Louisiana news briefs
to contain sinkhole water breaches
BAYOU CORNE — Water continues to pour into a massive Assumption Parish sinkhole after five holes opened in the levee surrounding it.
Assumption Parish officials said five breaches in the containment berm opened before dawn Friday and three remained open at midmorning. Two were repaired.
Parish emergency chief John Boudreaux says the water level inside the berm — a 71-acre area including the sinkhole — has risen 2.5 feet since Thursday as high water outside the levee poured in.
The breaches occurred in areas with subsidence problems.
The levee is meant to contain salty and oily water. With water flowing in, Boudreaux says he doesn’t think breaks are causing contamination in nearby swamps.
Texas Brine plans to allow the berm area to fill with water before repairing remaining breaches.
CHURCH POINT — Acadian Fine Foods LLC is recalling 17,000 pounds of pork and chicken stews because labels don’t list whey and soy as ingredients.
Some people are allergic to those substances.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall Friday.
The agency says the single-serving stews were distributed to stores in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. It says the Church Point company started using a chicken base including whey and soy, but didn’t re-label to include new ingredients. There are no reports of allergic reactions.
Being recalled are 12-ounce bowls of “Savoie’s Cajun Singles Louisiana Pork Stew” and “Savoie’s Cajun Singles Louisiana Chicken Stew.” They were made between May 24, 2012 and March 21, 2013, with “use by” dates from May 24, 2013 through March 21, 2014.
Sub school bus drivers hard to find
LAFAYETTE — Lafayette Parish schools may make it easier to become a substitute school bus driver.
Transportation Director Bill Samec has asked the parish school board to suspend its requirement that a driver have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma.
Samec said that when the district sought part-time drivers in March, it didn’t find enough to meet its goal of 30 for the next school year.
Part-time, substitute drivers are often promoted to full-time drivers in Lafayette.
Linda Matthew, former president of the Louisiana School Bus Operators Association, said the problem is low pay. Substitute drivers make between $56 and $86 a day.
“There is definitely a shortage throughout the state,” Matthew said. “It’s not a question of education.... It’s the pay.”
NEW ORLEANS — More than $20,000 has been distributed to Crescent City Connection account holders since a failed referendum to extend the New Orleans bridge tolls for 20 years.
State transportation officials say requests for refunds on toll tags and tickets have increased while wait times to process the requests have decreased.
About $20,900 in refund checks have been disbursed so far.
To receive a refund, customers may visit the Customer Service Center in Algiers between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Requests also can be made by mail or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Downloaded refund forms via www.dotd.la.gov/operations/cccd/requestrefund.aspx.
Voters in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes earlier this month rejected a measure that would have extended tolls for another two decades.
15 hurt during miniseries filming
BRUSLY — About 15 people are recovering after a staircase collapsed during filming of a TV miniseries at the Cinclare Sugar Mill Historic District just north of Brusly.
A spokesman for the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office said crews were filming a scene for “Bonnie and Clyde,” a miniseries about the notorious bandits, shortly after midnight Saturday when the wooden staircase gave way.
Col. Richie Johnson said about 15 people were hurt. Two were transported by Acadian Ambulance to area hospitals for treatment of minor injuries. Johnson says the rest were treated at the scene.
It’s unclear why the staircase gave way. An investigation is underway.
Records in LSU presidential search not released
BATON ROUGE — Two Louisiana news organizations are asking a judge to punish LSU’s Board of Supervisors for not releasing documents related the university’s presidential search.
Lori Mince is an attorney representing The Times-Picayune/NOLA Media Group and The Advocate newspaper. She filed a motion Friday asking Judge Janice Clark to find the supervisors in contempt of court.
The filing comes two weeks after the judge ruled that LSU was violating the state Public Records Act by withholding names of 35 candidates considered for the presidency. Clark’s April 30 ruling declared the requested materials public records and ordered LSU “to immediately produce” them.
The university has argued in court that the only finalist was the person who got the job, F. King Alexander. Because of that, the university argued that Alexander’s name was the only one it was obligated to disclose.
St. Helena schools to offer buyouts
GREENSBURG — The St. Helena Parish School Board has approved a plan to offer early retirement buyouts to some staff members.
Certified employees would be offered $5,500 to take early retirement, and noncertified employees would be offered $3,000.
School system officials say six certified and three noncertified employees are eligible for the buyouts.
RV dental clinic
to help students
ST. MARTINVILLE — St. Martin Parish students are eligible for dental care through a mobile clinic that’s scheduled to hit the roads this summer.
A recreational vehicle equipped as a dental clinic was set to begin offering services last year but officials say there was a delay in receiving federal and state approvals for the project.
Roderick Campbell, CEO of Iberia Comprehensive Community Health Center, says they received a $462,000 federal grant to launch the project with a dentist and two assistants and build a pediatric behavioral health unit in St. Martinville to improve students’ access to health services.
The grant was acquired in partnership with the St. Martin school system, which operates three school-based health centers that offer students health and behavioral health services.
Campbell said the dental services also will be available to school employees.
The services are being offered as a preventative measure and any major issues, such as extractions, will be referred to the patient’s primary dental provider, officials have said. If the student doesn’t have a dentist, one is available on-site at community health center’s St. Martinville location.
From The Associated Press.