Archive for November, 2010

Twisters touch down in SW La.

Some Jeff Davis and Acadia parish residents spent their Black Friday recovering from tornadoes that hit late Thursday night.

In Jennings, a tornado touched down at about 11 p.m. near King Street, according to the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.

“It put a tree in a nearby house, which we had to evacuate, but there were no injuries,” said Jeff Davis Sheriff Ricky Edwards.

The destruction continued on a northeast path, damaging and removing some carports and sending backyard trampolines and toys into neighbors’ yards, officials said.

Edwards said 15 to 20 homes suffered moderate damage. The tornado also caused some power loss, but Edwards said service was mostly restored by 1 a.m.

Another tornado hit around the same time in the northwest part of Acadia Parish, according the Sheriff Wayne Melancon.

Deputies reported that about 20 homes were damaged in Iota and Richard and that winds downed trees and power lines. Some garages and carports were destroyed.

No injuries were reported, officials said.

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November 26, 2010 at 2:45 am

FEMA flood maps: City to see little change

At a Tuesday night Lake Charles City Council agenda meeting, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials presented the new digital flood insurance rate maps for the city.

“You’ll see very little change to the map for the city. And there are areas that have improved because of some drainage projects,” said Michael Hunnicutt, deputy section chief for hazard mitigation.

Thanks to a proactive approach by the city to flood plain management, he said, there are few low-lying areas within the city limits.

FEMA set up a website — lamappingproject.com — for residents who want to see if their zoning status is changing. Resident can put in their addresses and see current and future zoning status.

The maps will take affect Feb. 18. Adoption or failure to do so affects federal funding and mortgage rates, said Hunnicutt.

Wayne Berggren, a federal insurance group supervisor, said a little more than 6,000 flood insurance policies are in affect in the city.

“The average amount of coverage in Calcasieu Parish is $202,000, and the average claim payment is $22,923,” Berggren said.

Hunnicutt said FEMA started the project in 2003, with the goal to redo flood maps across the nation.

In Louisiana, officials needed to re-evaluate some storm surge data after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to accept the maps at the Dec. 15 meeting.

Hunnicutt said Cameron Parish maps are now in the resolution period, in which a group of scientists review them, and that process should be completed within a year.

November 24, 2010 at 2:55 am

Calcasieu to house Beauregard juvenile offenders

In reaching a formal agreement to house Beauregard Parish juvenile offenders, Calcasieu Parish officials said key reforms have allowed them to help out a neighbor.

“Back in 2003, we had an average of 30 of our 38 beds full on a regular basis,” said Dane Bolin, director of Calcasieu Parish Juvenile Justice Services. “Our latest numbers have us averaging 17 kids a day.”

Bolin said Calcasieu had housed Beauregard juvenile offenders before, but that with this formal agreement Calcasieu Parish will “be their first option, and only if they have bed space.”

He said Beauregard officials will have to adhere to Calcasieu Parish admission standards. All juvenile offenders are screened, with mostly violent offenders being admitted.

“Many years ago, and still in some centers today, if a child is picked up for shoplifting, (he or she) might be placed in a detention center with a violent felon,” Bolin said.

“We focus on putting kids with the right resources, and sometimes that is detention. But we make sure not to mix low-risk kids with high-risk kids.”

In Calcasieu Parish, options include electronic monitoring, home detention and the evening reporting center.

Young violators report to or are taken to the center after school; there they can do homework and get needed treatment. They are taken home at 9 p.m.

“We work hard to keep the kids who shouldn’t be here at home, and that’s how our numbers stay low,” Bolin said.

He said housing juveniles out of parish is common because there are 17 centers across the state, which has 64 parishes.

“It really wouldn’t be cost efficient for each parish to have its own detention center,” Bolin said. “So it’s a pretty tight-knit group, and you help each other out when you can.”

The Beauregard Police Jury will pay Calcasieu the state rate of $105 per day per juvenile. On average, juveniles from out of parish stay less than a week.

“It’s not a big moneymaker, but it offsets all costs and does not cut into services for our kids,” Bolin said.

He said he conducted training classes for Beauregard Parish law enforcers to explain how juveniles who committed certain crimes are handled based on reforms Calcasieu Parish has put in place.

November 17, 2010 at 3:01 am

Sulphur police say two meth labs dismantled

Sulphur police on Friday and Saturday dismantled two meth labs, officials said.

The first was discovered Friday morning at Crossland Economy Studios, said police spokesman Mel Estess. There, officers found several products used to manufacture methamphetamine.

No arrests were made.

Officials said the second lab, which was active, was discovered Saturday and two men — David Ellis Ravia, 43 and Joseph Paul O’Quain, 38, both of Sulphur — were arrested.

They were charged with possession of a Schedule II drug, running a clandestine lab and possession of drug paraphernalia. Their bonds were set at $21,000. Anyone with information on the labs can call police at 527-3967.

November 7, 2010 at 3:02 am

Officer guilty of drug charges

A Leesville police officer pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to two drug charges.

Charlie Lopez, 43, of Leesville, was charged with distribution of hydrocodone and anabolic steroids and with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute.

According to federal documents, the investigation began in June when Rosepine police stopped a vehicle that Lopez was in with George and Johnetta Tierney, ages 51 and 44, both of Leesville.

During a consensual search of the vehicle, the officer reportedly found 17.5 hydrocodone and Soma pills in Johnetta Tierney’s purse and hidden in her brassiere.

Both Tierneys refused to identify where they got the pills or say if there were any intended recipients, authorities said.

On Aug. 18, federal agents reportedly recorded Lopez selling anabolic steroids to a “cooperating witness” in the parking lot of the Leesville Police Department. The envelope that contained the steroids had Lopez’s home address and a foreign return address, officials said.

He and the Tierneys were arrested Oct. 22 at separate locations.

The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office charged the Tierneys with distribution of Schedule IV drugs.

Lopez then reportedly admitted that he had been providing hydrocodone and Valium to Leesville Police Chief Bobby Hickman since February 2009, as well as to fellow officers John Simms and Michael Dale Cash.

Lopez reportedly said he gave Hickman 10 to 15 pills two or three times a week and received a promotion and overtime authorizations in exchange.

He also said he placed orders for the steroids online six or seven times in the past year and that he split the first order with Simms, officials said.

Attorneys didn’t comment on the state of the investigation into the other people mentioned in the court documents.

FBI spokesperson Sheila Thorne told the Leesville Daily Leader that no additional arrests have been made in the case.

Lopez is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 3. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

November 5, 2010 at 3:03 am