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Amanda Simmons

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(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and U.S. Rep. John Fleming, M.D. (R-La.) today announced that General Robin Rand, a 4-Star General, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as Commander for Air Force Global Strike Command.

The Global Strike Command is located at Barksdale Air Force Base and is responsible for the majority of the U.S. Nuclear Triad. His nomination will be considered by the Senate.

“I’ve been working to make sure that Global Strike Commands gets four-star recognition, and this nomination is a big next step forward in that process,” Vitter said. “I’ll push to get General Rand’s nomination through the Senate.”

“The nomination of General Rand is welcome news, and I am pleased that the Air Force has prioritized Global Strike Command and Barksdale at the highest levels.  I look forward to working with the Air Force to secure the resources they need to support the mission,” said Fleming.

Vitter, Fleming and the Congressional Delegation have pushed the U.S. Air Force to elevate Barksdale’s Global Strike Command to a four-star general position for years. Vitter has been pushing for these recognitions despite the Obama administration’s attempts to reduce the priority of nuclear missions.

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Budget reduces tax credit expenditures, presents pathway to protect higher education funding

BATON ROUGE – Governor Bobby Jindal released the administration’s Executive Budget for the upcoming fiscal year and outlined a pathway to protect higher education funding. Inside the Executive Budget, there are Seal_of_Louisiana_largeproposals to mitigate the impact to higher education institutions, and the Governor’s Commissioner of Administration also outlined options outside of the budget for the Legislature’s consideration to further reduce the impact to colleges and universities.

The Commissioner of Administration presented proposals outside of the budget because Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) guidelines limit the revenue sources that can be included in the Executive Budget.

The Executive Budget reduces non-recurring dollars, makes reductions to all state agencies, and continues the administration’s commitment to growing Louisiana’s economy by maintaining investments in infrastructure, fully funding the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) for K-12 schools, and fully funding scholarship programs in both higher education and K-12 classrooms.

In addition to recurring reductions and continued streamlining efforts, the Executive Budget includes a $526 million reduction in tax credit expenditures by limiting certain refundable credits to an individual or business’s actual tax liability. This change does not increase the current tax obligation of any Louisiana taxpayer, and reduces the possibility of the state refunding taxes that were never collected.

Governor Jindal said, “In working with the Legislature over the last seven years, we have enacted balanced budgets that have fostered an economic climate that has enabled us to announce economic development projects that will result in more than 91,000 new jobs and $62 billion in new capital investments. Because of this work, we have also reversed a 25-year trend of migration out of the state to become a destination for people seeking stable, high quality jobs. In the last few years our state has had more people, more jobs, higher incomes, higher Gross Domestic Product and more exports than ever before.

“We fostered this climate by choosing to reduce taxes and cut government spending rather than raise taxes and grow government. In fact, including the reductions in this budget, we will have reduced the state’s budget by nearly $10 billion since 2008. We have also reduced the footprint of government by reducing the number of state government employees by nearly 34 percent.

“We have more work to do. This Executive Budget continues the transformation of state government by prioritizing healthcare and higher education through the transformation of certain refundable tax credits.”

The FY 16 Executive Budget proposes total funding of $24.6 billion, a decrease of $1.2 billion, or 4.7 percent, compared to the FY 15 operating budget of $25.8 billion. Since 2008, the total budget has been reduced by nearly $10 billion. This year’s proposal employs a variety of strategies to balance the budget:

Department-by-department strategic reductions to the existing operating budget: approximately $415 million
• Recurring savings from mid-year plan and GEMS efficiencies from FY15 and FY16 that has reduced the need for revenue within state agencies: approximately $180 million
• Reduction in expenses on certain refundable tax credits: $526 million
• Requiring agencies to absorb certain increases, including state employee performance adjustments, inflationary costs, and the growth of some programs: approximately $160 million
• Utilizing surplus dollars and other non-recurring sources of income for approximately $300 million. This budget has reduced the amount of funding that will require another source in the future by nearly 70 percent.

With the proposed elimination of 727 additional positions in the upcoming fiscal year, Louisiana will have the smallest number of state government employees in 25 years. Based on figures from the Department of State Civil Service, between December 31, 2007 and December 31, 2014:

• The total “head count” of all employees in the executive branch of state government has decreased from 100,677 to 70,263, a reduction of 30,414, or 30.2 percent.
• In terms of full-time employees (or FTEs), the total has fallen from 93,554 to 62,384, a reduction of 31,170, or 33.3 percent.
• As a result of the reduction in the number of state employees, the overall state payroll has been reduced by a total of more than $828 million – from $4.154 billion to $3.326 billion.

