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Working with fishermen to reduce bycatch

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Experts say getting anglers and commercial fishermen to help design and test devices to save sea turtles, dolphins and off-limit fish is a key to getting them to use the apparatus.

Martin Hall, head of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission's tuna-dolphin program, told how he helped convince skippers of 600 tuna boats from nine countries to accept hooks designed not to snag dolphins. He says it starts with respect.

Mike Osmond of the World Wildlife Fund told the International Sea Turtle Society about an international contest to create gear for reducing bycatch - anything a commercial boat or angler isn't trying to catch. It has a $30,000 grand prize and four smaller prizes. This year's deadline for entries is Aug. 31.

The society wound up a week of meetings and workshops on Thursday.


State government offices closed for Good Friday

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State government offices are closed for the Good Friday holiday, in advance of Easter.

The Louisiana Legislature shut down early this week because of the holiday, with the House and Senate taking off both Thursday and Friday.

Lawmakers will return to work on Monday as the three-month legislative session moves past its midpoint.


Nicholls auditorium dedicated to dean's memory

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - An auditorium at Nicholls State University has been formally renamed and dedicated to the memory of Ridley J. Gros.

Gros was the former dean of Nicholls' College of Business Administration.

A Nicholls news release said Thursday's ceremony in the auditorium at the university's Powell Hall included the unveiling of a portrait of Gros.

Gros, who died in August, was a Donaldsonville native who had a 36-year career at Nicholls, where he served as a dean and a vice president.

His widow, Kathleen Gros, attended Thursday's ceremony along with his children and grandchildren.


Leesville seeks volunteers to build playground

LEESVILLE, La. (AP) - The City of Leesville is seeking volunteers to help build a playground for Jubilee Park.

The city awarded a $15,000 grant last year for the play spot's construction. The grant, funded through Dr Pepper Snapple Group and nonprofit KaBOOM!, requires that the playground be built by volunteers who plan, design, raise funds and build it.

The start date for the project has been set tentatively for May 9.

The Leesville City Council in February selected Kincade Recreation Equipment of Livingston, Texas, as the most cost-effective supplier for the playground equipment.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Natasha Wilkerson at 337-239-2444.


Woman will testify against husband in bank robbery

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) - Prosecutors in Mississippi say a Louisiana woman has admitted her role in the armed robbery of Keesler Federal Credit Union in Diamondhead and has agreed to testify at her husband's upcoming trial.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel tells The Sun Herald 34-year-old Aleisha Diaz Landry pleaded guilty Monday to the Dec. 6, 2012, robbery and admitted her drug addiction clouded her judgment.

Daniel says Landry, of Bogalusa, La., admitted she went in the credit union to check out its security before the robbery and returned to her car.

Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced her to 15 years in prison and suspended 10 years, leaving five to serve.

Officials at the time said more than $3,000 was taken.

Forty-three-year-old Jessie Landry is set for Monday in Hancock County Circuit Court.


20 arrested in Medicaid fraud case

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The state attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has arrested 20 personal care attendants as part of a crackdown on provider fraud in the New Orleans area.

Agents started an investigation after receiving a tip about potential fraud by attendants who serviced a senior residential facility in New Orleans. After comparing service logs submitted to the provider agencies by the attendants to mandatory sign-in logs at the facility, investigators identified numerous attendants from four different providers who allegedly cheated the Medicaid program by submitting fraudulent claims for payment for services that were never rendered.

Personal care attendants are hired by Medicaid providers to care for physically handicapped and disabled Medicaid recipients.

Agents on Wednesday estimated the total alleged fraud at $150,000 over the span of about a year.


Rapides Parish sues former Coliseum design firm

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - The Rapides Parish Police Jury has filed a lawsuit against the architectural firm that formerly headed the Rapides Parish Coliseum renovation project.

The Town Talk reports the lawsuit against Barron, Heinberg & Brocato Inc., filed last week, seeks reimbursement of nearly $630,000 the parish spent on the Coliseum project while BH&B was in charge.

The jury terminated its contract with BH&B in August after the firm reported it could not complete the project within the $23 million budget.


Hammond area voters consider school tax on May 3

HAMMOND, La. (AP) - Hammond-area voters will take another look on May 3 at passing a tax millage to support Hammond schools' magnet and accelerated programs.

The Tangipahoa Parish School Board is asking voters in Consolidated School District No. 1 to approve a 10-year, 15-mill property tax for the programs. A similar proposition was narrowly defeated on May 4, 2013.

School Board Vice Chairman Brett Duncan tells The Advocate the programs at issue - International Baccalaureate, Montessori and various magnet and accelerated programs - cost about $3.2 million a year to operate.

The new millage, if approved, would generate an estimated $3.6 million annually.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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