changes were recommended by Superintendent of Education John White, tweaking a system that links half a teacher's annual review to the growth in student performance on standardized tests.

VOUCHERS-DESEGREGATION

NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court has ruled that the state can continue its private school tuition voucher program in Tangipahoa Parish, despite the local school board's claim the program could affect a decades-old desegregation case. U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle in November had blocked the voucher program in Tangipahoa. But a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued a stay of the judge's order. In a ruling Monday, the appeals court said the state has shown it is likely to win an appeal in which it argues that the judge improperly issued an injunction against the voucher program.

GRANDFATHER'S DEATH

BATON ROUGE — Another psychiatrist has determined that a Baton Rouge man accused of killing his grandfather in 2009 is competent to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge. East Baton Rouge Parish First Assistant District Attorney Prem Burns said Monday that the psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Wade, has found that Dustin Musso was sane at the time of the May 2009 incident. The 32-year-old Musso is accused of killing his grandfather, setting the elder Peter Musso's home on fire and stealing his car. State District Judge Mike rescheduled Dustin Musso's competency hearing for Feb. 14. It was supposed to take place Monday.

SKELETON SHIFTS

PLAQUEMINE — Iberville Parish School Superintendent Ed Cancienne has challenged the facts stated in a recent attorney general's opinion alleging the school district had violated state law by letting 12-month employees work "skeleton shifts" during holiday breaks. Cancienne and Brandie Blanchard, the district's personnel coordinator, told members of the Iberville Parish School Board Monday that evidence presented to the Attorney General's Office was "incorrect." The longtime school district practice of allowing 12-month employees to work minimally staffed shifts during holiday breaks was called into question by board member Darlene Ourso. Cancienne said all non-central and central office staff worked "modified" schedules during last year's Thanksgiving holiday break, whereas the opinion stated they all worked their regular schedule.

CATS GRANT

BATON ROUGE — The Capital Area Transit System will receive an additional $10 million in federal funds over the next four years that CATS officials said was made possible by leveraging new property tax revenues. Brian Marshall, chief executive officer, said CATS will receive about $2 million this year, and an additional $2.7 million for the next three years, from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality improvement program. This year, the grant money is outlined for three initiatives: $1,125,000 will be used to purchase 10 compressed natural gas vans, $375,000 will be spent on upgrades at the maintenance facility on Florida Boulevard, and $525,000 will be used to improve the spread of information about the bus system.

LAFAYETTE-SCHOOL RAPE

LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School System and Police Department have made adjustments to procedures at N.P. Moss Preparatory campus following the suspected rape of a female student last week. Sandra Billeaudeau, district assistant superintendent of schools, told Monday the changes that were made was where the officers are located on campus. The officers will assist staff in monitoring areas of the campus and adjacent property such as the Domingue Recreation Center. Last week, two Moss Prep students were arrested in the rape of a female student inside the recreation center. Cpl. Paul Mouton, police spokesman, said a 16-year-old student was arrested on one count of aggravated rape and a 13-year-old student was booked on one count of principal to rape.

LOUISIANA IN BRIEF

Editors: The following brief items moved Tuesday on AP's Louisiana wire and may be of interest for your Wednesday editions.

PEOPLE-LETTEN

NEW ORLEANS — At his first public appearance since leaving office, former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten says he is still weighing his options for the future. Letten also said he is optimistic that New Orleans officials and the Justice Department will work together to improve the city's troubled police department, despite recent differences between the two sides over the costs of reform.

FLETCHER HALL RENOVATIONS

LAFAYETTE — Architects have released an artist's rendering of the final plans for the renovation of Fletcher Hall, which houses the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's School of Architecture and Design and its Department of Visual Arts. The new plans appeared to win the approval of some of the critics who had characterized earlier plans for the Fletcher renovation with terms that included "offensive."

KENNER CRIME

KENNER — Major crime in Kenner dipped by 4 percent in 2012, according to statistics released Monday by Kenner police officials. The city saw decreases in six of the seven categories when compared with 2011. Police Chief Steve Caraway said the only crime category to record an increase was rape, up by two with a total of 12 sexual assaults reported last year.

ARSON ARREST

MONROE — Authorities say 38-year-old Dominique Ellis, of Monroe, was arrested Sunday on an aggravated arson charge after allegedly setting his mother's house on fire with people inside. According to an arrest affidavit, the victim told Ellis to leave her home on Saturday after Ellis told her he wanted to see her die.

