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September 21, 2018 - 12:00 am


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 of Louisiana at Lafayette hits record enrollment

(Information from: The Advocate,

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.



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.


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.


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.


Louisiana unemployment rate rises for fifth straight month

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's unemployment rate hit 5 percent in August, worsening for the fifth straight month.

The state's jobless rate rose from 4.9 percent in July and was above August 2017's level, also 4.9 percent.

For the third month in a row, Louisiana saw the number of people with a job declined faster than a shrinking workforce, pushing the number of unemployed people up to nearly 107,000.

The separate employer payroll survey — many economists' top labor market indicator — was flat at 1.99 million. Payrolls remain 16,000 above year-ago levels, thanks to gains in early 2018.

July's U.S. unemployment was level from July to August at 3.9 percent. Louisiana has the third-highest jobless rate among states.


This story has been corrected to show unemployment rose for the fifth straight month, not the fourth straight month, as headlines stated.


Man convicted in 2013 New Orleans shooting death

(Information from: The Times-Picayune,

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A man has been convicted in a 2013 shooting death in New Orleans after a jury deliberated 15 minutes.

Thirty-six Nytilex Jones was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 38-year-old Samuel Kelly. Times-Picayune reported that Jones' attorney, Danny Engelberg said Jones shot Kelly in self-defense. Engelberg described Kelly as a "neighborhood bully."

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Guillory said Jones shot Kelly after "some sort of exchange." Guillory said Kelly was "minding his own business" when Jones approached.

Engelberg Jones was arrested five days after the shooting, calling officers when he learned they were looking for him.

Jones faces a mandatory life sentence at an Oct. 10 hearing.



Ex-Louisiana-Lafayette softball coach files suit over firing

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A former University of Louisiana at Lafayette softball coach is suing the school, saying he was fired for reporting the gender discrimination of female athletes at the university.

Copies of Michael Lotief's state court lawsuit, which also claims defamation and breach of contract, were released to news outlets Thursday afternoon. The lawsuit follows former softball players who supported Lotief made public complaints they filed against the university with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.

The university issued a statement Thursday saying Lotief was fired last year because he was physically and verbally abusive with a female co-worker and student athletes. Lotief's attorneys say the university disregarded evidence discrediting such complaints.

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