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Local News Archives for 2016-08

Federal Grand Jury indicts 6 Explo company officials for offenses related to Camp Minden, Louisiana ammunition disposal

SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced thaa federal grand jury returned a 32-count indictment, unsealed today, charging six company officials of Explo Systems Inc. of defrauding the federal government and committing federal offenses relating to a munitions demilitarization contract with the U.S. Army.

Explo owner David Perry Fincher, 68, of Burns, Tenn.; owner David Alan Smith, 61, of Winchester, Ky.; Vice Present of Operations William Terry Wright, 62, of Bossier City, La.; Program Manager Kenneth Wayne Lampkin, 64, of Haughton, La.; Traffic and Inventory Control Manager Lionel Wayne Koons, 57, of Haughton; and Director of Engineering and Environmental Control Charles Ferris Callihan, 66, of Shreveport, were all charged with one count of criminal conspiracy. The indictment also charges multiple counts of making false statements to a federal agency or official and wire fraud. See Appendix.

Explo Systems Inc. is a private company whose primary business operations involved the demilitarization of military munitions and the subsequent resale of the recovered energetic materials for mining operations. According to the indictment, the U.S. Army awarded Explo a contract on March 24, 2010 to dispose of 450,000 155 mm artillery propelling charges designated as M119A2 for $2,902,500. The Army and Explo officials later amended the contract on March 6, 2012 to dispose of 1,350,000 charges for $8,617,500.  Once Explo demilitarized the propelling charge, ownership of the residual components (M6 propellant or M6) transferred to Explo. The contract required Explo to properly store and dispose of the demilitarized M6. The contract also required Explo to document the sale of the demilitarized M6 by completing an End User Certificate (EUC). On the EUC, the purchaser of the demilitarized M6 certified the purchase and compliance with applicable federal laws. Once the EUCs were certified, Explo submitted the EUCs to the Army.

On October 15, 2012, an explosion occurred at a munitions storage igloo on Camp Minden. The explosion contained approximately 124,190 pounds of smokeless powder and a box van trailer containing approximately 42,240 pounds of demilitarized M6. The damage destroyed the igloo and trailer, shattered windows of dwellings within a four-mile radius, and derailed 11 rail cars near the storage igloo.  

The indictment alleges that the defendants made false statements to the Army’s Joint Munitions Command (JMC) to procure and maintain the M6 demilitarization contract; caused the improper and unsafe storage of demilitarized M6 propellant and other explosive material on Explo’s Camp Minden facility; obstructed and impeded government inspections and examinations of areas of the facility where the explosive materials were improperly stored; caused third parties to sign off on EUCs as purchasers when in fact no sales had occurred; caused false EUCs containing forged and fabricated signatures to be submitted to the JMC; caused the improper storage and subsequent transportation of reactive hazardous waste to unpermitted non-hazardous waste landfills in Louisiana and Arkansas to make room for storage of M6 propellant at Camp Minden; and made false statements after the October 15, 2012 explosion to government officials and others in order to conceal their illegal conduct and prevent discovery of improperly stored M6.

 “Companies tasked with the demilitarization of military grade explosives are required to properly document, safely store and dispose of these materials,” said U.S. Attorney Finley.  “These measures are taken to protect the public and the environment. Any business that does not honor its contract or abide by federal and state laws will be prosecuted.”

“We are very pleased with today’s announcement,” said Frank Robey, Director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  “Fortunately, no one was injured, and these indictments will serve as a strong deterrent to those thinking of defrauding the government.”

“These indictments demonstrate that EPA, and its law enforcement partners will hold accountable those who fail to comply with the laws that protect our communities,” said Chris Brooks Special Agent in Charge, Dallas Region, EPA-Criminal Investigation Division.

The defendants face five years in prison for the conspiracy count, five years in prison for each false statement count, and 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count. They also face a $250,000 fine and three to five years of supervised release for each count.

The Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, FBI, and the Louisiana State Police-Emergency Service Unit investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

DEFENDANTS AND CHARGES

David Perry Fincher: Criminal conspiracy (count 1); false statements (counts 2-24); wire fraud (counts 27-32)

David Alan Smith: Criminal conspiracy (count 1); false statements (counts 2-24); wire fraud (counts 27-32)

William Terry Wright: Criminal conspiracy (count 1); false statements (counts 2-24); wire fraud (counts 27-32)

Kenneth Wayne Lampkin: Criminal conspiracy (count 1); false statements (counts 2-24); wire fraud (counts 27-32)

Lionel Wayne Koons: Criminal conspiracy (count 1); false statements (counts 2-24; 26); wire fraud (counts 27-32)

Charles Ferris Callihan: Criminal conspiracy (count 1); false statement (count 25)

LECOMPTE MAN SENTENCED TO 12 MONTHS AND 1 DAY FOR STEALING MORE THAN $125,000 IN SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS

ALEXANDRIA, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a Lecompte man was sentenced Monday to one year and one day in prison for taking more than $125,000.

 

Glen Wayne Williams, 56, of Lecompte, La., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell on one count of theft of government property. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $125,456.18 restitution. According to evidence presented at the May 20, 2016 guilty plea, Williams applied for and received Social Security Income (SSI) based on a disability beginning in November of 1995. However, Williams also received disability payments from his employer which he did not disclose to the Social Security Administration as required. The private disability income made Williams ineligible for the SSI he was paid from 1995 through 2014. Williams unlawfully received a total of $125,456.18 from the Social Security Administration.

 

The Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike O’Mara prosecuted the case.

South Louisiana Community College Officials Speak at Rotary Club Meeting

Ville Platte Rotary Hears from South Louisiana Community College Officials

August 30, 2016

 

     The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from Jermaine Ford, the director of the Corporate College and Carlene Jones, campus administrator for the Ville Platte Coreil Campus of the South Louisiana Community College system.

