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Monday, December 23, 2013

Friday, December 23, 2013

AP The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the body of a 37-year-old man has been found in an Iberia Parish bayou. Spokesman Adam Einck says the body of Brent LeBlanc of Central was found about 8:30 a.m. Sunday in Bayou Pigeon (pee-ZHAHN). He says in a news release that LeBlanc was not wearing a life vest when his body was found. Volunteers and crews from the department and the Iberia, Iberville and Assumption parish sheriffs' offices began searching Saturday afternoon, after getting reports about a vessel floating about a mile southwest of the Bayou Pigeon landing. Einck says investigators don't know how LeBlanc wound up in the bayou, but don't suspect alcohol. LeBlanc's body was turned over to the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office.

AP Company officials are trying to figure out what caused a Friday explosion and fire at the Axiall Corp. chemical plant near Lake Charles. The American Press reports that a dozen motorists were taken to hospitals as a precaution after the fire producing hazardous smoke that drifted over Interstate 10. The explosion happened about 1:30 p.m., with the ensuing fire releasing unknown amounts of vinyl chloride, hydrochloric acid and EDC dichloroethane. State troopers to briefly closed I-10 and ordered residents in parts of Calcasieu Parish to stay inside their houses, businesses and schools for a time. Atlanta-based Axiall makes ingredients for the plastic polyvinyl chloride and other chemicals in Westlake. The plant was formerly owned by PPG, but became Axiall when the former Georgia Gulf bought PPG's commodity chemical business.


AP A design submitted by McNeese State University visual arts major Ayumi Ogawa has been selected for use on the university's 75th anniversary commemorative T-shirt. Ogawa, a McNeese junior and native of Sapporo, Japan, received a bookstore gift card for her winning design. The contest was open to McNeese students and entries were reviewed by a panel of judges selected by the office of the president. McNeese plans various events in 2014 to mark the 75th anniversary of its founding.

AP St. Landry Parish has won a court fight over taxing salt caverns at a higher rate. Louisiana's Third Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled 3-2 that a cavern can be taxed as improved property and not land. The Daily World reports higher taxes could reap an additional $500,000 a year in tax revenue for local governments. Houston-based Spectra Energy, the owner, has been fighting parish Tax Assessor Rhyn Duplechain's efforts to raise taxes. Spectra has paid $1.3 million under protest over the last three years, an amount that could now be released. The ruling could be important to efforts statewide to tax caverns at higher rates. Assumption Parish, site of a collapsed cavern that caused the Bayou Corne sinkhole, also is fighting to tax caverns as improved property.

Louisiana's unemployment rate fell for the third straight month in November, hitting 6.3 percent as the state's job market continued its recovery from a slowdown in 2013's first half. A separate survey shows payrolls were flat from October to November. Both sets of figures adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal changes were released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.Louisiana's unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in October. The state's jobless rate was 5.7 percent in November 2012, before six months of unemployment increases that ended in June. There were 131,000 unemployed Louisianans in November, down from 136,000 in October, but above 120,000 in November 2012. State nonfarm payrolls set an all-time high for the fourth straight month, but rose by only 400 people from October.

AP Commemorative medals honoring Sulphur's centennial have gone on sale. Mayor Chris Duncan tells The Southwest Daily News that an initial minting of 300 coins has been completed and they can be purchased for $20 at City Hall. The nickel coin, depicting a likeness of sulfur mining pioneer Herman Frasch on one side and the city of Sulphur logo on the other, measures 2 1/2 inches in diameter and a quarter of inch in thickness. Coins numbered 1-10 are being held in reserve and will be auctioned off at a later date, the mayor says. The remaining numbered coins are available on a first-come, first served basis, Duncan says.

AP Louisiana's lieutenant governor says the "Duck Dynasty" reality TV show is important to state tourism and he could help connect the Robertson family with new producers if they cannot reach agreement with the A&E network. In an emailed statement, Jay Dardenne says the state "has the infrastructure in place to maintain their record-breaking program." Dardenne authored the state's film and TV tax credit program. He says he'd use his influence in the state's industry to help the Robertsons. The network suspended patriarch Phil Robertson last week for comments he made to GQ magazine about gays. Dardenne says that regardless what people think about Robertson's comments, the program has drawn a huge audience eager to visit Louisiana. The lieutenant governor's job includes running the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

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