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September 22, 2018 - 12:00 am

MARSH BURNING CLASS

AgCenter marsh prescribed burn class Oct 23 in Lafayette

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The LSU AgCenter is offering a class for people who want certification to perform prescribed burns on marshland they own, manage or lease.

Coastal resources specialist Mark Shirley says that, done right, fire can remove years of old, dead vegetation and let new growth sprout.

The four-hour course will explain how to judge the best climate conditions for fire to stimulate new growth, and the best weather conditions to ensure that smoke rises and drifts away from populations and airports.

The class will be Oct. 23 in Lafayette, with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wetlands Center.

The class is free. However, pre-registration is requested. To pre-register, contact Crystal Bowman at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry at 225-922-1270 or at [email protected].

UNCLAIMED RETIREMENT BENEFITS

Kennedy wants unclaimed retirement funds sent to states

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Kennedy wants federal officials to release billions in unclaimed retirement benefits to states to try to locate people owed the money.

The Republican senator met with U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on Wednesday to pitch his idea. Kennedy's pushing for the uncashed and undistributed retirement benefits to be returned to their rightful owners through states' unclaimed property programs.

Kennedy administered Louisiana's unclaimed property program when he was state treasurer. He says states already have the staff and organizations in place to locate people owed money from old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks and other items.

Kennedy says for the federal government to administer such a return program for unclaimed retirement benefits would require the establishment of new infrastructure. He calls it an unnecessary expansion of bureaucracy.

US ATTORNEY-ORLEANS

Strasser takes oath as New Orleans federal prosecutor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Peter Strasser has been formally installed as the new U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Strasser took the oath Friday in the New Orleans courtroom of U.S. District Judge Lance Africk.

Africk's courtroom was packed with well-wishers, including several of Strasser's predecessors and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy. Strasser is a retired Navy Reserve captain and military judge. He has been an assistant U.S. attorney and, more recently, a partner at the Chaffe (chaff) McCall law firm.

President Donald Trump nominated Strasser in June. The Senate confirmed him in August. He succeeds Kenneth Polite (poh-LEET) who stepped down amid last year's exodus of U.S. Attorneys following the transition from the administration of former Democratic President Barack Obama. Duane Evans held the role in the interim.

NOOSE AROUND STUDENT

White student accused of noose around black student's neck

A white high-school student has been accused of putting a noose around a black student's neck in northeast Louisiana.

Ouachita (WASH-uh-taw) Parish Schools Superintendent Don Coker says a teacher saw the incident and immediately took the white student to administrators at West Ouachita High School.

Coker says the student at the school in West Monroe was disciplined, but he cannot give details.

A spokesman for the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office says an investigation at the school brought a juvenile's arrest on a hate crime battery charge. Deputy Glenn Springfield said he could not give or confirm other details because both students are juveniles.

UNIVERSITY ENROLLMENT

University of Louisiana at Lafayette hits record enrollment

(Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com)

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A south Louisiana university has enrolled a record number of students for its fifth year in a row.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette registered 19,387 students for the fall semester, up from 19,291 last fall.

The Advocate reports that increases in graduate programs are a key reason for the overall rise. More than 2,000 graduate students enrolled this semester, growing nearly 26 percent from the 1,631 registered last fall.

Graduate school dean Mary Farmer-Kaiser touted efforts to expand access. She says Louisiana-Lafayette saw significant growth in an online MBA program, for example.

The cumulative grade point average for freshmen at the university is 3.4 and average ACT score is 24. The school says those are both the highest in university history.

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HEPATITIS C-HIGH COST

Louisiana seeking 'subscription model' for hepatitis C drugs

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's health secretary thinks she's found a way to get hepatitis C drugs to more Medicaid patients and prisoners. Rebekah Gee wants to model medication purchases off the Netflix subscription model.

Gee wants Louisiana to pay a yearly fee to a drug manufacturer for access to its hepatitis C medication. During the time, Louisiana would treat and cure as many people as it can.

Gee thinks she's selling the pharmaceutical industry on the concept. She's working through a process that will have Louisiana soliciting bids for the "subscription model" from drug companies next summer.

Louisiana has about 35,000 people with the infectious disease who are on Medicaid or in prison, relying on the state for care. With the high cost for hepatitis C drugs, most go without treatment.

OBIT-STEEL GUITARIST

Felton Pruett dies; played steel guitar with Hank Williams

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A musician who played steel guitar with country legend Hank Williams on the Louisiana Hayride radio show, and broke his nose roughhousing with him, has died. Felton Pruett was 89 years old.

The Rose-Neath Funeral Home says his funeral will be Saturday in Shreveport, with a graveside service and burial at Bayou Scie Cemetery about 70 miles away in Zwolle (ZWAH-lee).

Pruett died Wednesday. He had played steel guitar for over 70 years.

His wife, Rita Pruett, tells The Times of Shreveport that when Williams moved to Nashville, he asked Pruett to move there, too. She says Pruett was settled in Shreveport with a family, and didn't want to move so far.

He is survived by his wife, one of his four sons, two daughters-in-law, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

POLICE SHOOTING-LOUISIANA

Officer's termination appeal delayed in 2016 fatal shooting

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A civil service board has delayed an appeal hearing for a former police officer who fatally shot a black man during a videotaped struggle outside of a Louisiana convenience store.

The Advocate reports the board voted Thursday to move the hearing for former Baton Rouge police officer Blane Salamoni. It's now set for Dec. 20-21. Salamoni's attorney says both parties agreed to seek a delay due to the amount of materials they'll have to review before the hearing.

Police Chief Murphy Paul fired Salamoni after Louisiana's attorney general ruled out state criminal charges in Alton Sterling's 2016 death. Salamoni and a second white officer wrestled Sterling to the ground. Salamoni shot Sterling six times and the second officer shocked Sterling twice with a stun gun.

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