K-12 Funding

The Executive Budget will increase state aid to local K-12 schools through the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) to its highest level yet to provide funding for 6,284 more students.

In the FY16 proposal, the total funding for the MFP will be $3,628,258,948, which is more than 16 percent higher than in 2008.

Health Care

The Executive Budget includes no Medicaid provider rate reductions; protects current funding levels for public-private partnership hospitals and clinics; and protects individuals receiving home and community-based waiver services, ensuring no cuts to those currently receiving services.

Higher Education

The Executive Budget includes $30 million in funding provided for the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) initiative.

The next fiscal year’s budget will include $34.3 million in additional funds to fully fund TOPS. The projected number of TOPS recipients for FY 2015-2016 is 55,278 with a total funding of $284.3 million.

This budget proposal also includes an investment of $185,000 for the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Since its inception, PTAC has helped Louisiana small businesses obtain $4.5 billion in contracts, creating 19,000 new direct jobs and generating more than $100 million in tax revenue within the state.

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We have received an updated response from Sonja Bailes, Public Relations Liaison for Bossier Schools, regarding the three day school closure this week due to winter weather.

school-desk-ladyheart“Bossier Schools currently exceeds the required number of daily instructional minutes at our schools and feel confident we will not have to adjust calendars or holidays at this time due to the last three days of wintry weather that necessitated classes be canceled.”

 

ORIGINAL POST:

With recent winter weather sweeping across north Louisiana, school closures have been in effect since Feb. 23. While children may be enjoying a few snow days at home, some parents have questioned whether or not these days will be made up at a later date.

The Bossier Press-Tribune reached out to Sonja Bailes, Public Relations Liaison for Bossier Schools, to find out the answer.

Bailes said, “While Bossier Schools feels the Governor’s State of Emergency Order issued Monday, Feb. 23 should exclude school districts from having to make up any missed days, as it did with Hurricane Katrina, it is the interpretation of the Louisiana Department of Education that the Governor’s statue then only provided a waiver for 2005-06 hurricanes and, therefore, legal requirements for instructional minutes remain.

“If that is the case, districts will evaluate their current number of instructional minutes being met each day and multiply that by the number of days remaining in the school year. If they meet or surpass the required 63,720 minutes, it will not be necessary to make up days. If the minimum instructional minutes are not met, districts can either adjust existing daily schedules by extending class time to ensure they meet the requirement or adjust school calendars by adding additional days or adjusting upcoming breaks. If this is the case, it would require School Board approval to adjust the approved school calendar.

“We will continue to seek more information and explore options as to how North Louisiana school districts put in this position due to uncontrollable circumstances may seek relief or proceed from this point.”

The Bossier Press-Tribune will stay in contact with the Bossier School System to keep readers updated on this.

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Bossier City police are investigating a shooting that injured a 17-year-old male Tuesday night.

bossier city policePolice and fire crews were called to the scene in the 4300 block of Burdine Street at about 10:30 pm. It appears the victim was shot somewhere in the vicinity of the intersection of Burdine Street and Lampkin Street then ran to the backyard of a home on Burdine Street and started banging on the back door for help.

The teenager, identified as Travarus Devon Watson of Bossier City, was taken to University Health in Shreveport by emergency personnel. He is currently in the intensive care unit in stable condition with a single gunshot wound to his chest.

Detectives with the Violent Crimes Unit are continuing their investigation into the shooting. No arrests have been made.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Bossier Crime Stoppers at (318) 424-4100. They can also submit a web tip via the Bossier Crime Stoppers website – bossiercrimestoppers.org.

Persons who contact Bossier Crime Stoppers are reminded they may remain totally anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

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Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington has announced the closure of Bossier Sheriff’s Office substations for Wednesday, Feb. 25, which include Highway 3, Viking Drive and Arthur Ray Teague, due to the weather.

BSO deputy works a call in Benton. Courtesy of the Bossier Sheriff's Office.

BSO deputy works a call in Benton. Courtesy of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Office services at the Bossier Parish Courthouse will also be closed Wednesday.  Additionally, Operation Blessing food bank program will not be open Wednesday for pickup or delivery, but will resume the following Wednesday.