     Ford said he was excited to announce a new short term training program for the Coreil Campus. The brand new program will be automotive training with two levels of instruction: maintenance and light repair and advanced automotive. The instructor will be Clint Hebert. School officials have already begun to partner up with dealerships and retailers to offer training and employment. The new class will train students in six months or less. Students interested in signing up can register at acadianaopportunity.com or visit the campus.

    Ford also announced two other new short term courses that will soon be offered at the Acadian Campus in Crowley: truck driving and scaffolding at the New Iberia campus. This is a correction from what we had announced earlier. These two courses will not be offred at the Coreil Campus in Ville Platte..

    Campus administrator Carlene Jones announced that the school is currently offering courses such as welding, medical assistant, business administration and general studies. She said “The school is here to stay”. She is asking for volunteers especially retirees who could volunteer a few hours a week to tutor students struggling with math courses.

   The speakers were the guests of Rotarian Dr. Joey Soileau.

   In other news, Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine received a round of applause from the club members for her hard work during the flooding crisis to help local and parish residents.

   The mayor announced that 1127 people have applied for FEMA and emergency food stamp assistance at the Civic Center in the last two weeks. FEMA officials are at the civic center and are inspecting homes and businesses damaged by the recent floods. FEMA is in need of renting an empty building for a three month period that they can use for office use seven days a week from 8-6 each day while in Ville Platte.

Evangeline Parish Sheriff, Eddie Soileau, issues statement regarding budget shortfalls and recent layoffs

KVPI News has obtained the following statement:

To the residents of Evangeline Parish:

It is with great sadness and concern that I ask you the public for great patience while an ongoing investigation, which includes my staff and I, is conducted by the EPSO CPA Firm regarding the recent budget short falls, and in turn recent layoffs.

As soon as a conclusive decision is reached, I want to assure the public that they will have access to all of the new information gathered from this investigation.

Patience and time, I sincerely ask of you the public.

With Best Regards,
Eddie Soileau, Sheriff

 

LAKE CHARLES WOMAN SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR STEALING MORE THAN $230,000 FROM EMPLOYER

 Lake Charles woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison for stealing more than $230,000 from her employer’s bank account. Melissa D. Crookshank, 33, of Lake Charles, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi on one count of wire fraud. She was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $235,155.79 restitution. According to the May 19, 2016 guilty plea, Crookshank, who worked as a bookkeeper for a Hackberry, La., company, stole $235,155.79 from her employer starting in 2009 and continuing until January of 2015. Crookshank issued checks to herself during that time without authorization from the company owners, which she deposited into her own bank accounts for personal use. The U.S. Secret Service and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph prosecuted the case.

EVANGELINE PARISH POLICE JURY HOLDS SPECIAL MEETING WITH RESIDENTS ABOUT SHERIFF CUTBACKS AND LAYOFFS

The Evangeline Parish Police Jury held a special meeting Wednesday evening in the Courthouse to address the recent email announcement by Evangeline Parish Sheriff, Eddie Soileau, that his department is “officially broke” as of the 19th of August.  Monday morning, the Sheriff began what he called “massive lay-offs” and since then the Sheriff’s Office has laid off 14 employees and the department employees remaining are taking a reduction in pay. 

 

Employees of the Sheriff’s Office, Ville Platte Police Department, other Evangeline Parish Key Officials, residents of the Parish and the media were in attendance at the special meeting.  Police Jury President, Ryan Ardoin, opened the floor to questions from all of them after they discussed the situation together.  There was much concern and discussion of the lack of deputies that will now be on patrol within the Parish, especially at night.

 

 It was also stated by the Jury President,  that a copy of the Budget from the Sheriff’s Office was requested so they could review the funds coming into the Sheriff’s office and where the funds were spent.  Police Jury Secretary/Treasurer, Donald Bergeron, stated after their request, they were sent a copy of a 2015 Budget which was reviewed by an unnamed source, according to Bergeron, who said it was an “unrealistic and unworkable budget.  It was not an accurate budget.”  . 

 

The Police Jury is in a unique situation, as it does not control the Sheriff’s Office and is only mandated by the State to fund certain things for it (example: offices, furniture, equipment, and keeping and feeding those in the Parish Jail.  Bergeron stated they either pay those bills directly or submit reimbursements for those expenses.  Juror, Bryan Vidrine, explained that the Jury does not have a surplus that they can just give to the Sheriff.

 

President Ryan Ardoin, addressed deputies in the audience and said they will be happy to sit down with the Sheriff, look at the numbers and see what can be done.  When KVPI News asked If Ardoin had spoken to Soileau personally, he responded “No, and I don’t think he will take my call.”  The Sheriff was not in attendance at the meeting and many people questioned why he chose not to attend.  Darin Bordelon who ran against the Sheriff in the last election spoke to the Jury and said “This mismanagement has been going on for years and if you look at audit reports you will see.  It’s all just coming to a head now.” 

 

KVPI News has left a message for Sheriff Eddie Soileau to issue a statement about the meeting. He has not contacted us back.

 

Sales Tax Report issued by Evangeline Parish Sales Commission

Evangeline Parish Sales Tax Commission Report

August 25, 2016

 

     The Evangeline Parish Sales and Use Tax Commission held their monthly meeting this week. Commission Director Mike Veillon reported a slight 3 percent increase in sales collections parish wide for the month of July. Total sales tax collections amounted to $1.6 million dollars, a $382,000 increase  over the same period last July.

    Veillon reported that that the police jury had the largest increase in collections, 11 percent over July of last year. Other government agencies reporting increases included Pine Prairie showing a 4 percent increase, the school board and solid waste commission showed nearly a 4 percent up tick in sales tax collections and the Village of Turkey Creek showed a 1.73 percent increase.

