Archive for August, 2010

Accident, chemical spill closes I-10 stretch in Texas

A chemical spill that closed down Interstate 10 in Jeffer–son County, Texas, may not be cleaned up until Wednesday morning, according to Texas public safety officials.

Drivers traveling west from the Lake Area should take U.S. 90 West in Beaumont to Texas Highway 61 South, which will take them back to I-10 West past the spill, said Louisiana State Police Sgt. James Anderson.

The accident reportedly happened early Sunday when an 18-wheeler collided with a pickup truck and turned over near Hamshire Road. The 18-wheeler spilled the corrosive chemical isobutene, police said.

Nearby residents were evacuated, and a hazmat team is working on the cleanup and off-loading of the chemical, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety news release.

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August 31, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Sulphur Council changes two animal ordinances

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

SULPHUR — The City Council on Wednesday amended two animal ordinances.

The first dealt with trapping nuisance animals. A $25 deposit will now be required for city residents issued a trap to use on their property.

“Numerous (cages) have turned up missing, so this is fully refundable and it just covers the cost of the cage if not returned,” said Mayor Chris Duncan.

A public hearing will be held on the issue on Sept. 13, Duncan said.

The other ordinance added wording to the definitions of feral and nuisance animals.

“Feral animals” are domesticated animals that have reverted to a wild, natural state.

A “nuisance animal” is one that “damages, soils, defiles private property”; “causes a disturbance”; or “molests, attacks or interferes with persons in the public right of way.”

link: http://bit.ly/csMfmx

August 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm

LC contractor charged in St. Landry construction fraud

*published Aug. 24, 2010

A Lake Charles contractor was charged last week with fraud involving a St. Landry Parish construction project.

According to records, Charles Wayne Reeves, 48, was arrested at about noon on Aug. 13 by Lake Charles police at his 2875 Derek Drive office.

A warrant charged Reeves with misapplication of payments, according to Krotz Springs police.

According to booking information at Calcasieu Correc–tional Center, Reeves was ordered held for extradition to St. Landry Parish.

The amount involved in the contract fraud is $447,000, according to the arrest warrant.

The incident is reportedly related to the construction of a Dollar General store in Krotz Springs.

Reeves owns Reeves Development, which has developed subdivisions in Lake Charles and Vinton and built retail stores such as O’Reilly Auto Parts and Dollar General.

Reeves Development’s website describes the company as a premier developer for the Dollar General Corp., “providing prototype construction for a number of Dollar Generals in Louisiana, Texas, Colorado and Indiana.”

link: http://bit.ly/cpVsuW

August 24, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Trooper Dalton honored with US 171 memorial designation

*published Aug. 24, 2010
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

At a Monday ceremony dedicating a stretch of U.S. 171 to fallen state police Trooper Duane Dalton, his co-workers remembered him for his humor and willingness to help others.

Dalton was killed in a Jan 12 on-duty accident on U.S.. 171.

As his training officer, Trooper Josh Duhon described Dalton as a great teacher, using personal lessons he learned while on duty as a freshman trooper.

“I have to say I learned more from him than any other FTO,” Duhon said.

“His training style was hands-on,” said Trooper David Lonkowski. “He believed in showing you and leading by example.”

Lonkowski said Dalton “never ran across a strang–er.” “He tried to make everyone feel comfortable,” Lonkowski said.

Trooper John Goodly described Dalton as a super nice guy who was quick to provide backup to other troopers on a call.

Dalton was a native of Radford, Va., and came to Southwest Louisiana during his time in the Army.

He worked for the Lake Charles Police Department before moving to state police, where he worked in gaming and patrol.

“He liked the fact that he helped people, whether it be an arrest in a domestic disturbance or a traffic accident,” Duhon said.

Dalton was also a fun person to work with, according to the troopers at the ceremony, who said he “could make anyone laugh.”

“I referred to him as the gentle giant because he was huge,” Goodly said of Dalton, who stood about 6 feet 4 inches tall. “If he came to your scene and you had an unruly person or something, they’d see him and quiet down.”

“Little did they know he was harmless. He’s definitely missed, along with his corny jokes.”

The one-mile stretch of U.S. 171 dedicated to Dalton runs from Sam Houston Jones Parkway to You Winn Road.

The proclamation came about from a bill co-sponsored by State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, and Sen. Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles.

His widow, Charissa, thanked the attendees for the dedication as well as the help she has received from them since her husband’s death.

“The support has been overwhelming. They’ve all been there to help me with anything I’ve needed, from yard work to whatever. They’ve been there,” Charissa Dalton said.

link: http://bit.ly/9xoV6h

August 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Compromise reached in Westlake police suspension

*published Aug. 17, 2010
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

WESTLAKE — The West–lake City Council on Monday crafted a compromise bet–ween Police Chief Jeremy Cryer and a city police officer challenging him for his job who was initially put on a two-week suspension.

As of Monday, Capt. Michael Dickerson is on voluntary unpaid leave until the Oct. 2 municipal election. Cryer said has said the suspension was not politically motivated.

The decision came after an hour-long session in which Cryer presented the findings of an internal investigation into allegations that Dicker–son threatened a woman while on duty on July 28.

