Posts tagged ‘louisiana’

Marketing seen as key for Louisiana shrimpers

*published Apr. 4, 2011

Taking the helm of the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force, Mark Abraham said the board is facing a number of issues, with the most serious being marketing.

“We first need to decide if we are going to market as Louisiana shrimp or Gulf shrimp,’’ said Abraham, a managing partner of Gulf Island Shrimp and Seafood, a shrimp-processing company.

The task force would present suggestions to the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

“I know they keep in touch with their counterparts in other states, but also private entrepreneurs, like the American Shrimp Processors Association are discussing it,” Abraham said.

Along with its regular budget, the board is also receiving about $30 million from BP over an 18-month period that will go towards seafood marketing.

Similar amounts will be given to states impacted by the April 20, 2010, oil spill.

Abraham said he believes the oil spill will be good for Gulf shrimpers.

“We now have the most tested shrimp in the world. And everything that’s been done shows that our shrimp and seafood are safe to eat,” Abraham said.

Abraham said he expects the task force to take a united stand.

“I spoke with Clint Guidry (president of the La. Shrimp Association and task force member) and he said, ‘Look, the main goal is to market so we sell more and you sell more,’ so I was glad he had that attitude,” Abraham said.

Abraham said he will suggest the multi-state approach because he’s seen it work before.

“As a member of the Wild American Shrimp board, we were able to get federal dollars to market shrimp for eight states,” Abraham said. “Our focus was to differentiate ourselves from the imported shrimp.

“We wanted them to know that wild-caught shrimp tasted better and didn’t have antibiotics that certain countries use in their hatcheries.’’

The organization was also instrumental in getting country-of-origin labels put on shrimp, Abraham said.

“I think most people assume, since they live in Louisiana, they must be eating Louisiana shrimp,” said Kevin Savoie, an area agent with he LSU AgCenter. “If you go to any large supermarket, you have to check the label.”

Savoie said at restaurants, patrons should also ask because larger chains may not use locally caught seafood.

“About 90 percent of what we consume in the U.S. is imported,” Savoie said.

Americans consume about 1.3 billion pounds of shrimp each year, with about 200 million pounds coming from Gulf and south Atlantic waters, according to the American Shrimp Processors Association.

American shrimpers have been able to regain more market share thanks to anti-dumping tariffs set in 2006 by the International Trade Commission.

The tariffs were placed on Brazil, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam after shrimpers and shrimp processors sued the countries when imports increased about 30 percent between 2001 and 2003.

The tariffs reduced import shrimp market share from 59 percent to 46 percent and the ITC recently renewed the tariffs for another five years.

Two issues remain with the tariffs. During the first five years, shrimpers and shrimp processors got a percentage of the tariffs, which they used for marketing.

“This renewal of the tariff is just that,” Abraham said. “The shrimpers and processor associations spent millions on the lawsuit, but now all of the money from the tariffs go to the federal government.”

Abraham said Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter have teamed with senators in seven other states to lobby for a percentage of the money to go back to the states for marketing.

During the February hearings before the ITC renewal, the Times-Picayune newspaper reported that Landrieu took Customs and Border Protection to task for not properly collecting tariffs.

A 2010 customs report said there were about $14 million in uncollected tariffs on shrimp and crawfish. Landrieu said an audit by her office of 2008 tariffs showed they missed almost $42 million that year.

Attorneys for the American Shrimp Processing Association also said international seafood companies often changed their names or changed the nation of origin to a country not covered by the tariff.

Landrieu asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to respond in writing on how her department would handle the problems.

Abraham said the first task force meeting will be April 21, and other issues will include developing a sustainability program for shrimping.

April 4, 2011 at 12:44 am

State ranks fifth in train-vehicle accidents

Louisiana ranks fifth in the nation for the most vehicle-train collisions, according to the latest Federal Railroad Administration data.

The same data shows that Calcasieu ranks seventh-highest in the state in vehicle-train collisions.

According to the data, vehicle-train collisions are on the rise. There were 2,004 vehicle-train collisions in 2010 in the United States. A total of 260 people died and 810 people were injured in those accidents. In 2009, there were 1,924 vehicle-train collisions with 247 deaths and 738 injuries.

Louisiana had 106 vehicle-train collisions in 2010 with 13 fatalities and 65 injuries, compared to 84 collisions in 2009 with 11 fatalities and 36 injuries.

The state ranked fifth highest in the nation in highway-rail collisions, fourth highest in fatalities, third highest in injuries and 14 highest in trespass casualties and injuries.

