News

Wed
24
Feb

Federal aid dependence leaves state’s budget picture unclear

Federal aid dependence leaves state’s budget picture unclear

BATON ROUGE--With an estimated $2 billion provided to Louisiana from a federal coronavirus aid bill passed in December and the likelihood of another federal stimulus package, state legislators are hopeful they can balance the bud get for fiscal 2022 with no more than modest cuts.

The greater concern is the danger of a financial crisis in the following years. Louisiana budget experts project a slow recovery from the pandemic. Federal aid is expected to dry up after this year and many Louisianans have been hesitant to receive the vaccines that could help open up the economy.

Like most states, Louisiana was hit hard by the virus, and the problems were compounded by a catastrophic hurricane season. The state needed nearly $900 million in federal aid approved last March to patch up its finances for fiscal 2020 and the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Wed
24
Feb

Parish frozen by winter storm

Parish frozen by winter storm
Parish frozen by winter storm
Parish frozen by winter storm

A winter storm last week froze the entire parish and residents are still cleaning up from its aftermath.

The storm actually consisted of two different waves, the first arriving on Valentines Day, Sunday afternoon (Feb. 14). By late Sunday night, conditions worsened as temperatures dropped and precipitation began to fall. When residents awoke Monday morning, the entire parish was covered with 2-4 inches of ice and snow mix and snow showers occurred throughout the day.

Most residents seemed to enjoy the white covering and many made homemade sledding and skiing items to play in the snow. While there was some that experienced frozen pipes due to the record low temperatures, for the most part, electricity stayed on and residents were safe and warm inside their homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wed
17
Feb

Martins spotted near Rhinehart

Martins spotted near Rhinehart

The first purple martins of 2021 arrived in LaSalle Parish on Saturday, February 6. Early in February, the ground hog did see his shadow, thus there are mixed signals on an early arrival of spring this year.

Kathy Rutledge of Rhinehart called to report she first saw the martins at her home on Saturday, Feb. 6. The first martins arrived last year on February 17; the year before Feb. 4; on Feb. 12 the year before; on Feb. 9 in 2017, on Feb. 1 1 th in 2016, and Jan. 31 in 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wed
17
Feb

Rep. Riser bills address state sales tax holidays

State Representative Neil Riser of Columbia, District 20, has pre-filed two bills that would reinstate suspended sales tax holidays in Louisiana.

Riser pre-filed the bills for the regular session of the Louisiana Legislature, slated to begin on April 12, 2021.

If the bills pass, one would be a general reprieve from Louisiana sales taxes that falls on the first consecutive Friday and Saturday in August, meant to help with back-to-school purchases. The tax break would be for the first $2,500 in purchases.

“Any parent will tell you there is a lot of expenses (for school supplies) with your child,” Riser said. “This gives parents a break.”

Another holiday would be held the last weekend in May and applied to items purchased in preparation for hurricane season. The tax break would be for the first $1,500 purchased.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wed
17
Feb

Fellowship Elementary Pre-Kindergartener Daisy Wright

Fellowship Elementary Pre-Kindergartener Daisy Wright

Fellowship Elementary Pre-Kindergartener Daisy Wright drives her decked-out motorized vehicle alongside her mother Kerri Wright and teacher Bridget McDowell while throwing beads to fellow students during the annual FES Pre-K Mardi Gras Parade behind the school on the playground. The students rode in wagons, battery-operated or pedaled vehicles, etc. decked out in purple, gold and green garland, tulle, balloons, beads and more while wearing masks or sunglasses and hats. (See more photos inside this edition.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wed
17
Feb

PJ committees named for ‘21

The LaSalle Parish Police Jury breezed through their agenda Monday night, February 8, taking care of routine business and the yearly appointments of special committee assignments before hearing from a large group of Ward 1 residents and their complaints about Union Pacific (see separate story).

The jury approved President June Fowler’s appointments to committees where jurors will serve during the 2021 calendar year.

Those include, Finance Committee: June Fowler, Brian Andrews, Brent Farley, Phil Crawford, and Mike Crooks.

Courthouse Committee: June Fowler, Jerrod Douglas, Mike Crooks, and Jack Zeagler.

Fringe Benefit Committee: June Fowler, Steve Thomas, Brent Farley, and Jerrod Douglas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wed
17
Feb

Juror fights for residents against Union Pacific

Juror fights for residents against Union Pacific
Juror fights for residents against Union Pacific
Juror fights for residents against Union Pacific

LaSalle Parish Police Juror Jerrod Douglas is his own type of locomotive as he fights for residents in Ward 1 against the powerful Union Pacific railroad company.

Residents who live on Lanehart Dr. and the Airport Road just outside of 011a have recently had their lives upended and their roads destroyed due to Union Pacific using the 011a Airport as its staging area for railroad construction/maintenance crews. The jury voted to close the airport early last year.

Douglas is going head-to-head with the company seeking restitution for the damaged roads and eventually the potential payment of thousands of dollars in rent/damage fees.

“They are running day and night, 24/7, and it’s like 1-49 with people coming in and out,” resident Raymond Blazier said at the LaSalle Parish Police Jury meeting Monday night, February 8. “Those large 18-wheelers (quadruple axle trailers) carrying that heavy equipment are tearing the road up and they’re tearing the airport up too.”

Wed
10
Feb

Retail sales spike during December

LaSalle Parish retail sales for the 2020 December holiday season showed a big spike based on sales tax collections in January, which were for December sales.

Parish wide, retail sales in December stood at $27.5-million, compared to $23.1-million in December 2019. The town of Jena showed an increase of 12% in retail sales and the town of Olla recorded a whopping 34% increase in sales.

The shutdown early in 2020 created by the coronavirus pandemic early last year had little effect on retail sales in the parish as noted by this latest report.

Retail sales for December 2020 in LaSalle Parish are based on sales tax collected in January 2021 (for December sales) released last week by the Concordia Sales Tax Collection Agency, which collect sales taxes for several bodies in the parish.

 

 

 

Wed
10
Feb

Main Street Recover Grant program assist businesses

Main Street Recover Grant program assist businesses

State Treasurer John M. Schroder announced at the Capitol last week the Main Street Recovery Grant Program issued $262 million in grants to 20,751 small businesses across Louisiana. With only replacement checks left to be issued, the program is essentially closed.

The LaSalle Parish legislative delegation – Senator Glen Womack, Representatives Neil Riser and Gabe Firment – reports that the program assisted a total of 59 businesses in LaSalle Parish, totaling $760,681.51.

“The pandemic devastated our small businesses, and the Main Street Recovery Grant Program gave them a fighting chance to survive the economic downturn. MSRP kept businesses open, workers employed and the entrepreneurial spirit alive,” said Treasurer Schroder. “The Louisiana Legislature was wise to create this program. Louisiana Treasury was proud to administer it.”

 

 

 

Wed
10
Feb

School Board updated on high-speed internet effort

State Representative Gabe Firment, District 20, addressed members of the LaSalle Parish School Board during their regular February meeting on Monday night of last week, catching them up on efforts to get highspeed broadband internet service in the area.

“We are working to help speed up getting the service in the area,” Firment said. “LaSalle and Catahoula parishes are way behind on securing this vital service.”

He noted that the Federal Communications Commission announced late last year that the Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction was held and contracts let to provide the service for 332,000 rural citizens living in Louisiana.

In Louisiana, the auction allocated $342,207,315.20 in support to expand broadband to 175,692 underserved homes and businesses over the next 10 years.

 

 

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