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News in Brief- February 27, 2019

News in Brief- February 27, 2019

Wanted: Louisiana seafood chefs for cook-off competition

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser is on the hunt for the state's best seafood chefs.

Nungesser, the state's top tourism official, and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board are searching for chefs to compete in the annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off.

This year's event will be held June 18 in Lafayette. Chefs from around the state who are interested in participating must apply by April 12.

Fourteen competition spots are available.

Entrants must be an executive chef for a free-standing Louisiana restaurant that is a member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. Further details and information on previous cook-offs is online at www.LouisianaSeafood.com .

The winner will represent the state at multiple events, including the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans on Aug. 3.

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New Orleans airport posts record-breaking passenger numbers

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport says it had 13.1 million travelers pass through its facility last year, breaking its 2017 passenger record of about 12 million.

The New Orleans Advocate reports the increase in passengers marks the airport's eighth straight year of growth. Director of Aviation Kevin Dolliole says the airport is working to add new flights. Airlines have added or expanded coverage on nine routes, and seven new routes are expected to start this year.

New Orleans and Co. spokesman Kristian Sonnier says a report on the total number of city visitors in 2018 won't be complete until this spring. But he says the number is expected to surpass the 17.7 million people who visited in 2017.

The airport is moving to a new terminal in May.

Information from: The New Orleans Advocate, http://www.neworleansadvocate.com

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Louisiana Department of Health launches new online public request platform

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Health has launched its new online Public Records Request Portal, a more efficient system for the public to request records. The new portal gives users the opportunity to submit public records requests, track their records requests and view an archive of all publicly-accessed records.

The easy-to-use web portal enhances public transparency by standardizing records processing and fulfilling requests in a timely manner, in accordance with Louisiana state law. It also helps the Department better understand the direct costs associated with records processing.

“Through this new Public Records Request Portal, we are directly impacting citizen engagement and transparency. We are excited to make the request process more user friendly for the public and more streamlined and automated for our employees,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary.

Users of the web portal are urged to carefully consider the category in which they are requesting information, as they may otherwise experience delays in receiving records.

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Woman accused of staying in vacant house, selling furniture

PINEVILLE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana woman is accused of living in a vacant house and selling its furniture and appliances.

The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office says the homeowner told investigators he went to clean out the house in Pineville and found a woman living there. Deputies found numerous pieces of furniture and appliances missing.

The Town Talk reports that deputies arrested 30-year-old Jerica Gros of Alexandria on trespassing and simple burglary charges.

A police news release says she apparently had been living in the house since early January and allegedly had scrapped or sold the missing items.

She was arrested Feb. 19 and released Feb. 20 on $4,750 bond.

Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com

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Girls basketball coach pleads guilty to child sex charges

HOUMA, La. (AP) — A Louisiana girls' basketball coach has pleaded guilty to three child sex charges and been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors in Terrebonne Parish say 31-year-old Derrian Williams of Houma pleaded guilty Feb. 15 to trafficking a child for sexual purposes, attempting to do so, and felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

Defense attorney Jerri Smitko tells WWL-TV that federal prosecutors agreed not to bring charges against Williams in exchange for his state court guilty plea.

Assistant District Attorney Bud Barnes tells The Courier that Williams' victims all were from outside Terrebonne Parish.

He was arrested in February 2017. A police report cited a 16-year-old girl from Gulfport, Mississippi, as saying he had made her have sex with him as payment for a ride to Houma.

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Average US price of gas jumps 10 cents per gallon, to $2.44

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline is up 10 cents a gallon over the past two weeks, to $2.44.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says Sunday that the jump follows a rise in crude oil costs.

Lundberg says the price at the pump is 15 cents lower than it was a year ago.

The highest average price in the nation is $3.38 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The lowest average is $2.03 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The average price of diesel rose 3 cents over the past two weeks, to $3.04.