    Governmental agencies showing decreases include: Basile and Chataignier, each showing a 33 percent drop in sales tax collections; Mamou showing an 8 percent decrease and the City of Ville Platte a slight 1.24 percent drop in sales taxes.

Superintendent Toni Hamlin records interview today to air Thursday at 12:30

Evangeline Parish Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin was our special guest today in our KVPI studios to record an very informative interview that will air Thursday at 12:30pm. Our topics include the start of school, the flooding of some of our parish schools and her recent announcement that she will retire at the end of the year.

Frank Butler Speaks to Rotary Club

VILLE PLATTE ROTARY CLUB

AUGUST 23, 2016

 

    The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from Guest Speaker Frank Butler of Butler’s Tree Service and Gobble Gully of Turkey Creek.

    Butler said over 7000 people have visited his low impact paint ball park in Turkey Creekafter two years of operation. The cost is $30 per person. He said many church groups, birthday parties and groups have visited the seven acre park.

    His plans are to add 30 acres and create water park and an ATV park. Butler was the guest of Rotarian Peggy Tate.

Evangeline Parish Sheriff Announces Budget Cuts and Massive Layoffs

KVPI News is putting together facts as they become available as to the layoffs by Evangeline Parish Sheriff, Eddie Soileau.  In an email sent from the Sheriff to Secretary/Treasurer, Donald Bergeron, on Saturday, Soileau stated the Sheriff’s Department is “officially broke” as of the 19th.  This morning what the email called “massive layoffs” began to take place.  The email also stated that what staff is left will receive a 10% salary cut.  KVPI received a Press Release this morning from the Sheriff’s office stating they will undergo “reconstruction” due to recent budget cuts.  It also stated that in an attempt to lessen the impact of the cuts, layoffs will be spread across various divisions.  We will be meeting with Police Jury President, Ryan Ardoin, and will update you on the matter.  The Sheriff is scheduled to meet with our news department to provide more details.

Jackson inmate pleads guilty to threatening Monroe magistrate judge

SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a prisoner in Jackson pleaded guilty last week for sending threatening messages to U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen L. Hayes.

Charles Lidberg, 27, a prisoner at the Dixon Correctional Center in Jackson, La., pleaded guilty Tuesday before U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. to one count of making threatening communications. According to the guilty plea, Lidberg, who was serving time at the state correctional institution for an unrelated crime, mailed a letter on February 19, 2014 to Judge Hayes’ office stating that he would hunt down and kill her after he was released from prison. Lidberg said his friend promised him half a million dollars to kill the judge if she sentenced Lidberg’s friend to more than 10 years in prison. Lidberg also said he did not state his friend’s name because that would “take the fun out of this.” He also gave a second letter threatening the judge to a fellow inmate who turned it over to law enforcement agents.

Lidberg faces 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $5 million fine. A sentencing date of December 7, 2016 was set.

The U.S. Marshals Service conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker is prosecuting the case.

Delhi doctor pleads guilty to writing illegal prescriptions

MONROE, La. – U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a Delhi medical doctor pleaded guilty Tuesday to writing illegal prescriptions.

Dan J. LaFleur, 64, of Delhi, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen L. Hayes to one count of distribution of Suboxone, a Schedule III medication used to treat opiate addiction. The plea will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr.  According to the guilty plea, Dr. LaFleur issued illegal prescriptions from 2012 through February 2013 from his residence in Delhi, from the Northeast Louisiana Health Center in Rayville, and from his suboxone clinic in Rayville, La.  On February 6, 2013, law enforcement executed seven search warrants at the locations and several pharmacies in Rayville and Delhi.  Illegal prescriptions, patient records, bags, cartons, packages, and prescription bottles containing Schedule III and IV controlled substances were seized at all of the locations.

LaFleur faces up to 10 years in prison, two years of supervised release, and a $500,000 fine. A sentencing date was not set.

The DEA and Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney James G. Cowles Jr. is prosecuting the case.

School Superintendent Toni Hamlin Wednesday Announces her retirement effective Dec. 31

EVANGELINE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD MEETING

AUGUST 17, 2016

 

       Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin Wednesday informed the Evangeline Parish School Board that she will retire at the end of her current contract effect Dec. 31. For the past nine years, Hamlin has served as school superintendent. In looking back, Hamlin has worked in the school system for more than 40 years.

      She listed the following accomplishments while serving as school chief: achieving unitary status and removing the federal courts from judicial oversight; naming nine of the 12 seated principals, naming six of the 12 seated supervisors; receiving outstanding audit reports  with no exceptions; securing a transportation contract with a $500,000 savings over a six year period; moving Ville Platte High from the academic unsatisfactory  grade to a much better grade in one year and overseeing the renovation of Ville Platte High and other school facilities.

      Hamlin said she wants to spend more time with her family and grandchild. It was after a recent class reunion that made her seriously consider making such a move.

     Board President Wayne Dardeau told Hamlin “It has been a privilege working with you for the past 27 years. Through the years, we have had many discussions, shared ideas and sometimes we disagreed. I want to commend you on doing an excellent job.”

      Also sharing personal congratulatory comments came from Board members Lonnie Sonnier, Georgianna Wilson and Nancy Hamlin.

     In other business, the school board approved advertising for bids for the construction of a new parish wide Teacher Training and Technology Building at the recommendation architect Mike Holt with the firm of Yeager, Watson and Associates..

      The  40x70 foot metal building is expected to cost anywhere from $280,000 to $310,000. The building will be used to house one million dollars worth of technology including centralized servers handling data from all of the parish school. The building will also be used to  train and inservice teachers.

