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News in Brief, August 15, 2018

News in Brief, August 15, 2018

Louisiana commission touting new highway safety laws

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's Highway Safety Commission is touting new laws that toughen DWI provisions and create new penalties to stem dangerous driving during floods.

The laws, passed during this year's regular legislative session, took effect Aug. 1.

Anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated and subjected to a blood, breath or urine test will face a $125 fine for the testing, a $50 increase.

Judges also can now extend probation longer for people convicted of third- and fourth-offense DWIs in a specialty court program. The commission says the provision is aimed at improving access to monitored substance abuse treatment.

Lawmakers also targeted drivers who cause dangerous wakes speeding through flooded areas. They could face up to 250 hours community service and a two-year driver's license suspension for careless operation of a motor vehicle.


Police: Woman stabbed 29 times in street in front of son

GRETNA, La. (AP) — Police in Louisiana say a mother was pushing her 1-year-old son in a stroller when her boyfriend stabbed her 29 times and left her to die in a street alongside her crying son.

Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson tells news outlets 35-year-old Traniel Gray died of stab wounds to the face, neck and body. The child wasn't physically injured and is in the custody of the state Department of Children and Family Services.

The killing occurred around 5 a.m. Thursday. Gray and 41-year-old Damone Ussin were seen walking with the stroller on surveillance cameras. Police suspect Ussin stabbed Gray and fled.

Ussin was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. He was also booked on an arrest warrant accusing him of battering Gray in July. It's unclear if Ussin has a lawyer.


National rig count jumps by 13; Louisiana gains 6 rigs

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. has jumped by 13 this week to 1,057.

At this time a year ago there were 949 active rigs.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that 869 rigs drilled for oil this week and 186 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana gained six rigs and New Mexico increased by five. Alaska and Oklahoma each gained two. California and Ohio added a rig apiece.

Texas, meanwhile, lost two rigs, while Arkansas, Kansas and Pennsylvania each decreased by one.

Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming were unchanged from last week.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May 2016 at 404.


Spending OK'd for Louisiana criminal justice revamp savings

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — State lawmakers have agreed to an $8.5 million spending plan for the first dollars saved by shrinking Louisiana's prison population through sentencing law changes enacted last year.

The state corrections department says Louisiana is spending $12.2 million less this year than it would have spent on prisons because of the overhaul. Under the law, 70 percent must be reinvested in the criminal justice system.

The joint House and Senate budget committee voted without objection Friday for the $8.5 million list.

Much of the money will be steered to sheriffs to increase programs aimed at keeping exiting inmates from returning to crime, such as education and work programs. Some money will pay for transitional housing for people leaving prison. And $1.7 million will be spent on programs for victims of crime.


Healthgrades recognizes Thibodaux Regional Medical Center 

THIBODAUX, La. – Thibodaux Regional Medical Center announces that it has received the Healthgrades 2018 Outstanding Patient Experience Award™. This award places Thibodaux Regional in the Top 5% in the nation and the only hospital in Louisiana who has earned this distinction 11 years in a row.

Healthgrades, the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals, evaluated over 3500 hospitals nationwide.

Healthgrades assesses hospital performance by applying a scoring methodology to 10 patient experience measures, using data collected from a 32-question patient experience survey of the hospital’s own patients. The survey questions focus on patients’ perspectives of their care in the hospital with topics that range from cleanliness and noise levels in patient rooms to factors such as pain management and responsiveness to patients’ needs.

The measures also include whether a patient would recommend the hospital to friends or family.


Lafayette seeks to remake Oil Center business district

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Officials in Acadiana's largest city are hoping to lure residents to a commercial and business district.

KATC-TV reports Lafayette officials are promoting plans to redevelop the city's Oil Center district, once a hub for petroleum exploration offices.

Downtown Development Authority CEO Geoff Dyer says the plan aims to make the Oil Center more walkable and increase business at night. The city could add on-street parking along a major thoroughfare and narrow travel lanes to reduce driver speed.

Renderings envision three and four-story buildings with businesses on ground floors and residents living upstairs. One- and two-story buildings dominate today.

Not everyone is eager for taller buildings. Holly Cure of Antoni's Italian Cafe says she prefers lower structures.

Dyer says officials hope to promote redevelopment gradually to avoid harming existing businesses.

Information from: KATC-TV,