Archive for August, 2010

Candidate for chief of police suspended

*published Aug. 12, 2010
Dickerson allegedly threatened woman

WESTLAKE — A city police officer who’s challenging the chief of police for his job has been suspended for two weeks, but the action apparently violates state law.

Michael Dickerson, a 14-year veteran with the department, was placed on paid leave Monday after an internal investigation showed “numerous policy violations,” Chief Jeremy Cryer said.

Dickerson denied allegations he threatened a woman July 28, but under advice from his attorney, he declined to comment further in an interview with the American Press.

Cryer said his decision wasn’t politically motivated. The chief, who has led the 20-member Westlake Police Department for six years, is facing a challenge from Dickerson in the Oct. 2 election.

“The internal investigation had to take place because he was on duty and in uniform when this took place,” Cryer said.

Under the Lawrason Act — a set of state laws that apply to Westlake and other non-chartered municipalities — elected chiefs can’t promote, discipline or fire officers without first recommending the actions to the mayor and City Council.

In this case, evidence from the internal investigation would have to be presented to the council in executive session, and council members would make a decision.

As of Aug. 11, Westlake city records listed no agenda item for a special meeting or executive session.

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 July 28, Richmond said she moved the sign, with the owner’s permission, to an area behind the building to protect it from 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 had an angry tone and angry eyes.

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

Richmond said she lives outside the city limits and has no stake in the election.

Cryer said he referred her to the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office, which referred her to the district attorney, with whom she is scheduled to meet on Friday.


August 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Depression forms in Gulf

*published Aug. 11,2010

A tropical depression formed in the southeast Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, and forecasters think it will become a named storm by the end of the week.

Late Tuesday, the system, Tropical Depression 5, was about 260 miles southeast of Apalachicola, Fla., with sustained winds of 35 mph and was traveling northwest at 6 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Tropical storm warnings were in place from Destin, Fla., to Intracoastal City, La., including Lake Ponchartrain and New Orleans.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area in the next 36 hours.

Forecasters expect the depression to become Tropical Storm Danielle later today.

Tropical storms have sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.

Workers involved in the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill were ordered out of the Gulf at noon Tuesday.

They are expected to return Monday, but officials said that may change depending on upcoming forecasts.

Forecasters project the storm will make landfall somewhere along the Louisiana coast by the weekend.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency in light of the tropical depression.

Jindal says the declaration is effective through Sept. 9, unless terminated sooner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


August 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm

SW La. nurses ready to work in special needs shelter if needed

*published Aug. 9, 2010

In case of an emergency, medical professionals in the five-parish area are ready to help residents with special needs.

Nurses and other medical officials spent Friday in a refresher course if they have to work in a special needs shelter during a natural disaster.

The in-service training at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital was in cooperation with the state Office of Public Health.

“We always encourage residents with chronic illnesses to have disaster plans to stay with family, to see the shelter as a place of last resort,” said Dr. B.J. Foche, medical director for Region 5 of the Office of Public Health. “But we make sure the nurses have a refresher to keep up with the skills they would need at a special needs shelter.”

Foche would serve as one of the incident commanders if a special needs shelter were set up for a hurricane or flooding.

After morning seminars Friday, the nurses moved through eight stations to have hands-on practice and discussion on some types of medical services they would provide.

The stations included dealing with patients on dialysis, catheter care and proper care for people with pressure wounds.

“They’re going to see patients who are usually cared for at home or are in chronic states of disease,” said Anetha Craft, director of education at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. “Nurses need to know how to properly move a patient. With diabetes, they need to know if there are any new insulins.”

Craft said the refresher was important because the nurses and nurse practitioners may not work in these areas on a regular basis. Other hospital employees who are not medical employees also would be working at the shelter.

“Some people are receptionists or counselors, so even though they won’t administer any medical care, they need to know how to recognize someone who is short of breath or having chest pains, so they can get a nurse’s attention,” Craft said.

For people with breathing tubes or other respiratory issues, sterility and observation are most important, said Anna Naquin, RRT, director of pulmonary medicine at Lake Charles Memorial.

“Many of the patients can take care of themselves, but what happens in an emergency situation? The nurses need to know what to do,” Naquin said.

“Nurses roles have changed over the years and more are just working in specific areas,” said Karen DeMourelle, RN, director of diabetes education. “Just with glucose meters, there are many out there and we need them to know our particular brand and how to use it.”


August 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

‘Baddest Show on Dirt’ makes stop in Lake Charles (multimedia)

Herman Stevens of Lake Charles practices calf roping earlier this week at his residence to get ready to compete in Saturday’s first Lake Charles Black Rodeo at the Civic Center. BY VANESSA DEGGINS

To see video highlights from the rodeo, CLICK HERE.

article by Cliff Seiber:

August 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Pelicans being released in Cameron

*published Aug. 6, 2010

Hammond Rehabilitation Center and state wildlife officials release 15 brown pelicans on Rabbit Island in Cameron Parish on Thursday. BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

CAMERON — State and federal wildlife officials and workers with Hammond Rehabilitation Center on Thursday held the state’s first release of brown pelicans affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil leak.

The 15 birds were released on Rabbit Island, about 5 1/2 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. Previous releases took place in Florida and Georgia.

“We chose this area because it was never impacted by the oil spill, so these birds have less of a chance of being impacted again,” said Tom Hess, a biologist at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier.

Hess, who oversees the brown pelican program at the refuge, said Rabbit Island has served as a nesting colony since 2003. It has about 500 nesting pairs of pelicans that have produced about 1,000 young birds, he said.

Hess said the oldest colony is on Racoon Island, just south of Houma.

“In general, this is a similar habitat because it’s a coastal marsh, the same estuary system and has similar and ample food resources,” said Mike Carloss, a state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist from Baton Rouge.

To see video of the pelican release, CLICK HERE.

For the next 30 days, wildlife officials will feed the birds menhaden, or pogies, and monitor their health and how they interact with the wild population on the island, said Carrie Salyers, a biologist at Rockefeller.

“Most of the birds are pretty young, so we want to make sure they are eating properly and are able to avoid predators,” Salyers said. The newly released birds are marked with a dye.

The brown pelican program was started at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in 1968, after the state bird’s population was devastated by the pesticide DDT, Hess said.

“The birds were brought in from Florida and since then, more than 380,000 pelicans have been reproduced,” he said.

When the birds were found they were taken to the Hammond Rehabilitation Center, where they were evaluated by a veterinarian and then cleaned, said Rhonda Murgatroyd.

“We had planned to bring about 40 birds … but the vets decided to keep the majority for another day of evaluation,” she said.

To limit their stress, the birds were brought to Cameron at about 5 a.m. in a climate-controlled trailer and in covered cages.

“This heat is a real issue, so coming this early in the morning also keeps the birds from being on a hot boat surface,” Murgatroyd said. “We wanted to get them in the water where they can keep cool.”

She said she expects 40 or more pelicans to be released today.


August 6, 2010 at 11:04 pm

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