Sheriff Whittington participated in a conference call with area officials Tuesday afternoon to determine the best course of action for public safety throughout the parish Wednesday as another round of wintery weather heads our way.  Roadway conditions continue to remain poor, and the National Weather Service says it will only get worse after midnight Tuesday when wintery conditions are predicted with sleet and snow.

Bossier deputies responded to 87 weather related calls on the roadways of Bossier Parish over the past 34-hour period starting at 6 a.m. Monday, Feb. 23 through 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24.  Deputies have assisted motorists with stranded or stalled vehicles, worked crashes and aided motorists along the roadways.  There have been no reported major crashes or injuries.

Road closures in Bossier Parish continue to be the Benton Road overpass in Bossier City, I-220 and the Highway 154 bridge over Lake Bistineau.  Deputies have reported drivers attempting to cross the Bistineau bridge, which remains closed for public safety.

Motorists are encouraged to use extreme caution when traveling on roadways, especially on bridges and overpasses.   Updates on further road conditions and closures will be made as they become available.

 

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BATON ROUGE - After 14 school districts have requested to opt out of PARCC testing and multiple families have asked for permission to opt their children out of the PARCC test, the Superintendent of the Department of Education has responded and admitted there are problems with Common Core by calling for an expedited review of the tests.

common coreAssistant Chief of Staff Stafford Palmieri said, “We are glad the Superintendent has acknowledged that Common Core testing has problems and needs to be revised. This is an important first step as Louisiana works to remove Common Core from Louisiana schools. It is true that the Department’s refusal to use a competitive bid process to award Common Core testing contracts has resulted in millions in wasted taxpayer dollars.  These wasted dollars come at a time when declining oil prices, as well as other factors, require us to make significant reductions to all agencies in order to achieve a balanced budget.  The budget will protect the MFP and classroom funding, but the Superintendent, just like every other agency head, will be required to make reductions to his department’s budget.  The Superintendent will have some level of discretion in determining how to achieve the necessary reductions. The Superintendent claims that a reduction to his budget will impact Common Core and will therefore cost Louisiana $800 million in federal funding. This $800 million threat is just the latest.  John White and President Obama want to bully moms and dads into accepting Common Core’s federal control of our children’s education.  We’re not going to be intimidated by their fear tactics.  We are going to stay focused on doing what is best for the families of Louisiana.”

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Last Thursday (February 19), community leaders, donors, alumni, and friends attended BPCC Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Reception to celebrate the true access mission at Bossier Parish Community College.

BPCCHosted by corporate partner, Gibsland Bank & Trust, BPCC Foundation President John Hubbard and BPCC Interim Chancellor Dr. Rick Bateman recognized student recipients and donors who underwrite more than 32 scholarship funds, including four endowments.

New corporate scholarship partners recognized were Barksdale Federal Credit Union, Chase Bank, Red Ball Oxygen, and BHP Billiton, along with the family of BPCC’s first chancellor, the late Dr. Douglas Peterson, who established an endowment in his honor.

Awards were presented to students representing a broad spectrum of studies including: Science, Nursing and Allied Health; Business; Communications Media and Performing Arts; Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; and Liberal Arts.

This year, the Foundation awarded 112 scholarships totaling $93,992 for a grand total of almost $500,000 in cumulative awards. For more about the BPCC Foundation Scholarship Fund, go to www.bpcc.edu/foundation .

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Kayleigh Johnston

Kayleigh Johnston

The Bossier City Police Department is requesting assistance from the public with locating two endangered runaway teenagers.

14-year old Kayleigh Johnston and 16-year old Bryton Patterson were reported missing this morning, February 20, 2015. Both have indicated to family and friends that they may harm themselves. The two were last seen together in a white 2008 GMC Yukon bearing Louisiana license plate WYU556.

Bryton Patterson

Bryton Patterson

The public is asked not to approach the two juveniles, but to call law enforcement. If anyone has information regarding the whereabouts of Kayleigh Johnston and Bryton Patterson, please contact the Bossier City Police Department at (318) 741-8652 or (318) 741-8605.

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Submitted by Allen J.M. Smith, Bossier Sheriff’s Office

A Bossier deputy received national recognition from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Thursday as a result of his quick action in January 2014 that saved a man from an apartment complex fire in Benton, La.