      Board Business Manager Amie Lafleur informed the board members that no general funds will be used to fund the new building. The funds are coming from special funds set aside for technology and other funds.

     Holt stressed that the current building housing the 24 computers and centralized servers is in very bad shape and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

     In her report to the board, Superintendent Hamlin said from all indications the student population beginning the new school year remains stable from last year at approximately 6200.

     She also reported that the weekend flooding rains brought water inside four parish schools: James Stephens Montessori School, Mamou High, Mamou Elementary and Chataignier Elementary.

Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce Holds Its August Meeting

The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce held its monthly meeting Wednesday and heard from Industry Coordinator for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Missy Grimmett.  She explained the various functions of the Workforce Commission and opportunities it provides for businesses, big and small, as well as job seekers.  For businesses, the Workforce Commission’s website offers a wealth of information like access to job descriptions, wage information locally, regionally and statewide.  Employers can also have access to trends and data from Louisiana and across the country.  The Commission also offers recruitment and placement services where they review job postings of employers and attempt to match a registered job seeker to that position.  Interview assistance is also offered as well as “on the job training.”  It is noted that if a business needs assistance training a worker, that request must be done before the employee is placed on payroll.  Grimmett stated that the Commission does have unemployed job seekers listed with their resumes, but also those who are already working and perhaps are trying to better their place in the workforce, are young and need to gain experience or are a Veteran needing to re-enter the work force.  She thanked those in attendance who have served their country through the military and stated that Veterans get priority service through the Workforce Commission as a “thank you” for their service.  She also stated that the Louisiana Workforce Commission is funded through Federal tax dollars and is distributed to the various workforce Commissions throughout the State, including the office located at the Chamber of Commerce Building in Ville Platte.

 

In other Chamber news, the newest member of the Chamber that was voted in was Chris Soileau and Flat Town Music Co./U-Stor-It.  It was also noted that Heritage Manor will hold its Open House and Ribbon Cutting on September 14th from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

 

The next Chamber meeting will be Wednesday, September 21st at Noon.

Lake Charles prisoner pleads guilty to escaping from custody after not reporting to halfway house

LAKE CHARLES, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a Lake Charles man in federal prison custody pleaded guilty last week to federal escape charges after failing to report to a halfway house according to terms of home confinement.

 

Shaun Daigle, 37, of Lake Charles, pleaded guilty Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay to one count of escape from extended custody. The plea will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi. According to the guilty plea, Daigle was serving a period of home confinement in Lake Charles after being released by the Forrest City Federal Correction Institution in Arkansas. As part of the terms of his home confinement, he was required to report to the halfway house any time they requested. He was also required to remain in home confinement as ordered by the Bureau of Prisons. On May 7, 2016, Daigle was ordered to return to the CINC II Halfway House in Lake Charles and did not show up. He was found on May 8, 2016 in Westlake, La., and was arrested.

 

Daigle faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date of November 10, 2016 was set.

 

The U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Bureau of Prisons and the Westlake Police Department investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker is prosecuting the case.

FEMA Disaster Center Opens Today at Ville Platte Civic Center

CIVIC CENTER WILL BE FEMA DISASTER CENTER

AUGUST 17, 2016

 

      Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announces that the Ville Platte Northside Civic Center will be designated as the FEMA Disaster Application Center for Evangeline Parish. Parish residents who have experienced any type of loss or damage from the historic floods this past weekend are urged to come in beginning this after noon. People will be there to take your official applications to FEMA for assistance. Food Stamp assistance will also accepted.

   Also volunteers are needed to help remove water damaged carpets and rugs in senior citizen homes in the Ville Platte area. Those who would like to help volunteer are encouraged to call 363-3167.

SUBJECT LELAND EDWARD HAMM STILL BEING SOUGHT IN CONNECTION TO JULY 1, 2016 SHOOTING IN TURKEY CREEK

The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office Investigation Division is still investigating the fatal shooting that occurred in Turkey Creek, LA on July 1, 2016 at the residence of 1023 Cemetery Road.  They are trying to locate all suspects involved.  On August 11, 2016, one of the subjects involved (identified as Richard Alan Smith) was captured in Tulsa Oklahoma and is awaiting extradition.  The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office for its assistance in the matter.  The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office is still actively seeking to apprehend Leland Edward Hamm (pictured), a white male born May 23, 1974 with a body full of tattoos.  Hamm is originally from Kansas and may be traveling in a 2003 Brown Monte Carlo with a green bottom and his license plate has “FELNINK” on it.  Investigators are still receiving information and they encourage the public to continue contacting them at 337-363-2161.  All calls will remain anonymous.

Rotary Club Hears from Eunice Pharamacist Audie Bellard

Ville Platte Rotary Club Hears from Audie Bellard  of Eunice

August 16, 2016

 

      The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from Audie Bellard, owner of Bellard’s Family Pharmacy of Home Medical Equipment of Eunice.

      Bellard, who has been a pharmacist for 28 years,  shared his early memories of playing Little League baseball against Ville Platte All Star teams. He urged Rotarians to support local independent pharmacists who don’t punch clocks.

     The Eunice pharmacist also specializes in gerontology and dermatology to better assist senior citizens.

     In 2006, Bellard’s Pharmacy expanded his line to include durable home medical equipment. He introduced Lisa Deshotel who is marketing director for the medical equipment. The pharmacy is expanding their marketing into Evangeline and Acadia Parishes.

    Bellard praised State Senator Eric Lafleur and State Representative Bernard LeBas for their efforts in helping senior citizens.

    Bellard was the special guest of Rotarian Fannie Soileau.

     Rotary Club President Peter Strawitz read a text from Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine who is in Baton Rouge attempting to get approval for Evangeline Parish to  be included as a disaster area declaration. It was reported that more than 300 homes were affected during last weekend’s floods.

