Wednesday, April 21

Latest Louisiana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. CDT


Federal government setting up new Louisiana virus test sites

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The federal government is setting up four new drive-thru coronavirus testing sites in Louisiana’s capital city amid a sharp uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease. Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome says the sites will open Tuesday and operate seven days a week. The goal is to test as many as 5,000 people a day. The federally-supported test locations will use a self-administered nasal swab and will remain up and running through July 18. Broome enacted a mask requirement last week for anyone entering a business around the city. The region has seen sizable increases in virus cases and hospitalizations.


4 ex-prison guards sentenced in Louisiana inmate beating

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Four former guards at Louisiana’s maximum-security prison have been sentenced for their parts in punching, kicking and stomping a handcuffed and shackled inmate and plotting a cover-up. The sentences range from more than nine years in prison for the convicted ringleader to probation for one who didn’t try to stop the beating in January 2014 and then agreed to take responsibility for it. Online records show U.S. District Judge John deGravelles sentenced 43-year-old Daniel Davis, 52-year-old Scotty Kennedy, 34-year-old John Sanders and 42-year-old James Savoy Jr. on Thursday in a teleconference. Davis was a major and the others captains.


New Orleans police’s first Black woman officer has died

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The first Black woman to serve as an officer in the New Orleans Police Department has died. The police department announced Yvonne Bechet’s death on Twitter Sunday. The police force said on Twitter the legacy of Bechet’s 22-year service with the department will “never be forgotten.” WWNO-FM previously reported Bechet was one of the first seven women to enter the department’s Academy in 1968. The radio station reported in 2018 Bechet eventually rose up the ranks to serve as a deputy superintendent in the police force. She also worked as an undercover narcotics officer and a commander of the community relations division.


LSU AgCenter’s free beginning farmer program starts Oct. 1

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The LSU AgCenter is taking applications for a free 16-week training program for about 20 beginning farmers. Program director Marcus Coleman says the Grow Louisiana program accepts both people who want to farm and those who have been farming for less than 10 years. This is the program’s third year. Coleman says the 2018 classes in New Orleans and those last year in Lafayette each had 18 participants. This year’s will be at Louisiana State University’s Baton Rouge campus. The first eight-week session will be held every Thursday evening starting Oct. 1, with a second  eight-week session in the spring.


Louisiana’s cap on lobbyist wining and dining edges up a bit

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s lobbyists can spend a bit more on wining and dining state lawmakers and other public officials. The lobbying limit on food and drink for a public official edged up $1 per person, per occasion when the new budget year began Wednesday. The new limit per person at an event is $63. The 2008 law that sets the limit allows annual adjustments tied to increases in the federal Consumer Price Index for food and beverages. That index rose 1.8 percent in the last year. The Louisiana Board of Ethics made the adjustment at a meeting earlier this year.


Louisiana’s second medical marijuana grower releases product

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s second medical marijuana grower announced it has started making its products to the state’s dispensaries for sale to patients. Ilera Holistic Healthcare is the company that grows marijuana for Southern University’s agricultural center. Southern said Wednesday that Ilera has launched its therapeutic cannabis brand, called AYO. The university says it’s the first historically Black college to have its own brand of medical cannabis products. Only the agricultural centers at Southern and Louisiana State University are authorized to grow medical marijuana in Louisiana, and only nine dispensaries can provide it to patients. LSU’s grower has been selling products since August 2019.


Woman killed in wrong-way crash on Louisiana interstate

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana woman was killed early Saturday in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 55. Louisiana State Police said 23-year-old Hannah Mcallister, of Hammond, was driving southbound in the northbound lanes of I-55 when she struck a sport utility vehicle.  Investigators say the SUV was pushed off the road and it overturned and caught fire. Mcallister’s vehicle then turned in front of another car traveling northbound that struck Mcallister’s vehicle on the passenger’s side. WVUE-TV reports Mcallister died as a result of her injuries.


Democrats, Biden look to accelerate Southern political shift

ATLANTA (AP) — From Mississippi retiring its state flag to local governments removing Confederate statues, a bipartisan push across the South is chipping away at reminders of the Civil War and segregation. And with today’s national reckoning on racism, Democratic leaders are hoping for a fundamental shift at the ballot box. Many Southern electorates are getting younger, less white and more urban, and are less likely to embrace President Donald Trump’s white identity politics. Southern Democrats are assembling a diverse group of candidates for state and congressional offices to join presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden on the ticket. They believe Biden can appeal to perhaps the nation’s most culturally conservative region.

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