Courtesy of the Bossier Sheriff's Office | A fire at the Reserve Apartments, Benton, La., January 2014. Bossier Deputy Darryl Ware received the National Veterans of Foreign Wars Law Enforcement Award Thursday for saving a man who was trapped in an apartment on the upper floor.

Courtesy of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office | A fire at the Reserve Apartments, Benton, La., January 2014. Bossier Deputy Darryl Ware received the National Veterans of Foreign Wars Law Enforcement Award Thursday for saving a man who was trapped in an apartment on the upper floor.

Bossier Deputy Darryl Ware received the VFW National Law Enforcement Award Thursday at VFW Post 5951, Bossier City, presented by former State Commander Ken Koval.

Bossier Sheriff Julian C. Whittington said, “We’re proud to see Deputy Ware, a five-year veteran of the Bossier Sheriff’s

Office, receive this recognition for rescuing a man from the second story of The Reserve Apartments during a fire at the complex in late January. Deputy Ware exemplifies the kind of courage and quick thinking that can save lives in an emergency like this.”

Sheriff Whittington said Deputy Ware was working patrol in the Benton area early Jan. 25 when he was dispatched to a structure fire at the apartment complex.

He was the first deputy on the scene, along with a volunteer firefighter. Upon arriving, Ware found one of the apartment buildings, comprising eight joined units, engulfed in flames on an entire side.

The fire had spread to the upper apartments, blocking the stairwell which accessed those units. Residents who had already evacuated told Ware that one of the upper apartments still had an occupant inside.

Ware was unable to get up the stairs, so he climbed from a first floor patio fence to the upstairs balcony and pounded on the wall of the apartment and the sliding glass door to waken the resident. Inside was Troy Cummings. Cummings awoke disoriented. Ware said Cummings appeared shocked by being awakened by someone on his balcony. Ware told Cummings that there was a fire in the building blocking the front door and stairway, and that he needed to get out. The apartment was filling with smoke.

Cummings attempted to go to the front door, but when he opened the door, the flames and smoke were too intense. Ware helped Cummings, who was afraid and still disoriented, out of his apartment, by climbing over the balcony and down the outside wall. Ware climbed down first and guided Cummings down by placing his feet and lowering him down to safety.

Ware said, “I appreciate the award – it’s humbling and I really didn’t expect it. I did what any Bossier deputy would have done. I’m accepting this on behalf of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office night shift and the deputies and firefighters who were on the scene that night, too.”

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Bossier Parish Community College begins its Black History Month celebration with numerous events dedicated to commemorating, celebrating, and promoting diversity in the context of the African diaspora.  BPCC’s BPCCCoordinator of Diversity and Multicultural Relations Dr. Cindy Darby invites everyone to this year’s events.

“A Century of Black Life, History and Culture,” this year’s Black History Month theme, highlights numerous events, including the National African American Read-In, Community Conversations with Law Enforcement, and Lift Every Voice Gospel Benefit Concert.

Here are more details for each event:

BPCC’s National African American Read-In
Feb. 24 (Tuesday) – 11:30 a.m. Library/TRC (Building A), 2nd Floor
Join the national initiative designed to celebrate Black History Month and encourage reading excerpts from African-American authors and poets of your choice. The participants on campus are welcome to bring their own or read passages from a book provided by the library relevant to Black History Month. This event is sponsored nationally by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and endorsed by the International Reading Association.

Community Conversations:  Building Bridges between Diverse Communities and Law Enforcement
Feb. 25 (Wednesday) – 2:30 pm Building A, Room 230
Richard Broom-McGee, patrol and S.W.A.T. commander with Bossier City Police Department, and colleagues will discuss the thoughts, tactics of law enforcement officers, and best practices to develop sustainable relationships between diverse community stakeholders and law enforcement.

BPCC’s Gospel Choir “Lift Every Voice” Benefit Concert
Feb. 26 (Thursday) – 2:30 pm in Building F, Room 203
Capping off BPCC’s Black History Month will be the Gospel Choir’s Benefit Concert benefiting Cross the Finish Line for Caroline and the Loeys-Deitz Syndrome Foundation. Donations will be accepted at the door to help fight the battle against Loeys-Deitz Syndrome, a genetic disorder. The BPCC Gospel Choir is under the direction of Mr. Leeonnas Richardson.

For more information on the events, contact Dr. Darby at (318) 678-6111.