NEWLYWEDS-SEPARATE PRISONS

THIBODAUX — A Lafourche Parish couple spent the first week of their marriage free, but could spend the next nine years in separate prison cells as they serve time for cocaine distribution. Tanna Hawkins, 30, and Tara Robinson Hawkins, 28, were married the first week of January, something they did knowing their individual guilty pleas would result in the prison sentences.

RAPIDES POLICE JURY

ALEXANDRIA — Getting a $23 million project at the Rapides Coliseum off the ground is among the top priorities in 2013 for new Rapides Parish Police Jury President Joe Bishop. Bishop, who represents District B, was elected without opposition to the post at the jury's monthly meeting Monday.

SHREVEPORT DEATHS

SHREVEPORT — Shreveport police have arrested a man in connection with a double homicide earlier this month in the Highland neighborhood. Robert Farris, 23, was booked Tuesday on two counts of second-degree murder.

FATHER SHOOTS SON

COVINGTON — A Covington man is in custody for shooting his 19-year-old son during a house party. Sheriff Jack Strain said Monday that 43-year-old Jody Camardelle was booked early Sunday with one count of second-degree battery. Bond has not been set.

OBSCENITY ARREST

CLINTON — East Feliciana Parish sheriff's deputies have arrested a 47-year-old Zachary man after investigating complaints that he exposed himself to women. Deputies booked Calvin Chapman Jr. Monday with two counts of obscenity.

EX-SECRETARY-BRIBERY

LAFAYETTE — The former secretary and office administrator for the district attorney for Louisiana's 15th Judicial District has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge for accepting bribes from defendants with pending criminal cases. U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley's office says the cases for which Barna D. Haynes, 58, received payments involved a variety of crimes, the majority of which were DWI cases.

BASE COMMANDER

MINOT, N.D. — Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota has a new commander. Col. Alex Mezynski on Monday was installed as commander of the base's 5th Bomb Wing and of the overall base, which also has a nuclear missile mission. He came from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

LOTTO WINNER

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana's latest Lotto winner says she won the $250,000 jackpot from the Nov. 28 drawing by accident. Shannon Peabody, of Prairieville, says she meant to buy a Powerball ticket. And then, the 46-year-old says she left the ticket inside an old purse for nearly a month.

BUSINESS

ASSUMPTION SINKHOLE

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Office of Conservation has modified orders requiring Texas Brine Co. LLC to assess the status of sediments under an 8.5-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish, prompting the company to withdraw a lawsuit filed last month against the state. The state agency and the Houston-based company were set for a hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday before state District Judge Wilson Fields in Baton Rouge. Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch says the company's Dec. 28 lawsuit was withdrawn as a result of the amended order released Monday. About 150 households in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou have been evacuated since Aug. 3, the day the sinkhole was discovered.

GAS TO GASOLINE

LAKE CHARLES, La. — G2X Energy Inc. of Houston says it plans a $1.3 billion plant to turn natural gas into gasoline at the Port of Lake Charles. Louisiana Economic Development said Tuesday the project would create 243 jobs averaging $66,500 a year.

BUSINESS IN BRIEF

BR HOUSING

BATON ROUGE — Baton Rouge metro area home sales finished last year 15 percent stronger than 2011, with local Realtors selling 7,607 homes compared to 6,604 in 2011. Dollar volume for the year was up 17 percent — $1.64 billion compared with $1.26 billion, according to figures compiled by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

SPORTS

HORNETS-76ERS

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers try and get back on track when they play the New Orleans Hornets. Game starts at 6 p.m. CDT. With AP Photos.

SPORTS IN BRIEF

LOUISIANA PLAYERS

BATON ROUGE — Amos Olatayo of ULM earned the most votes in a tight choice for men's player of the week while KK Bain of Nicholls State and Adrienne Webb of LSU split the women's votes as chosen for the weekly honor by a panel of Louisiana Sports Writers Association members.

LSU RANKINGS

BATON ROUGE — LSU gymnastics has climbed three spots to No. 5 in the latest rankings released by GymInfo. LSU swooped into the Top 5 after posting a 196.875 team score in an upset win against Florida.

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