Public Schools To Open Tuesday

EVANGELINE PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS OPEN TUESDAY

AUGUST 15, 2016

 

       Evangeline Parish Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin told KVPI News there will be classes Tuesday.

       The public schools were closed today (Monday) because of flooding problems over the weekend. Hamlin said there were four schools in the parish with water: James Stephens Montessori, Chataignier Elementary, Mamou High and Mamou Elementary. School maintenance personnel, teachers and students came in over the weekend to help clean up the school.

      Hamlin announced that the buses will be rolling Tuesday but there may be areas in the rural section where the buses may not be able to pass. In those cases, students will be excused. In some areas, busses will be passing a little later than normal so please be patient.

     We are awaiting word from Sacred Heart on whether they will have classes.

Weather Update

Weather Update

August 14, 2016

 

     The Ville Platte Acadiana area can expect one more day of possible heavy rain activity. So far, the unofficial rainfall total is 13.25 inches in a 48 hour total here at KVPI while some areas have received much more.

     The curfew in Evangeline Parish was lifted at 6:00 this morning. The curfew was called for by Police Jury President Ryan Ardoin Saturday to get people off the streets. The Eunice curfew was also lifted this morning. Eunice police urges motorists to be care not to travel in areas with standing water.

   The extensive flooding Friday night and Saturday caused many streets and roads to become impassible. Many vehicles were left stranded as well as homeowners. Many homes in Ville Platte that never flooded were flooded by what weather officials are calling an historic flood.

    Emergency first responders stayed extremely busy all day in the rain rescuing motorists and homeowners.

    National Weather Service officials are predicting a 100 percent chance of rain all day today. An additional 3-5 inches of rain is possible in our area before this low pressure system finally moves out of our area.

    If you need sand bags, they are available at the city barn on Hickory and the police jury has sand bags at the Industrial Park. In the Mamou area, residents needing sandbags, they are available at the on LA 95 at the police jury yard near the ball park.

     No church services today at First Baptist Church of Ville Platte, New Life Assembly of God, Antioch Baptist Church and St. John Baptist Church.

     The Evangeline Parish Library and all of its branches will be closed Monday.

Evangeline Parish Public Schools closed Monday

Public Schools Closed Monday Due to Flooding Issues

August 13, 2016

 

    Evangeline Parish Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin announced today that all public schools in Evangeline Parish will be closed Monday because of the flooding conditions in some areas of the parish. Schools dismissed at noon Friday at the start of the heavy rain event.

    Hamlin told KVPI News that Sunday will be used as a day to assess and inspect all of the schools and begin the cleanup efforts. It was reported that Mamou High and Elementary have water in the schools.

     The announcement follows a dusk to dawn curfew called for by Police Jury President Ryan Ardoin and a reported foot or more of rain that has fallen in the Ville Platte area. This historic rainfall caused water to enter into people’s homes and businesses and stranded numerous vehicles in the Ville Platte area.

     KVPI has not received any announcements about Sacred Heart School which is due to open for classes on Monday.

Curfew in Effect

Curfew in Evangeline Parish tonight

August 13, 2016

 

     Evangeline Parish Police Jury President Ryan Ardoin has issued a curfew for all of Evangeline Parish beginning tonight at 6:00pm until 6;00am. Once the curfew goes into effect tonight, no one will be permitted to be driving anywhere in the city or parish. All businesses must be closed during the curfew time. This is in effect due to the extensive flooding the Ville Platte/Evangeline Parish area has received. We have reports of more than 12 inches of rain has fallen flooding numerous homes and businesses as well as stranding many vehicles. Many of the city streets were impassible earlier today because of the high water. The water has receded because it has stopped raining. However, officials from the National Weather Service are predicting an additional 3-6 inches of rain later today through Sunday. Sand bags are available at the city barn on Hickory and at the police jury yard at the Industrial Park.

Ville Platte Police Department Arrest Report

According to the Ville Platte Police Department, the following individuals have recently been arrested and booked into the Ville Platte City Jail:

 

Ruby Thomas of Kembo St. – Arrested for Improper Supervision of a Minor and out on a $250.00 bond;

 

Nirca Alfred of West Oak –Arrested for Improper Supervision of a Minor and out on a $250.00 bond;

 

Cody Guidry of Lanse de Cavalier Road – Arrested for Harassment and Resisting an Officer and out on a $1,250.00 bond;

 

Hannah Thomas of W. Oak – Arrested for Disturbing the Peace by Fighting and currently incarcerated with a $200.00 bond;

 

Elvina Lafleur of N. Chataignier – Arrested for Disturbing the Peace by Fighting and currently incarcerated with a $200.00 bond;

 

Eldridge Thomas of E. Jefferson – Arrested for Disturbing the Peace by Fighting and out on a $200.00 bond;

 

Garrot Jack of E. Jefferson – Arrested for Disturbing the Peace by Fighting and out on a $200.00 bond;

 

Davis Freeman of Chataignier – Arrested for Simple Battery and out on a $1,000.00 bond; and

 

Zackery Willis of Webre Lane, Opelousas – Arrested for Resisting an Officer, Theft and Prohibited Acts and out on a $2,500.00 bond.

Mary Foster-Galosso and Suzie Lemoine of the Parish Library Spoke at Ville Platte Rotary Club

ROTARY CLUB MEETING

AUGUST 9, 2016

 

         The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from Evangeline Parish Library Director Mary Foster-Galosso and Outreach Director Suzie Lemoine.

         One of the primary goals for the local rotary club is literacy. Librarian Mary Foster-Galosso said “We try to encourage everyone to use our library by reading books, download e books and using computers.” She informed Rotarians that the library and its branches have book clubs for adults and teens. “Reading is so important. Everyone should have a love and appreciation of reading,” she said.