Trespass casualties are incidents that do not happen at a crossing, such as a person walking on train tracks.

According to Operation Lifesaver Inc., the reason for the increase in collisions could be that more people are traveling because of the steadily-improving economy.

Also in Southwest Louisiana, Allen Parish ranked 18th in the state for the most vehicle-train collisions; Jeff Davis, 20th; and Beauregard, 38th. Cameron Parish does not have any train tracks and was not ranked.

In trespass casualties and injuries, Calcasieu is ranked 10th in the state and Allen is 15th. Beauregard and Jeff Davis had no casualties and were not ranked.

On the law enforcement side of Operation Lifesaver, Louisiana State Police conduct railroad crossing enforcement details throughout the state throughout the state.

State police and Operation Lifesaver has speakers and troopers available to schools, city agencies and civic groups.

In 2010, during four details, troopers issued 143 citations, which included 98 for failure to obey a signal indicating the approach of a train.

Louisiana law require drivers to make complete stops at crossings where red lights are flashing, which indicates a train is approaching.

Failure to obey signals can garner a $200 fine and 30 days in jail for the first offense. The fine for racing a train is $1,000.

March 18, 2011 at 1:07 am

Turkey numbers down in Louisiana

There has been a downward trend in the reproduction of wild turkey in Louisiana, but the numbers are still healthy, officials say. (Larry Prince / national Wild Turkey federation)

The wild turkey population in Louisiana remains strong despite a few bad reproductive seasons over the past decade, according to a recent report by the state department of wildlife and fisheries and the National Wild Turkey Foundation.

The 2010 Louisiana Wild Turkey Report outlined what hunters should expect for the 2011 season, which starts Saturday, and the state of the once endangered bird.

A 2009 summer survey showed the second-lowest statewide production in the 16 years officials have collected data. It is part of a continuing trend in declining poult — or baby turkey — production. Turkeys breed once a year.

After about a month of incubation, the poults hatch and are highly susceptible to predators and adverse weather during their first two weeks of life. Within a few more months, evasion skills develop.

Last year, four of five habitat regions were below their long-term average.

Four poults per hen — or mother turkey — is considered an excellent yearly average and all five habitat regions had below average PPHs.

Contributing factors that disturbed the hatching season and caused the decline included excessive rain, drought and predators.

Most of Southwest Louisiana is in the Western Longleaf Pine region and had a 2.8 PPH ratio, which was the highest of all five.

The season

Statewide, in 2010, wildlife agents conducted almost 1,500 hunter compliance checks. About 96 percent of the hunters were in compliance. The majority of hunters not in compliance were under 18 years of age. In 2009, it was lifetime license holders.

The most common infractions were not having valid turkey tags while hunting, missing tags not validated and harvested turkeys not properly tagged.

Wildlife officials stressed the importance of timely reporting of turkey harvests, because it is a major factor in managing the bird and its hunting seasons. The 2010 compliance rate was 91 percent.

The majority of turkeys — 78 percent, or 1,734 — were harvested on private lands. Compliance numbers for these areas are unknown, but officials said they believe them to be considerably lower than harvests in wildlife management areas.

In the Western Longleaf Pine region, there are seven WMAs, covering 316,000 acres.

The department of wildlife and fisheries host youth hunts that are selected by lottery. The information is listed on their website. Last year, there were 14 WMA youth hunts and 110 kids harvested eight adult turkeys.


March 14, 2011 at 1:25 am

La., Texas united against synthetic marijuana sales

In the war on drugs, Texas and Louisiana continue to maintain a united front.

On Wednesday, about 40 officers and prosecutors met in Lake Charles to discuss how to combat the latest issue in their areas: synthetic marijuana.

District Attorney John DeRosier said about 30 stores in Calcasieu Parish sell the products — an herbs-and-spices mixture sprayed with chemicals that mimic THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana.

“They are marketed as incense, but kids and young adults are smoking it to get high,” DeRosier said.

Louisiana passed legislation in June 2009 that outlawed the five main chemicals used in the substance, but within in a month, companies switched out one or two compounds to circumvent the law, DeRosier said.

“After meeting today, we think we have crafted language that would ban all synthetic cannabinoids that they are coming out with,” he said.

Jefferson County (Texas) Sheriff Mitch Woods said the goal is to get legislation passed in both states around the same time. The Louisiana and Texas legislatures will go into session in April and January.

“This synthetic marijuana came up in the last year or so, and it’s just become a severe problem nationwide,” said Woods, whose jurisdiction includes Beaumont and Port Arthur.

