Louisiana news briefs
Houma man dies after falling off houseboat
GIBSON (AP) — Authorities say a 54-year-old Houma man died after falling off a houseboat during a hunting trip over the weekend in Gibson.
Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputies said the body of Wayne Cancienne was found Saturday floating in the Bluebird Canal next to the houseboat.
Deputies received a call from one of two others aboard the boat, who said they awoke to find Cancienne missing. Water Patrol deputies and detectives searched the area and found his body.
Deputies say the death appears to be an accident. No foul play is suspected.
Audit: Tire recycling
program not monitored well
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Department of Environmental Quality hasn’t properly monitored a program designed to keep tires from being dumped illegally, meaning tire processors could have been overpaid.
That was the finding of an audit released Monday by the legislative auditor. It echoed similar findings from a year earlier, saying DEQ still hadn’t corrected the problem.
Louisiana pays five waste tire processors for the disposal and recycling of old tires, a price that topped $9 million in the last budget year. Residents pay a fee when they buy new tires to help cover the cost.
DEQ pays waste tire processors based on weight, but auditors say the department doesn’t properly ensure the processors are reporting accurate weights.
The department said it was rolling out new audit and analysis procedures to double-check the billings.
St. Landry joins regional transportation agency
OPELOUSAS (AP) — St. Landry Parish has joined the Lafayette Metropolitan Planning Organization, the region’s transportation planning agency.
Parish President Bill Fontenot said the membership lets the parish consult with engineers, planning designers, traffic predictors and others who can help improve infrastructure.
Existing members are Vermillion and Lafayette parishes and the communities of Scott, Youngsville, Carencro, Duson, Loreauville and St. Martinville.
Federal census numbers in 2010 showed St. Landry Parish’s population was dense enough to join the agency, which oversees short- and long-range transportation plans, coordinates federal, state and local transportation programs and projects and allocates federal, state and local transportation money.
The main focus is on roads, but it looks at everything from bikeways and pedestrian paths to bus lines and even airports and river ports such as the one in Krotz Springs, Fontenot said.
Because it’s centered in Lafayette, the Lafayette Consolidated Government covers most of the $300,000 annual cost. Fontenot said St. Landry will contribute $5,700 a year.
for Vermilion Bay
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Two flood gates are planned in Iberia and Vermilion parishes that supporters say could hold back some of the storm surge such as when water pushed into homes when Hurricane Rita hit southwest Louisiana in 2005.
The Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane and Conservation District is moving forward with the design and permitting of a new floodgate on the Delcambre Canal, and the Vermilion Parish Police Jury has laid the groundwork for a companion project on Bayou Tigre.
The two waterways serve as routes for hurricane storm surges to push inland from Vermilion Bay.
The idea is to build a large structure that can be closed as a hurricane approaches, making a temporary dam of sorts to hold back the water.
Prince to headline
20th annual Essence Fest
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Next year’s Essence Festival is getting a dose of music royalty from Prince.
The “Purple Rain” singer-songwriter is headlining the 20th annual Essence, a celebration of black music and culture being held July 3 to 6 in New Orleans.
Prince, who performed at Essence in 2004, also headlined this year’s South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. His newest single, “Screwdriver,” debuted earlier this year. Still, Prince is best known for chart-topping hits like “1999,” “Cool” and “Purple Rain.”
Essence has been held every Independence Day weekend since 1995, when it marked the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine.
The festival includes nightly concerts at the Louisiana Superdome and empowerment seminars during the day at a nearby convention center.
Organizers say the rest of the lineup will be announced later.
Lafayette board for mediation
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Lafayette Parish Superintendent Pat Cooper is proposing that he and the school board come together within the next couple of months to sort out their differences.
Cooper is asking the board to hold two daylong sessions in the next few weeks.
One session would focus on mediation, and the other would focus on the governance structures of school systems under the state’s Act I law.
There have been repeated tensions over several issues, including: Cooper’s hiring of a special assistant who did not meet the original job description, discipline problems, concerns about school construction and legal bills.
Cooper placed the proposals on Wednesday’s board meeting agenda as introduction items but said he hopes the board moves them to the action section, thereby voting on them immediately.
Man arrested for allegedly stealing cerebral palsy donations
THIBODAUX (AP) — A 32-year-old Thibodaux man has been booked with stealing cerebral palsy donations from a convenience store.
Frank McKenzie is accused simple battery, three counts of felony stolen goods and felony theft.
According to police, approximately $40 in donations was stolen from a Thibodaux convenience store.
Officers said they were able to identify McKenzie through a CrimeStoppers tip.
McKenzie is being held at the Lafourche Parish Detention Center on an $18,000 bond.
It was unclear whether McKenzie has an attorney.