Archive for May, 2010

Burning bus shuts down part of I-210

A charter bus fire shut down the westbound lanes of the Interstate 210 bridge for about four-and-a-half hours on Sunday, according to authorities.

The fire was called in at around 10:40 a.m. after a Coach USA bus had a flat tire while on the bridge, said Sgt. James Anderson of Louisiana State Police Troop D.

“The bridge is down to one lane on both sides because of construction, so the driver decided to try and make it to the other side,” Anderson said.

Sparks from the tire caused the back of the bus to catch fire. Anderson said all of the passengers — students in the Pershing Middle School band from the Houston area — were able to get off the bus unharmed. They were returning from a band competition in Orlando, Fla.

Lake Charles and Westlake firefighters responded the fire, which destroyed the bus, the students’ possessions, the band’s instruments and equipment and the first-place trophy the band had won.

A Department of Transportation and Development bridge inspector called out to inspect the bridge cleared it for reopening at around 3:30 p.m.

The driver of the bus was not cited.


May 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Shearman Fine Arts Building (video)

May 8, 2010 – the morning before the opening ceremony for the Shearman Fine Arts building at McNeese State University, I did a virtual tour. The addition is more than 59,000 square feet and doubles the space for the visual arts and performing arts programs.

To see the video, CLICK HERE.

May 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Two killed in U.S. 165 head-on crash

IOWA — Two people were killed and two injured in a Wednesday afternoon crash on U.S. 165 about five miles north of Interstate 10, state police said.

At about 3:30 p.m., Roy Serie, 45, of Ville Platte, was traveling north on U.S. 165 when he crossed the median and hit a vehicle driven by Shannon Cox, 34, of Lake Charles, said Sgt. James Anderson.

Cox and Serie’s passenger, Sheila Serie, 45, of Ville Platte, were pronounced dead at the scene, he said. Roy Serie and Cox’s passenger, Beth Zilbert, 46, of Lake Charles were taken to a local hospital with moderate injuries.

Anderson said three other vehicles were hit by flying debris, but no one else was injured.

Toxicology samples were collected, and results are pending.

This is the ninth fatal crash to occur this year in the Troop D area.


May 6, 2010 at 7:50 pm

LyondellBasell locks out union members


LyondellBasell locked local union members out of its Calcasieu Parish facility last Friday after the union rejected the company’s latest contract offer.

“When we rejected it, we expected to continue negotiations,” said Ken Fugatt, business manager for Operating Engineers Local 407. “Instead, they said they were taking control of the plant.”

Fugatt said the lockout is illegal because plant supervisors escorted union members off the property about two hours before the contract expired.

Supervisors are not members of the union.

Fugatt said the main issue was LyondellBasell’s refusal to negotiate on issues involving new cogeneration equipment. The cogeneration process is a form of energy recycling that generates heat and electricity for a plant.

“The company has refused to negotiate who will operate the equipment, and the union has a right to negotiate those terms,” Fugatt said.

Negotiations between the union and LyondellBasell started in early April. Fugatt said the union filed an unfair labor practice suit against the company on April 20 in relation to the cogeneration equipment and also requested a federal mediator.

“We have asked the company to return to the table, but since April 30, we’ve only had contact with the federal moderator,” Fugatt said.

He said union officials also offered a “reopener,” which would allow both sides to accept the rest of the contract and meet at a later date on this specific issue.

LyondellBasell spokesman Aaron Woods declined to comment on the lockout, saying it’s company policy not to discuss ongoing negotiations.

Fugatt said about 110 of the company’s 180 workers are members of Local 407.

“The last lockout or strike I can remember happened in the ’70s, and it only lasted a few days,” Fugatt said.


May 6, 2010 at 7:42 pm

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