He said there is a lot unknown about the effects on users of the synthetic marijuana, which is packaged under titles like Night Fire, Spice and K2. The herbs are usually sold in one-gram packs for $20 to $40.

“In the last two months, we had a young man whose death was attributed to the synthetic marijuana,” Woods said.

On Aug. 6, Dallas teen Dominique Tate, 19, reportedly died after witnesses said he smoked a large amount of K2.

“He passed out, and they put him to bed. The next day they took him to the hospital, where he died,” Woods said.

DeRosier said Calcasieu deputies have stopped impaired drivers who admitted smoking the synthetic marijuana.

In Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, District Attorney Patricia Lykos said federal intervention may be necessary.

“These drugs are brought in by foreign chemical companies mainly in India and China, and the state department needs to put pressure on them,” she said.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 15 states have tried to control the chemicals. The DEA — in response to the substance’s changing composition — announced it would use its emergency scheduling authority to classify the five chemicals as Schedule I drugs.

This would make possessing and selling the chemicals illegal for at least a year. During that time, the Department of Health and Human Services would look into whether the chemicals should be permanently controlled.

December 9, 2010 at 2:39 am

Emergency Supply Kit (video)

May 30, 2010 – Hurricane season begins June 1st and Louisiana is having it’s Hurricane Preparedness Tax Holiday May 29th and 30th. Here are a few things you should have in your kit and what is tax exempt.
To view the video, CLICK HERE.

May 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Cold Case Card Deck (video)

April 20, 2010 – Louisiana Crime Stoppers and the Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections have teamed up to put together a card deck of unsolved homicides, missing persons and unidentified body cases. The decks will be distributed in Louisiana prisons and inmates have the option of anonymously reporting information on the crimes.

To watch video, CLICK HERE.

Article by Doris Maricle

April 20, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Residents skeptical over Bayou d’Inde cleanup proposal


About 20 residents expressed their doubts on Tuesday about the state Department of Environmental Quality’s proposed plans to clean up Bayou d’Inde near Sulphur.

Those plans include dredging parts of the bayou and placing “clean sediment in fringe marsh areas,” according to the DEQ site “Draft Decision document.”

Many said they believe the plants and refineries along the bayou and nearby ship channel are trying to cover up years of pollution with a subpar plan.

“I find it remarkable that the people responsible for what has happened don’t have the courage to talk to the public and explain the reasoning (for this),” said Paul Ringo of Lake Charles. “After seven years, this is the best they could come up with?”

The document says the dredging and cover suggestions were formed after a “corrective action study” by the Bayou d’Inde Group, which consists of PPG Industries, Citgo, Occidental Chemical Corp. and Westlake Polymers LP.

“They are basically redistributing sediment they know is toxic,” Ringo said. “There’s no mention of tides or anything showing where it will go.”

Michael Tritico of Longville noted that the plan didn’t cover all bordering marsh areas, which he said were also determined to contain toxic levels of chemicals.

He cited a friend’s property along the bayou that showed high levels of dioxin, a byproduct of chemical manufacturing.

“I don’t understand how that area got left out, or why,” Tritico said.

Jill Hinds of Sulphur recounted a list of cancer deaths in her family that she attributed to living on the property they owned along the bayou.

“Both of my parents, a brother and two sisters died of cancer, and I’ve had cancer twice,” Hinds said.

“I don’t have the same stories of my dad fishing in the bayou. There were no fish in the water, and we would come home to this horrible smell.”

Tom Harris, an administrator with DEQ’s Remediation Services Division, said the plans presented “are just the big picture selection process.”

“We have told the group that a biomonitoring plan will be required, and that’s the next step, to prove their plan will work,” he said.

According to background listed in the draft document, “contaminated sediments of the estuary come from industrial facility discharges, urban and agricultural activities, dredging, storm runoff and accidental releases.”

The “Human Health Risk Evaluation” section of the document says “lifetime cancer risks from the consumption of fish and shellfish from Bayou D’Inde were above acceptable range. The majority of the risk was due to the presence of dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in shellfish tissue.”

The comment period for the remediation project ends at noon April 6. Written comments can be sent to Soumaya Ghosn, LDEQ Public Participation Group, P.O. Box 4313, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4313.


March 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Appeal judge’s mother admits to stealing more than $100,000


ALEXANDRIA — The mother of a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal judge has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing more than $100,000 from the federal government by falsifying her father’s veterans pension forms.

According to court documents, Fontaine C. Gremillion, mother of current Judge Shannon J. Gremillion and wife of former state appellate Judge Glenn Gremillion, failed to list on the forms about $41,000 in income from a rental property.