        The library is convenient for residents throughout the parish with branches in Chataignier, Mamou, Basile, Pine Prairie, Turkey Creek and the main branch in Ville Platte.

        Suzie Lemoine announced that the recently completed summer reading club was a big success with 8000 books circulated around the parish. Their current aim is to have every child in Evangeline Parish go through 1000 books by age five read to them by their parents or grand parents.

      She also announced that the library will sponsor its annual book fest on October 8. Special guest at the event will be a 13 year old aspiring astronaut.

MEXICAN CITIZEN SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ILLEGALLY REENTERING THE COUNTRY

 SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a man from Mexico was sentenced last week to 15 months in prison for returning to the United States illegally after being deported. Elior Daniel Sifuentes, 34, of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote on one count of aggravated illegal reentry of a removed alien. According to the April 14, 2016 guilty plea, Bossier City Police arrested Sifuentes on October 26, 2015 for failure to appear for various traffic violations. After his arrest, police discovered that Sifuentes was an illegal alien who had been deported in April of 2009 for a prior felony of illegal use of a weapon in state court and had not received permission to reenter the country. Homeland Security Investigations-Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Bossier City Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell prosecuted the case.

CADDO PARISH MAN SENTENCED TO 65 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR DISTRIBUTING METHAMPHETAMINE

SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that a Belcher man was sentenced to five years and five months in prison for distributing methamphetamine in northwest Louisiana. Norman Phillip Mitchell, 43, of Belcher, La., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote on one count of distribution of methamphetamine. He was also sentenced to four years of supervised release. According to the April 14, 2016 guilty plea, during the course of the investigation, methamphetamine was purchased from the defendant in April and May of 2015 in Caddo and Bossier parishes. Approximately 27.4 grams of methamphetamine on April 15, 2015 and 26.5 grams on May 7, 2015 was purchased from Mitchell. The DEA and the Tri-Parish Drug Task Force conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown prosecuted the case.

FORMER HOMER POLICE OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY TO CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

SHREVEPORT, La. – Former Officer Willie Fred Knowles, 66, of the Homer Police Department pleaded guilty today to violating the civil rights of a woman identified only as K.M., announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana.

 

Knowles also pleaded guilty to making false statements about the incident to the FBI. According to the plea agreement, Knowles admitted that, on October 29, 2012, he got into a verbal argument with K.M., who was not under arrest at the time, while he was on duty. He further admitted that during the argument, he pushed her down and struck her face and body without justification. Knowles also admitted that he falsely told FBI agents that the woman started the incident by grabbing him and jumping on his back, and that he never hit her. However, Knowles acknowledged that, in fact, he had started the physical altercation when he pushed the woman down and struck her. “Without any legitimate reason or cause, this officer chose to use violent force against the victim and then lie to try to cover up his crime,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “Whenever law enforcements officers break the law they take an oath to uphold, they violate the public trust and threaten the reputation of their colleagues who wear the badge and perform their jobs with honor and distinction.” “This officer’s actions tarnish the reputations and standards upheld by thousands who work in law enforcement across our nation,” said U.S. Attorney Finley. “Our office will continue to make civil rights cases a priority.” Knowles will be sentenced on Nov. 9, 2016. At sentencing, Knowles faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail for making false statements to the FBI and one year in prison for the civil rights charge. This case was investigated by the FBI. The case was referred to the FBI by the Louisiana State Police.

 

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Christine M. Siscaretti of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary J. Mudrick of the Western District of Louisiana.

Mamou Cajun Music Festival 2016

MAMOU CAJUN MUSIC FESTIVAL

AUGUST 9, 2016

 

   The 45 Annual Mamou Cajun Music Festival is set for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16 and 17 at the Mamou Recreational Center Complex. It is a two day music festival presenting traditional Cajun Musicians, dancing, food and contests in the Cajun Music Capital of the World.

   Here is the schedule of events:

Friday September 16- 6;00pm-7:30pm-Coz Fontenot and his band; 7:45-10:00pm-Sheryl Cormier and Cajun Sound Band. The popular potato dance contest  will be held at 9:00pm.

Saturday September 17: 9-11am- Cajun Stompers; 11:15-1:15pm Ray Landry and Vermillionville Ramblers; 1:30-3;30pm- Nolan Cormier and the Cajun Hee Haw Band; 3:00pm- This year the festival will honor KVPI’s La Tasse de Café Announcers- Mark Layne, Jim Soileau and Charlie Manuel; 3:45-5:30- Tee Sha-wee Social Club and 5:45-7:30pm- Lee Benoit and his band. KVPI will be broadcasting live at the festival from 9-12 noon that Saturday.

   Workshops on Saturday : 12-1:00pm- Cajun Dance workshop and 3-4pm- Mardi Gras Capuchon Making.

   Games and Contests Saturday: 11:0am- Egg Throwing for adults and children; 11:45- Cajun Dizzy Dash; 12;00 noon- Children Sack Races; 12:15pm- Boudin Eating; 1:00pm- Children Watermelon Eating; 1:15pm- Women Beer Drinking; 1:30pm- Men Beer Drinking ;1:45pm- Washerboard Tournament; 2:15pm- Children Guinea Chase; 3:15pm- Women Arm Wrestling; 3;45pm- Men Arm Wrestling; 4;15pm- Women Nail Driving; 4:45pm- Men Nail Driving; 5:15pm- Women Passe Partout; 5;45pm- Men Passe Partout and 6:15pm- Greased Pole Climbing.

