NEW ORLEANS SHOOTING
2 dead, 1 injured in New Orleans shooting
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New Orleans police are investigating a shooting that left two men dead and an 18-year-old man injured.
Police responded to a shots fired call around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and found two men in red four-door Jaguar suffering from gunshot wounds.
Police say the unidentified men were pronounced dead at the scene.
They say an 18-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was taken to a nearby hospital where he is listed in stable condition.
Investigators say they have no suspects or motive for the shooting.
Shreveport Amtrak study finally underway
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - A 12-month study is finally underway to examine the feasibility of re-establishing Amtrak Passenger Rail Service from Shreveport-Bossier City to Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Kent Rodgers, North Louisiana Council of Governments executive director, tells The Times the study will look at the condition of existing railroad tracks between the cities, potential stops, hours of operation and the cost to operate the service.
Rodgers contends that the addition of passenger rail service through the north Louisiana corridor can have a positive impact on economic development as well as offer residents an alternative method of transportation.
The Louisiana study is one of three studies that will look at the extension of passenger rail service from the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area to Meridian, Mississippi.
BATON ROUGE-SCHOOL LUNCHES
All Baton Rouge students to get free lunches
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The East Baton Rouge Parish school system will be providing free lunch to its almost 42,000 students, including thousands who in the past had to pay for their meals.
The Advocate reports the change, announced Monday, takes effect Aug. 11, the start of the 2014-15 school year.
The school district plans to take advantage of a new federal initiative that allows public schools in high-poverty areas such as Baton Rouge to provide free meals to all students without families having to fill out individual forms.
Nadine Mann, director of the child nutrition program, says making lunch free for all students will save families between $122 and $744 a year just for lunch.
Lafourche tax renewals heading to voters
THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - Four Lafourche property taxes, which bring in more than $8.5 million combined, are up for renewal by voters in December.
The four propositions involve health, buildings, drainage and recreation taxes.
Parish Administrator Archie Chaisson tells The Courier all four millages expire in 2015. If passed, they'll extend through 2025.
Chaisson said the taxes are essential, and residents would notice a cut in services elsewhere if voters don't approve them. If the health tax isn't renewed, he says the parish would cut staff at the health unit and reduce animal shelter services.
The renewals will be up for a vote Dec. 6, which is also the date for any runoffs from the Nov. 4 elections.
Recycling efforts stunted by lack of support
HOUMA, La. (AP) - In spite of a nationwide increase in environmental consciousness, recycling efforts in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes have not had widespread public support.
After receiving limited responses from residents, officials said potential plans to revive the curbside recycling programs in both parishes were scrapped.
Terrebonne Parish Utilities Director Tom Bourg tells The Courier there wasn't enough public interest to justify a curbside recycling program.
He says the use of recycling bins placed throughout Terrebonne Parish has decreased as well.
Lafourche Parish's curbside recycling pickups ended in 2005 following increases in the cost of the program. Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph said resident interest has not increased much since then.
LA 1 CONGESTION
DOTD promises congestion fixes along La. 1
PORT ALLEN, La. (AP) - West Baton Rouge Parish officials say they have received word that relief is on the way for daily congestion along La. Highway 1 and the Mississippi River bridge on Interstate 10.
In a July 10 letter to the West Baton Rouge Parish school system, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development informed school leaders its traffic engineers are working on a comprehensive review of signal timing throughout the La. 1 corridor.
Officials with DOTD were responding to pressure from the West Baton Rouge Parish School Board, which has urged the state to address the growing traffic along the popular thoroughfare.
School board President Jason Manola tells The Advocate the daily traffic frustrations also pose safety concerns should any type of emergency arise at a school along La. 1.
WEST SIDE EXPRESSWAY
West Side Expressway, new bridge, gaining traction
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Traction is starting to build for a proposed new four-lane highway on the west side of the Mississippi and a new bridge across the river. But the speed bump on the plans may be the estimated price tag: $1.65 billion.
Talk of the new West Side Expressway began in earnest about five years ago. The state Legislature this year approved $1.65 million for a feasibility study of the proposed expressway.
A new Mississippi River bridge that's part of the project would go from the west bank, between Plaquemine and White Castle, to the east bank, south of Baton Rouge.
The Advocate reports two parishes, Ascension and Iberville, are poised to provide funds for the study, as well.
Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso says the highway is sorely needed.
PINEVILLE CITY JUDGE
Johnson takes gavel at Pineville City Court
PINEVILLE, La. (AP) - An attorney has been appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to replace Phillip Terrell, who resigned as Pineville city judge in March to run for Rapides Parish District Attorney.
The Town Talk reports Mike Johnson will take the position of judge pro tempore Friday. He is scheduled remain in the position through Dec. 31. A permanent judge will be chosen in the fall elections.
Johnson says it is not unprecedented for an attorney to be appointed judge pro tempore, but in his experience retired judges often get the call.
As city judge, Johnson will be responsible for hearing cases from within the Pineville city limits, as well as Wards 9, 10 and 11.
Johnson is a graduate of Louisiana College and Southern University Law School.
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