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November 19, 2018 - 12:00 am

OFFICER DIES

Motorcycle officer dies as result of September wreck

SLIDELL, La. (AP) — A Louisiana police officer injured in an on-duty accident in September has died.

The Slidell Police Department says in a news release that motorcycle officer Jason Seals died early Saturday as a result of the accident.

Seals was injured as he participated in a funeral escort. Police said he struck a vehicle that unexpectedly pulled in front of him.

News reports at the time said Seals was thrown from his motorcycle and landed at least 50 feet away.

AGRICULTURE DISASTER AID

Low-interest disaster loans open to some Louisiana farmers

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Farmers in three Louisiana parishes could be eligible for federal disaster loans because of excessive rain and flooding between April and June.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the USDA has authorized the aid for agriculture producers in Concordia, East Carroll and Tensas parishes. The parishes were deemed contiguous to primary disaster areas in Mississippi.

Strain says farmers in the eligible areas have eight months to apply for the low-interest emergency loans from the USDA's Farm Services Agency , if they meet the requirements for assistance. Strain says local Farm Services Agency offices can give farmers more details.

BEATING-RACIAL SLURS

3 surrender to police after beating, racial slurs alleged

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Three white men accused of shouting racial slurs and beating a black man on a New Orleans street have surrendered to police.

New Orleans news outlets report Matthew Adam Vining, Stone Michael Linden and Bobby Lee McCollister, all 23, were arrested Wednesday and Thursday and released on bail.

Investigators believe the 64-year-old victim was driving near the French Quarter early Nov. 4 when the men blocked his vehicle.

The man told police that when he honked his horn, the men responded with racial slurs.

Police said witnesses and surveillance video indicate the driver was beaten after getting out of his car holding a stick.

Hearings for the men are pending. Defense attorneys told The New Orleans Advocate the public should not jump to conclusions about the suspects.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR-TEACHERS

Edwards rallies union support: 'Elections have consequences'

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards rallied his core base of education union support with a preview of his 2019 re-election stump speech. He urged teachers and school workers to maintain a "sense of purpose" about the governor's race.

The Democratic leader spoke Saturday to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. He offered a defense of his record since taking office in 2016 and a pledge of educator pay raises.

The receptive crowd was packed with Edwards supporters who helped his election bid three years earlier and promised to help him reach a second term.

The governor repeated his plan to seek a $1,000 teacher pay raise and $500 school support worker raise in next year's legislative session. He said he'll have a three-year plan to raise salaries to the Southern average.

NEW ORLEANS WATER

A boil water advisory in New Orleans after pressure drops

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Many New Orleans residents woke up to inconvenient news — much of the city was under a precautionary boil water advisory.

City officials say Saturday's advisory was issued out of an abundance of caution after a power loss at a distribution system caused a pressure drop to low levels. The concern is that low pressure can allow contaminants to enter a water pipe.

The advisory affects all New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board customers on the East Bank of the Mississippi River. Pressure dropped to below the safety threshold between 6:42 a.m. and 6:50 a.m.

It was unclear when the advisory would be lifted. Recurring power problems have plagued the Sewerage and Water Board in recent years — at times affecting the drinking water system and the city's drainage pumps.

MARDI GRAS-NEW KREWE

New streetcar riding 'krewe' to herald Carnival season

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A new "krewe" plans to help kick off New Orleans' annual Carnival season on Jan. 6.

A group known as the Phunny Phorty Phellows has long heralded the arrival of the season by donning costumes and taking a ride on the St. Charles Avenue street car. New Orleans news outlets report that, now, another streetcar full of revelers plans to follow them.

A spokesman says the group — the Funky Uptown Krewe — hopes to encourage more people to come out for the start of the season. One attraction is a chance to literally catch some music: the group will toss CDs featuring local bands.

Carnival season begins on Jan. 6 and continues until Mardi Gras — or Fat Tuesday — which falls next year on March 5.

SERIAL KILLER-INVESTIGATION-THE LATEST

The Latest: 2 Georgia slayings solved after man confesses

DALLAS (AP) — Authorities in Georgia say they have closed the decades-old slayings of two women based on confessions by a man being held in Texas who says he killed as many as 90 people over four decades.

Two Bibb County investigators traveled to Decatur, Texas, to question 78-year-old Samuel Little.

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that one victim was killed in 1977 and another in 1982. In the 1982 case, a woman's body was found in the backyard of a Macon home. She had been strangled. Police identified her as Fredonia Smith.

The 1977 victim was never identified. Her skeletal remains were found at the edge of some woods in a local backyard.

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office says Little gave them specific details and information" linking him to both slayings, and Smith's family was notified about the new developments.

Little was already serving a life sentence in California when he was interviewed by a Texas investigator that resulted in the confessions.

Authorities in Louisiana say they've closed two longstanding murder investigations because of confessions by a man being held in Texas who says he killed as many as 90 people over four decades.

An internal Louisiana State Police memo obtained by The Associated Press says 78-year-old Samuel Little provided details on two killings in the Gulf Coast town of Houma "that only the murderer would have known."

Fifty-nine-year-old Dorothy Richard was found dead in 1982 and the body of 40-year-old Daisy McGuire was discovered in 1996. Both had been strangled.

The memo says Little has confessed to other killings in Louisiana and those claims are being investigated.

Little is being held on a murder charge in West Texas.

He was already serving a life sentence in California when he was interviewed by a Texas investigator that resulted in the confessions.

MEDICAID AUDIT

Computer upgrade aims to improve Medicaid eligibility checks

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration told lawmakers a computer upgrade will address concerns the state Medicaid program has paid millions on people not eligible for the coverage.

The Legislature's joint budget committee Friday approved the contract extension for the upgraded system.

The legislative auditor's office released an audit this week that said Louisiana's Medicaid expansion program may have spent as much as $85M on ineligible enrollees. Auditors suggested more double-checking of Medicaid recipients' income.

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the upgraded system will do quarterly checks of eligibility, rather than the annual checks that have been done, and will use more data for comparison.

Discussion of the audit sparked the latest disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over management of a Medicaid program that costs nearly $13 billion a year.

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