GOVERNMENT DISMISSES CHARGES AGAINST SHERIFF

SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a motion to dismiss the pending indictment in United States v. Larry C. Deen and Clifton and Clinton Blakey, a former sheriff and used car dealers. The defendants were indicted for criminal conspiracy and federal program theft. United States District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote will rule on the motion. The trial date was set for August 15, 2016. On June 16, 2016, as the Government was preparing for the trial, a key Government witness died unexpectedly. The Government reassessed the remaining admissible evidence in the case and made a determination that there was sufficient proof to proceed to trial. However, on August 4, 2016, a second key Government witness retracted previous statements made during the course of the investigation. In light of the witness developments, the Government believes that its ability to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt has been seriously jeopardized. United States Attorney Stephanie Finley stated: “I have authorized the prosecutors in this case to seek dismissal of the pending charges based on evidentiary developments in this case. The untimely death of a significant government witness and the change of testimony by a second witness has called into question our ability to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. I am mindful of our obligation to continually assess the evidence in our possession in light of our burden of proof, and to ensure that the interests of justice are met.” 

Roof Projects Discussed at Evangeline Parish School Meeting

Evangeline Parish School Board Meeting

August 3, 2016

 

    At least one school board member expressed his concern Wednesday on making sure the board is not forced to go with the low bidder for contractors who may have done poor workmanship in prior projects. Board Vice President Scott Limoges said he was concerned and cautious before approving the low bidder for two roof projects.

    School Board Maintenance Manager Mike Hazelton said the contract with the low bids on the two roof projects have done satisfactory work on earlier roof projects for the school board.

    Limoges said “I just don’t want to go with this just for the sake of a low bid. I want us to be sure before we OK this work.”

   Superintendent Toni Hamlin replied “ There is a procedure to follow where school boards could file a complaint for unsatisfactory work by filing a complaint with a state contractor board. We have had no problem with this contractor.”

    Following the discussion the school board approved  the low bids from Ace Roofing for roof jobs at Evangeline Central School and Chataignier Elementary school.

    In other action, the school board heard from Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin about the start of the new school year. She announced there will be a principal’s meeting Thursday while employees of the school board will report to work on August 8 with two days of inservice. Students will report to school for the new school year will on August 10.

    The superintendent also announced there are only two teacher vacancies in the parish and both are at Pine Prairie School.

Rotary Club Hears Senator Eric Lafleur

Rotary Club Hears Senator Lafleur’s Legislative Report

August 2, 2016

 

    State Senator Eric Lafleur today gave his annual legislative report to members of the Rotary Club of Ville Platte, He was the special guest of Rotarian Vic Slaven.

    Lafleur reported on a proposed expansion of the Ville Platte Recreation Complex using $1.8 million dollars in additional state funds to add more fields and attract more major tournaments to Ville Platte.

     State Senator Lafleur announced that plans are underway for the state purchase the Ville Platte Country Golf Course and expand it to a public 18 hole golf course at Chicot State Park.

  Senator Lafleur announced with the additional gasoline taxes coming into the state coffers, more high improvements will be made including US 167 between Ville Platte and Nuba. Some Rotarians were also concerned about the poor condition of US 167 between Turkey Creek and the I-49 exit.

    Members of the legislature spent five months in Baton Rouge in one regular session and two special sessions to overcome a five billion deficit.

Houston man sentenced to 87 months in prison for cocaine charge

United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a Texas man was sentenced last week to 87 months in prison for possessing cocaine for later sale.

David Matthews, 54, of Houston, Texas, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minladi on one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release. According to the guilty plea, a Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s officer stopped Matthews’ vehicle on March 20, 2012 for a traffic violation. After a search of the vehicle, the officer found 2 kilograms of powder cocaine and 118 pounds of marijuana in three large trash bags in the vehicle’s extended cab.

Homeland Security Investigations and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamilla A. Bynog and John Luke Walker prosecuted the case.

Evangeline Parish Police August Meeting

The Evangeline Parish Police Jury held its August meeting Monday night in the Courthouse.  The Jury once again discussed collection of incredibly delinquent sewer bills in the Parish and the options they may use to collect the approximately $109,000.00 in overdue accounts.  Parish Attorney, Marcus Fontenot commented to the Jury that if a person has not paid their sewer bill, then they are not in compliance with the parish Sanitation Ordinances and therefore the Jury should be able to revoke that person’s electrical permit.  However, Sabrina Salling, with CLECO addressed the Jury and informed them that even if someone’s electrical permit is revoked, CLECO cannot disconnect someone’s service for the Jury.  CLECO only disconnects service for their customers if there is a dangerous situation or if that customer has not paid its bill to CLECO.  They are regulated by the Louisiana Public Service Commission and she stated there is nothing in their rules that allows CLECO to turn off the power to someone’s home because of their non-payment to another company or entity.  The Police Jury voted to send a letter to the Louisiana Public Service Commission and ask them to change the rules and allow the Police Jury to have CLECO shut off the power to those who do not pay their sewage bill.  As a side note, the Police Jury was written up by their auditor for failing to collect on the accounts.  It is the Jury’s responsibility to do that.

 

The Jury has been taking bids for the sale of the old Evangeline Parish Library.  They received a bid of $52,000.00 from A&D Rental Properties owned by Dirk Deville and Casey Ardoin.  Juror, Rocky Rider made a motion to take the offer and “be done with it”.  He said they have been dealing with it a long time.  The Jury voted unanimously to sell the building for the $52,000.00 bid.  They also agreed to earmark that money to be used for construction of a new storage building for the Clerk of Court, Sheriff, District Attorney, and others who are paying storage fees.

 

There will be a public hearing before next month’s meeting regarding changes to the Parish-wide Nuisance Property Ordinance wherein it could make nuisance properties come with penalty, fines and even potential criminal charges.

Two Louisiana Men Sentenced for Illegal Deer Hunting Violations

Two Louisiana men were ordered to pay a total of $38,776 in East and West Feliciana courts in the past week for deer hunting violations that occurred in February of 2016.