Gremillion, who has power of attorney for her father, James F. Cook, reportedly collected $110,848 from $1,675 monthly benefit payments from about July 2001 to July 2005.

Had she disclosed the property income, the benefit would have amounted to only $319 per month, according to court records.

Sentencing guidelines would require Gremillion to repay the full amount, but federal judges can exercise discretion in such matters.


January 6, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Local police break record for seized prescriptions

*Nov. 9, 2009
Task force director: Cooperation between states, laws necessary

Local law enforcers seized more than 3,100 prescription pills last week, pushing them past their 2008 record of 7,244 illegal pills confiscated, according to Combined Anti-Drug Task Force statistics.

Director Lt. Billy Chapman says he thinks good law enforcement has contributed to those numbers, but there are other factors that are more important.

In 2007, 56 people overdosed on prescription drugs in Calcasieu Parish. In 2008, there were 33 overdoses. So far this year, there have been 23.

“It’s a gradual decrease as we get everything working together,” Chapman said.

“Everything” isn’t just in Louisiana. Chapman said about 95 percent of all illegal drugs in Southwest Louisi–ana are coming from southeast Texas.

“We have local and federal officers we speak to every week in Houston and Orange and Beaumont,” Chapman said. “But they (in Texas) don’t have the laws in place yet to make arrests.”

The laws he is referring to would be similar to doctor shopping, drug-monitoring and labeling statutes in Louisiana that have been passed in the past three or four years.

A doctor-shopping bill would make it a felony to have a prescription filled at multiple clinics or pharmacies within a certain amount of time.

The Louisiana prescription drug-monitoring law gave the go-ahead to set up a database — accessible only by doctors, pharmacists and law enforcers — that shows how much of a scheduled drug was prescribed to a person in the state.

The most-recent law passed in Louisiana was to change Soma from a legend drug to a schedule IV drug. As a legend drug, doctors and pharmacists did not have to report how much of the drug they were prescribing and dispensing.

“This was a big step, because Soma is part of that trilogy of pills — along with hydrocodone and Xanax — people are getting when they doctor shop.

These laws have made it difficult to get large quantities of prescription pills in Louisiana, but a large supply is available across the border in Texas.

Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier had been working with Texas legislators to push through tougher regulations of prescription pills.

In this latest session, Texas passed a law that required all pain management clinics to be owned by a physician registered with the state board of health.

“Before, anybody could own a clinic and hire a doctor to run it,” Chapman said. “So what we were finding is the doctor was only there a few days a week and doctor’s assistants and nurses were writing the majority of the prescriptions.”

Texas’ Legislature meets every two years, instead of every year.

“People always need to understand that this takes time,” Chapman said. “When we got the prescription monitoring law passed, it took another year for us to get the database set up, and there is always something we can fix.”

A doctor-shopping bill will be presented in the next Texas Legislature.

“After that we’ll be rocking and rolling,” Chapman said. “The goal is always to stop it from even getting out there.”


November 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Officials want to clear up career diploma misinformation

*published Sept. 30, 2009

The pros and cons of the state’s career diploma program were hashed out Tuesday by local and state officials at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Pat Deville, director of high school curriculum and instruction for Calcasieu Parish, talked about implementation of the program, which the parish has planned on a one-year timeline.

Deville said parents should be aware that students graduating under the program are not eligible for TOPS scholarships.

Roger Creel, parish director of technical and career education, said he wanted to rebut criticisms that the career diploma is a “watereddown curriculum.”

He offered a chart comparing requirements of the career diploma to regular core requirements for students who plan to attend four-year colleges.

Differences include that some core classes, such as math and English, may be tailored toward the specific vocation the student chooses. Another difference is that in place of LEAP exams, students have career technical education end-of-course exams.

Patrick Dobard, deputy director of governmental affairs for the state Depart–ment of Education, explained why legislators felt the program is important.

“We have a lot of companies who need welders and pipefitters and other skilled laborers,” he said. “So we want to put students on a track to the vocational and technical education that qualifies them for these jobs.”

Dobard said there will be accountability in the program because each school is required by law to have a dropout or mentor program.

James Strahan, a parish resident attending the forum, asked how officials plan to reach and educate parents.

No state funds are allocated to fund more counselors or personnel.

Deville said local school officials have planned meetings with counselors and an information campaign for parents to help them understand the program.

“We’ve had a lot of brainstorming sessions to make sure no one gets left out of the loop and that we can meet parents one on one,” Deville said. “It’s going to be a busy summer, but we can get it done.”


September 30, 2009 at 6:47 pm

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