The suspension is now in effect for eight days, and Dickerson is allowed to use benefits such as vacation and comp time to collect pay until the election.

Cryer would not say who suggested the compromise, but that he had no complaints about the decision.

Dickerson, a 14-year department veteran, has denied the allegations, but declined to comment further.
The incident was reportedly over a campaign sign.

On July 27, the owner of a hair salon on Sampson Street reportedly allowed Dickerson to place a campaign sign in front of her business.

The complainant, Pam Richmond, works at the salon and said she was under the impression that Cryer would also place a campaign sign in front of the business.

On the morning of July 28, Richmond said she moved the sign, with the owner’s permission, to an area behind the building to protect it from coming bad weather.

Dickerson reportedly asked Richmond not to remove the sign and said that if she didn’t like it, to call him and he would remove it.

Richmond said Dickerson came in the salon, spoke with the owner, then came and blocked her in a corner. She said he used a very “angry tone” and had “angry eyes.”

“I thought he was about to get violent,” Richmond said. “I was shocked, and that’s why I filed the complaint.”

Richmond said she lives outside the city limits and has no stake in the election. She also said her son, Tho–mas Richmond, a Westlake police officer, had no bearing on her decision.

“An issue occurred, I had to take action,” Cryer said. “Obviously I think I did the right thing.”

link: http://bit.ly/bhCLf6

August 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm

City attorney backs Cryer

*published Aug. 13, 2010
Van Norman: Westlake police chief had inherent right to suspend officer
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

WESTLAKE — Citing state Supreme Court cases, City Attorney John Van Norman III said that being able to suspend an officer is one of Police Chief Jeremy Cryer’s inherent rights as chief.

On Monday, Aug. 9, Cryer suspended Michael Dickerson, his opponent in the upcoming election, for two weeks after an internal investigation determined he threatened a woman while on duty. Dickerson has denied the allegation, but on his counsel’s advice declined to comment further.

Under R.S. 33:423, chiefs in certain small towns “shall make recommendations to the mayor and board of aldermen for appointment of police personnel, for the promotion of officers, to effect disciplinary action, and for dismissal of police personnel.”

The provision is part of the Lawrason Act, a set of laws that Westlake was incorporated under. The statutes exempt more than a dozen municipalities, along with towns whose populations fell between 5,900 and 6,200 people as of the 1990 census. None of the exemptions apply to Westlake.

Van Norman said he knows the law grants oversight powers to the city’s governing board, but that he deferred to the chief’s inherent power to run his office.

“If you have an officer who doesn’t want to work on Saturday and he goes to the City Council, is the chief supposed to let that shift be short an officer,” he said.

Van Norman cited two state Supreme Court cases: Lentini v. Kenner and Gros v. Patterson.

In the Lentini case, the high court agreed with a police chief’s contention that a city ordinance, in listing specific job duties for chiefs, unlawfully limited his authority.

“Municipalities derive their powers from the State,” the ruling reads. “Being creatures of this higher authority, they cannot legislate beyond the bounds fixed by the State Constitution and general laws.”

In the Gros case, the court said the assistant police chief of Patterson couldn’t sue for back pay and benefits he said he was owed for the period between his suspension by the chief and his firing by the council.

His pay had been withheld by the mayor.

The justices agreed with an appellate court ruling that said Gros wasn’t entitled to recover wages because he never took legal action against the suspension.

link: http://bit.ly/c78SdL

August 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm

LifeShare reports blood shortage

*published Aug. 13, 2010
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Southwest Louisiana medical specialists have only a two-day emergency supply of blood — far below the optimum six-day reserve, said Kristi Morris with LifeShare Blood Centers.

“If a hurricane comes, residents evacuate, but accidents can still happen and surgeries can happen,” Morris said. “A lot of time, doctors will need blood.”

The schools’ summer recess usually leads to a drop in donations, but the higherthan-normal temperatures — which have curbed blood drives at area industries — have contributed to an even lower donor rate, Morris said.

“When the weather is this hot, it’s just not a good idea to have them donate and then have to go out and work,” she said.

About 40 percent of the area population is eligible to give blood, but only about 5 percent actually do, she said.

“If every person who could give blood did so at least once a year, I don’t think we would have shortages,” Morris said.

Things to keep in mind
“Most people don’t realize how many different patients need blood transfusions,” she said.

Heart patients with chronic problems are usually on blood thinners, so when they need surgery, they need transfusions to introduce platelets so blood will clot. Leukemia patients also need blood transfusions.

“Any radiation treatments affect bone marrow, and that’s where most of your blood is produced,” Morris said.

Donated blood is only good for 42 days, and platelets are only good for five days, she said.

“So we can’t just stockpile blood during the peak donation times. We have to always be thinking about that turnaround,” Morris said.

For those who are scared of needles or don’t think blood shortages are a big deal, she said, “I always remind people to think about how they would feel if a family member or child needed a blood transfusion, but couldn’t get it because of this shortage.”

LifeShare, at 214 Dr. Michael DeBakey Drive, is open 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-noon every first and third Saturday.

link: http://bit.ly/a6UaxT

August 13, 2010 at 7:51 pm

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