 

Judge Elizabeth “Betsy” Jones of the 20th Judicial District Court in both East and West Feliciana parishes sentenced Devin Wascome, 26, of Slaughter, and Joseph Buhler, 21, of Zachary, to pay fines, fees and court costs, as well as revoke their hunting privileges for five years.

 

Wascome was ordered to pay $17,231 in East Feliciana Parish and $4,791 in West Feliciana Parish.  He was also forced to forfeit his .17 caliber rifle.  Buhler was ordered to pay $12,560 in East Feliciana Parish and $4,194 in West Feliciana Parish.  The men must also pay a total of $6,498 in civil restitution for the replacement value of the illegally taken deer.

 

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) agents cited Wascome and Buhler on Feb. 10, 2016 for illegal deer hunting violations in East Feliciana, West Feliciana, East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.

 

After receiving a complaint about Wascome and Buhler illegally taking deer, agents initiated an investigation.  During the investigation agents found that Wascome and Buhler illegally harvested a deer on Feb. 1 in East Feliciana Parish, Feb. 7 in West Feliciana Parish, and on Feb. 8 in East Feliciana Parish.  Wascome also admitted to illegally shooting a doe on Feb. 4 at night while on foot.

 

The two men would drive around at night on public roads hunting for deer.  They were cited for taking deer during a closed season and illegal hours, hunting from a moving vehicle, possession of illegally taken deer, taking deer from a public road, intentional concealment of illegally taken wildlife, failing to comply with deer tagging requirements, and discharging a firearm from a public road among other violations.

 

The two were also cited for illegal deer hunting activities in East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes since they admitted to actively hunting those parishes using the same methods they did to harvest the illegally taken deer in East and West Feliciana parishes.  The two men have yet to appear in court in East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.

 

District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla prosecuted this case for the state in East and West Feliciana parishes.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us atwww.wlf.la.gov. To receive recreational or commercial fishing email and text alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.

Ville Platte Police Department Arrest Report

According to the Ville Platte Police Department, the following individuals have recently been arrested and booked into the Ville Platte City Jail:

 

Robert Gallow of 711 MLK Drive – Arrested for Simple Battery, Theft, and Resisting an Officer and currently incarcerated with a $3,000.00 bond;

 

Dantonio Jones of 113 E. Pine – Arrested for Resisting an Officer and No Reflective Gear and currently incarcerated with a $950.00 bond;

 

Lora Mitchell, 53 of 405 S. Chataignier, Apt. B – Arrested for Theft and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and out on a $3,000.00 bond;

 

Rodney Darjean, 37 of 709 N. Soileau – Arrested for Disturbing the Peace by Fighting and out on a $200.00 bond;

 

Ricky Fontenot, 47 of 114 E. Pine – Arrested for Disturbing the Peace by Intoxication, Misrepresentation During Booking and Remaining After Forbidden and out on a $950.00 bond;

 

Murphy Lemelle, 35 of 714 N. Stagg – Arrested for Disturbing the Peace and out on a $200.00 bond; and

 

Ricky Fontenot, 47 of 114 E. Pine – Arrested for Trespassing and currently incarcerated for $200.00 bond.

Ville Platte Chief of Police Reports Recent Juvenile Arrests and Urges Citizens to Keep Vehicles Free of Valuable Items

Chief Neal Lartigue reports recent juvenile arrests and juvenile crimes:

After multiple vehicle break ins being conducted by juveniles, Chief Lartigue issues a warning to everyone about leaving items in a vehicle. Never leave purses, cell phones, even cell phone charges or any item that may hold value, inside your vehicle.  Chief Lartigue stated, “We have had several windows broken on vehicles and items stolen and in other cases the items were left inside a vehicle that was not even locked.”  The Highway Safety Council has been airing commercials warning about the same type of incidents happening all around the state. 

Here are some of the recent incidents of vehicle break ins and arrests of juveniles in the city of Ville Platte.  The names of those arrested can not be listed because they are juveniles.

July 25, 2016 at approximately 2:30 Officers were dispatched to the 100 block of East Main on a report of a vehicle break in.  Upon arrival Officers and Detectives learned that the owner had left a purse on the front seat and juvenile broke a window on the vehicle and stole the purse. After further investigation one arrest was made of a black male juvenile age 15 and one black male juvenile is still at large.

July 26, 2016 officers were dispatched to a vehicle break in on Roderick street where a window was broken on the vehicle and a purse was stolen.

July 29, 2016  Officers were dispatched to a vehicle break in on West Magnolia and a second vehicle break in on East Lasalle where the glass was broken and a purse was stolen from each vehicle.

July 31, 2016 Officers were dispatched to a report of a vehicle break in on the 600 block of North Chataignier.  The vehicle had been left unlocked and a purse with a cell phone and cash was taken. A few hours later the suspect who was a 13 black male was arrested.  Upon arresting the juvenile Officers discovered that he had marijuana in his possession.  The purse and contents were later recovered and returned to the owner.  The juvenile was charged with simple burglary, theft and possession of schedule I.

Chief Lartigue urges everyone to remove any and all items of value from your vehicle each and every time you exit the vehicle.  Also remember to lock your vehicle doors.  Simple but smart steps to make it harder to become a victim of a vehicle burglary. 

 If you have any information on any of these vehicle break ins or any other crimes please report this illegal activity to the Ville Platte Police Department at 363-1313, your call will remain anonymous.

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Swamp Pop music

The Louisana Swamp Pop Museum is operated by the City of Ville  Platte is open to the public every Friday and

Saturday from 10:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. Come view the amazing artifacts, photos,records, Wall of Fame and hear the music.
 

Admission charge is $3 adults,

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