friday scripts

By Keitha Nelson - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Whether for protection or just show-and-tell, Baton Rouge authorities are fighting a battle against firearms on school campuses and after an incident caught on camera in Mississippi, all hands are on deck to stop students from toting guns in Louisiana.

"This week alone we've had two instances where children have brought guns to school," said East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux. Deputies said a 14-year-old boy brought a loaded .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun to Mayfair Middle School on Monday. Then, a 16-year-old carried a .25 caliber with him to his gym class at Istrouma High on Thursday. "As a parent and as a grandparent, it causes me great concern to know that we have some children with the mind set to do those sorts of things," Gautreaux said.

In Jackson, Mississippi, school bus surveillance video showed a 14-year-old girl taking a handgun out of her book bag, loading it up with bullets, and reportedly threatening her school mates. A football player on the bus tackled her and safely got the gun. No one was hurt. The girl told deputies she was being bullied at school. "Bullying is certainly one of the reasons why young people choose that," said Becky Young, director of I-Care, an outreach program that works in area schools. "Sometimes it's what they live with. In some cases kids are even hearing in the family that what they need to do is defend themselves."

A part of Young's work helps teach kids there are better ways to solve their problems than resorting to violence. "We are trying to work together with law enforcement and the school system and certainly with our families to teach kids that we are all in this together," Young said. "It's going to take a whole community to address these kinds of problems," said Gautreaux.

Both Gautreax and Young said they are proud students are brave enough to stand up and speak out. They encourage kids to speak to an adult about any situation they're not comfortable with. There's also Crime Stoppers. Anonymous calls can be made to 344-7867.

©2009 WAFB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


BATON ROUGE, LA (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal is urging Louisianians to get a regular flu vaccine this year to help lessen pressure on hospitals and doctor's offices that may be overrun with swine flu cases.

The governor gave an update Thursday on the state's preparations to cope with an expected uptick in cases of H1N1, commonly known as swine flu. Jindal said swine flu hasn't shown to be more lethal than seasonal flu strains, but it is more contagious.

A federal vaccine against swine flu will be distributed to states later this year, but if will first go to high-risk population members like pregnant women and children.

Jindal said hospitals are preparing for a possible surge in flu cases.

He said the best thing the state can do to keep from overwhelming hospitals is get the swine flu vaccine distributed to vulnerable populations and get as many people as possible vaccinated for the regular seasonal flu.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


By Cheryl Mercedes - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some Baton Rouge residents are disgusted with the current condition of a popular public swimming pool. Neighbors say the BREC pool, next to McKinley High School, is refreshing during the summer months. But the rest of the year, it's filthy.

The water in the pool is thick, slimy, and crawling with bugs. BREC closed the popular swimming hole for the summer. But, those who live nearby are not happy with what has taken form across the street from their homes. "It smells like a bayou, a fishy bayou," said Phyllis Edmonds.

Residents say it happens every year. But, this is the worst she has seen it. "As far as upkeep, even after (hurricanes) Katrina and Gustav, the water didn't last this long," said Mary Duplantier. She has lived in this neighbhorhood for nearly 50 years. She says BREC workers usually drain the pool eventually. But this, residents say, is a bit much. "Just get rid of all the water. Some pools they actually cover them up. But, this here, I never seen it covered," said Edmonds.

It looks ugly and smells pretty bad. But, residents say they're more concerned about their health. "They got bugs be tearing you up when you come outside," said Edmonds. "When I come out my house I am batting because of the gnats. I was out just for a few minutes one night and I got four mosquito bites," said Duplantier.

Residents say they've called BREC.  "I see them drive up at the pool and keep going. As far as anyone doing anything I have not seen it," said Duplantier.  "All I want is someone to let the water out of the pool," said Edmonds.

Kristy Williams, a spokeswoman for BREC, says the pool has been partially drained. She says the remaining water is necessary to keep the pumps maintained yearround. She also says, while the water may look horrible, it is being chlorinated and is not hazardous.

©2009 WAFB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The case against a teenager accused of shooting three people in the Plank Road Rite Aid last November will continue.

On Thursday morning, a judge allowed a psychiatric report to be entered into evidence.  The report claimed that Michael Nichols is competent to assist in his case.

His case has been moved to district court from juvenile court due to the seriousness of the offense.

A February trial date has also been selected.

©2009 WAFB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


By Caroline Moses - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Hunters and outdoorsmen, listen up!  This weekend just about everything hunting-related will be sold tax-free.  It means you won't pay state or parish taxes thanks to a new law.  It designates Friday through Sunday "Louisiana Second Amendment Weekend."  It's a first for the state, so no one is sure how it will work.

"It comes at a perfect time. Dove season opens this weekend," said Billy Borne.

Billy Borne and his buddy Lawrence Laiche are avid deer hunters.  Along with their sport, comes getting the gear.  We found them shopping for rifles when we surprised them with news of the upcoming tax-free weekend.

"I didn't realize that they had the tax free until you approached me," said Laiche.

After learning that both the four percent state tax and the parish tax will be waived, they decided to hold off on buying anything until the holiday starts Friday morning.

"I think that's real good. We'll be able to buy some good stuff and not spend as much money," said Laiche.

Store managers say customers who know about this holiday have been coming in for days to scope out supplies.

"Because this is my recreation I'm kind of frugal about what I spend and how I spend it," said shopper Randall Thomassie.

"Business will be busy, but we're ready," said Michelle Hebert with Cabela's.

Store owners say some customers are not even aware that on big purchases like ATV's you can save as much as $800.

"It's gonna be a wild ride I've got the funniest feeling," said Lightspeed Motors owner Richard Voivedich.

Voivedich stocked up on ATV's.  He's hoping after people get word of the holiday, he'll sell at least 20 of them this weekend.

"I'd love to see this year-round. The reality is I'll take what I get," said Voivedich.

He says it's an unexpected boom for business and a perk for customers, as long as they make it by Sunday night.

"It's our interpretation that if it's not handled by Sunday night and the taxation handled by then you're out," said Voivedich.

The tax-free holiday applies to all firearms, ammunition, supplies, even boats and ATV's used for hunting.  For now, the holiday is only scheduled for this year, but many customers and store owners hope legislators pass a similar bill next year.

©2009 WAFB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NEW ORLEANS, LA (AP) - A federal judge presiding over hundreds of lawsuits against Chinese drywall makers and installers says he hopes to hold the first trial in January 2010.

During a hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon said he expects lawyers on both sides to pick an additional five plaintiffs for trials that would follow in early 2010.

But a lead lawyer for companies named as defendants said attorneys may need more time to prepare for the first batch of bellwether trials.

Fallon is overseeing hundreds of cases from around the nation that claim Chinese-made drywall emits chemical compounds that have ruined houses and harmed residents' health.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)